Posts Tagged With: Independence Days

Independence Day Independence Update

It’s been a while since I did an update on our Independence Days project.  Over the last few weeks we’ve done a lot.  But mainly I made up for a bit of garden neglect this weekend.  We pulled lots of weeds.  Lots and lots of weeds.

Rick has been working hard over the last few weeks at digging out the tree stump.  It’s such a big project, but this weekend he got through the last of the big roots and even the tap roots underneath.  He moved it a bit with our 4Runner, but we still need to get the trunk hauled before we can really move the stump anywhere.

I’ve been consumed with baby things lately as I realized last week while finishing up the nursery that we had NO baby clothes.  I mean none.  We thought we were done after Emmett, and since the house is small, we didn’t keep anything around.  Whatever I didn’t sell I donated.  So I did a lot of shopping this weekend.  But it was fun.  Rick and I went together, and I realized that it was the first time that we actually bought baby clothes together.  :) And now, the baby will have something to wear when he or she gets here.

Here’s the update…

Plant something – okra, two varieties of sunflowers, and sad to admit, but beans and squash just went into the ground.  I hope we get something?

Harvest something –  eggs, lettuce, garlic scapes, peas, thinned carrots and onions, got a few (a handful) of raspberries!

Preserve something – quiches and some grilled chicken in the freezer… mainly things for after the baby comes.

Waste Not – compost, scraps to chickens, recycling.  Planned meals for 24 weeks straight, but then I missed last week, and our budget showed this.  But I have a plan going for this week, so I’m back on the wagon.  25 weeks planned this year so far.  I used some scrap wood from the garage to make a trellis for the grape vine, and I sold the gas-powered mower and set the money aside for a new push-reel mower.  It’s been raining a lot so we’ve just been watering the gardens and the lawn by hand as needed.  Also consolidated the freezers and unplugged the upright for the summer.

Want Not – Got new shoes for both boys (again!) – this time from the resale shop.  Got lots of neutral baby items this weekend second hand, and re-purposed a sturdy shelf to be the new changing table in the nursery.  Thrifted some pictures frames for the baby’s room too.

Build Community Food Systems – While my cousins were in town, our CSA started distribution.  This led to a few conversations about food – local, organic, non-GMO, etc.  I was super excited that when she got home, she went shopping and sent me an email detailing out her changes – she went for all local and/or organic produce, natural meats, organic dairy, etc….  !!  I know it’s not building MY community on this one, as they live in Tennessee, but it was really encouraging!

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day!  We celebrated by working outside and of course watching fireworks.  ;)

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Categories: Food, Garden, Independence Days | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

When the Power Goes Out

All across the country this spring, there have been storms taking out power (and, of course far worse).  My cousin in Alabama was affected earlier this year.  Thankfully she is ok, and was able to drive to Nashville to stay with family for a few days until the power came back on.  This makes me think a lot about disaster preparedness, and I know I’m not the only one.  Sharon Astyk and Greenpa both commented on the CDC’s article about the impending zombie apocalypse last week.  Northwest Edible Life asked about balancing energy consumption and preparedness (which gave rise to this post for me).

We aren’t really in a great place yet as far as being prepared for a natural disaster.  We’re pretty good about preserving food in the summer, enough to get us through the winter, but really nothing long term.  While we’ve been living without a fridge now for the last four weeks, I know we couldn’t hack it without our freezer.  The ice to keep everything from spoiling is pretty crucial.  We keep the majority of our preserved food in there as well.  Without power, we’d be coming up short pretty quickly, especially in the summer time with regards to our meat.

Happily, here in Colorado, the most likely time for a prolonged power outage would be the winter, and that in it of itself mitigates some of the potential damage to the freezer-stored food.  In the case of a power outage that was not during the cold or not soon to be resolved, I really think this is a place where community can help.  Our neighbor, for example, has a couple of generators. But he is a bachelor and has no food stock piled what-so-ever (I’m pretty sure he buys food everyday for each meal). So we could really come to a mutually beneficial arrangement, wherein, his generators help keep our food from spoiling, and we feed him. Of course, generators are only temporary as well, and in the event of something extending past that, we’re pretty much screwed.

We could definitely dehydrate, but only if we do it ahead of time, as both our food dehydrator and oven are electric and power company dependent.  While we could prepare a lot of herbs and some veggies this way ahead of time, I’m not a huge fan of jerky.  So that still leaves most of our meat vulnerable.  We don’t have a pressure-canner either, and a boiling water bath is not enough to safely preserve meats.

One meat preservation option we’ve considered is the possibility of smoking meats. We’ve been on the hunt for an oak barrel that we can use to make a smoker in our yard, as I saw done at the local living history museum last summer. We watched them smoke two chickens in a barrel over bricks dug in the ground. It was super cool and we’ve been wanting to do it ever since. This could even be done in the winter, in an emergent situation, provided you already had the hole for the bricks dug.

This reminds me a lot of Little House in the Big Woods.  I love how detailed the descriptions Laura gives for how the Ingalls family preserves meats for the winter.  Smoking venison and hams, freezing sausages, and putting up salted pork in the attic.  This always makes me wonder what exactly salted pork is and how it tastes, and what the process is.

So I’d like to know what systems others have in place?  Are you prepared for a disaster, whether a short term one, like a weather related power outage, or a long term one, like peak oil or zombie apocalypse?  How are you preserving meat for long term storage?  Are you building community food systems, so that in the event of a disaster you have resources other than your own to draw from?  Is it practical to store meat in the summer time?  (The Ingalls family did not, all their meat storage was just for the winter.)  How else, besides freezing, are you storing food – canning, root cellars, dehydrating, salting, smoking????  Do you have recipes to share?

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Community, Food, Preparedness, Sustainability | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Catching Up to Life!

I’ve been a bit behind this week, so here’s my attempt at catching the blog up to our lives!  The hens were not laying in the new nest box, so on Friday I reused some pieces of the old nest box and some left over plywood to modify the new box and make it bigger.  It’s now 11×17 and the hens are much happier.  We’ve been collecting eggs left and right again, which makes us all glad.  We do still suspect an egg eater – I’m pretty sure it’s one of the red heads, so we’re working out a way to figure out who is the culprit.  You may see a post about our first-ever adventure into home chicken processing soon.

Saturday  we finally planted the spuds that we ordered in the neighbor’s garden.

We’re all excited about this gardening thing this year – you know the thing where our neighbor is working together with us to grow this (in his newly made bed) and where we plan to share our crops.  He’s been getting as excited as me, and every time someone comes to our house, Rick jokes about me showing off my new vegetable bed as he motions over the fence.  ;)

This is our first time with potatoes and we planted two varieties – La Ratte fingerlings and Dessire red potatoes.  There were some extras that didn’t fit into his bed, so I might try another potato growing system in our back yard as well.

We’ve been enjoying our spinach and I’m so happy about those volunteers that came up early, since we’ve been able to eat from the garden so much earlier this year.  I need to make sure to let the spinach go to seed from now on before we pull it for later crops!  Woohoo!

Sunday’s forecast last weekend was for snow, but there wasn’t any.  In fact it was pretty nice out.  Rick’s been chipping away at the tree project, hacking a limb off here, cutting a branch there.  We’re about to the point where we can no longer go at it alone and we’re going to have to bring in extra help to finish.

Our neighbor did get a chipper for us.  It wasn’t in working order, but he and Rick think they can fix it with just an inexpensive part.  It won’t do the bigger stuff, but most of the smaller branches can go through and it’ll be nice to have around to put the yard waste through before sending it to the compost bins.  And bonus, it was free!

We also visited two garden centers on Sunday.  We picked up seeds for the things we plan on direct seeding (the ones we didn’t order), got some onion sets, and I was a sucker for some savory and basil plants (three varieties!) that I plan on sneaking into our flower beds this year.

I was really tempted to pick up some tomato seedlings, but Rick convinced me to hold off a few weeks more.  I think he knows how good I am not at keeping plants alive indoors.  It’s so close to “when the danger of frost is past” planting, I can almost taste it.  We’re on our last bag of frozen tomatoes from last summer’s garden.  It can’t get here quick enough!

What have you been up to in these last few rainy April days?

On a side note, this here blog was just entered into the Circle of Moms Top 25 Eco-Friendly Mommy Blog contest.  There are only three days left to vote but you can vote everyday.  I’d love a vote from you!  CLICK HERE to vote!
Categories: Chickens, Garden, Independence Days | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Starting Something Big…

We have a big locust tree in the back yard.  Rick has wanted to cut down it for a long time, pretty much since we moved in.  I liked the shade and I wanted to put a patio under the tree though, so I wouldn’t let him cut it down.  But last summer the roots and the ground around the trunk of the tree really started heaving, making putting a patio there a bad idea.  And then, last weekend when I was cleaning up the yard, raking up a million stupid bean pods from that tree, I suddenly switched sides – this tree is a pain.

Every fall it was dropping pods, usually after it snowed and was too late to clean them up.  They fall behind the chicken coop and under the lilacs and are nearly impossible to reach.  They make a huge mess everywhere.  And it was ruining my patio plans.  The tree provided a highway for squirrels who use it to steal chicken food and torment our dog.  And the squirrels built a nest in our neighbor’s roof, so anything to ruin their plans is a bonus in our minds.

So I sat on the couch Saturday morning daring myself to say out loud what I knew Rick would be overjoyed to hear.  Let’s cut down the tree.  But on one condition… that I could have my patio there with a pergola and grapes.  He agreed.

And he was overjoyed.  Rick immediately went for the ladder and the tree trimmer.  I wasn’t so sure about tackling this one ourselves – it’s a huge tree and we have power lines running along two sides of our yard.  But he was determined to get started.

It was pretty windy on Saturday, so he didn’t get much done.  But on Sunday it was really nice and the neighbor, Mike came out to help (hooray!) and they got really far.  I plan on tracking the progress of this project for the next couple of weeks until it’s completed.

I already had plans for reusing the trunk and the bigger straighter limbs, but I wasn’t sure what we were going to do with the rest of the branches.  I asked the now 6300+ people on the Taking Back Urban Home-steading(s) facebook page and got a lot of responses and great advice.  We are going to employ multiple suggestions.  Thank goodness I asked too.  Look at what we have to clean up after just a day and a half of trimming:

Some of those branches will become bean poles and trellises, some will border garden beds.  And some will become a huglekultur (more on that later).  The rest will become mulch for garden paths since we finally made permanent beds. Stay tuned for more tree progress over the next couple of weeks.

Here’s what else we did this week:

Plant something – nothing new in the ground since last week, but the lettuces, spinach and radishes are all poking their little sprouts up!

Harvest something – eggs

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

Building Community – decided to finally sell some eggs – A friend is buying a dozen every-other week right now.  :)  Also all the neighborhood kids piled into the driveway while Rick and Mike worked on the tree Sunday.  We had the play kitchen out and the neighbor’s kids picnic table.  There were eight of them running amok with bikes, sharing lunch (fruit, pretzels and cheesy torts).  Fun times – I wish I had gotten a pic, but the camera was acting up.

Eat the Food – dried tomatoes, peaches, elk, duck, green beans and corn all from the freezer.

What did you start on this weekend?

Categories: DIY, Garden, Independence Days | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Three Cheers for Volunteers!

Last week we went out to the garden and found THIS!  Volunteer spinach!  Hooray!

We decided to take advantage of the nice weather by getting a bit of garden prep done and putting a few seeds into the ground.  Rick also helped the neighbor get more ready on his garden by digging out three tree stumps and getting some major tilling and composting into the beds.

Our neighbor is cracking me up.  When he first wanted to do the garden he gave me free license for garden design as long as it included corn and potatoes.  Now he’s got definite ideas about what he wants and doesn’t want, so we are modifying the plans I made all winter a bit.  I’m actually really glad, since it tells me he’s a lot more excited about his space than he is letting on.  We’re adding carrots and onions.  He’s from Indiana and missed the corn fields, so we are planting four long rows for him to walk through.  I talked him into beans with the corn, though he thinks he “won’t like how it looks,” he’s willing to let me try it since I keep telling him the beans will help feed the corn.  But corn and beans are still a few month off.  This is what we actually planted this weekend:

Plant something – spinach, lettuce (four kinds), radishes, and peas.

Harvest something – eggs, compost and a leaf or two of that volunteer spinach.

Preserve something – Ah – TAMALES!  My friend, Jen, came over on Saturday and while Rick and the boys kept busy digging out tree stumps, we made a triple batch of corn and poblano tamales.  We ended up with 90!  Jen took about 30 of them home and let me keep the rest.  She was super generous and I’m very grateful!  We put away enough for five meals in the freezer, and kept out enough for Saturday’s dinner and lunch on Sunday.  And – OH were they delicious.

We also learned about making lard – we rendered pork fat both last year and this year.  But we learned a bit more this time around.  We ended up coming up short, so we added bacon grease.  I knew I was keeping that around for something!

Waste Not – compost and recycling

Want Not – Sunday we bought a few new baby chicks.  I really want a hen that will go broody so we can have her raise future chicken generations, so we’re hoping the Buff Orpington will provide on that front.  We added another Araucana, because I really love getting colored eggs,  and I’ve been thinking of actually, finally, selling some eggs, just to recover the cost of the feed, so we added a third – a Black Star.  Wouldn’t it be great if one of them liked to lay double-yolked eggs?  We had one pullet in the last batch that laid them nearly every day like a champ, but she was killed by a fox attack.

Build Community Food Systems – Well – already mentioned the tamales and the neighbor’s garden.  That’s it for this week.

Eat the Food – lots of items from the pantry.  Nothing special.

Categories: Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy Chickens Lay the Best Eggs

LOOK what we got this week!

Plant something – not yet… this weekend if it doesn’t snow though!

Harvest something – eggs! Even old Mayzie girl laid eggs and she’s four this year!  We’re so happy to be back in eggs from out own girls.

Preserve something – two quiches and a bag of soup went into the freezer – I’m trying to get some meals frozen for when the baby comes.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  And I’m seven weeks straight on planning meals!

Want Not – We scored some twin beds for the boys from craigslist.  They are a really nice set that can be bunked or not.  We’ve already set up H’s and he LOVES it.  We’ll be saving his other bed for the new baby when they are older.

Build Community Food Systems – shared some frozen green chiles and grape jam with my sis & bro-in-law.

Eat the Food – Duck was on the menu this week.  I usually have a harder time using our game birds than the elk or venison, but I am making a point to do it.  And I LOVE duck!  Served up two zucchini-green chile quiches using veggies from the freezer at brunch.

This is my favorite duck recipe: Doug’s Grilled Duck Breasts from Field and Stream Magazine.  So yum!

Categories: Chickens, Garden, Independence Days, Recipes | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Still Working Towards Independence

So I know it’s been a while since you’ve seen an Independence Days update.  Since October I think.  Well we’ve still been working, just nothing consistent over the winter, and no planting since that last post either.

My friend Annie has been keeping track through the winter and I am so impressed by her.  I thought I’d finally update what we’ve had in the last two weeks or so.  Also – I’ve totally lost count of the weeks (somewhere in the 40′s, I’m sure).  So going forward no more counting… just updates as they come.

Plant something – nothing yet.

Harvest something – eggs!  Some of the hens have started up laying again.  Hooray!  Two eggs last week, so far, another eight this week.  Yippee!

Preserve something – turkey stock – that’s all.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  Kept up the meal planning – 6 weeks straight now!  Made some turkey stock from the bones of a turkey and some rather limp veggies from the bottom of the fridge.  Went through the boys’ clothes and toys again.  Also sorted through Rick & my closet.  With a small house I just don’t have room to keep this stuff around.  So some other lucky kids will benefit from the Goodwill donations.  I did pull about 8 jackets and sweatshirts that I’m going to take to the used kids clothing shop to sell.  They usually buy that stuff, and for some reason, this season we ended up with a kajillion jackets for each kiddo.

Want Not – ordered seeds!  Hip hip hooray! – More on this below.  Also we got black-out/thermal drapes for the boys’ room.  They have old wooden single pane windows back there, and although we put up storm windows and the plastic, they were still freezing cold.  We hung up one set of curtains on one window and put a quilt over the other window (we’re waiting to hang the second set until we move their room around when E leaves the crib soon).  But just that little change has made a huge difference in the temperature of their bedroom.

Build Community Food Systems – Our neighbor ordered potato seeds for us to share and we got the corn and beans and carrots he wanted.  Plus we ordered veggies for our space, and based on some hopeful swapping with some friends, even modified what we were going to plant in some areas.  :)

Also blogged about Non-GMO seeds and that sparked a conversation on Facebook with a friend who is working on her first garden at her home.  A little something.

Eat the Food – Turkey from the freezer.  Chiles, corn, jalapeño powder, pickles, frozen tomatoes, peaches, plums, elk, grouse, pheasant, beans and jams all getting used.  We’re really working through the freezer this year.  Our onions, garlic, potatoes, winter squash, strawberries and raspberries are all completely gone already.

Categories: Independence Days | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Fruit

This weekend was the weekend of fruit.  On Saturday morning we went to Palisade for the second time this summer, and we came home with 319 pounds of peaches.  150 pounds were for friends, and we kept the other half for ourselves.  Then, Sunday morning, before we had even gotten a peach into the freezer, my brother-in-law came by with over 1500 Italian plums.  Thankfully the plums are a bit green, as we didn’t really have much time to mess with the fruit on Sunday.

Monday, we ate some of the plums in a plum coffee cake, and then we went to our friend’s home outside of Allenspark.  Mike grilled and we gathered around the fire pit, and had a nice evening with friends (and peach cobbler), watching the smoke from the fire in Boulder county blow over the horizon.

On the way home we stopped outside of Longmont where we could see the fire above Boulder.  My pictures here don’t do it justice, but it was incredible.

Tuesday is farm day for me, when I go and work at the CSA.  I brought home our share, and had barely pulled into the drive when our friend, Rich drove up with twenty plus pounds of concord grapes!  These grapes are our favorite and they were very generous!

So we have a fruit filled week ahead of us.  I had actually planned to pick strawberries and raspberries this week too, but I am putting that off until next week in hopes that I can get somewhat caught up around here before adding more to it!

Here’s the update:

Plant something – nothing.

Harvest something – eggs, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches

Preserve something – three batches of peach preserves, two and a half boxes (approx. 30 lbs) of peaches sliced and frozen, 3½ pounds green beans frozen, 1 gallon bag of tomatoes frozen, 2 batches of carrot soup in the freezer.

Waste Not – compost and recycling, scraps to chickens, etc.  Lots and lots went to the goodwill over the last couple of weeks.

Want Not – nothing that I can think of right now.

Build Community Food Systems – all the fruit trading!  Yum!

Eat the Food – as mentioned, plum cake and peach cobbler.  Also eating all the yummy farm veggies.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  ;)

Categories: Canning and Food Preservation, Chickens, Food, Garden, Independence Days, Recommended Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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