Saturday, January 29, 2011


I have run into a couple of places where there is a rebellion against minimalism. By minimalists. Minimalism has never been a problem for the SB and I .... We tend toward the opposite extreme. Certainly not a shock to those of you who know us. We are so not minimal that we actually have a housemate. See, we even have people in the house in addition to the other treasures.

The housemate is gone for a month. In Hawaii. Lucky dog.

While she is away, we are tearing apart the house, rearranging work spaces and sorting and getting rid of a portion of our excesses via eBay, Etsy, Freecycle, Salvation Army, etc. It is no small job and it is in addition to the onset of gardening season. There is going to need to be some serious streamlining around here.

Because of the big projects and the potential to be moving my work space, I am not going to be on the internets much. Farewell world, until we meet again....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Before I get to far, let me just say that the ducks are fine. I know you were on the edge of your seat waiting to hear that. When I came in from the morning feeding I told the SB the good news. He was unsurprised. He said he is beyond attributing sense to the actions of the ducks. Which equates to "Who knows the mind of a duck?" We are on the same page I suppose.

In other news. ... My seeds have started to arrive. So far, I have expected the packages. There have been years where I have continued to receive fat little envelopes from seed companies whose names only sound vaguely familiar. When opened, they begged comments like "Did I order this?" "Don't I already have some of this?" etc. If you are a gardener, perhaps you understand.

Today's order from JUNG was relatively light. I got four 128-cell seedling trays,

4 packets of zinnias, some cutting celery, ground cherries (free), and some stupid teddy bear sunflowers (also free). The two bundles of strawberries will be shipped at the appropriate planting time. Oh yeah, and some foxglove. You see, this wasn't my REAL seed order. That arrived a few days ago from Southern Exposure. I was pretty sneaky with that.... I ordered with a neighbor, so when a relatively large envelope arrived, and was greeted by the SB's raised eyebrow, I had the excuse that not ALL those seeds were mine. It was a shared order. Probably 5-10% of that order would be leaving the house, but I didn't get specific on that.

Probably this weekend I will start some seedlings. I have 256 cells to plant since I have two trays that fit under my grow light and two heating mats. I am going to have to parse out what goes first.... spinach, beets, lettuce, chard.... some of these things go so fast, they won't even get started indoors. I think I am going to try radishes again, and just try to pick them early before they get so hot. I said I wouldn't do it again, but the prospect of vegetables from the garden in only a month is pretty compelling right now.... Kale, arugula and mustard may go straight into the garden. They go so fast... Then second plantings right into the garden to extend the season, the earliest stuff goes to make room for the summer things....

I have some plannin' to do!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Ducks are Nervous

I don't know what is up. The ducks are in a tight little flock and very nervy today. I didn't think to count them when I put them up as they were all discombobulated at the time.... we were putting them in and they got split up because they panicked. More panic ensued - squawking, running, falling, running, flocking....

I just went to take the compost out (while my new bottle of wine was breathing) and they were still freaked. So I went down to count them thinking perhaps something had happened to one which is why they were in a tiz. I can tell you that counting 9 or 10 brown, black and gray ducks in the semi dark while they are moving is a challenge. Especially when they are all flocked up tight. They are very quiet now. Which is odd. We usually hear them in the evenings quacking, or at least one of them quacks. Often. And I usually wish they would be quiet, but now I wish they would quack like normal so that I wouldn't wonder if there were 9 or 10 ducks out there. Be careful what you wish for. I guess we'll find out for sure tomorrow.

Maybe they have just been menaced by something during the day. Maybe there was a real attack. Maybe they think it is about time someone ate them since they aren't producing any eggs. Who knows the mind of a duck?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Bright Side

The best part of being woken up from a restful sleep at 5:30 AM by a cat who wants to go out and not being able to go back to sleep because now that you are up and all the snot has started to move around you can't really breath and when you do you start coughing like you are going to lose a lung is that you get to just decide to stay up and brew a pot of chai and watch the very orange-y sunrise.

That is the best part.

Polly Anna

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ah habba told.

I am stuffed up, snot filled and cranky. But no fever, so I am going to just try to lay low and rest. Even though I have a million things on the list. I think I will move "nap" up a few notches.

When I feel this way, I always want hot and spicy to loosen everything up. This morning I went straight for the chai. Here is the current recipe:

5-6 cardamom pods bruised
6-7 whole cloves
a pinch of cinnamon
20 red pepper flakes
4-5 fat slices of ginger
grating of fresh nutmeg
generous grind of black peppercorns

This all goes in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. It simmers for a while (like 5 minutes), and you can steep it too if you have to go out and feed the ducks or an errand or something. When you get back to it, heat it up to just about to simmer and add 4 level measuring teaspoons of tea (why do you think they call them teaspoons - duh). Let that sit at just under a simmer for a couple minutes. I use a mix of Earl Grey and Indian teas. After 2 minutes or so, add 1/2-3/4 cup of whole milk and about 4 t. sugar (or to taste). Let that sit a couple minutes and then strain it into a warm teapot. Steam your face with it before imbibing. Think that perhaps you may survive, but if you don't at least you will die caffeinated and warm.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Have you seen this?

Wow, one of my new totally favorite internet stops.

Here are a couple of urban farm blogs I have been dropping by as well. And what do they have that I don't, besides goats, rats, rabbits, chickens and horses plowing the gardens? Pictures. I have to work on that.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Waxing Practical

I don't know if you have read the book Goat Song yet. It's a nice read. The author is eloquent about his passion for goats and especially cheese making. Poetic even.

I am a practical person. So tonight, I waxed my cheddar cheeses. I melted the wax in a re-purposed tomato can with an old boar bristle basting brush. The job would be considered well done if it was the product of a 10 year old. Since I am considerably past that decade, I will say that it is adequate. I am sure when the SB sees it, he will want to touch it all up and make it more even - he likes things to be beautiful more than practical... (which is to say he probably married the wrong woman, but that is a different story.) I am fine with it just being done. I love done.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I am not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do have some lists... In addition to the "get more exercise" and "stop eating so much bacon" on that list, there are a few other things.

I want to learn how to make those looped wool rugs. Not latch hooked rugs, but the real thing with strips of wool.
I want to make my own soap.
I want to make cheese from my own goat milk.
It goes on like this.... Some items very ambitious, others so do-able.

Today, I crossed one of the things off the list.... That was making my own laundry soap. I have no idea where I got this recipe, but it takes about 10 minutes to put together. Or less.

3 cups borax
2 cups baking soda
2 cups washing soda
1 small bar of castile soap, grated

Mix it all up and use a 1/8 cup per load.

I whipped it up this AM and ran 3 loads so far. Even the SB's outdoor work jeans came clean (at least as clean as they ever do).

The big bonus is that I won't have to have plastic containers kicking around. I hate those things, even if they are "recycle-able". Oddly, this is what drove me to start making my own yogurt as well. Though I do still sometimes buy yogurt if I lose my culture.

Nice to have one thing off the list as the bacon thing isn't going anywhere as of yet.


When I came home from work last night I found the SB working outside despite the dark. He told me that he was trying to tighten up the building materials we are collecting for the goat barn and garden pavilion because the little birdies were predicting snow. Of course, he meant it literally. He is convinced that the flying patterns of the small birds changes when snow is imminent. They fly low to the ground and flit from grassy clump to seedy stalk. I told the SB that the weather did not call for snow.

Later we went out to our local theater for a show and a few drinks at one of our favorite restaurants post show. (It was like old home week there and we ran into about 8 people we knew - the benefits of a relatively small town.) When we got home around 1AM, the SB said to me, "I guess the birdies were wrong." Except that they weren't cuz I woke up this morning to a light dusting of the white stuff.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Homesteading moments

I was just cutting the curds in my second batch of cheddar this morning. On the counter next to me was the start of some homemade biscuits (the flour, salt and baking powder mixed with the home rendered lard waiting for the SB's wake up time, it is after all, his birth week celebration). I realized I hadn't heard the ducks in a while, and like small children, one should be concerned they are up to something when they are not making copious amounts of noise... So I put down my curd cutting knife and look out the window. Yes, they were there at the alley, contemplating a sprint across the gravel to the neighbors yard. So I stopped everything and dashed outside in my yoga pants and apron to bring the ducks back to the garden where they could roam in a state of semi freedom while I attended to the more pressing tasks of making cheese and breakfast. We are so effing homestead here I can't stand it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"It won't be long now"

This is the actual phrase that went through my head last night as I was falling asleep. I had been kid wrangling late which gave me lots of time to work on my 2011 spring garden plan (we won't even pretend that it is for the full season since we know that I am a winging it kinda gardener). As I sat there staring at my blocks and being super thankful that the SB is a guy who really likes digging, it seemed like spring and planting was just around the corner. Granted, I'll put some stuff in the basement under lights around the end of February, and we may put some stuff in a cold frame sooner, but really, harvest is not so close. The earliest would be April, right? March in the cold frame.... 90 days.... 1/4 of a year.... Sigh. I guess it is closer than it was a month ago.

I will be inventorying my seeds and making my first orders Sunday. This is the Season of Danger when it comes to blowing lots of cash on garden stuff. I have an ENTIRE drawer full of seeds. I can always convince myself I need more, different, better, faster, stronger seeds. Truly, how do non gardeners get through the winter?