Independence Days Update: Running Behind

Sharon May 8th, 2012

Sorry for not posting an ID update for a bit, we’ve had a lot of crazy here, culminating last week in the arrival of two little boys, 7 and 8.  C. and K. are sweet kids and are settling in well, but the preliminaries tend to be consuming, and combining that with other spring chaos, and I’m totally behind on nearly everything. The garden is still in its larval stage, there are many, many other things I have not done, and they are starting to back up in bad ways.  The good news is that Eric’s semester is almost over and the kids are settling and this week should offer some chance to catch up.

Next week we can expect the next wave of baby goats (I thought Urania might have kidded last week, but apparently not ;-) ), and we’ve got a lot of baby rabbits as well (if anyone has rabbit cages or hutches out there for sale cheaply in reasonable driving distance, please let me know - I haven’t had time to build cages and the situation will be dire in a few weeks ;-) ).  We’ve got hens setting, chicks hatching and probably some ducklings due soon, so things are busting out all over.

It is becoming apparent we lost a lot last year from the perennial crops - the combination of flooding, a winter with some very low temps even though there was no snow cover, and the fact that flooding damaged fences letting some livestock at the perennials really did a number on us, so we’re working on restoration and building for more water in the future.  Hugelkultur works well in both wet and dry conditions, and lord knows, we have enough downed wood to build just about anything, so that’s part of my summer project, to rebuild some beds that way.  We’re also doing some new fencing and redesigning of pastures, so that’s a big time suck.

Otherwise, we’ve been mostly focused on getting everyone’s needs met and our eternally shifting family.  Oh, and despite my gigantic stash, I was totally unprepared to have three boys in the same sized (8) pants ;-) .  So there’s a lot of shopping going on as well.

Plant something: Potatoes, onions, rhubarb, carrots, beets, chard, kale, mizuna, lettuce, scallions, chives, thyme, sage, mint, dahlias, marigolds, pansies, sweet peas.

Harvest something: Nettles, chard, radishes, turnip greens, lettuce, eggs, milk, garlic mustard, ramps

Preserve something: Nope.

Waste Not: The usual feeding stuff to other stuff, collecting brush for hugelkultur.

Want Not: Got a huge stash increase two weeks ago, so I’m totally set for much younger kids - then got older kids ;-) .  Still you never know what the future will bring!  Building up stores of wheat, oats and beans a bit after a winter’s draw down as well.

Eat the Food:  We’ve eaten so much junk with the boys here because they are adapting from real and serious deprivation.  We had a great jambalaya, and I made some whole wheat pumpkin-chocolate bars, but that’s about the extent of it.

Build Community Food systems: Not much this week

Skill up: Does learning fart jokes from your kids count?

How about the rest of you?


15 Responses to “Independence Days Update: Running Behind”

  1. Heather says:

    I wish I had some clothes for you. It sounds like you’re in total survival mode right now. Those kids are probably in heaven being with you though.

    Plant something: Potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, parsnips, radishes, many kinds of squash, peppers, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, marigolds, borage, sunflowers, multiple kinds of lettuce, multiple kinds of greens.

    Harvest something: rhubarb, eggs, lettuce

    Preserve something: strawberry leather from the last of the frozen berries

    Waste not: My usual making broth from saved scraps, feeding the chickens anything not eaten by us or the dogs.

    Want not: Got more chicks to add to the flock. Assessing the stores to see what needs to be added.

    Eat the food: Lots of egg dishes. Making rhubarb squares today. Many salads.

    Build Community Food Systems: Writing for and managing the blog for my local Edible Communities chapter.

    Skill up: Learned how to make my own vinegars from wine and such.


  2. [email protected]:Improved says:

    So glad to see another ID post! I’ve been keeping mine up to date - I’ve found it really helps me think about how I’m making progress. Congratulations on getting two new little boys; it sounds like they are doing well. It’s an inspiration that you do all that you do.

    Here’s my latest post:

  3. NM says:

    Plant something: Got a garden bed prepared, and transplanted: peas, sweet onions, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, romanesco and parsley. Planted a sprouting ginger root, strawberries, tomatoes, basil, lettuce, thyme, bachelor buttons, lemon cucumbers, kale, snow peas, sugar snap peas, petunias.

    Harvest: rutabagas, cabbage, cabbage rapini, lettuce, spinach, carrots, leeks, kale and kale rapini, brussels sprouting, sorrel, oregano, celery. sage, rose hips, chard, lemon balm, garlic chives, spearmint, rhubarb.

    Preserve something: Dried oregano, lemon balm, sage, savory, dried sweet potatoes for the dogs.

    Want not: The mason bees have returned to the house we built them last year. So many were using it that yesterday, husband drilled more holes for them in a second block. Set it out and they were using it in less than an hour; soon, we had to set out a third. Hooray! At present they are doing a bang-up job of fertilizing dandelions and bolting kale, but I’m hoping they spared some attention for the apple, quince and cherry blossoms. First year of harvesting rhubarb! Wahoo! Did not, actually, intend to harvest any just yet, since I’m trying to use up last year’s preserves, but after the dogs trampled and broke several stalks, I decided to salvage them.
    Watering the greenhouse and garden with rainwater! Also very exciting.

    Waste not: Gave away a few things on freecycle. Focusing on using up preserved foods, eating from the garden.

    Community food systems: Was given some onion sets after I’d already started my own; passed them on to a friend. Spent an afternoon chopping blackberries and honeysuckle out of parents’ greenhouse, so they can revamp it and put in raised beds for gardening.
    Newspaper I work for received a “green achievement” award from a local organization, which said my writing was a cornerstone for the award. Was funny; I started mentally listing the “hard news” stories we’ve run, by several reporters, about local green building, impending water crisis, climate change, honeybee crisis, etc. — the things a reporter thinks are what counts. Turned out, those didn’t even rate a passing mention. There was a lovely, very sweet speech instead about how my years of writing about turning lawns into gardens, cooking and eating good food, etc., has inspired other people to make changes, start farmers markets, etc. It was very moving.
    Slow Food group had a booth at green building festival, with seed planting activity, and information pamphlets.

    Skill up: Continuing to practice trying to homestead, deal with aging animals and work full-time and move toward a changed career, without losing my mind. Starting seeds in unheated, unlighted greenhouse.

    Eat the food: I’m on a mission to use up preserved food, so we’re eating a lot of things from the freezer, especially fruit; also trying to work in home canned goods and garden greens. Breakfast blueberry crisp, cornbread with freshly-ground corn, bashed neeps, potato sorrel omelet, pesto rolls, green salad with basil dressing, sauteed kale, turnip tops and faux chicken with pesto, kale pizza, panettone from the freezer, peach-filled crepes with raspberry sauce, marionberry ginger muffins, home fries with cabbage, and with kale and leeks, hot cross buns, lots of chicken and duck eggs from area farmers, eggplant parmesan (froze breaded and fried eggplant last fall; will definitely be doing more of that), spinach quiche, chard calzone, oven pancakes with apple filling, tea made from dried lemon balm, raspberries, quince and ginger root; tea from dried strawberries, quince and ginger; pasta with cabbage rapini, dried tomatoes, leeks and sausage, fresh green salads, ginger scones with strawberry rhubarb jam, sourdough blueberry pancakes with peach apricot jam, scones with dried strawberries, creamy duck egg custard with stewed rhubarb (a new favorite! Followed Sharon’s advice last year and canned rhubarb; and now that the rhubarb is available again and should be picked, am finally starting to use the preserved stuff. I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s supposed to work. :p) Rhubarb, strawberry, raspberry pie, pizza with chard.

  4. Mary Walker says:

    The garden is coming along nicely. All of my tomatoes are in along with one of the peppers, all my corn, stevia, marjoram, oregano, marigolds, pyrethrum. I will harvest some lemon balm tomorrow and we ate the first strawberry this morning. The beans are coming along as are the butter bush squash, vine peach, dragon’s egg cucumbers, and lemon squash. Still have a few spaces to fill.

  5. jan says:

    Helping those two boys is a priority, everything else will fall in place over time. Fostering is hard work (we did it when we were younger) but so needful. Thank you for giving your energy to it!

  6. aimee says:

    I must have missed something… what’s kugelkultur?

    plant - lots of stuff… this week, setting out cucumber, tomato, and chile seedlings

    harvest - arugula and spinach, eggs, milk

    preserve - beets from farmer’s market, 4 quarts

    waste not - usual composting and feeding scraps to bunnies and chickens

    want not - keep the sourdough starter going

    skill up - learn more about keeping my goats healthy, worming meds

    eat the food - needs work. Need to use up a lot of dried beans which are getting old (I find that after a couple of years they will NEVER get soft)

  7. dixiebelle says:

    Fart jokes may be very useful in the future. You never know! Laughter sure is important though. Esp. in amongst all you have going on at the moment…

  8. Claire says:

    I haven’t been writing in my blog because I’ve been preparing, planting, weeding, mowing, pruning, mowing, harvesting, mowing … we’re transitioning from spring to summer here in the St. Louis, MO metro area. I finished planting the cool weather crops by April 20 (on time for once), so I won’t include them in the update.

    Plant something: seedlings of calendula, Gem marigolds, Thai basil, nasturtiums, yarrow, lemon balm, skullcap.

    Harvest something: strawberries!!! Lots and lots of them!!! Mmmm. Also Nanking cherries and asparagus. The DH harvested some shiitake mushrooms.

    Preserve something: freezing the Nanking cherries to use for making wine later on. We are keeping the strawberries eaten up (and giving lots to friends).

    Waste not: the DH asked the tree cutters who removed the dying silver maple to save branches of the right size for plugging with mushroom spawn. They did, and it was lots and lots of branches. Meanwhile, I asked for the wood chips, and got a full truckload dumped onto the driveway. Mulch for years! Plus we’re doing all the usual stuff.

    Want not: one of my friends has been sharing food that a freegan friend of hers picked up. She’s also given us extra meat she gets cheap.

    Eat the food: strawberries, of course, plain because they are so sweet they don’t need sugar. Cold asparagus salad. Bamboo shoots the DH found in a local park (part of stir-fries). We finished the stored Black Spanish and Red Meat radishes and put the remaining sunchokes in the fridge to use. Meals that my friend and I made out of the sale and freegan foods she brings and the garden foods I have plus the rice, onions, and carrots we always have on hand.

    Community food systems: nothing other than the usual talking up my garden on Facebook.

    Skill up: nothing.

  9. KC says:

    I finally got around to planting the potatoes. I was inspired by the Ruth Stout video. I just threw them on the ground (a bed) and covered them with straw and leaves.

    Plant something: Potatoes, onions, carrots, dandelion (yes, dandelion), leeks, tomatoes, peppers (italian sweet), cucumber, squash, parsley, celeriac, okra, cowpea, purple pod beans, radish, lettuce, kale, marigold, zinnia, chard, nasturtium, lemon catnip, anise hyssop, soybean (butterbean), eggplant (asian), chicory, endive, escarole, beets, turnips. I am trying malabar spinach this year - for summer greens. It is too late to plant roselle. I need to start it earlier next year.

    Harvest something: Nettles, lettuce, radishes, onions, leeks, kale, endive, mizuna, vitamin green (asian), arugula, lemon balm, sage, dandelion, yellow dock root.

    Preserve something: No.

    Waste Not: the retreat center gave me the vegetable trimmings for compost. I shared some tomato, pepper, onion, celeriac, parsley, lettuce and leek plants.

    Want Not: a friend gave us some frozen venison.

    Eat the Food: We are eating the last of last years freezer food (snowpeas, greens, tomatoes, peppers, okra …). yellow eyed beans are delicious … just add tomato and onion. Made rajma (spiced kidney beans) - simple, delicious, and very satisfying. Learned a new recipe for (Tibetan) nettle soup with blended nettles, a potato, onion, salt and okra.

    Build Community Food systems: sharing plants.

    Skill up: still on a learning curve with the greenhouse (regarding temperature - especially daytime highs, use of shade cloth, fans, etc.) Any advice welcomed. I am thinking of investing in a thermostatically controlled fan.

    By the way, for those who are interested — I see that Peter Bane has a permaculture book coming out in June. The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country. Lots of useful information here.

    `KC in VA

  10. Bee Girl says:

    Your new boys should be your focus. Enjoy your time, settle in and remember to be kind to yourself.

    Here’s my latest IDC post:

  11. Laura says:

    Plant something:
    Didn’t plant anything, need to reweed the garden first.

    Harvest something:
    Similar to Want Not category

    Preserve something:
    Made Orange marmalade, kumquat marmalade, and will be continuing to make up more marmalade this week.

    Waste Not:
    Used a carcass from a chicken and leftover vegetables to make 4 pints of stock to be used for cooking later on in the week.

    Want Not:
    Harvested oranges, lemons, grapefruit, kumquats and avocados with a friend from his orchard.

    Eat the Food:
    Eating up the leftover veggies and dinners previously made to make room for more veggies and fruit coming from the CSA.

    Build Community Food systems:
    Teaching other friends on how to preserve food that would otherwise not have tried without a helping hand.

    Skill up:
    Goes hand in hand with build community.

  12. FleecenikFarm says:

    It is an easy time of year to fall behind. So much to do and so little time…

  13. Nicole says:

    Plant something: roses, rosemary, cucumbers, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, melons, winter squash, runner beans, basil, sunflowers, catnip, spearmint, tangerine mint, horseradish, radishes (too late, probably), various ornamental flowers and herbs.

    Harvest something: peas (and more peas!), radishes, the last of the spinach and lettuce, some green garlic just to see how it was doing, turnips, beets, strawberries, and basil, parsley and other herbs

    Preserve something: nada

    Waste Not: Shared my extra vegetable seedlings. I’m also trying to give away red wigglers and even a whole worm set-up, but no luck so far.

    Want Not: Added to the emergency water and food stash to accommodate the extra household member, and topped up on non-perishable supplies.

    Eat the Food: I’m sick of peas, but I’ll miss them in two or three weeks when the season is over. I finished a new herb bed for the thugs of the herb world (mints); in a few weeks the mints will be big enough to harvest for iced tea. Still working on cleaning out the fridge for the upcoming meat season.

    Community Food Systems: The usual buying from local farmers, plus encouraging my neighbor to scratch her chicken itch by offering to do a co-op arrangement with her (neither one of use can manage full-time chickens right now).

    Skill Up: I’ll getting really good at getting the wild violet tuber and seed capsules out of the ground without leaving bits of them or scattering seed.

  14. P.J. Grath says:

    Sharon, I don’t want to include a link in this comment space, for fear my message will look like spam, but I have a guest blogger on “Books in Northport” today (5/17/12) whose message will, I’m sure, interest you and your readers.

    These days I survey my “lawn” full of dandelions with great satisfaction. Human beings cannot live on grass, but I’d never starve here in spring and summer! Rhubarb and strawberries coming along nicely. Chard, radishes, and onions planted. Dried morels in the cupboard. Old bedsheets replace paper towels. Laundry is hanging out on the line: there’s frost on the clothes (I hung them out after dinner yesterday), but the sun is up and shining, and we’ll be fine.

    Thanks for your work.

  15. Lane says:

    My belated update, including adventures in hotbed building, is at

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