Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our

Friday, May 29, 2009

I think we have figured out the watering of the bales.

A couple of days ago I planted some more tomatoes where the bolted spinach had been.When I pulled the spinach and dug down into the bales to make holes for the tomatoes TA DA it was wet even though the top 1/2 inch of soil was dry.The water was at the plant roots where it should be.
We have changed how we were watering the bales.First of all we are using a different sprinkler head that is not a fine mist.Looking back the finer mist was useful when we had seeds in the bales and were waiting for them to come up.The fine mist kept the soil and seeds from washing away.But I think by changing the sprinkler setting now that things are up we will be ok.
The new setting on the sprinkler is a heavier spray that dose not fly away with the wind ; now more water is getting where we want it.We have also been watering for a little longer about 20 minutes every few days.When I planted the tomatoes the bales we nice and damp still.I had chosen to plant just before I watered so the plants would get a good drink at planting.
In a nutshell I think it boils down to this 5 more minutes of water using an effective setting on the sprinkler works.If I had thought things through it would have been slapping me in the face sooner.This set up has allowed the bales to get soaked and stay that way.Not soggy soaked just nice and damp.At the roots where the plants want the water.
When I thought it through I was saying "Ah hello? Of course I knew this.The water needed to be built up so the bales could do their job.Kind of simple science here" Oh well I/we learned something.
Everything we planted is up and growing.By tomorrow afternoon we should each have one ripe strawberry to enjoy. I checked on the apples today and most of them are the size of a walnut.The second round of radishes are ready to pull and the second round of lettuces are up.Some where under a pile of straw the potatoes are doing their thing.The grass is growing as fast as the rest of it which motivates us to get rid of ALL of it and plant more garden.Maybe not this summer but by next spring our lawn will be a memory of the old days.
I have pulled out my canning books and have started my planning.First thing of the season Frog Free Strawberry jam,you see I still have strawberry fever and I wont be free of it until I see jars of jam cooling in the kitchen.Follow that with fruit,pickled all kinds of things, kraut and more jams.Hmmm winter goodness.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I spy with my little eye , something pinkish

Our first almost ripe Strawberry! I don't normally blog twice in one day but I have Strawberry fever.This comes as a surprise out of left field for me. I spent 3 summers growing up working in the Berry fields,first strawberries then raspberries and some times boysenberries.Up before dawn, on to the bus and working by sun up.Rain,heat nor boredom kept us home.I had to earn my own money for school clothes and being a preteen girl,I wanted those clothes. I then spent 2 summers working in the cannery making berry ice cream toppings.This is where I really started to not like strawberries.Working swing shift night after night 6 days a week standing there watching berries roll by picking out the junk and muck so the berries could go into the slicer. I should not say this but a few tree frogs went over the end and into the slicer this sealed my dislike of berries. It has only been the last couple of years that I have been able to stomach them and only if I personally made the dish or picked the berries.
Seeing that pinkish berry soaking up the sun today gave me the fever.This year I am going to can our own strawberry jam.I have my eyes wide open for a local farm to go pick my own ruby goodness.Any day now it will be time.We always got calls from the farmers telling us to hurry up and finish school so we could come pick.A couple of years we went after school and on the weekends until the day we could close our books.That jam is going to be good,I just know it.Come winter we will have jars of summer sunshine to slather on our toast without any frogs sliced into it.


I have had eggs on my mind these past few days. With our older hens in full swing and giving us an average of 4 eggs per day I have a basket full of eggs at all times. Over the winter when the eggs were far and few between we craved our good eggs.Now not so much,we have had plenty of egg breakfasts and dinners. I can now start baking some of the goodies we like that call for many eggs.Over the weekend I made Challah Bread for Memorial Day and in the memory of Chance's Grandparents. Challah uses 5 eggs to give it a nice flake and tender loaf.
It was a good thing I was baking Memorial Day,just as I was putting the bread into bake we were invited to a last minute neighborhood BBQ. We brought one loaf of the Challah,a jar of home canned pickles and apple butter.(Both of which I will be doing again this summer so I will be posting about these again) Having easy to bring food is a great perk to putting up your own canned goods and being able to cook too.
While at the BBQ we had a talk about about chickens,while watching the neighbors brood, and egg safety. Out of the 4 families there 3 have chickens and we have all had our girls hide a clutch of eggs in some strange spot.The question came up how do you know how long the eggs have been there and are they safe to eat.Last summer we found a nest of at least 10 eggs under our canoe,we had not noticed because we still had eggs in the coop. We opted to throw out theses eggs because of the summer heat.But how do you know?
We typically use this methoid to check for freshness.We fill the kitchen sink about half way with cool water and carefully place the egss in. There are 4 things the eggs should do:
1- Not float.This means these eggs are the freshest
2- Try to tip up on its pointed end. These eggs are about a week old and still ok.
3- Standing up on its pointed end.Getting stale and 2-3 weeks old.Use these eggs up soon. Refrigerated eggs in a carton are good for 5 weeks.
4- Floating.Very old get rid of it.
We don't use this test for every round of eggs.If you check for eggs a couple times a day and put them away you are good to go.We only do this when we are thinking that the newly found hidden clutch may be more than a day old.
Keeping your eggs fresh and safe to eat is pretty simple.Like I said collect them a couple times a day,this keeps the eggs from getting dirty or stepped upon.Also keeping the litter in the nest boxes clean keeps the eggs clean too.When an egg gets most likely poo on it gently brush the egg off. By washing an egg you interfer with the bloom of the egg.This bloom seals the many microscoptic pores of the shell,it keeps bacterias out.If an egg is covered in mess and needs scrubbing to get off the dirt off it is best to toss this egg.
Right now I don't have any problems keeping track of which eggs in the fridge are freshest.We use the "first in first out" rule for all foods here. Once I have more than 8 eggs in the carton I plan on using them up to keep things rotating.This will have to be re thought once the Wynadotts start to lay in July,then I will at some point have 8 eggs per day ( I hope).
There are lots of articles out there on the wide web about the nutrition of eggs.Store VS Home Grown.Eggs are a good source of cheap protien that point wins hands down.The issues of which eggs have more vitamins,less cholesterol is a wide ranging debate. Eggs only lack vitamin C otherwise it is ,no matter which kind,the perfect food.The amount of cholesterol is based (from what I understand) on the size of the yolk.The yolk of an egg has all of the fat and cholesterol,bigger yolk means more fat and cholesterol.Worried about those 2? Don't use the yolks.
The color of the shell has nothing to do with the eggs nutrition.None,Nada,Zip and Zilch.Don't let someone charge you extra for blue eggs because the farmer says they are better for you.The colored eggs are a pleasure to look at.I miss my rainbow colored eggs from our old flock.And how fun to give someone a carton and see the look on their face as they see all of the colors,all in one box.Almost as nice as a new box of Crayons.
I LOVE my girls,they give me so much and only ask for some basic things.I get endless hours of pleasure watching my hens and all of their antics.Each one has her own personality,never let anyone tell you chickens are dumb,they are not.Each hen is like a mini ecosystem,They eat my kitchen scraps and bugs in the yard natural recycling and no need for toxic bug sprays.When we clean out the coop we get nice compost for the yard.I give them a safe place to live with plenty of fresh water,some feed and a cosey coop, I get eggs to feed my family.Eggs from my own hens,whom I know personally, I know their diet and how fresh those eggs are. Perfection at its best. I know where my eggs come from do you?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Repling to comments about water

The watering issue with the bales has started us thinking and with a couple of other folks piping up I figured it was worth a posting.
Chance and I watched our sprinkler during the last watering. (Yes we now have several channels on our yard and garden "T.V" Watering,Chickens,Growing and the DIY channels.) Our sprinkler was wasting a lot of water. The mist is to fine and once the wind kicks up the water flies away with the wind. So we are going to try out a drip system made from a recycled garden hose.Chance has the idea to prick tiny holes into the hose to allow it to drip.With drip lines the water goes where you want, is more effective and you don't have to run the water as long.
I did receive a comment about using rain barrels. We do have a couple of smaller ones.In the past this water has been for the chickens and the old garden beds. We need to improve our rain barrel system so we get better flow making it easier to hook up a hose to them.One of our goals is to put in more barrels and make them work right. Here in the Portland area rain barrels are very popular.They utilize the many gallons of rain we get just about year round.In the past just before the rain barrel craze hit affordable barrels were easy to find.Now you have to be some place at the right moment.
My Dad first introduced us to rain catching systems.His well was going dry and the local town would not hook him up to the town water.He put in a 500 gallon under ground tank for their out door water needs.The rain ran off his HUGE barn and into the tank.During the cooler months when we get weeks on end of liquid sunshine it would only take a couple of days to fill his tank.Not once did the tank go dry. There is a whole math formula for figuring out how much water you can get per square foot of roof.It is some where close to 10 gallons per square foot. Pretty darn cool free water.Later on the town hooked him up to water after they found out about what he had already done.I think they did not like thinking about missing out on the water he could have been paying them for a water bill.He still used the tank for outdoors and the town water for the house.
I also received a comment about saving clean water from the household such as catch the water while you are waiting for it to heat up.This a thought that I should bring up with the family at dinner tonight.I think if everyone was agreeable it could easily become a habit.
I am not to worried a solution will be found.Oregon is so darn wet year round that the only month I worry about watering is August when we get some heat. The rest of the months water comes often enough straight from the sky.So if we keep our routine of letting the rain do most of the watering for the bulk of the garden beds and find a conservative way to water the bales it will work out.
Thanks everyone for the input.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roses,sunshine and growing food

There has not been all that much work to do around here this week; mostly waiting for things to grow. Chance made us the El Salvadorian Clam Salsa that I posted for dinner last night. I could have sat down with a spoon and chowed down the whole bowl by myself.But I was good and shared it. It is nice to be eating out of our own garden.I know so far it has been just salads, herbs and bits of greens but there is no comparison to the taste of fresh picked goodness.
Last Sunday we were just here at home working around the place and I noticed that my herbs have all gone crazy with growth.So I figured why not put up a sign for fresh cut herbs? I made $10 at $2 a bunch that was good for just selling while working in the yard. These sales inspired Chance to make me a sign to put up when I have extras to sell. I am excited to have a professional looking sign that will draw peoples attention.And maybe after awhile folks will remember I am here and check back. I know once our Wynadotts are laying I will be able to offer eggs as well as veggies and the herbs.Next year I hope to add cut flowers to my list of things to sell.
I am starting to really scratch my head over the Hay Bales.It is working and it is still early in the growing season but there seems to be a different kind of labor to them that I am not to sure about.One is the water issue,hay bales need lots of water,daily if there is no rain.In the past I only watered every few days or during a heat wave more often.So the bales are using more resources when it comes to water.We are trying to be sustainable and are working to reduce our carbon foot print and extra water use goes against that. Also we have to fertilize weekly.We are using an all organic fertilizer mix from Steve Solomons book "Gardening West of The Cascades" .This mix is awesome and dose wonders.It is part of the reason my herbs have doubled in size.The draw back is the cost,it is not high $5-6 but that was for a 2 week supply.Over the growing season that will add up to close to the $100 mark. I am still open to the the idea behind the hay bales and have not given up yet.I just think it may not be as cheap and effective as we thought.We shall see.
Here in Oregon and especially here in the Portland area it would not be late spring with out Roses.Portland is known as the City of Roses you see them every where including a many week Rose Festival. In our garden we have 2 climbing roses.One came with the house and is very aggressive in its climbing,by summers end it climbs up over the peak of the garage.This beauty has smallish dark pinkish red blooms.I planted closer to the porch a rose called 4th of July,a nice mottled flower of red,white and a touch of yellow and has a faint almost apple scent to it.Both roses have stated to bloom hearlding in the coming summer months.
Chance and I have been talking about what else we would like to grow and where.A few weeks ago we thought we would put off working on the area of the yard that had our plumb until next spring.But we are on a roll and want to keep going.The soil in this area will need much amending due to lots of clay and I am sure the tree has zapped all of the nutirents. Over the summer we will work on adding more beds,mulching, fertilizing them and getting them healthy enough to plant in.
Journey on,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Now we are cooking

This morning while I made the bread I made sure to measure what I was doing. I have been baking bread since I was old enough to stand on the kitchen stool and help my Mother.My Mother ground our flours and made many different kinds of breads for us. The bread I am posting here is my own variation of one Mom made for us.I changed it this past fall to include some Spelt Flour and Grain Cereal. I made this change for Issac and I, we both have an autoimmune disease called Crohn's Disease. One point of view is to limit the amount or all Gluten to help manage the disease, so last fall I changed our diet. Issac did not like the all Spelt breads I came up with and frankly Gluten free breads are yucky to my palet.So this bread is a compromise between us.Less wheat and more other stuff.It still makes a nice loaf of bread.In fact I don't think Issac knows my trick.The Crohn's also feeds into many other reasons we are growing more of our own food.We live on a tight budget and organics are spendy for us.By growing more of our own food we will be able to control what we are eating and save money to buy more organic items with the money we have saved.
But this post is about the positive points so back to the bread receipe.

Hrafinstaad's Daily Bread:

2 1/2 tea spoons yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
2 cups lukewarm milk **
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups Spelt flour
3 cups AP flour Pluse about 2-3 more cups for later##
1 cup mixed grain cereal (8 Grain is what I use.)
3 Tablespoons oil Whatever kind you like

Mix yeast,sugar/honey and water in a bowl.Let stand til bubblie.About 5 minutes
In the bowl you are going to make the dough in add the milk**,salt and oil.Now add the yeast slurry to the bowl.Mix it up a bit.Now add the cereal,Spelt and AP flour.
** I sometimes feel a bit "milk poor" so I either use all water or half milk and half water.I don't think there is a taste difference just a nutrition difference.**
Mix the dough until it comes together.You will have to finish the mixing with your hands. If you have a Stand type mixer this comes together quickly if not you may have to turn the dough out onto a work surface to finish the mixing.Now knead the dough untill it is smooth and elastic.You will have to add some extra flour at this point.## I listed this extra flour as AP above but you can use which ever flour you want.I use which ever I am wanting to use up or have plenty of depending.##
You want a dough that is not sticky.Keep adding handfuls of flour while kneading until the dough no longer sticks and is nice and smooth.This can take up to 10 minutes. Now oil your bowl and the top of your bread dough. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in bulk.My Mother says this is 1 1/2 hours but if I don't set a timer and get busy it is sometimes longer.Infact I think because of the lower gluten in the Spelt flour it is better to let it raise closer to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and let rise until doubled again.
Pre hreat the oven to 375 F. Now you can get a bit creative here.I like to bake my loaves as Cottage Loaves which are free formed and baked on a sheet sprinkled with corn meal.Or you can oil two loaf pans and bake them that way.
Which ever way you choose first form your dough into 2 loaves and let them rest on your work top for 20 minutes.When you check the dough gently press in with one finger tip.If the dough springs back it is ready to bake.
Now either oil two loaf pans or sprinkle a heavy layer of corn meal on a baking sheet that will hold both loaves. Bake at 375F for one hour. Keep an eye on your bread while it is baking.Times are different for each oven.I check for a nice golden brown color and a hollow sound when the loaf is tapped.
When your bread comes out you can do a couple of things.My Mom always buttered the bread tops when it came out of the oven.This makes a nice shine and a softer crust.Personally I like a chewie crust and leave out the butter.
Today when I made the bread I added a big handful of chopped Walnuts.Sometimes I add Filberts. Growing up here in Oregon Hazelnuts were called Filberts.They are the same nut with two names. Oregon used to be the Filbert/Hazelnut growing region for the States.I am not sure if this true any more.Many of the old orchards are sadly gone now.I belive many of our nuts now come from France.
I posted a photo of one of the loaves I made today.Tomorrows posting will be more cooking with a bit of garden trickery,Chance's Green Onions.

Learning as we go

We are totally new to Hay Bale Gardening and we started ours as an experiment to over come an invasion of Pig Weed.I can not claim to know a whole lot about it.We did some internet surfing and read a few articles and thought "Why not?" All of the photos we saw showed these lush over flowing gardens with cascading vines and fat veggies.Sigh said the Chef's voice inside both Chance and I. Now we are finding a trend in our Hay Bales,early bolting of greens who don't like heat.I wrote a while back about the Bok Choy doing this and now the Spinach has followed.
Over the weekend our neighbor Rob who is a gardener with different knowledge than ours stopped by to borrow our hand truck.We got talking about the garden and an Aha moment sprung from our lips. The aha? Well we figured it this way.The Hay Bales are always putting off heat from their composting, which we had read about.It sounded great,what veggie dose not like a bit of warmth to get it going. But what we did not take into mind is not every veggie likes heat or to much sun, such as Bok Choy,Spinach and Lettuces. The Bales must be (to our thinking) to warm for these babies.
We came up with 2 solutions.The first Rob came up with, a sunshade to put up during the worst heat of the day.He even offered us a length of Sun Cloth (I don't know much about what makes it Sun Cloth VS. Cloth.I need to do some reading) that should be big enough for the Bale the Spinach is planted in. I looked at the down side to this one. One more job added to my list and would I remember to do it? And this row of Bales is right in front of the Tomatoes which I don't want shaded. I am going to go out with an old sheet and hang it to test this idea out.It is to late to save the Spinach but I want to see if I re-plant the Spinach would the cloth shade the Tomatoes?
I must say I am a bit ticked off about losing some of my crops.Spring greens are like a tonic after many months of eating store bought veggies.And don't get me started on the money I feel I have wasted,starting with the seeds, the food we could have eaten and put away for winter. Our weather has been crazy here.Hot for 2 days and like this week back into the 60's with rain and then back to the 80's by the weeks end. In my mind a cool weather crop should have been fine until mid July.GRRRR!
All right I have stepped off my soap box and will get back to solution number 2.Simple, don't plant cool weather crops in the Bales.Next year plant them in the front garden beds in the ground where it is cooler.
I mentioned Lettuces above, so far our Lettuces are fine.I planted them on the side of the garden the tends to be a bit more shaded on purpose.See I was thinking just not all the way through!
We are learning and knowledge is power. Now we have something to work out, which solution to use. We are on a journey here one that dose not really have an ending point just a long ramble.Maybe some day we will know we have arrived and are done but that day is far ahead.This blip in the road of Hay Bale Gardening is small compared to where we are today.I looked back through the pictures I have posted already and think WOW no wonder all 4 of us are feeling so happy.How could we not be? I could overwhelm everyone by posting new photos of everything, everyday because it changes and is growing so fast but I won't. My next blog project should be a before and after slid show...mmmm.I think I 'll get Issac to help me with that!
All right I am off (maybe my rocker). I need to start the bread dough.Today I will measure things so I can post here. And I have visitors coming to see Hrafinstaad today.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

And Voila!

And it is done!

Dinner out and an unexpected guest

"I am so happy today mama" Said Sol. Why? "You are up out of bed,the sun is shining and things are just good". Sigh says my Mother's Heart. We had a lovely evening.We had our first dinner in the garden,BBQ Chicken (This always makes me wonder,"what do the Hens think of us cooking their kin right here near them?") salad from the garden and Garlic Pasta.
While waiting for the food to cook we had a surprise visitor.A beautiful and huge Moth.The Moth had these amazing "eyes" on its wings with spots of pink.I have never seen one of these pretties before.We took a close look and then Chance put the Moth on our Pear Tree where it seemed happy to fade away into the bark.The Moth is still there this morning.
Issac had Jacob here for the night.Jacob is a good friend and it was a bit startling to see how tall he is growing,just like my own boys. Issac and Jacob are in Boy Scouts together and wanted to try to make a Dutch Oven Dessert on their own.They had hoped to perfect it before the next Scout get together to surprise the other boys with their new found skill.Well, being teen aged boys they figured the more sugary goo they put in the cookie dough the better.Not! 2 kinds of chips,Rollo's and mini Snickers just made for burnt sugar in the cookies.The idea was good but the flavor was ah...Burnt Sugar. So before the next Scout get together I told them I would help them come up with something else that would work.I have had my fair share of Dutch Oven cooking in a fire and I love doing it. I think a simple cake would be best for the boys.In fact I am now inspired to try( for here at home,not at Scouts) a Chocolate Lava Cake,the kind with the gooey middle.These bake quick and might work out. All of this talking about baking with wood makes me wanting to get the Cobb Oven built.
We also let all of the Chickens out.The older girls made a bee line for the compost bin,their favorite snack spot.The young Wynadotts stood at their gate looking out with this look on their faces " Ummm, are we suppose to go out there?" We had to push them out but taking the older girls' lead they got busy! The Wynadotts will get some yard training from here on out.Just simple shooing out of the garden and learning that when we call "Coop,Coop" it is time to go in.Have I mentioned Thora loves helping when it is time to round up the girls? She's very good at it and not mean at all.A farm dog in the city still doing her job.
Today we move the Le Poultes out to the big coop.They have grown so much and need more room.Then we will move on to painting the porch.The work is never done but it's ok, we like it that way.
I discovered new comments from some new readers. Thank you for the comments and I am happy to see new people are reading my rambling saga. I had thought my blog would only be about the Hay Bale Gardening but it has taken on its own life.I suppose now Hrafinstaad.blogspot.com is about our journey towards becoming more independent and all that it entails. I hope everyone enjoys their weekend.I'd love to hear back how some of you spent your time.


Friday, May 15, 2009

I ISpent the last four days sleeping off the crud.This morning I got up feeling much better and needing to prepare for a house full of teen aged boys this afternoon. I made sure I had a plate FULL of cookies baked and a BIG jar of Sun Tea brewing before the boys arrive.I love having the house full of kids.Most of the boys' friends have been around since either boy was 5.It is a nice mixed bag of boys and girls who like to pile into our house and hang out.
I am heads over heels in LOVE with how the new porch turned out.Mothers Day I went and picked out flowers for the pots on the porch.I stuck with some old stand by's for this year until I figure out the new sunlight.With the tree gone and the hops going up who knows.I still have shade till around 4PM.It was raining again this week so Chance did not start to paint yet.This weekend is suppose to be sunny and the boys are busy with Scouts so maybe we can do it together. I had Chance hang a Candle Chandelier(those WICKED Blacksmithing skills again.Oh so handy!) he had made for us up on the the porch.He used a branch from the Blue Spruce that was mostly centered.I tried to get a good photo but nothing was working just right.
The final photo is my Mother's Day gift from Sol.He really wanted me to have a pair of Mucking Boots for working outside.He started out by talking about the fancy assorted ones you some times see in stores now. Whoa Horse! I am not a fancy girl and spending $60 on Muck Boots is INSANE esp if you are barely 12! So very sweet but lets figure out something else. I remembered at one of the local shops they had $20 plain black ones; much better price.But not stylish enough for Sol's Mama.So Sol spray painted a stencil of a Sparrow on them.I love them, so very me, cheap (ha ha ha,no comments from the Peanut Gallery!) crafty and one of a kind! I did not get to take a photo of Issac's gift to me,Hot homemade Scones served in bed.He made the Scones himself and felt pretty proud.
We inspected the fruit trees and things are looking tasty! Lots of Pears and Apples coming on.Along with Raspberries. I think this evening we will have with dinner a salad of mixed micro greens from the garden.I love salads and this one is well earned.
Besides baking cookies this morning I made bread.I was going to try and put up the recipe here but I am going to have to do some head scratching. I have taken the basic bread I grew up on and changed it. So once I get it worked out I will post it . I tend to put in half of the Wheat flour and then add in some other flour and a bit of mixed grain cereal ( 7,8 or 10 Grain mix used for Hot Cereal/Mush). We like it and it uses up odd bits of just about anything.
Well I must go.I have been informed by the boys that this evening the older boys are doing some Dutch Oven cooking .Looks like a fun evening filled with fire and food.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A $6 project

Yesterday was a gorgeous day here at Hrafinstaad. After doing a bit of digging Chance got busy building supports for the Hops by the front porch.When I first talked to Chance about this idea I thought we could just build a U shaped trellis with strings running up for the Hops. Chance had a more creative idea,an actual structure with a handrail and windows.
The whole project only cost us $6! And only because we needed a box of wood screws.The wood for the structure was already here and salvaged from a side job Chance had done awhile ago,the windows were also rescued from a side job. We also lucked out with the spindles for the railing.Our neighbors had recently taken down their railing and brought the left overs to us.One less thing sitting around in their yard and put to good use.

When the building is done we are going to paint the new "porch" the same green we have for our house trim.Then we can start training the hops up up up.
We had some good company while working,both Thora GoodDog and Abby Chicken spent the afternoon in the sun.I brought Abby out in a small Chicken Tractor to eat some grass and what ever else she could find.At some point we would like to build a bigger Chicken Tractor but it is so far down the list of things to do that it is going to be awhile.
Yesterday in the morning I went and picked up our Tomato and Pepper order from Eve and Bryan.The Tomatoes were a bit rangie but look strong and healthy.Eve had spent a good deal of time nursing the plants.Even in the green house the plants were having a hard time getting sun and heat.Our wintery spring has made growing tricky for everyone.
After talking with Eve about planting I went ahead and planted the Tomatoes. In the past I have waited till the last weekend of May to plant but these Tomatoes were ready and needing to be planted now.The peppers will live on a windowsill for a couple more weeks,it is still to cold for them.
Meat Chick update,they are fine and growing.We did lose one to whatever Chicks die from.We now have a total of 7.We had bought 2 more of the same batch from Urban Farm.I don't think I mention them much because I don't want anyone to get attached to the idea of them being around forever.
Today while Chance is away on a fishing trip (Let's hope it is Catching not just Fishing!) I think I will go do some fun nurserie shopping,flowers! I have a list of things I am thinking of but who knows what I will be inspired by.I want some showie colors to add here and there.I already bought some Sunflower seeds.( Sol has never received the seeds from USF for the Bee project.So we will plant some anyway) I bought the giant ones that grow to 7 feet with seed heads 1 foot across and some mixed colored ones that grow to be 4-5 feet tall.I want these inbetween the Hop Arbors on the Sounthern side of the house.
I received a comment from a fellow named Todd who offered me some Rennet for cheese making.I was very tickled that he was willing to share this with me.I have not had time this week to make the Mozzarella.I had Issac home with a bad ear infection.He is better now and back to his spunky self. Todd if you are reading this,if you have any tips about Mozzarella please let me know.Cheese is new to me so advice is greatly welcome.Or anyone else out there who has made cheese who has some tip or warning pipe up already!
So I close this posting filled with happiness.The garden is looking more and more like the bountiful basket of goodness I had hoped for.The new porch is an exciting surprise waiting to be used.And THE SUN IS SHINNING on my poor wearie Oregonian head! I tell ya,this year sunny days have been like a drug for me.With that go out and get drunk on sunshine everyone!


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Snap Crazy

Grape Leaves,
Grape Arbor
Snow Ball Shrub,
Front yard looking West
Bartlet Pear and backyard,
Swiss Chard
Hay Bales looking West
Garden looking East(Blooming Rosemary on left,Chicken Run/Coop back right)
Front Beds
View of House from street
Flowers coming up front walk with the new
Iris' I just planted

Finally a break in the rain today! Today on the noon news the weatherman said we have already had a whole May's worth of rain,there has not been this wet of a May since 1998.So to all of my fellow Oregonians there is a reason behind all of our glumness.
Our hops this year have gone crazy.We have trimmed extra roots several times already.Hops were one of the major projects to be done.We were inspired by the way our friend train their hops.Chance strung strings in a fan shape up the trellises.This will hopefully give us more summer shade on those southern windows.We have so many extras that we are going to build/plant a screen of hops along one side of our front stoop.We don't have a rail or roof over this spot,the hops will give us a more room like feeling to the front porch.
I also planted more radishes since the ones were are already eating are so good.I went ahead and planted the Cucumbers and Yellow Crook Necked Squash.This is a couple of weeks earlier than I have planted them but the weather is warming up so it should be fine. I read on the Crook Necks packaging that Borage is helpful in the pollination of this kind of squash.I had already planted some starts that were waiting to be planted so in they went near the squash.I planted the rest of the seeds here and there to use them up.I had bought the Borage because bees like it and bees in the garden are always helpful.
Before it got to dark I went out and went snap happy with the camera.I had been planning on updating the photos any way and with things looking so good and the rain clearing I took advantage.I hope you enjoy them and find them inspiring.

Declare Your Food Independence!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The first eats from the garden!

I did not think I would have anything to write about for a few more days then while doing the daily rounds thru the garden we found two new things going on.
Chance pulled the first of our Radishes.We planted the mix called Easter Egg because I am always in to color.And as a mother I sometimes hope by presenting a veggie in a new and off the wall color the boys might try something that they have not liked in the past.Chance pulled red,purple,pinkish and a bi-colored one.They will be a nice snack to add to our dinner tonight. I am hoping when the next round is ready Chance will make El Salvadorean Clam Salsa which is super good and calls for radishes.I am including the reciepe below.Our friend Katy at City Chicken loves this salsa.

Elmer's El Salvadorean Clam Salsa
From: Salsas,Sambals,Chutneys & Chowchows by: Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby

1 Cup minced clams fresh or canned
1/3 Cup Lime juice about 2 1/2 limes
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 red onion diced small
5 radishes diced small
1 ripe tomatoe diced small
1/4 Cup chopped cilantro
6-10 shots of Tabasco sauce depending on your desire for heat
salt and pepper to taste.

Mix it all together.Will keep in the fridge for 2 days but best used right away.
Serve with chips or the best is on Saltines.

The second discovery was our Bok Choy has bolted.I have read that Bok Choy can be fussy but I thought it meant about heat.We have had such a crazy winter and spring that I am surprised what is growing is.I think next year I will plant a different type of Asian greens.
Now I have a whole in my garden beds.I will have to figure out what to put in to replace the Bok Choy with.I may put in for now some more Cilantro,more Cilantro is always good .
The chickens are good.The meat birds are growing faster than I thought they would and flying already.The big hens are laying 4 eggs a day!
Theres not a lot going on around here right now.The weather has been so wet and pouring that getting out has been well, soggy.We pick up our tomato and pepper plants this weekend.I am leaving them in a sunny window for a couple more weeks.I never plant tomatoes before the last weekend in May.And with the weather the way it is I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chicken Butchering Class

Our July 12th class is now full.Please check back with us for the date of the next class.It should be late July or early August. We also want to say thanks to everyone who has signed up and for the great support we have received from all of you.