Rhubarb Update

Split rhubarb transplants

Split rhubarb transplants

My Craig’s list search worked!   I got two replies and one of them panned out.    The folks were thrilled to get rid of plants that they had no use for and to not end up with big holes where they were.

I got three overgrown plants that were too far gone to try to transplant.   I did it anyway.   For the cost of three bags of soil, which was less than one of the many nursery pots of rhubarb I bought, I got three huge plants.

I brought them home split them and planted them.   Now we can cross our fingers,  treat them well, and hope that  few of my new splits make a go of it. Next year at this time I will have at least a couple new plants, if I am lucky more than that.

First Year Raising Meatie Chickens

10 week old meatie

10 week old meatie

Up until this year I have focused on raising dual-purpose birds.   I finally succumbed to trying a few meaties this year.   For those of you not familiar with chickens there are some breeds whose focus is eggs, some to have lush meatie bodies and finally dual purpose birds who do both well but don’t really do outstanding at either.   Meaties are generally selected cross breeds that convert food to weight with a high efficiency, grow fast, and have that large breasts that American diet demands.

I got “Freedom Ranger” style meaties.   These are meaties that grow much slower than the commercial Cornish Cross you are getting in the pink tray in your supermarket.  Unlike the Cornish Cross that sit at the food trough and do nothing but eating, the FR are active.   Ours actually got out and walked around and foraged.   They claim that the FR have a healthy set of legs on them, unlike the Cornish Cross who often become crippled because the body grows too fast for leg development.   Ours held true to that claim.

Our meatie roos had started to become protective of the flock.   One of them was more than willing to take on Mr. Ranger Sir daily.   We decided it was a little early, but it was time for them to go.     They were taller than our dog.

This weekend we butchered the three roosters of the bunch.   There were 10 weeks old.   They dressed out at about 3 pounds each.   I have a female who was smaller that is still left that we will butcher later.

Were they worth the time, expense, and trouble.   I guess so.  They did not wow me.

Time will give me a little more information to base this on.   I have one female meatie left and a bunch of males that will need to go.   I can use them for comparison once we butcher them.

Changing Purpose

Today is the day we celebrate Memorial Day in the US.  I am old enough to remember when Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th.   Buddy Poppys were sold and everyone had one.     My hometown had a parade then ended with the local veteran’s group at the cemetery with a 21 gun salute for the military who had died.

At some point the US government thought it was more important to have a three-day holiday than to honor our military who died in service.  Time has marched on.   We now have an all volunteer army.   We say we support our troops, but talk is cheap.   Our military force is so much smaller, and many of the citizens no long have a connection to our military.  Most of us don’t have a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, father, mother cousin, sweetheart or neighbor who is currently serving or could be in harms way.   When I was in high school boys worried about being sent to Vietnam.   Everyone seemed to know someone who was affected by the war.    Of the thousands who have died and been wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I don’t personally know a single family that has been affected in that way.  This personal distance and moving the holiday to a more convenient Monday has cause a loss of the meaning of Memorial Day.

Maybe  it is time for this holiday to be returned back to May 30 and force us all to think about why this holiday exists.   It is not a three-day holiday.   It is more than a day off of work.   Godspeed and thanks to all those who have given their lives in service of our country.

Rhubarb Season

My rhubarb

My rhubarb

Well sort of.  Mine is still leaves just poking out of the ground, but for lots of folks the season of the “pie plant” is upon us.  

I have tried over and over in my dry poor soil to get rhubarb to take and as of now have only succeeded once.  I have read everything about how to improve my success and tried almost every suggestion hairbrained or not.

I have now decided to try a different approach.   Instead of buying little plants grown who knows where and trying to get it to take,   I put a posting on Craig’s list offering a bag of soil in exchange for anyone who wants to get rid of rhubarb they may have at their home.   We will go dig the plants they no longer want and put a bag of  soil in the hole we leave behind.  Sounds like a winner to me.   Whatever they get it  is already proven in this climate.   The cost of a bag of soil is less than the cost of an unproven potted plant.     Their soil may be different than what I have, but I am banking on my  personal compost to give my soil enough enrichment to make it take.

Today I got an email from someone who is interested in my swap.   Cross your fingers that I may end up with enough rhubarb that in the not to distant future I can have all the pie, crisp, cobbler, bread, stew, jam and anything else I can think of made with rhubarb I grew.

Introducing the Norwegian Jaerhon chicken

Norwegian Jaerhon chicken at 9 weeks.

Norwegian Jaerhon chicken at 9 weeks.

I am always trying new chicken breeds.   This year of my first-timers is the Norwegian Jaerhon chicken.  My reasons for trying this breed are many.   Some good and some just plain whimsical.

  • I chose this bird because it started in Norway.  That translates into Montana cold hearty.  
  • They are supposed to be good egg layers, my main reason for having chickens.  
  • Some websites suggest that they are good foragers.   I love birds who are good foragers.   As free range foragers they produce eggs that have brighter yellow yolks, with better nutritional value.  
  • Lastly the pictures of the bird are unusual and that fascinating me.

It is too early to tell that how this is all going to work out.   I can tell you that this photo doesn’t do her justice.   She is one of the prettiest birds I have ever had.   I love her nearly golden head and neck with a grey speckled body that is nearly a steely blue.   She is on the small side compared to what I usually select in breeds.

She is not a social bird like I am used to having, and almost stand offish.     This year’s flock is so heavily weighted to males that it is hard to tell if she is hiding from the males  and that is part of her problem.   This may also contribute to the fact I seldom see her out foraging as well.

It is still early and time will tell if this bird is a one hit wonder or it it will be something that I repeat over and again.

Notice to Congress: I do my job. I expect you to do yours.

OMG time from another Capitol Hill hearing or investigation.    Time to pull together a bunch of like minded thinkers waste days asking questions to prove they are right.   Everything with the purpose to prove  folks who don’t think like them are evil, corrupt and need to go.  This process is happening in every group on the hill.  I don’t think that there is a person above that behavior at this time in Washington DC.

The whole point of this post is one of the most important things I think congress is charged with doing, is managing our money and making the law of the land.   Instead the thing I most often see and hear about is congress is setting up another hearing.   They will spend hours in front of the press puffing out their chests in self-importance.   Honestly what are they going to do, demand someone is fired.  They don’t have that power over John Smith working for the IRS, Hillary Clinton who has since left her job, or the person at the Justice Department who signed off invading the AP.   I am outraged and appalled by all of it, but congress is not going to fix it.   They can’t even reconcile the federal checkbook, let along put together a budget.   Instead they spend hours with a billion committees and subcommittees with everyone the head of at least one. No sense in leaving anyone out.  Do they ever ask themselves really what is my job here?

Anyone is believes their favorite Senator or Congressional Representative  are above this behavior, I think is wrong.   Their silence  is condoning this behavior, failure to say “This isn’t our job.  Lets do what we were sent here to do and go home.”   I akin it to bullying.  How many kids know it is wrong, but don’t speak up or do anything.   These adults are the same.   It takes real conviction to refuse a committee seat if really serves no purpose other than to belong or to build political capital you can cash in on in the future. We wonder why our kids don’t have backbone and conviction.   What kind of behavior are we modeling for them.   Go along with the crowd.  Pack up with only those who think like you do.    Bashing publicly those who you disagree with.

Those of us working know we have a job to do.   Our employer expects us to do our job.   I hired my Washington representatives and as their employer I say to them do your job,  socialize on your own time.  All those committees appear to me as social time, because you are not getting you job done.

Chick Report – 9 Weeks

This Year's chicks sit just outside the doorMy new chicks are now nine weeks old.  They are fully integrated in with the existing flock.   Sort of.   The existing flock will not tolerate them for the most part, but the newbies dodge their way around them just fine.   Each morning I open the coop and let them all out.   When confine to the chicken run the newbies lay low, but as soon as the gate is open for free range time my adult flock heads out, leaving the newbies full run of the coop.   You will often find the newbies sitting on the stairs outside the little door enjoying the world.

We are feeding a flock raiser without calcium and providing oyster shell for our layers.  Life isn’t to bad for the chicken farmers.   No more separate feeds, or spaces.   We get to treat them all the same. It is just a wee bit early to start thinking of butchering.

My meaties are huge and we are starting to think about sending them to freezer camp.   Our packing peanuts are not far behind.   Last night one of the roosters was mad and pecked at my husband when he put them away last night.   It means their days are numbered.