Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Morning

This Saturday morning, I'm enjoying a cup of Bean Martin coffee and listening to the rain, hoping it will last all day. We can really use it as it has been extremely dry so far this Spring with a heavy pollen count. My head has been killing me lately, so a good rain will wash away some pollen and give me a break. Plus, I used every last drop of water in my rain barrel last weekend giving the vegetables a deep watering. Now it needs to be refilled and the plants could use another good watering. So rain, please stay all day. You are welcome at this house.

Earlier I took my weekly photo of the chicks. It amazes me how quickly they change in the matter of a few weeks.

Thelma has gone from this:

To this:

And Louise has gone from this:

to this:

Even though they are entering what I like to call their teenage awkward stage, I love watching them develop and grow feathers, knowing eventually they will provide us eggs and entertainment. Well they are already entertaining and very feisty. Nate says they are going to give Vanilli a run for her money. They are already trying to fly out of their brood box, so I had to put a top on it for now until they move to bigger digs.

I could sit and listen to the rain all day and knit, but the coffee cup is almost empty, so it's best I start my "chores" for the day.

Happy homesteading,


Monday, April 19, 2010

Mystery Seedlings

This is the first year I've tried to start most of my garden from seeds. It's really the first year I've concentrated on having a productive garden with enough to dry and can for later. Prior to this year, my gardening was done from transplants that came from the local nursery. I didn't have much garden space in the back because of shade, and I wasn't organized early enough to get seeds started, so transplants worked for me. As I starting learning more about urban homesteading, I also discovered heirloom seeds and the importance of preserving food diversity. After we put raised beds in the front yard and I started planning my garden for this year, I knew I wanted to focus on supporting seed companies that were doing something good for the world, not trying to monopolize it. Plus the variety of heirloom seeds amazed me. Happy was the day when my seeds arrived. I planted them in starter pods, made a grid of what I planted and waited for them to sprout. Sad was the day when one minute they were on the tray in my hands, and the next minute they were on the kitchen floor. I picked them up and salvaged what I could, realizing at the same time, they were now all jumbled, and I didn't know what was what anymore. Even after they were slammed to the floor, some still sprouted. I moved those to a mini-greenhouse on my deck. I planted new seeds, made a grid, and put them in the greenhouse with the few seedlings I had saved from the kitchen disaster. To my dismay, Nate and I came home one day and the wind had knocked over the greenhouse. Seed pods and seedlings were all over the deck. Once again, I picked them up, and hoped for the best. Some of the young seedlings survived and some of the seeded pods sprouted. I now have 10 tomato plant seedlings, 12 eggplant seedlings, 14 pepper plant seedlings, and I don't know what varieties they are. It's a wait and see game. Of the tomato plants, I do hope I get at least one Cherokee Purple and one Black from Tula. Some Thai Long Green eggplants would be great too. I had to buy transplants to flesh out the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers I needed, and I direct seeded many of my other plants, like squash, watermelon, beans, and cucumbers, from my seed stash. While I didn't start everything from seed like I hoped I could, overall I'm happy with my success. In the meantime, I can't wait to see what develops from my mystery seedlings!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Crock Pots and Beer Bread

Sunday is usually so busy for me. It's my garden/yard work day. The last few Sundays have been especially busy as I've planted and mulched all 8 of my vegetable raised beds and 35' of climbing vegetable space along the fence. To make it more interesting, Nate and I have planted many ornamental plants and flowers given to us by a friend's mother. On Sundays, I also try to pre-cook many things for the next week. I try to make as much from scratch as possible, so if I don't get some things done on Sunday, it throws off my whole week. Plus during the week, when I get home from work, I would rather be outside than cook. I like quick, easy meals during the week. So this morning, bright and early, I made granola to have for breakfast next week. While the granola was in the oven, I pulled out one of my best friends, the crock pot! I LOVE crock pots so much, I have two large ones and two small ones. It's so easy to put everything in one pot, turn it on and go on with my day. It's become my habit to make a large crock of soup on Sundays, and that often serves as our lunch with a salad and usually fruit or yogurt through the week. I also like to make bread from scratch, but I just didn't have time today for yeast bread. When time is short, I make beer bread. Each time I make it, I wonder why I don't make it more often. It is unbelievably easy to make and so scrumptious! Here is my recipe for Cheesy Beer Bread:

3 cups less 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp salt
4.5 tsp baking powder
(or you can ditch the salt and baking powder and use 3 cups self-rising flour)
1/4-1/2 cup sugar, depends on how sweet you want it
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar works well)
12 oz room temperature beer
2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat your oven to 350. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Stir in the cheese. Stir in the beer. Scrape it into a greased loaf pan. Pour the melted butter over the top, and bake for 45-50 minutes. Let it cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before removing, and let it cool an additional 15-20 minutes before slicing. Believe me, it's much easier to slice when it has cooled some.

Enjoy! I did. Until next post, happy homesteading!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Now Starring

This is our cast of misfits:

Lucy, a total mama's girl, speaks her mind and as stubborn as a mule, she would take a beating if it came with a hunk of cheese.

Onyx, a total daddy's girl, she loves her some Nate and is as sweet as sugar.

OP2, hunter extraordinaire, loves moles and lizards, but is afraid of chickens.

Vanilli, one pesky bird who would leap a building to get to the person holding food, but also our green egg layer so she's a keeper.

Pearl, our handicapped but tough girl who recently survived a hawk attack, our star egg producer.

And drum roll, the newest additions to the motley crew. So new, they don't have names yet:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I've Been Bitten

I have been asking myself lately when the homesteading bug bit me. Was it years ago when I ripped a garden article out of a magazine because I thought the best part was that the homeowner owned chickens? I still have the article. Back then, the thought never occurred to me I could be that person. Was it last year when I realized I get the most sun in my front yard, and I could grow vegetables there, rather than my backyard, which is very shady? This concept opened a whole new world to me of preserving a harvest and most importantly knowing how my food was grown and keeping it close to home. It could have been tasting local honey for the first time at Nate's aunt's house and finding out one of her co-workers was a beekeeper. The truth of the matter is these and many other moments culminated and brought me to where I am today, starting a blog about my progress, successes, and failures. I hope you will follow along and learn with me.