How green my garden grows

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I can water my garden from the water hose all summer long, but my garden never looks so green and happy than after a nice rain.  Rain droplets must pick up micronutrients from the atmosphere as they plummet to the earth–I can think of no other reason why a good soaking rain makes my garden so much happier than a good soak from the hose.

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Miss Rhodie–she’s at least 7 years old but she still lays eggs!

The chickens are also loving the yard and the garden.  Surprisingly, they have left most of my veggies alone and so I have not bothered to cover most of my boxes with bird netting.  The other day I harvested some spinach and all of a sudden it was like they discovered the spinach for the first time.  One by one, chickens hopped up into the boxes and began nibbling on spinach leaves.  I didn’t mind–I have so much spinach in the garden I’m willing to share some with the girls if it makes them happy.

I’ve got a terrific idea for using up gobs of rhubarb (and old bread)–I’ve made 2 batches of rhubarb bread pudding this week and it is soooooo good!  I should post a video this weekend.  The only problem is I don’t actually have a recipe with exact amounts and such.  I just throw things in a bowl and it turns out delicious.  I know, that’s not fair if you want to try to make it for yourself.  So I’ll try to come up with some guidance before I make a video.

Summer field work has begun so things will be fairly quiet around this blog for a while.  I’ll post when I can but it will be sporadic at best.  I’m doing lots of stuff, I just don’t have time to write it down!  Be patient with me.  Maybe photos will have to do the bulk of the talking this summer.  So, maybe I’ll do just that to show you what I’ve been up to lately and why I haven’t been posting more videos and recipes!  The reason is both for work and play but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.  That’s when I know I’m doing something right.  Right?!  Click on a photo and the caption will pop up.  ‘Til next time…

 

Earth Day Fun Day

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Happy Earth Day, everyone!  I hope you all did something fun on this Saturday, and something that was mindful of treading lightly on this beautiful blue globe on which we all live.  We had a most excellent day today and now I am tired, but in the best way.

It was a beautiful day in Helena today!  This morning the Hubs and I took our dog, MaeBelle, over to the Scratchgravel Hills, just northwest of town, for a little bike ride.  What better way to celebrate Earth Day that with a mountain bike ride?  I’m a beginning mountain biker, and this trail system is perfect for me: it has mostly old 2-track roads that aren’t too rocky and some single track to give me little challenges to practice my technique.  Right off the bat we take a little single track side trail that has a pretty steep component to it.  A couple of weeks ago I cleaned the section, even though I hadn’t been riding my bike much.  This week I’ve been riding my bike a lot to the gym and to work and to run errands–my legs felt strong and I felt good.  My fitness level is at a good place.  I was confident….but.  That’s right, that dreaded word: but.  Near the middle of the section I somehow lost my balance and slipped off my bike.  I think I hit a rock funny or something, I’m not exactly sure.  What I do know for sure is that I have yet to master is hopping back on my bike while on a steep uphill climb.  I tried, and tried, and tried some more but eventually I had to push my bike all the way to the top.  I took so long that Hubs and MaeBelle came back to look for me.  At one point my chain fell of the chain wheel so I had to fix that, too.  I was pissed at myself for not cleaning that section.  Dang it, I just did it a couple of weeks ago!!  I always get upset with myself if I don’t perform well, and today was no exception.  Hubs got on me for being so hard on myself (the irony) but he gets it–he’s just as hard on himself when something trips him up, too.

Despite my rocky start, we had a lovely ride, complete with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and early spring wildflowers in abundance.  The ground was splattered with hues of white and lavender (Phlox hoodii), and fuchsia (Douglasia montana).

At the end of our ride I told Hubs I was going to ride the first section again–and clean it this time.  My legs were a little tired, but I was determined to get up that hill!  And true to my word, I made it to the top in a clean ride.  MaeBelle was at first a little confused.  I could just see the wheels turning in her little head, “Wait. What are we doing? Why aren’t we going to the truck?”  But she was a trooper and followed me dutifully up the trail.  Hubs couldn’t let me ride it again by myself–he’s not competitive or anything… but he rides a single-speed bicycle, and therefore does not have any gears to shift while riding.  Riding those steeper sections are a lot harder for him than they are for me–but he cleaned his the second time as well.  He’s a monster on a mountain bike: strong legs and a stubborn determination.  Plus he’s been riding for almost 3 decades.

MaeBelle was happy to hop in the truck and drink a lot of water.  She’s going to be 12 years old in a few weeks, but she’s still going strong!  What a happy gal she was at the end of our ride:

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By the we got home it was lunch time.  I made egg salad sandwiches (including from the garden: green onions & chives & spinach!) and they tasted SO. GOOD.  Then I was craving something a little sweet.  For a few days I’ve had this idea rolling around in the back of my head–a way to use up some frozen blackberries and one of the limes that I grew over the winter (That’s right, I grow citrus.  In Montana.).  And so mini lime-blackberry cheesecakes were born.  Since today is Earth Day, and the sun was shining brightly, I decided to use my solar oven to bake my little cheesecakes. I love my solar oven and use it every chance I get.  During the week I will throw together a rice pilaf or something, put it in the solar oven, then go to work.  When I get home the dish is cooked to perfection.  Gotta love that!  All part of my sustainable, low impact living initiative, not to mention a way to be an absent cook and not burn down the house.

Oh, and those cheesecakes?  They are SO. GOOD.  Hubs and I had to pry ourselves away from them tonight.  It was hard not to eat them all.  I will have to post a recipe and a video showing how to make them, but not tonight.

While the cheesecakes baked, I worked in the garden.  MaeBelle loves it when I work outside.  She lazes around in the yard eating compost (and I yell at her to get out of the compost) and chewing on sticks or just watching people walk by.  I weeded and got rid of a bunch of last year’s dead flower stalks in my boulevard jungle of yarrow, blue flax, sunflowers, sagebrush, and rabbit brush.  A woman jogged by and said, “You have a beautiful garden!”  Ah, it nearly made me blush even though I hear that a lot from passersby.  It makes me happy that they take joy in my front yard garden.

Later this afternoon I noticed a woman dumping some food scraps over our fence into the orchard where the chickens were.  She had a toddler with her and they sat on the grass and watched the chickens for a few minutes.  She lives on the next block and though she’d asked Hubs last year if they could feed the chickens some of their kitchen scraps and watch the chickens, I’d never met her or talked to her.  I packaged a dozen eggs of varying colors: green, white, and several shades of brown, and walked outside to offer her some eggs in exchange for feeding our chickens some goodies.  She and her daughter were delighted to receive the eggs.  I was delighted to see this little girl take such pleasure in watching my Girls gobble up the strawberry hulls and apple peels, clucking and squeaking with happiness.  It gives me hope that maybe someday, when she grows up and has a house of her own, this little girl will want her own small flock of backyard chickens.

For dinner, I made a quasi quiche–meaning it was sort of like a quiche souffle or… something totally made up.  I tossed in bunch of veggies like mushrooms, onions, more green onions & spinach from the garden, along with some smoked cheese.  I separated some of the eggs and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  There were way more veggies than eggs, so there was spinach poking up out of the eggs.  I used some leftover rice pilaf as crust to hold the egg mixture and it turned out really tasty!  Hubs and I both had seconds.  It was a good food sort of day!  I haven’t cooked like that in a looooong time, and it felt good to be back in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, by dinner time the sun was too low in the sky and clouds were beginning to gather, so I had to use my indoor oven to bake the quiche-thing.  Oh well.  There will be more sunny days and plenty of recipes to try in the Solavore oven this spring and summer.

Have a happy, healthy week!