Monday, October 26, 2009

Independence Days - Fall 2009 Update

I haven't done a very good job at keeping updates on this challenge. Okay, I totally blew it, but I have been continuing to make progress.

We went a month or so without any eggs, when the chickens stopped laying. One of the ducks is giving us an egg a day right now, and from my experience, duck eggs don't really taste any different than chicken eggs, but our ducks and chickens have the same diet, and so that may be why. If I had larger piece of land with a real farm pond (as opposed to the little, blue kiddie pool), the flavor might differ.

All of the tender vegetables were harvested weeks ago, and those beds have a deep layer of straw mulch from the chicken coop. Yesterday, I harvested everything except the lettuce, a couple of cabbage plants that still look healthy, but don't have heads, and the calendula, which are setting seeds. I moved the bean PVC trellis over the lettuce bed, and I'm thinking of putting something over the lettuce so that we can have fresh salad until December. Right now, though, it seems happy enough, and even though we've had a couple of really hard frosts, it's still green, and it's actually still growing. Crazy!

I also planted the garlic. Half is seed garlic from a local farm, and the other half is from what I harvested earlier this year. It will be fun to see which grows better.

My spring order of Jerusalem Artichokes arrived from Johnny Seed. I haven't figured out, yet, where I'm going to plant them. I was planning to put them next to the fence, but now, that's where our wood is stored. I'll have to give it some thought, because, based on last year, they like a lot of sun ... and I hear they're increadibly invasive - which for a food plant is not a bad thing, in my opinion. Plus, they have pretty flowers.

My neighbor likes flowers .... Hmm?

We've been canning, although not as much as I would like. I still need to do more applesauce. We've already eaten all that I've canned. We can usually get apples all winter long, but it's better to get them now, at 1/3 the cost, than to be making million-dollar applesauce in January. There just never seems to be enough time.

I started a batch of sauerkraut yesterday. It's my first attempt, and it will be interesting to see how it tastes. I am not planning to process it in jars, as heating kills the beneficial bacteria. As such, unfortunately, sauerkraut will be just one more "seasonal" delicacy that we enjoy for a limited time. If this batch turns out good, though, I do plan to start experimenting with lacto-fermentation a bit more. I'd like to make kimchi. Spicy, pickled cabbage. Sounds good to me :).

We have been doing a lot, recently, with adding to our tools. Last month, we added a sausage grinder. Last year, sometime, I picked up a food grinder on FreeCycle, which I had not used. This weekend, Deus Ex Machina ran out of his favorite coffee, but because we're participating in this challenge, we couldn't just go to Hannaford and get some. We picked up a bag of coffee at the local coffee shop, but when we got it home, we realized it wasn't ground.

Oops!

Deus Ex Machina remembered we had the food grinder, and he figured out the various "blades" and ground him some coffee beans.

We took it a step further, roasted some raw almonds on the woodstove, and made some almond butter.

In the process, we realized that once we've gotten to that point in our acorn processing, we can make flour. We already have the tools.

We think the pergola we wanted to build across the backyard is going to have to be scrapped. *See paragraph above regarding applesauce*. We're just running out of time to do all of these projects, and the ducks need a shelter - sooner rather than later. They actually spent the day in the coop with the chickens on Saturday when it was cold and raining. They didn't seem to mind, too much, but I don't like the idea of so many birds in our little coop area. It's probably big enough, but I just don't want to take any chances that they'll start feeling cramped and get aggressive, especially as we have no options of places to put injured or sick birds. In addition, while the Khakis don't have to have water for swimming, it really makes them happy, and I'd like to give them their own place where they can make mud. The chickens like dirt, but not mud.

So, we're looking at using pallets to build a duck house, and we'll also use pallets to build a wood storage shed. I found some examples of some really nice sheds people have built.

I don't think we'll ever get to the point that everything is done. I think that's really just part of the way life is - there always seems to be one more thing -, but I have to admit that I'm really looking forward to the coming months, when staying indoors and knitting or reading or knitting and listening to audiobooks or playing cheat with the girls is the accepted routine.

I love all seasons of the year, and one of the really awesome parts about homesteading is that it makes me appreciate, even more, the changing days. We're much closer to the natural cycles than we used to be.

I'm looking forward to the winter, but I'm also anticipating next spring and the sugaring season ... but I'm probably getting ahead of myself.

There's still a lot of living to do between now and then.

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