Monday, June 28, 2010

Picking Cherries!

We picked Cherries at Wells Orchards last week. 49 pounds!

It was a beautiful day in the orchard with friends! The kids had fun and were very helpful! This is Lily with her detective hat on!

Daisy ate A LOT of cherries!

Rosie in her bonnet.

We packed a picnic and had lunch under the cherry trees!

Emilie and Rich picked most of those 49 pounds I think!

We spent the rest of the weekend washing and sorting cherries. I was worried that 49 pounds was too much, but we made short work of it! Emilie spent most of the week making cherry sauces and jams and canning. I froze 2 large freezers bags, made cherry sauce and dehydrated some. I also shared quite a few pounds with friends.

We have also been eating lots or rhubarb while it's been in season too. Kinda sad to see it go. I've got a few jars of sauce in the pantry for this winter.

We're looking forward to Blueberries and raspberries!
What's your favorite fresh local food?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Picking Strawberries

A big family goal this year is to buy or pick and preserve as much local food as we can as it comes into season. So far we've been eating lots and lots of asparagus and rhubarb from the farmers market and we have been really falling in love with simple fresh eating!

Last weekend we picked organic strawberries together at Carmody Farms in Marne. We had a great time and came home with three flats of beautiful berries. They are smaller, but don't even compare to the pesticide laden huge ones that come from the grocery store. I will never buy those awful things again!

The girls had fun. They were great helpers for about the first hour, but got board and ended up playing in the lane on a picnic blanket with a few other kids who had tired of picking with their families.

thankfully as they showed us which row to pick, they gave instructions to eat as many berries as you want! The kids took full advantage, especially Daisy!

I spent the rest of the weekend in the kitchen with their sweet smell, washing and cutting their tops off.

Sunday morning we ate homemade waffles with strawberry sauce.

We froze most of them and I made two batches of strawberry jam.

I also canned some rhubarb sauce. It was very easy- just cook it down with a 1/4 cup of water and 3/4 of a cup of sugar. Oh, it's so amazing. I have heard we should try it on pork chops, but I know it's also going to be great on ice cream!

The thing I love the most about this journey, is realizing that these things are not as difficult as I imagine them to be, and they are also much more rewarding than I expected. Give it a try, I think you'll be surprised!

Friday, June 11, 2010

hatching chicks

On a recent trip to visit the farm, the girls all scurried out of the van immediately upon our arrival and ran with their friends to the barn to collect eggs. It's their favorite job on the farm and they came back with a huge bucket of eggs. They put them in cartons and put them in the fridge. A bit later, I caught up with Rosie and her pockets were bulging and she was cradling something in the front of her shirt. She backed away from me defensively when I approached her and I saw that she had half a dozen eggs. I said, "Rosie we need to put those in the refridgerator, they are going to get broken." She looked at me with wide eyes and exclaimed, "But Mommy, these ones are not food!!!" I didn't really know how to respond, but I convinced her to at least put them in a carton and we set them aside and brainstormed how to handle the delicate situation. Jenna suggested we bring home the incubator and hatch them. The chickens on the farm free range with a couple of roosters so they were fertile eggs. Being the brave Momma that I am, I figured we'd give it a try. It'd be a good educational experience, right?

So we brought 15 eggs home. The first thing we learned was that the eggs don't start to develope until they have the right temperature of 102 degrees. So in the meantime they can be stored at room temperature on their sides. We did a little research and made up this calendar with the guidelines of how incubate the eggs, to hang by the incubator.

The incubation period was 21 days and since we didn't have the luxury of a self turning incubator, we (mom) had to turn the eggs a half turn, 3 times per day. We marked one side with an * and the other side with a number, 1-15 so we could keep track of the turning.

Exactly 21 days later, the hatching began! we just saw a little piping on most of the eggs (I guess that's what you call the little cracks they make with their egg tooth) I had started spraying the eggs with water a few days earlier to keep the shells moist, and when I sprayed them that morning, I jumped with surprise when I heard them peep in response from inside their shells! I called the girls downstairs and they sat next to the incubator in silence listening for the tiny little peeps! It was Memorial Day, so it was perfect, nobody had to go to school or work and we had no plans, so we just hung out and watched the eggs all day!

Lily made a book and sat at the kitchen table taking notes and documenting the whole process. She recorded which chicks hatched, what number they were and what color egg they came out of.

She awarded the first little chick to make his way out of it's egg with a blue ribbon:

It was so amazing to watch how hard they had to work to get out. They were so weak when they first hatched, it was hard to believe they would make it.

But they fluffed up in no time and began pecking around.

Thanks to Rosie the egg collector (as she signed her name on a gift carton of food eggs for grandma) these eggs were not food, they are little chicks and she got to be a part of the whole process!

There were 5 eggs that didn't ever begin to hatch. One of which was a full grown chick. One chick made significant progress pecking thru the shell and died sometime during the process. There was one poor little chick with deformed legs who didn't make it and another that never seemed to grow and died within a few days. The girls handled it very well. We had tried to prepare them for this reality from the beginning, another very hard, but valuable life lesson. I think we would have done much better if we had a self turning incubator and could have kept the temperature more constant. It seemed to fluctuate a lot and that can cause a lot of problems as the embryos develop.

In the end we have 7 healthy chicks who are growing sooo fast! We'll ship the roosters back to farmer Brian. If all goes well, we hope to keep a few hens in the backyard. The motion to change the city ordinance to allow chickens goes before the city this month and we're hoping and praying it gets approved.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Radical Homemaker: Reclaiming Domesticity From a Consumer Culture

I can't do this book and the subject matter any justice by trying to explain it to you, you just have to read it!