Friday, June 27, 2008

independence days - week 9

since i'm struggling to get the garden in again this year due to my rambunctious toddler, i thought taking the id challenge would be a good moral booster for me. i try to practice this idea anyway during the growing seasons so it's a great reminder of how much i really do even when it feels like i don't.

this has been a week of putting out fires. 4 gallons is a massive amount of cherries to pit by hand (note to self, look into buying a pitter AND a harvest basket that straps to body). clover is giving me a steady 1/2 gallon a day and increasing. harvesting honey was no easy task but a delicious one! i felt bad that we took the honey but the local beekeeper reassured us it wasn't bad since there was so much blooming right now, they would make it up quickly. and sheesh, they filled this super in 10 days plus started capping it off.

we lost 4 more broilers. we are down to 16 now. we started with 30 with all the free ones. i'm pretty disappointed. round two arrives next week. hopefully we'll do better with them. the turkeys are thriving though. they are so sweet with all their whistles and chirps. thanks to the advice of giving the turkeys raw eggs/yogurt. i happened to have a bunch of old (like 2 years - i can't throw anything out!) frozen eggs that i've been feeding the turkeys. at first, they didn't want it but now, they attack it. i also give them curdled milk. i need to handle them to get them friendly.

1. plant something:
^nothing, nada, zip!

2. harvest something:
^eggs, milk
^4 gallons cherries
^1 super of honey (we had to remove it because greg put together the frames wrong although all was well when we pulled it off)

3. preserve something:
^milk - yogurt, cheese
^5 quarts cherry pie filling
^2+ gallons honey

4. prep something:
^purchased 1 gallon of honey from local beekeeper
^pitting and prepping cherries
for drying purposes (recipe recommends freezing before drying)
^write up shopping/wish list for auction we'll be attending on saturday
^contacted seed store to inquire about purchasing seed for hay/pasture

5. cook something:
^added lamb's quarters in with hamburger as spinach substitute

6. manage your reserves:
^weeded garden like crazy and mulched as much as possible
^kids and i cleaned out the basement to start organizing for food storage

7. work on local food systems:
^sold eggs and jellies at local farmer's market
^gave tour of garden to local garden club leaders
^set up date to give tour to another interested party (won't be until august)

8. reduce waste:
^use canvas bags at grocery store and farmer's market
^re-use egg cartons for our nest run eggs

9. Learned a skill:
^made yogurt w/o electricity (used an old styrofoam omaha steak cooler my parents had given me years ago that i unearthed in the basement)
^learning how to extract honey w/o an extractor

hand extraction

this is what i did to extract the honey. remember, i'm no expert, this is my first attempt at doing this and i most likely did it wrong but it worked. in the future, we hope to not butcher the comb. greg will be taking the foundations out of the frames to fix the errors so it didn't really matter this time around...

first, i took a knife and cut off the comb. you can see the honey pouring down the front of the comb. yum!

this is what it looked like in the pan. a pile of comb and lots of yummy honey.

before and after shot of the frames. the foundation has been scraped clean. i used a metal spatula to scrape them down gently after cutting off the comb.

next, i poured the honey into a funnel lined with a gerber baby diaper (they suck for diapering but are excellent in the kitchen!). the honey ran through and collected in the glass measuring bowl. the first frame i heated gently on the stove to melt the wax but the other 9, i did in this manner and it worked just as well.

i tried to not put the wax parts in the strainer. instead, i tossed those into a stock pot with a lid. it is now sitting outside in the sun. yesterday, we had no sun. hopefully it will cooperate more and melt the wax enough to separate the rest of the honey out.

in answer to the preserving question, since the combs weren't capped off, i'll be freezing the honey as a precaution. however, it won't last long because once the elderberries are ripe, i'll be making elderberry mead with it. yum!

so far, i've got about 2 gallons of honey, maybe a quart shy of that.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

sweet rewards

greg had to pull the super off the hive he put on 10 days ago because he assembled the frames wrong. he did it yesterday morning and left the frames for me to take care of. in 10 days, the bees went from flat foundations to combs filled with honey and capped (in the beginning stages).

this is not bubbling from heating, it's bubbling from pouring and scraping. a giant sticky mess of goodness! when i'm done scraping the last 3 frames, i'll set the wax mixture in a stock pot with a lid on the sidewalk to extract it with the sun.

so far, i've yielded about 1 gallon and i expect when it's all done, i'll have 2 gallons. he put 3 supers on their hive and will add 2 more in the next week or two.

go bees!

between hand extracting honey and hand pitting 4 gallons of cherries, my week has been full!

Friday, June 20, 2008

independence days - week 8

since i'm struggling to get the garden in again this year due to my rambunctious toddler, i thought taking the id challenge would be a good moral booster for me. i try to practice this idea anyway during the growing seasons so it's a great reminder of how much i really do even when it feels like i don't.

sometimes, i feel like i'm just squeaking by. every little thing is done in spurts between chasing down toddlers and filling demanding preschooler requests. forget about spending any meaningful times with the older two...

this week found me planting much less, weeding and mulching more and harvesting a tiny bit more. today is started watering, a irst this year other than potted plants.

1. plant something:
^zinnias, radishes, cukes (round 2, only 7 came up in round 1), okra (round 3-nothing came up either time before
^transplanted joe pye weed, spilanthes, red rubin basil, lyre lea
f sage, white sage

2. harvest something:
^radishes, turnips, flowers, lemon balm, mint, lamb's quarters
^cherries - 2 gallons
^milk! from my new goat! (~1/2 gallon per day - not too shabby for a first time freshener who's never been milked and was being dried off when i got her!)

3. preserve something:
^more st. john's wort in alcohol
^cherries - 12 - 1/2 pints of cherry jam

4. prep something:
^cleaned out the garage that is to be converted into a wwoofer/guest cabin
^built 9 supers and 90 frames for the supers and painted the supers
^found s/s stock pot w/lid($3), more cloth napkins (.50 - .79 each), sheet set (for wwoof futon)($2), flannel sheet for one of the kids ($1), 2 wool twin sized/throw blankets ($4 for both), misc kitchen gadgets for guest cabin (.50 - .69 each), set of melamine plates, bowls, cups, saucers (19 pieces for $8), brita water filter ($1.29),3 ice cube trays (.69), 3 chairs ($18 total) for the table we already have (again for guest/wwoof cabin) at thrift store
^started a preserving recipe section in my household binder to keep track of all my favorite more 'hmmm? where was that recipe from????' as i search frantically for my tried and true recipes!
^items purchased o
ff craigslist for wwoof cabin: ceiling fan $20, door $20
^brought home 4 turkey poults and 3 does
^reviewd my options
for a ram, narrowed it down to 3 (we're getting 1)
^made soap

5. cook something:
^salads from the garden using lots of flowers - pansies, dianthus, borage, nasturtium and herbs - lemon balm, peppermint, oregano, lamb's quarters and kohlrabi and lettuce/spinach from market
^kohlrabi was a new veggie for me to try this week (yum!)

6. manage your reserves:
^used old applesauce to make apple bread
^confirmed the purchase of 4 more n-c ewes (that makes 6 plus we will be purchasing a ram too)
^weeded garden like crazy and mulched as much as possible

7. work on local food systems:
^sold eggs and jellies at local farmer's market
^bought some locally raised pork and beef from vendor at the market
^shared my cherries with a friend who helped pick and several herb plants
^picked up our 4 turkey poults! and 3 new goats
^taught a friend how to make soap

8. reduce waste:
^use canvas bags at grocery store
^re-use egg cartons for our nest run eggs
^bought used bicycle from thrift store for sage ($8)

9. Learned a skill
talked to a friend who is giving us 2 pyrenees puppies about raw food diet for them
feeding turkey poults raw chicken livers to keep healthy (anyone heard about this?)
^learning more about navajo-churros

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

what's new around here?

cherries high to the heavens!

little girls love tart pie cherries and beg for more

the bees are happy with their new super and new set-up. we'll be adding more supers this weekend to both hives. we hurried up and got this one on so the bees would be happier.

cherry picking friends forever

clover - i'll be milking her starting tomorrow morning

chamomile - they thought she was a boy and didn't disbud her so we have one with horns, hooray!

calendula? - we are still working out a name for her. i felt so bad, when we took her and left her sister, they both bawled the entire time. i almost left chamomile so i could bring her sister home with her.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

lions and tigers and sheep oh my!

we are adding to our sheep herd. a breeder in ohio led me to someone she sold 4 ewes to a few years back who is now wanting to sell them because he doesn't have time for them. he lives near cincinnati. so, we are planning a road trip (greg, jaden, sage and i) to treck from our new of the woods through indiana to ohio. we're going to consider this our vacation. ha

i've been trying to get the weeds under control in the garden. this am, when the kids get up, i'll be dragging us out to the shed to load carts
full of old goat bedding to mulch as much as possible. i managed to wipe out 3 tomatoes with the scuffle hoe. i am so pissed at myself for that.

i planted okra
for the 3rd time. i'm determined to grow it! we love our okra around here. i also replanted cukes...7 out of 36 came up.

i've made a
few runs to local thrift shops trying to find things to outfit the wwoof cabin. i've found a lot...sheets, kitchen utensils, pots, pans, baskets, some cards and other games (checkers, yahtzee), chairs (we have a table), napkins, towels.

yesterday, we harvested about 2 or so gallons o
f cherries. and that was only the bottom 1/3 of the tree! we need a better ladder system so we can reach higher! for now, there is cherry jam and cherry pie in our future!

today we are picking up a nice exterior door and a ceiling
fan w/light for 20 each. and also, going thrifting again. i'm trying to find a bike for sage.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

earth be damned (or i won't give it up)!

tagged by two frog home, the question of what won't i give up to be green is the subject. this is a hard one because i use several things for convenience but when it comes down to it, they really aren't necessary in my life.

my vehicle, i'd give up in a second if i had a team of fjords (pjedro and pjaco). i dream of a world where vehicles don't exist and we go back to horse and buggy...have so since i was a kid. i should've become amish. heh. i need the vehicle only to go pick up my kids from their dad's but i could do that on horse back! most other trips are fairly frivolous including grocery shopping. i suppose transporting livestock isn't frivolous but that could be done with a wagon too.

my fridge, gone. i have trouble keeping it stocked unless we are backed up in milk and eggs. that's not a problem anymore since we got our license.

electricity, gone. if it weren't for my laptop (see below) i could care less for electricity. we have a wood burning stove, granted it has an electric blower, and no a/c so mostly, it's for the lights and the fridge. i'd love to live more simply. (note, this is not necessarily the view of any of the other family members).

ironing board and iron - oh, i'd so like to chuck that one already. i've been extremely lax with it this week and greg has had to iron all his work shirts. shame on me (hey, i'm giving it up to green the earth. that's my story and i'm sticking with it!)

however, here are a few things i thought of:

my laptop and wifi connection and printer - seriously, i use the heck out of my computer and internet. i've actually started researching a solar power adapter to run the computer on (anyone have any good recommendations?) my printer is used every day for my business

my kitchen aid mixer - it would probably be one of the first to go but i use it to knead my bread and to churn my butter. but, i have hands and i have a churn. both work just as well but are more time consuming.

anyone else care to play?

Friday, June 13, 2008

independence days - week 7

since i'm struggling to get the garden in again this year due to my rambunctious toddler, i thought taking the id challenge would be a good moral booster for me. i try to practice this idea anyway during the growing seasons so it's a great reminder of how much i really do even when it feels like i don't.

this week was all about weeding with a wee bit of harvesting tucked in. i still need to replant some things (okra, beets) and plant (pumpkins, hay). up next or harvest is our wheat crop and pie cherries! yum.
1. plant something:
sat: red rubin basil, rosemary
sun: none - all day festival
mon: none
tue: none
wed: none
thu: none
fri: 1 package zinnia seeds, 4 yellow scallop (replant), 7 cream of the crop acorn squash, chinese rose winter radish, other type of radish

2. harvest something:
^turnip seeds
^st. john's wort flowers
^shelling peas

3. preserve something:
^stored turnip seeds
^st. john's wort in oil and everclear (2 separate containers of course)
^jewelweed into olive oil
^drying thyme

4. prep something:
^worked on cleaning out the garage that is to be converted into a wwoofer/guest cabin
^made contact with another n-c owner who is looking to sell his existing herd
^started 12 more eggs in the incubator
^found 2 - 2gallon jars with bail wire lids to use for storage
^bought several items at salvation army
for guest/wwoofer cabin: sheets, blankets, pots, kitchen gear (spoons, spatulas, can opener, etc), baskets, games (checkers, yatzee), wooden folding peg rack
found a food grade 5 gallon bucket on side on road

5. cook something:
^smoothies using my kefir made from local raw milk, our strawberries and local honey, all local stuff!

6. manage your reserves:
^weeded carrots, tomatoes, basil, strawberries, onions, potatoes, basil
^uncovered brassicas (they were covered with floating row cover but it is ripped to shreds)
^5 lbs sea salt (was supposed to be 10 but the store screwed up)

7. work on local food systems:
^sold eggs and jellies at local farmer's market
^opened farm to guest or tour
^started selling kefir grains and kombucha scoby's
^sold herb plants at local horseradish festival
^taught a
friend to make mozzarella
^invited a woman i met at the market to come over and tour our
farm (they are wanting to start their own farm)
^took students on an herb walk around the property to show medicinal and edible plants

8. reduce waste:
^use canvas bags at grocery store
^re-use egg cartons for our nest run eggs

9. Learned a skill:
^learning more about navajo-churros
^practiced id-ing trees using an illinois tree book and discovered we have a roughleaf dogwood tree

spring/early summer to do list

time to retire this thing and work towards the summer to do.

-sew 4-6 dresses for jaden doesn't need anymore
-sew apron for jaden
-plant spring veggies:radishes, carrots, turnips, kale, mustard greens, lettuce, peas
-start seedlings: tomatoes, peppers, etc.
-plant potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes

-trellis grapes
-call fire department about bees
-change company to llc
-gutters on barn and shed
-set up greenhouse
-work on fencing for goats
-muck out chookhouse and start new compost pile oldest did this himself!
-muck out goat stalls in progress
-call power company and order load of mulch
-build chicken tractor

-sump pump
-wainscoting in kitchen not happening until late autumn/early winter
-start root cellar sorta some bins prepped and light bulbs
-apply for usda approval for egg sales approved!
-apply for license for selling goat's milk not doing this year
-re-stock herbal products to gear up for market
-create market herb garden

-renovate garage into summer guest cabin (to by used primarily by wwoofers)
-fence garden in on chicken side perimeter
-set up hot wire fencing around front yard for sheep

Friday, June 6, 2008

independence days - week 6

since i'm struggling to get the garden in again this year due to my rambunctious toddler, i thought taking the id challenge would be a good moral booster for me. i try to practice this idea anyway during the growing seasons so it's a great reminder of how much i really do even when it feels like i don't.

there's not a place to put it really, but i did a lot of weeding and mulching. i laid down some old black tarp that blew over from the subdivision a few years ago (black on one side, white on the other that had covered some lumber at one point) down the paths and covered with mulch to keep the weeds from popping up. i wish we had much more of the stuff!

1. plant something:
sat: sowed shatavari, tansy, arnica, eyebright, red bergamot, spilanthes, slippery elm, scarlet pimpernel, transplanted more feverfew
sun: none
mon: sowed astragalus, uva ursi
tue: transplanted calendula, curry, and an unknown flower (have to wait for it to bloom, it's self seeded from last year in the medicine circle)
wed: transplanted a bright pink bergamot and oreganos from jen's house
thu: transplanted more basil, 3 rosemary
fri: transplanted holy basil, moved around several existing plants to give them more space

2. harvest something:
^harvested eggs
^rose petals for jelly
^oregano for drying
^peppermint for drying
^st. john's wort flowers

3. preserve something:
^rose petal jelly
^st. john's wort in oil
^motherwort into vodka

4. prep something:
^repaired aladdin lamp and stored extra mantles and globes in basement
^spoke with sheep person #2 about acquiring a ram and possibly 4 more ewes
^worked on cleaning out the garage that is to be converted into a wwoofer/guest cabin

5. cook something:
^tyfon from garden (we usually eat the greens but out of desperation to have a fresh vegetable, i cooked the root which was quite good boiled and tossed with salt, fresh thyme and olive oil)

6. manage your reserves:
^using up applesauce in breakfast breads
^hatching some eggs for more chicks

7. work on local food systems:
^sold eggs and jellies at local farmer's market

8. reduce waste:
^use canvas bags at grocery store
^re-use egg cartons for our nest run eggs
^grocery shopping (i rarely do any other kind than this) less, reducing amount of waste coming into the house
^using smaller bags for garbage to encourage less waste

9. Learned a skill:
^studying up on pasture/hay field rotation

swarm catching 101 - our method

to catch a swarm, we bring along the following items: bee gear (suit, hat, gloves, smoker though we don't use it), an empty hive box (filled with frames/foundation but no bees), a huge piece of cardboard, a ladder that folds out to 24', a 5 gallon bucket, clippers to clip a branch if necessary and rope.

when we get there, greg suits up while i size up the situation. then we lay the cardboard down on the ground under wherever they are and set the hive box on top.

we remove the hive cover and 3-4 frames and set those aside. we also unplug the hive opening.

depending on the height, we set up the ladder (we didn't need this step because they were so close to the ground but usually, they are 10-15' in the air) and then survey their location. we may tie rope to the branch to help hold it steady if we have to cut it. if we can cut it and bring it down safely, then we do. if not, greg tries to knock all the bees into the 5 gallon bucket, especially the queen. i think there's a hive brush that you can brush the bees in, but he just uses his gloved hands to sweep them into the bucket.

once they are safely on the ground, we dump them out of the bucket into the hive (or brush them off the branch if they are still attached). the key is to get the queen into the hive and then everyone else will follow.

once the majority is in, the frames go back in and the cover goes back on the top. we then leave them to move on in until sundown. the other night, we only had to wait about 30 minutes since we captured them at 7:30pm. by 8:00, they were settled nicely into the box.

then, we plug up the opening, load everything back into the truck and take it home. we set the bees where we want them and unplug the opening. the next morning, they wake up, check out their new digs and get to work pollinating our flowers and clover.

i keep forgetting to bring the camera get some action shots. hopefully next time i'll remember!

that's how we do it. anyone else have a different route they take?

local eating

i don't actively participate in the local eating but thought i'd share a picture of a make-shift salad we had last night.i scraped together tyfon, lamb's quarters and radish leaves, peppermint, lemon balm, borage and nasturtium flowers, radishes and parmesan cheese. all but the cheese came from our yard. i served it with goat steaks that had been marinated/tenderized overnight, boiled tyfon sprinkled with salt, thyme and olive oil, leftover rice, fresh radishes and green beans. a mostly local dinner.

this jelly is divine! it smells like roses and the taste is subtle and wonderful. it turned the lovely pink color when i added the lemon juice to the infusion. for the record, i used the roses shown, plus a lighter pink variety and some white and yellow. fragrance is the key. if you're interested in making it, follow the violet jelly recipe.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

always look on the bright side of life

since my veggie garden is such a dismal failure at this point, i thought i'd show some pictures of things that are thriving...

after several attempts, i believe i have 3 tea trees growing:

the flower bed is filling in. i weeded and mulched it a few days ago so hopefully, the flowers will take over so i won't have to weed anymore.

i used to hate flowers/growing them because they were useless. well, i've changed my tune. i love the muted pansy colors. and, as a bonus, they are edible (most of my flowers are edible or serve some purpose even if it's to attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies).

the greenhouse is filling with plants for the festival this weekend. i need to get a lot more potted up in the next 1-2 days.

ok, at this point, i'm feeling like a failure for this but some success is better than none at all. out of 36 eggs, 2 hatched and 1 lived. and, this live one has something weird on its butt. in addition to the normal hole, it has what looks like a 2nd hole with a mole-like growth. i tried to photograph it w/o success.
another pseudo success...tiny zucchini plants are flowering.

out of a packet of seeds, i ended up getting 2 lyre leafed sage plants (one is shown on the right side). out of another packet of seeds, 3 white sage (the plants on the left). another pseudo success.

however, mugwort is king. this plant came from 1 tiny plant last year. i am still yanking seedlings left and right from the ground. they keep sprouting up. this plant is about 6' tall at this point and still growing. to the right of it is silver sage in the middle (squeezed in there) and skullcap on the right. unable to see is chamomile and fennel starts in the front. on the left of mugwort, in the front is a huge fennel plant from last year. behind skullcap is horehound, the bees LOVE it. in the far back ground is sunchoke city.

and, something in the greenhouse growing: on the left, my namesake, tansy. on the right, spilanthes.

dinner 1 - 25. they kept coming at me. if i had been in there with them, they probably would have eaten me. savages!

cinnamon, the hopefully reformed self sucker

the boys...rue and comfrey

the first hive...see all the bees outside? tabitha thinks they are hot and cooling themselves off. i hope she's right!
this is the new hive on the left. greg is building a platform for them this weekend.

we found what i think are stinkhorns in our yard today. it's very phallic, isn't it? complete with an egg sack at the base and all that brown slimy stuff at the top??? squirted out of it when my daughter touched it:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

swarm #2

we got a phone call at the end of dinner tonight...a swarm in someone's backyard. could we come get it?!

we said either we or another beekeeper would bee there shortly. we got the address, hung up and called our mentor, charlie. he threw together a hive for us and we stopped by to get it on our way out.

we got to the next town and the swarm, a small one again, was on a mulberry branch about 2' off the ground. easy-peasy.

we got most into the hive very quickly and then left it bee for about 30 minutes to allow the stragglers to go in as well. since it was close to sun down, it didn't take long at all.

when we got home and greg placed the hive next to the first swarm, he noticed the first hive had a lot of bees hanging out outside the box. seems they've already filled that puppy up. we need to get our supers STAT and hope they don't swarm in the meantime. i'll be calling kelly bees when they open in the am and order a 10 pack of supers.

we are in business!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

i present the chicken tractor...

...make that the portable chicken coop!

we teach 'em young around the tender age of 21 months, sage is quite skilled at driving the tractor!

greg double checks to make sure sage didn't bang it up when he spun the tractor around unexpectedly...
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