Tuesday, February 24, 2009

spring things, long & rambly

yesterday my father turned our garden! there's nothing like fresh, dark dirt in the spring to really get me excited. he was able to turn a new bit right next to the existing garden and also a long new strip on the other side of the house where we are going to plant tomatoes this year.  there is a third new area but the tractor couldn't get it- a strip in front of our existing asparagus patch. we will have to hand dig and then till that area.

after, the chickens were all happy to dig for grubs and bugs in the ground.

enjoy it while you can, hens! their coop with a run is in progress and it will not be long before they are captive. we have always kept free range hens with a simple coop for night time. but to do that we have had to fence our garden from them. that was fine for 3 years, but it made it impossible to plant anything outside of fencing. like flowers in my flowerbeds. also, any mulch we would put anywhere, like around our orchard trees, would be immediately scratched out and removed. and this year we want tomato rows in places we just cant erect huge fences around. also, we lost 12 hens last year to roaming stray dogs. of course we have Henry now, but that was pretty devastating and so leans us more towards cooped hens. so the hens will be cooped. we will provide them with custom-mixed natural feed and garden/ lawn scraps.  it cannot happen soon enough for me, because i would like to plant poppies in my flower garden.

i am sure karl will write about the coop, but right now it is just the platform foundation on piers. next the walls will go up, just like a house. and then the roof. karl has a ton of salvage metal for roofing/ siding and that is what it will be clad in and painted.

i bought regular red onion sets for this year. i did it because while we have always bought fancy plants, we never use the onions for storage (which is mostly what we were looking for in varieties). the first couple of years we used all our onions in pickles and tomato sauce canning. last year we found the perfect thing. dehydration. we have dined on dried onions all winter. we dehydrated some 50 pounds but would have had 150. i use them in sauces and soups and everything. i haven't bought onions all year. since we only plan to dehydrate our excess onions this year, we decided to buy plain onion sets and save money.

we also have storebought potatoes for seed! it was really an accident. i let a lot of potatos go unused in my pantry and now they are sprouting. instant seed potatoes. we've always bought seed potatoes but this is somethign we are giving a try this year.

i am growing my own sweet potato slips from last year's sweets.

the kids got to hold chicks yesterday. the pullets are already feathered in on their wings completely. they seem to really be feathering fast. we have 12 silverlaced wyandottes and 2 auracanas for tristan & kassi. the two are officially named: Leafy Princess (kassi) and Juniper Berry (tristan). Anatoly says, Baby... yet? Chicken... yet?. 'yet' is toly's newest word and he is trying it on everywhere to see what it's made of.

thank you all for snack ideas. it sounds like i am not alone in my struggle to keep hungry kids fed. it is hard, especially being dairy-free and not well-off. that combination really makes for tough times. rice, teresa, is one i haven't tried. i have the same rice cooker! rice and beans it may have to be for us. I have been trying to make a lot of bone broth to compensate for no dairy. and i try to get dairy into the older kids but it is really hard. Anatoly just doesn't understand and he will try to snatch cheese and other dairy because he loves it. it makes him so, so sick. i wish with all my might that wasnt the truth. but it is. i wish it would go away for so many reasons, most of them selfish. but some of them are just the hardship for toly and knowing he probably will never outgrow this.

a lot of my food frustrations center around making things from scratch. if i make biscuits, they are gone in a flash, no matter how many i make! i can't make things ahead it seems. i make good flour/ lard tortillas, but they don't last very long. and i can't make them every single day. Katie, i was thinking of using your bean burrito idea. i could have a day i made a ton of tortillas and had beans ready and made/ froze bean burritos in the tortillas and foil. if i did it all at once i could freeze 40- 50 of them and have snacks for awhile. i had good luck with those you brought just putting them in the oven on a low heat in the morning and they were ready by lunch.

another issue is non-nutritious filler foods i would like to give the boot. i have not been baking our bread, so p b & j (or with honey) isnt very filling or healthy on storebought bread. dry cereal is something we had there for awhile. what a waste of stomach space! i could ramble on and on about food...

no word on the sewing machine. i have to drive up to get it from the shop so i can send it to Pfaff, inc. i am feeling so springy and that makes me want to sew. i would like to sew 2 or 3 more pairs of bloomers for myself because i have been wearing mine a lot.

we bought the March issue of Herbal Roots and it's looking every bit as wonderful as February's! I found some chickweed growing near the swing and when we break into March's edition we will harvest some. we love chickweed salad. if you haven't yet, check out Herbal Roots from ETSY.

I am not exaggerating when i say Herbal Roots has been perfect for us. It is the fun thing my children beg for that gets homeschooling rolling for the day. it has completely inspired my oldest to discover plants and proudly exclaim: "you don't have to *buy* medicine, you can always make it!" i enjoy it perhaps more than the kids. i'm hooked.
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