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Archive for 2012|Yearly archive page

What can happen in a month?

In chickens, sickness, thoughts on December 16, 2012 at 13:47

I still have too many apples to process.
I pickled a lot of beets.
Armand started vomiting poop.
Armand had surgery to remove an obstruction in his small intestine.
Armand hates the hospital stay and all the tubes they kept reinserting when he ripped them out.
Ben and I spent 10 days sleeping on a tiny bed at the hospital, our backs still have not recovered.
Lydia, our blue egg laying chicken, died.
I had my first pet funeral that did not involve a toilet, and now wonder whatever happened to my dog when it died.

We are almost back to normal, whatever that is.

Apples…apples… ugh, apples

In Hand-made life, photos on November 13, 2012 at 19:51

In early october Ben told me that if we wanted to pick apples from his great aunts orchard that we had to get picking. I was excited about the idea of picking apples, having never done it before. The afternoon was fun and much quicker than i expected. We enlisted the help of a friend and her children. We sent the kids into the trees and apples came pouring down. By the end we had a trunk full of apples. Quite literally. I was excited! I like apples. I like apple pie. I like apple sauce. I like dried apples. I like apples! We picked 3 different kind of apples. We were told 2 of them were good storage apples, and one needed to be eaten pretty quickly. We sorted the apples into kinds and shape. Apples that were non storage, bruised, or blemished went into the apple sauce and apple pie now pile. The rest a good 70lbs of apples in perfect condition went into the food storage room in the basement. The plan was to work through the apples that were going to turn quickly and save the perfect apples for juicing or for fresh eating into the winter. To sauce or pie them if they started to get mealy or we were just tired of apples. I finished processing the 50lbs of apples in the process now pile. I was glad to be done. I had decided that i was going to use every part that could be used. I made apple sauce, and dried apples. With the peels and cores i made apple syrup and apple cider vinegar. The bits left over after that went to the chickens (except for the vinegar left overs which went to the compost bin as they had fermented and i did not want drunk chickens). This made for a lot of yummy things, but also a lot of work. But i was done, finally… or so i thought. As it turns out the good storage apples, are not so good for storing. While the apples in the storage room are not rotting, they are for the most part all mealy, and not very tasty for eating fresh nor are they useful for juicing at this point. I can work a bit slower than i did with the first batch of apples, but i still need to process the rest eventually. At this point i’m not sure i like apples anymore. 55lbs left.

Introducing Parker

In biking, photos on October 22, 2012 at 19:25

Sometime during the summer someone broke into our garage and stole my old bike. This made me very angry as i had just started riding again, and there were 3 other bikes in the garage that were not touched. I did not really have the money to buy a new bike that was suitable. I test rode a lot of cheaper bikes trying to find one that felt right, but they all felt wrong. Eventually i realized that the best bike for me was the bike that i had before, so i scrounged the money together and bought the new version of the old bike. The old bike never had a name, and she was quite mean to me. The new bike… his name is Parker…Image

Introducing Parker. Shiny new bike with most of the new shiny accessories that needed to be replaced. I have yet to get puncture proof tires, so i might be in for an adventure of flats, and i have yet to put fenders on as with the rear rack the worse of the splashing will be blocked.

And then i sewed a bag!

In Hand-made life, photos on October 2, 2012 at 19:18

first completed sewing project. a Market tote bag.

The last of the harvest.

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2012 at 19:05

Today from my garden: Purple Chez peppers (hot), Little bell peppers (sweet), eggs, onions (sweet), tomatoes (yellow pear, black cherry, black prince, and some random cherry), beets, CORN!, delicata squash, kabocha squash (a tiny one), and
butternut squash. There is only kale, some corn that has no hope of ripening, and some tomatoes that are slowly but surely turning from green to edible left in my garden. For the most part it has gone to bed for the winter. Thank you garden!


This week in the kitchen: Summer rice, Beet root-beet green salad with scalloped potatoes, and plum jam

In Hand-made life, photos on August 2, 2012 at 20:11

Summer rice: Sauteed yellow summer squash, fennel ( bulb and fronds), fresh garlic, and onion, on brown rice.

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Brought to you by our garden (and chickens): Fried egg, scalloped potatoes with fresh thyme, and a beet root, beet green, red cabbage salad with plum jam and kombucha ‘vinaigrette’ (everything but salt, pepper, and soy milk used on the potatoes was grown on our lovely urban farm)

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Plum jam

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On rats, and plum trees.

In garden, Hand-made life, photos on August 2, 2012 at 20:05

The day we moved into this rental house there was a rat in the yard running about in the daylight like there had never been anything in the yard to ever scare it. We secured the chicken coop as soon as possible as we were not silly enough to believe that the rats wouldn’t quickly figure out how to get in. We had many rounds of trappings. If we noticed signs of them trying to dig under our rat-proof coop we baited a trap with peanut butter set it nearby and disposed of the dead rat in the morning. In the early days this was about 3-4 rats a week. Eventually we would notice something off, put out a trap catch one rat then there would be a few weeks of no sightings or signs. We knew the rats were still around but they didn’t bother us (or the chickens and garden) and we didn’t bother them. I thought we had an understanding.

Then we noticed we had a fruit tree. We first assumed it was a cherry tree but then as the “cherries” began to grow much larger than a cherry should be we realized that they were in fact plums. We were very excited at first. I started to plan all the things i would make with our plums…Chicken Farm plum jam, Chicken Farm plum wine, Chicken Farm plum pie..Chicken Farm plum cake… Then Ben brought it to my attention that the plum tree was no closer to the ground than 15 feet, and that low part of the tree was over an unstable sloping area. Most of the tree sits a good 40 feet up so,basically there was no way we would be collecting all of those plums. We would be lucky to get 1/8th of them. The plums i saw just outside, the unopenable, second story window started to mock me. Slowly the ground began to become littered with half eaten half rotten fruits. The birds sang as they ate. Eventually i convinced Ben to go to the very tippy top of the ladder to get as many plums as he could reach. (See, he is 6 foot tall and thin and i’m not. Logically he should climb the ladder.) He managed to grab about 16 lbs of plums. There would at least be Chicken Farm plum jam!

The excitement of jam did not last very long. As more and more plums dropped to the ground, more russeling in the bushes, more rats in the yard.I grabbed as many plums from the ground that i saw, and could reach that were not already mush. I gave these to the chickens, but it wasn’t enough. The rats had been feasting. And in their new found food haven they had become ballsy indeed. They started to come out again during the day time roaming about like they owned the place. They live under the back porch. They live in the bushes, they live everywhere. We put out plenty of traps but apparently no one wants to eat peanut butter when you can get drunk off half rotten plums.
Sometimes i sit outside on our bench, hose set on jet in hand. I wait until they are nibbling on a plum and then BAM! I like to think that im making them associate fright and pain with plums, but really i know even if i manage to get one to stop there are millions in waiting.

Fat girl biking: A come back tale.

In Fat Girl Biking on July 28, 2012 at 21:48

In August of 2009 frustrated with bus commuting, i bought a bike. I rode that bike 8 miles to work and 8 miles home every weekday.I fell in love with my bike. I started riding it everywhere. I decided that the next summer (2010) i would do the STP. The STP is a 200 mile bike ride from Seattle, WA, to Portland, OR. I had little less than a year to train. I started going on long rides over the weekend. I was up to 60 miles a day. It felt great. But then i got doored. I was hurt for a while, but i got back on the bike and continued to train. Until i got hit by a car.

I had no major injures, but i pinched some nerves on my spine. The pinches nerves would make my arms and legs would go numb randomly and shoot out random pain signals. I stupidly tried to brace my fall with my hand and fell on my wrist. It wasn’t broken but I had trouble gripping things for long periods of time. It took me about a month to recover to the point where i thought i could go on long rides again. As it turns out i jumped the gun. I could no longer go 30 miles, let alone 60, or the 100 that would be required of me each day of the STP. There wasn’t enough time left to get strong enough to complete the ride so i backed out. Most of my biking partners went on with out me, and i cheered them on from seattle, and tried not to be too sad about having to back out.

I went back to riding my bike to work, but i noticed that i wasn’t as fluid as i had been. I was sort of skittish. I was afraid that i would have another encounter with some driver that wasn’t paying attention, or in my case some one turning and not paying attention to people in the cross walk while trying to beat a light. It took me a while before i rode my bike for fun. But i was still sad that i had not done the STP, and i was ashamed to try again for fear that i would fail. By 2011 i was mostly back to normal. I rode to work, i rode to fun. Then of course, hit again.

Technically the car didn’t touch me. It sped up to squeezed past me on a narrow street leaving me with nowhere to go but down. They continued to drive away without stopping. I was left on the ground wondering if i had all my limbs. I did, but my bike seat was broken, and one of my gears was twisted and no longer useable. All this added to the countless times i was almost hit, nearly doored, or yelled at by people in cars (simply for being on a bike) it started to feel like people in cars were mounting a war, and i was loosing all the major battles.

When i moved into this house with Ben i also got a new job. The roads around here are too pot-holey to bike, and the time i had to get to and from work really isn’t enough time to bike. I started driving. And after 9 months i felt myself becoming a car person. I don’t want to be a car person. I missed my bike!
So a few weeks ago I went out with a friend. I ended up riding about 20 miles. Not bad for a first trip out after a 9 month break. My ass hurt like hell, but i was glad to finally be back on my bike. I came home and informed Ben that we would be going to the store to get what was needed to get his bike running. There was an adventure with getting him new tires (it turns out he’s got some weird sized rims, and we spent half a day trying to force tires on that were too small) and weeks of stalling, but today we went out for our first ride together (ever).

He hasn’t been on a bike in years. I tried to let him make the pace but it was difficult to slow down to his speed. I ended up riding a bit ahead of him and slowing down every now and again to let him catch up. If i lost sight of him in my mirror id stop and wait for him to pass me, and then start up again. I wanted to try and push myself on this trip but i had to take into consideration that Ben wouldn’t be able to do 20 miles, let alone the 40 i wanted to do. We ended up doing 12.5. We stopped when he needed to, and took a long rest half way. It took us about 2.5 hours. I think he hates biking now. My wrist still has random fits of pain every now and again, but my ass has almost back to the biking butt it once was. Now i just have to figure out how i am going to pay to get my gears fixed and we will be back in business. Heres hoping for a total lack of asshole drivers (or non observant car door openers).

A week of firsts.

In garden, Gardening, Grain mill, Hand-made life, photos on July 22, 2012 at 22:13

I sent Ben up to the top of the tallest ladder we have. He came down with about 16lbs of cherry plums.We also harvested the first two sacks of our potatoes this weekend. While we did get 3.5lbs, i have to admit that i expecting tons of potatoes. I think i planted too many seed potatoes into each sack. But we shall enjoy what we grew and we now know better for next year.


The potato harvest brought with it our first meal made entirely of food from our back yard.

Potato fritatta with some baby onions, and the last of the peas sauteed in their pods.



Also from this weeks kitchen:

zucchini onion corn fritters, with potato salad and broccoli

zuchinni corn brocoli onion fritters

And with my lasted thrift store score ( a nearly new ice cream maker) Spice cream! ( cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg soy milk ice cream) and gingerbread cookies made from spelt ground in our bike mill.


This was my first try at ice cream. I couldn’t find a recipe that had things in it that i wanted, or ingredients we had in the house so i made one up. Next time i will add less sugar. The texture was wonderful when we tried the ice cream straight from the maker, but it got a lot harder once we transfered it into the freezer, and the texture became a bit more icy. I will have to find out if this is something i can stop or if it will happen if i don’t use “cream”.

This week in the kitchen

In Hand-made life, photos on July 15, 2012 at 22:08

Chickpea curry, yogurt curry roasted cauliflower (from the garden), and black nile barley.

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Hard poached eggs on a bed of sauteed dandilion greens; kohlrabi greens; with shiso, tarragon, rosemary, and lemon thyme; roasted kohlrabi with ginger, sunflower and hemp seeds; and some polenta….

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Cherry butter