Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Orange Marmalade, Potato Towers and Kids in the Mud

Well, I guess I'm having a hard time keeping up with the 'once a week' posts.  I don't think I'm doing half bad tho; especially since I've never blogged before.  And my diary keeping as a young girl went for a week then inevitably fell by the wayside - or under the bed.

So, in trying to keep track of the 'what have I been doing to keep going towards my goals' goal I had set for myself - here we go.

Canning:  YAY, I LOOOOVE canning.  Right now is a REALLY good time of year for buying oranges (or any citrus I believe).  So I made Orange Marmalade. YUMM  The only downside being, after I got it all sealed in jars and done I had a tiny bit left I put into a cup in the fridge to enjoy with my morning toast.  The next day I check it and it's still watery.  =(  Aww bummer.  I had to waste all those canning lids by opening them BACK up and re-boiling the whole batch.  This time I have it right and we've got it all done again.   Sorry the pic is sideways.  Still trying to figure that one out.

Planting:  I have my seeds started, of course cause I mentioned that!  The peas, beans and tomatoes are growing like weeds!  I had to replant then to give them more soil and extra room till I can trust putting them outside.  I started my herbs in the kitchen window in little tiny pots and egg shells.  I got a load of dirt last week and got my 2 planting beds filled in YAY!  I did it in the rain - took an hour, had to pull the truck RIGHT into my yard and Thank you Lord I got it back out!  Lol  I think hubby would have been a bit upset with me if I'd stranded his truck in the mud in the yard.  Lol
Then yesterday I got my potato towers built.  You take welded wire (I used 2"x4" at 3' tall) and make it into a circle and attach it to itself.  You add straw around the outside with dirt in the center and do 'levels' adding potatoes, then more dirt and straw (which I used dirty from the rabbit house because we all know rabbit pellets are GREAT for plants.  It doesn't burn the plants so you can add it right to your garden without fear of burn like other farm animal waste.

The tower as I started it.

Potatoes on the first level as I started it.  I did NOT use store bought but instead organic ones directly from a local farmer.  Store bought has no guarantee if it's non-gmo, and the thing about gmo is it doesn't reproduce well.  You have to constantly buy new.  You can't ever seed save from a gmo crop.  A way the gmo people are making money huh.

And my finished tower.  I have one more to build on the other side of my garden.  This ended up using about 25 potatoes and had 5 levels.  The plants will grow right out the sides and when they wither and die, all I'll have to do is go push the thing over and harvest my crop.  Four pounds of potatoes is said to give you about 25# when harvested.  I have regular whites, reds, and blues in there.  =)

We finally got off our behinds and went and got our kids' playhouse back from a friends house.  The kids were so excited when I brought it home.  Our littlest hasn't ever really ever played with it.  She was only a year old when we moved last year and it's been down since then.  They ALL had a really great time including the 11 year old.  We had to get it all cleaned up first as it was covered in mud!  Sorry no pic, I tried to post one, but it's from my hubby's phone instead of mine and the server won't take it.  Go figure?!

All in all a good week or so.
God Bless!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Life, animals, plants and the weather

I think the weather is teasing me.  Even for where I live this snow/sunshine/hail/sunshine/snow is very weird.  It's got me all sorts of confused.  I started my seeds indoors about 3 weeks ago.  I think I was just hyped to get started.  I guess it's good I have more seeds.  I moved some of the more energetic growing plants to little pots (or milk jugs if you will) to give them room to grow besides the little peat pellets I started them in: beans and peas.

At least, that's what I think they are since my little miss gotta-touch-everything messed with my seed starting greenhouse (aka: plastic tray with clear lid).  Oh well, it's all a learning process.  I suppose I might  be more upset if I had spent 2 or 3 dollars a plant vs. 2 or 3 dollars for a pack of 100 seeds.  Of course this is my first year starting from seeds so we'll have to see how that goes anyway.

On another note the chickens are growing but the ducks are growing FASTER!  Holy cow are they big!!

I think I may need to separate them soon!  And the bigger they get the more mess they make.  Right before I took this picture the duck took a 'squat'.  Luckily you can't see it.  Lol  I have the 5 chickens and 3 ducks in one 45 gallon tupperware with a feeder and HUGE water container.  I have to change that thing twice a day and probably could do with 3 times a day.  We are constantly changing the water to make sure they have clean fresh water to drink.  Its funny, every time we take it out to change and bring it back they act like they're dying of thirst!  I wouldn't change any of this for the world (tho I really think hubby is tired of the smell); I think it's been a great learning experience for the kids AND me.   We really have to get out and get our chicken/duck coop built soon.  Now if the weather would cooperate juuuust a little.

Here's a picture of our largest chicken: Lilly (a Buff Orpington) and our smallest chicken Little Red (cause she's a Rode Island Red).

Besides that things have been busy and crazy.  What is it about death that brings out the best in some people and the worst in others.  I won't bore...or shock you with the details but sufficed to say it's been one craaaazy couple of weeks around here.  I am lucky... very lucky to have gained some new family in this experience.  Great people I should have been blessed with a long time ago if I hadn't been fooled into believing lies.  It's a lesson learned.   

On a lighter note my wonderful hubby blessed me with two 6' by 3' raised garden beds.  I want about 10 dozen more, but it's a start.  Actually I'd love 2 more but I won't complain.  I know he's got to build the chicken house; and for that I'm extremely grateful.  We are thinking about tilling up part of the front yard to plant a bunch of potatoes and corn.  I went crazy with the seed catalog and bought about 5 different varieties of corn.  

Red strawberry corn: 

Blue Hopi:  

Butchers Blood Corn: 

We also got a traditional yellow corn and a Japanese hulless corn which is also yellow.  There is lots more than that of course.  I actually got like 5 or 6 varieties of tomatoes and of cucumber.  Several different lettuces.  Just a huge variety.  I even ended up with asparagus - which I'm not real keen to try yet.  According to directions it takes 3 years of tending them in pots in a green house and you can't harvest any of it but a few in the third year.  We've now committed to staying in this rental property we're in for another year, but who knows after that.

We've put up a couple of things, but it doesn't seem like much.  That's probably typical for mid/late winter.  I'm sure I'm going to crazy busy with putting stuff up come summer.  My hubby did add another rifle to his collection.  A Mosin Nagant circa 1942.  He picked out a nice dark wood one.  Not one of the more collectable ones, but it's nice none the less.

It came with these leather ammo pouches and a spike bayonet.  Pretty good deal from our local sports store of all places.  I guess they're still finding large warehouses of WWII guns and such overseas.  Weird if you ask me.  How can you just misplace a couple million rifles.  I guess the government has such excess it doesn't really need to keep track of such things.  Kind of like when at the end of WWII they just crated up unassembled jeeps and WLA Harley's and left them in shipping containers cause we had produced so many.

 We had a 4H meeting this last Sunday, but I didn't think to take any pictures.  My oldest daughter has decided she doesn't want to show a rabbit but enter her instead in a Agility course.  The little rabbits run up and down a little course.  So far our little Netherland Dwarf is too scared to run (or hop) up and down the course.  I think we started her a bit late with the harness.  Maybe lots of work will bring her around.  Maybe this year we'll just we watching in the 4H Fair competition instead of participating.  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Our California doe is almost old enough to breed with our buck.  More to come on that.  And pictures too. ~OF the BABIES~  =)

Have a good week all.  Keep the sunscreen and snow boots handy.

God Bless~