Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why did the chicken cross the road?

To get to the other side.

Little Susie and the Twins are one month old today!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pot of gold in a pepper

A few years ago, my meter reader stopped to talk to me while I was working in the greenhouse.  He told me about this wonderful pepper that his family had grown for years, called a Melrose.  He gave me some seeds the next time he was at the farm and told me the history of these peppers.  When many Italian farmers migrated to Melrose Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, they brought with them seeds for these wonderful sweet red peppers.  Those farmers brought bushels of them to the farmers' market in Melrose Park, and the peppers came to be known simply as Melrose peppers.

I gratefully took the seeds and have been growing them for years.  I looked on line from time to time to see if I could find the seeds, just in case.  Nice to have a backup, you know.  Well, lo and behold, I found the seeds a couple of years ago, and with it the same story my meter reader had told me.  Truly, that is their origin in the US. 

One of my greenhouse plant customers grows nothing but Melrose peppers and usually gets a dozen plants a year.  Alas, this year it was not to be!  Steve had some problems with germination in the greenhouse, and by the time I discovered what was going on out there, I found that he had used every last Melrose seed, and his germination rate was about 5%, as opposed to the 90% to 95% germination rate I always got.  Only nine plants total!  I sold six to my regular Melrose customer and kept three for myself, planting one in a bed well away from the main garden.  There can be some cross pollination with peppers and I grow a lot of others that might mix up the results, so I wanted the "mother plant" to be isolated.

My customer had promised to save me some seeds.  But then he stopped by my booth to tell me that the rabbits got all but one of his plants.

I am so relieved that my lone plant sitting in the middle of a bunch of tomatoes in a small caged area behind my garage had three beautiful red peppers on it.  Two of them were very ripe.  I picked them a few days ago, pulled the seeds out and spread them on a plate.  I let them dry a couple more days, packaged them and can now rest assured that I will have Melrose peppers galore next year! 

Here are some pictures of the peppers and the seeds.  Back in business!  Melrose peppers will live on at Ceres & Co.!

Melrose peppers in the garden
Two extra ripe ones harvested for seed

Chock full of seeds
Big ripe bundles of seeds

Too many to count!

Melrose pepper seeds in their origami packet

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Goldie and the chicks immortalized

Yesterday Kim saw Goldie trying to lure the chicks out of their water tank home in the barn.  He took pity on her and lifted the three chicks out.  They spent the day outside, and they roamed far and wide!  Goldie wanted to be back with the flock, but the chicks are far too little, and they would have just become fodder for the hawks and other wildlife.

I had one heck of a time rounding them up to put them away last night!  I got the two adoptees, but Little Susie was far too crafty.  She dodged into a thicket while I carried the other two chicks and Goldie back to the barn.  I went back for her, chasing her through the thicket (I am a mass of raspberry and nettle scratches!) following her plaintive peeps.  But then she got quiet.  That is how crafty she was.  She knew if she was quiet, I wouldn't be able to find her.  So I went back to the barn and got Goldie.  I carried Goldie, squawking loudly, to the edge of the thicket.  Susie ran out to her mama, and I finally got her when she got tangled in some weeds.

Amy was able to get a great watercolor of the three of them.  She did several pictures and let me take my pick.  I feel honored that I now have another watercolor by Amy Babinec, this time of Goldie and the chicks.

Goldie and the chicks.  Little Susie is on the right.

Hiding in the weeds

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Goldie and the chicks

Here are some pictures of Goldie with her chicks.  Notice the ruffled out feathers in some of them.  She gets very protective when I am out there, and she has pecked at my hand several times!  Very good mama!!

Ruffled feathers!
Having some lunch
Little Susie is middle chick.  Notice the difference in her head markings.

Time Management Part 2

A picture, well, make that two pictures, is worth a thousand words.  Still a lot to do, but everything is sorted, missing paperwork is found, bills are paid.  There is about a half hour of filing here, and then a couple of hours of catching up with justifying credit card bills.

AND I got the lawn mowed last night.  :)

I feel better.



Monday, August 5, 2013

Time management

I am still trying to get through the piles of paperwork on my dining room table.  Every day, it is my priority.  Interruptions start early and by late afternoon, my mind is too frazzled to deal with it.  Today, I set alarm for 5:15, planned to shower and get to dining room table by 5:30, well before the doorbell and the cell phone start their daily ringing.

I got to kitchen and took the cheese out of the cheese press.  Then I drained the kefir - Mike wants two quarts every Tuesday - and was short enough milk to refill the jars to start another batch.  I had to make a trip out to the barn for more milk.  I got orders for four loaves of sourdough rye this week, so I ground more rye berries and added the final amount of flour to the bowl where the sourdough has been rising since last night.  I will finish the loaves tonight and get that behind me.  I headed for the dining room table.

The doorbell rang.  Electric fence problems.  Kim wanted me to know his schedule for today.  Huge order for garden produce for the restaurant, and I still haven't heard from Androo or Justin - will they be here today or not?  Androo said yes, Justin said maybe, but cannot get confirmation from either.  I have Clay and Kim on backup, but Kim's back doesn't allow him to do much in the garden.

The doorbell rang again.  It was Clay, bringing me his time card for last week.  I took care of that and sent him out to the chicken yard with some whey from yesterday's cheesemaking.  When he brought back the bucket, he rang the doorbell again.  I handed him his pay.

The doorbell rang again.  Kim found the problem with the electric fence, wanted to let me know and to tell me he was heading home, would be back again later after he got done with canning.

I am finally sitting down at the computer, opened up my MSMoney file, and am heading for the dining room table.  It is 7:30 am.  I do not have high hopes of getting through the mess.  Sigh . . .