Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I have been cooking a lot with lard lately.

I am very interested in not using shortening these days and butter does not always translate well.  I have been making hashbrowns, frying eggs, and sauteing vegetables.  But this has not been the hydrogenated store bought lard, but some I made myself.

A month or so ago I purchased 3 lbs of leaf fat from Jodar Farms at the Boulder County Farmers Market.  I quick search on Google gave directions for using a crock pot to render it.

Now I have rendered lard in the past, but both times I cooked it a little too long on the stove - not only smelling up the house, but creating a light brown product that was only fit for the birds.  (Literally - I made "suet" cakes to hang outside/give to the chickens in the winter

This in mind I ground the fat with the meat grinder then filled the crockpot and turned it on low.  I plugged it in outside, but it turned out to be unnecessary - in an hour the lard was done, no smell.

After straining the cracklins, I poured the lard into a container to cool in the fridge.  The cracklins were placed in a cast iron skillet on the stove.  (2 birds, 1 stone - the pan needed to be seasoned)  Once drained again on paper towels I froze them, for a use as of yet unknown.

Today I am baking my Grandma Lundborg's raw apple cake, using lard in place of the shortening the recipe calls for.

Update 10/7 - cake is gone and a request has been put in for more, so success

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hail protection?

Our own tent city
 The forecast says heavy hail so I spent a couple hours this morning preparing.  I already lost 10 tomato and all the basil I had planted earlier this week.  The rhubarb also looks worse for wear (surprisingly the peas and strawberries faired okay)

Sheets on one side, 1/4 inch hardware cloth on the other (Peas)
I used an entire bucket of clothespins and all the spare wood in the garden + hardware cloth and wire semicircles from the damaged row cover to try to save as much as possible.  I bought all the double, queen and king flat sheets at the thrift store in addition to what we already had on hand.

So far nothing.

Since I am prepared, we won't need it.
Hoops over the strawberries

Monday, May 2, 2016


Hopefully spring is here to stay this time.

It has been snowing and raining for the last 3 days with temperatures hovering around freezing at night.  Happily none of the flowers, including the ones on our neighbor's apple tree, have been affected.  

My favorite of our clematis started blooming before the snowfall, and it was not slowed down in the least.  

Chris and I spent a couple hours this afternoon adding cattle panels to the north fence.  He received to hop vines from the Easter Bunny and they are reputed to grow 20 feet or more. 

tulips that just got planted a nice day in January are blooming also!
While working I tripped over dill starts.  (Yea!)  Last fall I got tired of looking at the stems from the garden sitting on the table outside and tossed them into the landscape.  It spreads terribly in the garden, but on the side yard it will have to fight with vinca, lemon balm, lilies and weed trees.
That is my kind of landscape gardening.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


I really resent bagged feed.

Buying those convenient pellets is just irritating.  But since my friends stopped buying whole grain feed in bulk I have been at a loss for what to do.

Fodder is all over blogs and livestock forums.  Basically it is growing grass from purchased grains.  I read about it here and here and here.

But the local feed store didn't carry grains for sprouting.  (rolled oats and cracked barley were not going to work)

I ended up driving 25 minutes to a small feed store up north and buying 3lb bags of wheat and oats to try.

Following the directions from the above websites I soaked a 1/2 cup of seed and ended up with 4 containers growing.  I read later that oats take forever to sprout compared to other grains - the wheat took 10 days to reach 6 inches and in that time the oats had barely sprouted.

Wheat ready to feed the hens this morning
I fed the girls with the first container this morning.  They went for the leftover cornbread muffin first, not sure what to do with the grass and seeds.  But it was gone in 10 minutes.

They will get their regular layer pellets in the afternoon.

root mat
Early numbers:
3lb wheat seed was $5
1/2 cup of wheat = 3.5 oz = 38¢
3.5oz dry seed = 10.3 oz fodder
Fodder is 3¢ an oz

50 lbs layer pellets is $15
2 cups of pellets = 12.6 oz = 23¢
Pellets are not quite 2¢ an oz

Wheat on the left, oats on the right.  
 You can really see the difference between the 10 day old wheat (above) and the 10 day old oats (bottom right in the blue bin)

Since the fodder does not need light for awhile, I cover the bins with tomato and cabbage starts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The dark days before spring


That title sounds so ominous.

It's not ominous here, just, well, slow.

The garden is planned for the most part.  (there will always be a few last minute "Where the hell do I put these collard greens?"  That we did not specifically plan for.

It is truly to early to plant seeds, even under lights (spoiler alert - we did it anyway, like the aforementioned collard greens.)

The new Seed Savers Exchange yearbook was delivered yesterday (680 pages with no pictures)  I plan to order a few seeds from that, but mostly I am reading it.  (Introduction of Thumbs Heath was inspiring)  In fact we have all the seeds we need this year so I am not quite as excited as usual by the catalogs that have arrived.

But March is just around the corner.