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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Folding Clothes line





am so excited Chance started to build a folding clothes line for me. Our friends from Germany have one kind of like it and I have always remembered how nice it was. With it being able to fold flat it is so very handy,when not in use it can be out of the way.
I could not remember the exact build of the one our friends have so Chance put his building skills to work. Hey Alison, I know we talked about triangles for support and you will see Chance did add some triangles. Chance is also Black Smithing some rods with hooked ends that will go from the fence to the leg of the clothes line to give it the tension it will need to work.
Hey I just mentioned one of Chance's coolest abilities,black smithing. Pretty niffty eh? I am sure this skill will come up again since we put it to use around the house and yard often.Last year for our holiday craft sale Chance made some nice things, hooks, candle sticks, some yard items and gate pulls. He has offered to smith something pretty for inside the triangles of the clothes line to give the legs form and function.Why have something plain when you have the mad skills to make things beautiful?
The first two photos are of the main garden gate from the front yard to the back. The first photo is of the Deer Antlers we have hanging above the gate. In the summer the gate is covered by our two mystery Grapes.My Dad gave us the starts and then promptly forgot what he gave us.Oh well we eat them anyway. We added some white Christmas lights that are the blanket type for shrubs.They look nice now and should look magical when the Grape fills out.
The garden is becoming my biggest passion right now.Every thing is starting to sprout.I can't wait to have fresh greens and lettuces to eat which should be in just a few weeks. I went out to feed the hens this morning and the peas were just showing and then POP this afternoon they were really showing their little heads.I spyed Lettuce and Bok Choy sprouts too.
My Mom stopped by to spend the day with us.We of course went out to the garden.My Mom loved the Hay Bales.Since she is older and a bit stiff she liked the fact that you did not have to bend down so low to do the work.This is a nice fact about the Hay Bale Gardens,older or disabled folks can still enjoy gardening. She also liked how the bales can be put anywhere even on pavement.
Mom next helped me pull some of the sprouted straw from the tops of the bales. I was just putting what I had pulled on to the path to compost when my Mom says to me "Don't waste those little bits, I'll feed them to the Chicks as a nice little snack." Thanks Mom for reminding me that nothing is a waste.Not that composting is a waste.
I have left our Potatoe seed to Chit in the kitchen window. Chit is a new word for me.I always knew you needed to let your potatoe seed sprout into nice big eyes but did not know there was a word for it. If the sun would come back I think this would go a bit faster. I am hoping to plant the potatoes at the end of the month.
We are still figuring out the front of the house. An arbor for more hops is happening in front of our big window for sure.Other than that we are still looking.We plan to spend some time sitting on our neighbors curb looking at the space soon. This is a trade off since they are re vamping their front yard and have been standing looking at it from our house. But what are neighbors for? Trading favors is always good.
I am pondering some thoughts regarding Urban Homestaeding and all that pulls into it,next blog I will have my thoughts in order and have more to share.
Until then keep moving forward.
Rois

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Some photos finally

Chance went out and took some photos.The first one is of Chicks in the "Big Coop".The Chicks now have names,Trixie,named for Speed Racers Girl, Lupin,Sally after some cartoon again and finally Elliot,yes Mom I know Elliot is a boys name but this is a new world we live in.The Hay Bales which are proving to be tricky to get shots of.I am sure once things are up they will look better. Chance added a stone boarder to the path in the back.In this photo you can even see our home built bike trailer,good for big shopping trips.Also at some point soon we will be building a folding clothes line to the right of the photo. And last of all the wood we stacked.At this point we have over a chord stacked. We still have more to add to it and once the Apple tree comes down we should have 3 chords for next winter.
Yesterday as we were working together Chance and I were joking about the story "The Ant and The Grasshopper" Here we were working hard already to prepare for next winter and it was only the second day of spring.
We have recently been told that what we are doing is "Urban Homesteading",sounds a bit trendy to me. I did some reading this morning about this Urban Homesteading and what did it mean.Well it dose look like that is what we are doing.From what I read there are lots of folks doing it and for as many reasons as there are people doing it.Everything from the Hippie end(Now don't get crazy on me here,my parents were long haired Hippies when I was growing up.I am not slamming anyone) to the gun slinging survival types.( Again calm down guns have their place and I often call Chance my gun totin tree hugger.)Chance and I did not set out to do this for any trendy reason.We are not jumping on some Green band wagon and standing on a soap box to shout to the world "Lookie here,see how green I am" This something we believe in and strongly ties into our Spiritual beliefs. It also comes around to our never ending quest to "Do it myself".
I grew up with parents who always had a large garden,chickens and rabbits.My mom baked our bread and we ate her good cooking at home. My Dad fixed things until they were dead.He even recycled before it was on anyone's radar. He recycled by reusing what ever could be reused.My parents also taught wild crafting and wilderness survival.By the time I was 5 I could name every wild plant I could see. I was raised to honor and care for the land.For me I am just following in my parents foot steps,keeping my family heritage going. I am proud to say that today our boys announced in the car, Issac-"I want land when I grow up, with a forest at the back for trails.I will grow and raise my own food" Sol- " I want to live in a tree house." Those two boys see and hear what is taught to them.When it is their turn to be grown men,I hope they remember their parents, "The Urban Homesteaders."
I close with this quote: " Perfect courage is to do without witness what one would be capable of doing with the world looking on" Francois deLa Rochefoucauld.
Rois









Thursday, March 19, 2009

Digging in the dirt

Yesterday was a beautiful day here.Plenty of sun and a bit warm for the time of year. So of course Chance and I were out in the yard.
Chance finished putting the rest of the plumb wood on to the wood pile for next winter.It looks like we have just over a chord of wood from the plumb. Once the Apple tree is down and stacked onto the pile we should have another chord.Fruit trees have great wood that burns hot and slow.This cuts down on how much wood we will have to burn at once.
Our younger son Sol has also set a piece of the plumb aside to make me a bowl. He wanted us to have something to remember the tree by; he is kind of a tender sentimental guy. Thanks for thinking of it Sol.
Our neighbor Billy has jumped onto our band wagon of sharing garden goodies. So in the spirit of things he brought over a box of extra starts he had, five purple topped Brocs and about 10 nice Ever Bearing Strawberry starts. Of course I got right to planting. Neither of us has ever tried the purple topped Brocs so it will be fun to try something new. I planted the Strawberries along the edge of one of the new beds in the front yard.I want to get some more so we can have berries all the way around the bed. The Brocs went into one of the Hay Bales in the main garden.Today when we checked on them they seemed happy and upright.
Today we picked up some Yellow Finn Potatoes to plant at the end of this month.We have never been succeseful at growing Potatoes but after much reading,HMMing and such we are giving it another try.In the main garden we started a new Potatoe bed,layers of thick straw then soil and so forth. We shall see if it works.I am willing to try at least.
We also picked up from Aloha Feed some Walla Walla Sweet Onions. Already our boys are begging to make Onion Rings. These went into one of the front beds that we are using for root crops.
What else.... The Peas are starting to pop their heads up. This gave me so much pleasure that I find myself wondering out the garden often though out the day. I am so excited by every thing that I just want to hang out, even in the rain, in the garden.
Last of all we were feeling like we were living in a fish bowl with the tree gone. To give us something green to look at Chance moved the five big tubs of Bamboos we have out to the front. We are liking it and has given us some thing else to ponder. Should we leave the Bamboos in the front.
Our neighbors Rob and Amanda grow Bamboo at their house.Over the last couple of years we have traded things with them for some different varities of Bamboo. If anyone is in the market for Bamboo and lives close by let us know.Rob has some buckets already to go and up for sale.
Today is Thursday in the Viking age it was called Thors-Day. Not many know that Thor is not only a warrior but he brings fertility and growth. So happy Thorsday one and all,may Thor bless your endeavors.
Rois

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rain and Hens

This past week or so has been very quiet here at Hrafinstaad. The rain keeps coming and coming which is good but it has kept us inside.In btween rain showers, Sol and I planted the spring greens,Chard,BokChoi,Spinach and a couple of kinds of Lettuces. The Peas I planted awhile ago have yet to poke their heads up.I am not expecting them for a couple of weeks.
Chance and I are still debating which trees to plant in the front. We saw Olive trees at the Urban Farm Store, unique yet I am not to sure.Personally I am leaning towards some fruit trees.I like the idea of our own fresh fruit right there in our yard. We are definitly finding a spot or two for some Tea trees. We have to move a couple of Rhodies from the now to sunny front and the Tea Trees would look nice in their spots,one on either side of our front window.
The now very sunny front is interesting.The front room is much warmer in the afternoons when the sun is hitting,fine for now it will save us the money for heat but we should think of what to do about the need for afternoon shade before we are roasting from the summer heat.If there was only a way to store up that unneeded heat for the winter months. I also now notice every bit of dust and bits of stuff on the floor in the front room. I am not a crazy neat freak but I do like things reasonably tidy.
Our Hens seem to be on strike.We have not had any eggs in about two weeks.Our neighbors are in the same boat so I suppose it has some thing to do with the weather.I don't remember them doing this before so who knows what they are up to.
The Chicks have been moved out to the shop.My allergies could not take it any more.Besides they were getting to be a bit loud doing whatever it is Chicks do in thier tub. I think this weekend we will move them out to a fenced off area in the coop in the back yard. The tub we have them in is getting small and the Chicks are quickly wanting to be Hens and be like Hens.
In my last posting I mentioned the Turken Chicks we saw at Urban Farm Store.Well we got to see some full grown Turkens roaming the loading dock at Linnton Feed Store. They really made my skin crawl. I am so glad we did not get any.To my eye there was something so very wrong with bright pink fleshie necks sticking out. Necks only Dracula could love.
One of the points of my blog is to debunk the myths about living here in the suburbs and the people who live here.So from time to time I plan to share stories about some of the great neighbors we have.
The first neighbor who's story I'd like to share is our neighbor we call Montana.Montana is not his name in fact I don't even know his actual name,sad since we have known each other for about 6 years now.Montana walks his dog daily by our house and we have had lots of good talks about all sorts of things,including his trips back and forth from his family cattle ranch in one of the Dakotas.A few years ago he and his wife lost their teen aged son in a car crash.To cope with their loss and to keep in touch with their son's friends they started a program called "Airn's House" At Airn's House everyone is welcome.They have activities from arts and crafts to sports.Montana and his wife also cook dinner for who ever is at the house every night.The hope behind Airn's House is to give the kids some place to be so they stay out of trouble. Since we have a neighborhood connection with Montana and indirectly with the going ons at Airn's House, Chance and I have decided to give our extra produce to them.We know they run on donations,volunteers and slim funds. This program is right here in our own neighborhood and benefits the youth in our area what better place to help.
Montana has also taken a piece of log from our Plumb Tree to plant in his own yard.He said he will plant the log and leave the shoots that were on it to stick out above ground. He also stopped by to ask if we were missing a hen from our flock since there was one hanging out in the field down the street. We then had a conversation about how there are now about 8 houses in the our pocket that have chickens. It seemed to spark a thought.Could it be that he will get chickens too?I hope so!
Spend sometime in your front yard and make the time to say hello to folks as they walk by.You never know who lives in your neighborhood and what they are up to.

Rois

Sunday, March 8, 2009

This week at Hrafinstaad

I have no photos of the work we did this week, I could not get an angle that did any justice.
So what have we done? On Monday the neighbor came and the plumb left overs were chipped into a larger pile of chips than I hoped for. Friday afternoon Chance and I laid the chips down for a path in the back yard. Since moving into our house nearly ten years ago we have tried to plant grass in the back yard only to have it die out every winter.Our yard tends to be boggie,I think this is because way back in time our neighborhood had been a swamp. In fact before we put in the paved patio area in the back we had what we not so lovingly called"Lake Dahms" every winter.We are done fighting against Mother Nature and the muddy trail to the chicken coop.By building the path we hope to cover ( Sorry for the pun.) two things, build up the soil with natural materials and be rid of the muddy mess that comes with winter.
When Chance started to load the chips into the wheel barrow we were excited to see the pile steam, yeah things are getting going around here! We laid down about 6 inches of the chips for a nice thick path that is 4 feet across.The path leads from the gate by our back door and around to our big front gate.It follows the flow of yard traffic nicely; we can easily go from backdoor to the garden and chicken coop without slip sliding through the muck.
The hens out in the coop are not to happy about the path.The new path means no more freedom.The last thing we want is our new path scratched and scattered across the yard . It is the time of year the hens are usually kept in the coop full time any way,my young veggie starts are not their fresh dinner. They will clam down in a few days and get over it.
I also planted my peas finally.I was pretty much on time by my thinking. I don't know about the whole "plant your Peas on Presidents Day" thing. I planted 2 kinds,Sugar Snaps and Snow Peas.I planted enough so we could freeze some for winter.Which reminds me we need to find a freezer other than the one in the fridge before things start rolling.
Again I did not give into buying more chicks at Urban Farm Store yesterday.They had an odd looking chicken called a Turken, they had no feathers on their necks.Kind of gross but kind of not could make for some great conversations. The Turkens are a breed from Translyvania.That part tickled my funny bone.Here is this chicken with a featherless neck from Transylvania, breed for vampires? And they are not a cross between a turkey and a chicken although the name might lead one to think so. I almost went back for one but thought better of it.
The chicks are doing fine.They are mostly feathers now with just tufts of baby fuzz.We had to put a screen over their tub, we had an escape artist and another who liked to sit on top of the water bottle. We still have not named this flock,they may just be the Wynadottes.
Today we finish moving the plumb wood from the front to the wood pile in the back. We have not made any set plan for where the plumb was.We are starting to lean towards some fruit trees instead of the Birch. On our list of trees to consider are,apple,peach, olive (they can grow here) and tea trees.Once the space has been cleared we will have a better idea of what we are planting.
I must go and start my indoor work so I can move outside while we have a bit of sun. It was nice to get up and not see the snow the news was fretting about.
Rois

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Lookie here,









Wow we got tons done this weekend.First the tree project which is still in process.On Tuesday a neighbor who owns one of the BIG chippers on a trailer is coming over so he and Chance can turn the left over tree parts into chips for a path . We are putting all of the tree to use,fire wood for the wood stove and Earth oven, a path and a drum body. Reuse it not lose it.
Today we got to work on the new garden beds in the front yard. This adds to what we started last year.The converting of the front yard into all beds is going to take a couple more years since our lot is bigger than our budget. We chose the organic lines for the beds to follow the curve of our front yard.We live on one of four larger lots in our neighborhood which is awesome. The front yard is sort of a pie shape.The house sits on the end that would be the pointed end of the pie piece.
While working on the new beds we had a neighbor stop and ask about the tree and what were we currently doing. She was a bit surprised that we were not worried about people stealing our veggies from the front. Why not? A. Our bedroom window is right there and Chance sleeps lightly and B. If someone is willing to trespass to get some thing to eat, they just may need it more than we do.
To build the new beds we would have had to do some major digging through the layer of river rock below the grass.We did this last year for the bed we have closest to the curb.Not fun.For the new beds we used an idea that may be familiar; we layered thick cardboard (not waxed) then we put down more mulch from the neighbor and top dressed it with the garden soil we had delivered yesterday.They look nice and we will continue to add more mulch and soil as we go.These beds are giving us more room than I first thought we would have to plant in.
A resource we have come across is the produce section at one of our local markets.We ask at the door to the back stock area, if the y have any produce scraps. We usually get 2 produce boxes full of veggies. We feed half to our chickens and half to the compost.Today when we made this stop we we given 2 boxes and there was a sad surprise at the bottom. We found a dozen good apples.We looked them over carefully and there was not a thing wrong with them. So I kept them to make pies with.Food not Bombs dose this all the time to feed the hungry and come up with some good food. We found this sad because it was going to end up wasted. Someone who is going without could have eaten it. Wasteful America bah!
The quickest project to be checked off our list was adding the soil to the hay bales. They still don't look like much but it was the next step.Now I can plant some early things this week.
I am still getting the lay out part to adding photos.Needless to say I put some up so everyone can see our progress.In the back ground of a couple of the photos you can see our mountain of brush waiting to be chipped. People keep driving buy really slow. We live on a blind corner but I think its because most of them seem puzzled by what we are doing.That's ok , we lead by example in our household.
Enjoy the rain if you live close by, enjoy and accomplish some thing new everyday.
Rois