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!