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

Friday, April 27, 2012

Because it would happen at our house...

A few weeks ago our friend was passing through town from his house in Canada and stopped here for a night.It was a great visit especially since we only get to see him maybe once a year.

As a host/hostess gift he offered us some packs of meat he brought down from his freezer.One package offered was salmon (yum) and the other was venison (double yum).We happily excepted the gifts and put them in our freezer for later.

We opened and ate the venison the same week our friend was here.Who could wait,that stuff is good.

A day or so ago Chance took the salmon out of our freezer to thaw for a dinner this week.Funny thing is once Chance opened the bag last night it was not salmon.It was three beaver tails.Huh? What? We had thought the skin on the frozen "salmon" looked odd through the bag but we just thought "whatever" and didn't think about again.

Three beaver tails....Not on the menu,not too sure we wanted it on the menu and how do you cook those puppies anyway?

Beaver tails.

A quick family vote was taken. 4 : 0 no one wanted to eat it.Seems like a waste but my adventurous side was suddenly on vacation someplace where they eat salmon not beaver tail for dinner.

The boys both rolled their eyes at us and poured bowls of cereal for their dinners.Our boys crack me up.I sometimes wonder what goes through their heads when yet again Chance and I have come up with some not so main stream plot or project.They seem to roll with it pretty well.And dang as adults they might have some good stories for their kids.I can hear them at their future dinner table telling their kids "Settle down and eat your dinner,it's good.Not like the time Grandpa and Grandma tried to get us to eat beaver tail for dinner."

We now have a plate in the fridge with the beaver tails laying there.What will we do with them?

I looked up some recipes.First off you have to peel the tough tail skin off. Then after soaking the tails in water and vinegar over night you can stew them.Some folks think they are a real treat.Fur trade era trappers would only eat the tails and toss the rest of the meat.

I also discovered that in parts of Canada there is a flattened doughnut,fried bread,elephant ear looking thing called a beavertail.There's that Canadian thing again.Maybe our friend should have brought us some of those instead,I am certain we would have enjoyed them greatly.

There is a cactus called a beaver tail too.I hear cactus is good to eat.Now that I would try,minus the thorns.

Look,tail bones.Now what
I posted about this whole experience elsewhere and a friend who really loves her dead and preserved bodies suggested we see if there are any bones in a beaver's tail.Well that got my attention,I like bones too.

This is as far as I have gotten with this.Chance is at work and does not know about my plot to figure out how to get the bones out and how to preserve them.I do have a good idea how to go about it but  some reading needs to happen first.The last time Chance and I did something like this we stank up the house because the bones were not fresh but hopefully we can avoid that since the tails have been frozen.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I am SO over the turkey's. They are big and loud.They eat a ton of feed.They have disrupted our mellow little flock of hens.And as for their eggs,over those too,they are just really big eggs.Oh and getting a broody turkey hen off the nest of eggs is more intimidating than a broody chicken hen.

Turkey's belong on a full blown farm not my suburban homestead.They belong on my dinner table, brined and smoked to tender goodness.Soon my not so dear darlings,soon you will be named Dinner and Sandwiches.

Chance and I have been slowly but surly working on bringing Hrafinstaad back into shape.We were lazy or was it busy last fall and did not put the garden beds to rest properly,so much pulling of weeds and digging has happened.

We have finally reached the blank slate stage we want things to be at.This summer's plan is to actually landscape our back yard into a jumble of "landscaping" and food forest.Over the years we have left the back as an open area for kids to play and the one end as our big garden area.But now that the boys are grown it is time to make some changes.

Hopefully after the coming weekend the chickens will be unhappy at being in their coop and run full time until the garden is up and growing.I have a stack of seed packets to plant and weather permitting that will be Saturday's project.

I really don't like having to keep the chickens penned up full time.I have my own flock so we get eggs from chickens living a good and healthy chicken life.But every year when we first plant the garden it is necessary to do so.

Once the garden is up we try to go out an hour before dark to let the hens roam while we work in the garden.This small amount of time gives them a break from the run and since the sun is setting it is easier to get the hens back into the coop.We also get our work done and we can keep an eye on where those birds think they are going to eat from.

I recently looked through this book all about how to garden with free ranging chickens in mind.I did not buy said book because it was full of information I already mostly had from a free class I had taken a couple of years ago.The main ideas of the book are to plant things the chickens won't eat and to fence areas off you don't want the chickens in.

I want to plant food,food chickens will eat so that was a mute point for us.

And fencing....sometimes it works but not when you have a crafty flock like ours.Recently 3 of our hens have been doing their best to escape the chicken run.I think this is due to the turkeys.Getting rid of the turkey's should help. We finally figured out how the chickens are getting out and have a plan to fix it,one large roll of bird netting so they can't reach their landing spot.

****One bit I did not find in the book but learned in the class I went to is to plant either a few things here and there or in one area with the chickens in mind.The idea is maybe they would just eat those plants and not all of the rest.I did this sort of,I planted some Comfrey just for the chickens.They love it,mow it down and it quickly regrows.But I can not say that it keeps them away from everything else.

I guess we are looking for a balance point between happy us and happy chickens.We will find it.It may have comical moments because that is life with chickens in the yard.It could be frustrating too because chickens are smart and sneaky.But no matter what we will learn something from it.

And speaking of books, I am looking for a homesteading related book with good information in it that is a couple of levels (or more) above beginner.I keep finding books filled with information we already have or have disregarded and are so basic I want to pull my hair out.Or what about another blog or website? Any ideas or thoughts people?

Finally welcome to my newer followers.Absent minded me just noticed that I have 3-4 new folks on my followers list.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

There will be more tears.

Down the valley,above my parents home town,up a country road and into the woods is where my favorite place in the whole state of Oregon ,Butte Creek Falls.

I grew up along the trail to those falls.I know all of the plants,edible and not,the trees and living beasts that call this place home.Each thing like a member of my family,close and dear to me.

From the trail head the roar of the water is like a siren calling me home.Come this way the water will call,come sit by me for awhile,let things just float away,down the creek and far away.

The trees whisper and the birds call.Whispers and calls to come home again.

This place is my shrine,my temple,my resting place,a place to recharge and just be.It is a holy place in my heart.

Yesterday was my birthday and the single thing I wanted was a day at Butte Creek.We packed a picnic,invited two close friends and away we went.Down the valley,above my parents home town,up a country road and into the woods.

We came to the turn off and my heart was glad but what is this? Signs on the side of the road,saying there was logging going on? Surely they mean way up the road on the other side of the hills? We ignored the signs,like Woody Guthrie sang, "But on the other side...it didn't say nothing." We had seen caution signs before asking drivers to look out for logging trucks,no big deal.

Then we came to the dip in the road about a mile from the trail head and there across the road was a brand new bright orange gate.Locked tight with signs reminding people to stay out,things were dangerous ahead.

In that moment it was all more than I could take in or grasp.I was two weeks old the first time my parents took me up into those woods they are part of my being.The roots of all the green growing things entwine my heart.How could someone cut that with a big bright orange gate.

I am grieving and angry. I know what happens when they log,everything is cut not just the trees.What will happen to the little things that grow beneath the trees?The tiny dog tooth violets and their sunny yellow faces?The trilliums that only bloom every 7 years? The maiden hair ferns that are one of my favorites? And what about salamander,wood beaver,dipper bird,deer and maybe even the cave crickets under the falls? 

Without the shade of the trees and their roots holding the soil on the bank of the creek what will happen to the water and its creatures? Will it become brown and muddy and full of death? The water will warm to the point nothing will live in it again.

That's the way the woods work.Cut one thing or take it all away and everything else will suffer too.It's the very beginning to the circle of life.

I want to go back soon.If today it had been just Chance,the boys and I, we would have gone but I didn't want to take our friends on that journey.I want to see what they are up to.How close will they cut.It's going to hurt me to the bone but this is something that is important.

Long ago when my Dad was just a young man and my Uncle was just a teenager they stumbled on these falls.My Uncle cut notches in the trees so they could find the road that was high up the hillside from the falls.My Dad went away to Vietnam and when he came home again he took my Mother and my Brother as babe in arms to see the falls.From the road they followed the notches  towards the falls.My family stepped out of the brush onto a brand new road,cut since the last time 3 years before my Dad had been there.My Dad sat down and cried.

I have always understood my Dad's tears but now I know how they must have felt.I am going to have to tell my Dad about the gate.And then there will be more tears.

Every time we go to the falls I look for the notches my Uncle cut in the trees.As a child it was still easy enough to find them.As I grew taller so did the trees and it became harder and harder to see them.I wonder if a logger will notice them and wonder who cut them.

There are woods in stories and legends that are holy or haunted.Places no one dares to enter or do harm to.Places that spin you around until you are lost.I can only pray to the Universe that this place has soaked up my family's love for it to the point of becoming sacred land,that will spin those loggers,break their saws and fill their nights with night terrors.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

What I love about home

One of my many passions other than homesteading is home design,I spend a lot of my time online looking through design blogs.One of the sites I like is Design*Sponge,if you click over there you will see it's not just about design but other home related topics as well.Over the last few years I have found many inspiring ideas.

One of the things that they do over at Design*Sponge is when they do a house tour they ask the owner of the house what they love about home.I've been mulling this over trying to come up with an answer for myself that is not to cliche-ish. Sure,there's the fact that I live here with my family whom I adore.I love our sun filled front room ,the garden (maybe not today,it's overly muddy out back right now) is great too.I love the things we have filled our home with,there's lots of good memories tied to most of them.

I think this weekend I can finally say what I love about home,it's days like the past two.Days spent doing what we  all individually love,building things (Sol's working on rebuilding his bike and making a small Camera Obscura.),time spent with friends (Issac has a new girl he spent his time with and did some BMX filming with a buddy.) sunshine, a score of a day shopping at the Goodwill Bins,going to the feed store,bringing home seeds,digging in the soil and tons of cooking going on.So I think what I love about home are the times when we are all doing the things we are passionate about,they fill the house with happy vibes.

Today the house feels full of abundance.Maybe it's the sunshine pouring in the house that has put me in such a great mood,don't know.Maybe it's being able to once again step out my doors and find our own food growing,not a ton yet but some good things.

We have eggs coming out of our ears.All 8 birds are laying daily,that's 56 eggs in just one week.Good thing we've been cooking and sharing.

The fresh herbs are doing well again adding flavor to our food that we have missed over the winter.

I cut some rhubarb today to make this Rhubarb Cheesecake,my Mom and Brother are coming for dinner and I wanted a different way of using the rhubarb for a dessert.It's cooling in the fridge and looks like there may be no left overs other than the slice saved for Issac's Girl.

Not much yet but things that are inspiring us to fill our plates with good things.

What do you love about home?


Monday, April 2, 2012

Well,how about that.

So you know that little voice in the back of your head; the one that can nag at you ? The one that leaves you wondering what you are forgetting or not noticing? Mine has been tapping me on the shoulder for the past few weeks and started to be a real nag this past week.

I finally tuned into that nagging. What is up with the Tom Turkey and  what about those extra  eggs we keep finding?

I have been waiting to see this.
Waaay back last summer when we were asked to foster the 2 Turkey's our friends said to us, "The black one is a Tom and the Bronze one is a Hen.You keep the Tom,he will be bigger for your family of 4." Ok, no problem we said.This whole time we have been going on that,black is a Tom,bronze is a Hen.

But as time went by I kept waiting for something to happen.I didn't know what but something.I know enough to know that Tom turkeys are really into girls.I mean really, really into girls if you get my drift.The Toms strut around,tails spread out with their faces changing colors which is their "hey there baby" thing.Our Tom was not doing any of that,zero action going on.

I had also been waiting to see some of the cool looking face stuff that the photos I had seen to appear.Honestly they end up with faces only a mother could love or a turkey hen.Since this was our first round of turkey's I had no idea when their faces should look like the photos, at breeding age, at a year old or five years?

He is also mostly the same size as the Hen.He is taller but not any heavier.But again what do I know? Aren't heritage birds smaller than the commercial meat breeds?

This is what we have,a hen not a tom.              

Then over this past weekend we were very busy and in and out for three days running.I was not keeping the regular schedule of feeding or collecting eggs.Saturday, Chance and I found a larger clutch of eggs than normal,I guessed we had not picked them up on Friday.But there were 4 turkey eggs.4? What,we couldn't be that far off on picking up the eggs,could we? And no way would she be laying 2 a day,right? So after talking things through I realized we were on track but maybe that Tom was really a Hen.

I sent an email to our chicken/bird guy and it is confirmed we have two Hens.By now we would seeing male turkey shows with even me getting the "hey baby" looks.

Yet another thing to add to our list of crazy things we are learning as Homesteades.Do I feel stupid? No, not at all,we genuinely had no idea.No harm was done.We just now get 2 Turkey eggs a day not just 1.

We are liking the Turkey eggs.They are much richer than a Chicken egg but I don't think I could eat more than 1 at a time.The shells are tougher to crack than a Chickens egg.The yokes are not as orange/ yellow as out Chicken  Hens eggs but that's ok.Today I made Challah Bread with some of the Turkey eggs.I must say that was some of the most beautiful dough I have ever worked with and we ate most of one loaf with dinner tonight.I did use one less egg than the recipe called for since the Turkey eggs are larger.In fact they get bigger everyday,they are now the size of a lemon.

I had named the Turkey's Hansel and Gretel because our coop looks like Baba Yaga's house and the birds were here to be fattened up.Now that one is no longer a Tom,she will need a new name.Most likely Dinner since keeping both Turkey's will be a bit too much. Unless I find out I can make big bucks selling her eggs.