05 July 2009

And it's July

And it’s July and I’m thinking about food. I made pumpkin pie for the 4th of July and a cold slice with fresh whipped cream tasted great. And baked beans and watermelon. We got beautiful lettuce from our neighbor’s garden and made a big salad. Grilled vegetables and plump hot dogs, too. Meaghen asked why I don’t make baked beans more often. This batch has pancetta instead of salt pork, and less molasses than usual. I think I’ll make the next pot with lemon grass, coriander, and honey and see if I can convert my wife, who likes her beans with cumin.
Today we sat in the back yard and ate cold, red watermelon when we were hot from lugging and cutting, hauling and tossing. Watermelon might be the most refreshing food ever grown.
This evening Meaghen made an omelette with pieces of pancetta the size of pats of butter, all sautéed and giving up their fat so the omelette could sizzle and float on a clear, fragrant film. I made swiss chard and used our last frozen tomato from last year’s harvest – wow, only a month until we start eating them from the garden again!
I’m sore from working outside much of the weekend. I’m still trying to improve the rabbit cages and chicken housing because I don’t have a good system for managing the urine and poop of the rabbits. I’ve suspended the rabbit cages so the cage floors stay clean, and currently the waste is falling onto a big sheet of 6 mil plastic, which I haul out every few days and dump. It’s a bit messy, and when we go on vacation in a few weeks the set up is pretty awkward for the neighborhood kids who will water and feed the animals.
After much talk we finally got more chickens. We have just four pullets (immature hens) now and we look forward to eating fresh eggs in a few months. But their housing isn’t finalized, either. What we currently use is fine while the weather is nice; I just keep them in a big cage and move it around every day, but we have such cold winters in Minnesota that better housing is needed for half the year. And with only four birds they won’t keep each other very warm. So, with both the rabbits and chickens, it’s winter that makes things more complicated. A urine-and-poop collection system that works in July may be unmanageable when it’s -20°F outside.
Our rabbits are due to kindle (give birth) any day now. I put the nesting boxes back in on Friday and the two does are beginning to pull fur from their chests and make the boxes, which are lined with hay, cozy and comfortable. Meanwhile, the ten bunnies that were born in May still aren’t large enough to butcher; I thought they’d grow a bit quicker.
Finally, I’m frustrated with my favorite fava beans. We inevitably have a spike of very hot weather sometime in late May, just when the favas are flowering. This leads to many dropped flowers and half-filled pods. I’m a little confused. Favas are grown and eaten throughout the Mediterranean basin, much of which is as hot as any weather we have here. Why aren’t they more heat tolerant? Do we only have varieties that were developed for England’s long, cool spring? I’d like a few varieties that tolerate the heat better.

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