Monday, May 26, 2014

The Babies of Bottle Tree Farm

This has definitely been the year of babies on the farm! Rabbits and chicks and ducklings, oh my! 

In December/January, Bunny and Sophia gave us seven and eight kits respectively.  I sold a few and kept one, but the rest are gracing our table. 

I fell in love with Mimi and decided to keep her.  She's only five months old, but isn't she a big girl already!

In March, Belinda gave me two kits.  Not the best litter in the world in terms of numbers, but they sure were cuties. 

Belinda's litter consisted of a buck and a doe.  I sold the buck and traded the doe for this cutie patootie.  She is part Silver Fox, New Zealand, and Californian, so she should be a big girl as well.  I've only had her a few days, so I haven't chosen a name yet.  I have some good options rolling around in my head though.

A few weeks ago, Vanilli, our super mama hen, hatched out ten chicks.  This is her third year hatching eggs, and she is the best!  And, I have two more broody hens sitting on six eggs each.  This year should be my best one yet for putting chicken in the freezer. 

We got Muscovy ducks late last year, so this is my first year of duck eggs.  I was advised to let the duck eggs collect and that the ducks would know when the time is right to go broody.  Well, the chickens kept trying to go broody on the duck eggs, so I thought for sure they had gotten the clock going on incubation and nothing was going to happen because they were on and off the nest.  Finally Coco, my chocolate hen, decided to get in on the action and she took over.  Out of 26 eggs, 13 hatched.  We've lost two, so we are down to 11.  I think she either stepped on them, because I saw her step on one a time or two, or our drake had something to do with their deaths.  I saw him pick up one in his bill one day and shake it.  I saved that one, and since then I have kept them separated.  All of the ducklings are slated for processing in the fall, but things could change between now and then.

Between rabbits, chickens and ducklings, my freezer should be overflowing.  I couldn't be more proud!  We don't eat meat everyday, but when we do, it's with reverence, gratitude and appreciation.

As a side note, I invite you to like Bottle Tree Farm on Facebook to witness the day-to-day activities on the farm. 

Happy homesteading,


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Can An Onion Do Math?

Well, the I'itoi Onion can multiply.  Does that count?

Last fall I decided I wanted to try some type of multiplier or walking onion.  I did some research and finally decided on the I'itoi Multiplier and the Fleener's Top Set Walking Onions.  I was particularly attracted to the I'itoi because it is on the Slow Food Ark of Taste, which has this to say about the I'itoi:

Not only is the taste of the I'itoi Onion bold and complex, but also is its ambiguous history. The original US harvest of the wild I'Itoi Onion took place on I'Itoi Mountain, which is also known as Baboquivari Mountain. This mountain is regarded by the O'odham nation as the navel of the world – a place where the earth opened and people emerged. The name I'Itoi signifies the Elder Brother, who is the creator deity in Tohono O'odham legends; consequently the onion is a sacred reminder of the O'odham creation story. Botanical studies place the I'Itoi onion among a very old line of clumping onions brought to the US by Jesuit missionaries in the late 17th century, concluding that the onion is not necessarily a US native. Regardless of the contradicting histories, the I'Itoi Onion has a special place among Sonoran Desert culinary culture.

The sharp, peppery flavor of the I'Itoi is well suited to southwestern stews and sauces, which often have robust, piquant flavors. The I'Itoi plant grows easily and prolifically in the deserts of the American southwest. Left in the ground during its summer dormancy, the onion re-sprouts toward the end of the season at which point it is harvested and replanted. The flavor of the I'Itoi Onion is garnering interest at a small, but highly visible, commercial scale throughout the arid southwest. The onion may provide one of the best examples of crop survival due to the stewardship of backyard gardeners.

Sometimes the little things are what excite me, like this I'itoi Onion bulb.

One bulb multiplies to this.

And, from the 10 bulbs I planted, this is my harvest.

I would say there are approximately 20 bulbs in each clump.  I think that's a pretty good return on my investment, don't you?  I plan to reserve the biggest and best for replanting in the fall.  I love that, if managed well, these onions will provide a sustainable way to enjoy onions year after year.

I also planted the Fleener's Top Set Walking Onions, but that's another post for another day.

Happy homesteading,