How ‘Bout Them Apple Trees!

Hen fruit is not the only food we harvest here at the Hipster Hen Ranch!  We’ve also got apples!  A couple years after we moved from the city out here to the ranch, we decided that any good homestead needed apple trees and that for this homestead, the time had come.  So I picked up my Gurney’s catalogue and ordered four trees which Gurney’s then sent through the mail.  They could come through the mail because they were bare root trees.  “What are bare root trees?” you ask.  Well, when you go to a nursery and buy a tree, it will have a ball of soil around its roots.  Bare root trees have absolutely no soil around the roots—which is exactly why they name them “bare root trees”.  My name for bare root trees?  “Sticks.”   When they arrived and I tore open the box I immediately had deep misgivings.  I couldn’t imagine that these dead looking sticks would actually grow when I put them in the ground.  But that’s exactly what bare root trees do.  Nurseries grow baby trees for one to three years, then in the fall they’re dug up and all the soil is removed from the roots.  They’re stored over the winter with the roots kept moist in a cold environment, then they’re shipped to customers in the spring.  Obviously, bare root trees weigh a fraction of trees with a root ball, so they can be shipped and handled for a fraction of the cost.  Because they can be shipped at a reasonable cost, it allows you to shop for trees from a much broader geographic area and allows you access to tree varieties that you might not be able to find locally.  If you plant and maintain your trees properly, they’ll grow and prosper just as happily as a tree with a root ball.

A Carton of Eggs: Part 3 - Wild Harvest Cage Free Large Brown Eggs

This is the part three of a series about the information printed on egg cartons.  I’ve found you can learn from all that carton information once you figure out what it's actually saying.  And sometimes you can learn a whole lot by what it doesn’t say.  Today I’m going to take a look at a carton of Wild Harvest Cage Free Large Brown Eggs.  Wild Harvest is a brand created by SuperValu in 2008 to address “consumers' growing preference for organic and natural products.”  SuperValu can trace its roots back to an 1870’s Minneapolis dry goods wholesaler with the unlikely name of B.S. Bull and Company.  From those humble beginnings, it has grown to be the fifth largest food retailer in the US. 

Meet the Flock Roundup - March & April, 2017

Meet Sam! Sammy joined the flock with a bunch of other chicks of a variety of breeds in 2013. Sam was a mystery chick at first - she didn't fit the pattern for any of the breeds and I was totally kerflummoxed as far as what she might be. I should have followed the rule of thumb, that if you don't know what a hen is, she's probably an Easter Egger - since they're not a true breed (they're a cross of any number of breeds with Auracanas/Americanas). Sure enough, when Sam started growing her distinctive (and highly attractive, I might add) ear tufts, I knew for a fact that she was an Easter Egger girl. Later, when she started laying those green eggs, that confirmed it!

Here's another picture of Sam. This is a picture from 2013, right after her first adult molt. Chickens can sometimes show subtle variations in feather patterns from one molt to the next and after this molt Sam had a delicate "necklace" of light gray feather. She lost this attractive feature after her next molt and it's never shown up again!


Garlic Mustard: Invading Alien, Delicious Treat, or Both?


In the 1978 sci-fi doomsday flick, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" plant-like aliens take over San Francisco by sending out tendrils that attach to people and digest them while they sleep.  Later a large fruiting pod opens up and an exact replica of the digested human creepily steps out and sets about helping other "pod people" in their nefarious plot to take over the world.  The invading plant aliens basically take over by eating us.  It occurs  to me that the movie plot may have had a completely different outcome if we had eaten the aliens!  Don't be shocked by this.  The pod people looked like us, but they were plants! So eating them wouldn't be cannibalism - even vegetarians could participate! And for all we know those pods would be highly delicious.  Think snap peas, or okra, or peppers - all pods!

Defeating invading aliens by consuming them has been on my mind lately as I continue my ongoing battle with garlic mustard, an abominable invasive plant that happens to be as delicious as its name suggests.   Europeans have been eating this plant for a long time.  Archaeologists have found garlic mustard seeds in food residue in 6000 year old sites in Denmark and Germany.  Sometime in the 1860's somebody decided it would be a good idea to plant this culinary herb in their little garden plot in New York.  That person was no doubt horrified as the plant, freed of it's European insect and fungal control agents, grew rampantly out of control.  Garlic mustard is now considered a tenacious alien invasive species in North America and grows almost everywhere in the US and Canada (map).