Archive for January 11th, 2010

Independence Days Update: Back In the Saddle Again

Sharon January 11th, 2010

It has been a while since I posted one of these – the frantic preparations for the workshop have been sucking up my time, as has the book, and I haven’t been doing much planting or preserving, although did do a little model-lactofermentation for my workshop, which we then forgot to taste.  Ah well, I’ll just have to eat kimchi and sauerkraut!

I’m about to enter the stage of book writing where I never look up from the computre, but I am allowing myself a 24 hour recovery period where I read a lot of seed catalogs and place a order for spices that I’ve been meaning to do for a month or two.  I’m also really, really looking forward to seed starting – it has now officially been winter long enough to make me crave dirt under my nails. 

There are important decisions to be made.  Will I grow cutting flowers to take to market this summer?  Which turnip is better?  How many cherry tomato varieties do six people really need, and how many will we actually be growing? (Note the distinction between these numbers).  What medicinal herbs will sell? 

I’ve also got to decide what bee start up I’m going to be working with – I’m exploring the merits of different approaches.  And then there’s the poultry order.  Isaiah and Simon are going to raise their own chickens for show and eggs for them to sell – they’ve picked Salmon Faverolles (Isaiah) and Birchen Cochin Bantams (Simon) and are already hatching (so to speak) small poultry empires in their heads.  Meanwhile we’re doing a homeschool project on how to keep records and calculate profits and expenses.

Two of my workshop attendees were rabbit experts, which was awesome, since I learned how to butcher them (hypothetically, we didn’t actually do any) and also a bit more about what to look for in rabbit stock.  We’ll be breeding the buns around the beginning of March – yay!  I’ve already made plans to donate some stock to a local urban community garden that is interested in adding rabbits for manure (and eventually encouraging interested participants to eat them).

It has been one heat cycle since Bast and Jesse were bred.  Bast went into false heat earlier this cycle, which might be a good sign (that she is knocked up) or might not.  Jesse’s not showing any signs (although she’s hard to detect.  The official verdict is…well, maybe.  I think Mina went into heat Wednesday, but I had no car and the boys were on their way to NY, so I’ll mark it down and hope for the next time.

We are starting to look for a buck – it is clear that with this many does, a buck is a needful thing, and we’ve got the space to house him.  So if anyone has a really good milking lines, Nigerian Dwarf buck to sell fairly in the greater Capital District or within a couple hours drive, drop me an email at [email protected]

We also now have ducks.  The ducks that magically appeared Christmas morning turn out to have been escapees from a ways up the creek.  The folks they escaped from didn’t have good housing for them and had assumed they were dead, and didn’t want them back.  So now our lone duck is joined by four more Pekins – I was planning on adding ducks to our snail patrol, and I’m feeling a little “ask and ye shall receive” about it ;-) .

The goats seem to be recovering from our attack of meningeal worm – Selene is still weak in the hind end, but she’s able to jump up on the stanchion consistently and is starting to push Maia (who was happy to take over as herd queen and was kind of a bitch about it ;-) ) away when food is on offer. 

All the animals agree with me that we should do more workshops, except Mina, who does not like strangers and thinks this is weird and that people should not be in our barn, except maybe me and Eric and only when we are feeding her.  Otherwise, the dog, the cats, the ducks the goats and other animals were thrilled by more people to love them, more scraps to eat and more attention. 

Most of all, though, it is time to write the book. I’m having a tough time with this one – my heart is in my farm plans and with my kids, not at the computer.  But there’s work to be done and I’m trying to get excited about writing a book that helps people find a way to live well with a lot less where they are and with what they have.  It does fill a need.  I do need to write it.

Ok, update:

Plant something: I stuck some garlic I found in pots, but otherwise, nada.

Harvest something: Eggs!  The chickens are starting to lay again – I got 3 one day, and have had an egg every day the last few.  Since we don’t light

Preserve something: Lactofermented kimchi and sauerkraut, canned some applesauce.

Waste not: Actually, I think I wasted extra.  In our cleanout of the house I found, ummm…a lot of scary things that simply had to be thrown away.  The usual composting and feeding of things to other things ensued, and I did manage to clean out some books and give them away.

Want Not: I can’t bring anything new in until everything goes into buckets like it is supposed to.  New resolution!  Oh, except my Penzeys order, which I haven’t placed yet, but which is forthcoming.  I’m out of chipotle powder, and that is not allowed to be.

Build community food systems – Does convincing 8 people that they want goats count?  I’m still doing a lot of radio, and will be doing some speaking in the upcoming months, but things have been busy. 

Eat the Food: Because I couldn’t get out shopping this week (car trouble) I had to pretty much feed everyone from my pantry, which worked out awesomely well (and my participants were incredibly kind and brought greens, cider, beer and baked goods to supplement - gotta love them!)  Singapore-style noodles with stir fried veggies were a hit, as was the chocolate banana bread pudding. 

How about you?

Sharon