Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Very First Peas from the Garden

My husband picked peas from the garden today.  Our very first ones ever.  He picked two rows and we still have about a row and a half.  There was 13 pounds of peas.  This is what was left over after he cooked us a big, delicious pot of them.

Since we have so many left over and we still have more to pick, we decided to put them up, but we don't know how.  Does anyone have any advice?  I don't want to waste the shell as it is thick and delicious, but the Cooperative Extension Service for our state recommends freezing if you want to keep the shell.  If you want to can, you need to shell them out.  Anyone have any experience with this?

We also had a few sprigs of broccoli in the Community Garden, probably less than a half of a pound.  We will be trying them out with some cheese soon.  Sounds yummy.  I can't wait until some beans come in and we can have tomatoes, cucumbers, new mouth is watering.  I can hardly wait until the garden starts coming in fully.

Happy Memorial Weekend safe and have fun.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Can Someone Help Me Identify These Plants???

Last fall, I planted some things in a raised bed that basically went to seed.  I also traded some seeds with different people and one thing I got was Chinese Cabbage.  I planted a few seedlings and then transplanted them in the raised bed.  I checked the raised bed and found these little guys that were about the size of a golf ball.  Thinking it was the Chinese cabbage, I transplanted them to the garden and they shot up.  The largest is the size of a basket ball.  There are four of them and a large one (pictured above) and a small one (about the size of a cantaloupe) have gone to seed.  (See the yellow blooms.) 

So, I am confused as to what these are?  If it is the Chinese Cabbage, they are biennial and I shouldn't be seeing seeds or flowers this year???  I am new at gardening.  Can someone help me identify these and give me advice on growing and using them. 

Thanks so much.

New Additions to the Farm & Garden Update

I wanted to introduce you to the newest additions to our little farm.  My personal favorite is our new rooster, Dumplins.  I have been told not to name anything you plan on eating, so I decided to name him what he will be...chicken and dumplins.  Sorry to any horrified readers, but this is not a "hobby" farm, it will be a working one.
Isn't he beautiful though.  He was dropped of at my husband's brother's house.  He had no use for him, so he gave him to us.  He has his own cage all by himself, well had his cage all by himself.  I discovered one of the Mr. Roos in the community cage ailing.  He was being trampled by the others, so I put him in a smaller cage and placed it in with Dumplins.  

So now Mr. Roo and Dumplins are sharing a cage...sort of.  Dumplins was most disturbed when I first put Mr. Roo in, but Mr. Roo was not disturbed at all.  He was intent on eating, which I think is a good sign.  I hope he pulls through it.  I think the general cage is overcrowded and we are working on a permanent house and a temporary lot.  The chicks just grew so fast. 

This is the Black Astralorpe in the community pen, with a Rhode Island Red or a Buff Orphington in the back.  I can't tell the difference.  My sick little Mr. Roo is in the front of the picture laying down. 
This is the Buff Orphingtons or Rhode Island Reds.  We have 6 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Buff Orphingtons.
This is Carrots. She is a female and will be one of the mothers we will breed. She will not be dinner. We will be getting another doe soon, when we have the chicken house done. The other doe is already named. I will call her Peas. So we will have Peas and Carrots. Ok, I know I am silly, but I am really enjoying my little urban farm.

This is my baby, Daize. Doesn't she look so sweet. She constantly hangs by my side when I am working in the yard, except when I am in the garden. She knows better than to follow me in the garden. Although, I have found evidence of her being there when I am not around.

This is Sweet Pea, running past the push mower. This was the best photo I could get of her as she was running around and wouldn't stop long enough for me to snap a photo. Sweet Pea is an older dog, and very aggressive to other animals and strangers. I think it is fear and she is jealous, but she is very sweet and loving with the family.

So, this is most of the family.  I took some photos of the garden.  I will upload them tomorrow.

Confinement - Day 2

Of course, it would have to be a beautiful sunny day and I am cooped up here on the couch just itching to get out and get my cucumber patch planted.  But no...I had to push myself and so I am confined to the sick bed.  So, I will make use of this and bring everyone in the Prepared Household up to date.

If you are local, Wal-Mart has their oil for lamps on sale $2.00 a bottle, normally $3.97.  The same exact bottle is $11.99 at the Tru Value, so that makes this a great deal.  Check your local Wal-mart for this deal.

Sav-U-More has chicken breast on sale this weekend for .79/lb and the 24oz Hunts Ketchup is .69 each.

So, that clears up the business portion.  I know this is a blog about preparedness, and I firmly believe that being self-sufficient and sustainable goes hand in hand with preparedness.  However, I realize that not everyone is of the same mindset.  Therefore, I split my blog and those things that pertain to self-sufficiency and sustainability, i.e., my farming, I have been blogging about here:  So feel free to check out that part of my blogging there and this blog will stay more in line with general preparedness.

So, go out and enjoy the sunshine and think of me while you play in the dirt.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sharpen Your Saw

There once were two woodcutters, working side by side in the forest.  One was busily cutting trees, stacking them, cutting trees and stacking them working as fast and as furious as he could so that he could get the job done quickly.  The faster he worked, the more frustrated he became.  Every time he looked over at his companion across the meadow, he was sitting under the tree in the shade.

"How does he expect to get his work done when all he is doing is sitting under the shade tree!"  The woodcutter would shake his head in anger and get back to the work at hand.  At the end of the day, the woodcutter had put in a hard day's work.  He had chopped down twenty huge trees.  He had nearly accomplished the goals he set out to do, but he was utterly and totally exhausted.  

He turned to his companion who had just joined him and angrily spat, "Well, you don't look like you are tired at all.  Every time I looked at you, you were lazily sitting under the shade tree.  How many trees did you manage to chop down?" 

His companion answered, "I chopped down thirty huge trees.  I surpassed my goal of twenty-five."

The woodcutter was flabbergasted.  "How did you manage to do that!?"  He exclaimed.

His companion replied, "Those times you saw me lazily resting in the shade, I was sharpening my saw."

So...what does it mean to sharpen your saw?  I'll give you a personal example.  For the last several weeks, we at the prepared household have been preparing to be sustainable, at least to some degree.  We have been gardening, preparing animal houses, cleaning, cooking, etc., etc., etc.  But I haven't taken much time to rest and take care of myself, except to sneak in an extra nap on Sunday afternoons after church. 

My allergies started to act up about two weeks ago, so I began taking something to suppress the symptoms.  I awoke this morning feeling terrible, but as you know, when you are an adult you press forward and do what you have to do.  Right?  Wrong!  I began to have difficulty breathing with any type of exercise.  Even walking.  If I would sit down, I was ok.  However, stubborn me, I kept on.  Eventually, I was having a hard time breathing, even while sitting, to the point of almost passing out.  Ok, it was time to head to the ER, because my doctor's office didn't even want to see me.  

After a battery of tests (and the doctor mentioning a possible blood clot to the lung) it was determined that I had a simple case of bronchitis gone rogue.  In other words, I had treated my symptoms, which I had thought were allergies, but the bronchitis was getting worse in my lungs.  So, now I am on complete bed rest because walking around causes breathing issues.  I am on antibiotics and lots of fluids.  I had pushed myself this morning instead of resting, or even sitting here blogging, and I needed to stay out of the rain yesterday.

It is very important to sharpen your saw.  Take time out to rest your body and do something fun.  Also, sharpen the tools you use, whether it is your brain, a hoe, a saw, or whatever.  The simple act of renewal for your body is as important as for the tools you use.  You will get more done and have less downtime. 

So, you may be hearing more from me this week.  My prepared family, please, sharpen your saws.  Enjoy the sunshine this week.

Oh, and by the way, please leave any comments in English and I would be happy to share them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Misadventures of Mr. Roo

Mr. Roo is what I fondly call the three White Leghorn Roosters we have. I can't tell them apart, so they are simply Mr. Roo.  Anyway, we have a beautiful white large breed dog, Daize, that we have been told is a bulldog. She is going on two years old. I have had her since she was a pup.

So, in an attempt to keep my dog and my chickens, we had been letting the roosters roam free and keeping watch.  After an hour, we became complacent and wasn't watching diligently.  I petted Daize and praised her for not attacking Mr. Roo.  I turned and went back to my weeding.  Seconds latter, I heard Mr. Roo squawking and screaming from under the back deck and Daize was no where to be seen.

While yelling at Daize to stop, I ran to the deck and hesitantly peeked under.  There was Daize with what appeared to be Mr. Roo under her paws.  The squawking had ceased, so I feared the worst.  Mr. Roo had gone to the big chicken coop in the sky and he wasn't even big enough to put in the cook pot yet.
My husband looked under the deck and my worst fears were unfounded.  Mr. Roo had mysteriously disappeared without a trace and no noise as to his whereabouts.  Was he dead?   Had Daize packed him off somewhere?   There was no blood on Daize's mouth.

Daize, having been thoroughly scolded, had tucked her tail and ran off to hide and would not come back.  I attempted several times to get her to come to her kennel, but she refused.  I was standing on the deck pointing at the kennel, trying to get Daize to obey when she stopped and looked at the corner of the house in the grass and then ran off again.  I realized Mr. Roo must be there in the tall grass at the corner of the house.  Sure enough, there he was, or at least his body was there.  I could see no head, but I couldn't see any blood either.  He wasn't moving, just deadly still.  I couldn't bear to check, so  I called my husband over and turned my back.  I just knew Mr. Roo was headless. 

However, to our amazement, Mr. Roo was unharmed, just hiding in the tall grass being perfectly still and silent.  I was so relieved.  We will continue to try to acclimate the animals to one another.  Because if one of them has to go, unfortunately, it will be my baby Daize.  That thought breaks my heart.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sorry for the Empty House

With gardening season upon us, it looks like the house will be empty somewhat.  But don't jump ship, when things slow down in the garden, we will continue to talk about all things preparedness.  I won't be this preoccupied for long, and I am still preparing and I hope you are too. 

We are planning a preparedness fair for September 11th, in honor of those who died needlessly on that fateful day in 2001.  So I will be sending updates and plans as we get them finalized.  If you aren't local, find a preparedness fair near you to attend. 

Welcome to The Real Farm Town

Hello everyone. With spring out the door and summer on the way, things are beginning to look more like a mini farm around here. But before we go into that, let me tell you a little about my journey to this point.

Both my husband and I used to be employed. I have held a job almost continuously since my teens (for about 25 years now). Until the bottom fell out of the economy and I haven't worked in almost a year. My husband is facing the same problem, he having been out of work a year too. We decided that while we hunted for work, and since the economy looked so bad, that we would prepare ourselves for the worst and hope for the best.

We made plans to build a more self-sufficient life for ourselves and our children. So on a limited income and from blessings from the Lord and wonderful friends, we have slowly turned our 3/4 acre back yard into a mini barnyard.
This post will be about the first project we got involved in - Grow Appalachia. It is a new charity sponsored by Paul Mitchell co-owner and CEO, John Paul DeJoria. Read about it here:

It is a garden project, and each family has their own plot to take care of. We are provided with seeds, plants, and those things we need to take care of our garden. All we have to do is care for it and we will be blessed with the harvest.

According to the website, "Some of most pressing regional needs to be addressed by Grow Appalachia are:

Basic diet-related health concerns – obesity, diabetes, heart disease.
Limited availability of high-quality fresh produce.
Generational loss of knowledge of gardening, cooking, and food preservation skills.
Widespread economic dependency and lack of autonomy."

My husband and I both had sedentary jobs. We sat all day and worked. So, needless to say, we are obese with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart related issues. We have been working in our garden for a couple of months now and if it doesn't kill us (literally), it will be the best thing ever. We are getting regular, hard exercise by planting, plowing, hoeing, watering and caring for our plants. My husband has already lost some weight (that's a man for you) as we can tell it in his stomach, even though there's no difference on the scale. Muscle replacing fat, I am sure.

My diabetes is more advanced than my husbands, so in many ways I am a lot weaker. The high blood pressure medication I take masks the signs of low blood glucose, but it is the only thing that helps my tachycardia, so I continue to take it. However, I nearly passed out hilling the potatoes yesterday and we had to run get me something to eat to get my blood glucose levels stabilized. I thought I was going to have to go to the ER, but it finally straightened out. Today, I took ten units less insulin to compensate for being more active! This is great! Just working in the garden is beginning to affect the amount of insulin I need to use. Less insulin will mean less weight my body hangs on to, because being insulin dependent causes my body to hold on to fat more. (Like I really need that!)

So thank you John Paul DeJoria for your Grow Appalachia project. I hope you know what a difference you are already making in my life. Buy Paul Mitchell products and support Grow Appalachia.

More later. I can't wait to tell you about the chickens.  Happy Farming.