Friday, September 16, 2016

Chamomile Harvest

I spent a lovely quiet late afternoon picking chamomile flowers in the garden. Not many flowering plants can match the enthusiasm of chamomile.
Hundreds of tiny daisy-like blossoms cover a typical happy mature plant. Just looking at it brings joy and a sense of peace and tranquility. While I was picking, there must have been five hundred little bugs representing a dozen species. Paper wasps and honey bees mostly, but also flies, bumblebees, and a few beetles.  

Chamomile is a calming herb. It calms the nerves, calms the tummy, calms the mind. Maybe it could be called "calm-o-meal"! Making a tea and sipping before bed is a great remedy for insomnia. It combines well with lavender for a really powerful sedative punch. 

After picking until I just didn't want to pick anymore (I could have kept picking for a couple more hours, and still not have picked them all!) I took my bucket of flowers inside and spread them on a roasting pan to dry. I put the pan in a warm oven, (about 100 degrees) and will stir the flowers around a bit as they dry. After drying, they will go in a quart jar with a tight lid for use all winter long, until next year, when they will be blooming all over the garden again!

Another use for this happy bright flower is for beauty and body care. As a hair rinse, it gently conditions as well as lightens the color of your hair. Simply use a tea to rinse and leave on to air dry.  As a skin cleanser and tonic, chamomile will sooth irritated skin, tighten wrinkles, and relieve puffy eyes.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Cotton Patch Geese Pair For Sale

Spokane, Washington. Asking price, $100. Will consider some trades, interested in Black Shouldered Peacocks, Olandsk dwarf, and production blue-egg chickens. 

It is with deep sadness and regret that I must admit I need to sell our pair of cotton patch geese. They deserve better than what we are able to offer them at this time. For one, they need a larger family. We have only the two of them, and they spend their days seeking the company of others, either looking in the front door for us, or pacing the fence to try to socialize with the chickens across the way. They also deserve more water than their kiddie pool. When we moved, it was our intention to find a place with a pond, but it didn't work out that way. We got a river instead! I'm not complaining, but obviously that's not going to work out so well! I'd love to see our geese go to someone who has a pond for them to frolic in! 

So here's their stats:
Both are Walker line that I bought from Regina Hembree Breland in Mississippi. Amanda is almost 2, and Logan is just turning 1 year old. Amanda hit the nest early this year and laid 3 clutches of 7-8 eggs for a total of 24 eggs! Unfortunately, they were all infertile as Logan was maybe just a little too young to know what to do. However, Amanda looks like she might nest again soon? 

I need to sell them locally, as I have no desire to make them deal with the danger and stress of shipping. I might consider Delta Dash if someone wants to go that route. 

These are wonderful pets as their personality is simply charming! They will follow you all around the yard, always sharing a close look at whatever you are doing. They are sweet and gentle. Amanda loves to be petted and cuddled when she is in the mood. 

If you are interested in these beauties, please contact me! You can send me a gmail at delilahra. Thank you!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Modifying a Tray for Quail Eggs

So I have decided to get back into coturnix quail. We got a bunch of eggs from a local guy with a great line of jumbo coturnix. Our "universal" egg trays would not accommodate the huge-but-still-smaller-than-a-chicken eggs, so I sat and thought for a while about how to make the trays work somehow while we wait on our new partridge egg trays to come in the mail. I tried running a string across the bottom, which kept the egg from falling through, but there was no way to place a string higher to stop the egg from flopping all around when the tray tilts. So I was kinda stumped. Then it hit me. The answer was sitting right in front of me. Paper egg carton cups! Woot! It worked! 
Clever, huh? :)

Monday, January 18, 2016


I made a quick batch of sauerkraut today from three big heads of cabbage that had stacked up in the fridge. I posted a picture on Facebook and was asked several times for instructions. So I posted a nice reply and thought I'd share it here too as an official blog post. 

Sauerkraut, step by step:
1. Chop cabbage. What I do is inspect a nice head of cabbage and remove wrapper leaves, browned edges, any other specks and blemishes. Give it a good rinse. Then quarter it so you have a quarter of the stem in each slice. This way it's easy to slice out the wedge of stem from each quarter. Then chop cabbage into fine shreds with a good chef's knife. Toss shreds into a big wide bowl. 
2. Add salt at a rate of 1 tablespoon to 1 3/4 pounds of cabbage, which is a 2% brine solution. That's about a tablespoon per head of cabbage, or a tablespoon and an extra teaspoon if you have a big or dense head. Do not use salt with iodine or anti-caking agent as it will ruin your sauerkraut by screwing up the bacterial growth! I use natural salts that are full of trace minerals. :)
3. With clean hands, dig in and toss, mix, and distribute the salt all through the cabbage. Do NOT disinfect your hands or use heavy chemicals, dyes, or perfumes. You don't want that stuff in your food! Just simple soap and water. After you get it all tossed and mixed, let it sit for a few minutes so the salt begins to pull the water from the cabbage.
4. Pack your kraut into clean jars. They can be sterilized, but they don't have to be. I find the kraut is better if the jars are not sterile. Keep stuffing and packing. I use wide mouth jars and use my knuckles to keep pushing the kraut down. You keep stuffing until the juice and kraut are both about an inch from the top of the jar. 
5. Make adjustments to the amount of kraut. What you want is very tightly packed kraut that is completely below the surface of the juice that has been extracted from it. 
6. Cover loosely and monitor for 3 or 4 days at around 70°. You can get those nifty airlock lids for fermenting, but I do just fine using canning lids. Just set a lid on top of each jar. Keep rings nearby, but do NOT leave them on the jar for an extended period or the pressure of developing gasses will break your jars! So every few hours, or as I happen to be in the kitchen, I'll check to make sure the kraut is all below the juice. If I feel like it, I'll put the rings on and gently shake the jars around to release bubbles. Then I remove the lid and pack the kraut back down. I then replace the lid, but remember, not the ring!
7. Taste! After about three days, taste your kraut. If it's rich and sweet, you're done! Store in the fridge or cool cellar between 35 and 55°.  As long as your ferment is alive, do not seal your jars! If you use the plastic lids screwed on loosely, that works. Remember to check occasionally to make sure the kraut stays below the juice. Sauerkraut will keep like this for 3 or 4 months. Maybe as long as six months under perfect conditions. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


  Introducing the new home of Qwatra Gardens! After years of dedicated effort, diligence, planning, and tight budgeting, Chuck and I have found our little piece of heaven! I wake up every morning and can't believe we live here! We could not have possibly found anything more perfect! Right now we are renting, but the owners have said they will be selling in the near future, so guess who's first on the list to buy! 

The wildlife here is CRAZY abundant! We have only been here a week and we have seen resident flocks of deer, swarms of turkeys, herds of ravens, dozens of squirrels playing in the trees (and leaving piles of pine cone scales all over the ground!), an eagle sitting in the top of the tree above the chicken pens (covered in chain link for a reason!), I heard an elk trumpeting just around the river bend, (yes I just said that!), and a woodpecker was knocking on our bedroom wall, and was then sitting on the balcony outside our bedroom door this morning!  Let me remind you that it's only been our first WEEK! I'm in paradise! Let's just hope we can keep the bears out of the kitchen! ;)
  We only have 5 acres at present, but that will be just about right for a small scale to start. I trust Creator and know full well that when the time is right, more land will become available for us to purchase. The front of the property out by the road is sunny and flat and will be the place for the greenhouse and the majority of the gardening. It will take quite a fence to discourage elk, moose, rabbits, raccoons, and quite probably bears. Of course, we will just have to plant a few mulberry trees and keep everyone fed, fat, and happy! We have permission to grow an edible landscape and short of chopping trees (not that we would consider that anyway) are at liberty to grow whatever we like in the flower beds and planting areas around the house! I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Here Come the Buckeyes!

Bringing Back the Buckeye
I have been patiently waiting for Buckeyes, and now I am finally rewarded! This very special breed is making a comeback from near extinction, a fate many breeds were and still are facing after the introduction of commercial hybrid chickens that convert feed into meat and eggs with such tempting efficiency that almost all else is ignored. Now the farm world is realizing what a mistake that is. Hybrids are weak. They are incapable of reproducing themselves, are prone to disease,  cannot forage well, can't defend themselves, and as a result, quite frankly, commercial grade chickens are severely lacking in personality!
Buckeye Roo, Crains Run Ranch

So, lesson learned, farmers and homesteaders are turning once again to old heritage breed chickens. And in my opinion, the Buckeye tops the list! Buckeyes were created as a breed in Ohio; the only American breed credited to a woman as its creator. With their compact pea combs and short tucked waddles, these birds were made for survival! Whether hot and dry or shivery cold, Buckeyes are right at home, scratching and pecking for this and that, able to find and forage for most if not all of their own food.The hens are excellent mothers and will happily raise their own babies if given the chance. The roos are watchful protectors, but are not aggressive to people. (though there is always that ONE)
 This breed is noted for being curious and friendly, and will gladly accept treats right from your hand. Some even enjoying being held and petted or even riding around on your shoulder. Roosters weigh in at 9 pounds; hens are about 6 1/2 and lay a light tan egg every other day. 
Strombergs Hen
After asking around and waiting for several breeders, I finally decided to ask Strombergs if they had a few, even though they are sold out according to their website. Strombergs is recognized by the American Buckeye Club for their line of Buckeyes. It was my lucky day! After checking with the incubator room, they had just enough to fill my order, and said there probably wouldn't be any more till spring! So we will be getting our babies on Sept 10th. As I expected, there is a lot of demand for this breed, and more buyers are lining up than I have chickens! I ordered 100, 88 pullets and 12 cockerels, so I will be selling 10 starter flocks of 7 pullets and a roo, and keeping the last 2 roos and about 18 pullets for starting our own flock. We will grow them out over winter and be ready to breed in the spring! WOOT!
decided to ask Strombergs if they by any chance had a few extras, even though their website says they are sold out for the year.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Speckled Sussex

I am super excited to announce our new flock of Speckled Sussex! We have 11 hens and two roos. We bought them as adults from a local farm from three young brothers who started their own business! The chickens each have names, though I can't remember them all yet. The roos are Jeremiah and Markus. That's easy enough. The girls are Veronica, Ruby, Screech, Linda, Philadelphia, Daisy, Leigha, Carry, Snow, Charity, and Constance. So far I know Ruby, Snow, and Constance.
Speckled Sussex are amazing dual purpose chickens. They are nice size birds; roos are around 9 pounds and hens come in at around 7.
Sussex chickens lay a light cream egg about every other day. See the larger eggs in the picture to the right (smaller ones are bantam eggs). We have had our girls only a few days, and they really didn't stop laying, even during their transition period. Usually after moving hens to a new location, they will stop laying for a couple weeks until they get used to their new home. But these girls took it all in stride and continue to lay about 3 to 5 eggs a day. I expect that to bump up to a solid 5 or 6 eggs a day in another week or so.
The best part about Speckled Sussex is their ability to forage and feed themselves! They eat anything and everything! Whether you're a prepper looking for a chicken that can survive Armageddon, or just someone looking for a chicken that won't break the piggy bank, this is the breed for you!
As an added bonus, this breed is super friendly and entertaining! They are such bundles of personality and so fun to watch! Since each one looks different, it's easy to keep track of which one is which and fun to give them names.
I'm looking forward to my adventures with this breed! And of course, I already have a breeding project in mind! ;)
Jerry, lost his tail in the move, but foot is better! 

More to come!