Independence Days

Independence Days: Catching Up

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been playing a bit of catch up and getting a lot of chores done around the house.

On the 21st we drove over to the Western slope to go pick peaches, however our four hour (each way) drive proved to be fruitless – quite literally.  We go to the orchard and they had a sign that said they were all out of peaches.  We were pretty upset, especially since we had called ahead of time to make sure there were peaches there.  They said they should have peaches ripe again at the beginning of September, so we are hoping to get the opportunity to go again.

Since we ended up without any peaches on that Saturday, we now had a free Sunday on our hands (we had planned to be processing 150 pounds of fruit).  I scored two bookcases on freecycle that were perfect for our basement.  So we spent a good part of the weekend cleaning and rearranging and organizing.  Went sent probably four garbage bags of stuff to the Goodwill, and there is probably another bag or two to go.  The room still needs some curtains, the rope around the dart board, and a few little extras here and there, but it’s starting to shape up.

This made space in the basement’s second room to store canned goods, Rick’s tools and my craft supplies.  That room is still in progress, as it needs the door rehung, cabinets mounted to the walls, new paint and some major organization.  You can see a glimpse of it in the dartboard picture – it’s gated off and has a strip of ugly green paint on the doorway.  But we made the biggest leaps towards having a put together basement that we’ve done since we moved in seven years ago.

We decided to break down and begin our backyard fencing project as well.  I picked up the lumber on Sunday and Monday we set posts.  Then throughout the rest of the week, we finished the fence for the chickens – and finally after the last 10 months, took down the temporary chain link we borrowed from the neighbor.  We think it turned out pretty nice.

Thursday, we had someone from the botanic gardens come to look around our place so that we could be entered into Denver’s Chicken Coop Tour in October.  We spent a good chunk of time cleaning the yard and gardens this past week as well.   And we’re excited that we will be a part of the tour.

Here’s the update:

Plant something – divided my hyssop and penstemon, moved some irises and a sedum to better homes so they would no longer be choked by my geranium.

Harvest something – eggs, tomatoes, zucchini, cukes, kohlrabi,

Preserve something – Surprisingly little – only corn in the freezer last week, some peppers to the freezer this week.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.

Want Not – shelves for the basement.

Build Community Food Systems – took lots of orders for peaches from friends, registered to participate in the Denver Botanic Gardens Chicken Coop Tour to promote sustainable lifestyles in an urban setting.

Eat the Food – Lots and lots of veggies.  We are getting through nearly everything in a farm share bag.  Lots of cucumbers from the garden.  Broke into the pickled garlic but didn’t love the taste.  The recipe called for sugar but I think the sweet with the garlic is weird.  Bit disappointing, considering we made so much.

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Categories: Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days | 1 Comment

Independence Days: Weeks 20 through 22

We’ve been busy this summer and I’ve not had much time to write about it!

I was privileged to go to a friend’s birth at the very end of July – it turned out to be a long birth and it took me a couple days to recover.  I don’t know how those midwives do it!  Also, we’ve been getting lots of yummy produce from the farm and we’ve been trying not to let any go to waste.

Also we have a lot of veggies coming on from the garden.  Pictured are onions, beets, cucumbers and turnips.

I did make cherry preserves a couple weeks ago with the cherries I got to pick.  Unfortunately I didn’t cook it quite long enough, so it was very thin.  We’ve been using it anyway – we just pretend it’s cherry syrup.  ;)

H was getting worn out from going to the farm on Tuesday and then school on Wednesdays, making Thursday really hard every week, so we switched his school day to Tuesday while E and I are at the farm.  He seems to be doing much better with that schedule, which we are all happy about.

Last weekend we went to the Adams County Fair.  Our friend, Richard, got us tickets to the truck pull and a parking pass, and my mom and Manuel had food coupons and a parking pass as well, so they joined us.  We had a GREAT time.  H loved the truck pull with all the noise and the big trucks (though I was cringing terribly from all the black diesel exhaust I was watching needlessly billow into the air – oy!), and we had a blast riding carnival rides, eating yummy carnival food (like the giant brat Rick got) and playing games.  We stayed until past midnight!  It was a fun treat for everyone.

This weekend I gave the bees their second jar of sugar water.  Originally I wasn’t going to supplement our bees at all, but we started getting a little concerned that they might not get enough honey built up for the winter after their late start this spring.  Not sure if we’ll give them more, but hopefully that will help them get a little extra stored for the winter.

We picked a lot of green grapes from the neighbor this weekend, but I’m not sure what to do with them?  Anyone know of a way to preserve green grapes?  Maybe make raisins?

At any rate, here’s the update:

Plant something – Rick planted beets and spinach in the strip by the driveway.

Harvest something – eggs, turnips, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, green seedless grapes from the neighbor across the alley from us!

Preserve something – cherries into cherry preserves; onions hung up in the crawl space; 4 gallon size bags of corn on the cob and nearly two gallons of beans in the freezer; shredded 35 cups of zucchini: froze 30 cups and made five loaves zucchini bread; dried corn husks for making tamales this fall; made and froze double batches of pizza dough, doughnut dough, potato soup (1.5 gallons).

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.

Want Not – nothing.

Build Community Food Systems – nothing.

Eat the Food – we’ve been grilling pizzas using farm tomatoes, the last of our sausage, and farm basil.  Otherwise, just been enjoying all the yummy summer bounty!

Categories: Beekeeping, Canning and Food Preservation, Childbirth, Food, Garden, Independence Days | 2 Comments

Independence Days: Week 19

The update:

Plant something – nothing planted

Harvest something – eggs, turnips, onions, cucumbers, sour cherries (destined for the dehydrator – and maybe a pie), zucchini.

Preserve something – Finally!  Made 10 quarts and 8 pints of dill pickles, and 7 half-pints of pickled garlic!

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.  We usually have about half of a bag of trash per week – how’s that for not wasting??

Want Not – I feel like I’m really getting better at this food storage bit – what with the elk and getting things in bulk.  Looking for someone to split a bag of quinoa with…

Build Community Food Systems – my friend took me to pick the cherries this week – a tree at her church was just FULL of them – big and plump.  Can’t believe the birds had not eaten them.

Eat the Food – my favorite thing this week:

Chili-Basil Elk and Broccoli over Coconut Rice

1.25 cups jasmine rice
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk plus 3/4 cup water
pinch of salt to taste
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3-4 green chiles, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1 big handful of green beans, trimmed (and cut if you like)
1-1.5 lbs thinly sliced elk (can subsitute beef)
2 tsp dried or 3 TBS fresh basil
1 TBS fish sauce
2 TBS plus 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1-2 tsp sesame oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

In a medium sauce pan, combine the rice, coconut milk, water and salt.  Cover, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 25 minutes.  Combine the fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic in a small dish and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a wok or large skillet heat oil over high and add onions and green chiles.  Saute for 3-4 minutes, and then add broccoli and green beans.  As soon as the veggies start to brighten in color, add the meat and the basil.  Stir often.  Just before the meat is browned completely and not quite cooked through, add the sauce mixture.  Keep stirring for 30 seconds to a minute, until it is fragrant, the meat is done to your liking and the veggies are bright green, but not over cooked.  Serve in a bowl over the coconut rice.

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes, Sustainability | 4 Comments

Independence Days – Week 18

Somehow time is passing me by in weird spurts and gusts.  I’m not sure where my weeks are going, and I keep thinking that I’m off on my week count for Independence Days.  We’re going with the week of July 11th as week 18.  If I’m wrong – then let me know.

The update:

Plant something – nothing planted

Harvest something – eggs, turnips, raspberries and, at the farm, garlic.  Also, Henry picked one orange cherry tomato.  Our onions are about ready too, but we’ve been getting a lot from the farm, so I’ve been dragging my feet on pulling them.

Preserve something – Continued to re-stain the fence.  Also moved everything into one freezer, and unplugged and defrosted the other freezer.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.  Also feeding Josie the elk scraps instead of buying more dog food.  She loves it and we are saving some money too.

Want Not – nothing??

Build Community Food Systems – the new neighbors that just moved in by us saw us cutting up the elk last week.  They brought over some salmon they caught in Alaska to share – in return we gave them eggs!

Eat the Food – we ate lots this week, but I had a zucchini recipe that I tossed together to share this week:

Zucchini Mushroom Frittata

6 large eggs                                                                     2 small or one medium zucchini cut into rounds
1/2 cup ricotta cheese                                                      6-8 ounces mushrooms sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese                                      1/2 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste                                                    4 slices bacon, cut into half-inch pieces
1-2 tsp each dried basil and thyme (or 1 T each fresh)

Combine eggs, cheeses, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.  In a 12″ non-stick skillet, cook bacon and onions over medium-high heat until onions begin to soften and the bacon renders most of it’s fat, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and continue to cook about 5 minutes more until the liquid is evaporated.  Add the zucchini slices and saute until the begin to soften and brown, about 3 more minutes.  Pour egg-cheese mixture over the zucchini mixture.  Stir gently, once to combine.  Reduce heat to medium and let stand.  Cook until the eggs begin to set on top, about 5 minutes.  Run a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan to keep the frittata from sticking to the sides.  If desired, place the pan under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to brown the top.  Transfer the frittata to a plate and serve.


Categories: Food, Independence Days, Recipes | Leave a comment

Independence Days – Weeks 16 & 17

Last Saturday Rick and the kiddos and I decided to go for a hike.  It had been a while since we hit the mountains, and it was really nice to head up there and get out of the heat for a while.

On the way home, we saw a motor-home pulled off on the shoulder on the Southbound side of 285.  They had just hit an elk.  Rick turned around and offered to help them and then we waited for the sheriff and the state patrol to show up.  Rick asked the state patrol for a roadkill tag and then we headed over to the center median where the elk was at to salvage any meat.  The people driving the motor home were from Boulder and came over to watch Rick cut up the meat, and hold flashlights while they waited for a tow truck.  They had just left on their vacation, which, sadly was ruined.

Rick was able to get three complete quarters, plus most of the front quarter where the elk was hit by the RV.  He also was able to take both back straps (minus just a little on the side he was hit).  The elk was pretty big.  A five-by-five that would have probably grown into a six-by-six or larger by fall.  He was probably about 500 pounds or so.  His antlers were so beautiful – still completely covered in velvet and they were so soft.  Unfortunately, they were both broken by the RV, so we did not keep them (we might not have any way, since regulations on roadkill tags require you to leave a 6 x 6 or larger).

We were glad that Rick is always so prepared – he had his good knife, a bone saw and a tarp all in the car.  As soon as we got home we were rinsing and cooling meat down like crazy.  Luckily it was fairly cool on Saturday night.  We put it into coolers with lots of ice until we could cut it into proper cuts of meat in the morning.  All in all, I’d say from the time the elk was killed until the meat was cut, cooled and packed up was about the same amount of time (or likely less) as if Rick had shot it and had to drag it off the mountain.

We had friends over for the fourth for dinner (brats and elk steak) and then we watched fireworks with our neighbor who drove us all in his ’78 Volkswagen Bus to a place a short way away from where they were being shot off.  He popped the top on the bus and H and I were on the bed on top and watched the fireworks through the top window.  It was a lot of fun and H was thrilled to ride in “Fillmore.”

The update:

Plant something – nothing planted

Harvest something – eggs, turnips, raspberries, lettuce, and, at the farm, garlic.

Preserve something –  ELK!

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.  And well – the giant elk we saw get hit by an RV on Saturday night.

Want Not – noting that I can think of.

Build Community Food Systems – none

Eat the Food – elk, pork, deer, made a delicious spring pea zucchini risotto with farm veggies.

Categories: Food, Independence Days | 2 Comments

Independence Days 2010: Week 15

Short one this week.  Have had some other weird issues going on.  Anybody who was in my email address book already knows my email and facebook accounts were hacked while we were on vacation.  Alas, I found out that they also have had other personal information since April, and, well.. it’s getting a bit messy.  Hopefully not too messy, but a pain regardless.

Plant something – we intended to plant quinoa and radishes, but to no avail this week.  Maybe next week, eh?

Harvest something – eggs, spinach, radishes, turnip greens, strawberries (I forgot to mention these last week too),

Preserve something – nada

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.

Want Not – got a decent price on chicken at the store so we bought a few packs and froze them.

Build Community Food Systems – our friends came over to help us with the bees – not that this is us building the community, but we are participating in it!

Eat the Food – quinoa, turnip greens, radishes, spinach…

Categories: Food, Garden, Independence Days, Sustainability, Urban Homesteading | 1 Comment

Independence Days Week 13-14: Bees, Weeds and Survival

Well this post is a bit tardy, but I wanted to share some exciting things from the last couple of weeks.  At first I wasn’t going to post anything from the week we were on vacation, because, obviously, we didn’t harvest or plant anything.  But then I realized that even though we were across the country, we still made baby steps.  So there are a couple of things there from our trip – woohoo!

The first Sunday of the trip, our friends called saying they had a swarm of bees for us!  They were so kind and put them into our hive while we were gone.  We were sad to miss that, but we are so excited to have bees!  And we’re glad we had the hive all set up and waiting!

After we arrived home, we had a TON of weeds to pull.  It had rained a few times and we  didn’t realize how much weeding we do on the fly.  Just everyday picking a few here and there really keeps us on top of them.  But when we got back, Rick filled a five gallon bucket at least six times with weeds!

Also, after we arrived home, I was having a discussion with a friend who had recently watched “Escaping Suburbia” and was talking about Peak Oil, becoming self sufficient and all of that.  Later that afternoon, as I was walking to the post office, I passed a store called Farris Survival, which up until then, I thought was a camping store.  But since I was walking past (instead of driving) I could see that they had rain barrels in there.  So I decided to look around.

It is not a camping store.  They sell water barrels and water filters and books and bulk beans and grains and grain mills and freeze dried bulk foods, and buckets and Mylar bags and basically everything you would need to survive in the event of apocalypse, government take over, or peak oil except guns.  They didn’t have a wooden barrel (I’ve been looking for one to turn into a smoker), but he did have a lot on information.  All his grains and beans are organic and sold in 25 plus pound bags.  He let H try using the grain mill and sent us home with a big ziplock back full of heirloom red quinoa to try.

Plant something – nothing

Harvest something – eggs, spinach, radishes, weeds galore.  Richard was house/dog/chicken/BEE sitting for us, so he did all the egg harvesting.  There were two full dozen in the fridge when we got home.  And he told us he had made several quiches to take to work and had been eating eggs galore the whole time we were gone.

Preserve something – nothing, however, I bought a few more glass jars (big ones) for the pantry.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, of course, scraps to chickens, etc.

Want Not – bought 6 five pound bags of flour in Tennessee.  The price of organic flour there was INSANE!  $2.50-$3.50 per bag, while here it can get as high as $7.50.  Also, when we got back, the neighbors across the street were having a garage sale, so I bought a big play pen thing with a shade cover – it will be perfect for working at the farm.

Build Community Food Systems – Bob Farris gave us a mess of quinoa.  Most of which we’ll eat, but we’re going to plant some as well.  And now we know of a good resource for lots of other things!

Eat the Food – tomatoes and corn (Rick found more in the freezer), pork, spinach and radishes, eggs.  Peaches in Nashville from the Nashville Farmer’s market.  More to write here next week!  ;)

Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days | Leave a comment

Independence Days Week 12: Grapes & Bee Hive!

So been CRAZY busy this week, and wanted to get something up.  We’re getting ready for a trip to Tennessee, so I preemptively crossed that off my 101 in 1001 list.  Which reminded me that I could cross a few more items off as well.   A month or two ago we paid off the 4Runner (WOOHOO!), and a few weeks ago, my friend Genny let me try her raw milk.  Surprisingly, it tastes just like… milk.  :D  I don’t know what else I would have expected.

Anyway, in short, here’s what we did this week:

Plant something – Grapes Grapes Grapes Grape Grapes!  Ok – not that many grapes.  We were able to get cuttings from our friends, Rich & Rachel and so we hope to have some yummy concord grapes in a year or two!

Harvest something – eggs, lettuce, spinach

Preserve something – well no food in this category, but we put another coat of stain on the fence, as it had been a couple years – so now it is preserved for a couple years more!

Waste Not – compost and recycling, reused some scrap wood for the…. BEE HIVE!  Yes yes, we have built a bee hive!  Now we just need a swarm and we’ll be rolling in the honey (welllll not rolling in it, but you know what I mean)!  Also sorted through H’s outgrown clothes for E, and E’s outgrown clothes to give to friends or Goodwill.  Went through kids’ toys as well and made a bag for Goodwill.  I have a reputation for being a Toy Nazi in this house, so there are never too many toys to go through.  But the TN in me struck Monday morning.  I tried to temper it a bit by putting a couple more of the boys’ toy baskets on the floor where they can reach them without help.

Want Not – um – built a bee hive, duh!  Looking at ordering some bulk chicken locally, but have not taken any action yet.

Build Community Food Systems – so thinking the said grapes count here. ??

Eat the Food – yep, we did!  My favorite from the week was BLT’s with avocado.  The tomatoes weren’t the best, but we used our lettuce and bacon – yum!

A few bee hive building pictures for you…

Categories: Beekeeping, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Urban Homesteading | 8 Comments

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