Q & A with Master Gardener: Serafina Berafina

Well, you guys asked for it, and we’re finally able to deliver. These are all questions you have sent in for Serafina, world-renowned gardening expert.

Q: What soil amendments do you use?

A: Well, normally I only use compost, but this year I used a little fertilizer as well. I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘what about the soil microbiome???’ Yeah, I read The Soil and Health too (no I didn’t, it was way too boring) In my defense, I only used a little bit of fertilizer and I used compost as well. Most importantly, I found a cruelty free fertilizer.

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Vegan fertilizer: for when your vegetables don’t taste self-righteous enough

Follow up question: Can’t you just make your own fertilizer by growing soybeans?

Follow up answer: Oh, shit, I didn’t realize you guys got the internet out in Iowa. Um… Yeah, you could probably do something like that. You should just ride your tractor down the road a bit and ask your neighbor though.

Q: That was kind mean. I almost don’t want to look you up on FarmersOnly anymore.

A: That wasn’t really a question, but feel free to look me up on FarmersOnly. I’m ToplessMotherOfChickens.

Q: Ugh, fine! How are you handling the stress of chicken motherhood?

A: OMG, reader, OMG. Amelia, my golden chicken, eats all of her own eggs. Every damn one of them. I’ve tried everything. We talked about why she is acting out and whether the other girls are picking on her. My boyfriend made roll-away nesting boxes. I looked into putting up privacy curtains in front of the nesting boxes so she doesn’t feel so anxious. Nothing is helping. I don’t know what to do. I’ve started drinking heavily to cope with the lack of eggs. Everyone I talk to recommends that we slaughter my baby chicken and eat her, like you would any human child that stopped laying eggs. It’s just all too much for me right now.

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Q: Wow, that got a little intense. Maybe we should get to something lighter? Um, what are you growing this year?

A: Great question. I’m a little behind in my planting what with all of the woman problems Mary Ellen told you about last week. So far I have tomatoes, jalapeño, spinach, radishes, lettuce, arugula, carrots, and snap peas. Corn, squash, beans, cucumbers will be planted later this week. Also some flowers or whatever.

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Q: Do you have any gardening bras that you can recommend?

A: No, my boob kept popping out of my bra the whole time I was planting today. It was exceedingly bothersome until I just took off my bra and top (but then I had to apply sunscreen).

Q: Who submitted all of these questions? Some of them seem suspiciously intimate…

A: How dare you imply that I wrote my own questions and answers, don’t make me come over to whatever area of the internet you’re from and make an in-person frowny face at you!

Well, internet friends, there you have it. All you wanted to know about Serafina’s gardening (and more!)

XOXO

Serafina

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Birthday Cake for Chickens

As you all know, I am completely and utterly obsessed with my chickens. They turned two last week and we had quite the celebration. I wrote about my chickens last year as well on their birthday. This year my boyfriend called me out on playing favorites with the youngest chicken, so we celebrated everyone’s birthday mid-week instead of just celebrating on my favorite chicken’s birthday. It’s important to try to grow as a chicken-parent over time. Sometimes your co-chicken-parent provides meaningful feedback and you have to at least pretend to listen. Other times you just make the chicken cake on the day it works out with your schedule and it happens to look like you are compromising. Who’s to say?

Anyway, I do love all of my chickens so very much. This year’s chicken birthday cake wasn’t quite as big of a hit with them as last year’s (there was more fruit in last year’s), but they enjoyed it nonetheless.

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Carrot Cake Oatmeal Birthday Cake for Chickens

Ingredients

  • Oats
  • Water or almond milk
  • Grated carrots
  • Pecans or other nuts
  • Raisins or something
  • Cinnamon
  • Banana for serving

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Instructions

Make oatmeal by placing oats, etc on the stove with water/milk and applying heat. It’s not very complicated. I believe in you (I mean, I don’t really, but I also don’t feel like writing out the rest of how to make oatmeal, look it up on youtube it if you are still confused).

Put the oatmeal in a ramekin to set and leave in the fridge for a few hours. Once you’re ready to serve the chickens cake, cut a banana lengthwise and gently wrap around the oatmeal cake.

Put in the appropriate number of candles and then blow them out before you take it outside. Cut into several pieces so the chickens don’t fight over the food and everyone gets some.

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I still love my chickens more than you

Serafina

Broccoli Cheese Frittata

You guys, I have some rough news. You see, Mary Ellen and I have been friends for a long time, and I watched her go through the horrors of not eating gluten for YEARS before she ate some bread and was like “oh fuck yeah, this shit’s the best!” Well, my dearest, darling-est boyfriend is now talking about going GF. It’s literally killing me. You read that right, it isn’t figuratively killing me, it’s very literal. Because gluten is life’s antivenom (I guess the venom part is just normal life. Too dark?)

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I tried to take a pretty picture but didn’t even bother getting all the feather particles off the eggs

Anyway, I try to be supportive every now and then, so I made a quiche without the delicious gluten-y crust. And then I put broccoli in it, which he doesn’t eat anyway. He wasn’t happy. But the good news here is that my chickens are laying eggs more frequently since it’s getting closer to spring, so I had an abundance of eggs. My chickens are such good girls. At least they still eat gluten with me.

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Chickens look weird without arms if you think about it too long. But if they had arms they’d be little t-rex arms since they’re dinosaur birds

Ingredients

8 eggs

1 large or two small heads of broccoli, chopped into small florets

About ½ cup cheese (or if you hate going to the store, 5-6 slices of cheese chopped into small pieces)

½ cup unsweetened almond milk or regular milk

Olive oil

Small amount onion powder

Salt and pepper

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I’m sure you can’t tell which cheese option I went with. Are there really any benefits to shredded cheese? It’s just more work, even if you don’t include the trip to the store

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400

Heat oil and onion powder in cast iron skillet (or another oven safe skillet) and add broccoli. Cover and let steam/simmer for a few minutes until bright green and just a little soft

Beat eggs with milk, add a little pepper and salt, then stir in cheese

Pour egg mixture over broccoli and even out where your massive chunks of sliced cheese went if that is a problem

Cook for about 10-15 minutes, checking frequently. It’s done when the middle is just set

Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

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It’s such a pretty frittata. My boyfriend wouldn’t even try it.

May you all find something with gluten to eat very soon

Serafina

Chicken Birthday Cake

I have some very strong opinions about birthdays. I think that birthdays should be a guaranteed paid day off from work. I think that alcohol should be served at all birthday gatherings, especially any gatherings involving young children. And I think that everyone deserves a birthday cake.

I don’t do anything for the cats’ birthday because I don’t like the cats and also they’re not mine. I also don’t do much for the tortoise, but that’s because he only eats greens and I just can’t, in good conscious, make a salad into a cake. My chickens, however, turned one-year-old over the weekend, and you can bet your ass we celebrated the shit out of their birthday.

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You don’t make friends with salad

Actually, three of the four chickens turned a year old over a week ago, but we only celebrated on the youngest one’s birthday because she’s my favorite. My mom says I shouldn’t have a favorite chicken because she’s really supportive and talks to me about how I’m raising my chickens.

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This was the day we got the youngest chicken. I’m sure you can see why she’s my favorite. The red lighting stops the chicks from cannibalizing each other, which would not be adorable.

Chickens change your perspective on things. When they were about six months old, a friend came over to meet the chickens and I finally got to explain my theory that people should have chickens instead of children. I’ll break it down for you. So you get to raise them from like a day old, and they recognize you’re their mom. At first, they’re really cute and helpless and make adorable peeping noises. They also get poop stuck to their butts and you have to clean it off so they don’t die. I actually think that needing to check their butts every couple hours to make sure they didn’t have poop stuck on their butt fluff really helped us bond, but unlike human children who poop themselves for years, this phase lasts like a week for the chickens. (I seriously considered trying to get chicken-maternity leave at first because I worried about them so much, but my boss had just had a human kid so I figured at best I’d get told no and at worst I’d offend my boss by asking.) Chicks live inside the house with you needing a good deal of attention for about two months, and then they move outside. It’s fucking perfect. It’s the exact right amount of time to take care of a creature you love before kicking them out, because it’s your goddamn house and you need your space. I feel so sorry for people who have human kids because they don’t move outside until they’re like 18 years old.

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They were about two weeks away from moving outside in this picture. If you’re wondering if I was emotionally ready for them to be so far away, just look up “chicken dust” and you’ll have your answer.

I think two months is a far more reasonable amount of time to invest in parenting. And the best part is, once they’re four or five months old they give you fresh, delicious eggs all the time! I haven’t checked yet, but I’m fairly certain that human kids don’t lay eggs.

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Colorful backyard eggs are so much better than grocery store eggs.

Anyway, I love these chickens so damn much. I visit them outside multiple times a day to bring them treats, collect eggs, and tell them how much I love them. On their birthday, I knew I needed to make sure they got a much better treat than their usual greens and scratch grains, but obviously a chocolate cake would hurt their adorable tummies, so I had to get creative.

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Ingredients:

Serves 4 chickens

4-5 Frozen strawberries

Oatmeal (I made mine with currants, almonds and pecans)

½ a banana

Instructions:

Put the frozen strawberries in the bottom of a ramekin. Pour oatmeal over strawberries to cover (the ramekin should be about half full). Let set in the fridge for a few hours.

Before serving, loosen the oatmeal from the sides of the ramekin and then invert onto a plate (I generally use plastic plates when I’m serving chickens). Thinly slice the banana lengthwise and place around the oatmeal cake.

If using candles, be sure to blow them out before serving the chickens. Chickens aren’t very good at blowing on things.

Cut into four pieces and spread out across the plate to ensure each chicken will have access to the cake.

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The fifth strawberry was bonus for the fastest chicken. It went to the one on the left.

Then text a picture to your mom, if she’s not proud, she’ll at least pretend to be.

Love my chickens more than you

Serafina