Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Day at Home

While the weather here is still in the 90s, I can feel a change in the air.  The temperatures are more tolerable in the mornings and evenings, and the heat index is not as extreme during the day.  At least it seems that way to me.  The humidity has been unreal with afternoon thunderstorms threatening daily but no rain.  The afternoon clouds have been a nuisance because I've been wanting to use my solar oven more than I have.  If the sun goes behind the clouds, I can forget keeping the oven above 200 degrees.  Plus, I want to be home to monitor it since I'm not an expert user.  Today the sky looked fairly cloudless, so at lunchtime I took a chance and put some vegetable chowder in the oven to simmer.  The oven got up to 300 degrees at its hottest, and since this is the first time I've cooked a meal in the oven, I put a thermometer probe into the soup pot to monitor the temperature.  The soup rose to 200 degrees and maintained between 190 and 200 for about 3 hours.  That should be closely equivalent to a slow cooker on low.  After about 3 hours, the clouds rolled in and the oven temp started to drop.  Not wanting to risk unsafe conditions, I took the soup out and all the veggies were done.  I still need to finish it with milk and cheese, but I think I'll have to do that on the stove top since it's pretty cloudy now.  At least the bulk of the meal was cooked by solar energy.

Today, I also started planning my fall garden and in anticipation of some seed starting, I cleaned out the greenhouse, which has been ignored since spring.  I'm not adept at succession planting yet, so I haven't really done much in the area of seed starting this summer.  If I didn't work, maybe I would get better, but there are only so many hours in a day.  I also did some general garden bed maintenance by getting rid of some plants that are not really producing to make room for new ones.

On my way out to the greenhouse, I found this:


This is my lazy form of composting, and I found Thelma and Louise going to town on the bugs and worms today.  These are two large trashcans with holes drilled in the bottom edge for drainage and the top for aeration when the lids are closed.  I just keep dumping yard and kitchen waste into them and turn the top layer with a pitchfork once a week.  Eventually one fills, and I start in the other one.  It works for me.  The chickens did a great job of turning it for me today, and to them it was like a buffet.

I have some big plans for the fall, so stay tuned!

Happy homesteading,


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