Failures



It’s 30 degrees out and the chickens are snug in the coop. Finally. I got home from the DJ (Day Job – it’s been a while since I posted, so I figured I’d refresh your memory) and went outside to lock them up. There isn’t any snow on the ground today and so they got to spend the day outside the pen.

Well, the wind somehow was strong enough to knock the stick that was keeping the door open so they couldn’t go home to roost. They were locked out. Uh oh.

Putting the flashlight through the little coop door – I only saw 2 chickens. Bigger uh oh. Great, the doodles are stuck in NATURE for the night. Dammity damn damn. Stupid wind. Stupid me thinking that the big heavy door would be held open with a little stick and now my doodles would be dodging hawks and owls and coyotes (oh my!) all night.

I speed walked to the other side of the coop (no running – with my stupid luck, I’d trip, fall and break my uvula or something) (one of the most breakable things in the human body. Google it) and there were my girls, all huddled into a mass of feathers, on the ground outside the coop. They were smart and put themselves in a protected spot, sort of under the nest boxes.

Poor things, apparently the door had been shut a while, there were 3 eggs on the ground. So – I deduce the following (hawks and owls and coyotes oh my!).

  1. Wind knocked stick
  2. Door shut with 2 chickens inside while they were laying eggs
  3. It stayed that way all day
  4. My little doodles were trying to do the right thing and put their eggs in the nesting (yeah, somehow that was just auto-corrected to ‘sexting’. Not cool. Had to manually override that little spelling correction. Awesome. Note to future self – you can’t type ‘nesting’ in WordPress, it changes it to ‘sexting.’ Can’t wait to see how many hits this post gets. “Hey, dude, I was looking up sexting the other day, you know, just to like, see, right? and like, there was all this stuff, right? and then there was like this random post about, like chickens and stuff. And like, the wind and like hawks and owls and coyotes and stuff. It was like, so random dude. But now I’m like, hooked man. Yeah, I know. I can’t even explain it. It’s just so random, but like, this chicken chick is so like, I don’t know, like, deep, you know? I totally connected to her on some like, spiritual level or something.”) boxes, but they were closed and couldn’t so they laid their eggs underneath
  5. And probably stressed out all day. So, there I was -no jacket, wearing work clothes, with a flashlight, looking at 13 chickens just laying on the ground and thinking, “F! (I actually thought the entire curse word out.) How the F (full word) am I gonna do THIS?! (Here is where you really wish I were the TRUMAN SHOW because having this process on streaming video would have gone completely viral. Alas, that is not the case, so I shall describe to you what was some of the stranger series of minutes I have ever experienced.)

Wishing I had a headlamp, I took the flashlight and put it between my knees in order to light the area ahead as best I could, and bent down to grab a chicken. Ok, so bear with me here. This is where, well, it gets weird. Apparently, when chickens roost down for the night, they get a bit, (is ‘randy’ a good word or does it make me sound old? Frisky? Something that made me feel glad because I could pick them up and yet, really dirty (as in, icky/uncomfortable) all at the same time.)

As I reached for the first one, she squatted down as if to mate. (So, I just did an image search for “Stance for mating chickens” to see if I could include a photo to give you a visual and now feel like the “you-shouldn’t-be-on-this-earth-you-person-with-strange-fetishes-police” are going to come knocking because I just viewed over 100 photos in the search result, analyzing all the poor chickens getting violated by roosters and determined that none of them were the right kind of position that my chickens were in, so I’ve decided not to include the photo at all, and am now really embarrassed by those last several creepy minutes.) It was all butt up, head down, but made it easy to pick her up.

Oh, you want sexy time, chicken? Nope, IN THE COOP.

However, I couldn’t hold her with only 1 hand, and needed to see, so, with the flashlight between my knees, and a handful of chicken going, “take me I’m yours” I had to waddle, waddle waddle the 3 steps over to the coop door to put her in. The flashlight is sort of swaying back and forth as I do this waddle, lighting up the area quite strangely, like, Blair Witch, but with horny chickens instead of dumb teenagers.

For the first chicken, after placing her in the coop, I took the flashlight out from between my knees, walked the three steps holding it in my hand, put it back between my knees, grabbed another “ready” chicken, turned, waddle, waddle, waddle back to the coop,  and shoved the chicken in (gently, of course, but get the f in there). But, after the first time, it was just stupid, so I just put the flashlight between the knees (thighs actually – ugh – that admission just made it weirder), waddle, waddle, waddle, bend, grab a ready and willing hen, waddle, waddle waddle, put in the coop, waddle waddle waddle, etc.

This happened for 13 of them. I’d go to grab them, and they got all like, “Yes please” which was odd enough. One woke up a bit and hid under the nesting box and as I reached forward, she got into position for, you know, the act, and since I couldn’t reach her, I grabbed her by the tail feathers and sort of dragged her out from under the nesting boxes. Apparently she liked it rough.

AND THEN, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the stupid thigh-light ambiance all low and shadowy and sort of moving weird with the waddling just added another layer of creepiness and, well, low-budget-film to the entire experience.

DO YOU KNOW HOW THIS FEELS? Creepy, strange and now I am wondering how they’ll look at me tomorrow. They’re probably all clucking about it right now.

‘Well Blanche, I thought I was going to get some tonight.’

“Oh I know. I mean, it was the biggest rooster I’ve ever seen. I would have SO loved to get me some of that.” (There is another word for rooster that was so tempting to use right there, yet, I know that would have completely tipped the scales on this post from, “Oh Jenn you are hilarious” to “I’m blocking you.”)

“Henrietta, stop talking like that, you slut. It was extra rough with me, dragging me around by the feathers like a caveman. I don’t want any of that. I have pride, honey.”

“Oh please, you think everything is a rooster wanting to get some.  You squat every time you walk under a tree branch.”

It was a strange night. I can wash my hands after the experience, but not my memories. My memories will haunt me.

ps. There is a cookbook with the same name as this blogpost. You must get it. Very entertaining.

Advertisements

shallots

These are the shallots

That almost got washed.

They were in my pocket.

I’m surprised they weren’t squashed.

Picking them was easy

When out tending the yard

Apparently remembering them later

Was the part that was hard.

They made it inside

and into the laundry pile

They made it downstairs

I think they were there for a while.

Gratefully, Keith

Doing laundry so well

Saved our clothes

From a horrific smell.

He fished them out

And brought them to safety

Into the kitchen

Where they try to look tasty.

You see they didn’t want

To be laundered or cleaned

They wanted to chopped

And sauteed or steamed.

Stirred into risotto

Or softened in butter

Anything, anything at all

Related to supper.

So heed the lesson

From this forgetful wench

Remember your shallots

And avoid the stench.


Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls. DaisyPatch fans of all walks of life (ok, there’s ladies, then there’s gentlemen and then there’s boys, and…we have girls. What other walks of life might there be reading this here post in cyberspace? Manatees? Probably not. Opposable thumbs aren’t necessary to log onto the Internet, so I guess it IS a possibility, but it doesn’t seem likely. Also, they don’t walk, really. Don’t they sort of pull themselves by their front fins. Feet? Paddles? Fins is probably correct. I hope manatees ARE reading my blog. I HAVE had some new followers find me as of late. Hi! Welcome. Are you manatees? If so, I will try to make the DaisyPatch more manatee-friendly for you.) Where was I? Right. (God, I do that a lot, don’t I?) Um. RIGHT! You heard it here first. Drum roll please…

edible South Shore has given me my own column. I get to continue to inflict my self-deprecating stories on the readers of this fine, fine publication. My column starts in the Fall of 2012. I have proposed several topics for the first article and have been told to do whatever I want. (Insert evil laugh here.) Really? REALLY? REALLY? Really? (the one in italics denotes a squeaky voice. So, first it was a normal voice. Really? Then it was louder. REALLY? Then it was a shout. REALLY? Then bring it on down to a squeak of surprise. Really? With me?)

No big deal. Piece of cake. Ready for the name of the column? Brace yourself. It is the epitome of cuteness. It is a play on words which is exactly my style. I thought of it in the middle of the night. Home Sweet Homestead. I know, right? F’ing brilliant. I am looking forward to it. The Fall article in the column is TBD, but GUESS what the following 4 articles will be about. Guess. Yup. Cluckers. They will arrive in about 6 weeks and I will cataloguing (‘guing or ‘ging? Hm. Going with ‘guing) everything we’re going through to get ready for them. Then I will be diligently documenting every little peep, squeak and chicken scratch they make as we assimilate them into the Patch, and into our family. Our homestead. I will also promise to be honest and make note of every screw up made by yours truly. Because that’s what this is all about…learning as we go.

(So, was this manatee-friendly enough?)


My end of season haiku…ahem…

Yesterday was it

The gardens have been torn down

Choking a sniffle

I wonder why I’m so emotional about wrapping up the back gardens. Methinks several reasons. When the beds are so buried in snow that you would never have known they were even there, will I have a purpose? I mean, sure, my life has purpose, but I’ve had such focus for the last several months that it has become routine and, routine is well, comfortable. I actually liked coming in sore in the afternoons – that means I worked – toward something. Why is it so different than any other year? We’ve had gardens for years, what’s the difference? Well, they are bigger this year, that’s for sure. We also had a goal in mind with them – to produce as much food for the two of us for the present and to store for the Winter. Is that it? Now that we have done what we can to reach that goal and there’s nothing else we can do, I’m at a bit of a loss. I know I can plan for next year, we’re definitely going to make a lot of changes in what we plant, where and when.  I guess I just need to redirect my focus toward another goal. I’ll work on that.

 Meanwhile, technically, we didn’t tear down all the gardens, just the back gardens next to the greenhouse. We have a small surprise happening in the Kitchen Garden. You see, it’s all about zagging. Huh? Follow me on this…We had a small snafoo with the greenhouse. We ran out of greenhouse plastic when putting it on, so used cheap-ass plastic and it ended up getting sort of crispy in the sun this Summer. So, the good plastic goes over the top, we have fiberglass weatherproof board and a door on the back of the greenhouse and, well, nothing on the front. It was that cheap-ass plastic which has since ripped off/been torn down. Since we don’t have a truck to get more fiberglass, we’re waiting until BFF Roy can spare a day to come help (guy works a lot, bless him. If you need a Harley, we can put you in touch with him!) Meanwhile, it is mid-October and I should have the greenhouse plants planted by now. But, with no front to the greenhouse, that wasn’t going to happen. So, instead of zigging, we had to zag. (Did I mention learning lessons this Summer?)

I ordered some items from Gardener’s Supply (again, they’re not sponsoring me!) and have planned some low tunnels for the Kitchen Garden. The boxes arrived and sat in the kitchen for several days. Once Keith discovered my master plan, he took it upon himself and put it all together for me.

Mesclun mix (before)

Hoops are in.

With the frost cover

 

1 1 /2 beds done!

Hooray! So, since we weren’t able to plant Winter greens in the greenhouse, we’re going to try them like this. Technically, the Frost Blankets make it to 28 degrees, so I’m being realistic, but I bet we’ll b e able to extend the season a little bit anyway. But, we’ll mostly just be harvesting, there won’t be much weeding or planting. So, back to my purpose for the Winter…It needs to be something challenging, realistic and gives me the feeling of accomplishment. Maybe I’ll knit my first sweater.

My parsnip haiku…ahem…

Parsnips what the hell?

Why can’t I pick like carrots?

I broke them all off.

I tried to pick the parsnips like carrots. You know, pull the greens, out comes the veggie? Epic fail. I broke off the greens and then had to dig the parsnip out. Try again. Happened again, and again, and again. I have to dig these babies out one by one? Come on! No one told me that. So now we have parsnips in the fridge, each one has fingernail marks at the top from my CLAWING at it trying to scratch away the dirt during extraction.

Now, since I only have eaten parsnips that a professional chef prepared, I am faced with the challenge of cooking them so they’re edible. Stay tuned.


Remember how excited I was to grow Edamame? Remember that picture I had that showed all the little pods growing so beautifully? Fail!  Again. Below, is a breakdown of this tragedy forever to be known as ‘What the hell, Jenn? They’re just beans for chrissakes. You can’t grow a freeking bean? Jack just threw some seeds out of his pocket and he did just fine. You stink. Can’t grow a freeking bean. Jeez.” (Maybe I will work on the title of this tragic tale a little bit more. It’s a work on progress.) 
  
April: Plant Edamame seeds in starter packs in the basement.
April: Squeal in excitement as Edamame seedlings emerge.
April:  Dump out the dried soil with dead Edamame seedlings. Vow to water.
April:  Plant Edamame seeds in starter packs in the basement.
April: Water
April: Water
April: Squeal in excitement as Edamame seedlings emerge.
April: Water
May: Dump out soggy soil with dead Edamame seedlings due to too much water.
May: Purchase seedling heat mat to aid in germination.
May:  Plant Edamame seeds in starter packs in the basement.
May: Water
May: Squeal in excitement as Edamame seedlings emerge.
May: Water, but not too much.
May: Move Edamame seedlings into the greenhouse. Cover lovingly with a blanket on cold nights.
May: Water
May: Move Edamame inside on super cold nights and back into greenhouse in the mornings.
May: Carefully transplant Edamame seedlings into a place of honor in the Chef’s Garden.
June: Water
June: Check
June: Prepare frozen, pre-packaged Edamame for best friends, bragging about how one is growing a whole crop of organic Edamame just feet away in the garden and vow to share the first harvest.
July: Water
July: Check
July: Squeal in excitement as Edamame flowers emerge.
July: Squeal in excitement as Edamame pods emerge.
July: Brag about Edamame on blog.
July: Brag about Edamame at DJ.
August: Water
August: Check
August: Water
August: Check
August: Have family come to visit for a weekend. Don’t check.
August: Think, ‘Probably time to harvest.” Check.
August:  Edamame are all brown. And hard.
August: Rip Edamame out of the ground, bring all pods into the house, wash.  
August: Let Edamame sit on the counter for a day. I don’t know why. I think I was afraid to find out what I already knew.
August: Bite. Edamame have all gone to seed. None are edible.
August: Dump all Edamame pods and seeds. Don’t bother saving seeds for next year.  

The irony of planting seeds in order to just get more seeds is not lost on me. That doesn’t make it sting any less. Lesson learned? Unsure if I’ve learned a lesson. I’m just pissed.


So, when you defrost shredded zucchini (see here), you end up with a ziploc bag full of what looks like white worms swimming in a bunch of water. If you drain off the water and use those worms to make zucchini bread, it sucks. Just so you know.