Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Last Call for Summer

The beginning of the yellow burst.
     Farming, even on our small scale is all about waiting and hoping.  Waiting for the right temperature, or rain, or sun or growth or ripening; hoping that the tiny seeds planted grow when everything is right or close to right, or that some unknown factor doesn't come in a destroy it all. Clearly, don't count your chickens before they hatch is very apt for a farmer and the saying applies to other farm activities.

    As much as anything can be counted on, these flowers are a fairly safe bet. All summer long there is great anticipation for the blooming of these perennial sunflowers.  Mother Nature leaves these flowers for the very last to bloom in a very showy burst of yellow. It occurs in the very last week of summer just as the calendar marks the autumnal equinox and fall officially begins.

     Most of the stalks are easily 10 to 12 feet in height.  Flowering begins with a single sunflower at the top of the stalk and gradually many others open below it until the top 2 to 3 feet are a mass of blooms. Its beauty is measured in days and then they are gone.  Sadness? No, there are many things in nature that to humans seem like unintended consequences, but to Mother Nature is just part of the plan.  The wilting flowers quickly go to seed and become a haven for wrens and chickadees to feast upon the seeds.  What a welcome sight to see these tiny birds flutter in, out, and around these stalks.  Blooming flowers turn to Mother Nature's bird feeders - two pieces in the puzzle of life that just go together naturally.

This snack is easy and positively addicting.

Roosters’ Famous Fire Crackers
 One 15-oz box of saltines – Keebler’s Zesta
Hot red pepper flakes
10 oz Cracker Barrel extra-sharp cheddar, grated

Oven 475
Place a rack in the center of the oven.

1.Spray a jelly-roll pan (has sides)  10x 15 inches with cooking spray.  Place crackers in rows so that the touch each other.
2.Sprinkle with pepper flakes ( 6 to 8 a cracker is about right).  Top evenly with cheese.
3.Quickly place in oven on center rack and close the door.  Leave the heat on for NO MORE than 10 seconds, then turn oven off.
4.Leave in closed oven for at least 2 hours.  The cheese will melt and brown.
 5.Break apart and eat.  Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

Adapted from BakeWise by Shirley O. Corriher  Her books are just fun to read.

Sadness X 2

Job Openings
  One brave rooster needed to protect, defend, and supervise flock.
  One good mouser required, no prior training necessary.
   Room and board provided.
   Human friendly a plus, but not required.

        Maggie's distress in the upper area of our farm brought the realization that something was very amiss among the chickens.  She bolted frantically through the partially opened gate on a quest.  Unfortunately, it was too late. Sadly a fox found a way through our fence and killed our brave rooster.

      The rooster with no name was bold and proudly watched over the flock. It was a job he inherited from the  last fox raid months ago.  He stepped right up and took it very seriously. If ever a chicken could be a curmudgeon, it was he.  Any human who even gave the hint of being menacing, based on his opinion, needed to be prepared for an attack with his spurs.  Hens that might need aid from the younger newer roosters were saved by No Name. And so it was that he died defending his flock, no match for a fox.

      Sadly,  Angel, who spent yesterday as close to humans as possible must have known the end was near.  She was "the one more cat that we didn't need," but she found a job for herself and a so she stayed and became loved. Angel's body was so slight of frame, but neither a mouse nor a  chipmunk could best her in a battle. Her legacy is found in the only two kittens that survived.  Little Man has become the garage kitty and would stay permanently snuggled in your arms if you let him.  His sister, Muffin, has found a home with our aunt and has really landed in a good place.