Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is it bad...

...that I'm already ordering seeds? :) I used up $20 in SwagBucks today ordering Renee's Garden seeds. Here, take a look:







All the varieties I purchased were heirloom varieties and fall crops as I know I'll need those first. And I had to do a little happy dance because they were FREEEE with FREE shipping as well!! (Again, if you haven't started Swagging yet, TODAY IS THE DAY! Click here to sign up!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Is there a market...

So, many of you know that I'm finishing up my PhD in Education. Right now I teach at a nearby university and mostly enjoy my job. My previous gig was with a big company writing curriculum for schools, and I enjoyed that as well; however, I am always dreaming of doing new things (am I the only one like that?). Lately I've been pondering how to combine my love of education with my passion for homesteading. To make a long story short, I'm thinking of writing curriculum specifically for homeschooling homesteaders!

In my mind, the curriculum is divided by homesteading seasons (i.e. spring & garden tending, harvesting & canning, fall crops, putting the garden to bed for the winter, etc.) and incorporates all the chores we'd normally be doing. I'd like to highlight various teaching techniques to incorporate traditional subjects into daily work. I'm thinking the books would be sold as PDF downloads so I don't have to pursue a publisher and all that jazz...this also keeps cost lower. They could also be used for hybrid families like ours who do traditional school during the school year and homeschooling in the summers, weekends, and anytime we get the chance. I don't even know it this is a viable idea, but I think I would really enjoy it. What do you guys think?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's Pumpkin Time!!!

Please, oh please, do not let all those lovely pumpkin seeds go to waste! We had all kinds of pumpkins decorating our house and this is about the time I begin to harvest their seeds and freeze up some pumpkin puree. The best instructions I've found for roasting these lovely little seeds comes from Pioneer Woman. She has beautiful step-by-step photos of the process...check it out!!

You can also find instructions for the puree on the Pioneer Woman's website! She's awesome!

Friday, September 24, 2010

REWIND!! Photos from the end of May...


Our blackberries were FULL this year! This photo was taken in May.


A little patch of Thyme...isn't it pretty?


My elephant ear garlic from Seed Savers was amazing this year!


Our praying mantis eggs hatched! It was so much fun to discover these little guys in the garden throughout the summer, growing like crazy! I think we'll make mantis eggs a staple in our springtime garden!


The lavender harvest...wonder what kind of Christmas gifts our lavender will become this year??

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Soap Making...

You really, truly MUST go watch this video from Maple Valley Farm!! I am so inspired to try my hand at soap making after watching how easy it is!

Check it out at
http://eclecticculturefarm.blogspot.com/2010/08/todays-soap-episode.html

or here

http://www.wzzm13.com/video/take_five_default.aspx?menuid=188#/Take%20Five/Make%20your%20own%20soap/51295455001/51120544001/594119748001

Do you have soap making experience? If so, what are your favorite essential oils/exfoliants/colorings? These would make truly fantastic Christmas gifts!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm still here!!!

I am still here! This summer the garden has been so successful, I had to make a choice between blogging about canning and gardening and actually working at the canning and gardening...I chose the real thing. My sweet neighbor said she thought blogging might be a winter sport! ROFL!! How great is that? I am taking lots of pictures and trying to keep records of all the yummy produce coming in. Hang in there! I'll be back with lovely visuals and details of our most productive summer yet!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Welcome to Fresher than Fresh...Cooking with Scapes

We've been watching a bit too much Food Network...bear with me...


Here's a pic of the garden from last week!


Garlic scapes that were harvested in order to encourage healthy, big elephant ear bulbs:


The scapes were chopped up and drizzled with bit of Olive Oil and some Parmesan Cheese then ground in my sweet neighbor's baby food mill (which I promise I will return any day now):


Then I put the garlic scape pesto in ice cube trays to freeze it:


We had pasta with garlic scape pesto and BOY, HOWDY...did it have a kick. Not sure if ours was a bit more stout than most or what, but I'll probably be mixing this in with other pasta sauces or traditional pesto in small amounts to add some flavor. I must say it was a bit too strong to eat solo, but the flavor was amazing.

In addition, we've canned 2 pints of pickled beets, 10 pints of carrots, and frozen 1 gallon of strawberries from our garden! This weekend, we'll be heading out to pick some wild blackberries as well as harvesting some of our own!

In the garden, I'm slowly pulling up the spinach and lettuce that's all bolting to feed to the chickens and the bunny. The garlic is almost ready to pull and we'll soon begin digging up and canning potatoes in earnest. The tomatoes are full of golf ball sized green tomatoes and the onions get bigger each day. Green beans are beginning to bloom and I'll be planting black-eyed peas this weekend. Busy, busy, busy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Window Stars


When I began reading about Waldorf style education, I was fascinated by the tranquility of the environments for children...all natural materials...and the amazing colors. One of the things I noticed repeatedly was these lovely window stars that caught the sunlight. I finally decided that I needed to figure out how to make window stars so I can teach my big girl this summer! The rainbow window star was my first one then I made one with greens and yellows.

You can find directions on GardenMama's blog. I bought the kite paper from Nova Natural...I LOVE their store!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Each peach, pear, plum...

Remember those pears I showed you? Well, here's what they look like now!! WOW!!

We also added a plum tree to the OAH! Here she is! She's a Candy Rosa Plum:

And here are those tiny peaches you saw...isn't nature amazing?

What's wrong with this picture?



We had some store bought eggs from a recent visit with my mom, who is a bit squeamish about using "real eggs" in her cooking. Yes, you read that right, my mom went to the store to buy eggs even though I had TWO dozen in my fridge. Anywho...we had these white eggs hanging out in the fridge when my wee one asked for a boiled egg. I never boil just one egg, so I plopped the last three white eggs in the water along with three of our beautiful brown homegrown eggs.

Now, I've certainly noticed that our egg yolks are a much deeper yellow than the store ones, but I was SHOCKED when we peeled up one of each and put the yolks side by side. That pale yellow yolk doesn't even look appealing, does it? I don't think I'll ever go back to generic, mass produced white eggs....how could I?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Garden update...

The blackberries are blooming...


And the potatoes went crazy after three days of nice, slow rain...


I love this time of the year!!

Calling in the good guys...

Our praying mantis order arrived today!!

The eggs were much bigger than I thought they'd be. If you click on this photo, you can read the instructions that came with them.


We took them right outside and found a nice, sheltered bush to wire them into...can you see them?


Here's a close up. I used copper wire to securely attach them to the branches of this bush in filtered sunlight...just as the instructions said. These bushes are right beside our garden, so I'm hoping as they hatch they'll stay near and begin eating aphids and potato bugs!


We'll be keeping a close eye on these and with any luck we'll be able to see some of the babies hatching out of the egg. I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Recycled Ollas



So, this year I thought I'd plant a few 2-liter bottles and see what happens...a cola tree perhaps??? LOL! Seriously, we live in Oklahoma...land of crazy weather patterns. Every summer we go through a period of drought that wreaks havoc on the garden...especially larger plants like tomatoes. After much research, I found this information on ollas from one of my favorite blogs, Little Homestead in the City. After reading, ollas seemed like a great solution to my water woes; however, the cost was a bit much for me at $29 each!

Back to researching. I soon found several websites with instructions for recycling pop bottles to create a homemade olla! PERFECT! So, I set out making a few of these little beauties to deliver aqua straight to the thirsty roots of my tomatoes and peppers! We'll see how it goes...my goal is to get bookoos of tomatoes to can my own spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and ketchup!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The view from here...

How does your garden grow? Here's a shot of what we've got going so far...hoping to put in green beans & corn very soon!


We got a few new guests out at Willow Run! Three new baby cows! Here's a shot of the girls peeking into the trailer:


The newest residents meet Smokey and Red.


Here's a view of the front pond...so pretty...


Smokey & Red have really settled in and are enjoying the green grass!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This could be the year!!

It is just beautiful here today so I headed out to the backyard with my trusty camera in hand and discovered a few tiny surprises that made me more excited than a lotto winner...seriously...

As many of you know, we planted fruit trees before we unpacked boxes when we arrived here on the OAH. Knowing that it would be several years before seeing fruit, I've watered and weeded, and given many pep talks to these trees...after all, growing FRUIT is an investment in time. It's a wholly different undertaking when compared to an annual veggie garden...serious stuff, people.

Anyway, back to the walk I took today...check out what's been happening out back!!


The blueberries will be blooming any day now! Yes, I know this is a bush...not a tree, but these take some time, too!


That's a tiny pear!! No kidding!


Apple blossoms...the first blooms on our apple trees since we planted them!


A teeny peach was hiding inside this blossom!


I'd like to pause for a moment to thank all those who have made these garden developments possible...thank you precious little buggies! Ummmm...could you get off that dandelion, though, and head over to the fruit trees? (Look at all the pollen on his little bum! :)


Our apricot tree is our healthiest tree...it really seems happy with it's location and all this crazy Oklahoma weather. Grow little tree, grow! Can you see that lovely little baby apricot?

Could this be the year we finally get a decent fruit harvest? Maybe! Stay tuned to find out!!

(Also, I'd like to apologize for being a bad blogger...I know it's been awhile since I've posted. Thanks for your patience and for sticking with me!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Little feet...


What is it about their little feet that is so endearing?

There's a First Time for Everything...



This is the story of a set of dishes...dishes that I gazed at routinely growing up...dishes that I never...not once...ate off of. The story started with a marriage, my mom and dad to be exact, and some very expensive tableware that my parents registered for. It is rumored that the plates cost $15 each...in the 70's! These dishes were so nice that my mom lovingly placed them in the hutch, and never took them out again.

Yes, these dishes were given as wedding gifts to my parents, but never used...really...not even once. This past week, my mom gifted them to me and we intend to put them to good use. The photo above was taken to commemorate the very first use of these awesome dishes! (Homemade applesauce with a dollop of yogurt cheese and a sprinkle of wheat germ...my kiddos' favorite snack.) I love them (the dishes...oh, and the kiddos, too, of course)!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

She's at it again!!


Awhile back my husband's grandmother gifted me with several gallons of plum juice she'd carefully processed and frozen. She does not feel like doing the hard, hot work of canning any longer and was considering throwing out this last batch of juice she'd put away...I could go on about the sentimental value of this jelly...but I'm pretty sure you all are with me. I'm hoping that this batch wins a blue ribbon at the county fair that I can give to her along with several jars of jelly. Isn't it lovely?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Come on, everyone....get in line....


This brings back my days as a teacher! I've decided to be a bit more organized in my garden plot. Hopefully this will help me utilize every inch of my space and make weeding a bit easier. In the past I've been one of those rogue, random seed spreaders...no rows, just...well....ummmmmm, clumps! Yes, that's it, clumps! While I enjoy more natural garden designs, I have come to an understanding that the veggie garden is not the best place for this. Keeping records of the rows will allow me to be more purposeful in my testing of varieties and will encourage more careful seed choices in the future. All of that being said, let me explain the photo. I've been using a string stretched between two stakes to help in laying out semi straight rows. These are my little yellow onion sets all nestled in compost enriched soil. I made sure to follow the Farmer's Almanac lunar calendar recommendations for planting root crops.

I've also found a fantastic "app" for my iPhone that is called iGarden. This app allows a gardener to keep records of the date of planting and counts down the days to harvest for each veggie. It's so nice to see those harvest days grow closer...even when I am away from my garden I can sort of virtually check in with it via iGarden. If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend this app! Have fun!

Finally, I'd like to take a moment to say a hearty "THANK YOU!!" to the inventor of rubber mud boots. Honestly, how did I garden before these beauties came into my life?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh...












Of course, I knew spring would come...but it seemed like such a loooong, cold winter for us Okies. Now, if we can just avoid one of those late frosts...
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