Monthly Archives: October 2013

I cooked my  first sweet potatoes this week, made sweet potato fries.

sweet potatoes ready to fry

sweet potatoes ready to fry

I fry them in coconut oil.  It’s supposed to be a better oil for high heat frying.  When done and the oil is cool enough I pour it through a paper towel in a funnel into a clean glass jar for storage.  This jar is just left on the counter till the next time.  I’ve been doing this for over a year with no problems.

Lets do a little egg production history.  I brought home 6 one day old chicks April 4th, 2012, 5 hens and 1 rooster (Jack was a surprise).  I still have all of them, the gods have been looking out for them.  On August 4th, 2012,  I got my first egg.  shortly after that all of the ladies were laying eggs daily.  About 7 months later the ladies had laid over 1000 eggs on March 14th 2013.  Well we have gone another 7 months and the ladies laid their 2000th egg, on October 22nd, 2013.  I keep track with my egg production sheets.



This is not about the Seinfeld episode.


If you add   8 cups of diced green tomatoes, 6 cups of diced granny smith apples (peeled and cored), 2 cups of brown sugar packed, 2 cups of white sugar, 2 cups of raisins, 2 lemons diced (remove the seeds everything else gets added), 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, 2 tsp cinnamon,  1 1/2  tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of allspice,  this should be about 22 cups of stuff.  I called the 2 diced lemons a 1/2 cup.

ready to start cooking

ready to start cooking

Put all of this in a large pot, bring to a boil and cook uncovered at a slow boil  (just higher than a simmer) for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally and what do you get???

Well, I did this the other day and I got 9 cups, that’s all, just 9 cups of Green Tomato Mincemeat.  Very tasty too.  My recipe calls for 8 cups of diced granny smiths,  only had enough apples for 6.  But that worked.  And the kitchen smelled wonderful.


I grow sweet potatoes in containers that I hang off of my deck.  I like the foliage all summer and the small purple flowers.  I grow my own slips. Here is a link to an earlier post with the starting of the sweet potato plants,

I have 1 large round container and 4 rectangular containers (kitty litter buckets).  To harvest I just dump them out into my wheelbarrow and pull off the potatoes.

large round container on side of deck

large round container on side of deck

4 kitty litter buckets with sweet potato plants

4 kitty litter buckets with sweet potato plants

sweet potatoes

sweet potatoes

sorry, it's a little fuzzy. sweet potato harvest 2013

sorry, it’s a little fuzzy. sweet potato harvest 2013

Not a bad harvest, some large ones and a lot more small ones.  I have them spread out  on cardboard  by the wood stove to cure before I store them in the cellar.

In my last post I wrote about pulling up my tomato plants.  I want to add, that I DO NOT compost these plants.  I bury them away from my garden.  This is to help control the tomato blight.  This blight would survive a compost season.  It probably is in the soil but I feel better not mixing it with my compost.




We’ll get to the soup in a bit.  Right now I want to update the garden.  This could be a short post, “the garden is done”  actually the garden is never done.  Looking at seed catalogs on a snowy day is a gardening activity.

The tomatoes are done.  I pulled up the plants and gathered the red and green tomatoes.  Now, I have to decide what to do with the green tomatoes.  DSCF0008I let the ladies and Jack into the garden to clean up where the tomato plants were.DSCF0012As you can see they didn’t stay just where the tomatoes were.  Jack is in with the carrots.  Not much left in this garden, some leeks, carrots and parsley.  The other garden has kale left in it.

On to the soup.  I took a walk through some of the conservation land in town the other day, looking for mushrooms.  Found a nice “hen of the woods”, about the size of a cabbage.  Cleaned it and cut it up.  Froze three, 1 quart bags and made soup with the rest.

hen of the woods

hen of the woods


Wild mushroom soup.

4-6 cups of mushrooms,  1/4 cup leeks or onions, 2-3 tbsp olive oil,  1-2 cloves of garlic,  1/2 cup white wine, 1 cup of chicken broth, 1-2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups water as needed, salt and pepper to taste.

I’m very flexible with ingredients and amounts when I make soup.

Saute the leeks and garlic in olive oil till soft, add the mushrooms and cook till they brown slightly,  add the chicken broth and wine,  simmer 10 minutes.  Puree in 2 batches in a blender adding water as needed.  Return to soup pot, add cream, simmer a couple of minutes to blend the flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh soft pretzels warm from the oven.  I have a small bowl with melted butter to dip the pretzels in.

leeks and carrots

leeks and carrots


mumsDSCF0005more mums


Some people know this about me already.  Now I’m putting it into my blog.  Is it because I have children?  grandchildren?  a wife?  an ex-wife?  a blog?  chickens?  any one of those could do it to a person.  Except the wife.  I won’t be planting a garden next year, I’m going for “a walk in the woods”.

My plan is to be on top of Springer Mt.  Georgia, March 26, 2014 and to start walking north to Mt. Katahdin, Maine.  The Appalachian Trail.  2150 miles,  estimated time to complete, 6 months.

See, I’m certifiable.

I’ve been on this planet too many years for this to be a mid-life crisis so it must be a bucket-list item or a transition into semi or full retirement.  I just don’t know.  I hope to blog about my trek and have set up a new blog for this.  I didn’t like the idea of making this blog “mygardenmychickensmyhike”.   So my new blog is at  I have been following blogs of this years thru-hikers and my absolute favorite is Karma on the trail.  You can get to her blog by clicking on her link in my blogs I follow column.


My wife and I, to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, took a 2 week vacation.  We don’t normally take a full 2 weeks off, ever.  But, we did.  There were too many things to do before we left and some didn’t get done.  The important one, of enlarging and securing the chicken run was priority #1.  We didn’t know if any of our chicken sitters, (we had three sitters stopping by to check on our flock) would be brave enough to let them free-range for a bit.  So having a larger run for them was important to us.  Peter, our neighbor, did let them free-range a couple of times while it was his watch.  Thanks Peter.

Son, David, split the days with Peter and doesn’t think he will need eggs for a while.  Thanks Dave.

And my wife’s friend Robin stopped by as she could to bring them special treats.  Thanks Robin.

We were gone for 15 days and didn’t have easy internet access.  My wife had her phone, me, I’m a dinosaur, I need a keyboard and a large screen.  So, I went cold-turkey for 2 weeks, no blogging and no e-mail.  Actually we need to add 2 more days without internet service.  While we were away, a large piece of an oak tree came down on our service wires.  The electric company had repaired their wires but our Verizon service was still out.  All is working again.

Two weeks away was almost too much for the both of us, we were ready to go home and see how our chickens were doing.  They survived just fine.  We did come back to FALL,DSCF0262 the leaves have changed colors and are falling, the nights are getting colder and the days are getting shorter.  The garden is winding down for the season and I have been letting the ladies and Jack into the gardens to do their fall clean-up.DSCF0261

They are happy chickens, the garden is full of earthworms, grubs and the soil is easy digging. They first stuff themselves on the worms and grubs before moving on to the salad.  Carrot greens, kale and turnip greens are their favorites.

I played in my strawberry bed today.  This bed is roughly 3′ by 12′ and divided into four  3′ by 3′ sections with a screened cover.  Those of you who read this blog know that this setup hasn’t been very successful.  I am still hopeful.   The screen cover protects the plants from the deer and keeps the chipmunks away from the ripe berries, (should I ever get any).  BUT, this cover also protects the grubs from birds, chickens, skunks and anything else that may eat them and they are thriving.  So much so that they will eat all of the strawberry plants roots and the plant dies.  Three of the sections are doing poorly so I removed the cover, pulled a few weeds and cultivated around the plants.  The grubs were plentiful.  The picture is of the grubs that I picked from just one of the sections and I know I didn’t get all of them.DSCF0250


strawberry bed


strawberry bed

I need to figure out how to let my chickens into the strawberry bed without them digging up the plants.  Suggestions anyone??

I did a rough draft of this post in my backyard, sitting in a lawn chair, in front of my garden watching my helpers do their fall cleanup.  A very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.  Well, some of it.

It is good to be home and the chickens missed us.  They put this sign up on their run.



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