Monday, April 23, 2012

cover crop and good neighbor

we did a cover crop this year in our vegetable growing beds. our local garden place has a wide variety of cover crops (and seeds galore and tools and books and much more. we like it). we chose a soil building mix of legumes: fava beans, biomaster peas, yellow peas, and sugar snap peas. an edible crop that fixes nitrogen and send roots deep.
april 13
april 21
barely visible behind the closest
  row of cover crop is the next
bed with teeny broccoli and cauliflower starts
fava bean flowers
pea flowers 

we decided to remove the fence around the little garden that came with the place. it was built in a very shaded location, so we will move the nice redwood raised beds out into the sunlight. i took off the wire fencing. seventeen posts. at least twenty five fence staples in each. then i discovered that all seventeen were set in two feet of concrete. i dug down halfway around four gobs of concrete on four posts and exhausted myself breaking the concrete off two. i was resigned to renting a jackhammer to salvage the posts.

we mentioned the post problem to a neighbor a week or so ago. this morning he drove over in his nice mid size kubota tractor and volunteered to see if it would pull up the posts. short answer…no. he did get the two posts i had dug around up out of the ground, still in their large   concrete boots.

it was a very nice gesture. we had a laugh about overdone concrete.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Brown Creeper Nest and Movie

If I hadn't noticed the Brown Creeper building its nest, I would have never guessed this beautiful puzzle of bark pieces was actually part of a nest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Monday, April 09, 2012

Ah Spring!

Sshhh... we're whispering this because we don't want to scare away the balmy temperatures and sunny skies... but we think spring has finally arrived.
These newts think so too. Sunday, April 8th was the first time we saw a cluster of them in an amorous embrace.

It was also the first time we saw a migrating Black-headed Grosbeak at our feeder. Not sure this one will stay here in the Sierra foothills or head farther north to our old backyard in Port Townsend, Wa.

We saw these jack rabbits last Sunday. There were three, but they were moving so fast, I felt lucky to get a shot of these two.

These two Canadian Geese like to come around in spring and eat the bird seed under the cedar tree. They always look for a safe place to nest, but can't seem to commit to a spot on our land. I think we'll try to fix that somehow.

The coyotes like to walk up the road. A fellow blogger and facebook friend said that this one looked like she might be pregnant. I think that's probably true. We can look forward to hearing their yips and howls all summer long.

We've been waiting for signs that the fauna give us that spring has arrived. The daffodils and forsythia had already shouted their springing yellow hearts out while still being pelted with rain, snow, and hail.

I think we can safely say we've seen the signs of spring!

PS: We had 18 inches of rain in March. We're still at 73% of normal rainfall for this time of the year, so we wouldn't mind getting more before the dry summer begins.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

All About Bread

Something you might not remember about Roger and me is that we are bread-aholics. We love love love bread, especially toast. We are absolutely the connoisseurs of toast. I've been baking some part of our daily bread intake for several years. I started using the Tassajara Breadbook recipe by Edward Espe Brown in the early 70s. It makes beautiful sandwich loaves, tall and thick. Roger and I have joked that a prison sentence of bread and water would almost be okay for us. But only if the bread were homemade and the water had a teaball of English Breakfast steeping in it. But still… bread and water works for us!
My twin brother, older brother, and sister in 2008
I grew up in a bread-lovers family. We all still remember with salivating fondness the delicious rye bread that my parents would bring home from Silvers Bakery in Newark, New Jersey. Some of you long-time readers here might remember that I tried baking rye breads when Roger and I were still up in Port Townsend, WA. They were okay, but nothing to really rave about.

Then, a wonderful thing happened, a fellow blogger and Facebook friend posted something about a bread recipe, and his accompanying picture made me want that recipe. I wrote Mark, and he sent me the Sullivan Bakery recipe that the New York Times posted in 2007. So, I gave it a try with a little tweaking (of course!). I swapped out a 1/4 c of the white flour and put in 2 tbls wheat flour and 2 tbls rye. The top photo is my first loaf. Delicious.

I googled around a bit to find more information about this recipe and found this incredibly delightful video. I thought it really helped to have a visual sense of what to expect.

We totally loved this bread, and the ease of the process. I knew I had to send this recipe all of the bread lovers we know.
Marc's farm in Virginia
My older brother Marc who lives in Virginia is a foodie-- he grows a lot of his own food; he raises his own beef; but he's not a baker. I knew if he tried this recipe that he would love it. He did, and he does. Now we write and call each other all the time with updates on our newest tweaks. The latest is closely flavored to our old family favorite: rye bread. This loaf has 2 c of white, 3/4 c of pastry wheat, a 1/4 cup of rye; 1 tbls of caraway seeds. Everything else stayed the same (1/4 tsp yeast; 1 1/4 tsp salt; 1 1/2 c water). The toast is divine.
The joy of bread cannot be overestimated ever!