All in a rush

I know I’ve been talking about spring forever, but today was a day that made it feel like we’re skipping straight from early spring to summer. They predicted 85, but I don’t think we quite made it. In a matter of hours it feels like everything has sprung.

The mint in the pot from last year grew literally 6 inches today. The hostas jumped up and said hello. The birds suddenly discovered the new feeders we put out. The broccoli is standing up proud and the lettuce is starting to look like more than a couple of leaves.

After work we met friends at the Conway Tavern about 15 miles north of here. It’s one of my favorite bars. The kind that welcomes kids, yuppies and Harley riders alike. They’ve got some of the best burgers around and the beer is always cold. We sat on the patio in the warmth of early evening with spring flowers blooming all around.

We drove home on country roads at sunset. And all the fields that were bare and cold just a few short weeks ago have now been turned and prepped for planting. The dairy cows have been allowed back out onto pasture. And the lambs are no longer so freshly cute, already starting to look more like sheep than babies.

I’ve been waiting and waiting to plant the tomatoes and today they spent a second day on the front porch. Tomorrow afternoon into the ground they go and I expect that they’ll start to shoot up in a matter of days. Although I’m burying them pretty deep to promote root growth so perhaps it won’t be so obvious.

Summer is so close now that I can taste it and I can’t wait!

Bad Pet Mama

Sometimes life gets so busy that it’s easy to miss the little details.

About 5 weeks after we moved Sterling (our 11 year old cat) started peeing in the closest where his litter box was. Not in the box, but on the carpet near it. He hasn’t used a litter box regularly for years, preferring to go outside, but with the move he’d decided to be more of an indoor cat and I was humoring him. I thought it was because I’d bought a different litter trying to be eco-friendly. So on my way out the door to go to Vegas I asked Mike to go buy some Tidy Cat and some Nature’s Miracle. I assumed that that would fix it.

Nope. He proceeded to keep peeing in the closest, so I moved his litter box from the closest in my home office to under the desk. Not an ideal spot, but I figured that he’d start going outside again when the weather got nicer. Then he started peeing under the other half of my L-shaped desk. I locked him out of the office and moved his box onto the tile in the bathroom. I thought, okay problem solved. And it was, for about 4 days.

In the meantime I remembered that years ago when we lived in an apartment we’d had this problem and it turned out that he had a urinary tract infection. So just in case I made him a vet appointment for today. By this morning we’d been pee-on-carpet free for several days and I almost canceled the appointment. Then he peed in the hallway while I was getting dressed and I caught him. Bad cat!

So off to the vet we went this afternoon. Turns out that poor Sterling has another raging UTI, likely brought on by the stress of moving. And he’s been suffering for almost a month. Poor baby! Bad pet mama!

Luckily he’s now on big doses of antibiotics for 10 days and an anti-inflammatory for the next few days. Hopefully he’ll feel better soon. Now we just have to get the last of the cat pee out of the carpet…

Urban Farming in New York

On a lighter note, and in keeping with Denise’s comment, here’s another articlefrom the NY Times. If people can figure out how to farm on vacant lots in New York, Brooklyn and Detroit, I guess there’s just no excuse for the rest of us.

It inspires me to see communities pulling together to grow the produce they want and need in areas that are often considered food deserts.

Are We Ready to Hear it?

Who will tell the people? We are not who we think we are. We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.

I don’t always agree with Thomas Friedman, but I almost always respect what he has to say and how well thought out it is. I don’t even agree with his entire editorial, but I do agree with what he said above.

We are living on borrowed time and we are deluding ourselves. We, as a country, seem to believe that we can go on the same way forever. That what matters most is what we want, that what happens in the rest of the world is interesting but not that important. That the food crisis that is perhaps just beginning is happening “somewhere else” but that it won’t affect us here. That paying $4 a gallon is unfair and something that can be fixed by repealing gas taxes. That we shouldn’t have to change our behavior or our daily habits, but instead the world should be forced to conform to our expectations.

What happened to us? When did we lose touch with the very values that made us a “great nation” to begin with? When did we lose sight of the fact that hard work and frugality and generosity go hand in hand to make us the nation we once were and want to be still.

Why can’t we see?

And then she pecked my foot

This is Wilma. She’s one of the chicks, who are now 8 weeks old.

She’s a silver laced Wyndotte and after much consideration, I’ve decided to name her and her twin Wilma and Betty. Not sure why other than that it was the first pair of women that jumped into my head when she suddenly became friendly last week. Thanks to Destabee and Twinville for the suggestion

I can’t tell them apart, so for all I know they’re both friendly, but no matter, whichever is being friendly at any given moment is Wilma and the other is Betty.

When I was sitting on the ground yesterday she climbed all over me testing each shiny spot or object to see if it was a treat. I guess my recent work trying to socialize them is paying off, or maybe they just know I’ll protect them from Steve?

Say Hello to Steve

This is our new rooster, Steve. I picked him up from my friend Denise when I was at the Edible Plant Sale yesterday. She’s long on roosters, and I decided that you can’t have a farm without a big pretty rooster.

He crowed all the way home in the car yesterday, and serenaded us periodically all day today. Luckily the hen shack and yard are far enough from the house that he adds ambiance without being annoying.

Steve is making himself right at home – cover any small children’s eyes – by making up for lost time and getting it on with the girls. He’s about a year old and Denise had him separated from the hens with another rooster. So far I’d say that his social and organizational skills are lacking, but he definitely has the sex part figured out.

The three biggest girls are pretty accepting of him and are basically acting as his harem – in particular Lucy and Maisie. Agnes isn’t a big fan, but then she’s a lot smaller than he is. She tends to ignore him and do what she wants until he makes a move, then she darts under the shed. The 10 chicks are basically operating as their own separate flock right now, but then that’s more because they’re still young than any other reason.

We’ve still got the banty rooster, but I’m hoping that Oscar and Steve can learn to co-exist. If not, Steve will be looking for another home sooner than later (sorry Denise!). Steve would have to go, mostly because Oscar is turning out to be really sweet and likeable, and Steve tends to give me the evil eye and a very wide berth so far.

Spring finally arrives?

While the weather makes me think otherwise, it seems that spring has finally arrived. At the U District farmers market this morning there were signs of it everywhere. From the bigger crowds bearing canvas bags, to the flower vendors flush with tulips, to the raabs and arugula, to the very first spears of asparagus.

Even though it was 50 degrees and raining, it still felt like spring. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through and browsing my options and thinking of all the things we can start cooking as spring progresses.

I left the market laden down with asparagus, french breakfast radishes, green onions, leeks, green kale raab, celery (!), cheddar cheese and red baby potatoes. Enough spring treats to keep us happy for a week or more.

Then I headed over to the Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale and splurged on some plant starts. I picked up some horseradish, fennel, unusual peppers, broccoli to replace mine that got weirdly leggy, a second artichoke variety and bay laurel.

It must be spring, right?

2008 One Local Summer

Nicole is hosting the 2008 One Local Summer challenge over at Farm to Philly. The challenge will run from June 1 to August 31 this year.

Essentially you prepare one meal a week using all local ingredients (100 mile radius or your definition) and write about it on your blog. Weekly recaps for each region (West, Southwest, Midwest, etc) go up each Monday.

I’ll be covering the weekly recaps for the Western region and would love to see any and all of the Dark Days Challenge participants this summer too! To join in, head on over and sign up before May 25.

Conquering Aliens

Blackberries are rampant in Washington state and we pretty much consider them an invasive weed. There is one native variety, the trailing blackberry, but all of the evergreen versions are invasive from either Europe or Asia. We’ve got some trailing out of the woods on our back property line that I think are native and I’m looking forward to picking them later this summer for pies and jam.

If you’re not careful they can take over your lot, your yard or even swallow an old barn.

Want Beef?

This is for my Washington readers only – sorry to everyone else.

Our freezer is almost tragically empty as we roll up to spring. The quarter cow that we took delivery of last June is down to the last few roasts and packages of ground beef. To bring a smile back to my face (and stomach) I’m making arrangements to get another quarter in late June / early July through a farm here in Arlington.

It’s significantly cheaper if we take a half or whole steer instead, but we can’t come close to eating that much meat! So we’re looking for at least one other person to split a half with us, or three to split a whole.

A quarter is approximately 180 pounds and the price is $3.60 per pound if we order a half steer, $3.20 per pound if we order a whole. The price is hanging weight and includes custom cut and wrap through Del Fox Meats.

We have a couple of friends considering participating, but if you’re here in Washington and you’re interested in a quarter, drop me a line this week. I’m sending in my deposit on Tuesday and would need to get your commitment and money before I mail that check.