Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pictures from The Reinhart Farm

The garlic's been harvested now. 

Hanging in the bushes.  It's nice and cool in there.

What do you think?

Napoleon - the biggest little rooster
Our first two eggs!  They're so tiny.... that bowl is just 5" across.
The duck and goose brigade

Gramma (me) and Mattheus, the future farmer
Chris, Mattheus, and Emma discussing important farm stuff.
It's a jungle in here!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Zucchini Pickles

Pick the zucchini when it's small, 1 to 1 1/2 inches around.  If you pick them all this small, your plant will produce more than if you let them go till they're the gigantic variety.  If you happen to miss one and it ends up looking like a zucchini on steroids, you can have it for dinner.  Cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, and place cut side down in a large turkey roasting pan that has about 3 inches of water in it.  Cover and cook on the stove (using two burners) until it's fork tender.  Serve with butter and Parmesan cheese.  Easy!

Now the pickle recipe:

4 quarts small zucchini, unpeeled, sliced thin
3 large onions, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup salt
4 cups cider vinegar
4 cups sugar
2 tsps celery seeds
4 tsps mustard seeds
2 tsps turmeric
1 tsp dry mustard

Combine the zucchini and onions.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand for two hours.  Rinse with cold water.
Combine remaining ingredients in a large pot and heat till boiling.  Boil for two - five minutes.  Add the zucchini and onion.  Remove from the heat and let stand for another two hours.
If you are preserving the jars of pickles, now would be the time to make sure the jars and lids are sterilized.  After two hours, bring the mixture to a boil again and let it boil for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and fill the jars.  Put caps on.  
Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes to make sure you have a good seal.  Makes approximately 8 pints of pickles.
We don't usually bother with processing as we eat the pickles fast enough that it's not a problem! 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Urban Farming

We've been urban farmers for a long time, even before it became popular.  We've had chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, goats, and even a donkey.  We've also tried to garden, with mixed success, all in a suburban neighborhood, just a half mile from the city of Denver.

That was awhile ago.  We then went for a short spell with only our three elderly rabbits as our urban livestock. That was okay, but I didn't think it would last.  Sure enough, one Christmas, our son gave his father a book called, "Living with Chickens", by Jay Rossier.  Chris began reading and was soon convinced that we needed to have chickens again. 

Then Chris retired.  This was the time to plunge into our urban farming. 

Last spring we bought 14 chicks, 2 ducklings, and two goslings.  The ducklings and goslings were my idea.  Geese are sociable creatures who love to follow us around while we do our chores.  They are also good at keeping anyone or anything who doesn't belong, away from our property.  We also started a very large, ambitious garden.  About a month later, two bantam chickens, a hen and a rooster, joined the flock.

The little rooster, whom we named Napoleon, is a fierce protector of our hens.  The tiny hen, who could only be named Josephine, is a golden seabright, a rare type of hen who actually crows!  She is amazing to watch as she darts in and around the large hens, often stealing food right from their mouths.

Our August farm report: 

The chokecherry jam was not an amazing success, however, chokecherry syrup is great on French toast.  Maybe someday I'll make a batch that gels but doesn't turn into chokecherry leather.

We have our first eggs!!!  One of our first layers is Josephine.  Her eggs are tiny and pale pink.  At least one more hen is laying because we got a brown egg today.  We cleaned the chicken house and added a couple of nesting boxes.  Anything to encourage more of those beautiful little eggs to come.

The garden has produced peas, carrots, radishes, lettuce, beets, zucchini, peppers, garlic, kohlrabi, and there are potatoes and tomatoes still to come.  I'm planning on trying a fall planting of radishes and fennel.  I'm not sure if it'll work, but it's worth a try.  We've had beet greens for dinner, kohlrabi in our salad, and peas that rarely made it into the house.  We also made pickled beets, in addition to our chokecherry syrup.

Today, I made zucchini pickles.  I will include the recipe in the next post.  This and plum chutney are my favorite garden treats.
The girls, wondering about the changes in the chicken house.  They are a suspicious bunch!