Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spaghetti pucchini

The oddest squash ever.  Our zucchini, pumpkins and spaghetti squash cross pollinated.  They start off looking like a fat zucchini.  Grow to the shape of a spaghetti squash, while keeping the dark green color of a zucchini.  Then the color mottles to the greens of an unripe pumpkin and they turn a peach color.  Not yellow like a spaghetti squash and not orange like a pumpkin; something in the middle.  Very hard shell like a pumpkin, insides stringy like a spaghetti squash, but slightly sweeter.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I thought there was something wrong with her.  Every time I've gone into the barn since Friday, our littlest (not youngest, buy physically smallest) chicken has been sitting in the same nest box.  At first I figured she was just sleeping there; I generally go into the barn in the early morning when some of the birds are still roosting, and again in the mid to late afternoon, but when A went into the barn at almost 10 am yesterday and said she was in there, I started to worry. 

I went to check on her as soon as we got home last night, thinking she had hut her legs or her wing or something.  She didn't protest when I pulled her out of the box.  I put her down and she just looked at me - she seemed fine.  Then I noticed she had an egg in the nest! She's not hurt; she's broody!

So I put her back in.  Today, Holden put both eggs that he found in the barn in her nest in the hopes that she'll hatch at least one chick.  Of course, we have no idea if the rooster is actually mating with the chickens (A says he's seen him do it and it doesn't seem to be working), so there's no guarantee that the eggs are even fertilized, but we're excited at the prospect. 

The on egg she's been sitting on is tiny, and she hadn't been laying yet.  So either she laid her very first egg and never left the nest box, or she saw the guinea lay in there and decided she needed to sit on the guinea's egg.

Good ol' Roadrunner!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Excuse me, I can't talk right now, I have to feed my squirrel

Yes, I said squirrel. 

 Monday evening, A and the kids were taking the path up to the barn to check if there were any eggs before the lights went out.  Kenna comes running back to the house shouting at me to come out there RIGHT NOW!!

In the path, about 25 feet below a big squirrel's nest, is this little baby squirrel, who is chirping up a storm.  I realized that the chirping is the same sound I have heard for the past couple of hours as I cleaned up around that side of the house, so he's probably been there for a while. 

We've had orphaned baby mice die on us.  An orphaned baby bunny just this summer.  Not to mention the countless chickens and guineas we've lost in the past few months.  The last thing I wanted to do was take in another baby that was surely going to die.  Another thing for the kids to get attached to and then be heartbroken.

But A had other plans.  I think he was worse than the kids with the sad face when I said I didn't think we should take it in.  So now we have a squirrel.  We're on day 4 with him and he's going strong.

We're feeding him a mixture of kitten replacer milk and pedialite.  He's living in a little box in a nest of my fabric scraps, with the heat lamp over him.  We find him in odd positions like upside down with his butt in the air and his feet resting on his face.  The kids think this is hysterical.  He's gone through two name changes already - from the original "Squirrley" (Kenna said this one "just didn't stick") to "Quince" (I have no idea why).  I suggested Earl, as in he children's book, "Earl the Squirrel" about a squirrel with a little girl who knits him a scarf as a friend, but the kids looked horrified, because, as Holden yelled at me, "But MOM! Earl had to DIIIIEEE!" (see the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl" for clarification)

So now we have a squirrel.  A wants to give it a room with potted oak trees.  Or let it live in one of my currently unused rabbit hutches.  This morning, I asked A how he was, he'd been up for 2 hours by the time I got up at 7, and he said fine, other than the lack of sleep.  Clearly, he's never had a baby.  He's been getting up 4 times a night to feed the squirrel and make sure he's warm.  I think he needs a baby ...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

World's smallest watermelon

The watermelon bed looked great all summer - lots and lots of flowers, vines growing over the sides, lush and green ... and so many little watermelon!

Well, they never really got very big.  They were like mini-melons.  Just slightly bigger than a baseball. 

(That's a quarter for scale)

But they sure tasted good! And little Farmer H is *very* proud of these little mini-melons!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Defective chickens?

It's October.  We got our laying hens as day old chicks in mid April.  That put them on schedule for laying around mid-late August. 

Apparently someone forgot to tell the hens that. 

Every morning, we would go out and look in the hen house.  Maybe today will be the day ... and nothing.  Days, then weeks went by and we still had not on single egg.  Our friends' chickens were laying tons of eggs and they were the same age as ours.  Did we get defective chickens??

I reasoned with them.  I asked nicely.  Then I started to tell them they had better start earning their keep as I was feeding them every morning.  Still nothing.

Then, after a long weekend away, we went out this morning to feed the birds, and I was going through my mantra of "Why are you not laying yet? you ladies need to start earning your keep", when lo and behold, in the back of one of the nest boxes, what should I spy?

Yay! Our first little eggs!!

So small, they both fit in the palm of my hand.

Of course, now this begs the question: Did two of our hens finally decide to start laying? Or did the 2 guinea hens that are 2 months younger than the chickens and due to start laying later this month start laying early? Hmmm .....

Pumpkin cupcakes with spiced maple cream cheese frosting

One of my favorite things abotu fall is baking up pumpkin treats.  This year, we wanted some special pumpkin cupcakes - we can't get enough of these!  Just sweet enough, just spiced enough, and the cupcakes are even delicious alone, without the frosting!

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
2 sticks Butter 
1-¼ cup brown sugar 
2 eggs 
1 cup buttermilk 
1 cup pumpkin 
2 teaspoons baking soda 
2-½ cups flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice 

1 - Cream butter and sugar together. 
2 - Add baking soda to buttermilk.  Stir and let sit.
3 - To the butter/brown sugar mixture, add the egg, beating well.  Mix in pumpkin.  Add the buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two and mixing well after each addition.  Finally, add the vanilla and pumpkin pie spice.  
4 - Bake at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until a knife/toothpick inserted in the center of one cupcake comes out clean. 

Ingredients for frosting:
1 package cream cheese (I used reduced fat with great results)
1-2 cups powdered sugar, depending on your taste
1/2 stick butter
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions for frosting: 
1 - Beat butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy.  
2 - Add maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice and beat well.
3 - Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat well until combined.  This is where I stop; we like a less sweet frosting for these cupcakes.  Taste the frosting here and if you like a sweeter frosting, add more sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired sweetness.