Harvest season is upon us already. It seems like I’m not ready, but maybe I think this every year. The berries are coming quickly. The kale is everywhere. The broccoli and cauliflower, though big and beautiful, are already starting to turn brown. We must eat or process quickly, and this becomes my life from July to September.
I am so grateful for fresh, organic, delicious food, but it has taken some years and good planning to learn how to use all that beautiful food—and I still struggle. Learning to eat seasonally from our garden has been a process for sure. But, this week, I used the last of the strawberries and nine (that’s right nine!) egg whites from our eggs and made a strawberry shortcake birthday cake for our little boy. I picked raspberries and blueberries and cooked lo mien with fresh broccoli and carrots. I made berry pies, shared with our wonderful neighbors, and have raspberry jam on my agenda today.
And I have to speak to the amazing carrots. Ron grew three varieties of carrots this year, and one was at my special request–Oxheart carrots. They are magnificent! They are an heirloom variety from France that is short, stout, yummy, and great for the rocky earth here in Maine. They can apparently grow to be up to a pound each and are great for storage, which is really important for us. These pictured below are just getting started, but they are already so beautiful.
We had another duck come down with bumble foot, so we have been treating her. Thankfully, she’s healing quickly, and I am more thankful for PRID and vet wrap than I can say. I also loathe the rocks. Poor duck feet! I need to pick up more rocks in the duck area, but it’s about half an acre and hard to keep up with.
We had another two hens go broody, which is bad news for egg production and for the prospect of more homemade angel food cake–and I am not sure what to do. There are methods for “breaking” a broody hen, but I always just aim for the gentler ones, which are also not as effective. We now have seven hens broody or with a brood, and we cannot let anymore hens raise anymore babies because we do not have the space for more chickens beyond the babies we already have here. So egg production is low, I get growled at and pecked every evening when I collect eggs, and we now have Vivaldi, Penelope, Beethoven, Schubert, and Pumpkin (my favorite mama hen ever) all broody, and of course, Juliet and Jane are raising babies right now.
I am worn from all of the broody hens, especially because Vivaldi doesn’t just peck when you collect the eggs. She grabs and twists. It’s pretty painful, even through the gloves. Every night, I ask her why she’s so mean. Every night, she glares at me in a way that emphasizes she just wants to be a mama. But, last year, we let Vivaldi be a mama, and though she was a great mama, she terrorized everyone else for a good six weeks!
And, this week, it rained. It rained and rained and rained. After being in a moderate drought this year and one of the worst droughts in history last year, the rain came as such a relief. The chickens didn’t enjoy it a bit, and the baby chicks had to spend the day in the garage. But the ducks. The ducks were in their element!
I think the best part of the week was a trip to the coast of Maine. Maine is such a beautiful place to me, but the coast is such a special treat. It is at the coast that I feel the most insignificant, and there’s something so wonderfully comforting to me as I remember my insignificance.