Saturday, December 20, 2014

Yard tea

The chickens and ducks have, as they do each year, leveled the piles of grass clippings, leaves and barn waste we have dumped on the garden, and return every day to sift through the sheet mulch for slugs, pill bugs and the like.

They're also nipping off quite a lot of kale and collards, but I think we've had all of two frost nights so far, so the stuff is not as appealing to us as it might have been.

I don't feel deprived. The potatoes, of which we have about a third of what we've harvested most years, are actually holding out well. Not as hungry for them in all this relative warmth, I suppose.

We bought a lot of dry beans and grains and such long enough ago that we're having to start eating them down to rotate in some newer stuff.

The new Khaki Campbell ducks and the Golden Sexlink hens are producing eggs regularly, which is good as the Welsummer hens and Ancona ducks are slacking off, waiting for more daylight (we don't subject them to artificial lighting).

Meadow mushrooms came on big in October and ran for six weeks. I skipped these for years due to their affinity for cesium but at my age it may not matter that much, so I said the heck with it and ate my fill -- they appeared in three meals a day. Very good with eggs, for example.

For greens I have been picking dandelions and adding in a bit of finely chopped garlic leaves, which are already over a foot tall. I've yet to convince those around me, but I think these, steamed, added to mashed potatoes, make a fine colcannon.

I'm also drinking a lot of what I call "yard tea." This is whatever comes to hand seasonally (currently dandelions, sage, marjoram, rosemary, lavender, broadbean leaves, and mint -- lots of mint) wadded up and dropped into my old Faberware butter warmer, along with two cups of water, and simmered until the liquid is golden. The butter warmer has a steel-covered aluminum plate in its base for even heating, which gives it stability on the wood stove, and the upward-tilted handle stays away from the heat quite handily. I get two rocking-chair tea breaks per picking.

There is some serious rain going on at the moment. Some areas of the state have flooded or sagging roadways and there could be slides. A friend has had five inches and counting, and I think she is cut off from town. But she's a mighty resourceful woman, so I won't worry needlessly.

We seem to be missing the worst of it yet -- I'll know more in the morning, but so far our creek has stayed within its banks, which means we've had less than an inch. You never know how these things will go. In '97, one of these storms ripped out our fences, wiped out our two creek bridges, drowned the cat, stole the garden soil, and put a bow wave on the corner of our foundation.

To build up the fire a bit with a small oak log, pull open the drapes for a view of the rain, pour a mug of yard tea, and settle into a rocking chair is as much as anyone should aspire to, to my mind.

God-willin'-an'-th'-crick'-don't-rise, as my momma used to say.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nine days with Amtrak

I was away for awhile. It was sad -- selling my mom and dad's little single-wide in the little retirement park by the river.

The journeying itself was good for me, though. I've been across the country on trains, but these were epic coach-class marathons. This time, I could afford to go sleepers all the way, so I did. Much time for reflection.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Turning inward

This is that time of year when, just to keep from falling in the mud and breaking something, one goes all domestic.

Friday, November 07, 2014

A kitchen garden is its own revolution

Control food and you control the people. -- Henry Kissinger
Grow it, pick it and eat it fresh. -- Risa Bear

To the extent possible, provide for yourself those things certain people would try to force you to buy from their cronies.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Time passes.

An attempt to make you dizzy.

A tour of the outbuildings

Over 21 years, we've come to appreciate and maintain the two sheds that came with the place and added several more. Much of the construction was done using boards, doors and windows from fences and sheds salvaged from our friends' places.

 The "barn," in particular, was an open-front shed in wretched condition when we got here, and a neighbor suggested we remodel it (and the house, truth be told) with a match. I did think to tear down the shed, but it had beams in the ceiling too heavy to be messed with. So it's been our barn, potting shed, and greenhouse ever since, with a little work.

Shown also are the woodshed, storage shed, tiny house, goat barn (still no goats) and the "zendo."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some fancy A7 postcards (yes, I suppose this is an ad)

It's fall and it's raining and I'm old and don't feel like mucking about on th' farm. This is where having something to do in the garage really shines.

Here's a one minute video of the press in action.

I ordered blank A7 notecards with matching envelopes; what I got was A7 blank postcards with matching envelopes. Oh, well. It's kinda for practice anyway.

I'm also using two shades of green ink, mixed, one of which isn't really tacky enough for letterpress, especially in this weather. So the job came out lighter in "color" (too much paper showing through the ink, which with black ink gets you a greyscale appearance) than it should have. But they're aren't awful, and the effect is old-timey. I'm getting close to being able to turn out decent product again.

After printing the cards and the bags to put the cards and envelopes in, I locked a rule (a straight edge to make a line on paper) into the chase and ran the cards again on the reverse side, to make true postcards (with the divided sides, one for writing, the other for addressing and the stamp) of them, and that went well. By then the ink had warmed up, too.

So these can be used as framed art, as postcards, or, with the envelopes, as holiday greeting cards or notecards, or the whole bagful can be given as a versatile gift. I made nine bags with ten cards and envelopes each, and any I don't give as gifts myself can be had for a check for $10.00 plus postage from:

Stony Run Press
36690 Wheeler Road
Pleasant Hill, OR 97455

or ask at risasb dot gmail dot com.

Offer good only while these last. Ask for product 1A, Angel Gabriel Postcards with Envelopes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What have we here?

Leaden skies, scudding clouds, a bit of rain and wind. Well, they are welcome; that was the longest summer, I think, we've ever had here, and the water in the well was getting low.

It's that time of the year, for us Northern Hemisphere inhabitants: inventory is on my mind. I'm going to prowl about in the kitchen, the pantry and the cold room to write down items and, for some, their current weight. This will help us with the upcoming Hummingbird order. Here is an inventory, with remarks, from a post here from four years ago:
February 2010 Stored Food Inventory
We've always bought bulk and stocked up. Not all that much of it is local; many things we get from our food cooperative turn out to be from Texas or somewhere, and of course there's the rice ... on the other hand, we eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit, grown right here, that would not show up in a midwinter inventory; organic, though not "certified."
What's on hand? I mean other than in the refrigerator, like yogurt, or the cabinet where the incidental canned goods live? For example I don't list below some things such as the peanut butter, which we used to buy in ten pound lots but now grind for ourselves at the grocery store, a pound at a time.
Taking a spiral notebook, a pen, and a flashlight, I give myself a tour. Hmmmm ...
Under the kitchen work counter there are two galvanized steel trash cans on casters.
Can #1
  • 10 lb. stone ground WW flour
  • 10 lb. spelt flour
  • 5 lb. rye flour
Can # 2
  • 20 lb. pinto beans
  • 10 lb. short grain brown rice
  • 15 lb. Basmati brown rice
  • 30 lb. rolled oats
In the cold room are three more such cans.
Can #3
  • 5 lb. flaxseed
  • 25 lb. wheat berries
  • 25 lb. stone ground yellow cornmeal
Can #4
  • 18 lb. textured vegetable protein (20 lb. sack, opened)
  • 12 lb. Bear Mush (wheat porridge, remains of 20 lb. sack). We like this. But now we mostly grind our own.
Can #5
  • 25 lb. Basmati brown rice
  • 25 lb. long grain white rice
  • 5 lb. sunflower seeds
There are lots of shelves in the cold room, too, which are looking bare compared to last November. Much of what's missing now is most of the beets, apples, winter squash, pumpkins and small potatoes, and all the turnips and cabbages, all home grown.
  • 5 lb. spaghetti (angel hair)
  • 11 lb. stored apples (individually wrapped; some are only fit for the chickens by now, though)
  • 1 lb. beets
  • 170 lb sacked potatoes (most for seed), mostly reds and some Yukon Golds
  • 1 gallon jar dried peppermint, home grown
  • 1 gallon whole wheat pastry noodles
  • 15 lb. box sesame tahini
  • 10 lb. assorted bulk spices
  • 2/3 gallon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 gallon fava beans, home grown
  • 1 gallon dehydrated apple slices
  • 15 winter squash (the delicatas are out-keeping the butternuts), home grown
  • 1 15 lb. pumpkin, home grown
  • 10 liters home brew
  • 42 bottles homemade grape/apple wine
  • 1 1/2 gallons molasses
Some of the shelves in the kitchen are dedicated to gallon, half gallon, and quart jars of miscellaneous items, from which we do much of the actual cooking.
  • 1 gallon dehydrated tomatoes, home grown (we've used about half what we made)
  • 1 quart dehydrated pear slices, home grown (ditto)
  • 1/2 gallon dehydrated zuke slices, home grown (ditto)
  • -- just wiped out a gallon of apple slices, these are popular
  • 3 gallons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 qt. fava beans, home grown
  • 1 pint runner beans, home grown
  • 10 pounds of elephant garlic in ropes and baskets, home grown
  • 1.5 gallons rolled oats
  • 2/3 gallon buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 gallon cornmeal
  • 2 lb. electro-perk Colombian coffee, self-service ground at store
  • 1 pt. wheat berries (these are going fast)
  • 2/3 gallon TVP
  • 1 gallon dried peppermint, home grown
  • 1 pint flaxseed
  • 1 quart quinoa seed
  • 1/2 gallon white sugar
  • 1 gallon pinto beans
  • 1/2 gallon black beans
  • 2 gallon molasses
  • 1/3 gallon confectioners sugar
  • 1 pint short grain rice
  • 1 pint long grain rice
  • 2 pounds sea salt, 2 pounds regular salt
  • 1 lb. raisins
  • 1/2 gallon red beans
  • 2 gallons dehydrated mixed vegetable greens, home grown (these have proved extremely useful)
  • 1 qt. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 gallon stevia (not as popular as we had hoped)
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1/2 gallon dehydrated medicinals (haven't been sick much), home grown, mostly comfrey
  • 1 pint homemade rose hip cordial
  • 1/2 gallon whole wheat pastry noodles
  • 1 gallon sesame seeds
  • 1 gallon powdered milk
  • 1 gallon spelt flour
  • 1/2 gallon amaranth seeds
  • 2 cups chickpeas (from a gallon it took decades to go through)
  • 1 lb. Sri Lanka tea, loose packed, and assorted herb teas
On the spice shelves are quart and pint jars of home grown and bulk bought items, as well.
  • 3/4 qt. flaxseeds
  • 1/2 qt. cocoa
  • 2 qt. whole cloves
  • 1/2 qt. nutmeg
  • 1.5 qt. curry (2 kinds)
  • 1 qt. paprika
  • 1/2 qt. chili powder (this has suddenly become popular with all the bean growing)
  • 1 pint powdered ginger
  • 2 qt. dried allium blossoms, homegrown (we like much better fresh)
  • 3/4 qt. ground cloves
  • 1/2 qt. cajun spices
  • 1 pt. dried myrtle leaves, foraged (like bay leaves)
  • 1 qt. baking powder
  • 1 pint cream of tartar
  • 2 lb. baking soda
  • And some of the little jars of things, like black pepper
On the canning shelves, things are disappearing fast. As this space is unheated, you'll also find the seeds for this year stored here as well.
  • 13 pint jars tomato puree
  • 24 quart jars tomato puree
  • 25 quarts applesauce
  • 4 pints blackberry jam
  • 1 qt. maple syrup (bought)
  • 1/2 gallon dried runner beans (these are for seed)
  • 1 pint buckskin beans (ditto). Bought at a sustainability fair; said to be good in a drought
  • 2 lbs basmati puffed rice (a luxury item)
  • 1 lb. popcorn
In the freezer there is lots more space than there was in November, shown here.
  • 18 pints blown goose eggs, home grown free ranged
  • 4 pints homemade chili
  • 2 loaves homemade bread
  • 4 pints filberts, home grown
  • 1 quart plum sauce (last of about 24 from 3 years ago, 2 bad years since)
  • 30 pounds assorted homegrown vegs
  • 10 pints chicken broth, homegrown free ranged
  • 3 ducks, homegrown free ranged. Drakes, actually. All named Andrew ...
  • 6 pints boned chicken, homegrown free ranged
  • 70 lb. lamb, assorted cuts, local free ranged.
  • 8 small trout (getting freezer burn, must use and go for more), local. Definitely free ranged!
  • 15 lb. ham, local free ranged.
There are still some blueberries and blackberries in there somewhere; I just can't find them right now. There are also some highly processed foods in there, of the kind called "take and bake," that belong to Last Son; but with any luck I will stay out of those!
The things in the kitchen stay fresher than you might think, as our wood heat is in the dining room, where we hang out. Kitchen temperatures hover around 55F all winter, except during baking. This year, an especially warm winter here, even the cold room seldom drops below 50, which is really too warm for the potatoes and apples.
You'll see that our meat, especially red meat, consumption is relatively low. We're not consistently vegetarian but we do not care for CAFO's and the horrors those represent, preferring to raise and butcher for ourselves, or buy from neighbors.
What would we do differently? Well, we'd remember to put dates on things. Some have been here for years and lost some of their food value and flavor. And I know from this list that I want to try and get a big bag of barley at some point.
There is not an especially TEOTWAWKI-oriented storage plan here. We simply took advantage of cooperative bulk-buy savings, sales, gardening, orcharding, and poultry raising, mostly, in order to have a low average monthly food bill and not have to run get things, spending more on gasoline than necessary. But it is certainly an inventory on which such a plan could be founded.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stony Run Farm garden year 2014

Our worst garden year ever -- drought played a part, despite our throwing a lot of well water into the breach, and old age -- I can't weed like once did, and throwing mulch around takes some oomph too -- but a decent fruit year. All the canning jars are in use. So, gratitude. __()__

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mucking about in the print shop

New rollers arrived, necessary because the old ones were thirty years old and past saving. I remember what those cost, and I can tell you they've gone up about two hundred percent. They also arrived without roller trucks.

Trucks are the rubber-tired wheels at the ends of the rollers, whose job is to roll on tracks on either side of the bed of the press. I could see that the ones I had might fit the new rollers, but they were fused onto the old rollers by bimetallic corrosion. I could order new ones, or ...

... several hours later, having banged on every tool in the shop with every other tool, the air reeking with WD-40, I had separated the trucks from the old rollers without mangling them (somehow), and installed them on the new rollers. Time to kick the treadle and see if we have a press ...

... and it appears we do.


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