08 June 2008

Independence Days Update

What with the wedding and all, things have been a little chaotic ... this update will have to cover the last couple of weeks!

So, let's see:

This is the biggie: I got the garden in! As this is the first year for the garden, this was a bigger job than it'll be in the future. I built two long beds from scrap construction lumber (16x4) and divided into 1 foot squares marked off with nails and yarn (we are doing Square Foot Gardening). The raised beds were filled with four bags of potting 'stuff' purchased at Canadian Tire - a peat moss/vermiculite mix - and some black garden soil I had been given by a friend who had excess from his landscaping adventures (lovely dirt which has sat in a sorry, unused pile for two years). The resulting garden mixture is very light and holds water well, without compacting. The soil underneath is mostly, and won't grow much beyond pasture grass, so it was worth it to invest in a good growing mix to start. We'll amend with compost every year, and build up some good dirt so we can have more garden beds in the future.

The garden beds are spanned by hoops of leftover water tubing jammed onto leftover chunks of rebar pounded into the ground at intervals, and the hoops are draped with bird netting to keep the chickens and other critters out. I can also make shorter hoops and cover lower to the ground in spring to make a hothouse out of part or all of one bed. We will fence off the garden in the future, but the hoops will be useful even inside a fence (some of our chickens are good at flying!).

It's a bit early for harvesting things here yet. Well, there's lots of dandelions but I'm not yet quite sure how one eats those ... so I'm letting the sheep eat them.

Oh, I did harvest several fleeces: I sheared three sheep yesterday. The fibre is skirted and bagged and waiting for sale to handspinners - there's a lady nearby who is interested in some, and I'll be posting details of the rest for interested fibre people.

Nothing in this category until later in the year.

Stored & Prepped (I'm combining these this month)
We actually used some of our storage this past month: we had been purchasing things ahead of time, as they were on sale, knowing we'd need a lot of food for the wedding. So, we had crackers and condiments and such all in the pantry, ready to go when we needed it. We'll be restocking as things show up on sale over the next while, but we're still well set. That's such a good feeling.

The Boy was digging through his dresser the other day and found a pair of swim trunks that are too large - he took them downstairs to the Red Bin which has clothing of various sizes and is kept for 'when it's needed'. The Red Bin actually turned out to be useful this past weekend - my sister and her husband came to visit from Lithuania, and attended The Boy's 4-H Achievement Day with us. Luggage limitations meant they had no 'play clothes' for such an event, and the Red Bin turned up jeans and t-shirts for them to wear for the day!

Cook something new
Hmm, can't think of anything. We've been pretty busy. Does chili made with ground pork count as new? Oh, The Reluctant Farmer made his own taco seasoning from scratch. We had none of the premixed kind, so he went online, found a recipe, and made up a delicious home made seasoning from other spices we had on hand.

Local food systems Well, I built my own garden, and that's as local as you can get! :) I am also working on being part of the local food system as a producer: I called the butcher to get prices for having sheep processed, and it's much more reasonable than I expected ($63 per sheep, and that's with everything all cut and wrapped and ready for the freezer). A friend of mine gave our name to her physician, who has ordered two lambs from us - they're booked in for July, so we'll have our first meat sales this summer! We will also be having a few lambs prepared for our own use - nice to eat meat that you know was raised well and fed nothing but grass and alfalfa! Anyone got good lamb recipes?

Reduce waste
We purchased something second hand, so perhaps that counts in this category. We were given some money for a wedding gift, and put it towards a swimming pool. :) We all love the water, and we think we'll enjoy having our own pool, even if it isn't really big. This also has the handy effect of providing substantial amounts of water storage, just in case! ;)

Learn a skill
Nothing comes to mind ...

We are travelling next week, something that is unavoidably resource-intensive. We'll take our motorhome, which in this case is probably more efficient than any of the alternatives: with five of us going and all of us needing meals and a place to sleep when we get there, even with the cost of fuel being what it is, this makes sense. I realy like the fact that even on the road we get to eat from our own kitchen, and that clothes aren't stuffed into suitcases but are on shelves and hangers, easy to get to if someone needs a change of clothing en route. Besides, trying to feed little kids in restaurants is really impractical for any length of time - they are only hungry enough to eat half of any given portion, and then they're hungry again in three hours ... yup, a kitchen on wheels is definitely the way to go. :)

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