Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crazy Days

Things have been going very well for Taylor and I, busy, but very well.  I have picked up extra hours on a part time job out at an outdoor school in Western Marin.  Three days a week I drive through the most beautiful lands, cow farms, rolling green hills, and blue skies.  It literally puts a smile on my face every time I drive out there.  I am not sure how long this part time job will last, but for right now, I am enjoying the physical job, the hundreds of kids running around, let loose to let their crazy flags fly, and earn some extra money.  
-->  Here is an update with pictures to come.
Garden:  Our fall crops are doing well and popping up with flourishment.  We have some wonderful winter squash coming up, Pomme d'Or.  These little lovelies will be popping up around the beginning of December.  Next to those are the collards, Geogria Southern variety, and they are taking their sweet time maturing.  After that are the potatoes, just a basic Russet variety there.  Next is the first of two plots of beets;  I planted Early Wonders and Chioggias.  I am super excited about these root crops coming up, as beets are my new culinary obsession.  Plus, Taylor wants to experiment with extracting the sugar out of the beet and using that as a sweet alternative.  My rainbow chard is starting to mature up, both red and golden, and again, I am very excited as these are my favorite type of greens.  Lastly is our plot of carrots, Chantenay Red Core variety, which is a new one for us.  All in all, we should be harvesting some tasty vegetables right around the Winter Solstice.  That is one of the nice things about living in Northern California and these micro climates, we can grow through winter and still have a harvest;  it doesn't have to be a season of total fallow.

Container Garden:  I am experimenting with growing lettuce in a container:  Merveille des Quatre Saisons Lettuce (Marvel of Four Seasons).  I love this variety, beautiful red bibb-type rosette, crispy, and an excellent flavor.  I also planted some fava beans to see how they do in a container: Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto.  This is a purple fava, it has six beans to a pod and is very sweet in flavor.  I am excited to see how they do.

Chickens:  The three chickens that we added to the flock, Teaspoon, Tina Turner and Spooky the Ghost, have acclimated to their new family and living surroundings and seem to be doing well.  Teaspoon was laying like a champ in the first couple of weeks, an extra large bright white egg every day or two, but now she's slowed down.  I don't think Spooky is laying yet, as we guess she is a bit younger than the other birds.  And we're not sure if Tina Turner is laying or not.  I think she is, but I haven't caught her trotting out of the coop and calling out in egg-laying pride.  All in all their egg production is slowing down with the cooler temperatures and molting stage on its way.

Compost:  I can't tell you how awesome our compost is.  Trying to describe the sweet, earthy, nutrient-packed, black gold just loses in the telling.  This latest batch had a large, and I mean large, quantity of coffee grounds in it.  The pile was cooking at 160 degrees for over a week.  When we turned it, the temperature spiked right back up in there to 160 degrees again.  Taylor built a new system to sift the final product, and instead of grabbing the sifter with both hands and using every ounce of upper body strength to sift back and forth, now I am able to turn the compost in a cage like sifter.....MUCH EASIER!

Bees:  The bees are doing well.  Every time I  walk past their hive boxes, I can smell their honey.  There wasn't enough for us to harvest any for ourselves, but I will check in with them tomorrow and see if they maybe started filling the top super with honey (that would honey we could harvest).  It seems that many of the bees are dying, as the ground in front of the hive boxes are littered with hundreds of dead bee carcasses.  I thought they would hold on a little longer into the cold season, but I am sure it will balance out.  I read that I should expect almost two-thirds of the colonies to die off, and then they will repopulate come Spring.  Time will tell.


  1. Gosh I would love to come out and see what you are doing. I don't think I'm too close though. I really want to try my hand at bees and could certainly use some tips for compost. =0) I just got my first Worm Factory to try this secondary composting. Very exciting!

  2. I was wondering, have you ever had a problem with your honey being sour? Ours always ends up tasting acidic. I haven't seen any pests nor any type of damage or disease, it's really frustrating because now we can't sell it.

  3. This was our first year with our bees and we weren't able to harvest any honey as they didn't produce enough for us. I have never heard of sour honey. Sorry Quail!