Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We have been out. Two weeks ago camping in Floyd, then near Clarksville. Both great experiences. The old time/bluegrass in Floyd is something to be seen. Quick, before it becomes Disney-fied. Right now it is just a lot of normal people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying a bunch of music. Soon it will be Teh Thing and everyone else will be there and you will miss what is truly lovely about the whole thing. Which is that people seem to know each other and enjoy going downtown in small town VA and dancing to traditional music with their friends and neighbors. Saturday at 6:30 PM in a small but lovely town just north of South Boston the slave cylinder on the SB's car gave up the ghost and we limped into town. Just to make the point... It was 6:30 on Saturday, meaning all repair shops were closed until Monday. Somehow we must have been living right since the guys at the car parts store we stopped at managed to find the part, though initially we were told we could get it by Monday. AND they knew a guy that would come over and put it on in the parking lot where the car was. In less than 90 minutes we were on our way again. Shocking and delightful.

We visited Prestwold on Sunday. A fantastically restored 18th century plantation house. Since no one else was there, we got the 2 hour tour from a delightful young man doing his PhD on the house. And he is in school in C'ville. I think we will hook up for a beer at some point.

This past weekend was spent in Reedsville on the bay with my girlfriends and their tiny ones. The oldest 4, the youngest 2 1/2. Wild times. Good wine, relatively few tears from the younger set. So hard to say good bye. But I talked up the ducks so hopefully they will be receiving visitors.

In the interim, ice cream made with duck eggs (of which we are getting an alarming number- stop by for a few) and paw paw. It is the SB's new favorite ice cream ever. This afternoon he went out and gleaned another 5 or 6 pounds from an undisclosed site nearby. We'll be freezing those babies for more ice cream later in the year. If anyone has any great methods for removing the pulp from the skin and seeds, please fill me in. As it stands, I sort of know how tomorrow evening is going to be spent.

The garden is looking great. SO excited about all the greens coming along. The cold weather stuff has taken off since the rain last weekend. I think this weekend is the last for the peppers, they will be coming in to be frozen. By mid October we'll probably put the garlic and shallots in for the winter, more to get them out of the kitchen than to get an early start in the garden.

This weekend I have to go out and rearrange the bees and make sure everything is in the right place for winter. Crossing fingers for no rain as there is much to do. The duck yard needs a dig out and we need to head to Southern States for straw and float-y food for the ducks. All the errands made better now that they are laying....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hive check

I am a little behind in posting, but a couple weekends ago I went out to check the bees. All in all, a bit of an odd situation. There is an very nice sized colony. Bees covering the frames, a large brood section. The honey super, however, has not even a drop of honey. The bees never even made wax this year, the slackers. Odd. I emailed my bee mentor (who rocks) who did not comment on why my bees may have decided not to fill a super this summer despite a record breaking honey year for most beekeepers. He did address my thought that perhaps my bees didn't like the foundation I had provided for them. He said it was unlikely the cause. Anywhoo. I am going into winter with significantly more bees than last year and am hoping like hell they don't eat themselves out of house and home. I still need to do another check and make sure the brood is in the bottom box with some nice honey stores on top. That'll probably be the first weekend in October. Good thing I still have honey from last year. It would really be a bite to have to buy bees AND honey this year....

I got three eggs this morning which became the SB's breakfast. I haven't heard yet how he liked them. The ducks seem to be eating more, I don't know if it is because they are beginning to lay eggs or because they haven't been out as much lately. I really wish I had a video of the "incident" the other day when the cat was very casually walking down the driveway, playing it totally cool and the ducks noticed him. The ducks, being both quite curious and impressively dumb, took off after him, en masse, to investigate this new animal. The cat, upon noticing the interest of the ducks, took off like a rocket. I think the ducks were somewhat disappointed. The SB reported they were trying to have a conversation with our resident groundhog the other day. The groundhog was more interested in lunching.

The fall garden is coming along, some things better than others, but one really exciting thing... I saved seed from my lettuce plants this spring and planted them among the cabbage seedlings and what do you know, they came up and are now sprouting like gangbusters! With luck, there is going to be some serious lettuce in a few more weeks....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The brown one is a chicken egg for comparison. And yes, the duck egg on the right is wet not naturally shiny. I had to rinse it off. They are quite lovely and they taste pretty much like chicken eggs but more so. Sort of like the difference between chicken and duck meat. Go figure.

To date I have gotten 4 eggs. The most recent dropped in the middle of the duck yard with a super soft shell. I am not eating that one as it is weird and spent the whole night in a pile of duck poop.

Yesterday there was a slight scare, I went out to visit the ducks in the garden and when I offered the usual treat of a handful of greens, I noticed that Gloria was missing. She is usually first in line for treats. I called the SB, but we found her pretty quickly hiding in the tall grass. Later, I found her there as well. I thought she might be egg bound, but this AM, she was back to her normal, goofy, relatively friendly self and there was the weird egg. So I am writing it all off to that. Teh drama.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Today was the first duck egg. Found in the duck yard, no nest evidence, just whoops! there she goes.... Picture soon. With the review/recipe cuz we haven't eaten it yet.... I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Close Encounters

When I got home this afternoon the SB reported that a large (VERY large) bird had buzzed the ducks while they were grazing in the driveway. He said the bird had a huge wing span and was incredibly graceful. I have heard there is a pair of eagles on the Rivanna, and a neighbor reported osprey. I suppose either of those fit the bill.

I planted what I believe are the last seeds of the season... lettuce, spinach, mustard, mache... We love us some greens - and what we don't eat, the ducks will. I have been keeping them tame-ish by periodically offering them some greens from my hands. It is the only thing they will eat out of my hands, though sometimes they eat the water fowl food (we call it the float-y food cause you put it in the water trough) out of the container I use to transport it to the cage. They are always tasting my fingers when they eat from my hands. Good thing they don't have any teeth...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No matter where you go, there you are....

Earlier in the summer the SB and I decided, bouyed by our blackberry successes, to get another bushel of peaches. I don't mean another one this summer, I mean another one in our lifetime. The last time we got a bushel of peaches was the summer I took off of college. I had started working at a strawberry farm as soon as I got home and immediately learned about freezer jam. I made about a ton of that. Then the SB's landlords were away during raspberry season, and I made jam from those. Then we bought a bushel of peaches..... If you know anything about peaches you know that they go from rock hard to fruit fly nursery in a completely unpredictable trajectory. Sometimes over night... Sometimes it takes, oh 4.5 days. Our first bushel of peaches was roughly handled and the peaches began to get brown spots immediately. We had an entire week of peach patrol. Watching for the spots and desperately trying to do something with the peaches before they went completely brown.

This time the SB suggested we bring in some co conspirators... People interested in helping with the load. No, I said, they are all going to ripen at different times, we have a whole 4 day weekend (I took Friday off last week), surely we will be able to process them all. Well, true to form, the peaches were a little too hard yesterday and absolutely at the perfect ripeness at 7:15 this morning as I was headed out for a day at the office followed by a standing babysitting gig. So. I just put the first batch in the freezer. And I have many many more to get to very very soon.... And a peach waits for no one.

They ARE tasty though and relatively easy to peel after they have been blanched. August Lady is the variety. I think I am going to put them on the calendar for next year as well.