Monday, October 31, 2011

Averting a Total Tomato Take-down

You know those times when you just want to say "fuck it", throw in the towel, and call it a day? I'm in that space as we speak. After a grueling 10 days of battling one nasty virus in which I did not get out of my pajamas, brush my hair, do the dishes, or stay awake for longer than three hours at a time, I have emerged from the other side with a "to do" list that would make Martha Stewart cry. Aside from my home looking like what hurricane Rina had been predicted to do to the Mexican coastline, the farm is at an all-time low. The fall/winter garden hasn't been planted, the compost pile needs to be spread over the beds, the hives need to be harvested and put to bed for the winter, the animal pen needs to be mucked, the goats need their shots, Ethel needs to get pregnant but can't seem to get that done, the animal pen needs to be sprayed to control the urine odors, the rats and mice need to be evicted, the lice on the goats have to go, the plants in the hoop house should be disposed of and composted, loads of crap needs to go to the dump, every inch of everything needs to be cleaned.... Should I go on?

It's moments like these when I wonder "What the fuck am I doing?". What possessed me to think that spending all this time raising animals, growing food, mucking crap, and in general, adding about 101 additional chores to my list of things to do was even remotely a good idea when there is a grocery store right across the street from my home? Clearly, I am a little bit insane.

To add to my tale of woe, in the midst of my sickness something was eating my tomatoes. I'm thinking mice or rats. But then there was also a serious fruit fly infestation. Even the green tomatoes were being affected. And this is where the pity party had to end. There was no way that I was going to lose my crop of tomatoes that I had doted on for six months to insect or vermin. Fuck that! Virus or no virus, something had to be done.

Somewhere on the interwebz, I had seen a nifty trick that some folks do in Italy. They harvest the tomatoes green, but keep a good section of the vine to get them to ripen up off the plant. I harvested 17 pounds of greenies and set them out on the front porch to redden. They are doing fantastic. A few got mushy, but not many. The rest will be put into the crockpot for tomato jam, one of my favorite preserves.

I am slowly recovering, but am still not 100% and we are at day 17. This bug really likes to loiter. In the meantime, I am trying to prevent myself from relapsing by not overdoing it. So I am off to chug some elderberry juice and get ready for Halloween festivities.

Anyone out there overwhelmed by their decision to "do it all"? What do you do in these moments to push through and salvage your efforts?

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Green Eggs. Please Pass the Ham.

Finally, a green egg! I am on my third Ameraucana, but this is my first ever green-shelled egg. Honestly, I never thought it would happen.

As many of you out there know, the Ameraucana is known for its green or blue eggshells. But did you know that Ameraucanas can lay all sorts of colors of eggs, including beige or pink? Yeah, I didn't either. Apparently, this is due to birds with the blue egg gene being crossed with standard breeds as the breed was being developed.

Ameraucanas are sometimes confused with Araucanas, which they are related to, or Easter Eggers, the breed by which the Ameraucana was developed in crossing them with Old World varieties. They are actually a distinct breed that must meet specific criteria laid out by the The American Poultry Association's American Standard of Perfection. Araucanas, originating in Chile where they were used by Quechua and Mapuche speaking tribes and coming to North America via the Falkland Islands where they had been traded by Argentinians, have large ear tufts and beards, virtually no comb, and no wattles whatsoever. The gene for the tufts is actually lethal in that if a pair who carry the tufted allele are bred together, one quarter of the offspring will die in the shell. Weird. The Ameraucana, on the other hand, does not carry the lethal gene. They do, however, have a muff (beard), which is much smaller then their Araucana cousins. Easter Eggers can have a variety of features and they carry the blue egg gene like their Ameraucana and Araucana relatives.

My first Ameraucana was a buff and never made it to laying, having died of Marek's at about 12 weeks. My second Ameraucana, Eggo, was white and she gave me pinkish eggs. I must admit, I was disappointed. At long last, my hen Cleopatra, whom I purchased at the feed store in late spring of this year, is laying little green eggs. I think we shall have to celebrate this blessed event with some ham. Isn't that what Dr. Seuss would do?

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