Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ode To Pudge

An Ode to Pudge

We thought we were in trouble,   (What were we thinking?)
We ordered a male! The pictures were so dashing
 But just look at that tail-(and we were drinking!)
Well, since we got a little woman, (you just could not deny her)
She must have a little man (she just needed one beside her)
So, and then…
Thus began the saga of
The Rooster and his Hen…
We asked for the dashing rooster
To take care of his fair dame,
And soon enough the post office
Rang us that they came.
Along with a flock of biddies
Of differentiating  clans:
Barred Rocks, ameraucanas; a mixed bunch in our plans…
We named the little rooster, Pudge
And his little woman, Pidge
Because they were of small stature; white and black (just a tidge)
They all grew up together, and all the girls soon knew
That little mister rooster Pudge was the one to look up to.
He took his position kindly; a gentlemen at his best
He proudly let them know when it was time to go to rest.
He bravely gave a warning trill, when a hawk was overhead
All the girls stood still and looked
Waiting to be led,
And when he found a delicious tidbit on the ground,
He let himself go hungry as he gave his girls what he had found.
He was so very handsome, he loved his humans too
But  sadly they were away one day
When he knew what he had to do.
The wild cat came-a-calling
And stole away his hen
He stormed up to his enemy
And there he met his end.
His humans came too late to know
All they saw were the feathers
The tears that fell that day could match the
Flooding stormy weathers.
And so, Fair Pudge, you were small, but oh! so mighty
We will never, we are sure to say
Find another so uprighty.
We know that you will rest in peace
Along with your dear Pidge
And if we could have given you lodge we would have called it
Rooster Ridge.

We are sure there are some people who will never understand how one can "fall in love" with an animal, much less of the poultry variety.... however, there is something to be said about respect for the critters that are in our world-whether we invite them, or they choose to live near us of their own accord.  

Pudge came to us via mail-order; he was described as a smaller chicken with beautiful spots on pristine white feathers...we decided to order a male and a female of this breed.  We knew from our research that they were a bit flighty; in Mamie's mind, that was like "a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs", but, since we feel that way quite a bit ourselves, we thought it would be nice to have a good-looking couple of chickens in our brood of average Joanns.  (Of course, we love them all.)


Sure enough, this little white-with-black-spots duo were the self-appointed victims that ran around the coop like we were going to send them to the guillotine; all we really wanted to do was to refill their water and food receptacles.  Pidge, the female of said duo, was especially skittish and edgy...we could never get her to come close to us. If we went into the coop to see if there were any eggs available, and she happened to be sitting in one of the boxes, she would look at us, pupils enlarging ever wider as we stepped closer. Despite our coo-ing and chicken-seducing words, if we got too near, she would let out a shreik and leap out of the box, even if her egg was half-way out, and moan and harp to all creation about her close to death encounter for a long time afterward.

Well, Pidge was the one who would always fly over the safety net we installed across the garden so that the chickens could go through their tunnel into the garden area and scratch, eat bugs, and dust-bathe to their hearts content in relative safety. Ironically, being so scaredy, it was she who would always fly over the fence and go exploring alone.  This finally caught up to her when one day, Mamie and Poppy came home to find she was gone.  Only a few beautiful, spangled feathers were left to show that she ever existed.  But, we would not have to run ourselves rugged trying to catch her or run her into the coop, where the rest of the flock were obediently and wisely settling in for the night.

However, Pudge was not so edgy as his mistress.  He was beautiful; his feathers were pure white, and the black spots shone on the bright white background so well that you were mesmerized by his looks.  We were so proud to have such a handsome rooster, but we wondered how well he would be able to hold his manly position over a bunch of girls much larger than he.  In time, he proved his manly, but gentlemanly nature; he warned his girls of impending dangers, he alerted them to tasty tid-bits he found (and could have devoured himself, leaving the girls none-the-wiser), and he shooed them into the coop at the right time of evening, when the girls would have otherwise languished outside until it was quite dangerous.  

Pudge loved Mamie and Poppy, too.  That is what endeared him to them; he would treat them like they were his own.  Pudge would run up and greet them, and look around for a treat to offer Mamie or Poppy.  He was so gentle with his girls, unlike many of the roosters they had encountered before.  Not one of them got sore backs, or were afraid of him or screamed out when he offered a romantic gesture.

Sigh-but Pudge is no more...and so this little poem is an ode to our feathered friend of whom we will never forget.  Thank you, Pudge, for all that you did for our little farm, and for giving your life in the honor of your girls...

©Sweet Pickles Farm

Saturday, March 29, 2014

French Honey Chicken on a Rainy Day

Is there a word for a complete, mayhem-at-breakneck, locomotive-speed, converging-into-one, climactic amalgam of condensed, mentally-incapacitated, nerve-splitting event?  If there is, we don't know it, so cannot use it.  But, suffice it to say, that life is crazy-busy, (but normal for us), and so we try to figure out what just happened after we lie back to assimilate stuff.  Make sense?  No?  Good!  You are just as clueless as we are :-)

It just seems that we have so much creative energy in our brains-great ideas, juices flowing for things we would like to do, meals we want to make for family and friends, projects that we know we could invent and create, added to all the things we NEED to do to survive, and also try to be a respectable part of living creatures...leaves so little time and usable capacity in said brains to hold it all...

The last couple of days were spent on work-related driving...mile upon mile of white stripes lining up one after the other, potty and gas breaks, spurts of manic conversation followed by stretches of mind-numbing silence.  We were so glad to make it home, and at one o'clock in the wee morning, we made plans for that evening for a quiet night at home making a delicious dinner.  So, here are the results of said plans...

Oh, but first of all, on the farm-front, the little lass with the head-peck injury is doing fine; all of the extra loving spewed out upon her has seemed to have made her feel an attachment to us old fogy humans.  When Poppy went out to check on the chicks, she ran up to say hi, and when Poppy crouched down, she hopped up on his leg for a scritch on her half-healed head. 

"Hey, you and me-we got something special"

We think she is going to be another lovey-hen for us in the future; awww! fuzzy-feelings here on the farm-front!

Today, spring arrived with a fury; it was a rain-soaked fury!  It poured today!  But everything is getting bright green with all the nitrogen from the thunder, and the moisture from the rain has made it feel like a secluded Eden truly is beautiful out here in the woods...

There are tiny green leaves emerging on the blueberries

Okay, we really did make a delicious dinner...a meal that is a favorite recipe of Mamie's.  It is a recipe that she got out of an older "Where Women Cook" magazine, that has become a dish that Mamie loves.  Of course, she had to put her own southern spin on it.  Most recipes taste a bit bland for us, since we live where spices are an inherent part of our food.  After making it for the first time, we added a bit of our own spice, and changed up the gravy-makin' part too, to avoid all 'dem lumps...

French Honey Chicken

1.   Preheat oven to 420 degrees.
2.   Rinse the chicken under cold running water. Pat dry. Then sprinkle with a bit of seasoning mix (in our case, Cajun seasoning).

3.   Whisk the melted butter, honey, sea salt, Herbs de Provence, and several grinds of pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Coat the chicken with the sauce.


4.   Place chicken pieces skin side up in a large oiled cast-iron skillet. 

5.   Pour 1 cup  white wine into pan.

6.   Place skillet into oven for about 45 minutes.
      (Cover with foil last several minutes if browning too much)
7.   Remove from oven and remove chicken from the juices.
8.   Return skillet to stove-top. Cook over medium-high for 3 minutes until some of the liquid is cooked off.
9.   Add the flour to the cold chicken stock and blend so as to have no lumps.
10. Pour the flour mixture into the skillet and stir for a few minutes. Cook until it reaches a thickened gravy.
11. Drizzle gravy over the chicken.

2   whole chicken Leg quarters
2   bone-in-split chicken breasts
Tony's Cajun Seasoning (or your preference, or none)
4   TB. butter, melted
3   TB. honey
2   tsp. sea salt
2   tsp. Herbs de Provence
1   cup white wine
2   TB. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chicken stock

    We have also used just legs and thighs, same cooking time...
We usually serve ours with some rustic mashed potatoes and some roasted vegetables.

And of course we end it with some Apple Pie topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Hope you enjoyed dinner! We did, and we are going to make this for Mamie's parents. Hope they like it as much as we do!

©Sweet Pickles Farm

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Come and Stay, Spring!

There are actually tiny green leaves next to the swelling, pink buds that suddenly have appeared from the dried-looking stems on the trees in the yard.  Dare we believe that spring is truly here?  It seems like winter has dawdled and dwindled. Perhaps winter is feeling that being in the limelight should be savored and coddled, no matter the effect on the shivering masses, waiting for a warm tap on their bony, winter-weary shoulders from a benevolent, old friend, Spring.  But, the calendar says that spring truly is here-Yes! we see it parked in our driveway-we are just waiting for it to get out of the vehicle and make itself a guest in our home.

 Last year at this time, we were in ecstasy (and in another state) over the birth of our new grandson...and while we were gone, grumpy old winter got back at us for leaving the farm with a freezing gust that took half of our blueberries.  Once a blueberry bush has blossomed, if there is a freeze, you will lose whichever blossoms succumb to the cold.  
Just enlarge this picture to see the blueberries to come!

This year, we are being on watch, like a once-plundered old man sitting at his window, rifle in hand, waiting for that no-good blueberry thief to show himself again.  Well, not really, but it does help to convey the feeling of not wanting to see our beloved berries stolen away again if it can be helped.  There is, after all, still a chilly wind in the air...

The bees are happily pollinating the blossoms; you can hear a low buzzing when you approach the cannot but help to imagine smoothies, blueberry pie, blueberry topped cheesecake, muffins, pancakes...OH MY!
In other news...
 The new chicks are growing up really quickly.  Poppy put up a barrier in the coop so that the old girls could still come in and privately sit in the nesting boxes without tripping over the silly young whippersnappers.

  But Poppy did not fully understand the need for the genteel, older women to have their total privacy and dignity.  He thought that if he left a space for the little ones to run under when the big girls were around, they would  respectfully take their leave when they got the stink eye from the matriarchs.  Hmmm, you would think, would you not?  However, Poppy did not listen to Mamie (again) this time, and felt he had come up with an ingenious plan to just let the old and young intermingle and get to know each other's inherent qualities. Please note the results below....

 You probably can guess: the little gawky nerds went way beyond their boundaries, and one poor girl got her head knocked silly; she was put into her place by an older woman that knows how things are done around here.  So, Poppy really  made extra work for himself-not only having to put up another board on the bottom of the partition, but also putting the little teenaged patient in isolation with a greasy head full of triple antibiotic. around the farm....never a dull moment.
Nurses Pickles and Stella insisted that they have a look at the bandaged patient...

Said patient was embarrassed that she was in this predicament....

Nurse Pickles, gifted animal whisperer that she is, knew to check the distressed chickie's temperature...

"She will live!" nurse Pickles proclaimed.  So Mamie and Poppy can rest tonight, knowing that the little mischievous chick will grow up with her siblings.  Thank you, Pickles, for your gift of foresight.

In other farm news, Mamie had a craving for something sweet and delicious, but she did not want to lift a pinkie to make a delectable dessert.  So she asked Poppy to take a turn and make a special dish they could enjoy together.  Here is what he presented her with...

Mamie is still mad that Poppy stole the baby leaves off of her hydrangeas....but at least her sweet-tooth was calmed for the night.

Good thing Mamie didn't chew those leaves!  POISONOUS!!!
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