Tag Archives: urban farming

dead air

Where’d we go? Explainations forthcoming. Spring is in the air, the egg avalanche continues, seeds are planted and many more want planting. Planted seeds want watering. Coops need cleaning. Dogs walking. Sunshine to bask in. Budgets to reconcile. A house and a two-flat to remodel… more on that later. A studio full of crap treasure to liquidate. Relationships to heal and nurture. And always, always, so much work to be done. And yes, we’re crazy but wouldn’t have it any other way. But it’s all good. Here are some pictures of some of the fun you’ve missed while I wasn’t sharing. More drama to come, dears, and more back-dated updates…

Here are those Eostre eggs, naturally hued and naturally dyed- beets and turmeric are almost as pretty as easter-egger green and the various browns and tans

naturally hued and naturally dyed- beets and turmeric are almost as pretty as easter-egger green and the various browns and tans

and the glamour girls who made them...

and the glamour girls who made them…

Two-egg pizza, with arugula and oyster mushrooms and a multi-grain crust.  Nom!

Two-egg pizza, with arugula and oyster mushrooms and a multi-grain crust. Nom!

hope springs…

Had a false-alarm scare this morning when I went out to feed the chickens and collect eggs… the older, mega-matron Maran was not out clamoring with the other girls at the feeder. I looked around the coop, cooing loudly *chook chook chook chook!*… hoping, oh, hoping that she was getting busy in the nest box and not dead somewhere (paranoid? probably, haha). I even banged on the side of the coop before I opened the door… and there she was, sitting on some eggs with her beak open, giving me a nasty look. Must have heard the soup pot rumors. Atta girl! Their eggs used to be dark brown, but now are much lighter, with an even paler dappled bloom to them. Good to know… when we had fewer hens, it was easy to tell which ones were laying, but now other than the Ameraucana (haven’t had any green eggs in months, but they’re notoriously poor winter layers) and the Cali Leghorn (who lays as many white eggs as the rest of our slackers combined most weeks), it’s hard to know exactly whose buff-to-brown egg is whose, especially as the color can shift slightly as they age. Three eggs again today! Spring’s coming.

And guess what else came to our neighborhood? I half didn’t believe it when I got the leaflet in the mail a couple weeks ago, but they showed up on Tuesday, delivered in a blizzard (by a company from Minnesota? WTF? All this outside contracting is driving me batty, Mayor OneTerm. Chicagoans couldn’t do that? Did you ask?). But I digress… Blue Carts! We now have alley-pickup recycling, instead of having to schlep everything 5 blocks away to the Center for Green Tech (or just throwing it away like most folks did before). Woohoo! That will eliminate at least 4 bins of crap, I mean recyclable treasure, from our back porch and hopefully help keep our alleys cleaner and encourage more of our neighbors to sort their trash. Huzzah!

I ordered a new camera yesterday, after doing my best to resurrect my point-and-shoot, and discovering that I can’t get the fella’s camera to upload files to my laptop, or to the cabin computer… his has pretty poor image quality compared to what I’m used to, and I need my own for work, etsy, and simple photo fun. New images coming soon! Also, my spring resolution is to do my best to track and document how much food we manage to produce this year at home… look for the new sidebar if you’re curious!

baby, it’s cold outside!

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Just when you think spring must be coming… for it must! It MUST! The nightshades are sprouting, but in the basement, under lights, where what would they know of snow? They’re ready for the world, but it’s not ready for them. The snow’s coming down, roads are a mess, and all the world is in a tither. Will we get to work on time? What will the roads be like on the way home? Are we ready? Is there milk in the fridge? Cocoa-fixins? Beer???

A few things help ease the mind on days like these. A full larder… plenty of feed for the animals (should have ordered the chicken feed and fancy dog kibble on payday, doh! There are a few days of layer mash, and worst case, stored grains that they could nosh in a pinch… and the dog will not die eating just the middle-brow department store chow without the duck and cheese Frohm’s mixed in for extra noms…). We have a shed full of wood, flashlights with batteries, a lantern with oil, candles, and plenty of provisions- even a downed power line would not be the end of the world. We have shovels, and salt, and strong backs. It’s cold enough that we could store the pig in coolers under the back porch until the freezer came back on, or just start putting pork chops in jars and canning them up (not as good as fresh-frozen, or we’d do that already…). We’re acclimated to the cold (55 is a cause for celebration around here… and do-able without the furnace, especially as we’re adding insulation and tightening up the building envelope upstairs), and own plenty of wool sweaters, socks, long-johns… We’re lucky. Not everyone is prepared, or would fare so un-fazed and un-froze.

Here are some tips to stay warm and safe, no matter what the world throws at you!

First, the basics. Wear pants. And underpants. Thank you Mr. MoneyMoustache… I know, seems like common sense. Cold? Try clothes! But some folks haven’t gotten the message yet…
The Oil Well You Keep in Your Pants

And then, the advanced course, from Sharon Astyk!

How Not to Freeze: Living without Heat

Even the most crappily insulated houses in the US (and there are some truly appalling houses out there – the older parts of mine not wholly excluded) are far better in many cases than the shelters people survived with for millenia. I know I keep harping on this, but badly insulated is a relative thing – yes, more insulation would be good – and contacting your congressperson to get more funding (especially including *GRANTS* for low income families to reinsulate) put to insulation is essential – but it is worth remembering that the Lapps routinely dealt with -50+ temperatures in tents made of one layer of reindeer skin and heated only by body heat, and that when people began living in the US, winter temperatures were considerably colder than they are now, and windows were made of oilskin over holes in the house and houses were heated by a central fire pit. Human beings can manifestly live without central heating. I know you don’t think you can, but you can. It is in your genes. “

If you get a chance, take one of her online courses, or at least read her books or blog! Thanks to a scholarship, I got to participate in one of her Adapting in Place classes… what a great learning experience! I hope to pay it forward with future classes of my own… and to spread that all the preparedness-skills and stores in the world will do you less good than engaging with your local community. Which reminds me, we’ve got a ward meeting coming up! I usually look forward to these with as much joy as a teeth cleaning (actually, that’s not true… I’m years overdue and would relish a dental day-spa over sitting through a ward meeting, haha. Oh, health insurance. What’s that like, anyway?), but have promised to accompany the fellow this time around rather than making him go it alone. Because if TSHTF… it’s not what you have, but who you know, what you know, how we help each other, and how you relate to your local and larger community that will ultimately determine how we all fare. Let’s stack that deck, shall we?

Be careful out there, stay warm, and take care of each other! Check in on your neighbors, especially the elderly… be a real saint and shovel their walks too while you’re at it (and maybe next time you’ll wake and find that one of them did the same for you- it’s a race on our block some days…)! And don’t forget to go have some fun if you can- snowpersons and flat-land tobbogening, here we come!

Oh, and update on the suspect list- when the fella let the dog out late last night, there was an ENORMOUS long-haired siamese Catzilla hiding out in the woodshed, final scene of the crime. Chalk up one point for “bad-ass alley cat” theory. I hope it was that and not a raccoon, as it will be easier to keep a cat out than a nimble-pawed raccoon. For now, the girls are cooped up in the more secure coop and run, and not the outer run. They hate the snow, so not too different than what today would be, and safer. Not a long term solution, as it’s a little crowded in there for them and I worry that they’ll start picking on lil’ scrappy, the smallest Red Star. Might be time to cull the Marans, who are over four years old and haven’t laid in a loong time. Was going to give them till the spring, but I think five chickens could pretty happily live in the inner run and coop, with only supervised trips to the great outdoors… at least for awhile. We’ll see how it goes. They have a full feeder, which hopefully will keep them occupied (and warm!) today.

Also, while we’re doing depressing winter farm updates, that beehive is empty. 🙁 We lost the italians, again. I think that hive is cursed. I cracked it open on the last freakishly warm day, after noticing the Carnolians flying and no activity from the yellow hive… and there was a hive full of very hungry and now very dead bees. Le sigh. I fed them all fall, and the early spring, but the one-two-three punch of a tough drought summer and constantly fighting off the hornets and the other bees took its toll. Of course, the docile bees died and left us with the cranky, wonky-comb building bee bitches. But hey, I’ll take a crotchety hive full of hustlin’ survivors over nice dead bees anyday. I think we might be Carnolian-keepers from now on. Keeping my fingers crossed for them…

A murder mystery

Things are pretty good here, though amazingly busy, hence the lack of updates. Unfortunately, bad news brings me back here… nothing other than a chicken murder mystery this morning. I knew something was off when the speckled sussex was out of the coop when I let the dog out for the second time this morning. I quickly put the (very excited) dog away in her crate with some breakfast and headed back to the yard to re-coop the errant fowl. She had been joined by two of her sisters (the red stars), in the garden path outside the coop run, and I started noticing more clues… I haltingly followed a trail of feathers and then with now-nervous steps, bloodspots in the snow, until I found our buff orpington in the yard by the woodshed (or what was left of her)… something pulled her under the coop-run gate (the hardware cloth was pulled loose from the bottom fence post, and there was a litter of blonde feathers where she was dragged through the wire, poor thing, then down the path, under or over the garden fence, and then found a private spot for a snack. Unfortunately the snow is days old, hard and crunchy, and already covered with tons of tracks, and I left quite a few on the garden side before knowing to look carefully. Not sure if it was our dog when the fella let her out earlier this morning before heading to his man-date doing guy things with his guy buddies (he has Pulaski Day off work), or if it was something else later this morning before I let her out again at 11ish.

I couldn’t see any heavy dog-paw prints on the garden-side of the fence leading to the coop, and am nearly certain it was a raccoon- we have them in the neighborhood, and it looks like the scuffle-signs and missing feathers start *inside* the run and maybe even in the coop itself (the coop scrub brush was knocked off its hook on the wall, there were a few loose feathers, and chaff in the cobwebs on the ceiling- signs of a midnight scuffle? Or a nestbox nabbing?), which would expunge the canine guilt-potential as there are no dog-sized openings in the fence. Whatever it was dragged the hen through and under the fence wire, which seems like typical raccoon m.o… I did hear a bit of squawking around 10:30 am, which I thought was just normal egg-song or them fighting over some tasty bit of scratch… but in retrospect might have been more ominous. Kicking myself now for not going out to check sooner. We do have raccoons nearby, but would have to be pretty ballsy to grab a chicken in broad daylight from a yard with a big dog often about… but this time of year, could easily be hungry enough to try it, or have kits to feed… or perhaps the crime happened in the cover of night and the dog was too entranced by the remaining escaped chickens to care about the carcass or drag it out in the yard (maybe she hoped we’d not find it and she was saving it for a later snack)… though I think she would have hopped the low garden fence to get at the girls in there if they’d been loose earlier- I know she’s capable and would have no qualms about it fence-hopping and chicken chasing, given the possiblity of a chicken caper, she’d choose it. Or maybe it was a really bad-ass alley cat, sick of rat-hunting and going for a bigger snack? My bets on raccoon though. RIP, chicken. Thank you for your contribututions to feeding us, and for being such a willing chicken-ambassador at the Urban Livestock Expo. You are already missed.

Urgh. Now I’m just debating what to do with the remains so I can let the dog out again… and really hoping that it wasn’t the dog’s work- though I wouldn’t put it past her! The ground is frozen solid with a light layer of snow, so this chicky may have to get a burial at the landfill, which seems like such a waste, and trash day isn’t till next Friday. At least it’s freezing out and not August… though if it were August she’d get a shallow grave with a stout rock on top near an apple tree. Oh, sigh. We’ve had a bad run with Buff Orpingtons. Such sweet birds… but lost the first to heat stroke (because the dummy was too dumb to leave the coop and nest box and go out into the fresh air like the other hens) and now this. Time to shore up chicken-Gitmo and be more vigilant about locking up the girls at night… until now we’d been pretty lucky with the dog-deterance-defense and Nite-Guard red blinky light (supposed to scare away predators), and had been putting off coop-renovations as the whole shebang is going to get moved and rebuilt when we (hopefully) close on the vacant lot next door. Need to decide soon… of course poor chicky is right in front of the woodshed entrance, and it’s time to feed the fire. There’s one big log still inside… we try to save those for banking the fire at night though maybe I’ll use it and hopefully the fella will deal with remains removal when he gets home? In that case, better get some hot vittles ready to sweeten the deal for the guy… roasted salmon with oyster mushrooms? Or oyster mushroom empanadas? Or cream of oyster mushroom soup? Are you noticing a theme here? Whatever we have for dinner, it will be fungal-flavored…

On a lighter note, we had another excellent installment of Kedz-mart yesterday… Adela Red, the Finder Things, and I were joined by Safara, with beautiful scarves and textiles from Turkey, Squasht Boutique with hats and knitware, and some other regulars who display their wares with The Finder Things. Bot Bakery brought us their excess vegan snackies from the Logan Square Farmer’s Market- thanks for the baked goods, Betty Bot! I sold some soap and other goodies, and traded soaps and brown sugar scrubs for a super-cute crusher hat from Squasht (it’s reversible, with basic grey chambray on one side, and a green, brown, and white floral on the other side that is sorta girly-urban-camo like… I likey!). Traded a bottle of patchouli oil and some egg futures for a screenprinted and handmade cat pillow that I’ve been eying for awhile, and made a couple homemade pizzas to share. Got to hang out with some old friends and neighbors, and meet some new ones. Good times! Hope to see you all at the next one… Bring handmade or vintage goods and goodies to sell or trade, and tell your friends!

“Winter’s end savings event!”

“What could be more superstitious than the idea that money brings forth food?”
― Wendell Berry
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“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Our found-object woodshed, which once was a shipping crate for solar panels, and is covered in vinyl signs we also found in a different alley.  The kicker? Our shed proudly proclaims that every day is a "winter's end savings event".  Ah, justice...

Our found-object woodshed, which once was a shipping crate for solar panels till our neighbor stumbled upon it, and is covered in vinyl signs the fella found in a different alley and somehow strapped to his bike to drag home. The kicker? Our shed proudly proclaims that every day is a “winter’s end savings event”. Ah, sweet justice!

I’ve always loved that second quote, and was reminded of it when a few folks on the ChiChickens group changed it to their signature line (I’m tempted, but have had my cornbread-slogans as my tagline for so long that changing them now would feel like “goin’ back on my raisin'”, haha)… the first is a new one to me but it reminds me of the quote that inspired the infamous Greenpeace banner… “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” -Alanis Obomsawin

Today has been that sort of mixed-up high and low-tech day. The coffee and milk, organic and very store-bought. Oats, also. Lunch was mashed potato pancakes with pesto… the eggs came from the backyard, I grew the basil at work, hand-milled the grain which I picked up in 50 lb sacks last fall with a bike trailer from the farmer’s city apartment a few miles north of here (the wheat she and her dad grew a few miles away, of course), and the potatoes were from Wisconsin but by way of Restarant Depot (another 50 lb sack, bought in the fall for about $7. Slightly sprouty, but still good in the cellar). Rabbit cacciatore soup on the side- the rabbit a present from our dog-treat making friend (it’s high-quality, and packaged for human consumption till he grinds it up into dog jerky…), oyster mushrooms also from The Plant that were a little too squishy to sell but still mighty tasty, a jar of tomatoes from our 2011 garden (I love the safety net of being a year ahead in tomato canning when I can pull it off, and found this guy in the back of the pantry, still as perky as they day they were put up), home-canned rabbit stock (see above), some white beans grown on a small Michigan farm that a neighbor left us when she moved to California, and an ancient jar of green beans- 2009! from the first year I gardened at the studio (the fella had installed a small herb and hop garden before that, but that was the year we really started going with our first garden here long before we bought the “cabin”. I love being able to know the whole story behind what we’re eating, which in these days of extreme home-rehab is sometimes tough. I’ll admit it, the temptation to throw some extra cheese and giardinara on a frozen pizza is strong some nights, more than I’d like… but as gross as that is, it beats dropping insane amounts of money to have someone drive one over that’s not much better.

So today has been this weird mix of eating local and far-flung foods, typing away in the virtual world as I figure out this website move, and all the while, stoking the woodstove. I take it as a point of pride if the furnace doesn’t kick on all day, especially after I got the last gas bill… the first one since we lit the furnace for the first time. Yowza! $160, and we kept the thermostat somewhere between 47 F and 55 F. Granted, there were two very cold days in there where we had giant holes in the house while swapping out for more efficient windows (worse before it gets better) and at least one evening that we cranked it up to 60 so that the caulk would cure upstairs between the foam board insulation layers… add in that our eaves were still mostly open for most of that month and you can see how it would add up. Can’t wait to see how much better it gets next time! I’m glad, in a way, to have that first bad bill as a baseline for how much energy we’ll be saving after we finish insulating and air-sealing upstairs, and eventually the first floor as well. Since we are currently burning only scrap wood from our and others’ construction projects (untreated of course) and storm-killed local downed wood, it’s about as green as we can get in this house without moving underground or shutting off the water and sleeping in parkas instead of long-johns three months out of the year. We’ve done that, by the way… and I hope to never do that again! Brr.

Link
our celebrity salad...

our celebrity salad…

“Don’t cook produce from The Plant”

Don’t be fooled by the title of the article… Mike Sula (Chicago food-writer) loves our salad!  My farmer heart is all swelled up with pride.  Now time to get to work!  We’ve been selling out for the past month or so… thank for all the support, Logan Square market customers!  Your purchases go a long way towards keeping this not-for-profit, teaching and research aquaponics farm afloat (and keeping me in a day job, so I can spend my “free time” working on our house, making soap and writing about our homesteady-adventures here… instead of slingin’ hash browns in some brunch joint trying to keep the lights on…)

no, that's not snow ice cream the gals are enjoying... it's gmo-free soy mash, aka okara, from a local tofu producer.  Yum!

no, that’s not snow ice cream the gals are enjoying… it’s gmo-free soy mash, aka okara, from a local tofu producer. Yum!

It finally looks like winter, for real out there- we got a couple inches of white stuff this morning to dust off the single digit and teens temps we’ve been “enjoying” this past week. I must say, I’m enjoying the change of scenery! After a fair number of dismal gray days, the bright sparkle was most welcome!

We tucked in early last night, after stopping into Revolution Brewpub for a pair of pints to cheers our friends’ John and Steven formerly of Grid Chicago as they announced and celebrated their blog’s virtual move to Streetsblog Chicago. Had a slice of awesome arugula pizza with shaved parmesean and lemon-infused oil to go with my ESB and Coffee Porter… we almost stopped in at a friend’s for their homemade pizza as well, but missed their street while cutting through the park, which was a minor bummer but for the best. We had planned to come home early (and the Bella Wooski was eagerly awaiting our return, and her bathroom break and dinner), as we fully intended to get to work… but were overcome by a powerful and undeniable sleepiness. Best laid plans… and sometimes the nap wins.

So instead, we got up with the sun and the chickens, the fella at five and I at six, got caffeinated and got to work. We rearranged a bunch of materials on the second floor, and the fella used the newly assembled tablesaw to make a pretty badass rolling cart for the pair of sawhorses organizing most of our framing lumber, which will soon have foam stacked ceiling high on top. I made us a breakfast of Tribble and Eggs- we had a bumper crop of Lion’s Mane mushrooms last week, so I finally got to bring one home to try… and they DO taste like lobster! Only cuter. And less crustacean-y. I caramelized half a minced onion in a goodly pat of butter, chopped and sauteed the mushroom pieces, broke three eggs in the pan, added a sprinkle of cheese, and served it up. Awesome. The fella commented at 7:57 that he had three minutes till he had to leave for work, still furiously loading wood onto the cart… I joked, great. Three minutes till I can get back in bed! Just kidding… and took over the wood-loading duties, then put on my mask and swept and shop-vacced the whole second floor, took out the trash, shoveled and salted the front walk, took down the christmas decorations, fed and watered the hens (see pic), rescued a cat the dog had trapped under the woodshed (really, I just distracted the dog so the cat could make a break for it…), a bolt of fluffy black lightening so fast that dumb-dumb dog didn’t even see it get away, and spent the next two hours wedging herself behind the fence and under the shed as far as she could fit, alternately, trying to find the thing. Oh, Wooski…

Time to feed the fish before I head back to the studio to cut soap- I’m really happy with that new Orange Chai batch. I checked on them this morning in the molds, and they look and smell fantastic! Can’t wait to start cutting them- it’s always a surprise to see how they look inside, especially these marbled batches!

the beginning of the world

We’ve finally broken the longest stretch of snowless days here in Chicago in a looong spell (290!!!)… outside is a blustery, gusty, wintery mix of wet streets and fat blowing snow. I gave the chickens extra bedding this morning- straw for the nest boxes (where two hens have been roosting at night… can’t say I blame ’em but I sure wish they wouldn’t… luckily the few eggs we’re getting these days are mostly clean regardless) and a thick layer of coffee chaff from the Bridgeport roastery. Trust me, no chicken coop ever smells nicer than one freshly blanketed with fluffy coffee chaff (it’s a remainder of the roasting process which flakes off the beans while the morning magic is happening). I finally put the submersible aquarium heater into the chicken waterer bucket and plugged it into the thermo-cube that turns it on when it’s below freezing, and traced the snake of extension cord back to the porch and plugged it back in. I filled their feeder, tossed them their bag of bolting arugula from the farm and an extra handful of scratch.

Bella has added Houdini to her looong list of names (not all of them suitable for a family-friendly website)… I usually crate her when I’m doing chicken chores, otherwise she’s unmanageably bad. I was tying up the coop gate and looked up to see her on the other side of the fence, all drooly and foamy-lipped and waggy-nub-tail excited… we clip her wire crate door with two carabiners and the two latches, and have zip-tied all the sides together because she’ll get out otherwise (she’s STRONG)… apparently this time she squeezed between the door and top of the crate and bent it out a bit more than before, leaving her id collar behind in the process (thankfully she’s chipped now, and for just this sort of reason- she’s fond of sticking her head where it doesn’t belong and losing her collar on the way out). Bad dog! Now she gets the carabiners, latches, and two leash ends holding door corners tightly to the crate sides. Oh, anxious beast… I went thrift shopping on my way home from work today and got her a blanket for her solstice present- baby, it’s cold INside! I found a blue gingham shirt, a cute cardigan sweater, and two pairs of pants for myself (since I’m down to one pair without patches and/or holes, and spent two hours mending a pair last week… three dollars for two pairs of perfectly good pants seemed a sound investment) and a beautiful woolen handwoven lap quilt from the Handcrafts College in Berea, Kentucky also for THREE dollars. So what if it needs washing? Woolen blankets are like gold around here, especially ones in multi-hued jewel tones made by hand! What luck! I left early-ish from work to beat the snow, but by the time I’d stopped for butter, bacon, eggnog, and orange juice (just the essentials!) and spent too long at the thrift store, the snow caught up with me. Luckily the pavement was warm and wet, and the city was antsy to send the salt trucks around. The ride wasn’t bad, and I found myself grinning most of the way in spite of the ridiculous bags strapped to my rear bike rack which swayed from side to side and caught the wind gusts, almost blowing me broadside into the curb a few times… blinking away the snow that blew around my glasses, taking it nice and slow (wet rims don’t brake well), and actually enjoyed the ride. Warm mittens, tall boots, and a lot of layers meant I was mostly cozy even though I could have been miserable. All about the preparation, and a little bit about your attitude…

And then, Home! Let the gratefully happy and wiggly dog out, started a load of dog laundry (her crate towels, and the sheet we keep over the armchair she gets to sleep in… man, she is a dirty dirty dog. Which is to say, A dog.). Got a fire going in the woodstove, and thought about drying my socks and changing my boots… but first to work! Did a sinkful of dishes, fried up two slices of bacon, and started caramelizing an onion in the bacon pan… brought up a handful of potatoes from the basement that were getting sprouty and soft, and decided that an Irish fry-up was in order. While that was going, I pulled the pot of vegetable stock I’d made but not strained a few days ago from the fridge and poured it from the pot into a colander over a big bowl, and pulled the other pot of rabbit stock, also needing straining, but jiggly and semi-solid with meaty goodness. Our friend makes amazing dog jerky treats with 100% rabbit and brings us an extra bag of bones once in awhile- Bella gets a bunch of them but I always make a pot of dynamite stock for us as well! If you cook the bones long enough, they’re soft enough to crush between your fingers, so I feed those back to her too… I figure if they’re crumbly, she can handle them… they’re not going to splinter and hurt her if I can smush them with a fingertip.

And now, the good part! I finally thawed my feet by the fire, put on some dry boots and wiggled my toes to get the blood back into them (the tall wellies keep you dry from OUTSIDE puddles but the self-generated ones are another story… haha). The bacon didn’t last long enough to make it into the dish, but I tucked into a hot bowlful of lightly curried fried potatoes and caramelized onion redolent with bacony-goodness, washed it down with a whiskey-spiked vanilla eggnog with a dash of cinnamon on top, and got to catch up on some email, do some reading and writing… bliss! Hey, what can I say. I’m a simple girl.

I’m looking forward to the sunrise- Mayan calendar or not, it’s the birth of a new season and while winter is finally here, the sun is on the way back, and it’s longer light from here on out. The darkest days are on their way, out. Happy beginning of the world, again… and happy solstice to you all!

48 hours


Two days in the life last week, by the numbers:

48 hours.

13 sleeping.

10.5 at work. More time from home reading, writing, and answering emails.

4 hours on my bike (28 miles).

7 or more hours shoveling wood chip mulch after work (a truckload or two at least? The pile has sort of mushed together so I’m not sure how many loads there are…).

2 dog walks.

2 pots of coffee.

9 eggs from the hens.

in the kitchen: raspberry custard pies, blanched tomatoes for salsa, dehydrated 10 trays of eggplant and other veggies, sauteed and froze two gallon bags of eggplant, sliced cukes for pickles, and of course dishes, cleaning…

Whew! Now back to the kitchen- need to make those tomatoes into salsa and can it up, check the stock that’s in the crock pot, fill the dehydrator with more onions or potatoes, check the bees, take the salsa scraps out to the chickens, do a load of laundry, feed the worm bins, make something for dinner and the fellow’s lunch tomorrow, maybe surprise him by stapling up some insulation in the ceiling before he gets home, and if there’s any daylight left, work on stripping the front door trim for a bit.