Weekly Homestead Report 4: Sept 5, 2016


IMG_5826My parents, Charley, and I skinned the greenhouse and did a lot of the fiddly little finishing work on Tuesday. Then I picked up a bunch of cardboard by hanging around at the transfer station intercepting people with big boxes on their way to the recycling bins. I’m using it to smother the grass; hopefully in a year or so, both the sod and the cardboard will have turned into good soil, without us having to dig it up (a lot of work that would apparently disturb the good soil microbes). Now we just need to frame the raised beds and fill it up with compost and some seeds for this winter!

IMG_5931After getting to a stopping point with the hoop house, Dad went fishing while Mom and I picked about 8 pounds of Hungarian hot wax peppers and pickled them. We made 11 half pints and 4 pints of sweet hot peppers, and managed not to burn our hands or eyes with the pepper juice (gloves are essential for this operation). Thursday was another tomato day, with 4 jars of stewed whole tomatoes, and 9 more jars of sauce (a few jars thick enough for pizza sauce this time).

Wednesday, August 31, sometime while I was taking my parents to the airport, a grouse struck the fence of our chicken run, killing itself.

This is not the first grouse-smacking-chicken-pen incident at our house, but it is the first that ended with a death. Last April a grouse hen flew into the closed shed door while I was in there getting food for the chickens, which was quite alarming for both of us. She sat, dazed, on the ground for long enough for me to take some pictures. When Charley opened the door a while later, unaware of the event, she spooked and flew into the side of the chicken fence, then veered off into the woods.

IMG_9810Later that summer, we found a grouse-sized dust bath, complete with a feather, under our rhubarb patch. This year, we have routinely flushed a family of at least five grouse from our blackberry patch, and recently found another dust bath sufficiently large for the whole family on the dirt among the roots of an upturned tree.

IMG_5877I suspect this bird was one of those. It is always very sad to find that our human infrastructure has caused the death of an animal, but around here, we try hard not to waste food, especially meat. I don’t usually photograph my dinner plate, but the “chicken” vindaloo with fresh tomatoes and onions was mighty fine.

Wednesday was an interesting day for another reason, too. Just after finding the dead grouse, I spotted an adult monarch butterfly. She fluttered over the garden and laid several of the distinctive ribbed yellowish eggs on a small patch of milkweed. Charley took some closeups of the eggs (it’s his photo below), and we’ve been checking them every day so we can record how long it takes them to hatch, and photograph the young caterpillars.IMG_0214In the yard, lobelia is blooming, and the red maples are just starting to turn reddish-orange, but most of the woods still look green. We found some mating ambush bugs hanging out with a dead cabbage white butterfly in the woods today.  We’ve been chasing the little buggers around the yard with nets, trying to feed them to the chickens before their caterpillars finish decimating the brassicas, so it was nice to find an ally.

We ate our first ripe watermelon of the season and a few beach plums, as well as an abundance of ground cherries, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, squash, beans, etc. We probably ate the last of the corn, though maybe there are a few ears yet to be found.

This weekend we started digging an expansion of our perennial bed by the driveway/ solar panel area. It has been a week of unbridled productivity due to the pleasant weather and my computer not being around (it got some kind of virus and had to take a trip to the neighborhood computer-repair guy).

IMG_5927.JPGI suppose it won’t look like much until next summer, but I’m excited to get it all planted and mulched in the next week or so.

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