I set out ten persimmon seedlings in our chicken pastures 2.5 years ago,
figuring there were all kinds of experimental possibilities for the
young trees. Option 1 would be to simply let them grow up to adult size,
but a seedling persimmon has a 50/50 chance of being male (meaning no
fruit), grows very large, and takes a long time to bear. Option 2 (my
favorite at that time) was to graft hardy Asian persimmons onto the
seedling rootstocks...but my hardy persimmon varieties kept dying back
to the ground over the winter, so I decided to ditch that plan. Instead,
I moved on to option 3 --- to trade for named American persimmon
varieties (Yates, Proc, I-94, and Early Golden) and graft those onto my
Persimmons are trickier
than some other fruits to graft, so I tried two different approaches. I
also followed the experts' advice by waiting until it seems far too late
to graft --- late May when the leaves on the seedling trees were nearly
The first step for both methods, though, was the same --- yank out the
weeds that had grown up within each tree's enclosure since the last time
I dropped by. Out in the chicken pastures, these little trees are lucky
to catch my eye more than once a year, so I wasn't surprised to find
that two of my seedlings had died and that one wasn't big enough to
graft onto. The rest --- despite being a bit winter-nipped from our -22
Fahrenheit cold spell --- had stems thick enough to graft onto.
I grafted the first four plants before doing any research, so they got my usual whip-and-tongue graft.
It was definitely tougher to graft in situ than to bench graft, and
both the rootstock and scionwood were on the small side (compared to
apples) for most of the trees, so I'm not sure how many will take.
After I was done grafting, I still wasn't entirely sure what to do with
the existing growth on the trees. So I just cut the branches back but
left some leaves present to keep the tree alive until the graft union
heals. Again, I'm not sure if this was the best choice, or whether the
existing growth will prevent the graft union from healing. I guess time
While I took a water break in front of the computer, I found this interesting file
suggesting an alternative method of grafting persimmons, so I followed
the author's lead for my last three trees. First, I snipped the entire
top off each seedling, then I slit a strip of bark and peeled it down
(carefully!) before cutting away a bit of the rootstock to make room for
another stick of wood to fit in.
Next, it was time to prepare the scionwood by cutting one side of the
bottom at a slant and then using the knife blade to scrape the bark on
the rest of the bottom of the scionwood down to the green cambium. The
prepared scionwood slid under the rootstock's bark flap, and the whole
thing was wrapped with parafilm. (Okay, I didn't wrap my entire piece of
scionwood since that just seemed too extreme, but I may regret that
With seven trees grafted to four varieties, I'm hopeful I'll see at
least a 50% success rate and will end up with several different types of
persimmons to continue their slow growth in the chicken pastures. Since
the trees there don't get much TLC, chances are I won't see fruit until
2020, but hopefully the results will be worth the (very little) effort
I've so far put into my experimental trees.
One of the Teva
sandals I glued for Anna last year came apart.
I used JB
Weld again because the
other sandal is holding up nicely.
The plan is to use some
Plumbers Goop to seal up the edges to keep any water or dirt from
finding a way in.
My young flower beds aren't quite to the stage where they stand up to distance shots, but the closeups are delightful.
Foxgloves from a family friend, chamomile because it reminds me of my
mother (who enjoys the tea), columbine from another friend, borage (not
quite blooming yet) because one of our blog readers suggested it as a
high-quality feeder of native pollinators, some zinnias and nasturtiums
(also not blooming yet) just because.
Every time I look at one of the plants, I smile!
After some research and great input from our readers, I decided to make a few changes before repeating my neufchatel/chevre
endeavor. First, even though the instructions called for two drops of
liquid rennet in my half-gallon recipe, raw goat milk is notorious for
not needing nearly as much thickening agent --- pure milk is just very
alive. So this time around I backed off to one drop of rennet, looking
for more of a soft cheese consistency instead of the more chewy cheese I
ended up with last time.
I also decided to try to
boost the flavor with a bit more buttermilk (three tablespoons instead
of two) and a much longer culturing period (24 hours instead of 6,
although I should mention that the weather was much cooler during round
two). After that elongated culture period, there was quite a bit of
clear whey on top of the curd, and the curd had also begun to pull away
from the walls of the pot. This is all an effort to give the bacteria
more time to work, since I suspect microbial byproducts are what gives
soft cheese most of its flavor.
Finally, I drained the
cheese the right way for four hours instead of squeezing out the whey,
and I upped the salt to 0.75 teaspoons. The result? Nearly perfect! The
salt was too much --- I'll be going back down to half a teaspoon next
time around --- and I think the culturing period might have been just a
hair on the long side as well. But the flavor was much more full-bodied
than last time and the cheese felt much moister rather than dry and
I saw a perpetual motion
Youtube video recently
that tickled my curiosity.
Anna was intrigued as well,
so we ordered some pinewood
derby wheels and a box
of magnets to see if we
could understand this puzzle a little better.
We had fun tinkering with it
for a few evenings before we came to the conclusion that the video is a
trick that uses gravity instead of magnetism to move the car.
Kayla's husband Andy helped
us out with some firewood cutting yesterday.
He gave us 2 hours of
aggressive tree cutting for only 50 dollars.
If you're within driving
distance and need some trees cut leave a comment and we'll give him
"I don't want to go out," Abigail said on Wednesday morning when I went to tether our little herd in the woods.
I was gobsmacked. Abigail not only always wants to go out, she wants to get to her fresh forage now, ASAP, hurry up, do you get the message?!
But I think the deer
flies the day before got to be too much for her. We had a light rain in
the morning, so I put the herd out later than usual. And when I went to
bring the goats home, the pesky deer flies were buzzing in their loops
so annoyingly that I was barely able to gather three goats before
rushing for cover myself. I should have worn a hat...and I'm sure that,
as a tethered goat, the deer flies were twice as annoying. (They do
bite, but it's really the buzzing that drives you mad.)
I met Abigail in the middle. I tethered her out early, took her in a
bit after lunch, then cut some locust boughs in the evening to top off
her belly. No, Mark, I don't know what you're talking about when you say
I spoil our goats....
More seriously, I do
dream of eventually having large enough pastures so our goats can get
all of their nutrition on their own schedule, retreating to the barn
when necessary to beat the flies. In the interim, tree boughs seem to be
a quick-and-easy solution for supplemental feeding when it doesn't make
sense to bring the goats out into the woods to eat. Like tree hay...but for summer nutrition rather than winter feed.
Some of our onions
started sprouting and going bad on us.
This post is to remind me
around next Mother's Day to delete any bad onions.
The weather and I can be
moody. After a crazy wet fall, winter, and spring, we started measuring
precipitation in hundredths of an inch this month. A quarter of an inch
of rain Thursday morning eased the earth's woes a little, but it took
Mark's cheerful demeanor and calm problem solving to ease my own bad
You'd think I'd realize that I always
get overwhelmed around the middle to the end of May. I keep a mood
diary (who, me obsessive?) and this is the time of year when my homemade
cheerfulness report card dips into Cs and Ds. All of the spring
plantings need to be weeded, our chicks are growing out of the easy
stage and require more frequent pasture changes, and learning goats has
also added to my load this year.
The trouble is, I love
the garden and chickens and goats. I just don't love it when a lengthy
to-do list pulls me out of my slumber too early and I turn irritable and
grumpy. Time to offload a few tasks.
Some chores are easy to
spread around. I pull Mark off his normal tasks to help me for a morning
in the garden, and together we move the chicks to a new bit of yard.
After a lesson in goat tethering, we figure he can halve my chores there
But some headaches aren't
lighter when carried on two sets of shoulders. For example --- Lamb
Chop. At eleven weeks of age, our buckling is enormous, still
nursing...and starting to get ornery. Artemesia went into her first
clearly discernible heat this week, which suddenly made goat wrangling
much more difficult. Between the screaming from the woods, Lamb Chop's
need to mount our doeling in the middle of the garden, and the
egg-laying snapping turtle guarding the path on the way home, I was glad
Mark was along or I don't think I would have been able to get all three
goats back into the pasture. So our buckling has a date with the local
butcher (aka meat packing facility) in two weeks, and we'll just hope
Lamb Chop manages to knock Artemesia up beforehand.
Speaking of offloading, I've decided to let my Winter and Spring cookbooks stand alone for the moment. I had thought my book about living in a trailer
would be my most controversial and criticism-inspiring text, but
apparently our unusual food choices are much more divisive. Lacking the
energy to push a product that the world isn't ready for, I'm moving on
to one of the other creative projects that I always have waiting in the
Decisions made and tasks
offloaded, I step out into the garden and notice that the grass is
green, the flowers are beautiful, and the garlic scapes are ready to
eat. It's amazing what a shift in perspective will do to remind me that,
despite temporary troubles, we're still living in paradise!
battery powered chainsaw
needed a new chain today.
The sharpening stone still had
about 1/4 of its surface area left, but one close look at the teeth
will tell you why it stopped cutting.
I like to flip the bar upside
down when a new chain goes on to even out the wear on the little bar
We are very happy with how
much cutting we got done on the first chain.
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