This is the world. This is my life. These are my words.

Archive for the ‘Hand-made life’ Category

I seem to keep finding myself here, again. 

In Hand-made life, photos, randomness from my mind, Uncategorized on January 5, 2016 at 20:54

I always start the year off thinking that it will be different from the last. Not diffierent as in the events that pass are bound to be, but different in that  my mind will grow differently. It will develop differently depending on the events that I witness, and by the events that are relayed to me in the stories and experiences of those i meet. And i hope that in turn I can play a part in the growth of someone elses mind, so that they to may be different this year, by being more of themselves.  

I have not posted in quite some time. When last i wrote there was a lot of things happening. To many things to talk about and then too many things to step away from to tell. And then there was nothing. Nothing new to say. And so like many times before i said nothing.  But here i find myself again with words to share. 

In august of 2013 we bought a house.  

 The house is located in south Seattle. We have an enormous spot for the food garden, the chikens have a large enclosed yard, and there is still enough space for  relaxing in nice weather. I have been busy the last 2 years fixing up the house and getting the yard into a gardenable space. It has been a lot of work but work that i have enjoyed. Neither the yard nor the house are “finished” but i think they are off to a good start. Currently the garden is a mess, but in a few weeks i will start preparing for the spring garden, and then the summer one. 

After we bought the house we started the processs of becomming foster parents witht he hope of adopting 1 or 2 infants or todlers from foster care. Everyone told us going through an agency would be best since our end goal was adoption. We jumped through all the hops and were issued a foster licence. Unfortunatly we have not had much luck or any good experiences with our agency and almost 2 years later (2 years of being licenced) we have had no foster children in our home. With the start of the new year we have decided to break up with our agency, which causes a bunch of complications, but things can not continue as they are. (more on this at a later date).

Mostly things are the same as they were. Ben is still obsessing over music (seattlemusicnerd.wordpress.com). Armand still finds joy in destroying all the things.  And I am trying to find the time to continue living that handmade, homemade life I long for.
Hello 2016.

Today i killed a chicken.

In chickens, Hand-made life on February 10, 2013 at 15:42

For the most part we don’t eat meat. I am less picky than Ben. I will eat something containing chicken broth or bits of chicken if someone i know has made it for me, mostly soup. I prefer not to, but if it is what the meal is i will probably eat it. We do not buy or prepare meat for ourselves. That being said we keep chickens for eggs.
In Seattle we can own 8 chickens. And while 8 chickens lay more eggs than 3 people should eat, i do a lot of baking so more eggs are always nice, and sometimes i need to bribe the neighbors. I realized that at some point, when the chickens stopped laying, i would need to figure out what to do with them. It would be great if there was some retirement home for elderly chickens, but there isn’t really. And i feel it is my responsibility. While i know that i would have issues eating my own chickens (it took me a few weeks before i could eat their eggs), i am not opposed to someone eating them.
Most of the people i would give the chicken to for eating would not really be up to preparing the chicken, so i felt that it was something i had to learn. That coupled with the fact that sometimes chickens get sick or injured and the best thing is to help end their pain. We decided before we got chickens that they would not be going for doctors visits, so we would need to figure out how to handle the situation ourselves. So i took a class.

I got back about 30 mins ago. My hands have been washed 5 times with soap and hot water, but they still smell slightly of freshly killed chicken. I did not bring my own chicken to cull, but someone in the class was kind enough to let me cull one of their chickens. It was a lot easier than i thought it would be. Of course that might have something to do with it being someone else’s chicken. I held the chicken for a while to calm it down. Then i lowered it into a cone and pulled its head through the hole in the other side. The chicken was really calm, and still. Slit, and drain. Once the blood stopped dripping you take the bird and dip it in scolding soapy water for about 10 dips to loosen up the feathers. After that the feather came off very easily. Strangely enough i found it more difficult to gut the dead bird than i found to cut its throat, but i did it. It was a good learning experience. I do not wish to do it often but i now know that i can do it if it needs to be done.

The sadness of garden greens in winter.

In Gardening, Hand-made life on February 6, 2013 at 13:14

As autmn began I started to plan putting the garden to bed. Autumn came and went, winter set in and still the garden was not fully tucked in to bed. The mustard greens that I had let go to seed with the intention of using said seeds to make mustard powder slowly fell to the ground and started to sprout. The broccoli rabe that had not really matured during the summer had continued to attempt to grow. The kale grew on, the garlic I planted too late last season began to sprout and the buckwheat I planned for the chickens emerged from the ground. We are having a very mild winter.
A few weeks ago I started to look through the seed catalogs and decided that with what we had still growing and seeds we saved from last year, we wound attempt to just plant what we have and see how it went. Then the garden massacre happened.
Due to miscommunication (I am being nice), some workers our landlord hired to cut down a tree “weeded” the yard. Because no one was around to tell them what was a weed and what was food and I suppose assuming that nothing grows in the winter, the lovely (I am being nice) workers proceeded to rip up every green thing emerging from the ground and remove the first inch of top soil cleaning up. The mustard greens were gone, the kale gone, the buckwheat gone. Half of the garlic remained but because they had removed so much soil most of them now stood naked above ground, their roots exposed. I later found out that they had ripped up all 4 kinds of mint we had growing, and as if to add insult to injury after they had made bare our raised beds they trampled through them to remove the cut down bits of tree from the yard. (Footprints don’t lie).
I have been feeling sorry for myself garden wise since then. I know it’s still early and there is plenty of time to plant most things again. I just really want to yell at someone for this but that won’t happen. So I shall start planning my spring garden as if nothing happened and look forward to eating those first greens.

Goats.

In Hand-made life on February 1, 2013 at 15:32

Probably a few years ago now, a friend of mine said that all ladies secretly wanted to own chickens and goats. I admitted to maybe wanting chickens, but i proudly declared that i had no desire for goats. I was apparently telling lies. I want some goats. Well, i want some girl goats.

A few weeks ago i went to a cheese making class not at all close to my house. I happened to meet a woman who lives about 300 yards from my house. I was happy to find out that she had chickens, rabbits, ducks, and.. goats. I went to visit her later that day and convinced her that she wanted to teach me how to milk a goat.

The first time i tried i was really bad. I mean, Really bad. I first watched her, and then she said i should try and told me what i needed to be doing with my hands but my hands did not seem to want to listen. I was afraid i would hurt the goat by squeezing too tight so instead i just molested her teats a bunch while pushing the milk back and forth from her udders to her teats, and not at all into the bucket. The goat got impatient at my lack of skill or confidence. And i lost more confidence that i could acquire this skill. Eventually i managed to get some milk to come out. I finally came to terms that i had to squeeze harder than i was comfortable with and realized that i was not hurting the goat in doing so. The next hurdle was trying to get the milk to go in to the bucket and not just have it run down my arms. I stopped once milk in the bucket had been achieved a few times. I felt that i had learned a lot for the first lesson and that the goat was very much tired of me molesting her. So i stepped aside and watched the pros finish.

Yesterday i went back for my second lesson. I managed to get mostly all the milk nto the bucket, and the goat did not seem to hate me touching her as much, though she was pretty distracted with her goat treats. I was able to nearly get all the milk out by myself, but did need help in the end. My arms are not sore anymore, but i can tell that i am going to have to build up some milking muscles for the future. Ben is not so excited about the idea of having goats, but i plan to give him a little while longer to get used to the idea and then well once i get the goats he will just have to deal with it :), besides… im letting him have a cat.. the goat is going to be far more useful.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Pickles

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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

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