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.