Sunday, June 22, 2008

Independence Days Week 8

Two whole months of the challenge, and I'm in the space where there are times when I feel more overwhelmed than independent. Still, things are coming together, and I'm staying on top of the weeding for the most part. I still have planting to get done, and I'm waiting, waiting, waiting for summer things to mature. The tomatoes have flowers but no fruit yet; the bush beans have flowers; some of the squash are just starting to flower.

I've been so lucky this week to have a farm "intern" here helping, plus I've also gotten 5 hours over the past two weeks of CSA work share hours. I'm not quite going to know what to do next week when it's just me again. Hmmmm, WWOOFers are looking more attractive every day. If only I could guarantee they'd all be as wonderful as Brenna....

Plant:

This week I transplanted several seedlings: rhubarb, sage, paprika and Thai chilis, pennyroyal, peppermint, lovage, flax, feverfew, and some others I can't quite remember off the top of my head.

Harvest:

Various lettuces, purplette onions, green onions, kohlrabi, carrots, turnips, beets, spinach, rosemary, dill, tarragon, chives, garlic scapes, raspberries, milk, eggs, pork.

Preserve:

Chicken stock.

Store:

Baking powder, peanut butter, pasta, canning lids.

Prep:

Began laying irrigation lines. Picked up Silver Fox rabbit breeding stock, which also meant touring another farm and seeing their set up. Made a contact for defunct freezer chests, which make good rodent-proof feed storage containers and root cellars.

Manage:

Managed one of my freezers this week completely unintentionally as it quit on me. Ugh. This was a Maytag chest freezer that we just purchased in November for our turkey and poultry sales; obviously, it was still under warranty. Thankfully, we're in that freezer often enough that I noticed pretty quickly. The ice cream was liquid, but the meats hadn't begun to thaw yet. We transferred most of them down to our basement chest freezer and lost just some soup bones, which will go to the dogs. I made beef stock from some of them in order to preserve them, only to realize after the fact that I had no freezer space to store it. Bummer. Yet another argument for learning to pressure can, I guess.

Checked on my bees again to see how they're doing with the second hive bodies. Hive #1 is doing fabulously—already some capped brood in center of second hive body, lots of uncapped brood, eggs, and honey stores. It's looking like I may need to add another hive body in the next couple of weeks. Hive #2 is not nearly as strong. Still working on drawing out the foundation in the upper hive body, so I shifted some of the outer frames toward the center to encourage continued drawing out. Some honey stores beginning in the upper body, very few eggs seen in the center frame. I didn't see the queen in either hive, but I know she's been there in the past 3 days because of the presence of eggs.

Clearly this is my most intensive category and where much of my time is spent each week. This week I also finished side dressing all my tomatoes with compost, which will serve as both fertilizer and mulch. Jim finished installing the rebar trellis system for me, which should work well, and it's almost time to start tying them into the wires. I also, as I said, had help weeding this week, so the beds are looking really nice. We opened the agribon rows to weed and lay drip tape, and man, that's some fabulous stuff! My eggplants look fabulous this year. Contrast that with last year when the flea beetles took them out completely. Definitely worth the purchase, and I'll probably get another roll next year just to have on hand. Jim tilled and hilled the potatoes and patrolled for potato beetles.

Cook:

Artichokes, which turned out to be incredibly woody, unfortunately, as I blogged about under my One Local Summer post below.

Add:

CSA deliveries to 10 families: lettuces, onions, beets, turnips, chives, rosemary, dill, garlic scapes.

Reduce:

Participated in a local kids' stuff yard sale where the proceeds benefit the children's hospital. Emily, Julia, and Sam went through all their toys and pulled out lots to sell. All together, we made about $200 and donated the rest to Good Will on the way out.

Learn:

Learned how to sex rabbits.

9 comments:

el said...

With all that's on your plate, I would consider WWOOFers too! Isn't agribon great stuff? I use it in the greenhouse to keep things warm in the winter, but I also use it to keep flea beetles off the mizuna and tatsoi and other small brassicas in early spring. The eggplant seems to be free of them, but then, they're in the greenhouse, so... Fear not the canner, girl! Really and truly, it's easier than boiling-water bath canning. Less hot water, less steamy a kitchen, more variety of what you can, etc. I put up a couple of chickens in quart jars this week, only because the danged chest freezer is full of chicken. Like you, we need to get another one.

Country Girl said...

Wow, you have your hands full. I like the summary you do about your week. I am impressed by how little you buy at the store, I inspire to get to a point in my life where we are less and less dependent on the grocery store.
Love your blog, Kim

Verde said...

Cute Rabbit! The beginnings of another farm animal!

Laura H said...

Wow after reading that I feel like I could be doing a lot more:) How do you make your stock and how do you preserve it??

keep on typing I love reading what you guys are up to:) plus it gives me great ideas:)

Danielle said...

El, I lost all my Asian greens this spring either to bolting or to flea beetles. That was pre-agribon. I'm a convert!

Thanks Kim. I can still remember when this was all just a tiny seed of a dream. Jim and I would say to each other that some day we wanted to be able to have company for dinner and say that we grew all the salad ingredients ourselves. Wow, have we gone further than the salad! ;)

Verde, the rabbits are very sweet. We've been petting them every day, multiple times to get them used to us handling them, and they've been so good. Still a little skittish at times, but never any kind of aggression and not even too much running away.

Laura, thank you for the compliment. Whenever I make a roast chicken, I save the carcass to make stock. It's really easy. I just put it in a stockpot, cover with water, add a bay leaf and some other herbs and bring it to a boil. I then turn the heat down and simmer for a while—usually however much time I have, but at least a half hour.

If I've roasted the chicken inside instead of rotisserie on the grill, it's usually stuffed with onions and garlic already, so I don't add any new to the stock. Same things with salt, pepper, etc. Usually there's enough seasoning already on the bird from roasting it to flavor the stock, but I tend to make a pretty flavorful bird.

I then let the stock cool and strain it into big yogurt containers I've saved, label it, and freeze. (Yes, el, I know I should be pressure canning it! *grin*) If I'm making soup to freeze instead of stock, I would shred what was left of the chicken and put that in with the broth. When I pull out the soup to reheat, I add new veggies then.

Hope that helps!

Danielle said...

Laura, Chile over at Chile Chews just did an exhaustive post on making stock that you might want to check out.

Lewru said...

You are such an inspiration. Wow. What did you do in your pre-homestead life? You seem to have taken to this as naturally as a fish to water!

Madeline said...

I love that picture of Julia with the rabbit. She looks so proud. I hope they are easy on her and her business thrives! Gillen has one poult left but he is going strong. We are back to giving the extra protein mix. Thanks for the help.

It would be amazing to have Brenna! wow. I hope we get so lucky one day. The woofers we have had over the years have been so great. We are creating better housing for them right now so that we can host more.

Tim said...

Walmart has pressure canners for about $65. I myself would love to find one somewhere else as I am preturbed at Wallyworld at the moment. But they are there along with a bunch of freezing supplies. Wow you are busy!