Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Homemade Crackers and the Perils of Shopping with a 13 year old

Anyone have a good recipe for homemade crackers?  I tried my hand at whole wheat crackers last night, but they didn't come out crispy enough, more like flat bread.  Perhaps I needed to only bake them longer, or maybe I need to add more oil than the recipe called for.

My new goal is to learn to can.  I bought a pressure canner today and hope to try it out with lemon marmalade.  My lemon tree is going gangbusters this year.  We planted most of our citrus about 13 years ago or so - they took a long time to take off.  The lemon has been producing small amounts for several years, but I just last year started getting small tangerines, and this year I see my first grapefruit.  I would also like to learn to can my guava - make jam or juice.  It doesn't keep for long, the variety I have, anyway.

I have a bunch of tomatoes in the green house in containers.  I am hoping to try my hand at tomato sauce in a month or two.  And since cabbage does so well here, I really want to try sauerkraut and kim chee.

We've had so much rain - several inches in the last week.  Good thing I am not relying on my outside garden - there is just one sad beet, an anemic radish and a few small cucumber seedlings.  I am not sure what happened to all of the cabbage seedlings that were starting - they appear to have washed away.  If we see the sun soon, I will probably get all these unexpected stragglers in places where I didn't plant them.  It's happened before.

If it doesn't stop raining in such quantities, I am going to have to start wearing my rubbah boots to town.  As it is, I wear my croc sandals so I don't ruin all my shoes in the rain.  They are quite old, and there is no tread on the bottom, so I am constantly slipping.  Gives quite the air of excitement to even the smallest errands.  I can feel the eye rolls from my kids, "OMG, there mom goes again - almost falling. I am so not related to her."  No, my kids might roll their eyes, but it is more in fondness for my klutziness....well, except the 13 year old.  He walks about four feet behind me, and I am sure he is trying to pretend we're not related....

Since he is number 3, I know for sure this stage will pass.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nice Visit with an Old Friend

I let the 16 year old drive to his Confirmation class and back.  He needs to rack up 50 hours of driving before he can try for his license.  It was pouring (of course) when we were driving down, so I had a few ballistic mom events (along the "brake, Brake, BRAAAAKE!" lines) on the way down, but he was just about perfect on the way home, thankfully for my nerves.

I even let him drive down the driveway without me, because I spied old Henry, the man who keeps his cows across the street.  Our friendship has been cultivated over the past 15 years as I took my walks (pre-farm, pushing various baby strollers and pregnant a lot) and he visited his cows.  I haven't seen him in a long time, though, although I have been thinking about him.

It was nice to have a quick visit.  He and his grandson were fixing up his chute and small pen in preparation for hauling off his wean-offs to the feed lot up in Waimea.  He says they are getting over 90 cents a lb!  I wish I had a bit more land to run some beef cows on.  When he pulls his calves, I always feel so sad for the mommas, calling for their babies all night long.

Henry has been promising to come down my driveway and see my place for a decade and a half.  Today, he apologized, saying he always feels a bit shame to come unannounced.  I told him no worries, but do come sometime.  So he says he'll bring me some lau lau when he has them made (pork, butterfish, and taro leaves, wrapped in ti leaves and steamed - the closest thing to heaven to come out of an imu, if you ask me).  We'll see, but it was sure nice to catch up and talk story a bit.

Sometimes, I forget that there are some awfully nice people in the world.  A few days ago, my oldest walked to the store where she works, and noticed a number of police cars at the park nearby.  Someone had been stabbed - it was in the middle of the day!  It makes you wonder about the crazy people who live out here in Puna.  And then there is a visit with Henry and his polite and helpful grown grandson to remind you that people are mostly good and kind.

Rain and More Rain - Must Be Hilo

I heard someone from Oahu say that yesterday at a Digital Media Workshop I took some students to.  I had a little giggle from that - there are even songs like, "Hilo's Such a Rainy Old Town" to describe our weather.  However, I live in an even rainier section of the island, and it has been raining hard enough to wake me up in the middle of the night.  If I hadn't already given up on the original sloping garden bed because my husband said he wanted to dig it out and make it level, I would have been forced to by the soil washing down hill.

I do have to say in my defense, that several years ago when we were arguing about where to put that garden bed, I was against that particular spot.

Feeding the animals is a sloppy mess.  My husband put some pallets out in the chicken run, because it was more like a mud river than a place for the hens to exercise and scratch.  The drainage powers of volcanic cinder have been sorely tested by the bucket of rain we've had over the last week.

I have to say, the rain made the movie projects we were making at the Digital Media Workshop challenging, too.  It was difficult to record our "nat sound" sequences when the rain was rushing and pounding like a river off of the roofs of the walkways at the school which was hosting the event.  We learned a lot and had a lot of fun, though.  My daughter, who used to go to my school, but is now at another school, took one of the spots of a no-show - I think she is excited to share what she learned with her teachers and friends, and she got to feel like one of the "big kids" with my high school aged team.

After our digital media adventures, eleven year old and I went to pick up her brother from Driver's Ed.  He came out of the class in his track uniform and yelled in the window of the car, "I just heard my event called; gotta go!"  Fortunately, the track meet and the Driver's Ed class were at the same school, so he just ran through the parking lot, down the steps to the track, and onto the field to warm up.  We thought, foolish us, that he had just the 800 to run, that he'd already run the 3000 earlier in the day (his dad dropped him off at 12 noon).  Nope, he had to run both the 3000 m and the 4 x 400 m races: back to back in the pouring rain.  When I mean pouring, it was raining so hard that I could barely see the far side of the track.  My daughter and I had one umbrella and rather inadequate jackets and were wearing rubber slippers (flip flops).  It was exciting, but freezing.

I was hoping that magically, all the animals would have been fed and the dinner made as we rolled in at 8 pm, but this was not the case.  I found that the jacket my husband gave me the other day to help keep the rain and mud off my clothes was marvelously warm and toasty for feeding in the cold rain.  And when I came in, I was excited to find that there were enough leftovers to feed everyone, so I didn't have to cook.  Nice ending to a long and exciting day.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Last Real Spring Break Day

Tomorrow and Saturday I need to take some students to a digital media workshop, and Sunday is Church, Confirmation classes (which means me sitting outside waiting in a car), and preparing for the classroom.

Too bad it is raining, I wanted to do more outside.  This will force me to catch up on laundry, mending, and paperwork, which is probably a blessing.  Also, a student sent me a FB message that he is having trouble with his Spring Break homework (aren't I evil?), and since he lives up the road, could I please help?   So I might have to tutor today, as well.  That's okay.  It will help me get back into the game. Sometimes the difference between thinking for the classroom and thinking for the farm.

The rain was pouring down all night and the wind was gusting.  It woke me frequently, but everyone seems fine out there this morning.  My husband's work at Christmas means the sheep shed doesn't flood quite so much.  Some of you might remember that the sheep stall was 3-4 inches in water and Dodie was due any time!  Now it is the chicken run that is flooding in parts of it.  Always something we need to do or fix.

I do feel bad for my daughter, because she was all excited to bring her solar oven project to school.  Apparently, they were going to have a test run today.  It is quite dark out there with clouds and rain.  Not a successful set up for solar cooking.  Sometimes it stays gloomy up here on the mountain, where downhill it is a bit nicer.  Maybe they'll get a chance later in the day... it's a pretty cool solar oven. She and her dad made it out of an old satellite tv dish, some tin foil, and some closet door tracks to hang the food heating assembly (a jar with a black painted can).  Mirrors would work better than the tin foil, but it gets pretty warm on a sunny day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Need to Start Charging.

I could just put a taxi meter in my car.  If a kid forgets his/her__________(insert uniform, equipment, homework, shoes - hey, it's Hawaii), the meter would go on for the extra ride home.

Those unexpected side trips take a toll when you live out in the boonies.

I had big goals for today, but my son called at his lunch time, reminded me that he had early release, and suggested that this would be a good day to renew his driver's permit.  When he said, "early release", I thought of the 11:45 schedule, but it was actually 1:45, so my daughter and I just sat there and waited.  Sigh.  I kept thinking about the chores I could be doing, but didn't.  I did make a kabocha pumpkin stir fry before leaving, and washed all the kids's sheets, and folded laundry, but that left a lot undone.

Then all the errands in town had to be revised when the 13 year old informed me that he'd forgotten his uniform for his after school activity.

I am glad I took my son and daughter to renew their instructional permits, though.  The man who took the license fee looked at me and said, "Oh, boy!  You got two! You'll need four cars."  I didn't have the heart to tell him that if you counted the vehicles that aren't working, we actually do have four - well, five if you count the tractor!  It started me thinking that having my kids in pairs means that there are going to be two different times in my life when I am teaching two teenagers to drive at the same time.  It's nerve wracking.

"Okay, that car up there is braking; brake slowly to keep the distance."


"Brake, please."



"Dad doesn't yell at me as much as you do."

"If you listen to me the FIRST time, or even the SECOND time, I wouldn't yell."  (Rolling eyes on both sides of the car. I am not above an adolescent eye roll of my own.)

I have a lot more compassion for my parents teaching me to drive on Oahu.  At least, I don't have to take a learner on the freeway!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking a Poll: When Is Enough Enough (or Should I Just Eat Him Already)?

I am getting extremely tired of my rooster.  He started with attacking my boots when I entered the chicken run to gather eggs and scatter feed.  Now he is attacking my hand that is holding the bucket.  Although it would be nice to raise my own chicks and not rely on the feed store, I am eyeing him with roast chicken in mind.  The last time I had an aggressive rooster, he made a delicious curry... What do you think?  Keep and hope a hen gets broody to produce some offspring, or eat, and buy a new batch from the feed store?

Today, I did paper work, mom taxi duties, planted jalapenos, bell peppers, lettuce, Japanese eggplant, chives, two kinds of basil, cucumbers, and peas.  I am in this weird in-between zone, so the timing on things is not in any book, really.  I just do my best.  I checked on the tomatoes the eleven year old staked yesterday.  Then I went in to do the baking: Portuguese Sweet Bread rolls and sandwich bread.  I also tried out my food grinder on the taro chunks I cooked yesterday - wow, that was so much easier than pounding out by hand!  I mixed in eggs and panko and fried them in a little olive oil.  They were so good!

Only two real days for Spring Break.  Friday is Prince Kuhio Day, a state holiday, and I am scheduled to go to a Workshop on Digital Media.  I am only going if my student team will go, and they are dragging their feet.  However, I do need to keep the day open for them - so I need to think about how to best use my remaining time.  I bought more plastic planting pots, so I want to get some more seeds starting in the greenhouse.  I should also do some cooking ahead and freezing, because the last two months of the school year are nuts and I am often to tired to do real family quality meals.  If it isn't too rainy, I might try to squeeze in a ride.  There is always laundry....

Taro Harvest

I pulled about 15 lbs of taro.  It wasn't a big patch.  I pulled everything, even the tiny corms. because we want to redo the garden to make it more level.  Between the dogs and the rain, that particular plot is always under attack.  This was my weird yellow heirloom cultivar.  The poi is yellow, and looks rather like baby poop, but it tastes good.

When you harvest taro, you dig under it and lift it, a bit like potatoes.  Then you cut off the corm just under the new root sprouts and cut off the leaves above the "arrow", where the new growth of leaves is starting.  You keep the leaves and the corm for eating; what's left is called the "huli", which you can replant.  I offered a teacher at my kids' school a few huli, but forgot to send the boy with them today.  They are just soaking in a bucket to start more rootlets.

I grow dryland taro, because I don't have any streams or reliable running water to create a lo'i or wetland patch.

Taro is very itchy.  You need to wash frequently when handling it, and you need to cook both leaves and corm very, very well.  I cook the corms in a pressure cooker and the leaves (lau) in the crock pot.  The whole process took most of yesterday. I cooked the lau with chicken and added coconut milk to make Chicken Luau.  It looks nasty - green slime and chicken bits, but tastes so very good.  I crave taro lau at frequent intervals....  I put the cooked taro chunks in the fridge for tonight.  I plan to make taro patties for dinner.  I wish I had some sweet potato to add to the patties, but will have to make due with what I have here: some kabocha pumpkin and some spinach.  With taro patties on the menu, I also need to bake sandwich buns today.

It is rather cold, windy, and rainy today.  There is a large fire burning in the Volcano park and I can feel my nose itching, even though it is several miles away.  I am going to work in the greenhouse today after I do the baking and make the taro patties.  Six more days of daily Driver's Ed right during dinner prep time.  Six more days of Spring Break.  I plan to make the most of my mornings and early afternoons.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crazy Horse Ride

Decided to put my various "To Do" lists on hold and take a ride.  My paint gelding is somewhat sound, which is its own kind of miracle, and I bought an extra pad and a new bridle for Gib.  I decided my husband and I were going to ride.  I had two hours before we had to leave to pick up 11 year old from her Makali'i field trip (more on that later) and take 16 year old to driver's ed - I figured it was plenty of time.

Well, it took some time to get the tack just right.  Gib has the weirdest back, especially when he is scared and his head is straight up and it hollows out his back.  Then, I had to wash their legs, because it has been pouring in true rainforest fashion.  Gib also has a smallish head, so I had to poke a new hole so the head stall would fit (well, my husband had to help).  He also has issues with pulling and not much in the way of aids - just kick and pull.  Definitely need to work on that - might just through the dressage saddle on him for closer contact.  I did buy a copper snaffle to help him lighten up a bit.

Well, with all of that, and the desensitizing I need to do every time I mount, I had 10 minutes to ride.  I was hard put to find a good place to stop, because he was pulling and and trying to run out almost the whole time.  Some cowboy taught him to do rollbacks rather forcefully - I get the feeling that his experience of riding is run full out and spin around for someone's joy ride.  Poor guy.

We'll work on it.

Now, the eleven year old's Makali'i experience!  The Makali'i  (info here) is a replica voyaging canoe.  My youngest joined up a school organization to be "crew".  They went out to Kawaihae for the weekend to learn some Hawaiian culture and protocol, and hopefully to sail.  They didn't actually make the sailing this time, because it was too windy, but they seemed to have a blast, based on how tired she was when we picked her up.  Their enthusiastic and brave teacher is taking this group of 12 middle schoolers frequently on this two hour one way drive to have this opportunity.  My daughter mumbled something about "sailing Friday or Saturday or something", so I guess this is an ongoing idea.  Hmm, seems the 11 year old has caught the teenage "tell mom as little as possible until the last possible moment" disease a little early....the perils of having older siblings!  I figure the teacher will eventually send me email....

Today, I need to pull out my kalo and pressure cook the corms and cook and freeze the lau (leaves).  I am only pulling out one variety.  The other one is okay with grass and being left in the ground.  It is a varietal that was used in time of famine and left to grow on its own until needed.  This yellow one is a little more fussy.

I am also planning to ride again - only this time, the eleven year old gets to ride poor Ohia.  I hope everyone is having a lovely spring day!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rainy Day

In spite of it being Spring Break, I have been driving incessantly...which left me with less time on the farm than I would like.  Today, though, after driving my son to his track meet, we wormed the sheep.  Only two really looked like they needed it (nasal bots and less than bright pink eyelids) but I wormed everyone, just in case.  I checked Minnie's udder, because she should have her first lamb in a few weeks.  She felt right on track.

I also wormed the horses.  Crazy Horse Gib did really well with the wormer - so his craziness is selective, it seems.

I really wanted to do some repair to the dug up garden, but it was really pouring and a bit chilly, so I headed in help my husband with some business things.  I have been looking out the window like a kid in school, longing to escape all day.... What I really  need to do when there is a break in the rain is to bag up a lot of my finished compost and wheelbarrow it over to the green house so I can at least start some seeds.  My green house is filled with tomato volunteers.  I hope I get enough tomatoes that I can learn how to can.

Several weeks ago, I inquired about a craigslist ad for half dairy sheep/half local hair sheep.  The farmer didn't get back to me, so I thought it wasn't going to happen and put it out of my mind.  Well, he called today! It's been over a month, so it was a surprise.  He lives in Honaunau, which will be a four hour round trip drive, but I hope to go see them early next week.  They are half-dairy (Lacaune-East Friesian cross) and half-hair: which around here means some barbados, some katahdin, and some st. croix.  I really need some thought, research, and expert help on how to manage the breeding of my little flock, and how to improve them.

Right now, I have two unrelated ewes (Dodie and Audrey).  Audrey's daughter is Minnie.  Dodie's daughter is Niele.  I have two ram lambs intact, who are half-brothers to Niele and full brothers to Minnie.  All the lambs are Elvis' offspring.  I am sure I will need a new ram, and at least two more ewes, but it gets complicated.

A lot to think about.  I just about have time to do at least some of the baking for the week before Driver's Ed.  I would complain about Driver's Ed being two hours every day, except that I have been waiting in the parking lot and taking naps.  Apparently, I needed them, because yesterday was the first time I didn't feel like falling asleep in a week and a half.  I have been running at full speed ahead since Christmas - Spring Break came just in time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Forget Pigs, It's the Dogs I Worry About...

Feral pigs can be incredibly destructive of gardens.  The Big Island gardening discussion threads are full of pig complaints....but today my worry is my OWN dogs.

I have no idea why they will leave a garden alone for weeks, even months, and then spend an evening digging up my seedlings.

My husband and I went through some options:

1) taller and stronger fence (but won't they just dig under it?)

2) shoot them (I wouldn't, but boy, am I mad this morning)

3) set the kids in shifts all night to watch the garden (instead of homework? They might go for that....)

My dogs are so well behaved most of the time, and mostly when someone is home/awake to watch them, but once every four or five months, they get the yen to dig up my garden.  Last night, at least one of them actually knocked over the fence and dug up the beets and radish.  It wasn't much of a fence...but still.

I used to think it was because they liked to dig where I have been digging, but it's been two weeks since I last really did heavy work in that particular set of garden beds.  So, now, I haven't the faintest idea what was the trigger, nor which of the three was the culprit (the family has differing opinions on the matter).  I am now going out to try to repair the situation and pull a bunch of taro.  Maybe I will work off my urge to put a "Free Dogs" add on craigslist.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan Evacuation and Garden Hopes

Just got word that my step-brother and step-cousin are being evacuated out of Japan.  That's good news.

Pretty scary situation.

We are doing a big spring clean and re-stocking of the shelves, and it is pretty scary here, too.  I have eleven people coming over in two hours and my kitchen still looks like a Costco bomb hit it.  Feeling a little desperate, but my husband works at his own pace - he always gets it perfect, but it takes much longer than slapdash me would wish...but I really need to make cinnamon biscuits and ham and cheese muffins!

Haven't done much in the garden.  I am hoping that next week will be garden week.  The compost pile near the barn is a ways away from the garden, and I don't feel like wheelbarrowing it myself, so I am planning to elicit help. The new garden needs a heavy layer of finished compost before I can start the beans and corn.

I bought asparagus seeds, but they need an extended dry period, so their permanent bed will need to go in the greenhouse, I guess - or maybe up above the lava rock wall and I can cover it partially with the greenhouse, and partially with plastic as needed.

It's time to worm the sheep again, as well, but first I need to get the cupboards packed up.  We literally pulled everything out of every cupboard so the new stuff can go in behind the old stuff, and because it is Spring and the cupboards need to be wiped down.  Every surface, including the floor is covered, and it is starting to drive me nuts.  I have this urge to shove everything into the nearest cupboard in whatever order it happens to land, but my husband does have a point.  An ordered, planned out stocking of the shelves will make life a lot easier....well, they do say opposites attract!

I NEED to bake!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

On a Lighter Note, or Hawaii Comedy

I have been rather consumed by the tsunami and it's aftermath.  It is all too close to home for those who live in Hawaii, particularly in Hilo!

Today, I had a break from the sadness and worry... two breaks really.  The first came in the morning, when my ram, Elvis, got his head stuck in the horse bucket and ran out into the pasture until he could dislodge it. I really wish I had had my camera.  He just tried to butt me, so I considered this payback - even though it means I need to go out there and get the bucket later.

The second was my daughter finding this video of one of our favorite local comedians, Frank DeLima:

We were so fortunate here, and this video pokes gentle fun about what we tend to buy when the tsunami comes, or the dock workers strike, or a hurricane heads our way.....

I can't help but transpose the images from Japan to here, and my heart is aching for them, not only because I can see the images on the news, but because my imagination puts our own past tsunami over our present town.  It brings it home in a very deep way.  I have heard the stories of the 1946 and 1960 earthquakes here from our kupuna, and it makes it more immediate.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What Not to Do During a Tsunami...

Wait until 7 am to cancel school in an evacuation zone.

Do what this guy did:

This is just really, really dumb.  Evacuate means, "Leave the area." Not, "stand right on the wall and film the ocean."  Sometimes, people amaze me.   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Big Earthquake in Japan

has me worried about tsunami.  I am up in the mountains, so not worried about me, but called my parents on Oahu.  Mom lives in a low lying area, fortunately on the other side of the island from Japan.

Of course, I am scheduled for an early morning meeting in a building right in the very heart of tsunami zone.  In 1946, this building had fish in it in the aftermath of a large tsunami.  I am sure they will cancel if there has been a tsunami - even if we, too, are on the side of this island facing away from Japan.

Feeling anxious as we wait to hear.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bringing You Another Hapless Moment....

Went out to feed between my second and third trips to town this evening....and found three hens in the sheep pen.  Normally, not a problem, but while trying to get them in their rightful spot, the sheep came running out from their dinner.  Soon I had three sheep in the chicken run, and three hens in the sheep run.

Getting them out with the ram butting his way into things - not so easy.

Fortunately, I had the sense to bring his halter.  He realizes that the halter means no more butting - plus, he can't get far enough away to get a good run in.  So instead, he snuggles up and rubs ram smell all over my jeans.

Oh well, somewhere in their the three hens found their way back in, and I chased the lambs out, and everyone was restored to their rightful place.

Off to pick up number three child from his Wednesday evening activity. Hoping number one child is sufficiently recovered from her bout with gastrointestinal illness so that when she cooks dinner, no one else gets sick.  Because that would be an awful way for all of us to spend Spring Break (only two more days - not that I am counting, or anything like that!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Big Surprise in the Barn.

Well, it isn't that exciting, unless you are as anxious about Crazy Horse as I am.... Today, folks, he followed me.  He pivoted on his fore to keep his head next to me, not just sneaking up on me from behind.  He put his head into my space and accepted vigorous petting, too.  Maybe he is channelling the mare, who always had her big nose into everything.

To me, this is a big, welcome surprise.  Yay for Gib!  I rewarded him with dinner and lots of affection.

Another welcome surprise: even though we have had inches and inches of rain, my garden is not washed away.  I am absolutely stunned and happy.  Also, I sold 7 dozen eggs today.

Off to cook dinner (potatoes, cabbage, and kielbasa) and to check on homework status, while pondering the truly graphic videos they showed at mandatory parent night at Driver's Ed and rethinking the whole teen driver thing, while I am at it.  Hmmm....He did roll his eyes when I told him that he might have to wait until he is 30....

My dad's email sig says "If you can read this, thank a teacher."  I couldn't resist; I said, "You're welcome" today - although it is a little impertinent, as he is one of the adults who taught ME to read!

Have a good middle of the week, everyone.  Three more days until Spring Break, thank the very good Lord!

Monday, March 7, 2011

It Absolutely Never Fails

As soon as I plant seeds, every single time, it starts to pour.  My poor seeds, I am afraid they will drown or at least wash down the slight slope in the garden (I did argue against the orientation and placement of that garden!) and bunch up at the bottom, which has happened in the past.

Every time I work the garden, I try to level it a little more, and the bigger, new garden was dug into the side of the hill and made level, but we really need to add some compost as the top soil was necessarily disturbed in that task.

I am looking forward to Spring Break!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Gardening between rain drops.

I worked in the small garden today.  I have some kalo (taro) in there, which I left alone, one lonely turnip (I pulled all the rest, but this one wasn't ready) and a few sad, not growing beets and some garlic.  I cleared out some grass, tried to rescue what got mostly drowned in our downpour yesterday, added some compost - and it started to rain.  Huge drops that felt like hail.  

In between rain showers, I managed to plant more beets, radish, carrots, collards, kale, bok choy, and kai choy.  I also put some cucumbers out there, but I am definitely going to have to train them to climb the fence, just because of the lack of room.  I threw some old marigold seeds out there, just in case they grew, and put in some green onions.  

I actually wanted to pull that taro out and start the new hulis (baby taro), but the rain makes it a less attractive chore.  Also, I remembered I don't have any chicken in the freezer, and I am not about to give up any of my hens (!) just yet, so picking all the lau (leaves) would be premature.  Too bad, chicken luau sounds good for tonight.  

As I was working in there, my shepherd mix (the world's stupidest dog) jumped the fence, so now I know who the digger is.  Darn dog.  

I noticed that there were quite a number of ripe guava on the tree.  They don't keep well, and I don't have time to make jam, so I picked them and fed them to the chickens.  I also have a lot of lemons and a few tangerines out there.  The tangerines aren't quite ripe, and lemons keep on the tree indefinitely, so I won't pick them until I need them.  Maybe I will make lemon chicken next week, or lemon pound cake again.

I hope everyone had a happy Sunday!   

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Volcano Glow

We came home late-ish (after dark) last night after picking up a son from his Wednesday night activity, and I could see the glow from Pu'u O'o.  Although Kilauea has been erupting pretty much continuously since 1982, we don't actually always see it.  We're several miles from the vent, but often the flow runs through tubes down to the ocean. It's been rare that we can see the glow above the trees.  On one memorable occasion we visited a neighbor to look at the fountains of lava through telescopes and binoculars.  That was actually pretty cool.

Halemaumau crater began erupting again in the last year or two, and apparently, there is a fairly large lava lake, but you can't see it well from Jagger Museum, and the road around the crater has been closed quite a long time because of the sulfur and other dangerous gases.

This year we've had a lot more in the way of variable winds/light winds, which means we have been getting more vog.  This is part of the reason we needed to build the greenhouse - to keep the acid rain off our fruiting plants, like tomatoes and peppers, etc.  The cabbages and greens seem to do just fine in the acid.

Today, I hope to get a bunch of seeds started after I finish my work paperwork.  We have a prep day today, for which I am grateful!  Report cards are due and many other forms, plus all the prep work involved in starting new classes.  But the garden is a huge second priority.

My youngest daughter is going to help maintain an outrigger canoe this weekend.  She has to be at school at 6:40 am and will return at 8 pm.  Quite a long day - I need to make some "baked goods" as my potluck contribution.  I was thinking Portuguese Sweet Bread: I will at least use up some of the bounty of eggs I have in the fridge.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I made a stir fry of which most of the ingredients were from my garden: turnip, turnip greens, daikon, and garlic.  Also included were store-bought broccoli and tofu.  (Someday, I will grow my own soybeans and make my own tofu - but at least the tofu is locally made in Hilo).  I have to say, my stir fry was quite tasty.  The daikon is a bit spicy, so it had a little bit of bite.

For the moment, we have tradewind weather which means drizzly rain.  The southerly winds are expected to come soon, which will bring sun and vog.  All my life, tradewinds have been the norm.  This prolonged stretch of variable, southerly winds is a big change.  Of course, it is nice to see the rain here on the rainy east side of Hawaii island.....but the vog is less nice.

If you have ever read Ray Bradbury's short story "All Summer in a Day" you can get an idea of the normal weather pattern for March at my house.  I read it to the kids at school yesterday, and their reflections matched my experience: the rain on a metal roof can be deafeningly loud and depressingly consistent at certain times of the year in our area.