Sunday, April 13, 2014
It’s been summer warm for the last few days. 88 here on Thursday. And very breezy. I’ve never lived anywhere as windy as often as it is here. We have a good place for solar and wind, and I so look forward to when we can move to that.
Last night I worked late into the evening and when I came out of my studio I was overcome with an intoxicating mix of scents from all the flowers blooming. I just stood for some minutes looking at the moon and starts and breathing in the sweet magic of life. A gentle reminder that everything comes around and all things are possible.
Our current batch of eggs in the incubator are due to hatch next weekend. I’ll be glad when the hatching is done for a while. Even so, turning this batch has been much faster. I used old paper egg cartons to make simplified egg turners. I just cut them to fit in sizes of 12 and 18 eggs each, cut notches between each egg cut for moisture and humidity, trim all excess so they fit to one another easily and close (so the eggs don’t drop hard) and make twice what I needed. When it’s time to turn the eggs just put an empty one on top, hold together and gently & slowly flip. I can turn 5 doz eggs in the time it took to turn 1 dozen individually. I’m keeping a little more water in than usual to compensate for the paper absorbing some. I’ve candled several times during and all 60 eggs are fertile and doing well. On the day they are to begin their rest in preparing to hatch I’ll remove them from the cartons just like from an automatic egg turner. We’ll see next weekend.
We’ve finished the main part of the new chicken pen and the ducks and first 9 chicks are loving it. We still have to put on a top and build the new hen house but they have shelter and won’t need the henhouse until later this summer.
And some strange chicken magic! Old Hen, who is around 14 years old now, has laid 5 eggs over last week. She’s not laid any since but those 4 are amazing. I wish they had been fertile so we could have some Old Hen babies. But we’ll save the blessed eggs for Ostara, an unexpected bounty to bring more of the same.
The first of the mead may also be ready for Ostara. Not as ready as it should be but ready enough to partake a little. I’m going to rack the first batch to 4 smaller bottles, flavor 3 with herbs and leave the 4th simple and dry. The 3 will be 1 each Sage, Lavender and Melissa, and will be a bit sweeter. I’m hoping to be able to have a little of the dry for Ostara and leave the other 3 to age.
The next batch after is Pumpkin spice but the next batch, which I will start in about 2 weeks, will be very sweet winter mead acked off into 1 Elderberry, 1 Cinnamon & Ginger and maybe 1 flavored after racking with some homemade orange extract.
I’ve not had to water the orchard since the first day we planted the new trees and bushes. It has rained perfectly for them. First every day, then every other day or every few days. I wouldn’t have minded hauling the water, it’s worth it for the return of fruit and nuts some day, but what a gift of extra time and energy not to have to. The Service and Beauty berries are already leafing out :)
The blueberries and thimbleberries should be here soon too.
Strange how dry things can get so quickly. Our road is already very dusty. More strange is how things in a closed pantry can get so dusty too.
We should have the solar shower rigged up by the end of the next week. I need help to work on it so it’s left for Nik’s days off. It’s nothing fancy at all, not as nice as our old one, but if it works I’ll be very happy.
I gathered up a passel of violets the other day, there’s an abundance of them this year. Got them in and rinsed and started steeping and then discovered I didn’t have any lemon juice. I was sure I did but nadda. So no jellies until I get some :( Does anyone know of a substitute for the lemon juice? I believe it’s only function is to prevent oxidization and improve color but gray violet jelly just wouldn’t be the same. And it may have a more important role as an acidic in canning the jellies. I’ll get some lemon juice soon and be making Violet, Dandelion and Sassafras bud jellies. I’m going to try making a small jar of Redbud jelly too.
Today I’m making cheese and may start some yogurt later, but that may wait until Monday.
I also need to make some soap. I’ve not made any in years and have been buying it. I do plan to make some as soon as the honeysuckle blooms, I’ve been wanting some honeysuckle oatmeal soap. Maybe grind up some rosehips to add to a few bars for my face soap as well. I have everything I need and just need to take the time.
My secret business venture goal has gotten a bit closer suddenly and unexpectedly. Anything can happen but anything is possible. We’ll see :) I’m very excited about it!
I’m not making house calls anymore unless it’s an emergency. I’m trying to figure out a way to host folks here to see. The cost of house calls has become overwhelming. People give what they can in trade but no one, including me, can spare even a few dollars for fuel costs, which I understand and place no blame. I’m hoping the above secret business venture will include something for that. Even so I’m trying to figure out some way to have a space here for them to visit without bringing it into the cottage. Things work as they should so I know it will work out.
Lastly, some folks have gotten together in the
area and started the Ozark County Homegrown Food Project. Jessi is heading it
and I have high hopes for her and the whole thing. It’s about buying local and
as truly local as possible. I’m so proud pf them!
There was a great article about it in the Ozark County Times April 2nd. I believe great things will come from it.
This is something that has always been of great importance to me. I was hoping to be more a part of this but lack of internet has dampened that. Things are as they should be. I wish them the absolute greatest luck!!
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Daffodils, Crocus, little buds on the redbud and lilac. We’ve been eating wild greens for well over a week now, thank the Mother! I have so missed them. Yarrow and cinquefoil abound. In the herb gardens I can see tansy, motherwort, wormwood, catnip, hyssops, sage and on and on.
We got my first order of trees for the orchard last week and got them all in. It had taken me a while to get them but I think they’re fine. All still had wick :) So Nik planted 3 each Pecan, Pawpaw, Black Cherry, Service Berry & Beauty Berry. The blueberries and thimbleberries will be here soon.
I have decided to start seeds much later this year than usual. Much too late for peppers or tomatoes. This will be the first year in a great many that I have not started my own peppers and tomatoes. But things go as they should. I will look to trade or buy pepper and tomato plants this year instead.
I will also be looking diligently for strawberry plants again. I bought some pretty expensive ones year before last but they didn’t come back after winter and that year was fairly mild. I hope to find more Ozark Beauties. I grew them for years and love them. They’re prolific and hardy.
I started another batch of mead yesterday. This is a sweeter batch and with pumpkin spices, for fall and Samhain.
A gallon of mead can be made for about the same cost as a good bottle of wine. In comparison you get twice or more the mead and you know exactly what’s in. Plus you have the pride of having made it yourself.
I’ve never made wine except by accident in the process of making pear vinegar once. But I intend to try this fall when we have an abundance of fruit.
The mead, which has always been my favorite fermentation, will be very self sufficient when I can get bees going and producing honey to share with us (a few years). Wild yeasts abound and are what was used for 100s of years for mead making. But I have not yet figured out a self sufficient source for the citric acid needed. Apparently oranges were used even in medieval times? Seems odd to me that oranges would be so easily come by in medieval
Europe. I’ll not give up my search tho, there
must be something in the Ozarks to take their place.
We have another 5 dozen eggs in the incubator. 1 doz each Barred Rock, Buff Orps and Ameraucana plus 2 doz, what I believe are, Black Australorps. I thought I was getting Black Orpintons, which I Really wanted, but Australorps are fine. We’ve had Australorps before and they were good layers. Hopefully by fall we’ll start getting our own eggs again and soon after having extra to share with the local food pantry and to sell. It’s strange being without chickens but things always happen as they should.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
The days are stunning. Green things are poking up and sprouting everywhere.
I had the first fresh wild salad of the year and the first one in months. It was simple and delicious! Dock, sorrel and cress, with a light vinaigrette dressing. I made the dressing with olive oil, my homemade apple vinegar, a little honey, homemade orange extract and cracked peppercorns. It was hard to stop eating!
The ducklings have gotten huge. They’re
and much bigger than the Runners we’re used to. We got them out into the goat
pen, where we’re building the new chicken pen. But will have to bring them into
the barn at night for awhile because its ti be in the mid to upper 20’s at
night all week. But at least they can get out al day for sun, duck baths and leg
stretching. They’re wonderful things, I’m so glad I decided to have a couple.
The chicks are growing well and I’m hoping to get more hatching eggs later this week. It was supposed to be last week but that fell through so I’ll try again. If things go as planned *o* we’ll get Buff and Black Orpingtons and more Ameraucana. I’m looking forward to the Black Orps, we’ve never had them before.
After we get the main chicken pen finished, we’ll start on brooding pens. My plan is to raise a few of each kind again to trade/sell for more homestead income. We’ll see.
I’m very disappointed about the sheep. I was so looking forward to them and the loss of the bargain hurt pretty badly. Things are as they are but I can’t help mourn the situation. a bit.
Our internet is currently down so I’m going to free wifi when I can to post and check email. It’s a pain but certainly better than no internet!
I’ve also invented a new kind of bookmark out of bent wire and a hand tied tassel. I have some floral wire that I use for the armatures for some of the dolls I make. I was looking at it while weaving a hammock one day and saw these bookmarks. I’ve been making them veraciously ever since :)
The main focus of the farm right now is The Garden : ) : ) I’m behind getting things started but never behind on plans and goals! I’m actually planning a smaller garden this year to have a better chance of actually getting it all done.
2014 Plant list - Only Organic & Heirloom
Corn – Bloody Butcher
Pumpkin – Musquee De
Summer Squash – Straightneck
Beans – Black Valentine
- Peso Pasado 2
Zucchini – Black Beauty
Carrots – Parisienne
Tomatoes – Gypsy
- Speckled Roman
- Red Cherry
Cucumbers – Unknown saved seed
Peppers – Purple Beauty bell
- California Wonder red bells
- California Wonder green bell
- Emerald Giant green bells
- Golden Bell yellow bell
- Pimiento Peppers
- Unknown purple sweet pepper ss
- Hunter Pepper
- Corno Di Toro Rosso
- Unknown very hot pepper ss
Lettuce - Wild Moon Lettuce mix ss
- Purple Wing
- Red Romain
Mustard – Black
Arugala – Rocket
- Unknown saved seed
Spinach – Viroflay
Melons – Moon & Stars watermelon
- Collective Farm Woman
Potatoes - ?
Sweet Potatoes – Unknown pale color
Misc – Bunching Onion
- Garlic Chives
Edible & Medicinal Flowers--
Popcorn – Strawberry
Gourd – Bushel Basket
Herb list to come :)
Sunday, March 16, 2014
More snow *-* How can something so beautiful be such a pain? Actually, if I have a 4 wheel drive it would be a lot less of a pain. It is what it is and it could be so much worse.
Things are otherwise going merrily along :) garden plans on the table, mead in the pantry, chicks in the brooder.
I won't be setting up at the markets this year. It was a hard to decision and I may still set up in late summer but likely not before then. I will miss it but I don't have much to sell right now and will take the time to work on the homestead and my online store. Which I'm working on today.
I guess i got ripped off on my sheep. I had paid for 2 Soay sheep last November and was to pick them up in January. No replies to phone messages, or emails. The price was excellent and the man seemed sincere and honest. I given up on them. Things are as they are.
I doubt I'll ever find a deal like that for Soay again. I had particularly wanted Soay because of their hardiness and wool shedding. But I'll look for something else when I can and be happy with any wool sheep I can get.
Everyone here is doing well. We're having a little extra milk to sell again. The 9 chicks that hatched are growing well and are 4 rir, 4 ameraucana and 1 barred rock, hopefully all pullets! The 3 pekin ducklings are getting very big!
It’s and we’re at 2 ¾ in of snow. It seems to be stopping though it is still snowing a little.
Tonight’s supper is simple mashed potatoes with goat’s milk. Pepper gravy with onion, fresh cracked peppercorns, a rich brown roux of flour and butter with a touch of olive oil, and goat’s milk. Ginger honied carrots. And crust oat bread buns made in a little electric oven.
Evening tea is apples in caramel sauce and rich black vanilla tea to drink. I wish the mead as ready :)
Speaking of mead … I am going to try making 8 gallons this year, 4 for me and 4 for trade. I was invited to a trade gathering in
and was asked if I had any mead or wine to trade by a few people.
When I rack the batch I have going, I’m going to flavor at least one bottle with vanilla and cinnamon, another with vanilla and bergamot and another with elderberry and sage. I really like simple sweet mead with nothing else added but I love the flavors too. I’ve not made mead in a very long time so we’ll see how this turns out.
I’m also working to finish a bee skep (for luring and transporting bees) and hives this year in hopes of having bees by the end of the year. I need honey for a great many things, medicinal, cooking and baking, mead etc.. I use a great deal of it. The hives won’t produce enough honey to share for a year so I need to get started as soon as possible.
Monday, March 10, 2014
I'm just in for a very late lunch of homemade cinnamon rolls and one of Nik's pepsi's *o* it was tooooo nice to come in earlier but i started feeling wonky so needed to eat something.
The day has been full, lost to do and enjoying every bit of it. Laundry this morning, cleaning pens, still picking up stuff that blew around in the high winds, working in my shop/studio to get it functional, general feeding, watering tending chores, preparing to jar up some more muscle balm and start a batch of walnut salve ...
Nik's at work, they called him back 2 weeks earlier than they said. we're very thankful for that.
Still no hot water, the propane is a horror. I'm still going to try and get it working enough to shower until I can get an electric water heater. But that's way down the list. People offer warm showers and we do accept and greatly appreciate them but I want to take a warm shower at home!
I hope to never try to hatch eggs in winter again. Out of 42 eggs in the incubator only 9 hatched out. They were all viable and doing wonderfully until we lost power for a few hours one day. it happened right after i turned them so they had no time to warm up properly before. we raced them out to the blazer where i have a small one plug converter, but it took too long and only the ones in the very middle survived.
The ducks did wonderfully, out of 12, 2 were not viable but the other 10 hatched out and thrived. I traded 4 and sold 3, hoping that the 3 i kept are a male and 2 females. They're Pekin ducks, which I've never had before. Good for meat and eggs, we'll see. I love ducks but much prefer Runner ducks and can't wait to have some again.
Of the 42 eggs we had a dozen each RIR, Barred Rocks and Ameraucana. of the 9 survivors there are 5 Armeraucana and 4 RIR. 1 of the RIR might be a barred but I think it's a red.
Tonight's supper will be grilled kabobs with chicken, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic. Maybe some grilled apples for evening tea.
the cottage is currently overrun with lady bugs, it's a very good thing but I rarely see them in the gardens. I need to figure out how to get them there.
I'm also waiting on two tree/bush orders for the orchard. several are things I had ordered two years ago but lost through the droughts. Hopefully with all the moisture so far and a fence around the orchard this year. I've ordered ...
Golden currant (spice bush)
Now back to it. I still have to .. make a hammock, throw some hay, clean another pen, sweep all the floors inside and fit in a little riding time :)
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
We were without water for a little over 3 weeks but have had outside water since last week and, hopefully, will have inside water by this coming weekend. Followed shortly thereafter with hot water. It’s been a challenge but could have been much worse. The cold has made it a bit more difficult to deal with but at least we could deal with it.
Even so, I can’t wait to have water in the house again! And the thought of finally having hot water on demand makes my head spin with delight : )
Yesterday I finished two lovely red skirts for a friend. I had them almost completed and just had to finish them off but then had some strange problem where suddenly the needle would not penetrate the fabric. I actually ended up breaking a needle on one. It was very odd. I put them away for a few days then got them back out yesterday and all went well.
I also quickly made myself another flannel skirt out of some very old red and black plaid flannel that I’ve had since my late teens. When I received this fabric it was already very old. I was told it was purchased when my Grandfather was a young man. My Grandfather crossed over at 99 years old around 15 years ago. So it’s pretty old fabric. I used to use it as a cover for my horse blanket, under the saddle in winter, for a Christmas tablecloth etc.. I loved it dearly and never wanted to cut it up. But last night I did cut it to size and now I can love it dearly as a favorite winter skirt J
3 lovely red skirts finished yesterday and hung out on the line today to air in the breeze. As I watched them dance on the line from my desk window I thought of Cardinals and the meaning of red. To me red is the warmth of a fire, passion, rosehips on an otherwise bare winter cane, the setting sun.
I am now sitting down with a bowl of supper. Wild rice with grilled mushrooms and carrots, onions, peppers and other good things. The mushrooms are a mix of Honey mushrooms from the yard last spring and portabellas I bought. I bought a lovely wheat bread from the discount bakery at T&C in Ava last week. A buttered slice or two goes wonderfully with the rich dark rice.
Dehydrating mushrooms is very easy so that you always have some to add to whatever. But to give them an exceptional flavor boost try grilling them before you dehydrate :)
Nik is stilled laid off from his job but we’re hoping he will be called back in March. But I’ve been back to work on hammocks since the 1sr week of January, thank goodness! This has been a very hard winter for us. I still have my business but sales dropped to nothing for a time and lack of jars hurt salve sales greatly.
A friend gave me what I believe I needed for the salves and balms tho. For me, as far as containers go, the first most important thing is that they be in glass. The second is that they be earth friendly containers. That’s what led me to reusing glass babyfood jars. Anyway, she suggested that I use what ever near size I can get and not worry about the look of consistency. So that’s what I’ve decided to do J. I’ve never charged for the jars (I get them free) and only charge for the salve or balm by the ounce. So, I will continue to do that and offer a discount for exchange jars that are clean with good lids and allow for refilling old jars as well.
I’m also planning on getting back to selling eggs and poultry again by the end of this year. I’ve sold a few eggs since the move but haven’t raised poultry to sell in years. I traded a buckling for cash and an incubator early in the month and it’s working perfectly. There are 10
duck eggs in it now and a dozen each RIR, Barred Rock and Ameraucana are going
in when the Pekins hatch.
To those we have 4 young Buff Orpingtons we hatched out in a friend hove-bator last year. 2 roos and 2 hens. I’ve done some trading and will do more to ensure unrelated roos and hens.
We’re working on a new poultry pen and brooding pens. They won’t be finished for quite some time but hopefully by next fall.
Aside from that I have my ever growing list of 2014 Goals and warm dreams of seeds and gardens and sunshine and warm showers ....
Sunday, December 15, 2013
What turning 50 looks like on Wild Moon Hill
The beginnings of Anya's shelter.
Built freestanding out of pallets and other found things
Built freestanding out of pallets and other found things
The north wall. It has a long way to go but does did get a bit more done
and a temporary roof before the big snow.
and a temporary roof before the big snow.
Kindling as artwork :)