Archive for December, 2009

A Homesteading Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

xmas 2009

How ever you celebrate this time of year… wishes you all a…

Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo

Frohe Weihnachten und Happy New Year

Merry Christmas agus Athbhliain Bliain

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano Nuevo

God Jul og Godt Nytt År

Veselé Vánoce a šťastný Nový rok


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Creative Commons License photo credit: -sel

Can You See Us?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The tree

We are all around you, but we are not from here, we’re from some other place. Can you see us? We are your neighbors and co-workers; church friends and committee members, but our new life has taken us to another place that fits us well.

Our new place is not far. It’s not hard to get there. Perhaps you’ve seen us there, from time to time, while driving too fast on the way to work or piling your shopping cart with more pre-made dinners. You can’t see us from there, because we are not there.

We’re the ones that shop the isle’s you never see. We buy flour and cornmeal, sugar, spices, vegetables and fruits. We buy from Farmer’s Markets, farm stands and organic growers. We buy provisions, not groceries. We have learned that made from scratch tastes better when you grow your own. We started small, just a few simple recipes to get us started, then we learned to walk, and then run. Now, the idea of a frozen dinner or drive-thru makes us look twice. We’re not opposed to them, not at all. But, they don’t exist where we’re from. Maybe, at one time they did, but now they are forgotten. I don’t know. I can’t remember. It’s hard to remember those days when we now jump a fence to get to where we’re going. There just isn’t a whole lot of cellophane wrapped, pre-cooked, heat-and-eat here.

Can you see us?

In our other place? Read the rest of the story »

Feast or Famine?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feast or Famine?

The population grows,

The need for meat, dairy and crops increases,

Tillable land shrinks, and water supplies dwindle.

So, how do we manage feeding a population pushing 9 billion with limited inputs and a climate in crisis?

That’s the BIG QUESTION!

Check out this YouTube video from the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota

An Empire of Dirt

Monday, December 14, 2009

I stumbled across this article and video from an issue of New York Magazine and thought you all might enjoy it. It’s about a Brooklyn family man who takes his 40×60-foot backyard and makes it his soul source of food for one month. He spends his entire summer changing his home and yard into a small farm in the middle of New York City. It’s fabulous, frustrating and inspiring.

He’s doing exactly what is trying to encourage people like you to do right in their own backyards, no matter where they live. We may not do it all in one summer, but the article can give us hope that with hard work and dedication we too can be gathering ingredients for our next meal just feet from our backdoor.

The entire article talks about his experiences with planting, rabbits, chickens, ducks and other things many of us have become familiar with. With the “eat local” and “100-mile diet” movement quickly building, it’s a really fascinating read. You can read a bit of the article below, just to wet your appetite, and follow the rest by clicking the link at the end.

As Manny puts it – “A farm essentially is… Dirt. Death. Sex.”
-Manny Howard, The Farm Project

cover_greenacre070917At 6:40 a.m. on August 8, the tornado hit my house in Brooklyn. Most people viewed it as a snow day in summer, a meteorological oddity. Not me. After a sleepless night listening to the wind and the rain intensify, I watched the sky turn green, then heard the hemlock tree in the yard next door split in two, clip the gutter on the third floor of my house, and bounce off the roof of what used to be our garage and had come to be known as “the barn.” As the wind torqued up even further, the limb of an oak torpedoed the most productive quarter of my vegetable garden, smothering a thicket of tomatoes, snapping the fig tree, pulverizing the collard greens, burying the callaloo, and splintering the roof of my main chicken coop.

That’s right, my chicken coop, which happens to be in my tiny backyard farm—800 square feet of arable land.

A tornado hadn’t struck Brooklyn since 1889, when Flatbush was farmland; this one laid waste to the lonely little farm that I had planted in my backyard and that, within days, I planned to rely on as my sole source of food for an entire month.

I started my farm, hereafter referred to as The Farm, in March, with my eye on August as the month I’d eat what I had grown. It was, in original conception, equal parts naïve stunt and extreme test of the idea that drives the burgeoning “locavore” movement. According to this ethos, we should all eat food produced locally, within 100 miles—some say 30—of where we live, so as to save our planet and redeem our Twinkie-gorged souls. Now that the “organic” label has rapidly become as ubiquitous and essentially meaningless as the old “all-natural,” the locavores have established a more sacred code, one meant to soothe our anxieties about what goes into the food we eat.

Read more…

5-Minute No-Knead Bread

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Spend a winter’s day baking fresh homemade bread

Looking for something to do when winter drives you in doors for the day? Or, have you been toying with the idea of becoming more self-sufficient; learning to bake at home?

Well, either of these choices can be easy, fun and successful. With just five minutes a day you can make super healthy breads with whole grains, fruits, nuts, veggies and seeds. Plus you’ll save tons at the market when you no longer have to pay $5.00 for a loaf of bread.

Check out this blog by the authors of “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” for more information and loads of great recipes

A Homestead Morning

Monday, December 7, 2009

Personal Journal – November 7, 2009

Rarely do I write about my personal experiences or life on my suburban homestead. That’s not what I wanted this blog to be. But, sometimes in life things happen that you just want to share. Not because they are overwhelmingly important or informative, but because they bring a certain insight into the life many of us are trying to live.

I woke suddenly this morning, unaware of the reason. When I got my bearings I rolled over to look at the clock. It was a little after four. I lay there for a while staring at the red numbers in the darkness, then took a deep breath and rolled over again trying to fall back to sleep. As I settled in my toasty, warm bed I listened to the rain. It’s been raining since yesterday – a slow and steady soft kind of rain. The kind that is quickly absorbed by the soil…the kind that nourishes the garden rather than drowning it. I lay their snuggled under layers of homemade quilts and down comforters listening to the pattern of the drops rolling off the eves. Plink…plink…plink, plink…plunk. It came down softly hitting something below.

As I laid there in my warm bed, I tried to figure out what the rain was hitting. I always try to move potential noisemakers before the rainy season starts, but I must have missed something. A splashing noise drew my attention to window on the other side of the room. It was a steady sound, like a brook bubbling and stumbling over rocks in a stream. It was my rain barrel filled to overflowing.

I had always wanted to collect rainwater, to use in the garden when the time between winter storms was long and spring and summer months provide almost nothing. I’m trying to offset using municipal water. It’s a crude set-up though, several large plastic trash cans connected with PVC pipe so the full barrels can flow into the empty ones. Any hardcore homesteader might laugh at the simplicity of it, but it works.

The rain still falls steadily.

It’s dark and quiet, the comforting time of the morning. Off in the distance I could hear the faint sounds of roosters crowing. It’s amazing how far off they sound at that time of the morning considering the barn is only 80-feet away. The sound was deep and throaty from a bird well seasoned at these early morning rituals. But, below him came a barely noticeable strange sound, ur…ur…ur. It was the sound of a roo just learning to crow.

Actually, it was cockerel, young male roster. But I never really bother with using correct terms. They sound so stuffy and unfriendly.

The chicks we hatched back in April would be old enough. But, my amusement gave way to disappointed as well. I have too many roos already, so any new ones will be put into the freezer. Life on a homestead, even a suburban one, isn’t always fair or kind, but it is necessary. The young roos always sound so funny, like they’re being interrupted in mid-crow or someone has nudged them to be quiet. In any event, it was much too early for them to be sounding off. When it’s daylight, I’ll have to figure out who our new crower is. Read the rest of the story »