Inspired by reading about permaculture, I decided to build a herb spiral. I needed to relocate herbs from the front of the house, and thought this spiral bed would work well close to the back door. There is a lot of information online about how to build a spiral bed like this, as well as the ideal arrangement of herbs to accommodate different growing conditions.
This is obviously not at its peek, and will look better once the grass grows back around it and the herbs really take off. But I like the locations, and already I can see how it is the start of something, and the beginning of defining space, and there will be more planting, I can just feel it. For a while, until these herbs grow up a bit, I will probably still be wandering about the property to visit the various patches of herbs; oregano and mints in the “goat pen”, chives and sage round the front, basil (later!) up in the veggie patch. And on a fine day, what could be nicer? But ultimately I think it will be more convenient having the herbs close. Quite a satisfying project.
Filed under food, gardening
It doesn’t look like much, but in the last few days I’ve been working on a little garden in front of the chicken coop. I’ve been browsing Free Range Chicken Garden and while the book is perhaps more oriented to those keeping a small backyard flock it is nonetheless inspiring. The current chicken arrangements involve some time in the coop in the morning, then out “to pasture” in a large area we had fenced off for the goats. In the evening we let them out to free range around our property. So this little garden won’t have their full (damaging) attention. I planted it with some so-called “chicken resistant” plants as well as a few of their favourites, like kale. Tiny kale plants are protected by a chicken wire tent and I seeded some greens under the cover on the other side. I’m hoping these will give the plants a chance for a good start but after that it will all be fair game.
I hope to get a few more herbs that will be useful for sprinkling in the coop and look forward to seeing nasturtiums spilling about. I recruited a few wild strawberries and cowslips from the lawn. G and Little R built the stone path yesterday. Looking forward to seeing it grow up!
I made some lemon curd a week ago and while I stood over it and stirred it occurred to me rhubarb would make a good curd too. We have lots of eggs, we have lots of rhubarb. This afternoon I tried it out. I was hoping for a pale pink mixture but I guess it must be the eggs that give lemon curd its colour, not lemon, so the rhubarb curd is also a cheerful yellow. It tastes lovely. I still want to perfect my recipe but this first attempt is quite passable. Seems like a perfect spring delicacy.
High up on the list of my favourite things is gathering from the garden and using my finds as inspiration for a meal. I love that. And it’s early, and there isn’t anything ready in the garden yet, but thankfully there is sorrel and dandelion greens in profusion. And a healthy clump of chives. And add to that the eggs collected daily. (Oh, if only I was an “egg person” and could enjoy an omelette, or indeed any kind of egg dish, then a collection like this could be a meal in itself. I’m serious, I really do regard my dislike of anything eggy as quite a handicap, but I don’t think there is any hope for me in that regard.) So the eggs go in the fridge and I turn the rest into this dish:
Pasta with sorrel pesto (sorrel, garlic, olive oil, roasted almonds) dandelion greens and mozzarella.
Not sure why I find this transformation from gatherings to meal so satisfying but I do. And I have so much more of this to look forward to as things begin to grow.
Little R’s Easter Basket included:
A jar of bubble mixture and a wand.
Dried mango and dried cranberries, thanks for my mother for the idea of dried fruit as treats.
A felt easter egg with a tiny chick inside. I made this egg yesterday, quite last-minute, following these instructions. I wasn’t quite happy with the way I cut the opening but it was really easy and fun to make and I will definitely be making a bunch for nest year! (I might even do some now.) I think I will probably make a straight slit and experiment with a ribbon tied around the egg. And an egg like this could hide all sorts of surprises.
A bird’s nest with three tiny little chocolate eggs inside. Little R’s first candy. It took her a while to figure out they were for eating and then she was somewhat alarmingly keen. I knew that would happen. But the eggs just looked so perfect in the nest. It reminded me of when I was a kid and found one on the sidewalk. I took it home and nestled it inside a plush jewellery box under a bright lamp, convinced it was a real egg and might hatch…
“Bird eggs in there!”
This morning when we opened the egg door…
we found an egg!
Courtesy of one of our Buff Orpingtons. It’s all very exciting. Keep them coming!
An update on the chickens.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, though I’m still not sure if I’ve figured out how best to approach it. It’s a post about “harvesting” our roosters. Unfortunately, we had to do rather more of this than we thought, as of our ten chicks SEVEN turned out to be roosters. We only ever wanted hens for eggs, but to get heritage breeds we needed to get unsexed chicks… I also told myself that proceeding this way was somehow “honest”, and would help us understand the whole process. And it has, though it’s not always fun.
I’m not going to go into detail about killing the roosters, since if you are looking for info there are experts and they are NOT US. In a nutshell, we caught them, put them in a milk jug “cone”, slit their throats and let them bleed out. They were fairly calm (especially if you can catch them quickly, without fuss) and while I can’t pretend to know what chickens are feeling, I don’t think there was much suffering. Cutting was not always easy and I can appreciate how cutting their heads off with an axe would be quick and final. But lacking experience, neither of us felt we had the confidence for that.
It’s not hard at all the in the way you might imagine, you know, feeling bad for killing a creature, because so much of your energy is focused on trying to kill them quickly and make that whole process as smoothly as possible that you just feel relief when they are gone. But it is hard. We found it hard and are very glad to be done.
And “done” left us with 3 hens and 1 rooster. We killed 5 roosters and one was taken by a hawk. So we bought two Buff Orpington pullets to add to the flock. On another day (in a more upbeat post) I’ll show you some pictures and tell you a little more about them.
Understandably, I don’t like to dwell too much on the actual dispatching of the roosters. As we have been saying to ourselves, you’d have to wonder about somebody who didn’t find the whole thing at least a little difficult. But fortunately we can also remind ourselves that our roosters had a pretty wonderful life, free-ranging about at Good Cheer, and we can feel proud of that.