The Chicks at Dove’s Roost

Broody One and her first Chick

…and her second Chick

Black Betty Donating to Broody Two

Broody Three in the new Maternity Wing of the Coop

Dobie and Pearl Cuddling in the Sun

Dobie & Pearl

What do we have here? Three more broody hens, the first of which started collecting eggs on September 25. Broody One is setting on a variety of eggs, a couple more Black Betty (Australorps) eggs and half a dozen Buff O/RI Red eggs. Broody Two is on mostly Buff O eggs, and a Black Betty egg or two. Broody Three is on RI Red/Partridge Rock eggs – some bantam crosses. This is all very exciting. But our smiles are tempered with solemnity, as Charry Brown, our last RI Red Roo, is now in Sick Bay, the victim of a weird infection that has caused him to lose his mobility. He’s being attended by a couple of hennies who refuse to leave his side. The Buff O roos, Coco Poppy, Teddy, and Buzzy, have tried their hands at attacking and finishing off Charry, so we’re keeping him safe and letting him go in peace.

Dobie and Pearl are the two little hennies that hatched on the porch a few weeks ago. They’re inseparable, and have been befriended only by Lazarus, the teenaged Buff/Red roo who we revived. They are afraid of the big flocks of adults and the big flock of teenagers. Hopefully, they can fit in with some of the new hatchlings.

PS What glorious weather! The fall garden is almost all in, and almost all up! Life is good.

In the Garden…

Fritallary on a Zinnia

Hopi Black Dye Sunflower with Bees

Tom’s Dear Fergie

Lovely day out there, not even running the water on the garden. We had a pretty big rain last evening, so I’m not being awful. The zinnias and sunflowers have made some luscious bouquets for the kitchen table. But, one has to leave a few out there for the butterflies and bees!

The behinder I get…

roselle 1b

Roselle – aka Florida Cranberry

This picture was taken exactly one month ago. I can’t seem to get myself in synch. Here you can see the hibiscus-like flowers and little buds rising from the stem. Wait’ll you see how the plant looks now!

This plant is, officially, my favorite plant. Here are things you can do with this plant: 1) eat the leaves – in France, this plant is called sorrel; in fact, the leaves taste just like sorrel, 2) make tea with the calyces – just like rose hip tea, 3) make jelly with the calyces – yum yum, 4) make a jellied “sauce” like cranberry sauce with the calyces, 5) make dye with the spent flowers, 6) make fiber – yes roselle is a bast plant! Quite a lot of bang for the ol’ buck, yes?

sesame sept

Kurogoma – Black Sesame

Back in August, TT gave me some seeds at the downtown farmers market. They were black sesame seeds. Of course, we couldn’t wait. Planted 6 of them. The all germinated. A month ago, this is how Miss Sesame looked. Great little flowers! Now…well. The seedpods are – well…I have to take more pictures tomorrow.

I suppose I should be taking pictures of the wonderful sandspurs that Sally and Holly have discovered. My fingers are bruised and sore from picking the damn things out of their fleece. No. I’m not dignifying the sandspur with a photo.

I have some exciting actual fiber things to show, too. All weekend, I prepped fleece. Washed, mordanted, dyed…mmm. And now…I’m in the carding and roving pulling process. Next time…

Hello Fall, Goodbye Coreopsis

coreopsis103

My stand of coreopsis was reduced to 3 or 4 spindly, hacked up plants around the terra cotta chicken fountain. The hennys did a pretty good job of dismembering said stand. So, I was reduced to trolling the county roads. My very own personal county road, also called 232, was loaded with the 3rd blooming 2 weeks ago. I had not had time all summer long to even pull over and snip some blossoms. So, this was it. I made sure I had a big ol trash bag with me whenever I went out. And finally, I said to myself, “Today’s the day.”

I set out for the feed store, expecting to see masses of yellow flowers, but when I turned out onto the road, all I saw was new mown grass. A mile later…5 miles later…8 miles later, there was a tractor, mowing ’em down. I turned onto 27. Tractors mowing everywhere. It was one of those early fall days, you felt you could be outside, I guess. I got the feed. Not a flower in sight. Decided to take an alternate route home. And there, by the bottling plant near the springs, OH HA! The Last of the Coreopsis.

So there you go. I mordanted a variety of fiber…some of Holly’s hoggett fleece from last April’s shearing, some fine GCNI from a sheep in Dry Creek, Louisiana, some Border Leicester from Maryland. Then I made a dyepot with half of those coreopsis. The result…not intense oranges, but milder, softer shades. I’m totally delighted with the “overdye” effect on the gray GCNI. I want to wear THAT.

greencotton

Here’s a close up, sans flash, of this season’s green cotton. We had quite a time with cotton this year. Permitted by the state, boll weevil trap planted in the garden by the Division of Plant Industry, and inspected by Wayne every three weeks this summer.

This is our 2nd year of growing cotton. We planted only green. I selected bolls with the darkest fiber, and was pleased with the outcome. Most of the cotton is medium green. Last year’s batch was all over the green spectrum…but mostly very very pale.

beauberryssm

These are beautyberries. An entirely different color.  Pretty intense. I’ve been cutting stems and making wild bouquets with goldenrod. For years. Well, this year, I heard tell of a jelly made from beautyberry. Lenore, daring wench that she is, went first. She found “the mother lode” on her 10 acres. She was so daring she even added wine. Well. I tasted her jelly. I tasted the berries. I knew I had to make some.

Lenore the Enabler showed up at the farmers market with a big fat bag of berries. Almost enough for the “recipe.” On one of Smitty’s morning sojourns, I picked enough to make enough jelly for the Western World. I didn’t add wine. Just berries, pectin, and sugar.

beautyberrysm

Here you go. Five half-pints of jelly. Scarlet jelly. Now, how did that happen? The violet berries produced an amber colored juice. When the pectin hit…instant color change! I’d never used pectin before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The jelly set right up…ka-boom! Heck in a handbasket, it’s just like store-bought. Except it tastes herbal, wild, and like nothing that Publix would ever carry. Yum.

Thanks Lenore!

Oh…and the recipe…should anyone out there care to dare:

1 1/2 qts beautyberries
2 qts water
1 pkt pectin
4 1/2 c sugar

Start a boiling water canner rolling. Prepare 5 1/2 pt jars, lids, and bands.

Rinse and pick over berries. Ditch the stems. Cover the berries with the water. Bring to a boil…let boil for 20 minutes. Mash the berries a bit. Strain.

Use 3 c of the berry juice. (You’ll have another 3 c left to refrigerate to make more at a later date.) Bring the juice to a boil. Whisk in an envelope of pectin. (I used Ball brand.) As it boils, whisk in the sugar (all at once) and bring a 2nd boil. Let it boil hard for a minute.

Remove from heat. Skim off the “stuff” on top. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pt jars with 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes.

Back to the Garden

Twenty four hours is a long while to be gone from a place like this: a labor intensive-dependent place, with living, breathing, eating dependents. We got back late yesterday afternoon, ate, relaxed, and slept. This morning, the celestial choir awakened us. All 9 roosters were going off, simultaneously, in pairs, in quartets, in…well, you get the idea. They were just so needy. Artie, the muse, on the other hand…

artie-content

Content-o-Cat

She is laying on, you guessed it, Sally’s fleece, all rolled up in an old sheet. I haven’t yet had time to skirt, weigh, etc, so there it sits. And, as you can see, she knows a good thing when she feels it. The gal who has to sleep with mommy, and has, for 15 years…well, there’s something better.

The garden needed attention. I planted borage seedlings, cotton seedlings, a couple rows of Jacob’s Cattle beans, and lo, oh, yeah, and behold…the Contenders are blooming. Also, we have 3 little ears of corn on corn stalk #1. Also, we pulled a dozen or so plump crisp red potatoes out from under. Also…oh pah, I won’t go on. I did have a lot to do out there, though. Fertilizing the Seminole squash and the Cocozelle…good ol rotted chicken poo hay. Watering the onions and the Brandywines. Half the dang day.

Then there was food to make. Blueberry muffins, daily bread, sausage & peppers…another good chunk o time. And, needless to say, I had to drive to the feed store.

So…the spinning didn’t get going until about an hour ago…and what should I spin? Well, Gracie came today. Gracie is a CVM Romney cross. The darkest dark brown. And as soft and silky as a bevis.

4-27-gracie-1st-oz

An Ounce of Gracie

This is what I did. This soft, slidey stuff takes a little bit of gettin’ used to…so, I took that ounce that I washed this afternoon, and spun ‘er up using a variety of tensions and ratios and speeds. Light, medium, and slow. There you go.