Sunday, May 04, 2008

Independence Days Week 1

Sharon Astyk has a new challenge over at Casaubon's Book, and like the Dark Days of Winter challenge, it fits nicely with my own goals. So, I'm hoping to use it as personal motivation to accomplish things on a daily basis and keep myself on track throughout the busy season.

The rules are simple: every day or every week work on one of the several categories listed below. My goal is to do at least one of them every day, and so here's my week one update.

1) Plant something:

This week I planted my hulless oats (which I know are incredibly late going in but such is life) and quinoa down in my grain test plot, a row of radishes, a couple rows of dill, a row of oregano, and several rows of lettuce. I also got the banana fingerling potatoes cut up, and Jim got them in the ground yesterday.

2) Harvest something:

This week I harvested lettuce, asparagus, spinach, chard, cilantro, turnips, radishes, thyme, chives, green onions, sorrel, dill, and spring garlic.

3) Preserve something:

At this point in the season, my goal isn't so much to preserve something as to be using up last year's preserves to make way for the new season's round of preserves. So, in that vein, we've been using tomato paste, frozen cherry tomatoes, basil, chutney and jams, as well as heritage chickens and pork.

4) Store something:

I've been slowly building up our food stores with coop purchases. Last week I added rice, which would've been purchased regardless because we were out, salt, popcorn, peanut oil and coconut oil.

5) Prep something:

Last weekend I sheared our sheep, and this weekend we attended the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and purchased some wool carders to begin processing our wool. We also got some felting needles for fun and some local dyed cotswold curls. I'd hoped to also find a Navajo spindle for spinning the wool, but no one had one, so we're planning to make a few here at home.

I also got my milking machine this week that I ordered used from ebay. Hopefully, our milk cow will come to live with us by the end of this month!

6) Manage something:

This week managing the high tunnel has been my biggest focus, particularly battling a slug invasion. Apparently the slugs that managed to overwinter in there have now reproduced in a small explosion. I spent 2 hours on 2 consecutive nights out handpicking the slugs and hopefully made a significant dent in the population. I pulled some yellowed foliage from the lettuce bottoms and worked to create more air circulation in general to help prevent disease and remove some of the sheltered, moist environment for the slugs. All of this booty went to the chickens and the geese who were quite happy! I also pulled some of the bolting veggies to make room for new sowings and put one of my laying hens in for a few hours to help prep the bed and remove the buggies.

Also got most of my tomato seedlings potted up yesterday before heading out to the Sheep and Wool fest.

7) Cook something new:

This week, after enjoying a couple rounds of steamed asparagus, I roasted some with olive oil, sea salt and garlic as per Madeline's instructions, and it was fabulous! Here it's accompanied by heritage chicken rotisseried on the grill, salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, poached new potatoes marinated in the same vinaigrette, and herb focaccia bread.

8) Add something to local food systems:

This week we continued to deliver delicious, organically grown produce to our 3 annual CSA members. I gave my neighbor some of our scrap greenhouse plastic so he could finish building a small cold frame for some of his vegetable starts as well as sharing some of our eggs and lettuces with them. I emailed my local bulk co-op on delivery day to let them know I have eggs and produce available that I can bring to pick up and sold a bag of lettuce. I'm also working on setting up our farm site to take pre-orders for produce, kind of like a virtual farm stand.

9) Compost something:

We compost everything.

10) Learn something:

The girls and I are learning how to needle felt, and last night I began working on a garden goddess. I'm also learning as much as I can about wool processing, as I mentioned earlier.

My beehives are finished, and I plan to set them up today for the bees arrival next weekend. So, I'm also reading and learning as much as I can about organic beekeeping, which there's not a lot of support for here at the local level, unfortunately. Thank goodness for the internet!


Madeline said...

We are out of our asparagus for the year but I ate it every night for three weeks so am ok until next spring. I've decided that gorging on each food as it comes in seasonally will continue to sustain me rather than putting up all of our food. It is so cool that you are felting with your own wool.

Verde said...

Hi there, I'm checking out the blogs of others doing the Independence Day challenge also.

Yours is a great blog and I look forward to future reading.

Deb said...

I love to read your blog. You make me feel like I can achieve my goals each day even though the list never gets shorter. :0) Congratulations on all that you are learning and doing. It is such a wonderful gift to your family.
We are just now getting in the gardens in the North as it's been cold and rainy. I am envious of your greenhouse and the greens you are eating now.....welcome to the world of bees. We put in one hive last year and just added two recently. I am by no means an expert but would be happy to talk "bees" if you had a question or two. They were a wonderful addition to our farm last year and we truly noticed a difference in our gardens thanks to the bees.

Enjoy your needle felting. I'm not much of a felter although I raise sheep and process my wool. I find I prick my fingers too many times. :0)


Christy said...

You are quite an inspiration! I'm participating in the challenge but don't expect my progress to be great for awhile.

Ren said...

I don't have a ton of support here for the organic beekeeping either. A couple folks know parts of it, but nobody does it whole hog.

I saw a book online...I think it was simply titled "organic beekeeping", that I'd like to get.

Can't wait to see it all!!

tansy said...

could you turn the geese loose in the high tunnel to get the slugs? i've never owned geese but my dad says they won't eat the veggies.

Danielle said...

I agree Madeline, that so much of eating seasonally has to do with enjoying the fresh food while it lasts. I definitely miss it later, but the current fresh stuff tastes so much better than some pale comparison.

Thanks for the comments Verde and Deb. I really enjoyed checking out your blogs as well. Deb, so many beautiful photos!

Christy, I can't imagine trying to get anything done while also trying to sell my house. Go easy on yourself!

Ren, I have a book called _Natural Beekeeping_, which is pretty good. I'll have to search for the one you're talking about. See you soon!

Tansy, surprisingly enough, geese are strictly vegetarian. They're the only fowl you can raise exclusively on pasture. So, no, they won't do much for the slug population. I'll need to figure out a way to get the chickens in there to eradicate the bugs before planting.

I'd like to figure out a way to get them to give the entire hoop house a good going over prior to planting, but with the succession planting, I've pretty much always got something coming up. Right now the mobile cage you see in the photo is my best plan.

My sister-in-law used it for her dog, but passed it down to us when she no longer needed it. Didn't know what I'd use it for at the time, but knew it would come in handy in some fashion or other. It folds down accordion style.