Archive for the 'henandharvest' Category

Independence Days Update: Life in a Northern Tropical Rainforest

Sharon June 29th, 2009

Ok, I’m just asking, but whoever is in charge of rain, could you please do me a kindness, and send it off to Australia or something for a while.  I’m sure they could use it, and well, I’m a little done.  I don’t mean to complain.  I realize that 50+ inches of rain in an era of climate change is an excellent thing.  Mine is just an argument for, say, dividing it up over the whole year, rather than dumping half of it in June.

Ok, that’s an exaggeration, we haven’t had anything like 25 inches of rain.  It just kind of feels that way.  I am tired of hanging out laundry and looking out the window and saying “oops, I guess I might as well just leave it up another day.”  I am tired of mosquitoes.  I am tired of being damp, and having damp, muddy children hug and kiss me.  Don’t mind me, I’m just whining.  On the other hand, it really does look like I live in a rainforest – everything has grown and grown – the word lush doesn’t even begin to describe it.  It is glorious – hard to believe that two months ago I was spotting patches of green among the dead, brown things.  Now I’d be hard pressed to find a spot not burgeoning with life, except, of course the places where the goats have been through the mud so much that they’ve killed all the vegetation.  Not too many of those, though.

Otherwise, it is has been a pretty decent week here – despite swine flu exposure that necessitated rescheduling my Dad’s annual visit to the end of July, we seem not to have gotten sick.  Eli is on vacation, which is not his favorite thing, but he seems to be handling it with reasonable grace.  Things are quiet, which is good.  If the grass wasn’t up to my knees and the weeds weren’t getting ahead, we’d think we lived somewhere else ;-) .

We’re expecting the arrival of 20 turkey poults this week – they were supposed to come at the end of May, to be sold and butchered at Thanksgiving, but the hatchery called and said their hatch had failed, and that they wouldn’t have more until now.  Not sure what size they will be by Thanksgiving, but since I’m not sitting on the eggs myself, there’s really nothing to be done about it, so I decline to worry.  Also anticipating more hens to supplement my aging layers, since we’re going back to the egg business. 

I did, in fact, get my birthday present agreed to, so at the end of July we’ll add 3 more goats to the herd, Bast, who is small and cute and new, and two milkers, Jesse and Mina (for those of you who have seen my food and farming powerpoint, Mina is the goat that appears in said powerpoint – she was already my “appropriate technology, livestock variation” illustration, so it seems only appropriate she should live with us.  Jesse is being sold because she’s not as “refined” as the owners would like (ie, she’s big and eats a lot for a Nigerian Dwarf) but she comes from kick-ass milking lines, so we’re happy to have her in the mix.  Meanwhile, Selene and Maia look as though we successfully got them knocked up this time, so we should have kids just in time for Rosh Hashanah.

Ok, on to the update:

Planted something: Arnica, green beans, beets, turnips, cabbages, layered black currants, lavender, calendula, cucumbers.

Harvested something: bok choy, chinese cabbage, lettuce, parsley, basil, beets, orach, eggs, milk, onions, various herbs, peas, kale, broccoli, peppermint

Preserved something: Dried elecampane roots, tinctured elecampane and valerian roots (not enough sun to dry the valerian roots outside, and I’m not having the smell of valerian in my dehydrator in my kitchen – blagh!), dried strawberries, froze snap peas, dried greens, made salt herbs (layered fresh herbs with sea salt).  Dried comfrey for winter goat feed.

Ate the food: My favorite beet recipe ever, beets with tahini and yogurt with fresh beets laid out upon their greens…yum!  Made a cold borscht as well for our concert picnic.  Made strawberry soda (strawberry syrup mixed with seltzer) when the neighbor kids were over. 

Waste not/Managing Food Reserves: Gave away most of last year’s pickles to make room for this year’s.  Finally made a master-food-storage buying list. Found some stuff I hadn’t been rotating and put it in the front of the rotation.  The usual composting, feeding all food waste to some critter or other, etc… 

Want Not/Prep and Storage: Synagogue yard sale yielded winter clothes for Isaiah and Asher, t-shirts not permanently stained for husband, books and a poster of the latin names of common vegetables.  Local yard sale yielded new crowbar.  Local trash picking yielded two rabbit cages in need of minor repair.   

Build Community Food Systems: Did the base work for putting in a schoolyard garden at a nearby school, did a bunch of radio interviews for ANOF, began working on a small-scale livestock workshop to be held in Albany.

How about you?


Mooing and Quacking at “The Barnyard”

Sharon January 13th, 2009

Just a quick post before the food storage stuff starts flowing (a class day, dontcha know).  I thought I’d mention that Hen and Harvest is slowly coming back to life, and coolest of all, the social networking/discussion/chat groups “The Barnyard” are now up and running.  Excellent, huh?

The only problem is that with a few exceptions, the executive herd (that is, the 8 of us who started it) are mostly talking to ourselves.  Which is fun, and all, particularly when we get into those games of “truth of dare” (You know, the ones that start:  ”Hey Crunch, which phallic shaped vegetable…”), but we could use some more people to talk to.  

And I thought…”I know where there are more people!”  Sooo…if you are so inclined to come chat, we’re working on getting lots of new content up, but we’d also really love it if you’d come play with us.  Head over to and click on ”The Barnyard” – registering is easy, and it is a great place to ask questions, start arguments and discuss the erotics of agriculture.




Sharon August 3rd, 2008

So I while back I mentioned that I was working on a new project - meet our new online Magazine, ”Hen and Harvest.”  Wanna take a look?  We’ve got Marie Antoinette’s cleavage, Gene Logsdon’s amazing voice, rich, lush, sexy pictures of food, container gardening, a never-before published excerpt from my book, backyard chickens and all sorts of cool stuff.  It is all at 

We’re all about serious food production and food security on every scale from container to acreage, from personal to community.  And we’ve got food covered at every step of the process, from seed to table.  Oh, and we’ll have some sexy stuff (I mean, how could gardening and eating not be sexy?), reviews of useful human and animal powered technologies, great book reviews, recipes, livestock information and anything we deem of interest.   We’re still getting going, and I know some of you volunteered to write and I haven’t done much about it – but I am now submissions goddess for the site, so if you have an article you’d like to see reach millions (let’s shoot for the moon, shall we), send it along to my email address [email protected].  We’d love articles about techniques you’ve used, new projects, gardening in special conditions.  We’d also love videos and garden porn – pictures of you and your veggies looking delectable, or just vegetables that make you feel all warm and sundrenched and edible.

Meanwhile don’t forget to check us out – and new stuff will be coming up all the time.   Already we’ve got tons of great stuff forthcoming.