Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So Much to be Grateful For

As I untie the last knot on the plastic yellow rope, the bean tree trellis falls to the ground and is no more. It is November in the garden, and, yes, Tim and I are still working on creating paradise in our own little corner of the world. It is a rare sunny day, warm for this time of year. As we work together outside, I think about how working in the garden with him is on my list of Top Five Things I Like To Do With Tim.

How did the garden come out? I can't say it was huge success, but I can't say it was a huge failure either. This is a picture of it in late August/early September from the upstairs window in my house. No matter what, it was all quite lovely to look at throughout the growing season.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mama, Where Do Eggs Come From?

My backyard. It's like watching a live show at the community theater. Anything can happen, and it will. Even Shakespeare can't compare, and we have some really good Shakespeare productions where I live.

The scarlet runner beans take center stage growing up and over poles forming a nice bean teepee even though the neighborhood deer have helped themselves to lunch a few times. Butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and predators come to visit. Worms eat food scraps and poop compost. Tomatoes turn orange and red. And the chickens scratch for bugs and worms, and help themselves to the strawberries before I can pick them.

There are things going on that I can't see, too, like the onions and potatoes growing underground. And once the hens started laying, I started to think about all those egg cells in their bodies, and it was no longer enough just to open up the nesting box and help myself to the finished product.

Endlessly fascinated, I needed to know more.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Of Coyotes, Chickens, and Cats

It felt like forever, and I was starting to lose patience. When I got my three hens, I was told they'd start laying in August probably. I thought perhaps though that these chicks could be on the exceptional side, as is my cat, Larry, and maybe they'd start producing eggs just a little early...maybe?

I am a good chicken owner. I make sure the girls have feed and water at all times. I toss in greens for variety. Sometimes a strawberry or two from the garden as well. Every worm I capture is theirs. I let them roam free under supervision when I'm working outside. And now I was ready to be rewarded for that.

But July ended, and then it was August, and still I was eggless. I started to call them "the slacker hens." Out loud and on Facebook even.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Berry Goodness and Betty MacDonald

It's berry season, and nothing smells more deliciously sweet than a pot of crushed strawberries cooking on the stove for jam. Most people here head out to Graysmarsh Farm in Sequim for u-pick, but Tim's niece Deanna discovered a place out in Chimacum last year that has u-pick strawberries, so we went there yesterday and got about 4-5 gallons between us.

This farm is called Egg & I Gardens, located at 2027 Egg and I Road. Coming from Port Townsend, drive north down Center Road, turn left on Egg and I, and go another mile or so until you see the sign on the left. The owners, Doyle and Stephanie Yancey (no relation to the local musician named Gordy, but he gets that all the time, he said), planted the strawberries as ground cover and erosion control for a bank awhile back and got such good yield they decided to offer u-pick. At $5 a gallon (they have black plastic pots there for measuring) or $1.75 a pound, it's a much better deal than anything you'll buy in the store, and it doesn't take very long at all to pick a bunch. Bring the kids to help if you want, but the odds are stacked heavily against all of the berries making it into the bucket as you can see here by the evidence on Deanna's (and her partner Hans') son's face and clothes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Regular Joe's Remarkable Garden

I love to visit other people's gardens, and no one I know has a more idyllic backyard than my cousin Joe. He lives in Eastern Washington in Wenatchee where I went for a family reunion last weekend, and while that is a little far afield from the Olympic Peninsula, he grew up in Shelton, so I'm including him on my blog because it's...well...my blog, and I can do whatever I want.

Washington State, for what it's worth, ranks first in the U.S. in apple production, and a majority of those apples come from the Wenatchee Valley which is the state's largest producer and exporter of this fruit grown on over 170,000 acres of orchard there.

As a matter of fact, Joe, who was recently unemployed like myself, just took a job at a fruit processing plant. Me, I just got a part-time job at the local food co-op, too.

I'd never been to Joe and Pat's house before, so I had no idea what to expect. All I heard was "they have a pool." I'm not much of a swimmer, so the pool itself wasn't much of a draw, but by the time the weekend was over all of us cousins who used their place as command central were ready to move in for the summer.

So here's some serious garden porn to gaze upon. This first picture is an arbor that leads into a circular hideaway enclosed by greenery. My cousin Victoria said it was the perfect place to take a book and read.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

School's Out For Summer

Where have I been, you ask? For the past month and a half, I've been thoroughly immersed in school, and what suffered from blog neglect paid off with A's for final grades in all of my classes. We're talking community college here, so it's not like it's Stanford, but nevertheless, I was happy to achieve a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the quarter.

I learned a lot in school, mostly how to use Adobe software projects, Photoshop in particular. I incorporated food and chickens into a lot of my assignments, and one week we had to build a realistic magazine cover and put ourselves on it. For that, I used one of my favorite magazines, Hobby Farm Home, and I think it was the best thing I made all quarter, so I'm putting it here so you can see for yourself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rama at the Hama Hama

Lissa James can throw one heck of a party.

If you missed it last weekend, then put it on your calendar for 2013. Usually the first low-tide weekend in May, the Hama Hama Oyster Rama* is a day-long fundraiser for the Hood Canal Education Foundation in Lilliwaup, Wash., complete with oyster and wine tastings, a shucking contest, beer garden, a variety of shellfish culinary experiences, cooking and history seminars, trivia contest, arts and crafts, live music, and best of all, the opportunity to dig your own clams and pick your own oysters for less than the sponsoring Hama Hama Oyster Company's retail price.

Arriving promptly at 11am last Saturday when the u-pick started (time is of the essence as the incoming tide waits for no one), Tim and I dug at least six pounds of clams and gathered six dozen more oysters.

One of the guys who checked us out was so impressed with our foraging skills that he said, "Wow. Do you want a job?"

Believe me, I was tempted. There is something about going outside into the fresh air to get food that feels visceral to me.