Monday, April 27, 2009

Science and Nature

The last few days have been full of amazing weather and loads of fun. My BIL and SIL and their two boys were up for a visit. We tried out our SOLAR BAGS from They are pretty awesome! giant 50 ft trash-bag-like things that demonstrate the concept of hot air rising. Basically you fill them with air on a cool clear morning and wait for the sun to heat the air inside the bag. Then the bag rises..... It can get pretty high. The boys (all six of them) were pretty excited! One shouted, "It looks like a brontosaurus!" People kept slowing down to look at what was going on. The only problem is they rip very easily. Not extremely user friendly when dealing with multiple children under the age of 6. All in all, a really fun time.

Unfortunately, a few of our seedlings have fallen victim to the Indigo-Blue Bug. It is a crazy monster that just comes and yanks them right out when no one is looking....and even when some one is, but is too far to reach him....I mean it! gotta get the poor guys grown and out where they only have to worry about the deer, birds, and rodents. ha ha!

We also spent lots of time working in the garden. It is really starting to come together. Peas, carrots, mixed greens, spinach, radishes, and tons of onions are in and growing. We also started to plant our strawberry plants which just arrived. I ordered WAY too many, S&A said they would gladly take a few of them off our hands. This week we will add more. I went to check out the raspberry bushes to see just where we would trim. My plan was to cut paths through so we could pick more. However, As I was standing there, An adorable little furry face popped up and looked at me from the center of the patch. Fox pups! 5 of them! sunning themselves from the top of their den.....Smack dab in the middle of the raspberry patch. Mike and I stood and watched them for a while. What hysterical cuteness! We immediately decided not to trim. Momma red fox clearly picked that spot for safety, and really what could be safer than the center of a giant patch of briars! So we will leave well enough alone. We can pick from the outside for this year and see what next year brings. I am in awe of just how red, red foxes are! It was, and will continue to be a treat for us to see them.

We also spotted moose tracks coming right up the dirt road through our fields. I can not believe I haven't seen one yet!! Deer tracks in our garden too. This one does not thrill me. I am hoping there will just be plenty for everyone, us and the deer. I priced fencing and it is just not an option.

Today we tried out the "mentos gyser" from it was a free gift with my order. What great fun. An explosion of diet soda with a lesson behind it. What more could a mom ask for.

The goats are a no go, for now anyway. The owner has sold them. That is fine. I was sort of looking forward to meeting them and making them part of the family, but at the same time, I might not need something else to do and/or keep track of. There is still the possibility of a donkey and a pony. Also, we are still seriously considering adopting sheltered, farm animals though we are just in the talking stages. We still need to bring the hay barn up to animal home standards and we are very busy right now.

We also went out to the river to look for fiddle head ferns. A Maine treat! They grow wild in the flood plains around the river. My sister used to bring them to us so we are no stranger to their yumminess. We picked quite a few. Its really quite fun, like treasure hunting. We had to practically run home as monster dark clouds were rolling in fast and we had to cross acres of fields. We got home just as it started to rain. Cute little suckers aren't they. we cooked them up in stir-fry and tomorrow we will have more with black eyed peas and BBQ sauce. yum! gotta eat them up, they only grow for, like two weeks!


We have just been going, going, going! I am loving it. The best is falling in to bed at 8pm exhausted and sore. The hardest part is finding time to do all of my "regular" stuff. ie, laundry cooking cleaning. How did those darn pioneer women do it? heck, it can wait until it rains, right?
This week it's beehive building, barn repairing and ripping out walls in the cellar. Oh and of course more planting! Did I mention we have to lug water in 15 gallon barrels in the wheel barrow across the street and down the road to the garden. Then fill up the little watering can over and over to water.... Hope it rains soon! This is supposed to be the wet season! until next time!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Making Progress in the garden

Monday we planted out in the garden. Onion sets, carrots, radishes, baby greens, spinach and peas. I only planted a small patch of carrots as it is still a little early. We were out there for about 5 hours all together. It can be slow going when you have all that "help" from a 5 and 1 year old. I thought having all that space to roam would make it easy. Indigo seems to need to be right under me. There was a lot of stepping on what i just planted! Harland and I planted peas together. My row is soooo very crooked. I was a little distracted. I don't think I'll be judged on how straight my row is though. Harland woke up this morning and said. "Mom, I can't wait to get over there today and pick some peas!" ha ha! We only planted about 1/2 of the almost 400 peas we have. I'll plant more in a few weeks. I also planted 1/3 of the greens and 1/2 of the spinach. Hopefully it will spread out the harvest a bit.

We got a ton of rain yesterday. Good and Bad. Of course we need it, but I'm concerned some of my seeds may have washed away. I guess we won't know until they start to grow....or don't.

The tomato seedlings have popped up and are leaning towards the sunny windows. They look great and MAN! we are going to have some serious tomatoes! We also planted cabbage, lettuce, kale, peppers, hot peppers, and some other things i am sure i am forgetting. They are all in the other southern window and have also began to sprout up. It's all very exciting.
We did decide to buy some straw even at $6.50 a bale! Which I think is sooo outrageous considering it is a by-product of grains! But with our garden being in a well established hay field, we really need to mulch like crazy to try and keep the grass and weeds down. We will add leaves as well. Mulch-a-mania! That's what it will be!
Friday I plan to trim the raspberry bushes. They are thick and we need to cut paths through so we can pick in the middle. They don't do much good if you can't reach the darn things.
I woke up this morning quite sore. Laugh if you must, but hoeing is hard work. (no crude jokes please!) I am sore all through my belly and back and shoulders. It is going to be great for me. I kind of like that sore feeling, means I actually did something!
So, It looks like the goats are not coming. I believe they have been sold. I am a little sad but I really think it is just as well. There is plenty of time for animals later down the road. I still want a dog, or two but I will need to convince mike. I think we will wait a little while on this too. It's just about puppy season so we might even get lucky and find puppies at the shelter.
Next weekend we will be building top bar hives. I am really excited about the bees. We may also purchase a traditional hive to "compare and contrast" as the kids say. A man right down the road has a bunch of hives for sale with bees. Again, this is still being decided. But the top bar hives are a go!

Ok so that is all for now, I will leave you with these photos of my little destructo! he just lovessssss to dump things out!

All before 9:30 AM. luckily he is so darn cute! I guess I'll keep him.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BIG BIG Giveaway!

The Meanest Mom is having a huge giveaway in honor of Mother's Day. There are tons of different Items and pretty much something for everyone. I especially love the no whining pendant and the Name Meaning Sign. Go and enter....NOW!

The Meanest Mom

Monday, April 13, 2009

Knitting and Planting

This is the original booty I made for a friend's new baby. They were way to big as I Make it a point to pay no attention to yarn weight and or gauge. So I am knitting the match today and they will be slippers for Indigo. He loves them

These are for Baby Ryan, I finally broke down and paid for a pattern for booties from Etsy. It was only $3.50. They are easy and super fast. I may make more to donate. I am trying to use up my yarn stash and these are perfect.

Planting, it was too cold outside for wet muddy hands so we improvised. Three whole trays of tomatoes thanks to the generous seed giving from the Marble/Winslow family. Mike is still tilling! It is taking forever to get through the hay roots but he is making progress. I am amazed at how well drained the soil is. It is Maine after all, we are in "Mud Season" but our soil is remarkably dry. This is a good thing. Fencing for the goats is arriving this week and work on the barn should be starting soon. I'm not exactly sure how Mike plans to get it all done and work. But I'll just feed the machine and do what I can to help....Ya know, from inside where it is warm. JOKING, JOKING... as long as it is 50 degrees out, I'll come out and watch.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So much to say, so little time

I have put off posting about our would-be- farm up until this point. When we found this place, our original agreement with the land owner was until May 15th. Since then we have talked with her many times about the possibility of staying and this week we got the word...We are good until next spring, at least. I am relieved, and thrilled. We really love it here. We are working very hard to become debt free, at which point we may be able to buy into this land and stay permanently. But for now, all that matters is that I don't have to pack and move AGAIN!
So, now I am ready to share our plans. Homesteading and self-sufficiency are our main goals. We are planting a huge garden with tons of different veggies as well as melons and strawberries. We also have rasberries and apples on the property. We are also building 3 top bar bee hives for honey. Also, part of our arrangement to stay involves us caring for some dairy goats. I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first but I know we will care for and love these animals as we have always done with any animal and I think that is really important. We have always said that vegan ideals clash in some areas with our desire to be self-sufficient and eat a completly homegrown or at least local diet. This is central Maine after all. To be honest, the vegan verses homestead debate is something I will save for another time. So, We are mending and preparing one of our barns for the animals. There may also be a donkey and a pony coming as well. I am considering fiber sheep from an animal shelter that need a good home for life as well as a dog or two, also from a shelter or rescue. We are huge animal lovers here and really enjoy their company.

Our idea is to provide our own family with as much food as we can. This will not only be the healthiest (and yummiest) way for us to eat but will save us a ton of money. If we have a surplus, we will sell it at the local farmers market. Next year, we intend to progress to actually farming for a small income. This year will be our learning year.
We have some amazing farmer friends who I have mentioned before. Sarah and Andy, we love you! They have been sooo helpful. It makes a huge difference to have someone to ask questions to or bounce ideas off of who are already farming, the way we want to.
Here is our garden spot.

Here is view from my garden spot

Those are our raspberry bushes under the trees. So what we are doing over these next few weeks is; Mending our barn and modifying it to make some goats comfy. Building a fence for the goats, tilling our very large garden, trimming raspberry bushes, building a utility shed( our garden is across the street) building bee hives, starting seedlings indoors and..........NOT MOVING!!!!It is going to crazy and exhausting, but fun fun fun! I feel like we are really on our way here!

On a side note, I took these pics today and needed to share. What an awesome school my son attends where he can sit on the porch at 8:00 am doing school work and enjoying the sun and birds and fresh air. Oh and the 1/2 cup of coffee he conned his mom into letting him have.

This is the "art" Gaynor and Harland made. It was originally on top of snow.

Indigo out enjoying the sun (finally) at 8:30 AM

he's putting rocks in what was my coffee!

Monday, April 6, 2009

We hid the TV from our toddler

Indigo has been obsessed with the TV for a few months now. However, it has become an increasingly larger problem these last few weeks. He can reach all of the buttons. He just turns it on himself. He will change DVDs adjust volume, he even takes out the dvd and breathes heavy on it to wipe it on his sleeve. (This is quite a site to see, much like him taking games out of the old leapster and blowing the dust out of them) If there is a DVD on top of the TV, he just climbs up and gets it. We started unplugging it all but this just led to him trying to plug it in. We have had more than one day with hours, yes HOURS of crying over the darn TV. So, last week while he was in bed, we hid it. We emptied the closet in the play room. We found a table with wheels and put in the tv, and dvd player. We hung a new curtain up on the doorway and placed a chair in front. It is so well camouflaged he will never know!!!! It has really worked out pretty well. We are also very careful not to to say any of the "danger words" including, Pablo (backyardigans), elmo, video, show, or TV. Each week we watch one movie and two TV shows streaming from the computer. We just put Indigo to bed and pull out the TV. Out of sight out of mind. I have even let Indigo watch a few videos. We just have to move the TV in and out during naps or when he is outside playing. He doesn't question far. I have to say, I really like having the Tele put away.
We also had to move the computer which has had an unexpected effect. We need the computer close to the TV so we can stream the TV shows onto the TV. we placed the computer on a little table just outside the playroom. The most amazing thing has happened. The kids actually play IN the playroom. I know! It is sooo CRAZY! IN THE PLAYROOM! Really! Because when I am on the computer, I am right next to them. Trains have been set up. Puzzles have been done. Books are being read (in boxes...see below). Cars are being raced. AMAZING! Who knew kids could actually play in a playroom. Here I was thinking it was a place to store toys and to send them as punishment when they are under your feet.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potatoe Fries

Here is a recipe for black bean burgers. I modified the original from Veganomicon.

This recipe makes enough for 6 with plenty of left overs for lunches (about 12 burgers). you can freeze the cooked burgers as well. you can 1/2 pretty easily if you are not feeding an army.

4 cups cooked black beans (or two 15 oz cans drained and rinsed)
1 cup wheat gluten (or vital wheat gluten)
2 tsps cumin
4 tsps chili powder
2 tsps ground coriander (optional)
1 small onion chopped fine
1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup water
4 tbls canola oil (plus more for frying)
4 cloves garlic pressed

mash the beans with a fork until no whole beans are left don't go crazy, just no whole beans, add oats, gluten, spices, onion and garlic, mix with a fork. add ketchup and water, and oil, mix again, then knead with hands until thoroughly mixed. the gluten will start to form strings. put aside while you make the yummy fries

make patties, you can divide into 12 equal parts first if you want. squish it into a good ball and then flatten to a patty.
now heat a cast iorn or non stick skillet over medium heat. i use below medium with a cast iorn because of smoking. when hot, add thin layer of oil to pan. fry burgers about 5 minutes on each side. press down with spatula before flipping and again after.
we serve them on wheat toast

these are great any way
mexi style with sliced avocado, salsa, lettuce tomato and onion
or straight up, ketchup, mayo (veganaise) mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato onion
my boys like to put sweet fries right on the burgers

these fries are a top ten food with everyone here especially indigo! he eats more than anyone else.

sweet potato fries

2-5 sweet potatoes
garlic powder or granulated garlic
black pepper
canola or olive or grape seed oil

peel and cut sweet potatoes in half and then into basic fry shapes, don't be too picky
place in a bowl
douse with a good amount of oil you want them to be well coated, fat is good for you! and especially good for growing children.
sprinkle with liberal amounts of spices (to taste i guess, we like a lot)
if bowl has a good lid, lid it and shake and swirl until well coated
or just stir it but way less fun.
place fries into glass baking dish and bake a 500 degrees until tender stir every 10 minutes or so. I like to see some browned edges but they are quite soft at that point. just test them. you can't really do it wrong. these are great heated the next day too.

let me know if you make these and what you think

Thursday, April 2, 2009