Monday, September 30, 2013

Cooking up Compost

            I have been doing this homesteading thing for a few years now, and I'm always learning. I have taken an interest in compost. That is normally my hubby's job. Physical labor just isn't my thing. But lately with all that has been going on in my life, I've felt the need to be outside, breathing fresh air and MOVING.

            This spring I had made my own raised bed garden using a real bed frame. I like to use what we got...know what I mean? Anyway, my daughter helped me with this project...she did a lot of sighing and shaking her head. We hauled the bedframe across the yard to the perfect spot in the middle of the orchard. Hey, the trees are small yet, I figured it wouldn't hurt...didn't think about having to mow the grass.  Then we took my little truck to Lowes and picked up some bags of dirt and plants.  I felt so empowered....I AM WOMAN!!!!! driving my truck hauling some dirt...grunting and aping like a daughter did a lot of sighing then too. And giggling.  I drove my reverse...through my yard to the bedframe.  Oh it was so exciting! The memory still makes me smile.  Then I remembered I should really have some compost mixed in with the topsoil. So, my Diva daughter and I drove the Mule(glorified golf cart) over to the pile the guys had made when they cleaned out the pens. I scraped off the top layer to find the lovely composted stuff and loaded up the back of the buggy and hauled it over to the frame. I also put down a good layer of newspaper as a weed barrier and then my composted bedding and then the topsoil on top of that. I planted Kale and Kohlrabi. I have to say, it flourished. We were eating kale all summer. I planted in May and just pulled the plants today. They still had new leaves coming on, but I wanted to try growing garlic. According to the Amish lady at the Market,  I need to plant it tomorrow. I  cleaned out the bed, fed what plants were left to the goats and pigs. I scraped the last of the compost pile up and hauled it over and spread it around, mixing with the existing dirt. I have one bag of topsoil left so I'll add that on in a bit and tomorrow I will plant my garlic cloves. From what I have read I need to add a layer of mulch over top to help them winter over, and then in spring scrape the mulch off of the shoots. I think I am going to rake up the leaves and then mow them using the bag attachment, instant free mulch.

            OK, So my interest in compost has been peaked because we don't do anything to make just happens by accident when we clean out pens and pile up the bedding. I want to make compost on purpose. I want to see how all this works. I want a steaming pile of nutrient rich compost that I can add to my garden without worrying that I'll plant wheat seeds or weed seeds.

            I'm forming a plan. I just swept out one pen, a holding pen we used for the piglets until they were big enough to go outside...It is dry and fluffy. Then I have the broiler pen, where we brooded the chicks for the first 4 weeks...that is damp and gross. I think If I layer those two, I'll have the start for my "on purpose" compost pile. 
             Right now? I have to hunt out my child, who is not filling out the names of the 50 states on his map. This homeschooling deal is making me a little crazy...while he is great about math and science...getting him to do any writing for purposes other than his own, is difficult...that is putting it mildly, because sometimes I'm not so nice a teacher.....

Monday, September 23, 2013

Apple Pie Contest

I am now an AWARD Winning Baker!
Yes! I placed 3rd in the pie contest! My ribbon is hanging in the cabinet next to my soup trophy! Oh there really is no living with me now. If I can figure out how to download pictures from the cell phone onto the laptop and then over to the blog...that would be a good thing...Look! The Martha Stewart is coming out of me again!
Charlie Brown is currently working on his biography about Mary Pope Osborn...I learned quite a bit too. I think she was a hippy for a bit after college, traveling Europe, camping in a cave in Crete...Ahhh the things I am learning.  When he finishes his sentence writing we are doing a science experiment to show how rocks are formed and reformed. Good thing I am a crafty person who throws nothing out...aka, hoarder of all things crafty. We will shave crayons onto foil...representing weathering and erosion, then heat the crayons to melt them together...molten rock, then add pressure, then reheat, then pour over ice...oh the fun we will have....hmmm...I better go change my shirt and dig out an old apron!
I also have two Angel Food Cakes in the ovens. I have over 40 doz eggs at the moment...need to hard boil a few dozen as well. I would like to try canning pickled eggs...I'm just a little lazy about I think about doing it and then say I WANT to do it. Intentions with out actions mean very little.
Perhaps we will have an egg casserole for dinner tonight. I could make some cream puffs too for dessert...I can feel the arteries clogging now.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Facebooked out...

Where have I been....FACEBOOK! I just deactivated my account because I found myself spending more and more time sitting in front of the computer. I wasn't just looking up recipes and learning new homesteading skills. Instead I was playing games and reading everyone's status updates and then reading all the comments or commenting myself. Information passed that I really didn't want to know. Also, I discovered that people can be really MEAN when they are commenting. You know they certainly wouldn't behave that way in person. I found myself involved in someone else's drama...thinking about it when I had other, better, things to think about. I had had enough and without some eloquent speech about how I was leaving, I just made a clean break and deactivated my account.
Now I am focusing on home again. It's amazing what you can get done in a few hours when you are not repeatedly looking at the computer or the smartphone.
I am homeschooling my 8yr old. WOW. It is a challenge but I think we are going to make it. Third grade is tough. We are using PACyber... not traditional homeschool but I am right there reading lessons, doing science experiments, going over spelling, maps, recipes, music and art projects...whew and this is the first month...well six weeks.
We still homestead. Currently raising meat chickens, layers, turkeys, pigs, goats and a steer. I am constantly either spraying essential oils all over the house, diffusing them in the air conditioning or wearing them so I don't have to smell the pigs. Really...I enjoy farm smells...I dislike strongly, the pigs.
I'm trying to get my husband to butcher my older laying hens. I want to use them for stock. I need to build up my supply for the soup cook off in January. I won last year! There were 11 soups entered. This year there will be more. I need to be prepared. Having that plastic gold trophy really made me feel good. In fact I tell my kiddos they can't complain...I'm an award winning chef now. Tomorrow I am entering the apple pie contest at the Heritage Days festival. Not sure how I will do, but I won't know unless I try!
Still canning and freezing whatever I get from the produce stand. My garden was a bust this year...too much rain then too much sun...the weeds did really well.
But I am working in the sewing room during the times I would normally be on the computer. I am well on my way to finishing some Christmas presents.

Maybe now I will have time to post and read my other favorite blogs that I have not visited in a long time.