OK GROWERS – I NEED YOUR HELP!

With the advent of the tornado, lots of our garden produce got lost.  Some has started to come back, but I fear they will need more grow time than Mother Nature is going to provide.  The one thing we do have coming in great-guns yet is zucchini.

Here is my dilemma – what do I do with it all?

We have shredded, chopped, sliced and diced till my fingers are stuck in the hold position.  One of my fav recipes was a simple fried zucchini and onions.  Awesome, but best when fresh.

stuck in holding (stuck in holding position – ouch!)

Earlier this year I found a unique recipe to turn cubed, peeled zucchini into a rectangle pan type of cake that tastes exactly like apple pie, that alone was amazing.  We have taken several of the larger monsters and prepped the peeling, cubing and sauce then froze it.  We did a tester first to make sure it would work well after being frozen, and it did – woohoo!  Twelve biggies down, dozens more to go.

What I am asking for from you, my awesome readers is, please share your best zucchini recipes!

I don’t care if it’s peeled, sliced, diced, canned, frozen, fried, raw, baked, or whatever;  just as-long-as it will help to get rid of the invasion in our kitchen.

The funny part is we only planted three green plants and three yellow plants, yet we have enough food from them for an army (and why is it when you only plant one it will die on you?).

I have a stellar ratatouille recipe from about 12 years ago.  However fresh tomatoes work best for it.  I may have to travel to the farmers market in Denver to seek out some good garden stuff.

Please, if you have the time, share what you make best with your zucchini.  Leave a website or recipe or email me directly – it all works.  Hurry before we are forced to make a movie of Attack of the Killer Zucchini! EEEK!!

You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

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What Would You Find Most Important?

My blog post on Life Lessons Lived yesterday got me thinking about what I would find most important to have, or rebuild should something ugly happen.  By ugly, I’m talking about some type of major life-changing event:

  • Plague
  • Meteor strike
  • Major volcano explosion.
  • Zombie apocalypse

I don’t think the zombie apocalypse is a real thing, but I do love watching The Walking Dead series on AMC.  Not for the zombies (too realisticly gross), even though I love the special effects makeup jobs.  We watch for the human nature aspect of it.

Thinking on that path, what would you find most important to have around when a major disaster hits?  Much of the U.S. is still struggling from our last violent Mother Nature outbreaks.  The things I find common in all of them are these:

  • Clean water
  • Food
  • People to help with clean up
  • People to help with rebuilding
  • Good organizational skills.

We have ways on our farm to pull out clean water.  If it is not real clean, we have splurged on the bottle filtering systems.

People may be in short supply if it all goes at once.  So, we have opted for some outstanding friends and family.  We would all pull together and help to clean up and rebuild.  My other thought on that one is tiny houses.  After the Texas mess, I have been looking up all sizes and types of tiny houses.  Denver even showed their tiny house village set up specifically to help the homeless.  We have enough space that if we could figure out water and sewer, we could do it here.  At least it would house our buds until we get around to their individual spaces.

I am O.C.D. when it comes to organizing.  I MUST HAVE MY DUCKS IN A ROW AT ALL TIMES!  Yes, I am a bit nuts about this:

  • My craft room is separated into different craft projects: card crafting sorted by holidays and seasons etc.
  • My knitting is separated into the type of yarn:
    • Thick or thin, solid or self-striping colors, and then by colors: reds, greens, etc.
    • If it will only be used for Halloween or Christmas, it goes into different containers.
    • Current projects I am working on (yes, project”S” – as I can never have just one going on.  It is usually 4 or 5 at one time).
  • My beading and jewelry making is in an area close to my knitting as some of my pieces are a combination of the two. All the beads are sorted by size, type, and/or color.

This goes on, but you get the picture.  I have to know where all my stuff is or I go a bit nuts.  My grandson has ADHD/Autism and also goes a bit nuts when he cannot find something.   His room is a disaster, so I don’t go off on him, I Just remind him that if he put it back where he found it, he would now find it.  Then I help him look.

All that just left me with food.

I started to wonder.  If all the normal stuff was gone, how many people would, or could, grow their own food?  How many people could kill a chicken?  If you did kill it, would you know how to process it?  Well, while I was researching all this I came across something from my childhood I had completely forgotten and was ashamed so.

Do you know who Paul Harvey was?  Have you ever heard any of his The Rest Of The Story broadcasts?  Mom used to listen to them faithfully.  When we were home, we had the privilege of listening in along with her.  The one that I came across while searching, for me, was one of his best:

GOD MADE A FARMER

If you have never heard, or heard of, Paul Harvey; please take a moment to click the above link and allow a few minutes of peace to enter your ears.

His voice is monumental.

The story is epic.

The moral is to be followed.

We have a neighbor who has a field that runs the side of the highway on your way to Denver from Nebraska on I76.  I don’t remember exactly when he put up the sign, but I know it is still there today:

IF YOU ATE TODAY, THANK A FARMER.

Short, to the point, and true.

Just a few simple thoughts for the Thanksgiving month.

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You can also check me out on:  www.lifelessonslived.com for all the fun things I have learned in life.

JUST A LITTLE QUICKIE FOR FOODIE FRIENDS.

Don’t want to bog you all down with too much info.  I found something new for those of you that read me and know how obsessed I am with clean food.  This one comes from one of my email newsletters.  I am always on the look-out for the facts in regard to real food, not chemicalized.

This one, I felt, was worth checking into….

http://safefruitsandveggies.com/facts-not-fears

They are supposed to be answering questions, concerns, and information in regard to better, healthier, eating foods.  They quote their research, link it to where they find it, and why they feel it is relevant.  It is part of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  I do not have any affiliation with them other than believing in their work and enjoying their articles.

Hope you find them informative and helpful in your gardening efforts, I do!

8-27 bounty 1 day

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DID YOU JUST TOUCH MY FOOD?

The ugly storms that came through Colorado decided to dump moisture almost everywhere but here – boo hoo!  With the temps jumping back into the 70’s tomorrow, my hose team (which is just me dragging out a bazillion hose’s) is set up and ready to go.  Now I am thinking about what to share with you over this next month.

(When you realize your hose is old-)

cartoon hose

My thoughts, topics, and ideas usually get inspiration from all the different emails regarding farming and gardening.  Most are just shares, some are things to buy, and some are of a more serious nature.  Those of you that have been following me know how I do not care much for the serious.  I get too serious and have a bad tendency to get on my soapbox and rant.  That is the biggest reason I shy away from them – however – that being said:

I want to share that I support this organization (not financially because I am broke, but I do sign petitions and emails to the Government):

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/about-us

The reason why I connect with them instead of worrying about the FDA is simple – – – ACTION!  They are working hard to try to assure us that our food sources are decent and safe to eat.  I live for this way of life.

where food comes from

Yes, we do have to buy some things from the markets.  Yes, I do read labels.  Yes, it does make a difference to me what I feed myself and my family.  This, and more, is the reason why I follow these guys.  With all the ugly recent changes in our county of late, I am pushing more to maintain our own family food mill.

I know I have several readers from other countries and I am curious to know how you best obtain your foods?  Markets? Open Markets?  Barter? Or are you a self-supplier?  Please share as I will probably never get to go world traveling (boo hoo), I find it all interesting!  I also think there is something great to be gained with universal exchange of knowledge, especially in regard to good, clean food.

Then, on occasion, I see headlines from ezines like this:

Brazil, Mexico make first deposits to ‘doomsday’ data vault.

Which reinforces why I love to grow our own food.  They are saving seeds in a far-off hide away prepping for the end of everything.  Hmm??  I always wondered if there are people there to take care of things should it happen – AND – do they know how to farm or at least garden?  I mean really, if they save all the great seeds but no one knows what to do with them, what does it matter?  Oh, and don’t get me started on the hybrid/GMO seeds that are sterile.

really-you-did-rgoobv

So, for me there is a great sense of satisfaction when you get to eat the fruits of your own labors.  That is just one benefit of growing your own.  Some of the others are:

  • Knowing what is put into the food and the soil.
  • Giving a bit back to the earth instead of just taking away.
  • Pulling the family closer together by working on it all together.
  • Lessening the dangers of what goes into our food.
  • Cost savings by growing our own and saving our own seeds (fyi: a ton of seeds out on the market today cannot be repurposed. Most of them are treated in such a manner that they are sterile.).  We try to only use heirloom seeds.
  • Income benefit of having enough grown to give some to family and friends, yet still having enough to sell to others.

We grow our own peppers, but still to get our black pepper from the store.  We grow stevia for added sweetener, but we still get our sugar in bulk from the local beet factory (or store if needed).  On a side note, our small town local grocery storiesdont touch chocolate are outstanding!  I have requested some special items several times, and they went out of their way to provide it.  They also helped us during the fire and for that they will be eternally our friends!  You tell me if you can get one of the big mass grocery stores to do that?

We love to do bartering, trading, sharing in tons of different ways.  I think that may also come from farm, or at least small town, living.  I hope that you have connections – near or far – that you can exchange seeds, food, or just ideas with.  If I missed something here, please share!

what-did-you-lq0cwv

Why Should Something So Red and Delicious be Bad?

Sometimes the email newsletters that I receive provide some very useful insite.  This one is just such a case:   Strawberries still top the Dirty Dozen List.  By mnn (mother nature network)

silly-kissing-fruit

My faithful readers know by now that we are trying hard to grow most all of our own food.  We like to know exactly what’s going into the stuff that goes into our bodies.  Not that we are perfect by any means, but we do try our best.

We also run away from chemicals.  We use companion planting, natural gardening, and natural pest control techniques, and good old-fashioned hard work to keep our farm running.  Every year we like to try some new method or idea that is running around.  If it works great – we keep it and share.  If it doesn’t work bummer – we lose it but will still share why/what went wrong.

The above article from MNN regarding strawberries and pesticides made us sad, and a bit angry.  To us, one of the best and easiest things to grow almost anywhere is strawberries.  So why should anyone (individual or company) need to use anything unnatural to grow them?  We have grown them straight in the ground as well as a variety of pots, both doing equally well.

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I have some friends in both very moist and very dry areas that are using different pot ideas and doing quite well with their strawberries.  So why poison them?  Sad to say, but I think it is all due to vanity!

Yep, we all are guilty of this one!  We go into a store to buy food for ourselves and our families.  What is the first thing you check out?  How good does it look?  Right?  I am just as ashamed as you are on this.  I always flip over anything in containers to see if there is a molded or rotting one in it.  I squeeze my cucs to see if they are firm – if not I don’t buy them.  I smell my tomatoes, melons, and most all fruits.  I should be held accountable for some of this problem.

I allow blemishes and cut off rotting parts on our own homegrown food, but hate to pay for something that has a bruise on it – shame on me!

bad fruit

(Oh, except bananas – they taste better a bit bruised and make better tasting bread that way too.)

I love going to Farmer’s Markets to see all the produce others have to share.  I notice that lots of that are not perfect, but I am willing to pay a reasonable price (as long as they can tell me they did not use pesticides or chemicals) for it anyway.  I would love to see more Farmer’s Markets to choose from in the late summer/early fall months.  Our local small town grocery store allows the backyard gardeners to sell their extras in their parking lot during the harvesting season.  This is a great thing!  So why am I so picky about the stuff inside the stores?

cone of shame

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Just How Green Are You?

One of my fav all-around veggies is cabbage.  I am half Irish, and this is a must! (Mom would find a way to haunt me about it if I don’t!  Her side of the family has always been more fun…a bit off, but more fun!)  In honor of St. Patrick’s day, my Farmer’s Almanac newsletter sent me this winner, not like I needed any more reasons to eat cabbage, but they are interesting facts:

13 HEALTHY REASONS TO START EATING MORE CABBAGE!

Happy cabbage

One of our favorite ways to have it is fried.  You can make cabbage pockets:

fried cabbage pockets

Which are yummy too, but we prefer just to chop it up, and go with it.  Sometimes we will do it with onions (sorry, bad pun!).

We have grown both varieties of green and purple.  Even tried growing Bok Choy, but didn’t have the same appeal to us as regular old cabbage.

purple cabbags          boc choy

Since it goes so well with corned beef (we have feasted on a couple of those already), we just can’t help but get going on our annual cabbage frenzy!  Those of you that may need a bit-O-help getting their cabbage on, the almanac also gave up a fool-proof recipe, check it out!  (F.Y.I., we always crockpot ours at least overnight before slicing.  Oh, and always make sure to cut against the grain.)

This year my sister wants to try making our own sauerkraut?  This should be interesting since we do not have anything like mom’s old canning crocks (try to find them now – WITHOUT a huge price tag on them) to let it soak in.

old canning crock

If any of you have a good modern recipe, I would love it if you would share!!

So, HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to you all!  May it be filled with fun and enjoyment.  (It’s our Friday “game night” this year, so you know we will!)

st pat blessing

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Does Your Mother Cook?

If she does, be glad!  My mother could not cook.  We loved her dearly but she would be the first to tell you that her cooking stinks!  This is not being mean, but rather being factual.  She hated cooking.  I think this was a major reason for her marrying our dad.  He loved to cook and was great at it!

To explain just how much our mother hated cooking I will need to share two stories with you.

*****************************************************************************

Once upon a time there was a woman who really hated to cook.  To say she hated to cook is not completely accurate.  She was not very good at it which led to her hating it.  Early in the course of her life she met a man.  This man LOVED to cook, and he was very good at it.  The two fell in love, were married and proceeded to have three silly daughters.

One perfect summer day, the woman thought she would make something simple for her family to eat.  Noodles and tomatoes should be simple enough, or so she thought.   The woman was born and raised during the Great Depression, and this dish was one of her favorite family dishes.  In her time, growing and making your own was a normal way of life.  Noodles and tomatoes – all homemade/homegrown – perfect!

She had every good intention of putting together this wonderful, family favorite, easy dish for all to enjoy.  The woman did not take into consideration her numerous distraction on the farm where they now live.  She started out with a smile filling the metal pot with water.  A warm breeze was flowing through all of the open windows and doors.  She could hear her daughters playing joyfully outside.  She placed the pot of water on the gas stove, added about a tablespoon of salt (as you do with noodles), turned the flame to the appropriate height, and went about her chores.

This is where her distaste of cooking comes into play.  While she was going about her chores, cleaning, laundry, checking on the animals and kids;  the pot continued to boil.

  • It boiled till it was a rolling boil.
    • It boiled until there was no water left in the pot.
      • It boiled until it melted all over the stove.

She and the girls all saw the smoke billowing out of the kitchen.  She told them to stay put as she ran in to find the disaster.  To this day, this beautiful, warm, touching family moment is shared amongst siblings during any moment of childhood recollections and laughter abounds.

flaming-pan-on-stove

(This picture gives you an idea – sort of – it did not flame, it just melted, caused a ton of smoke, and a huge mess.  We, unfortunately, do not have any pictures of that ordeal – this is the closest I could come to it.)

**********************************************************************

This second story is a bit of a history lesson.  During my high school years (mid to late 1970’s), we moved around a bit.  It was also the time that the “microwave oven” came out and was all the rage.  It can cook anything – ya, sure!  The reason I remember this historical fact is due to my mother and her cooking inabilities.

The only thing she really could do well was boil water (unless she got distracted).  This just happens to be the main necessity for noodles.  Thus, noodles were her specialty of meals.  Stoves were another thing of distrust.  Then came the microwave cooker!  Now, don’t let the name fool you as it did her.  She only caught the “cooker” part and began assuming (there is that darn “ass” word again-grr) that this new wonder of the world would be her savior.  This miracle of science would not turn her into some type of Julia Childs.  Ahh, such is the thing that dreams are made of!

Dad happily purchased one of the miracle workers for mom during our 2nd (maybe 3rd) move.  We were very strapped for cash, so a purchase of this kind had to be especially special.  Excited as mom was she could not wait to try her beloved noodles – so sad.

She read all the instructions so carefully, just as a normal female does (jab jab male species).  Took her time.  Obtained the appropriate container (this alone was a shocker).  Put in the correct amount of water and salt.  Added her noodles and put the wonder to work.  Approximately 20 minutes later we had a marvelous bowl filled with mush!

My amazing mother, the eternal optimist, tried again – and again – and again.  When she final got discouraged, Dad made supper and all was satisfied.  After this fiasco, she came to the conclusion that a microwave cooker was not for cooking any more than the stove was.  That moment on she swore to only use it to re-heat food, and thus it went.

She got so good at the re-heating part, that one year for Christmas my younger sister bought her a book called “101 Things to do with Ramen NoodlesRAPTURE!  She was now going to be able to cook, and had a goal of making every single recipe in the book (which she did with great flare!).

         ramen-noodle-book     micrwave   ˭

valentine-heart-filled-with-hearts

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THE CORN ROAST or HOW TO THROW A PARTY – part 2.

As the sun started to go down, the party was still going.  Uncle Vern (my dad’s brother) was usually tending to the grill by now, finishing up whatever was left to cook.  The “old hats” at the party knew it was time to break out the coolers to pack up their share of the food.  The kids were still all over the farm.

corn-on-the-grill

As the sun disappeared, more fun began.  The adults moved into the garage (it was called the garage, but it was also a workshop and had enough room for tractors and farming equipment in the back – all moved out of course for this shindig.), and the kids came down from the hay loft to start chasing things in the dark.

We had a great huge yard light.  It lit up everything corner of the center of our driveway (Picture a huge gravel circle with a house, garage, huge machine shed, barn and pump/tack house all around it – this was the center of our driveway – about the size of 10 full-size trampolines).

The garage doors were wide open, so it was easy for the adults to watch us.  The little kids, by now, were settling into their parent’s laps or finding a soft spot on the lawn to curl up on.  (Funny – I say “little” kids like I was so big – NOT – I was always the short one.  During this time I could have only have been around  8 or 9 years old – LMAO.)  We, the older kids, were now chasing fireflies (lightening bugs to some of you) and ducking from bats and moths that were compelled to go to the light.

fireflies-at-night

IT NEVER FAILED – a moth would get stuck in my hair!  I inherited my father’s thick curly hair – oh lucky me!  Even though mom cut it short every spring, the darn critters would still get all tangled up in it.  To this day, I can’t stand MILLER MOTHS!! Grrr!!!  They would crunch as you tried to wrestle them out – yuck!

miller-moth

Slowly but surely, the crowd would start to dwindle down.  The closest friends and family were always the last to shuffle out.  Usually, there were a few stragglers that would spend the night. Why not?  Our place was enormous, and dad was always up for cooking to a passel of people.  Guests always meant an awesome breakfast the next morning!

Exhausted but extremely content, mom and dad would shuffle us girls off to bed.  All the fun and joy from all the play of the day was not strong enough to keep our eyelids from closing.  Sweet dreams all around! 

  •   No worries about tomorrow. 
    •   No fears about the night. 
      • Just great memories until the next family corn roast!

corn-roast-yum

THE CORN ROAST or HOW TO THROW A PARTY.

A kids’ life on a farm can be amazing!  We were lucky that we had such a fantastic family with such great family and friends.  When it came time to bale hay (yep all small bales only back then), plant crops, pick rock, fix fence – whatever – a load of people would show up to help.  In turn, we would help them with their tasks (chicken butchering was more fun that rabbits – but that is another story).  The amazing part was a large number of people that would show up to help.  

My father was a cook-a-holic.  He loved being in the kitchen, at a grill, where ever as long as he was the cook.  The highlight of every year was our annual fall corn roast.  It started out simple enough, a small thank-you-type afternoon with family to show our appreciation for everyone’s help.  Soon, family extended to friends, then extended to friends of a friend.  The roast went from a small charcoal cooker, closest family (Aunts uncles, cousins, etc.), drinks and a quiet evening; into a full blown whole day event!

 It starts at the crack of dawn.  My sisters and I get dragged out of bed just as the sun is trying to rise.  We get thrown onto the back of the flat-bed wagon, which is still damp from the morning dew, and hauled out to the corn field. Thank goodness we never put away our winter mittens!

The machine corn pickers have already been through the fields.  They pick up most of it, but not all, for the canning company (hee hee – I know where your canned corn comes from!).  They flatten everything as they go.  Now it’s our turn.

corn-picker

Dad drives the tractor this time (we all know now that baby sister CAN NOT drive a straight line – or is that would not?), and all of we girls jump off and start picking up the leftover cobs and throwing them onto the wagon.  This goes on for about an hour or so; then it’s time to head back up to the house.

Dad pulls the tractor up next to a shiny horse tank.  We help him to unload a portion of the corn.  Dad has the garden hose running in the tank at the same time, then tops it all off with a ton of ice cubes (I have no clue where they all came from because our freezers could never hold that much – the mysterious Ice Fairy?).

Dad and a couple of my Uncles took an old metal drum, cut it in half (length-wise – I know you have seen these because they are on almost every farm now), and turned it into one huge grill.  The coals get to the right temp and the corn, husks and all, goes on.

outdoor-cooker

(This is sort of what it looked like, but no wheels or wagon.  It had welded legs on the bottom to stand on)

People start to swarm in.  Some have brought their own food to cook or share – several salads, hamburgers, hotdogs for the kids, sodas, beer, chips, you name it, it all starts pouring in.  By now it is only about 10 a.m.

The day finally starts to kick into full gear. 

·         The grill is in high heat and cooking away.

·         The ladies (moms mostly) are running stuff back and forth from the house to the grill.

·         The kids are running amok everywhere.

·         Our main job for part of the day was giving the no-horse kids rides.  This was done by plopping them up in the saddle, then leading the horse around (boring, but our job – plus the kids LOVED it!!)

·         The volleyball net goes up; the lawn chairs come out, and all the games begin.

Everyone eats and people are scattered everywhere.  It is mostly a lawn type of activity (at least that’s where all the kids get to sit, our choice.) after all.  Once Dad is sure most everyone had been fed, he checks the wagon.  The last of the corn is off the wagon and in the ice tank, so it’s time to move the wagon.  Now was a great time for young and old alike.  Everyone piles onto the wagon in groups (can’t hold more than about 20-25, and there are over 100 bodies here now).  It’s hay/wagon ride time.  Dad’s favorite part!

Everyone on the wagon is having a ball, but I loved to watch dad.  His face would light up when he would pop the clutch to make the wagon jump.  Everybody would fall back and bust out laughing – especially dad.  Our farm was very hilly.  He would drive up and down the hills on purpose just to watch the riders flopping all over laughing.  Then it was back up to the yard to get another group and repeat.

  wagon-ride

(We looked very much like this except for one HUGE difference – DAD ALWAYS WORE A BLACK FELT COWBOY HAT – no lame weed woven thing for him! LMAO)

(To Be Continued Next Wednesday 10-12-16.)

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ALL THIS IN JUST ONE MORNING?

Went to the greenhouse to water and check on things.  I’m pretty sure I have some Elves in there.  I go in one morning, and everything is still green and growing.  Then I go in the next morning and WOW!

I end up in there for about 2 hours, and this is only a part of what I got (ignore the onions – whole other story-darn chickens):

8-27 bounty 1 day

We are going to start (I say “start” because this will be an on-going process for the next several months) with our sauces.  With the variety of tomatoes that we have, it should be awesome!

The little green knobs in the plastic dish are our first real attempt at Mexican Gherkins (the fad now is calling them “Watermelon cucs” and putting them in their drinks?.).  They only get the size of your thumbnail and are really hard to spot on their massive tangled vines.  The variety of cherry tomatoes amazes me this year – especially since we didn’t plant any?!  They are all volunteers from the last year.

full size mexican gherkin    DSC_0011

(full-size Gherkin)                                                                       (mini tomato variety)

The flavors is what is getting me – SOO MANY!  Yellow, deep red, pink, orange, and my sister’s fav – the dark truffle (it’s the oval shaped one – they turn a deep reddish/black when they are at their peak!).  So, the bunch that you see in the top pic will be my breakfast and lunch (maybe I will pick some spinach to go with them – maybe not?!)  We share with family and friends as often as we can.  One friend came over and picked a ton (and amazingly we still have 50 tons left – yes 50?! Hee hee) and said she was going to eat them like popcorn while watching some movies – GREAT IDEA!

Farm fresh eggs pulled just this morning.  (3 chickens playing musical nesting box created this bunch)

Then I also cut some rosemary.  This is just a fraction of a fraction of what is growing in there.  I have two bushes that are about the size of a VW Bug vehicle – really!  They are HUGE.

I think the hardest part of gathering the fresh goodies is making it into the kitchen without eating them all.  Oh well, there will be more tomorrow – – – maayybee?!?

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