Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Welcome Back!

I haven't taken the last 2.5 years off. I've been gathering momentum.

I know I said a few blog post posts (and a few years) back, "I'm not going to just up and head off to California."
But I did.
Almost Immediately.
'Hoodsteading turned to travel.
Travel turned to moving.
Moving turned to farming.
Farming turned into horrible tragedy that almost did me in.

'Hoodsteading went from 1/2 acre in Salt Lake City, Utah to a 300 acre "commune" in rural Northern California to a 5 acres rural school garden "caretaking" spot to a tiny cottage in a small river river town under the shade of the redwoods...
with absolutely nothing but a sliver of sunshine on a borrowed hillside belonging to a neighbor.

Two years that are still a blur, that I have so much to say and promise to catch up on, but those things take time.
But I can't just NOT FARM.  Let's go see what happened NEXT:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Since it's only January and January is cold, dank and awful, I am going to reminisce again for just a second before I look again to the future. ;-)

Things I did for the FIRST time in 2009:

1. Visited Humboldt Co.
2. Visited Yosemite
3. Raised & slaughtered chickens & quail for food.
4. Kept bees/harvested honey.
5. Grew eggplant.
6. Used a pressure canner.
7. Stretched earlobes.
8. Ate horse jerky.
9. Ate a Meyer lemon.
10. Pressed/brewed cider.
11. Made a classic Waldorf doll.
12. Learned to felt wool.
13. Caught skunks on film WITHOUT getting sprayed.
14. Used diatomaceous earth.
15. Made lacto-fermented pickles.
16. Grew green-fiber cotton.
17. Finished as many projects as started. -not nec. the SAME ones, mind you ;-)

Things I would like to do for the first time 2010:

1. Take a long road trip (2+ weeks) with my daughters.
2. Grow, hunt, forage or farmer's market (eat local) 75%.
3. Learn to spin wool/mohair.
4. Raise bees successfully in a Top Bar Hive
5. Sew or Buy ALL family clothing 2nd hand (except socks/undies)
6. Find an intentional community that I feel comfortable in.
7. Taking suggestions... I like firsts. ;-)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Honey it's cold outside...

But the memories are HOT.

Winter Sunrise through the cherry tree:

Back in the summer, Mark made fun of me for playing Facebook Farmtown. I really was impatient with my REAL garden, and honestly, I wasn't about to go out in the blazing sun mid-day and work in it anyway. I did all my gardening before 10 am and after 6pm.
The irony of having a pretty decent little homestead going on "out there" as I sat here on the computer playing with virtual plants and animals "in here" was a humorous one. It managed to spark an Onion style article I ended up writing instead of playing Farmtown. A good day.

 Many vegetables sit rotting on the vine, weeds suffocating crops and stalks as well as chickens and game birds sit in the heat with no water or food while area woman stays glued to Facebook's "Farm Town". When asked about the real-world negligence, the woman was noted as screaming hysterically, "I do not have time to deal with those stupid birds. I have to rake leaves for my neighbors so I can get more coins!"
Dinner often goes uncooked while Farm Town brings in thousands of "coins" to buy more virtual seeds, animals and fruit trees, all of which were either bought with earned coins or given freely as gifts by other Farmtown Neighbors.

Area woman defends her Farm, citing that nowhere else are the animals so compliant and the crops so predictable. "I just can't get this kind of harvest out of my own field. There is just no way I could grow that much rice in the desert. Do you realize how many coins you can get for planting RICE?!"
Area woman also mentions that Facebook Farmtown has a quick turnaround on vegetables, sometimes as soon as 4 hours for grapes and 1 day for potatoes.
"I sometimes have to wait an entire season in my own yard for a harvest. It's just not an efficient way to garden."
Area husband and child resort to freezer foraging and independence, however the baby does manage to still breastfeed. When asked about the breastfeeding, woman notes, "Well, I can nurse the baby and still move my fences around Farmtown. I can't even water the real garden without being chased around the backyard by a crying toddler."
Area woman says that she's never had this much success with her real garden and real farm animals, also stating, "Now if Farmtown would add beehives to the game, I'd be set. Then my honey harvests would be virtually sting free!"
Farm animals, when contacted, stood unanimous with few words, however at least the chickens stood firm with the sentiment of, "BWAAAAAAA..... BUH-BOK!"
The only thing area neighbors had to say about the floundering urban farmstead and hungry critters was, "what's a facebook?" and "you mean someone LIVES there?"
The compost bin sits empty as the chickens are placated with day-old kitchen scraps that area husband and 11 year old manage to generate. "All we have in the compost bin now are all these random squash and tomatoes that grew right up through the middle of it! It's overrun with plants now that it's not being used!" says area daughter.
"Sometimes I come out here in the evenings to find my wife yanking and pulling weeds as well as frantically re-arranging garden hoses LONG after the 100 degree day has passed. Sometimes I wonder if she doesn't wait until the temperatures drop to 85 or so before coming out here." When pressed about the issue, the woman cites, "In Farmtown it's air conditioned. I have never once gotten a sunburn plowing my fields. The garden out there constantly has to be watered, sometimes as often as every couple of days! So incredibly needy, those crops... In Farmtown, only the flowers need to be watered. My friends can even water them for more coins if I have to be away from my laptop for a few hours."
At least 15 heirloom tomatoes and four or five squash, a field of corn, a collection of herbs and a couple of eggplants wait patiently in hopes that someone will care enough to bring them a little water. They were surprisingly silent about their plight; although many of the bees still continue to visit.

In spite of the jokes, facebook and farmtown (which I am proud to say I don't play anymore) my REAL farm did fine. :-P

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More 2009 Re-Cap

YAY! Did my year spell on NYE this year.


Yep. That's what I am planning to see in the following year. I'm stoked. :-D

We have made one full turn here at the Little House in the 'Hood. I thought it would be fun to see what it looks like year 'round.

From This:

To This:

To This:

The herb bed in spring:

The herb bed in summer:

The herb bed in winter:

Summer Bees:

Winter Bees:

Summer House:

Winter House:

From This:

To this:

Now wasn't that fun? You can see why I might be yearning for fairer weather.

I mentioned previously that I was a flurry of activity during November and December, attempting to finish some craft products I was giving as gifts.

My first Waldorf Doll. I gave this to Ember for Solstice.

Reusable produce and/or bulk bags:

Tiny felted animals:

More felted items:


Rice Bags:

Finally finished a quilt that was 10 years in the making:
(A girl gets sidetracked, yo.)

Cloth Moon Pads:
Highly recommend these. Washable, resuable, soft, wonderful, safe.

Fabric colored thumbtacks. These were really simple, and they are very cute.

I made a few sets of these:

I was lucky enough to get to participate in Wasatch Commons Annual Holiday Bazaar. I did a lot of trades for holiday gifts and was excited to share some of my own creations.
Mark made Sunny Buns again this year. MMMMMM.... Decadently so.

We had some other cool occurances happen 'round the house.

Is this one squash or two?


This was definitely one egg... Well, until I opened it:

All in all, it's been a good year. I look forward to at least one more summer here. I think Mark and I agreed that Northern California calls us.
I'm not going to just up and head off to California. I am going to stay for just one more harvest. It does give us time to decide where we are going and what we will do. I vote intentional community, he wants to have a traditional job at first. I guess we will see what comes up. Depending on what kind of situation we find out there, we might be selling a "ready made" homestead package: goat, bees, chickens, quail. Although I am not opposed, as you can imagine, to taking my farm with me. ;-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The commentary slows, but the adventures continue...


Motivation to write is hard to have when being interrupted 100 times an hour by dogs, kids, cats, goats and chickens. Oh, and facebook. I will take the opportunity to bash FACEBOOK. Without facebook, I'd get a lot more blogging done, and have a lot more to show for my urban homesteading efforts and many more trips to the POOL. CURSE YOU FACEBOOK! You have successfully helped me be lazy enough to condense my life into anonymous status updates, shortly captioned pictures and random links. People can either "like" or ignore me. I don't have to have another "real" human interaction as long as I live! Alas, I digress.

I really do have things to chatter about. My mental health doesn't always allow me to share my day to day or my week to week in a written form. Therefore, if I don't update, I'm still posting photos. Find me on Facebook or check out the pics on Flickr.

The summer was FULL!
First Harvest of Honey was in late June!!!

The girls have been awesome all summer.

The honey harvest showed me what an "angry bee" was. I got 5 stings that day. Remind me to shower before collecting honey. AND wear a suit? der...
The bees in June are NOT the same bees in August. I promise.
I think We ended up harvesting about 50 lbs. out of that one hive.

The summer finished off with a bang.





The garden, I can't complain about, given my experience and effort.
I ate well all summer from it and canned a million things that I have been enjoying all winter.


A short list of canned:
10 quarts of salsa- 4 different kinds
10 quarts of tomato sauce- 4 different kinds
6 half pints cherry jam
6 half pints meyer lemon/vanilla bean marmalade
8 pints plum chutney
6 quarts summer squash chow chow
5 pints liquored cherries
4 pints apricot preserves
6 quarts pickled beets

3 gallons of tomatoes
4 quarts plums
9 whole chickens

1 gallon sauerkraut
3 gallons dill pickles
enough kim chee to choke a horse

Gallon bag of paste tomatoes

It's awesome too to be eating "fresh" sauerkraut from the fall harvest! Crunchy and full flavored, maybe it's a good thing that the husband hates all things fermented. The pickles are holding up amazingly well too. Probably the best pickle I've ever eaten. Lacto-fermentation rules.

We got 50 Jumbo Cornish Cross chickens in September, right before we took that long road trip to Cali.

Forty four of the chickens made it to slaughter. The design flaw of the brooder where we lost most of them became painfully obvious the minute we left town. :-( Thanks Swiss, my multi-faceted & multi-useful friend, and Celia, my fellow urban homesteader and neighbor, for taking care of that little problem for me. :-D

Other than that, raising meat birds is pretty easy. Stinky, dirty and will eat you out of house and home. The good news is, we were able to re-coup the cost of feeding them and the price of our own chickens with what we sold the surplus. Basically, with some dirty work and the money up front, we got a freezer full of fresh, healthy, home grown chicken. The chicken harvest was awesome even though by the time I was finished cleaning chickens, I was DONE seeing dead chickens. I didn't really enjoy chicken for at least a month. We took that opportunity to empty our freezer of Costco chicken. I can say though, without a doubt, that when I finally did get around to cooking one that I could just sit down and ENJOY, it really is the best chicken ever.
What made it delicious? I worked for it, that's what. They were healthy, happy chickens that I EARNED. Even HUNTING is easier. Easier on the mind, the body and the pocketbook. I honestly believe that if someone is to eat meat, they should be REQUIRED the act of killing and butchering some, even if only for a day. I think it is a luxury that we, as Americans consider a basic human right, sadly enough. Industrialized meat should be outlawed, and we should return to our "will work for meat" lifestyle. I can bet it would lead to an overwhelming decline in health care costs, less consumption of meat in general and a population that would actually be GRATEFUL for where their food comes from, instead of feeling entitled to cheap (very costly), easy (not so for the animals) and filling (oh so bad for you) industrialized meat. Lots of it. Given the fact that eating industrialized meat is akin to not only torture to the poor sickly animals, but it is also eating nothing but antibiotics, e.coli and processed, genetically modified corn products. Why not save your health and just grab an ear of organic corn for simplicities sake? I promise you the results would be profound.

Anyway... end my rant about industrialized meat. Raising my own meat chickens was hard but awesome and I think everyone should do it. I will most definitely be raising our own turkeys this year, and look forward to seeing a 2nd generation of chicks running the yard at some point.

Just another day in the Farm Prius.

So since I last blogged, I have yet to be entirely "cured" of my physical and emotional ailments. I think the key to that is going to be a change of location, but more on that later.

I came to the realization that my husband is DEFINITELY of the Asperger's variety. A relief for me, and a huge blow for him (although I am not sure why). It has made things both easier and harder. Easier because at least it explains a lot and gives me a textbook to work from. It helps explain a lot of the head pounding I've done the last 3 years. I can stop now. It is harder because I thought I really wanted a fully participatory and "equal" relationship. That will never happen, and now I have to re-think a lot of things. That's what February will be for! He says he's ready to "move on and out of Utah" but we will see. I'm always up for a change, he's a little slower to come to happy terms with it. lol For now, my personal life "is", and what keeps me sane until it is... hopefully... MORE? well... the adventures of course!!! I'm sure I am hard to live with, so perhaps we are perfect for each other after all. Well, as long as I travel 6 months out of the year. ;-)

The summer was busy.
We hiked.

We relaxed.

We went to Bear Lake in August.

That's my cute Ember, my sexy husband and my sandy toes. :-D

We went on a trip to Northern California in September.

We did so much on this trip! Humboldt County, Bay Area, Yosemite. We were exhausted by the time we got back. I highly recommend the entire album if you are interested. Some really beautiful pictures!

Prius, road trip-camping style.

Did that whole Halloween thing in October.
Day suit:

Night suit:

November was the usual feast fest.

December was a flurry of rush and finish craft projects. I made almost all of my gifts this year. Felted ornaments and playsets, a dolly, a money bank, some scrapbooks. I tried to give thought to what I was buying this year, now more than ever, as I step toward a less commercial, less plastic, and less toxic future.

Planning a long road trip next month.
That's some trip! 4500 miles, AT LEAST 25 days, and 3 major destinations: New Orleans, Nashville, & Memphis.
I'm excited to visit some places I haven't been for a long time. I am nervous about leaving the "farm" alone to the husband. It's not really his "thing", so I hate to ditch him for a month with it.

We have a new addition!!! Toya, the Alpine/Angora cross. She is supposedly due in March so I don't want to miss it. I will most likely be back early March to pick up goat kidding, seed starting and the like. Well, unless I find something that calls me louder than goat kids. Ya never know. ;-)


I want to make sure to be here to start milking her shortly after she kids. I can't WAIT for fresh goat milk that is MINE and lovely mohair that is MINE and adorable little goat kids... that are... ADORABLE. Any doe we will keep, any little buck is up for grabs.

On the way home with my new Yule Goat!!! Yep. In the Prius. :-D

Winter has brought us over a month with one crappy little hen egg a day, a frostbitten rooster comb, no quail eggs since October, rare sightings of bees, a vacant garden space and a very stir crazy lot about the house. I can't wait to do something outside without freezing to death or choking to death on the pollution.

The good news is, we are finally getting 3-5 eggs again per day. Not exactly the bakers dozen we were getting during high summer, but it is hope.

My time in Utah is growing shorter. The pollution, the sociopaths, the repressed, the politics, the lack of rain, the barren desert, the dark winters, the COLD winters. I don't know where or when, but I am going to have to pick up this lifestyle somewhere a little less... you know. Utah. I think a 21 year run is pretty good. My health and my sanity is really calling me to more moderate climates and progressive populations. I guess we will see how long I can hold on! Until then... it's road trips and urban homesteading to keep me sane.


If only I could spend every winter doing the same as Script Kitty!