June on the Homestead

Our first exclusively backyard produced dinner!
Gardening wise, it's been a disappointing month. Unseasonably cool and wet, most of the garden isn't where I'd like it to be. There are green tomatoes - but not enough warmth to turn them red. I've had all of one squash flower. And the edibles that have flowered haven't had bees to pollinate them, due to all the rain. On the other hand, the cool season crops are doing reasonably well. I'm harvesting peas, collards, kale, lettuce, and a few other things, regularly. There are some yellowish leaves in the garden from all the rain - and I've had to remain vigilant against slugs and snails (who adore the rain). But, all in all, things could be worse.

The biggest news this month is that we ate our first exclusively backyard produced dinner. Now, we've had all-backyard produced breakfasts before - but never dinner. It consisted of peas, kale, and chicken. None of us knew what to expect from the chicken. After all, this was not a meat bird, but an old laying hen. From everything I'd read and heard, I really thought it would be stringy, tasteless, and tough. WRONG! It was scrumptious - much more tasty than a store bought chicken! We all thought it tasted like Kentucky Fried Chicken, minus the breading.

I cooked the chicken in my pressure canner, which doubles as a pressure cooker. (Please note that most pressure cookers can't be used as pressure canners.) tad more tough than store bought - but I think if I cook it longer next time, that won't be a problem at all. (Read more about cooking old hens here.)
The first batch of peas is almost spent.
That was also a first for me; I ended up nearly burning the chicken because I cooked it too "hot" and probably with too little water. Because I had to cut the cooking shot, the chicken was just a

We are pretty amazed by our hens. They provide us with a regular supply of eggs and fertilizer, then give us a tasty meal or two - plus several pots of stock! Hard to beat that

In other news, we added another animal to our menagerie. This one is not strictly a homesteading animal; he is a pet who happens to generate a lot of good fertilizer. For years, my daughter has wanted a bunny. And while we are considering adding meat rabbits to our backyard homestead, when someone gave us a bunny hutch, we decided to fill it with Kennedy - a miniature Rex rabbit. He's a cutie.
Meet Kennedy.

The cabbages are finally starting to grow.

Borage - normally a great bee attractor.

The Artic kiwi are getting bigger!

The blueberries are coming on.

We have tomatoes - but they are green.
The passion vine is happy - as usual.
The front bed, where squash are supposed to be vining everywhere.
2013 Produce Totals 
(all produce is from a 12 x 14 ft. garden plot)

Eggs 374
Chicken 20 ½ lbs.

Beets 1
Blueberries 1 3/4 lbs.
Calendula 8 lb.
Chives 5 lbs.
Collards 6 lbs.
Dandelion flowers ½ lb.
Dandelion greens 35 lb.
Dandelion Root 2 lb.
Garlic (including scapes) ½ lb.
Green onions 1 lb.
Kale 6 1/2 lbs.
Leeks 5 lbs.
Lettuce 5 lb.
Oregano 1 1/4 lb.
Parsnips 1 lb.
Passion vine 1 lb.
Peas 5 lbs.
Radishes 9 lb.
Rosemary 1/4 lb.
Sage 1 1/4 lb.
Spinach 1 1/4 lb.
Sunchokes 40 lbs.
Wild onion 1 1/2 lb.

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