Sunday, December 31, 2006

What to do on the last day of the year

Charlie finished the greenhouse yesterday. It took a little work to level out a spot. We've still got work to do. We need to gravel the inside. For now there's landscape fabric. We'll be building a low retaining wall and filling the newly created bed behind the greenhouse with low growing herbs, flowers and veggies.

I filled some 7-gallon containers with potting mixture and sowed seeds for the first greenhouse crops - rouge d'hiver lettuce, black-seeded simpson lettuce, a mesclun mix, a stir fry greens mix, catalina spinach and oregon giant snow peas. I have more containers to fill. I'm thinking of starting some carrots and radishes. For now everything will be in containers, but I'm planning on some raised beds this spring. Before we know it, it will be time to start seed for the garden. I've got to leave a little room for some shelves. The seed catalogs are arriving daily and I'm getting itchy to order way too much again this year. But I've got grand plans forming for 2007.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Roosters Swapped

I met up with Jamie on Thursday and it was a wonderful meeting. We met in a brewpub in downtown Greenville, SC and swapped roosters. It was an odd excuse for a meeting, but a worthwile one. She had an extra Speckled Sussex rooster (which I had been wanting, as I have four hens) and I had Lucky, the Barred Rock/Dominique - only named because he managed to escape not one, but two attempts at butchering. Good luck, Jamie - he's a handsome, yet crafty creature. The Sussex is now getting used to his new surroundings with one hen and will soon be joining the group.

I haven't been doing this whole blog thing quite as long as she, so it was nice to meet someone else doing what I'm doing. I liken it to meeting a pen pal. Do people still have pen pals? I had one from Japan and one from France (who at some point got tired of my poor French grammar, and stopped les lettres. Jamie was just as friendly and cool as I expected and surprisingly familiar. I suppose it helps that I've been reading her posts for almost two years... I even made the aquaintance of her car, Squeaky - which is blue, sort of.

Here is Number Two (her name for him, but it seems to be sticking) at the rooster swap high atop a parking garage in Greenville. He was quite perturbed when I brought him home and then he saw the Speckled Sussex hen in the pen next to him and he turned on the old rooster charm (they must be hardwired that way...). Way to go Number Two and welcome to Little Creek Farm.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Holiday Recovery

Finally, a time to relax. The Monkey has finally gone to bed after two days of hard partying. In case you're wondering, "hard partying" for a four year old (excuse me, four and a half year old) involves wearing a Tinkerbell constume, consuming vast quantities of sugar, jumping up and down frequently and non-stop verbalizing. The hardest part has been that the weather turned and our Christmas was rather wet. Nasty, cold wet. It has at least set in motion serious plans for revamping the critter area. Gravel - it's a novel concept. And it's much easier to walk on than soul-sucking mud

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas, or whatever it is you do at this time of year. We tried to have less present under the tree, but our families didn't quite cooperate. Monkey didn't mind. She got a Tinkerbell costume, a Hello Kitty boombox (for her collection of kindermusik and Suzuki violin cds) and lots of art supplies. Charlie received practical presents like new boots, two copies of the new edition of the Joy of Cooking, and a doormat made of recycled flip-flops (one of our favorites!).

My Christmas present didn't fit under the tree this year. It is still sitting in several large boxes on the screened porch (thanks to the rain). I got a greenhouse! I've begged Charlie for months to help me build a hoop house and had been rather dissapointed that he seemed to show no interest in the prospect of fresh vegetables year round. Little did I know he was plotting. It's the curse of living with a landscape designer... all has to look good. So, as soon as the weather breaks, he'll be out assembling all those panels and soon I'll be planting radishes and lettuce!

While not a "present", so to speak, we do have new inhabitants here at Little Creek. Four Guinea Fowl - three lilac and one pearl, have joined the menagerie.

Two breeding pairs. I hoping for little guineas in the spring. From what I've read, they love to eat bugs and scratch less than the chickens - they may even get to go in the garden! I'm hoping to that they'll be rather self-sufficient. I know they are tasty! Although these four are just for breeding and increasing the screaming guinea horde. In case you aren't aware, Guineas can set up quite the racket when they want to set off an alarm. When they are just chatting, however, the sound quite pleasant with little chirps and such.

Tonight it's snowing and blowing and the temperatures have dropped. How do we keep warm around here? Let me share a favorite Christmas drink. I think Santa loves when I leave him one by the fireplace...

Aztec Sluggers from Gourmet, December 2005

Here's what you need...

1 cup freshly brewed strong coffee

1/4 cup bourbon

1/2 oz Kahlua

2 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

6 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon sugar

Heat coffee, bourbon, Kahlua, chocolate, and 2 tablespoons cream in a heavy saucepan over low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate is melted. (Do not let it boil.)

Whisk remaining 1/4 cup cream with sugar until it holds soft peaks.

Divide drink between two large mugs, then top with whipped cream. Enjoy with your favorite jolly, old elf. I'm taking some down to the guineas right now as a house-warming gift.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Art - let's eat!

On Thursday afternoons I teach art to a group of home school children. They range in age from kindergarten through third grade. This whole "semester" we've been working with color and exploring lots of possibilities. For our last class of the year we made an edible color wheel.

Yummy. I only gave them frosting in the primary colors - red, blue and yellow. Their job was to create the color wheel. After much finger-licking and consumption of sugar, they went on their merry way. It was a very fun project. And I just have to say, I love teaching art this way - working with a handful of students over a protracted period of time. We really have been allowed to explore and learn. I just love hearing a kindergartner explain analgous colors to his mom.

I think I'm on my way to creating a little attelier! We meet in my studio and they get to see the paintings as I work on them. They ask questions and work at their own giant table. In January we move on to line, form and pattern. Soon I'll have them grinding colors and preparing canvases, while living in an indentured state in the garage... (not really - we can't go back to the renaissance, but a girl can dream).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One more day

One more day until Winter Break and I sure can use it! And tell me, how did I happen to not post anything here for two weeks (besides being a bad blogger?). Well, it could do with renegotiating my contract, writing a couple of grants and generally being exhausted.

It's not as if I didn't have anything to say... Everyday, something occured that was a little, if not exceedingly, "blog-worthy". I even created whole posts in my mind. I just didn't sit down at the computer to actually type.

So tomorrow starts 10 days of doing nothing work related. Which is not exactly true. The carpet cleaners are coming to school and I must be there to let them in and lock up afterward. But generally - I'm work free (well, besides a couple grants I want to polish off...).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Changes in the weather

Yesterday the temperature dropped by tens of degrees in a matter of hours. This morning all the water troughs were frozen solid. There is nothing more pathetic than a big white duck sitting on a frozen block of ice that the day before was a baby pool full of water. It was pathetic not in the attempt, but in the length of time - Ping sat, waiting for some sort of magical transformation of ice to water to occur, close to 10 minutes before he slid off in frustration.

It was 8 degrees here this morning. The water line to the coop was frozen. I had to carry buckets from the house to the coop and back five times. I've broken the ice for the birds and goats twice today. It's a good thing I got to use my executive powers and call a snow day today.

I'm sure that every teacher that enters administration experiences a shock of pleasure the first time she gets to cancel school due to weather. It is the ultimate power to posess the code needed to put your school's name on that cancellation list scrolling across the bottom of the television screen during the local morning news. What child wouldn't sell their soul for that code? Well, it's stuck to the side of my fridge kiddies, and I'm not sharing!

The down side of posessing that power is getting up at 5 a.m., checking to see if the public schools are cancelled, calling teachers to check the weather, calling the board chair to make sure you have the cancellation policy correct, and then knowing that some parent will still show up to an empty building at 8 a.m. and wonder what the hell is going on.

Did I mention that we only had about 1/2 an inch of snow?

Eggs up to my armpits

The chickens have finished molting and I've added extended hours of light with a timer and light bulb in the chicken house. Suddenly I'm up to my arm pits in eggs. Also, keeping them cooped up, so to speak, has finally triggered a desire to use the nest boxes. Yesterday there was a total of 23 eggs. I found a clutch of five beautiful blue eggs under the goat shed by accident. I caught my white ameraucana hen coming out from under the corner of the shed and viola! Cool weather has kept them all fresh. Now if only I can get her to lay where I want her to.

Oh, and while I can't quite knit as fabulously as Liz, here's the Monkey in her new favorite hat. Perhaps I'll have the scarf ready for Christmas. My plan was to have hats for my two nieces and nephew as well. I better get knitting.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's not even technically winter...

And I'm dreaming of spring.

I turned another year older on Friday. That however had to take a back seat to everything else last week. My contract with the school as interim head ends December 31 and I had, until last night, not heard a word on whether I would be there for the second semester. Well last night I heard I would be. I found out today that I would be getting a raise, and that the Board would really like for me to apply for the permanent position. Gosh, I was just starting to look for a new job...

Anyway, let me describe briefly the typical day of last week. In briefest terms: Overflowing toilet, unannounced arrival of state inspector, pre-schooler with bloody nose, another overflowing toilet (inspector still there...), slightly insane intern overreacting to something that has nothing to do with her, odd parent questioning the validity of a field trip to see the Nutcracker (inspector still there...parent should be shot...), I forgot my lunch and then... projectile vomiting in the teachers' bathroom by elementary student (luckily inspector was gone by then because that bathroom is not covered by health inspections and student should not have been there). That was such a good day!

This weekend I ignored anything to do with education and took myself and Biscuit the Wonder Dog to a dog trial. We brought home two second places and a third place. Not bad for a soon-to-be nine year old dog.

Now I am going to peruse the first of the seed catalogs that arrived today and help myself to a beer...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tomorrow's menu

The turkey will not fit in the oven. It weighs more than the Monkey. What to do? Well, we've decided to cut him into smaller parts and roast the dark meat seperately. I swear the legs are about as big as the average turkey breast. It's incomprehensable, really.

So here's the plan.

The world's largest turkey from right here at Little Creek Farm

Salad, made with lettuce from Weaverville - 20 miles by road (10, as the crow flies), goat cheese from Madison County - 25 miles, and walnuts from right beside the creek.

Mashed Potatoes from Madison County - 25 miles (our potatoes were consumed rather rapidly this year)

Carolina Rice (over 100 miles, but from the Carolinas) with locally grown oyster mushrooms.

This day requires lots of starch!

Green Beans and Beets from our garden and Brussel Sprouts from just down the road.

We were going to forget about the Cranberry Sauce, until Charlie's aunt, who will be visiting wanted to make it and then wonder of wonders, Charlie found Cranberries from the mountains of South Carolina - go figure

I hope there's room left in everyone's belly for the Apple/Blueberry Pie!

And now, I'm going to relax and do nothing. It is a holiday, after all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

42 pounds

That's the weight of our thanksgiving turkey - dressed. We need to invite more people for dinner...
It was a long ordeal to prep that bird. "Meatzilla" lived up to his name. Charlie did the actual butchering this time. We didn't have anything big enough to soak the turkey in after he was butchered. We had to use a big rubbermaid tub filled with water and ice. It's on the back screened porch with a drafting board and a load of wood on top to keep it safe from wild things (or border collies...). Keep your fingers crossed.

Tomorrow I'll fill you in on what will be accompanying that big, bad fowl.

Mr. Louis goes to school

On friday we had a Thanksgiving potluck feast at school. I was amazed at all the food made by the parents. There is something to say about a group of people in today's society who take the time to bake healthy goodness for their kids' school party. Only one thing on the whole table of food from over 40 families was store-bought. I was down-right impressed!

The children have spent the better part of November, learning about Thanksgiving and all things Thanksgivingy (it's a word, I swear...). So what better way to celebrate than to bring them a real live turkey. Louis strutted and gobbled to his heart's content for pre-kindergarteners and elementary students. He was serenaded by the little ones on several occasions that day with songs about turkeys. Everyone was happy to learn that he was a pet and wouldn't end up on the table.

It was incredible to see three and four year olds point out the snood and wattle to their parents. And for everyone to get excited every time Louis gobbled. I must be naive, but I couldn't believe how many people had never seen a turkey before. I guess, growing up in a farming area exposed me to my food, even though my family had nothing to do with farming (unless you count horses). I had a discussion with several vegans about my decision to "know" my meat (that doesn't sound to nasty does it?). And while, I don't think I converted any of them to carnivore status, one was very impressed with my philosophy. Again, everyone was quite glad that Louis was not food... I also got in a few discussions about local food and talked about the 100-mile Thanksgiving. People were all trying to figure out what foods they could make from local ingredients. I might have had a few converts there.

I'll be sharing our local menu today or tomorrow. Right now I have to get ready for school. Half the kids are taking off an extra two days, so it will be Montessori light today and tomorrow. Oh, and snow is forecasted for today, maybe I'll have my first chance to cancel school!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

This is the November I remember

We've had several days of delicious weather with sunny days and temperatures in the 70's. But today we're back to clouds, rain and wind. It's a nice day to stay inside and do homey things. We've a big pot of red beans on. Charlie is making a breakfast of eggs and sausage.

Today's to do list:

  • Spend time in studio working on Louis painting.

  • Go buy bird seed and fill bird feeders.

  • Set up lights in chicken house.

  • Sit by fire and do absolutely nothing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Good morning, starshine!

The earth says Hello!
Sorry, it's the Monkey's favorite movie line...

And this is her favorite meal. Monkey loves omelettes and she made this one herself from an Araucana egg (it was blue!). Her first self-made meal. The kid is a natural. I helped her with the whole pan thing, but she cracked the egg, whisked it up, and poured it in the pan. She even added some cheese near the end. The color of the omelette was actually more intense than the photo. That's what happens with healthy, happy hens!

I may be slightly skewed in my feelings, but that's pretty good for a four year old, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's in a name?

We have a big decision here at Little Creek Farm. Apparently according to county regulations, if there are three or more residences on one drive, that drive has to have a street name and new addresses must be assigned. Guess who has three residences on their drive? Yippee!!!
So our new neighbor and Charlie have decided to ignore the rental property and just go with coming up with a name. Only two have to agree. Our first two choices - Little Creek Lane and Bumpy Road were taken.

Our new neighbor loves our turkeys and thinks we should come up with a name revolving around them. However the word "turkey" turns up in plenty of place names around here. Charlie came up with "Royal Palm" after our beloved Louis, but I think it's a little too "coastal" for around here.

I hate to have to change checks, credit cards and all the other things that will need to be changed (although it means I can get a new driver's license photo!). I guess the good thing is that we will have the street number of "1". Sweet.

Why not suggest a name or two. Maybe you'll win and get a free jar of Little Creek apple jam!

Oh and one more thing. I stepped out of the shower this morning and Charlie said, "We won!". Let's hear it for a change in the political atmosphere!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chicken Run

The battle for supremecy of Little Creek Farm continues. I'm in the lead at the moment, but I've noticed the turkeys conspiring. The chickens are acting a little more subdued and are starting to lay eggs in the nesting boxes, which is where they should be laying eggs. There are still a few at large, but one young black hen did surrender yesterday and run into the pen. The lure of cut apples, leftover spaghetti and fruit scraps was too much for her. Yes, little hen, domesticity is good!

The goats are getting rather fuzzy. Agatha Grunker looks even fatter than usual. After rather mild weather for the last several days, we are getting a taste of late fall and things to come. Yesterday was particularly blustery and I built a big roaring fire last night. This morning when I went to feed the multitude the duck pond, water troughs and chicken waterers were all frozen over. Brrr...

I had planned on making this month my back to consistent blogging month, however, phone service was out for two days. The lines were accidently cut when they put a new culvert in on our drive. This through a wrench in my plans, so I spent my evenings by the fire knitting (yes, I've been teaching myself to knit - photos soon!) instead of working. The lack of technology was rather nice. My plan for the winter is one night a week without electronics. We can read, play games or just relax and enjoy the quiet. Of course, I made this plan while Charlie was out of town and haven't told him yet - but I think I can win him over to the idea - he's easier to subdue than the chickens!

Oh and here's yesterday morning's blustery view...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bad Blogger

Sign of the times

The world took over for the last couple of weeks and while I had many thoughts and clever anectdotes to write about, by the time I had a moment to sit I was completely and utterly exhausted. I'm such a bad blogger.

And while my life as the "boss" (or is that "bossy"?) has consumed much of my time of late, life at Little Creek Farm continues on in much the same way as it always does. The goats are fat and happy. With all the work I've been doing, I thought it wise to postpone breeding them this year. We'll hold off on the added chore of milking for a while longer.

I'm in a battle to reclaim my spot as boss of the chicken house. In my continued absence, the uppity chickens have been laying their eggs all over their free-range heaven. Yesterday I locked the majority of them in the chicken run and told them no one gets to come out to play until they start laying eggs where they are supposed to and start sleeping in the chicken house at night like proper hens. They are not happy with me.

The turkeys are, well, the turkeys. Louis, Marie and Sacre Bleu rule the farm. Meatzilla and Leroy remain blissfully unaware of their impending doom and continue to literally eat like horses.
This weekend I did manage to grab a few hours and spend them in the garden. I planted garlic and dug up the rest of the potatoes. Next, I plan to pull out the tomato plants and cover all the rows in a lovely layer of compost and straw. Then I'll remulch all the rows and hopefully get a jump on spring!

Happy All Hallows Eve everyone!

Friday, October 13, 2006

It's downright nippy!

This morning as I let the dogs out I glanced at the thermometer on the back porch. It was below 40 degrees. Has fall arrived? I hope so. The leaves have changed in just this last week. The color change started at the tops of the mountains and is working its way down to the valleys. A couple of breezy days have filled my yard with leaves and the school yard with golden pine needles.

I didn't get as much fall planting completed in the garden as I had hoped to. It looks like soon I'll be turning it over to the goats and chickens. The turkeys (those whose lack of bulk allows them to fly) have been helping themselves all summer. By next spring the fencing will be in place and wings may be clipped. I hate to do that to the turkeys because they roost so high in the beech by the chicken coop, but I'd like to be able to harvest lots of tomatoes next year.

I can't wait for daylight savings time to begin. It's almost 7 a.m. and still pitch dark outside (although I do see a little hint of light over the mountains to the east. I'm getting tired of walking down to the coop and goat shed with a flashlight every morning. Maybe I should put "electricity" on Charlie's to-do list...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Just call me Dr. Doolittle

It was a very long weekend for us. We left Thursday night for Indianapolis to attend the wedding of one of Charlie's cousins. It was a very long weekend. But we made it home in time for work and school on Monday.

As I was preparing for today's all-school field trip I heard a rather loud "thunk" on my office door (which is a big glass door to the playground). I looked out and saw a young cedar waxwing flopping on the landing. The afternoon sun had made the glass look just like the outside and it had flown right in to it. I picked it up and it seemed stunned. It sat on my lap for close to 30 minutes before flying up into the dogwood outside my office. Here the little fellow is all happy and well again. Glad I could be of service little guy.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

The week in photos

It is lazy of me not to write, but I truly have been overwhelmed with work this week. So, I'll be writing more later, but here's some images from the week (that don't involve upset parents, second grade soccer field brawls, open houses, contract negotiations, and state standardized testing for school administrators...).

Louis is much to pretty to turn into Thanksgiving dinner, don't you think?

Marie is my constant gardening companion (and tomato theif).

Mmm... There's always time for cinnamon rolls!

Good morning!

Friday, September 22, 2006


Today's eggs. Snow White, the bantam cornish game hen (take a guess at who named her...) layed her first egg. Can you pick out which one is hers? I almost didn't notice it in the nest box.

How's that for tiny?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Is it the end already???

I can't believe it is week #12 of Liz's One Local Summer. I had hoped for a dramatic ending, but unfortunately we only made 3 meals at home this week. Pitiful, I know, but there are reasons! Charlie to off for Virginia for more than his usual amount of time. (More on that in a minute.)

There was a land mine found in the creek about a half a mile from our place. Yes, a land mine. How does a claymore anti-personnel device end up in a mountain creek in North Carolina? No one seems to know. A neighbor boy and his friend found it. Luckily they are two bright 4th graders and rather than playing with it went and told Mom & Dad. Smart kids. The police, volunteer fire department, highway patrol and anyone else with any sort of authority were down on the road (blocking my way home...). And the Asheville police bomb squad detonated it. It was "alive". It's got me thinking about walking willy-nilly through the woods, as I'm apt to do. Perhaps I should be training Gigi in explosive detection instead of agility...

Back to Charlie. He went to Virginia, signed a bunch of contracts, came home and quit his job. The contracts were for his new business. He's starting his own landscape design/consultation and planning company. No building or installing - just his own fabulous ideas. I'm very happy for him. He's wanted to do things his own way for a long time. The time was right and he finally (with lots and lots of careful planning and plotting!) just did it.

I've been extra busy at school with a few personnel issues. Did I mention that I will never complain about academic administrators again? I won't.

So, we did eat out a lot this week. We finally had time to go shopping yesterday. The cupboard is full of good things, so this week should be easy!

Anyway for our last hurrah of a local summer, we had eggs (0 miles), sausage (3 miles) and hashbrowns (0 miles). Sorry no photo, the camera is being quite tempermental. But trust me, it was lovely, homey, comforting and good!

Monday, September 11, 2006

OLS #11

Turkey Pot Pie! Everything is from the garden (or the chicken house), but the flour,butter (which are organic...), salt and pepper. It was a very busy week. I'm becoming more organized with this full-time job thing, but not organized enough to post my One Local Summer meal on time. I was organized enough to bake two pot pies. Everything is safely tucked away in the freezer for another day.

Did I mention how good that turkey was? Oh my. Yum.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Local Summer #10

I'm a little late in posting this meal, but it's a holiday weekend. I wish I had a picture of the whole meal, but we had guests and I totally forgot to take a picture of the lovely plate. Here is a photo of the turkey before we utterly carved it up into nothing. Charlie cooked it on the Weber grill.

Our dinner:

Turkey - 0 miles
Mashed Potatoes - 0 miles
Green Beans - 0 miles
Everything was flavored with herbs, onion and shallots from the garden - 0 miles.

Dessert was Belgian Dark Chocolate Ice Cream from Ultimate Ice Cream - a local establishment that makes exquisite ice creams - 5 miles

That bird is going to be feeding us for a long time.

We've been enjoying turkey sandwiches for the last two days. Tonight Charlie is making turkey pot pie (stuffed with veggies from the garden, of course).

We've also been enjoying these:

Kirby's Whippoorwill Cowpeas from Baker Creek Seeds.

And these:
Kentucky Beefsteak, also from Baker Creek. I ordered almost all of my tomato seeds from Baker Creek and I have new favorites. This one is extremely tasty and orange. It has yet to succumb to blight. It's still producing monster tomatoes. Another favorite has been Spear's Tennessee Green, which is green when ripe; turning to yellow if left on the vine. My only disapointment has been Amish Paste, which succumbed rather quickly to blight and split easily. Luckily, I had a lot of Italian Paste volunteers coming up from last year and I'm now getting a nice late crop of those.

I've spent the weekend in the garden trying to bring it back from the August Blah's. I'm ready to plant those fall crops now.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

There's always a silver lining...

This morning I found my broad-breasted white turkey hen outside the chicken coop on the edge of the woods. She wasn't moving, except of slightly flapping her wing and calling softly to the other turkeys who were milling around my feet and generally getting in the way of my morning feeding (which is what they do best). I went to get her. She had been outside all night. She couldn't put weight on her left leg. I tried to put her with the other birds, but he toms just kept climbing on top of her - poor thing. She let me pick her up again and put her in with the goat girls with food and water close.

I called Charlie on my way to school and told him he would most likely have an unwanted and un-asked-for task when he got home (I had meetings and wouldn't be home until after dark). He found her as I had left her and um, did the deed. It wasn't as we had planned. I hope she didn't suffer too much during the day, and I feel terrible that I had to let her suffer at all. I came home and there was turkey chilling in the sink. Charlie was decompressing with a bottle of wine.

The silver lining is that we now have a 20.2 dressed turkey hen in the fridge and our One Local Summer meal will be turkey on Saturday. That was one big bird.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

One Local Summer #9

Farm life requires a hearty breakfast. For the second week in a row we've gone local and upped our protein load to the maximum advised by law. Here's this week's One Local Summer submission. Is it #9? I think so.

Burgers Country Ham - bought in Missouri, 20 miles from my hometown, when I was visiting my parents.

Warren Wilson Pork Sausage - Warren Wilson College pig, 3 miles away.

Eggs - the chicken house, 0 miles.

Blue Hill Farm Grits, 25 miles away - flavored with local bleu cheese.

Mmmm, my heart hurts.

And as KW mentioned, pullet eggs are a photo op! Here are two - one from an Ameraucana, one from a Minorca, next to the big girls eggs. They are so cute. Monkey had the green one and was dissapointed that only the outside was green. She so wanted green eggs and ham.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where in the world is Maggie???

Um, I'm here. I've just been overwhelmed with work. As a teacher I often rolled my eyes at administrators. I never will again (I'm not promising anything, mind you). I have been up to my armpits in work. Who knew that getting licensure for preschool children could be so difficult. I can help you get a Ph.D., but in the eyes of the health department of the State of North Carolina, I'm not qualified to do snack time with 3 and 4 year olds. If you're 5, you're safe with me... If you are in elementary, secondary or college - I'm the woman for you (that didn't sound quite right, sorry) So, it looks like I'm going back to school for 2 classes on early childhood administration. Can I get a "hell yeah!"?

So, while the school is now thriving my garden is looking sorry, the chicken house is in desperate need of cleaning and the yard needs mowing. Jamie wrote a wonderful summary of August gardening. I knew exactly how she felt. Charlie has been traveling 3 out of 7 days a week to Virginia. I think I need to hire myself a yard boy.

While the chickens may be living in a dirty house (so am I at the moment...), they are thriving. I've been letting them free range most days. The little hens are starting to lay. Today I left them in the chicken yard all day and I came home to 11 eggs. ELEVEN! Some are small "pullet" eggs. One was blue. One was green. My ameraucanas are laying. I think some of the hens have been laying them in other locations, so for the next several days I'm going to keep them in the run until I get home from school. That way they'll use the lovely nest boxes I built and not go hide the eggs in a leaf pile somewhere.

The goats are fat and happy and I really need to find a boy for his "services" so we can have milk next year. I'm trying not to stress on it too much as I have lots of new things to stress about...

I'm expecting my life will slow down and get back to semi-normal in the next week or two. I'll be able to write and read again. I may even clean the house and mow the yard. I even forgot to post last weeks One Local Challenge for Liz. Since it was Sunday's breakfast, I suppose I could post it for this week, which I may - so stay tuned.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

One Local Summer #7

A cool front and a break in the weather had us thinking of fall... Charlie made dinner this week. And while roast beef is not our normal summer fare, the weather was in the 60's and we couldn't help ourselves!

Beef from Bath County, VA (Charlie's home away from home) - about 10 miles from his office.

Green Mountain Potatoes from the garden - 0 miles

Amarillo Yellow and Cosmic Purple Carrots from the garden - 0 miles

Walla Walla Onions, Shallots and Rosemary from the garden - 0 miles

For some reason, Blogger is not uploading my photo. It's here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Assault with a Deadly Turkey Wing

A word of advice~
Never try to carry a broad-breasted bronze tom turkey weighing close to 40 pounds (even if you think it is for his own good).

One crazy flapping wing can lead to what feels like a slightly broken nose and a light black eye or two.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Greetings From the Show Me State

The monkey and I have been spending the last week at my parent's house in Missouri. Our main reason was to see my new nephew and I will tell you that he's pretty darn cute. We've had fun getting together with the cousins and checking out spots of interest.

Like Burgers Smokehouse in California, MO, home to (and there is no home-grown girl pride involved when I say this...) the best cured ham in all of North America. I bought a whole Ozark Cured Ham to take home at Charlie's request. He was too busy with work to come out for this visit.

Yesterday we went to the Missouri State Capital Building in my home town of Jefferson City. We spent a few cool hours running around the marbled halls and checking out all the spots I remembered as a kid. I almost grew up in that building. It didn't seem as big as it once did... I tried to convince the Monkey and my neices that the "M"s all over the place stood for Maggie, but they weren't buying it.

Tuesday my mother and I went to the Cole County Farmers' Market. I picked up various things to create my One Local Summer meal. Last night I made dinner and I can honestly say, there were no left-overs.

One Local Summer Meal #6
(I think it's #6)

Chicken and Vegetables in a Mediterranean Style

Chicken from a farm in Russelville, MO - 15 miles

Tomatoes, Green Peppers, Sweet Onions and Green Beans - all less than 20 miles

Burgers Bacon - 22 miles

Brown Rice - not local

The beer was local, although not up to my general taste: Budweiser! - St. Louis, Mo, 120ish miles.

Tomorrow we start the drive back to North Carolina. I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures. I miss my goats (Oh, and Charlie too...)!

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Here's this weeks installment in Liz's One Local Summer ~


Shrimp - Edisto Island, SC (a little bit farther than 100 miles, but we bought it last month while on vacation). They are dusted in cornmeal from Blue Hill Farm (Madison County, NC - about 25 miles)
Grits - Blue Hill Farm (Madison County, NC - about 25 miles) cooked with Bath County, VA blue cheese (Charlie picks it up when he's there working - 15 miles from his office.) and jalapeno pepper from the garden (0 miles).

We washed it down with St. Therese's Pale Ale from Highland Brewing Company, Asheville, NC (7 miles).

It was exquisite!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Where Does the Time Go?

Is it truly the end of July? I'm trying to figure out where my summer has gone. For the last several years I've been extending my summers way into fall, but now I'm back on an academic schedule. It's three weeks until school starts. It's just not possible. And I'm already back at school because I'm the boss. Tell me again why I said "yes" to a job offer. Oh yeah, money and my inability to say no when someone flatters me by telling me how perfect I am for something...

So every spare minute I've been working in the garden and barnyard. My morning and afternoon rituals include picking off hornworms and tossing them to eager ducks and turkeys. While the ducks have not been a good addition to the garden, the turkeys have been excellent. They love to eat bugs. Eating bugs is good. This is the first year I've had hornworms. They are scary. See! They are big and fat (as long as and fatter than my index finger!!!) and ewww... Their shear size intimidates my chickens. Thank God for turkeys and ducks.

Dulcie works on weed control.

Another evening ritual is goat play. I'm still waiting on the fence to be finished. Charlie has been so busy with work, that he has had no time to work on it. So every night the girls come out for an hour or so and play in the yard. Their pen is large, but it's rather bare and not very interesting. The goats love to get out and frolic (Yes, they do frolic and it is quite amusing.). This has turned into Monkey's favorite time of the day because the activity normally revolves around her playset and I get to push her on the swing for a long time. The goats love the boulders in the yard and all the goodies that grow on the edge of the woods. I keep a close eye on them, but so far they stick pretty close to us. Have I mentioned that they are like springer spaniels with udders? It's true.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Anticipation in the Garden

The tomatoes are coming! The tomatoes are coming! We are watching all the tomatoes with much excitement. The plants, like this Cherokee Purple are loaded with fruit and it's only a matter of time. I wish I wasn't heading off to Missouri next week...

All the onions and carrots are out of the ground. I've started planting a third crop of beans. When I get back from visiting the family I'll start some lettuce and salads.

In animal news - all are doing well. The summer chicks are growing and will soon be out with the big birds (thank god). I'm tired of raising baby birds. And this batch are mean. Seriously evil-mean. Several start pecking me as soon as I come to their little pen. I wonder if they realize how tasty they are...

I trimmed the goats' hooves last night - a first for me. Dulcinea behaved much better than Agatha Grunker. Little Aggie put up quite the fight, but finally gave in. First I was afraid she would pass out, then I was afraid that I would cut too much; so I'll probably have to do a little follow up trim soon. It would be much easier with a milking stand to contain them. That's my next order of business...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

How's This for Local?

Here's this week's entry to Liz's One Local Summer challenge. Last night we had a couple of friends over to share some homegrown goodness. The wine wasn't local, but everything else traveled less than 100 yards from where it was grown to our kitchen.

Chicken - our own, which we butchered Thursday night. 0 miles

Roma Green Beans - the garden. 0 miles

All Blue and Green Mountain Potatoes - the garden. 0 miles

We also enjoyed some Spinning Spider Creamery fresh Chevre cheese (Marshall, NC - 25 miles) with Strawberry Jelly Jam (Little Creek Farm - 0 miles) and we sampled some of Charlie's Kim Chee/Chow Chow, which we have now dubbed "Charlie Chee" (it's tasty!).

There's a nice little warm feeling when you can offer friends things you've grown with your own hands. We talked about starting a local food dinner club, where we could get together and share our favorites. It could have been the wine talking, but this idea is something I'm definitely going to pursue.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Garden Update

Despite the nasty heat, my new job, ducks of destruction (au revoir Haricot Rouge du Burkina Faso cow peas!), and an occasional rampant chicken; the garden is thriving. I had planned to pull up the onions this morning and leave them to dry, but there are severe thunderstorms in the forecast. I'll wait until tomorrow. The potatoes are ready to pull up as well. It looks like I'll be out there with the garden fork, digging up goodness for most of the day.

There has been a complete reversal of our old roles here at Little Creek Farm. The garden is now solely my charge and Charlie has taken over all canning. Which is fine with me.

I pulled out all the cabbage a couple of days ago. There were a total of twenty heads. What do I do with so much cabbage? We are planning a root cellar, but it's not ready. Charlie made about 12 jars of a sort of a chow-chow/kim chee. It's an experiment. I'm still looking at 12 heads of cabbage. The current issue of Mother Earth News arrived yesterday with recipes for sauerkraut (There is also an article on eating local food). I may have to try my hand at making some, although we don't really like saurkraut... Any other ideas for cabbage out there?

All beets have been pulled and there are way too many jars of pickled beets sitting on the shelves now. We've put up close to 30 jars of blackberry jam. The rest of the blackberries will be going in the freezer. We know what everyone is getting for Christmas...

And for the rest ~
Variety of Beans - going well, although slowing down a little in the heat wave. We'll be canning soon. The second crop is coming in and I'm getting ready to start a third crop.

Hookers Red Corn - is looking pitiful, but there are lots of little ears. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Its location has gotten a little shady.

Fennel - is looking lovely.

Cucumbers - are rocking.

Tomatoes - are going crazy. We had the first, Black Prince, on Sunday. Very sweet.

Carrots - I love Cosmic Purple and Amarillo Yellow. No more orange here! I'm pulling them all this weekend and planting more for fall.

It's time to get fall crops in. I had about a week where I could just enjoy the bounty. Now it's back to weeding and planting. I love growing stuff.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Enough With The Heat Already

The severe weather alert button on my computer keeps flashing. I check it hoping for rain, but all it ever says is "high heat and humidity through Friday". They have to warn us here in the mountains that heat is not a good thing. I am becoming a little soft when it comes to heat, but my hair sure is curly!

I've been making sure the critters have plenty of water and shade. All, but the big meat blob turkeys, seem to be holding up well. I've been avoiding the heat by staying in my new office. Yes, I said new. You see, I went and stumbled upon a real job. A real job - as in, full-time, title, desk, computer, responsibilities and no budget. I am now Interim Head of School for Monkey's School. What am I thinking? Do I want a full-time job? "Interim" is in front of the title, so there's always a chance I can escape...

Although, right now I'm quite enjoying myself.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

An Odd Bird

For anyone who doubted the existance of Marie, the Lap Tukey - take a gander. This is what happens when I sit down in the yard.
I'm not sure why she does this. She just makes herself comfortable. Perhaps she was a cat in a former life...

Anyway, is there a better way to enjoy a hot summer afternoon than by sharing a big, juicy watermelon with friends?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Local Meal #3

It's really not fair that I have to choose. During the summer almost everything we eat is local. There's just too much goodness to pass up. Here's Friday night's One Local Summer dinner.

Little Creek Pizza
The crust does contain non-local flour, but I did make the yeast starter!
Tomato Sauce (from last year's garden - 0 miles)
Fullam Creamery Panela Cheese (Hendersonville, NC - 35 miles)
Basil (Fresh from the garden - 0 miles)
Organic Olive Oil (Italy)
I had planned on adding some italian sausage that Charlie made from Virginia pork, but the sauce and cheese tasted so good and fresh, I couldn't bring myself to alter it in any way. This is the first time I've used Fullam Creamery cheese, although I think I've had it in local restaurants. Panela is similar to mozzarella and was subtle and excellent on top of the sauce. It bubbled and browned just a little. The sauce was from my orange and striped tomatoes of last summer and when I opened the jar, it smelled like tomatoes warm and perfectly ripe from the garden. Simple is best when it comes to pizza. Sip a local beer and all the bustle of the week just melts away.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Goat School

In order to distance myself from the turkeys, I attended an all-day workshop on goats provided by our area State Extension Agents and NC State. The morning was long and filled with lectures by an extension agent telling us how to care for goats and a NC State professor teaching us the newest, hippest techinique for bloodsucking worm control. The afternoon everyone separated into two groups - dairy and meat. (Actually we sort of separated ourselves early on.) There was quite the distinction between the meat raising, boot-wearing, big belt buckle-sporting mostly male crowd and the natural fiber-wearing, clog and sandal-sporting, almost completely female (one man!) dairy crowd.

The new, hip FAMACHA method of parasite control is basically used to control the little blood suckers by treating only goats with a big load of the worms. This helps by keeping the worms from becoming drug resistant. You do a regular check of the membrane around the goat's eye and treat only those showing signs of anemia. We got to practice on real goats and it was then that you saw the real difference in the goat types. We practiced on Boer goats, a meat variety with horns. Most dairy goats are disbudded as babies, so they never grow horns. So some dairy people were a little timid at first around the horns. However, the dairy people had the least trouble handling the goats. You see we play with our goats everyday. The meat guys went in and wrestled the goats around by grabbing the horns and using brute force sometimes. The dairy people sweet-talked the goats and scratched their ears. We worked in teams of two so one person could hold the goat while the other looked at the eye. It was interesting, but I'm glad my goats don't have horns...

After lunch we broke into our respective groups. The meat people talked about fencing and housing and government regulations. The dairy people talked about breed personalities, shared recipes, discussed kidding and milking and feeding. And then we all trimmed hooves!

I met some great people, got a lead on a boyfriend for the girls and found out I can get great hay right down the road at the college. Oh and I got invited to join the dairy goat club!

The turkeys were rather upset when I got home and were only appeased by lots of food. I think they suspect that I like the goats more. Sshh. We'll keep that our little secret.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Birds of a Feather

It's time for a bird update!

It's true. They flock together. Meet Marie and Louis, two of the Royal Palm turkeys. The other, Sacre Bleu, is off getting in the garden and attacking potato beetles. Marie is my "lap turkey". She likes to sit on my lap, follow me around the yard and generally make herself into a giant nuisance (even more than Gigi). When she was younger and much smaller she liked to sit on my shoulder. The Royal Palms are not headed for the table, so they have been given names.

Sacre Bleu is the other hen. She is not black and white like these two, but blue/grey and white. These birds can fly! They take off across the yard to get to me as fast as they can. The giant meat blobs known as the broad-breasted turkeys lumber around with their massive weight and basically are just waiting for Thanksgiving... Louis and Marie have figured out that their priviledged status and are acting out the part. I had to shoo them off the front porch yesterday. But enough of the turkeys (who, along with the geese, are becoming my favorite birds).

Back to the whole flocking thing. I've been noticing that the birds tend to group themselves by breed,color and age. It's true. The older hens hang out with Rufus the Rooster and have little to do with the younger set. The others divide themselves by breed and/or color. The Speckled Sussex are always in a happy little group. The Minorcas flit around and refuse to come in at night. The oddest combo has to be the white Ameraucana, Stay Puff, and the white Bantam Cornish Game, Snow White (who is the size of a pigeon). Turkeys hang with turkeys. The young roosters (none of them are named!) hang out in a thug gang. The ducks and geese are very exclusive. Octavian, aka Gus - the Roman gander, attacks any wayward chicken or turkey who is unlucky enough to find its way into the garden or duck pen. That bird rules!

I'm spending too much time with poultry.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Local Meal #2

One Local Summer Sunday Night Dinner

Pork Ribs (Warren Wilson College Pig - 3 miles)
Green Beans (Garden - 0 miles) with Onion (Garden - 0 miles) and Bacon (from Bath County, VA - 15 miles from Charlie's home away from home)
Steamed All Blue and Green Mountain Potatoes (Garden - 0 miles) with dill (Garden - 0 miles)
Cole Slaw with Cabbage, Cosmic Purple and Amarillo Yellow Carrots, and Onion (Garden - 0 miles)

We are counting the Virginia food as local because Charlie spends almost as much time there as he does here. But he does bring home lovely meat and great wine when he comes home...
So, if we don't count the 5 hour drive for the bacon, I think a three mile radius is pretty darn good. I'm also counting the butter on the potatoes as an "oil". The salt came from England and the pepper came from somewhere warm and not within a hundred miles...

I wanted to make a pizza, but couldn't find local wheat. I'm searching. I'll probably make it later in the week. The basil is screaming to be picked.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

In the Garden

Besides the sprouting ducklings, the garden is starting to give up some real goodness. I spent a good part of yesterday taming the weeds that blossomed in my absence back into submission. I've become emboldened by the success of starting almost everything from seed. The only plants were cabbage, one Black Prince tomato, and a few jalapeno peppers.

The tomatoes are happy and growing strong (I'm keeping fingers crossed). They are loaded with fruit. For the first time I've had success with cabbages. Mulch, mulch, diatomaceous earth and neem and mulch! While they are just the standard Dutch Early Round and a Bonnie Hybrid from the feed store, they are crisp and sweet and everything I could want. We've made some scrumptious cole slaw and Charlie is planning on canning some Kim Chee.

About 3/4 of the beets have been pulled and are awaiting pickling and canning. We had our first helping of Golden Wax and Jade beans the other night. And finally success with the onions. I set out little pencil thin plants this year instead of sets. Again mulch, mulch, mulch. And I left what weeds sprouted alone or cut them back. I've been rewarded with big, fat Walla Wallas and to-die-for Reds. The Kirby Whippoorwill cowpeas are coming along as well as the Roma, Trionfo Violetto, and Jacob's Cattle beans. I planted another couple of rows of beans yesterday as well as the Haricot Rouge du Burkina Faso cowpeas (I figure all the heat will do those African peas some good).

Oh, and the dill - did I mention the dill? My first crop of volunteers is blooming and a second crop should be ready for the pickles!

My new favorite gardening book is Edward C. Smith's The Vegetable Gardener's Bible. I'm crediting it with my organic success. That and chicken poop.

Oh, and a Happy 4th of July to you Americans. I need to get out and pick some more beans, mulch and weed then make up some deviled eggs for our 2nd Annual Fourth of July Party. We'll be having chicken, of course and some hot dogs and brats, lots of friends and maybe a few illicit fireworks when the sun goes down.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Little Mystery

This little fella turned up on my drive this afternoon. I was in the garden and heard a fit of peeping. At first I thought monkey had let the chicks out, but no. As the little guy ran across the drive I noticed that it was most definitely a duck.

About an hour later I found a second one in my garden following one of the turkeys around. Poor little thing. I have no idea where they came from. There is no sign of a mother or siblings. I was afraid to leave them outside because they would be tasty little snacks for some critter - wild or border collie...

So, I put them in a brooder and decided someone must have sent me two little wild ducks. I think they are mallards. I am truly confounded as to where they came from. Charlie thinks that someone dumped them at the "Chicken Lady's" house. I'm not sure I want that title, but I'll keep the ducks.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We returned home Saturday evening from a utterly fabulous time at the beach. This is what Monkey has to say about our short, but sweet, vacation:

We saw dolphins and alligators and pelicans and the BEACH. Daddy
caught a shark. It was a little one. And there were sea shells and
the OCEAN and waves and sand and the BEACH. I built a sand castle, but it got
destroyed. I built another sand castle. I got a necklace! I was at the BEACH. And we went to a snake museum! And there were alligators and I had
ICECREAM! And there was a pool! There were sea turtles. I swam in the ocean and I saw the sunset...


We ate lots of fresh seafood. On the local food front, in accordance with Liz's One Local Summer Challenge, our Friday night dinner consisted of shrimp bought off the boat a quarter mile away, cucumbers and tomatoes from George and Pinks, corn (delicious and sweet) from a boy on the side of the road and fresh locally grown potatoes from the Piggly Wiggly (which has a local fresh veggie and fruit section!) and beer from Palmetto Brewing Company, just up the road in Charleston.

This week's local meal was brought on early by a surprise visit from Chef Boots and Dr. E. We pulled potatoes from the garden, had the first golden wax and french filet beans, and local pork chops from Warren Wilson College. Our appetizers consisted of Spinning Spider Creamery's Midnight Sun cheese, our own Strawberry Jelly Jam (which is awesome with goat cheese!) and some of that shrimp from the low country. I have to admit that the crackers were not local.

Chef Boots is finally opening his own restaurant. We started discussing what I may be able to grow for him. This would mean the addition of a green house, but maybe we can swing it. I'll keep you posted. We told Dr. E she could quit her day job at the University and become the delivery driver between here and Winston. I don't think she was too enthused with that prospect. Although we did think that a weekly meeting in Hickory for lunch would not be out of the question. Hmm, this could be fun!

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We returned home Saturday evening from a utterly fabulous time at the beach. This is what Monkey has to say about our short, but sweet, vacation:

We saw dolphins and alligators and pelicans and the BEACH. Daddy
caught a shark. It was a little one. And there were sea shells and
the OCEAN and waves and sand and the BEACH. I built a sand castle, but it got
destroyed. I built another sand castle. I got a necklace! I was at the BEACH. And we went to a snake museum! And there were alligators and I had
ICECREAM! And there was a pool! There were sea turtles. I swam in the ocean and I saw the sunset...


We ate lots of fresh seafood. On the local food front, in accordance with Liz's One Local Summer Challenge, our Friday night dinner consisted of shrimp bought off the boat a quarter mile away, cucumbers and tomatoes from George and Pinks, corn (delicious and sweet) from a boy on the side of the road and fresh locally grown potatoes from the Piggly Wiggly (which has a local fresh veggie and fruit section!) and beer from Palmetto Brewing Company, just up the road in Charleston.

This week's local meal was brought on early by a surprise visit from Chef Boots and Dr. E. We pulled potatoes from the garden, had the first golden wax and french filet beans, and local pork chops from Warren Wilson College. Our appetizers consisted of Spinning Spider Creamery's Midnight Sun cheese, our own Strawberry Jelly Jam (which is awesome with goat cheese!) and some of that shrimp from the low country. I have to admit that the crackers were not local.

Chef Boots is finally opening his own restaurant. We started discussing what I may be able to grow for him. This would mean the addition of a green house, but maybe we can swing it. I'll keep you posted. We told Dr. E she could quit her day job at the University and become the delivery driver between here and Winston. I don't think she was too enthused with that prospect. Although we did think that a weekly meeting in Hickory for lunch would not be out of the question. Hmm, this could be fun!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

OK, You Can Stop Now...

Raining, that is.

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain. Again. First it's drought, then it's flood. Serious flood in low spots. But my rain barrel is full again. I'd buy more, but I'm on a budget. Maybe soon I can get more, because it has been a great investment (when it rains...).

The ducks and geese are quite happy, even though I won't let the geese into the wet garden. The poultry and the goats are not so excited by all the rain. Note: There is probably no worse smell than a wet chicken or turkey. And then there's the desperate need to clean the chicken coop, but they are all hanging out inside making that chore impossible. I'm hoping for a break in the rain later today so I can give the coop a swift and thorough mucking.

Liz, way up north at Pocket Farm, has had a genius idea. It's One Local Summer. I'll be playing along, making one totally local meal a week. I think we can handle that here on Little Swollen Creek Farm.

Oh, and a house sitter has been found. How would we survive without starving college students in need of somewhat easy (considering the animal load at the moment) money? So tomorrow, we'll be heading here for a few days of scattered thunderstorms, loggerhead turtles (hopefully), shrimp, sand, and relaxation.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Weekend Update

We planned to camp out on Saturday. It started raining around 4 o'clock (of course, it did). We remained undaunted and set the tent up on the front porch. We cooked our food on the grill and we played Chutes and Ladders, watched the bull frogs in the fish pond and the chickens chasing bugs across the lawn. Dinner was a scrumptious Silver Dollar Casserole.

The Silver Dollar Casserole goes by various names. The SDC is the summer camp version of Salmon en Pappaillote. The salmon became hamburger. The vegetables were baby potatoes, onions and carrots from the garden. The parchment paper became aluminum foil. All was cooked on coals in the grill. It was yummy. We later toasted marshmallows over the grill and made s'mores.

We did have a little time to work in the garden. The tomatoes are getting taller and are covered in little green fruits. The much needed rain is triggering some rapid growth among the cucumbers. Unfortunately, the heat is signalling the demise of the green peas. But then again, there is a silver lining - the corn and cow peas are taking off. It's time to pull the beets and put in a few more rows of green beans. The black raspberries are there for the picking and the blackberries are loaded and starting to turn. The blueberries needed this rain, but I hope it doesn't cause them to split.

It's still raining. And I can't really complain. We are leaving for the beach in two days and if it's raining south of Charleston, I will be slightly cranky. A couple days of fresh seafood, low country hospitality, loggerhead turtles, alligators, sun and surf will be good for us. My only concern is that my regular animal sitter cancelled on me and I have to find a replacement ASAP - like today. Keep your fingers crossed. I don't think the house owner would like it if I brought the goats along...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Go Outside!

Look over at the sidebar. It's only two more days (or is it one more day?) until the Great American Campout. We will be camping outside here at the homestead. The menu is being planned. It will include s'mores and maybe after looking at this it should include steak! Monkey picked out the spot for the tent today. She's getting very excited. I'm going to lock the doors so Charlie can't sneak inside. Everything we need, we'll take with us... the yard. We'll sit outside in our camp chairs, look up at the stars and listen to the hooty owls. Life will be good.

Join the outdoor revolution and camp out this Saturday. It will be good for you, I promise. You don't have to rough it. Who says you can't have steak and a good French red wine on a campout?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Return to the Daily Grind

I came home Saturday afternoon. Camp was quite enjoyable, but one week was enough for me. I think I may be getting too old to get up every morning, feed 12 horses, ride all day and then participate in counselor hunts and hoe downs. There is the will, but at some point, the knees and back scream "NO!" That point would probably be a big-boned 9-year old who was the fifteenth child to need a knee up on Thursday... My favorite camp horse, who was pictured in Thursday's post (he is much more handsome in real-life) is still there and still being ridden by horseback counselors or very good young riders. He's a big boy and strong. And the early morning canters were to die for.

Charlie and Monkey had a busy week of baby-sitter shuffling (Monkey's had a family emergency), playdates (Monkey), and impending law-suits against clients (Charlie). Charlie did, however, find time to finish the gate for the duck pen. He also installed a movable sprinkler system around the garden and it is a life saver. He mounted adjustable rotating sprinklers on the fence posts and added a timer. We are now in a "moderate to severe" drought, so it is especially fantastic. He staked my wildly growing tomatoes and took care of these...

The Newest Members of Little Creek Farm

There are ten of them - seven black and three red. Rufus is the dad of all. Ruby, the Rhode Island Red, is the mother of the red ones and I think the solid black have Dominique moms and the "penguin" ones have Australorp moms. The broody hens (one on an empty nest (?!), two on the same nest) did quite well. The two on one nest have worked out a system. One sets on the eggs the other on the hatched chicks. Once the chicks are dry we remove them and put them in the brooder where they are safe from the other chickens. My plan is to build a brooder pen and move them back outside as soon as possible. There are two eggs left in the nest. I think I'll give them until tomorrow morning to hatch, then I'll remove them and put the hens in with the goats to hopefully break the broody cycle.

I've spent most of my time since my return catching up on the garden. It's amazing how fast weeds can grow. There are tons of English peas and snow peas. The beets are about ready and the onions are huge. Charlie is quite impressed with my new no till gardening. I think I'm slowly converting him.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More Thoughts

Being at Camp has made me think about lots of things. I'm really enjoying myself and I'm enjoying my time with the campers. I somehow think being older has made me appreciate the camp experience even more. I am much more in tune to the campers and their needs. Perhaps this comes from being a mom. All the little things that are so "camp" - the songs, the daily ritual, the smell of the barn - bring little moments of intense joy. It's almost like being a kid, or better yet, a 20 year old, again and being able to enjoy it.

We are having a "Hoe Down" tonight. Most of the younger counselors are coming up with ways to avoid it. Many are taking their night out. I'm looking forward to the hilarity of little girls square dancing. I'm not even feeling the need for a night out (although I do get one). I can eat at a cheap chain restaurant and drink a domestic beer anytime I want. How often do I get to make a s'more and sit in the moonlight singing silly camp songs?

It's a good time to enjoy the little things - catching baby toads, seeing wildflowers, cantering down a trail, coming across a box turtle laying eggs, and even feeling a strong breeze all night brought on by a hurricane that's cruising up the other side of the state. I'm not half way done with my time here and I want to enjoy every minute.

I also seriously think I have to figure out a way to get a horse. I miss riding every day. Having a little feedroom at home filled with hay and grain for the goats has been bliss because it reminds me of my childhood and early adulthood and every moment I spent with horses. Hmmm.... I must plot...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Random Thoughts of a Camp Counselor

  • Someone needs to wake up before me and have coffee waiting. Granted, I seem to be one of the first people up in the morning. I'm dressed and on my way to the barn before the kitchen staff arrives.

  • My morning classes were full of lovely girls who followed directions. I was happy. I was also a little sunburned.

  • I'm not getting any care packages, I know it.

  • Campers who have not taken their behavior modifying medicine should not be allowed in my late afternoon class. "Janie Jetson* wants to ride Trigger*" (I have a riding student who thinks she's Denny Crane...) "Can we trot yet? Can we trot yet? Can we trot yet? Are we done?" Well, before we trot Miss Camper, you should be able to walk, turn, and stop Trigger. I'm just saying...

  • They had to kill a rattlesnake in camp today. I'm still walking around in the dark without a flashlight.

  • We found one of these in the barn today.

  • Did I mention how hot it is here?

While I am enjoying my time back at camp, I do miss the Monkey and Charlie. Oh, and I'm an aunt again. My new nephew was born yesterday at 7:05 a.m.

*Not their real names, of course.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

They're Here

Today was the first official day of camp. I interviewed lots of campers about their riding abilities, gently ignoring the well-meaning parents who feel they must answer for their children. I mean really, I'm talking to little Susie, not you ma'am.

I hope I don't turn into one of those parents someday. Right now I still have to translate Monkey Speak from time to time, but my kid's got opinions and she can express them quite well, thank you.

So, today was spent planning for the rest of the week, going through all the rules with kids and taking official camp photos. Tomorrow it's off to the barn where I might lose one or two campers, who knows! Mayhem could ensue quite soon...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'm Melting

The heat is incredible. Perhaps we'll get a nice pop-up thunderstorm this afternoon. Why didn't anyone warn me? I spent the morning in the barn and seriously need air-conditioning. When did I become so soft? Am I getting old? Oh well, there will be pool time this afternoon. Which should I wish for - pool or rain?

Tomorrow campers come and Monkey and Charlie go home. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Leaving On a Mid-Morning Drive to Georgia...

Tomorrow I'm leaving for Camp. I get to spend a week in the North Georgia mountains trying in vain to keep little girls from falling off horses, watching them pet and fall inexplicably in love with hooved creatures who would rather toss them than cuddle. I'll be tapping my impatient foot as the girls want to brush them instead of having a good canter through the woods. Oh, and I'll be eating s'mores and really bad cookout food made by the little girls.

You may remember a year ago (or you may not, so read about it here), I took off for camp to train the riding staff and wear out the horses for the little girls before camp actually started. I was quite pleased with the staff and most of the horses. I sent one packing (horse, not counselor). This year I am going back to a position I haven't held in over 10 years. I'm going to be the actual "Horseback Director" while the girl I trained last year is off at a wedding. I can call her a girl, can't I? I mean she's still in college and cute and thin and all... damn her.

Anyway, the Monkey and I are off for a fun weekend at Camp before I have to begin work. Charlie will be joining us and then the two of them will come home Sunday. If you're thinking about robbing us while we're gone - don't. The ducks will create quite a fuss. The dogs are useless, but the goats have been put on patrol. Besides, we have two lovely housesitters in the form of Monkey's teacher's assistant and her beau. She's even offered to do it again when we take off for the beach in a few weeks!

You will notice to the right, that I've added a link to the Great American Backyard Campout.
We will be camping here at Little Creek Farm in Monkey's pink (yes, pink - hot pink) tent. It's a real 3 person tent. It just happens to be hot pink... I'm planning a classic meal of hotdogs, bake beans and s'mores. Or maybe silver dollar casseroles (meat and veggies rolled up in foil and tossed on the coals). They could receive a much more gourmet treatment. Maybe we can stay up and try to catch the rather fat racoon who has been raiding the dog food bin on the back porch at night... Or we'll just look up at the stars, drink wine (Charlie and I, not Monkey) and sing camp songs until Monkey passes out, or Charlie. Whoever goes first will get their hand stuck in a bowl of ice-cold water...

I've been thinking about loads of things I want to write about. Perhaps I'll be able to steal a few moments on the computer at camp and leave some posts late at night with dial-up - if it's working, that is.

Until then, I'll leave with a picture of Dulcie, looking more like a dog than goat. Maybe I could teach her agility...

"Take me with you, please."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Ducks Say What?

What the hell has she done now?

We're the geese. And no, these are not yarmulkes.

The Tufted Roman geese arrived today. The ducks are much kinder than chickens. While they didn't become instant buddies, they didn't harrass and peck the little guys. Everybody went into the duck house tonight with no problems. Keep your fingers crossed for these little guys. Esther brought me a small and large one, hoping that one is a boy and one is a girl. We'll just wait to see. While I've read several descriptions of sexing waterfowl, I'm not to eager to massage cloaca and invert to find out what little sex organs pop out. We'll just play "wait and see". I've been thinking of names. I guess it's lucky for them (or maybe not) that I had way too many years of Latin. The good thing is that whatever I decide to name them, there is probably a masculine or feminine equivalent. Gaius/Gaia, Julius/Julia, Augustus/Augusta ad infinitum.

Which reminds me - Jelly Jam goes in the mail tomorrow to Jamie and KW. I can't mention enough how much Dulcinea and Agatha (Agatha Grunker, that is...) enjoy their names.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Pretty Perfect Day

The weather was near perfect today. I didn't even mind the late afternoon shower. In fact, I stayed in the garden weeding until the rain changed from an easy-to-live-with drizzle to a more steady downpour. After a half hour I was back outside in the late afternoon sun, grazing the goats on the still-wet lawn. Bliss.

We visited Spinning Spider Creamery earlier this afternoon for their open house. Chris Owen taught the dairy goat class I took this spring at the Organic Growers School, which was supposed to convince me that I didn't want goats (yeah, we know how that turned out...). We checked out the milking shed, saw the creamery with it's coolers full of aging cheese (Chris had some bleu cheese that I'm dying to try, but it's not ready yet.). Monkey got to milk a goat and actually did well considering the size of her tiny hands. She was more interested in the litter of Cairn Terrier puppies than the goats, however. I'm really in awe of that family. They all pitch in and everyone is involved with the farm. The goats are lovely and well cared for. The boys are personable and talkative. They all are knowledgable and friendly (the boys, that is. The goats are friendly, but I'm not sure that they are very knowledgable). I can't wait until we can milk Dulcinea and Aggie Grunker.

While at the farm I struck up a conversation with a woman named Esther, who is a friend of the Owens and raises sheep. In the course of conversation she found out I had chickens and casually, in a tone I should have recognized, asked me if I would like a couple of geese. I should have run, but I said "Yes!" (You thought I would say, "No"???) I really wanted geese and have been quite sad since I lost the last four. Esther ordered 5 American Buff and 5 Crested Roman geese this spring (10 is the minimum order). They are now about a month old and she doesn't want to keep them all. So it looks like later this week we'll have two new geese on the farm - I think Crested Roman, as she said she had been trying to get the Buffs for several years. Let's hope they have better luck than the past geese. Now that we have the duck pen, I think they'll be safe. Don't you like when life throws you those pleasant little surprises? I was really just hoping to check out the goats, ask a few questions and pick up some more fresh chevre and now I get a few geese as well.

Liz has tagged me for a photo of my favorite view from home, so here it is:

The view from my office.

Life does indeed toss us some good little treats every now and again.

Addendum: Thanks to Liz for pointing out that my goose link was not quite right. Now you may check them out!

Barnyard Confusion

On Friday Gigi the Chicken was setting on Number Four's nest. Number Four was setting on Number Three's nest and Number Three was setting on an empty nest. At first, I thought that Gigi was just taking her time depositing yet another egg on Number Four's mound. She stayed all day. Perhaps she was offering Number Four a little time away from the kids, because yesterday morning everything was back to normal. Is it just me, or do my chickens have issues?

I'm allowing them to carry on in this manner as I have enough daily eggs and enough chickens. And they seem to want desperately to set, so I'll amuse them. If I actually get some chicks, it will be an amazing thing.

Another animal with issues is Louis the Royal PalmTurkey (You see, he's named because he gets to stay). He seems to have developed a crush on Juliette, the Cochin hen. She's not returning his affection and I'm not sure about how I feel about this interspecies attraction. Luckily his attention span seems rather short and hopefully he'll turn his attention to one of the Royal Palm hens soon.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


I find no rhyme or reason in why two of my hens would decide to go broody on me. I also can't figure out why one of them is setting on an empty nest. Dominique #4 (I hate to admit it, but I just can't tell the surviving Dominiques apart - so they never got proper names) felt her biological clock ticking last week. I don't mind her having a few eggs to hatch, but because all the hens love to lay their eggs in the same nesting box, she is now sitting on 19 eggs. Yes, 19 eggs, damn her. Her sister, #3, decided to follow #4's lead and started setting in the nesting box next door - only she's not setting on any eggs. Let's just say that #3 might not be that bright.

Tonight, after getting two eggs in two days (at least one hen has refused to lay in #4's vicinity), I shooed #4 off of her nest for a minute and counted the eggs and numbered them with my handy-dandy Sharpie pen. I took pity on #3 and placed four eggs under her. Perhaps sometime in mid-June we'll have even more babies at Little Creek Farm. Of course, I'm planning on being out of town and in the North Georgia mountains when the chicks are due, but more on that later.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Let Me Introduce To You...

Dulcinea and Agatha!
The names were chosen by Monkey after much consideration. I have to add that Agatha is only our little blonde goat's first name. Monkey wanted to call her Grunker (???). Then Fatty Grunker (!?!) and finally Sunday morning she settled on Agatha Grunker (which sounds like a great name for a character in a book). Congratulations to Jamie and KW, respectively for the name suggestions. I will be sending you a jar of Strawberry Jelly Jam.
The girls are settling in quite nicely. Yesterday I took them for a browsing walk around the perimeter of the yard. They are quite fun to walk and better behaved than say, Chelsea, on a leash, er, lead rope. They greet us when we go down to the pens and seem to be content. Agatha, who has already been called Aggie, is the leader of the two. She's rather bold and inquisitive. Dulcinea/Dulcie is more timid, but sweet. She's very concerned about the dogs and poultry. She seems at the moment to be following Aggie's lead.
As they checked the goat's records out before I brought them home, it was noted that these two are twins (believe it, or not). Their mother is not Cow Girl, as Erin thought, but Delia. And I had their father's name wrong. It's not Dudley, but Conway. You can see how I'd confuse those two, right?? They turned a year old on May 3.
In other barnyard news, the lucky ducks have their own pen now - complete with pool/day spa, house and grass. As Charlie (yeah, I've decided to use his real name because Big Daddy takes longer to type) puts up the rest of the barnyard fencing, they'll be able to wander out on their own. For now, let's hope they're secure from the bad dogs.
The garden is keeping me busy as well. Cucumbers and beans are coming up. I need to plant more and get my second round of sunflowers in. I've also got to plant melons and pumpkins and get more of the flowers started. I've got a lot of work to do before I can enjoy Memorial Day...