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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The down side to Urban Chickens.

Yesterday was a sad day for my friend at Acorn Cottage, one of her Hens was killed in the night.There were no clues as to what exactly did the deadly deed.Most likely the masked bandit Raccoon.The out come pointed its fingers right at that nasty wasteful little brother.
Alison called me and asked what to do.The dead Hen was left in a narrow spot between her shed and the fence right along the alleyway.The same alley the neighborhood kids come to watch the chickens from.Not wanting to scare the kids something had to be done and fast. I went right over and managed to fit through the tight spot and scoop up the poor dear. We buried Miss Henrietta under the Apple tree.This was not the way Alison wanted to see her Hen go,a longer happier life was the outcome hoped for.
This my friends is the down side to raising Chickens anywhere,the wild critters who think of your nice fat birds as their dinner.We have had our fair share of Raccoons here at our house.We had to re-configure the outdoor run for our girls after 3 nights in a row the neighborhood 'coon tried to get into the Hen House.Luckily for us our Good Dog Thora seems to have the sharpest Bionic Woman ears when it comes to Raccoons.Our normally sweet medium sized girl dog turns into a great big Woof of a dog.With Thora's help we have been able to save all but one of our Hens from wasteful Raccoon.
I call Raccoon wasteful because he/she kills the bird then leaves it behind.What is the point! At least eat the bird so I don't have to pick up your mess and worry about what disease you might have left on the body.
After leaving Acorn Cottage the day took a better turn. I found the Rennet I was looking for at a third store.I have not had time yet to try making the Mozzarella.Looking at our calendar it will most likely be next week before there is a clearing for Cheese making.
I feel like all I have been blogging about lately is Chicken Death.How very awful of me.And since there is nothing but waiting going on in the garden how about a sweet story about our dog?
For a couple of years Chance had been asking to get another dog.No,we are too busy for a dog.I have two young boys to run after I don't need to run after a dog. Please? Please? asked Chance.So to put him off I came up with this long impossible list of musts in the dog.
No higher than my knee, NO barking,NO begging,no long hair,must be able to dig a hole and cover its own poo like a cat.(HA! I thought that was impossible) Oh and good behavior overall.
See Chance loves the Nordic Dogs.Huskie,Akita ect.Big dogs,lots of energy and not dust bunnies but dust buffaloes come with their sheading.
So Chance was working way out in Easteren Oregon in the middle of nowhere desert.Coming home in the BIG work truck at dusk a dog ran out infront of the truck.Slam on the brakes,jump out of the truck and look for said dog.No dog.Here dog, here dog.No dog no dog body.Weird.Chance gose and gets back into the truck.There on the front seat sits the dog.Skin and bones and cute as all heck.Being the nice guy he is there was no way he could leave the dog out inthe middle of the desert in the middle of winter.On the way to the next town Chance feeds Dog a bag of corn chips and a bottle of water.At the town they stop at Mc somebodies for cheese burgers.Dog ate two of them curled up and went to sleep.It wa 11 Pm wne Chance pulled into home. I hear him whisper to me "Ah Sugar?" "What?" "I brought home a dog" "What!!" I am awake now.He tells me the story.Ok I agree you could not leave the dog there but NO WAY are we A.keeping dog or B. letting it sleep in the house.
I was a bit worried,just 2 days before the boys and I had adopted a cat who was still hiding under Sol's bed.What would the cat think? And I did not want a dog.
I also worried about the dog getting lose in the night and becoming lost all over again.We tried a hunters trick to keep the dog in the yard.We placed the shirt Chance had been wearing on the back porch.When hunters lose a dog they do this but leave the shirt where their truck had been.The scent of the owner tells the dog "stay here,I'll be back" In the morning the dog was still there. And I was still saying NO DOG.
That day we had errands to run.Not knowing if the dog would escape or not we took her with us.I spent some time waiting in the truck for Chance that day as he did work stuff.And well being a softie and the dog being so nice I fell in love with her.I named her Thora for the Norse god Thor.It is said that Thor with his crazy red hair would appear out of no where in the early Spring time,just like the dog had.She even has a reddish head.
The craziest part to Thora is she fits ALL of my criteria, sort of.She only begs for my homemade Sugar Cookies.Only barks if there is either a Raccoon or a stranger in the yard at night.She dose not shead to bad.Poos only in one place which is almost as good as covering it.She stands just below my knee without to much hair.She won't step off of our curb without an invitation to come and is the sweetest dog I have ever known.
I guess I would warn others to be careful of making a list of impossible things.Sometimes the universe has other plans for us.
Rois

Monday, April 27, 2009

No luck today.

The best laid plans don't always pan out or how ever the ending of that saying goes. I went to two stores today looking the Rennet I would need to make the Mozzarella,no such beast at either store. I did get some helpful information from the woman working the Cheese Counter.This nice lady gave me a card for KooKooLan Farms.The card states they are the only local seller of Cheese making supplies.The down side, they are about 45 minutes west of my house, in a beautiful area around Yamhill Oregon. I looked around their website,nice looking farm and classes. They do have cheese making supplies along with meat,eggs and a very small CSA.KooKooLan is at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sundays starting this weekend.This means I can call them ahead and they will bring the Rennet I need to the market for pick up.Much closer than the drive,my Dad lived out that way and it is nice out there but the gas would add to the cost of making the cheese.
I also saw on their website Cheese Making Classes as well as other Farm Skills for $50.The Cheeses class includes a cheese tasting and $10 towards anything they sell.I am going to save up some money and look into these classes, might be kind of fun and yet another skill to add.Today the website did not list what the Farm Skills classes are but they offer them everyother Saturday.
If any of you are taking our butchering class and want some more information about "Real"chicken there is a good blog listing on KooKooLans blog page through their website.I did not know that the cut up chickens and ground chicken are made from birds who were treated roughly at the big plants.This treatment causes brusing and discoloration.To save what the plant can they keep the good looking parts for cut up chicken and the less bruised parts become ground chicken.I am so glad I don't buy the ground chicken.The more I read about these large farms the more I want to raise my own full time.
The day was not a total loss.There are always other tasks to do.I baked cookies and tried a new Dark Ale Bread receipe.As I write this the bread is still raising so I can not say yet wither we liked it or not.If it turns out good I will be sure to post the receipe next time.
Rois

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Look what stepped out of a story book


We picked up our meat chicks on Friday.Their breed name is Le Poules which is French (I am told) for Chicken.As I mentioned before they are also called Colored Range Chickens. We were lucky and met the Farmer who raises these cuties and boy did he teach us a thing or two about raising various poultry.
We had just arrived at Urban Farm Store when Pete (the chicken Farmer)walked in with a box full of peeping.I was not prepared for the sweetness of these little ones. They looked just like some one had opened a story book and out they popped,little, fluffy, buttery and barely 2 days old.
After this gushing I suppose it is confession time. I think it may be a bit hard to butcher these guys.This is the first time I have been part of the raising of meat chickens from the start.In the past we either bought the Hens from a Farmer or my Dad had raised them at his house where I did not live full time. So I totally missed this darling phase of my Chicken dinners life.And on top of their cuteness they are damn smart already.If they were dependable layers I would add them to my future needs list. I will get to the point of it being ok to butcher them.I am already mostly there.As soon as they get to the in between stage where they are kind of homely and they start to drive my allergies nuts I will REALLY be ok with it.
Chance and I have been reading up on chicken butchering.We realize that we know what to do and how to do it safely but teaching is another thing.Mainly knowing as many answers to questions as we can.Like cooling them in the fridge verses cold water.Before the answer would be, well in the fridge because that was how I was taught to do it.Now I can tell you the difference in the two methods.Air cooled (the fridge) birds are best.They cook quicker,giving you a tastier and more tender dinner with the crispy-est skin.The water cooled birds are how you get them at the store and are water logged.This dose mean you are paying for water weight at the store,yuck. The water causes the bird to need a longer cooking time.When the bird is in the oven it is actually steaming not roasting because of all of the water.You can not get the amazing crispy skin on these birds either.
Another thing about Chicken Butchering we have learned is a style of butchering that just sound awful even to Chance.All I will say is it involves sticking a knife down the chickens throat.GASP! WRONG WRONG no way no how.Lets do it quick and swift that is the kindest way to do it.
We also learned that Chicken blood like all blood is high in nitrogen. A person can put the blood from butchering on their compost piles.To do this you mix the blood with some water and pour that mixture over your compost pile.I would think in small amounts since no one wants to have their compost smelling awful or attracting unwanted yard/garden guests.
Word is getting out about our class in July.I can not believe how many places have picked up on it.The coolest thing so far is it has been all women to sign up.Early birds get the worm they say so come on guys get your spots while there are some left.We have had to limit the class to 10 people.Partly due to space but also because of the time frame we have.This is a hands on skill to learn and the small class size will enable us to work with every one closely.
The rest of Hrafinstaad is green and budding. I noticed today our Grape is starting to leaf out.It will soon be time to can some of the young leaves for Stuffed Grape Leaves. The Strawberries are almost ready to bloom.With the next posting I will have lots of photos of the different areas.It has been awhile since I have posted a photo of the Hay Bales.When I look out at the garden now and think back to the empty gray photos I posted at the begining of my blog; I can not believe it is the same place.
It is still a few weeks until the next round of plantings.So until then I'll be busy learning other Homesteading skills.Tomorrow I am looking into making home made Mozzarella Cheese.The receipe says it only takes 30 minutes.Wish me luck and I'll let you know how it went.
Rois

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting my Chicks in a row

I checked in with Robert at Urban Farm today regarding the meat chicks and the butchering class. Here is the news.
I have posted a link about the breed of chicks we will be getting tomorrow.They are simply called Colored Range Chickens.No wonder their name kept leaving my head not much of a name.Pretty birds from France; oh those French and their love of good looks! What really sold us on these birds is they are not common and not used at all by large commercial farms.They do take a bit more care and time to get to butchering size.That is ok with us.More important to us is the flavor of the bird and knowing how it was raised. It will be the second week of July before they become first examples in our classroom and second dinner in the freezer.
Some may find it a bit grim that we are willing teaching a butchering class.If you are among those I offer no excuses and maybe you should come back another day when the topic is a sunny tale of gardening in the Pacific Northwest.
The class will be held at Urban Farm Store in SE Portland Sunday July 12th at 5-6:30PM. We are encouraging people to bring their own bird if they have one.If not ours will be there so no one is left out of the hands on part of the class. Students will learn the whole process which is messie so wear your grubbies. The whole process means, chopping the heads off.And no you don't let them run around this makes for tough meat and a bigger bloodier mess.Plucking and finally the part that took me some time to be able to do removing the guts.It only took me time because of the texture.I can now tell myself "It is only guts,it is ok."At this point in my life the mess of child birth has gotten me past most of my adversion of all things slipperey. Robert at Urban Farm is deceiding the price of the class it should be some where between $5 and $20.He had already posted the class to his website calendar so be sure to check it out too.The link is listed above in the right hand corner.
The chicks arrive tomorrow so today we will get the tub ready for them.I like to make sure the tub is nice and clean for the new chicks so I will be scrubbing out the wash tub AKA the chick tub.
Now I must return to the dull jobs around here mainly house work. I played hookie with Sol and went on a Photography/Home School feild trip this morning.We had a great time but now the whip is cracking..Get back to work!
Rois

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sunshine and Apple Blossoms




Wow the weather here has been so amazing.Just when we were thinking we should move some place with more sun out pops the sun and all of its glory.Now we are due for a day of showers which makes me so very happy.We have been busy planting here and the rain will bed every thing in nicely.
With the nice weather I have been able to use the Clothes Line Chance built for me. He has not had time to forge the supports yet so Chance braced it with extra clothes line. How lovely everything smells when I bring it in.If only the freshness lasted till the next washing.Issac did ask me if I had changed the detergent since his clothes were no longer soft.Get over it kid this is a new era.I do plan on sticking the bath towels in for the last few minutes of dry time,those I want to be softer.
We spent an entire afternoon planting.Chance being the bold one asked at our local nursery what they were doing with some sad looking plants.The answer was composting them but we could have them for FREE! We managed to bring home two trays of assorted herbs,a Lilac (one of my most favorites) which we did not even know was one until we looked up the Latin name on the tag.Two Pomegranite,yes they will grow here just fine.We already had one that we have been carefully nursing to a bigger size.We planted all three of the Pomegranite along the fence on the "Plumb Side" of the house. Yeah! fruit and a screen between us and the neighbors!
The one herb plant we brought home that I am not familiar with is Horehound.No clue. Its tag said it is good for sore throats and I think at some point in time there were Horehound candies. I planted them any way figuring my Foster Sister (Hey Missa!) who is an Herbalist might want some.
The not so little Chicks are getting big.They can now reach into the Big Hens water bucket and the feed bins.They seem to have lost their names and are now just "The Dotts" They do respond to us calling them which is funny to see them come running and stumbling over themselves.
I am starting to keep track of how many eggs the older Hens are putting out.So far this week the count is 13 in 4 days.It is looking like our oldest Hen is still laying I had thought she was done. Once "The Dotts" start to lay we should be up to 7-8 eggs a day.Thats when we will have plenty to share and posssibly sell. The feed costs me 66 cents a day to feed all 8 birds. For 4 days worth of feed is $2.64, a dozen Organic eggs are $4.49 a dozen at a local market. I have a savings of $1.84 per dozen eggs. Over one month I will get 7.5 dozen eggs (using the numbers I have so far) with a savings of $13.80, almost the price of a bag of feed.Again once "The Dotts" start to lay this will all be re figured.
At end of this week our meat Chicks come.I have misplaced the name of them but they are a heritage breed with all dark meat.These birds are considered a free range meat chicken and grow slower than the typical Cornish Crosses that most folks raise. The Cornish Crosses totally gross me out. There is something so very against nature about a bird that simply eats and eats,grows so fast it can not walk and never leaves the feed bins side. Once you see this sight you may find your self a bit turned off of the idea of raising your own meat.It reminds me of the movie "Super Size Me" if you have ever seen the movie it may give you a clue as to what I am getting at here.
Once the Meat Chicks are ready to butcher at six weeks we will be teaching a Chicken Butchering class at The Urban Farm Store in Portland.If you are interested please check back here for the date or I have Urban Farm as a link where you cna check their calandar.
The garden has been come a big tease.What is up is so yummy looking but not ready to eat and it is not time for the next round of planting.I actually made sure I "hid" the seed packets so I would not be tempted to plant any thing to soon.
Our friends Eve and Bryan who have the Tomatoes for sale have sent me their list of Dahlia Tubers.The list is long and a rainbow of colors.Again they are offering great prices. $3.00 each Tuber or 2 for $5.00.I am in for $20 worth.I love all the colors and sizes they come in.If you would like to find out more about the Dahilas please feel free to call Eve and Bryan (503) 240-6375.
We have been asked by many people about visiting Hrafinstaad to see all there is to see.After some thought Chance and I have deceided to put this offer out.Visits are an option with an appointment.Please leave us your contact information at hrafinstaad@aol.com and also let us know how you found us in your email.Some time this summer we are planning an Open House type event,I will be sure to keep every one posted on the date.
I have no witty closing, no peral of wisdom simply ...
Until next time,
Rois

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Green

As I look out our windows my eyes are filled with the lushness of Spring.With the warm weather we had a week or so ago and now a long rainy spell life has sprung out of its winter sleep. Every Spring I am amazed at the return of green,it is every where I look. It is like my eyes have lost the ability to see color over the gray Oregon winter.
Out the porch window I see the bright pink of our Bleeding Heart that is a mass of little dangles,the French Mint doubles in size each time I look and the Creeping Jenny is spilling over the rock flowing towards the walk way.It gives me hope that soon we will be sitting on the front porch ,coffee in one hand and a good book in the other,the sun warming us through.
The last few weeks here at Hrafinstaad have been life changing for us.A new sense of purpose and rightness flows around us.How to sum it up is difficult.It is a feeling of being in the right place.It just happened,it has been a long time coming, a journey that was filled with many mountains to climb.And like coming home from a long trip it is good to be home.The time away was not so bad but the coming home feeling is better than we could have imagined.
Our days are full now.Chance works away from home and is home early enough that we are able to still put in almost another full day of work around home. Before Chance is home I have done the million house chores,baked the daily bread,Home Schooled Sol and finished with my indoor work.Then it is out the door we go.
We don't have gardening to do every day but we can not seem to be able to stay away from the garden.The garden is another haven of green,so verdiant that I get hungry for the fresh veggies we are waiting for.
While we are waiting for the next round of plantings we have been working on cleaning up and moving things around.Chance used to work as a Stone Mason,I never really noticed how many stones he had stashed away all over the place.His pile of rock has given us a nice boarder for our path.
On the days we have no outdoor work to do we are still busy.Our sons eat,sleep and dream Bikes.I can not complain,it is in their blood,Chance and I have biked all of their lives. So we spend whole afternoons working on the latest bike project. Issac has taken on Lawn Mowing jobs and is using the bike trailer to load his equipment.This means we need to revamp the trailer if not build a whole nother one.
We always have time for some art, craft or cooking ideas. All three of these fulfill us in many ways.We are all creative minds and it feeds the need to make or do.We are also very independently minded. By doing for ourselves we step forward on our journey.
Finally, books. There are books in every room of our house.I personally admit to having an addiction to reading.At least twice a year we sort and resale our books so they don't become like the fabled pot that flows and flows all over. Today I have added a list of what we are reading to the blog. I hope you find them helpful on your own journey and keep the wheels of knowledge flowing like that little pot.
Rois

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Bees in the Garden

I have been looking into ways to encourage Bees to nest in our yard.The benefits to the garden and the survival of wild Bees are my motivation with this project.
What really got me going on this is a Home School Project through the University of San Fransisco.Our younger son Sol and I will plant some Sunflower seeds that the university is sending and then one weekend day twice a month for 20 minutes we will be counting our Bee visitors.The information said if there were no Bee's they were urgently in need of that info. The university is tracking Bee counts as part of their research to find ways to save the wild Bees.This project is not limited to Home Schoolers.If you are interested go here, for more information.
While reading up on which plants attract Bees today I found this Bee Garden article.There are some simple and very low to no cost ways to build some Bee nesting sites. Also listed are some plants that the Bees love. Many of them are very common and on my list of to be planted.Asters, Zinna's,Cosmos, Foxgloves and Roses plus a few more .
Since we have all of these random tree branches laying about still,I am hoping Chance has a 5/16th of an inch drill bit, so I can make some nest branches for our garden.
I will keep everyone posted on how this turns out.
Rois

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Correction

Thanks to a good friend who watches my back I just found out I left the wrong number for Eve and Bryan. So here is the correct one.

(503) 240-6375

Koi Flag

I forgot to mention in my last post the 4 foot long Koi Flag Chance put up for us. I found this treasure at the Goodwill bins and could not believe my luck.He is in really good shape ,he is brown and white that has not faded. I went online and looked up the meaning of these flags and it fit what we are doing so well it seemed like a message.
In Japan the flags are used on "Boys Day" which I did not read up on.But what I did read said the flags are a symbol of Perseverance,Strength and Swimming through life's struggles. How very true of the things we all need right now.With the world turning upside down and the need to redefine how we all look at everything.Seeing the Koi flying in the front yard I feel like we are saying to the world,"We are moving forward and we can be victorious in life"
Here at Hrafinstaad we have been looking closely at our life and our footprint upon the Earth.Over the past few months we have asked ourselves these questons:
What can we do to reduce our waste? We are hard core about recycling around here.If it can compost it gose into the compost.We do save half of these things for the Hens. The Dog gets the protien scraps. It takes us a month to fill the garbage can because we put so much into the recycling bins.We also refuse any extra packaging when posible.It is easy to say "No,Thank you" to so much. Reuseables are reused or given away.
How can we reduce our spending? That one is simple for us.Since we have lived on tight budgets for so long not spending is not to hard. We also tend to question each purchase.Do we really need this? Can we buy it for less or borrow it? We are big fans of thrift stores,even our teenaged sons will egarly dig around to find what they are looking for.
Our biggest and exciting money saving purchase.....A $4 Pressure Cooker/Canner. We will have to buy some new seals and pressure gage for it,this will run about $35.Still a big savings since a new one would have cost us nearly $200.Now we can, can even more things for next winter.Orginally we were hoping to borrow one and make a trade for the use.Now we have our own to share.
We have been also asking ourselves, "What about our community? What can we do to help others through these tough times?" The plan is to donate extra food from the gardens as more and more folks are looking to the food pantries for help.We are also working on pooling skills,materials,tools and anything else we come up with. Trading hours of help for what ever someone else can trade for is already working.Handyman work from Chance for a list of skills to chose from traded with a friend. No money put out and everyone is happy.
The weather here the last few days has been energizing. Warm sunny days really lift the spirits.The seedlings are growing like mad.I swear they all grew half an inch over night if not more. The Hens are laying daily now.We get 3 eggs a day until the young ones start to lay this summer. I planted the potaoes yesterday,I am praying we are past any harder frosts.The weather has been so odd this Spring I can only hope.
I was able to get my neighbors to order their Tomato and Pepper plants from Eve and Brian. All total we have an order for 30 plants.I will be placing the order today.I am sure Eve and Brian will be pleased.Being able to do this for them is just one more way we have been able to help our local community.
I had hoped to post a picture of the Koi Flag for everyone to see but we have had a light wind here,Koi would not hold still for a photo.Seeing him flying out the window makes me happy.There is something charming about him.Our young neighbor who is almost 3 loves the Koi. "See the Fish! Chance and Rois' Fish!" he crows with glee.
Enjoy your days, work for pleasure and learn something new.
Rois

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pretty Pretties






These are blooming as you come up our walk way.So cheery after a long strange winter.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

For Sale

Well everyone in my last post I mentioned family friends who grow tomato and pepper plants for sale. I have a list from Eve and Bryan to share with all of you I will also list their phone number at the bottom of this in case anyone would like to order anything.They live in St Johns, which is a neighborhood in the Portland area for all of you out of towners, local folks this gives you a chance to support local people.Please understand that all of their plants are first come first served since they are small growers.The plants come in 4 inch pots and are priced at the amazing price of $1.50 each.That is a great price for plants raised organically (not certified). In the coming weeks Eve will be sending me a list of their Dahlia tubers,which I will post.
So here we go,,,,

Valiant: Globe Shaped red.A canning variety from the 1930's 78-77 days *Indeterminate.

Goliath: Large 1 to 2 Lb's fruit dark pink color. Beefsteak type .Heirloom from the 1800" 85 days. *Indeterminate.

Paul Robeson: Large dusky red sometimes turning a purple-black.Good flavoer of Russian origin.NAmed in honor of the Opera Singer.77-88 days.
*Indeterminate

Pineapple: Heirloom variety large irregular yellow fruit with occasional red streaks radiating from the interior.Rich sweet flavor with lots of eye appeal. 85 days. *Indeterminate.

Gaolden Jubilee: Yellow-Orange-Gold 8oz fruits mild flavor.Hardy well producing plants.*Indeterminate.

Rutger: Red med sized 6-8 oz, toomato with a history.First developed by Campbell Soup Company in 1928.Later in 1943 it was refined by Rutgers University.A good canning tomato.75-88 days **Determinate

Large Red Cherry: Abundant clusters ,prolific, and vigorous with 1 1/4" fruits
75 days.* Indeterminate

Waldeck: A gift from Heritage Seed Libary -UK red med sized fruit.

Auntie Madge: A gift from Heritage Seed Libary.Plumb sized fruit good flavor.

** Determinate: Plants have vines that make little or no growth once fruits have set.Harvesting time is short as all fruits develop about the same time.Good crops for canning.

* Indeterminate: Vines produce new shoots and bloosoms even after fruits set.Harvest is extended all season.

######Peppers########

Franks: Productive small compact bush. Elongated red bell shape with sweet flavor.56 days

Ariane: Large yellow-orange sweet thick fleshed bell shape fruit.80-90 days.

Sweet Banana: Elongated yellow fruits.A good variety for short season.80-85 days.

Jimmy Nardello's : A sweet red 8-10 inch frying pepper.Brought to the US in 1887.Plants grow to 24" and are very productive.80-85 days.

King of the North: A red bell pepper that does well in cooll short season climates.A good sweet flavor.70 days.

Hungarian Hot Wax: Spicey yellow 5 inch conical shaped.Reliable in cooler climates.70 days

Early Jalapeno: Compact plants that produce small green fruits in abundance.70 days.

Pengs Long Hot: Hot but extremely flavorful red fruits.Seeds from Vietnam.Two foot tall plants have dark green fuzzy leaves. 85-90 days.

(Whew, I have not typed up something while reading it in awhile I am amazed I still remembered how.)

We have grown the Pineapple and the Paul Robeson in the past and have liked them.This year I think I will also get some of the Rutgers since I want to do some major canning this summer. Chance also loves the Peng's peppers so those are a must for us. I have not picked what other peppers yet. When I called Eve to ask for a list of plants and for permission to post it here we had a great conversation about seeds,Eve really knows a lot about so much when it comes to saving your own seed and growing food.She did tell me that all of the seed from their plants are easy to save.This is good since Chance is wanting to try his hand at this.
We are in a holding patteren here.The last frost day has came and went but it still seemed to cold so we have held off on planting somethings.I am glad we did,we got up yesterday to a thick layer of frost here.The day ended up being glorious,clear blue skys and 70! Holy Moly man I felt like a lizard soaking it up.Today is looking like a repeat.
The various greens are coming along.The Chard and Spinach are up finally and Peas are showing the first leaf fully. The onions are looking happy.Chance is trying something he talked with a friend about.He took the bottom ends (about 1 inch long) of some Green Onions from our friends garden and planted them.And Voila, they have started to grow.He is also trying the same thing with the bottoms of some Nappa Cabbage we had.We figure anytime we can grow from left overs it is a huge bonus.
Before I close here is Eve and Bryan's phone number, they do have an answering machine and are very good about returning calls. I am certain if you have any questions about their plants or growing in general they would happily talk your ear off.
Eve and Bryan (503) 248-6375

Rois

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I wrote in my last blog that I was going to ponder the term "Urban Homesteader" and I did without coming up with much more to say about it; other than,the title dose fit.We are growing our food,we can ,we cook from scratch,have chickens,barter/trade and make as many things as we can or need. No need for the tag line of Urban Homesteader it is simply who we are.
Chance and I set a small budget for our garden project when we started.The amount of $300 seems small when you start reading about people spending thousands of dollars to do what we are and to make their endeavors as green as possible. (This budget did not include the area where the plumb tree was.) We are not finished with some purchases we need and have spent our cash down.We got a bulk of the things we need but there are some gaps,mostly picking the seedlings up from a friends green house and a bit more seed.
What we bought with our money:
3 Yards of Soil for $130, this so far has been the best purchase.We have put a layer of soil on each Hay Bale,built 4 new garden beds,added some to three other old beds and we still have a yard left.
16 Hay Bales for $98. 15 have been used for the garden beds. One larger one for the Chicken Coop, on the garden paths and for the start of the potato beds.This was still cheaper than building wooden raised beds.
4 Chicks and their stuff,$30. A bit more than I thought but we needed a new water bottle and the bag of Chick Scratch which should last them for awhile longer.We are also getting Meat Chicks soon(eek I need to get on that.) so the water bottle will be reused.
Seeds,Strawberry starts,Onion sets,Chives,Parsely and Potato seed for $42.
Tomato Seedlings,well ummm I have 6 on hold and only enough to buy 2. But I have a plan for the money for the other 4.My Birthday is coming and my Mom takes me on a modest shopping trip so the shopping will be done at a family friends green house.I may have enough to buy the Tomatoes and some Hot Peppers.
Overall we are happy with how far we got.I am working on figuring out how much organic food I could buy with $300. My plan is to figure out the costs based on what we are growing and the eggs from the Hens.I estimate that we will come out way ahead once we are eating out of our own garden full time.I will post what I find out when I finish.
Like I said the budget did not include the area where the plumb was. We must come up with the means to build the Hop Arbor for over the front window.This is going to run us about $160 give or take.This will buy the support beams,2 Tea Trees and 5 Evergreen Blueberries.The rest of the space will just come as it comes.Hopefully through freebies, swaps and careful money spent it will get done over time.
The biggest ugliest job is looming, the grinding of the Plumb Stump.GRRR. We have a neighbor who seems to be phobic about trees in his yard.In the year and a half since he moved in he has slowly removed every tree in his yard.Here Chance and I are planting while he is cutting .During the last round of cutting Chance asked the Arborist who was doing the work for the neighbor for an estimate on grinding the stump,$200.Ouch,theres a big wad of cash for us. We are not going this route,there are so many other places that money could go. I think we will end up renting a Stump Grinder and doing it ourselves. Chance's buddy works for a rental place so maybe if Chance's luck holds we can get some sort of deal on the rental.
We went to Eugene to visit friends and on the way home detoured down to Cottage Grove to vist Territorial Seeds store. I had never been and because of their reputation I was invisioning a much larger store.But it had a nice vibe to it and we spent some money on starts and seeds.Issac picked out Russian Bananna Potatoes to try.He liked the shape and their name.They do have a kind of Bananna shape.
When we returned from our trip we built another garden bed in the front yard and did a bit of yard clean up.The veggies are coming up,the Chicks are starting to show their plumage in true Wynadotte fashion and the Hens are laying again.Thank goodness, I want real eggs and I did not want the older girls to become examples for the Chicken Butchering Class we are teaching soon.
The next part of this journey will be about getting smart with re-using what we have to finish some things,creative fund raising and waiting for the weather to warm up for the next round of plantings.
Rois