learning to love squash, and rat woes

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Here’s what I made for dinner tonight. Red Lentil Daahl, with basmati rice, roasted squash and roasted cabbage. It was SOOOOOO good. I discovered that I really like squash sliced thinly and roasted with onion slivers, dabbed with a bit of some sort of savory fat from a roast (this time I used ham fat.) I lay the slices out flat in a big cast iron pan and they almost dry roast in the oven, which for me is a much more enjoyable texture than the sort of mushy steam/roast I used to do (and didn’t really like.) Cabbage was roasted in big chunks separately from the squash, since I wanted that to be moist at the end of it’s roasting, and it would have crowded the squash if I’d had them together, making the squash mushy. The daahl is so simple, just the red lentils covered with water and simmered until thickened. Separately I fried mustard seeds, a bit of onion, a couple bok choy butts and curry powder in goose fat for a minute til the seeds began to pop, then added that to the daahl pot to mingle for a few minutes. Then we had to eat!

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I was trolling my camera card’s “archive” and came across these pictures from the fall. Aww, the Bubsters. I love that one with the little guy in mid flap, he looks like a pheonix. There’s my sister Melanie digging up soil before the ground froze, putting it into buckets so I can use it this winter to grow flats of greens in the window for winter salads, and for any early seed starting I may want to do. You can’t shovel up frozen solid dirt when you need it, I have learned! The lil’ Bubs were excitedly leaping on the dirt as she shoveled, scratching for worms and bugs. It was a adorable. Mel’s in Ecuador right now, and about to venture into Peru next!

Belle was digging for rats in those pictures too, they’d found the hoophouse a great place to hide and tunnel, which actually helped aerate the composting bedding and poop from the hundreds of animals who have lived in the hoophouse over the past 4 years. Now though, the rats have moved out because the entire space is open to the piglets, who are very good at making sure there are no hidden places for the rats to shelter. Rats are inevitable anywhere there is feed, and feed spills are too- whether by accident or dumped out when a pig knocks over a trough. We’ve been battling the rats by making as few spaces for them to hide as possible, and that’s about all we can do. We’re not going to put out poison, because even though it would effectively kill the rats, then their bodies would leach out the poison wherever they died. I saw this infographic on facebook about an owl who ate a poisoned mouse and nearly died because of it. So, no poison on our farm. The main draw around here for rats is actually our gravity box/feed bin, which leaks like crazy. It was never really meant to be used as we are using it- gravity boxes were created to transport threshed grain crops off the field and over to an elevator or grain bin, from what I understand. We have it on our radar to get the piece of equipment we need, an enclosed grain bin which will move feed for the ducks into the barn via a grain auger. This will eliminate spills, and hopefully reduce rats. These types of grain bins are pretty massive and hard to transport, and they also need to be mounted onto a very thick cement pad so they don’t tip over with the tons of feed inside. Cement work will have to wait until spring (it was -15 last night, we have entered super winter now!) . Meanwhile Andrew’s been pouring water down their tunnels around the gravity box to force them out, and when they emerge, Belle’s on it. She’s channeling her inner rat-terrier!

 

 

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One thought on “learning to love squash, and rat woes

  1. We have rat woes here too. I’ve been trapping them daily, not wanting to use poison for the same reasons as you. I usually set the traps in a place where cats and chickens can’t get at them – but I caught a sparrow on Christmas Eve, and was so remorseful, I haven’t put the traps out since. Gotta get back to it though. Wish our dog was still around, she was a great rat catcher.

    We love red lentils here, and are fortunate that Saanichton Farm just up the road grows them. I mix them with rice sometimes, and I’ve had them in curry, but I’ve never put them with squash – seems kind of obvious now you’ve demonstrated it – I’ll have to give it a go!

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