Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring is officially here!  Blooming rhododendrons, the return of Mason and Bumble bees, and an increasing number of warmer days are all a dead giveaway of a long awaited Eugene spring.  The pace of life at The Lounge has also been in a constant state of expansion as of late.  Warmer weather not only means a whole new season of vegetable crop to cultivate, but also the return of larger backyard pests (raccoons!).  Along with the season ramping up the rate of change we have also entered into a brand new term at our respective schools, wrapped up our first term with the OSU Extension Master Gardener Program, added more birds to our flock, and were even able to fit a bit of camping in as well!  However inundated we may feel with the lifestyles we lead, not a day goes by that we don't learn something brand new that blows our minds, humbles us, then leaves us wanting to learn more.  Please enjoy perusing through our most recent adventures, and hopefully you will come to marvel at the beauty and depth of these learning experiences.  Happy Earth Week!
Khaki Campbells!  Our newest addition to The Lounge are three beautiful Khaki Campbell ducklings.  These little babes will soon be laying for us year-round.  They'll be needing a larger body of water to clean themselves/play around in, and accordingly Keegan has a solar heated vertical Tilapia pond/Duck Coop/Rabbit hutch/Food Dehydrator/Cold Frame in the works... stay tuned for that closed loop Frankenstein!

They're still a bit wary of our presence

 An ingenious chicken coop design brought to our attention by The River Cottage Cookbook written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (what a British name right??)  The design gives a whole new meaning to the term 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket'. Stay tuned for the building of our own version of this coop.

Yet another new addition, Welsummer chicks!  These ladies were discovered through the blog My Pet Chicken with the title, "The Best Chicken Breed to Choose for the Zombie Apocalypse".  Such an intriguing topic naturally piqued our interest, and these darling chicks proved to be the top pick! Superior foragers, feathered with natural camouflage, excellent egg layers, tolerant of both hot and cold climates, and do a great job at raising their own chicks; outside of being a quality post-apocalyptic layer, this breed stood out as a well-rounded quality bird.  
Check out the blog post

                                                                          And cute too!

The fryers are about 5 weeks old now.

The muscovy ducks have returned to their old home, but during our visit to their current residence we were fortunate enough to learn from a very magnanimous friend the ins and outs of harvesting a duck (mind the pun).  We returned home with one of the ducks in tow and cooked up a most delectable dinner.  Roasted duck stuffed with fennel and onions, freshly harvested salad, colcannon, cheese, pesto and fresh baked bread.  

The gracious and massive bird will provide us with several meals, the next one in line was Duck Tail Soup!   

Duck Tail Soup, fresh salad, boiled cabbage and a little Mycelium Running

 A loaf of fresh baked Rosemary Honey bread.  With Camas Country flour, rosemary from our backyard and Heavenly Honey Spring Nectar honey.  Thankfully this is becoming a frequent addition to many of our meals.

Speaking of recipes; this creation is called colcannon, and we lifted it from Steve Solomon's book Gardening When It Counts.  Basically you boil kale until the leaves wilt, add chopped potatoes, more water, and your favorite spices until you have a mashed potato-like consistency.  The benefit of preparing it in this style is that you don't lose any of the nutrients in the vegetables as you never drain the water.  Plus it's absolutely delicious.  With some of our favorite sprouted wheat berries on the side this meal was a treat

Old Lady Grey's babies are about two weeks old and their eyes are opening up!

A new play toy for the rambunctious bunnies

I spy...

 A major bonus to this school term is that the U of O's Urban Farm has become a main feature in our lives.  Not only is it a wealth of knowledge as well as a magical venue for idea sharing, it also provides us with a bounty of new and various green matter to consume!  This heaping bowl of spinach harvested from 'the Back 40' is by far the sweetest we've ever tasted.

Spring bouquet

 Master Gardener quiz!:  Identify the stigmas, style, ovary, anthers and filaments.  Is this flower perfect or imperfect?

                                                                 Sweet sweet Hyacinth bouquet

                                                                     Gorgeous begonia

                                                        A KK nap (Keegan Kitty nap)

Jenny is putting her homemade flower press (made by Keegan) to good use!  Can you identify these three plants?

 Google recently launched the Google Art Project, an open source site showcasing a vast array of artwork from around the world.  This one in particular stood out to us.  The Vegetable Garden at the Hermitage near Pontoise by Camille Pissarro

With so much whirling around us at all times it's important to slow down and appreciate the simple things in life.   See you next time

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The process of germination not only produces vitamin C but also changes the composition of grain and seeds in numerous beneficial ways. Sprouting increasesvitamin B content, especially B2, B5 and B6. Carotene increases dramatically—sometimes eightfold. Even more important, sprouting neutralizes phytic acid, a substance present in the bran of all grains that inhibits absorption of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc; sprouting also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in all seeds. These inhibitors can neutralize our own precious enzymes in the digestive tract. Complex sugars responsible for intestinal gas are broken down during sprouting, and a portion of the starch in grain is transformed into sugar. Sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains. Finally, numerous enzymes that help digestion are produced during the germination process.

"casseroles, sprouted flour, and even a tonic called rejuvelac."