Rainy Spring Days

5/23:  This has been the coldest May in the Portland area since 1961. Rain, rain, rain, hail, thunder, and more rain.  There was even a funnel cloud sighted and we just don’t have funnel clouds in the Willamette Valley.  It’s just crazy.  The spinach and lettuce couldn’t be happier, but the basil and tomatoes are just hanging out waiting for some sun.

The chickens are on week four now and getting bigger every day.  The turkeys started trying to fly again so Joe put a piece of netting over their cage so they would not get out  – – again.  I, luckily, missed the turkey round-up in the garage last week.

Not much else to report since we are spending so much time inside watching the rain.  The dogs hate it too, they did not enjoy getting stuck out in the front pasture during yesterday’s downpour.

Joe went out this afternoon and got five bales of straw to try up in the main garden.  The grass is to hard too deal with up there and it’s too wet to till so we decided to try straw bale gardening with some cabbage, squash and cucumbers.  Today we’ll make sure the layout is good and sprinkle some bone meal on each.  The rain should soak them pretty well and in a couple of weeks we should be ready to plant them.


Strata with Spinach and Gruyere

Strata with Spinach and Gruyere

3 T butter
1½ cups chopper onion
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen spinach thawed, drained, and chopped
1 t salt, divided
½ t pepper, divided between eggs and vegetables
1/8 t grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French bread
6 oz. grated Gruyere (about 2 cups)
2 oz. grated Parmesan (about 2/3 cup)
9 eggs
2¾ cup whole milk

Melt the butter ,add the onions and sauté until soft – do not brown them.  Add ½t salt, ¼t pepper, and nutmeg, stir and cook for  1 more minute.  Stir in the spinach and set aside.

Butter the inside of a 3 quart baking dish.  Add one half of the bread cubes.  Top with one half of the spinach mixture and one half  of the cheeses.  Repeat these layers again.

Beat together the eggs, milk, the remaining ½ t salt and ¼ t pepper.  Pour the mixture over the bread and spinach.  Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Remove the strata from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.   Bake uncovered 45-55 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Chicks Growing Fast

5/16:  We went to the farm store today to pick up some alfalfa for the sheep/goats and picked up a tomatillo and a New Zealand spinach.  I’ve never planted that type of spinach before and am really interested in seeing how it does here and if the taste is any different.

I cut back the hops today – I’ve been trying to kill them for years now.  Beware of where you plant hops.  Ours are constantly attacking the blueberry plants.  Now I’m all itchy and scratched.

Turkey Week 3The chicks are huge, chubby and not at the pretty stage, but they’re sweet.  The turkeys are growing more slowly and starting to try out their flight feathers.  We’ve got to get a lid on the brooder soon.Chick Week 3

Mothers’ Day and Gardens Starting

5/9:  Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.  It’s a beautiful day (finally) here at the backyard farm.  The garden is looking great – new seeds sprouting, greens ready to harvest for soups, pastas and salads.

The compost and rain barrel are both full and ready to use.  Joe put the fresh compost into the new potato bed and I water the herbs with the rain water.

The chicks are getting big.  They have been with us for two weeks now. The gardens look great and the sun is out.

Turkey chick at 2 Weeks

Chicken chick at 2 Weeks

5/15:  What a fantastic day today.  The weather was in the mid 60’s with blue skies and sunshine.  Joe built another raised bed for me this morning.  It is under the kitchen window in the area where the grass is always dead and hard.  It’s right next to the rain barrel too, so we can run a hose over to it for water.   I planted 6 Roma tomatoes and a few sweet peppers (they may get transplanted later, but I needed to get them in the ground.  I didn’t have a spot ready for them or for the purple cabbage that I picked up but what can I do when I find vegetable starts on sale – 6 plants for $1.50.

I also transplanted the last rhubarb from the garden into the new bed and planted more peas and beans in the main garden.  The peas are doing well, but something is eating the beans just as they start to sprout – it’s probably slugs.  The slugs got my cucumber too.

I soaked the strawberry baskets on the 2nd floor deck and planted a beefsteak tomato in the planter that had the banana tree last year.  I may plant some purple basil in another pot up there tomorrow.  I set the automatic timer on the drip system and it is set to start tomorrow morning.

Starter Chicks and Rhubarb

5/2:  Well, we lost a second chick last night.  I looks like some kind of failure to thrive.  They just seem to settle down for a nap and not want to get up.  Very sad.  The other chick are starting to get their feathers and getting bigger everyday.

chicken and turkey on Day 5

I’m going to take the “surround” off of the rhubarb today and move it to another bed that I plan on putting some eggplant starts into.  One is a Japanese Long and the Other is a Satin Beauty.  I also picked up a zucchini, a delicata, and another winter squash and put them into the front bed with the eggplant and the broccoli.  Joe netted it to keep the hems out.

Cornish Cross Chicks

4/25:  I put in some more broccoli starts this morning as the chicken attack on the first set is not looking pretty.  These are in the bed with the kale and spinach.  The variety is Green Comet.

4/29:  I went and picked up the new chicks this afternoon.  We bought ten Cornish Cross and two white chickens.  I was hoping for bronze turkeys, but all the hatchery hard was white, so white it shall be.

Our previous brooders had always been pretty messy and awkward to clean, so Joe and I tried a “baby-corral” this year.  We thought it would be just brilliant – foldable, washable, already made.  Well that wasn’t exactly the case………. I was worried about the size of the holes so I wrapped the bottom in plastic wrap so they couldn’t stick their heads out.  That lasted about 2 minutes until one of the turkeys decided to go exploring and showed me how well he could push his head out and try to get it stuck in the plastic wrap (I knew I hated plastic wrap).  Noah and I quickly tried to put some cardboard inside, but quickly ran out of cardboard and finally settled on duct-taping paper grocery bags all around the outside of the corral.  We are working on the hypothesis that, like deer, they won’t be interested in “out” if they can’t see if.