Saturday, October 22, 2011

Broomcorn and Chickens

I saw broom corn in a seed catalogue last winter and decided to take a stab at growing it.  No - I don't intend to construct a broom -- but I could if I wanted to.  I knew that broom corn is decorative and I pictured a large cluster of broom corn, pumpkins and mums on my front step.  That hasn't come together yet, but the corn looks nice leaning against the house.  I read somewhere that chickens enjoy broom corn after you take down your Fall decorations.  That convinced me to try it!
The broom corn did much better than my sweet corn did.  It was quick to shoot up and grew quite tall.  Bugs seemed to leave it alone and it was basically carefree.  Just plant it and a few months later, harvest it.  Now that is my kind of gardening!
Oh, and the chickens LOVE it!  I will stick one of the stalks in to the coop and they'll have the corn picked off within a couple of hours -- leaving the broom bristles behind.  I give them one stalk every few days as part of a steady rotation of treats.
They get chicken feed and fresh water every day, but that must get boring.  They get fresh grass when we move the chicken tractor around to a new patch of grass -- but that doesn't happen often enough because of how much it weighs.  So, every afternoon I try to give them something special to switch things up.  Today they got 2 pieces of stale bread and some leftovers from a baby shower I attended today (an oriental style salad with baby corn, peppers, chow mein noodles, etc. and some fruit).  Oh, and they got a couple of cherry tomatoes too.  That little bit of variety makes them very happy.

Aren't the girls beautiful?  And they are quite large now too!  My little chicks have grown up it to lovely young hens.  Oh, and they finally started laying eggs to earn their keep.  I'm steadily getting one or two eggs a day between the seven of them.  I'm sure production will increase as they mature.  The eggs are small, but beautiful.  They are different shades of browns, and different sizes and shapes as well. 

This week we ended up purchasing a new coop.  This is the last one, darn it!  Charlie had bought me one for Christmas last year -- but it ended up being too small and I had some security concerns (it didn't look predator-proof).  Then, we built a nice summer home for them.  It worked out very well, but I'm concerned it is not going to keep the cold of winter out and that it is still too small for seven full grown birds.  So, we broke down and did it.  We bought an Amish coop.  It was not cheap.  I hate spending that kind of money on some chickens, but the coop will last for many years to come.  Let me tell you -- keeping chickens is an expensive hobby.  I know we could do it for a lot less money than we have so far, but I guess it is part of the learning curve.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

So, I'm wondering what you think of this new layout that has offered.  I like how you can choose different ways to browse through the various blog posts and the emphasis on the photography on several of those views.  I don't like the fact that I can't have my listing of favorite blogs on the side.  
So, what do you think?  Should I keep the new style or go back to the older version?
Also, what kind of content would you like to see more of in the future?  (garden, chicken, crafts, recipes, photography, etc)
I can't guarantee anything -- but I'd love to hear what you think.  Please, please comment.  Thanks y'all.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tetons, Yellowstone, and Little Bighorn -- the Last Batch of Vacation Photos

This is the last batch of vacation photos that I am going to post.  Enjoy...

Just east of the Grand Tetons

View of a Glacier

A view just north of the southern entrance of Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful

The effects of fire

Wyoming was a beautiful state -- this was shot as we were leaving and entering Montana

Wide open spaces, awesome wildlife!

We took a back road -- desolate and beautiful

Buzzards - catching some rays

Finally, we visited Little Bighorn.  So full of history you can almost hear an echo of the battle.

Native American encampment area at Little Bighorn.

You can click on any of the photos to get a larger view of the details.  I know a lot of people compress their images or add watermarks to their images to prevent theft.  I don't compress mine very much.  Perhaps I should, but I tend to trust most people not to steal my photography.  If you want to use one for something, just ask me.
Anyway, we've been back from vacation for a couple of weeks now.  I'm getting used to my new position at my company.  It is VERY fast paced and the day just flies by.  Things are still new to me and I can't wait to feel comfortable with my daily tasks.  
It is almost 9:30 PM and I am thinking about going to bed.  4:30 AM comes quickly and I need to be well-rested.  I have some nice Autumn photos to post this week and I want to show you how I am putting up the harvest.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad

I'm taking a break from all the nature photography to offer up a recipe I made from my last good haul of tomatoes from my garden (a few weeks ago).  It's called Panzanella salad -- it is easy to make and you can add or subtract from this recipe as you please:

Gather heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil from the garden, red onion, garlic, green olives, and fresh mozzarella -- chop, chop, chop.  Blend olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper.  Mix it all up.  Use day old crusty bread and chunk it up.  Mix the bread in a few minutes before serving.  It soaks up all the juices and softens up.  This salad doesn't really keep more than a day because the bread gets too soft -- but don't worry -- it disappears quickly.  Healthy and delicious!!!

See, I told you it is easy!  You could also use cucumber or bell pepper and feta cheese instead of mozzarella.  It is really up to you.  Look around the internet for other recipes to see the variations or if you are the kind of person who wants to know specific measurements.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Vacation Photos - Part 2. Some of my favorites

The day we spent exploring the Grand Tetons, smoke was thick in the air.  The smoke came from control fires that had been lit nearby.  I'm really happy with the resulting photographs though.  We kept running into photographers with their tri-pods and huge lenses that were complaining about the smoke, but you gotta roll with it -- use it to your advantage, ya know?  The mountains were breathtaking!  These photos hardly do them justice... 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Vacation Photos, Part 1

As promised, I have some photos to share from our vacation "Out West".  I'll be posting them over the next several days.  I hope you enjoy them.  This first batch is heading from East to West through Nebraska and Wyoming.