Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

Jul 13, 2020

Harvest Time, Modern Thermal & Haybox Cooking History, Graduation, Best Lemon Cake! Landscaping A Narrow Area


Harvest Time-
We've harvested our first peppers, cherry tomatoes and Lavender! Still lots of eggs and herbs.  Love the lavender, but I left some for the bees-  


Made some bundles to bring inside-






Tomatoes getting ripe!


Yellow squash-


Lots of cucumber blossoms, Lemon cukes and slicing-


Yellow Gypsy peppers- 


Kohlrabi may be going to seed-


Blackberries are LOADED, starting to turn colors-


Pumpkins in the back, row of green beans and Italian peppers in front-






 Modern Thermal & Haybox Cooking History-
I signed up for emails from Milkwood.net, a Permaculture organization. They have tons of free information! I read this article Milkwood Thermal Cooking , photos courtesy their website. There's a fascinating history going back quite a while bringing foods to a boil and then putting them into a hay filled box. Basically a non-electric heavily insulated box. Some of the photos show you can make an insulated bag with a lid and use that instead. I may look into buying one of the insulated containers, see below.  I'm pricing styrofoam beads and I might make one instead. Good idea for all kinds of reasons! Bring food to a boil, put into insulated container, walk away, come back later, food is cooked!




Best Lemon Cake! 
I made this for 4th of July, amazing. I've made this for decades, recipe here- East 62nd Street Lemon Cake  I garnished with fresh lemon slices! Keeps well up to a week, very moist and not too sweet.



Graduation-
The chicks have been doing really well outside and have gotten pretty big. After about four or five days being integrated with the big hens they started playing in the coop! I thought that was sign that they were getting comfortable being out there. We still have the little condo set up gives them a separate shadier area, but they're using the coop more and more-



Roosting during the day

Up on the top at night

They were so small when we started out!





Landscaping A Narrow Area-
After we added our new stone walkway this bed basically was empty. We had some ground cover, which died during construction. Dave and I wanted to add something, and I thought about getting something taller to fill the space. It's on the north side of the house and gets some sun late in the day.  I found this photo on Pinterest, skinny conifers for tight spaces, which got me thinking- 


So here's was our blank slate, we had already bark dusted, and Dave waves! 


We went to Lowe's and found quite a few 50% off plants, scored!  We bought three Emerald and Gold Euonymus (only $4.00 each!), one dwarf English Boxwood, one Green Velvet Boxwood, one Cool As Ice Fescue grass and one Emerald Spreader Yew, the large one is a Juniper, sorry lost the tag! I tried to find a nice assortment of colors, shapes and sizes to go against the light gray house paint. All fo these can be pruned if they get too tall- 




We had one leftover plant so we added it to the bed by the coop- 







Jul 1, 2020

Independence Day's Challenge & Happy 4th of July!



Independence Day's Challenge & Happy 4th of July!
Happy Fourth of July everyone! Hope everyone is doing well where you are. Here's a peak at some of our fun Fourth of July decor, most of it thrifted!








For my Independence Days Challenge here are a few different projects we've been working on...

Independence Days Challenge-

1. Plant Something- Nothing new to plant, still watching the garden grow.


2. Harvest Something- We got our first bell pepper, eggs, herbs, Lavender. Ready to harvest- Kale and Collard greens and Blackberries are almost ready-








3. Preserve/Store Something- I'm still working on doing more fermenting. Since I have a four-day weekend coming I plan on doing some more veggie batches. I'm also freezing more foods. I got some great deals on barbecue chicken parts, which I froze for the winter. Prices are cheap right now! We have pears and apples on the tree, pretty soon we'll be preserving those. Will do canning and maybe some freezing. Sadly only a handful of peaches this year, I think our 24° night that we had killed most of the blossoms. Bummer.

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- I found some good used books and DVDs on eBay. I bought a book with fermenting veggies recipes. Always on the lookout for good deals at the grocery store to stock up on as usual. 

5. Eat the Food- Try New Foods/Recipe- I'm working on some older recipes I haven't done in a while. Last night I made this The Great Sardini Sandwich. I did add 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, yummy!



Will be making some Muffuletta Sandwichs as those are great for hot days too! 

4. Manage Reserves- Get a Good Deal/Barter/Stock Up/Prep- I found some good used books and DVDs on eBay. Always on the lookout for good deals at the grocery store to stock up on. Groceries too! 

6. Build Community Food Systems- Haven't been any farmer's markets open and many of them right now are drive up only, with orders ahead of time. Have been giving extra eggs to my kids.

7. Recycle/Re-Use- I repainted our bedroom curtain rod to white to match the rest of the hardware, and the trim in the room better. I used my own paint and upcycled my curtain rod by giving it a fresh coat of paint, no cost! Before picture- 


Painted outside-


All done! 

I used our paint tarp on top of the chick condo to keep them dry during the rain as well as some plastic we have on hand. I have updated a few things in my work from home office to be more comfortable. I suspect this is going to be a long-term proposition but I'm happy I have a job! And they also earned PTO the time I was off on low census for my work, awesome! I had a beautiful Bluebeard shrub that we had moved to our backyard, then got overtaken by blackberries oh, so I moved it again, it survived! I was able to borrow one of my daughters old CD and radio boomboxes so I can have some tunes while I'm working. It can be pretty boring working alone in the house by myself.

I will be re-painting my fave snowman sign, white paint it pretty worn, looking pretty dilapidated. I will ad some new fabric strips on the arms as well. I will use exterior house paint for durability-


Dave finished up a couple of bird houses we've got to up, and the next one I'm working on painting. I got rained out! What can you do? Next to paint with house paint is this one, made from recycled cedar we had-


Dave made this with recycled cedar and a Utah licence plate-




Dave got a spare pulley (bottom) and made a round birdhouse. It has a spoon for a perch. I bought the vintage funnel on eBay, $10.00, cute!


                                    
8. Skill Up- still working on my Retrosuburbia book for more ideas for our lot. Thinking about having a keyhole garden added on an existing flower bed in the front yard to add strawberries. I'd like to get more edibles into the front yard.

9. Regenerate What is Lost/Salvage Something- We currently have some hard water spots on our two front windows, so I have decided to scrub them down with some Lime Away. We did this at my one daughter's house and it worked great. Their windows were much worse than ours. I started thinking that I'm looking out through water stains all day, at work in my home office. Should be easy to fix. We sprayed on Lime Away on the glass, after we watered down the plants below first to protect them. Next we scrubbed the lime away and I'll let it sit for a few minutes, next to rinse it off and see if you need to repeat. Pretty cheap fix.

Monday we're having Stanley Steamer come over and clean our carpets and couch. They did a great job a few years ago, just a lot of wear and tear. I wish we could afford to get hardwood through the whole house, but that's not going to happen. We have a really excellent Flexsteel couch that's just needing a good cleaning. Since they're coming anyway I'm going to have them do it!



We're currently looking at a way of rebuilding our existing coop without tearing the whole thing down. Most of the wood structure is still in pretty good shape, but it's the base it's the problem. We decided we don't really want to spend the money to tear the whole thing down, start over and have to move it to another location on the yard. So we may go ahead and bolster up the foundation, adding a stone/brick floor with dirt on top to keep the chickens from digging down so far. The chickens digging down into the soil is what's destabilizing a base. Time will tell...




Jun 29, 2020

Record Rain & Cold for June! Chick Ark and Garden Progress


Record Rain and Cold for June!
We got into the nineties two days ago and then this morning it was 48 degrees and pouring rain. A high of 60 degrees. A cold front blew in last night with some rain, thunder and a little lightning. This is getting kind of old! While I love having the greenery it's been challenging doing things outside. Neighbor's deck this morning-


Forecast this week-


Big storm today- 





 Chick Ark and Garden Progress-
I had our little girl chicks out in the garden after they "graduated" from being inside. Dang weather. We built a great little enclosure, separated from the two hens, hawk proof, to get everyone acclimated-


Yesterday I debated on either locking them up in the big coop with the big hens, but I thought there might be some aggression issues. Heavy rain was on the way. They've only had a few times out in the main garden with the big girls! Dang weather!


I decided to just cover their enclosure to keep them as dry as possible last night. It looked pretty funky but it seemed to work pretty well. This morning and afternoon after hard rain it was 90% dry inside. I used the painting tarp over the big tomato teepee area and then added wired-down clear plastic sheeting over most of the rest of it-


Girls nice and dry on upper deck, pine shavings and dirt dry below-


In the garden it's definitely is green from all this rain! The cabbages are doing great-


Kale ready to eat! Tomatoes on the other side growing fast!!! 


It is supposed to be in the 90's for my four-day weekend for 4th of July, happy dance! What's your weather doing???




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