Friday, October 28, 2011

Fall Spiders

As the cooler weather has set in, the spiders have busily been making webs and nests. Our orb spider which has been living in the basil has finally made a very large nest which we discovered the other day while harvesting the basil.
Here is a photo of our orb spider earlier this year:

This strange-looking spider appeared in the okra which is where a lot of strange-looking bugs have been!
If you look closely, it appears that the green-bodied spider is sitting on top of a nest. The legs on this spider are really fascinating! They are almost clear and covered in spiky black hairs. It also has a long, ovoid green body.

 This small spider seems appropriate for Halloween as it approaches. It was hiding on the grapes and was quite a surprise when it appeared!
Look for the orange-topped spider on the grape on the right

Monday, October 24, 2011

Crazy Cardinal

We had a visitor for most of the summer and, while we thought he had moved on or gotten over his fascination with his own image, he showed up again last week! He has been enamored with our back door which is glass and the side mirrors on our cars. Charlie set up this mirror for him on the porch in order to distract him. Have other people seen obsessive antics like this out of birds? We wish there was something we could do for the poor little fellow, we just hope he does not reproduce so as not to create another one like him!  We also listen for the lesson being offered through this beautiful bird with such annoying, to us, behavior.
Stand off

Perched for attack


Our crazy cardinal on the deck

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Drying Basil

The basil has reached the end of its growing season. The seed blossoms have been growing tall and gangly, so we decided to cut them back.
While the seed blossoms are pretty, we have been told that they create a bitter flavor in the leaves as they grow taller. They have been growing more rapidly lately and it has been hard to keep up with them!
The seeds inside of the pods are very tiny and will turn black after they mature.
The leaves on the PURPLE BASIL have been beautiful all summer, but recently since it has been getting chillier the edges of the leaves have become brilliantly green.
We made pesto earlier in the summer and have resorted to drying the leaves as we are swamped by everything else coming in at the same time!
Dried basil

Dried basil in jars

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Feeding the Guineas

The guineas and their newfound excitement
 The guineas are getting larger and have finally picked up on us giving them insects, usually attached to pieces of a plant. They have been rather shy for some time, but because we have been tossing insects to them, they have come to like our visits to their pen.
 The grasses in our yard have started to seed, and since the guineas have not taken much of a liking to the fruits and rinds we give the chickens, we started giving them the tall grass blades with the seeds.
 They love it! They will thrash around in a pile of grass looking for the seeds immediately after it hits the ground!
It will not be long before the guineas will be ready to be let out during the day in order to free range for their food and explore the property.  See how bright orange their legs and feet are.  That is characteristic of keets or young guinea fowl.  As adults they will have dark legs and feet.

Drying Okra

We have been overwhelmed with okra lately as it pushes through for the end of the season. We have been drying so much okra that it seemed about time to take photos of our process! First we rinse the okra and put it on a towel to drain.

 The okra pods are steamed for 3-4 minutes.
Okra in the steaming basket

The steaming basket in the pot on the stove

Our little timer counting down!
 The okra then cools on a rack for a few minutes. These little slimy pods have now become even more slimy!
Cooling okra pods
 Then each pod is sliced up.
Jan slicing okra
Jan has a knack for slicing each pod evenly
 The sliced pieces are put onto a rack in order to be placed in the dehydrator.
Sorting the okra pieces onto the rack

Seven hours later we have dehydrated okra, ready to store for the winter, and to enrich our soups when cold weather brings an end to fresh vegetables.