Thursday, November 29, 2012

Garden Life

I am what people would call an addict, I eat, drink, and sleep gardening. Farming dreams, and garden books keep me happy. I am constantly thinking about what seeds to plant, rain to water the ground, if there is no rain it means lugging out the hose, what temperatures it is, what i need to order, so i need to add more mulch, why haven't those seeds sprouted, ugh how do the chickens keeping getting into my garden, what was that bug i saw, WTF what ate that plant....

It seems never ending but it keeps me busy and focused on something that I think is worth my time. Currently we are working on a garden plan using our current garden beds plus new features like more fruit trees, tilapia pond, a fence border, banana circle, new larger chicken coop, and other misc goods.

This busy work keeps me happy and driving forward, the more I learn the more I want to incorporate, the sad thing is I am quickly running out of space. BUT this will do for now, and as I look forward to my debts being paid off within a year, and slowly rebuilding my credit, I also look forward to owning farm land and creating a truly magical space I can forever call home.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Leftover Sandwich

For the bread I use french.

Use jellied cranberry sauce in place of a condiment.

Throw down a mix of white and dark meat on top of the bread with the cranberry sauce.

Top with a thin layer of mashed potatoes.

Close and enjoy... Mmmmmmmmm

Baking your sweet potatoes with your turkey?

Wrap your sweet potatoes in foil and stick in with your turkey!

Cooking your turkey at 350 degrees? Throw those potatoes in with a hour left to go!

If you are cooking your turkey at 325 degrees throw them in for an hour and 15 minutes with your turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Its the day where the turkey is stuffed and put in the oven with care, and the gravy laid to sleep in a bed of mashed potatoes. Its Thanksgiving! The day of the year where family gathers around the table with love and gives thanks for the wonderful treasures that have been bestowed upon us!

Continuing with family traditions we wake up and make cinnamon rolls while we watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in our PJ's. Then as I tear up to all the sweet commercials and seeing Santa we stuff the bird and get it all ready. Then comes the dog show where my daughter tells me all the types of dogs she wants and I laugh at the poofy or dreaded dogs.

As I write this the turkey has just found itself rubbed with butter and herbs and stuffed with garlic, onions, and celery. The mashed potatoes were done yesterday and sitting waiting to be served this afternoon. The rest will be done later this morning.

Dinner shall be served at 3 a table lit with candles and set with love.

Today I give thanks for everyone and everything I have in my life. I am truly a lucky lady!

Dinner:

Herbed Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potatoes
Stuffing
Cranberry Sauce
Asparagus with a Lemon Butter Sauce

Family are bringing pies and more veggie sides.

For our drinks we had pink fizzy which was 1 liter of sprite, 2 cans of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, and 1 bottle of white zinfandel wine!

<3

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Molting Chickens and Feather Clipping

Molting Chickens:
Once a year (ours always before it starts to get chilly) chickens molt. This is the process of losing feathers and regrowing new ones. During this period the chicken looks like its in severe distress. The very first time our hens went into a molt I panicked and thought they had some crazy disease, I spent hours googling chicken diseases to see what kind of crazy thing my flock could have come down with. It wasnt until I took a deep breathe and went back to my handy Stories guide to raising chickens book that i realized they were molting. Then I just had to laugh at them because they look so darn pathetic with clumps missing. I think they get self conscious because I see less of them during this period.

What happens:
Some chickens will lose a large amount of feathers at once google chicken molting for some funny ones but mine always seem just to thin out in certain areas regrow and lose another feathers in another area. That drags the process on for a while, mine takes about 1-2 months for a complete molt. Sadly most if not all chickens will also stop laying eggs during this period so make sure you freeze eggs for this shortage. Most the time this molting process takes place in fall when due to decreasing natural light a chickens egg laying slows down naturally. My hens and many flocks will go into molt at the same time.

The good news:
Once she returns to laying you will see an increase in laying and better quality eggs as this break from laying gives her reproductive tract a chance to be rejuvenated.



Feather Clipping:
Feather clipping comes yearly just after their molt finishes round here. Before anyone gets up in arms about this we do not harm our chickens, there is no blood or nerves in feathers, we do not pull them out or anything else like that. Now why we do clip the feathers is to stop chickens from flying the coop. There are feathers on the wings known as flight feathers after a molt and the chicken grows new flight feathers they must once again be trimmed.

I only trim one side of the bird which throws their balance off if they should try to fly. Most of my hens are GREAT and stay where they belong but the amerciuanas love to get over the fence and dig up my gardens and eat all my greens. So they are the FIRST to get a clipping after there molt!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What going on this week in the gardens!

So while my garden is ever evolving and I remove gardens, move gardens, etc I always have more then half of my yard planted.

Right now in my large raised center bed I have lime basil, eggplant, 2 types of tomatoes (a regular and grape), 3 types of peppers (chili, hab, and serrano), collards, carrots, broccoli, peas, chick peas, purple and green beans, perennial bunching onions unknown squash, and have nasturtium and celery seeds planted


In my other beds scattered around I have garlic, onions (yellow, white, red), scallions, super sweet onions, cabbage, more nasturtiums, arugula, more tomatoes, thai chili peppers, papaya, cassava (yuca), bananas, roselle, grapes, blackberries, peach trees, strawberries, turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, swiss chard, radishes, lettuce, and more


Within the last week I dug out most of the sweet potatoes~ we have 2 harvest baskets full of potatoes and I plan to weigh them.


We have a bundle of vidalia onion starts to plant out there somewhere within the next couple days. The bundle is of 50 starts (min) and cost us $5 at the local feed store. Strawberry farmers plant these as a border on their strawberry fields this time of year and harvest when strawberry season starts to wind down. Since these are not storage onions they will be diced and frozen once harvested!

We also have our tilapia pond laid out and ready for our class here December 15th. We will be learning and constructing a pond out of "trash" materials taught by a wonderful permaculture teacher who goes by the name Jungle Jay.

I really really enjoy sitting on the ground next to our little pond watching to now super happy 23 cent goldfish swimming around joined by a never ending amount of frogs and toads. Its very peaceful so much so I might have to make a little black bench to sit on! :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pinterest..

Ah Pinterest the super addicting online pin board. No more cutting things from magazines or printing pictures from the computer now with one click that picture of the table you want to recreate is pinned to a named board and stored on the internet.

How can such a simple thing be so addictive, while the answer to this question im sure is what pinterest people live answer I myself am unsure all I know is I have it bookmarked on my laptop, an app on my phone, and now walk through thrift stores and yard sales saying hmmmm I bet I could find something awesome to do with that on pinterest.

1 minute stop to pinterest quickly turns to 15 minutes even sometimes hours. I pin recipes, craft ideas, home ideas, garden ideas... EVERYTHING... I am a pinning machine!

If you are on pinterest and wish to follow us we are HERE

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting Crafty: White Christmas Wreath

After spending a ridiculous amount of time flipping through thousands of pins on pinterest I decided I really needed to start acting crafty instead of just drooling over the things others are doing so I decided to ring Christmas in a little early and make a White Christmas wreath that we will hang on the front door.

I started using a 50% off one item coupon at Michael's and got a basic wreath, they have foam ones but I found a wrapped straw one for even cheaper.

I then used old basic white wedding tulle and thickly wrapped the wreath so you couldn't see the straw through it. I had tulle the had light stains on them laying around so i used that and tucked the stained parts so they couldn't be seen (being thrifty here)

A quick trip to the dollar store got me a 9 ft silver tinsel garland and 6 greyish silver plastic Christmas bulbs. I wrapped the garland as evenly as possible around the tulle.

Then used Christmas hooks pushed into the straw wreath to hang the bulbs, leaving the very bottom open.

I found little snowflakes that have been in our family for a while so attached those in the middle of the wreath.

At the bottom you can attach anything you would like~ A star, a santa, a sign, a bow, anything! I did a silver bow on top of a small pillow with the words peace on it.

This project cost me a total of $6 to make, using things from around the house and dollar store finds.

I think the completed wreath turned out nice! :)



Sweet Potatoes

Tis the season to harvest sweet potatoes, as the cool temps, and frosts come and kill off the heat loving vines of the sweet potato it is time to harvest all those lovely tubers hiding under the soil.

This year (2012) we planted a large bed of sweet potatoes out front those vines are still growing so they are still in the ground but in the backyard I planted 3 leftover plants. 2 red and 1 white. Those vines started dying back so it was time to yank them up.

Plant 1 (red) was in a weed free area and produced a couple tubers larger then my head as well as standard supermarket size and even smaller ones.

Plant 2 (red) was in a area where weeds had taken over you could hardly see the vines. This plant produced a much smaller amount of tubers and no large ones.

Plant 2 (white) was near the porch underneath the roof runoff and produced huge running vines that went EVERYWHERE. This plant produced a good amount of tubers large, medium, and small. Some split because of the large amount of late season water it received from the runoff, tubers reached 10 ft from the initial planting site.

Lessons Learned from year 1 of planting sweet potatoes:

~ Do not plant where plants will get an excessive amount of water
~ Make sure you do NOT allow weeds to take over plants
~ Keep vines you do not want rooting off the ground, maybe make some strong trellis like item
~ Plant starts about 3 ft from each other to maximize planting space
~ Plant will strangle out any other smaller plants in the area so keep them in their own bed


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Homemade Broccoli Cheese Soup

I adore soup but can only bring myself to eat it during the fall and winter here in Florida.

Tonight for dinner I made stuffed chicken breasts, with Broccoli and cheese soup and biscuits.

Here is the recipe for the soup (ITS AMAZING)

Ingredients:
2 cups chicken broth
1 small white onion, diced finely
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1 teaspoon greek seasoning
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small package on steamable Broccoli & Cheese

Instructions:

~ Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft.
~ Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.
~ In a separate stockpot, melt butter then add flour, and greek seasoning.
~ Cook together, stirring constantly until all flour is gone, then whisk in warmed milk.
~ Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken
~ Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended
~ Add cheeses and stir until completely melted.
~ Stir in broccoli package.
~ Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
~ Serve with fresh biscuits!


Friday, November 9, 2012

Looking for a little local christmas?

Hey local Tampa Bay folks!!

Are you looking to be a little more local for the Holidays this year?

Coming soon I will be offering our Cottage Food for sale!

~ Home Baked Bread
~ Papaya Mango Jam
~ Strawberry Wine Jelly
~ Blueberry Wine Jelly
~ Roselle Syrup

Once I figure out costs, etc I will start the sales!! :)

Wheew

I dont know what happened but my blogging has slipped, some days I would click the link, look at a blank screen and just click to another page. I am going to make an effort to blog more often!

Promise!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Canning

Canning is fun, you can invite friends or family over to have some help, turn on the water canner and preserve many fruits and veggies. Tomato salsa, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, hot sauce, jam, jellies, preserves. The list goes on and on, and it doesn't take that much time. It perfect for storing that extra food you grew. I have made 3 batches of roselle jam from my 5 plants outside with enough left over to hopefully can roselle flowers in syrup.

Today my mom and grandma came over and we made lemon wine jelly from her meyer lemons from her little patio tree. It was easy took about an hour and came out a beautiful light shade of yellow. We had fun drinking, talking, and snacking while we worked. I kept a jar but most went with my grandma for her to give as gifts. Its perfect!

I highly suggest for everyone to get a little cheap set up to water bath can, its so much fun and the end product turns into wonderful homemade gifts you can be proud of!

Supplies:

~ 2 rags (1 large on small)
~ canning funnel
~ glass jars
~ canning kit (magnetic lid lifter, jar holder, tongs, jar lifter)
~ large stockpot
~ canning rack to fit inside pot
~ Ball canning book (its yellow with jars and fruit on the front)~ this is full of recipes~ start with a basic jam on the first 10 pages

The total above set up will cost you about $60 to get started

What to plant in Zone 9: November

~November~

Plant seeds of:
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels Sprouts
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Collards
kale
Kohlrabi
Leek
Lettuce
Mustard
All Onions: Bulb, Green, bunching
Parsley
Radish
Spinach
Turnips