24 August 2008

Independence Days Update

Summer is a busy time around here!

Yes! I finally put some stuff in the empty spaces in the garden: Dinosaur Boy helped me in the garden yesterday, and we put in some more radishes (The Reluctant Farmer really likes them, and the first crop didn't do very well), some more carrots, and some lettuce.

Oh boy, did we ever harvest!
We pulled out most of the pea plants, as they were coming down with powdery mildew - this seems to happen most years, but we did get a really good harvest from the plants we took down, and a few healthy ones are still out there in the garden. These were all varieties of sugar snap peas. We also harvested a bunch of carrots, some beets, and more potatoes.
Today I went wandering along the back part of the property, and I found saskatoons! Wow! I had no idea we had them growing wild on our property, that's very exciting. I also harvested a bunch of rose hips, and found that the little red berries I see on the ground belong to a plant called a bushberry (sometimes called a dwarf dogwood) and that these are edible. So, I harvested a bowl full of those, too. The Boy picked another bunch of clover blossoms for me ... we left the basket down somewhere low, though, and the bunny got into the basket and ate most of them. Well, at least we had a very happy bunny!

We did more dehydrating: the peas we harvested, and their pods. The pods were dried on cookie sheets set inside the barbecue outside, where it is nice and hot during the day - they dried out quite nicely. I then ground them up in the Magic Bullet blender, and we'll feed those to chickens and the bunny over the winter (the bunny LOVES pea pods!).
I also tried lacto-fermentation for the first time: I preserved one jar of beans and one of sugar snap peas (in their pods) in a salt brine. I have no idea how these will turn out, but it is an easy way of preserving things, and I wanted to give it a shot.
I have a bunch of carrot tops outside drying, and we'll probably end up using them in soups or for critter feed.

The Reluctant Farmer cleared away the muck and leftover hay from the area behind our shed: we will be building a small lean-to barn on the back of the shed so that we have pens for the milk cow and calf to be separated at night, for the milking stanchion, and for lambing pens to hold expectant mothers, sick sheep, or mamas and their new lambs. It'll also give us a place out of the weather for shearing, treating sick sheep, and all those other jobs that are miserable to do in the wind and rain!
We also did more fencing ... we will be moving the cows to a new pasture as soon as the barbed wire is up, but at least the posts are in!

Managed Reserves
We continue to sort through the things in the basement: The Reluctant Farmer's storage unit is entirely empty now, so that's one less bill on the monthly accounts, and we are finding things of use and sorting and storing for the future. We are also getting rid of the excess: The Reluctant Farmer has managed to sell some things, and that effort will continue.
We have been eating out of the pantry and the garden a lot, and as we find things on sale at the store we do pick them up but we have made it a whole month without a 'big grocery store run'.

Cooked Something New
Lamb! We have had several cuts of lamb, done in different ways, and they've just about all been great. The ground lamb casserole didn't turn out so great, but the roast was amazing, done in the slow cooker with rosemary and cumin and garlic.
Today I made a syrup from the berries I harvested on our land - rose hips, saskatoons, and bunchberries. I cooked them all down in some water, strained through my wonderful jam and jelly strainer from Lee Valley, then heated the resulting syrup with some sugar and bottled it. We can use this to flavour drinking water, as it's not thick enough to use for syrup on pancakes or anything.

Reduced Waste
The trick we tried with the countertop compost bucket easier to work with seems to be a success: I put a handful of the wood shavings we use in the bunny's cage in the bottom, and boy, does the bin empty out easily! Compost is dumped in the garden, to make soil for next year.
Other than that, the usual tricks: reusable shopping bags, feeding leftovers to the various critters here, buying things with less packaging (like from the bulk section where possible).

Work on local food systems
Well, we are certified to sell our lamb to customers, so that makes us a local producer! We have been eating out of our garden, and the person we intend to buy some bison burgers from should have some ready ... that's up next!

1 comment:

  1. hi apple jack creek,

    thanks for the visit to It Strikes Me Funny and comments re life in a small dwelling.

    i will check out more floor plans and offer a few to my contact at City Hall. I'd like to see a small development of 6 - 10 wee homes in London so that people could see the bigger picture.

    theresa, from Alta. as well, at Ponder the Myriad Things A http://myriadthings.blogspot.com/ might enjoy your link too.


    gord h.

    ps enjoyed your next post too re Brownie. home grown food, reminds me of my childhood fav meals - chicken or rabbit, from the barn. i can't remember, however, giving any of them names.


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