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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Up North

My DH and I took a day away from children Saturday. We went for a drive 'up north' to the Chequamegon National Forest along the Flambeau River. We did a little walking in the woods, a little unwinding, a little reminiscing about the days when we really camped; back when air mattresses were for wussies, and wet sock were dried much like we cooked marshmallows- on a long stick over the fire! It was a nice day--thank you Mom for watching the girls!!
Some pictures of our day:

Covered bridge near smith rapids

Can you see the little guy?

Pine plantation

Round Lake (do you see the fisherman with his lab in the boat?)

Just pretty

We always have to throw in something historical or educational. This is a rebuilt log dam on Round Lake. During the logging boom of the late 1800's the only way to get lumber out of the woods was on the water. In the spring they filled this holding bay with cut lumber, then closed the dam allowing 10ft of water to build up. They opened the dam washing the lumber down the Flambeau River approx 12 miles to the next dam site. In this way the logs were floated to the Chippewa River and eventually to the Mississippi. One of the signs told us that 1/6 of the nations white pine west of the Appalachian Mtns was harvested here in the Chippewa river basin. I wish I could have seen it. Not the harvesting but the thousands of square miles of mature forest.

Holding pool for logs

Flambeau River--it looks like a creek now after months with out rain-hard to believe this is considered one of our canoeing crown jewels!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dried Bean Experiment

My gardening experiments continue...
My goal for the garden was to see what kind of foods my family enjoyed eating, grow easily for a novice, and be stored to be eaten over the long winter. This winter we are not depending on this food to survive, but next winter may be different.
These are Black Valentine bush beans. They produced a nice green bean, good flavor but not huge quantities. I left one section unpicked all summer and allowed them to dry on the plant. I took them out of the garden last week, they were beginning to split. I picked individual pods but I can see where pulling the whole plant would work pretty well-especially if you have a lot to do.
From an approx 2foot long row of plants I got 15oz of beans. I'll post again once we have eaten them! I also have a HUGE number of purple pole beans maturing on the vine, waiting to be picked in another week or so!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ugly Bread

No this is not a post about some fun new gourmet artisan bread. It is truly ugly bread dough.


What am I doing wrong?? Too dry? Not enough kneading is my guess. The dough doesn't stretch, but rather breaks. This is supposed to be simple french bread. Ha. It looks like brains. Really!
I have been making all our bread form the breadmaker but thought it was time to branch out. Please comment if you can tell just at a glance what is wrong with my bread!
(this is 1cup whole wheat, 2 cups bread flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup water with 4tsp yeast)

okay you can laugh if you want--I sure am :D

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When is a Chicken More Than a Chicken?

Short story: My DH and I butchered approx 20 bantie laying hens on Sunday. We are complete amateurs and it took a long time but now we have the basis for a winter's worth of kick-ass chicken soup stock.
Long Story: After reading Salatin's Pastured Poultry Profit book my DH and I were excited. We had the opportunity to 'flock-share' my dad's laying hens. He did not have the time or energy to care for them full time this summer and had planned on giving them away or otherwise getting rid of them in May of this year. Summer was approaching, along with my reduced work schedule and extra time camping out there. We decided to go for it. We built chicken tractors and became part-time farmers (is there such a thing?). I didn't expect for my husband to become so enthralled with the chickens. I could see his brain ticking every time we cared for them; how do we make this more efficient, what do they like to eat, their behavior. My beer drinking, red-necked, wild man; recently turned yuppie desk jockey was turning over yet another new leaf-heck a whole new tree!
Unfortunately summer ends and schedules return, the chickens were back in the original predicament. We can't bring them back to the suburbs- even our 2 rabbits are outlaws. It was a great experience and has whetted our appetite for what is possible. We found a home for the 8 leghorns who were each producing a jumbo+ egg daily, but the banties were low producers-even if they were our own flock-I would not have fed them all over the winter. They had to go and we couldn't see just throwing them away because they were not convenient anymore. Their little bodies were not disposable, not just waste. Perhaps it was part penance part education, but Sunday morning (and into afternoon) Tom and I wrung necks, skinned (no scalding tanks or feather plucker's available), and eviscerated approx 20 banties and 1 very large rooster. We have their little carcasses (three to a gallon Ziploc) in the freezer awaiting chicken soup stock.
Not a fun way to end our summer of part-time farming, but it was REAL. It will be remembered for a long time. For the winter we will go back to being regular suburbanites, but now we have a vision. Next summer we will be building our own place on property adjacent to my fathers. Chickens are part of the first year plan, along with some multigenerational farming.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Today I have a post on Homemakers Who Work. Nutrition, genetics-hey it's Nutrigenomics-and no I did not make that up!
Today was a day I do not want to repeat for a LONG time. I'll post tomorrow about it. I'm kinda wiped today.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

160 lbs of Potatoes

I have more closet make-over pictures today! This spring I planted 10# of seed potato. We had no blight problems, good seed or dry conditions, I'm not sure which. Garden novice that I am, I wasn't sure what to expect. We harvested the past two weekends and stored more than 160lbs of potatoes (not including the ones we had eaten already)! I am overwhelmed with spuds. Another closet to the rescue! This is in our basement- a strange little alcove approx 10 ft x 4 ft concrete brick all the way around, finished in drywall. There must have been a reason for it in the 50's when our ranch was built-but it made a great tornado shelter and it will now become my root cellar!

I also harvested 2 huge cabbages-I fried 1/4 head and will make soup with another 1/2, but i am at a loss for what else to do with it. Homemade kraut?? I just put the head in the 'root closet' for now-it is the coolest place in the house aside from the fridge. Even without the tomatoes (still green), I was unprepared for the bounty of this garden. It's a good problem to have, I just need to learn how to cook with REAL food.




Ruralrose said...
giggles - we all long for success and then don't know what to do with it - you have done such an awesome job this year, pride should be smiling on your shoulder, peace

September 9, 2009 10:31 AM
fullfreezer said...
Whoa!!! That's a boat-load of potatoes! Good luck. Just be sure you let them cure out before you pack them in that closet. I found one of ours going stinkily bad yesterday.

September 9, 2009 8:38 PM
hickchick said...
Judy --this is the part I worry about... I have read all the things I did wrong!! Even though the vines had died back-the skins peeled easily. They were not mature enough. I have limited space and conditions for storage.
I will be purchasing a temp/humidity device. I will also start dehydrating potatoes! I really don't think they will last very long. Next year I will harvest on their schedule NOT MINE! :)

September 9, 2009 9:21 PM

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Take the Power

"This life is yours.
Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well.
Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly.
Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature.
Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you.
Take the power to make your life happy.”
By Susan Polis Schulz

Thank you dear sister Tracy for this quote. I have kept this framed quote you gave me years back and am ready to REALLY take it to heart. I have been a passive participant in my own life for a long time. I jumped into the river of life and have allowed it to sweep me away. It has been beautiful and exciting and at times overwhelming, but I am ready to steer my own course out of the main channel with all of its rocks and whitewater. I am ready for some quiet eddies and deep brown pools overhung with green boughs. I'll need to paddle a bit to get there, and the current is always tugging me back. Persistence, patience, I have the power to get there.
Peace, Kris