Sunday, April 29, 2012


...After one very stressful week and before another. So I'm afraid this will be another quick and random update. My life this past week has been +/- 6 hours of sleep per night and a lot of this:

But I did manage to play hooky for a few hours this weekend, to do some work outside and take a trip to the community garden. This is what our plot looked like when we got it a month ago:

And this morning, complete with peas, carrot seedlings, lettuce sprouts, and a variety of flowers:

And before-and-afters from the north side:

Today we planted some potatoes, radicchio, oakleaf lettuce, and cilantro, and mulched the paths around our plot. Next week we'll plant all the rest of the space in corn and beans and squash, and then it will really get going!

Since gardening is the thing that's keeping me sane right now, that's about all that's on my mind besides school, so here's a glimpse of what we've got growing around the property:

 Our bright green lush lawn (and apple blossoms!). You can catch a glimpse of the sorry state our lawn was in just a couple months ago, when we decided to move the chickens off of it:

The lilacs are blooming, and the backyard smells heavenly. Sleeping with the window open, we can smell them first thing in the morning. 

 The vision I have for our summer yard is coming to life: lots and lots of flowers and vegetables, including a border of nasturtiums in several places. 

 Potatoes around our front yard.

I planted a tomato on top of a potato. Whoops!

More tomatoes hardening off to go into the ground next week. 

In other news, Matt and Elliot butchered four rabbits this afternoon. It all went well, and they calculated the cost of raising our own meat to be $3 per pound. Not bad! It was sad to say goodbye to the bunnies, but we're really excited to be finally reaping the rewards of raising them. It's a fast cycle- they were just tiny babies a couple months ago. I didn't watch the killing, but I did observe some of the skinning and processing. When the boys have their process down to a science, then I will be a part of it too. Luckily, rabbits are some of the easiest animals to kill and skin. This all deserves its own post, but sadly I don't have time for that at the moment, and I wanted to make sure I mentioned it! The meat is resting in the fridge now, and tomorrow night we'll have braised rabbit for dinner. Here's to another step towards self sufficiency!

With that, I'm off into midterms.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Evolution of a Salad

On this extremely summery day, I am reveling in the fact that we haven't purchased greens in over a month, and don't anticipate buying any more until late next fall, if then.

From the garden bed... the salad spinner

Some go into a (recycled) bag in the fridge for this week's lunches...

...add some shredded apple and carrot

and some homemade honey mustard dressing...

Serve with rice and pan-fried paprika shrimp, or something equally delicious and easy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

This time of year

So many things growing, and blooming, and about to bloom.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Do you like green eggs and ham?

It would appear that Vivian, our Ameracauna, overheard our plans to butcher her next week and decided to buy herself some time! After not laying a single egg in the almost six months we've had her (she is almost three years old now), she produced this monster double-yolker yesterday morning! We're stoked- green eggs are such fun to find, and a nice thing to add to the batches of eggs that go to our friends. Now if she can just keep them coming!

Keep in mind, my hand is quite big to begin with! This egg is fairly massive.

In other chicken-related news, our chicken-triggered door ceased to be effective about three days in, when the hens apparently devolved and forgot how to work it. They did it fine the first few days, and after that we would once again be awoken by loud squawking when they found themselves trapped in the henhouse. Instead of going to the door to get out, they now jump up onto their roosts, where they can see outside, which negates the possibility of them stepping on the pedal. We've tried several remedies, with no success. So we're back to square one, letting them out at the crack of dawn when they wake us up with their noise. Sigh. I've been dreaming a lot lately about living in the country, with the chicken run on the opposite side of a multi-acre property, far from where we (and our neighbors) sleep. 

P.S. I just went to check for eggs, and found both Goldie and Esther sitting on the nest. Yes, two hens on the same nest! Whatever annoyance they may be, chickens are also an endless source of entertainment!

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Second Garden

We have a community garden plot!

I know it sounds absurd, because we are doing so much gardening at home, but we don't have as much space as we would like, and this is an excellent solution! It came about because I had griped to Matt about how we didn't have room for vegetables that take up space, like squash and corn (while we have a lot of garden space, there are few large expanses of growing area, mostly small beds). We have a few areas where we can grow larger amounts of space-taking veggies, and we prioritized garlic and potatoes- two major staples in our household. But green beans are one of my very favorite vegetables, and while we can grow a few pole beans against our fence, we really don't have room for any bush beans, and Matt also really wanted to grow corn. So he suggested we apply for a community garden plot. It hadn't even occurred to me as a possibility! I had always thought of community gardens as growing space for people who don't have room at home, or who live in apartments. All of which is definitely true, but why not have a smallish plot as supplemental garden space?

Around the same time we were realizing we should apply, Jessa and Elliot were granted a plot in a garden very near our house (convenient for Jessa because it's right on her way home from work). We hadn't even realized that this garden existed, but as soon as we saw it, we realized how amazing it would be to garden there. There were still free spaces, so we applied.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)

The garden is only six blocks from our house, but somehow we had never explored that particular part of our neighborhood, and had no idea it was there. It's enormous, and adjacent to a big demonstration orchard, a massive park, a middle school, and a Master Gardener learning garden.

Last week we were granted a 200 square foot plot, and this weekend we went to check it out. It was a gorgeously sunny weekend, and we spent a couple hours yesterday tilling everything up and planning out our planting: green beans, heirloom corn, carrots, lettuce, peas, and squash.

So much potential!
Our plot is 10'x20', you can see the string outlining it. The nice brown plot right behind it (upper center of the photo) is Jessa & Elliot's- right next door! 

From the south

 Our plot already boasts comfrey (above) and fennel (below), as well as some calendula and a few poppies.

 Matt dropped me off another day to plant chamomile, yarrow, and marigold starts.

I am really excited to have the experience of a community garden, and the plot costs us only $43 for the entire year. It will really expand our growing space, and allow us to be much more self sufficient by growing more food than we have ever been able to. We get to garden right next to Jessa and Elliot, and hopefully lots of other cool people, and it's a very short walk or bike ride from home!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Back to School

In spite of, or maybe because of, a few curveballs that came our way this week, I have had a really good down to earth spring break. Somehow it managed to be everything that I needed, both mentally and practically: a new job, lots of time in the garden, good visits with friends, lots of big chores done, and lots of relaxing at home with Matt and by myself. Miraculously, I managed to achieve everything I set out to do on this break. What a wonderful feeling- that so rarely happens! I started to really miss school these last couple of days, and now I'm feeling prepared to dive back in to my new classes tomorrow.

I had a really nice weekend spent mostly at home, with a couple visits from good friends and their wee ones, and lots of time spent in the kitchen. I did lots of baking and cooking and freezing in preparation for what will be a very busy quarter, and now the freezer is full of cooked beans, cake, cookie dough, and still plenty of meat and fish. We have a menu plan set for the next three weeks and are stocked up on groceries.

(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
Jam drops made from this recipe on Gooseberry Jam's blog. Super easy and delicious recipe (and a beautiful blog!) Some with passionfruit jam from Hawaii, and some with homemade strawberry jam.

A fall treat in the spring! Pumpkin pie made with frozen squash puree.

The basement is clean and organized, as is the garret. The bathroom got a deep clean, Matt scrubbed out some mold we found in our closet, and I got a chance to do the kinds of small tasks that are easily put off and not pressing, but so nice once they are done:

 The "tupperware cupboard," before and after.

The kitchen linen drawer, before and after. 

It was nice to have more time to spend with the animals this week. Out in the garage, the wee bunnies are growing up quickly! Princess' two surviving kits are at the horrendously cute month-old stage right now, fat and round with fluffy, bear-like faces:

Duchess's brood of eight are getting much bigger, and their ears are getting longer.

While I'm looking forward to returning to school, the next couple of months are going to be pretty crazy for us. In addition to my new job (which I am very much enjoying, by the way), which is 24 hours per week, I will continue to work 10-12 hours per week at my internship, in addition to a full course load of evening classes. Unlike previous quarters, I have no back-to-back classes this term, but one class each of three nights per week. Wednesday and Thursday nights, I won't get home until about 10 PM. In a major shift from previous terms, I simply won't have any non-class time on weekdays to do school work, so homework will happen late at night, a lot on the weekends, and on my lunch break at work. It's going to be challenging, especially since Matt has the opportunity to work at an urban farm on Saturdays (in addition to still looking for a full-time job), which leaves us with very little time together. We're both confident we'll manage, and have set aside one night per week as a date night when we're not allowed to make other commitments or do homework. Also, we have the benefit of knowing that this hectic schedule is finite: both my classes and internship end in mid-June, and then I'll have three and a half months of just working part-time before school starts again.

These next two and a half months are going to be a practice in time management and maintaining mental health! I will definitely continue to blog, but I'm sure you'll notice that posts are fewer and further between. I hope you all are enjoying your spring (or fall, if you're in the southern hemisphere) and all that comes with it.