Saturday, December 27, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I gave the chickens the last of the test plot of wheat I grew this summer yesterday. I understand that is a tradition in some Slavic cultures. We also bought a box of clementines at the grocery store on Friday. I decided to simmer a handful of the peels with some cloves and cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick. Man the house smells great.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
So here I present Holy Scrap Hot Springs. An great resource for those interested in living a more eco-friendly self sufficient life with a southwestern maker twist.
Hope you enjoy.
Me....I just shoveled snow again.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
In reading their newsletter I found out about the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota who are having their annual conference just over at St. Olaf. I highly recommend following the link to see who the keynote speaker will be. I will probably write more about this once we have secured our tickets.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Like backyard beekeeping
So I figured I would point you towards them.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
In related news I have recently encountered a petition to have the new president turn all or some of the white house lawn back into productive land. I think this is a good idea but it needs to be explained to the public properly so it isn't seen as posturing like Carter wearing a sweater. Again that wasn't a bad idea just too easily mocked.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Still not a great deal going on here at the farm. I picked up some supplies from the depot on the way home from work and plan to spend the weekend working on the house. Right now my focus is on energy improvements around the house. I have knocked off alot of the low hanging fruit. We have a programmable thermostat with fairly aggressive settings. I have tightened the duct work up a bit with foil tape and insulated the exposed ductwork. I am planning on adding some mastic to the ducts as well. We also have a water heater blanket and last year added a bunch of attic insulation. So now we have to look at more structural and expensive work like removing the siding and adding sheathing and house wrap or upgrading the furnace. I think the winter will be focused on improving our energy effeciency.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I went deer hunting last weekend and got a smallish doe. We spent Monday processing deer at a friends house and now there is lots of meat in the freezer.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
We have our first snow of the year. We still have chard and kale but otherwise we are now almost completely finished with the garden. We did manage to put up quite a bit of squash soup yesterday. I also dug up a rosemary and will attempt to keep it alive inside this winter.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Jess and I made a great dinner tonight. The first course was the squash soup pictured above. The recipe is from the latest Jamie Oliver book. It is flavored with sage and rosemary from the garden. It also has a little spice from our last jalapeno. It was served with some crusty bread and Parmesan cheese. Jess also made a pot roast from the Alton Brown recipe which we had as our main course. An excellent dinner.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In the food direction I have been thinking about building and earthen oven. I am told they are great for baking breads and pizzas. We have dabbling a bit in pizza as of late summer so this might be a nice addition to the farm stead. Appropedia has 2 examples, here and here. I also love the picture and metal hat on this one. This part of the state has lots of clay so I will really have to look into this some more next spring.
Drinking New Belgium's Mothership Wit with dinner, nice belgian funk with good spice flavor.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
PS lost 20 % of my retirement money in the last 2 weeks, how about you guys??
Monday, October 6, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Jess offered to take me into town for dinner as a reward. On the way into town we encountered a bull standing next to the road. I made Jess turn around and we went up to the house to let them know that they had a bull loose by the road. Nobody was home so Jess and I attempted to herd the bull back into the field using the Vibe. I am pretty sure that is the first time that anyone in these parts has herded cattle from a compact hatchback.The bull decided he wanted nothing to do with the car and jumped back through the electric fence. Just then the home owner came back and we stopped up to tell them what we were doing.
Then we went to dinner, but the bull stayed at home.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We ended up modifying two recipes that were close. We combined the spices found in both chow-chow and piccalilli relish. The recipie was also supposed to make 7 pints but I think we added too many green tomatos because we ended up with 12 pints.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Here is one little tip I have found. When I go out to the garden I bring an extra bucket. I fill the bucket with produce for the chickens. Any produce that is damaged and must be eaten soon I put in the bucket. Any dandelions I pull also go in the bucket. I then round out the bucket with a few fresh stalks of Swiss Chard and the occasional Zucchini. I also will add slugs and grasshoppers when I catch them. I bring the bucket up to the chicken yard after I finish in the garden. I find that the chickens really enjoy the treats and I know that no food is being wasted. For my trouble I get great chicken litter for use in compost and eggs as well.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I also burned some brush this weekend and brought last years spoiled straw to the garden as mulch.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The pulp that was left over from the process went into a sauce pan with some more sugar and water. I added some pectin and made a small amount of freezer jam as well. No waste and 2 great products. I am already looking forward to making more plum jam.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
In other note the tomato tribbles have begun to colonize the kitchen. Other wise we are eating up our potatoes and garlic with steaks. We didn't grow the steaks...yet.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Last night we sweetened and filtered this years Nocino. Nocino is a sweet walnut liquor. The walnuts are picked green and sliced. I used black walnuts that I was able to get from a buddy at work instead of common walnuts. The Italians usually make this with grappa but I used good quality vodka. The liquor is spiced with cinnimon, vanila and cloves with just a bit of lemon zest.
I gave this just a bit of a taste as I sweetened it and I am really looking forward to this after it has melowed for a few months.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I harvested the remainder of the potatoes yesterday night. The other barrels produced better than the first one but still not as much as I had hoped. I was quite impressed with the Rose Finn fingerling potatoes. I will have to post pics of some of the crazy caltrop shapes some of them grew into. Tonight we will roast a few with home grown garlic and pork chops in rosemary olive oil with citrus and crab apples. It is kind of a run on sentence but a great dish.
More to post soon
Monday, August 25, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
We harvested our first few tomatoes as well. The Beefsteak tomatoes that we grew this year have really impressed me. The romas are still coming along however. Also the baby chicks are quickly approaching adulthood. So summer is proceeding, Winter is looming. So much to do.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We had just traded drivers and Jess was taking over as we got close to rush hour traffic in the cities, so as not to burn my zen away prematurely. We were south Monticello when I noticed something on the road under the semi trailer in front of us. I must have been quite relaxed as I recall thinking "Hey, that's a piece of plywood." Then it took to the air and headed straight for us and I thought "Nope It's OSB" Then, "Gee I hope it misses us". It didn't.
It is a credit to Jess that she closed her eyes in time before the glass sprayed her and then had the presence of mind to get us safely to the shoulder. I think we were also lucky that while the window smashed a bunch the piece of wood was too large to go through the window. Apart from a scratch we are unharmed and the car is in the shop, but man I think I should have stayed at the lake.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I have been watching the potatoes wilt a bit as of late so I decided it must be time to dig them. I turned them out unto a tarp. I was less than impressed with the amount of potatoes. I think I wasn't providing them with enough extra water. The soil near the bottom of the bin was quite dry and there were no potatoes in the area of additional soil that I added. I am not sure about that, but I think perhaps if I was going to do this again I might put fewer seed potatoes per bin and keep them watered better. I watered all the other bins well and will hope for better results with those.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I also have been going out nights and picking slugs off the rhubarb. I probably harvested a few hundred the last few days. I add them to a bucket along with some chard that had gotten long in the tooth and give the whole thing to the chickens as a midnight snack. I also placed a few beer traps out in the garden to drown the slugs. The rhubarb already seems to be doing better. This afternoon I did some digging in the garden and gave the dog a bath.
Always something to do
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I picked the garlic yesterday evening. I was afraid it was too soon but I think everything is about right. So now I am drying it on racks and getting ready to store most of it for later use. I will also have to save a few of the best garlic bulbs to replant. I am really looking forward to roasting some of this garlic this fall. I had hoped for 52 heads so as to have a bulb of garlic a week for the next year. I think taking the cloves I will need to start next years bed into account, I fell a little short of my goal but I am still happy with this years harvest.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Perhaps we should be looking at eating more pastured, grass fed meats. The good news is that it isn't hard to do. With the internet, today you can find a local farmer and purchase directly sometimes online and have it shipped directly to your home. And best of all is that if you have the ability to store a large quantity in a freezer you can even save money over the grocery store meat you are used to.
That is my opinion anyway.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I modified the old chicken tractor and Jess helped to set up the fencing and we set up a broody coop for the new chicks. My hope is that by having them inside chickengrad and getting them exposed to the other chickens slowly they will become part of the flock gradually.
I also planted up a half dozen Aurora peppers and a few herbs in a planter on the deck. I also planted three hills of kobucha squash in the garden.
Friday, June 20, 2008
On the garden front I got a bit more digging done. I have been impressed by the potatoes growth. I am unsure if they are growing tubers but the plants have really been growing well. Also the scarlet runner beans are starting to flower and are quite attractive.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Some times I wonder who exactly I cheesed off.
I mentioned earlier in the weekend that last year we had a hail storm that seriously mangled the garden. Well it happened again last night. It wasn't as bad as last year as there wasn't as much wind pushing the hail but it still did some damage. I think that we may have lost the basil seedlings and also one of the tomato plants looks a little sickly today. The rest look damaged but I think they will survive.
Today I spent a few hours in the garden. I broke some more sod. I am hopeful that once I have removed most of the grass and weeds from the garden I will spend less time weeding and more time planting and harvesting.
I also started a new bed in the corner of the garden near the potatoes using the sheet composting method. I weed whiped the weeds down tho the dirt. Then I put down a thick layer of newspapers . I then put a 3 inch layer of composted chicken litter. I plan to finish it up with a few bags of dirt. I plan to put squash in that bed. Possible the delicata squash or zucchinis.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
The basic idea is that you use an array of inexpensive turbines that are linked by gearing to drive a single generator. It looks like something that is in the testing and refinement stage now, but I am really impressed with the idea. I would guess that the efficiency is not that high but since you could always just install more turbine units to increase your total area that is less of an issue. That is of course if you have the area. It also looks like they are a bit noisy. I think that is probably an alignment issue. I suggest to them they look at a dual opposing herringbone gear arrangement.It should take care of some of the rattling and much of the axial thrust. It is the the same gearing arrangement used in naval steam turbine ship reduction gears. Which is where I learned of it. If you are from MotorWind and want to use this design, please do so. If it works out I would love to help test the new design. Also you may want to consider removing the music from your homepage.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sorry I have not written in a while. So much has been going on here at the farm.
The hops have gotten off to a tremendous start. They are already halfway up the pole barn. I have had to be quite aggressive with the pruning back the bines. The plants seem to show the same growth pattern as last year, with the Fuggles leading the way. I have to add more mulch to the bed and consider trimming back the maple more aggressively to increase the amount of sunlight they receive. I can see why these would make a great landscape plant. I have been on watch for the dreaded question mark caterpillars but have not seen any signs of their presence. Good thing considering the damage they caused last year. I also mulched the hop yard today.
In the orchard we seem to have few apple blossoms this year. I can't say if it is due to the cold weather we are having this spring or some other cause. I know that the soil in that part of the yard is quite terrible and there was the hail storm last spring as well. So I think a few more years of patience is in order. The raspberries are sending up shoots everywhere . I mulched them as well tonight.
In the garden we have been harvesting a bunch of asparagus every day. We have also had a third small picking of rhubarb, some of which is currently in the oven becoming a pie. I also mounded up the potatoes which are doing quite well. I planted the tomatoes and peppers last Friday and they have not died while waiting for the heat of summer to arrive.So all is well.
In the barnyard the chickens are well. Now I am just waiting on some rain to come and refresh the grass in ChickenGrad.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
I also removed a nest of tent caterpillars from one of the apple trees.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
Spring has finally come. I worry that we will now proceed directly into the heart of summer without the gradual warm up we would like. Ah well, you take what you get where weather is concerned.
I spent a few hours building a new fence around the chicken coop last week. Jess and I then put the old electric fence around the new 5 foot tall welded wire fence. It seems kind of crazy to go to such lengths but with all the dogs in the neighborhood it seems prudent. I have dubbed the new enclosure "Chicken-Grad".
Otherwise the the plums are in bloom and the hops are growing quite quickly. We have been eating asparagus with dinner this week and have harvested a lot of rhubarb as well.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I got back from my annual spring camping and fishing trip known as smeltfest. We finally got a few smelt on Friday night. The surf was amazing on superior that night. It was as big as I have ever seen on lake superior and the biggest I had seen since my Navy days in the Pacific ocean. It was stupid and dangerous and just the sort of thing a man needs to do from time to time. We went back on Saturday night and caught a 2 dozen more. We went back to camp that night and made smelt scampi. It was great. Now I know it has only taken 6 years to catch smelt but that made them taste all the better.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Take care and wish me luck,
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Today we had the first 70 degree day in over 6 months. We made good use of the day too. I got the hop trellis up with Jess's help. I also transplanted some day lilies from the day lily bed into the ditch by the gutters. I have seen this done at other farms. The day lilies out compete the grass and you don't have to mow that area then. Just cut as close as you like to keep the lilies chopped back. I also planted the shallots, the runner beans, some beets and some white icicle radishes. I also managed a small update of the blog to match the season.
Yesterday Jess and I went out to an earthday event at the Midtown global market. We came a crossed a number of great booths and people. There were a number of local and organic food producers there. The best piece of info we picked up was that the Thousand Hills Cattle Company based in Cannon Falls sells there products locally. This will be a great boon when we need local grass fed beef this fall. There was also a few advocacy groups for alt energy and the like. We had a good time.
On the farm we are starting to see the growth of lots of things. The Rhubarb and garlic ar coming along nicely. The chives as always can not be slowed much less stopped. The hops and raspberries are also sending up shoots. I also overwintered a few flowers that apear to have survived the winter.
Spring may finally be here.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I did get the chance to sneak away last weekend and do some trout fishing over in Northfield and by Sogn. My friend and I didn't catch anything but a bad day fishing still makes for a good day. We also stopped into a little place in Northfield called the Contented Cow. I like their beer selection and atmosphere. They have room to improve on their food. But over all a great time was had.
I have continued my interest in finding solutions to remove some of our fuel dependency. I hope to find a way to cut our BTU usage in the next year by about half. I am also amazing for a 20% reduction in outside energy used as well. One area I am looking into is a repair to the lean too section of the house while integrating some passive solar technology and also beefing up our insulation.
I know this seems like an awful lot to take on while attempting to grow and store our own food for at least a month. I am still planning to meet that goal as well.
When I get a chance I will be reading up on my fly fishing and energy technologies as well.
Stay busy, I know I will.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
It was a great weekend. I got so much done. I cleaned out the coop. Jess and I bib a bit of shopping. I baked my first batch of shortbread. We had a breakfast today of prosciutto wrapped chevre. I removed an annoying detail over the sink in the kitchen. I cleaned out the garage. But most importantly I purchased a small tiller attachment for my weed whip. I got the chance to use it a bit to prep some of the beds in the garden and I am already very impressed. It is heavy and uses gas, so not totally green but man did it allow me to turn the beds well. I already look forward to turning the beds again with it. I have never had a tiller so I don't have a good frame of reference but I am impressed. I hope to possibly plant peas this week.
In other news the seedlings seem to be coming along nicely
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
In other news I bottled 5 gallons of beer last night. It was a batch that had sit in secondary fermentation for almost a year. The sample I tasted was pretty good so we will have to see how it turns out after it has had a chance to carbonate.
I also started some seeds. Mostly herbs. I am trying something new to see if I can start seeds in the basement with heaters and lights. I have in previous years proven to be one of the worst seed starters alive, so we will have to see on that one as well.
Well stay dry and warm if you can.