Monday, February 24, 2014

On the Farm and Kiln Firing

Blue skies!
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for a kiln firing yesterday! Everything was all loaded up, the overnight preheat went well, and other than some strong winds that wreaked havoc on the pressure in the kiln, it was a good firing! When the wind is strong, it keeps the chimney from drawing quite as well, and plays around with the fireboxes, but we did not have a lot of stalling out or holding at one temperature, so that was nice.
I cannot say it was a successful firing until tomorrow when I open it up!
The draw rings, as seen above, which are pulled when I am salting the kiln, looked nice. I put about 10 pounds of salt in, then drew some of the rings out. The first round of ring were not quite as salted as I would like, but the blue slip color looked nice. I added a little more salt and then pulled some more draw rings.
Greenhouse under construction
Yours, truly, volunteered today to help the Farmer with some projects at the farm while the kiln cooled. No rest for the weary! We worked in the morning on pulling dead plants from the garden beds and getting the lining on the raised beds in the new greenhouse in place. Here are some photos of the lining going in:

The lining will keep the grass from growing up from beneath the greenhouse and (hopefully) help keep the weeds down.
While weeding the garden beds this afternoon I came across some lovely worms, which excited me to no end. Our farm was historically used for tobacco and then hay, which can deplete the soil. Earthworms are not present in large numbers where the is depleted soil. When we first started putting in the gardens, we saw very few earthworms. Now, they are all over the place!  This means we are getting lots of good organic matter into the soil.

I also came across a very tiny little frog. Can you find him in the photo above? If not, check out this photo:
We have been enjoying the tiny frogs' return to the creeks and ponds near the farm. Their chirping sounds are such music to my ears!

Of all of the things we did today (which also included bonding over cutting potato starts in the evening), feeding greens to the chickens was perhaps the most entertaining thing of all.  Above is a photo of the chickens eating on a random plant of kale I pulled from the garden. Here is what it looked like after a few short minutes:
Death to the kale plant
The chickens love their greens! I am happy the daylight is getting longer as that means we are getting more eggs from our chickens, so we have a few more options for kitchen adventures! Speaking of the kitchen, I highly recommend trying The Palate magazine's recipe for Brazilian Chicken Stew. We used one of our farm chickens we processed last year, sweet potatoes from the late fall harvest, and tomatoes canned last summer. The flavor of peanuts (I used peanut butter), tomatoes, coconut, and sweet potatoes was fantastic! I also love that it was described as "a kindred spirit to the many aromatic one-pot meat dishes that followed the spice trails and trade winds from the western coast of Africa, to the eastern coast of South America, up through the Caribbean, and into the deep ports of the colonial South."

You might be thinking, "Brenda, where is your 52 Form Project from last week?!" For you who are wondering, I hope to have a surprise from the kiln firing tomorrow about last week's form! Stay tuned! 

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