July 2012, new chicks, filling the pantry

lilliputian

I miss the Bubsters. When I’m out in the garden, picking bucket loads of zucchini, I’ll glance over to where they were this spring and summer, and my lower lip curls down into a literal sad face. There’s an empty space there, where once my Bubsters roamed, quickly returning to the native prairie.

So I called the feed store yesterday on my drive into town. “Hey, so, if you guys have any orders of chicks that get abandoned, we’d be interested.” I hadn’t consulted my farming partner about this. But I had a hole in my heart. I love Bubsters, I love raising them and giving them such a good life. I want people to eat chickens from our farm. If we don’t have any, then what will they eat? Not such good chicken, is what.

I was delivering duck eggs to the co-ops, as well as our new Sampler Shares. Since I’ve mastered the stick shift, I can now make the deliveries and get out in the wonderful world a bit. Getting the chance to talk with and give hugs to our customers, brings all our work full circle for me. This interaction with the people we feed from our farm is so very bolstering. Sampler Shares were delivered after meeting up with our amazing supporters.

These Shares brought in some much needed income for the farm. Then I proceeded to spend it all, on what the farm needs to grow and thrive. Some investments into the rabbitry setup were made, and I needed canning supplies. My phone rang. The feedstore. Hmmmm, what do they want?

Oh what do you know, they had an order of 150 broiler chicks that the lady who’d ordered them didn’t want anymore. 150 chicks. How can you place an order for that many little lives, and then change your mind? I don’t get it. We could not take all of them, and after some texting back and forth with my husband, I told them we’d take half of the chicks. Oh boy, dreams do come true! After my mad shopping spree, I drove to the feedstore on my way home and picked up the box of chicks. They’d just been hatched that morning, tiny little fluffkins of delight.

They were settled into their brooder, and immediately demonstrated why I love them so much- the vivaciousness of these little eensy-weensy chicks blows my mind. They raced about with glee, like bumblebees on chunky legs. I tiptoed through the baby bubsters, making sure they all were doing ok after receiving their first food and water. Fearless and curious about everything, like the Lilliputians in Gulliver’s Travels, they clambered over my barefeet and attentively watched my fingers sprinkling out feed.

blogging in the basement

Someday I’ll have one of those underground homes if I’m lucky and we’re smart energy-wise. I’m not lusting after a hobbit style cavern, rather, a clean, spacious and long home, facing the south and bermed on the north, east and west. I’d like one of these modern “earth ship” style homes especially to deal with the heat of summer. Our current basement works pretty well to cool off, but we have an old, old home….it’s not really a nice place to hang out, but I have my laptop down here so I can at least do a little writing.

Ambient ground temperatures do not fluctuate wildly, so it stays between 45-60 degrees down here year round. So perfectly cool that I can store feta in brine jars down here all year! In our cool basement, we actually have several 3/4 gallon jars of kraut and kimchi, fermented pickles and green beans too. The pickles are still crisp, as crisp as dills can be when naturally fermented with salt, water, wild grape and cherry leaves. Delicious.

On the shelves Andrew constructed for my canning, there is evidence of last year’s season as well….canned quarts of honey applesauce, canned apple juice and cider, tomatoes, salsa, jellies, pickled peppers, dilly beans, pickled beets. We used alot of it, and now the preservation cycle begins again. All the 2011 jars are moved to one side, to give space for the hundreds of jars that will be brought down here over the next couple months. I love canning and putting things up, enabling us to eat from our farm year round. Soon I’ll get into pressure canning so we can pare down the freezer useage by putting up meat in jars. Sounds gross, but think of tuna in cans. Tender and ready to use.

Things have been crazy in the garden. Almost overwhelming. I went from the delight of harvesting loads and loads and loads of green beans & zucchini, garlic to cure, the peppers are beginning now, and tomatoes about to go nutty. Today I upped the ante and actually filled 2 wheelbarrows with onions. They still have their tops on, and were curing in the field, but rain was threatening, so into the hoophouse they went, parked in wheelbarrows.

All this bounty, besides what goes out in our CSA boxes, has to be put up somehow. I’ve been canning, but this heat streak has put a clincher on my plans. Today I’m trying out dehydrator zucchini chips, but that’s only dealt with 2 big ones. It’s so hot in the house I put the dehydrator on the sunporch. Don’t get after me about using this electric device please- I do sun dry stuff alot, but it’s hot, humid AND overcast today. It’s my first time trying out the dehydrator, since Andrew’s Aunt handed it down to us. We’ll see if these zucchini chips are any good.

Yesterday I made a pickled green bean salad to can up. It was supposed to be a 3 Bean Salad, but we don’t have shelling beans just yet. It took me like 4 hours with all those beans! Despite being hot and bothered in the kitchen, dealing with cauldrons of boiling water, the mixture looked and smelled amazing, and was entirely from the garden. As I jarred up, the brine amount from the recipe looked rather small, and indeed it was. My temper flared, as everything was hot and ready and I ran out of brine! Stupid recipe! Hot and humid and pissed. After I made more brine (apple cider and white vinegar, honey, salt, celery and mustard seeds) I fillled up the remaining jars, capped them, and into the canner they went. I heard a loud THUNK. NOOOOOOOO! One of the jars burst along the bottom seam. I cannot tell you how extremely infuriating this is. Perhaps I had the water in the canner too hot. I watched all those carefully prepared pieces of greenbeans, red onion, celery begin to float to the surface. Now, a normal person would have air conditioning. And a normal person would PROBABLY empty the pot and begin to can again with fresh clean water. Not me. I was so pissed.

After their water bath time, all 6 quart jars and 2 pints sealed, but they were a bit sticky. I left them sitting there, the jars and me cooling off. I wrote down my notes on my “canning legend” for 2012, I’ll just write a number on the lids, and write down their particulars on my legend list. Then I don’t have to write out the description on each lid, which when you are caning gobs and gobs of salsa or applesauce, gets to be a bit tedious.

This morning I took off the rings and carefully washed the outsides of the jars. The “salad” looks marvelous. This winter we’ll drain off a bit of the brine, and toss the salad with olive oil and freshly cracked pepper. Cradling the jars full of summer in my arms, I brought them down into the cool basement, on the new 2012 side of the shelving.

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One thought on “July 2012, new chicks, filling the pantry

  1. Been there with the jar breaking in the canner – I too just kept going with the boiling and dealt with the mess. My feed store could relate to the issue with the non-pickup of birds. They now require not only a 25 bird min order, but also 50% down at time of ordering, which seems to have reduced the frequency of this happening. But I agree, how can people not feel responsible for all those little lives they’re just changing their minds about? I guess there are extenuating circumstances occasionally – serious injury or illness for example, but still.

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