Monday, April 22, 2013

Urban Homestead Happenings


It has been a busy but fun time on our little homestead.  It feels so good to be moving forward on our vision for this property of ours to be sustainable.  Our most recent adventure was hatching chicks.  We started with 12 fertile eggs from a local farmer friend down the street as a fun way to educate ourselves and the children on what it takes to incubate eggs.  I learned so much through this process!  To live it makes it so much easier to help and know what is going on with hens who you choose to allow to brood on their own.  I will say if you want to do this more than once buy a good incubator that has a temperature regulator.  We had the worst luck with ours and about 9 days before hatch day it stopped working all together.  Luckily it still heated but even on the lowest setting the temperature would creep up really high and I would have to open it up and cool it down.  This caused a problem with some of the chicks.  The one in the photo above was stuck to the membrane and couldn't hatch on it's own.  It piped and then remained beak out for about 24 hours.  I peeled back that shell just like the chick would do leaving the membrane in tack but that still didn't work.  I had to peel away the shell and membrane adding moisture to free this little chick.  It's super tiny but strong and seems to be doing great so far.  It still has it's beak tooth which was a big thrill for the boys.  Another one chirped for 24 hours but never piped.  I heard it trying and decided to give it some time to hatch on it's own but it never did.  I piped it but it was no longer moving by the time I decided to intervene.  There is still one we are waiting on.  I can see movement when I candle it but it just won't hatch.  I'm guessing it will have problems if it does but the boys are praying for it so you never know.

 We finished our Classical Conversations group for the year.  I made these herb and Zinnia arrangements for the tables for our closing ceremony.  It was a great way to add color and life to the tables without wasting money on flowers that will be tossed.  These will be going straight in the ground this week.  To make them I just cut up a  paper back and made a bottom by squaring off the sides with a glue gun.  The burlap was then wrapped around the exposed roots pulling tight to give it a pot like shape.  The burlap is held together by hot glue gun as well.  I loved the beautiful fragrance they gave off. 

On the food front, we are still processed foods free.  Free is the best way to describe it!  I feel like I have been freed of the toxic waste that has become our food system, freed from children who are picky and won't eat anything but mac and cheese, freed from wasted time reading box labels only to be disappointed.....  We still buy organic sandwich meats, cheeses, and milk which are technically processed but we only eat whole ingredient foods and minimize these as much as possible.  I also read Wheat Belly which sent me down a rabbit hole of research on modern wheat and we have decided to cut that out as well.  Now we are eating spelt and kamut.  I've been able to modify most whole wheat recipes with freshly milled spelt and kamut, usually a combination of the two, and it has been pretty easy.  Kamut and spelt make much lighter breads than whole wheat which my family actually prefers.  I'll share recipes and more on our food choices soon.

We are fencing off the back half of the property to allow the chickens to pasture graze and I'm researching meat birds!!  The hubby is still not as enthusiastic as I am about this but he knows the quality of our meat would be so much better.  I'm looking into butchers to do the dirty work.  Neither of us are ready to add chicken slaughter to our "to do" list just yet....or ever.

In the garden there are lots of delicious foods available to eat daily and many more popping up.  I missed lots of planting opportunities this season but over all I'm happy with our progress.  I'm chipping away at the yard a little everyday eliminating grass and planting food.  I've recently discovered permaculture gardening and I have been working in some of the gardening practices.  It's a lot of things I have learned just by gardening and getting to know plants over the years but with so much more purpose put into the design so that it is truly sustainable.  I have always broken the rules with gardening and had great success, permaculture breaks all gardening rules but none of natures.  It assumes there is a way to supply every plant naturally with everything it needs through the use of other plants to get the highest quality food.  It's really beautiful and just another example of how God perfectly designs everything for our good. 

If you are interested in producing your own food but think your property is too small, just watch this video! 
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Quilted dress made from scrap fabric.

One of my goals this year is to find ways to use the piles of fabric scraps that I have saved up.  I have a bad habit of running to the fabric store every time I have a project in mind leaving me with a sewing room busting at the seams with beautiful fabric scraps.  For years I have been saving it for quilts but quilting is not something that fits into my life right now and some of this fabric has got to go! 

My newest passion is using it to make quilted dresses.  I have made several and will post more pics soon but here is one that I made for my sweet niece for her first birthday. 

I also made her a doll using the pattern I mentioned in this post and placed them both in a bag made out of more beautiful scrap fabric.

I would love to here what you do with your scrap fabric! Pin It

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Growing potatoes vertically

I had great success growing potatoes last year but they are hard to manage in an edible landscape where plants are planted close together.  This year I've decided to grow most of our potatoes vertically to avoid having the plants take up too much space and to make harvesting more simple.

I chose this antique wagon from Vietnam to grow Yukon Gold.  I purchased this wagon about 7 years ago at an antique fair and it has been a favorite garden piece of mine ever since.  I used linen burlap for the lining and made the bag by tracing the inside of the wagon onto the fabric and sewing it together.  It is attached to the top with staples.

Growing potatoes vertically is simple.  You will want to make sure you have good drainage in what ever container you choose.  Start by adding 6" of compost or good quality soil.  Next you will want to cut up an already sprouting potato trying to get 2 or more sprouts per cut if possible, I keep potatoes in the kitchen drawer to sprout.  Place potato pieces sprouting side up and cover with another 6" of compost.  As the plant breaks through the top of the soil you are going to add another 6" of soil to the top.  Continue this process of adding soil every time plant growth breaks through until the soil reaches the top.  At that point you enjoy watching the beautiful green foliage as it grows and blooms. Harvest when greens start to die back long after the plant flowers.

Here is one we harvested for Easter.  I harvested early so I could get another batch started.  I just couldn't resist!  Pin It