Monday, October 31, 2011

Corn Bread From Home Ground Corn

My oh my, what kind shall I choose? The sweet corn dried like field corn or the Painted Mountain corn? I gave up and decided it would be a good opportunity to grind both kinds and make two batches of corn bread to test them side by side in a taste test.

We had a church Halloween party Saturday night and I could take both 9 inch square pans of corn bread for my contribution to the chili meal. That way Kirk and I wouldn't have to try and eat two pans. Something I know we'd never get done. This way we could try both and share the rest.
 I was curious to see what the Painted Mountain corn meal would look like since the kernels were of so many different colors. It was hearty and healthy looking.
The sweet corn variety looked traditional. Much like that at the store but with a far moisture feel and look. I've used this corn last year when I first tried drying sweet corn on the cob and shelling it for corn meal. It's a good way to use those not so pretty ears of corn. Just leave them in the garden to dry on the stalks. Then remove and let finish drying hanging up or on newspaper in a dry, warm place. If using newspaper, be sure and turn the corn on occasion to insure all sides dry evenly.
The Painted Mountain corn bread dough was easy to distinguish with its red and black flakes. It looked like I'd spiced it with herbs.

The sweet corn dough I've learned to not add as much sugar because the corn is naturally high in sweetener. Since my corn bread recipe is amazingly moist but tastes more like cake, I'm going to work on dropping the sugar level until it tastes a bit more bread like but I don't want to loose the moistness. Not sure if the sugar will effect that in any way. I couldn't find out the answer on the Internet.

There is no doubt which corn bread is higher is nutrients. Hands down, the Painted Mountain corn bread. Remember, the dark kernels have more anti-oxidants than blue berries and the vitamin levels are very high in this variety.
It's one of the reasons I choose heirloom seeds varieties. Our ancestors were all about survival. Fields that once grew 75 bushel now grow 150 bushel but the corn is significantly lacking in vitamins. It's no wonder the world has super sized it. You know, made the servings much larger. It takes that much to get the same amount of nutrients that you received in a small portion when our great grand parents were alive.

Some times, less is really more. So though this sweet corn, corn meal is really tasty, the Painted Mountain corn was only slightly less sweeter and held a healthy punch of nutrients. Hands down, the Painted Mountain corn stays. Now if only I can get my sweet corn and Painted Mountain corn to tassel at different times, I'd be really happy.

 The plan is to try and put the Painted Mountain corn in three weeks ahead of the sweet corn. Last year I did it the opposite way and they tasseled at the same time. Either the Painted Mountain corn matures faster. (It's known to be pretty cold hardy.) Or the weather and amount of light is the main determining factor in tasseling. I'll have a better idea by the end of next summer.

If weather is the factor then I'll have to rotate the years I grow one kind and then the other. I've not got the space to keep them from wind pollinating each other as they did this past summer. Alas, some day it would be grand to have a larger place.

 Now I want to add Painted Mountain corn meal to my regular bread to increase the nutrient levels. Maybe I'll give corn meal pancakes another try too.

When you order seeds next year, keep Painted Mountain corn in mind. It's a good addition to your garden.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Story Time

 If you are taking your two year old grand daughter to story time and they are celebrating Halloween, be sure and put on your Super Women underwear. You'll need it.
 Doesn't matter if you haven't sugared her up because she's going to be on the floor.
 ...inside the shelving, out to get a drink, flopping in your arms,
 and even doing her most disgusting habit( the one you've been trying to get her to stop doing for weeks) sticking one finger in her nose as she sucks her thumb.
You may of thought story time at the library was for children but really it is an exercise program for adults just disguised so there will be more participants. Yup, I've had my advanced aerobics today . LOL 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breakfast Sandwiches

Tried making something new for breakfast, an egg sandwich. Not quite your average egg sandwich since the eggs were from our hens making them a flavorful addition far above what you buy at the grocery store and English muffins made from my sourdough who's start is well over a hundred years old.

The sandwiches were intended to go in the freezer. That way my hubby could grab one and take it to work to reheat during his morning break. It didn't happen but maybe your will make it to the freezer but first, if you aren't already making your own sourdough English muffins then give these a try. The directions are on one of my earlier blogs. Just click on the below link for instructions.

When I made my sourdough muffins, I was in a hurry and not thinking or I'd have used my newly purchased egg cooker, thing a ma jeeggies, that keep your egg from running around the pan. It's the black ring shaped thing in the photo. Then I would have had English muffins just a little larger than the fried eggs since the dough rises a little.
The rings work quite well if you put them on a hot skillet and you grease them so the egg slips out easily. To see if I really wanted to purchase egg rings, I first used a canning jar ring. Doing the same thing, greasing the inside and sticking it on a hot skillet before adding the egg. Why a hot skillet? The egg starts to cook immediately upon contact with the pan, instead of running under the rings.

When you try out shaping your eggs with a canning ring, keep in mind you will have to lightly push the egg out as the curved shape holds the egg better than the straight sides of an egg ring.Canning rings are not a permanent solution as the heat from cooking will take the paint coating off and you will be eating it. I suspect the underlying metal is aluminum and we all know we shouldn't cook with aluminum. I found the egg rings in the USA to average just under $4 whether in a catalogue or in a kitchen store so I bought mine in the store to save on shipping costs. I should have bought a couple more than three as my cast iron skillet would hold that many so I'll just have to make another trip to the store some time. What a painful experience. LOL NOT!!, since that is one of my favorite places to shop and I have to restrain myself from going there very often. Made much easier since it is a eighty mile trip to the nearest kitchen store.
The next time I make these sandwich gems, I'm going to use sausage instead of ham, just to give that combination a try. As for the mustardy sauce you see underneath the ham, it is just a little mayonnaise with mustard to give the whole thing a little moisture and zing. I'm going to add a few spices next time also to jazz these sandwiches up and a honey mustard.

What you don't see in the picture at the top is the cheese. In my hurry, I forgot it and placed the sandwiches in the fridge to cool off before placing them in the freezer. It's what comes from pushing the multi-tasking a bit too far.

The next day, I remembered and added the cheese but the sandwiches never made it to the freezer. Our stomachs claimed them. After all, there were only three and it was a really hectic day yesterday which started at six a.m. with my swimming laps at the local pool. Then I did livestock stock chores and got supplies ready to go out an shrink the bee hives down for transporting them home, then it was doctor, worm, trim hooves on Gracie and...... You know, you've had many a day just like mine. Well, maybe not the treating the yak part, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, the sandwiches came in handy. So if you aren't already making sourdough English muffins, give them a try. They are yummy. Then take them to another level by creating breakfast sandwiches with them. You or your special someone will be delighted. Mine were. Well, almost all my special someones as I do have one daughter who is not fond of eggs. She wouldn't love these. But, she can have her sandwich without the egg. I'll even heat it up so the cheese melts. YUM!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Disappearing Bees Question

I received a question in response to my Disappearing Bees blog that made me hit the Internet for the answer. This is the question.

Does GM affect bees in any way? Just wondering. Interesting article.
Naturally Carol

Carol, you will find an excellent article at the below website which answers that question very well along with others posed with the Colony Collapse Disorder problem in bees.

I've included a couple paragraphs to peak your interest.
[Genetically modified seeds are produced and distributed by powerful biotech conglomerates. The latter manipulate government agricultural policy with a view to supporting their agenda of dominance in the agricultural industry. American conglomerates such as Monsanto, Pioneer Hybrid and others, have created seeds that reproduce only under certain conditions, often linked to the use of their own brands of fertilizer and/or insecticide. These seeds are genetically engineered to produce only infertile seeds, which farmers cannot replant, also to mention that the bees that are trying to collect pollen, found to have their digestive tract diseases, such as amoeba and nosema disease”12. These diseases are mainly located in the digestive tract system. After studies of the autopsy, the most alarming trait is that the lower intestine and stinger have discolored to black vs. the normal opaque color, Synominus with colon cancer in humans.

The genetic modification of the plant leads to the concurrent genetic modification of the flower pollen. When the flower pollen becomes genetically modified or sterile, the bees will potentially go malnourished and die of illness due to the lack of nutrients and the interruption of the digestive capacity of what they feed on through the summer and over the winter hibernation process.

Terminator Seeds   Lastly, “leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that Canada wants all governments to accept the testing and commercialization of “Terminator” crop varieties. These seeds are genetically engineered to produce only infertile seeds, which farmers cannot replant, also to mention that the bees that are trying to collect pollen, found to have their digestive tract diseases, such as amoeba and nosema disease”12. These diseases are mainly located in the digestive tract system. After studies of the autopsy, the most alarming trait is that the lower intestine and stinger have discolored to black vs. the normal opaque color, Synominus with colon cancer in humans.]

In other words, lets kill off the bees and sell to farmers seed that won't produce another crop so they have to come to the company once more. Control, greed, seeking of wealth, plain and simple, that's what it is.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Calundula Flower Infusion

 Just a few blossoms left on the new patch of Calundula flowers. I threw some seeds in from the front yard early this year, the flower bed I got rid of, and I've waited until now to pick them. I wanted to make sure the ones in the back yard had lots of seeds to fall to the ground and to re-sprout next spring. This flower is a hardy, frost resistant plant giving me a feeling of sunshine when almost everything else is dead and gone. 

I've used this flower blossom dried in soap since it is great for soothing the skin. This winter I want to make a few different recipes of lip balm and Calundula would be a great addition.

So I did a Calundula flower infusion in olive oil, a common ingredient in lip salves. I came across instructions for several ways to make the infusion. One in a crock pot, one the sun tea method, and one on the stove top.

I had only a few flowers and knew with so little, it would burn in the crock pot. The sun isn't very powerful at this time of the year to use the solar method. That left cooking it on the stove. Not easy to keep the heat down low enough with only a cup of olive oil, just enough to cover the flowers. So I turned the stove on and let it heat up and turned it off, and turned it on, and turned it off again.
When done, I strained the flowers off through my milk strainer, using a milk straining pad. You could use cheese cloth. What was left was a lovely green liquid. 

I put the pint jar of fluid in the back of my refrigerator and it may sit there for a month before I get around to ordering the other things I need to make salves. But as they say, "Make hay while the sun shines." and I had calundula flowers to pick. After Tuesday when snow is fore casted, that may not be the case.

What's your favorite lip balm ingredient?  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Disappearing Bees

(Pictures are all furnished by yours truly of various kinds of bees.)
I promised to talk a tad bit about Colony Collapse Disorder. I watched a very fascinating film called Vanishing of the Bees by Ellen Page on Netflix. The CCD problem is complicated, making the process of getting the attention of the USA government difficult. Especially since it is more interested in money and power than balancing anything like the environment. I'm not talking about using corn as a fuel, which has caused a huge imbalance, drastically increasing livestock feed prices, diverting fields that would have grown another food crop to growing corn, which is responsible in part of dramatically increased food prices in the grocery store.

Not to mention that it takes more energy to manufacter the corn based fuel than what it creates. And the wind power causes some serious problems to the environment also. Yes, money is the root of the movement, not saving the environment. Not that these things don't have some promise. We are just jumping the gun on mass production and looking to them as our savior to the mess we've gotten ourselves into with our greedy waste.

Money and power, it's what gets things done. So it isn't any surprise that the Environmental Protection Agency has ignored and failed to react to what appears to be the base cause of CCD or Colony Collapse Disorder. They are going to continue to base their belief that the systemic pesticide is a blessing and poses no real threat to honey bees based on the manufacturers testing. They proved that adult bees exposed for three days to the pesticide were fine.
Of course a bee only needs to eat three days out of every year (lie) or is it that a little bit is okay so a lot is also. You and I both know that's a bunch of bull. What about the young? They like any other young are more vulnerable to such things but they were never tested.  

If things keep on course, the loss of 1 in 3 hives effected by the disorder and in some areas the 44% loss of hives will mean a huge decrease in crop production. I've heard that in some areas, they are already hand pollenating things such as almond trees. And what about the bee keeper? He will be out of a job. Some bee keepers with vast amount of hives are now refusing to take their bees to fields that have been sprayed with the pesticide. They can't afford it and bee keepers, like myself, have a real affection for their bees or they wouldn't be doing it. I'll guarantee, it isn't the money. Bee keepers don't make much.
So what's the big deal? What if we loose our bees and other pollinators? Well, we wouldn't have to worry about what's for dinner. There wouldn't be many choices. The grocery store shelves would be bare. No fruit-- no vegetables, just grain. They are safe since they are pollinated by the wind. Keep in mind it wouldn't be just the honey bees lost, but vast numbers of other insects. Too bad this doesn't include the mosquitos or I might consider it for two seconds - at least. LOL 

Don't think this hasn't caused some serious thought for some big wigs for they have planned for a new future. One where we import all our fruits and vegetables and America becomes a grain capitol. Since less than 10% of the crops imported to America are inspected, that ought to work out real well. NOT!!!

But wait a minute, its worked out so well importing nearly all our oil. Okay, maybe no one is arguing that point but come on, can't these people make parrelel comparisons? Oh yeah, they don't care about that. If you are rich, you can live in a different world than the rest of us. 

Bee keepers and some researchers in a number of countries, feel they've found the culprit, systemic pesticides. But since our Environmental Protection Agency here in the USA doesn't do any of its own research, but depends on that which is provided by the companies vying for approval of their products, the EPA considers everything hunky dory and hence are doing nothing. Doing nothing makes certain people a lot richer.
Systemic pesticides are scary. They can't be washed off like the old kind of bug killers. So cleaning your fruits and vegetables you buy in the store to wash off the pesticides is fast becoming a thing of the past. Systemic pesticides are applied to the seed or the leaves and this pesticide becomes a part of the vascular system of the plant expressed through the pollen, nectar, and gulation droplets. It is in the fruit, not just on it. 

Worse than that, the pesticide them becomes a part of the soil to be taken up by the next crop grown. What do you bet it kills the micro-organisms also. This is the soils doctors, nutritionists, transportation system, everything that is responsible to create a healthy crop.

The insects, of course eat any part of the plant, and dies. Makes me wonder what it is doing to us. Probably lowering our days on the earth, I'd guess. How do you clear a contaminated soil to even think of growing organic after wards. Makes me think of nuclear fall out.

Testing proved that Honey bees behavior on organic blossoms was of course normal. On systemic pesticide applied plants, they acted dramatically different. Bee acted disoriented. Some even fell off the blossom.

Bee keepers don't think it is any coincidence that at the same time this pesticide was introduced to countries around the world, that CCD appeared at the same time of introduction.The direct link is a bit hazy though since it isn't CCD alone that has caused dramatic bee losses.  Exposure to this pesticide destroys the immune system of honey bees leaving them vulnerable to disease and mites which in turn also destroy them.
(healthy brood)
Interestingly, many of these hives where almost no body is home still have a laying queen inside doing a good job laying a perfectly normal brood pattern. Those of you familiar with bees know that nobody leaves the queen willingly. She is the whole hives existence and everything revolves around her. The have to go insane to abandon her and the brood, (baby bees). 

The other concern posed by the film is the emphasis on crop yields. A field that once produced 75 bushel 20 years ago, now produces 150 bushel. Progress -- I don't think so for it is much like the dairy cows of today and 20 years ago. Oh the cow produces a whole lot more milk but the cow doesn't produce any more vitamins and nutrients than she did 20 years ago. Hence, that means the milk today has significantly less nutrients and is mainly white colored water. Crops are the same, far less nutritious than they once were. This is another case where more is not better, it is just more.

And I'm not even going to attempt to talk about genetically modified seeds. It won't be long and we will have messed things up so bad we won't have anything to eat.

That is why I grow organic, heirloom varieties in my garden and am trying to learn ho to produce what we eat-- even grain -- just in case.  

So go ahead and watch Vanishing of the Bees by Ellen Page. It is VERY well done documentary. I didn't snore once.
And if you want to learn a little about pesticides check out this web-site. We all need to make a safe haven in our own backyard for the bees. If they don't survive, neither do we.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Harvesting Buckwheat

Buckwheat, a favorite of honey bees. Who can blame them? This plant flowers and flowers and flowers giving them lots of delicious food. Yes, I realize that is a fly on the buckwheat flower but they have to eat too and none of the honeybees would hold still long enough to photograph. Besides, the fly is dressed in a color coordinating outfit adding quite nicely to the picture.  
This was my second year of growing buckwheat. Last year, I planted some late in the season and it never reached the seed stage. It was a green manure project to break up some hard clay soil. It worked. I also learned that the fifty days it said on the package was not nearly long enough in our area to grow a crop to harvest, for buckwheat is not frost tolerant.

So this year, I planted early in June and harvested in late August and September a little more in early October. I threw some seed amongst part of the potato plants and under the sunflower seeds. Bad move in the potato patch since the buckwheat did well, the potatoes did not. Stands to reason since they both have extensive root systems and buckwheat is aggressive.

 Yet, under the sunflower seeds they did okay.

Before embarking on this project I hadn't done my research. now don't be so shocked. Oh, I did check out its green manure aspects but not the grain harvesting part. Bad move. But even if I had, I still would have come up short for every area is just a bit different than another because of the soil, weather, and growing season length. 

The biggy that I hadn't checked out and found out was one plant will have both blossoms and developed buckwheat seed, with the lower blossoms forming seed before the upper ones. That means you either have to harvest plant by plant when  75% of the seeds have developed or crumple off the seeds from the lower stems while leaving the plant intacked and producing seeds on the higher stems. And my plants seem to be growing at very different stages of development meaning a large group was never at 75% seed development at one time compounded by the problem that all the seeds were broad casted in a area not allowing me easy access to individual plants.

So the next time I plant buckwheat I'm going to do things differently. 
1. I'm going to plant in plots that I can reach across for maximum harvesting capability since I don't have room to plant a large area and harvest when the 75% of the seeds are developed if they develop in that manner.

2.I will plant when I plant my green beans to ensure a seed crop.

3. Since lots of the seeds will naturally drop to the ground before I can get them harvested, ( because this is a time consuming plant) I will plan accordingly will the crop that will follow rotation behind the buckwheat.

4. I will be growing buckwheat not as a large food storage item but as an educational project since I simply don't have enough area to get the yields necessary for a substantial amount. Now this doesn't mean it isn't worth growing. I also plan in the future to grow rye and wheat. It is so I have a very basic understanding in case it becomes necessary in the future for us to produce our grains.

You might think I'm a bit paranoid and say as many others have told me that someone will always want to grow food for us if the are paid. The truth is someone is being paid now and very few want to grow food for us. The average age of the farmers in the USA is 57 years old. That means fifty percent are older with retirement age of Americans being between 65 and 67. Eight more years for the average farmer. And fifty percent are younger with most of the farmers I know don't have children who want to take over the farm.

What would happen if in a few years we lost fifty percent of our farmers? Two things, either we would get most of our crops from other countries like we do our oil and believe me this has been talked about by huge organizations.  Or, huge companies like Kelloggs will have bought up fifty percent of our crop land. A monopoly means control. 

So... just in case, I'm learning all I can for the tough days ahead that this will all need to be sorted out.  

This year, my efforts were with buckwheat. After all, I kind of like buckwheat pancakes. I only had them a few times but they weren't bad. I think they could grow on me.

And before I go any further and possibly lead you astray, buckwheat isn't a cereal grain but a fruit seed related to rhubarb and sorrel. Kind of reminds me of wild rice which isn't really rice at all. I guess things sometimes get put into catagories of things they remind you of instead of what they actually are.
With this goal to learn to grow as much as possible of what we eat, I've added learning to cook with whole grains on a much higher level than presently. That's part of my winter goals.

So I crumbled dried buckwheat seeds and flowers into a bowl whenever I had a little time. And I scrunched the seeds, leaves, and spent flowers between my fingers now and then as the bowl sat on the kitchen counter, creating a nice crumbly mixture.
Then with our oldest grand daughter, my husband helped me to set up the box fan outside and we began the task of cleaning the fruit seed. This was accomplished by holding the bowl of seeds up high and slowly pouring it into a tub that sat on the ground while the fan, which was on high speed, blew away the light weight sticks, leaves, and spent flowers. Several times of this and what was left was pretty clean.
There is still a little bit of this and that extra in with the seed hulls that I've got to pick out but over pretty good. The task isn't done yet though, as I've still got the hulls to remove from the seeds. I've read of two ways of doing this. One way is to roll them under a rolling pin breaking the seeds away and the other is to grind them in a hand grain grinder and sifting the hull off. I'm going to try both ways to see which works best. What will remain is very little buckwheat seed to use in pancakes.

Yes, I could have harvested more if I could of kept up with all I had to do and if I had of planted the buckwheat in a more manageable plot. Do I try again next year? I'm not sure. I haven't decided for I do know I'm going to put in a small plot of rye or wheat. I'll admit, I'm a bit discouraged by this project. Time will help put it into perspective. I do know that there is much to learn with such a small gardening plot.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gleaning Dragon's Tongue

Remember, I said I was going to try and glean as much as I could from my dried bean patch. Not that the beans were dry but that was what kind of beans they were, the soup kind.

There wasn't much to glean.
It took much longer than I thought for the Dragon Tongue beans to reach the dried bean stage and since I planted them rather late, it didn't happen. Nope, I didn't get the dried beans I wanted.

I know from last year that these purple streaked beans are sweet and yummy eaten fresh but last year I hadn't grown them to the dried bean stage where I could use them in soup. My goal being to find dual crops such as this that can be eaten in different ways, I had planned this past summer to test them as dried beans. No, the two- fresh and dried - weren't going to happen in the same year as our season is very short and my garden not big enough to raise a dried bean patch and a fresh bean patch of Dragon's Tongue.

But undaunted, even though I wasn't going to get a dried bean crop, I still went out to the shriveled mess to see if anything was salvageable for the chickens. It wasn't. But I figured I'd try seeing if any of the fatter bean pods could be opened and the seeds dried for an addition to the stew pot.

Fulfilling my goal this year to learn to use my garden to its fullest.

I began feeling pods searching for large lumps.

As I bent, my poor damaged back soon began to ache. That made me think of my great grandpa on my mother's side. He wasn't a very big man but I pictured him, like myself, bent over searching for a few beans to put in his sack or bowl.

This isn't a memory of my own but one borrowed from stories told by my Aunt and Mom for Great Grandpa died before I was born.  They tell of a sweet little man who spoke very little English and how they use to ask him if they could have something or do something and since he didn't have a clue what they were saying, he'd say, "Yah!", in his native Swedish tongue. They'd then use that as an excuse when they got in trouble with Grandma.

"Grandpa said we could." they'd chorus in defense. 

The same trick couldn't be used on Grandma as she not only spoke Swedish, they both being Swedish immigrants, she spoke English very well also. I'm told Grandma was a domineering socialite who half ran the Baptist church and how could she do that if she couldn't speak the language of her new land? 

Money was tight for these immigrants with a good sized growing family. To help make ends meet, she wove rag rugs on her hand built loom that Grandpa had put together with wooden pegs and sold them.

I know about this little detail because I have the loom. It's in terrible shape with gray weathered lumber and many of the parts missing. Maybe I should just throw it away. I keep saying I'm going to. But as I write, I'm thinking I should take another look at it and see if I can't cut it apart, saving those pegged pieces, to build something else. Something much like a scrap quilt. A quilt like this Grandmother's daughter, my grandmother, made for me and I made for our children by cutting up used clothing and sewing the pieces together to create a blanket of memories and warmth. 

Some of those quilts are pressed firm in my mind as time after time I perched on the bed, staring down at the pieces and reliving the memories they stirred. Surely, I can do something like a scrap quilt, something that would preserved the borrowed memories of my two Great Grandparents.  

I wondered as I worked sifting through the frost wilted patch, how Great Grandpa had the patience to go through the farmers fields after they were harvested, picking up bean by bean until he had a sack full to feed them to put in the bean pot when the cold winds blew.

It took me a while to make my way through the wet wilted leaves, my mind drifted back even further to Ruth and Naomi in the Bible and how they gleaned from the fields of Boaz.
You might not think I got much for my efforts as there were only enough to cover the bottom of a small bowl after I sorted them.

 But it was much more than beans that I gained from my efforts. For a little while, I took a journey back into history and felt what my Grandpa felt. Walked in the sandals of Ruth and Naomi gleaning the very last seed and with this journey, I got to know them a little better. As with many things, it was the journey, not the destination, that held the most reward.
The story might end there except, this week Cliff, in Wilder, Idaho,  contacted me and said he was raising Kinghorn Wax beans for Lisa who is the owner of Amishland Seeds. She saves rare, Organic seeds.
He reads my blog and noticed a post about my grandpa Kinghorn's beans. He wanted to know his first name and now, thanks to him and  Lisa, Grandpa's full name, Eldon Kinghorn will be included with the description of the beans in her catalogue.

Thank you Lisa and Cliff, this means a great deal to me and my family who treasure the memories of our dear Grandpa Kinghorn.

As many of you know, I'm really impressed this past summer with the yield of Grandpa's beans. My daughter found similar testimonials on the Internet, so give them a try in your garden.
But what does this have to do with Dragon's Tongue beans? Well,  I really like these three dark purple bean seeds. They are very different from the rest. What if I, like my Grandpa Kinghorn took these three beans and planted them. Just as Grandpa took a few beans that had very small black spots and kept selecting for smaller and smaller black spots until they weren't any. Only, I'd be doing the opposite. Mayby, eventually, I'd gain a crop of dark purple bean seeds.

I wonder if they would have a much higher nutrient level and higher antioxidants just like the dark kerneled Painted Mountain corn has much higher levels in comparison to the lighter Painted Mountain kernels? Something to ponder about. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Honoring Our WWII Veterans

Off we went yesterday to see Kirk's dad and hear all about his trip to Washington D.C. on the last Honor Flight from Wyoming. Kirk's dad and his brother are the two veterans in blue shirts in the center of the picture. Here they are riding a bus with others bound for Cheyenne, Wyoming where they were included in the last eighty Wyoming veterans of WWII to make the flight who wanted to go and were able to go. 

Since 2009 Wyoming has been sending veterans to the WWII memorial, expenses paid, at a rate of 100 to 160 vets per flight and this was the sixth and final flight. More than 600 veterans were flown over the past few years courtesy of volunteers and private donations.  

Kirk's dad was the youngest, at 85, of the eighty vets on this final  flight. Doing a little research on the Honor Flight Networks background, I found the following informative site:

The program started in 2005 and spread to many states. I found it interesting since Kirk's dad is 85, that a man who was his age in 2010 would have been 18 on D-Day. Yes, Kirk's dad served during the final days of the war.
Men and women of the military lined the streets of the Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming to salute these honored guests and as they prepared to fly out another group from the Air National Guard lined up to pay their respects.
Then when they flew into D.C. a group of citizens lined the airport lobby...

The children eager to hug these vets who are now veteran in another respect -- veteran grandpas, well versed in giving little ones hugs and kisses.
Our Wyoming representatives also paid tribute to them. Senator Borraso is standing here with Kirk's dad and Uncle.
And military personnel and citizens lined the sidewalks into the WWII Memorial as they past.
Each wreath on a pillar represents a state.
Wouldn't it have been an honor to journey with these men and seen there reactions and had been able to say our own great big Thank You?

May we always be grateful to those who serve us in the military and the sacrifices they make that we might freely go on with our everyday lives.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Busy, During My Down Time

 When I'm resting, watching a program on the Internet, I like to stay busy. Lately, I haven't been spinning, just too tired to pedal but my hands have been busy knitting.

A few of us are going to do an Etsy thing a ma jig and we are making some things to sell. I have no idea how to price what I make but I'm hoping someone else in the threesome does. This crazy small hat is one of those items. It is hand spun and hand knitted. The zig zag pattern is something I saw on a cowl type scarf on the Internet. There wasn't a pattern for the scarf but after studying the picture I came up with my own version converted to fit a hat.

Because each row has two colors, which means two yarns, the hat is extra warm and the best part is it used up a bunch of little balls of yarn I had left over.
 This hat is another of those, yarn left over, projects. The bright neon yellowy - green on the bottom will fold up under and give extra warmth to some one's ears and the stripes will be transformed into plaids. I'll tell you how when I'm finished but my husband is giving me the, "Hurry up." sign so I'd best go. We are going to see his dad and hear all about his trip to Washington.

Wyoming honors its WWII vets by flying them to D.C. for a two day tour. Eighty vets were on this particular flight. I think it is an awesome thing for our state to do. I think they have done one flight per year and they must be about at the tail end for Kirk's dad was serving during the last part of the war.  

Do any other states in the U.S.A. do this?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harvesting Sunflower Seeds.

 I picked all but a couple sunflower heads today after cleaning out the storage shed. I've wanted to grow sunflower for quite some time now but frustration reined every time I looked in a catalogue. The descriptions told what color the flowers were and just how beautiful they are but zip -- zilch about the seeds.

And though sunflowers, what ever color they are, are one of my favorite flowers, I was growing them not just to look at but for their seeds. 

Those of you who feed the birds know that black oil sunflower seeds are what you see in all the birds feed mixes. I buy fifty pound bags of black sunflower seeds to mix with my other livestock feed. One mixture I feed to my chickens and another to my goats. Cattle also benefit from eating black sunflower seeds but I haven't put the yaks on them yet. Maybe this winter when they need more nutrition and calories to stay warm. As for horses, I'm not sure if sunflower seeds are recommend for them or not.

As part of my new effort to grow a little feed for my livestock so I'd know how if I had to in the future, I decided sunflower seeds would be a good place to start.

Organic seeds of course since my garden has nothing but that. And now that I've watched a film on the Colony Collapse Disorder in bees, I definitely want nothing else but. They think they have found the reason and it is a new type of pesticide that was introduced to crops. It is pretty scary stuff but I'll talk on that later.

My catalogue search go me nowhere and then I became busy with other projects. Looking back on it, I guess I should have called some catalogue companies but calling is something I don't do well. Not that I don't have phone manners but for some reason I prefer face to face and have a hard time making myself pick up the phone. I'm guessing it has something to do with my Autism for I've had the problem since I was old enough to talk on the phone.

 Anyway, in frustration, I just grabbed a couple packets of Martha Stewart's organic sunflower seeds off the rack at the hardware store and popped them in the ground with a Doris Day kay...,, what ever will be will be, attitude.

Sure enough, what I'm harvesting is people sunflower seeds. How do I know, well, the seeds are white with gray streaks, not black. 

What do I care since both the gray striped and the black striped can be fed to birds and livestock? Something I know for a fact because the birds have been helping themselves to sunflower seeds still on the plants in the garden and of course the Internet said so. 

 So why are commercial black seeds in bird seed mixes and not the white with gray striped even though the white with gray striped seeds are larger? Because black sunflower seeds have more nutrition and are higher in calories than the gray ones. The black are also meatier having a larger seed to shell ratio and the shell is thinner making it easier for the birds to crack.

I'd guess the size difference is why people get the gray ones and animals and birds the black ones. Maybe the gray ones taste better too, not having as much oil in them. I don't really know, I guess I should crack some of those black ones I have for the livestock and find out. 
I do know that this head is not ready to pick even if my fingers were strong enough to dislodge the seeds from the head. See how white the seeds are? They are plump which is what you want but the gray stripes haven't appeared yet. It is when the stripes appear that the birds appear eating the seeds on the outside of the heads where they ripen first and work their way toward the center.
Plump and striped is the two key things you look for but even at this stage it takes some strong fingers to work the seeds out. I'll clean out the vegetation and then spread out the seeds and let them dry some more. When they are fully dry, I'm going to salt some like you do pumpkin seeds and the rest I'll mix with the rest of the sweet corn I'm shelling. The last batch went to the chickens.

As for what I'm going to do next year, I'm not sure. I definitely want to go organic and I guess I'll have to do that thing I don't like to do and make a few phone calls to the organic catalogues companies that I use each year and ask them which of their sunflowers produce black seeds. 

And I'll tell you all about the film on bees which tells the tale about the search for the missing bees and the cause in another post. For now it is chore time and that means supper time for us too.