Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This week's IDC Update and other stuff

Our chickens won’t lay. I’ve consulted the experts, and apparently (a) they aren’t as old as I thought they were, and (b) the breeds we ended up with mature later AND aren’t super-heavy layers to start with. So, I guess we have rather expensive, albeit HIGHLY entertaining, pets, at least for the time being. No eggs by spring, though, and we’re going to be having some tasty dinners instead. Some pictures:


One of the "Twins" (Brunhylde or Majesty):

The mighty-handsome Buster:

Dainty Rosa:

We picked up our entries from the fair Sunday. As promised, here's a picture of F's winning entry, "Pumpkin Princess." Not too shabby for a 5-year old! :)

And, the IDC update ...

Plant: Nada

Harvest: tomatoes, peppers, eggs, basil

Preserve: turkey stock (7 quarts) and roasted turkey (4 pints)

Waste Not:
* I refused to spend money on (literal) plastic pumpkins, but my kids were desperate to decorate for Halloween. So, we pulled out the giant stack of construction paper, scissors, markers, glue & tape, and made our own decorations! It was really fun and cheap, my 2 favorite things. :) I found instructions for a super-cool milk-jug skeleton at, but you need 5-6 empty milk jugs, which I don’t have (and won't have by Saturday). Ah, well. I’ll try to remember for next year. LOL
* I also refused to buy costumes (even with hubby’s store discount) when we had perfectly usable costumes at home. The outlet mall where dh is working (at the Halloween store, of course!) had a trick-or-treat thing Saturday and the kids went as a cat and a princess. Easy-peasy, and didn’t cost a DIME. :)

Want Not/Prep/Store:
* Picked up some more chicken feed/scratch, but I need to source a less-expensive option and I’d like to be able to buy in larger quantities. Storage could be an issue, but we’ll figure it out somehow.
* Picked up an AWESOME book on backyard homesteading at Tractor Supply that is making us totally rethink our plans. Instead of traditional row gardens, I’m about 90% sure we’re switching over to raised beds. Also, I’m hoping that we’ll be able to expedite the addition of meat & dairy animals to our place. WHERE we put them is going to be crucial, since we live so close to my brother, who does NOT look upon farm life with joy and excitement. The rooster alarm is pushing it. Not sure how he’ll adjust to goats, pigs and/or a cow. :P Once we figure out exactly where the animals and the orchard will go, we can start moving forward.
* We rescued a puppy. She looks to be a lab mix and we’re hoping she’ll bond more to the kids than our older dog has. We do have predators around and I’d like to have a dog that will protect them. She’s cute as heck, but I’m not enjoying the house-breaking phase.

Community Food System: Nothing

Eat the Food:

I started a batch of the bread dough that you leave in the fridge and use to bake from for up to 2 weeks: I haven’t actually baked any yet, since mom has my pizza stone. Hopefully tonight. Otherwise, nothing new.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The County Fair

Mom and I took the girls to the county fair yesterday. So fun! First, the big news: my 5 year-old won a BLUE RIBBON!! That's right, folks, we have a budding artist at home. She took first place in her age group (Pre-K & Kindergarten) for her drawing of a Pumpkin Princess. I'll post a picture of it after we pick it up this weekend. Mom got a ribbon for her okra pickles (I knew she would ... those things ROCK) but that was it for all our canning efforts. Here's something weird: they don't judge on taste. "Judging in food preservation will be done according to appearance, texture, uniformity, pack and container." How odd is that? They never even open the jars. Otherwise, I would have swept the competition with my preserves & jelly. Seriously. LOL

So, we had dinner (maybe the best chicken fingers I've ever had), walked around looking at all the booths, checked out the livestock and rides, and my future farmer asked if we could stay to watch the Swine Show. We stayed for 2 rounds before she was too sleepy to hang anymore. It was really interesting! I was impressed with the little kids out there showing those huge pigs, especially after seeing the pigs get into fights. That takes some guts.

Last big news before I sign out and do some work: we're getting a puppy today! I'm a little apprehensive: it's been a LONG time since we've dealt with puppy issues (house-breaking, chewing, training); I don't want our older dog to feel neglected or slighted; and it's the same breed as the dog my brother & SIL lost earlier this year. They're still in mourning, plus they're already dealing with some seriously stressful stuff, and I don't want to cause them more grief. I'm HOPING that a puppy will help cheer them up, and maybe they'll decide to get another dog of their own. We'll see ... The girls are beside themselves with excitement. :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Little House in the Suburbs!

Little House in the Suburbs is one of my favorite blogs/websites. They have the COOLEST ideas. :) I use their laundry detergent recipe, and will be whipping up a batch of soap any day now. And, they're having a give-away:

If you're into self-sufficiency, gardening, DIY ... check out their stuff.

Monday, October 19, 2009


A friend asked for my laundry detergent recipe, which I got from It’s cheap, smells good, works great, and seems to last a long time: what’s not to love!

Homemade “Liquid” Laundry Detergent
2 cups finely grated soap (I use Ivory)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
HOT water

1. Add soap and a couple cups of hot water to a pot and melt soap over medium heat. (This takes a while for me. I use a whisk and end up making lots of bubbles. :/)
2. Once the soap is dissolved, remove from heat and mix the washing soda and borax in until dissolved. (I use the whisk for this, too.)
3. After everything is dissolved, pour into a bucket.
4. Add enough HOT water to make 1 gallon.
5. Let set overnight.
6. The next day, you’ll have a gallon of laundry detergent. Mine usually comes out as a thick gel consistency. Like, REALLY thick. I just stick my hand in the bucket and squish it around until it loosens up before I dump it into my detergent container. You have to experiment with how much to use. I get good results using between 1/4 and 1/3 cup.

Yesterday, mom took me and the girls to the fairgrounds to drop off our submissions for the fair competitions. Mom entered about a half-dozen jars of various things; I entered preserves and jelly; and the 5 y/o entered a drawing. Then we checked out the chickens, turkeys and ducks … FUN!

My favorite kid conversation of the week:
On the way to the grocery store, we pass by a thrift store that also sells small wood sheds/barns.
Her: We’ve been to that store before.
Me: Yep, we sure have.
Her: I sure would like to have one of those.
Me: One what?
Her: A barn. We could put chickens in it!
Me: I’d like to have one, too, but I’d put the chicken FEED in it, and hay and stuff.
Her: *long pause* You know, you could get me one for my next birthday.
Me: Really?
Her: Yeah! You could cover it with sheets, so it would be a surprise …
Me: Let me make sure I understand. Are you asking for a BARN for your 6th birthday?
Her: I TOLD you I wanted to be a farmer.
The next day, we’re doing some random activity and she asks me, “Mommy, when I’m old enough to take care of myself, do you think you could help me get my own farm?” I love my kids so dang much. :D

Okay … here’s my IDC update:

Plant: Nada

Harvest: tomatoes, peppers, eggs, basil

Preserve: nothing this week

Waste Not: nothing unusual

Want Not/Prep/Store: Sorted through the kids’ clothes and made notes of what I need to fill in.

Community Food System: Nothing new.

Eat the Food: Ate from the pantry, mostly, with some fresh herbs and eggs thrown in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's a chill in the air ...

Well, for Georgia it's chilly. Sort of. This time last week it was in the 90's and the heat index Friday was 100*F. Stupid global warming. :( But the highs THIS Friday will be in the 60's and low's in the 40's. THAT'S more like it!

Hubby and I have been talking about adding more raised beds to our gardening efforts. The 2 we used this year did far better than the traditional row garden area we planted. I LOVE the idea, but of course am cringing at the expense. We need to do some serious research on how to build them on the cheap. Regardless, we need to clean out the spent plants in the existing beds and get them freshened and replanted with fall/winter stuff, and I’m chomping at the bit to get my blueberries in the ground and to find a place to put some fruit trees. I’m SO tired of waiting on our orchard. :(

I’m making the girls decide this week on what they want to be for Halloween, so that we can start working on costumes. F is waffling between Princess and Pirate. H is still on Princess. Either costume should be easy-peasy to put together, but hubby keeps bringing up store-bought. Since he’s working at the local Halloween store, he gets a small discount, but we already have 3 gorgeous princess costumes plus tons of other stuff in the dress-up chest! Why in the world do we need to buy one that lights up? Seriously?

Hubby’s preparing to teach a class at the local Pagan Pride Day Saturday. I’m really proud of him … he knows his stuff and enjoys teaching classes on historical topics. I keep telling him he missed his calling as a history professor. Anyway, we’ve invited a group of folks to come to our place afterwards for dinner, so I’m looking forward to that. I may roast a turkey and make dressing! I love having company and miss all the dinner parties, cookouts, etc. we had before we moved.

Okay … here’s my IDC update:

Plant: Nada

Harvest: tomatoes, peppers, eggs

Preserve: 9 jars of Candy Apple Jelly, 18 jars of Apple-Poblano Jelly, 23 jars of beef stock
The jelly is for gifting. The beef stock … well, hubby wants to know exactly what I plan to do with 23 quarts of beef stock. Soup … rice … soup … (I may need some recipes.)

Waste Not:
* Repaired refrigerator again instead of getting a new one (repairing was cheaper than replacing). I considered suggesting to hubby that we do without on a permanent basis, but decided not to push my luck. LOL
* We didn’t lose ANY food due to refrigerator issues. Yay!
* Used recycled juice & soda bottles for food/water storage.
* Fixed the washing machine all by myself, thus avoiding hubby’s argument that we get rid of my ancient washer and upgrade. Don’t get me wrong … I covet the HE machines, but money is TIGHT. Our bank account does NOT care if we have working appliances, and as nice as the people are at the local appliance store/repair shop, they aren’t going to trade me a HE washing machine for some home-baked bread and a jar of jelly (no matter how delicious).

Want Not/Prep/Store:
* My brother offered us some seasoned oak for firewood, which will save us from having to buy any. We don’t need much (our winters are short and mild) and I’m hoping we get all we need for free from our own trees. Also, dad brought us 2 HUGE chunks of fat-lighter (1’ x 3 or 4’ each!) to go with the 2 HUGE stumps a neighbor brought us earlier. We need to chop it all into usable bits and figure out the best way to store it, but we should be set for fire-starting material for at least 2-3 winters.
* We’re hanging in there with the Pick Up After Yourself Plan. Had a rough go of it between the broken refrigerator and the weekend spent canning, but I’m almost done putting everything back where it belongs, and could get the public spaces ready for visitors in an hour. Not too shabby, considering where we started a few weeks ago.

Community Food System:
* Found out this weekend that we have doomer relatives! Mom & dad went to a family reunion this weekend and met some cousins (a married couple) that have stockpiled heirloom seeds, make their own wine, and other prep-type things that I won’t go into here. Mom asked for a wine-making lesson and I plan to tag along. So awesome! They’re family, live in the same county, and are likeminded on at least some topics. Now if they just won’t run screaming at the thought of being related to a bunch of heathens, we’ll have a place to start. :D
* A coworker gave me a bag full of Calamondin lemons and told me I could start my own trees from the seeds. That’s what he did, and he now has 4 10+ foot trees in his yard. Yay, lemons!!

Eat the Food:
* Used up leftover sweet potatoes to make muffins.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 5th IDC Update (and other stuff)

Plant: Rose bush that my mom dug up. I don’t think it makes hips, but I don’t care! My wedding bouquet flowers came from it and it’s beautiful and I love it and that’s good enough. :)

Harvest: tomatoes, peppers, eggs

Preserve: 10 jars of Candy Apple Jelly and 15 jars of Apple-Poblano Jelly

Waste Not: Used juice jugs (from the apple juice I used to make jelly) for food storage.

Want Not/Prep/Store:
* As of today, we’re on Day 10 of the Pick Up After Yourself Plan (I totally made that up …) to keep the “public” areas of the house clean. It’s working FABULOUSLY! The house looks better than it has since we moved in – at least in those areas. Once we make it a month keeping that area clean, we’ll expand it to another room.
* The weather turned cool for about a minute, so I dug through the boxes of kid clothes. Turns out H has skipped right over a size and is into 4T’s already (3T pants are all too short).
* Sorted through all the kid shoes and picked out the right sizes. Now I need to do something with the giant pile of wrong sizes. :P
* Hauled the too-big, broken desk to the landfill after we determined that there wasn’t much fit to repurpose. Also took 2 broken stereos, but the workers at the landfill seemed interested in them. I hope they took them home and got them working again! Anyway, getting that stuff out of the house made room for the future shelves for my expanded pantry.
* The (2 YEAR OLD) refrigerator died yesterday and we don’t have the money to fix it (plus I don't WANT to fix it - again; I hate that damn refrigerator), so we’re doing a crash course in living without refrigeration. Not the most fun I’ve ever had; this would be far easier if we lived someplace where it actually got COLD this time of year. :P
* Got my copy of Kathy Harrison’s book Just in Case. It is THOROUGH! I’m looking forward to working through it step by step.

Community Food System:
* Told everybody I could about the killer apple juice sale (75 cents/half-gallon). Did NOT tell them that I’m making their holiday presents from it. :D
* Spent a lovely afternoon making jelly with my mom.

Eat the Food:
* Made more muffin mix and bought some overripe bananas for muffin-making.
* Refrigerator died yesterday, so we’re eating up leftovers as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29th IDC Update

Plant: Yep, another week gone and no planting. Mom gave me some tomato and bell pepper seedlings that I’ll try to get in the ground today or tomorrow, but it’s supposed to be in the 50’s tomorrow night and I don’t know if they’ll survive much of that.

Harvest: tomatoes, peppers, basil, tarragon, okra, eggs

Preserve: chicken stock (freezer)

Waste Not: made stock from chicken carcass; ate all but 1 of a bowl full of apples before they went bad (this is an issue for us) – the bad one went to the chickens

Want Not/Prep/Store: My birthday presents this year from hubby were a new (wooden) cutting board and 3 new knives, and a new S&W 38 Special. I *heart* my hubby so much. :) I also bought some hay and food supplements for the chickens.

Community Food System: Ordered cases of apples, oranges and tangelos to support the local FFA. They aren’t local, exactly … 1 state over, though, so better than overseas.

Eat the Food: *Blueberry crisp (local blueberries I picked and froze last year) and topping from homemade mix (thanks, kathyprepper!)

In other news, I'm so damn sick I can't believe I'm trying to function. I feel like I felt last year, just before I ended up in the hospital. B is going for his surgery consult tomorrow, so the medical bills should be rolling in soon. Man, I'm so glad we have health insurance! (this is sarcasm, btw -- we DO have insurance, but it is beyond shitty ... I'm not even sure anymore why we have it) Thank the gods and disir that the girls are healthy. As long as we can keep them from killing or seriously wounding each other, we'll be alright.

Some funny quips from the 2 y/o on Sunday:
* Upon hearing our list of errands, she began chanting, "Gun store, gun store, YAY GUNSTORE! I'm ready to go to the gun store." Repeat.
* Later that evening, she and I were in the kitchen together; I was fixing dinner and she was coloring, I think. Totally quiet. Then she belts out, in her best Reba McIntire twang, "COWGIRLS DON'T CRY." Repeat.

Our kids are so damn funny. :P

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chicken News!

Sadie, our older chicken (the one that survived the dog attack) quit laying for weeks, but hubby found not one, but TWO eggs in the laying boxes yesterday. One from her, and a tiny pullet egg! I'm so freaking egg-cited! I didn't even get to see it, though, and dh - appropriately so - left it as an offering in our ve. I can't wait for them all to start laying ... fresh eggs! LOTS of them!

OH, and other big poultry news: Buster crowed for the first time this morning. It scared the shite out of me for a second; then I was just so proud of him!

Yay, chickens!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I forgot to post my IDC update on Monday, but better late than never, I guess. Here goes:

Plant: STILL nothing planted, but continued cleaning out the beds and preparing for fall planting; noticed more “volunteers” (peppermint is recovering from its near-death experience; basil self-seeded all over the bed, and the oregano and tarragon are trying to take over the world).

Harvest: peppers, basil, oregano, tarragon, okra, peas, eggplant, green tomatoes

Preserve: dried peppers; canned peas

Waste Not: *Pulled 2-liter bottles from the recycling bin, cleaned them up and used them for emergency water storage. Got some nice 1-gallon juice containers from my brother, also for water. *Discovered that my chickens LOVE giant okra, as long as I hack the pods open for them. *Cut up old flannel baby blanket for “family” wipes; haven’t gotten around to sewing them yet. *The usual recycling, clothesline usage, limited a/c.

Want Not/Prep/Store: *Replenished stock of sugar, flour and grits. *Picked up some extra pillows to store for unexpected company. *Picked up a 10-pack of soap to be used for laundry detergent, shampoo, etc. *Cleaned out a closet and found: a bunch of fabric to be used for curtains, cloth TP, costumes, etc.; 2 stereo systems, 2 enormous stuffed animals and 3 lamps (still in moving boxes –we’ve been in this house 2½ years), all to be donated.

Community Food System: Continued sharing the pea harvest. The same friend who picked peas with me brought me a bag of scuppernongs from her yard. Mmmm!

Eat the Food: *Tinkered with my normal bread recipe and LOVE the result – a much more sandwich-friendly slice. :) *Ate many more meatless meals than normal for us, with no complaining from the ranks. *Made beef roast from the local cow in the freezer, and in the process achieved gravy nirvana. Seriously, the best gravy I have ever made in my life, and maybe ever will make. And since I’m the only person in the house who eats gravy … it’s mine. ALL MINE! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

It's been a busy week thus far. We have company coming tomorrow/Saturday, so dh will be straightening the house before he goes to work. Good thing, because I feel like CRAP! Why do I always get sick when we have company? It's frustrating me. :P I made a huge pot of chicken soup last night, with about 5-6 cloves of garlic, loads of onion & peppers and other veggies. Hoping it'll help me feel better soon.

I'm very, very excited about my birthday this year, and not just because it's the last one I'm having (I think it's okay to stop at 39, don't you? After all, once you have kids, nobody really cares about YOUR birthday anymore except you.). Hubby is trading in one of his rifles to buy me a new handgun! It's taken him some time to accept that I'm not the typical girly-girl who loves jewelry, but I think he's finally come to terms with the fact that I'd rather have garden tools or (HELL YEAH!) a pistol. I wondered how he was going to top my Mothers Day/anniversary gift (2 beautiful raised-bed herb gardens), but he did it.

Now, if I can just shake this cold, all will be right with the world. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

September 14th IDC Update

Plant: Nothing, but spent some time cleaning out the herb beds in preparation for a fall planting. In that process I noticed some volunteer basil & cilantro sprouting, and the tomato plants that weren’t destroyed by the worms seem to be making a comeback … more leaves/roots/blossoms and even some tiny, non-worm-eaten green toms!

Harvest: tomatoes, peppers, basil, oregano, okra, peas; lots more worms for the chickens

Preserve: okra (frozen, for frying … mmm!), pepper vinegar

Waste Not: *Only used the a/c one day last week! This was big for us mentally, as it’s been in the upper 80’s and sticky. Having done it, though, it was fine. The warmest the house got was about 85; it was breezy, so we just did outside stuff then. *We had LOTS of extra laundry this week, as we’re battling head lice. I washed everything in hot water and used the clothesline for drying for the first 6 days; on day 7 I decided that maybe the heat from the dryer might actually be necessary to get rid of the little buggers once and for all. L I’m hoping that the lack of a/c might counteract the extra electricity used for laundry. *The usual recycling.

Want Not/Prep/Store: *Used the HECK out of my homemade laundry detergent. I only need to use between ¼ & ½ cup of the liquid/gel to get everything super-clean. I love it so much! *After our bout with lice this week, I’ll be storing a couple sets of delousing combs and a couple of bottles of tea tree oil shampoo & conditioner.

Community Food System: Invited some friends over to share in the pea harvest. Since we put up so many peas earlier in the year, we plan to share this “volunteer” crop with as many people as possible.

Eat the Food: poblano peppers in everything possible; recycling leftovers into various meals; eating almost exclusively from storage and our garden right now, as finances continue to be very tight

Monday, September 7, 2009

September 7th IDC Update

Plant: The girls planted flower seeds and I made plans for the fall/winter garden.

Harvest: Tomatoes, peppers, basil, parsley; lots more worms for the chickens.

Preserve: Canned pear preserves and the leftover pear "syrup."

Waste Not: *The kids and I raked up five (child-sized) wagon-loads of mown grass to add to the chicken pen; the chicks LOVE scratching in it and we had lots of fun working together. (While we were raking, my 5 y/o announced to me that she wants to be a farmer.) *Leftovers that weren't repurposed into other meals went to the chickens, too. *The nights/mornings have been in the upper 60's/low 70's for the last week, so we've been running the a/c much less. Even though the daytime highs are hitting 90, I completely turned off the a/c the last 3 days. It ends up feeling cooler outside in the middle of the day (breezy!), which means we're spending more time outside ... a win/win! *I ran out of plastic (I know) containers for leftovers, so I used some glass jars to freeze my leftover soup. *The usual recycling.

Want Not/Prep/Store: *Still looking for ways to build community; here's what I came up with this week. I bake bread most weekends, and my favorite recipe makes 4 loaves. We can use 3 before mold sets in, so I usually give a loaf to my parents or freeze one. I've decided to use that extra loaf to build relationships! I made a list of people in our small town that I'd like to get to know better, and every Sunday I'll take a loaf of bread to a new person on my list. *I also did some pantry cleaning/rearranging and made notes of what we need to restock (will have to wait a payday or 2). *Made my own laundry detergent (haven't used it yet, so I can't say how well it works).

Community Food System: Nothing, really.

Eat the Food: We've started using some of the beef we bought from my co-worker. Mmm! Otherwise, I haven't tried any new recipes or anything. Just plugging along, eating a LOT from storage due to financial issues.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Well that was

one hell of a week! In a good way!

Monday, through a strange set of circumstances, I volunteered to help set up a food bank on our end of the county. Food security, both personal and community-wide, is really important to me, and this was something I'd been thinking about for a while. Pretty funny that the week I made up my mind to get involved in the community this just sort of fell into my lap. :D

Tuesday was our first civic club meeting and it was GREAT! We took the kids and I just sort of assumed that they would play on the playground while we met with the other folks. Well, one of the committee members (that I've known for ... oh ... 25 years? maybe 30?) brought his teenaged daughter, who very kindly watched out for the girls the entire time. I volunteered to help organize the Halloween Carnival (the civic club's biggest fundraiser of the year), which will actually be on Halloween this year. I'm so excited! This meeting was a really, really big deal for us as a family. I've been so worried that all of my grandmother's trash talk about our religion would have the whole group ready to burn us at the stake. I'm pretty ashamed of myself that I made such assumptions about people. Everybody was so nice. :) We even met the people who bought the "pink" gingerbread house across the street from the park: a nice Jewish couple who are apparently pretty serious preppers! I'm hoping to get to know them a little better.

We had F's birthday party at the park yesterday: another Big Deal, as this is the first time any other kids have come to her party. There were 4 5-y/o's and 1 2-y/o, all girls. Glad it was outdoors, as I don't think we could have stood all the squealing inside! LOL Anyway, everybody had a great time.

Today, I picked tomato hornworms off my tomato plants (and some other kind of worm, too) and fed them to the chickens ... who actually ATE them this time! Yay! Now that I know what I'm looking for, I'll be checking the plants every afternoon and giving the chicks an afternoon snack.

I also made my very first "all-by-myself" batch of pickles: dilled okra. Mmmm. AND, I'm marinating (right this second!) a bowl of sliced tomatoes in cheap red wine. Yep, you read that right! Tomorrow, I shall drain them, sprinkle them with salt and dried herbs, and dehydrate them. Mom already did some for me and they are so freakin' delicious I want to eat the entire bag. But I won't: I'm determined to make a homemade pizza with homegrown dried tomatoes. I WILL keep some tomatoes for that. I WILL TOO!

I should be baking bread right now, or folding laundry, or cutting up pears to make preserves, but the girls didn't nap today and I'm frickin' tired. Plus, we ate a LOT of popcorn this afternoon/evening and now I feel kinda sick. :P

OH ... did I mention that we had nearly 10 INCHES of rain last week?!?! Ridiculous ...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2 Months ....

Yeah, clearly I suck at this whole blogging thing. I'm not sure what made me think this would be different than the dozens of times I've bought lovely journals, blank pages that first whispered the promise of quiet reflection. Within days, those clean pages became another chore to complete, and within weeks the journal of quiet reflection was buried in the avalanche of paper that is my life. Turns out I'm even busier now than I was the last time I bought a journal! No beating myself up this time, though. It is what it is, and I'll update when I can. Maybe I can even figure out how to add pictures someday ...

So, the new cat, Henry, is great. He's made friends (sort of) with the dog, and likes F (the most important part, since she's the one who wanted one the most).

The dog killed one of our original 2 chickens and mangled the other one. She eventually recovered and began laying eggs again. Before that, though, we bought 6 more chicks - 5 pullets and a rooster. They've gotten SO big, and they're so stinkin' cute. Of course, to B's chagrin, we've named them all: Rosa, Snowflake, Midnight, Majesty, Brunhylde, and Buster. We hope they'll start laying in a month or 2.

The gardens did okay. Well, mom & dad's BIG garden did GREAT. We harvested and preserved over 400 lbs. of peas! The squash, zucchini and cukes did really well, too. Grean beans, not so much, and the hogs destroyed all but 100 ears of the corn and all of the pumpkins & watermelons.

Our little garden did ... eh. We got some squash and zukes, and about 15 lbs. of potatoes. The deer ate all the sunflowers and the hogs tore up our corn and pumpkins. I got a few eggplants, and thought the plants had died, but lo and behold, they're back and blooming again, and there are a few baby eggplants on the bushes. I think hogs ate some of them, too. Are you seeing a theme here?

The most success we've had gardening this year has been the herb beds. One was planted with basil, 2 kinds of parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, thyme, tarragon, mint and rosemary. Oh, and one poblano pepper plant! The basil is still going strong! I made pesto for the first time, and plan to make some for the freezer -- the stuff is so freaking delicious that I ate the whole batch with nary a bit of pasta, just on crackers and sandwiches. I cut the flower spikes off the basil plants a couple times a week and feed them to the chickens. The cilantro died in the heat, but I harvested a few tablespoons of coriander which was exciting. The dill did really well, until the Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars moved in and ate the crap out of it. :( The caterpillars are now working on my parsley, but I didn't use it that much so I'm not worrying about it. The little buggers are bitter (so I read) and the chickens won't eat them. Grrr. Oh, we've gotten probably a dozen poblanos ...yum!

The other herb bed was planted mostly with tomato plants that mom started from heirloom seeds. We have a couple of yellow cherries that are producing like mad, a couple of red cherries that are doing just okay, and a few romas that are doing pretty well. Mom is dehydrating almost all of the romas for us. Oh, and there are a few "regular" tomato plants that are giving us enough for slicing/eating out of hand. We haven't gotten enough from our garden to can, which I'm a little disappointed over, but it'll be okay.

We're still trying to figure out goats or a cow, the orchard, fencing, and always $$.

The lack of community is really bothering me lately. Not just heathen community .... ANY community! So, I decided to try getting involved in the local civic club and the local Spiral Scouts group. The civic club president and the SS troop leader neither have answered my e-mails (sent almost 2 weeks ago), but I'm trying not to be discouraged about it yet. Until then ... busy, busy, as always!

Today's to-do list:
* Return books & movies to the library.
* Begin making beef broth (for canning tomorrow).
* Pick up a box or 2 of tomatoes for canning.
* Make bread & muffins.
* Laundry, laundry & more laundry.

Makes me want to go back to bed!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Invasion of the Animals

It's been a while since I've posted anything here. We've been a little busy. Um. A lot busy. The gardens are coming in, but we're being invaded by wild hogs and deer. The deer ate all of my pepper plants down to the nub, and the hogs completely destroyed mom & dad's watermelons and heavily damaged the Merit corn. B & dad have been staying up all night for weeks, trying to catch/kill the hogs, but the damn things are SNEAKY.

In spite of it, mom has managed to can a significant amount of food: strawberry preserves, lots and lots and lots of pickles - both cuke and squash/zuke, several different kinds of peas, corn on the cob. And dear Gods at the squash we've eaten in the last few weeks. Delicious! I also harvested some (small) onions, some (very, very small) potatoes, and my herb garden is a constant delight.

So, the excitement last week was, B agreed to get a cat. The last one we tried to adopt was a terror; the girls couldn't get within 10 feet of the thing without being attacked. Not playfully, either: full-on, teeth-and-claws attacked. It was bad. We tried so hard to make it work, but we had to "rehome" him (don't ask). But this kitty ... he's a dream. Box-trained in a day, soft and cuddly, playful, and lets the 2 y/o carry him around with nary a hiss or scratch. We all adore him ... a GOOD decision! The 4 y/o named him Henry. :)

The excitement today is ... we finally have chickens! Two laying hens at the moment, with a rooster to join them as soon as the neighbor can catch him. The girls have named them Tinker-Chicken and Sadie. They LOVE lettuce and grapes and seem happy enough in their little pen for the time being. Hopefully B and I can get the coop/run situation resolved this weekend and we can get busy establishing our flock. Yay, us!!!

This weekend will be a busy one, too, as the whole extended family is preparing for a visit from my nephew J, his wife M, and their girls, L & M (who are roughly the same age as our girls -- FUN!). We haven't seen each other since M & I were pregnant with our 2 y/o's, so it'll be a fun visit. Hope we're able to manage entertaining, garden stuff, work, and other commitments without too much drama/trauma.

Tomorrow is a vacation day, but I'll be up at my normal time to get the girls to daycare and get started in the garden. We're going to pick and can peas and cukes, inspect and clean mom & dad's camper, and a million other things.

I almost forgot: I installed another clothesline last weekend to replace the crappy kit I bought and B put up for me last year. That was some HARD work, but man, did it feel good. And now I get to line-dry our laundry. Hell yeah!

Monday, May 25, 2009

IDC Update

1. Plant: planted tomatoes, onions, beets, dill, oregano, basil, cilantro; did some weeding in between storms/rain showers
2. Harvest: basil, oregano, thyme, parsley
3. Preserve: nothing this week
4. Reduce waste: "recycled" leftover stir-fried squash/zuke into a casserole; ate leftovers for lunch that I REALLY didn't want to eat; regular recycling stuff; working on potty training the 2 y/o
5. Preparation/storage: replaced sugar used in canning last weekend; bought some coffee for the pantry; hubby's almost done with the chicken coop (yay!!); discussed quantities of various home-canned items we’re aiming for, so as to better judge how much u-pick produce we need to buy; discussed foraging with mom (I’m so glad she doesn’t think I’m nuts anymore)
6. Community Food System: contributed more of H's pee dipes to the anti-deer campaign (I am shocked that it's actually working!!); discussed how we're going to handle the herd of wild hogs that are ransacking our community's gardens
7. Eat the food: stir fry from farm-stand veggies; rice, pasta, jarred sauce from storage; basil, oregano, thyme, parsley from the garden; muffins, homemade bread, biscuits made from pantry; homemade jam

That was a GOOD day!

We got up early and H USED THE POTTY! Of course, she also peed on the floor trying to GET to the potty, but that's beside the point. ;) We ate breakfast (I made fresh sausage with herbs from the garden), and miracle of miracles ... IT STOPPED RAINING!!! Well, it still sprinkled off-and-on through the morning, but I got tired of telling the girls no, so they jumped into their bathing suits and hit the pool. Oh, wait. They were ALREADY in the pool, in their pajamas. I just legitimized it with the suits. LOL While they were playing in the pool, I planted the tomato plants in the herb garden and did some weeding in the veggie patch.

We came in and I took a shower while DH and the girls watched cartoons. Then we all headed to the store (lunch first). It went so much faster with hubby along to help kid-wrangle.

Back home, H went down for a nap. F and I were supposed to nap, too, but that didn't last long. We got up and F practiced casting her rod & reel (she informed me after we bought it that she didn't like fish and never wanted to actually FISH with the rod & reel, but she sure does love practicing with it), then we flew the kite for a bit while dad made more boffer swords.

I took a little mommy break and F woke H up from her 2 hour nap. I decided to make a pasta salad for dinner ... and thus commenced Boffer Sword Showdown, Spring 2009. B and the girls chased each other around the yard bonking each other with boffer swords for a good half-hour. When the girls started pretending the swords were pogo sticks, dad was done, but a couple minutes after he sat down I heard F yell, "H ... wanna fight?!?" Dad was so proud! LOL

My pasta salad was ROCKIN' (more fresh herbs :D) and F nearly fell asleep at the table. A quick bath and the girls and I were down for the night. Hubby and dad were supposed to go hunting wild hogs last night; I heard him come in, I think around 4AM, so I'll talk to him about it when he gets up.

There's something deeply satisfying about a day where you can get outside and work and play. We all slept so good! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I feel like CRAP!

It's almost midnight, and I'm sick. *pout* A quick update, another dose of homeopathic meds, and I'm done for the night, I think.

1. Plant: Nope ... too windy/rainy. Again.
2. Harvest: Nope
3. Preserve: Nope
4. Reduce waste: Ate leftovers for lunch that I REALLY didn't want to eat. :P
5. Preparation/storage: Replaced sugar used in canning last weekend; bought some coffee for the pantry; hubby bought some lumber to start the chicken coop
6. Community Food System: Contributed more of H's pee dipes to the anti-deer campaign. I am shocked that it's actually working!!
7. Eat the food: Stir fry from farm-stand veggies; rice from storage.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On the Farm

I harvested my first herbs yesterday: basil and oregano, which went into homemade meatballs. They were so good that between me and H, about a third of them didn’t actually make it to the dinner table. Mmmmm! I can’t wait to get some seeds in the ground to supplement the plants that mom & hubby originally provided. I’m also looking forward to planting the leftover onion sets; hopefully they’ll make us some green onions. And then there are the tomato transplants, patiently waiting in the corner of the porch. And the beet seeds. *happy sigh*

I took about 5 minutes to do some weeding in the veggie garden before picking up the girls this afternoon, and discovered some tiny little bell peppers and yellow squash! I literally jumped up and down squealing. I'm such a dork! LOL

In other news, we found out yesterday that there are at least 100 pigs running wild in the woods behind mom & dad’s house; they’re rapidly making their way towards the families’ gardens, and they’ve already destroyed the neighbors’. Add them to the rabbits, raccoon, wild turkeys and deer that already call our land home. I’m really astounded at the amount of wildlife still in our area/on our property, and to be perfectly honest, I’m looking forward to EATING some of them, before they eat us out of house and home. I do find it … wyrd … that the wild hog population seems to have exploded in the two years since we moved into our home. We've made many offerings to Frey over the years and I can't help but feel that he's making his presence known.

It has rained everyday for at least the last week to 10 days, and yesterday the high was nearly 30 degrees below normal. Mom says she’s only see the weather here do that once before, about 40 years ago. Rain is in the forecast every day for at least another 10 days; I think the river might come back out of its bank again if we don’t get a break soon, and this does NOT bode well for the annual mosquito battle. I heard a few weeks ago that in the central part of the state, the mosquito population is 8000 times greater than this time last year. That just makes me want to curl up in a ball – under some netting – and hide!

IDC Quickie Monday & Tuesday:
Plant – nothing today, but I did do some weeding
Harvest – basil & oregano
Preserve – nothing
Waste not – nothing
Preparation/storage – discussed quantities of various home-canned items we’re aiming for, so as to better judge how much u-pick produce we need to buy; discussed foraging with mom (I’m so glad she doesn’t think I’m nuts anymore)
Community Food System – nothing
Eat the food – basil, oregano, pasta from storage, jarred sauce from storage; muffins made earlier in the week; homemade bread w/ homemade jam

Sunday, May 17, 2009

IDC Update - Week #3

1. Plant something: hubby got a lot of work done on the herb bed, plus he weeded in the veggie gardens and transplanted some corn from one bed to another (we're trying to consolidate the few corn plants that actually came up); planted sunflowers & pumpkins
2. Harvest something: radishes (maybe a dozen), onions (2 that bolted), strawberries (36-1/2 lbs.)
3. Preserve something: put up 8 pints of strawberry preserves and prepared berries for 2 more batches of jam, a batch of strawberry syrup, and a bag for the freezer that will probably end up in a mixed-berry jam ... we ran out of time & steam to finish everything!
4. Reduce waste: normal recycling stuff; salvaged as much of the forgotten basil in my fridge, grown in mom's garden, as I could; saved commercial jars for dry storage; rescued a HUGE cardboard box from the trash at work, hopefully to use as a solar oven or dehydrator
5. Preparation/storage: added liquid bandage stuff to the first aid kit; found some rockin' plans for a solar dehydrator; printed a fall garden plan from; discussed what needs to be done in the garden ASAP, and what things we can plant now for the fall; priced materials for a chicken coop
6. Community food system: discussed ways to keep the deer out of the communal garden plot; gave a copy of the fall garden plan to my mom; DH helped mom, dad, my brother, and the neighbors install power poles at the communal garden to provide power to the shallow well that mom & dad had dug for irrigation as needed - unfortunately, they found out the next day that the power company was going to charge over $2K to run the line, so we're looking at other options now (I'm pushing for solar!); offered to share some of my dried garbanzos from storage with a friend, since we have a LOT more than we would normally eat in years; gave strawberry tops and culls to the neighbors for their chickens (they share their eggs with us)
7. Eat the food: beans, pasta from storage; 2 dzn. apple spice muffins from homemade muffin mix I keep in the pantry, applesauce from the freezer, and cinnamon chips from the pantry; 2 dzn. banana muffins from frozen bananas, muffin mix, and chocolate chips from storage; shepherd's pie - ground beef & mixed veggies from the freezer, flour and potatoes from the pantry, and butter and cheese bought in bulk; 4 loaves of bread, all ingredients from storage

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, Part 2

Oh. My. GODS. what a day. I woke up at 5AM; H woke up before 6, and F shortly after. We all got dressed, had muffins, and waited on mom to call RE strawberry picking. By waiting, I mean I chased kids, cleaned the kitchen, and did some laundry. By the time she called at 8:40AM, H was already filthy and wet from playing outside, so I had to redress her down to her shoes. TBH, I was pretty grubby too, but I figured HEY, we're just going to pick berries, it'll be fine. So, off we went.

Even chasing the girls all over the fields, we picked 36-1/2 pounds of berries in less than an hour. It didn't LOOK like 36+ lbs. Really! I'm pretty excited about putting them up tomorrow. Mom said she was going to look up recipes this evening. Mmmm, strawberry preserves. :D

So, I looked GORGEOUS after that, and the girls and I were hungry. Make that STARVING. Since mom picked up the tab for the berries, I told her lunch was my treat. We went to a Chinese buffet (not the "good" one, honey), where the girls were completely fascinated with the piped-in music, and let everybody in the place know. Loudly. So, about 3/4 of the stuff they had on their buffet had some kind of seafood in it, so I wasn't thrilled. They did have egg foo young (I have no idea how to spell that), so mom was THRILLED. I found a little something to eat, and was minding my own business, when manager of the plant where I work showed up with his wife and one of our coworkers. Just the folks I wanted to run into looking like a dirty farmhand. Oh well ...

So, we made it home and I fell asleep with the girls whilst trying to get them to take naps. Oops. But I sooo needed it, and felt GREAT when I got up. :D Alright, so now it's, what 3:30? I got the girls settled in watching a movie, then sat down with some grid paper and drew out the 2 herb beds, including the plants already in them. Then I went through my seeds to see what I could add. I was just about to go out and do some planting when hubby got home from the range [yes, ladies & gentlemen ... I'm married to a cowboy ;)]. He convinced me that we needed to get the sunflowers, pumpkin & watermelon planted in the "long plot," but it was 5PM before we actually got out there with the kids. I got the sunflowers planted while hubby planted the pumpkin seeds (tomorrow, we're gonna set out the pumpkin transplants mom gave us).

Dinner was hamburgers, brats and grilled veggies. By the time everybody had eaten and settled down, it was 8:30PM. No time for baths for the kids ... straight to bed, wearing the clothes they'd had on all day. I know, I suck. :P And yes, I fell asleep with them. Again.

So much for a quiet, relaxing day.

Here's my IDC update for Saturday:
1. Plant something: Sunflowers & pumpkins.
2. Harvest something: Strawberries.
3. Preserve something: tomorrow ....
4. Reduce waste: n/a
5. Preparation/storage: See #2/3.
6. Community food system: See #2/3/5 (mom & I will be sharing the preserved strawberries with my bro/sil and our neighbors).
7. Eat the food: Muffins for breakfast; burgers and brats from the freezer.

Gotta go whip up some breakfast and get ready for another relaxing day.

Busy, busy

We're going strawberry picking today -- I hope! The last time we went to the you-pick farm, the fields were picked clean. Mom's going to call them to see if it's worth going out there this morning.

I've also got a boat-load of laundry to do (nothing new there); pumpkin, tomato and marigold plants to transplant; and herb seeds to put out.

If we do get berries today, we'll probably do the canning tomorrow: jam, syrup, etc.

Here's my IDC update for Friday:
1. Plant something: n/a
2. Harvest something: A few of my onion plants bolted, so I harvested those, plus 1 lone radish. I meant to grab some cilantro for our Mexi-feast last night, but forgot in the bustle.
3. Preserve something: n/a
4. Reduce waste: normal recycling
5. Preparation/storage: n/a
6. Community food system: Offered to share some of my dried garbanzos from storage with a friend, since we have a LOT more than we would normally eat in years. Found out that the power company wanted $2200 to connect power to the shallow well pump for the communal garden. Eek!! I'm putting in a plug for a solar panel.
7. Eat the food: I made banana muffins from frozen bananas, my pantry quick bread mix, and chocolate chips from storage. Lunch was peanut butter from storage.

Gotta scoot. I need to wash some clothes before the potential strawberry picking! :D

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's Raining, It's Pouring ...

I wish that I was snoring. :P It started raining on the way home yesterday, and sprinkled/rained all evening. It's still raining this morning. My rockin' hubby got out in the rain and worked on filling the 2nd new herb bed with topsoil. 'Cause he's awesome. :) Did I mention that my Mothers Day/Anniversary present was not one, but TWO raised beds for my herb garden? Yay, me!

Today is Water Day at F's pre-K -- mighty appropriate, if you ask me. Which they didn't. I had to go buy her a one-piece bathing suit and water shoes for the event. Why in the WORLD are bathing suits for preschoolers made like they're meant for swimsuit models? I could not find a single non-character bathing suit in her size (6) that didn't have the entire back and sides cut out. I mean, her BIKINI is more tasteful than that crap! So, I ended up buying her a size too big in order to get one that was modestly cut, and had to shorten the straps last night. I hope they hold. :/ Not that it's going to matter ... as I type this, it is POURING down rain. I'm pretty sure the whole thing is going to get canceled. Which means I'll have wasted $15 buying crap we didn't need.

I think I need some sunshine.

Here's my IDC update for yesterday:
1. Plant something: Didn't get anything planted, but as I mentioned, hubby got a lot of work done on the herb bed. He also did a lot of weeding in the veggie gardens and transplanted some corn from one bed to another (we're trying to consolidate the few corn plants that actually came up).
2. Harvest something: nothing today
3. Preserve something: nope
4. Reduce waste: more in the recycle bin. And I'm kind of weirded-out about this, but mom asked me to start saving H's pee diapers. She's going to use them to try to deter the deer in the "communal" garden, since the deer repellant doo-hickeys don't seem to be having ANY effect. Technically, the dipes will end up in the trash eventually, so this is just a temporary detour. PLEASE, potty-train soon, H. PLEASE!?!?
5. Preparation/storage: nothing
6. Build community food systems: DH helped mom, dad, my brother (A), and the neighbors install 2 power poles at the communal garden. This is the 1.5 acre plot that belongs to my parents, but that our little community isworking on together. We're hoping that it'll provide food for ALL of us (11 adults & 4 kids). The power poles are to provide power to the shallow well that mom & dad had dug for irrigation as needed.
7. Eat the food: I browned a few pounds of ground beef on Monday and used the last of it in last night's dinner of chili. The beans were from storage (I remembered to soak/cook them! yay!!).

Okay, time to get to work. Eww.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rain Again

It's raining again. Good for the garden -- at least, for the plants already IN the ground. However, it's making it a little difficult for me to put MORE plants in the ground. :( So, the pumpkin and tomato plants are languishing on the porch, and the rosemary and blueberry bushes are patiently awaiting their new homes too. It's far past the last recommended date to transplant any of it, but I'm going to anyway. Blind optimism, I know.

Here's a quick IDC update:
1. Plant - nothing
2. Harvest - nothing
3. Preserve - sigh ... nothing
4. Reduce Waste - salvaged a HUMUNOUS cardboard box from work, hopefully for a solar oven;
5. Preparation/Storage - found some rockin' plans for a solar dehydrator; printed a fall garden plan from; discussed what needs to be done in the garden ASAP, and what things we can plant now for the fall
6. Community Food Systems - discussed ways to keep the deer out of the communal garden plot; gave a copy of the fall garden plan to my mom
7. Eat the food - baked apple spice muffins from homemade muffin mix I keep in the pantry, applesauce from the freezer, and cinnamon chips from the pantry; made shepherd's pie for dinner: ground beef & mixed veggies from the freezer, flour and potatoes from the pantry, and butter and cheese bought in bulk

Okay ... it's 7:30PM and I need to get the girls in the bath. I'll TRY to get up in the morning to write something ...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Independence Days

One of the projects that I want to try to keep up with on this blog is my participation in Sharon Astyk's Independence Days Challenge ( Yesterday (May 11th) was update #2 -- weeks run Monday-Sunday. I'm going to try to remember to note my daily activities ... we'll see how it works out. Here are the categories we're focusing on:

1. Plant something.

2. Harvest something.

3. Preserve something.

4. Reduce waste.

5. Preparation/storage.

6. Build community food systems.

7. Eat the food.

IDC - Monday:

1. nothing

2. nothing

3. nothing

4. Mom brought me some basil from her garden last week that I forgot in the fridge. I salvaged as much of it as I could to use in my spaghetti sauce. Also, I held onto the sauce jar to use for dry storage; I'm getting a HUGE collection of jars!

5. I cut my finger pretty badly while chopping basil. I'm listing that under preps because it made me realize that, while I was awfully glad we HAD a first aid kit on hand, it needs some additional supplies. Also, I finally understood why they say a dull knife is so dangerous. :( We'll be getting them sharpened ASAP.

6. nothing

7. See #4. :) Also used ground beef and bell peppers from freezer; onions, garlic, jarred sauce and pasta from storage.

This evening, I harvested radishes that I grew all by myself! I was so freaking excited! Guess what I found out? I don't really like radishes. :P My French Farmhouse cookbook suggested just eating them fresh from the garden, dipped in salt. It tasted like ... hot perfume? I don't know, are they an acquired taste? I have another cookbook that has a recipe for steaming them. I'll try that before I take the lot of them to the office.

IDC - Tuesday:

1. nothing

2. Radishes

3. nothing

4. Added tin can to the recycle bin.

5. Bought "liquid bandage" stuff for the first aid kit.

6. nothing

7. Girls ate leftover spaghetti and black beans w/ salsa and sour cream (beans were from storage). I ate leftover pulled pork that Bodi smoked himself.

The rest of the garden is coming along, I guess. The corn is taking forever, and the germination rate doesn't seem that high, so I'm awfully glad mom & dad have planted lots. Our squash are up and looking healthy, and the potatoes have started to flower. The onions are developing flowers/bulbs on the tips of their greens. The eggplant seems to have recovered well from transplanting and, while they aren't tall, they've leafed out nicely.

I have some onion bulbs that I didn't put in the big garden; I think I'll make a space for them in my herb garden for harvesting as scallions. I also have a bunch of herb seeds that I want to get in the ground this week. There's a chance of rain every afternoon, so I'll have to time it just right.

I got a bonus at work! We're going to use the money to finish the 2nd herb bed, and whatever's left over I want to use to buy materials for a chicken coop. :D

Okay, gotta wrap this up ... the day is calling!

So this is blogging ...

I've become so addicted to reading other people's blogs,that I guess it was inevitable that I try my hand at it. If it does nothing else but serve as a window into our lives for distant relatives, or a place for me to keep track of all my interests and projects, then it'll be worth it (I think). I like the idea of setting aside some time each morning, when everybody else is still asleep and I have the house all to myself, to gather my thoughts and focus on what's important, what I want to work on that day, what I accomplished the day before.

So, here's my first attempt at a blog. Be gentle with me.