17 January 2009

Buckeye Pullets at 5 months

Is that a handsome gal or what? The Buckeye pullets are 5 months old now and beginning to look like real grown-up hens. (You can find out more about Buckeyes by clicking here to go to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy page on the breed.) I've raised this batch of Buckeyes and Australorps from day-old chicks. We only had one chick lost out of two-dozen, and that was on New Year's Eve to a huge owl who went inside the open door of the chicken shed at dusk and got an Australorp...

Here are the girls at scratch-time - their favorite time of the day!

The Buckeyes are almost as big as the Australorps, but the Australorps are heavier. I still love those big yellow feet on the Buckeyes.

So once I tossed out the scratch, I couldn't get them to pay me and the camera any more attention. So I'll wait till I get some better photos to post more. This Spring a handsome Buckeye rooster from a breeder near Little Rock will be coming to meet his 12 new gals and Larrapin will have a real flock of Buckeyes....my own little (adult) 4-H project -- and great fun!

16 January 2009

Winter Kale & White Bean Soup

Amazingly, despite the really cold weather, the bed of kale is still green and doing well out in the garden. I was doing a cold-weather experiment in this uncovered bed. Those are Tyfon greens, or the remains of Tyfon greens, to the left. They pretty much vanish when the temps hit the mid-teens. The kale, as you can see, is quite perky despite multiple nights of mid-teens and no cover at all.

So I picked a batch and found a wonderful Kale & White bean soup recipe over at allrecipes.com by Jean Carper. You can click the the title below to go to the site.

Bean Soup With Kale

SUBMITTED BY: USA WEEKEND columnist Jean Carper
* 1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
* 8 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
* 4 cups chopped raw kale
* 4 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
* 2 (15 ounce) cans white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained
* 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
* 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning
* Salt and pepper to taste
* 1 cup chopped parsley


1. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add garlic and onion; saute until soft. Add kale and saute, stirring, until wilted. Add 3 cups of broth, 2 cups of beans, and all of the tomato, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. In a blender or food processor, mix the remaining beans and broth until smooth. Stir into soup to thicken. Simmer 15 minutes. Ladle into bowls; sprinkle with chopped parsley.

This is what became of the kale:

And WOW it is a delicious soup. I did a couple of things differently - probably used a bit more kale than it called for, added 1 tsp. of bacon drippings (I am a real Southerner...) and instead of plum tomatoes - which aren't in season when kale it -- I used a small can of diced tomatoes. It was WONDERFUL! The parsley really adds a great green flavor. Can't wait to make more.

Hope you all are staying warm in this cold January! Here's to warm soups and warm hearts.

14 January 2009

Garlic & Asparagus in Winter

One great thing about a garden blog is that I can look back at pics from the summer and marvel at how green and lush everything is. Right now, those are not words that would come to mind looking at the garden and surrounds.

This is the asparagus patch's first winter. It grew very well it's first year - seems to love the raised bed and rich soil. I plan to plant another bed of it this spring. We should be able to sneak a batch of these this spring to steam and dip in butter, then by Spring of 2010 we should have a strong supply going. I understand asparagus can live for decades. It's a great garden investment, but one that require a few years patience!

Meanwhile, over in this bed we have the baby garlic that went in the ground in either late October or early November....

So next summer, hopefully, we'll have fresh garlic out of the garden. Exciting! Meanwhile, we're expecting two nights this week down to 10 and then 4 degrees. Yikes. Got to go rake a big pile of leaves over the fig "bush." You can see it this past summer in this post "What a difference two weeks makes"

12 January 2009

Barn in Winter Sun

One pleasant thing about the erratic weather is that between cold fronts you get the occasional lovely day! Yesterday was in the 50's and sunny. Perfect for a long walk about the place. Over the fence I can see the neighbors hay barn, show above. I love the way the afternoon sun shines on it in the winter, especially combined with the silver and golden winter grass.

My inner "Garden Clock" started stirring this week. Despite the arrival of the garden catalogs starting in late December, it was quiet. But yesterday I felt the first stirrings of the 2009 gardening season - within anyway! Soon I'll be getting the monthly garden guide out (Thanks Arkansas Extension Service) and doing the little mental calculations to adjust the suggested dates, which are for Little Rock, to our slightly colder NW Arkansas. If I remember correctly, there's stuff I can start planting as soon as mid to late February! OK, not much stuff, but a thing or two? I'll check and let you know...

Thanks for stopping by Larrapin Garden. It's good to be back.