The Bedonkaducks are loving their new home, especially the pond. They’re treating like a timeshare; they lounge poolside all day long, and lodge loud complaints when I have to close the pool for maintenance. The water got dirty amazingly quickly, so today I emptied out half of it and replaced it. We really need to invest in some sort of pump, because doing it with a bucket got old fast.
The chickens finally noticed the ducks, and now they hang out on the other side of the fence, right across from the pool. They look like they’re trying to sneak into some fancy country club. I asked Gene to make a pool for the chickens, too, but he just glared at me. I think the chickens deserve one – we’re up to a record six eggs per day now! I think one of them only lays an egg every other day, and it’s three times the normal size.

I harvested cucumbers and zucchinis again today, and got a zucchini even bigger than the one I was bragging about yesterday. I’m going to make zucchini pickles tomorrow, when Gene is around to supervise. He usually prevents me from doing stupid things, like trying to sterilize a plastic container with boiling water. Which I did, again, tonight, when I was making my second batch of pickles. I guess I forgot you can’t do that with plastic, I was just following the recipe. My first batch of pickles was an epic fail — you should never use the description “congealed brine” when talking about pickles.I have no idea what went wrong, but yuck. I’ve never done the “salt brine” method before, but I figured I’d give it one more chance, and I had extra cucumbers that I’d just harvested today.

Apparently I managed to grow the only type of cucumber that’s actually capable of defending itself when you harvest it. There were maybe 8 little ones on the vine that were the perfect size for pickling, so I started cutting them off the vine. I was holding them in my arms, when all of a sudden I felt a burning sensation when I shifted them. I looked down, and realized one of them had scratched me. When I examined the cucumbers closely, I realized they had rows of spines on them! Nowhere on the seed packet does it say “harvest with caution” or “sea urchin variety”, so I was kind of annoyed. I had to scrub all the spines off before putting them in the brine, because that would really suck to bite into a spiky pickle. The spines in the picture don’t look big, but keep in mind that was after I’d scrubbed it with a towel… the black things are the base of the spines, and I had to dig each one out. I’m kind of tempted to leave one on the vine, just to see how long the spines will grow!
My stevia experiment also worked out fairly well. I dried the leaves of it, and when you crunch them it takes just like sugar. If you’ll remember, I was worried about how to process the dried leaves into a form you could actually use. I ground them up with a mortar and pestle, and it turned into a fine green powder. I am really curious as to how they got the stevia in the box I bought from the store to turn white. I put some of the green powder into my coffee, and while it tastes good, appearances are another thing entirely. The powder kind of floats on the surface. Good thing I’m not picky about my coffee. (And seriously, with as many pets as we have, if you get coffee without floaters in it, that’s a good day.)


     Exciting news on the farm today! The Bedonkaducks took a look at everything on the market, and finally settled on an Inuit-inspired chateau, with lake access, of course. They moved in this afternoon, and had their very first swim. (One might say they took to it like a duck takes to water….)
     Digging out the area for the pond proved to be challenging, mostly because there were two goats and two turkeys all competing to be job site foreman. The turkeys decided they wanted to oversee the excavation process, so they put on their little white helmets and parked their butts literally right behind Gene and Travis, who were trying to dig. They wouldn’t move for anything, no matter how close the shovels full of dirt came to their heads. The goats were marginally more helpful, as they actually got into the pit and tried to help move dirt. They had the annoying habit of head butting people into the hole though, always when you didn’t see it coming.

     We finally got it finished and filled up, despite all the extra help. Gene built little ramps into the Maison de’ Bedonkaduck and into the pool. He did a temporary fence around the ducks area, just so they can get used to their new home, and to keep the curious goats out of the pool. Once they get used to each other, they’ll be fine. Little Buttercup was a little puzzled by the ducks at first – you could tell because she had her “I’m a startled goat” Mohawk going. I also wanted the ducks to be able to enjoy their first swim in relative peace.

   I’m still a little concerned about our special Bedonkaduck, because it still seems like his wings grew in upside down. He can swim fine, and flap them fine, but they just look so strange. It gives him a most un-ducklike profile. He also has an unfortunate hair style, so I don’t think he’ll be much of a hit with the ladies. The other two seem totally normal, although we thought we were buying all three of the same kind, but much like Michael the rooster, somebody missed the memo.
    Now that the brooding box is empty again, I’m totally going to buy more chicks. I’d like to keep our flock at 12, and we are at 8 right now. I just hope we don’t get another errant rooster… I’m not sure the neighbor’s landscaper would adopt another one!


I made my first batch of pickles for the season last night! I went with a new method, brining them in salt water and pickling spices. I really went out on a culinary limb this time – I added a few dried hot peppers. I certainly hope the ensuing flavor story will make me want to turn the page. (Bess Bess will get that reference, anyone else watch Chopped on the Food Network?)They should be done in about three days. I hope these ones stay crispy; they should because you don’t actually can them afterward, you store them in the refrigerator. As soon as enough tomatoes and peppers are ripe, I’m going to tackle salsa.

I also did my least favorite of the weekend – mucking out everybody’s respective mansions. The turkey chalet is the worst… I have upgraded their poo output from Great Dane to elephant. If this blog has inspired anyone to start raising turkeys of their own, let me be the first to tell you don’t ever, EVER try to nudge a pile of turkey poo out of your way with your foot while wearing Crocs with no socks. I can still feel it. It was foul. (Foul…fowl – that joke never gets old!)

In Bedonkaduck news, I’m a little worried about one of them, because it appears as though his wings are growing in backward. He seems happy and fine; he acts just like the other two, but he flaps his wings up instead of down, and they flop out to his sides whenever he’s just chilling. I think can say goodbye to my dream of being a championship duck shower. (Or whatever you call those people that show dogs at fancy places, except you know, with ducks). I took this Wednesday off work so that we can install the water feature and move them into their new residence.  You’ll certainly all want to check the blog Wednesday night to see how Gene implements all the amazing ideas I come up with. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so poor Gene doesn’t have to build things in the rain. It’s so hard for him to hear me yell instructions through the window after I go inside the house to stay dry.

Since it was so hot on Saturday, I gave the chickens and the turkeys a chilled watermelon treat, which is the chicken’s favorite snack. It was the first time I have fed the turkeys by hand, and it will also be the last time. The male turkey did okay. I held out a watermelon chunk to him, and he politely considered it for minute, then gently took it from my fingers. Not so much with the female. It was like offering Bess Bess a donut when she’s hungry. I damn near lost a finger. And as if it wasn’t scary enough that she clacked her beak together repeatedly while she’s darting in to snatch the treat, she started hissing while she did it. Who knew turkeys could hiss?

Feeding the goats was much more enjoyable, and a lot safer. Little Buttercup was so excited she ran over to her food container, then started dancing back and forth on her front legs while wagging her tail. It was really sweet. I wish I could have taken a minute to enjoy the view, but I had to keep running from the hissing turkey that was pissed I ran out of melon.

Other than that, this weekend I took the opportunity to wander around and check in with all the flowers. I love seeing the roses in the sun, and the Mexican Day Lillies and Gladiolas are blooming as well. I pruned the roses and gave the cuttings to the goats, so they were happy. Apparently roses have a lot of vitamins that are good for goats, and that’s their favorite treat.

The orange tree has started to bloom, and all the exotic plants seem to be healthy. The olive tree is still just a seeding, really, but it’s getting bushier. The pomegranate I sprouted from a seed is about a foot tall, and the one I got from the nursery is still alive (I was worried about that one, it was half dead when it got here). The avocados are about ready to be repotted, so I need to figure out fairly soon how and where I’m going to house them come winter. I would brag about my blueberries, but the birds ate all the berries. Guess I should have done more than just think about putting netting over them. Jury is still out on the Goji berry bush… putting it in the ground didn’t seem to agree with it.

Oh, and my Stevia experiment? Total success!!! The leaves taste exactly like sugar when you crunch them…weirdest thing ever. You would never expect that taste from a leaf. I can’t wait to harvest and dehydrate more leaves! I even bought another small one from the nursery, since they had one on sale. I can’t figure out why I’m always running out of space in the greenhouse….


What a great weekend compared to the last one! It was about 76 degrees, with a cooling breeze, absolutely gorgeous. When I wasn’t outside, I was inside enjoying the 68 degree interior weather provided by our new AC unit. Since we dropped $10k on that thing last year when the other one broke, I refuse to feel the slightest bit hot, or even feel like I’m about to feel the slightest bit hot, whenever I’m inside. Ceri makes good use of the vents; whenever we come in after one of her ChuckIt games, she falls asleep on top of them with the cool air blowing in her face. For anyone not familiar with ChuckIt, it’s basically a stick with a scoop on it that throws the ball for you. Ceri is totally addicted to it, I think I play about 200 games of ChuckIt a day. We keep it on top of the bookcase, and when she wants to play she’ll stare up at it with forlorn puppy eyes. If you ignore her, she’ll start making these heavy sighs, and her eyes get even bigger and more forlorn. I can go about 5 minutes before I start feeling like the worst puppy-mama in the world, and I’ll go play with her.

I’ve spent most of the weekend outside, and I’m excited to say I harvested my first batch of veggies! I got a big bunch of radishes, a huge load of cucumbers, two zucchinis, beans, and a few lentils. I filled my pink harvesting bucket, and when I brought it inside and set it on the kitchen table, Thing One, otherwise known as Fatty McChunk, helped himself to the radish greens. I’m going to make pickles with the cucumbers tomorrow, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the zucchini yet. One of them is huge, almost the size of Chupi. I’ve helpfully photographed the two of them together for reference. And don’t worry, it only looks like the puppy is on the counter. I would never allow that to happen, because that’s gross and disgusting and all the pets in the house respect my authority. They never get on the kitchen table, either. (For those of you who are now wondering if you’ll ever eat anything prepared in our house, please keep in mind that around here pet hair is considered garnish. You’ve been warned).

The cucumbers are doing much better than I thought they would, given how scrawny they look. I’m a little worried that they won’t grow any more though, since there aren’t any more blossoms on the plants. Hopefully the seeds I planted that sprouted last week will catch up soon. The pickling cucumbers I did get are perfect though, they’re the size you can buy out of buckets at the fair, so I’m going to try and pickle them whole.

I picked the first batch of Stevia leaves today as well, I’m going to dry them, then use a mortar and pestle to grind them up. The premise is you can then use that mixture as a sugar substitute, so I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m a little worried about what color it’s going to be, since the leaves will probably turn brown as they dry in the dehydrator. I don’t really want a sugar bowl filled with brown crumbly things. Of course, cats sleep on my kitchen table, so it’s not like I’m picky. You know I’ll use it no matter what it looks like. (For the record, the cats do respect Gene’s authority, and stay off the counters whenever he’s around).

I’m incredibly excited about my first set of beans. I let the pods dry out on the vine, rather than picking them when they’re green, and the beans inside are dried! They are beautiful colors, one type is a dark yellow with maroon stripes, and another one is white and tan. They look exactly like what would come in a soup mix, so leaving them on the vine worked really well. I’m going to plant a whole bunch more to grow inside the greenhouse once it gets cold outside. It’s going to take a lot of pods to fill up a crock pot with soup. I tried the same thing with the lentils, and it seems to be working as well. I now know why lentils are expensive! There are only one or two per pod, and the plant doesn’t produce a lot of pods. I’m really curious how they harvest them on a large scale, because it took me about 20 minutes to pick like 20 dried pods. And out of that, I got like 10 lentils. There are still a ton of blossoms on the plants, though, so I’m not worried. The corn is almost ready to pick as well; at first I didn’t think we’d have any at all. It’s called raspberry popcorn, and when the kernels dry, you can pop them! I’m so excited!

The other thing I’m not worried about is the tomatoes. They grew an amazing amount in the space of a week, and they now resemble a hedge. It’s one collective, singular plant now. I call it the Tomatanator. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it grows spikes and begins defending itself, it’s that big. As if I needed any more proof that I totally suck at spatial relations… guess I planted them too close together. They also grew over the carrots and beets that were growing in between them. Actually, “assimilated” is probably a better word (Star Trek reference, anyone?).

In animal news, everybody is pretty happy and content. The chickens and the turkeys got their favorite treat today, watermelon. Every time I go outside, they all run up to me and cackle. They are so much friendlier than I ever thought chickens could be! When I was harvesting today, every time I turned around I would have three or four following me. The goats are fat and happy; they just finished eating a kohlrabi that I picked from the hoop house. Having never grown them before, I don’t know how to tell when they’re ripe. I figured they might be ripe now, since they’re waist high. They sure do put down a root system – I almost needed a shovel to get it out of the ground. I still don’t know if it was ripe or not, but it looked like a thin squid when I hosed off the dirt. Granted I’ve never eaten one before, but it sure didn’t look like what I saw them using on Top Chef. The goats seemed to enjoy it though. 

So how country is this? Just now, as I was typing this, I went outside to check on the chickens, because I noticed they were all staring at something, as were the goats. So I’m standing on the back deck, and I see this cat walking around the side of the chicken/goad shed. The cat’s not scared of me at all; it sees me standing there like 20 feet from it. As it gets closer, I noticed that it’s really broad across the shoulders, and while it’s the size of Fatty McChunk, you can tell that what that cat’s rocking isn’t fat, it’s muscle. Then I notice its tail is only three inches long, and I’m all, damn, that there’s a bob cat. Unfortunately, it ran away when I reached inside the sliding glass door for the rifle. I still got off a shot, but it was like five minutes later because I kept pulling the trigger and it kept not working. Stupid safety. (Yes, I’m a cop that trains quarterly with a rifle. Shut up). I’m used to an AR-15, of which we own two, but I’m most definitely not going to fire that into the woods. I felt bad shooting at a bob cat, even with just the .22, but still, something killed one of the chickens last week, and now I know what it was. You mess with my girls, you’re going down, beeyatch. (I’m bringing some street to the country.)

I think the bob cat was outside last night too, because just as it was getting dark Fiona and Buttercup, who were cuddling and being all cute on top of their old shed, suddenly barked and jumped like 10 feet in the air. Yes, goats can bark. It scared the crap out of me, too. So they start staring into the woods with their little goat mohawks standing straight up all along their backs. Then the chickens get into it – they’re all agitated and prickly, as are the turkeys. And everyone is staring into the woods, and of course now it’s dark outside. If Fiona could talk, she would be saying, “Mama, there’s something scary out there. Don’t you wish daddy was home?” I had to carry each chicken one by one and put them into the coop because they were too scared to go over to it. Have you ever tried to herd chickens in the dark? With a scary monster somewhere nearby? But at least now I know what I’m dealing with, which is infinitely better than not knowing what’s out there lurking (my mind went immediately to zombies, so a bobcat is way better).

Okay, it came back a second time. This time I’m proud to say I got the safety off with a quickness, and this time I just missed it by like 1/2 an inch. The third time it comes back, it’s gonna get all kill shotty up in here. Gene says hunting season for bob cats doesn’t start until Sept 1st, but I don’t think that applies to my backyard. Nowhere does it say I have to allow a bobcat to treat our farm like a buffet. Take that, Fish and Game Department.

Wish me luck everyone!


This is my first official posting using the blog format! Hopefully you guys will all like it. This weekend it’s been nothing but rain, rain, rain. Everybody, especially the turkeys, seem kind of cranky. At one point it rained so hard I had to chase down the chickens and lock them in their shed. They were not happy about being confined during the middle of the day – I could hear the squawking from inside the house.
On a positive note, the chickens are producing five eggs a day now! I need one of those fancy wire egg baskets that Martha Stewart is always photographed with. And it’s not just for aesthetic purposes, I really need one. I have been putting the eggs in my pocket (because usually I check the nesting boxes in the evening, when I’m rocking my plaid comfy pants with my plaid rubber boots. If it’s plaid, it matches). Using my pockets as a mode of egg conveyance ended predictably, which is to say, disastrously. If any one knows where I can buy one, please let me know.
Other than that, the crops seem to be growing, despite the lack of warm temperatures. I already have a bumper crop of slugs. Lucky for me, they seem to prefer the compost pile over the gardens. I was walking around the compost area last night just as the sun was setting, and I saw at least 15 of them congregated there. The Bedonkaducks are going to have easy pickings once they get out of the brooding box. So far I’ve only seen the black slugs – I wish we had those bright yellow banana slugs in this area, those ones get HUGE.
Unlike the slugs, the goats hate the rain. They’ve spent most of the weekend either sleeping (just like their mama) or hanging out on the spool underneath the covered area of the pasture. I think we’re going to need a larger spool pretty soon, Fiona’s real estate is expanding, as it were. When the goats are in the shed sleeping, the turkeys hang out on it. It will be interesting to see how the Bedonkaducks fit into the pasture area; I hope they’ll like their new home. Hopefully this weekend we can put in the pond. The turkeys love drinking out of the hose when I refill their watering stations, so I think some type of fountain in the water feature is a must. Gene will have to get right on that.

July Update

July is one of my favorite months here on the farm. My plants are finally starting to look healthy; everything is a beautiful bright green, and with the exception of the cucumbers, all the leaves are perfect. The cucumbers, unfortunately, seem to have more issues than National Geographic this season. The leaves are turning numerous shades of brown, and the stems can only be described as woody-looking. Not all is lost, though, the struggling plants are developing huge, delicious cucumbers! I thought I only planted pickling varieties, as in the cucumbers stay small. But these cucumbers are huge – they’re like the size of those souvenir baseball bats you get at the game. Some of them are growing around the wooden trellis, too, which will make harvesting interesting.

The zucchinis have taken off, as have the lentils. Having never grown lentils before, I had no idea what the actual legume would look like. They are really neat. They grow in a pinkish colored pod that resembles an envelope. God only knows how you harvest them, though. I figure I’ve got a while to find out.
Perhaps the most exciting garden news is that I have a blossom on my pomegranate tree! The flower is a gorgeous salmony pink color. My big concern is that the tree itself is only like three inches tall. It’s more of a pomegranate twig, really. We’ll see how that works out. Perhaps it will be the world’s smallest pomegranate. The peanut plants are doing well inside the greenhouse; I need to repot them so the roots and the peanuts (which grow underground, how cool is that????) have room to spread out. I planted a few outside in the old potato boxes as well, but something dug them up and ate them. Stupid wildlife.The peanuts I planted in rows in the garden itself have sprouted as well. I have found one other thing I’m not so good at, in addition to labeling plants. I can’t put in a straight row to save my life. I’m more of a zig-zag person apparently. And I planted a row of bok choy like right on top of the peanuts. Oops. Here’s hoping they grow at different rates.
Three of the chickens figured out how to get into the fenced off main garden. They actually dug a little tunnel underneath a loose part of the fence. Thankfully I noticed them before they could do too much damage, although J-Lo managed to excavate underneath my fire pepper plant. (I call it a fire pepper because to me the peppers taste like burning. But Gene likes them in salsa). The flowers are all starting to bloom as well. I was surprised to see beautiful purple flowers growing in amongst my pea plants, because I totally thought I had planted marigolds there. The bees love them, and they must be tasty to chickens because they are always trying to reach them.
The chickens are settling well into their routines. We’re averaging about three eggs a day. I can always tell when I need to go check the coop, because they squawk really loudly right after they lay them. One of the white chickens, Mary Kate, comes out of the coop and shrieks for like five minutes. Personally I think she’s bragging about it, but Gene said I would squawk too if I laid an egg because it can’t be much fun for the chicken. Fun or not, they taste great! Double yolks are really common, and the other day I even got a triple yolked egg! Which actually kind of creeped me out a bit, because it was like eating potential triplets. Delicious delicious triplets.

I get up every day at five in the morning to let them out of the coop, even on weekends. You’d think they would appreciate me more, and stay out of the garden. Letting them out is one of my favorite things to do. If I get out there too early, they are still sitting on their roosting bars. (On a side note – even though they sleep on staggered bars, so some of their heads are underneath the butts of other chickens, nobody ever gets a poo shampoo. One of life’s mysteries, that.) As soon as I open the door in the morning, they start to squawk. Then, one by one, they launch themselves off the bars like little feathered missiles. You would think any kind of bird would be capable of showing some gracefulness in flight, but you would be wrong. They have no aim, and often bounce off the walls, off the heat lamp, and one on occasion, off me. If I wake up a little bit late, I’ll open the door to find them lined up in two rows, basically marching in place and waiting to get outside. They file outside two by two, like a feathered army. It’s the cutest thing ever. Then they congregate on the rocks in front of the shed until I give them a treat.

The goats are also accustomed to this routine – they bang their hooves up against the wall of their portion of the shed until I give them a treat. I’m sure the neighbors love the racket at the crack of dawn, what with the stomping hooves and the squawking. It’s a good thing treats shut everyone up. I would totally have 80 pound toddlers if I had kids.
The turkeys are doing what they do best – getting bigger. Not to keep harping on the poo theme, but I swear I have to clean up their chalet more often than Great Dane owners have to clean the kennels. They don’t eat THAT much. I don’t know where it all comes from, but it’s certainly impressive in terms of sheer bulk. The Bedonkaducks are getting big as well, and are starting to grow in proper feathers. I think we’ll be able to put them in their new house next week. Which means Gene better start working on that pond he promised me. We have the little wading pool that the goats and turkeys drink from, but I don’t think that’s big enough for proper duck swimming. And on another side note, the turkeys are fond of dropping bombs in the pool, which is the ultimate party fowl in my opinion.  (Get it? Foul? Fowl? Sigh… Bess Bess didn’t get it last time either…)
We (ok, fine, Gene) have put in a lot of upgrades to the zoo lately as well. Notice I use the term “zoo” now, rather than “farm”. Because you don’t eat the animals at the zoo. Anyways, Gene built a cool sliding door in the side of the shed that lets me lock the goats out when it’s time to muck out their bedroom. Before, they would come through the opening, then go into the chicken’s part of the shed and eat all the grain. Now they are locked outside in their pasture area, which angers them mightily. (And earns them a treat, because I don’t want my kids to be mad at me).
Gene also built the goats and the turkeys a sun porch, and put it underneath a tree in the pasture area for them. It’s the base of the old chicken coop that we started to build and then decided not to use. Mostly because I wanted a bigger one, which I don’t think was unreasonable at all. Everyone loves it, and amazingly they share. Although Fiona will occasionally butt Buttercup or the smaller turkey off of it without warning.
And in case you were starting to think that we neglect the inside critters, we dropped a big chunk of change on an elevated feeding station for the puppies. Given Ceri’s recent sickness, Gene thought it would be better for her stomach if the food was up higher when she ate. I thought it was a great idea, and also thought maybe it would keep the cats out of the dog’s food. Ya, not so much. Jazzy cat climbs up into it, plunks her (substantial) rear end in the water bowl, and chows down.
Ceri is at that cute stage where she chews on everything. I hope no one expects nice throw pillows when they come to visit us, because all of them are partially consumed. As are the couches. And a bunch of my shoes (she never destroys both shoes from a pair, though). The other day, she somehow levitated to the top of the fish tank, then somehow unscrewed the top of the food canister, then knocked the canister to the floor. Both Ceri and Chupi had brine shrimp breath all week. Nasty. Just yesterday, Ceri knocked over the olive oil jar (which is stored on the back of the counter, mind you.) Both puppies must have gotten underneath it as the oil dripped onto the floor, because they have oil covered heads now. At least they smell good. Like shrimp poached in olive oil.
I’m looking forward to a busy July; I’m hoping to plant one more round of seeds so that I can get a second crop started before the cold weather sets in. I demand a proper-length summer, so by my reckoning winter should start in February this year.