Tuesday, September 30, 2008

another batch of new chicks.... what??!?

Here's how they show up in the mail!
You can imagine my surprise when I get a phone call from the post office this morning at 7:45 telling me that my baby chicks are here. I got my chicks two weeks ago, what chicks are these? I went down there and sure enough, there was a box of baby chicks waiting for me. I guess the hatchery accidentally sent my order twice! I don't think I'll have to pay for these, but you never can tell... So I had 23 extra chicks and no idea what to do with them. I'm happy because that means two extra cuckoo marans and a chocolate-colored easter egger, and it looks like I've found homes for the rest of them, so it's not that big of a deal, but man, what a surprise. I also took pics of the two-week old chicks, I'll post those soon so you can see how they've grown!

On a totally different note, our income got cut in half today thanks to the tanking economy. Well, we aren't the first on the block, and likely not the last. The bail-out is a total scam, and looks like some new version of it will pass this week. I wish they would just have all those rich, greedy folks that caused it do the bailing. Our pennies were pinched before, so this pretty much just sucks. I'm glad I already have some seeds started for fall/winter. Also, yesterday I added two more trees to the tiny farm: a meiwa kumquat and a low-chill hood pear. Let's hope these trees perform soon! (Note to self: do not tell husband when he's leaving for work that you wish he didn't have to go in--- this wasn't what I meant! ;) )

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quick plant update!

I had some birthday money this year that I wanted to spend on new fruit trees, but I was thinking I would wait until January and get bare root trees...

Well, on Thursday I was at the Home Despot using some generous gift cards picking up some unrelated things and of course went through the garden center "just to look" I saw they had a Dorsett Golden Apple, which is the same variety we lost in that bad storm a few weeks back so I picked that up, they also had a great looking Kadota Fig (a white fig) that it seemed like we needed because two fig trees just aren't enough, a washington navel orange, which was a variety I had planned on planting anyway and a strawberry guava tree which after a long discussion with employees, references to garden books and calls to my husband to check the internet about whether it would do okay here or needed a pollinator etc. I decided to get that too.

On Saturday after the farmer's market I went to my friend Jennifer's house, and it just blew me away. Okra as tall as me and hundreds of eggplant, lots of melons and a whole bunch of other great stuff everywhere. If folks are reading this from the Phoenix Permaculture Guild and are on the fence about going to the tour at her house, GO! It's amazing. She told me that my favorite nursery (Baker's) had onion sets already, so on my way home I stopped by to get some of those. Long story short, I went home with 200 tiny onions, a 6-pack of broccoli and a sweet orange tree variety that I'd never heard of before called a pineapple orange.

Today I couldn't stop thinking about some of the other citrus that was at the nursery that I didn't have so I went back and got a meyer lemon, a bearss lime and a moro blood orange. I really want to go back for a kumquat...

So those 8 new trees bring the tiny farm fruit tree total up to 27. :) The baby chicks turn two weeks old tomorrow, expect pictures!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Gross. Don't read before dinner.

Don't worry, I didn't take photos. Sometimes this urban farming stuff can really suck. This week I made an unplanned and unwelcome foray into maggot farming. To understand how upsetting this is for me, you need to know that there are really only two things that gross me out: leeches and maggots. When I was 19 I tried to get over my fear of the former, by ordering leeches from a biological supply company and keeping them as pets. (Imagine the looks of the fedex employees and other customers when I opened my box to make sure everything was okay.) I can tolerate seeing leeches now in a contained aquarium, but you can be sure I don't go for soaks in stagnant water. To this day I haven't been able to assuage my extreme disgust of maggots.

Here is a long story short: Lots of lettuce/green scraps go into an insufficiently aerated or balanced compost pile. A few days later I open and find thousands of maggots squirming and pulsating and not just the little tiny kinds, there were a bunch over an inch long that seem to come from some giant fly beetle thing I've never seen until this week. I had rotting avocados beating like hearts from maggot excitement. I'll stop with the descriptions. I shoveled a bunch out into a bucket to give to the chickens who obviously have a completely different viewpoint on this subject. Yuck. That's enough about this.

Chickens heart maggots, I do not.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The new chicks are here!!!

All 26 right out of the box
What's better than new phonebook day? New chick day! After waiting 4 months, they're finally here and they all made it safely. I put in an order that included some for a couple other people too, so all 26 of these aren't mine, just 8, but I think the addition of these 8 officially bumps me up from Rachel's minuscule farm to a respectably tiny farm.

A salmon faverolle using a lavender/blue easter egger for a pillow

A goofy silver-laced polish peeking out to show off her new hair

I was surprised at how brown silver-laced wyandotte chicks are (which is what this is ;) )

Australorp sisters

Salmon faverolle

...and here are her 5-toed fuzzy feet

she's top model material!

So here is the list of the new additions: an australorp, an easter egger, a cuckoo maran, a white crested blue polish, a silver laced polish, a silver laced wyandotte and two salmon faverolles. These will eventually mix in with my current easter egger, rhode island red and blue andalusian for a total of 11 hens plus the 3 khaki campbells. What a birthday present!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars on my Passionflower

One of many tiny caterpillars
A double flower, if you look closely you can see a couple caterpillars in the background
Just like Parsec commented on an earlier post, the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly is attracted to passionflower plants. I had seen a couple of them flying around the plant and a few days ago I saw the plant was covered in orange and black spiky caterpillars. :) Now there are about 10 big juicy ones. They eat up the leaves a little, but it doesn't look like it's enough to harm the plant. I'm pretty excited about watching them turn into butterflies, I hope the birds spare a few.
Also, happy birthday to me! The baby chicks should get here tomorrow!!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bees Bees Bees

I was removing the dirt from a failed strawberry pot and out came all these little flower-tubes. At first because of the bright colors I thought they were old fake flowers that found their way into the potting mix somehow, but then I looked closer and saw they were little bee nests made of bougainvillea. Out here in Phoenix, our native bees are solitary bees that build little tubes out of cut up leaves and flower petals and put them into small cracks or holes. For whatever reason a bunch of them thought my strawberry pot was a good location. I'm making a bee house (a chunk of wood with holes drilled into it) and I'm going to transfer these and hopefully attract more.

You can see from the pictures that they make a perfectly shaped tube with the bottom sealed off and then it's sealed off above where the eggs are as well. It's hard to believe that a little bee made this. I'm impressed.

The baby chicks should be here in less than a week!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Painting, "The Traveling Strawberry Grower"

"The Traveling Strawberry Grower"

I don't usually post my artwork on this blog, but I was updating my painting website earlier today rachelbess.com, and thought this painting might be appropriate. It's 8" by 6", oil on panel. The woman has a bee in a little bee cage for an earring (which is hard to see in the lo-res computer image).

Hopefully we make begin making better choices for the environment so we don't all have to grow dinner in test tubes on our head. A good beginning would be to think long and hard whether or not it's smart to go busting up Alaska (or anywhere else) to get resources we wouldn't need if we had better energy policy (solar/wind etc) and conserved the energy we already have... I didn't mean for this to be a political rant but the ignorant "drill baby drill" B.S. makes me angry every time I think about it. It's hard to believe that people could be such disgustingly poor stewards of the earth. These people are so greedy and selfish (look to the national debt partly because of corporate bailouts for other proof) that they will sell their grand-childrens' futures just to make their own life a little less of a hassle.

Well... I better sign off before I get too far into those feelings, this is supposed to be about my tiny farm! :)