Friday, December 11, 2009

Seeds 'n' Stuff

I'm either neurotic or bored, because I've already started planning next spring's garden, and have even just ordered some seeds from my beloved Victory Seed Company. Here's what I've ordered, what I saved and what I still need to get-

*Squash, "Cocozelle" (grew these last year and loved them!)
*Squash, "Burgess Buttercup"
*Pumpkin, "Cinderella"
*Cucumber, "Homemade Pickles"
*Carrot, "Chantenay Red Cored"
*Carrot, "Little Fingers"
*Mammoth Dill
*Sunflower, "Autumn Beauty"
*Sunflower, "Annual"

Saved & Given
*Swiss Chard (from Kristin - thanks!)
*Cilantro (saved seed)
*Squash, "Delicata" (leftover from last year)
*Arugula (saved)
*Sweet Peas (leftover from last year)
*Lettuce, "Marvielle de quatre saisons" (leftover from last year)

Starts to get in the Spring-
*Tomatoes (starting these from seed last year failed miserably!)
*Lemongrass (I want to give this a try in my pond.)
*Blueberries (Grandpa has offered us his blueberries which are failing to thrive for him. I don't know if we can turn them around, but I'll sure try!)
*4 fruit trees (We have 4 dying non-fruiting trees in our yard that will be replaced with as-yet undetermined fruit or nut trees. We're leaning toward pie cherries, apples, peaches, big-leaf maple (for the sap) or walnuts.
*Yet another male fuzzy kiwi - Let's hope this guy lives longer than his predecessors!

Our plan is ever-evolving, but a few things are locked in - we're expanding the garden by at least two beds, we (or more accurately, Bill) will be building one or two cold frames out of found/scavanged windows & lumber, and we'll be doubling the number of tomatoes that we plant, because we use them like mad, and because of some concerns that I have about the healthfulness of canned tomatoes - even the organic ones. :(

At the moment I'm researching, reading and planning; readying myself for the days when the sun comes back and the green things thrive. I can only hope that my energy comes back at the same time, because right now, on these single-digit freezing cold days of snuggling by the fire, reading and knitting, I'm blissfully lazy, just daydreaming of sunny spring days to come.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Baby it's Cold Outside/Red Light Special

It gets cold in the winter here in Western WA, but it doesn't usually get COLD cold. The past few days and nights, we've had lows of 5 degrees and highs in the low 30's. In addition to the cold, this blast of Arctic air is also dry as a bone, causing me and everyone else, wrapped from head to toe in fleece and wool, to build up such a quantity of static electricity that our hair stands on end or stubbornly glues itself to our foreheads, and we routinely zap the bejeezus out of everything and everyone we touch. Good times!

Alas, we zap-happy humans are not the cold's only victims.

You know those red heat lamps that McDonald's uses to keep their nasty "food" warm and "fresh"? At the moment, a disturbingly similar-looking lamp is about all that is keeping my chickens from becoming chickie-sicles. I had vowed not to use a heat lamp in the coop if at all possible, but it looks like once again I'll be eating my words.

I don't feel guilty for doing what is necessary to keep the critters (and people) in my care healthy and happy, but I do feel bad for using so much extra electricity lately. I'm wracking my brain for ways to make it up, but with the very real chance of pipes freezing, and three exotic pets in the house who don't take kindly to dips in temperatures, I'm at a loss for what to do. I could probably unplug the fridge for a few days...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

For the Birds

Have you ever heard of "bird bread"?

Bird bread is basically the same day-old stuff that you can get for a dollar or two per loaf at a bakery outlet store. The difference is that you have to ask specifically for "bird bread" and you don't get to pick the exact bread products that you get. On the other hand, at the bakery outlet that I go to, they stuff 4 or 5 loaves into each bag and charge just $1.50 per bag.

The last time that I bought bird bread, 4 out of my 10 loaves were organic whole-grain breads that usually sell for $3.99 apiece, and I got all 10 loaves for $3.00.

I do end up feeding the majority of the "bird bread" to my chickens, who love the treat, but if a loaf of something yummy or interesting ends up in one of our bags (like the organic, whole-grain stuff or some cinnamon-raisin bagels), we'll eat it ourselves. Has my frugality hit a new low or a new high?