Showing posts with label homesteading. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homesteading. Show all posts

17 June 2015

independence days (bi)weekly challenge

I'm joining Aubrey again this week for my (almost) bi-weekly independence days post.

1. Plant something:  We are still planting regularly--last week we planted many more cabbage and broccoli starts, as well as carrots, cukes, beets and more.  Also some extra lettuce starts we had.  The little ones like to help, so I spend some time re-planting (by hand) the seedlings that don't quite make it in the planter the right way.  But this tool has been so helpful to us on our farm--since we have no employees and Adam and I do everything.  Also, without irrigation, it's a great way to get the seedlings some water as we plant.

2. Harvest something:  It is a slightly slower start to our season, but we are enjoying fresh spinach daily and a friend helped me harvest our chamomile to dry for winter.  This afternoon, I'll be harvesting for our first farmers' market tomorrow!

3. Preserve something:  The chamomile above was air dried to store for teas and soap-making next winter.  

4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  With a humble farmsteading budget, we do this all the time rather than buying new.  Adam needed a new slow-moving vehicle sign for the hay wagon, so he took a bright red, broken harvest bucket and made one.  The signs I hang for farmers' market are supposed to be hung with zip-ties, but baling twine from old hay bales worked just as good.  We will be repainting signs we already have for markets and the farmstand.

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):
For the past 8 years, we have been steadily working towards putting up our own hay.  This has meant bartering with neighboring farmers to do haying for us, then bartering for our own baler and other equipment and the past couples years, with the exception of hiring a friend to mow the fields for us, we put up our hay on our own.  Adam would love to be able to rent more hay land and mow them himself, so he is always on the lookout for the equipment we need and we hope to find used equipment we can afford someday.  It takes the whole family to do this and our kids work so hard helping us get this done.  

6. Build community food systems:  Our markets start this week!  We attend two small markets where we bring our pastured pork, maple syrup, veggies and eggs.  
I also wanted to share this very neat database I discovered.  Our local Rutland Farm and Food Link, a non-profit that helps link farmers and consumers, among many other things, also organizes glean teams to come to local farms and glean veggies to distribute to food shelves, shelters and other organizations.  There is now a statewide Gleaning Interface where volunteers can sign up and community-based gleaning projects can get organized via the web.  I love this idea!  

7. Eat the food:  It's why we do what we do!  On the menu in the last couple weeks, pierogis with homemade farmer cheese, fresh spinach and sauerkraut, Adam made a big batch of our bbq beef for a church lunch, farm fresh omelets, white chili using up some of the salsa from last summer, spinach lasagna with farm fresh ricotta, and blueberry buckle to name a few things.  Below is my whipped cream mishap--where my cream skipped the whipped and went right to butter.  And one of my little helpers "tooking" with me.  

28 May 2015

independence days challenge

I'm joining Aubrey again with the independence days challenge.  I'm alternating these every other week with my around the farm posts, on Wednesdays (or Thursdays...or when I get caught up with uploading pictures--ha!)  
Homesteading and want to share your journey?...interested in homesteading and want to try and do a few of these each week?...Join us (and share the link on her blog).

1. Plant something:  The weather has been so dry here that we are not planting much right now.  Though it rained last night, so I'm headed out shortly to replant onions and leeks (fill in the gaps where we lost some due to the dryness).  We did plant brassicas last week, and this picture ended up on the front page of our local section of our local paper.  
from the Rutland Herald
2. Harvest something:  Lettuce and rhubarb is it right now.  Selling some lettuce at our farmstand and enjoying it every day.  And I've made a few more rhubarb crisps this past week.

3. Preserve something:  Not much preservation happening at this point, in fact, we are trying to use up a lot of frozen blueberries and spinach to make room for this years harvests.  
4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  I know we do this often, but I'll have to try and remember these more.  Basically, we try and buy as little as possible all the time...

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):  Adam's friend dowsed for water across the road, and we are hoping to install a well there to have water for animals.  It also would be nice to know we would have a source of water when we lose power--since we have an electric well pump for our house.  
6. Build community food systems:  Our farmstand has opened with just lettuce and eggs, but we also just got our pork back to sell to our neighbors who ordered meat shares with us.  
7. Eat the food:  Every day!  This weekend, a dear friend visited and we had fun making her meals with our preserved veggies (corn, spinach, tomatoes), eggs, pork, blueberries, rhubarb, onions.  We enjoyed a feast prepared by Adam the night she got here, and homemade pizza, pie with cherries we froze last year, blueberry-rhubarb crisp, homemade yogurt for much good food!  We went from cold temps to hot temps in a matter of days and so the kids have been loving frozen (homegrown) smoothie-pops.  I just blend blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, raw milk, spinach and a dash of maple syrup and freeze them in these (gifted from a friend).  Honestly, I put whatever we have in them (sometimes include tart cherries or coconut milk, carrots or kale).  

14 May 2015

independence days challenge #2

Joining Aubrey again this week with the independence days challenge--working on the homesteading side of our small market farm.

1. Plant something:  We planted flats of brassicas this week (and the kids helped me plant some small flats of flowers--notice on the right--the only ones coming up are the flats LOADED with seeds, planted by F) ;)  With the heat and then, finally, the rains, our spinach, carrots, beans, beets and other greens are starting to come up.

2. Harvest something:  I am still harvesting lettuce from the high tunnel and the first of our rhubarb, which we enjoyed in both a pie and a crisp this week.

3. Preserve something:  No preserving going on yet, but I am trying to make room in the freezer by using up the bags and bags of spinach from last summer.  Here's a busy, blurry F helping with eggs and the spinach-egg bake waiting to go in the oven.   Adam and Z slaughtered our beef calf and brought him to a local custom cutting place.  Soon our freezer will be filled with beef for the year.  

4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  Many of the flats of plants we have coming up are coming up in old wooden drawers (see top photo).  These were found in our barn and have served us well as flats for years now.  We also reuse our plug flats every year.  I've been finding various plants around the farm (yarrow, chamomile, sunflowers) that I've been digging up and transferring to the herb garden before Adam starts mowing the yard.  Does that count?  

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):  I'm busy (re)reading Wild Fermentation and enjoying it more now than I did when I was in college and read it for the first time.  I can't wait to try out more of the recipes this year.  (Sauerrüben or Honey wine-anyone?)

6. Build community food systems:  Several of our neighbors have signed on for farmshares this year.  We love to be able to provide healthy, affordable food for friends and neighbors.  We've also been selling eggs at our local food co-op.  
Last week, I mentioned a great non-profit in our county, but our state has several as well.  Rural Vermont has been a wonderful resource for us as we've started marketing our raw milk.  They are really the voice for farmers like us and consumers who are passionate about food issues on topics like raw milk, GMOs, farm fresh meats and more.  In a way, they make it simple for us to stay up-to-date on what is going on in the state (and state legislature) and work to activate, educate and advocate for community food systems in Vermont.  Check out their page!  I hope farmers in other states have great organizations like Rural Vermont working for them.  

7. Eat the food:  I love that this one is last--saving the best for last.  Tonight we ate homemade pizza with our canned tomatoes on it, our fresh lettuce and enjoyed raw milk ice cream with our milk.  Last night we ate our chicken, our spinach and eggs (and Adam foraged for some nettles, too).  Every meal has something homegrown in it here!  Yogurt (above) is the family favorite.  I make one of these 2 quart containers at least five times a week!  Thank goodness we have our own milk--local jersey milk yogurt is more than $6/quart from the store!  

Interested in trying to be more self-sufficient?  Want to join in?  Check out Aubrey's blog and join the challenge.  

07 May 2015

independence days challenge

all photos from our first summer on our farmstead in 2004

I am joining in with Aubrey's Independence Days Challenge.  I am looking forward to using this to encourage myself to expand what we save and make for ourselves from the farm.  It was, of course, our goal, long before we even had our own farmstead (back when we were in a homesteading class in college).  Each year our farmstead has grown or evolved to feed us more, or more efficiently.  Though I don't think I'll have something to post for each category each week, I'll try and come up with links, recipes or other information for those categories.  Here is the list from Sharon Astyk's Resilience Blog.

1. Plant something - This one is easy this time of year.  Yesterday, I took the kids to an ecosystem expo, put on by our local conservation district.  After a busy day assessing local river health by studying macroinvertebrates and learning about wildlife in our water shed, we came home to plant 4,000 feet of potatoes!   A busy day in the sun!  
2. Harvest something - We are harvesting lettuce from our high tunnel that was seeded down (and just sprouted) last fall.  Since early March, we've been enjoying it for dinner almost every night.
3. Preserve something - Most of our family's preserving happens in August and September.  The most recent thing we've preserved is our maple syrup
4. Waste Not- This category refers to food according to Sharon's list.  We find it easy to 'waste not' when it comes to food scraps here.  We always have pigs here on the farm--two or more sows for raising piglets, a boar and usually several we are raising to for slaughter--and they will happily enjoy most food scraps.  We also have chickens to feed scraps too as well.  And if we didn't have animals, we would be composting them.  
5. Want Not - Oh, we love this one.  We are big fans of bartering, using hand-me-downs or just making due with what we have for kitchen tools or even food in our pantry.  I'll find a recipe I want to try, but we only grow butternuts, not sweet potatoes--I'll just swap it out in the recipe.  My friends often tease me that I've never done a recipe exactly how it is written.  ;)  I did, however, just buy myself a (brand new) spiralizer kitchen tool and have been loving using vegetables in place of pasta or rice in recipes.  
6. Build Community Food Systems - This is something that is hard to do on your own, but where we live, we are fortunate to have many active groups working for this goal.  I was on the steering committee and eventually board of directors of our local co-op that was a scrappy, grassroots project grown out of the love and passion of a group from our community.  We have the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, a local non-profit who in their words "has been working to expand availability and access to locally produced foods, bolster the greater Rutland region’s agricultural economy, and increase community appreciation and understanding of the positive impact of farms and farmers on the Rutland region."  They are a great resource to local farms and a wonderful way that our area is helping to build a community food system.  Next week, I'll share information about another statewide organization that is doing great things for our regional food system.  
7. Eat the Food - We do this everyday!!  There isn't a meal that we eat that doesn't have at least 1 item that we raised ourselves.  And even in the middle of winter, we enjoy meals entirely made up of things that we grow.  Obviously, we need to buy things at the store.  I'm horrible about making dairy products besides yogurt and some soft cheeses, so buy local cheddar and sourcream (I should make my own).  We buy flour, grains for grinding, some dry beans, lentils, sugar and rice from our local food co-op and other items like condiments, tortilla chips, and even "squishy bread" (store bread) when my family is craving it.  There is a balance when you are raising four kids, homeschooling and trying to fit in your own interests like crafting or schooling.  Sometimes I just have to buy it instead of make it.  But I try to do it at the two locally owned stores near us (the co-op and the little grocer near us).

Want to join in?  Link over to Aubrey's blog and join in!