Friday, June 17, 2011

Why I wish I was retired

I woke up this morning with the garden on my mind.  I've got some extra incentive to get things nice because Lauren and I are taking engagement pictures here sunday.  I was up early so I made some coffee and raisin bran for my boo and me.  I let the dogs out; our two, cash and holden, and the two we're dogsitting while kurt and camille are out of town.  The puppy shat her crate so she got a bath and a cleaned crate.
Got that done before 9 so the rest of the day was divided between chopping wood, weeding the garden, and getting the yard looking nice.  I'm thankful it was a gorgeous summer day.  Last June got so hot that all of my blackberries just turned brown and withered on the bramble.  Today was upper 80's but pleasantly overcast.
I got some work done in the kitchen today too.  The pots and pans cabinet looked like my childhood closet when I was supposed to clean my room.  You had to open the cabinet slowly so you could cradle everything as it fell out.  I got that little project done and I froze some of the zucchini that was taking over our counters according to the directions on  I loved my squash soup earlier this week so I started to make squash and barley soup.  Luckily for me the barley takes 1.25 hours to cook.  In that hour plus of thinking about the soup I decided that squash and barley sounded nasty so I would get some meat at the store later.  I put the harvest to use as I made some pasta salad for lunch.  I used the beet water from the pickling this weekend to boil the pasta in.  I added banana peppers, squash, onions, and basil from the garden to make a pretty tasty snack.
When Lauren made it back from work we went over to the school to look at the bird that has been causing so much fuss lately.  We picked up a couple beverages from the store and sat on the curb watching the Gastonia anomaly.  Stacy Trull, who works for Gaston County Schools, said he had seen people there in the past couple of days with enormous "gun barrel" binoculars and super zoom cameras.
Just 20 more years and I can make this a daily posting.  For now, I love the summer time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

An exciting day

Reasons why today was a good day:
1.  My last day of work for the year was a coaches golf tournament.  very nice
2.  The blog got its first 2 followers today, and for the first time I didn't account for 100% of the page views.( ok, the followers are my fiance and Susan looking for something to do while they're at work, but since nobody else looks at the page anyway I don't need to say that.)
3.The bird I saw two days ago really was a scissor tailed flycatcher.  I watched it again yesterday and it put on a show.  I tried to take some pictures but they all turned out to be little white specks on top of a fence, a black and white blur with a sky background(still speck sized), or he landed in the tree right beside us and then I got pictures of leaves and a black tail sticking out.
I called my birdiphile uncle robbie when I saw the scissor tail again and confirmed the sighting, but he wasn't there and he hasn't called me back.  I left a message with the bird lady at the schiele museum and she hasn't called me back.  Either she doesn't care, or she gets a dozen calls a day from Gastonia rednecks with outrageous bird sightings and didn't feel like bursting another simple minded bubble.  So.. I posted a message on the Charlotte Audobon Society's listserv and I've excited all sorts of birders who want to know where Forestview High School is all of a sudden.  One fellow told me this would be his "year bird."  I don't tell normal people that I sit around and watch birds all the time because I don't want to seem like too big of a dork, but if you add these folks to the birding spectrum I think I fall in the normal range now.
I'll talk about my squash soup next time I get a chance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Birds at school

Yesterday was a teacher work day so we played a few holes of golf in the morning and then made it to the school to at least walk through the office and be seen.  The little while that I was there was pretty exciting.  I saw an indigo bunting for the first time in my life at the feeder outside my window.  After that I was glued to the window eager for his return.  While I was watching I saw a bird fly out of the top of the 25 foot oak tree outside of my window with a super long black and white tail.  I immediately thought it was a scissor tailed flycatcher and started checking sites on my computer to see if I could be confused. is my favorite place to check on birds.  The good folks at Cornell said the scissor tails were in Oklahoma and surrounding areas.  Gastonia, NC is pretty far on the outskirts of Oklahoma.  Our school is in a pretty rural area with plenty of wide open space that is a good area for flycatchers.  We have eastern kingbirds, bluebirds, and occasionally phoebes, but never scissor tails.  I started doubting myself so I walked down around the baseball field and onto the soccer field in the direction the bird flew.  I looked on top of every fence, every pole, and power line, but no scissor tail.  I told the baseball coach mowing the grass to keep an eye out for a bird with a really long tail, and he looked at me like he wanted to punch me in my face.  I'm not really expecting much help from coach in finding this guy but I'm excited about finding him.

5/5/12-  It was definitely a scissor-tail and I hope he makes it back this year.  he caused a lot of commotion last year.  I wasn't looking at an indigo bunting on my feeder though.  That was a male blue grossbeak and he's back again this year.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I finally picked the beets today.  Lauren and I only planted a 10  x 3 row, but they had a good spring.  We started from seed ( pinetree garden seeds beet mix ) in the beginning of february.  We raked the bed, spread out a bunch of seed, and raked it again to try to get the seeds buried. I know you're supposed to plant them 1/2 inch deep 2 inches apart, but I got tired of carrying a ruler with me after the first couple of years of planting seeds.  I went back through and thinned the plants out a couple of times and used the leaves and little beets in spring salads.
These beets were ready to be picked a while ago, but there were only a couple with brown shoulders.  When I boiled them and skinned them to make pickled beets the rough parts came right off.
I've been pulling one up every once in a while, wiping them on my pants, and eating them.  They're a little strong and ironny that way, but it just tastes healthy.  Lauren likes 'em cooked so she got me some directions for making refrigerator pickled beets from
and I made pickled beets this morning.
I cut off the tops and bottoms of the beets and dropped them in the stewpot of boiling water for a 1/2 hour.  After they'd been in the water for a while the skin slid off pretty easy using just my fingers.  A couple of the cylindrical ones required a little finger nail.  I sliced them up and put them in some jars.  I used 1/2 as much sugar as the site told me and I added some stuff to some of the jars.  I put jalepenoes in one, dill seed in another, fennel in one??, and some onion to the others.  Now they'll take up room in the fridge for a couple of weeks before we get to find out how it worked.

5/5/12-  The beets were awesome.  We gave several jars away and we polished off about 4 by ourselves.  They were great on salads, and even though Lauren didn't really like the dilly beets, when they were the only ones left she ate them anyway.  This year the beets just didn't do as well.  I planted a bunch, but we've probably only got about 20 plants out there.  No pickling this year.  I wonder if it was too warm of a winter/spring?

Friday, June 10, 2011


The Squash and Zucchini have been the stars of the story recently.  Lauren and I planted the seeds that we got from Ford's ( of course ) in mounds at the beginning of April.  Now the plants are huge creeping mounds, and the fruits are covering our countertops.  We started harvesting at the end of May, and we've been getting out there every couple of days for more.  Both of our parents have received recent squash gifts, we gave some to the people who own the field where we want to get married, and we've been eating enough to turn our poo yellow.
Yesterday I saw the first squash beetle of the year.  The evil cousins of ladybugs will end up getting the best of our plants in a few weeks.  But for now I'll pick off all the bugs and eggs I can find, and we'll eat squash in everything.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Post 1

This is the story of the birds and the bees.  Not the "business time" version.  This is the story about where they go and what they do during the day:  our organic garden.  I've plowed up the majority of our zone 7b suburban back yard and constantly experiment with plants, techniques, and recipes.  This is certainly not an enterprising venture, I just love it.  I love walking down the paths with a cold ice tea or beer and watching everything live.  I love designing a plan and then letting nature run amuck.  And, oh yes, the tomato sandwiches are pretty good too.