Hi everyone. According to the random number generator, Linda Belcher won the power tools. I’m excited for Linda, and I hope she enjoys her new tools.
Cover shot taken by Graham Jimerson
Now, I have another giveaway. So Much Sky, written my friend and former editor, Karen Weir-Jimerson, is a series of essays about living in the country, a topic near and dear to my heart. Karen is as witty and humorous in her book as she is in life, and she blogs at Cat Crossing Farm. Many of the essays were originally published in Karen’s “Slow Lane” column in Country Home magazine between 2003 and 2009. She currently writes the same column for Country Gardens magazine so you may be familiar with her. The book is warm and friendly as a speckled pup, and I think you’ll like it. Karen lives with her family on three acres in rural Iowa where they raise vegetables, flowers, sheep and chickens plus a whole menagerie of animals. Like me, she was once a town girl before she moved the country, and we both renovated our homes so we’ve both done the remodel happy dance when finished. Although, you’re never truly finished are you?
Karen's horse, Yukon, taken by her husband, Doug Jimerson
I have a signed copy of this delightful book to give to one lucky winner. Comment below to enter once, and then if you tweet, share on facebook, or any other social media, please let me know with additional comments below. Winners will be chosen by a random number generator because I hate choosing. Contest ends next Wednesday, and I’ll have an additional contest for some Proven Winners® plants after that.
One of their chickens taken by Doug Jimerson
It’s a contest marathon at RDR. Be sure to join in.
Did you ever want to buy and eat local, but just didn’t know how? Were you too busy or too intimidated to ask?
I’m not sure what I expected to find when I drove to south-side Oklahoma City for the Oklahoma Food Co-op’s annual meeting. They were having an open house, and all members and the public were invited. Together, we shared food and fellowship, and it felt as though the years of the world wide web were far, far away.
The owner of Snider Farms where you can get peanuts and homemade peanut butter. The young man is from Crosstimbers. He and his mother make goat's milk soap.
You can join the co-op for $35.00 a year, a small price to pay to reach at least eighty different made-in-Oklahoma producers. Nearly everything you could want is offered from soap (lavender and/or goat’s milk), meat (lamb, beef, bison and goat), poultry (chicken, turkey and eggs), dairy (butter, buttermilk, cheese, etc.) I’ve ordered two months now, and everything I received was of the best quality. It was a joy to actually meet the producers.You can also buy jewelry, wool, along with laundry soap and so many other things. The list is enormous, and the first time you order, a bit confusing.
If overwhelmed, head over to the producer notes where the farmers, ranchers and gardeners tell of their lives and products; or, head over to the Co-op’s YouTube channel and listen to the board members and producers. I especially enjoyed the show with Cattle Tracks. You not only know it’s fresh from the farm, but whether it’s an Angus or a Charolais Cross calf, a Berkshire hog or a Cornish Rock or Cornish Cross hen.
The ladies from Cocina San Pasqual
At the annual meeting, I met everyone I’d corresponded with by email like the lovely ladies of Cocina San Pasqual, who make tamales of all kinds including vegan, enchiladas, brownies, their own New Mexican sauces and a fantastic pink cactus jelly. They were so kind when they said to simply write in my product description for no cheese on my enchiladas, and they would prepare it that way. Although they were busy, they patiently explained sauce ingredients checking to be sure I could eat their foods. In fact, everyone I spoke to understood about food allergies and cross-contamination which was such a relief.
Kindness was the watchword at the open house. Members and the public went from booth to booth to sample different products.I had the best chicken salad I’ve had in a long time from Jerri Parker at G-J All Natural Beef (located in Okemah). Her son, Calvin, sells eggs from his flock of Rhode Island Reds. When I remarked that it was the best chicken salad I’d had in forever, Jerri said, “Oh, I’m not really a cook. It’s the chickens. They’re free range and fed a special supplemental diet so they have real flavor.”
Jerri from G-J All Natural Beef (and chicken)
You can even buy beef and lamb from the Monks at Clear Creek Monastery helping them with their mission while eating the best nature has to offer.
At another booth, a woman spun carded wool from her own sheep, alpacas and llamas into yarn. Shepherd’s Cross farm is owned by Diane Dickinson and her husband, Peter. An agri-tourism site, Shepherd’s Cross has a full curriculum including tours of the bible garden stocked full of plants named in the Bible. The softness of the wool made me think of scarves and hats so I bought two roving braids of dark and sandy brown wool. I am making a scarf, and the wool is so lovely to knit.
Diane Dickinson spinning wool.
As I watched people coming and going, it evoked a simpler time of neighbors meeting to share the best their farms had to offer, but while this co-operative has roots in the past, it isn’t stuck there. Its use of the Internet to reach customers is a great step in the right direction. Where else can you get cheese from Hardesty, meat from Broken Arrow and eggs from Tryon all from the comfort of your living room and only a keystroke away? Ordering opens the first of each month and continues until Midnight the second Thursday. Once your order is finalized, you then pay with PayPal, or write a check on the pickup day which is the third Thursday of the month. See how easy it is?
You can pick up your purchases from one of the dropoff locations across our fair state, or for an additional fee,your food is delivered to your home or business.
All of this couldn’t be done without a legion of volunteers, and I am amazed at their generosity.
Buy fresh and eat local Oklahoma. Together, we can save our family farms and Oklahoma ingenuity one click at a time.
One of the Araucana Americana hens with a Barred Rock hen behind her
Chicken love. It’s in magazines everywhere lately. I made a run to Barnes & Noble bookstore and picked up a few favorite titles, and this is what I found during that one trip.
A gorgeous Appenzeller Spitzhauben pullet named Heidi sports the cover of the June/July issue of Organic Gardening. Inside, an article models especially fancy schmancy breeds. Most of my chickens aren’t quite so stylish, but they still sport a certain undeniable chicken splendor.
Black Australops are among my favorite breeds. They are gentle and excellent layers of brown eggs.
In the current issue of Urban Farm(a sister publication of Hobby Farm Home), chickens abound, and there’s a great article on backyard coops in the city. Locally, Oklahoma City still doesn’t allow city chickens (ridiculous), but there are still plenty of people with them ensconced in their backyards. Interestingly, I’m told Edmond, an upscale suburb about twenty minutes south of me (and marching my way), allows up to three hens. No roosters. In Guthrie, the small town north of us, chickens are encouraged. Another article in Urban Farm is “Barnyard Backyard” wherein cute bunnies, lambs, sweet-eyed goats, and yes, chickens grace its pages. Editors, take note, this is a great publication full of information and glitzier than its cousin. I’m sure it appeals to Generation Y along with everyone else, and no, I don’t write for them, yet.
Chickens have indeed arrived, again, because everything comes full circle. My grandmother always had a backyard flock in her small town of Commerce, and when I would visit, one of the highlights was going to the coop after supper leftovers in hand.
Egg dishes abound at our house this spring.
So, when I grew up and moved to the country, I keep my own mixed flock of sturdy hens. I’m often asked, what do I do with all those eggs? In spring, when hens produce more in their endless dance in the circle of life, we are awash in eggs. I give some away, sell others, and we often have eggs for supper especially during spring. Omelets, frittatas, and quiche all call out for greens also ready now, and as I whisk up a dish, I’m reminded of my grandmothers making more egg recipes during spring.
This afternoon, Bear and I were home alone as the boys went camping so I decided to make a frittata to go with strawberries picked this morning. I prepped the berries and put some sugar on them. Because I wanted the sugar to draw out their juice, and I was in no hurry, I then went outdoors to feed the chickens and gather the eggs. I am fortunate to eat eggs laid the same day. Because we have chickens, and it is spring, I embrace this luxury.
Chickens are very social animals. See this Rhode Island Red talking to her henmates, an Araucana Americana and a Barred Rock
Shaking the pan of berry tops, I called to the flock who gathered at my feet. Chicken joy ensued with much discussion over the berry tops and other scraps. Inside the coop, I found four hens “on the nest.” Although they have nesting boxes, my hens often want to lay eggs on the floor. I reached under three different girls and pulled out eggs so fresh they were still warm and had the dusky membrane not completely dry. I brought in six of these beauties, along with green onions, spinach, and chard. I added garlic, potatoes and dairy free cheese to create a frittata. The recipe is below.
Alex, my mystery chicken. I don’t know his breed, but the girls are not impressed. He’s a bit of a lone wolf (not by choice).
Although Alex wishes things were different, here, Rocky Rococo is the ruler of the roost. While the chickens ate their treat, Rocky walked about showing them the best pieces of berry. You’d of thought he prepped the berries himself.
Rocky Rococo in his glory. If Alex gets close to Rocky’s hens, Rocky chases him away and then lets go with a trumpeting crow.
I sat and took photos giggling at his antics. Chickens are more entertaining than most TV.
Just brimming with all sorts of good things, don’t you just want a bite?
1/2 cup dairy free Daiya cheese (Try the Havarti. It's good.)
Salt and peppers to taste
Heat oil in broiler proof skillet. Add potatoes and cook until they become a bit crispy (about 10 minutes). Add greens, green onions and garlic and cook until greens are wilted. Salt and pepper to taste. Whisk eggs and almond milk together. Pour over potato and veggie mixture.
At this point, you may want to add a bit more salt and pepper to the eggs. Top with cheese substitute.
Cook for ten more minutes on medium until eggs are set. Then, place under broiler until cheese is melted and eggs are slightly brown on top.
Serve with favorite fruit and enjoy.
*If you’d like to make this recipe with dairy, just use Monterey jack cheese and regular cow’s milk instead of the substitutes.
Does anyone remember the series of letters Carol from May Dreams Gardens and Mary Ann from Gardens of the Wild, Wild West and I wrote to each other last summer profiling our vegetable gardens? We enjoyed our comparisons, and hope you did too, because we’re doing it again this year. If you like, feel free to do something similar with your friends like plant the same variety of a particular vegetable or flower and compare notes. Think of it as a weekly “Dear Friend and Gardener” meme.
Dear Carol and Mary Ann and Gardening Friends Everywhere,
I sit in my cozy kitchen/office typing as I watch the sun rise in all its golden glory. Yesterday, the north wind wasn’t too biting, so I got outside for the second time this year. For me, and many other gardeners across the U.S., winter has stayed way past its welcome. I can’t wait for even milder temperatures and the end of snow before planting, or I might miss the window of opportunity. However, I admit the rain and snow have done my garden good. The soil was nice and damp, but not too wet. Like Goldilocks would say, it was just right.
Plan of the potager; the centerpiece is a fountain.
We haven’t finished building the new, kitchen potager, but hope to by the time it is tomato and pepper planting time (i.e., end of April or early May). The bad economy took some of the oomph our of monetary sails, so we’re taking it slow. We want to use tumbled, concrete pavers (because stone is cost prohibitive for this Oklahoma gardener) to edge the beds. The red, brick walks between won’t cost anything except labor, because we recycled them from a paving job, and that’s where we’ll start first.
The weather hasn’t cooperated either, but the plan is drawn, and we’re doing it in stages. At one end, is a greenhouse facing the garden. A fountain, maybe a blue urn, will be the centerpiece and attract wildlife. I saw one in an ornamental bed in Oklahoma Gardening’s studio garden, and I’d like to do something similar. Here’s a shot which I took in September 2009 of their fountain.
Blue fountain surrounded by yellow lantana at the Oklahoma Gardening studio gardens
I have room in the back garden for my early spring crops. It doesn’t get crowded until later. Yesterday, I did some clearing and trimmed up a couple of roses. Then, I planted. In honor of my beloved Grandma Nita, I’m growing Alaska shelling peas. Since the weather has been so cool, I’m hoping I’ll have time to reap a nice harvest. Some years, warmth comes too quickly, and the peas don’t fill out their pods. These, I planted along the north fence where I hope they’ll clamber with a bit of help. HH did some fence repairs screwing the rails into some of the posts. We also replaced a broken rail at the end of the garden. I noticed my blueleaf honeysuckle was planted too close to a ‘Belinda’s Dream’ rose, so I moved it before it broke dormancy. I also dug up some old daylilies I no longer want.
The other seeds I planted were Little Finger baby carrots, Lacinato Nero Toscana kale, Early Wonder beets, Petrowski turnips, Tatsoi mustard, Bourdeaux spinach, three kinds of lettuce: Red Sails, De Morges Braun and Marvel of Four Seasons. I still have my potatoes, snow peas, swiss chard, dwarf pak choy, and onions to get in the ground. After today, the weather is supposed to be nice again. I also realized I didn’t plant any Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, so I’ll need to buy some. Weren’t we also going to plant Speckled Troutback (a/k/a Forellenschluss) lettuce together this year to see how it performs across our three zones? I’ll get a packet of it too at TLC Nursery. They have a lot of seed varieties.
Eating their favorite scratch. The white rooster on the left is Alex.
Also wanted to let you know the chickens are doing great and eating us out of house and home. They should be laying eggs soon, and I’ll show you the different colors of the brown and rainbow eggs. Remember cute, little Alex? He’s the big, white rooster on the left.
Just getting out in the sun and touching the crumbly soil with my hands did this gardener good. Oh, and I saw the first crocus of the season. How are things in your neck of the woods?
“A few days ago I walked along the edge of the lake and was treated to the crunch and rustle of leaves with each step I made. The acoustics of this season are different and all sounds, no matter how hushed, are as crisp as autumn air.” by Eric Sloane
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