Independence Days Update #1: In the Bleak Midwinter

Sharon February 10th, 2012

The weather of our discontent continues – weirdly warm for upstate NY in winter, plants and animals blooming or returning too early.  The pussywillows have catkins, my elderberries have green buds, the daffodils are up and we saw a red-winged blackbird yesterday – all of which are signs of late-Marchness in upstate NY, here at the beginning of February.  Mud season, usually a month from March to April, has been going on steadily since the hurricanes back in August.

That said, even when you know it is a sign of wrongness, it is hard not to appreciate less wood burned, easier barn access and more days outside for the critters.  The goats, unconcerned about climate change, do appreciate all the opportunities to follow me around and get in my way – everyone needs a dozen does to help them carry firewood (help here is defined as “stand in front of me and refuse to move, stick your face in the wood bin to check for any snacks left lying around, untie my shoelaces and then nibble my coat buttons), hay or water (tripping me while I’m doing the water is the little one’s favorite game).

The calves and our buck goat who gave us four cryptorchid babies this year went to the butcher on Tuesday, so we were able to open up the fence and move the remaining couple of bucks down the hill with the does.  The poultry (ducks and chickens) will move up to the barn that held the calves and bucks, for several reasons – first to get them further away from the house where they have been flying over the fence and trashing my perennials, and also because that gives us more space down the hill for goats.  Moving everything around is a bit of pain, but well worth it.  So was the baby beef operation we did this year – we are hoping to do more next year, since this was so successful.  We are also debating buying a heifer calf to be raised up as a milker as well.

Real seed starting (rather than the little bit of desultory stuff) commenced this week – early tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, flower and herbs that need a long season got started this week, along with some more things that require stratification.  I also took geranium cuttings for spring as well – both brightly colored red, white and pink, and lemon and rose scented.

I’m still pruning fruit trees, which I should have done earlier in the winter – normally early February isn’t too late, but this isn’t a normal winter.  The goats and the rabbits have eagerly devoured our offerings.

We had the first winter litter of rabbits when Marigold, one of our does kindled with 9 beautiful babies – this is the first time we’ve crossed our American Blues with the Cinnamons, and I’m anxious to see what color combinations we get, and also whether the Blue’s faster rate of growth gets transmitted.

A kind reader sent me a box of cloth diapers from her children (THANK YOU) and I’m expecting a few more, so I took the time to sort out what I’d saved from my own kids – it turns out that there was more than I thought that survived my children (and a lot of it had come from a friend of my mother’s with twins, so more than my four) including some wool diaper soakers and a few precious wool covers – my favorites.  I may knit a few other covers as well – but I’m glad to be able to cloth diaper again.

The foster stash is in increasingly good shape – which is a huge relief.   The main issue for me, given where we live, our one-vehicle situation, our ongoing schedules and Eric’s work schedule is that I may have to go four or five days before I can go shopping for children’s clothing, and yet the kids have to be dressed – and for visits or trips to synagogue, dressed fairly nicely.  I think I can now do that for just about all sizes, which is a huge relief – after all, no one either wants, in a house full of 7-10 overstimulated kids to either take all the children to a store or worse, be the one stays home with them alone while the other goes shopping – this gives me the time and space to get everyone settled without dragging kids out all the time.

We’ve managed to do almost all the major reorganization of the house, except for the garage (which will by necessity be done next week since we have to clean out the freezer in said garage to put the beef from butchering in).  We’ve now got the door between the kitchen and dining room gated, so that we can use the wood cookstove while foster kids are at our place (previously we tried to gate around it, but really can’t cook on it that way, so had just been only using the other stove).  There is still cleaning, sorting and organizing in small places yet, but we’re WAY ahead of what we’ve been.  I suspect it will all go to pot when we finally get a large sibling group placement that stays, but at least we start ahead.

I haven’t done much on  building up my pantry – actually, sort of the opposite, as we’ve been rearranging it, I’ve been working on us eating down some things.  Still, the time to build on this will come.

Skill-wise, the main thing I’ve been working on is figuring out whether couponing is worthwhile for us.  I’ve never bothered much since we purchase so few things at the supermarket.  Foster care, however, has changed some of that – besides the desire to sometimes offer familiar foods and snacks as kids transition to our home (we can work on food issues gradually, but comfort is the most important thing initially), we also now need more things like toothbrushes and toilet paper – and need toiletries that can go home or on to other placements with kids.  I’m still not totally clear on whether this is worth doing for us generally – while using the occasional good coupon is always nice, serious couponing and sale shopping requires a. more driving (in some cases, Eric goes past some of the stores coming from work some days) and often the best savings are found in buying the smallest sizes, which increases net packaging.  Still, I’m playing with running the numbers and seeing what we can make work for us within the bounds of our general environmental priorities.

Best of all, we began the week with a lovely celebration of Tu’Bshevat, the Jewish New Year of the Trees.  We ate fabulous things – including Key Lime pie (with limes brought back by a friend from a FL trip), Black Forest Cake (from cherries frozen over the summer by another friend), Banana Cream pie (from totally non-local bananas) and apricot-applesauce.  It was wretched and delicious excess, and a lovely time was had by all.  I celebrated the actual day by planting the seeds of some quinces and apples gone mushy to stratify.  It may be too late (I planted others in the fall) but hope springs eternal, which is kind of the point.

Ok, official results:

Plant something – Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, Hawthorn, Quince and Witch Hazel, Coneflowers, Galliarda, Geraniums, Eryngium, Echinops, Basil, Dianthus, Alyssum, Parsley.

Harvest something: Eggs, Milk, Beef and Chevon.  Also fruit tree prunings for bunnies and goaties.

Preserve something:  Nope.  Should can some applesauce from the soft apples, though.

Waste Not: All the sorting out and organizing have been great – the kids are thrilled with the exciting “new” things we find in the back of the attic or in boxes, and we’ve managed to give away a lot of good stuff.  Otherwise the usual composting and feeding wastes to various critters.

Want Not: I can’t take credit for the cloth diapers, but they were awesome!  I am totally out of peanut butter (our dumpster diving friend and our foster son’s WIC had us stocked for what seemed like eternity), so I need to add that.  I also will need to buy apples pretty soon – my kids eat 5 – 7 apples a day, and we use them in cooking, but this year’s supply didn’t keep as well as usual due to the warm temperatures.  We will buy a few bushels from the local coop.

Eat the food – Nothing really new.  We are eating the small hen turkeys we bought from a friend (we didn’t do turkeys this past year for reasons that were really stupid ;-) ) – at 13-14 lbs, they make two meals for a family of six straight and the one large pot of laotian chicken soup (basically chicken soup seasoned with lots of citrus juice and soy sauce and a bit of brown sugar, ginger, garlic and ciles until it is salty, hot,  sweet and sour, and then with added onions, canned pineapple (if we have it), and I usually stir brown rice in.  With a few extra ingredients, one chicken is 4-6 meals, depending on size and how many people are home.   The apple-apricot sauce was also really fabulous – a bunch of apples, some dried apricots (about 5-1 proportions), a little apple cider and a splash of vanilla.  You can add sugar if you want, but it doesn’t need it.  A hand blender, food mill or food processer all work equally well at smoothing it out if you want.  Just cook until the apricots are very soft and the apples are applesaucy.

Build community food systems: Not a thing

Skill up: Aforementioned coupon research.  That’s about it.

How about you?  You can report here or just stick in a link to your blog!

Sharon

36 Responses to “Independence Days Update #1: In the Bleak Midwinter”

  1. Good timing – I just finished my post. http://jessieimproved.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/independence-days-challenge-2012/

    I’m impressed with the amount of stuff you’re already doing in February. Admittedly my seed starting operation is new this year and pretty small, so I’m getting started the best I can. Looking forward to seeing the other posts!

  2. Evey says:

    I’m so glad to see this started up agin.

    Plant- 3 types of onion seeds, sweet potatoes for early experiment(usually start in late March)

    Harvest- seven eggs everyday average from 14 7month old hens
    Preserve- nothing yet but sorting jars and ordering Tattler lids to try
    Waste not- eating lots of leftover and freezer food, chickens eat everything we try to put into compost, saved a large, lidded deli take-out container found at neighbor’s house to use for seed starting

    Eat the Food- same as waste not plus making lots of apple dishes to use up stored apples, eat most meals from frozen and canned food, using up dried beans to rotate fresh supplies in, made mixed stock from misc bones in freezer (all from our or neighbors lamb, pig, chickens)

    Want not- a few doz. Tattler lids to try, good time to buy thrift shop wool sweaters to felt or unravel ( thanks Sharon for the idea- I love to unravel even more that knit),made a lot of cold-process soap as it will not be convenient to do for the next 6 months of housing transition

    Community Food Systems- We are moving the summer from our unrealized family farm to a neighbor’s property so we will be gardening all around the area in friends’ garden spaces. Where we are moving to has not had a garden in a few years and they are excited about having folks to work along with. They also have most of the equipment needed, as well as experience from past years. They came and helped us harvest 30 chickens last fall. We will plant sweet potatoes at another farm that is interested in growing them for the first time.

    Skill Up- learning to do more of the bee work by myself rather than wait for DH to direct, 1st time processed sugar into powdered sugar( no cornstarch)for varrao mite control

  3. Mary Walker says:

    I am in the planning stage for planting starting next week. I decided to try winter sowing some of my spinach and lettuce even though we haven’t had much winter this year. Pulled out the large pots we bought on sale at the end of last season. Normally I simply cut pots from the large detergent dispensers and such but these were nice and very deeply discounted. Watching my blueberries which look like they might want to start leafing out any time given half a chance. The lemon balm, German thyme, miniature roses, mums are still hanging in there in the containers. Those are still largely frozen and unworkable.

  4. Sister X says:

    http://sisterx83.blogspot.com/2012/02/independence-days_10.html
    It’s not much, but February isn’t really the season of planting or harvesting in Alaska. :)

  5. Brandie says:

    Plant something: So far just onions and artichokes. Starting some jicama and hibiscus (roselle) today.

    Harvest something: Eggs, sunchokes.

    Preserve something: nothing this week.

    Waste not: Happily we have hens again to feed kitchen scraps to, and of course composting. Using salvaged containers for seed starting. Bringing home a bag of leaves from my neighbor’s curb each time we go walking, to use as mulch.

    Want Not: Luckily we’ve had a conveniently-timed flush of cash this year and ordered seeds, seed potatoes and sweet potato slips, a new hoe, several fruit trees and shrubs, and a batch of chicks.

    Eat the Food: Made chilaquiles featuring leftover chicken, home-canned tomatillos and home-cultured sour cream. Made an African-inspired stew featuring sweet potatoes, sunchokes, home-canned tomatoes, cabbage, and peanut butter and served with millet (recipe from Wild Fermentation).

    Build community food systems: nothing other than my usual shopping pattern of supporting local farmers.

    Skill up: We are working on a shed with a loft.

  6. Megan says:

    Plant something: Nothing planted yet. I pruned my raspberries. I did my garden planning on a spreadsheet and my main goal this year is to put in a fall/winter garden and try to like brussels sprouts. :p The seed company promises I will love these ones. We shall see!

    Harvest something: Kale and potatoes. I left one section of potatoes in the ground last year because I didn’t get around to digging them up. Lazy! I finally cleaned out that section for this year and I fully expected to throw gunky potatoes in the yard waste bin but lo! They were pristine and lovely, stored right there all winter in the raised beds. I will try that again this year and see how it goes.

    Preserve something: Not really. I need to clean out my freezer and also find/clean the food dehydrator to get ready for this year. I’m swimming in empty glass jars and lids.

    Waste not: One of my big goals is to start composting again. My bin is in a bad spot, and I have had no luck composting at all. Doh! We are good recyclers and careful shoppers but there is a lot of room for improvement in this category.

    Want Not: I am pretty happy with where we are, but there is a lot on the to-do list too. I have recently become gluten free, and that throws a big wrench in the current storage plan.

    Eat the Food: Frozen raspberries, raspberry jam, garlic from the freezer. I need to be better at this aspect for sure. Being busy with work and a toddler, I don’t always have a good meal plan or stick to the one I make.

    Build community food systems: My block has a few urban gardeners and chicken keepers. We are doing a seed order together, sharing seeds, and figuring out fun, no-pressure ways to grow different things to share so we don’t have to all try to grow everything. Love my neighbors and my awesome, active neighborhood!

    Skill up: First on my list is to learn how to properly compost. I also want to start in again on learning the Arabic language. I took two years at community college but I’ve totally lost most of it. Totally random and not really part of preparedness, but it’s good for my brain.

  7. FernWise says:

    Planted a bunch of herbs.

    Harvesting sprouts.

    Didn’t preserve anything this week unless making stale bread into breadcrumbs and putting them in a jar counts.

    Want not – ha!

    Got stuff together to go to Goodwill – they will be dropped off on Monday or Thursday, when the spawn goes into that town.

    Learning some new software, does that count?

    Eat the foodL Eating lot of home-canned stuff, so wasting not, and of course the bread-into-breadcrumbs.

    Talked with a friend about hitting Mennonite pick your own blueberry place and other local farms and canning together this summer.

    Oh – had Spawn make a list of everything in the freezers to help me organize everything. Tonight’s feast is 3 chicken backs, two drumsticks, and a thigh!

  8. Ahhh…seed starting…doesn’t it just feel wonderful to think of all the yumminess to come? :-)

    Thanks for hosting! Here my post: http://skymindedandevergrowing.blogspot.com/2012/02/independence-days_10.html

    Have a fantastic weekend!

  9. Nicki says:

    Just back home after being away for a month, so mostly spent spare time catching up. But I did make six pots of pesto from home-grown basil to freeze, and planted a couple of tomato and shallot seedlidngs. (I’m in Australia and it is late summer here.) One of my aims for the year

    is to limit new purchases, but I must confess I did buy a new wok! (I have a large electric wok, but really need a small one to go on the cook top, as it is just two of us at home now.)

  10. Nicole says:

    Plant something – Asparagus crowns, radishes and peas went in the garden a couple of weeks earlier than traditional dates, but the soil was very warm. I meant to finish planting the rest of the earliest crops this week but after so much warm weather, we are getting an arctic blast this weekend and will probably get our coldest temperatures of the season, so I’ll wait until after the weekend.

    Harvest something: Carrots, kale and spinach overwintered nicely in the garden and these are the nicest carrots I’ve ever gotten! The cabbage heads still haven’t filled out and the broccoli bolted in January. Really.)

    Preserve something: Nothing this month.

    Waste Not: I have some small tools and building items and a door which need be donated… somewhere… sitting in my garage. Otherwise, the usual vermicomposting and composting and recycling. I seem to finally have the BF trained to take stuff out to the compost pile and what goes in the “oop” bucket and what doesn’t, but feeding the worms some of it just isn’t on his radar.

    Want Not: This time of year is tough financially since all my annual and bi-annual bills come do in February. But I’ve been saving and although I hoped not to dig into savings I did tap into a bit for a badly needed garden shed. Once done, I will be able move the rest of the stuff in the garage to the shed and then — *gasp* — two cars can actually park in the garage, which is needed when I merge households soon. I’ve also been stocking up the pantry lately and ordered some more gardening durables, like sprayers and row cover.

    Eat the food: Other than what I’m harvesting, I’m still working in winter squash from last fall. My apples didn’t keep at *all* this year, so I had to compost them a month ago.

    Build community food systems: My usual work with a local group, plus I have a couple of sessions scheduled in the near future to teach people to make bread from scratch.

    Skill up: Not quite a skill, but I finally finished organizing all my garden notes on various varieties into an index card file so I can stop repeating mistakes. I also planned out my planting schedule and rotation for the year.

  11. Judy says:

    I feel like I was much more productive last week before we officially started. Oh well, it is still early for us here in the bleak midwest.

    I’ve got a post up but here is a quick summary:
    Plant something- nope
    Harvest something- 30 eggs this week. The ladies are pretty slow right now.
    Preserve something- only my sanity- does that count?
    Waste not- the usual- compost, recycle, scraps to chickens. Snagged 2 egg cartons from work.
    Want not- started a sourdough starter, left over pain meds from my husband’s oral surgery will go into ‘the stash’ and gauze will go into first aid kit.
    Eat the food- lots of eggs, lots of pesto, we’ve been eating out of the freezer and pantry.
    Community food systems- Been selling some eggs at work. Sadly, missed the winter farmer’s market due to bad weather last weekend.
    Skill up- only sourdough, It’s a first for me.

  12. NM says:

    Plant something: No

    Harvest something: Kale and brussels sprouts. First time growing brussels sprouts! Local eggs, vegetables from farmers market.

    Preserve something: A year’s supply of candied citron, in freezer. Put some cookies in the freezer for husband while I’m gone for a week …

    Want not/skill up: Learned to keep and use a potato yeast starter. Learned to wash salvaged free wool and sewed a wool pillow. Learned how to put in a zipper. Learned to make homemade laundry soap.

    Waste not: usual composting. Now will be able to wash and re-use wool we saved from old futon years ago.

    Community food systems — giving old window glass and sliding glass door panels to woman who wants to make mini greenhouse for her garden. Although come to think of it, I don’t know that it’s a vegetable garden; that’s just my default assumption. ;p

    Eat the food: Lots of soup; kale potato, leek and potato, turnip. Potato pancakes with applesauce and green salad. Sourdough biscuits. Sourdough pancakes. Homemade bread. We’re down — whimper — to our last two homegrown potatoes, and it’s a sad moment. They were better than we knew potatoes could be — and we liked potatoes a lot already.
    Pizza. Spaghetti, (with my canned sauce, and homegrown kale). Chocolate cherry cookies (for husband), with our home-dried sour cherries. Quince brandy, mmmm.

  13. KC says:

    Here in Virginia , we have been grateful for the mild winter. It just recently turned cold and a little snow is predicted for tomorrow.

    Plant something: kale, dandelion, lettuce, onion, leek, celeriac, parsley and parsley root, herbs, flowers for beneficial insects, vitamin green, and more. Everything is planted indoors in flats for now.
    I am trying something new this year. I am soaking certain seeds in a dilute saltpeter mix (potassium nitrate from Johnny’s) to help soften the seed coat so that they will germinate faster. I soaked some brassica seeds and they were beginning to sprout when I planted them 24 hours later!

    Harvest something: leeks – we’ve been harvesting and eating leeks all winter – a great crop. We are eating a little kale from the greenhouse and a few leaves from outdoor greens which are starting up again (parsley, endive, kale, and chickweed).

    Preserve something: not really, but made kefir. Also, I am trying to be more conscientious about seed preservation. When the seed orders come in the mail, I have been repackaging half of the seeds, labeling, and placing them in a glass jar with a bailer lid (rubber gasket and metal latch). Once all the orders are in, I will store this in the freezer to help with seed longevity. I live in a humid climate and I am really trying to keep the seeds cool and dry to better preserve their life force from year to year.

    Waste not: sending off bags to be recycled. Also, I have been going through the food stores and trying to bring hidden items out to be used. I have been sharing our abundance of frozen tomatoes and peppers with others, so that I can close down one of the freezers this month.

    Want Not: found a tin to hold seasonal – about to be planted – seeds – (to keep them from humidity). I also found a watering can at the thrift store.

    Eat the Food: I’ve been making soups with food from storage – dried squash, dried greenbeans, and dried tomatoes from 2 years ago – which are still good. (I have to be careful to keep humidity from getting in a jar of dried vegetables – i.e. – don’t open the jar near a steamy kettle. ) I love the dried green beans in soups. We ate spaghetti squash with basil / pesto sauce. I froze the fresh basil in ice cube trays covered in water last year and it comes out of the freezer tasting so fresh. I am down to the last of the lacto-ferment pickles (peppers, daikon, gherkins, carrots). I am drinking herb tea made with homegrown holy basil and nettle. We are using sprouted sunflower seeds in salads and sprouted mung beans in with grains. Using lots of garlic.

    Build community food systems: I’ve been talking to a neighbor about sharing plant starts.

    Skill up: Today, I learned to make Tibetan kapseh for the Tibetan new year in 2 weeks. Kapseh are fried dough pastries that are braided into various shapes. Lots of fun.

  14. [...] from everything to redirect my focus for a little while.  That said, I’ve tried to keep Independence Days in the back of my mind, and to at least do a little bit here and there as I go through my week.  [...]

  15. Lane says:

    Challenge week 2
    Plant something—I soaked my sugar snap peas; in a couple days when they start to sprout I’ll plant them.

    Harvest something: A few greens, a bit of parsley

    Preserve something: Nope

    Waste not: Here’s a link for a blog post on using vegetables that were “unfit” for food bank distribution” http://nwlocalfoods.blogspot.com/2012/02/food-bank-fresh.html

    Want Not: Hmm, I did pick up a couple bottles of wine on sale. Does that count? If there’s a food crisis we can use them for trade or just drown our sorrows.

    Eat the Food: Nothing special

    Build community food systems: Volunteered at the Food Bank again; lots to learn and think about there.

    Skill up: My caulking skills have improved with our bathroom remodels.

  16. enjay says:

    Planting:
    This year we are starting our mini-orchard and we’ve settled on the nursery where we’re going to be ordering the trees. Hurry up tax return, so we can order before the spring deadline!

    Harvest:
    Pulled up some wild garlic, it’s not quite ready but it’s still tasty and fresh.

    Preserve:
    My dehydrator has been running it’s heart out for the past two months drying what’s on sale. This week it’s bananas, mangoes, peaches, plums, tomatoes, grapes, pineapple, and onions. Last week it was potatoes.

    Waste Not:
    Spun a bit of the dog hair from my lab/mastiff dog. Not a food product per se, but I fed the grower…

    Want Not:
    Located a local breeder of the Silver Fox rabbits we want to raise for meat. We are still working on our setup for them but we’re getting there.

    Eat the food:
    I cooked a big turkey last weekend in the pressure cooker, canned the stock it made and we’ve been picking at it all week. Sent my son on a school trip to our state capital yesterday with a lunch that was mostly home made and his teachers told me he had children clamoring to trade for his home made snack of banana chips and raisins. Made them rethink the whole chips and cookies snacks they provided.

    Build community food systems:
    Spoke to the lady who runs a permanent fruit stand about a block from my house about discounts for buying preserving quantities of produce, she and her son only buy from local sources. Also tracked down a “local” produce auction that’s a few counties over and will be checking that out come spring.

    Skill Up:
    I’m signing up for Sharon’s online course.
    Two weeks ago the husband and I took a reloading course.

  17. Patty says:

    Plant something: lettuce, swiss chard, fig tree
    Waste not: compost, plus I got 6 bags of a friend’s leaves
    Harvest something: cilantro, mint
    Eat the food: made a great curry with what we had on hand
    Not a whole lot compared to some of the others, but I am very happy!

  18. okiegreen says:

    planted: peas, poppies. too cold for peas, mistake?
    harvested greens.
    eat: yes.
    waste not: normal.
    want not: stocked up on potatoes and onions before farmers market hiatus.
    build community food systems: got half of grocery at fm.
    preserve: noop.
    skill up: relearning crockpot as vegetarian, accidentally made cheese.

  19. Gina says:

    Jump-started a bit early last week (practice run!), here is my weekly post!

    http://limekilnlane.blogspot.com/2012/02/independence-days-02102012.html

    Can’t wait to read the updates! :)

  20. Mary Platt Clements says:

    Just saw this today and want to sign up. I do not live on a farm, but in a suburban neighborhood where we have put a third of our yard into garden. We are not allowed any kind of farm animal in this city (the police were looking for a reported beekeeper in our neighborhood), so that is out for me, too.

    BUT, surely every one of us can do SOMETHING, if just a little bit, to increase our food independence and make this world a better place.

    I read your book Independence Days and have my emergency stock under the guest bed, in the top of my closet and in a small shed attached to the house. We were given four rain barrels, but have not attached them yet.

    Now I am going to check what I have done so far that might apply to this challenge!

    Love, Peace, and Light,
    Mary Platt Clements

  21. Mary Platt Clements says:

    Plant something: I do not have the equipment or room even to start seeds, BUT my friend Richard does. And I have seeds, so I am taking tomato and green pepper seeds to his house today to get them started: marglobe and Amish paste tomatoes and California Wonder peppers. Last fall, I planted garlic for the first time, too.

    Harvest: After reading Independence Days, I thought ‘if she can late season root crops, I should be able to overwinter them’. So I left a row of potatoes and a half row of carrots in the ground. And yesterday, I dug up same to put in with the local chicken (bought at the Farmer’s Market, where I get most of my meat), for dinner.

    Preserve something: Just found a lot of garlic in a cabinet and it needs drying and making into powder.

    Waste not: Found a softish apple and put it in with my oatmeal.

    Want not: Not sure what this category entails yet.

    Eat the food: Had so much meat garnered from the Farmer’s Market that I had to store it in my sisters’ freezers. Made a trip into Lexington to bring some of that home. Made a beef stock of old bones and bits and pieces of veggies that would normally be thrown away, then added some of those canned black beans from emergency food storage. Even my husband liked it!

    Build Community food systems: Does partnering with my friend Richard and my sister count?

    Skill up. Already had a lot of the skills, but organizing in itself is one that I have been working on, especially keeping the food rotated.

  22. Gina says:

    Oh, Mary, that is terrible about the police looking for the renegade beekeeper! You must live somewhere terribly uneventful for them to be wasting time on this sort of non-sense (I mean folks are keeping bees in Chicago and New York for goodness sakes! I’m guessing you are in KY with the reference to Lexington-I’m in Louisville during the weekdays (long story involving employment). You may want to check out Sustainable KY (they are trying to help people get urban chickens legalized across KY).

  23. enjay says:

    Mary, are you allowed to keep rabbits? They aren’t typically considered livestock if you keep just two does and one buck, and three rabbits can produce a lot of fryers for eating.

  24. Maria Ortado says:

    This week my partner Chris & I:
    Plant: red, yellow, white onions, salad/brassica seeds, wildcrafted wormwood, cilantro, bibb lettuce and mustard greens, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage
    Harvest: chicken eggs, lettuce, broccoli, daikon
    Preserve: cayenne peppers, catnip & mint to dry,
    Waste: compost, chickens, worms
    Want: dried goods & water, candles, thread
    Eat: lettuce, greens, eggs, onions
    Build: Attended local food conference, provided a kitchen & shared a meal with someone who has no kitchen facilities, community garden workday, someone gave us a trash bag of turnips-we fed the greens to the chickens & gave him 1 doz eggs.
    Skill: deconstructed & rebuilt dilapidated greenhouse, sewed my first dress with sleeves (rest have been sun dresses)

  25. Robin Works says:

    Plant: turnips, beets- golden and red, kohlrabi, fennel, swiss chard, pac choi, napa cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, yellow storage onions, leeks, lettuce, kale, spinach, carrots, radishes, favas, super early corn, sunflowers, morning glory, cosmos, bachelors buttons and opium poppies. Also started chitting some red potatoes from the pantry.

    Harvest: Eggs, Spinach, lettuce, chard, kale, broccoli, beets, carrots, leeks, and one lonely turnip. Also discovered that the pear vinegar attempted to make from the cores and peels leftover from canning pears is a success! So delicious.

    Preserve Something: Making pineapple vinegar from a gifted pineapple. I have learned it often is substituted for lime juice in Mexican cooking. Mexican peasant food is my fall-back when I don’t know what to make for dinner, so this could be very useful! I love lime juice in everything.

    Waste Not: Planted the pineapple top in our viviarium for a little tropical feel. The last of the pumpkins were going soft, so they went to the extremely grateful chickens.

    Want Not: Husband lost his job this week, so the food storage has been very comforting. Not shopping for a few weeks is totally feasible. Also, made a makeshift polytunnel from plastic I had leftover from a construction project, half a hog panel and some foam pipe insulation to keep the hog panel from tearing the plastic.

    Eat the food: Good ole’ colcannon with chard and cabbage from the garden, lots and lots of home grown chicken broth based soups, venison stew, beef and broccoli stir fry with our beef from the freezer.

    Build Community Food Systems: nope

    Skill up: nothing this week.

  26. Becky says:

    Harvested eggs. Fed greens the deer only partially devoured to the chickens.

    Pruned fruit trees. Removed some chicken bedding and spread thinly under fruit trees.

    Learned to use a tall orchard ladder. Will look into grub growing for the chickens.

    Can hardly wait for spring!

  27. Mud says:

    Plant: kale, tomato, hot pepper, onion (zone 4 so I’m pushing it, again, I put out tomatoes at the beginning of April in Minnesota last year and lost them to heat in the hoops)

    Harvest: Sorted my garden seeds and packaged out “family” sizes for donation to a local non-profit helping immigrant families garden.

    Volunteer for this http://www.gardeningmatters.org/hubs/local-food-resource-hubs-membership To get a HUB organized in my part of town. I am pushing on them to offer smaller packages for renters who could container garden as well as trying to see if they could get a network of more experienced gardeners to provide seed and starts every year so it grows organically (pun intended).

    Unknown category: Held a clothing swap which means I cleaned out my closets, yipeee, and a bunch of my packaged up seed went out the door with the clothes because everyone who came was so interested in them. It was pretty funny. I got a few new shirts out of the deal but mostly got stuff cleaned and organized.

    Preserved nothing – too much in other categories but I think I can count the exterior wall insulation I’ll put in tomorrow as preserving some heat ;) so that counts for this next week, right :D

  28. Dmarie says:

    what a great post. I absolutely LOVE this challenge, as it gigs me into doing things I should’ve been doing anyway. like finally making that salsa with a salsa mix that’s been around too long. and mending my gloves…definitely a skill that needs work as I pricked my finger. “harvest something” got me out into the winter garden to find some Swiss chard to add to a cheese dip. just a few of my successes, so I thank you, thank you for this challenge.

  29. [...] more reports over at Sharon’s blog, which is hosting the Independence Days Challenge! Share this:FacebookEmailMoreTwitterLike [...]

  30. Isua says:

    Planted some garden cress seeds, which are supposed to be ridiculously fast-growing, and sure enough two days later we have itty bitty baby seedlings. Also planted some seeds from a tiny sweet pepper off of the pepper plant I’ve had on the coffee table all winter. And managed to save one day’s worth of coffee grounds from going in the garbage, to add to the compost heap.

  31. brad says:

    A question: will you eat the buck that you had butchered? Or is the meat too “bucky?”

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