Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our Suburban Homestead.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Taking a blog break.

After some long thinking I am taking a break from my blog writing.I really enjoy writing and sharing what we are up to but there is one dream I had for this blog that has yet to come about.I had hoped that there would be more conversation going on in the comments section.I wasn't looking for compliments,I was looking for conversation and in put. Sharing thoughts,ideas and all of the rest of the good the bad and the ugly that can happen when you are working on living a more sustainable lifestyle.

What really put me to thinking about a break is a matter of personal principal that I am a bit rigid on sometimes to a fault.But it is part of who I am at my core and in my mind a point of being a decent human being.I can not make myself sway a different direction on this one.

A while back Green Man sent me the Liebster Award and requested me to follow along.I was totally honest and stated that this was really not my cup of tea but would play along in a way that I was comfortable with.I was open about this point,I wrote the blog post and made sure to thank him for the award.This is getting to the point of me not being able to let go of my principal.I never heard one word in reply from Green Man.

In my mind when you do something for someone else a thank you should be given.Just a plain and simple thank you.I would think that we all learned that one even before we all got to kindergarten.We are all working on building better lives through living a more green way but the planet can not be a better place if people do not show each other a bit of grace.

Part of me thinks that I owe an apology for throwing Green Man out on the mat in such a public way but part of me thinks not.So all I am going to say about that is what comes around goes around for both of us.

One of my goals for this year is to spend less time talking and more time doing.Meaning-

Spending less time on the computer wasting time I could be doing something that adds value to my life.
Not waiting to do something later when I have the time now.
And finally, talking less about getting together with friends but actually getting together with them.

All of these points really tie into why I am taking a blog break for me.I am finding the computer to be a mind and time sucking vortex that is keeping me at times from using  my time to do more of the things I love.I also want to be working on the friendships in my life by actually spending face to face time with the people I enjoy.Social media,email,text messaging and even this blog to a point are all becoming a bit fake to me.
Yes, everyone is keeping up with each other on a minute to minute bases but no one is stopping to enjoy each other's company.It's like the human connections are fading away from our lives.Isn't community about coming together? I am still working all of this out in my head and by taking a break from here I think I will get that done quicker.I do know that I want to fill my life with things I love and love doing,hopefully a break will answer my question "Do I still enjoy blogging?".

One last time I am going to invite all of you to add your thoughts in the comments,let's see where they take us.

Rois

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pete I love you man.

So I totally do not like that show "Portlandia". It makes me crazy! But when your favorite chicken guy Pete is on ya gotta watch.

Everyone let me introduce you to Pete our chicken guy,he's just being his open honest and frank self here.Even when talking about chicken butts.

Watch the video,I learned something new from it and so should you.




Rois

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Down with the 'flu.

I am down with the 'flu so until I am back here's a little something to enjoy.





Rois

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Liebster Award from Green Man




Today I received a Liebster Award from Green Man who follows my blog.I was unfamiliar with this award but here is what I read about it-

For those bloggers and readers who are unfamiliar with this award, “The Liebster Award" is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. The word ” Liebster” comes from German and can mean the sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, most beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

Thank you Green Man for your kindness.As a blogger with a quiet comment box I appreciate your thought.

And it looks like these are the rules to the award-

 Here are the Rules for this Award

Thank the person who nominated you.

When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

Pass the award onto 6 other blogs (while making sure you notify the blogger that you nominated them!) You write up 11 NEW questions directed towards YOUR nominees. 

You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated your own blog!

You paste the award picture into your blog. (You can Google the image, there are plenty of them!)


I am not a very good follower or one to pass chain letters on But for this post I will go so far as to try to think of 11 random things about myself and to answer Green Man's questions.I am being honest here, I may never get around to passing this forward.


11 Random things about me:

1. I am highly competitive.Especially when it comes to boys/men.I can not stand the thought of them out doing me in any way.

2.I LOVE Kung Fu movies.

3. I am getting ready to build a moped for racing.It's that "can't let a boy beat me" thing again.

4.I always root for the underdog.

5.If I could eat mangoes and sticky rice everyday I would be very happy.

6.I don't like bodies of water I can't see to the bottom of.I am sure there are sea monsters under there.

7.I have been teaching myself how to fiddle.Move over Sherlock.

8.I am happiest when I am outdoors.

9.Once upon a time I wanted to be a Midwife.

10.I love my freckles.

11.I still have not given up the dream of living in a yurt.


Green Man's questions for me-

1. What inspires you to blog?
   When I started to blog there not many blogs out there sharing the information I do through my blog.So I figured why not do it myself,there had to be others out there somewhere searching like I was.Some posts are inspired by what I read all over the place,a project we have done or just me being random.
2. What advice would you give to other bloggers?
     Just keep at it if it is something you enjoy.Make it your own and use your own writing voice.

3. What is your favorite book?
   My favorite book is Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. I have read it once a year since I was 17.

4. If you won a million dollars what would you do with it?
   Buy 5 acres,go to school again,encourage Chance to find something he loves for work and travel.
      
5. If you could, would you go back to school and for what?
     I am currently working on going back to school to become  a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.

6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?
      A dump truck driver.
7. Have you ever traveled outside of your country of origin?
     Nope.But we are working on getting Italy and Vietnam.
8. What is your favorite thing to make?
    Food and art,they both give me endless joy.

9. If you do magic, what kind do you use most often?
     Dear Green Man, as a person who lived in South East Asia you should know that magic is not spoken of with strangers.

10. If you garden, what is your favorite things about it?
      I love the whole process but the sore back part.I love feeling more connected to the Earth and our food.Working in the garden is like going to a temple for me,it can be peace and solitude for me.

11. What is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything?

 If we all simply showed others and the Earth love,kindness and acceptance everything would work out for the better.


Alright when I previewed this post there is something up with the font sizes.Being a bit dim when it comes to fixing things please just flow with me here.

I have a whole other post that will be coming in the next day or so.This past week has been productive here so there are things to share.


Rois


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Garden Soil overhaul step 1.


Yesterday Chance and I picked up 6 bags of compost to get a start on overhauling the soil of our back garden.We also picked up 2-  20 pound bags of  agricultural lime to mix in.

Here in Oregon it rains a lot, which can be an understatement to say the least. The rains leech out many minerals that are vital for healthy soil and vigorous gardens.Plants need both calcium and magnesium to be healthy.One of the best ways to fix this problem is to use agricultural lime.This kind of lime is usually a 50/50 mix of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.Pretty handy stuff,no mixing and figuring just spread it on.
There are various ratios for how much lime to use for how many square feet but Chance simply sprinkled a thick-ish layer all over so it was fairly even.He used half of one of the 20 pound bags over our big back garden and on some of our front garden beds.This seemed like a semi-educated guess to him.

 If you live in the Willamette Valley like we do you may have problems with having too much clay in your soil as well. You can't live in an area that was once a giant lake and not have clay. This is where the importance of compost comes in.The compost will break up the clay in the soil and will slowly release the nutrients it holds into the soil.The compost also helps the soil retain water,makes it easier to dig and invites beneficial soil critters to move in and thrive.

This morning Chance laid out a 2 inch layer of compost over the lime on the back garden.He only got half way before he ran out but we still have time to finish.



This is only the first step in our soil overhaul.We will finish the layer of compost and then add a layer of new garden soil we will have dropped here.All of this will get mix together using a rented rototiller.



When plants are getting the nutrients they need to be happy and healthy they will actually pass on that good nutrition to you when you eat them.There is that circle of life thing in a not often thought of way-healthy soil,healthy plants leading to healthier you.I wonder if this point is also why homegrown veggies and fruits just taste so much better? Actually I think it may true because when you pick your veggies from out your backdoor they are at their peak of freshness.That freshness starts to fade the longer the time is from picking to eating.And if I remember right the nutrients start to fade too.

This past week I also looked around online to find out when the nurseries might have strawberry plants in.My Grandparents raised strawberries so I knew it was early in the Spring or very late Winter.I have chosen two varieties.I have chosen the Tri-Star's because they are "ever" bearing meaning we will get two crops and are great for jam.My second choice are the Rainier's,they produce only one crop but are also known for being excellent for making jam.Both will be available late March early February. I will call the nursery closer to that time to be sure of when they will be in.One year Chance and I were a week late on getting some onion sets we wanted badly,I don't want to miss out on berries!

Having a clearer idea of time will help us to know where exactly we need to put the building of the boxes on our "To Do " list. We will need to build and fill two raised beds for the berries,we would like to have one bed of each kind.I will be making a list of  early planting seeds *** timed for this too.I am hoping we will make a small road trip an hour south to Albany to visit the Nichol's nursery,if we are going that far I might as well make a list for some one trip shopping.Yeah! A road trip to buy plants and seeds.Oh and one of our favorite coffee shops is right across the highway.Wow,that sure is going to suck..just kidding.

When I was looking at seeds online I came across a book that is coming out in March.
"The Drunken Botanist"written by Amy Stewart. I am going to be sure to check it out once it hits the stores.It might be fun to add in some plants and try some of her recipes.

We have been seeing that Spring chicks will be in soon at the local farm stores! We will be getting some of our own for sure.And Chance and I are working on timing a Chicken Butchering class for when some of those chicks will be of butchering age.We will keep all of you  posted.

I would really love to hear what all of my readers are thinking about this time of year,have your input and feed back.It really does keep me motivated and I end up learning new things or meeting new friends.


Rois




*** After I posted this Chance and I were talking about seed needs for the coming year.We both realized that if we don't buy all of our seed in the early Spring there may be none to be had later for winter plantings.In the past we have not had enough seed to really see us through the winter months.Looks like that is trip to Nichol's is going to be a bigger shopping trip than I first thought.






Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Homestead planning.

Happy New Year everyone! So far I am thinking 2013 is going to be a good year,if today is what the rest of the year will be like things will be great.The sun was out all day, had a mellow busy day at home with Chance and the house smells good with cooking food. Nice way to start the year I think.

Today Chance and I sat down to make out our yearly project lists.One list for indoors and one for outdoors.Then everything laid out by month so things get done at the right time of year.Timing is everything when you are planning a garden.

Everything on our indoor list is all about painting and replacing the bathroom window.A small list of things that will be left until summer to do, when we are just waiting around of the garden to grow.But not our bedroom,that will be sooner because this girl is super excited to revamp our room floor to ceiling!

The outdoor list is longer and will most likely take most of the growing season to do.

We realized at the end of the growing season this past fall that some of our fruit was on its last leg.We planted one of our rows of Raspberries when we first moved here 13 years ago and they have not produced well the past two.We checked in one of our gardening books and it said cane berries are only good for ten years,so we are a couple of years over due for new canes.That row of raspberries is also in a now awkward spot because of the coop run layout we can not easily get to the berries on the back side of the row.And having the berries there eats up about 10 feet of garden space.So we have planned for new canes and to move the bed to an already  built bed in the front yard.(Hopefully there will be no more thieving of our fruit this year.)

Our strawberries are also needing to be replaced.They have a life span of about 3 years and that bed has been over run with grass.Since strawberries are heavy feeders it is a good idea to move them to a new location so we don't have any soil issues in the future.We plan to split the bed into two low raised beds,set about four feet back from where the old bed is.By raising the beds we will hopefully not have the grass issue anymore.

The berry beds will be built and filled by March so once the plants are available we are set to plant.

In the same area we are planting the strawberries we will build two other beds as well.One will be for peas and the other for lettuces.By the time the lettuces are done due to heat it will be time to plant onions in that bed.

The big back garden needs a total soil overhaul,badly.We are planning on dumping on some thick layers of compost and mulch that will get tilled into the soil.The garden will also get a heavy handed dose of Steve Solomon's fertilizer mix that we mix our selves. *** I think that only links to the page with the fertilizer mix "recipe" but the whole article is well worth reading if you are not familiar with Steve Solomon.*** This will happen in the next few weeks.We want to get things set in place so the soil can settle in once again before we plant come March.

Besides reworking the garden areas we have an old ratty tatty apple tree that will come down, a shed to dismantle,a gate to rebuild and the moving of some bamboo as well.None of those are time sensitive so we will just do them as we have time for them.

As Chance and I were looking over our project list and looking at planting times we realized we have some work to get done over the next 2-3 months. We've been gardening for a long time now,13 of them here.Over time we have gotten down planting times pretty well.That is if the weather at least semi cooperates with us.Timing of projects is important if everything is going to be in place at the right moment.

A thing I  started awhile ago to help us keep on track is a garden/farm practice of keeping a log book just for homesteading things.I keep track of seeds,individual chicks,when we planted trees and resources we have used.Each thing has notes about it such as- did not like,very good, bad layer,where we purchased or with whom we traded for ect. I also list phone numbers for the different farms we have used for u-pick.This book is really helpful when I am thinking of what to plant and if we need new hens which kind we have liked best.

The final thing we like about sitting down and planning out the years projects is we can start to budget for them.To help with the budget we check prices for things we will need and write the estimated costs next to the project on the list.We then know how much to aim for,maybe allow for wiggle room or rethink a project due to cost or time.Sometimes we find we have some extra cash on hand,we can then look at the list and see if there is a project that we can get started on that fits into the extra cash budget.

Written down it all sounds so business like, schedules,costs,material lists blah,blah ... It is and it is not.We are working for ourselves to make our lives better but there's more flow to it than a 9-5 clock.It's all done by  a clock that runs on seasonal time ticking by the day or week not hours.Like any work that needs to be done there are times when we are busy with a heavy work load,that's ok because we know there will be plenty of time to sit and watch the garden grow.

People say that winter is a time for coming indoors and resting.To me this is only partly true - yes in November and December there is not much to be done out in the gardens but come January things shift like the sun turning it's head to bring us more light. There is prep work to do,seed catalogs to dream over and plans to be laid out in tidy rows just like our garden beds.Our winter nap is over,time to get back to work.



I am personally excited for the coming year.Things are just looking hopeful and full of living life.One new thing that is already in place is I will be dropping down to 3 days a week at work.I will work longer days but it means I can be home a full day more.I have been thinking about what I will use that extra day for and I have set  a goal for it- I will use at least part of that day to do something I have passion for.Rearranging my work hours will also give me more time to work on getting back to school.I am not letting go of that passionate dream of mine.My personal theme to the coming year is "Happily moving forward." I want to move forward with my life this year and I want to do it in a joyful way.Let's have some fun, use laughter's momentum and the hopefulness of dreams to get there.


My friend Bettycrockerass wrote a thoughtful post today about how she likes to start her New Year by filling New Year's Day with things she loves,with the hopes it will set the standard for the year..Check it out because you know that is a brilliant idea.

Alright I wrote this New Year's Day but didn't post it until the next day so the time frame is off but you all get any way I am sure.

My very last thing to share today is this video.I am fascinated all around by this.And I think this is my favorite gun on the face of the earth.




So who has already started to map out their year ? What are your plans?

Rois



P.S I just found this useful guide for planning your garden on the Baker Creek site.




Sunday, December 23, 2012

P.S Holiday thoughts 2012


After I posted my last blog post I went into the kitchen to frost our sugar cookies and I was reminded of another thing I am grateful for today.
 I am was happy to have our old dog Thora standing in the kitchen shamelessly begging once again for a sugar cookie.The one and only thing she will beg for until you give in.Maybe Thora had her last walk in the woods with us this fall but she is still here to enjoy her favorite treat.
How could you say no to this face?

A younger Sol.


Also while looking for the photo of  Thora I came across this one of Sol,a younger fellow then.We were visiting a music shop and he tried out the guitar in the photo with glee.It is the same one he got for Christmas this year.