21 September 2008

Independence Days Update

Oh my, this is a belated post. We've been too busy doing stuff to sit down and write!

Umm ... no. Frosts are here, it's not planting time. :)
However, seeing this on the list makes me think again about finding something to grow lettuce in on the windowsill.

Lots of calendula blossoms (more on that below). I also have started gathering calendula seeds from the flowers that I left too long (umm ... I did that on purpose! I did mean to save seeds ... just not quite yet. Still, it works.) We had beets from the garden, and the last carrots, and every so often we get potatoes. The tomatoes are actually ripening on the frost bitten vines, so there is still hope of tomato paste for winter! The Boy has harvested more rose hips for me, and I gathered some more, along with yarrow and clover blossoms, the other day.

I dehydrated the last batch of apples, and have cooked up more juice and syrup. The most recent batch of flowers and rose hips are in the dehydrator. The earlier rose hips have been cooked down into juice, and the calendula blossoms that are already dry are soaking in olive oil.

We went to a farm auction and I scored several boxes of canning jars for $15. I've been using them to store bulk purchases of pasta, baking supplies and the dehydrated apple bits I've been putting up.
I consider all our infrastructure work to fall into this category as well, and we've done a lot here: we have a completed hay feeder for the sheep, of a design that ought to reduce waste and keep at least some of the hay out of their neck wool (which in turn increases the value of the wool). The Boy stained the feeder with leftover stain from the house, so it is protected from the elements and should last a good while. We have the barn up and in use: this will help us to avoid frozen lambs for early births, gives us a place to milk the cow, and the whole thing generally makes it possible for us to improve our livestock management. We won't ever make a living from just 6 acres ... but we want to have options, and we want to take the best possible care of the animals we do have.

Managed Reserves
The pantry is getting very full! We need to do an inventory very soon, but that can wait for cooler weather when the outside jobs are done. We continue to watch for our 'staple products' to show up on sale - flour, oil, pasta, canned tomatoes (we are nowhere near self sufficient on that yet), beans and spices. Any time these things are on sale, we pick up a few spares, and into the pantry they go. We never shop for "what we will eat this week" - we just keep the pantry stocked, and eat from there.

Cooked Something New
We must surely have cooked something new since the last time I posted, but I'm not sure what it might have been. Ah yes, The Reluctant Farmer has reminded me ... we had Lambili (chili made with ground lamb). It was awesome!
I did make something new that isn't edible but did involve cooking, so I'll put that here. I made calendula ointment, and it is lovely! Dried calendula blossoms are soaked in olive oil for a good long while (like, a few weeks) until the oil has absorbed the flower essence. This oil is then filtered into a pot and some beeswax is added ... the whole thing is heated until the wax melts, then the finished compound is put into jars and cooled. The wax and flowers give the finished product a lovely smell, and the oil and wax together give a good consistency for ointment. Calendula is used for skin irritations like rashes and scrapes, and mixed with the oil and beeswax it makes a lovely soothing ointment.

Reduced Waste
We continue to use up scrap lumber and building materials wherever we can: The Reluctant Farmer built a new dog self-feeding station out of an old wooden walkway/pallet thing that was lying around and some scrap plywood. The dogs need to be able to eat whenever they are hungry (and the cats and chickens help themselves as well, so we like the food to be out all the time). The eating area needs to be out of the rain and snow, though, or the food gets soggy. We had an old feeder that was repurposed from our generator house ... but the wood caught the water and the feed had gotten mouldy, so it was burned today (in a rather more stunning conflagration than we expected) and the new feeder was put in place. We will be adding a food dispenser to this one, although it's not done yet - most likely the dispenser will be made from an old garbage can.

Worked on Local Food Systems
Can't think of anything in particular to add to this category ... unless hatching out chicks the natural way in your own yard (so that you can eat the eggs they produce - if they are hens - or the chickens themselves - if they are roosters) counts.

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