Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It's still winter

Everything outside is white.  These Minnesota winters take some getting used to.  I HAVE to have a greenhouse, otherwise I'm going to go nuts.

Latest doings-- I'm almost finished building my beehive.  I was too late to get bees, but I'm happy about the the beehive!  Next year.

Bellydancing is way too much fun.  I'm not very good at it, but I sure enjoy it.

My daughter Camilla is going to serve her mission in California.  This is such a wonderful thing.

I applied to have "Edible Estates" do my front yard.  Let's see if I get picked!

It's been so cold this past winter I've had to have Frankie and the chickens in the garage several times.  They're in there right now.  I need to get their coop better insulated next year.

I'm almost at the end of teaching a knitting class to a group of 1st/2nd graders.  It is really hard to teach something so "hands on" to a group.  I know they've enjoyed the class.  All of them have learned to knit at some level.  Some have really caught on, some not so much.  One of the girls latched onto finger knitting and I haven't gotten to get her back to try anything else.  She just happily uses up yarn as fast as she can.  It's cute.  They are all cute, there are just too many of them to have much real teaching going on.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Everytime I shop I vote with my money

Everytime I shop I vote with my money.  As I become more and more concerned with eating organically and sustainably  I am trying to spend money the way I believe.  I want the animals I eat to have had a decent life. I don't want to be supporting chemical farming practices.  I don't want to support wage slavery (or actual slavery).

Last year I joined a CSA.  Last year I met a farmer who raises pigs and cattle.  I bought a pig and had it butchered.  That has been a good experience, although it was way too much meat for our family.  It was just a huge temptation to eat it all.  While I am ok with eating meat it should be eaten sparingly.  This year I am going to attempt to grow A LOT more of our own vegetables.  This year I'm thinking about buying a cow, but asking several people to go in on it with us.

Other things I'm going to try this year.  Beekeeping.  I'm taking a wood working class and am going to build a Top Bar Beehive.  From there I'll attempt to ....  keep/shepherd/watch/grow/allow/supervise a colony of bees.  See how that works out.

I am a part of a co-op where they have bulk food available.  I bring my own containers and fill them there.  I just love that.  I use mason jars for just about all of my food storage and I bring a box of them to the co-op and fill them there.  It is really cool and I have lots of people say, "I wish I had thought of that."

Lots of plans for this coming year!

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I've been trying to use less and less plastic.  I joined the local co-op and just figured out you can bring your own containers and fill them there.  AND they have a big variety of stuff in the bulk department.  I always noticed they had granola and beans, but they also have spices!  Lots and lots of spices.  This is so much fun. I'm using my mason jars.  Pretty soon this whole house is going to be run off of mason jars.  I am so leery of the BPA in the cans and I'm trying to use less plastic, so glass just seems safer.  The reuseable lids of the mason jars also has BPA in it, but that does not touch the food and I'm looking into alternatives for that also. So far the hardest thing not to use plastic on is freezer bags.  I know you can freeze in glass, but I've done it and I've had shattered glass in my freezer, not pretty.  I'm still working on that one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

it's getting colder

It's near the end of the leaf season.  I might be able to get a bit more, but I've got about twice as much as I had last year, hopefully I won't run out again. I've got big plans for next year's garden and all those leaves will make it happen. We got rid of the minivan and it is a lot harder to gather leaf bags with the toyota.  I still manage.

The big news around here is that my mother, who was staying with us, moved into her own apartment.  She's so happy to be on her own again.  It is a senior community, so they have services available.  It is a bit quieter around here now.

The chickens are laying eggs, at least two of them are.  Yesterday I gathered the most enormous egg, it was a double yolk.  Huge.  I never get tired of reaching into the nesting box and pulling out some eggs.  It is just fun.

We're still experimenting with the pork we bought.  Yesterday I used the smoked bacon with some kale (kale from the CSA stored in the freezer).  Today I made pie, using some some lard I rendered and tonight we're having pizza with sausage I made.  I think the biggest hit so far from the pig has been the slow cooked ribs.  We do not normally eat a ton of meat and I'm trying to use this pig up gradually, at our normal meat eating pace, but I really like having it in the freezer.  It's also a joy to have all the CSA and garden food in the freezer.  Next year I need to do more canning, we totally ran out of freezer room this past year.

Something I feel really strongly about is to NOT have a lot of stuff.  Lately I've been going through my closets and tossing stuff I haven't used in a the past year or so.  Feels good.  I'm positive I got the recessive gene; most people love to accumulate, I love throwing stuff away (actually I give most of it to a thrift store).  The present part of Christmas is a real trial to me.  More stuff.  I love the music, the food, the decorations, the mood, the stories, the scriptures, the worship of our Savior, but the presents?  No.  I have everything I need and I don't like contributing to others having excess stuff.  It's hard on me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

the latest

What's been happening on the homestead?  Well, it is fall and the garden has been put to bed.  Now I'm working on gathering all the leaves and wood chips I can for next year.  I had an astounding amount last year, but it all ran out well before the gardening season was over, so I need more.  However much I have I need more.  I guess that is the way of compost, you just need more.  I am planning on enlarging the strawberry bed and I'm going to put cardboard and wood chips down so the ground is ready next spring.  I guess that is the main thing I'm doing this fall-- prepping for spring.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

makin bacon

Now that I have our hog slaughtered and in our freezer I made my first attempt to cure and smoke a pork loin.  Which is another way to say I tried to make bacon.  The curing is insanely easy.  I used 2.5 part kosher salt 1 part sugar and a generous grinding of black pepper.  I rubbed it all over the pork loin and let the loin sit, uncovered, in the frig for a week.  Every day I'd pour off the excess liquid and rub in more of the salt mixture, as needed.  Curing=easy   Smoking=hard    After a week I attempted to smoke it.  First I rinsed the surface salt off and used paper towels to dry it off.  Then I put it in the grill with a little fire off to one side and the pork loin smoking on the far side.  I do have a thermometer and I know how to use it, but at the same time let's just say the entire thing was difficult to ruin. I tried.  I just couldn't keep the temperature even in our outdoor grill.  I was aiming for just under 200 degrees, but after a couple of hours of waaaay too hot alternating with waaaay too cold I gave up and brought it in the house.  I carved off a bit of the overcooked pieces and it is absolutely delicious.  We sliced it as thin as we could (it is still pretty thick for bacon) and fried up the slices up for BLTs with our fresh garden tomatoes.  Fabulous.  Randall had some in the morning with his fried eggs and said they tasted like mini pork chops with his eggs.  Home made bacon it an amazing treat.  It's only been a couple of days and we've eaten more than half of the pork loin.  It is so yummy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

old people with guns

Randall and I went out to visit our son Carl.  He's just back from being deployed in Afghanistan.  He took his old parents out to the shooting range and attempted to teach us how to shot.  It was pretty entertaining!  I was easily the worst of us three.  Carl is instructor-level good.  Whatever the opposite of instructor is, that's what I am.