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

Thursday, July 21, 2011

We are moving.......

We are moving this blog that is.After some thought we are moving over to Wordpress.Chance and I are trying to get the classes we will be teaching promoted in a better way and with the new site we can do that.We can also better organize all of the other things we share with you.
It's been great being here but it's time to change.We hope all of our followers will follow us on over.

Here's the link to the new page

Rois

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7 jars of jam and our new stove.

 Chance and I made 7 jars of Strawberry Rhubarb Jam using the the recipe in the link from yesterdays posting. As you can see in the photo below we ended up using the Canning Kettle because we doubled the batch and could fill the canning kettle.


Round one of canning on our new stove.
   Somehow I forgot to blog about us getting a new stove.Well,it's not New but something even better to us,it's Vintage. Our old stove sucked overall and we never knew if what we were baking would burn or not.It was still working so we could not justify buying a new one any time soon.But my Mom was gifted this stove and didn't need it. Knowing we were disgusted with our stove Mom re-gifted the stove to us.For once re-gifting was the perfect thing to do.We have a love of the vintage stoves since they tend to be work horses and easy enough for Chance to repair.Just the fact that its repairable makes this stove a treasure to us.So many appliances these days can't be fixed easily or at all,what a waste of a lot of money.

Now back to the jam.Chance is home way before me on my work days so before I got home he prepped as much of the jam ingredients as he could.This made for a quick session of canning once I was home.I think all together it took about an hour to put the jam up.The division of the work and the ease of a smaller batch has insipred us to think about more small batches.Like my Mom said to me we might be able to put up more from our own garden this way.Chance also pointed out we could end up with a bigger variety of things,that sure would be the spice of life wouldn't it?



Strawberry Rhubarb Jam



  This morning before work I was cruising around online and came across this recipe for Bacon Jam Hand Pies.In my pre-coffee haze I thought the recipe was for Bacon and Jam Hand Pies but as I read through it's for Bacon Jam. Oh My Goodness,Jam made from Bacon. And what is sitting in our fridge curing waiting to be smoked next week? Bacon,made by that handsome man of mine.I had Chance look over the recipe and of course he said "Let's do it" I am not overly interested in the Hand Pie part but once we make the Bacon Jam and have tasted it I may make it into the pies.Unless we figure out another way to use it.It is Jam,couldn't we just smear it on toast?

Finally, I am announcing this here for all of my readers first so if you want to snag a spot you can.Chance and I will be teaching a Chicken Butchering class here at Hrafinstaad  Friday Aug 19th at 6 PM.The cost of the class is $30 , you bring your own chicken to butcher then take home and one sharp kitchen knife.We limit the number to 10 so there is plenty of time to give help as needed.The closing date for sign up is Monday Aug 15th. Email us if you are interested- hrafinstaad at aol dot com.Please feel free to spread the word.

I am feeling so much better about how things are going around here.Seeing the back garden growing rapidly has given me much hope that we will carry on.Also reminding myself that there is actually a nice list of veggies that we can plant in the coming weeks for winter gardening has put some get up and plant in my feet.Speaking of winter gardening.Chance picked up some free window glass so we can build a couple of cold frames for a winter garden.I'll post more when we start the building.

Rois

Canning Kettle or just a pot.

Last night I realized we do have enough Strawberries and Ruhbarb to do a small batch of jam. I went and checked out a recipe I had seen over at Food in Jars website. As I clicked my way on to the site I found she is doing a give away for a Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit.The kit has 3 pint jars, a canning basket that holds only 3 jars and a recipe booklet.I signed up for the give away because I was excited about the smallness of the canning basket.This nifty basket can be used in whatever kettle or pot you have it will fit in with enough room to cover the jars as you process them,awesomeness! If I had that basket I wouldn't always have to heat up my giant canning kettle for small batches of jars.If I won the give away it wouldn't be here for the jam I am wanting to make but the next time, if I was the lucky winner , I wouldn't have lug out the big kettle,wait forever for it too heat or use more water and power than a few jars are worthy of.

 After I had clicked on the comment send button I thought to myself.."Wait a minute! I need to call Mom" Somewhere in the back of my mind was a thought I couldn't pin down about my Mom and canning kettles.I think I had even blogged about this vauge idea.Had I? Never mind,I'll just call and maybe I'll end up repeating myself in a posting but oh well.

 So I ring Mom and fill her in on the small batch of jam,the small basket Ball now makes and my missing thought finally arrives in my head.The question I posed to my Mom was "I don't have to have a canning basket to can right? Didn't you tell me you can just put a kitchen towel in the bottom a pot so the jars don't rattle around?" Mom's answer was,you don't have to have a canning kettle or basket.She then reminded me that she had told me once upon a time about how she never had an actual canning kettle and just used a big pot for her canning.As long as the pot has enough room for an inch or more of water to be over the tops of the jars you are good.

I can't tell you how nice this thought is to me.Sometimes getting the big kettle out for smaller jobs is just a big pain in the butt.And I think about the water used and the power too and cringe.Too much waste! Now that Mom has reminded me/filled me in on this I feel much more inspired to do smaller batches of things.

My Mom was impressed with Food in Jars promoting smaller batches of canning.Mom said that it made sense,a person could put things up as they came into season in your own garden.I guess no one had thought of this back when Mom was canning.It was always these big canning days filled with rows and rows of jars.

Maybe I have repeated myself about not needing a canning kettle to can or maybe all of you already knew this gem but for some reason it excites me.Probly because now my small job can stay a small job all beacuse I can just use my soup pot.

So this evening sandwhiched between dinner,Scout drop off and pick up Chance and I will be making jam.And even if our weather isn't looking like summer the house will smell like it.I'll let you know how it all goes.

Rois

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Just found this..

This morning I found this blog through an ad she has on the local Craigslist webpage. I am impressed with her knowledge of chickens and natural ways to care for them.I wish I wasn't working on the days she will be selling her chickens here in town.I am not looking to buy but would love to see the birds anyway.
 In one of her postings she writes about using herbs from your garden as a way to keep pests like lices from your chickens. All you have to do is add the herbs to their bedding in the coop. We currently have tons of sage and mint growing as soon as it dries out here I am going to add some to the coop bedding.I don't want to do it now since wet bedding is never a good idea for any animal.

 Well this is just a short quick post before I leave for work.

Rois

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Although they are growing up,they still wonder at the beauty of the deep green woods.


   Yesterday, our escaping rooster  left.It was time for him to go else where,yet again he escaped but this time Chance caught him before he could become "The Destroyer of Gardens". There is no way we were going to risk loosing our plants again.We took him to the feed store to be re-homed,he's a handsome devil so I am sure someone will want him.His handsomeness is what has saved him from the stew pot.

  This morning as I was waking up I was wondering what was wrong in the world...kind of extra quiet out there...oh yeah,the rooster is gone.The rooster crowing hasn't been a huge bother to us and none of the neighbors have said anything to us but I think the quiet morning will be nice.When I went out to check on the hens this morning they seemed fairly happy and mellow.Maybe they like having the Roo gone too.

  The re-planted garden beds are looking hopeful.The Green Beans we planted have popped up.Even though we re-planted late I am pretty hopeful we will still get some beans.I was reading through a copy of a Sunset magazines gardening book, which is dated from the '70's but still is useful, about how you can plant beans successively until mid-summer.I've never bothered to do this since we always get enough for fresh eating from one planting.My fingers are crossed it works,our last few summers have come late and stayed late,if this stays true we may be in luck.The weather here still seems to me to be a month behind so we shall see.


  Another idea I found in the Sunset book was a shade idea for lettuces.You build out of wood a frame that is basically a rectangle on legs,the legs being about belly high.You then place this frame around your bed of lettuces and cover the frame with a sheet to create shade.This is not a new idea to me,I've seen variations around but re- reading about it reminded me that I've had this on my list of possible solutions.

 We are still picking strawberries,none of which have made to the freezer,the boys keep gobbling them up too fast.Our raspberries are also ready for picking.We don't have enough canes to really grow enough berries to make much.We just eat them fresh while they last.The same goes for the 4 blueberry's  we have.They are still just young enough to only give us  a handful  at a time for snacking.

  July is a crunch month for Chance at work so I am not too sure how many projects we will get done other than just keeping things going.The turkeys have yet to arrive,pinning down a time when this can happen is proving tricky for all of us.

  We did find time last week for the four of us to pack a picnic and head out into the woods for a hike.It was lovely walking through the dappled sunlight.We saw so many wondrous things I should do a whole posting about our day.The photo at the top is of the boys pausing  to listen and wonder .We had many stops like that along our way. Seeing the boys exploring and still taking the time to stop to investigate something that caught their eyes was a joyful thing.I can only hope that even as grown men they will still carry their love of the woods in their hearts.And someday maybe they will stop with their own children to listen to the woods.  

  I had a few links I wanted to share before the old computer crashed.I was only able to find one of them.I'd like to try making these sugar cubes soon simply because I think they would be so fun to have around. Finding this has also inspired me to look into making Maple Sugar Candy***.My Dad and I love Maple Sugar Candy but I can only find it around Christmas time and it is a bit pricey. After seeing the the sugar cube idea I thought that maybe the Maple Sugar wouldn't be much different.


  That's about it folks,just some everyday news. I really feel like Hrafinstaad has come to a point where we are done with large projects for awhile. We still have some areas here where we would like to tinker it into a more useful spot but have yet to come up with plans.It will happen I am sure.

  Today I am calling around about picking raspberries for jam making.I missed the strawberries because I thought I would use ours but those pesky always hungry teen-aged boys had other thoughts.I am also looking into when the blueberries will be ready,soon I would think since ours are almost there.I'd like to put some in the freezer for winter.

   My final photo today  is of the handful of tiny treasures I found on our hike.

           From the bottom up:  Birch cones, the curl of white is a  piece of paper wasps nest, there are 3 tiny snail shells, a bit of robins egg and at the top is a fluffy blue feather from an unknown bird.


 Rois

*** I looked up making Maple Suagr Candy,looks easy enough only a little bit of cooking.Here's the link.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Crash!

 Our computer crashed,went belly up,gave up the ghost and it was so annoying. We now have a new computer but until Chance finishes installing all the gizmo's I don't have the posting I am wanting to share with you.I'll be back in a day or so.Before I do go I'll say this,having a computer that actually works the way it should sure is nice.It's kind of like when you get your car tuned up,you just didn't realize how badly things were running.

Rois

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Just so you know...

 When the going gets tough these Homesteaders get working! The last few weeks have given us some set backs but Chance and I are pushing back.
   The Pigweed is coming under control by us pulling it.So far it has only popped up in the walk areas around the garden. We purchased plants for the back garden to make up for the Rooster eating the seeds.And in a couple more weeks it will be early enough to plant some of the fall things.So growing food is happening!
  We opted out of the geese coming and instead we will soon have two Spanish Turkeys.Our friend needs to move the Turkeys out from her coop since her Ducks are beating them up.The deal we worked is one will be our friends and one will be ours.Both birds will be dinners when the time comes.
  Also, the rumor around town is folks are looking to learn to butcher their own chicken more than ever and no one is doing it.Chance and I have decided to pick up the slack and start teaching again.Soon we will have dates for group classes and more information on private lessons. So far we have worked out that the group classes will be $30 a person with the individual providing their own chicken to be butchered.For the private lessons it will be $50 base rate with variables depending on what the person is needing.I.E - they want us to stay and walk them through a whole flock of birds.Chance will also have Culling/Killing Cones for sale at the classes. Please help us get the word out.People can email us through the blog.
 Yesterday morning Chance and I found our last remaining hen from our first flock had passed.We had been watching her and thinking this day was coming for a few weeks.We had noticed that she had slowed down,would get lost and was found soundly sleeping in the yard at times.She had gotten kind of low but perked up for a couple more weeks but finally she was done.
   This has happened over the years as the hens have aged so we knew what we were seeing.The hardest part about watching this for me is I struggle with just letting them linger and go on their own or putting them down to put them out of their misery. So far we have just let them go on their own since none of them have had any signs they had something the other birds could catch.
  I have the mind set that the hens are live stock and not to be mourned over.I love and care for them but I know they go away one way or another.I broke that yesterday and found myself teary eyed over her going.Cleo was a great girl who had laid beautiful green eggs every day until she was 4.She was also just a sweet hen in general.She had a good chicken life and we thank her for it.I suppose I was teary because it was kind of sentimental,the last chicken from the first flock.The flock we started waaay before chickens became the thing to have in your backyard.
  Chance and I have also come to realize that we both miss the way things were before I went to work.There are many things we have let go of over the past months and they are sorely missed.So we are working out how we can get back to where we were and how to maintain it all for the long run. We had created a homestead that ran as well as it did because I was home full time and could manage most of it on my own.We need to re-group and find our balance point again.
 
Rois
 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Strawberries and planning for the future.


  This evening I went out and picked our second round of strawberries.That's our big colander over flowing with yummy goodness. I am starting to think we won't need to go to the fields to pick berries for jam,we have plenty more berries coming in the next few days.If I stick these in the freezer and add what is still ripening I should have enough.
  Although tomorrow I could make up a batch of this Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. We still have plenty of Rhubarb growing and it is a flavor combo we like.

 Chance and I have been talking about what we want to do about the pig weed in the back yard and the back yard in general.After some thinking and hanging out in the back yard we have decided on a couple of things.
  The first being we are thinking about borrowing our friends two young geese to eat the pig weed for us,which I am predicting will be comical to say the least. We will have to figure out their housing and wither or not they have to have a pool of water for the short time they will be with us.If housing can be easily done we will most likely go for it.
 As for the rest of the back yard we may stick with a big clean up so we have a blank slate to work from over the summer into fall.We just don't want to rush in and end up with things looking willy nilly or become more than we want to have to fuss over.We are hoping we end up with the back yard being about relaxing and for entertaining.We already have a nice fire pit area we enjoy often,now we want the rest of the yard to go with that space.



Yesterday I stared some Biga, a type of bread starter that is used in rustic bread recipes. I used to use this recipe all of the time but fell off of it when I got my stand mixer because the dough does not work well with the mixer.But I am craving some crusty chewy bread that I can only get with some good kneading by hand.Tomorrow I plan on baking the bread and will be sure to post about it.This bread takes much longer to rise so if I decide to make jam I can easily fit them both in.Oh my....think of it...fresh baked rustic bread slathered with still warm strawberry rhubarb jam..Looks like I am going to be a busy girl tomorrow.

  Rois




 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Frustration in the garden

  Today I am ready to throw in the towel and say "Forget it,I am done battling with this" I am also thinking this may be a year without a garden growing.
  Two things have happened here this week concerning the big back garden that have fueled my discouragement, a Rooster who flew the coop and that beep beep beeping Pigweed.
  I had finally gotten the beds planted,a bit late but the things I was planting would have been fine coming up later than normal,a few days later the Rooster decided he had had enough of being cooped up,literally. He spent his day of freedom digging up the garden beds and munching down the sprouting seeds.Thanks a bunch,really thanks,I am saying that sarcastically of course.
 That same day I noticed growing all along the edge of the garden beds that evil weed,pigweed.The weed we have been battling with for about 4 years now.
  The pigweed was the reason we attempted to Hay Bale Garden,we had hoped by not turning the soil and placing the bales on top of where the weed was growing we could choke it out.The year of the Hay Bale Garden was a year with a very slim garden.
 We have spent the past 3 years not really using the big back garden.We were hoping if we focused all of our energy on rebuilding the soil and trying to pull the pigweed as fast as we could we would win the battle.We have layered and piled on heaps of compost and mulch.We put the coop sweepings right on to the garden area as well.So here we are 3 years into the battle and have this gorgeous black soil, full of fat worms and a deep earthy scent.Perfect soil but invaded by pigweed.   
 This afternoon I decided to take a good look online for information on how to get rid of pigweed,god that was depressing,really, really depressing.The only high point,we are not alone in our battle.Even farmers are being over run by this evil weed.
    I found that pigweed is now resistant to Round Up along with several other weeds.Now we don't want to use Round Up in our yard so the spray isn't even part of this conversation but how depressing that people are using so much of this crap to kill everything in site that Mother Nature is fighting back in her own way.Scientific America calls this group of weeds "Super Weeds"
    Every other article I read said the same thing,weed killers won't work,not even the organic ones.The only thing we can do about pigweed is to keep hacking at when it is very young and we are not to let it go to seed.Once pigweed goes to seed it is estimated that the plant releases 7 years worth of seeds.One page said 100 years worth,maybe not but if you are in this battle it probably feels like 100 years.
   I did find lots of postings on horse related forums,it's a big problem in horse pastures.Which we knew sort of. The year before we started to have this problem my Dad gave us a load of horse manure from his horses.He said it was "cooked" enough and to go ahead and use it.Well it must of been half baked cause here we are.So my advice to you "Don't take any half baked horse manure,no matter how cheap it is." Thanks Dad,love you too.
  What to do? I figure we have a few options but they each have a few holes in them so the ship may end up sinking no matter what.
  We could go buy some plants to jump start the garden and  have Rooster pot pie for dinner.The hole in that is we would have to go out every single day to battle the pigweed.This is no easy thing,we have jobs and lives.And we hope to do some away from home things this summer.It's what we did last summer and the weed is still here.
   We could turn the garden into a big Lab test.Section it off into squares and try different things in each area.One website suggested pouring boiling water over the young plants.Another said it may be worth while to just try an organic weed killer,we could get lucky. Oh and then we could borrow a Goose from someone,one forum said Geese love to eat pigweed*.Any of these may be better than when we tried pouring vinegar over the plants on a hot day.It was suppose to "pickle" the plants and kill them.We just ended up having a yard that smelled like a giant Pickle.
  We could get a big bomb of Agent Orange and blast the area.No not really, can you see this is my frustration barking? We just watched a 1950's movie where they killed a giant spider with Agent Orange as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do.Creepy.
  No matter what we can't do nothing,that would just make a bigger problem. If someone said,"Plant grass there,it will choke out the pig weed" I would,even though we are trying to get rid of the small amount of grass we have left. We have other areas we can garden in but letting it go fallow is not going to work.

  Suggestions? Anyone? Someone? Right along one side of the garden is the chicken run and coop so nothing to crazy, please. I am begging here folks! Even just a kind word of encouragement would go pretty far today.

  
   Rois


  * The chickens won't touch the stuff,if they did I would not be here writing this.And it never ends up in the compost,we actually put it in our garbage can for the dump to deal with.Oh,that's kind of evil too,spreading this weed through our garbage.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ginger Ale,thumbs up or down?

 The votes are in regarding the Ginger Ale, 2 yes and 1 no. Issac did not vote because he does not like it in the first place.


  Chance and I liked it.
  Chance said it was refreshing and tasty.But would be even better with Vodka or Gin
  I liked it too even though I am not a huge Ginger Ale fan.It had a nice lemony under tone to it,leading me to   wonder about using lime next time.Actually in hind-site, I think I like this type of Ginger Ale verse the store stuff.
  We both realized that today there was more fizz to it as well.
  Sol,did not like it.To him it was overly ginger-y. Which is totally tinker-able,we used the maximum amount of 2 tablespoons,so next time we can try reducing the ginger by a bit and see if it suits him better.

 Our next recipe will be the Ginger Syrup route.We will let you know how it goes.

Rois 
 

Monday, June 13, 2011

One path,one blanket,one life.

  19 years ago I married my best friend. We gathered family and friends on a very rainy Saturday,our wedding feast was a potluck,my Mom's friend made us a beautiful cake and my Sister-n-Law put the flowers together.It was a simple homey feeling wedding,just like we wanted it to be.
  When we wrote our wedding vows we took words from Native American tradition,one path,one blanket,one life together. The path has sometimes been rough and bumpy but together we have always found our way. I tend to hog the blankets but Chance is sweet to me, lets it be and snuggles up close to share the warmth of our one life together.

  Saturday evening Chance and I went for a scooter ride out to Sauvie Island to celebrate just the two of us and the past 19 years.When I first met Chance he zipped around on a Vespa so taking a ride seemed full circle for us.


Sunset on the Island.
Wild Lupines,blue was one of our wedding colors.
Two Herons fishing for dinner.
  
One road,two people and one great life.

  Thanks Sugar La Rue for every ,moment,smile,tear and all of the love.Now I want another ride with an ice cream cone at the end,the helmet ransom payment is still after 20 years,not paid in full.

For a Thousand Years,
 Rois

Friday, June 10, 2011

Ginger Ale

This morning Sol and I made Ginger Ale from this recipe I found the other day. We used the first recipe and at some point we would like to try the other.

  Sol has been asking to try and make some home brew sodas and since he likes Ginger Ale so much we started with it.I also chose this recipe because we had everything we needed already on hand, a plastic bottle,fresh ginger,sugar,yeast,lemon juice and water.


I'm ready,lets try this out!
   We did not have the funnel the blogger suggested for pouring everything into the bottle so we used my 4 quart Pyrex measuring bowl.The pour spout on it helped but a funnel might have been easier.As I poured the ginger water mix into the bottle I had Sol stir the grated ginger to keep it mixed and flowing,it worked just fine to do it that way.


Shake it up baby,shake it up now.
  Once we had the bottle filled and Sol gave it a good shaking we left it to brew on the kitchen counter.We wait for 2 days and then put it in the fridge over night.The final step before drinking it is to strain the ginger out of the now Ginger Ale.








This is the bottle already to set.You can see the bits of grated ginger floating around.About an hour after this photo the ginger had all floated to the top.I read else where that when making your own brew of Ginger Ale to be very,very careful when you go to open it the first time,no one wants an explosion of sticky soda flying all over the place.

And do you see behind the bottle to the right? That's the awesome toaster cover I thrifted not to long ago. As much as I love Chickens I am not a Chicken decor kind of girl.I am also not overly fond of having my counter cluttered by stuff.But when I found the cover it cracked me up and will live with the toaster on the counter only because the cover makes me smile a bit.


Rois

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just a photo today.

The rain barrel running over.

 The other evening we had a big rain storm here,complete with Thunder and Lighting, the streets were running like rivers. I looked out the front window and noticed that our rain barrel had filled once again, within 10 minutes.When Chance and I were planting a couple of days before the storm we had filled the watering can from the barrel, bringing the water down about 2 feet. As you can see the rain provided a quick refill.

Rois


P.S Here's a link about rain barrels.It includes the math formula for how many gallons your roof will catch. Don't worry, the math part is super easy to do.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What about the compost? Asked a follower.

  





    In my posting about headlines a comment was left asking "What about the compost", I /we are not the worlds greatest composters but here I go sharing my lazy way of composting.

    We compost here,we put everything that we can into the compost bins,which is part of why it takes us 6 weeks to fill our garbage can.But we have a few flaws in our system,neglect,weather and 7 chickens who think the bigger back yard compost bins are their place to snack and dust bathe.

   We have in the back 3 bins Chance built out of pallets,why use pretty new wood for something that is just grubby. They look very much like these  but with a half sheet of plywood over the top that is supposed to help keep the rain out.

   The first bin is for fresh compost.We put in most of our kitchen veg and fruit scraps but during the warm months when the garden is growing some scraps are fed to the chickens who are left in their coop/run more.We also compost coffee filters and grounds,bits of paper,dryer lint (there is some debate over dryer lint not being a good idea but so far we have not had any problems doing so.) tea bags,the gunk out of the kitchen sink (you know food bits ect from washing up.) and egg shells.When the chicken coop is cleaned out the poop filled bedding goes in here as well.We don't compost meat or dairy because it will stink and attract rodents. Sometimes the chickens will get the dairy and the meat goes to our two dogs.We also put in yard debris that is not too woody. We have a whole other system for wood and woody things I'll get to another time.This bin is the one the chickens think is their snack bin.

   The second bin is for the half finished compost.This bin looks still a bit chunky and you can still tell what some of it was.
 
   The last bin is for finished compost that has been sifted,it looks like nice dark soil and smells good and earthy. This is the bins the hens like to have their dust bath in.

   So like I said we have short comings when it comes to composting.The first bin should be a mix of soil/manure layered with a green/fresh layer and a layer of dry/brown stuff.You then toss it like a salad and try to remember to turn it often and water it when it is looking dry. We have most of that,at least the tossed salad part.The watering never happens,we live in wet Oregon,the rain does that.We should turn it more often than we do.

   Every now and again we remember to move the compost around.You kind of go about this is a backwards way. First you need to sift what was the half finished stuff into the finished bin.With the finished bin you can keep adding to it and use it as you need it.Now you need to move the new half finished out of the first bin and into the second one.Leaving the first bin more empty for new green stuff.

   There are two schools of thought when it comes to composting,hot and quick or cold and slow. We are more of the cold and slow composters.Having the quick hot compost takes more effort,turning more often and watering.We have read that hot composting in our cool wet environment takes work.The coolness keeps things from heating up and the wet leaches out nutrients in the soil and washes away what you are trying to make.It can be done,we just choose not to.

   We are also fighting a loosing battle with the hens over the compost bins.Chickens are smart and they have found their way into the bins no matter what we try to do to block them.I can't blame the hens from loving the compost bins,there is some good food in there and a nice dry spot to bathe.They poop in the bins which adds to the whole composting system.They dig around which means we don't turn things as often.It makes them fat,happy,healthy,egg producing lovelies.They have become part of our composting and in their own way a key part to the eco-system here.The chickens are why I don't have a photo of our own compost bins,they scratch and fling all kinds of things out of the bins,leaving the area looking messy. We tend to just put it all back into the compost bins when we need to.Most of the time the area looks like a teenagers room,not a pretty photo at all.

  At one point in time we used one of the black plastic beehive shaped recycling bins you can buy or sometimes get for free.Here's a link with an image. We found that for the scale of what we do here it was not big enough and did not break things down as fast as we thought it would. We moved the bin to our front yard on the far side of the yard.We use this bin for garden waste from that side of the yard.Since this area is  at the opposite end of the yard from the big bins we figured why haul things all the way around when we could just do the composting right there. As we say here,why make work out of a job. These bins are neat and tidy to look at and if you are composting on a smaller scale than we are that work just fine.

    We do use the finished compost around the garden.Before we plant we add a thick layer of the compost to be worked into the garden soil. Over the  growing season we will add a top dressing of the compost every now and again.

   I should add here there is another way I compost,growing up my Mom called it green composting.This is where you dig a  hole or trench in an unused garden spot and add in some chopped up green stuff.Then you fill in with soil.The green stuff will compost right there where it is most needed without the loss of nutrients.Be sure to chop what you are composting into small bits,it speeds things up.

   Composting happens here in a slow paced,neglected and mildly battled for way. Although not a ton of effort is put into it we feel it is important for environmental and economic reasons. I don't think we are truly lazy about it,we just go about it in a slow way that eventually gives us nice soil and big fat eggs.I guess you could say it is one of the areas of Hrafinstaad that just happens without much thought.

  Things are moving along here garden wise,planting has been happening and planning as well.I am worried that we are going to have another growing season like last years but only time will tell. It is still wet and cold here,hopefully the seeds in the ground don't just rot.
  We have discovered that we have an Owl who hangs out in our apple tree.The first evening I heard the Owl I was locking the hens into the coop for the night.They were in the coop early and extra quiet so they must have heard the Owl before I came out.I heard the Owl last night too,making me extra diligent in locking the coop earlier than normal.It is awesome to think there is an Owl here in our neighborhood but chicken safety is important too.The hens have been roosting way up high on the top roost bar and as far away from the door as they can get.The coop is secure even with the door open,the Owl wouldn't be able to get to them when they are up in the rafters of the coop.

  The photo at the top of the page is my favorite view right now,it is looking out the window by our front door towards the front walkway.


Rois

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What about those headlines?

 I am here,finally after a very busy week ready to fill you in on all of the headlines I wrote about last posting.I am going to jump to the headline about Sol since someone was so sweet to leave a comment about it.

Sol belongs to an after school program called MESA that is funded by one of the local BIG computer companies. What MESA stands for is still a mystery to me but it is geared to get kids interested in careers in  science and technology.Sol is part of a team and this school year they have spent their time building a windmill that would, if built at a larger scale, create power.Sol's team took their windmill to a statewide science fair and can home with 3 medals for the team.They placed 1st over all for presentation,which means the judges did not have to ask the team any prompt type questions about the windmill,they knew their stuff.They also placed 1st over all for weight lift,I am still not to clear about this one.Something to do with the amount of lift the windmill created when running.Both of those earned the team 2 nd place over all.They only lost to the other team by .004 seconds, that's how serious this was. Sol loves to tinker so the club has been a great match for him and has given him a group of like minded kids to hang out with. 

Now for the new guest/hang out room for only $20.We have an extra room off the garage that used to be my studio space and the "big" pantry.We had a bunch of junk and the large freezer in there too.We have friends coming for a week in July.One of which is a Mama to be,asking her to sleep on the living room floor seemed awful so we cleaned out.We have had this project on our list of "to be done someday" projects so it was all good.We compacted my art things into the tidy shelves I have been wanting them to be, got a free futon and frame from friends and took a load to Goodwill. And,gulp, ummm got rid of our big freezer.We were not using it,it was too big and sucked a ton of power.it was a waste over all.We are going to look for a smaller freezer in the coming weeks that will go into the garage.I have yet to spend my whole $20 budget,so far by moving some things around we have furnished the space nicely.I did buy a set of sheets from Goodwill for the bed.The rest of the money will go for new paint rollers so we can paint the room with some left over paint.It took us three days to clean it out but it  is looking welcoming and like a nice spot to house a soon to be Mama for a week.

It was Issac's birthday weekend this weekend.He had a BBQ on Friday night with a bonfire.The rain rolled in and all 12 kids shoe horned themselves into the new room.They had a great time just hanging out and being social.It was a very low key party just what Issac wanted. Saturday Issac went to a BMX thing called a "Jam".Chance and I went to check it out,I forgot the camera so no pics,sorry.There were about 150 kids and adults on BMX bikes at one of the local parks,riding and hanging out.It was niffty to see Issac doing his thing and to say hello to some of his buddies.The event is a yearly event and this year the organizer hosted a raffle for one of the local riders who has cancer and no insurance.They manged to raise almost $500 for the rider and we personally know when it comes to medical bills every little bit helps.This is not the first time this community has raised money for one of its own who was in need.Just shows you,not everyone hanging out at a skate park is up to no good.

We have planted about half of the garden beds.The rest is waiting until this coming weekend to do.We need to pick up a couple of bags of compost type something to add to the soil in the back big garden,we have run out of our own compost here,bummer. The back garden has been a problem child the last few years.it has this nasty weed called pig weed that just won't go away.We keep adding to the soil hoping it will finally be replenished enough the weeds won't be able to come back.Every year we think it may be gone,plant and then once the plants are 3 inches high the weed grows twice as fast as the veggies,choking things out.If anyone knows how to get rid of pig weed without chemicals or renting a pig let me know.

I have a couple of projects in mind that I am hoping to find time to do soon.One is to smoke some hard boiled eggs.We have plenty of eggs right now so it would be fun to try a different way of eating them.I am also looking at making some fermented black beans which are used in many Asian dishes we love.They take a year and a half or up to two years to ferment but it's about the learning to do it verse time with this project.The beans could end up on my "not worth it" list but hey,you never know.

This has all been newsie bits and not much about homesteading but that's what has been going on here.It seems like so much of what we do here I have already written about and finding something new has just not come along.And honestly some of it seems mundane and very routine to me that I can't imagine all of you being interested.I mean really do you want to know that it has taken us 6 weeks to fill our very small garbage can? I could do a whole posting about how we are able to do that if someone is interested.

Rois

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Todays Headlines

I have all of these things to do and wish I had the time to write in depth about them right at this moment but the clock is ticking and the sun is only here for a couple more days.So here it all is as headlines with the full stories behind them coming to you at a later time. (Hopefully sooner than way later.)



How to turn your Studio,Storage room into a guest room with only spending $20.

Compost: It's what those garden beds need.

It's Birthday season here,what to do.

Sol places 2nd in State wide Science Fair.

What in the heck is BMX Jam?

See you  later,got to run run run.....

Rois

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today is a good day with a chance of a sliver lining.






The past four years have been one loooong row of some hard hoeing for us,leaving us tired, worn out and wondering how we are going to make it.We've been living upon a choppy sea of medical ups and downs with Issac, trying to make sure we all stay afloat,trying to avoid sinking and making sure that Sol isn't lost in the chaos that can be life.Recently Chance and I fell overboard and gave into the sea of tears that needed to be cried.Tears of frustration,guilt,worry,a few angry ones and many that just felt good to let come rolling down.
  
    Crying did not change anything but it did recenter us. It helped me let go of some habits I have become a bit O.C.D with over the winter,habits that made me wonder if I was going mad.Not mad,just trying desperately to feel like some part of my life was under control.I had become a bit like those funny cards you see with the 1950's clip art but with some smart mouthed line dubbed over.The smiling housewife dreaming of cocktails or telling her family to make their own damn dinner.Realizing my life was becoming one of those cards was eye opening especially when I remembered the one that hangs on my friends fridge that reads "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life" See, I had been manic when it came to cleaning the house,so not me,but there I was looking for control.I kept thinking if the house is perfect no one will know things are really falling apart. 

   I then realized  I needed to stop and think.It was one of those moments of calm and it was as if the universe was tapping me on the shoulder saying "Wake up,Sleepy head."  I found the universe tapping me again when I read Margaret's postings here and here . The first post left me wondering "Hum? Where did my dreams go? Do I have dreams anymore?" The second left me thinking about the past four years.About the choices we have had to make as a family to do what was right for us.Hard choices, that hid my dreams beneath a mountain of doctor bills.
 
  I have decided to take Margaret's advice and not let go of my dreams,they are a gift to be kept.And the later part of paragraph three of the second posting gave me lots of food for thought.The past four years have been about home,family and getting through but, it dose not have to stay those three things only. I don't have to feel torn (the word Torn is in the title of the book in the second posting and is so perfect to me) and guilty. My conflicting  feelings of wanting to be home to care for my family but needing to work so my family can keep going can make peace with each other.

   I did remember what I was dreaming of and working on fulfilling when all things went to hell.I was working towards a degree in Art Therapy and have probably a year and a half maybe two of schooling to go.I remembered how excited I was to be at school working towards my goal.Excited to be working towards something I am passionate about.Today I start the process of returning to school to make it to my dream. 

    I know I can do it. I have learned so much about myself in the past four years.There is my courage to just keep pushing through it, the other side will come at some point.Through building up our homestead I have learned there are many ways to take charge of your life that enable us to care for ourselves.I have learned that some days you can only do what you can do,as long as I gave it my best its all good. I have learned the mantra "Today is a good day" taken from an ad for the hospital Issac was at.I now know that when my house is spit shine clean I need to stop and look inward,some thing is a miss.


  Have you ever had one of those times when you don't really know why now is the right time but it just is?That's where I am,it is just time to get back to school. I guess letting four years worth of tears roll helped me let go and be ok with all of it. Issac's health will be what it will be and the doctor bills will someday be paid off. Today is a good day and remembering my dreams is the silver lining.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


 Today while I was at work, Chance was home working in the garden beds, we finally had a sunny day here.I tell you seeing the sunshine this morning made it hard to want to go to work but I went,other sunny days will come and my day working in the garden will come too.

  While Chance was working a woman from the big church on the street above us stopped by to say hello.She was very impressed with what we have done here with our gardening.Well actually, being a "churchie" kind of person she called it "a garden of Eden" a compliment that kind of makes me giggle**. The woman told Chance that the church is starting a community garden on the churches property but no one really knows where to start.The lady inquired if we would be willing to come help them get things organized.Chance said we would be willing since food security is a big concern of ours.The woman said she would stop back by when they are ready to get things going.
  I am hoping this really dose come to be and will be open to the surrounding community not just church members.Within a few blocks of the church are several large apartment complexes and I know many of the families would benefit from having a place to garden close by.
  Last spring Chance , a neighbor and I  tried to get a community garden started at the end of our street.The land owner also owns several rentals in our neighborhood.The lot is large with full sun all day but sits empty and unused.Sadly the landowner said no.And since he has money and is well known in the city, gorilla gardening, even on a small scale did not seem wise.
  So hopefully the church fills the need.They have lots of open ground that could feed many families.What is the quote from the Bible? The one about feed a man a fish,he eats for a day.But teach a man to fish he will eat for a life time.Maybe filling ones belly is not the intended  meaning of those lines but none the less if we can share what we know so others may thrive it will be time well spent.

  There's some clearer looking weather coming this week,whew! If all goes to plan some serious work will happen this week in the garden beds.Chance got a huge start on turning the beds and fed the chickens 3 wheel barrows full of weedy bits........ Three wheel barrows full is what happens when the weather is so wet this time of year.Things grow fast this time of year no matter what but when it has been too wet to get out there to keep it at bay,the chickens end up with a feast day......It will be cheering and grounding to be outdoors again,digging in the soil and planting.Dreaming of the goodness of a homegrown basket full of just picked veggies and fruit.Summer homegrown tomatoes,I have missed you.

  Rois 


** I lean towards giggling only because we are not church going people but consider ourselves amongst other things to be stewards of the Earth. Tending to our garden here at Hrafinstaad is like going to church for us.
  
 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New things or why you can't define Homesteading.



    Wow the past week has been filled with new surprises around here,all of them unexpected.

  We have a space in between the house and the garage we call the Breeze Way.During the warm months I set up a sitting area since it's nice and shady there. We also use this space for working on large projects so there are at times a jumble of parts waiting there.This is also where Chance sets up the smoker for smoking various things.

   Now keeping in mind that there is this interesting mix of things in the Breeze Way and an eclectic-ness  to our hobbies new and old,I am going to tell you this tale.
 
  Chance has a replica of a Viking Helmet he built years ago,the helmet has been living on top of the smoker, left there while he was cleaning out the garage.


   Every Spring we have a tiny couple that comes to Hrafinstaad for the Summer months, the House Wrens.I look forward to these two visitors each year,for tiny birds they have big singing voices.Although I am not certain it's the same two each year,it seems like it is due to their bold friendly personalities.The Wrens are the second piece to my story,now back to the helmet.

   If you look closely the helmet upon the smoker sits right by the garage door,a very high traffic spot.The face of the helmet is turned southwest,getting some sun but shaded by our fir tree at noontime.Kind of a cozy spot for someone tiny.
 Alright you have all of the parts to the story. The other morning I went out to feed the chickens and what did I spy? The House Wrens flying in and out of Chance's helmet with twigs.When I looked closer I found......


   A beard like nest for two built in the helmet. I can see why the Wrens like the helmet,water tight,foam lined,sun and in a yard where they are always welcome.The boldness of these two can be witnessed by their willingness to build in such a high traffic spot.But it has left us with a problem or two. We don't want to take the nest completely away because then we may lose our summer visitors for the year.If we move the nest still inside the helmet would the birds mind or find it? It's not practical to leave it alone, at some point we will need the smoker. I thinking of asking Chance if we could build a shelf on the garage wall just to the right of where the helmet now sits.

  The next new thing around here was tried with a mind set of "I don't know about this,but I will go" Chance took me to my very first scooter rally.One of the local scooter clubs puts the rally on every spring.I was not sure I would have a great time since most of the time scooter events have been filled with guys talking Scooter Speak- parts,makes, models and other fish tales. I ended up having a blast! Riding around the city in a pack of over 150 scooters is thrilling.Yes, friends I have Scooter Fever and it looks like I may have to learn Scooter Speak.


3rd one in with the raccoon tail is Chance's
Leaving for the run,organized chaos?

 








      The final new thing around home is the vintage stereo console we finally found. We have been looking for one of these for several months and finally found it at the Goodwill Bins for $15, nice price!  What we had for the stereo equipment before was not great and looked cluttered but with the new piece it is all neat and tidy.All of the equipment fit inside but Chance did place two small speakers under it,you can't see them in the photo.


         









  We also found time to start getting the garden beds ready for some planting while we had a break in the rain.The soil was soaking wet so we did not do any digging. So far no planting has happened here and after yesterdays insane weather it's probably a good thing because the seeds would have just rotted.Here in the Portland area yesterday there was, a funnel cloud,snow,thick layers of pea sized hail,rain and bits of sun.I wonder what the weather gods were up to way up there in the sky.Hopefully working things out so we can have some spring after all.
  Oh, and the other night I made gluten free chocolate muffins.They were good but the garbanzo bean flour in them made Issac and I pretty darn sick.Now to work on a replacement for the garbanzo flour that is not a bean.  **** Garbanzo beans make many people with Crohn's sick even if they tolerate other beans well.***

 In my header I wrote "why you can't define Homesteading".I really feel like this posting shows that very clearly and I did not even need to rant.I shared a snap shot of my week with you,simply things that happened while waiting for the weather to improve.This is what Homesteading looks like to us,birds nests, scooter rallies, vintage finds and baking flops.It's not the whole sum of us, only one week out of many. I love our eclectic homestead life,it suits us just fine.

Rois

Friday, March 25, 2011

Like a Rooster on the stove.....

 This morning Chance and I's day started out slow and mellow,just the two of us home drinking coffee,waiting to go roller skating with the Cousins and talking about how to fill the time until we met up with said Cousins.
   We both remembered that we needed to go to the feed store for feed and bedding for the chickens.Ok, simple enough,let's go.
   
   "Wait." said I "Let me call Mason at the feed store and see if he will take those Roosters we still have"

   You see we still had those three Roosters our hen hatched last summer.We kept talking about butchering them.We kept talking about re-homing them but had yet to move in either direction.They were becoming naughty young Roos,never wanting to give the girls a break,they just had to go. And let me add here that 4 Roosters crowing in the morning was not restful.No one had complained but we were complaining. As much as I would have liked a nice chicken dinner,the need for them to be gone was feeling a bit pressing.

 Well mason is such a nice guy and said "Yeah, bring them on in."
  
       SCORE!

We found a box for the rooster,easy part that was. Chance decided that since our little Doxie Sparrow may think a rooster in a box was her box lunch we should leave the box on the kitchen counter for safe keeping.
  Only at our house would it be considered "normal" to have a box on the kitchen counter waiting to transport roosters to the feed store in.
  Chance and I went out into the yard to catch at least 2 out of 3 of the roosters. We thought we should not impose on Mason to much at once by bringing all 3 of the rooster who were going. (We are re-homing the Daddy Rooster to friends who are in the process of buying a farm.)
   We caught the first one with little trouble and into the box, on the counter,he went.The next bird was a bit of work but in the end he ran himself into the compost bin were he was definitely cornered.
   Now this is where mayhem started, one of those times you wished there was a video camera already rolling. Chance brings the second rooster into the kitchen with me following right behind.Chance opens the box to put the roo in but before the lid is shut tight,out pops roo number 2 like a Jack in the Box ,POP, Surprise!
   Rooster runs the counter, hot foots it across the stove top, luckily it's not on and hops down to the floor.

  By now the little Doxie knows something is up and is trying to get in on it.She so wants to help us out like the big dog Thora knows how to do. Thora knows how to heard the chickens very nicely you see.

  The rooster runs into the living room, all I can think of is big rooster poo on my vintage wool rug but we have yet to scare that out of him. Now he's running around the sofa , around the dinning room table (we have one of those front rooms that is everything in one space.)and down the hallway,our house is small. The only door open in the hall is Sol's bedroom so in goes the roo with a crazy crowd following after, Chance, Little Sparrow, me and then Thora.
  The rooster has nowhere to go but under the bed.Chance pulls him out but loses his grip.Chicken, being bird brained, tries to hide on the book shelf but is finally caught.When I relayed this story to the boys Sol asked "He didn't poop under my bed did he?" I answered no and I am hoping I am right. Ew,let's really hope so.

 Maybe the telling of the story is not as funny as when it happened but really people it was very Keystone Cop-ish. I especially love the humor of the rooster running across the stove top.
   We left the roosters at the feed store and as we were leaving there was already a lady asking about them,so it looked like they did not stay for long.
   While at the feed store I of course spied the chicks,a dangerous thing since I had my pocket money in my pocket.They had two breeds I have considered adding to our flock Buff Orpingtons and Black Australorps, both of which are said to be excellent layers. I would really like to cull out our other layers since they have not been dependable in their laying.I would have to raise chicks until the reach laying age and then cull the older birds.But it would mean a few too many chickens than we want for awhile. The feed store dose have Ameraucana's coming soon which are actually the breed I want first and fore most. I was good and sat on my hands so no chicks. I am thinking about the Ameraucana's.....oh the temptation of little chicks.At least if I do give in they will be useful even once they are no longer darling puffs. I need to think through where the chicks will be now that Little Sparrow is here, again I think she would see them as a boxed lunch.We usually have the chicks in the kitchen but a new place will have to found if chicks come home.

   This evening when Chance went to lock the coop up for the night he found 4 eggs waiting,the first in a long while. I don't know if they were a thank you for the fresh bedding or for getting rid of those crazy roos. We don't light our coop in the winter months to encourage the birds to lay unless it gets frigid cold or snows. I just feel that it gives the hens a break and they can use their fat for making it through the winter not making eggs for a bit.We miss the eggs of course but my Grandparents did without so we mostly do as well. I do buy some eggs just not that many though.To me those first eggs are the sure fire sign that Spring is coming.

   We also went roller skating with the Cousins today. We had a grand time and plan to go again. I am a little bit sore from using my muscles differently but not too bad. I had forgotten how much I love to skate.Feeling the air rushing along with me reminded me of being a kid,minus those awful metal wheels.

 I will be back soon, we picked up some seeds and Walla Walla onion sets today so there will be more to report.

Rois

Giggles

 I have THE funniest story to share with all of you about a Rooster running across our stove and hiding under a bed.But I will have to come back later, we are off to roller skate with the young cousins. Hhave I ever said? Have I ever told you? I love roller skating.

 Rois

Thursday, March 24, 2011

R.I.P Joan of Arc

 


    We lost one of our older hens yesterday, she was from our second flock and was 4.She had lived a good chicken life and had been a good layer so going was ok. We had noticed she was slowing down and getting lost from the other hens on a regular bases.The other day she could not find her way out of the coop. She had been blind (we think) in one eye for about a year so maybe the other eye was going too. It's not always possible to know why a chicken goes.And being of the mind set that chickens do not go the Vets we let them live out their days and when they are gone they are gone.

   We had named the hens from our second flock after famous women and up until yesterday we still had Abigail (Scott- Dunaway.) and Joan ( of Arc) We named Joan after that famous brave yet "crazy" woman because I swear that bird heard voices in her head. Kind of like the "crazy" Irish fellow in the movie "Braveheart" , you know the one with Mel Gibbson? The Irish fellow who talked to God and said he (the Irish guy) would be alright but you (Gibbson) you are F*#ked. Anyway, Joan would all of a sudden stop,cock her head and seem to have a whole conversation with someone and then snap out of it and carry on. Hopefully now that she is on the other side she can carry on her conversation with whom ever it was she communed with, without the interruptions of the chicken yard getting in the way.I looked for a photo of her to post but they were all a blurry mess,maybe it was her companion keeping us from seeing her to closely , she was a plump Barred Rock, the usual black and white mottled bird seen in many coops.

  Besides letting go of Joan I have let go of the idea of having Bees. When I last posted about them I was so full of enthusiasm and had a head full of honey that I did not care, I just wanted Bees. I did a bit more reading and talking with a friend (Thanks Lacy.) and realized that although my neighbors would most likely be fine with us having Bees our yard was maybe not set up quiet right. We had several perfect places for the Bee's to live and get the kind of sunlight they need.The problem of foot traffic kept coming up with each one though. We would have had to re-arrange our whole yard in order to make it work. Not a task we want to set upon ourselves and it would mean we would lose our favorite summer hang out spots in the back yard. No more naps in the hammock, no more bonfires for marshmallow roasting and no more table for summer meals. Nope , no can do, we love all three of those more than we want Bee's.

 Since I have  returned to the work force Chance has been doing the bulk of the household work here, his work schedule allows him more open time than mine.And the Boys have gotten pretty good at pitching in as well. Which simply follows our standard around here, it dose not matter who gets the work done as long as it gets done. But I must admit I feel at times a bit miss placed.It will be my days off and in the back of my head I am thinking " Oh, I need to do this...." and I when I go to do it , it is already done.
  
  Sounds good I know, not having to do so many of those dull household chores,like laundry and toilet scrubbing. Yes, it is good because we are rolling along nicely but I am now trying to figure out what to do with myself when I am home. I have a couple of projects in mind to keep me busy while we are waiting for the planting season, which can't happen until the rain lets up so the yard can dry out a bit.

  So I can fill my time up but I have new thoughts to sort out still. They are motherly thoughts that have been poking me like a cockle bur in my sock, the boys are growing up and are becoming the independent young men we have always wanted them to be. They are able and on the road heading towards being (gasp) adults.I knew the day would come and have seen the two of them stepping closer and closer to this moment. I am working on letting go of being the mother of young boys and working on being the mother of two fine young men. That sure pulls at my  heart strings....

  The final thing we have let go of here is the baking of our weekly bread.Three out of four of us are no longer or minimally eating bread so it makes no sense to be using our time for baking bread. Every once in awhile we still do just to feel the dough under our hands and to keep the memory of the doing of it going. Not baking the bread is all part of us finding ways to make time for the things and projects we want to do here at Hrafinstaad.

  Last of all I wanted to update my long time readers about Issac and his migraines. First, they became a big battle with Issac missing school for a couple of days most weeks,not good. We finally pinned down the Peds Doctor about it and have some hopeful news. Issac reported to us that his eyes did not always focus quickly and that they were like focusing a camera lens. The Peds doctor did her little eye exam in the office with no luck but due to Issac having Crohns which can cause some serious eye problems, she sent him on for a full blown eye exam. Issac needed glasses, his prescription is so mild that the insurance almost did not cover it. But the eye doctor feels that Issac's migraines should go away.The problem was so mild that it's no wonder it was being over looked and yet causing him problems. So everyone, cross your fingers this is  finally the solution and that Issac can get back to just being that awesome young man he is. I have yet to see him in his glasses because Chance took him to the appointment but I will post a photo when I can. ( Oh! Issac went into the exam room without Chance and did the whole visit on his own and did a great job the doctor said.Another sign he isn't a little boy any more. Sigh.)

Until next time, when I hope to report on some fun project instead of all of this letting go stuff.

  Rois

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

 Sunday evening I came home from work to no power in our little neighborhood and this is what it looked like.

. 
Reading and music

Dusky light and a cat for company.

Do you see the light reflecting on Sol's slide and resonator?
Chance followed along with his bass.
    As for me I sat and watched and listened.The quiet calm left me thinking of the people in Japan.Filling me with gratitude that soon the power would be back on. The candles light and warmth were like little prayers for those without .
 
    Rois

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thinking of spring

   Has anyone else noticed? Have you heard?  I have, the signs of spring are all around.

  Chance and I noticed that the Starlings beaks have turned yellow, a sure sign of spring because when it is winter their beaks are black.Thank you Rachel Carson for that interesting fact.Have you ever read "Silent Spring" ? It's a good book,read it soon.
 
   I noticed the crocuses blooming along our front walk,sunshine yellow pretties greeting us as we come in.The neighbors tree is turning pink with little buds along with our fruit trees and all of the other green growing things.

 Are the birds singing in the mornings at your house? The past few morning I have been awoken by the returning Robins singing the sun up.They were so loud the other morning I thought we had seriously overslept but we were fine,the birds were just being the proverbial early birds. And the neighborhood Crows know something is in the air,they have been a loud rowdy bunch too.I think the birds are happy to see spring coming and I could not agree more.

  Have you been thinking and planning? Dreaming up the spring time work to be done?

  I have been thinking ,wondering ,planning and a bit of dreaming as well. There are plenty of projects still to do here. Here is my list so far.
 
 Spring '11 to do:
   Plant only flowers in the bed bed we built last year,the neighbors cats think it is a big litter box so we shouldn't be eating anything grown there.(And since I am moving things due to the cats, they will,being cats,move on to a different spot. Sigh.)

  Turn our tree stump cluster into planters. A great friend of mine planted that idea in my head.I was telling her how I did not think the stumps would ever rot or would take many years to do so.She suggested cutting out each stump so it was like a planter or pot.Then filling with soil and planting in them.The idea is the plantings will make the stump rot faster.This makes a ton of sense to me.And besides it will look nicer than the ugly stumps.The idea works along the lines of what is called a "nurse log" ,you see these out in the woods,an old log partly rotten with plants growing out of them A thing that has been  part of my entire life but I just never thought about creating one here at home.
 
   Return the bulk of the vegetable garden  to the back original garden. I want to give some of the beds in the front a rest from the veggies that suck so much out of the soil. We will have to fence off the garden with bird netting to keep the chickens out.

  Figure out what in the heck to do with the odd space in front of the clothes line.This space is almost a half circle kind of pie shaped area where grass never lives for long.It needs some spiffing up.

  Build a trellis in front of our big living room window to match the ones on the other side of the house, to give us some shade in the summer. Planning to plant some vines of some sort to grow up the trellis.

  Make a trip to Sister's to visit our friends and bring home a bee hive they are saving for us.Then sign up for a wild swarm of bees.This is a huge dream of ours, to have our own bees. They will just add to our ecosystem here so much that it makes me giddy to think about it. The craziest part , I am allergic to bee stings. I have not needed an Epi-pen but one more sting and I will. I have great respect for the bees and I am hoping they will understand that. The bees that come to our garden and I have been able to learn to work side by side peacefully so couldn't that happen with our own hive? I think so. It's all about being fearless and respectful. 

  The list looks like a lot of work but when I look over it, its not any bigger than the lists from the past couple of springs. It's all things that can be done within chunks of time over the next few months.Before I sat down and laid out my list I was thinking I was running out of things to write about but after looking things over it looks like there are many more postings ahead of me.

  This afternoon we have had a break from the rain.We opened up the windows and doors to the house to let the air in.As I have been writing a cool breeze has been waltzing around filling the house the scent of spring.A nice break but it leaves me thinking of the people across the seas affected by the quake in Japan and the tsunami's that have hit many shore lines. Our thoughts and prayers are with one and all. Be safe and well.

 Rois

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Can't fit it into a box, Can't label it, Can't trademark it.

    I  don't like labels or the labeling of people,life never fits into one box. I don't believe in living inside of a box either,how dull and constricting. And after 321 blog postings about my life it looks like summing up what we do into a neat paragraph is just not possible.
   When I started writing my blog I gave it and us the label of  Urban/ Suburban Homesteading/Homesteaders,it did not feel quiet right putting a label on our way of life but I did it.Why did I do it then? I did it so other like minded people out there in the world could find us, like a little beacon softly shinning, calling quietly "We are over here. Come visit us for a while.Let's share what we know.Let's learn how to do this together." So I could say "Oh dang,don't do this" like I wrote about waaay back in early blogging days about the failing of our Hay Bale Garden Beds.
   I can actually remember realizing that there are other people out there in the world doing what we do and that this movement was called "Urban Homesteading" Wow,I thought that was kind of cool.No one was doing it exactly the same way but we were all doing it under our own terms,just like my forefathers did.
   But underneath the sticky glue label of my life style lives the heart of things, I am simply living the standard my Grandparents and Parents set for me a long while ago. Be self sufficient, make,build, create,feed the hungry,be a steward of our home The Earth and think for yourself. You can't trademark my family culture or my moral beliefs,they are to complex to sum up in a paragraph written upon a legal document.As everyone knows each family is unique just like the DNA that courses through our blood lines.
  I have written in the past that we are not living this life to be part of a movement or trend,that it is simply how we live and I still stand tall next to that.I don't have to live with a label stuck to my lapel.I can support the need to end this trademark issue because well...it is ridiculous.Ridiculous like a temper tantrum, loud,offensive and short lived.But as parents know playing into a temper tantrum only  makes it worse,one needs to wait and look for a really clear shot so you can be swift and just.
  Here at Hrafinstaad we have and use a saying "Don't choose a side,Be a side."  What dose that mean? It means we are over here doing our thing,join in if you want,add something to what is going on but leave your hang ups,baggage and B.S at the door.So that is where you find us, at Hrafinstaad doing what ever we are currently doing,living by a long standing moral code and waiting to see the clear shot at swift justice.
 
   I started this post with the hopes to get it out by last Mondays call to Urban Homesteaders to blog about their lives and since being late is my current trend I got it out late.But I did do it. And until there is something really pressing this is my last posting about the trademark issue.
  Today is a Snow Day,no work or school. I have lived in the Portland area all of my life and have never seen it snow this late into the winter,so glad I have not planted any of my earliest seeds yet. I am baking today,partly because I was already planning on it and it will make the house nice and cozy. I am baking a carrot cake that I have been craving for the last week and since we are out of bread that will be baked as well.

Rois

Saturday, February 19, 2011

FYI URBAN HOMESTEAD TRADEMARK MATTER | Little Homestead in the City

FYI URBAN HOMESTEAD TRADEMARK MATTER | Little Homestead in the City: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Since the letter requests that one not miss use these peoples information here is the link so I don't somehow get this screwed up.

It is a shameful day in my world.
Rois

Urban Homestead® — The Phrase Is Now Trademarked? | Apartment Therapy Re-Nest

Urban Homestead® — The Phrase Is Now Trademarked? | Apartment Therapy Re-Nest: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

All I can say about this bit of news is WTF? Excuse my language but it is the most appropriate phrase to fit my stunned mind. This goes so against one of the major roots of Homesteading that I can't begin to wrap my mind around it. It goes against the very ideas and morals of homesteaders, we need to share our information freely,most of us were not raised in households that taught these skills.It's about building and supporting community people! Not tearing down what we are trying to build by trademarking a long used phrase.
Do I now as a blogger have to go back through my blog and mark each and every time I have used the words "homestead" or "homesteading"?
Please read this and be sure to read what other bloggers are saying. And like you can read in the article what is next? Trademarking the word "garden" or how about "human being" ?

Rois

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Patrick Conlin Metalsmith

I would like to invite all of you to visit our good friend Patrick Conlin's Blog. I have always loved his work but every once in awhile his work stuns me like a deer in the headlights.
Go check him out and let me know what you think...
Rois

Patrick Conlin Metalsmith: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Great Clean Out - loving what you have.

 Here starts part of the posting Blogger ate,I have added in updates and a new ending - A new ending partly because I could not exactly remember the ending and partly because I found a better ending.


 The Great Clean Out here is going better than expected.Lots of things have been shuffled off to be donated and more waiting to go to different places.
  This afternoon I am planning a trip to a local resale shop that buys from people.I have two boxes and a big basket full of little treasures I am hoping they will buy.All of  the things I am taking are still very useful and charming, to good to just donate.Hopefully I will get a nice fist full of cash that I will turn around and buy something we actually need.
    I was able to sell about half of my things to the first resale shop I went to,I have saved the rest to take else where to sell. I took the money and a bit from some baby sitting I did last week  and bought a beautiful wool rug from Tibet for in our inner hallway.* see below for more about this. 
  I also have a smaller pile of things to take to S.C.R.A.P  which is our local recycled art,craft,project very addicting shop. I love donating to S.C.R.A.P ,it is a place I can really support and knowing that my unwanted stuff will be re-purposed and sold for super cheap feels good.
  * Still have yet to do this trip.
 None of the things we have moved out will be missed.As we cleaned things out we were sure to get rid of only the things we were willing to let go of .I did not want anyone feeling like they had to get rid of anything. I simply wanted us to slim down a bit.
 I must say that getting rid of the clutter really is making it easier to get other things done and the day to day work is much easier without other things laying around in the way. I think we are finally back on track here and not feeling so over worked.
   I found this article online the other day, don't let the title get your feathers ruffled,living a "green" and "sustainable" life is important but like the author writes it is time to re-address the words and reasons.
  The reasoning in the article rings true for us and fits the back story to our cleaning out. Less is more,love the things you do have and buy it once and buy things that will last*. The whole line of the piece just fits what we are trying to do here,it brings to mind the Repair Manifesto that I posted here a long while ago.We want a beautiful,welcoming home that we love and we hope by using the ideas in the linked article and the Repair Manifesto we can set the example for others.You can have lovely nice things and still be living a "green" and "sustainable" life.
   * This is where my buying a rug fits in to this posting really well.The rug I bought was purchased with funds earned mostly by re- purposing our unwanted things.The rug its self was bought used,it is a vintage piece from a small local shop.The rug is well crafted and made from wool that will last which an acrylic one for the same price would fall apart years before.We love it,it suits our house so perfectly and is of a style we will never tire of. I recycled, supported a local small business and the rug has lasting value; a smart purchase considering how it's not all that big but has a big impact on how we view things.
  Our homes totem is the Raven,that smart and crafty fellow who loves pretty things.Raven is picky though,not everything is deemed worthy enough to risk Raven's neck to get.Appropriate eh? We want to be like Raven using our smarts to line our nest with the things we love.
 I am still working on making the time to write here more often but I think I have figured it out and everyone should start seeing me here on a regular bases.Spring is around the corner so there will lots going on here again so that should inspire me to click away here.I hope all of you are well and looking forward to Spring like we are.It will soon be time for seeds,digging and maybe chicks for some of you.

Rois