Friday, December 28, 2007

Welcome Back




I figured We needed another update. I actually have alot to add to day but I plan to save some for tomorrow. I made the famous "No Knead Bread" this morning. I do have to say that it produces a heck of a nice loaf of bread. I was really impressed with the crust though I slightly over cooked it. I made a modified version from an article in Mother Earth News. The bread was really great with some of the jam we made this summer. I discovered some mixed fruit in the freezer this evening so I may need to root around and see if I have any rhubarb and make some more.
Other than that I spent a little time in the basement treating the dandelion wine with a clarifying agent. I plan to bottle it this weekend sometime. More on that soon.

Rick

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy holiday


I Just wanted to wish you all a happy holiday. I say holiday because I can't even begin to anticipate the various and sundry religions my multitude of readers may hold. I only hope that whatever you hold true brings you joy .

Rick

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blog update

I got tired of looking at all that green so I have modified the blog to be more in tune with the season. I will have to update the header pic soon as well.
Otherwise not much has changed around here as of late. The chickens keep a laying them eggs. I have been thinking about giving the excess to the Cannon Falls food shelf. I will have to look into that.

Rick

Friday, December 14, 2007

Newsweek article

I was looking around on the internet this afternoon and I came across this article from Newsweek.
The article is about how many rural Americans are not eating well these days. The article is drawing heavily on one study conducted in South Carolina that found many rural Americans are eating a diet of mostly poor quality preprepared foods. I feel like we as a culture have been loosing our ability to prepare foods from fresh produce. We as a people have become too dependent on pre-made foods. We should be teaching children where food comes from and how to prepare it before we teach them anything else.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Another update

Just another quick update. Things are not moving much here on the farm. The last couple weeks have been spent battling machines that refuse to work. we seem to be winning, but the battle is long.
We have also been insulating a bunch of openings and sealing the house where we can. I have also gotten some more of the duct work sealed up and insulated as well.
The chickens are handling the cold OK as well. We have been trying to give them treats and toys to keep them entertained.
In other news I seem to have misplaced the camera so it may be a while before you all get more pictures of the chickens.

stay warm
Rick

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Quick Update

Well winter is here. We got some snow and freezing rain to start off December with. So far the chicken coop is handling the cold OK. I know the chickens don't like to be inside so much. I have been seeing some eggs in odd places this weekend, I think it is a result of the chickens needing more nest boxes spaced out more. I think I may head down to Rochester to the new big Fleet Farm latter this week.
In other news I got the first seed catalog this weekend as well. I love looking through them and figuring out what I want to plant next year.
I am also thinking about trying to grow some cold hardy veggies in the coop. I think possibly spinach. Just a little something for the chicks to eat besides grains and chicken feed through the long winter.

Well Keep Warm
Rick

Monday, November 26, 2007

Update

Well got a few more things ready for winter this weekend. I tightened the coop up some more. I still need to finish insulating it but at least it keeps the wind out a little better. I also gathered up the last of the grass clippings from the yard. I put half in my straw/grass pile in the pole barn and the other half I put in the garden. I am attempting to start a new bed using the lasagna gardening technique. I will let you know how it is going in the spring. I also cleaned up the pole barn and the garden.
I have also been working on tightening the house up some more as well. I foil taped a few duct joints I had missed last year in the basement. I still have a bit of duct that needs to be insulated. I need to find ways to insulate and heat the house more cheaply this winter. I have been thinking about using the windows I have in the garage as a lean too greenhouse on the south west side of the house. It might make a nice buffer against the cold this winter and possibly work like a cold frame in the spring. I need to work out the design and get supplies.

Rick

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving all,
I Hope you all had a wonderful day. I spent the day at my Grandparents house enjoying an awesome meal with family. I shared my thoughts on food, fuel and the future over mashed potatoes and turkey. We also visited friends that we hadn't seen in a while and shared some of Jess's wonderful sweet potato pie. We also managed to distribute eggs to most of the state. We started Tuesday with around 100 eggs in the fridge. We have manged to get down to just over 6. I hope my friends and family will enjoy the eggs.
Lastly a public list of many of the things I am thankful for today. My Wife, my Family, My health, The safe return of good friends, A good harvest, great food and the opportunity to enjoy it.
Good night
Rick

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lenny Russo article

I was going to link to an excellent article in the Star Trib today written by local food legend Lenny Russo, but I hate the way the papers are trying to hide behind user accounts and login screens. I think that they have forgotten what business they are in. Anyway I found something way better for you while looking up Chef Russo. I found a blog about a eat local challenge sponsored by the wedge co-op. I haven't been to the wedge but this site was full of little tidbits about eating local in Minnesota.

Good night,
Rick

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Insulation

Well Jess and I spent much of this weekend insulating. We put plastic on the windows downstairs. I really hate doing this every year, but until the windows are sufficiently airtight we have to go through the ritual. I believe it makes a difference, possibly more than the cost of the supplies and time. We also caulked the front hall. I think this may be a real money saver. I also spent some time insulating the chicken coop.
We also began using a spreadsheet to track some of the expenditures around the house. We started tracking electric usage by month and propane as well. We are also tracking softener salt use as well.
On the food front. We microwaved one of the pumpkins that had been been taking up space on the table for a few weeks. We used some of the pulp to make a pumpkin pecan quick bread. We got the recipe from Cooks Illustrated holiday baking issue. We also roasted the seeds. We put some Chinese 5 spice powder on them and the were great.
Rick

Friday, November 16, 2007

Update

Well I spent a few hours today insulating the chicken coop. I moved the roosts as well. The chickens are still laying eggs like crazy. I guess if you were one of those people that I told they needed tons of daylight, I was wrong. I gave the last of the garden lettuces and kales to the chickens this morning as well. I think I will need to grow more kale next year. The ornamental kales might make a good fall feed stock for the chickens. I really hope to free range the chickens next year. In addition I plan to grow more crops that can be fed to the chicks when we have surpluses. I was thinking over dinner tonight of growing soybeans again next year. I could eat the green beans as edamame and feed the late season beans to the chicks.
In other news we have spent a few days this week tightening up the house. We still have a long way to go to have the house properly insulated.
Well goodnight.
Rick

Monday, November 12, 2007

Deer hunting


Well I got back yesterday from deer hunting. My luck was not the best this year. Our party took plenty of deer and did our part to reduce the deer overpopulation in northwest Minnesota. I had a few shots at running deer but I failed to make those shots. I did let a decent 6 point buck go bye at only fifty yards. I could have made the shot but I guess I will have to meet up with him next year. We processed the deer we had and added some meat to the freezer. I really need to improve my shooting however and plan to make some more deer jerky soon.
*this picture has been edited for content.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Swiss Chard is Awsome



Well I got out to the garden this afternoon. I have been hearing words like polar vortex and below freezing in the weather forecast this weekend. I decided it was time to take in the last few plants. The swiss chard was still standing tall. I am amazed at how hardy this plant is. I have been harvesting the same patch since early summer. I decided that the best place to store the chard leaves was in the chickens. I also fed them some of the pea plants as well. I noticed that the roots of the chard were pretty good size. I decided that since they are members of the beet family that we would roast the roots. Jess helped me to clean them and roasted them with olive oil and garlic. The larger roots were too woody and fibrous but overall they made a nice dinner side dish. I also spent some time gathering the grass clipping into mounds which I just heard will blow away tomorrow. I also insulated the dog house for cooper.
On the wine and beer front I racked this summers dandelion wine and also last springs honey nut brown ale. The dandelion wine has mellowed a lot since I was told it tasted like vodka last time I racked it. The nut brown ale had been in primary since spring! I sampled it and it wasn't too bad either. RDWHAHB I guess.
Well stay warm.
Rick

Wishlist

Hi readers,

Just a quick note. I have started a wish list at Amazon. I decided that I would publish this as an aid to my friends and family during the upcoming holiday season. I realize that I have alot of interests and that they change frequently and that can make gift giving a challenge. I hope this list helps. All the same I feel a little inappropriate publishing this. I guess I am unused to asking for things these days. So I just want to let you all know that this list is provided for informational purposes only. To all my friends and family your love and well wishes are all the gifts I really need.

Well I will try and write tonight but I need to get going so I have something to write about.
Rick

Friday, November 2, 2007

Planning for next November

Hi All,

Not a lot to report today. Spent some of today getting chicken supplies for winter. You can really feel the cold coming soon. Something in the air or the light. Still have some greens in the garden for the chickens. I am still amazed how hardy swiss chard is. I picked some more and gave it to the chickens this afternoon. I also spent a few hours in the garden after work yesterday. I cleaned up the spent tomatoes and pepper bed. I also cleaned up the bean bed as well.
Well deer hunting next weekend. Wish me luck.

Rick

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jerky and more

We had some friends down on Sunday. We had a great time. We tasted the first jar of the pickles Jess and I made this summer. Not bad. I think I would have liked them to end up just a bit crisper. Maybe next year. I came across this article on Treehugger as well. Our friends brought with them a meat grinder attachment for a Kitchen Aid mixer. I was amazed at how well it ground down the 2 hams of deer I had left in the freezer from last year. Need to make room in the freezer as it is almost time again. I started making jerky with about 4 Lbs of it. I put it in the dehydrator this evening and by morning we will see how it went.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lots more done today

Well I started this weekend by burning some brush last night out by the pole barn. I was looking for a nice place to sit down and found the hay/straw/weed pile. It was nice and warm so the dog joined me as well. I woke up an hour later, covered the fire and wandered inside. Kinda cool.
Today I finished cutting the grass. and aired out the coop. I cut some more veggies and gave them to the chickens. I spread some newspaper out in the garden and weighed it down with a few wheel barrows of chicken bedding compost. I am hoping the combination will leave the bed ready to be turned and planted early next spring.
For lunch today Jess and I made vermicelli carbonara. We used both procuto and bacon. It was great we used 6 eggs and had a great lunch

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire season in california again.

Well I suppose you have heard about the fires in the San Diego area by now. We used to have a joke when I lived there that southern California had 4 seasons, Fires, Mudslides, Earthquakes and Riot season. I feel for the folks that have suffered losses in this years fire season. I hope that when they rebuild they will keep sustainability in mind. This is the desert people! Hot dry winds are common, so common that they have a name, Santa Anna. One of the dominant plants in the area near the desert is the Creosote bush. It burns hot and fast when dry (see previous point!). Since this is the desert there is little water available for putting out fires once they get going. So if you are determined to build a house in the mountains please don't make it out wood and cover it with an asphalt roof. Please consider something made out of local stone and consider a steel roof or clay tile. Or better yet live in a place and in a manner that you can sustain.
And the dismount from the soap box is good!!

PS 9 eggs today

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Update

Hello reader. Well not a lot has been happening on the farm. This weekend we were away for a few days for a friends wedding. It wall went well and Cooper and the chickens were fine for 2 days. I took a little time to start insulating the chicken coop. I think it is going to be a bigger job than I thought. I need to finish the electric this week as well. The chickens have been laying eggs like crazy. There were 20 eggs in the coop when we got back Saturday afternoon !
Jess decided to bake a bit this afternoon. She made some squash dip and baked some buns. We had them with my friends apricot-habanero jam. I am currently filtering the peaches and vodka mix we made earlier this summer. It takes along time to filter with coffee filters but it looks crystal clear. I think I need to rack my dandelion wine and look into starting a batch of rhubarb wine. I had to harvest 5 lb's of rhubarb that was damaged by the wind while we were away.
Thats it for tonight I think.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Update



Well I got the garlic planted this weekend. I planted the following varities in 2 rows each starting closest to the house. German extra hardy, Broadleaf Czech,Music,Chrysalis Purple,Shevelisi,Persian Star. I still have alot of garlic left to plant but the raised bed that I had built wasn't large enough. I still need to put straw over it as a mulch till next summer.
I also built a trellis around the raspberries. I used steel posts and wire. I need to add twine to hold the canes. The Chickens are doing well. They are growing well and providing us with lots of eggs. We have eaten hardboiled eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and have made other egg dishes as well. We also bought an ice cream maker. Jess made vanilla and chocolate ice cream already. We can also use the machine to make sorbet and gelato. I look forward to making raspberry or rhubarb sorbet. Maybe even cherry or plum. It will be a great way to preserve next years harvest.

Rick

Thursday, October 11, 2007

eggs eggs and more eggs

Well we have a ton of eggs on hand now. I have been getting around 6 a day the last few days.
I guess I have to sell a few soon. We used a few this evening for lunch though. Jess and I got a spaetzel maker and had spaetzel and left over coq au vin from last night. If you have the means I highly recommend it.
Rick

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Update


Hey all,
Sorry it has been so long since my last update. Alot has gone on. Last weekend was the Autumn Brew Review. We always have a great time with this one. The weather was rainy but cleared up in the afternoon. The beers were great. I particularly like some of the berry brews by Fitgers Ale House. I realized that I could brew a thin ale and then add raspberries next fall to make a sort of Framboise. I really like that idea.
Lots of things have been happening around the home as well. Jess and I have decided to try and eat nothing but home raised foods next October. We are planning on making exceptions for things we won't be able to raise like tropicals. ( Coffee, Chocolate, Pepper) and stables that we don't have the capability to produce, (Salt,Flour,Olive Oil, Dairy,Sugar,Malt). I look on this as an experiment in micro-farming and also in just what work would be required to feed us year round.
As for the garden we still have peppers and leafy greens (habaneros ready for freezing above). The twig method of trellising peas hasn't worked out well. I built a cedar and plastic raised bed and am filling it with soil to plant up the garlic.
3 eggs this morning.

Take care.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Eggs

Well I installed 2 nest boxes into the coop tonight. Hopefully the chickens will take to them and I can stop having to hunt for eggs in the bedding. I ate 2 small eggs this evening. I decided that hard boiling them would feel safer. I worry about doing something wrong but so far the eggs are OK. I noticed that one seemed larger than the others so I am hoping for more like that. Also 2 roosters will meet their fate this Wednesday I think.

Goodnight.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eggs!

Well I guess I was wrong about how long it might be before we got eggs from the hens. I found these while cleaning out the coop this evening. I finished up the cleaning and started to build the chickens some nest boxes. I got 2 boxes finished I plan to build a few more this weekend.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pumkin seeds and hot hot sauce

Yesterday evening I made a batch of 4-8 hot sauce. It was the hot sauce recipe from the bell blue book. I modified it by cutting the sugar in half and using 4 Habaneros and 8 Thai dragon peppers.
To say it is hot is like saying Minnesota winters can be cold. I now just have to figure out what to do with so much of it.
I also roasted a pie pumpkin and froze the pulp for latter use in pies. I was planning on saving some of the seeds and roasting the rest. However there seems to be something wrong with the seeds, they seem to have curled up and punched out of the seed shells. I don't know what it means except that I will neither plant them nor eat them.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A quick note on dinner

Jess made chili for dinner. She made it from venison, onions, bell peppers and hot peppers we provided for ourselves. There really is alot of satisfaction in making a meal out of your own hard work. I guess I will have to grow kidney beans for next years chili.

PS I read I found this today and it reminded me of someone.

Rick

I am not dead.

Well it has been a while since I updated this page. I had to write if for no other reason to let my loyal reader know that I am not dead. I don't have a lot to tell you about today. Last weekend Jess and i made some rhubarb and raspberry jam. It was alot easier than I thought it would be. I will have to pick up some more pectin and make another batch of rhubarb jam yet this fall. I think I would need to reduce the sugar a bit however as I like a little more tartness in my food than most people.
I also got an opportunity to get out and do some small game hunting this season already. A friend of mine and I went out and shot a tiny squirrel. Not exactly a safari for wildebeest but we had a good time.
In micro-farming news, we lost a chicken last weekend to what I am assuming was a area cat. Also the tomato plants are done fro the season. I got a large shipment of garlic in for fall planting and need to build up a bed quickly.

I guess that is all for now.
Rick

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Update

Well alot has happened since my last posting. Jess and I tried our hand at making a a batch of canned pickles. I think they look good. The weather has turned cold lately. The weather guy behind me is talking frost. I covered my peppers and lettuces this afternoon and put some hay in the chicken coop as well so I think we are ready. Still I hope we have some time yet before winter. I still have so much to do this fall. It just feels like we are in for an early and cold winter. Ah well.
Jess and I went to an event out at the Cedar Summit Farm last weekend. It was a fund raiser for Slow Food Minnesota. The food was great. I spoke a bit with a guy who runs a beer business in the cities. He reminded me that I really am lucky to have the place we do. I guess some times it takes a comment like ,"..Of course you do, You live in shangra-friggin-la!" to remind you how lucky you are. I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed by all the work that needs doing here but hearing things like that really helps.

Well keep warm.
Rick

Monday, September 3, 2007

Putting food by.


Well Jess and I spent some time this weekend processing foods for storage. We made my grandmas spicy pasta sauce out of our tomatoes and onions. We also dehydrated tomatoes and peppers. We vacuum packed the pasta sauce and froze it. I am still drying the peppers. I will probably grind them tomorrow. I also spent some time raking up the grass clippings for use as mulch and possibly chicken bedding.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tomatoes and more

Well Jess and I have been harvesting alot of tomatoes lately. They seem to have colonized every horizontal surface in our kitchen like fleshy red tribbles. So tonight we made a double batch of tomato soup and froze it. I think it will make for a mighty fine lunch some time this winter. A winter that feels closer all the time. It is getting down into the fifties in the evenings again and the nights seem to come sooner every day. I feel like I have so much to get done yet this season. Ah well fall is always nice.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Updates.

Wow, almost a week since my last post. Things have been kinda quiet here as of late. We had a week of dreary wet weather with high temps in the upper 70's. The rhubarb and peas seem to be loving it. The lettuces are not too upset about it but the tomatoes are almost dead. They got a bad case of wilt and the cool wet weather didn't help. the grass really popped back though. I had to mow yesterday for the first time in at least a month. I gotta admit I wasn't really missing it. I harvested hops yesterday. I hadn't wanted to harvest them wet and I think they are a bit past prime. Oh well live and learn.
On another front I heard a talk on the radio yesterday by Michale Pollan. He is the author of a book called the Omnivores Dilemma. I was really impressed by his ability to articulate some of the things I had been feeling about why I am doing this farmy self sufficiency thing. It is a realization that our current relationship with our world simply won't persist in it's current form. I look forward to reading his book this winter. I will have to make a list of books to read this off season.

Rick

PS started using Remember The Milk to organize farm chores and life tasks. Will let you know how it goes. So far I like it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Becarful what you wish for.

Well Jess and I had a nice weekend in Milwaukee. We ate and tasted a number of wines beers and foods. We both agreed that we need to be eating more goat cheese. There is something about the tang and creaminess of goat cheese that is hard to beat. We particularly enjoyed the Milwaukee Ale house.
We got call on Sunday morning while we were on the way home wondering if we were doing OK. We then found out that southeastern Minnesota had been having a flood of biblical proportions. we got home and checked on the chickens and the dog. All was well. The garden was doing OK as well. The peas seem to be enjoying the cool wet weather. The tomatoes on the other hand look to have a bit of quite a bit of wilt. Nothing is perfect for everyone.

Well gotta go check the dehumidifier in the basement.

Rick

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fire and lavender

Well today I spent some time smoking up the forge. I figured it was time to chase the spiders out. I started fires in the stove and the forge itself. I didn't work any iron but with the cooler fall air I figure it wont be long before I am back in the forge. It also gave me a chance to burn some sticks.
I also picked some Lavender while in the garden today. I guess I had smelled lavender soaps and such before but this was the first time I smelled the plant itself. I can really see how it would taste good with roast pork or lamb.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Of Plums and Progress


I have a number of things to mention today. First off we got a load of gravel delivered for the drive. I had hoped to be able to move alot of it with the plow and small tractor but the wheels just dig in so I have been finishing it off with a rake and a shovel. We also bought a new wheel barrow to help with the job. Last Tuesday we also had someone out to remove the branch that fell on the chicken yard. They did a great job. I have also got some more of the garage scraped. It is slow work but shoveling gravel has helped to put it into perspective.
On the harvest front I just picked the first tomato and a bunch of plums. I also picked a quart or two of green beans.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Close call

Well I was working in the garage because it was raining. Not a hard rain and not even windy by the standards of this place when I heard a crack. I thought it was odd that lightning would have such a series of pops. I noticed that less light was coming in the window so I stepped out to look at the chicken coop and found this. We were very lucky today. The dog and I and the chickens were all within the radius of this branch and none of us is scratched. I think. There still may be a chicken under there but I doubt it. We will have to call someone out to drag the wood away and probably replace some or all of the fence but otherwise we got of cheap!
In other news Jess and I went to the St. Paul farmers market this morning and bought some herbs and veggies. I am going to try a variety of eggplants to see if we like them. We are also so glad to have gotten rain at last. I filled up both rain barrels and all the buckets I had available. You know you can never have too many 5 Gal. buckets.

Well gotta go sharpen my ax.
Rick

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Still No Rain

Well the drought continues. It is looking less and less like we will be seeing any rain tomorrow. I had my hopes up. Still taking bites out of the elephant that is the garage job. I will have to post a picture of my progress tomorrow. I guess I don't have to worry about rain messing up the picture. But to tell the truth I am worried about our well running out of water. Our well is quite old and probably not as deep as our neighbors wells. I have still managed to get a crop of green beans though. Jess and I have been eating them raw mostly. Last night though Jess made a sour cream and blue cheese green bean bake that was excellent.
Well that is enough poorly arranged though for one night.
Good Night.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Farm Show

Well today Jess and I went to the Antique Power Show in Hastings, MN. I was really impressed by the place, especially the gardens. I also spent some time in the hammock this afternoon. We harvested 3 cucumbers and a small bunch of green beans. I tasted one of the small tai peppers that we are growing and it was quite hot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pics as promised


Just a few pictures of the farm. First is the chickens looking like I might be about to give them a treat. The second picture is a closeup of the hops.

Enjoy,
Rick

Monday, July 23, 2007

Happenings on the farm.

Well my peculiar rain dance (scraping and priming the garage) worked. In the afternoon on Sunday we got just under a half inch of the wet stuff. I also pulled the onions as the tops had fallen over. We also harvested a few cucumbers and Jess made refrigerator pickles with them. We still have the chickens as well. The roosters voices are changing. This morning one of them let out a weak cackle and then appeared frightened by the sound. Ahh, Adolescence.

Pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What is it all about.

I started scrapping and primming the garage yesterday. A friend of mine suggested that I pick up a carbide tipped scrapper. I didn't get a chance to try it out yet but I will be using it a quite a bit tomorrow I think. I got a small part of the front started and I am liking the look of it. I figure that once I get going on this project the rains will come back, but for now at least I am slowly "eating the elephant".
we had some friends out today and got some wires run into the library. It wasn't much but I had not advanced that project in several months. For that reason alone it still felt good to get something done. Another bite from another elephant.
Also a note to all my friends. I am not mentioning names here unless you specifically tell me you don't mind. I guess it just seems polite to respect everyones privacy in this manner.
Well I think that is enough fro now
Goodnight.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

To Rain or Not to Rain.

Well today a great deal of rain moved through the southern half of the state and still managed to miss the farm. I am listening to the channel nine news weather guy right now and he says we are S.O.L. for any rain in the foreseeable future. I really don't like that guy at the best of times, right now I think he is in dire need of an ass whoopin'. In all honestly though he is the worst weather guy in town. In a town with Pat Evans that is really saying something.
OK I feel better now.
As for the farm, things are dry but good. The hops were under attack from Question Mark caterpillars but they have been removed. I lost a lot of leaves on the cascades, but the Fuggles escaped most injury. The Fuggles are really growing fast and are developing cones already.
The chickens are growing quickly as well.
Prayers for rain,
Rick

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Help is good

Well yesterdays workday at the farm went well. We spent some time reinforcing the deck and it is much improved. Also the pole barn doors were scraped and painted and flowers were planted. I also painted a bit on the bunker as well. Then we roasted up a leg of lamb and had it with salad, sweet corn and vodka soaked melon. All and all a great day.
Today we also got quite a bit done. We tended the chickens. I also ran a hose out to the garden for the first time this year. We still haven't had any rain in like 3 weeks. I gave all the beds a good watering, especially the rhubarb. I finished the days work by trimming deadwood out of the small hail damaged maples.
To all out friends that helped us, Thank you!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Another update.

Well it has been almost a week. Alot has happened this week. My friends have returned from an overseas deployment and Jess and I are very grateful for that. As for the property, Not a lot has changed. We are still in dire need of rain. The weather guru's tell us we may see some rain tonight. I hope they are right. Otherwise we have fed some of the Swiss Chard to the chickens and they love it. They also seem to love time out in their yard. We will have to adjust their enclosure as they have eaten through all the leafy weeds we were growing for them in the current one.
Tomorrow we are having friends out to help us on the farm. We hope to have a roast.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Time spent VS cash saved

I purchased a new string trimmer today. I bought a nice 4 cycle unit. I used the unit to trim back the overgrown mess that was the garden. It worked like a charm. I was hoping to use it for cutting straw for use as chicken bedding this winter, but it tends to chop the grass up to much. I guess I will have to consider forging myself a scythe blade this fall.
It got me thinking though about the amazing amount of labor that is required here on the farmlet. I have begun to realize that the biggest limit on this endeavor is both my ability and the amount of hours I can dedicate to it. To that end I am looking at the way I spend my time here. I hope to be able to identify areas that may be worth an investment in better equipment.
On another note we finally got some rain today. Only about 2 tenths of an inch, but every bit helps right now.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The food movement

Today I saw part of a show called endless feast. It was great. I didn't see the whole episode but what I did see impressed me. It looked like some hospitality group had arranged for a dinner to be prepared on a local farm by local chefs. The episode I saw involved local free range goat and organic vegetable mixed with a fresh seafood stew. Most of the food was prepared on the farm and served there as well. I also like the idea of hosting a big dinner for family and friends at the end of a growing season. I have been kicking around an idea like this for a few months. I may yet announce an Autumn fest this year. More likely though I won't do anything like this till next year. Let me know what you all think about the idea.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Berry delightfull fourth of July


Well today was a holiday so all we did was butcher chickens,spray weeds and cook. We took the time to enjoy a great grilled lunch and dinner. For desert I made a sauce of wild black raspberries and goose berries, which we had over iced cream and chocolate. Not a bad day at all.
We also got some rain today and the grass looks like it needs to be cut.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Last weeks recap.


Well things have gone pretty well here at the farm. The chickens are staying in their new enclosure. They seem to be the stars of this page so I am including another picture. Jess and I went to the town fair last weekend and had a look at the local chickens. For some reason black Araucanas seem to be popular in Cannon Falls right now. We also had a look through the FFA and 4H exhibits. I only saw 2 wines that were entered and no beers. I may have to enter something next year if I can figure out how.
Otherwise the hops and straw making are going well. I seem to be having a problem with my Rhubarb this year, but have hope. The raspberries transplants are still doing well. The garden has kind of run away on me though. Oh well.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Update

Well I was right the rain seems to have everything off to a running start. The tomatoes are coming along nicely. I spent quite a bit of time chopping down the weeds yesterday.
This weekend a friend came down and we brewed up a batch of Northern Brewers Cream Ale. I also racked and tasted the dandelion wine. I may be a bit more like dandelion vodka than wine.
I also finally got some fishing done down at the river.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Happy solstice

Well it is the longest day of the year tomorrow. We don't have any big plans here at the farm. It has been kinda off and on rainy the last few evenings. The rains seem to have emboldened the weeds. So while quickly weeding the garden I came up with a bucket of chicken treats. I have to be a bit more careful though, I noticed that some nightshade had gotten into the weed bucket. I don't really know if it is dangerous to the chickens but figured I should remove it just in case.
Otherwise not much has changed. I am still impressed by the speed that the hops are growing. So far the tomatoes look to be doing well. I need to keep working on the garden. I will have to work on that this weekend.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Another chicken setback

Well today Cooper finally killed one of the chickens. I could see it coming. I made a mistake and purchased the wrong sort of electric netting and the chickens were walking through it at times. It was mostly my fault. For his efforts however Cooper received a strongly worded letter from our legal department and I think he will be less likely to offend again. What really upset me though was that Cooper didn't listen to commands. I will have to spend more time with him and teach him to follow direction if he is to remain at the farm. He is a headstrong animal and has been the source of many gray beard hairs. Ah well i should get to bed.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Mayhem in the hen house.


We had a bit of a setback with the chickens last night. A few of our chickens turned canibal last night. My chicken book says it could be damn near anything from crowding to overheating. It seems that just the meat birds got pecked but it was pretty bad. We moved them into the chicken tractor for the evening to protect them.
On a bright note, the township mowed the ditches. I raked up the cuttings and let them dry in the sun. I doubled the amount of straw in the shed in one day. One more time and I might have enough chicken bedding for the winter.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Electric fence

Well today i noticed that something had been chewing on the as yet un-electrified, electric fence around the chickens. Well I repaired the fence and hooked up the charger. I called Cooper over to the fence and he tested it for me. I can't be sure he was the animal that chewed on it, but I think he will not chew on it from now on. With fence in operation i figured we could let the chickens out into the yard for a bit. Jess and i had to herd them back in this evening but otherwise I think it was a success.
I also received my new hammock this afternoon. I love hammocks. Jess and I disagree on the necessity of spreader bars. I chose a giant nylon hammock without one. I got an hour nap in this afternoon in it. I am very happy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Garden Work


Well today I planted out some small sickly plants that I had started from seed this spring. I had been hardening them off on the deck and they were constantly getting dry. (It is just a tad bit windy here!!) I also got a good watering done on the garden. The new raspberries are still going strong. I am thinking about adding a Mulberry bush or two as well. Still need to finish the outdoor run for the chickens .

Monday, June 11, 2007

A quick correction

Well I guess there are two grey kittens out there as well as the black one. So now we have Smoke, Ash and Soot. Otherwise we brought some electric fencing today and a charger. Still will need to set that up sometime this week.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Suprises in the wood pile



Well I went out tonight to take a few pictures of things we have been working on. The hops are growing well and I think that the Fuggles are almost 4 feet tall already. I also took a picture of some hay that I am drying and of the goose berries by the bunker. I noticed one of the many farm cats that inhabit the pole barn across the street. I had been seeing her a lot lately and was assuming she had learned to stand up to Cooper and was just hunting over by the bunker. That is when I spotted the kittens. I have nicknamed them smoke and soot since they are by the forge. i will try and see how trusting they are tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Update

Well the chickens are adapting well to their new home. I still need to make a temp. controler for the milk house heater. I am also needing to put the light on a timer. I will most likely build them an outdoor run this weekend.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Pictures as promised




Well here are a few pictures. First one is a quick shot of the meat birds. The second shot is a picture of some radishes we had for lunch today. The last is the picture of the coop, complete with fresh coat of paint applied this morning.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Coop work continues

Well Jess and I put a coat of paint on the coop today. We also hung the door and added the plastic flooring to the coop. I will probably cut the chicken door tomorrow if time and weather allows. Then all that remains is to put another coat of paint and add some trim paint. The inside still needs nest boxes but the chickens probably won't need them before this fall. I will try and snap some pictures to post tomorrow as well.
Speaking of chickens we have learned that they love June bugs. All we need to do is knock a few in a bag and add them to the coop and the chickens go nuts. We have been doing this for the last few nights and now you have to shoo the chickens away from the door to do anything in the coop.
They just stand there and beg for more bugs. Since we still have them confined it seems like a great source of cheap protein.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Chickens coop.

Well the coop was finished yesterday. So today Jess and I got to work modifying it for service as a chicken coop. We Primed the bare wood and built an inside door and wall. Tomorrow if the weather is good we will finish the painting if not we will pick up some flooring plastic and finish installing wire on the wall.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Progress


Well taking the week off of work is turning out to be productive already. We got our old truck towed away. It was a great old truck but I just didn't have the time and resources to bring it back to life. I guess it was truck-triage. Also got a decent mowing done on the yard and am trying to dry some of the longer grass from the ditches for use as straw bedding. The process that I am using is too time consuming for larger use but I think it is showing itself to be an option if I improve my method. The Chickens continue to grow fast as weeds. Good thing we are having a shed built today to convert to a coop.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial day


Well it is Memorial day already. So much to do now that summer is here. It is easy to get caught up in the planting and planning. Just the same though I feel it is important to stop and remember the servicemen who bought our freedoms with the dearest of coins.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why?

The other day my wife told me that people at her work asked her why we were raising chickens. I figure that is as good a reason as any to explain what we are doing here. I am not entirely sure where or when I started to take an interest in self-sufficiency. I know that I always enjoyed the outdoors, always wanted to explore the woods and rivers. I have always been fascinated by growing and living things. I guess that in a big picture way of looking at it I was always heading down this path. So why chickens then? Well we were ready for livestock and our acreage is to small for sheep or cattle.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Projects update


I figured now that the chickens have a new home I should update you all on the status of a few other projects. The Dandelion wine for 2007 is off to a good start. We also ate radishes from the garden tonight for dinner. Also the hops have survived and are starting to grow up the twine. The only failure we have had this spring is the raspberry transplants. And on top of it all we finally got some rain today, gotta love that.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chickens moved out today


Well Jess is much relieved as the chickens are no longer taking up residence in our kitchen.
We moved them in to the chicken tractor today and plan to keep them there until their coop is built next week. They are doing a bit of hop flying already at only three weeks old today.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chicken tractor is finished for now


Well the chicken tractor is finished for now. I plan to move the chicks into it for the next 2 weeks and after the shed is built I will move them into that. I still need to add wheels of some sort and plan to give it another coat of paint before it becomes a chicken tractor for real.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chickens

Well the chickens continue to grow and and work on the chicken tractor continues. So far the tractor is fully built and just needs to be painted. I hope to post pictures of the painted tractor tomarrow. We also ordered a shed to be built on the property on Friday. Otherwise the drought continues. Looking forward to rain possibly a soaking rain later next week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Chicken tractor

I spent the last 2 days working on a combination chicken tractor and brooder coop. I need to hurry as the chicks are feathering out quickly and are starting to try and fly.