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Quote of the Day: Elderberries

September 7th, 2014

“Once up on a time not so long ago, elderberries were held in extremely high esteem by humans. Elderberry trees feds us. They got us drunk, provided medicine, and protected us from witches. Everybody know elderberry trees. They offered everything from fruit to flutes and cosmetics to weapons.”

Connie Green and Sarah Scott The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes

I only have one small elderberry plant here in my garden in Maine so far, though it’s sending up suckers that will be transplanted when it’s finished producing berries. There aren’t enough berries for me to make anything this year, they will be cut and fed to the chickens. Elderberries are beautiful plants and provide such nutrition.
Elderflower fritters 2
The lacy white flowers can be fried up as fritters, made into wine or syrup for sodas and the berries can be used in all sorts of different ways. When I have elderberry syrup I use it in my tea all winter long, it’s said to boost the immune system. My dad swears by its health promoting ability and doesn’t hardly go a day without consuming elderberries in some form (jelly is his favorite medium). Even if you don’t want to consume the berries or the flowers, they are a wonderful way to provide forage for pollinators and birds of all varieties and are worthwhile to include in the garden for that reason.

Do you have any plants you grow for their medicinal properties?

Going for Gold

September 6th, 2014

Broody hen is at it again, she went broody a few weeks ago.  I had already removed the wooden eggs from the nests, these help keep the chickens laying in the nesting boxes as opposed to making their own nests out about about. That also means that they want to lay eggs in the nest that has eggs in it, aka the one broody hen is sitting on.  So the wooden eggs returned and fertile eggs from the neighbor were given to Miss Broody. Hopefully this will keep the other hens from crowding her out of her nest.
broody hen
I marked all the eggs I want to hatch and will check daily to remove any extras that appear, that doesn’t usually happen with the wooden eggs in the other boxes. I tried to separate her into the portable coop so she could hatch her eggs in peace, but she was having none of that. She must be an extrovert.
broody hen and chicks 1
Hopefully Miss Broody will successfully hatch out another clutch of littles, we’re hoping to completely replace our flock next spring with the hens she’s hatched this summer. If this batch hatched one will go to the neighbor to replace a hen he lost recently and to repay him for giving us fertile eggs. Keep your fingers crossed for Broody Hen.

Friday Favorite: Keyless Entry

September 5th, 2014

A couple weeks ago our front door lock broke.  When I say it broke I mean it fell apart into a bunch of little pieces, there was no fixing it. For a week or two the door was held closed by a lawn mower tire, classy I know! We debated on which type of lock to replace it with, a cheap keyed lock just like the one that was there or a slightly more expensive one with a keypad.  After a little research we decided keyless was the way to go and we settled on this one from Schlage. A long time ago when we had first moved into our house in Ohio, Mr Chiots locked himself out.  Since we were going to replace the basement windows he broke one of those to get in.
front door lock
I’ve actually been locking our front door now that we have this lock, something I rarely did before. You can also set multiple codes, which is nice, especially in cases like this coming weekend when we have a house sitter coming. We programmed a code for her and can easily delete it when we get home. There is an emergency key that you can use if the battery goes dead, but it gives you enough warning to replace the battery when it’s getting low. We’ve only had this for a week but it’s already a Friday favorite!

Have you ever forgotten or lost your keys and had to break into your house?

Growing Up

September 4th, 2014

You might remember the dozen turkey hatching eggs I purchased from a local farmer earlier this spring.  My neighbor hatched the eggs, only three of them hatched.  One kicked the bucket one day when it was about 6 weeks old, the remaining two are doing well.  It looks like we will have a pair, which is perfect because I was hoping to let them hatch and raise their own young next spring.
turkeys 1
These are ‘Wishard Bronze’ turkeys, a heritage breed. Originally we were hoping to raise enough this year to have them for Thanksgiving dinner and keep a pair, but the turkey eggs we got didn’t hatch very well. We had eggs for Narragansett and none of them hatched, guess the tom just wasn’t up to the task.
turkey poults 3
turkeys 2
They’re even starting to make their adult turkey calls. Mr Chiots is going to get his turkey call out to see if he can chat with them. These birds have been our favorite fowl to date, they are friendly and inquisitive. They follow me around and are very tame. I guess we’ll be ordering our turkey from Martha’s Farm once again for our Thanksgiving meal.

Have you found a local farm to get your Thanksgiving turkey from yet?

The Last Garden in the Tour

September 3rd, 2014

A week and a half ago I visited the last garden in the tour series put on by my local garden club. I’ve been meaning to get to the photos from all the gardens I toured this summer (there were lots) but I just haven’t been able to find the time. With my upcoming trip, I’m trying to get ahead on a few posts, which is the perfect time to take you along on the garden tours I was lucky enough to enjoy this summer.
last garden in tour 1
This garden was tiny, probably not any larger than the average house, but that didn’t stop the gardener from filling it with all kinds of beauty. That didn’t stop her from having a seating area, and edible space, a small lawn, a swing set for the little ones and a nice composting area. There were terra-cotta pig heads on the shed, twinkle lights in the trees, bird baths, a raised rock bed, rock walkways and so many wonderful details.
last garden in tour 2
last garden in tour 3
last garden in tour 4
last garden in tour 5
last garden in tour 11
last garden in tour 6
last garden in tour 7
last garden in tour 8
last garden in tour 9
last garden in tour (1)
last garden in tour
There is something quite nice about small gardens, they are very cozy and intimate. Back in Ohio our garden was rather small (a quarter of an acre) and I liked the smallness in some aspects. Not having space to grow as many tomatoes as I wanted proved to be too much for me and we had to buy the lots on both sides and eventually upgraded to 153 acres. My main challenge now is how to make a very large garden seem intimate.

What size is your garden: small, medium, large? What do you find to be most difficult about the size of your space?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.