Happenings, Independence Days, etc.

Planted:  beets, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce.

Harvested:  7 1/2 lbs green tomatoes, 7 green peppers, 15 chiles,  and about a pound of eggplant after our first hard frost.  It was a sad day to see the brown where there had been green just two days before!

Preserved:  3 pounds of fried green tomatoes breaded and quick fried, frozen on a tray in the freezer.  Working on a green tomato antipasto recipe for the rest, they’re sitting in the brine solution waiting for me to quit doing other things (like work) and get to them.  Roasted the eggplant and chiles and froze them.  Chopped the peppers and froze them.

Eat the food:  Chard and Parmesan frittata; Pumpkin Stew (the pumpkin was leftover from Halloween) with home made cheese biscuits; curried chard and poached eggs over purple jasmine rice (recipe thanks to Kate ).  The pumpkin stew I modified; I used cumin and allspice instead of the spices in the linked recipe, and lentils instead of the ground beef.  I had enough left over that we put the rest in the freezer and plan to use it as a casserole with parmesan cheese baked on the top.

Reduce waste:  well, it’s more waste because they’re additions to the household, but I’ve been using the bunny manure in the garden beds.  I anticipate having very fertile beds for the coming year, and I’m happy and relieved I don’t have to depend on manure from unknown sources any more.  No more curled leaves on my sensitive plants, or deaths out of nowhere, or plants that stay 4 inches tall for six months solid.

Build community food systems:  my friends Dana and Dean purchased a litter of piglets and are planning to raise them to slaughter.  Mr. Tin Foil and I have already committed to buying one at slaughter time.  So we will have an Easter ham that is locally raised, on goat milk and scraps.  I would MUCH rather pay them as I see how their animals are raised!

Happenings:  we went camping.  Sort of.  I had to come home twice a day to care for the animals, which was OK as we were only 20 minutes up the road on Federal land.  We got visits from Forest Service rangers twice in the same day, both apparently ready for a fight and we had to tell them both “hey, we’re the people who clean this up every time we camp!”  Which is true — I’ve called them in the past and taken license plate numbers down regarding illegal quads in the riparian areas.  We have even offered to come out and care for our little campsite on a regular basis which was refused, but they do seem to have invested a lot more effort in the last year or so into making sure assholes with motorized vehicles and guns don’t do any more damage than they already have to the area.  Last year somebody came out there and pulled boulders placed by the Forest Service out of the way so they could make a quad racing area through the POSTED no vehicles area; several of us were nearly run down by racing quads.  We parked one of our vehicles across their access point and nearly caused a war.  This year the boulders are back in place, the other access road has been trenched deeply and fenced off as well, and although I don’t like being confronted by people who obviously are ready for an argument, I appreciate them being around.

We have been wondering why our water usage has gone up so dramatically; Mr. TF was attributing it to the watering of the garden but we found out why…the water heater is overflowing and leaking under the house.  We have a plumber coming out today to look at it and hopefully it’s only the pressure relief valve that needs to be replaced…otherwise we are facing a very large and unexpected bill.

If it turns out that the water heater needs to be replaced, I can take out a loan on my 401k to replace it I guess.  I DO want to also install a passive system that is solar heated and use the tank in the warmer months merely as a holding tank.  That will seriously reduce our propane usage even more, as the water heater is the only remaining system that we use that has a pilot light running all the time.  We don’t use the furnace, and we got a stove that is electronic ignition.  The one bad thing about the stove is that we have found out that if it’s not plugged in the oven won’t work.  So if we lose electricity we won’t have the ability to bake in the oven.  Yuck.

We used the rocket stove for the first time.  Wow!  It really does burn clean — the only smoke was from the fat from our burgers dripping onto the surface.  Definitely a good thing for use with a wok or stuff you want to cook quickly, not so great for long cooking times; it must be tended constantly as the use of twigs means they burn hot and fast.  I am convinced however that this is a valid indoor cooking method as well as heating the area it’s used in (at least while in use).  I would like very much to build a bigger model that would use larger chunks of wood for further experimentation (I doubt I could actually install one in my home, my insurer is pretty strict on what they will allow but I can try).  I really want a wood stove.  Have been looking into costs involved with purchasing and installation.  Yikes.  That’s why I want to try building one on my own; cheaper, 90% plus efficiency, and I can cook on it as well.  Having it professionally installed I have no problem with, other than the cost, and getting it inspected by the county or the local fire department I’m also fine with.  Versus losing the insurance when they’re the only company in the state that insures mobile homes, it’s a no brainer.

Lots of personal drama, but that’s not for public consumption.  Lost a friend over it…alcohol makes a very poor conversation lubricant.  Unfortunately when a person is under the influence they aren’t capable of listening to reason.

The chickens have been frightened by something in their coop (I have not the faintest idea what, I’ve been in there multiple times and found nothing) and won’t set foot in it.  I picked up three and placed them in it with me to prove there’s nothing there but they are still afraid.  They haven’t laid eggs in days, and are obviously stressed.  *sigh*  The only thing I can think is that there was something either under the coop or trying to get in that scared them.  I haven’t looked under as it’s about a two inch clearance from the ground, and it’s hardware cloth on the bottom with plywood over that.  Unless something chews its way through two inches of wood to get to them, there’s not much that can harm them.

Time to drain the swamp cooler and tuck it away for the year.  Time to finish painting the house.  Time to pour the foundation for our stone patio, and to make the herb spirals in the front yard.  Time to peruse seed and tree catalogs and dream of what we will plant in the spring.

4 responses

  1. Sounds like a fox has been coming around the chickens. They burrow, so one could be nosing around to find a way in. I’m not sure what would keep varmints away- apart from big, barking (chicken loving?) dogs.

    • We don’t have foxes but we do have feral dogs, cats, skunks, coyotes, and javelina…it’s anyone’s guess. I buried chicken wire in the ground under the cage area that attaches to the coop (they’re free range during the day but caged/cooped at night) and also have large rocks butted up against it–the only thing that will happen if something tries to dig is that they’ll sink the rock deeper. But yes, something scared the daylights out of them!

  2. Yeay, you’re back!
    Which rocket stove did you make? I’d love to try making one myself. Got a lot of ashes now from the stove for insulating it.
    Make sure to call your town to ask if the inspectors will even pass a homemade stove. If they don’t, all your trouble may be for nothing.
    Sorry you lost a friend. These are trying times…

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