Thursday, January 22, 2009

The shape of things to come

The other day, my mother rightfully pointed out that my blog still said "Christmas is coming." Guilty as charged. Unfortunately, the urge to blog just isn't in me these days. So will you settle for a list of what we're planting in the garden this year? At least it's sort of informative, even if it isn't scintillating prose.


Snap pea - Sugar Sprint (a LOT of these)
Chinese Kale
Beet - Burpee's Golden
Beet - Chioggia
Chard - Five Color Silverbeet
Escarole - Biona a Cuore Pieno
Carrot - Scarlet Nantes
Carrot - Parmex Baby Ball
Turnip - Purple Top White Globe
Rutabaga - American Purple Top
Potato - La Ratte (fingerling)
Potato - German Butterball


Tomato - Sun Gold
Tomato - Green Zebra
Tomato - Cherokee Purple
Tomato - Pruden's Purple
Tomato - Principe Borghese
Tomato - Better Boy
Tomatillo - Toma Verde
Eggplant - Rosa Bianca
Eggplant - Pingtung Long
Pepper - Quadrato Asti Giallo (yellow bell)
Pepper - Orange Bell
Pepper - Napoleon Sweet (red bell)
Watermelon - Ali Baba
Canteloupe - PMR Delicious 51
Summer Squash - Benning's Green Tint (pattypan)
Summer Squash - Partenon F1 (zucchini)
Summer Squash - Success PM Yellow Straightneck
Winter Squash - Honey Nut Mini-Butternut
Winter Squash - Potimarron
Pumpkin - Baby Pam
Cowpea - Pinkeye Purplehull
Bush Bean - Dragon's Tongue
Bush Bean - Sonesta (wax)
Cucumber - Picklebush
Purslane - Goldberg Golden
Parsley - Flat Leaf
Basil - Genovese
Okra - Clemson Spineless
Okra - Burgundy
Fennel - Perfection
Edamame - Ustie
Bitter Melon - Comet
Sweet Potato - Porto Rico
Peanut - Early Spanish Type


Turnip - Purple Top White Globe
Rutabaga - American Purple Top
Kale - Ripbor F1
Purple Sprouting Broccoli - Santee F1
Beet - Colossal Long Red Mangel (for the chickens!)
Strawberries - Fresca
Strawberries - Red Wonder Alpine
and a whole bunch of other stuff TBD...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas is coming


Recently we decided it was time to kick the dogs off the bed. Not only do we humans need to assert ourselves more (there's been some instability in the pack--dogs sniping at each other, etc.), but we were going to have to buy a larger bed to accommodate the 150 pounds of canine(s) that kept hogging all the space. So there was no choice; the dogs would have to sleep somewhere else.

Gracie wouldn't be a problem. She already had a kennel of her own that she liked all right. She goes there when she's feeling insecure or just needs some "me" time.

But Silver and Cairo have never been kennel dogs. Silver would do whatever she was told, albeit with Sad Eyes. But Cairo? I expected howls (literally) of protest. When he got his leg amputated, he fussed and fought constantly against being confined.

"Just get him a really big wire kennel," said the s.o. "He doesn't like the regular kind because he can't turn around in there as easily, because of only having three legs."

I doubted it, but I shrugged my shoulders and got Cairo a wire kennel big enough for a Newfoundland. For Silver, I got a large Canine Camper portable tent kennel with a nice fleecy liner. It was light and it could be collapsed into something akin to an art student's portfolio. We'd be able to take it on trips--convenient.

I assembled Silver's kennel and lined it with a couple of extra blankets, because...well, because she's my princess. My heart was already broken because I wouldn't be able to be in constant contact with her throughout the night. Having her kennel next to me was not the same as having her furry butt against my knees!

Then, at the foot of the bed, I erected Fort Cairo, a massive edifice that took up half the bedroom. It looked clinical, so I took two big fluffy dog beds from elsewhere in the house and used them to make it comfy. The dog beds fit side by side in the kennel.

Cairo walked into the bedroom and looked at the cage. "C'mere," I said, and he did. I climbed into the kennel and beckoned him to follow me. He did. He curled up in the soft cushions and looked contented. We stayed there for a few minutes snuggling, and then we left.

An hour later I looked into the bedroom and was shocked to see Cairo sleeping in his kennel.

Another hour later, I looked in and saw Silver sleeping in Cairo's kennel. I gently ushered her out and showed her her own kennel again.

Near bedtime, Cairo returned to his kennel. He looked content. I locked him in, and I felt sneaky and unfair doing it. He noticed, but did not react. I kenneled Gracie as well ("Gracie, kennel!" "Okay, mom!"), and then kenneled Silver.

We all got a fantastic night's sleep, although I cried a little bit because I couldn't touch my dogs.

When my alarm went off, I de-kenneled Silver and Gracie and led them out of the bedroom. I unlocked Cairo's cage, too, but he elected not to leave his fort. I really am gobsmacked that the Dog Who Would Not Be Kenneled is so fond of a big scary wire cage, but I guess if you fill a nice spacious area with soft pillows, certain dogs will always claim a spot.

Monday, December 15, 2008

a political plea

Please, everyone, sign this petition. I'm usually very skeptical of petitions, but this one has a very real and (I hope) attainable goal: the appointment of a Secretary of Agriculture who will fight for small, sustainable farms. I've had it up to here with the way corporations dictate our farm policy -- how 'bout you?

ETA: Aaaaaand he's named a Monsanto stooge to the post. *sigh* Well, it was worth a try.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Trailer fire

At 2:45 AM, our dogs all stood straight up and started howling. Soon we humans could hear the sirens, too. It wasn't just a cop pulling someone over in our driveway (which they're fond of doing in the middle of the night, for some reason). It was a convergence of several types of sirens. Some of them we recognized from the s.o.'s days as a volunteer fireman.

"Are you getting up to look?" the s.o. asked me groggily. He had returned from a poker game only an hour before, and had probably only just descended into REM sleep when the noise commenced.

"Mm," I replied. I fumbled for my glasses, clapped them onto my face, and shuffled across the room to the front window. I crouched down and stared through the leaves of our umbrella plant at the flashing lights across the street.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust, and then suddenly I exclaimed, "Holy shit, the old trailer next to Eddie Lee's is on fire! I mean REALLY on fire!" The flames reached 20 feet in the air, bright as daylight.

Today I went over to look at the remains of the trailer. I wasn't the only gawker; a man and his son had pulled up their pickup truck to peer at the shell of the structure. This is what we saw:

Probably an arson. Or so you'd suspect when an uninhabited trailer with no power suddenly goes up like a flare in the middle of the night.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The sky is falling!

No, this isn't a post about the economy. We had a 20-degree night last night, and I woke up to find our pecan trees dropping all their leaves simultaneously. Anyone ever seen anything like that? Because I haven't. This is new to me.

There's an ankle-deep layer of leaf litter on the ground, and when you walk under the trees, entire compound leaves snow down upon you. When I walked the dogs, they got all crazy from the crunching and crackling and floaty things everywhere.

I wish I had a way to post a video, because it's cool. Really cool.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Avian etymology

A lot of strange thoughts cross my mind at 7 in the morning before I've had my coffee. There I am, standing out in the yard with a dog on a leash, watching our birds socializing and getting their morning graze on. My thoughts wander and sometimes become very strange and esoteric.

You can tell that the happy event of the recent election is still on my mind. The other night we reshuffled the birds' night quarters so that two years' worth of geese were housed together, and the ducks had more space to themselves in their safety pen. But when we let them all out again in the morning, the younger set of geese bolted away from the older geese and returned to grazing with the ducks they grew up with. It crossed my mind that the new geese caucused with the ducks... and then I groaned because it was so profoundly stupid.

Recently we've been thinking about the inevitable: the fact that we will have to slaughter the one young male duck and an indeterminate number of young male geese. The reason the number is indeterminate is that most of the time you absolutely cannot tell geese from ganders without grabbing them, turning them upside down, and pulling their tails back to (cough) expose their junk. We recently saw this done on Dirty Jobs, but we scoffed at the usually-heroic Mike Rowe because the geese he was grabbing were about half the size of ours. Big deal, bucko--try to hold an Embden without getting your arm chewed off!

Anyway, this caused me to wonder if I had discovered the origin of "taking a gander". Could the expression really have originated with the act of flipping a goose over and looking at its privates to see if it was a boy? Sadly, no--it apparently has more to do with craning your neck the way geese do when they honk. That's possibly the most disappointing etymology I've ever come across. You can't win 'em all.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My sweet little dinosaur pals

Here's an intriguing local food idea that I hope takes off. Maybe someday we can emulate it in this country.

In related news, our Thanksgiving this year will not be quite as local as usual. All three of our young Blue Slate turkeys have turned out to be hens--friendly, winsome hens that we cannot bear to eat. They follow us around warbling and chirping. They cock their heads when we talk to them, and they eat out of our hands. Gah! So I (cough) ordered an organic turkey from Earthfare. It's embarrassing, sure, but who'll be laughing in the spring when we're eating turkey egg omelettes?

Everybody in the U.S.: GO VOTE NOW!