Tuesday, July 15, 2008

That must have hurt

Many people do not know that a hen will lay an egg almost every day even if you don't have a rooster. Many vegetarians known as vegans do not eat eggs because they considered them young chicken embryos. We are vegetarians but feel better knowing that no matter how long a hen sits on an infertile egg it will not become a chick. Unless a hen goes "broody" and refuses to leave her clutch of eggs (actually laid by several hens sharing the same nest box) most of them lay the egg and go on about their business with no further thought for the thing.

If you keep chickens you know once in a while you will find an unusual egg. Sometimes there's an anomaly in the color of tinted eggs. All eggs start out as white and get "colored" as they are extruded, so to speak. Sometimes they are asymmetrical. The smallish egg on the right is delivered by Stefania, a White Crested Black Polish. This is the size all young hens lay, the eggs increasing in size as they mature. Stefania seems to be stuck in puberty.

We suspect one of the Dark Brahmas laid the gigantic egg you see spanning my husband's hand. (And we have large hands.)

Here the big egg is in perspective with our normally large eggs. Ouch!

Monday, July 14, 2008

More about Asparagus Beans

The Red-Seeded Asparagus bean is a Chinese heirloom more closely related to Cowpeas than green beans. I've seen it in Asian and specialty markets sold in bundles. I got mine for $2 from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in Missouri. You can visit them online at http://www.rareseeds.com/

You can pick them at 1-2 feet when they are still young--but I warn you they grow very fast! So sometimes we end up eating them when they are a yard long! The seeds inside are small and delicious and they do not get stringy as some beans do. Definitely a fun vegetable that should be on your list to try.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's not yarn

No, this isn't bulky yarn...it's a bean! Farmer Rick demonstrates the lengths our beans go to please us. This is our first year to try asparagus beans on the trellises. You don't need many to make a meal. They vine just like green beans and their flowers are a pretty pink. When the bean is young you might mistake it for stems of asparagus when cut up in the saute pan. However I think they are better tasting when they get longer and puffier and can absorb sauces similar to a good penne pasta.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Lack of sensability

Look who was nestled in an empty flowerpot on the patio! We relocated Mr. Black Widow spider to the woods along our creek where we are less likely to interract. You can recognize this spider's web as an erratic fiber construction, having little architectural sensability. Think of what Jackson Pollock might have created if he had been a sculptor instead of a painter.

I knew the spider was around, having seen the chaos of webbing the hummingbirds pull off my office window to use in building their lichen nests. Once I found a large female under my wheelbarrow in the garden, but by the time I came back with a ten-foot pole she had disappeared.

Wherever I have lived, I've cultivated a deep respect for spiders. I carry the ones found inside outside, and try not to disturb their webs. One summer I kept walking through a large (and beautifully architected) web that appeared across the kitchen door portal. After several collisions the spider redesigned the web with an arch to accommodate my head. We were able to coexist.

I have pondered how similar my beliefs are to Jainism. The Jains believe that all living beings possess a soul and thus great care and awareness is required in going about one's activities. According to Wikipedia "Jainism is a religion in which all life is considered worthy of respect and it emphasizes this equality of all life, advocating the protection of the smallest creatures".

The male Black Widow is much smaller than the female. He appears about life size on your screen. Both can be recognized by the hourglass icon that screams "danger!" In addition to a lack of homemaking skills, they are not too good at relationships either. I believe they get their name from the fact that after intercourse the female spider consumes the male. I will not judge them for what makes no sense to me, as I probably make no sense to them. Some days I don't even make sense to myself!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Water, clear as glass

Here's a vertical panorama (stitched together by my camera's software) of my foot three feet under water yesterday before sunset. Such is the quality of water here, both in the river and our pioneer well--a constant 65 degrees and clear as glass. In the daylight the Frio shimmers with a tinge of blue-green like the color of Coke bottles from childhood.

This 4th of July I am thankful for the river, and a life that allows me to visit it daily.
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