Sunday, July 31, 2011

Denver County Fair Day 2

Today was just Hubby, Mesha, and I. Juju was at RenFair and our camera was sadly AWOL.

I checked my entry in the canning catagory - no ribbon for me. Although I saw the ribbons, there were no labels telling what each item was so the display was a little disappointing.

We wandered through the art exhibits - I had no idea Denver had such an artist community! We picked up a few inexpensive but cool items (Flying Dog beer soap), sighed over some amazing pieces out of our price range (iron forged floor lamp) and tucked away a few business cards for later purchase (steampunk honeybee necklace)

One thing we really like about this fair is that it was indoors and completely wheelchair accessible. One thing we didn't like was the lack of food/beverage choices - we suspect that that had more to do with the venue (National Western Complex) than the fair organizers. But it was wrong to see Great Divide Brewing Co sponsor, but unable to sell. I hope they try again next year, but with a venue that is more community oriented.

We saw the winning poultry - none of which were ours. We found out that to be eligible to win birds must be full grown and not have their wings clipped. Our girls were out on both counts. Still worth it though, cost to show was almost half of cost of entry, and as an exhibitor we got 1 free pass each.

We watched Mesha play in an inflatable "hamster ball". Saw the Freakshow again. Checked out the "Green" exhibits. Some of them were really informative (where can we put an aquaculture set up with tilapia. . .hmmmm) Basically we killed time until we could pick up our birds.

There will be pictures of the new additions as soon as I find the camera.

remodeling pt 1

With the new ducks coming tomorrow I needed better use of space so they could sleep in the hen house at night.

In the original playhouse there was a plastic fold up table at the window, that I have been trying to figure out how to recreate, with nesting boxes below. For now part of a plastic shelf will suffice. I can frame in the nesting boxes and also a shallow box on top that can be filled with straw so as not to lose floor space. (it will officially become the "sun room") The hooks holding the new roost (old closet rod) were plant hangers on the fence in MN.

If anyone wonders, there is currently no door to close on the poultry entrance - by fall I plan to have a re-purposed dog door that full grown hens should be able to push through. The girls are always up before me, no matter how early I roll out of bed, so I just gave up. I have faith that our fence is predator proof enough with the fence sunk and flat rocks buried half way along it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Denver County Fair Day 1

Juju and I spent a couple hours roaming the fairgrounds in period costume, handing out cards for the Littleton History Museum fashion show we would later appear in. We didn't get to many strange looks, considering the steampunk community was out and about, and this urban fair had a Freakshow area. If I had had goggles I could have fit in with the former group. With the blue hair and gothic makeup of my college days, the latter.

Hubby and Mesha showed up in time for the show. (Our pictures of the runway turned out blurry.)

Juju was part of the "flannel family". The show was punctuated with stories taken from diaries or newspapers of the time. Her group represented parents with 3 kids - matching outfits because cloth was purchased by the bolt. The trip to town being 17 miles, a trip that long could not be done often in the 1860's. She is Laura-like in this picture is she not??

I was in a 1890's, oh-so-racy bicycling outfit. It was the beginning of trousers (MC hammer has nothing on these babies) for women. If the shirt was well boned, women were even known to go without a corset (the horror!)

We wandered around awhile. We saw the freakshow (the bearded lady was gorgeous! But Mesha was scared of Batboy and The Lizard man, but enjoyed the guys lying on nails and snapping their tongues in mousetraps.) Then we checked on Alice and Pippa. I had thought to supplement our flock with a couple hens, if available. We saw a large Buff Orphington for sale and some bantam brown leghorns. Then we saw the ducks. A mated pair of Welsh Harlequins - expected to lay at least 280 eggs a year.

Ivan was to be in the cat show, registered under "Fluffiest Cat". He was not happy in his little cat carrier and by the time the show started he was showing his displeasure. To Juju's disappointment, hers was the only entry in that category that showed up. She got 2nd place in the prettiest cat, partially for her good sportsmanship in her willingness to move to another category. !st place went to a Bengal. We left soon after, our runner up deserved to go home.

Not, however, before we bought the ducks.

Who the hell impulse buys ducks?! Any normal woman would be pining away for a Coach Purse or Jimmy Cho shoes. Hubby should be trying to justify a Tag Hauer watch. About 5 years ago I bought a Brighton necklace - after spending 4 hours hemming and hawing.

It took us less than 10 minutes to decide, separately, that we NEEDED these waterfowl. Our conversation, made entirely of looking at each other, then the pair took less than one.

We pick them up tomorrow after the fair is over.

There is something seriously wrong with us.

Getting Ivan ready for the fair

He has been protesting - Loudly - at his mistreatment. First Hubby and Juju ganged up on him periodically this last week to comb &/or cut out his various dreadlocks.

And now this.

Oh the humanity. . .

Friday, July 29, 2011

Poultry thriller

Pippa and Alice went to the fair yesterday.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are very subdued all by themselves in the coop. All they saw was their companions squawking and being unceremoniously shoved into cat carriers.

I think they are hearing the theme from Jaws.

DA DUM . . . DA DUM . . . DA DUM DA DUM DA DUM . . . . . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Now for something comepletely different!

I loves me some IKEA.

The only thing I didn't like about moving to Colorado was the limited availability of Swedish Meatballs. . . and Lingonberry juice. . . and totally kick ass RTA furniture.

So at 7:40 AM I was in line for the 9am grand opening of the Centennial, CO store - 15 minutes away from the homestead.

Yet one more reason why I don't want a rural farm.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#7 why I like chickens

They eat dinner screw-ups (in this case burned millet that was going to be the side dish for Chicken Kebabs) On a side note, our little flock looks a little dull without the Polish and Brown Leghorn for color. Hopefully there will be hens available at the fair.

No more Cornish

Dumpling is in a sink full of ice water now, cooling before I put her in the freezer. We have the 4 layers only now. She was even heavier than Quesadilla, being about 3 weeks older. The whole process took maybe 15 minutes.

Today Juju and I get fitted for our fashion show costumes for the Denver Fair. She is so excited. The museum called this last week to ask her to be a part of it. She is also entering Ivan (Fluffiest Cat). Hubby and Mesha are entering Pippa (Speckled Sussex) and Alice (Ameraucana) respectively. I entered the Pomegranate Cocktail Cherries I canned last fall. Saturday is well anticipated in our home.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ooops! My bad. . .

Both empty. Full now.

lazy morning

Everyone else is asleep so I have had 40 minutes of doing nothing. Today this means drinking coffee and pursuing random garden focused blogs. The livestock have enough food/water to tide them over until the girls get up - when they see the note from me (I will be at work) asking (or rather telling nicely) them to do the morning chores. Tomorrow I am off work, but my to do list is so long and I don't plan to spend time in front of the computer.

On a side note, Hubby brought these home from the P-patch yesterday. One of them was for me. They are sungold cherries, and all of the rain we have had has made these the best textured cherry tomatoes I have had in years. Usually my tomatoes have tough skins, but not these.

We spent an hour or so in the community garden a couple days ago. The tomatoes have taken over! We pulled up the banana pepper that was being smothered (now in a pot on the front steps) and pruned hard the cherry tomato plants. (brown, red, yellow and orange) We also dug up some volunteer dill that is now planted in our front landscape. The garden is in a holding position, as the cold crops bolt (we missed the window to harvest broccoli and it is now flowering) and the fruits are just starting.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Quick, while it's not raining

The last couple weeks have been hot in the am, thunderstorms with heavy rain in the pm.

The first storm knocked the downspout off the gutter above the hen yard, causing a major waterfall between the girls and the coop. Hubby held said downspout in place while I chased them inside then tied it to the deck rail to end in an old garbage can - since my rain barrel has not been finished. It filled up in ten minutes and I watched, angry at myself, as it overflowed into the yard. All that water wasted. . . .

My time at home seems to be taken up by reorganized the house for better wheelchair accessibility - or working on the front yard so the neighbors find it pleasing. . . .

The only thing growing in mass quantities are mushrooms. They are all over the yard and in the landscaping. We think they are edible meadow mushrooms, but without an authority on the subject to correctly identify them they are useless to us. . . .

The winter squash and watermelon are going all out - vining profusely but only with male flowers that will bear no fruit. The peppers and tomatoes are fruiting - better at the P-patch than at home. Nasturtium at home is burned, at the P-patch they are 6 feet long. We cut back all the basil at the P-patch, enough to make 5 cups of pesto.

Hubby got his first ripe cherry tomato (yellow sungold) yesterday. He claims it was the size of a golf ball, but since we never saw it (he ate it) I am inclined suspect this is the gardeners version of the fish that got away story.

We lost (literally) one of the quails this morning while I was cleaning their hutch. After an hour of Juju and I chasing him (her?), it slipped under the deck - as far as we know it is still there. I had a heart to heart with Mesha before work. She has been very insistent this year that we become urban farmers and I told her that losing livestock is part of being a farmer. She seemed to take it rather stoically for a 6 year old.

I've still got to butcher the last meat chicken. . . .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

P-patch bounty

Meanwhile . . .back at the ranch

So this is the first chance I have had to sit down and write about what happened here during my summer vacation. (read - I have coffee and everyone else is asleep)

First up - we now have 5 chickens. As Hubby grumpily emailed me while the girls and I were chillin' by a lake in N. Minnesota "Here I am wringing the neck of sHeena before I've even had my coffee" He had been woken at 5am by the Polish's attempt at crowing - again. We had an idea that a second rooster was with us - the female's head feathers are soft and curving and sHeena's had grown out spiky. It also explains why he always had a standoff with the bigger meat chickens (of which Dumpling is still left). I emailed My Pet Chicken and they responded promptly that I was covered under the 90% guarantee. We want 2 more hens and will be looking at our options (either chicken swap, county fair, or 2 new chicks)

Cadbury escaped again. Chris found his doors open when he got up Tuesday morning after fireworks. After searching unsuccessfully for a couple hours he enlisted the help of the boys next door. They found him in ten minutes - hanging out under the far corner of the shed asleep with Ivan. Wish we had a pix of that!

The peas are done. I fed them to the chicks. The branches I had used for them to grow on were way to flimsy - before planting again later this month (for fall harvest in theory) I need to come up with another option. (I only have one of the decorative metal things shown)

Our beans (rattlesnake, gold of Bacau & Christmas Lima) are finally up and also need a climbing option - that needs to be done this week.

The raspberries took the transplant hard. Being brambles I am sure I will see them happily growing and producing next year. Same with the rhubarb.

All of the squash and melon planted from seed are still on only their second or 3rd set of leaves. Even the 3 I transplanted from inside are slow. I have heard this from other gardeners also.

Here is a white oriental lily that I discover last fall smothered by vinca and virginia creeper. It is still small and in danger of being covered again - but it didn't bloom last year.

The rose blooms are small this year - I am not sure if it is from the hard pruning I did, need for soil amendments or the weather. I will examine them next year.

This year I also have hollyhocks! Last year the plants were rusty and stunted and never bloomed. Following directions from various sources I cut them to the ground and trashed the plants. We have 2 shades of pink and a few whites. This almost makes up for none of my 2 packets of seeds I planted indoors surviving to be planted outdoors - if they germinated at all.

We have peppers forming! Also tomatoes.

On a totally different note. Quail are freaking messy! At least 3x a day we have to clean out bedding and poop from their poultry style waterers. The style used for parrots would be a better option. Now I know why rabbit hutches were suggested (wire floors) The rabbit style of hopper feeder stays cleaner than the poultry (jar) style.

My "needs" list for the animals and garden is almost as long as the "needs" list for the family.

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's a first

I have always grown cut and come again lettuce. But this year I thinned out some of the squares of lettuce at Hubby's P-Patch to get heads and this is the first - a bibb style. It is a day or 2 late in the picking, but lovely none the less.

Thursday, July 7, 2011