Baked Pears

It’s apple picking season! Every year we go to a u-pick orchard and bring home about 40 pounds of apples. We went early this year, and the honeycrisps and macintoshes were ripe. I’ll have to go back to get cortlands and my favorite, the macouns. However, the orchard did have four trees full of bosc pears. When you get them fresh off of the tree, the skin is thin and the fruit is juicy – nothing like the pears found mid-winter in the supermarket!

Bosc aren’t the best baking pears, but you can gussy them up a little and they’re delicious. I like to make a batch of baked pears, and then eat them for breakfast with yogurt. Baked pears (or, use this same template for apples) are as easy as can be. Get out a baking dish. Core the pears(did you know there’s a simple tool for this task?) and set them upright in the baking dish. Then fill the cores with good stuff, like dried fruit, or granola and a bit of crystalized ginger. Put in a cinnamon stick and a small dab of butter. Drizzle honey or maple syrup over the pears. Pour in some apple cider so that the pears are sitting in about a half-inch of liquid.

Here they are about to go in the oven:

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, or until soft through.

Dust Bathing

Once every few weeks a HenCam fan emails me in a panic – they’ve seen a sick, or possibly dying (!) chicken.  So far, every one of these viewers has been looking at blissfully happy and healthy hens dust bathing. A hen sprawled in the dirt does look sick. Her legs stick out. She’s twisting about, halfway upside-down. This odd behavior looks even stranger when viewed on the HenCam. What you can’t see from the coop’s camera are the deep dust baths that the hens have scratched out in the pen. When in them, the girls are so submerged that you might only see a bit of comb above ground level.

I’ve made a video of Buffy dust bathing so you can have a good view of this strange, yet normal behavior. Don’t hesitate to email me if you see something amiss on the HenCam. But, perhaps with this video there will be fewer false alarms!

For Teachers, Librarians and Homeschoolers

Welcome! I’m honored that so many teachers, librarians and homeschool educators are making use of the HenCam. Here’s a page that might be of use. I’ve put down some ideas about how to use Tillie Lays an Egg and my web sites in the curriculum. Let me know if you have something to add.

I do library story times and classroom visits. As you can see, sometimes I bring Tillie!

I live about 30 miles west of Boston. Contact me if you’d like more information about these programs. At this time I don’t do skype or video conferences. However, I’m happy to answer email questions from your students. (Please put up to ten questions in one email from the classroom’s address -don’t have the individual students email.)

If you are reading Tillie Lays an Egg in the classroom, I’ll put a hello! notice on the HenCam homepage. I used to hang a sign in front of the camera, but Candy liked to play with them, and she shredded several messages (including the plastic sleeves!)

Here in New England, the start of school coincided with a dramatic change in the weather. One day it was wiltingly humid and hot, and the next, when the school buses rolled down the street, it was crisp and we all put on sweaters. I hope that the beginning of your school year is as invigorating for you.

Gone Fishing

Great blue herons are stately in repose. They are serene, these stealth fishermen, but in a quick jabbing moment, they spear fish and swallow them down whole.

Even a fish this big.

There’s too many fish in our little pond, so I don’t mind the heron thinning out their ranks. However, I’m none too pleased that the heron caught one of my prettiest fish.

Of course, the bird has come back to this pool of easy pickings. Lily has a new job- keeping the heron away.

You’d think that a bird that has a hard time heaving itself into the air, and flies slowly, limbs akimbo, wings beating hard, would hurry off when the kitchen door opens. You’d think that when I yell, watch out bird, while holding the eager dog’s collar, that the heron would appreciate the head start and get moving. It takes it’s time. The heron does, slowly, fly out of range. It’s a big bird. Huge. When it lands on a bare branch near the coop, the wood creaks and some bark falls to the ground. To Lily’s dismay, though, the branch holds.

Lily has chased the bird off of the pond three times this morning. She has earned three cookies. I’m sure she’ll be earning more.