Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Week in Harvesting & Homesteading

Billy grew a watermelon! Actually, he grew a few, which is no small feat in Western Washington. The one pictured here is a 4-pound Sugar Baby. We also planted some Yellow Dolls, but have yet to harvest one. Our thrown-together hoop house seems to be the thing that has made the difference. Summers normally just aren't long enough or hot enough around here for watermelon, and we'd all but given up on ever being able to grow them, when... booyah, the hoop house delivered.


Or maybe this was just a good year for cucurbits in general? Our cukes have never really produced a meaningful harvest, but this year.... whoa nelly! I've gone off the deep end a little with my pickling this year, most but not all of which has been cucumber pickles. So far I have 2+ gallons done and cooling their heels in the fridge, and just started 1 1/2 more gallons of sour dills fermenting today. The house of Jackson shall have a tangy miasma about it this Winter! ;)

Garlicky sour pickles in progress Day 1

I also processed another 50ish pounds of apples into juice/cider/critter food this week. My cranky shoulder is in a bad way right now from all the chopping, grating and schlepping around of produce, but, you know, I wouldn't have it any other way. Farm Wife 4 Life, yo!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Harvest Time 2014, Part 1

We were very late to pick our apples this year, and so haven't got nearly as much to show for our efforts as we have in years past, but we can chalk up at least one small victory - homemade hard cider.

Nothing warms a homebrew nerd's heart quite like the steady bloop-blooping of the airlock on a carboy of fresh-juiced cider. Some of this is destined to become apple cider vinegar, but at least a few pints will be enjoyed in it's hard form.

I also just harvested some of my breadseed poppies for use in baked goods and as an added exfoliant to our homemade goats milk soaps. This year I grew Elka White Seeded Poppies from Adaptive Seeds in Sweet Home, Oregon. Provided that I'd managed my garden better and not left it to it's own devices this Spring & Summer, I have no doubt that I'd have had a much bigger harvest. Even still, homegrown poppy seeds in any amount is pretty rad in my book.

I still have a lot of a lot of other things to harvest and sock away by one means or another. I've been a lactofermenting fiend this Summer! I already have sour pickles, dilly beans, sauerkraut and fermented ginger carrots done and in the fridge, but the cukes keep rolling in and the 'maters and tomatillos... I've yet to deal with those at all so far.

Harvest Time parts 2, 3, 705, etc., will follow in due course. We're raising half a dozen Muscovy ducks for the freezer this year, with a tentative harvest date of October 1st. Apparently slaughtering ducks is a whole different ballgame from harvesting chickens and turkeys, so I have a lot of research and prep to do before ducky d-day. We also may be harvesting one of this past Spring's wethers for the freezer. It depends, in part on whether or not they sell when the doelings move on.

There is certainly no shortage of things to do in the coming weeks and months, and having been otherwise occupied during the Spring and Summer, I look forward to doing (most of) them.

It's good to be back! :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Thousand IOU's

I've mentioned before that creativity is an ephemeral thing for me. When the spirit of the thing is there, I have to write. Likewise, when it's not, I can't. Ergo, the last 6 or 8 months.

Our family, along with another, opened what most folks would define as a "small business" back in March of this year, Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center. Who is this person who defines a venture of this sort as small?

Without making too many apologies, I'll try to sum up how 2014 has changed my life -
-I went from 14 years as a stay-at-home parent to a business owner who works 60-70 hours per week for embarrassingly low pay. The transition was not a graceful one.
-I went from being that-lady-who-never-forgets-your-birthday/anniversary/kids' names to the mommy/aunt/daughter/friend who bails on events at the last minute/forgets to send a birthday gift/etcetera because she is so exhausted that she literally can't see straight.
-I have zero, I mean ZERO social interaction outside my store.
-My house has become Disneyland for dust mites.
-I have had a very hard time finding the time and energy to do the things which bring peace and health to my family, animals, land and spirit, i.e. - making the majority of my family's foods from scratch, having unhurried bonding time with my kids/husband/critters, being a good and faithful steward to our little farm.

As the demands of the business, the farm and the seasons are constantly changing, I have not yet found a real workable work/life balance. My core goals for myself and my family haven't changed - to live a simple life full of genuine experiences. A few mixed blessings along the way have made it a little harder to achieve that goal, but it remains. I can't say exactly when I'll resurface from this immersive new experience completely to return to something that more resembles my ideal life, but I'm learning and working out how to tread these waters a little more effectively with each passing week.

Stay with me, friends. I'll see you soon-

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Kids These Days

Nanny Granny Chelle needs to get her booty up to goatlandia to take more pictures of the wee ones, but, in the mean time, I hope these photos and the linked video at the end will satisfy your baby goat adorableness quota until the next installment is available. 

Chardy's babies, Cocoa & Fiona, 2 days old

Scarlet & Evangeline, 1 day old

Elodie, Mama Sidney, and Evangeline

Elodie & Evangeline, 1 day old

For your viewing pleasure: A video of some very skeptical baby goats. For the life of me, I can't get this thing to upload normally, and so... viola. The magic of the facebook at work, ladies and gentlemen!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Mid-Winter Whine-o-rama

Every month/season/year I think: The end is right around the corner. Life is about to calm down and I can spend more time knitting/cooking/sleeping/hanging with my husband/kids/critters, etc.

That has yet to actually happen. EVER.

Getting our new business up and running has been a full time-plus undertaking for the past few months now. Meeting with suppliers-bankers-contractors, renovating our space, marketing, hiring employees and doing 90% of the physical labor on the building ourselves... it's kicking our butts a little.

Then we have life on the home front - kidding season, garden planning, fostering dogs, fending off raccoon and coyote attacks, attempting (and failing) to keep my house and yard presentable, seeing my kids for more that 5 minutes per day, etc. Le Fail.

I offer last Friday as an example:
*My oldest stayed home from school sick.
*My youngest came home early from school, sick.
*My big dogs escaped. Thrice. That meant that I had to keep them in the house for the day after escape #3. Guess how productive a gal can be when she's being stalked by two giant, cagey dogs and two needy daughters? Not very.
*Our septic tank filled up so completely that we couldn't run any two of the following at the same time: the shower, toilet, dishwasher, clothes washer. When water did successfully go down the drain, we were "rewarded" with a burp from the toilet. Magical.

So... how's Winter treating you?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Telltale Huevos

We don't use supplemental light in our coops. We never have, with the exception of the few times that we've been taken by surprise by a mid-Winter clutch hatching out, necessitating the extra heat.

Typically, our girls enjoy a well earned ovulation-vacation during the cold and dark months, which can lead to certain teenagers becoming a little cavalier about checking the nest boxes when she does her chicken chores. This happens -literally- every year, even though I harp on my certain teenager to take the extra 5 seconds to check them anyway. And she says things like "Ok", and "I will" and my favorite "Nope, no eggs again today!".

With the recent passing of the Winter solstice, I thought it might be about time for a few of our hennies to start laying again, so I decided to do a little spot check on the nests. Surprise, surprise!


Seventeen eggs. Seventeen flipping eggs! That's almost $6 worth! A certain teenager was very repentant when confronted with the evidence of her ongoing dereliction of duty and offered to wash the eggs off for me. You're darn tootin' you'll be washing those eggs! *grumble, grumble*