19 August 2010

Independence Days Update

Wow, not even sure when the last time I posted one of these was. I’ll just kinda go from ‘recent memory’:

Planted: I put in more beans, and found some potatoes that were in a bin with sawdust and sprouting so I put them in the ground and I see leaves coming up. Cool.

Harvested: Pulled up some carrots (oh, there’s nothing like carrots fresh from the garden!), some lettuce, radishes, and the first fresh green beans. I took carrots and beans to work, sliced them, microwaved them, and served them over rice (we actually have a rice maker in the office kitchen – I work at the coolest office). Oh, and some onions.

Also harvested some more herbs – calendula blossoms, plantain leaves, more yarrow, and some red clover (some of which I shared with a friend who is suffering terribly from The Change). The plaintain leaves are awesome for bug bites and burns.

Preserved: Mom brought me a new hot water bath canner (huge, and on sale for $17 in her small town store!) and several baskets of peaches, so I made peach/strawberry jam and peach syrup. Dehydrated the aforementioned herbs. The greens from the carrots are dried and crumbled into a big bucket for the chickens over the winter – no point composting them when we’ve got critters who would think they were a treat come the snow.

Waste Not: I suppose drying the carrot greens probably counts. I’ve also conditioned my coworkers to keep leftover food and such for the chickens, so we’ve had several ‘gifts of leftover rice and snacks’ for chicken food. The dogs have also been eating bones and scraps from the freezer. Ah, yes, The Boy took apart an old chicken coop in such a way as to salvage the metal roofing that was used (the wood bits were all sent to the dump for burning, but they were beyond recovery).

Want Not (Preparations): Not much happening that fits this precisely: The Reluctant Farmer did get the siding completed on the outside of the house (which will help with heat loss, aside from looking much nicer), we have the second woodstove here (but still not installed)… oh, we did chop and stack more firewood, that counts. I actually moved the existing piles to a new location, raised off the ground (for better drying) and closer to the house (better accessibility even in winter). The fourth pasture was also enclosed for sheep this spring, and I always include infrastructure work in this category, so that counts too. Oh, and the new sheep shelter has all the walls built, it just needs a roof.

Community Food Systems: Had a contact from a local farmer who has a ‘Garlic Festival’ at her place in a couple of weeks – haven’t actually responded, but I hope to attend. Have had more people looking for grass-fed lamb – we could have twice the flock we have now and still sell out every year, it’s amazing.

Eat the Food: Carrots and lettuce, beans and carrots. Not a lot else just yet. Oh, I have used sleep tincture made from the wild lettuce and catnip I’ve grown, that counts.


  1. Will you still get beans if you plant at this time? I've got a couple of empty patches now where I've pulled peas, shallots and bolted lettuce. Any other ideas for plantings this late in the year?

    And why do you prefer to feed the chickens rather than compost? Is their manure richer than the compost you would get? I'm still new at the chicken thing. I've not dried anything for them yet - I'm just overfeeding them at the moment!

  2. Hmm, planting beans now might get you some nice little ones to eat, even if not the 'full sized beans for drying' - probably depends on the weather though, like everything else in gardening. Try it - all you've got to lose is a few seeds, and the chickens will happily eat the pea vines if the frost gets them before anything productive happens.

    We feed the chickens everything they could possibly eat because with a barnyard full of animals, we have absolutely no shortage of compost. :) I'd rather the chickens ate the leftovers and then gave me eggs or meat, plus it reduces my chicken feed bill! Almost all the compost we use around here is at least 50% manure (the rest being hay/straw ... and the odd bit of kitchen stuff, but we're talking an ice cream pail full every week or so, if that). I figure it's best to wring every bit of nutrition out of the food, then compost only what's left (either the stuff even the chickens won't eat - which isn't much, or what the chickens produce AFTER they eat, which is extremely high in nitrogen).

    For chicken food drying ... save all your carrot tops etc and hang in bundles to dry, then crumble into a big bucket. Mix that with their regular winter feed so they get some greens. I dry the beet tops that way too (we don't generally eat them) and if I make jelly or something that leaves fruit pulp behind that I don't want to make into human food, I'll dry that and crumble it into the mix as well.

  3. I'm not sure how to go about drying the pulp of apples after juicing them, or the peels and cores after making pie filling. It's so humid and damp outside that that's not an option. I think I'll lay some of it out in our garage and feed them daily now before it rots. Good idea about the carrot tops and greens. I'll have to figure out a system that works with the space I've got.

  4. Ah, yes, I have a dehydrator for mushy stuff. :) Totally worth it! Uses way less embodied energy than canning and helps me save 'bits and pieces' I otherwise would end up feeding to chickens (or worse). A bit of orange rind zested onto one tray, a sorry leftover bit of celery cut up on another, some tired apples made into sauce & drying as fruit leather ... leave it overnight, and voila! Preserved food!


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