Thursday, 26 March 2009

To Do:

Here is the latest draft of our 'To Do' list.

The list of stuff to get done this spring/summer/fall -

Grain bin turned Chicken house - get ready for summer, install false ceiling, electricity, and heater before november
rebuild front porch
remove bees from front porch column
new roof on both porches
repair main roof
repair/replace gutters
paint house
weatherize addition and basement
cut enough firewood to last through next winter
line chimney
fix enough fence for us to get a bred milk cow next spring
clean out haunted chicken house and make sure it's in good enough shape to use as shelter for the cow when necessary
rock driveway (and the casbah)
clean up trash and get a big brush burn done - (last on list since ground can be frozen when we do this)

tentative list for next year (spring/summer/fall 2010) -

Get Bees
replace main roof
change the opening for the old basement garage into wall with exterior bulkhead door and storm shelter
prepare fence and housing for bred sow to be purchased spring of 2011
fence and shelter for sheep in spring of 2011?
expand cow facilities?
prepare for brooding hens to hatch spring of 2011
finish junk cleanup

Monday, 23 March 2009


I love the 5 minute artisan bread thing. I love that I no longer feel like an idiot who can't make bread. 

I used to have a friend who was a whiz in the kitchen and often mocked me for my fumbling incompetence. Bread, I thought, is only something master bakers can do. There is something magical about the yeast, salt, flour, water combo turning into bread, rising, and then singing. 

And yet, the peasants of France could make it daily. It has been a staple in the diets of humans from the ancient times. Why can't I get this mass of goo to be more than playdough, I often lamented.

Well, now I can make bread. Simple bread. I love this book. I love these recipes. I love that I can share it with others. 

The picture above is the calzone I made last week with the boule. I tried to use the recipe in teh book but it had some problems: my ricotta was spoiled and the recipe used no meat. So I improvised. The stuffing for the calzone is as follows:

1 block of feta cheese
3/4 lb of ground pork, browned and seasoned with black pepper
spinach leaves
2 eggs

Mix eggs and cheese

Roll out floured boule to a large flat circle, layer ingredients on one half, fold over, cut three slits, and bake at 450 until browned.

Today I experimented with size because the complaint at dinner was that it would be easier to eat if made in individual pockets. It is not working in smaller pockets. Today's filling I am using chicken meat and red peppers with the cheese and using pumpernickle bread instead of white boule. Mmmmmmm. I don't care if the cheese busted out of the side. Yum.

* edited to add. Lunch turned out more like a quiche. I am not sure why, but it is still tasty.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Farm Sunday

Mucking out the chicken house. Chicks arrive in three weeks!

Planting shelling peas and sugar snaps. We re-purposed some loose cattle panels for the trellis. 

Lily took it upon herself one afternoon to remove all the corn stalk nubs from the garden beds. I didn't ask her to, as I was going to use them as markers to plant beans by. I like that she decided to do this intense chore, did it, came in and cleaned up, and it was no big deal. Just something that she saw needed to be done, so she did it. 

Friday, 20 March 2009

Diaper Stash, a confession

This lovely dresser is BUILT INTO my bathroom wall. Awesome. 

This is almost my entire pocket diaper stash. Yes, all of it. I am embarrassed to say, I found the missing diapers, clean, at the bottom of a laundry basket of clean clothes that I hadn't processed (folded, put away). I found them about 3 weeks after I posted that I lost them and forgot to update the status. The lovely Tattooedmama gave me the pretties on the bottom right hand side to offset the loss during those 3 weeks.  Thank you J B-B! 

This is my stash of contoured inserts (gifted to us by Laurie B, from park day- Thank you!) and covers: 3 fleece Wallypops, three Thirsties. I also keep the BumGenuis newborn insert soakers in this drawer (on the left). I've started to use a cover with two inserts for overnight because it is less bulky and doesn't leak. To stuff a BG leakproof for overnight (since she sleeps right on through, though still stirs to eat) it is 1 reg + 2 newborns and that is just too bulk for comfort for her, yet still sometimes leaks.....

This is the changing station, at a right angle to the toilet and the dresser. Little can is for poopies and big for just wets. I have not gotton the hang of our new front loader yet for diapers and separating the poops for rinsing in the potty (we are in the sticky poo, soilds+milk transition) and a rinse in the washer before adding the wets to the wash, is helping right now getting them all clean in just that rinse + wash cycle. Other wise it was wash +wash + rinse and diapers take ALL FREAKING DAY TO WASH. Not so good. 

This is the blue drawer in the station. Dry wipes on left, pink wet bucket on right. The station is just too far from the sink to make wetting a wipe each time practical. Only a few go in the wet or it can get musty. Bag balm is in here too, that's what we use if Blueberry starts to get yeast build up in her folds. Works very well and we don't get build up on the diapers. 

So that's the tour of my diaper station! TMI? ;)

The Thrifty Barista

Free coffee recipe e-book. 

An interesting tidbit, when I worked at a Barnes and Noble and filled in at the Starbucks station I had to look at the cheat sheet for every drink but one: the latte. 

The equation in my head is basically this: (latte=4$=coffee + milk)>sucker customer. 
Another equation goes like this: ((coffee=50 cents= free refills)+ free milk or cream)=smart customer.


So now when I go to the coffee shops I still spend 4$ BUT I buy the 50 cent coffee and dress it up, leave a $3.50 cent tip when I can. Or I buy a muffin too. Or get Tot a "milk tea" and the balance is a tip. 

Sometimes I dress it up with honey and cream. That's a cafe breve with honey. Mmmmm. 

Anyway, I like the working guy to get the extra, not the corporation. Plus, 4$ for a cup of coffee with milk? French name or no.....

So there you have it, my frugal tip.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Seed data

This spreadsheet contains data about the varieties we are starting this year. We'll use it to help decide which work, and which don't. I've kept similar records in the past, but that was at another location so while I'm trying out our favorites from there, we'll have to see if they do as well here.

I still need to add a quantity column, but we've got at least 8 of everything, more for peppers and tomatoes.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The long and short of it.....

Ok, Here's the run down of our week:  

Ah lady, up on her feet. 
Art class!

Crash boom, Mama P fell through the dock. Bruised up my leg and ego pretty bad, one worse than the other. I also cut my face on my camera lens. Right. I went down like this, "Lil'Bug be sure you don't forget the hole is right here, this missing board. I don't want you to fall through." And, "Ok mama," tot continues to happily fish off the dock.......KaBAM. "Mama did you forget about the hole? You just told me!" Then she ran back to land to set down her pole before racing to help get me out of the water. Baby Blueberry was in the Calyx carrier and completely unharmed. My camera was fine too, I buffered the impact with my face and hand. 

Crash boom, Dearest's hard disk thingy failed. He and Lil'Bug had a good time fixing it while I took Blueberry to a potato bar social I was invited to at the local church. Yum. Oh, and ultimately it was Lil'Bug's magic wand that fixed it, or so the story goes.

Blueberry attempted, for the first time, to climb a stair. And then another. She climbed the entire staircase all by herself (with Mama right behind her cheering!). It was neat. Pawpaw was on the phone with us, Daddy and Lil'Bug at the top cheering too. Yay!

I made a pie for pi day. Then the dog ate it and Dearest didn't even notice. I was mad but got over it. I'll make another. Still, many jokes were made about pi and dog and his growing list of reasons he should live outside (love of skunks is # 1). Ultimately, he sleeps at the end of our bed (just not on it, hey, it is SKUNK season!). 

Nana and Pawpaw came today and helped load the dead tractor up so we can take it to be fixed. Nana also helped me really, really clean and hang curtains. It was fun! Now the house is ready for the slew of Spring Break farm playdates. Not that it matters to any of the guests, but I always feel better welcoming friends to a clean, tidy house. They know it is not always like that, but this week it is! Yippee!

Seeds, seeds, seeds......almost time to plant outside! We are late getting seeds started, but I think in the end it will be alright. 

And that's our week in brief! Ta da!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Click. Whirrrrrrrr. Sploink.

Hard Disk Crash!!!

recovery time - 30 minutes.

Back up your data folks!

This has been a friendly reminder from IT personell everywhere.

PS - it also helps if you run linux (or Macintosh), but no pressure.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Buying Local, Not Just Food

Yesterday I drove 45 minutes to the nearest Target to buy baby shoes and curtain rods. Sure it was cheaper, until you add the cost of gas. So then I thought, next time I'll just order from Amazon, just like the laundry detergent. 

Hmmmmm. Wait a minute there. I talk high and mighty about local food, but what about other things? It's not really cheaper once the cost of the drive and my time are added into the equation to drive all the way into town, even if I were to only go 30 miles to the nearest WalMart. 

Then I remembered. At church on Sunday (yes, church, but that's another post) I met a lady in the nursery that just this week opened a children's consignment store on the square- and she was really excited! If I continue to waste my money and resources driving to the big box stores, it is exactly people and shops like hers that suffer. Funny thing is, I enjoy shopping that kind of store more than the big ones anyway! 

So, I am going to challenge myself in the next month to not shop outside my county. It's going to be hard, but it will challenge us to find the resources that we will need in the long run, make the connections we need to. If our farm is going to work and succeed, we will need to tend the roots first. 

Thursday, 5 March 2009


Princess cake. I love modeling clay. It doesn't dry out like messy, crumbly playdough. It is awesome.
Every princess needs a hat.

Getting into stuff phase. You know, that phase that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friend, some people started.......anyway. I love mobility in babies!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Fire on the Road

One of the interesting things we encountered last month that really marked a stark difference between our former home and our farm life was this fire.

If this had been in the city, a 911 call would have been immediate. In the country people burn scrap wood and ditches and fields and their trash. However, they don't typically do that in the road. so I hesitated before I called the sheriff and asked about it. It was a round bale on fire.

Another stark difference was that the dispatcher didn't make fun of me. Living in the urban area we did, I called 911 for vandalism, car wrecks, burglaries in progress, fires, etc. Every single time either the dispatcher and/or the responding officer mocked me. "What did you expect living in a ghetto/this neighborhood/ect." It is no wonder that the area is still considered "bad".  Anyway, this time she was polite, I asked questions, and she sent someone to check it out. She promised me that if I was overreacting that she's send someone up to explain it to me. No one came, they actually spread the fire out and watched it until it was out. It is a volunteer fire department too. 

There are so many differences we are encountering out here. 

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Five Alive

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me. I will try to make these tailored to those five people. The restrictions and limitations:
*I will make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
*What I create will be just for you.
*You will have no clue what it will be
*The catch is that you have to post this as well, if you expect me to do something for you. 
*I have to be able to afford the postage, if you live out of country. :)
* I (you) have until 2009 is up to complete

Please link to your blog, if I don't know you, in case we are new friends.

Since this feeds to my facebook, those of you who see this on FB will have to go to the blogspot to sign up.

Yay! This will be so much fun!

*edit to add the 2009 thing. It really is part of the deal, I just forgot to type it up!

The Opossuble Dream

Opossums were imported during the depression as a food source, for hungry people. They don't carry rabies. They eat small rodents and clean up scraps. Supposedly they do not pose a threat to livestock as a predator, though they do carry a harmful to horses bacteria in their feces. Many farmers have disagreed with this sentiment, claiming that more than once opossums have raided their chicken houses. 

This opossum lives inside of our porch. We had planned on letting her be, but Friday night the skunk met the opossum on said porch. Now both animals are on the "hit list".  At least we don't have to deal with being mocked by animal control. 

Monday, 2 March 2009

Imagination on Fire

Proof that a dragon flew overhead according to tot. This ice formation was found on the bank to the pond. 

View from the South shore.
Off we go on a muddy muddy hike. We've taken several since this picture was taken. One such hike was to go and introduce ourselves to the elves living in the woods. Tot was very excited to try and free Arthur Spiderwick from captivity, but unfortunately the elves are still distrustful of human folk. She explained this to me on our walk. No worries though, she continued, once they realize that Mama and Blueberry are changlings, really swamp elves, then they will stop hiding. (She's talking to the house brownie in faerie right now......asking him to help her with the toysplosion mess....)

Proof that giants tore through the woods. 

I love hiking with Lil'Bug. 

Chicken Stock

Our lovely neighbors from Blue Gate farm have spoiled us since we've moved here. They've brought us jam and bread and stewing chickens. This is the chicken stock bone broth I made with the first of those delicious birds. The stock was too thin, because I added too much water. An interesting observation I made during the process was that when it came time to remove "scum", a step in the bone broth process, there was so little that it was next to impossible to remove the slight bit. Another observation was that it didn't stink. Every time I (or Dearest) have made broth/stock in the past (with store bought birds) the whole house smells awful. This time the smell was heavenly. 

I didn't make the batch to be frozen, so I used the broth to make chicken noodle soup, as stock for beans and ham, and as a base for my pumpkin soup. There was something uniquely satisfying to make these dishes with my own base ingredients, local meat, and veggies from my own garden (deep freeze).  When the chickens and spices are my own and I can claim a zero mile meal, that will be true success!

Garden, Late Winter

There are three beds, two were cultivated and one is the bed of a removed tree. These pictures are of the Western bed, where the Concord grapes and strawberries are. The previous family also planted a lot of corn and squash in these beds, so where there is a corn stalk, I will be planting a bean plant. Yum, beans. 

Actually, one of my problems is limiting to this predetermined space. My seed order has already outgrown it. Neat. I'm going to use another area for melons and squash and I think do a row or two of dry beans over with the squash as well.