Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...

That's the saying right?

Well lets see since I have started my compost pile, my 3 person family has cut our trash weekly from 3 bags to 2... but then we got our recycling bins!!

A simple bin made from blue plastic with a white arrow design.. how simple yet remarkable!!
We recycle all our 2 liters, cardboard paper(cereal boxes, fruit snack boxes, etc)..


Coffee Filters
Tea Bags
Dryer Lint
Paper Towels/Napkins
Chicken Droppings
Fruit Scraps
Veggie Scraps
Egg Shells
Moldy Bread
Newspaper (shredded)
Junk Mail (no glossy or plastic pieces)
Dead Grass Clippings
Straw/ Hay
Stale Crackers
Cooked Pasta
Paper towel Rolls
Pizza Boxes Ripped Up
Wine corks
Stale Beer/Wine
Paper egg cartons
Paper Cupcake/ muffin cups
Hair (from hairbrush don't go and chop off the husbands hair in his sleep)
Cotton Balls
Nail Clippings
Pencil Shavings
Jack o lanterns

Whew there is of course more but I wanted to let people know there is SO much more stuff you can compost them most think! So stop tossing and compost!!

Gardening classes for hillsborough county

Nov 2nd~
Veggies in the Landscape, 6:30 PM
Austin Davis Library

Gourds in Florida Gardens, 6:30 PM
Town 'N Country Library

Pressure Canning Vegetables, 1:30-4:40pm
Extension Office

Backyard Wildlife Habitat, 6:30 PM
Lutz Library

Compost Happens, 7 PM
Bruton Memorial Library

Exterior Decoration: Gardening with Style, 10:30 AM
New Tampa Library

Florida Native Plants, 6:30 PM
Seffner-Mango Library

Florida Perennials, 7 PM
Jimmie B Keel Library

Topiary, 10:30 AM
Jan Platt Library

9 Steps to a Florida Yard, 6:30 PM
Bloomingdale Library

25 Palms Your Neighbors Don't Have, 7 PM
SouthShore Library

FNGLA Plants of the Year, 7 PM
Upper Tampa Bay Library

Compost Happens (8:30 AM), Water-Wise (9:30 AM), and Rain Barrel (10:30 AM) Workshops. Pre-registration required.
Extension Office

Antique Roses, 10:30 AM
Charles Fendig Library

Water Gardens and Ponds, 6:30 PM
Temple Terrace Library

Florida-Friendly Landscaping, 6:30 PM
Riverview Library

Canning Jam and Fruit, 1:30 - 4:40pm
Extension Office

Shade Gardening, 6:30 PM
Seminole Heights Library

Halloween Weekend!!!

Here are the Halloween goodies I am making for my family this wonderful Halloween weekend!!

Apple Bites: Quartered apples with the middles sliced out (it should look like a open mouth) stick slivered almonds into the tops and bottom of the inside (these are the teeth)
Enjoy your healthy scary bites!

Rotten Apple Punch: Take apple cider and freeze overnight in a small round dish (or cup)with 2 gummy worms sticking out over the side... on Halloween before serving take sprit or sierra mist and dump into a punch bowl... add a couple drops of green food dye. Remove frozen apple cider from bowls and drop into punch bowl.. they will float and look like rotten apples with worms... serve as it starts to melt

Ghost Meatloaf: Make meatloaf as normal but shape into a ghost or other Halloween spookable.. if made into a ghost or mummy ~ wrap in a white cheese to give a extra spooky effect!

Witch cakes: Chocolate cupcakes baked, mix cream cheese frosting with 3 drops or green food dye, spread over cooled cupcakes (skin), add a upside down waffle cone as the witch hat, chocolate shavings/sprinkles/ or chips as the witches hair, a candy corn nose and red hots as eyes.. Serve to spooky ghouls and goblins...


P.S~ About half my seedlings are up and i now have a HUGE spaghetti squash, 4 corn, and a bunch of long beans!! Also my new still not named chickens are 1 week old today (they were 4 days old when we got them)!!!

making a pumpkin pie with REAL pumpkins

Directions for Making Pumpkin Pie from Scratch

Yield: It really depends on the size of the pumpkin and the size of your pie plate.

* A sharp, large serrated knife
* an ice cream scoop
* a large microwaveable bowl or large pot
* 1 large (10 inch) deep-dish pie plate and pie crust


* a pie pumpkin
* 1 cup sugar
* 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
* 4 large eggs
* 3 cups sieved, cooked pumpkin
* 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk
If you can't get evaporated milk, just use milk.

Step 1 - Get your pie pumpkin

"Pie pumpkins" are smaller, sweeter, less grainy textured pumpkins than the usual jack-o-lantern types.

Wash the exterior of the pumpkin in cool or warm water, no soap.

Cut the pumpkin in half. A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best - a smooth knife is more likely to slip and hurt you!

Step 3 - Scoop out the seeds...

And scrape the insides use a heavy ice cream scoop

Step 4 - Cooking the pumpkin

Bake in the oven
Basically, you cut the pumpkin and place it cut side down into a covered oven container. Cover the ovenproof container (with a lid), and pop it in an 350 F oven. It normally takes about 45 minutes to 90 minutes (test it periodically by sticking it with a fork to see if it is soft!)It is DONE when soft

Step 5 - Scoop out the cooked pumpkin
It is easy to scoop out the guts with a broad, smooth spoon, (such as a tablespoon). Use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin. It should separate easily an in fairly large chucks, if the pumpkin is cooked enough.
Many times the skin or rind will simply lift off with your fingers

NOTE!!!: If your pumpkin puree has standing, free water, you may want to let it sit for 30 minutes and then pour off any free water. That will help prevent you pie from being too watery! Beyond, that, I have not found that the water makes a difference

Step 7 - Puree the pumpkin

To get a nice, smooth consistency blend it, you give the pie a smooth, satiny texture; rather than the rough graininess that is typical of cooked squashes.

Step 8 - Done with the pumpkin!

The pumpkin is now cooked and ready for the pie recipe.

Note: You may freeze the puree or pie filling to use it later!

Step 9 - Make the pie crust.. It is also time to start preheating the oven.
Turn it on and set it to 425 F

Step 10 - Mix the pie contents

All the hard work is behind you! Here's where it gets really easy. If you start with a fresh 8" pie pumpkin, you will get about 3 cups of cooked, mashed pumpkin. The right amount of ingredients for this is as follows:

* 1 cup sugar
* 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 teaspoon ground allspice
* one half teaspoon ground ginger
* 4 large eggs
* 3 cups pumpkin puree
* 1.5 cans (12oz each) of evaporated milk
* 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix well using a hand blender or mixer.

Step 11 - Pour into the pie crust

I like a deep, full pie, so I fill it right up to about one quarter to one half inch from the very top.

Don't be surprised if the mixture is very runny! It may start as a soupy liquid, but it will firm up nicely in the oven!

TIP: You may want to cover the exposed edges of the crust with strips of aluminum foil to prevent them from burning!

Step 12 - Bake the pie

Bake at 425 F (210 C ) for the first 15 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 350 F ( 175 C ) and bake another 45 to 60 minutes, until a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Learnt from Pick Your Own

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Now through Nov 8th hillsborough classes...

As I promised to one of my readers who emailed me I will post more events going on in the area so you don't miss a single thing...

Oct 29th - Pressure Canning Vegetables @ 130- 430 @ the extension office

Nov 2-- Veggies in the landscape @ 630 @ Austin Davis Library

Nov 4 -- Gourds in Florida @ 630 @ Town and Country Library

Nov 6 -- Pressure Canning Vegetables @ 130 - 430 @ The Extension Office

Nov 8 -- Backyard Wildlife @ 630 @ Lutz library

Nov 8 -- Compost Happens @ 7 @ Bruton Memorial Library

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Squash in FL

Here in Fl the past 2 years I have tried to grow summer squash.... unsuccesfully..

I get maybe 1 or 2 squash off the half dozen plants...

The Problem?? Every time I get a squash the flower opens (I'm sure gets polinated with the tons of bees flying around), the flower closes, falls off, the squash gets a little bigger then usally within a couple days I go out to find a neatly clipped off squash laying in the soil...

Ugh... although this year I tried winter squash (vegetable spaghetti) and that's growing fine and has 1 large fruit and 1 small fruit and a bunch of tiny still flowered fruit...

The bad news no luck growing summer squash good news winter squash is doing great!
Now winter squash seems easy I started a couple seedlings (3) had a 5x4 space filled with compost planted the seedings and man did they take off... huge monster plants the went over the sides of the bed into the grass and climbed into the 2nd half of the garden where I have corn growing.. every once in a while I have to uncurl its tendrils from my corn plants or they might get choked to death... I highly suggest anyone with a little space and a love for squash try the winter varieties.. next year I will def be growing lots more including pumpkins!!! : )

Bummer because I love zuccini bread and really wanted to bake my own...

Maybe ill try again and figure out what this pesky problem is... a animal? A pest? A diease?

Also during the fall/summer harvest I had bad luck with tomatoes as a hornworm and prob some animals teamed up to eat holes in every single fruit before it turned and I could pick it. I eventually had to start picking them green and ripening them in my cabniet..

Soon I will have a yummy spaghetti squash and will post a picture.

Monday, October 25, 2010

and with every death comes life...

Rather then explain to my daughter what happened as she asks mommy and daddy where the chickens are I resorted to the easy but painful to me idea... we got 3 new chickens.

Currently without names I have a americuana, silver wyandotte, and jersey giant

I still am breaking down into tears but I want to replace those bad chicken thoughts with wonderful memories and new chicken life...

They are 4 days old and little fluff balls. I dread that I could go through this again but my daughter already loves them..


I cleaned out the brooder and got it ready for the new ones.. I also cleaned out the coop with tears streaming down my face as I found feathers left over from such a horrible death..

I am wrapping both the inside and outside top and bottom with 1/2 inch chicken wire. The door was lattice so I wrapped chicken wire around that and will be wrapping old bamboo type blinds around it as well..

These new cuties will go in steps from the inside small heated brooder to a porch large brooder and finally at 6-8 weeks will go to the newly renovated outdoor coop. Instead of my tie latch now I'm thinking of getting a actual latch lock.

I will be better prepared.. I will not let this happen again...

I am motivated.. powered by the mothering love I had for those little birds.

At 4 weeks old their life was cut short but they have taught me a valueable lesson never think your the exception..

Thank you to my wonderful husband for putting up with my chicken love cause I know its so soon to get new but my daughter is happy and I still can hear that happy content peeping that I have come to love..

Sunday, October 24, 2010

One of the saddest posts..

My chickens are dead....

at this point i cant post anything else.

RIP Henrietta, Nugget, and Bonnie
I'm so Sorry

Last night after their move i checked on them around 830 and they were fine. Between 830 and 830 this morning a predator (murderer) came and killed Bonnie and Henrietta. Nugget was left alive but barely (she had her wing torn off) it was up to me to put her out of misery. I cannot stop crying and I feel so dirty but even scrubbing my skin cant get this "dirt" off... I don't know how to explain this to my daughter luckily my husband wouldn't let her come outside so she didn't see anything just will no longer have chicken friends..

At this point I don't know if i am going to try again. This is my first time losing animals like this and 3 at once was to much..

I am going to clean out the coop and scout for the holes it may have used. I am covering the entire coop in chicken wire and then decide what we are going to do.

Maybe once my birthday vacation has passed I will try again... Maybe....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The day is here and a little earlier then I thought...

Well my earlier post I was counting down till the chicks went outside.... well ladies and gentlemen they have made the move!!

First I went and got them some treats kind of like a bribe.
I stopped at the local feed shop (feed depot on nebraska and bearss) and got them about 20 worms and 3 pounds of scratch!

They gobbled up the worms chasing each other all around my husband called it chicken football!

I lined their coop with some costal hay and brought them out..

They are eating and drinking as normal and walking and flying all over the coop.

Its supposed to be in the high 80's low 90's during the day and the upper 70's at night for the next week so I thought it was the perfect time. I put a old curtain around 2 of the sides so it would block the draft and am thinking about putting out their heat lamp.

I relized once they were in the coop I had put their feeder up to high so I had to lower it until they grow up a little more!
I raised their water dish off the bottom of the coop about 2-3 inches using some wood.

The coop will be shut for the first 2 days as they get used to the outdoors and then the door will be opened and they will be free to experince the free chicken life!
I will keep you updated on their progress.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Urban Farm Plans (End of 2010 Start of 2011)

I have a lot of work to get my urban farm in central florida caught up with the plans in my head..
Here is a list of work I am planning to do in the next 6 months!!!

- Fence in the front yard with a open fence not meant for privacy but instead meant to keep feet from tramping my plants

- Creating my final 3 garden beds

- Planting more fruit trees and bushes. ( banana, blueberry, papaya, grape, etc)

- digging out all grass/ weeds from around and in between the garden beds and mulching

- Creating a sitting area with a type of arbor thing overhead

- Getting my hands on enough compost to help my super sandy soil

- Planting a wildflower garden which will be allowed to go crazy and be wild!!

- Starting a outside water wise container herb garden

Whew... it was a lot to just write it!!!

Its a lot of work especially when its being done in my free time (aka the weekends) but I have the will power to pull it off. I will post oftan as I cross of items on this list!!!

Many Garden Blessings and Happy Adventures ahead!!

- Brittany

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

9 days and counting!

The smell is finally getting to me, the dust and spilled food...

Yes I am on a official countdown to the chickens move outside.. Nine days from now those now goofy ackward balls of fluff and feather will be moving to their outside home!!

Aw yes they are now more the 50% feathered out and I expect them to be around 80% when they go out.
I see pale ridges above their beaks which makes me believe their combs are starting to come in!

Its been fun watching them turn from small fluff balls to these tripled in size birds.

I have their outdoor feeder installed all I need is a thing of hay to line the bottom with and they are all set.
Here its around 85 during the day and high 60's at night...

Monday, October 18, 2010

40 hour work weeks...

Yes what a drag but a must for my young family.
As a 20 year old I believe I have found my calling in life.. to become a sustainable farmer and live happily and peacefully with and among nature.
Being in tune wth my surroundings and raising my daughter with morals and love.

But alas this dream job is in the distant future.. right now I like most americans work a 40 hour Mon-Fri job.
I have been called a rip off artist, a pill pusher, and simply a @$$hole. And its not even because I have done something wrong it is your insurance compaines. I am a pharmacy tech which means I take in your prescriptions, fill your medication, check to make sure your insurance is correct and most times call to resolve a issue and then sell your prescription to you. Yes it is a busy on your feet 8 hours a day type job but when I come home and see my family, my chickens, my garden, and taste the food I grew I feel pure joy. My day is behind me and now I have a couple hours to enjoy the finer more simple things life has to offer me.
And yes someday I might have my 3 bedroom cottage on a hill surrounded by 5 acres of farm and animals but for now its a dream to look forward and work hard to.

So my friends enjoy what you have and relize no matter how tough life is or what kind of lemons life throws at you you will get through it and become stronger and maybe even make lemonade from those lemons!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Around the house this weekend of Oct 15th

This weekend was fulfilling to me.

I cleaned out the kitchen.. i got rid of damaged pots, pans, and utensils.
I organized cupboards and stored the rarely used Christmas and holiday dishware on the top shelf and lowered the daily used items. I cleaned out the pantry to make sure there was no expired foods.

I also drug from behind the shed 2 parts of a wooden gate that used to shield our side of the house ( it will be going back up )..

I got the feeder hooked up in the coop for there soon to be life outside (only need the layer box, and straw.

Also I planted... bok choi, 2 types of spinach (giant noble and bloomsdale), 2 tomatillo plants, 3 tomato plants, some basil seeds, carrots, turnips, pole dry beans, and short day onions. As well as noticing 5 or 6 winter squash on my monster vine and now 2 silks on my corn!
Oh yes and got the compost pile really going as talked about in my last post!

The joys of composting..

Ah yes this weekend we set up the compost bin we got for FREE at the local garden class.

Already I am in love i think i have cut back about 50% of the items i normally toss in the trash.

Tea bags, food scraps, soiled food, freezer burned bread, grass clipping, moldy straw, chicken litter, and dead plants... this is great!

And even better is this kitchen temp compost bin. I throw my veggie and cooking scraps in this little trash bin i painted that sits on my kitchen counter. each night i go dump the contents in the bin! EASY!!!

I cannot wait to have fully finished compost to spread i think i might have to get another bin... or 2 : )

These are the simple joys of life!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hope comes through...

I have found it difficult to balance work, home, and farm life.

I have even been thinking maybe its to much and to cut down the farm life...
But today I walked outside to my garden beds and marveled at my plants and my love was reborn

My corn plants range from 6 inches to 3 ft and the 3 ft plant even has a baby corn plant with the silks just coming out.
Though this corn won't be pollinated as corn is wind pollinated and needs other silks to grow.

My squash has turned monster and 1 plant has taken over an entire 4 x 4 area covering almost every single inch and has started to produce little squash.

This was the wake up call I needed. I set up my new compost bin, cleared away the weeds spread some bagged compost over the top and got ready cause this weekend is going to be plant and family oriented!!

I started 4 types of lettuce that have popped up. And I have to get the broccoli, turnips, carrots, spinach and beans planted! I got so down I got behind and know its crunch time. With the temps getting into the low 60's at night now I need to get this into the soil while its still warm.

So just remember all my reader friends when life starts to get you down and your thinking you just can't do it anymore
Look at the simple wonders of life and be amazed : )

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stew and Caramel Apple Making!

Today I wanted to make some stew to freeze for future meals!

I made Chicken Stew with Carrots, Celery, Onions, Chicken Broth, Chicken, Basil, Thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper! I gave each of us a bowl full and am currently freezing the remainder for future winter meals!

For dessert tonight Brooke (my 2 yr old daughter) and I made caramel apples in honor of the fall season! Very easy the toughest part was unwrapping the individual pieces of caramel!

You Need:
6 apples~ Refrigerated
1 package caramels (14oz)
Craft Popsicle sticks or forks
2 TBSP milk

Unwrap caramels into a microwave safe bowl, add 2 TBSP milk microwave for 2 min stirring once after about 1 1/2 min.

Remove from microwave and stir well, wait about 1 min then roll sticked or forked apples in the caramel.

Set on wax paper on cookie sheet. Repeat for each apple then refrigerate. After 30 min roll in mixture of your choice or leave as is.

Enjoy (We will be)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 5th Compost Happens Workshop

Our county here in Tampa FL offers diffirent gardening classes throughout the year. Tonight was the compost happens workshop/ class.

I was working overtime so I was not able to attend instead I sent my family

When I got home he was telling me about greens and browns, about watering the pile, about all the possibilites of worms and trash, and how amazing it is that trash, and waste can turn into this vitamin rich dirt like item "compost"
He was so cute about it, even though I guess our little one misbehaved.

Well not only did I have his wealth of speaking knowledge they also gave a folder full of info and handouts as well as a handful of compost happens bumber stickers, and a voucher for a FREE compost bin and compost thermometer!
What a deal for this wonderful hour long class!

The next one we will be attending is a Water Barrel class on the 26th as I have always wondered how that worked!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Making your Front Yard Into A Veggie Paradise!

Here are a couple youtube videos to inspire you!!
Transform your front yard into a edible landscape! ^^
Designing you landscape! ^^

Facebook Gardening Page!

Just click the title and it will bring you to it! Please join and enjoy! Hoping to get more people interested in the homesteading way of life!

The weekend of Oct 8th 2010 at my house

Its only Monday but I'm already planning for this weekend.

I plan to hit a couple thrift stores looking for a rocking chair for my fireplace room. Yes my house is probley one of the few left that has a fireplace in Central Florida and I love it!!

I also plan to finish up my garden beds. Finish up meaning dig out grass in the new ones and weed out the old ones. Filling with compost, new soil, and some bone and kelp meal!

I plan of doing some planting!!! I need to start the onions, lettuce, spinach, carrots... and plant more corn seedlings and squash. I also have a couple tomato and tomatillo seedlings to plant!

Besides the planting I want to make so soups to freeze for quick winter meals, and maybe some other meals using are freezer meat before it gets total freezer burn

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Weekend of the 1st at My Up and Coming Urban Farm

Ah so this weekend was very exciting for me!

Watching my little chickens grow and grow. Only being maybe a week old they have already doubled in size and started losing their chick down and started feathering out. Half their wings now have actual feathers!
They are also getting personalites! Henrietta the Buff Orpington is more a laid back let the others step all over her.
Bonnie the Golden Laced Wyandotte is the loudmouth!
And Nugget the Ameracuana is the biggest and leader!

My squash in the garden is about 4 or 5 feet long with lots of flower buds just waiting to open and start producing. I also have a corn that's about 1 and 1/2 foot tall. It looks like there may even be a corn on it!
I'm amending my soil this next couple weeks so I can do some sowing right into the ground!

Also this weekend I got some more seeds. A excellent frying pepper, and lots of diffirent types of tomatoes!!

Oh I almost forgot I made 3 new small garden beds two 1x7 and a 2x2.
The 2x2 will house a banana tree, one of the 1x7 beds will house globe artichokes and the other 1x7 bed will house pineapple!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Chicks are Here!

Finally after lots of planning and reading and setting up I finally have my baby chicks all set and cozy in their brooder box in out living room! : ) set up high enough from the little one and noisy cat the chickens are warm safe and peeping away.

Two things i noticed in the first 2 days!

#1.. Feather Picking
They are all the time scratching and pulling out their little tuff of feather down. Im pretty sure this is normal cause they dont seem to be in pain by it.. happily cheeping but little tuffs in their beaks.. i think its do the the fast growing they are already going through.

#2.. Runny Poo
Today i noticed runny poop on the brooder box floor. Looking up chicken poop i soon found its prob nothing to worry about as long as there are no runny noses or cloudy eyes. They still seem to be happy so i imagine its just their different kinds of poop. Here is a great website i found that is both VERY helpful and chicken poo decoding and very gross. : )

The Cheese Results are In...

In my previous post i told you i was testing out non rennet homemade cheese for the first time. here are the results.


#1.. I used a thrown together press. The circle part where the curds sit to do the pressing was about 2 times to big. This resulted in a thin layer of pressed curd instead of a brick. To solve before i try the second time i will be using a smaller circle area maybe with the diameter around 4 inches.

#2..The cloth i used was to tightly woven and did not allow proper draining of whey. To solve I will also be finding cloths that drain well and will be tested before pouring the curds and whey into it.

#3.. Not a strong flavor! Now don't get me wrong this had a nice but subtle flavor. To solve.. the addition of spices, herbs, maybe even some garlic?

The Goods:

#1.. I successfully made my own cheese. *pats self on back* This is a start to a wonderful adventure of many more to come.

#2.. My daughters first taste was simply put... "yummmmmmmmy mommy"

#3.. Though the hubby was scared to try it at first he ended up loving it, and added it to almost every meal he made especially salads!

#4.. It was made with store bought milk which a lot of people tell you in impossible.. I'm hear to say it is not.