These days, for a variety of reasons, Matt and I try to get things for free when we can. Not because we're trying to live off the backs of others or because we're just cheapskates. We're kind of poor, so free is nice, but we also don't like seeing things go to waste. We would rather an item get reused than thrown out, and if good food is available at little or no cost, we'd rather take advantage of it than spend money that could go towards things like paying off student debt. We constantly make use of the Craigslist "free" page, Freecycle, and the awesome free box culture here in Portland. My girlfriends and I swap clothes instead of buying new ones. Matt gets free meat and eggs from his work on a regular basis. We sometimes trade for items with friends. We occasionally dumpster dive for goodies for the compost or the chickens or ourselves (many Portland restaurants and supermarkets have specific dumpsters for food items). And, we have taken to gleaning fruit where we can find it for free. There are a few different fruit trees around that we check on, numerous chestnuts, and today we stopped by a grapevine I spotted in the neighborhood during the summer. It must be ancient, as it is growing up through a fifty-foot-tall fir tree, covering most of the tree, and hanging down into the parking lot of a local business (I'm not saying where :). Only a few clusters of grapes were really ripe (and within reach), but it looks like there are plenty more, hopefully they will ripen soon. I don't know much about grapes, but these ones taste like the Concords that I've had several times.
We'll definitely be checking the vine again in a week or two to see if we can get some more! Yum!
Fridays tend to be pretty simple, relaxing days for us. Right now we both go full tilt at work/school Monday through Thursday, so Friday feels a bit like Saturday. It's the day we sleep in, cook a fancyish breakfast (pancakes and bacon this morning) and catch up with each other a bit. I always like reconnecting with our little homestead on Fridays, especially now that I'm usually gone dark to dark, I don't see much of our various animal friends or the garden during the week.
Here's five of the six hens, digging into some squash rinds from our dinner last night. They LOVED them. About twenty minutes after this picture, nothing remained but a few small bits of rind scattered around the yard! No one's laying yet, all of our young'uns should start to lay around Thanksgiving, unless they decide it's too cold and dark. We're trying to trick Vivian into laying sooner by extending their "day" with a light on a timer that shines into their coop for a few extra hours at night and in the morning. No luck so far.
I spent a chunk of today working on my midterm for my Foundations of Public Health course, and researching for a program analysis I'm doing on the Cooking Matters program and a policy analysis of Oregon's school nutrition policy, which kept me inside (sometime soon I'll write more about the amazing stuff I'm learning these days. I'm completely in the right program, I know it). Tomorrow I'll spend some quality time with the garden. I can see from the windows that all the cover crops are doing well, but we had two frosts this week so I'm not sure if my (tiny, slow!) kale sprouts are alright. It's been wickedly cold, for Portland, and I even managed to leave my warmest, and favorite, gloves on the bus yesterday. I think I'm going to start wearing my weatherproof bike gloves for everyday, they're pretty nice looking and totally waterproof and windproof. Better than buying a new pair, unless I can find some for free :)