right here, right now

i'm about to leave for three weeks for holiday in the states. so this morning, i took a little stroll around the garden with the camera. being here every day, i don't often have a chance to really see the changes that happen over several weeks. i'll do an update post in three weeks when we return. sabin and i are going and husband will stay home to build a barn to house the sawmill equipment he has purchased.

yes, you read that right, husband has bought a sawmill. we are going to use a lot of wood in our renovation project, since the house will actually have wooden siding when we're done (not like us-style siding, more like swedish-style (more about that later)). husband decided he loved working with wood so much that he wanted to cut all of that wood for the house himself.

this morning, i helped him measure out where the building will go. he had the foresight several weeks ago to spread out black plastic to kill the grass, so digging out the foundation would be easier. it will be very interesting to see how far he gets while we're away.

i know the garden will be very different when we return. you can see that our year has been a bit cold and wet, so things seem a little behind and small. i'm sure that will change. and the foreground is indeed weeds, but that's ok, since nothing's planted there.

inside the greenhouse, little green tomatoes and little bitty cucumbers are forming. they'll be ready to start harvesting when we return.

the lush green smell of tomatoes is heavenly. we've also got a few melon plants and some aubergine and cucumbers and nasturtiums. i imagine they'll have taken over by the time we return.

cherry tomatoes and regular tomatoes are bushing out nicely. in our climate, we just can't grow tomatoes outside of a greenhouse, it just never gets warm enough.

another shot of the garden - you can see where husband's sawmill will be down at the end - the black plastic over there looks a bit like water.

our artichokes are doing very well. we tried to move last year's and they all died, so these are new ones. apparently artichokes, which are a perennial, don't like to be moved.

the rhubarb is still going gangbusters. and last year's asparagus seedlings are coming in very well.

it will be nearly raspberry time when we return - we have late-producing raspberries. i'm glad i won't miss the chance to make jam.

i did a batch of red currant and black currant juice, but will miss the opportunity to harvest all of them. we moved and divided a lot of the bushes last fall, so it's probably ok to just let them be this year anyway.

our big potato patch is doing well. you can tell we're organic by the weeds. :-)  no pesticides around here!

the little zucchinis are starting as well, but if husband picks them while we're gone, they'll still be going strong when we come back.

i'm really gonna miss these little guys - i know they'll be MUCH bigger when we return.

i tried to instruct husband in my crazy chicken lady ways, but i'm not sure he fully embraces the concept, so i guess they'll have to take care of themselves.

catch you in a few weeks!


so much garden goodness

i'm so far behind on sharing all that we've been eating and preserving from the garden this year. i guess it's a good thing to be living out there in the real world and not being quite so concerned about virtual life online. it was a good year for elderflowers. we've got a lot of them on our property here and there and we took full advantage. i made 15 bottles of cordial and we dipped them in pancakes and made elderflower fritters for dessert.

their delicate fragrant flavor just sings of scandinavian summer to me. they're around for about 3 weeks, so we do our best to take it all in during that time. i even put some down in some vodka and made elderflower vodka to go in cocktails. i should have done two bottles as that one's almost gone. we mixed the elderflower vodka with a bit of elderflower cordial, topped it off with fizzy water (we recently bought a soda stream and absolutely LOVE it) and an elderflower garnish. summer in a glass.

we've had cool temperatures and lots of rain. it means the garden has been a bit slow to get started, but my herb beds, close to the house, are going like gangbusters. i was looking for a way to use a bunch of them at once and decided to make some herb salt. i gathered some of everything there was, including elderflowers, cleaned it carefully and threw it all in the food processor with some sea salt and whizzed it up.

here we have sage, bronze fennel, oregano, thyme, and elderflower. i also had a few stinging nettles, some parsley, lovage and a few sprigs of mint for freshness. i'm going to make another batch or two including garlic now that we've harvested that as well.

you just lay the salt/herb mixture out on a tray to dry - i put it out in the terrace so it could get some of the rather scarce sunshine and stirred it every time i walked by for 2-3 days and then put it in a jar. we've already seasoned steaks with it and thrown some in pasta. so satisfying that it came from my own garden instead of some snotty kitchen boutique.

it has been a banner year for strawberries - i've picked and picked and picked and now they've finally tapered off. we ate as many as we wanted - strawberries and cream every evening for dessert for an intense couple of weeks. i made jam and i used my wonderful steamer to make the best juice. i managed to bottle up 15 bottles of that as well - some in combination with rhubarb and ginger, some with just strawberries and a couple of vanilla pods.

we've been enjoying it in a gin cocktail - strawberry cordial, some good gin and again a top off with fizzy water, garnish with a strawberry and again, summer in a glass.

we've got 3 bee families now, but only one is doing well. we harvested about 25 kilos in the first round, so we've got 50 jars of honey. at the rate we use it, that won't last long, so we're happy that our two weaker families seem to be coming around. one of them killed their queen and made themselves a new one and that seems to have really helped. if the queen is weak, so is the family, as we're learning.

we planted a veritable shitload of potatoes this year. our sandy soil is good potato soil. husband had ordered 20 kilos of seed potatoes in the spring, not really realizing how many that would be (it's 15 rows). we've already started digging up lovely little tender new potatoes and enjoying them with whatever we're eating, nearly every evening. it somehow doesn't seem bad with those carbs when they come from your own garden.

how's your gardening going this year?


how i became a crazy chicken lady

peep peep

note: i posted a version of this post over on my main blog, but since i've shared most of our chicken adventures here, i wanted to post here as well, since not everyone reads both. i did make a few changes as well, so it's not completely the same.

the world is rather scary

as you all know, we got nine hens and three roosters last summer. i was a bit skeptical of keeping chickens, since they don't seem to be the brightest animals around, but the lure of fresh eggs was too great. we got two nordic heritage breeds - danish land chickens and black swedish ones. and i got a bit of a kick out of them, way more than i thought i would. late in the winter, several of them became broody. pretty soon, the nest boxes were full of broody hens and the egg production had ground to a halt. husband built an addition at the back of chez poulet. all that early brooding resulted in one single little chick, just in time for easter.

motley rooster

he's now grown into a funny, motley rooster that's clearly a combination of both breeds. until his mother hatched out more chicks recently, he was even still getting in with her at night, sitting on top of her in the nest box, tho' he was getting far too big for that. now he's bottom rooster and has to content himself with a corner of the perch, rather far from everyone else. poor dear.

little chicks

in recent weeks, the five brown hens have managed to hatch out another 14 chicks - 4 little brown ones and 10 black (which i suspect will be combination chickens like the motley rooster - as one of the brown roosters is top dog). the black hens were clearly very sneaky at getting their eggs under the brooding brownies, getting them to do all of the work of hatching out the chicks. we are consequently referring to the chicks all as SHE this time around, as we want them to be future hens. we certainly don't need another rooster around here. in fact, in the near future, one or two are going to be dinner.

a new chick every day

there were 5 little brown chicks, but they killed off the first one that had hatched out. he did seem to be a little bit off in the eyes, so we think they knew something we didn't, tho' i was still unaccountably sad about it when i found him. it has made me a bit worried about the rest, so whenever i need a break from writing and editing and planning workshops, i head out to check on them. at the beginning, i needed gloves to lift the brooding hens, but now i just ignore their attempts to peck me and unceremoniously lift them up with my bare hands to see what's going on with the eggs. i find little peeps and help them find their mama again when they've wandered too far away into the tall grass. in other words, i perform all the duties of a crazy chicken lady. i can almost see the hens rolling their eyes at me.

let's hope they don't kill this one

the chicks are of varying ages, hatched out several weeks apart, but there are four brown hens sharing the tending duties between them. there's still one brown hen, sitting on a nest that's down to 7 eggs - and one more hatches every few days. then, when they're big enough to jump down from the nest box, they go and join the others and one of the tending mamas takes them in. the little motley rooster does a mighty duty in chasing the over-interested cats away and thus far, all the chicks have been safe thanks to his efforts. it really does seem to take a village to raise the chicks.

tiny chicks in motion

it's funny, when i rushed in to google all i could about the hatching out, care and tending of baby chicks, i found all kinds of scary scenarios and if i'd believed it, i'd have thought it was nearly impossible to let your hens hatch out their own chicks and have them survive. and i didn't find any advice that said you could let them remain in the henhouse with the others - which we have done (we tried to move them into the addition at the back, but they didn't want that). the chickens manage to do it all on their own, totally naturally. for all my worries and fussing, they don't even really need help from the crazy chicken lady.

nature is cool.