Thursday, July 14, 2011

Victories and Disappointments - A Mid-Summer Review

I candled Abigail's eggs today for the second time, since I couldn't resist candling them the day I got them for a baseline.   Two of the eggs definitely have veins and a chick embryo - one of the Cochin eggs marked "MF"  (Mille Fleur?  Whoo-Hoo!) and one of the buff Orpingtons.    There is no guarantee either will make it to full gestation.  Often eggs, just quit in mid-incubation.  The other Cochin egg looks like a dud - infertile, nothing at all going on in there.   The rest - 4 Orpingtons - I'm not at all sure what I'm seeing.  Either the shell is too dense,  my mini-LED flashlight isn't bright enough, or I have no idea what I'm doing.  It could be any of the above, but I'm leaning heavily on the last one.   I put all the eggs back under Abigail because she was getting agitated, even though I took them out 2 at a time so she wouldn't miss them.  I also think she can count, because she didn't settle down until all 7 were back under her.

There don't seem to be any absolutes to hatching and candling eggs.  As I read Backyard Chicken Forum and other sources, some say don't think about touching the eggs for at least 10 days.  Others say by that time the indicators of a fertile, growing chick can't be seen any more.  I am concerned that the dud  - or the four I  am unsure of - will really go bad, break open under Abigail, and contaminate them all. (that really does happen, under hens and in incubators) I have a question posted on BYC, and I'm waiting for answers. 

On to the garden:
I am still harvesting something nearly every day, but in dribs and drabs.  The  Roma tomatoes are loaded with fruit, but no ripe ones yet. The German Pink tomatoes are big, have had to be tied up, with lots of blossoms, but I don't see 'maters.  There are two volunteer tomato plants that I am waiting to see what variety they turn out to be.  One of the advantages of not using hybrids, is they will 'breed true.'   They will be something I have grown before.

Roma tomatoes

There are lots of peppers on the Jalapeno and Cayenne plants too.  I've dried about a dozen Jalapenos, and plan to grind them to powder - to use like Cayenne powder, when I want a little 'kick,' but not as hot.  The kale and chard, that I thought would bolt or go bitter when hot and/or dry weather came, have not, and are still giving me meal after meal.   I have gotten two generous servings of white potatoes, and one of red from my pots.  It is so much fun to dig around in the pots, pull out a few potatoes, go inside, wash them and put them on to cook!  There is a difference in flavor! 

I don't see any blossoms on the beans yet, but they did go in awfully late.  The pattypan squash at their feet is huge, but I haven't got any squash from it yet.  Some of those leaves are as long as the length of my forearm, from elbow to fingertip!  A little too much nitrogen from the bunny poo - giving lots of foliage but no fruit? 

The oregano is growing a third crop, but I think I will let this one go to seed.  I have plenty, and don't want to stress the plant too much.  The Chervil plant from earlier in the Spring, has been done for a while, but has reseeded itself already, and 2 small plants have come up. 

The squash in pots are a failure, I'm afraid. After losing two or three tries to squash bug last year, this year's squash in pots have had it already.  Too wet, too dry, roots too crowded, who knows, but they are going limp and kicking the bucket after only giving one or two squash each.  I won't repeat this.  Darn!  I really like squash, and would really rather grow it than buy it!   

I'm also bummed at reading that the heat and air flow while dehydrating kale destroys  the Vitamin A and C - the reason kale is such a powerhouse in the first place!  I've been drying it like crazy for a couple of weeks. I'm thinking I may have to plant an autumn garden this year - something I have never done, except garlic - to keep the fresh food coming as long as possible    

 I'm not giving up on dehydrating though, because some nutritional compromises are made no matter what form of preservation is used.  I read Mary Bell's Dehydrator Cookbook  recently.  I liked it, but it kind of showed it's age.  It was written nearly 20 years ago, and a lot of the content had a 'quaint' feel to it - and no photos!    Still, it gave me some ideas for things I would not have thought of dehydrating - shrimp, pickles, watermelon?!?   I tried the shrimp, which turned out great, the pickles were way salty, and I haven't tried the watermelon yet.  She has another book "Food Drying with an Attitude," that seems to be the same text, only with photos added.  (?)  

Until next time from Wren Cottage ...... 


  1. Could you copy and freeze the kale to preserve more nutrients? Then you could add it to soups, stews and casseroles. I have a lentil spinach stew and a green-n-white lasagne that it would work in....

  2. The only freezer space I have is the little one above the fridge. I have no room for a larger freezer, and wouldn't want to get one, since the biggest hazard we have here is power outages 0 usually from ice storms - that last from a few hours to a week (or two!!). Imagine having a whole freezer full of carefully prepared food ruined because of no electricity! I will continue to dehydrate, but not be as naive about loss of nutrients.