Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Yes, I got sidetracked (There was a new NCIS on Hulu!) Yet I finished my kitchen projects:

4 more pints of stewed tomatoes

1 quite tasty doorstop. It didn't raise as much as it should have, but the wheat flour, wheat berries, rolled oats combo is quite good. I have enough dough for one more loaf in the fridge that I will bake up this weekend. Meanwhile this loaf is now being toasted as croutons for the cheesy corn chowder I made for dinner.

7+ quarts of turkeyish stock turned out cloudy. I tried to clarify it with the egg white technique. It didn't work so I just canned it as is since it smelled and tasted fine. Which left me with 6 egg yolks.

These became Butterscotch Pot de Creme for dessert tonight (if they have time to set up) or tomorrow (if they do not).

I even took an hour to weed the bed under the crabapple tree - I threw a couple old zucchini's in it to with the idea of volunteer plants come spring.

puttering in the kitchen

Today I am canning tomatoes. I had frozen all of our romas this summer - not wanting to can in August (go figure). I had forgotten about them until yesterday. I strained them first (the clear pinkish liquid unwanted) then slipped the skins off.

After that is canning turkeyish stock (chicken bones, and some beef bits that were thrown in).

Then baking no knead whole wheat bread that has been in the fridge for 24+ hours.

If I don't get sidetracked (likely) I will have a productive day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

White Cochin

Cochins are known the world over for being big friendly balls of fluff and feathers. They have a profusion of long, soft plumage that makes them seem larger than they actually are. They are brown eggs layers. Although they don't lay very well but are popular because of their sweet personality and fantastic mothering qualities. Cochins became famous in the 1800s when this Chinese breed was given as a gift to Queen Victoria of England, who absolutely adored them. Photo from

#2 on our chick order. 89 days and counting.

On the hen house front, I saw a sign for free wood next to a sheet metal shop and was just starting to dismantle a pallet so it would fit in the minivan when I was informed that that was not the wood they meant. oh well. I will check craigslist tomorrow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Them that's doin'

I am always interested in like minded people (urban farm wise). Mostly I have just found various blogs or books to read, but today I met someone here. She is a Master gardener that has hens and bees! I am so happy to find someone local! On the heels of that thought a "oh my little start up must seems so juvenile" came jogging by, but I stomped on it. One thing I have noticed about gardening/farming type people is that they are more than willing to share their knowledge, and unlike other organizations (save the romance book industry - listen to act one on the link) they want you to succeed.

It is another week of 50 degree highs and mid 30 lows. It feels so much like spring I could cry. Hubby is planting half a dozen lettuce seeds tonight to put under lights - the plan is to move them to South facing windows and see how they do.

Friday, January 14, 2011

more research

Today we looked for quail.

You may remember Mesha has been obsessed with the tiny birds since she saw them soon after we got chicks in MN. Our calendar is now marked with the week they will be available at a feed store an hour SE of here. She wants bobwhites.

We have told her that extra males will be eaten and she seemed to think that was okay. "Of course," she said brushing off the whole concept of killing an animal to eat it. "girls rule, boys drool."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Read this book


Homesteader is not a synonym for martyr. I have to be honest here and say that we have a dryer as well as a laundry line. . . Time spent hanging laundry can be calming, meditative, wonderful, but sometimes you want to - have to! - do laundry at night, or when it is raining. So I'll retain the option to machine-dry, and save the suffering for when the zombies come, thank you very much. Then I will [go] out to hang laundry with an Uzi strapped to my shoulder.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Speckled Sussex

This is a Speckled Sussex Hen (photo from online) it is one of the breeds I ordered from my pet chicken.

Sussex chickens are a heavy breed developed by the English more than a century ago. This variety is called speckled because of the white spangles separated by a black band on the ends of its otherwise dark mahogany colored feathers. They have a reputation of laying 4 large brown eggs a week, and laying through the winter (not all breeds do - only our naked necks did in MN). Also they are fairly calm and easy to handle (a definite bonus with the girls)

We have snow again and my free time has been spent paring down our $300 seed wish list and scoping the neighborhood and craigslist for free stuff for the hen house. I have told a few people our intent to raise hens with shocked reactions. I had not expected this, after all people have horses here in city limits and there are 2 historical farms in town. But I already have a waiting list of people who wish to see the chicks, but maybe the novelty is chickens NOT on a farm. One woman told me she could never eat eggs from chickens she knew. We as a nation are really to far removed from what sustains us.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"you gonna throw that away?"

Today I dismantled 2 wooden plant racks at work - now they are in the minivan instead of the dumpster - mostly for the 6' nearly straight 2x2's. It took 45 minutes (did they really have to use 6" bolts?) and it was nearly dark when I was done.

I paid for it the next morning - my shoulders and arms were so sore. But it was worth it. I know 2x2's are not expensive but I groove on the reuse part of the green mantra.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

new beginnings

My original design for a coop was similar to the shed and the rabbit hutch. But then in late summer Hubby saw this :

If I had been listening, I could have heard the wheels turning.

Then yesterday, on our way home via the alley he stopped 2 doors down and pointed to the back of their garage. Leaning against the wall was 2 sides of a playhouse.

"I could make the hen house with that," he said. "Anyone driving by the backyard would only see a kids' playhouse."

I thought about it briefly and went to the front door of our neighbor and asked if they wanted it.

They did not.

The doorway would face the sidewalk off of the back deck and the "bay window" will face south.

My goal is to gather all the materials for free. And I better get on it cause the new girls will be here April 11.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Drove the girls to school today.

School starts tomorrow.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy 2011!

It was sunny with snow (sigh!) The perfect day to stay inside with reading materials.

We are gardening as a family this year. In previous years Hubby was more interested in the decorative landscape and the girls were only interested in what they could eat or smell.

For the first time we were all going through my stack of gardening catalogs (2 new ones already for this year!) today, curled up with coffee or eggnog. Love & Rockets playing in the background. This was always a solo event in the past - but I heard Juju sighing over the photos and descriptions, amazed at the diversity to be found. She has decided that she wants to grow things that cannot be purchased at the grocery store.

Hubby is taking on the job of seedlings, we want to have enough to barter with like-minded folks hereabouts. He is setting up the lights in an unused corner and planning what beds will be transformed into cold frames. He was writing out his seed wish list when I commented we would have to narrow our choices down before ordering, least our seed bill be in the hundreds. He did some quick adding. "My list is only about $30," he scoffed. "Darling," I said, "You've only looked in one catalog." He harrumphed in reply and went back to perusing.

But our can't live without list so far:
Hubby - Pinot Noir bell peppers & Vital Green spinach
Myself - Purple Passion asparagus & Golden Sweet snow pea
Juju - Mr. Stripey tomato & Cream of Saskatchewan watermelon
Mesha - More strawberries & More flowers (she looked at pictures and squealed mostly)

This new year has started just right as far as I am concerned