Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Well it has been a while since I posted and the longer I wait the more important it seems to write something of substance. Truth is I need to just write something. So here it is.

First Jess and I just got back from a trip to Phoenix last week. The idea was to lay in the sun and recharge a bit but fortune had other plans. I managed to catch a sinus infection on the way down and was sick much of the time. It also rained much of the week as well. We did get out a few days though and had a good time. I can really see the appeal of the southwest when my home in Minnesota was covered in a frozen blanket of snow and ice. The citrus fruits that were in all the yards were wonderful to see. I am definitely jealous of that. They also have so much luck growing Rosemary they plant it in the medians of the roads. Here is a picture I tried to take as we drove past.

Here I am lucky to keep one alive through the winter in the house.

Other than that things here are going along well. The insulation that we added to the house is paying off. We have had to fill our propane tank much less frequently and also we have noticed a significant reduction in the amount electricity we are using as well.

Keep warm

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Be it here resolved.

So I suppose it is time to publish this years resolutions for the homestead.

We recognize that having food in the pantry is good for both body and mind. We therefore resolve to grow, dry, can and freeze even more food in the coming year. We also resolve to cook even more of our own meals using the quality ingredients we will gather in. It is sad but true that we don't use as much as we should of our own home grown foods and we plan to change that. We plan to experiment with cold frames and possibly a small hoop house in order to extend the amount of the year that we can enjoy our dinner salads. As part of our resolution to grow even more food we plan to rent a sod cutter and a tiller to till up approximately an acre of the yard this spring and plant it.

It is also not acceptable to me that others are not fed properly and I resolve to do something about it. For that reason we plan to plant approximately 1/4 acre of this garden with the intention of giving it away to the local food shelf if they will have it. If not we will find some other way to get it into the hands of those that need it. We will also be asking for food donations at events we host throughout the year.

We also recognize that allowing things to go to the dump is neither financially nor ecologically smart. For that reason we resolve to generate less waste in the coming year. We plan to accomplish this by increasing our recycling and composting operations and also by reducing the amount of expendables we bring into our home.

And finally we resolve to find a way to produce some small part of our own power here on the farm. We believe that though the future is not clear to anyone the wise prepare today for difficulties tomorrow. We also believe that every homestead should be as resilient as possible. To this end we plan to either install a small alternative energy system or solar thermal system by years end. We plan to design the system with an eye to future expansion.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Year end post.

I have been wanting to write a year/ season ending post for some time but have been having some trouble wrapping my head around just what to talk about.

First I think was great it was to see the larger food culture continue to move twords the fresh, local and organic. From going to see movies like Fresh and Food inc. to the increasing availability of food events like Tour de farm and Gastro non grata it was great to be involved in a the trend to a more sustainable and healthy food culture. We were also able to attend events with Slow Food Minnesota and Simple, Good and Tasty as well. We even held our own fall harvest festival.

We expanded the garden to include a new satellite garden by the chickens for the growing of some of thier food and three additional beds in the main garden. We grew pole beans for the first time, though our trellis design still needs work. We grew our own cabbage and carrots this year successfully. We learned that kale can be biannual at least in our climate. We also had challenges with cucumbers and parsnips and got our squash and pumpkins in too late.

The orchard gave us our first ever apricots and also plums galore. We planted our first nut bushes and along with some red currants and high bush cranberry.

We insulated the house and had the siding upgraded to improve our home energy efficiency. It is too soon to be able to tell just how much difference this will make but so far it looks to be a significant improvement. We also have made our pole barn a more useful and productive place.

We foraged for walnuts to make nocino and managed to put a few birds and some deer meat in the freezer from hunting. We also foraged for nettles to make nettle beer and ferns for the spring table.

Well I guess that was really quite a great deal to do in one year. I am already thinking about what we will need to get done next year but I will save that for another post.