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

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Today the view of my world changed.







Today the view of my world changed and I cried. Today was the day the Plumb Tree finally came down.I was ok with it until the last stump came crashing down that's when it all sank in, my tree was gone. I am going to miss all the animals and birds that could be seen in the tree.Just this morning we saw 4 Nuthatches who were migrating through. I will miss the shade come summer but the Birches we will be planting grow quick so the shade will return.
The up side to it? We reconnected with some neighbors we have not seen all winter. One neighbor asked for help taking down a smallish tree in their yard and lots of people stopped to say what a shame it is to see the tree gone. Our two boys stacked the wood for next winters wood pile ; that's a nice thing about wood it can warm you twice. We also had offers of help from folks which was mighty nice,it makes the work go quickly.
I have posted some photos of the process.I did not get a shot of the whole tree before Chance stated, I was busy getting bread dough started.
We have ordered 3 yards of soil to be delivered today, they still have not come. The plan was to split up, Chance would work on the tree and I would work on moving soil around. We were trying to get plenty done while the rain was away. We will just have to work in between rain showers.
Once I get the soil on top of the hay bales I have early spring crops to plant, peas and an assortment of greens. We are also using some of the soil to build a whole new bed out in the front yard so hurry up truck I need my soil!
Take care.
Rois

P.S As for the Chicks, they are doing just dandy.They are starting to grow their wing feathers and have these spiky nubs of tails. I don't remember our last round of chicks being as happy sounding as these 4.I have great hopes that they are going to be a nice flock.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Chicks.

Today we stopped by Urban Farm and picked up 4 darling Wynadotte chicks. At first I wanted to come in for the Ameracuna chicks but they were sold out the first day they came in so, we are giving the Wynadottes a try. Wynadottes are another breed that dose well with city life, are hardy and lay nice brown eggs. They have beautiful black and gold markings.The only draw back for me is I will miss the "Easter Egg" colors of the Ameracuna's eggs.
This weekend we also added to our hay bales in our back garden.We are half way full, it looks like another 6 or so more bales and we will be done. So far our bales have not heated up to the 150 degrees we read about online.But composting in our cool weather can be tricky; by no means dose this mean we are giving up. It is early in the year yet and it has not even been time to plant yet.
We have a great trade and share system with the neighbors here on our block and through some neighbors we were able to swap for some nice leaf mulch.We used the traded mulch to cover the path ways in the garden.
Since root crops don't work in the hay bales we have decided instead of going without, we will be turning up more of our front lawn. Last spring we had added a bed with herbs and an Espalier Apple tree. Now we will add more beds for veggies and hopefully a couple more of the Espalier fruit trees. The apple we have now has 6 different kinds of apples grafted on to it. I hope to find a couple of Gravestines to add since they are my favorite for Apple Sauce and munching.
Chance and I wanted to get the word out to folks that we are asking all of our readers who have a garden and a bit of extra space and seed, to plant an extra row for your local food banks this year. Many people are losing their jobs and food security is quickly becoming an issue for many across our country. When we look back at the Great Depression and the hungry masses we can learn from it and try to head hunger off early. Also those of you who are worried about your food budgets not going far enough why not consider planting a garden to help yourself and family? Think of it like a Victory Garden. Victory over hunger.Victory over a failing system. There are many local groups such as Growing Gardens(link listed above) here in the Portland Metro area who will help you get started. Chance and I are also willing to help any one with questions.
I wanted to post some photos today of the new chicks but our camera is on the fritz.So as soon as I get it worked out I will post some photos.
Until next time I am watching my garden grow,inch by inch ,row by row.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waiting for Spring and other things.

Waiting, waiting and hurry up and wait and don't be late.That is the state we are in right now.
February can really be a tricky month,here in Oregon we get some beautiful sunny days in February that just make a person wild for the growing season.Having lived here my whole life I know I have to sit on my hands and wait.So I spend my time pouring over the seed catalogs and picking out more than my land can hold.And well frankly more than our budget would ever allow.
We are excited to say this week the chicks are coming in! Friday I will go pick up 4 little darlings that will be living in the kitchen corner for awhile. Why the kitchen? Well, our kitchen is the center of our household so we are always in there.I like to raise my chicks with some of the in-printing training my Dad uses with his horses. If the chicks are right there we end up talking to them and checking on them when they fuss.They get picked up and they learn that we are part of their flock.I believe this forms a kind of bond with the chickens.I know this sounds whacky but relationships with our environment and the things that live within it is important to us. The hens we have now know our voices and that they can trust us not harm them. When they were young and still in a box,I would whisper to them when they fussed,now I can whisper to them when they are loud or upset and they calm right down. By being in the kitchen our dog also learns that the chicks are new members of our family and that she should watch after them also. As for the cat, he is a total yo-yo and is afraid of the hens.This is not always true for every household most of the time it is better to guard your chicks from dogs and cats but it works here.
The other day I was out with the chickens and was looking at our bird boxes that line our fence line. Not only did I notice that the little birds were checking them out I also remembered that we have a wild bee hive in one of them. Last summer we kept seeing bees coming and going from one of the boxes. My first reaction was oh no but, then I thought you know what: The bird box is behind the chicken run fence, so kids won't be bothering it and bees are dieing out, let them bee.(sorry for the pun) We are hoping our little friends are back again this year.They are very helpful to our garden and fruit trees.Again we will be waiting to see the first sign of them.
There are lots of layers within our yard and we are doing our best to nurture them all, from the soil,chickens,trees,birds,ourselves and the little bees. Our hopes are that this will some how seep out into our community and inspire others to also become stewards of the whole world.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A quiet week.

This week has been a quiet one.Chance started to take down the rotting Apple tree in the back and was going to move on to the Plumb in the front when the chain saw made other plans. So until the chain saw is back from the repair shop at Aloha Feed the trees still stand.
I am personally pleased to have the Plumb a few more days.I love that tree.The Plumb sits on the Western side of the house,right out our front window. The tree is a huge umbrella that fills that part of the yard. In the winter when we want sun light coming in the tree is without leaves.Then when the winter dull drums hit the tree is a showy white splendor full of blooms ; on the days it is windy it looks like snow falling. Once the heat of summer hits the tree gives us nice deep shade. Sadly we must take it down,all of its 6 trunks are rotting causing the tree to sag towards the ground,our neighbors fence and the front window of our house. We asked several folks who know about trees and how to save them what to do. The first suggestion was to thin it out really good,that just made the tree a bit ugly for a year.By the end of that season we noticed things were getting worse and we realized that it will just have to come down.
The good news about it I suppose is Chance and I have always wanted some Birch trees so now we will get them.Our friend in Sisters is a wood worker and wants some of the wood to make a drum so in the drum the tree will live on in a merry way. We are also saving the biggest limbs to build the rafters for the roof over our Earth Oven. We can also add to our wood pile for next winter.As for all of the little stuff,that will become wood chips for a path in the back yard. So many uses for my beloved tree.
I was also excited to find my blog mentioned on Urban Farm Stores blog.Thanks Robert! I will be coming into Portland to buy my chicks from Urban Farm in a couple of weeks.I will be getting 4 of the Ameracuna Chicks who will live in a box in the kitchen and become the newest members of our urban farm. If you live in Portland or come into town as we do stop and check out this great neighborhood store.Robert has been so friendly and full of great information. I have a link to their website listed in my links.
To be continued...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Begining and Starting



Yesterday I went out and took some pictures of our empty slate of a garden,it looks sad.One would never know that I have been feeding my family some beautiful produce that came from this blah place.
I also took some photos of our current Chicken Coop.The coop has been serviceable,dry and warm the things we thought were important when we first started out with our hens 6 years ago. Little did we know that people were building coops with style to them. The new coop will be much more grand.
The photos are just to show everyone what we are starting from.
Today was much more cheering,Chance and I went and picked up the first of the Hay Bales! We bought 4 bales to get things started.We laid out the starting of the rows so they will get maximum sunlight.Luckily this is not to hard since we get fully sun from around 10AM until 6 or 7 PM.
To get the bales ready for planting we need to jump start them with about a cup of Blood Meal and a good soaking with the hose. The water and Bone Meal will hurry up the composting of the bale. We keep watering the bales for 10 days.During those couple of weeks the bales will reach up to 150 degrees and by the end of the 10 days the bales will cool down enough we can start planting in them.
Since we are planting our whole garden over the next few months we will just keep adding more bales in time for the next round of plantings.
The luckiest part of my day,there were no chicks yet at the feed store.I am not ready for them yet but passing by their sweet little cheeps is not something I do well.
There is plenty more coming along with the better and better weather.

Cheers, Rois

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The begining of Hrafinstaad.

Welcome to my blog "Hrafinstaad" Hrafinstaad is a hybrid word we use for our house and studios. The word means "Raven's House or Place" . Raven is our homes totem and we value who Raven is; trickster, scavenger , messenger,opportunist and life mate. By watching Raven and his cousin Crow we have learned to be resourceful and playful in the indevors we take on.Well and the love of bright shining pretties which we like to create to feather our own nest.
I live a small house in Beaverton Oregon with my husband Chance and our two sons Issac and Sol. We have a few house mates as well.Our lost and found dog Thora, 4 chickens all named for famous women, Cleo, Abligail, Joan (as in of Ark and I really do think that bird hears voices in her head.) and Amelia and some place in there is loud mouthed Toby our cat.
Our house has been a 10 year journey and something is always changing around here. After battling a losing battle with a Pig Weed invasion in our garden for the past 3 summers we find ourselves starting in a new direction with our yard. Chance and I have always been interested in Urban Farming but life with kids has kept us from moving seriously in that direction. Now out of nessity we are stepping towards our dream of our own Urban Farm. This blog will cronical our journey towards full filling our dream.
In the coming weeks I will be posting about all of our Urban Farm projects . We will be working on several projects as Spring comes with all of its hopefullness. A new chicken coop,including the new chicks we are adding to our flock,the 4 plus year plan for the new Hay Bale garden beds, the sad day we take down my beloved Plumb Tree.And the project that is the biggest and most hopeful,the building of an Earth Oven for baking.
Besides blogging about our projects I plan on blogging about the great community of neighbors we live amongst. Since moving here our neighborhood has grown and changed all in a positive way. Since the day we moved in there has been a strong community here on our block that radiates through out our small suburban neighborhood. I am hoping to debunk the myth concerning living in the dreaded Suburbs.
So stay tuned folks.I have things to do and things to say. I want to share it all and see if we all can't learn something along the way.