Monday, April 30, 2012

My top 5 urban homesteading tools...

Each homestead is different just as each home and family found within are different.
So, here are my top five necessities for our homestead.

#1 Coffee containers
We have so many uses for them
grain scoop
compost container
chicken scraps
If you don't drink coffee, ask your neighbor, family, scrounge at the office.
I find the "red brand" containers to be the best since they have a grip area on them, but not a tube formed handle that stuff gets stuck in like the blue brand.  They are easy to clean and when they are too banged up/cracked to use, they can be recycled.

C. in how she has grown!

#2 A good sturdy bucket with handle
Especially in the cold winter it helps to make as few trips from the house to the coop/compost bins/garden as possible.  I can fill mine half way with chicken feed and then still fit in one gallon of water for the chickens, two coffee containers (scraps and compost) as well as eggs on the way back from the coop.  Make sure that the weight isn't too much for the handle (or the one doing the carrying.) This leaves one hand empty to carry an old grain sack full of straw or for a hoe to move around the deep litter in the coop.  In the summer my bucket may contain seeds, gloves, and hand tools.  When things are arranged at the garden, it will be empty to go get a few buckets of finished compost or to put weeds into and carry to the chickens.

#3 A hoe
I use mine all year long.  They are great for mucking out the coop, breaking up ice in front of doors, weeding, loosening up soil, planting, creating hills for potatoes or corn.  Really, it is indispensable around here.  We used to have one we got at a yard sale, but eventually the wooden handle splintered and broke (and now makes a great hand tool.)  We now have one with a metal handle and like its solid heft.

#4 Scrap wood/pallets.
I use it for everything.  I have piles of tree limbs that should be mulched and used as walkways...or burnt for a bonfire...I have lumber from tearing apart an old out building.  We then look at each piece of wood.  Some gets trashed or bonfired, the rotten pieces that are riddled with nails...the ones that are so splintered they'd never hold a nail...those that are barely over the size of sawdust.  The scrap wood that passes the test goes in a pile and reused for making little things such as chicken coop tunnels and roosts, cold frames, or other items needed like buttons...

#5 Coffee-Tea...something to get the engine going.
This piggybacks upon the first item on the list.  I need coffee containers...I need to drink coffee.  Some mornings one can wake up a bit sore.  For example moving compost piles tends to give one "shovel shoulder."  This will make one not want to get up in the morning to do it all over again...but there is coffee brewed (I set it up the night before and the husband usually will turn it on on his way to the shower.)  It gets me going and ready to face another day/another crisis.  Usually I take my first mug with me on the morning chores (water the chickens, make sure they have feed, let them out of the coop, check for early laying, and give them scraps.)  Then the coffee comes with me while I tidy up the house and wait for the children to be fully awake.  It is my drink of choice to start the home school day.  Usually when the pot of coffee is done, I switch to tea...Chi is my favorite right now...honey and milk...yum...and after one cup of full test tea I change to decaf...and water...after all, you can have too much of a good thing...and think of all that compost it grounds and tea bags.  Sometimes when I remember to separate out my coffee grounds, I'll use the grounds to fertilize my greens as well.  The nitrogen and acid in it make really nice leafy greens.  And for seed starting, coffee grounds also make a great planting medium...just be sure to transfer the plants into something more traditionally nutrient rich  when they start poking up.

Linked up with the Monday Barn Hop and Simple Lives Thursday and The Morris Tribe

Friday, April 27, 2012

Last the numbers

1 shalom cardigan given to my sister
2 spinning wheels
2 garbage bags of alpaca
Too much beer being consumed...
3 extra people on a trip to the home school group
4 adults on a porch watching
4 children playing
5 bikes stashed around the yard

My sister (yes that often elusive country sister...) came to visit with her family.  We spent time on the "veranda" watching the children, preparing the alpaca wool and imbibing a bit too much (it was the beer fest weekend and the husbands sadly missed their "beer for breakfast" trip since they slept too late.)  We finally sampled the Arsenal Cider House that we'd been talking about going to for a while.  Amazing.  We also went to some other locations about the city.

My sister also dropped off my grandmother's spinning wheel.  I have so many fond memories of it.  I spun it like there was no tomorrow.  It still works, but needs a bit of a hug and will be taking a quick visit to the yarn store to get some parts.

The city husband got all to used to cured meat, cheese, and cracker trays in the evening and wonders why they don't appear more often.  My sister got the shalom cardigan that I made for her.

She also got me all dolled up for an event I had to go to (obligations... oh the obligations of my husband's job) and babysat the kiddos...isn't she amazing.  She even was able to convince me I didn't look ridiculous wearing a dress and makeup and managed to get me out of the house without my hair looking like I stuck my finger in a light socket as it usually does.

Sadly, my sister's family had to leave earlier than planned due to the storm that never came (although they did get through the mountains before the snow hit there, so I guess it was a good thing they left when they did.)

Oh well, we'll have another visit soon.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

For my dear nieces

At the dentist.
Phone rings.
And rings again.
The signal that my husband and I have set up to say "PICK UP!"
I figure something wrong must have happened and excuse myself.
It was my sister's number.
I finish getting my teeth checked and call back.
It was my biggest niece. 
And this is what she wanted by 7:45 when she had to start going to bed.
(It is a school night and she has a math test tomorrow...Good luck girlie!)

Birth Announcement
Mr. and Mrs. Mourning Dove
Would like to announce the birth of their two babies 
Monday April 26th at about 1:00pm and 1:45pm
Both mother and babies are doing well.
(Momma Mourning dove protects her babies from the paparazzi.)

Here is Mrs. Mourning Dove sitting on her eggs Sunday Morning.

Here is Mrs. Mourning Dove with her three day old babies.
She is a very good momma.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A finished project...Yarn Along

Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up...Ginny of Small Things

It's done.
It took me nearly the entire home school class semester (as that's when I have time to knit.)
It started as a project for me, but I soon realized that my gauge was off and I am not sized correctly either.
About half way through the project I changed it's purpose for someone else.
Someone special.
I learned a lot while making it as well.
I learned how to knit/purl in the front and back; I learned how to make button holes; I learned patience.
I frogged, I dropped stitches to fix previous errors, I found my knitting courage.
I love this pattern (shalom) and am going to make one for myself in the near future.  
I'm thinking a nice heather grey.  
I'm thinking three buttons (one for each tier.)
I'm thinking about not doing the shaping in order to have the front sides come together a bit more.
Yes, I have plans.
As for reading...I'm reading Harry Potter 4 (Goblet of Fire) to W.
We're also reading The Magic Tree House Series (for a home school class.)
And for me...I'm reading Anne of Green Gables (Yes mom...again.)