Sunday, July 20, 2008

Independence Days Week 12

Wow! We've been doing this for three months now. Hard to believe.

Last week I did 5 days of work in 3 in preparation for a weekend at the beach. My in-laws have a house on the Jersey shore, which we don't get to enjoy nearly as often these days because it's so hard to get away from the farm. While the idea behind the independence days challenge is to become more self-sufficient, the reality is that it's all too easy to become a slave to one's homestead. I weeded and harvested like mad just to get on top of things and be able to sneak away for 3 full days. Of course, this week has been spent playing catch up because the garden waits for no woman.

Plant:

Nothing this week. I'm on hiatus for one, maybe two weeks before fall planting begins in earnest. Which means that I've been focusing on clearing out space for that to happen, pulling many of the plants I've allowed to go to seed and yanking all the others that are just past their prime.


Harvest:

Lots this week. The first tomato—a lovely little sweet olive grape tomato that was quite tasty. Hopefully this means more on the way! The peppers, too, are just about in, along with the sweet corn.

Also lettuce, beets, green onions, garlic, mini onions, dill, basil, chives, last of the garlic, carrots, summer squash, mixed beans, slicing cukes, Asian cukes, pickling cukes, 100+ lbs of potatoes, eggs, milk, 39 broilers.

We also harvested the 15' x 60' test plot of hulless oats yesterday. They now reside on three pallets in my garage to finish drying before threshing. We're taking bets on how many oats we'll get. Jim thinks just a tiny little container. I'm guessing about a 1/4 bushel. Wanna play?

Preserve:

Seeds saved this week: cilantro, spinach, and radish. Leeks and chard aren't quite ready yet. Neither is the endive. I'm leaving the broccoli to go to seed and hopefully act as a trap crop for the flea beetles now that I've uncovered the eggplants.

Store:

39 broilers, garden seeds, shallots and garlic, though the garlic is all going for seed stock. (pouty face here)

Prep:

Picked up 3 small oil lamps, needles and safety pins (thanks to Sharon's recent post), and bamboo knitting needles for the girls. I also ordered some tomato clips from Johnny's thanks to a post over at Nita's blog, and I now seem to have a lifetime supply of those. Luckily, they're small and light, and so fit my criteria for storing. ;)

Our 25 lbs of red clover seed arrived this week for cover cropping after the potatoes. I'm still searching for a good bulk source of beet seeds to reseed the grain plot, which will enable the piggies to self harvest during the winter.

Ordered 75 slow growing broiler crosses for our fall batch. These guys are double breasted, typical meat birds, but are very healthy and active, unlike the industry standard bird, which grows way too fast. The slow growers take about 12 weeks as opposed to the 6 weeks for their industry counterparts. Yikes!

Manage:

Everything! The gardens are going crazy, and we've hit the stage in the year when it feels like we have about 5 different balls up in the air. Like I said, I have about one more week before I need to get the fall gardens going in a big way, so I'm trying to figure out where all that's going.

There's also the mundane stuff like cleaning all the feeders and waterers, moving the animals onto fresh pasture, filling the water barrels from our rain catch, etc. I realized that I often don't mention that kind of stuff.

I finally got into my bee hives again this week after a 2 week hiatus. Hive #2 is doing so much better after stealing the frame from Hive #1, and you'd never even know the difference in #1. They both have lots of honey stores, much of it capped. I'm hopeful that they'll go into the winter strong.

Cook:

Nothing new this week. Too much pressure!

Add:

CSA delivery to 10 families: mixed baby greens, carrots, beets, green onions, mini onions, summer squash, mixed beans, slicing cukes, Asian cukes, basil, dill, potatoes, eggs.

Bartered some raw milk for new kombucha cultures.

Reduce:

This week's tip is about how to store food in the fridge without resorting to plastic.

Besides having some lovely glass refrigerator dishes, both vintage pyrex and some newer Anchor-Hocking, I also use this little trick for covering bowls: just put a plate on top. Simple, huh?

It not only keeps the air out, but makes for a nice, stackable surface that saran wrap can't beat. Of course, this is such a simple, obvious solution that most of you probably thought of it long ago, but I do think it's a good one. This is some garlic olive oil for dipping bread, but I also find it useful for large bowls of rice and pasta and such.

I still use plastic, but far less often, and I'm careful to wash out the bags for reuse. I just haven't yet found a good solution for bulky items like waffles and pancakes. Oh, and I do love the repurposed yogurt and sour cream containers for freezer storage. But now that I have my pressure canner, all that may change! Woohooo.

Learn:

Still learning all about seed saving and small grain production. So much of this is just one grand experiment.

4 comments:

el said...

39 broilers? Whoo, busy! Thanks for the tip about the slow-growers. Our little guys are almost 4 weeks and are still cute and fluffy. They fly! They roll in the dirt! They scratch! They perch! Can I tell you what a 180* difference these babies are compared to the commercial batch?

Sounds like you are making quite a bit of headway. I think the best thing about this challenge is it's a record you can look back on and say "well, mid-July means we'll be harvesting this."

Good work all around! (Oh and we use canning jars for our leftovers, with those new neat reusable lids.)

Danielle said...

Yes, the slow growers are so much more chicken like, aren't they? They don't get quite as big, but that's okay with me.

I use canning jars for lots, but not much for leftover storage. I find it difficult to get stuff out, to be honest, compared to my refrigerator dishes. I did just get some of the half gallon jars finally, which I plan to use for some bulk storage. I do love those plastic lids!

el said...

Hah! I love the half-gallon jars. They make great sun tea, but yes, they hold almost all of our little grains and beans. And I always use the canning funnel to get stuff into the jars...makes up for my bad aim!

Carolyn said...

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