Independence Days Update: Fish or Cut Bait

Sharon March 5th, 2012

Sorry I’ve been so dilatory on the ID updates - between an elbow injury and some upper respiratory plague, I’m way behind on a bunch of things.  Add in the fact that the coming of March makes it necessary to make some decisions I’ve been putting off, and I feel that the last few weeks have been a time of hesitation rather than progress.  The good thing is that I’ve been here before - I know that there are times when things move as slow as molasses and times when they speed ahead, but not being the patient sort, I’d still prefer universal forwardness an it were possible.

The big decision facing us is one that I never really anticipated - we were told that there was a significant need for foster parents in our area, and particularly for foster parents to take larger sibling groups, and assumed that our home would be full and busy.  At times this year it has been, but we’ve had no placements longer than a month, and none at all for the last two months, which leaves us wondering whether our county really needs us.

First, it leaves us wondering whether we should remain with our county or switch to an agency, or whether we should start seeking out children legally free for adoption from other places - so that’s one part of this.  Second, because we don’t have a stable placement situation, I’m not sure what new projects to take on for spring - three to five more kids are likely to cut into my time for new business projects, and I’d anticipated this might be a quiet year while our family adjusted, but given the absence of any kids, it isn’t clear where to go next - lots of decisions to make.

As the world reawakens, I’m also tense with anticipation of finding out for real what the long term garden damage caused by the flooding last year was - I haven’t made any commitments to selling perennial plants this year because I honestly don’t have the faintest idea what survived or will come back.  The total lack of snowcover (until last week) is also an issue - ironically, warmer winters are actually probably harder on my plants in many ways that our normal ones are.  Usually we can count on fairly consistent snow cover to provide insulation for perennials from bitterly cold temps - but not this year.  We only had a few short periods of really bitter cold, but without any snow, the plants got the full brunt of it.  The extreme weather fluctuations are tough too - consider that tonight’s low is expected to be 2 degrees here - and by Thursday we’re anticipating a high of 65 degrees.  If the weather forecast is right (and when is it?) this is the last stretch of cold weather for weeks, though, and spring is on its way - which will reveal many truths about my garden.

Despite my being on tenterhooks in a lot of ways, we have done a few useful things.  The rabbits are bred for babies in a few weeks, and on Thursday will move back outside for the rest of the year (they very successfully spent the winter on the sun porch).  Does are being dried off in anticipation of spring kidding, and we think almost everyone is bred (we hope ;-) ).  Plants are proliferating on every windowsill and seeds are being sown at fairly regular intervals.   At this point the next big dream is getting the barns cleaned out!

Progress on many fronts has been limited, but at least there’s some, and I swear this is the last time I will be sick or hurt for the forseeable future, dammit - too much to do to have the creeping crud!

Plant something: Tomatoes, Basil, lettuce, bok choy, nasturtiums, sweet peas, malva, kale, parsley, celeriac

Harvest something: Milk, eggs, sap

Preserve something: Made some maple syrup

Waste Not: Nothing New

Want Not: Nothing New

Eat de food: I haven’t been eating all that much lately, honestly - no innovative cooking as I’ve been busy coughing up a lung.

Build Community Food Systems: Worked on a community garden plan for a friend

Skill up: Totally mastered sitting on my ass ;-) .

Well, you all are going to be way ahead of me this week!


30 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Fish or Cut Bait”

  1. Jessica says:

    I’m curious why you’re so actively wanting more children — is is just because you particularly like children or is there a political/environmental reason behind this? Perhaps it’s something you’ve addressed in an earlier post that I missed?

  2. FernWise says:

    Planted - lots of seeds.

    Preserved - canned beef, and did my first batch of beef jerky! VERY happy about both of those, but I’ve run out of pint canning jars.

    New Skill - guess that’s the jerky.

    Nothing else, really.

  3. Sharon says:

    Because we like children. I don’t think one adopts children for political reasons when you don’t like them.


  4. Teresa says:

    My update’s here:

    (Warning: some of the other posts on my blog contain stuff that isn’t necessarily safe for work.)

  5. Megan says:

    Plant something: Strawberries, peas and lettuce starts from my favorite place Joe’s Garden. Bought seed potatoes also. I’m growing less potatoes than usual this year to free up space for other things. Also started spinach, bok choi, leeks and more lettuce on the windowsill inside. Ordered a new plastic cover for the little greenhouse, the old one got shredded in the wind.

    Harvest something: kale. After an awesome winter of kale picking, it’s looking like it’s going to go to seed pretty soon. It’ll come out to make room for other things pretty soon. YUM though!

    Preserve something: Nope.

    Waste Not: Bought a new compost tumbler and am planning on moving the other bin into a better spot soon.

    Want Not: Nothing New

    Eat de food: stored potatoes and onions are all gone, ate the last of them.

    Build Community Food Systems: Received our seed order to split with neighbors. Success! Also procured a source of chickensh!t/bedding for composting in the tumbler from a neighbor. Yeah!

    Skill up: Read Let it Rot from the library. Researched Strawberries and leeks online since those are new to me.

  6. [email protected]:Improved says:

    Don’t feel bad about not posting - I know better than anyone about life getting in the way of blogging! I’ve miraculously been able to keep up with mine though:

    I commend your efforts to foster children though - there are so many older children in this country in need of good homes, and at least from where I’m standing it sounds like yours is a pretty good one indeed.

  7. Heather says:

    I’m sure that just as soon as you decide to take on a big project, you’ll get 5 kids. It just has to happen that way, so you may as well play along! ;)

    Plant something: Peppers, tomatoes, brassicas, greens, flowers and herbs. Far too many to list right now. All have been started indoors under lights. I’m hoping to get peas, lettuce and spinach direct sown outside during that wonderful warm spell later in the week.

    Harvest something: eggs

    Preserve something: not really

    Waste not: the usual

    Want not: nope

    Eat the food: Finishing up the frozen and canned stores for the year. Took some of the frozen strawberries and made fruit leather for the kids.

    Build Community Food Systems: Started writing for the blog for my local Edible Communities. Planning future projects for the Community garden.

    Skill up: Reading about off grid life.

  8. Nicole says:

    Plant something: The whole spring garden is in; peas and radishes are up and doing well; turnips, spinach, lettuce and other veggies are just peeking through. I’ve also started tomatoes and peppers indoors under lights and except for some mild cat chomping they are doing well. Added a planter on the deck for cut lettuce.

    Harvest something: Still working on the carrots, kale, parsley, spinach in the garden from last fall. I’ve got one more cabbage but it isn’t ready yet. The plums, peaches, quinces, blueberries and strawberries are blooming or will be in a day or two — unfortunately it’s probably going to frost tonight.

    Preserve something: I finally pressure-canned something — some stew meat from the quarter bison last spring that I didn’t much want. It has been much improved by canning, even without any seasoning.

    Waste not: I passed along some garden seeds I didn’t want to someone who needed them and left some stuff of the curb which quickly vanished (as always).

    Want not: The new shed is in, painted and organized. I can now start on fixing up the garage. I ordered some more wheat and am planning another non-perishable order for storage. Also found a source of bunny poo for the compost pile.

    Eat the food: I finally polished off my store-bought pickles and opened up my homemade ones from last summer. Yum! A little soft, but they taste much better and I am eating them much faster. This upped the ante on my commitment to only eat US grown food but deciding the only meat that comes in my house if from local farmers… and that new commitment is starting to get harder as I try to drop some extra pounds. I am also trying to get better about eating the older items in my freezer instead of letting them languish on the bottom.

    Build community food systems: Attended a presentation where the expert we hired summarized our regional food system pros and cons; great community turnout and discussions afterward. Taught someone how to make homemade bread; she taught me how to pressure can. (See above.) Referred a coworker to my local bison farmer and helped him generate a sale with a new customer.

  9. Nicole says:

    Oops, forgot:

    Skill up: Pressure canning, as I said. Also, I am investigating potato cages for growing my own potatoes and I have a spot picked out for them.

  10. Claire says:

    Looks like an early spring here in the St. Louis, MO area. I haven’t done much outside the past week due to having contracted a bad case of poison ivy (the vines don’t have leaves yet and it was mixed in with the wild grapevines that I was removing). But I need to get busy as it looks like I can start planting potatoes if the forecast looks OK (no severe cold ahead) in another week or so.

    Plant something: nothing in the past week because most everything but the lettuces had already been started. I have begun pricking-out seedlings of the cabbage-family plants into larger quarters, so they can be moved off the porch and into the cold frame.

    Preserve something: I’ve begun roasting the sunchokes that we still have in storage. They are starting to sprout so I’m planning to roast, then freeze some of them each day till I get through the 5 gallon bucket that’s mostly filled with them.

    Waste not: the usual.

    Want not: a longtime friend gave my DH her father’s wooden slide rule. We don’t need no stinkin’ calculators in this house … between the abacus and the slide rule, we have all basic arithmetic operations covered without requiring a drop of fossil fuel. Not to mention pencil and paper as we are old enough to have learned to do arithmetic that way due to lack of any other means. ;-)

    Eat the food: we’re eating down the stored sunchokes, radishes, and beets as well as the kimchi we made last fall and the peaches we dried last summer.

    Build community food systems: I posted details, including pictures, of our homemade worm bin on my blog, referenced above. I’ve also been answering the occasional gardening question.

    Skill up: nothing this week. Unless you count learning how to deal with a bad case of poison ivy, of course. ;-)

  11. Evey says:

    Feel better soon Sharon.

    We just move from the farm Saturday into an old log cabin in town. It is very nice except it is totally dependent in the grid. Everything is electric. I already miss the wood cookstove. Hopefully we wil be situated on our own property by the fall. I’m changing teaching jobs so I have 2 weeks off between-yeah.

    Plant something: DH is stopping by the farm right about now to pick-up the starter mix and seeds. I’ll get the lights set-up as soon as I am done here. We are a week or so late this year due to the move.

    Harvest something: eggs

    Perserve something: bottled up 6 gallons of hard cider. We will try a bottle after 6 weeks “resting period”. Also boiled down about a gallon of home canned cider to make apple cider syurp.

    Waste not: usual compost, chickens, recycle

    Want not: We certainly do not want for good friends. Last sat., 6 friends over 60, showed up with pick-up trucks to move us into town. One of the women spent the day cooking a fantastic dinner for everyone that helped. Back up “The Road” near this group is where we will be moving in the fall. One couple is selling us 2 acres off their property and we will be gardening with them this year.

    Eat the food: Eating the last jar of old biddy chicken from last fall.

    Skill up: Reading about raising meat rabbits. Learning to use DH’s laptop which I do not like because it does rude things if youn let your fingers hover over the creepy scrolly window too long!

  12. dixiebelle says:

    Hope you feel better soon…

    Everything happens for a reason. Things will work out how they are supposed to. You need to focus on your own health.

  13. calliek says:

    I thought I was late for this one!

  14. jan says:

    On foster children…we did fostering for 13 years. Its a crazy way the system works and just when you think there are no kiddos to be hard they show up with a boatload. Our first placement 6 week old premie twins stayed 11 months. We we NOT told when we took them that their mama would be in our home 5 out of the 7 days for 8 hours each day. We worked it out, she improved her parenting skills, those twins are now ready to graduate from high school. Our second placement came after the first 6 months with our twins. They were at our home temporarily for a couple of weeks we were told. Actually…they grew up here! After that we learned to just see what happened since it wasn’t usually what we were told would happen. We stopped fostering when our last child who had been in our home for 5 years assaulted me for the fourth time and then accused me of hurting him (he was 15 and bigger than me). We have heard from many of the kids we fostered now that they are grown up, most be never available to adopt. It was a great experience although the child we took in and were asked to adopt was sent home after we’d made the commitment to him and it broke our hearts.

  15. Becky says:

    We only managed to raise one child. Decided early on, we did not have the strength for a second one. Can’t fathom your strength - lucky kids!

    This is the year of the giant chicken eggs! Not sure what’s behind this, but some of the eggs are too tall or almost too wide to fit in egg cartons.

    Most of my tomato seeds germinated already. Settled for only two varieties this year that did very well in prior years. Both are of Russian origin and ultra early.

    I am learning how to prepare wool and spin and having tons of fun.

    Experimenting with a different type of pea support this year - I knitted with my hands and arms (no knitting needles) a giant net out of sisal type string. Much faster than last year’s attempt of knotting a net. My sisal braids work very well for runner beans but need a strong top support to hang from.

    Earlier this evening we had a lightning chased by thunder plus about one inch of soft hail. Hardly ever happens!

  16. Brandie says:

    Plant something: One apple tree, two elderberries, sugar snap peas, poppies, tomatoes, tomatillos, stocks, snapdragons, lavender, culantro, Aztec sweet herb, white yarrow, wild bergamot, holy thistle, lovage, winter savory, marjoram, oregano, papalo, lemon grass, lemonella balm

    Harvest something: eggs, turnips, thyme

    Preserve something: Does candied tangerine peel count? Froze some homemade bread and pie.

    Waste not: Defrosted two bags of odd bits of chicken and made stock and stewed organs. Candied tangerine peel surely counts in this category. The usual composting and feeding scraps to chickens (and our borrowed dog). Using salvaged containers for seed starting.

    Want Not: Got a big bucket of Charlie’s Soap powder (two years’ worth of laundry detergent for us) on sale. From our local salvage store got 40 pounds of bread flour, 40 pounds of spaghetti, and a bunch of organic sugar. Bought 75 pounds of organic wheat and 25 pounds of local, organic rye.

    Eat the Food: Pumpkin risotto and pumpkin pasta sauce, enchiladas verdes with tomatillos I had roasted and frozen and leftover turkey that was hanging around from Thanksgiving.

    Build community food systems: Bought bulk grains together with a friend and I’m storing their grain and letting them use my grinder. I’m starting extra vegetable plants to sell at the farmer’s market.

    Skill up: Took a beekeeping class. Working on baking breads.

  17. KC says:

    In Virginia, the cold season has hit hard here , too — in more ways than one. It snowed 2 days ago and got down to the low 20′s last night. I covered the seedlings in the greenhouse with remay and turned on the Christmas lights under the flats to keep them warm. They survived the night. I have been unable to do much of anything for the last couple days with the cough and cold thing happening here, too.

    Plant something: tomatoes (too many varieties! — I was hoping to just plant 4 varieties, but I couldn’t help myself) peppers (mostly sweet Italian frying peppers), eggplant (ping tung long), more kale (yumm) and planted peas, radish, flax, dill and chamomile in the garden.

    Harvest something: kale, chard, leeks, parsley, escarole, chickweed, beets and beet greens, turnip greens (from last fall).

    Preserve something: made pine needle vinegar

    Waste Not: been reorganizing the food storage (freezer and dried goods) and puling stuff out to eat. Trying to use up the dried kale. I’m not sure what to do with the chickweed that I froze. What was I thinking? I closed down one of the freezers and have been eating up the okra, tomatoes, peppers, and basil.

    Want Not: I’ve been bottling up the herbal tinctures and vinegars that I made last fall and trying them out.

    Eat the food: More soups with dried veggies (green bean, summer squash, okra). gumbo with local chicken and my peppers, okra and tomato and basil from the freezer. Starting to eat more potatoes and sweet potatoes (grilled in the grill machine). I hope we can eat them all before the new crop comes in. The herbal vinegars are great in salad dressings. Lots of garlic, herbal teas (holy basil, sage…) Spicy West African peanut soup with sweet potato. sprouted mung, lentil, sunflower.

    Build Community Food Systems: the neighbors are sharing eggs with us. We are drinking local milk.

    Skill up: Now that I have bottled my tinctures and vinegars (mullein, holy basil, sage, rosemary, yellow dock, chickweed, lemon balm, catnip, …), I have been reading up on their uses.

  18. Sharon says:

    Thanks folks - Mostly back to functional health, other than the occasional hacking up a lung. Mostly I’m just really bad at waiting for things…I like stuff to happen yesterday ;-) .


  19. Isua says:

    Tiiiiiny little steps this week.
    Harvest something/eat the food: I started some garden cress growing in a box on a windowsill two weeks ago, and this week I cut it for garnishes on crab cakes (the remnants were fed to hungry guinea pigs). Resowed it, and hopefully will get more as the light gets better.

    Waste not: I’ve started taking compostable leftovers and coffee grounds home from work to build up the compost heap, which is a little too rich in pine needles and other slow-to-rot stuff at the moment.

    New skills: not food related, but I’m hoping to learn how to chain-ply yarn this week once I get free of grading homeworks. Maybe that’ll count as Want Not too, since if I can do that I don’t need to go buy more bobbins for my spinning wheel….

  20. Tara says:

    Planted: lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, Asian greens, beets, carrots, radishes, herbs and potatoes!

    Harvested: only eggs for now

    Preserved: We’ve been busy putting up meals to eat after the baby comes.

    Waste not: scored loads of second hand baby stuff - some free from friends, some from sales. Fulfilled a huge chunk of our “needs” list that way.

    Want not: err, not much here

    Eat the food: working through older items in the food storage - canned foods from last season, dried beans and such that have been hanging around awhile, odd freezer items that need to be “incorporated” into something. Also trying to finish up last season’s frozen milk before the does kid in a few weeks.

    Community Food Systems: We distribute eggs through a friend that runs a veggie CSA for our area.

    Skill up: does childbirth education count? :)

    Thanks for keeping me honest!

  21. Gabrielle says:

    Sharon-glad to hear you are feeling better. Also am so glad you decided to start posting these updates again. I get so much benefit from reading everyone’s updates!

    Plant something: I’ve been lax on planting this year. At first it was because each chance we had to till the garden, it would rain and then it was because I was busier on other outdoor tasks. We’ll see what happens with the garden this year as a result! I’ve planted two types of beets (think that the two that I managed to get in the ground were Chioggia and Bulls Blood). I planted a different type of carrots this year (Inverness). They are a bit bigger, which I think will make them easier to peel. The stubby ones I planted last year were sweet and delicious but hard to prep. I also planted about 200 radish seeds in the form of a rainbow mix. They are coming up nicely, and I can’t wait to enjoy them! I’ve planted a couple of waves of sugar snap peas, mainly from old seed that I saved from the last two years. I’ll probably plant one more wave before it gets too late. Daughter and I planted 160 onions, and I have the same amount to plant in both our gardens and my dad’s in the next week or so. Again, those are a bit late, but since I use them mainly as green onions, I’m not too worried about it.

    For flowers, we planted a flat of pansies and a few candytufts.

    We started Bianca di Imola Eggplant inside in hopes that it sprouts and we can plant it in the summer garden. My dad has been wanting to grow this type since he worked up in Delaware and would pick it up at the local markets regularly.

    Harvest something: Flowers! Hubby pulled the last of the green onions from the 2011 planting and chopped them for the freezer before tilling the garden

    Preserve something: Hubby added green onions to the freezer

    Waste not: We’ve been regularly composting, and I was happy to see that Hubby had used most of last year’s compost when tilling the garden. Trash turned into gardener’s gold—love that! We passed some clothes and toys that were our daughter’s on to a friend who has a younger girl. We donated some of her books to the school library and others were passed on to her cousins. A few kitchen supplies were given to the church kitchen for use there. We have been working on organizing our home, and now have a big stack of goods for a yard sale later in the spring.

    Donated 10 inches of my hair to Locks of Love. Growing it out saved a ton of money as I didn’t have a high maintenance style that required more regular visits to the salon. Far more of a benefit, though, is knowing that someone out there will be happy to have it for their use.

    Want Not: I pulled out the book it bag/72 hour emergency kit, and I did a little updating. I need to make another one for Hubby, and I plan to work on that soon. I added a few things to my car kit. It is used so regularly that I find it needs updating more often. I added some dried beans, some cereals, and a few cans of tomatoes to the pantry.

    Eat the Food: Since January, we’ve been trying to eat out of our food storage more as a way to rotate those foods that need using before the harvest season kicks into gear. We plan to purchase half of a steer with friends from a local farmer, and the room that we’ve made in the freezer will soon be filled.

    Build community food systems: This is an area in which I’ve been a little slack. I still work in the food pantry at church, make meals for the kiddos on Wednesday nights, and help with the men’s breakfasts once a month. However, I’ve not been meeting up with local farmers as regularly. I still buy our milk at a local co-op and get my eggs from a lady not too far down the road, but without easy access to the farmers markets, we aren’t eating as many locally grown foods.

    Skill up: Hubby and I are about to do a major overhaul on the master bathroom, and we’ve been doing a lot of research on the best ways to go about that.

  22. Bee Girl says:

    No worries about not posting…life has a way of getting in the way of being in Blog Land and usually it’s for the better ;-) I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better!

    Here’s last weeks accomplishments:

    Thanks for hosting!

  23. NM says:

    Sharon, hope you feel better soon. While coughing up that lung you were, I hope, continuing your noble and selfless efforts to test homemade cough remedies. Or at least enjoying some homemade liqueur. ; } (Quince is my personal favorite, although the strawberry from last year is also lovely).
    Plant something: Um, I have Plans to plant …
    Harvest something: Chard, lettuce, spinach, carrots. Local eggs, farmers’ market vegetables.
    Preserve something: Ack not yet!; still trying to eat up last year’s preserving efforts. Drying sweet potatoes for the dogs, however.
    Waste not: Cleaned and reorganized a large cupboard; took large box of unwanted food items in to work, where they disappeared. Composting.
    Want not: We (and by we I mean husband) finally set up rain barrel; woohoo! It filled in a jiffy; quite astonishing to see. Currently overflows into smaller barrel, but soon will be hooked up to a hose to allow for filling other barrels, in hopes of providing large amounts of summer watering needs. Set up seed-starting lights.
    Community: Was given a small hand mill; promised it to friend, although we haven’t yet managed the actual hand-off. Slow Food group held first meeting of the year, to try to figure out the year’s activities. Food writing, as ever.
    Skill up: Rain barrel set up. Learning to bake with stevia. Learning gardening in unheated greenhouse (Beautiful winter crops!). Attended Small Farms Conference, always inspiring. Attempting to figure out crop yield estimates. Practiced knitting. Ripped out lots of knitting; this part, I excel at. Trying alternative to potting soil for seed-starting this year, recommended by Steve Solomon; peat moss mixed with garden soil/compost. Ground dent corn for first time, and made tortillas.
    De food, de food: Corn and tomato soup from the freezer; enchiladas from freezer ingredients and tortillas from home-ground corn, Mexican-style pizza from leftover enchilada ingredients; From-the-garden supper of chard calzone, baked potatoes and salad; almost sugar-free pumpkin pie from storage pumpkin and a bit of freezer squash, almost sugar-free oatmeal raisin cookies, almost sugar-free cherry spice bran muffins, oven pancakes with topping of home-canned sour cherries. Dried sour cherries. Quince brandy, quince liqueur.

  24. et says:

    Here’ a way to compare your weather forecasts with real data:

  25. Evey in WV says:

    It is so interesting to read about what everyone iwas doing during the previous week. I often find myself wondering “Where do they live” when I read about seed starting and outdoor planting. Could we maybe include our states in our posts to help curious people like me?

  26. Tracy says:

    My latest update is here

    I must say I didn’t mention it but I’m pretty good at sitting on my ass too.
    Hope you feel better soon.

  27. sarah says:

    Life has a way of getting in the way!

    Check out my post here

  28. et says:

    Here’s a convenient way to figure out when to start seeds:

  29. Ann says:

    We were foster parents for 15 years. We were long term placement foster parents. The shortest placement we had was 3 months. The longest 5 years.

    We worked with DHS and quit due to seeing so many foster parents lives ruined by false reports of abuse. It is always headlines when the charge is made, but when it proved unsubstantiated DHS hid behind “confidentiality” and doesn’t say a word to clear the foster parents name.

  30. Java Jane says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I come at this differently. My check cleared with my CSA farmer. Our eggs and non-CSA schedule greens come from a different organic farmer. Found a local source for chevre (yum-tastes like spring!)

    I don’t grow the food, but I am trying to help grow the farms and farmers. This month I’ll be working with 4-Hers on spring sewing projects.

    Now off to enjoy one of those eggs on homemade bread…

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