Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Very Good Two Days!

Boy, life sure does change fast. Here I was, all down in the dumps over too much rain, then the sun came out and everything was better. Two warm days in a row, no rain, so we could get busy outside and get things done, and what a difference. It's been quite an adventure the past few days. First, we've been looking for some aged used bricks to lay as the floor for our greenhouse, and came across them just sitting by the side of the road with a sign on them at a neighbor's place, AND they were just what we wanted, AND at a great price, AND he realized that we don't have a truck and would have to make many trips in our car to pick them up, so offered to bring them on a trailer for us to unload and he'll pick the trailer up later. What a guy! We were so pleased with them, and Jim worked for hours to stack them by the greenhouse ready to lay in place when he gets the floor ready.

Then, our Momma Cat brought her two newest babies out to meet us, and Anna promptly fell in love. Andy even popped them into his pocket, where they snuggled down and got all cozy. Anna spent the whole next day snuggling those kittens, one at a time, until one bit her finger, so she reluctantly let them be with their Mom for a while.

So we were working around the place, when I heard the bees buzzing really loud, and realized that they were in the process of swarming. At least once a year, usually in the spring, the beehive will get crowded, make a new queen, and the old one will take part of the hive and move out to find a new home.

If you're clever, and we weren't, you set up a trap hive, to keep them home and you then have an additional beehive. Because we didn't, we had to watch as they poured out of the hive, rose up into the air in a big cloud, then finally settled nearby in a big clump on a branch. They rested there for about an hour, until their scouts came back with news of a new location to move to, and then the whole bunch rose up and moved off, never to be seen again. It's a fascinating process to watch, and since the bees are very placid at that time, you can stand close and watch the whole thing, without fear of being stung, as long as you're careful.Then the next day they did it again! This time it was a smaller group, but they repeated the whole process. We called our beekeeper friend, but he wasn't able to get here in time to catch them, so those bees were lost to us. We're planning to get another hive and keep close, just in case they ever do it again, we'll be ready.The garden is doing well, and today while Jim mowed the grass, I spent time thinning and transplanting the florence fennel, weeding several beds, and mulching more paths and the edge of the tomato and herb bed. It's looking great, and we ate our first salad of the year of our own greens, radishes and green onions for dinner tonight. Terrific stuff. Life is very good.

Friday, May 15, 2009


It's a dark, dank, dreary, dismal rainy nasty day. While the birds like this fresh water in the birdbath, it's not a good day today for arthritic oldsters, or kids who want to play outside. A hot cup of tea, good book and a warm fire sound like a plan for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How a 4 Year Old Waters Flowers

We just added some new flowers in the planters and they needed watering.

At first the can was so heavy!

Got a little lighter.
Don't forget the other end of the box!
Patting out the last drops.
All Gone?
Yep! Job finished!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mushrooms! More Wild Foods!

This time of year, you'll find us, head down, roaming the woods, looking for those elusive jewels, the morel mushroom. We'd already been out looking several times with very limited success, when Jim suddenly took a notion to drive up to a Michigan walking trail we like.

Ten minutes later, we were on the road, driving over an hour to search. There's a limit to how far I can walk the trail, so we usually take along my bike, drop me off about 5 miles out of the small town we like to park the car at. I bike to town, Jim walks toward me, we meet in the middle to visit a minute, then I go get the car, load the bike and go pick him up.

At 8 miles out, I suddenly needed to get out. Jim dropped me by the side of the road and started to drive away. I pushed off and started toward the trail, looked down and saw my first 'shroom, then three more, right near it.

Frantically, I waved Jim down before he got out of sight, and he came running back. We found 36 nice sized yellows, and a small snake, within 30 feet of that first one. Even though we eventually walked and rode that entire 8 miles, there were no more finds for the day. That was it.

What a treasure trove! We brought them home, soaked in salt water, and enjoyed the first bunch of them just fried with a little flour, then more made into an alfredo pasta sauce. We still have a small bowl full for tonight's dinner, with a small steak.

Hooray for Spring, and small wild miracles!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

There's an upside to Everything!

It's been so very wet this Spring, that it's been a problem for a long time. Water int he crawl space, heavy, soggy soil in the garden grass too wet to mow, part of our woods unreachable to walk our path were just some of the problems with the water this Spring.

But for our grandaughter, the long puddle next to the blueberries is an opportunity for fun on this warm afternoon-especially with the new boat that Grandpa made for her.

I guess there's a good side to everything, you just have to look for it.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Eating Weeds--Phase Two

We tried eating dandelions cooked with potatoes and chives a couple of nights ago and they were great. Kim thought we should try them made into a salad, so we did that last night and it was great!

I made it like a spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. I tossed a lot of fresh gathered, cleaned young dandelion greens, chopped into bite sized pieces, and tossed with boiled eggs, crumbled bacon, thin sliced onions, black olives and a few sliced mushrooms. The dressing was made from bacon grease, mustard, red wine vinegar, a little honey, fresh ground pepper and salt. It was terrific. The dandelions have a little heavier flavor than spinach, and make a terrific salad.

We enjoyed the salad with a small roast cornish hen, rice with mushroom gravy, fresh corn on the cob and a nice Chardonnay. Yummmm.

Kim, you were right. The dandelion greens are great as a fresh salad. In fact, it was so good, and hearty, next time, I'm making twice as much salad and forget the rest of the meal. We'll feast on salad alone.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

We're Eatin' Weeds!

I mentioned recently to Jim that all the wild food people keep talking about how wonderful dandelion greens are for the body. They're just packed with nutrition and great flavor. Jim agreed that they were great and said if I picked them, he'd clean them.

Well it's easy to find dandelions at our place! We don't use any kind of chemicals on our lawn, and in this sandy soil, without the weeds, we'd have very little green lawn!

So I roamed around the yard and pulled them out by the roots wherever I found them. It was easy, with all the rain we have, the ground is just soggy in most places, with open standing water in some. So I found a big bowl heaped high with young dandelion plants, and Jim sat down to clean them, cut the young greens off of the roots, and toss out all the other plants that hitchhiked along. Then I headed out back into the woods with a shovel, and came back with young chive plants with the bulbs intact to add flavor to the greens, and some sassafras roots for tea.

So we enjoyed our greens, cooked with thick sliced bacon for flavor and potatoes from our root cellar, with the tiny chive bulbs that taste like a cross between mild garlic and onion. Yummmmmmm. Good stuff. We finished up with an ear of corn each and feel so very healthy!

It's surprising to read all the health results from eating these intense greens, and they actually taste great too, with a little vinegar drizzled on. Amazing. And to think that some people pay a lot of money to poison these yummy flowered plants!