Thursday, March 27, 2014


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quinoa in Vermont

Every year try something new says I. 

Now we certainly aren't at Andean altitudes but we have some coolness.  That they have survived this long in what now passes for a summer long, humid rain forest with more days of moisture than sun, (what I call the new normal), is miracle enough for me.  In any event it really is fun to experiment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Silent Year

Nary a photo snapped.  Not even for the almost clockwork nature of available subject matter.  Not a bit of video streamed.  Not even for the ridiculous cuteness of unexpected baby chicks.  No, this year passed as solitary, private, quiet.  A deliberate working out, a long contemplation whose consequences are yet to be determined.
 I pretty much despise obscurantism; liking instead a beginning, middle and end. And an explanation.  Whether in a book or a garden I want A-Z.  (I chuckle, you'd think I'd learn, wouldn't you?).  Eventually one figures out our little grabs at control, (no matter how humble),  are, at the end of the day, laughable.  And, after a period of suitably ruffled feathers, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on ideally with a 'big picture' frame of mind.
So I took a break from this blog and even from reading those other blogs I admire so much.  When I did investigate I found a few of my favorite writers seemed to have significantly lessened their output as well.  Have they said it all?  Hardly I suspect.  I'll keep checking.
So now that I'm in the process of putting the gardens to bed and re-thinking what I might want for next year I have a hankering to blog.  Ok, yeah..funny.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

falling in the fall

Sometimes you just fly off a ladder when you're stapling plastic over the new windows on the chicken coop and you land face down in that special mud goo so particular to a chicken yard. And then several minutes tick by until you dare test your bones to see if they still work. I can only guess that my ample padding saved much of me but my poor old knee got wrecked enough so that I've spent the last month dragging my left leg behind me. It'd be hilarious if it wasn't me. But healing has happened and progress is made and the swing is heading up. I can now even flex my hitherto jammed-solid thumb again so I expect soon to be ambulating in the 'up to snuff'
category...well..sometime after the new year. (I'll milk this convalescence for a bit).
I've not been thinking much about this blog and noticed it's been quite a while since I poked my snout in for a yik-yak. When I do think of it though it's never with a despairing feeling but more like, "Hey, jump in, take a swing." To be honest I've been distracted. Not necessarily in a bad way but not strictly in a garden-y way. Not that there are any rules about the content in this journal but I rather respect the fact that the majority of the food growing related blogs I do read tend to stay on topic and not stray into the volatile waters of politics and proselytizing. But to be wholly honest those I admire the most and most look forward to reading leave a pretty distinct bread crumb trail as to their feelings about things that are going on.
But autumn is a time to think, is it not? And so I thought today as I sowed spinach in the mini-hoophouse. I thought and I thought and I thought.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

making right

Whether or not this apple tree will grab ahold again is yet to be seen but I thought I'd give it a shot. A few others were leaning rather precariously as well but considering the overall devastation hereabouts we were essentially unscathed so no griping from me. Well, at least for a day or two..

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

gratitude, tough Vermonters or....

what did they do in the olden days? Things are a bit of a mess in my state at the moment with lots of work and frustration ahead for sure. Since I am writing this it's obvious we were among the lucky ones with power restored. Sheesh, "My name is Randi and I'm an electricity-aholic. Hi Randi." This awareness is acute when one is deprived of one's (almost) favorite addiction for a couple days. The focus is sharp and the woodstove gets fired up to start heating water. Outside the chainsaw symphonies begin. Around here many of us can't actually see our neighbors but we can hear them. Some have generators and that's an annoying or reassuring sound dependent upon your point of view. I spent my first decades reading nothing but fiction, (and am not sorry for it in the least), but over the last many years have devoted myself almost entirely to non fiction. However I allow myself a bit of indulgence in August and so this morning I read from one the used paperbacks grabbed from the 25cent shelf...."You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all it's stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home." Annie Dillard

Enough, enough..back to work.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Applesauce & Rain

We seem to apply the old lemons/lemonade adage when it comes to these soft apples that fall early and often. I have no idea what variety they are but they've been found useful for a pretty decent applesauce. I rake them up and look for the least bashed up among them. I've discovered they bruise if you even look at them. They are not huge so it's a bit of fussy work and I must admit that the cinnamon and nutmeg do alot of the heavy lifting in the flavor department but hey, yum, especially around January. (Er, is that a giant pile of wood to stack in the background?..oh Hell.)

Blueberries still to pick.

Amaranth points accusing finger.

Cute little Sekel pear. Tiny and generally neglected but tasty when or if the time comes.

Ha, growing grapes in Vermont, don't get me started. But these announce 'maybe, if there is no hard frost in September'. We'll see.

Growing in amongst the micro squashes. Again, squash and cukes..not so great this year.

Freeze flat on cookie sheet. Defrost. Eat.

I know folks jar applesauce but I'm reserving my canning strength for the mythic tomatoes that threaten to ripen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

weeder women

Jeez, I don't know, maybe fifteen years ago I went to a lecture to hear Christopher Lloyd speak on garden design. He's an English garden writer/designer/overall witty guy. Or was anyway, I think he took his leave of this earth-y paradise a few years back. Now imagine, if you will, that the very lovely marbled art museum where he gave his chat was filled with, well, people who liked to look at and discuss gardening but actually did very little of it. I think I was one of the few slobs there who actually laboured in the fields so to speak. So when Mr. Lloyd made reference to his 'weeder women', (those who did the actual grubbing about on his gardens/estate/whatever), there arose quite the amused titter from the audience. I've never forgotten that and I often remember the gut check I gave myself that night. Because I was/am a weeder woman. And here's the kicker: I LIKE WEEDING. Let me tell you why. I'm kind of, in real life, well not exactly hyper but easily roused and always jazzed up about the endless and growing mountains of depressing shit that take place on this planet daily. Unchecked I would rant myself and any innocent bystander to death. Anyhoo I discovered many moons ago that weeding is my meditation. It calms me/changes my brainwaves/mellows me out and,( icing on the cake and unlike endless 'OM-ing'), accomplished something at the same time. That bit appeals to my Yankee utilitarianism. I guess the only time I get cheesed off about weeding is when all that other stuff interferes and I fall terribly behind. Maybe I ought to get a bumper sticker that says 'I'd rather be weeding'. In a nutshell I've designated August to be weeding month. Couple the weeding with what I cut back and the piles get respectable. Oh yeah.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bee Stings & Sun Screens

I'm guessing after decades of landscaping and gardening I've built up something of an immunity to bug bites and an overall nonchalance regarding scratches, scrapes and bruises. I admit with shame, (as someone who has been working outside since dinosaurs roamed), to labouring hatless and largely sunscreenless for many a moon.

I was thinking of Mike's post,(Subsistence Pattern), about sunscreen this morning so I actually sauntered into the shack where I keep my crap, grabbed the BurtsBee sunscreen someone gave me, (I'm too cheap to buy that particular name brand myself and I can only wonder at the expiration date but I digress..), and slathered it on.

Now allegedly it was not to be as humid today and I got off to a roaring start, ripping and snorting, digging and weeding, and before long sweat began to trickle down my face and into my eyes stinging as it carried the melting sunscreen along with it. Oh, did I mention I also rarely use a headband which of course would mitigate the sweat in the eyes routine? Even my grandpa always carried around an old handkerchief to wipe his face but I seem to make do with the bottom of my tee shirt.

But I pressed on. Undaunted. And then the bee that got caught in my hair and subsequently gelled into the sunscreen on the back of my neck chomped. OK, ouch.

But wait. Yesterday a honeybee got me on the arm. It's still a hair swollen but now I've begun conducting my arthritis experiments and last night tried to figure out whether or not there's anything to this apitherapy thingee. I read a bunch of articles and figured what doesn't kill me etc etc and if there is any benefit I'm covered. But I'd like to limit it to just one sting a day thank you very much.

Friday, July 15, 2011

miss copperhead shuffles off this mortal coil...

Actually there was no shuffling involved. She was unceremoniously taken out by a small dog visiting our road for only the day, owned by a workman a couple houses down who allowed it to roam free and had no idea what a little killer was his. Randi saw red and tromped up for a 'meaningful discussion' with who turned out to be about 280 lbs. of tattooed muscle, and, if truth be told, a very apologetic, calm human. Money was exchanged. My thinking being if he had to shell out for the dog's transgressions it might help him in future potential hoop-de-doodles, planting the seed of a sort of consciousness if you will. (I SO get those old movies with the farmer bursting out the door armed with a shotgun to chase off any number of predators).

Long story short, be careful what clever names you give your little chickens. And yes, of course, as far as looks go, she was my favorite. Sheesh! Enough with the chickens already!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Apres moi, le deluge...

Gooseberries..taste test this morning: perfect. Every year I add a plant or two.

Yesterday as I was mowing I was surprised to see these doing the ripening thing. Blueberries are always plentiful and carefree here. Should I have actually said that out loud?

Today will probably be the final pea pick. Cannot grow enough to satisfy but will continue to expand.

Hybrid or not and I can't remember but these Sun Sugar cherry tomatoes are so damned delicious. Glad to see them making an appearance.

Update: The aforementioned Red of post past seems to have reintergrated with the collective. I breath a sigh of relief and worry now about what'll happen when the new kids arrive.

Grow a bit of wheat and oats. Again, would love to increase all the grains. Working on it.

This, the first honeybee hive year, finds me following them around with some anxiety as to their adjustment to their new digs. It also catches me noticing all the other 'joe blow' pollinators that have been faithful all these years.

Actually, the name of this post should be 'Before me, the deluge'. It's no secret why professional photographers mist their subjects before shooting. The downside of a heavy downfall: floppy plants. The upside: No watering today. Hay, wasn't I just beefing about the endless rain two minutes ago?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Come here Red...

Life before chickens. A hawk or an eagle flies over and you think, "How majestic". Today a bird of prey does a fly by and you become uber vigilant. The last few days have found me thinking how neat it would be to have just a couple of chickens. You know, I could keep an eye on them as we weed together.

Well, Red has been keeping me company because she has become the object of some pretty mean treatment from the pack. They won't let her into the yard leaving her to hang in the coop. When she does venture out she puffs up as big as she can and she still gets a sustained 'peck' (read bite) from the little martinette that seems to be running the show these days.

So I take her out with me where she gluts on worms, (where the others can see), raspberries, currants, strawberries, seeds, whatever.

Now I've read that the way to deal is to remove the agressor for a couple days and then duly knocked down a peg or three it will behave. However in this case the top hen has her nasty gang of thuggy underlings that also do her bidding when I have removed the instigator. And, of course, it goes without saying that Red is my favorite and if a chicken can be sweet Red qualifies.

Anyway, maybe they're all cranky because they can no longer free range. Once the veg gardens are done I'll let them in there but free ranging here is a gamble one is bound to lose to foxes so confined they must be for the majority of their days.

So yeah, one or two novelty chickens would be smashing except I keep thinking about that line at the end of, I think, Annie Hall..."I need the eggs".

Saturday, June 25, 2011

a ray of sunshine today...hip, hip.....sheesh

These fools run around clumsily and I fear the eventual order of their pecking will be on the low side but they are cute, fluffy, blue and comical. We'll see.
These things have a very bird-of-prey look to them..lovely colors with their light green legs.
How on earth any pollination took place this Spring is beyond me, (several of the apple trees missed the boat), but here hang some peaches. I've already applied one dose of Surround which was something of a fool's errand considering it's been raining just about non-stop for 2 months. The ground is completely saturated and it squishes when you walk. Deep standing water in the depressions around the raised beds. Waterlogged takes on whole new context. However, given my druthers, I'll take this over Arizona wildfires or drought stricken Texas or truly flooded or tornado ravaged places to the south and west of me.
I've added a second hive hopefully in the nick of time. My bee man sadly lives far from me so this latest acquisition was a hand-off en route but it seems I may be having problems with hive 1. The bitch is that it's been raining so much and it's been so, well, cold that I haven't had the optimal time to open the hive, photograph it and send it on to my pro but an actual hour of sun happened today inducing me to take these snaps and next week the temps promise to get up into the 80's,(it's been in 50's alot lately), so maybe my vegetable plants that have stalled completely might just do that crazy thing we call 'grow' before the first frost kills them off. I know, I know..kvetch..complain but I defy anyone to tell me weather patterns aren't changing. I've been tromping around here for 50 odd years and I see change. One can imagine an atmosphere full of particles having a tougher time moving along as freely as it once did. Sigh.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Fowl Trade..Let it Bee

Long time no bloggy. As with everyone this is a particularly busy time of year and in my case made even more so by taking on new projects proving yet again my high standing in the kingdom of Flibbertijibberty..

Anyhoo..the ducks, my beloved ducks, have a new home on a 3 acre pond. It wasn't just that the kiddie pool wasn't cutting it but also that the boys were having their way with the chickens, denuding them of neck feathers and a sort of general humiliation that come to find out could kill a little hen. So off they went. I visit them when I can and note that the female is actually broody on her homemade woodland nest and maybe they won't get picked off like 3 of my hens have this Spring by maurauding foxes.

So, in exchange, the pond owner has gifted me with the green egg layers Arconas (sp?) and the silkies. The black chicks came from the grain store where, I think, I was told they were barred rocks but I kinda don't think so. Do you know?

In other news I think the honey bees are doing their thing but more on that later when I have time to investigate properly.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

what I watched from my office window all winter

hanging on for dear life in the old apple tree...
wind, snow..amazing. still there.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Whenever I read a blog about the death of a beloved pet I feel deeply. Often feeling more deeply than I do when watching the perpetual horror stories in news cycles of tragedies too huge to comprehend. It is a matter of being able to, for the lack of a better word, relate.
But there is another part of me that feels it's just too personal sometimes, too raw.

So for Url the cat who I raised from the tender age of 2 days to 8 short years who died unexpectedly
yesterday and is now buried beneath one of the new apple trees I can only blink back my seemingly endless tears. No kidding, this cat was not a cat but a neurotic clown who gave me more smiles than I can calculate. I held him and made myself watch him as life left his eyes. I admit, without embarrassment, I am bereft.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

cart before horse

Interesting title since the one thing I have vowed never to have here is any critter with hooves so no, this is not about a horse. It's about jumping into things before you have all the info, before all the research is done and hoping, with childlike idiocy, that everthing will work out in the end. (I majored in magical thinking..)

So since today is promising more thunder showers I'll try to prime this new enterprise and dream of applied countrified design to adorn..

BEES, honeybees, all ordered and half paid for, to be inserted into new home very soon by something worse than a novice: me.

I will attend a class and will join VT. BeeKeepers but, end of the day it'll be me and the bees. Of course AFTER I decided to bee up I read lots of blogs and watched lots of vids and heard all sorts of sad stories of dead queens, unsucessful mite smiting, mysterious die offs, and racoons and bears and jeez you name it. But I'll soldier forward and keep my 'it's just an experiment' hat on. Maybe a mentor will fall in my lap..then too maybe I'll be invited to the royal nups. HA!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

consequences of neglect

There are always a couple of perennial beds around here that get 'forgotten' every couple years....I try to do a kick ass job on each bed every couple years but it doesn't always work out.
Witness the attack of Bidens frondosa or more colloquially named hereabouts as Devil's Pitchfork.
As someone who's done her share of weeding I know things are bad when I am forced to retreat and find a fresh shirt.
But as I was en route I must admit to a moment of grudging admiration for the opportunistic little beggar. We critters do all the work dragging it's sorry seed from pillar to post, pulling, or trying to pull, them off as we advance. hmmmmmm....

Friday, September 17, 2010

maybe a frost tonight

castor beans for those stews (just kidding)
peas will appreciate the frost
kangaroo apples will never ripen to orange by the looks of things
how much damage will the girls do to the little pink magnolia with their roosting ways?
ornamental kales also give thumbs up to some serious chilling

no, really I was just kidding about the castor beans

Thursday, September 16, 2010

an 'almost' RIP

today's lesson:
you CAN scream loudly enough to make a coy dog drop his brunch
and hit the underbrush!