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Viewing the 'Gardening Organically' Category

A Lot of Pain and A Lot of Canning Coming Up

August 13th, 2016 at 02:19 am

I've been in a lot of pain this month, hence me not posting much, and it is making it really hard for me to function at full capacity. Right now both of my knees and ankles are swollen up. I have no idea why my ankles are getting in on the action. I am alternating heat and ice and taking hydrocodone and Valerian root at night. I should be taking painkillers during the day right now as well, but I've got too much to do and I also need to be able to drive.

My neck is still really bad and giving me these awful headaches. I've got one of those joys of being a woman, a yeast infection. And my back is aching over my kidneys so much that I think I might have a kidney infection, too. There are some other symptoms as well. Ugh. I don't have time to go back to the doctor next week. But I'll have to because kidney infections don't go away on their own.

Not all is bad though. I've gotten two and a half garden beds replanted and the soil is ready for one and a half more garden beds. I've put in more broccoli, kale, radishes, kohlrabi, lettuce, spinach, and Swiss chard. When I pull the onions this weekend I will add the soil and then replant with carrots and turnips and maybe some more kohlrabi and radishes. I'm not going to put in anymore cabbage.

I've got enough garlic now for the year. My own braid, and then one I got from the no spray garden when I placed my order for 50 pounds of Yukon golds that I'll be getting tomorrow. I'll be canning those this week. I'll also be canning the purple potatoes I grew after I harvest them tomorrow. And I will be making some blueberry pie filling to can out of last year's blueberries, since they cannot survive another year in the freezer, and anyway, we have 15 new gallons in there (total picked was 17 gallons).

A large number of plums should be ripe tomorrow or the next day so those will need to get picked and I'll need to can some and dehydrate some. I'll also need to pick some more basil and sage for dehydrating and gather the last of the bee balm petals to dry for tea. I also need to gather the echinacea, yarrow, hyssop, and calendula for tea and comfrey for salve making. And deal with all the bundles of dried herbs that have been on the wall for a few weeks already.

I need to dice some of the onions and cut into strips some of the onions that I have pulled and have gone through the drying time and freeze them for future use. I also need to mince some for dehydrating and making onion powder. I need to dice or strip up my current batch of sweet peppers as well for the freezer and mince and dry my first red cayenne pepper and then grind that into powder. I need to make more garlic powder as well. It is going to really be a busy weekend and coming week.

As soon as DH gets home, whenever that will be, I want to go through all the meat in the freezers and pull anything that is old and thaw it and can it. If we catch it before freezer burn sets in, it can last several more years that way. Or get eaten quickly, which is more likely.

Since I'll be canning all day tomorrow I need to remember to put a roast in one crockpot and potatoes in the other one and have the zucchini cut up and all ready to go into the oven before getting started, because I never want to cook after a day spent canning. Which tends to lead to takeout and we are trying not to do that until DH gets a new job. The only time we have was on DD's 20th birthday, so I think we are doing pretty good.

Weight loss is going well. Things with my mother-in-law are improving. FIL is undergoing chemotherapy now. He is also being treated for 2 blood clots in his leg. They put him on one of the newer blood thinners.

DH still hasn't heard an offer for the company b job. They've hired about 8 to 10 of the 100 or so people they need to hire and are going very slow about it. No one's been hired for his department yet, though. They are supposed to fully take over in 2 days. I'm not sure how they can without a full staff. It's going to be crazy days up there for a while.

If they do ever offer him a position, I've gone through the budget and we can handle a $500 a month paycut further, but it will mean we won't be able to save for the house. And we can handle a $1000 a month paycut if we only pay Mom $500 a month instead of $1000 a month. That last scenario I do not want. Right now we have just under 3 years to go on that loan and I don't want to extend it any longer.

I guess if we do, I'll have to get serious about writing my book series. I have it outlined and the characters are all developed and the town is, too. I've got a couple friends that self-publish on Amazon and do well and say I should, too. Of course they are basing that off my old fanfiction and not original fiction. But if I can make anything with it, it can go into the farm down payment fund. Or into paying Mom off faster and freeing up that amount of money for good.

Well, this has rambled on enough and the painkillers are starting to take effect, so I'll wrap it up now and hope it all makes sense and my brain didn't wander off towards the end. If it did, I'll fix it in the morning. The post, not my brain.

Tired and Grumpy

July 22nd, 2016 at 06:03 pm

I am very out of sorts right now. I haven't been sleeping well. Most nights this last week I've gotten about 4 to 5 hours and it is really spilling over into my attitude. I walk around all day like I'm in a fog and I'm snappish and cynical and I keep repeating myself or forgetting things. I know sleep deprivation is bad, but I don't think I've ever gone so long without some decent night's sleep. I can see how I am, but it's a bit like I'm outside myself, too. I keep telling everyone I'm sorry preemptively.

Otherwise things are going well. My weight is going down again, though how, with such bad sleep, I do not know. Water Zumba continues to be so much fun. I finally dragged my daughter there Wednesday and she loved it. My husband already comes when he is home.

I think part of my problem is that my neck and my legs are so tight right now it affects how I sleep and how I walk and the woman who usually works on me when it gets like that has been cancelling appointments on me left and right, but waiting until the last minute to do it and then I can't get in to see anyone else. Like today, I had a 2:00 appointment and she cancelled at noon. She's really good, but she's turned into a real flake, and I think I'm going to have to start seeing someone else because this has become a habit and it is wrecking my body.

On the bright side the garden is producing like gangbusters. My dehydrator is going daily now as I dry my culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, and herbal teas for the next year. Plus I've also got bundles of herbs hanging on the walls to dry as well. I have bought very little produce this summer. This week for example I bought celery and nectarines because I am not growing them, but no other produce. Well, I am growing celery, but it is on year 2 which is to collect seed and it is in the flowering stage so not edible.

My peppers are starting to produce now. I am getting zucchini or crookneck squash daily and cucumbers daily. I haven't bought lettuce since April. I made a huge batch of coleslaw today from my purple cabbage and some carrot thinnings. I'm picking berries almost daily, usually blueberries, but sometimes strawberries and raspberries. I've harvested 6 gallons of blueberries in the past two weeks.

I've got 9 packages of snow peas in the freezer and I might plant another sowing of them in August. I haven't decided yet. My tomatoes finally have little green tomatoes on them. The onions are getting big. I've planted a third sowing of kohlrabi and a 2nd sowing of broccoli, a 2nd sowing of lettuce and more radishes.

On the livestock front, the turkeys are doing well. Gina's feathers are almost grown completely back in after the hawk attack in February although she still hasn't started laying eggs again. Her limp has been gone for about 6 weeks now.

All of the ducks are doing pretty well, although there is one that keeps laying her egg either without a shell so it just comes out contained in the membrane or with a very thin, easy to break shell. I don't know why. Duck egg shells are usually hard to break, you really have to whack them normally. She has the same access to oyster shell as the other ducks. It's the blue Swedish duck and I don't know how old she is since she was given to me by someone who had lost most of her flock to predators. It might just be her age.

Two of the really old chickens have died in the last month, one silver-laced wing wyandotte and one auracauna. I was sad to see them go as they were real sweethearts, but they were no longer laying so were basically freeloaders, too. That only leaves one auracauna, one black australorp, and one white leghorn from the old guard and they will probably all die of old age in the next year. Of those 3 the black australorp still lays once a week and the leghorn lays 2 to 3 times a week. We will still have the 3 barnevelders, the 3 younger leghorns, and the 7 even younger red stars after that. The barnies are mine. All the rest of the chickens are my mom's.

The rabbits are doing well. The ones that had mites are finally mite free after getting the injected form of Ivomec. I will never use the paste or the pour on again. Direct under the skin injection into the scruff is the way to go. It works, the don't fuss, and it ends it quickly. They get 3 shots, each 10 days apart and that's the end of it.

I had to learn how to draw a shot into the syringe, how to tap out air bubbles, and shoot out a little medicine to be sure. Not a difficult thing, actually, at all. Neither is giving the injection. It is a good skill to know.

We are using a Simply Lemonade container for our sharps (used capped syringes) as it is extra thick plastic. Once we're done with the course of medication I'll have to find out where to take it for disposal as you can't put it in the trash. Possibly the hospital has a medical waste depository.

Still no new news on DH's job front or job search. I am trying not to think about it as in my sleep deprived state I will just go into anxiety mode and no one needs that.

Farm Down Payment Fund Update and Preparations

June 24th, 2016 at 01:17 pm

$44,000.00 Starting Balance
+__,500.00 Deposit Addded
----------------
$44,500.00 New Balance

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to add anything to this fund this month, but I was able to squeak out $500.00 as we spent most of the overtime money putting ourselves into a position to survive the next several months without having to purchase much and get ahead on some things.

We stocked up on staples like flour, sugar, brown sugar, oil, spices, toilet paper, soap (body, dish, laundry), shampoo, rice, reusable canning lids, pickling salt, freezer bags (so we can freeze garden veggies that don't can well), peanut butter, tuna fish, condiments, facial tissue, and OTC medications.

It'll be a close next two weeks, but not tight. All payments have gone out or been scheduled and nothing else is due until after next payday on the 8th. The garden is in full swing now with both fruits and vegetables, so I really should not need to set foot in a store for anything but dairy and vitamins.

I have PT today and next Friday, but the money is put aside for that, too. So really, it all should be good. I am hoping on the 8th to purchase a 30 pound box of ground beef from the farm. That is the only thing we are low on in the freezer. If not we will just have to make due with ground rabbit and ground pork, which actually make some pretty tasty burgers, tacos, meat loaves, and meatballs. They just don't provide much iron.

We also stocked up on animal feed so we will have that on hand for a good long while.

I've Gotten a Lot Done

April 6th, 2016 at 05:39 pm

It has been a very busy week for me here. I have canned 15 pints of rabbit meat, 7 quarts and 4 half pints of rabbit bone broth, 9 pints of leek and potato soup, made two trays of rabbit jerky, dehydrated 3 trays of Thai basil from my Aerogarden and 3 trays of leeks, and am currently steeping dandelion petals for at least 12 hours so I can make and can dandelion jelly tomorrow.

I made the leek and potato soup from scratch in the crockpot, using some leeks that had overwintered in the garden. I had to pull them all up so I could add about a foot of compost and new soil to the bed, so I had to do something with them. I used 3 quarts of canned Yukon gold potatoes in the process. The first quart was pureed with the leeks and then the other 2 quarts were added about an hour from the end so it would have hearty chunks of potatoes as well, so no expense really. We had it for dinner before canning the rest.

As for the jelly, we have the sugar, pectin, and lemon juice in our food storage and the dandelions were free from our no spray yard. The amount of jelly I make here will last for the year and while I will make some strawberry jelly as well in late May or early June just because it is our favorite, I wouldn't actually need to.

I will make some buttermilk biscuits tomorrow and we will have them with the fresh jelly that is left over. It never comes out completely even, there's always about a quarter of a pint left it seems, and there is nothing like jelly made in the morning slathered on hot from the oven biscuits at dinner time.

The eat from the pantry challenge is going well. So far the only purchase I have made this week at the grocery store was for fresh fruit (watermelon, blueberries, and a cantaloupe) and a gallon of milk. I did also pick up some cleaning supplies and Puffs tissues. DD has the flu (the actual flu) and the rest of us have allergies and went through my stockpile pretty hard and fast. I ended up spending $45.47.

I will spend a little bit more on payday. I am going to try my hand at making homemade laundry detergent. I have always held off on making it as I can never find Washing Soda. Well, I found out how you can make regular baking soda into Washing Soda by baking it in the oven at a certain temperature. So all I need to buy is Borax and either Fels Naptha or Zote soap, which Walmart carries. Don't really like going all the way over there, but it'll be worth the trip for the savings on the soap.

And I am going to buy some plant starts for the garden. I did not get my seeds going soon enough so have decided that I will get a few starts. Not a lot though, just some kale and maybe shallots, green onions, and red and yellow keeping onions. Several things I can direct seed into the garden in about 2 more weeks so there is no need to start them inside.

I did get my tomatoes and peppers started today. They are on a plant heat mat on my seed growing stand. We can't plant those until the end of May or beginning of June regardless, so they'll be fine. I started those at the end of March last year and they were ready in time. I'm not worried about it. I had excellent germination using a regular heating pad last year, so I think it'll be just as good with a heat mat actually made to sprout heat loving plants.

Tomorrow I will plant some seeds in the garden. I will put in parsnips, 3 types of carrots, radishes, and snap and snow peas. All of those things can be planted at this time of year. We think we've finally blocked out all the escape routes for the chickens, so the garden should be safe to plant in now. I do need to purchase a new hose nozzle so I can mist the carrots, parsnips, and radishes until they sprout. They can't take full on watering until they've developed a root system.

I have a feeling this will be another excellent gardening and homesteading year.

Man, I'm Sore

April 2nd, 2016 at 11:49 pm

I think I broke myself today. I moved 2 cubic yards of garden soil by myself. It took me 4 hours to do it, and I took a little break between every load because I did not want to stress my body out too much. And now my shoulder and my neck hate me. But all in all, I am actually doing better than I thought I would be. And I know I will sleep hard tonight.

I am mad at the chickens. They keep escaping and they dug up and broke my newly planted kale. I only planted it two days ago. It wouldn't be so bad if they had just dug it up, but they broke off all the leaves in the process. I'm going to have to figure something out to protect the beds if the little monsters are going to keep being such escape artists.

I transplanted about 24 strawberry plants into my gutter garden and then dug up and separated the rest of them, replanting a little over half and potting the rest up to hopefully sell for $10 bucks for a flat of 24. I have one flat of Junebearing and one flat of Everbearing.

My eat from the pantry challenge is going well, but it has only been two days. Dinner last night was spice-rubbed rabbit, fried red potatoes with onions and bell peppers, salad, strawberries, and mixed veggies. Tonight it was spaghetti with Italian sausage, green beans, strawberries, and pull apart garlic herb bread since I had leftover pizza dough from earlier in the week.

I did have to spend some money today. I spent $40.47 buying Claritin D for my son and generic Prilosec for my daughter. Man, Claritin D is expensive. I miss having allergy medicine being paid for by insurance. It used to be $15 for a 30 day supply. Now it is $22 plus tax for a 15 day supply. Prescriptions aren't taxable. OTC meds are. We tried DS on generic, but it didn't work for him. The generic is a lot cheaper, but that doesn't matter if he can't breathe.

I need to start making ice. I am usually lazy and just buy bags of ice, but with the challenge that is not an option. I have lots of ice cube trays so it isn't like I can't do it, just that it is kind of a pain. But the whole goal of the challenge is to stop spending money on convenience items, which honestly eat up a lot of the grocery budget. I just need to remember to actually do it.

We lost another rabbit. Our red buck. After having to put two down a couple of weeks ago, this just was devastating. I didn't know he was that sick or we would have put him down with the other two. He only had one symptom and he seemed to be responding to treatment.

We only have 3 other rabbits that got sick. Coccidia is super contagious, but they are away from the pregnant rabbits, thankfully. One is completely free of symptoms and the other two are getting another round of Corid. Both are eating well and one is gaining back the weight she lost, but has diarrhea. I will have to pick dandelion leaves for her tomorrow and give her blackberry canes as well. Those help with it.

I won't put those rabbits back into the breeding program until they have been free of symptoms for 8 weeks. Even with Persephone, who is better, trying to get her back in too soon may put stress on her that is enough to cause it to reoccur.

So now we don't have any red bucks and no way of breeding more. I'm not ready to bring any new rabbits in, not with the outbreak. Leo is still not well enough to breed does, so Starbuck is the only one on duty right now. We have 4 red does (2 of which are Wildfire's daughters so I still have the line, thankfully) and 2 white ones that are healthy. 2 of the red does are due to kindle this week. We do have a lovely little white buck growing up, but I really don't want another white buck. I want a red one or a broken one or a black one.

Tomorrow I am going to do nothing but the basics. Feed and water the animals. Feed and water the children. Be lazy. I think I got enough done today for the whole weekend. I was going to plant radishes, carrots, and peas, but not until I can keep those rotten chicken escape artists from getting out again.

Paycut and Meat Inventory

March 9th, 2016 at 02:45 pm

DH is going to have to take a 9% paycut at work. I am not thrilled about it, but one of the results of having no debt is that it won't send us topsy turvy. That'll be about $715 with my preliminary estimate, which is a big chunk. It means that we won't be able to save as much towards the down payment each month, but we still will be able to save towards it. And we won't have to reduce our 401K percentage either, though of course it will go down in dollars since he won't be making as much.

We still don't know what is going on with the contract and now it looks like we won't know until the end of June. I knew these low oil prices were going to do something to us, and while I don't like it, we can weather it. These cuts sound like they are across the board.

It is harder emotionally since he hasn't had a raise in several years, but health insurance went up every year. Our storage, car insurance, and life insurance have all gone up or are going up in the next month or two.

I don't think we will be able to save anything on the down payment this month. Paying the rest of the medical bills is going to be around $750 (with some of that actually being dental). And we are buying half a hog. I haven't heard from the seller yet this week, but he said the week of the 11th and it is that week, so I figure it will probably be right on Friday. They were estimating it will be around 200 pounds for our half.

I will also be getting all of the leaf fat from the whole hog, as the other person doesn't want any. They don't charge for the fat as they would just have to throw it away. I will render it into lard and then we won't need any cooking oil for the rest of the year, either. We still have beef fat I haven't made into tallow yet, either, so all of that together may take us well into 2017.

We won't have to buy any meat for the rest of the year, though I might still buy a lamb this fall. Right now we still have beef from our quarter cow share, plenty of rabbit meat, maybe 80 or 90 pounds, 2 or 3 whole ducks, and at least 30 pounds of chicken. I will still buy pepperoni and Canadian bacon for pizzas and breakfast sandwiches and if I don't raise a turkey or two this year we'll buy one for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. I'm not sure if we will do meat chickens or not. But otherwise, we will be set.

And the garden will start producing in May and we'll start getting strawberries at the end of May and then go through blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, plums, and apples so that will help, too. I see our grocery bills going way, way down.

I have found an English Muffin recipe that is easy and tastes great, so now I can completely do homemade breakfast sandwiches for a fraction of the cost. I love doing these because they are filling, but are a controlled amount of calories. I don't have to think about it, I know it is just under 300 calories for ones with Canadian bacon and just under 400 for ones with sausage. I don't get sick of them at all and it is a great way to use up all the duck eggs.

Why is Tomato Sauce so Cheap?

August 31st, 2015 at 10:28 pm

It is amazing to me that 2 3 gallon buckets of tomatoes from the garden, an onion, 2 bell peppers, and 5 cloves of garlic boiled down for 4 to 5 hours are what it takes to make 4.5 quarts of spaghetti sauce. How the heck do they sell it so cheap in the stores? I don't get it.

Even the organic tomato sauce is cheap. Yet tomatoes, even in season like now, are freakishly expensive when you don't grow them yourself. And ketchup? How is ketchup so cheap? I seriously do not get it after all the processing I've been doing.

Oh, well. I now have a total of 4 quart jars, 5 pint and a half jars, and one pint of completely homemade spaghetti sauce. And judging from the tomatoes still on my table and the unripe ones still on the plants, there is no end in sight. It tastes amazing though.

Also Canning and Preserving

August 23rd, 2015 at 10:57 pm

It has been a very busy week for me in the kitchen. I have canned 7 quarts of dill pickles (please, make the cucumbers stop now), 13 pint and a half jars and 1 pint jar of green beans, 5 quarts of rabbit meat, and 14 quarts of Yukon Gold potatoes. I made a batch of rabbit jerky.

I have chopped and frozen several quart size baggies worth of bell peppers and onions, and made a quart of salsa from the garden today because I had several tomatoes that were finally ripe all at once.

I am close to the $800 mark on how much produce I have gotten from my organic garden this spring and summer and with these tomatoes ripening it is going to easily reach the $1000 mark. And that doesn't even take into account the numerous acorn and sweet meat squashes coming on. This was so worth the $400 it took to build this garden.

Tomorrow I have to make bone broth from all the rabbit bones and then I will need to can it the next day. I want to try to get another 20 pounds of potatoes canned and another 20 pounds of green beans. And I think next week will be the start of some serious tomato harvesting and canning, too.

We will be butchering chickens at that point, too. None too soon as some of them are starting in with mini-crowing. Nothing loud and it's pretty pathetic rooster cries, but we want to keep it that way and get it done before they start waking the neighborhood.

Fortunately I can easily can diced tomatoes and salsa. Sauce and ketchup will just have to wait until the chickens are done. Since we will have a plucker, I think we can get through 15 to 20 chickens a day. Should take us 3 to 4 days to do it. DH can butcher 8 rabbits in an hour. Chickens are more work than that, but I think we can spend about 3 hours a day on it and get it done pretty easily. Or at least quickly.

We get our 1/4 of a beef on Friday. I've made enough room in the freezer by canning a lot of the rabbit meat that was in there over the last few weeks. There will be room for our 30 chickens, too.

It will be nice not to have to buy much in the way of meat (pretty much just seafood and bacon) for the next half year or so.

Harvesting and Preserving

August 13th, 2015 at 12:11 am

I was able to do a little more today without completely feeling like my head was in outer space, but I kept my son with me or my mother with me while I did things. I had top pick green beans, about 3 pints worth and then I pulled out the spent vines, which was about 1/4 of them and fed them to the birds who will love me forever for it, or at least until tomorrow.

I picked 3 jalapenos and about a dozen strawbrerries and a yellow crookneck squash and then watered the 3 large beds for the day.

Then I took my son to the front yard and had him pick the zucchini and our first front yard yellow crookneck squash. I still can't bend down without getting dizzy and in the front yard I can't sit down at a chair to work since everything is in the ground and not raised beds.

Then he picked a bucket full of cucumbers. There are cantaloupe coming and loads of acorn squash and the sweet meat has squash on it, too, now. One of the vines had climbed up a stalk of corn and was making it's way across the top of several other stalks so we had to unwind and disconnect it, then redirect to the ground. These squashes will get too heavy to be airborne!

Then after a break he brought the 8 rabbits that had been thawing in the fridge to the freezer and I cut the meat off the bones of all the back legs and back pieces. We had half the front legs for dinner tonight and I refroze the other 8 front legs for another night when we want barbecue "wings." The rib cage pieces are soaking in a brine and we will have them for dinner Thursday night as southern fried rabbit.

I took the meat that I had deboned and it filled 5 quart jars and then I canned them. That will make for some nice stews, enchiladas, and pulled rabbit for future meals this fall and winter. Tomorrow I will roast the bones and then start another pot of bone broth going that I will also can. It'll have to be after my doctor's appointment tomorrow, though. I will also can the green beans I picked today. I should have 2 pint and a half jars there.

I need to pull out 8 more bags of rabbit meat to defrost from the freezer. I am trying to get as much canned as possible between now and when our 1/4 beef share is ready at the end of the month and also have room for the meat chickens we will be butchering in September. And then make sure there will be room for the turkeys we will order. We will be canning some of the hamburger and some of the beef roasts as well. Having so much canned meat on hand makes the school year go so smoothly where meals are concerned.

I need to try to make it over to the canning sale as well. 2 stores are having one and it's about the same so I'll go to whichever one I am closest to. I also want to buy some carrots to can. What I grow won't be enough. I'm down to 3 or 4 jars of carrots so it is very low.

The only thing I'm lower on is potatoes. And from the looks of what Mom dug up today, I will probably need to order potatoes to make up for it. Probably 50 pounds and then again 50 pounds later in the season. I'd really like to have 104 quarts of potatoes on the shelves before I'm through. That will allow us to have potatoes twice a week. 156 quarts would be more ideal, but I'm not sure if that will happen or not.

It sounds like a lot to be doing, but the kids will be helping me and so will Mom. We'll get it done and I will take rest as I need it.

JMF Deposit and More Garden Rambling

July 23rd, 2015 at 10:52 pm

$2952.13 Starting Balance
+__10.00 Weekly Deposit
+__91.50 Coin Jar and Egg Money
--------------------
$3053.63 New Balance

Less than $1000 to go. Feels good to finally hit the $3000 mark. $946.37 to come up with before the end of the year.

Things are going well in the food preserving department. I am canning green beans and dehydrating many herbs daily. I have several prepared for making teas, some in oil infusions, and some just dried and ready for making medicines.

The tomatoes are filling up with green fruit. I am anxious to see it turn red or yellow. The peppers are putting on good fruit as well. I hope when it is all ripe we will be able to provide all our tomato needs for the year, between diced, sauces, and salsas.

Even more zucchini is coming on, as are cucumbers, and summer squash. In another day or two I will have enough cucumbers to make a batch of bread and butter pickles for DH. I don't care for them, but I have enough dills on the shelves to make a few jars of what he likes for him.

I don't think I'm going to can corn again this year. I think I will cut it off the cob and either freeze or dehydrate it. Maybe both. Neither of the kids seem to like the home canned corn. It's okay, but not as good as TJ's canned corn. I may end up just feeding it to the birds.

I am looking forward to when the winter squash start to bloom as well. I love watching how fast they grow. Actually the watermelon has been growing at that rate. I can't believe we will actually have watermelon this year.

I still want to purchase a side of beef this fall. Just don't know how practical that will be. We'll see in a couple of months.

January Money Fund Deposits 2 & 3 and Some Garden Stuff

July 16th, 2015 at 09:43 pm

$2907.63 Starting Balance
+__34.50 Coin Jar and Egg Money
+__10.00 Weekly Deposit
----------------------
$2952.13 Ending Balance

$1047.87 to go to hit my goal of $4K.

It's a slow build, but I am getting there. I still haven't gotten new tires, even though I have the money in the tire fund. We were going to get them last week while DH was home and then he was only home for one week instead of two and it just didn't happen.

I am not driving much, though, with school out, just to the grocery store or the library, PT and the chiropractor. I am maybe driving 10 miles a week right now. And it's not like the tires are bald or anything, just getting to the needing to be replaced point.

My green beans are getting ripe. I harvested a couple quarts this morning. I've picked 5 zucchini this week, only one of which was a monster, and two large bunches of radishes. My biggest watermelon is now bigger than a tennis ball. Yesterday it was about half that size so you have an idea of how fast it is growing. The snap peas are winding down but I am still getting a handful every other day or so. Lettuce, chard, and kale are still going crazy.

I am harvesting and drying sage, yarrow, dandelion leaves, dandelion roots, basil, calendula, thyme, lemon balm, and marjoram. I bought the book (well, with a gift card I got for Christmas) Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide and I am really learning a lot so far. It took me forever to find any herb books. There were 14 different books on growing pot in the local B&N (cause it's legal here, though I recall seeing a few in the garden section a few years ago before it was) and only 3 on herbs and one was on cooking with them and the other was far too technical for where I'm at. I am saving herbs for culinary and medical uses, some for medical use in the rabbits, like blackberry and raspberry leaves, dandelion, and comfrey.

In reading this book and seeing these remedies I am kind of starting to understand why that little old lady who lived in the woods in the 1700's and had all these healing things at her fingertips might have been considered magical or even a witch. Traditional medicine was nowhere near "there" yet at the time. It must have seemed like something very "other" to those without the knowledge of how to use it.

I'll just be happy if I can do something to clear up some of my colds, allergies, and skin issues, because traditional doesn't work for me. I still need to learn more about essential oils as well and maybe even learn how to make them myself from herbs, though that is a long way down the road as I don't have the space to grow that amount of herbs here.

CCF (I think) had asked what I am doing with essential oils and the only thing I have done so far is to make flu bombs, 5 drops of melalucca oil, 5 drops of oregano oil, 3 drops of lemon oil, and 3 drops of On Guard in a size 00 capsule taken at the onset of flu symptoms or colds, 3 x per day with meals (otherwise you will burp it up all day long) for 48 to 72 hours. It does shorten the duration. It doesn't prevent them, unfortunately, but shorter is better.

Anyway, that's a bit of what I've been up to. I've been making vlogs almost daily on my youtube channel, but not blogging as much as I should be, either here or on the farm blog. There is just so much to do it is easier to just talk into a camera for a few minutes a day than to find the time to sit down and write. But I miss it so I'll try to find the time to sit down and write a little more often.





Finally Bought My Excalibur

July 7th, 2015 at 10:40 pm

I have been saving up my Swagbucks for a while and finally had enough Amazon gift cards to pay for about half of the deluxe model of Excalibur Dehydrator, the one with both temperature settings and a 26 hour timer with automatic shut off. I was trying to go for the whole thing to be free, but then my piece of junk dehydrator quit working. I am in the middle of herb drying season and while I can borrow my mother's cheap piece of junk dehydrator, and did, to keep limping along, it was the push I needed to just go ahead and make the purchase.

I had $121.75 in gift cards and it cost $225. I also had to purchase the fruit leather trays because they don't come with any model of the machine. Well, maybe the $500 professional one, but no. I ended up paying a total of $156.63. Part of that was tax of $20.76 and then the trays were $32.62 (for 9) and the rest was the part of the dehydrator not covered by the gift cards.

With the fruit leather trays I can dehydrate tomato puree, mashed squash, even chicken stock all to be ground to make powders. Dehydrated chicken stock put through a spice grinder makes boullion powder without any of those nasty chemicals from store bought versions. As well as very tiny herb leaves like thyme or flower petals like calendula without having to worry about them falling through trays.

Right now I have 5 trays of basil dehydrating which will be followed tomorrow by more calendula, lemon balm, and yarrow. I am hoping that I won't have to buy many herbs this year at all and I will be able to make salves and other herbal remedies. I'm already on my way with the calendula:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nf1XLNCzj0

I did dry all of my oregano in bundles up on the wall and not in the dehydrator. If you'd like to see how I process that I did a video of it, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4hUBym8C2c

Herbs are so expensive for such a tiny amount, especially if you want organic. I will really be saving a lot of money this year by growing so many myself.

I'm really getting into herbal healing, doing a lot of research and trying to figure out what works best for my needs. Heaven knows the store bought remedies are not working well for me. While I don't think herbs are going to be a miracle cure, so far from what I've done myself with essential oils, they do seem to work. I will approach it with healthy skepticism until I have first hand experience with all of it.

I went to Joe's Garden and bought some broccoli and cauliflower and green onion plugs and got those planted today to replace all the ones I've harvested. I also bought some more basil plants. I spent $25.38 there.

I haven't been updating much on the garden output as I've just been trying to keep up with it and getting it eaten and/or preserved. But I've been keeping a tally and so far I've harvested enough food to equal $602.50 if I bought the same thing in the organic section of the grocery store.

And the zucchini, summer squash, peppers, beans, corn and tomatoes are just starting to fruit and we still have potatoes and winter squash, cucumbers, watermelon, sunflower seeds, and cantaloupe to come. We have now paid back the amount we spent on building the raised beds and the money we spent on bringing in three cubic yards of good organic soil. I am beyond thrilled at this garden year.

We had two litters of rabbit kits born this weekend. There were five whites born on the 3rd and 7 reds born on the 4th. The red runt died, though. It had no sucking reflex and couldn't nurse. But we still have 11 healthy kits. One of the rabbits didn't deliver though. Sometimes when it is too hot the bucks will go temporarily sterile. This is the second time this has happened this year, though it was a different doe each time. I am glad I am breeding 3 pairs at a time.

I've got orders for fertile turkey eggs. The first one will be filled tomorrow. It's just two. Then I have an order for 12, then 2, then 12 again. It's only 50 cents an egg. I could charge more, these are heritage breed turkeys and rare, but I am in it more for breed preservation than for making money. It's nice having a waiting list. I just wish I had more than one female so I could fill orders faster, but we don't have the space for it so that will have to wait until we buy our farm and move.

Garden and Eat from the Pantry Challenge

June 9th, 2015 at 03:12 pm

I feel like I am starting to settle into a routine now between the garden and the farm chores and making all of my meals from what is available here and not by making a quick run to the store or getting take out. As the garden moves into heavier production more time needs to be spent there.

I have harvested a pound of snow peas from the garden this week, 2 bunches of kale, 1 head of lettuce, 2 bunches of green onions, and 3 kohlrabi. My broccoli is getting close to harvest size, which astounds me. It is all so early, but with this weather, I can't blame it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzII-hvqugA

I am enjoying the cooking this week more than I have in a long while. I don't know if it is just access to super fresh ingredients from the garden or knowing it is all food I grew and/or preserved myself, but it feels different. I haven't felt any resentment over cooking like I sometimes do. I mean I love cooking, but I am often irritated when it all falls on me. This last week I don't seem to care about that. It's like an attitude has shifted. Of course the children are helping far more than they ever have before so maybe that is why?

Some things were quite challenging since the hot water tank that feeds the main kitchen went out and had to be replaced. We couldn't use the dishwasher and every pot and pan that we cooked in had to be hauled down to the half-kitchen that had hot water. That went on for 5 days, but we got a new tank put in and had hot water again last night.

As promised here is the video of my meals for the first week of the challenge:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEWnzVbQ7UA

I am looking forward to the rest of this challenge. It is good to be feeling so positive about it.

DH Got the Overtime Okayed

June 1st, 2015 at 10:03 pm

So DH texted me and they found a bed for the extra four nights so we won't have to worry about the four days he had to take off to be home for DD's graduation. I won't have to touch the college fund, the January Money Fund, or the Emergency Fund. So now I can focus on building the JMF and the Tire Fund with no stress hanging over my head. Or at least no more stress than usual. Which is quite a relief.

I sold 2 dozen duck eggs this morning for $9. I gave her a discount since she brought me a dozen egg cartons.

We had one litter of kits born today. Ruby had 5 reds. We are still waiting on Serenity and Phoebe to have their litters. They were due on Sunday, so they are overdue now. Phoebe has pulled fur, but other than building a very nice nest, Serenity shows no signs of being in labor. Hopefully I will come out to more kits in the morning.

As I said in my meal planning post I am going to try to go the whole month eating only from the Pantry/Freezers/Garden. I did go and buy flour and sugar today. I will only buy milk, but I will go u-pick some strawberries to make jam as I won't miss out on making jam for the year when the local berries are in season. I do have a jar of pectin so I won't need to buy that for making jam.

I picked my first snow peas today. I am so happy to have them. We will have them in this week's stir-fry dinner. It is only one serving's worth, so if we put it in the stir-fry we'll all get to have some. We should have a ton more in a couple days and then we can each have a serving of them.

Garden Results and Farm Sales

May 27th, 2015 at 10:33 pm

So on Sunday I harvested the equivalent of 2 heads of lettuce and 1 bunch of kale and today I harvested the equivalent of 3 heads of lettuce, 1 bunch of Asian stir-fry greens, 1 bunch of sorrel and 1 bunch of kale. The equivalent in the grocery store for organic produce would be $21. That brings my total harvest so far this year to:

$64.50

And it's not even June, yet.

I sold 7 more turkey eggs for 50 cents each, so $3.50. I have someone coming to buy 2 dozen duck eggs on the weekend.

Today I gave my FIL 3 dozen duck eggs, 1 bunch of kale, and some lettuce and sorrel. He will give SIL some of the duck eggs.

How the main garden is doing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoRqDsCJoQ0

We have rabbit kits due this weekend. I gave the three pregnant does nesting boxes last night and washed the cages the night before that. We are as ready as we can be.

Shopping in the Garden

May 16th, 2015 at 06:20 pm

We put a lot of money into building raised beds this year, and an additional $75 into bringing in good soil to put on top of our manure and spent bedding and compost. Add to that all the little t's and elbows and splitters, and hose for the irrigation system (which would have been far more without the soaker hoses we had on hand already). And while we just might break even this year, it'll be towards the end of the season. But for the next years our only costs should be seed and a few six packs of transplants.

I have been harvesting 4 types of lettuce, spinach, violas, 3 types of sorrel, and Asian stir-fry greens for the last 3 weeks. It is all cut and come again types of vegetables, so I can't compare it based on heads of lettuce, but based on the packages of organic romaine you can buy at the store that cost $4 and last me 3 days, I have now saved myself $28 in organic lettuce costs with far more variety.

I have harvested and dried enough basil to fill a normal sized spice jar. Ditto on oregano. And I have used enough thyme to correlate to one of those $1 plastic packs they have at the store. So add $13 altogether for that.

Then I harvested enough for one bunch of organic kale, $2.50

Garden savings so far: $43.50.

And that more than pays for half the soil.

Video Dump...

May 15th, 2015 at 01:31 am

...so you can see what I've been up to when I'm not stressing out over DD's medical issues.

Bird Update:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M5DFKIb0yI

The Raised Bed Garden:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDfnEC9NMyI

The kits at the 3 week mark.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Vgqo71yBps

The Raised Bed Garden Again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF5zboB5d18

The Gutter Garden and George
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itgDoO_lJBg

3 Sisters Garden and Potato Garden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hk6FNSuI8sg&spfreload=10

Gina, who thinks she is a duck.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUBlY0FBOJI

Fruit Garden
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCjLJ3mzs1o

Busy, Busy

April 28th, 2015 at 12:41 pm

That is how life has felt lately. I've done a lot and had a lot more still left to do.

I have sold $72 worth of rabbit meat and 2 dozen duck eggs for $9 (discounted .50 each since they brought their own egg cartons). I have also traded 10 fertile duck hatching eggs for 14 calendula starts. It was supposed to be 12, but there were a couple extra plants hitchhiking in.

The garden is doing beautifully. I have got lots of things planted and I am hardening off four trays of my seedlings and have four more trays under the lights. They have done great and almost everything I planted has sprouted. I think I have a germination failure rate of 1 out of 50 seeds so far. Except for the green onions, but I have to be patient. Those can take 14 days to germinate from seed. So they still might come up. That was old seed though so who knows?

I've got my carrots, zucchini, and yellow summer squash planted. All of the garden beds have been built and all but two have been fully filled. The irrigation system has been put in to everything but those last two beds. We will finish those up when DH comes home towards the end of next week.

We had 3 litters of rabbit kits born a week ago Sunday. One died due to an improperly nipped umbilical cord, so we have 14 live ones in this batch.

We have let the turkeys come out to free range for a few hours a day on days it is not raining. They are enjoying hanging with the other birds. I let them out mostly in the afternoons. Gina lays her egg around 5 p.m. and if she is in the coop she will lay it from the perch, which means splat. If she is outside she will lay it on the ground. She is not laying consistently yet.

I have made a ton of videos for my other blog, so thought I'd share them here as well. Most of them are pretty short.

Newborn litters: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmHkqdzSD9k

The turkeys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlIvIEF8jJ8

Raised Bed Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMN9vIWLxZc

Gutter Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2f1IhwwwWU

Kits at 5 days old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmB_RYTzaoA

Kits at 8 days old (fully furred) and 8 weeks old: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFc6aF7xuP0

Garden Work

April 11th, 2015 at 05:00 pm

I'm not sure I'm going to get a chance to sit down and write one really long blog post this weekend to update everything, so I thought I'd try to get some snippets in of what has been going on and some things DH and I have decided on.

We moved 1 cubic yard of dirt today. We have completed one 8 x 4 foot garden bed and 3/4 of another one. Unfortunately the dirt place closes at 4 on Saturday and we didn't finish getting it unloaded until 3:45. I think it is kind of silly for a business that sells topsoil, compost, bark, etc., to close that early on a Saturday. Especially in spring. Especially when they are only open until 5:30 on weekdays. Especially when they are not open at all on Sundays.

So now we have to wait until Monday to get anymore dirt. It is okay, really, as I won't be planting those beds until May 1st or so, but I still wanted to get it done, have a few days for it to settle and see if we need to add more. We lost all day Friday due to rain and 35 mile per hour winds with gusts up to 60.

DH and I are going to build 3 more 8 x 4 foot beds this weekend. At least one will be built after supper tonight.

Yesterday we bought what we needed to get the irrigation system set up along with the wood for the beds we are going to build. It came out to $259.76. Plus the dirt for $25. It's a lot but we will be able to use it for years to come and we will be able to take it all with us (including the soil) when we move. And it is so worth it to have 2 foot tall beds.

I did all the shoveling on a badly hurt foot. I got it caught under something without realizing it as I was stepping upwards, so pulled it very hard up against the underside of a platform. It made a little snapping noise, but I don't think I broke anything. It was on the side of my bad knee and this also jarred and twisted the knee, which uses any excuse to swell up, and jarred the hip, too. I did this on Thursday.

You wouldn't think something like that would hurt so much, but it does. There is a massive bruise and swelling. I wore an ace bandage ($5 for one that actually had clips and is reusable, those self-grip ones are useless after five or six wearings) on my foot and ankle and my knee brace while we worked. I am keeping ice on it while we rest. I can't really afford to stay completely off it as we need to get this stuff done while DH is home and before it is time to plant in earnest.

A Long Week

April 1st, 2015 at 01:52 pm

I didn't realize its been a week since I've read any of the blogs. I have a lot of catching up to do. You guys have been super active!

I've been working on the garden.

http://youtu.be/ZuvIwvf0Obk

I've made more progess since making that video, actually getting lettuce, kale, snow peas, onions and leeks planted.

The stuff I started from seed is doing great, too. All of the tomatoes are chugging along. I added more soil to their containers as they were getting quite tall, but only have their seedling leaves. The lettuces are starting to push forth their true leaves and all of the kale seeds I planted had sprouted within 24 hours. Now I am just waiting on the chard seeds that I planted the same day as the kale seeds.

I also have peppers seeds going, but I'm not sure how well they are doing. I planted them the same day as the kale and chard, but they can take 14 days to germinate. I have them on a heating pad, but I think I need to get a true heat mat for them. They are in a warm room and getting plenty of moisture. They are supposed to be the most problematic seeds to germinate. I do have another trick up my sleeve using a crockpot set to warm that I saw on youtube.

I got a $10 check from Pinecone so that will go into the EF today on my way to pick up the kids. I have someone coming by to purchase eggs on Thursday, but my son gets the proceeds from every 3rd dozen, so I'll only get some of it, and it may be discounted if she brings her own egg cartons. I do 50 cents off if they bring their own cartons.

Not too much else going on here. I am mostly working on the garden and taking care of the animals.

It's Officially Ours

March 16th, 2015 at 05:13 pm

The title to the van came today, so it is officially ours. We will go to talk to our insurance agent tomorrow and show him the title so we can adjust our vehicle insurance. It's taken a load off not to have that debt there anymore. You'd think I'd be floating with all the changes that have happened this month.

We are busy building raised beds for the garden. And this time I really do mean we. I am getting more comfortable using power tools, figuring out the leverage I need for the drill, when to stop so the screws don't go through the wood too far. I am also figuring out the measuring by watching how DH does it. I've never really paid attention before on how he does it so you can keep your line straight down 8 feet of board.

I want to know how to operate things in case I am ever on my own when repairs need to be made and they can't wait while DH is away. And since women generally live longer than men, one day I may not have him to do it for me, so it is best to be prepared, even if that is likely decades away at this point. Plus I like building things. Shop class was one of my favorite classes in middle school.

We did figure that if I am going to be able to use a PVC cutter, though, it needs to be electric or a ratchet style. My grip is not strong enough to do a regular one. This is due to when I tore ligaments and tendons in my hand when I was in my early 20's. The grip will always be weaker than if I had not sustained the injury. I have to use ratchet style pruners for the same reason.

So far we've built 3 raised beds, all 8 feet long by 2 feet high by 2 feet wide. They are all filled up to the 1 foot high mark with rabbit manure and spent animal bedding. I also did one somewhat like a hugelkultur bed, with some old tree branches in the bottom. It's deep enough that it won't interfere with planting. As the wood rots it raises the temperature of the soil in that bed. It's an experiment. We'll see if it works.

DH went to get soil so we will hopefully finish those beds up tonight. I need to get my strawberry plants in the ground. They have been sitting in a box since the came on Friday. I did water them, but the longer they are out of the ground the worse it is for them.

DH and I built a light stand for seedlings last week and I finally got some of my seeds planted today. I planted tomatoes, ten each of the following varieties:
--Opalka
--Constoluto Genevese
--Lillian's Yellow Heirloom
--Abraham Lincoln

They are all organic seeds, all open-pollinated heirlooms. I planted twice as much as I need so that hopefully I will have five of each one. I can sell any extras in a plant sale.

I also planted two types of lettuce: Flashy Trout's Back Romaine and Hyper Red Ruffled Waved Looseleaf Lettuce. Both are heirloom, organic, and open-pollinated.

I still need to do some chard and some kale starts. And I want to get some radish and bunching green onion seeds into the gutter garden as well. I am excited to be so far ahead of the game this year. Last year was very last minute scrambling to do anything with the garden. This year I'll be ready when the last frost date passes to get growing.

Goals Met This Year

December 6th, 2014 at 02:28 pm

I've been thinking a lot about what I've accomplished this year and what I want to accomplish next year. The last couple of years have been pretty big for us in paying down debt and this year was, too.

Milestones hit in 2014:

--Paying off the Mortgage

--Hitting the halfway mark on paying off the loan to Mom

--Paying down the van loan far enough that we owe less on it than it is worth

--Hitting $10K on the Emergency Fund. It wasn't there for long, but it was there, and it will be again by the end of this year so I count that as a win.

We have also made great strides towards becoming self-sufficient, though we still have a long way to go. What happened this year:

--Expanding the farm to four types of livestock as well as building the housing for those animals

--Butchering chickens, turkeys, and ducks for our own consumption (joining the rabbits we have been doing previously), so we almost never have to purchase meat (just the occasional beef and pork)

Joining a Bartering and Sales group within the local farm community, within which I have been able to sell rabbit breeding stock, rabbit livers for dog food, duck eggs, and barter for raw goat's milk cheddar and chevre, natural homemade salves, and beef

Found a processing facility that is WSDA approved AND nearby so if we want to move into meat sales next year, we can

Grew a marginally successful organic garden that netted 80 pounds of potatoes, 20 pounds of tomatoes, 8 quarts of green beans, 2 quarts of yellow beans, excessive amounts of lettuce, kale, and leeks, 15 bunches of green onions, enough parsley (still drying) for a year, 12 heads of broccoli, 5 heads of cauliflower, 1 pound of chard 1 dozen kohlrabi, 10 pounds of cucumbers, 30 pounds of zucchini, 35 pounds of sweet meat squash, 5 gallons of blueberries, 10 quarts of raspberries, 3 gallons of blackberries, enough apples for 80 pints of applesauce and 22 quarts of pie apples, and 10 pounds of Italian plums. This provided nicely for us and our animals.

All in all, the year has been a lot more successful than it has felt at times. I think we can be very happy with what we have accomplished.

Payday Report and Farm Report

November 8th, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Yesterday was payday.

$1800.00 BoA VISA
__800.00 Van Loan plus extra
__400.00 to Mom for utilities
___90.00 Medical
__100.00 Property Tax Fund
__100.00 Propane Fund
__110.84 120 pounds of Organic Turkey Feed
__112.34 (2 bales hay, 150# of oats and duck/chicken feed
-----------------
$3513.18

Last night frost threatened so I went ahead and harvested my sweet meat squash. I ended up with 4 good squash and the ducks ended up with some that had too much insect damage to store. Right now they are curing at room temperature for 2 weeks and then they will be moved to an unheated room. Sweet meat is storable for 6 to 8 months, with best flavor developing after it has been stored for 2 months, so we will be trying our first one around January. If it turns out we don't like them, which I doubt, we can feed them to the birds.

We should have enough turkey feed for 2 months now, as we are butchering half our turkeys (and one drake) later today. And we should have enough duck/chicken feed for about six weeks. The rabbits will go through the hay in a month and the oats in 2 weeks. Maybe a little longer as we are butchering 8 grow outs tomorrow. But then again, the 18 kits growing out will be eating more as they get bigger, so we'll see.

I've decided for sure not to breed rabbits again until February. I don't want to deal with births when it is very cold out or trying to keep very young kits alive in cold weather. And the rabbits eat a lot more feed in the cold months to stay warm, so it makes more sense to hold off during those time periods, especially since we can breed enough during February through August to meet our meat needs. That also puts our last butcher dates in late November/early December before we get tons of snow or it is always frozen out and hard to work outside. Unless we have some very slow growers, we shouldn't have to butcher after that until May when the weather is much nicer for it.

Garden Bounty Still--Hay Bale Garden

November 3rd, 2014 at 03:19 pm

Because we have not had a freeze yet, the garden has continued unabated. Yesterday I harvested 5 broccoli plants and 3 cauliflower plants. I had thought there were only 2 that were ready, but I found a 3rd that was so was very happy with that. The ducks, chickens, and turkeys were thrilled to get the spent plants. I've got 2 more broccoli and 2 more cauliflower that I am letting size up and then those will be done.

I will be drying parsley later in the week. There are no freezes predicted for the next 10 days, so I am just letting things continue to grow instead of pulling it all out.

I want the leeks to get a little more size before yanking them and using them to make rabbit and chicken stocks. They are useable now, but the bigger they get the more flavorful they will be.

The kale is still going strong. Sometimes kale makes it through the winter here, so I am going to let it try. I am leaving the sweet meat squash as long as I can, though the leaves are dying down so it is just what is left in the vines that is nourishing them. They are almost at 110 days now which is what they should be at for picking.

I haven't had much of a chance to do anything with the straw bale garden yet, except keep picking green beans. There are a couple of peppers that may be ripe and some kohlrabi. I think the zucchini is done. The tomatoes and cucumbers have been done for a while, though the plants are still alive. I will try to get out there and go through that garden in the next couple of days if there is a break in the weather.

Here's a vid of the hay bale garden, though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU2pXbr2QJU&feature=youtu.be

You can really see how it is falling apart and definitely will not hold up for a second season. But it definitely served its purpose. It cut our grocery expenses and helped us put jars of veggies on the shelves and bags of veggies in the freezer, while providing a couple of months of fresh eating.

Menu Planning for the Week

November 2nd, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Our garden is still trucking along. We haven't had a frost yet and I've got two big heads of cauliflower to use and a couple broccoli. We still have green beans, too.

I have easy meals planned for Saturday, since we will be butchering turkeys that day, and Sunday, since we will be butchering rabbits that day. No one really wants to cook on those days, so something simple and easy to prepare is a must or we will end up going out to eat.

Sunday:
Beef pot roast
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Broccoli/cauliflower from the garden

Monday:
Pork chops
Fried potatoes
Green beans from the garden

Tuesday:
Bacon rabbit cheese burgers
Homemade French fries

Wednesday:
Rabbit/Duck Egg meatloaf
Green beans from the garden
Corn

Thursday:
Pancakes and ham

Friday:
Homemade pizza

Saturday:
Tacos

Sunday:
Crockpot ham
Green beans
Canned corn

Potato Harvest and Baby Bunnies

October 1st, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Yesterday we dug up the potatoes. We had planted 15 pounds of organic seed potatoes and our yield was 83 pounds, so a bit over 5.5 pounds per pound planted. While that is a good yield, I now know that we will have to plant far more next year to meat our family's needs for the year. We can easily go through 5 pounds of potatoes a week.



The baby rabbits are doing well. They are 3 weeks old and growing very fast. I am happy to report that all 19 are still alive and kicking. You just never know with kits and it is common to lose a few along the way. Rabbits have a fragile immune system which is why they have such a high birth rate and frequency, so the species will continue.

I do have one kit with an eye infection. It is pretty bad, but it does finally seem to be starting to improve. I bumped up treatment to 3 times a day instead of twice and it is making a difference, although there is still more stuff coming out of the eye than I have ever seen, that is after soaking it long enough to get the crusties off and unseal the eyelid.

I had to spend $30 on vet supplies, but it is worth it. If I don't do the work now, the rabbit will end up blind in that eye. I know that as a meat rabbit he doesn't have that long of a life, but I want the life he does have to be as good as possible, so fixing the eye is a priority to me.

I'll leave you with a cute, short video of the kits nursing:

http://youtu.be/oHp_MOx6tVg

and another short vid of what some of our odd potatoes looked like:

http://youtu.be/EVY2QZMVdD0

Hay Bale Garden Update and Farm Dreams

September 22nd, 2014 at 01:35 pm

I've been able to get out and do some serious work in the gardens this week. I've got a lot of food coming in, though never in the huge quantities I had expected for some of it.

The hay bale garden has been far more successful than the straw bale garden. It has had far less weeds and the growth has been phenomenal in comparison. So next year I think I will skip planting in straw bales at all and just go with the hay bales, if I do this again.

So far I've yielded $357.25 of organic produce over the price of my start up costs for the gardens. Next year if I start things from seeds instead of buying organic transplants, start up costs will be lower. Since I got started late though, I did the transplants to catch up some time.

http://youtu.be/N_5RvnetdYc

If all goes well with the house sale and if we find a small farm and if we can actually buy it before next spring, I will be building raised beds out of rabbit bedding and rabbit manure, which can be used right away, and setting up compost piles for the bird waste and bedding, since it needs to compost for at least six months before using. We will use wire and t-posts instead of wood to keep things loosely in place and will build it up at least 3 feet tall. With the amount of bedding we could compost in place that will be by far a better method. Then we will have deep mulch as it breaks down to between 1/2 and 1/3 of its original size. It'll still be a foot off the ground so I can pull up a chair to do my gardening.

I'm not going to rush buying a farm, though. We may need longer than that even if the house sale does go through. I want to make sure I find the right place and that we have a big enough down payment that we are not struggling at all with making a mortgage payment again.

I am picky about what I want. It has to have a well for water. It needs to have either a creek or a pond on the property, but not too close to the house in case of flooding. It needs to have either a good barn or several outbuildings, preferably one with power and water, but at the very least power. It needs a house that is one level only, preferably with handicapped accessibility, and at least 1600 square feet with a minimum of 3 bedrooms, though I'd prefer 4, and 2 bathrooms.

The kitchen needs to be of a decent size for canning and processing meat. It needs adequate pantry storage. It needs a garage and no basement as most basements around here have flooding issues. It needs a wood stove and a propane or gas stove. It needs garden space, fruit trees and nut trees, and at least 2 acres of pasture and 2 acres of wooded land. Fencing around the pastures is a must. It needs a good site for a green house for aquaponics and growing dwarf citrus trees, and a good site for solar panels and possibly a wind turbine. Wants, but not must haves are a willow tree and a flowering cherry tree or two.

We will probably buy 5 acres, though if we can save up enough, I'd prefer 10. We don't ever intend to move again after buying our farm so I want it to be right or at least easily able to be made right, like planting my own fruit trees and nut trees, willow tree, and flowering cherry trees.

Wiped Out--School and Garden Update

September 4th, 2014 at 09:14 pm

I am so tired. My body does not want to adapt to the new routine. I can't seem to get to sleep before 2 or 3 a.m., the sleep I get is surface sleep, not restful at all, and then I am having to get up at 7. And then after the kids get off to school and I take care of all the animals, I can't get back to sleep for a nap. I don't understand it, because I've been asleep by midnight pretty much all summer.

School is going great for the kids so far, though. They are both really enjoying their teachers and classes. And it is super nice to have the day to myself. Even if I can't manage to nap.

The garden is going gangbusters. The green beans are starting to produce, but not enough for canning yet. I think I may end up buying some this weekend and then if I have any of my own for canning it'll just be additional. Next year I will plant a lot sooner. Things just kind of got away from me in the spring and I didn't get going soon enough.

I plan on getting 40 pounds of tomatoes this weekend, too. While my tomatoes produced, it has never really been with much. The most I could can at any one time was 3 pints. I just ended up making spaghetti sauce and freezing it instead. But I do want to get some diced put up and maybe make a batch of ketchup. The Indigo Rose tomatoes have been fantastic. I am not one for eating raw tomatoes usually, but these ones taste sort of like melons with a rich tomato flavor added in. I will grow them again, along with the Russian Moskovich, but I will not grow the other two varieties I bought again.

I have some great zucchini, leeks, sweet meat squash, green onions, broccoli, cauliflower, and kohlrabi. The cukes are slow, but I'm getting 2 to 4 a week. I have more peppers coming but don't know if there will be time for them. I hope there will at least be time for them to be green if they can't get all the way to red.

On the spending front, I spent $90 at physical therapy today and $55.48 for a tank of gas.

I am expecting babies sometime between tomorrow and Sunday. I've got 3 pregnant rabbits due to kindle. I hope all goes well. Tomorrow is day 30. My rabbits have gone anywhere from day 30 to day 33. Average is 31 days, though.

Two of my Barnevelders are laying eggs now. They are about half size, but are getting bigger. They are cute, perfect little eggs. All of the ducks are laying now and Addy's eggs are finally full-size. I am getting 1 to 2 chicken eggs and 3 to 5 duck eggs a day. I sold 2 dozen duck eggs earlier this week for $5 a dozen. I am selling enough duck eggs now to pay for one bag of organic layer feed a month. The ducks and chickens go through a bag about every 2 weeks.

Tomorrow is payday and I am very glad of it. I've got a lot to get done. It'll be nice to be able to get most of it out of the way without the kids underfoot.

Long Morning

August 29th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Today was a very long morning. I spent it at the high school getting my daughter's schedule changed. It took some doing as the bull dog on the front counter was all, "We don't switch classes because of teachers," and I was, "Well, you better, as this woman is not teaching my child ever again." Finally got in to talk to the counselor and explained how Mrs. Z acted and was the main reason my daughter dropped out of school last year rather than go back and deal with this piece of work and how the woman was instrumental in many aspects of her nervous breakdown.

We never even thought it would be an issue, because this teacher previously only taught home ec, child psychology, interior design, and health, none of which my daughter was taking. But this year she is for some reason teaching English. And plus, we had put in her file that that woman was to never be her teacher again.

Anyway, the counselor, who is new this year (the one who knew the history of the situation retired last year), was sympathetic to her cause and changed her schedule right around. Since she only needs one English credit to graduate, we dropped the one English class entirely and changed the other one to British Literature.

So now my daughter has two free periods first semester, which is actually a good thing, because of the skull fracture that happened August 2. She will only have Algebra 2, which she is repeating as she got a D in it and Chemistry, which she is also repeating from her junior year as she failed the 2nd semester, as her hard classes. She did well first semester, so that will be more of a review for her, but things devolved for the second semester (which was when issues with Mrs. Z began, as well as anxiety attacks and depression that she was told over and over by this teacher don't really exist). Her other two classes will be ceramics and choir.

DD has been on anti-anxiety pills and anti-depressants for several months now and things are going much, much better for her, but she still wouldn't have been able to handle having that woman as a teacher again. And I don't want her anywhere near any of my kids, anyway.

So it was a very stressful way to start the day, but hopefully the stressful part is over. I go to physical therapy in an hour and then hopefully I will have time to get my pickles canned this afternoon.

Last night I picked a dozen tomatoes, another very large zucchini, a red jalapeno, 2 cucumbers, 2 plums, and some green beans. Earlier this week I also picked 2 more zucchini, 3 cucumbers, a broccoli Romanescu, and some green beans. I've earned back the money I spent on the garden now, so anything from here on out is where I start actually saving money by having a garden. Probably tomorrow I will need to pick 2 more zucchini, some kale, and another broccoli Romanescu.

I read that you can grow garlic in gutters, so once everything dies off in the gutters at the end of the season, I will fertilize and top off the dirt in one of them and then around November I will plant garlic cloves 4 inches apart. We do better with garlic if we plant in the fall. Same with onions, but I don't have the space for that. That way I should have a decent crop of garlic next summer and also some lovely scapes.

Here's an update on some of the garden stuff around here and some of the animals. I'll do other gardens later in the week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dwBuVvstvc

More Canning--Applesauce and Corn

August 10th, 2014 at 12:16 pm



So I got another good deal on corn on the cob, better than the first one and ended up with another 11 jars of corn for 33 cents per pint yesterday. My last batch was 54 cents per pint so that was nice. That brings my total of corn on the shelf to 29 jars.

After that I canned 12 pints of cinnamon applesauce. The apples were free from our yard, but they were very tart so we did use quite a bit of sugar and of course some cinnamon. So I am roughly estimating that each pint of applesauce cost about 50 cents to make. That is probably over, but close enough. Since a quart of organic applesauce in the store is around $4, that basically means I saved $3 for every 2 pints I canned.

We only processed 2 of the 5 3 gallon buckets of apple drops we had, so based on that, we should get another 18 jars of applesauce by the time we get through them.

We had one full 3 gallon bucket of waste after doing the apples, all the cores and peels. This bucket went out to the chickens, ducks, and turkeys, and they ate it all over the course of the day. We also saved the cobs from the corn and will be doling those out over the next few days.

Since the apple peels were not in great shape, being drops, I decided not to try to make my own apple cider vinegar from them. I'd rather have freshly picked apples off the tree for that, than ones that have spent time on the ground.

Tomorrow I will pick up some more Yukon Gold potatoes to can. I'd like to get another dozen or so jars on the shelf. I think we are still a few weeks out from harvesting our own since some of them are still blooming.

I need to do a payday report. I've paid all the bills and stuff that needed to be done, but I've been so busy with the canning that I haven't had a chance to sit down and write it up for a blog entry, or to put it into my spreadsheet. I'll try to at least get the latter done today and hopefully the former by tomorrow.


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