Wednesday, July 17, 2013

chicken tillers @ work

rain falls in texas

it was dirty and wet work but someone has got to do it and so we did.

thanks to the great collaborative help of farmboy (a.k.a. lippy mawby) the garage girls have a fresh and clean coop, both coops have new big 50lb size feeders filled to the brim, a fresh supply of oyster shell and the outside feral chickens have access to a newly supplied healthy stash of scratch.

the veggies gardens are now cooking with old coop bedding and collected bags of clipped grass - prepping for fall/winter crops. the big big big (1000 gallon) rain collection tank's spigot is now better accessible and hooked up to a good long hose so as to direct it's collected gold to the fruity trees even though there ain't no fruit this season. the wee tank (375 gallon) is doing just fine. both tanks are full to the brim.

THANK YOU GODS OF THE RAINY DRIPS! all of our plants much prefer rainwater over city water - no chemicals, no chlorine and no nonsense. cheers!

Monday, May 20, 2013

compost is cookin' & heaty hotty texas temps are kickin' in

hey ya'll welcome back!  it's been a while since i've checked in and caught folks up with the goings on about the place.  a whole lot has changed, improved, shifted and plans are being made daily for the next thing and the next, next thing.

me, i'm just happy to have hit the summer break.  no teaching for me this round.  it means less cash flowing but it also means more quality time to spend at the homestead a.k.a. the wee keep and that's just fine with me.  in fact i think the gods had a great good deal to do with it and i thank them.

so let's get to it - what's happened? happening? going to happen?

well the first big happened is the NEW FREAKING FENCE!  the fence, the fence, the fence is finally fixed.  yeah, the fence i ranted about for five long years and now a brand spanking new fence and she sure looks perty.  here's a peek as her goodness.   natural wood, simple pickets, she's lovely, she's simple and she's not falling down every time the wind blows. 

this is an install photo - you can see that the posts had not yet been trimmed to height but she looks nice, ah yes.  the fellows who installed her did a great job.  a big shout out to longevity fence of bastrop texas. they were on time, on budget, friendly and communicative.  all the qualities i look for from folk working on the place.

out side of the new fence, we've been moving compost piles about the place.  you can see our most recent compost pile in the tippy top photo.  the plantings to the left of the pile are new plantings planted over the super fertile former compost pile location; a desert willow, a red hydrangea bred for hotter climates, tic seed coreopsis and broom flower;  a collection that should do well in heat and semi-arid weather.  let's hope anyway.  the really are nice along the fence line and will prove a good variable season flowering cluster.

on another note, just today, our friendly farming puppy miss kaylee spent a bit of time at the beautification parlor getting her summer hairs done.  we give her a good ole' shaving down each year as the weather heats up and boy oh boy is the weather heating up.  granted, no complaints since we've enjoyed a great gift of a coolish longer lasting spring, the best in at least 5 years as of late.  just the same when the heat hits her long wired haired self gets too hot quite quickly leaving little time for playing and romping about as she so loves to do.  so the snip, snip is a good thing. she's happier and less nappy when she's got the shorty short hairs going on and happy is what we strive for round here.

we are still raising chickens, a whole good lot of them; 5o+ eggy layers.  in addition to a healthy number of the historic bastrop feral chickens have taken permanent residence here on the keep.  for those of you who have poked around the blog in the past, you'll recall the first coming of tarzan, our initial feral fellow.  well the numbers have grown and families have been hatched.  i'd say we have at least 5 roosters hanging about, probably 5 or 6 hens and 8-10 wee babies that have hatched this spring season. 

in addition to that we recently rescued an east austin chicken who was setting on a clutch of eggs in a friend's yard.  they did not know what to do with her or have any idea where she might have come from so they called us. smart thinking!

they were worried dogs and/or raccoons might have a go at her as many do.

we too have raccoons about our place as you can see here evidenced in the footy paw prints.  not as many as we have had in the past, knock wood.  still one is enough to do damage to the chickey population if given the opportunity. 

that said, a number of our feral mama's have grown smart and learned to set and hatch their babes in our garage.  they hide away for setting, keep the peepers safe in the garage when super young then and as the peepers grow, they usher them into the garage each night before we lock up ensuring increasing survival rates.  who says chickens are stupid.  not me!
back to the rescue girlymama; soft as we are, we went and collected the east austin chicken-mama with her six eggs. she stayed safe in her own rabbit hutch through the hatch of her egg babies. she's a beautiful black sumantra hen and a natural mama to all of her five babes.  all of the peepers are doing great.  they are sooooooo tiny but lively and active, just as one would hope.

today i moved our rescued sumatra mama and her peepers into the out back coop, a.k.a. the metal shed and run.  they've got plenty of room in there and it's safe and secure.  it will be a great place for her to raise the babes until they are big enough to join the flock.  i'll post pictures of the sumatra babies soon.  i'd first like to give them a few days to better acquaint themselves with the new housing plan.

growing in the garden now, let's see if I can remember the whole lot of yet to sprout/newly sprouted babies.

maters varied, peppers sweet and mild, eggy plants, amaranth, taters varied, chards, kale, calendula, sweet tater, beans pole and bush, Amish melon, cucumber, garlic, leek, onion, basil, oregano, lemon grass, Mexican tarragon, sorrel, kohlrabi, thyme, blackberries, squashes winter and crookneck summer, corn blue and sweet, okra green and red, mint, parsley, artichoke, Malabar spinach, sunflowers, sunchokes and borage.

pretty good, I'd say. now for patience and waiting. all good things...

more to come - i'm just getting started. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Love your mother - making your own kombucha tea

Welcom to Hippychick's kombucha starter page.  
The following will get you started on your journey to making your own healthy kombucha and save big bucks.

Hippychick’s Basic Kombucha Recipe

You will need a glass quart size container or larger to start (a glass container is preferred). Several elastic bands and a flour cloth or like material large enough to generously cover the top of your brewing container.  Choose a container with a wide mouth opening as oxygen exchange is beneficial to the brewing process.   *Container, Cloth and elastic bands are not included.

·       You are now ready to start your very first batch of home brewed kombucha tea - Make tea using

o    Loose tea

o    1/4 cup of sugar

o    1 pint of chlorine free water - If using tap water, boil water for 15 minutes to purify or leave your water in an uncovered pot overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate off.

Place tea bags and sugar in water - If using the boiling method – add the tea and sugar after the 15 minute boiling off of chlorine.

o    Stir the mixture until sugar is dissolved. If using the boiling method, let tea steep for 15 minutes before removing tea bags.  If using the evaporation method, allow tea to steep for at least 6 hours at room temperature.

o    Cool tea and sugar mixture to room temperature.

o    Using your quart and/or larger sized brewing container, add the kombucha starter and s.c.o.b.y. colony (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) to the cooled / room temperature sweetened tea.

o    Cover the container with a flower towel or coffee filter or breathable cloth and secure it with a rubber band, elastic, or string to keep out insects and air borne contaminants.  Fruit flies will be attracted to your brewing tea so make sure that the material you use to cover the container will block entry of flies small in size.

o    Place the kombucha container where it will remain relatively undisturbed and away from bright lights.  Some folks use a second towel to wrap the brewing container so as to keep out bright light.

o    Allow the kombucha to ferment for about 7 to 10 days depending on the growing temperature and how acidic (sour) you like your kombucha. The Kombucha culture needs a warm and quiet place. The temperature of the tea should not fall below 68°F /20˚C. Optimum temperature for fermentation is approximately about 74°F - 85°F / 23˚C – 29˚C. Light is not necessary. The culture also works in darkness. The culture may be damaged by exposure to bright sunlight. Half shade is better.

A note about tea

Kombucha requires tea for its fermentation. That's real tea (Camellia Sinensis) not herbal tea. Use black, oolong, green or white tea and look for organic tea as contaminants in some commercial teas can affect the culture.  Kombucha can be also be sensitive to strong aromatic oils. A

A note about sugar

White cane sugar is cheap and works very well. Organic white sugar would be even better. Sugar is used by the yeasts during fermentation, and is broken down and transformed into acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and carbon dioxide. Sugar is also involved in the propagation of the Kombucha culture. It uses the sugar to build the scoby. (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast)  At the end of the fermentation period, if done correctly, the sugar will have been virtually all converted and there should be little or no sugar left in the kombucha. Using raw brown sugars can give the brew a bad taste and result in poor culture formation.

A note about containers

It is considered best to use clear glass containers for this whole process. Metal is considered toxic to kombucha so never let metal touch the kombucha colony or kombucha tea. Never use aluminum containers for anything having to do with making kombucha and avoid it every way you can, especially in food preparation. Try brewing your kombucha in a gallon jar.  The kombucha culture needs oxygen for the fermentation. A glass gallon jar gives a large surface area and is an excellent brewing container. You can use smaller jars to brew the kombucha, it will simply take longer to brew because there's a smaller surface area exposed to oxygen. A sterilized clean pickle or sweet jar will do very well.

*Notes about checking the brew

The fermentation will take 5-14 days depending on the temperature. If you check your brew after 2 or 3 days you’ll notice a scum forming on the surface. It’s not scum at all; it’s the first thin membrane of your new kombucha scoby/mother. Start tasting the brew after 4 or 5 days. Gently move the scoby aside and dip a spoon in to the liquid. When the kombucha is ready it should be neither too sweet nor too sour. This is rather a personal taste and will depend on how much sugar you want left in the brew. Some like it sweet but others prefer it sour. It’s up to you, so test it every day until it is the way you like it.

·       Remove the original kombucha colony (scoby) and the new baby colony (scoby) that formed on the surface of the tea.  Save at least 1 cup of the starter in order to feed your next batch of tea.

·       Strain your finished kombucha tea, bottle it if you like and store it in the refrigerator.

A note about bottling your kombucha

Try bottling your kombucha in glass jars.  The strained kombucha when stored in a covered container will begin a natural carbonation process . Bottle the kombucha, cover and set out on the counter away from light for several days (3-4).  Note – if you prefer to use plastic containers be aware that the container may bulge from the build up of carbonated gas.  If you discover this in process, it is best to remove the cap to allow for a small bit of gas to release otherwise you might run the risk of the bottle exploding.  Refrigerate your kombucha after the 3-4 day set on the counter.  Enjoy your kombucha at your leisure.  The fermentation process will continue while in the refrigerated state but at a significantly slower rate than the process at room temperature.  Kombucha will lose a bit of its carbonation once opened in the same way as a bottle of soda does.

Later on…

For larger batches, the basic ratios are 1 large teabag per quart of water, ¼ cup of sugar per quart of liquid, 1 cup of kombucha starter and your mother.  Always cool liquids to room temperature before adding to the mother.  Heat will damage and possibly kill your mother. Start by making a quart, then a ½ gallon and so on.

Feel free to contact me, hippychick, via email at

Thanks so very much and enjoy your refreshing delicious home brewed kombucha tea.

Hippychick a.k.a. Michelle

Here are a few great videos to refer to from  CulturesForHealth

Note you will not need vinegar as suggested in the videos as you have real kombucha as your starter tea. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

hippychick is rolling in the dough

it's always a good day when fresh homemade bread is on the rise.  today is one of those days and it's all thanks my beloved sourdough starter fed and started just over a year ago, a steadfast commitment to the mastering of the loaf and an ever growing love for the baked harvest hot from the oven.

the reality is that i've not yet mastered the loaf but my efforts as of late are proving successful more often than not. i imagine that i will probably never truly master the loaf and here's why.

for me every loaf is different and should be different.  i never follow a recipe by rote. i like to use what's in the pantry. i regularly mess around with flour to grain to oatmeal ratios and i don't keep measurements.  i eye it.

i think about ingredients that will compliment one another. i look as i am mixing and kneading dough for a particular texture.  i feel for a particular weight and pliable elasticity.  i have learned through trial and error when a dough is too dry or too wet. i have learned that ingredients used at room temperature benefit the mix and the rise of the dough. i have learned that even when everything looks and feels right, the bread may still not rise as one would hope for.  i have learned not to expect any kind of regular result.

the good news is that even the less than perfect loaf often still tastes great.  it may just feel heavier or more dense than what you might have been initially going for. it's in those moments that you pat yourself on the back for coming up with some type of special peasant bread loaf that only the most down home folk will enjoy.  or you can slice it up into smaller bits, toast it to use as croutons or grind it down for use as homemade breadcrumbs.  there's always a use for it.

if it's really rough - chop it up and set it out for the birds and try, try again.

what's in a loaf?  sometimes it's a simple mix of sourdough starter, water, flour and salt.  other times it's sourdough starter, whey, salt, chia, flax, hemp, herbs, spices, lentils, seeds, and bulgar wheat with a possible addition of homemade jam, maple syrup or unsulphered black strap molasses for a bit of sweet.

for those of you who don't know, a bit of a slice in the dough as it rises actually helps the rise.  how many slices one needs or how big the slices need to be, i don't know.  i've read it helps so i do it and i do it again by eye and often at deisgnerly whim.  i'll slice sideways, diagonalways, make a square, attempt a circle or create a basket weave slice pattern prior to the rise.  there is really no rhyme or reason to it all, it's just whatever strikes me that day.

the loaves i've been baking are slow and steady risers.  i don't use commercial yeast.  i depend upon the sourdough starter for the rise power.  so what might take and hour for a commercial yeast may take two to six hours and sometimes more for a sourdough starter.  the time depends upon your ingredients, the strength of your starter, the temperature of the room, the quality and the ratio of the ingredients, if it's a light bread or a heavier seeded or fruited (raisin) bread and a whole lot of other scientific bits i am sure that i am ignorant of.

as a side note, it may be important to know that i also regularly keep a counter top, room temperature probiotic kefir yogurt culture which means that i have a steady stock of homegrown yogurt available for use.  i use the kefir yogurt for eating, i drain it in a filter for yogurt cheese, i mix it into dry oatmeal and often enjoy it with fresh berries.  it's more tart than most store bought yogurts.  it's tingles in your mouth.  it's very much alive and i find it adds a great texture and a complex flavor to my breads. the drained whey is an excellent protein source and has often proven a great bread loaf ingredient.

today's loaf is fairly simple - fairly simple to me anyway - it's a probiotic yogurt bread with grain and seed.   here is the list of ingredients.
  • sourdough starter
  • 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white flour
  • bulgar wheat
  • ground flax seed
  • chia seed
  • hemp hearts
  • kefir yogurt - a probiotic fermented yogurt
    • I make my own at home with raw milk
  • whey
    • drained from yogurt used for making yogurt cheese
  • black and white sesame seeds - sprinkled on top only
  • butter
    • just enough to slather the outside of the loaf just prior to being set into the bread pan
    • it keeps the loaf from drying out during the slow rise
these loaves are almost ready for the oven.  i bake at 400˚F for about 45 minutes.  i then check the loaf by measuring it's interior temperature.  i bake my loaf to a temperature between 180˚F -190˚F.  once out of the oven i immediately remove them from the pan and allow them to cool resting atop of the pan.

*of course there is always one loaf that is cut into prior to it's being fully cooled but hey, that's half of the reward.  i feel no guilt in the enjoyment of a steaming slice of freshly homemade bread.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

- the sweet and low down - peaches and runnin'

first to the sweet -  peaches

i scored a 25lb box of "over-ripe" texas peaches yesterday for $10 bucks - that's a goodie good dealio around here.  they sat in the back of the hot subaru last night.  i was gifted with the most sweet and seductive scent of those peaches upon my collecting them from the auto-mo-transport-bile this a.m.  they were ready for makin' so i just got to it.

4 quarts of peachy raisin sauce - peaches, raisins, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, cayenne, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and pink sea salt - yummo!

2 large sized peachy upside down cakes - the cake was thrown together with goods hanging about the pantry shelves - peaches, white and whole wheat flour, farm fresh eggs, pure maple syrup, lemon juice, ground flax, chia seed, pink sea salt.

2 loaves of peachy raisin quick bread - nearly the same as the upside down cakes but with the peach chunks mixed into the batter and raisins added - peaches, white and whole wheat flour, farm fresh eggs, pure maple syrup, lemon juice, ground flax, chia seed, pink sea salt.

1 peachy lemon oatmeal crumble - just like it sounds.  lemon juice, oatmeal and peaches slow bakes to a soft and gooey goodness

 everything is now bakes, canned, wrapped and ready for fridge and freezer.  it will be great to pull out and enjoy some sweet summer treats long after the peach season has passed.

now to the low down -
good thing i'm back to running with all this peachy goodness around.  oh my!

well i made it through the first week of 1/2 marathon training without a hitch.  in fact, in my usual hippychick fashion, i pushed it a bit.  just ran longer a couple of days because i felt good and i could.  i'm going to keep the push going as long as i am able.  i do get sore but it's not nearly the soreness i used to experience when i first started running years ago.  amazing how the body just picks up for you.

yesterday - monday was the day off and i took it off.  i could have gone to work out, there was really nothing stopping me but i went for the lazy evening at home for a change choice.  it was nice to eat a slow and casual dinner without a schedule looming overhead.

tonight i'll hit the gym for the tuesday 3 mile pick up.  i always run better after a day off so i imagine all will go well.

in other news - it's hot here - super hot - yet i'm thankful for the fact that this summer's heat has in no way come near last year's searing months of madness.  with that i'm off to feed and water the chickenychicas.  i'm sure they'll appreciate a fresh cool drink and an afternoon nosh although many may be in dust bath rest mode.  they usually are at mids day.  cheers!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

hippychick's extended wee farmy family

it's been a good while since i have posted anything about the wee homestead and so i thought it might be a good thing to get you caught up with the who's who in and about the place.  

folks you've met and/or heard of before: 
  • termite, mr. t, tebags and as of late, butterbutt - mr. t is my 19+ year old cat.  he's a big charmer but he also loves to wap things off of counters.  we give him more leeway than anyone else because i feel he has earned his old man crabby self every now and again.  he was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroid and is thankfully doing quite well on his new meds.  his most recent habit of knocking the cover off of the butter tray and eating good bits of butter for the past few days has earned him the new name butterbutt.  i might normally be more upset about this but he is in great need of some weight gain due to his condition.  just to note - the butter now resides in the fridge away from his clever paws. 
mr. t comfy in his chair
  • bella, pants, pants of destruction, fluffernutter, lala - is our several years old fluffy stray kitty girl who has taken quite well to interior living.  she loves to climb to the highest heights.  she is madly in love with opera kitty, our indoor/outdoor orange handsome fellow.  when he's inside, she's right next to him and he does not seem to mind.  she used to give poor old termite a good wacking just as he was nodding off to never never land but that has since changed with the addition of miss kaylee as a buddy who is closer to her age.
bella keeping an eye on the garden goings on and squirrels and birdies and bugs and lizards
  • opera kitty, steve mcqueen - opera as noted above is our indoor/outdoor orange kitty fellow.  he's my official farm catdog.  he does not bother the chickens, he allows raccoons to pass right by and it seems he does the same with several of the mices i have seen in the garagebarn recently.  he better get on that real soon.  or maybe several of the other 3-4 kitties that hang about the place wandering in from local neighborly spaces for the abundant shade offered here.  opera is an opportunist.  he has been spending more and more of what i call "vacation days" in the home.  when it gets hot here in central texas, he opts for the air conditioned in door environment.  he's no dummy.  
opear kitty on garden patrol
  • miss kaylee - miss kaylee is a yorkie/schnauzer mix pup that we adopted in february of 2o12.  she is two and loves loves loves to play with bella/pants.  they get along great.  at first bella wanted nothing, NOTHING, to do with such an odd looking creature but now they play, sleep and often get into trouble with one another.  miss kaylee is a sweetie girl except when it comes to the bed at night - she has declared "no kitties oh the bed at night" and so it goes.  good thing there are three beds and copious comfy locals for the kitties to enjoy.  miss kaylee loves to play, enjoys morning and evening belly rubs, loves to be close to mama and daddy and really enjoys romps with other puppies at the doggie park.  miss kaylee does not like water - maybe that will shift over time. 

miss kaylee and papa enjoying some out of doors pub time
  • bunbun is doing very well.  he is now in a much bigger bachelor pad with ramp and hiding spots.  he is still located near the chickens as i believe he enjoys their company.  bunbun spends a little time inside with us every now and again.  he likes scratches and schooches between his bunbun ears and on the underside of his chin.  he's the softest sweetie about the place. 
once a chicken tractor, now a bunbun bachelor pad
  • the beehives are also doing well.  i have yet to get inside and harvest honey this year but the flight patterns and the populations look particularly strong.  the spring and summer rains have helped out a great deal with their health.  they frequent my wee fish pond as a water source.  it's lovely to see them setting upon the lily pads enjoying a cool drink. 
bee hives doing well
  •  the fishes are doing swimmingly.  i moved them to a shadier spot last fall as the heat of last summer proved a huge challenge to the health of all.  the lily pads are growing in nicely and they are growing bolder when i come visiting with pro biotic fishy foods. 
the water is no longer as clear as pictured here but the fishes are doing a-ok
then to the chickens: 
    i love this photo of the girlies in early morning light
  • we still have our layer girls, a good number of them and they are doing great.  i keep the girls in two flocks, each with one rooster.  declan watches over the what i call the outside girls and rooroodaddy watches over the garagebarn girls.  all is well, both roosters are sweet as pie and not rough with the girls.  if ever they are, i'm in the coop correcting behaviour immediately. 
pretty girls
  • we are the proud space sharers of a small flock of historic bastrop feral chickens.  last year we were joined by tarzan rooster and the janes (2 females).  we have witness several hatchings in the past year.  some made it some did not.  we had to live trap and relocate a number of pesky raccoons in the process of their growth.  those who have made it through are fine and well and often hang out with our layergirls.  they roam the yard and the neighborhood when they like but roost in the live oaks above our place.  it's quite nice.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

run hippychick run - day 1 & day 2 report

yes i'm training the for the austin 1/2 marathon (although secretly in my head i am training for the full marathon) and i have decided to journal the journey here at hippychick's adventure to sustainable happiness.  why?  why not really?  i am working to sustain my body and mind (lordy, i need help there) and my soul.

i am not you're typical athletic type.  i was not built to be a runner.  i may not even look like one but i am a runner or a back of the pack just keep swimminger runner.  i don't run to compete with anyone but me (most of the time - big picture - yes just against me) and i focus upon making it to and across the finish line.

why run?  well for me, it's about the only thing that helps me to really clear my head.  i'm not a slow, yoga, meditation type of relaxer person.  i need the beat the heck out of myself in order to slow the mind.  so running, which is definitely not easy for me, proves positive toward the goal.

in other news - this is my comeback.

my right ankle has been bum for 2 years now and i was looking at the possibility of surgery to fix it but decided rather to further change my diet and my exercise habits for the better.  i am currently living out my 44th year and have noticed rapid and drastic body changes inside and out.  the time is NOW it was screaming, get your act together now or get used to the achy badness.  i did not want to live with achy badness so i got back on my feets and began a slow and steady training program.

first bluefin's couch to 5k  then bluefin's transition to 10k and now hal higdon's 1/2 marathon training (although secretly in my head i am training for the full marathon).  so far so good.  there are days i crap out like any other human but i find my discipline is stronger and steadier as time goes by.

enough already - what up with the day 1 and day 2 report

day 1 - monday, rest day - walked, ran about doing errands, cleaned up around the homestead, was active but did not run.

day 2 - tuesday, 3 miles - i tested myself and ran each mile faster than the last - it was a good run.

i should let ya'll know, being in hotty hot hot central texas area that most of the training i'll be blogging about for the next month or so will take place on a treadmill.  there may be an occasional morning when i can get out before frying time and that will be nice but for now, it's the mill for miss hippychick-i-think-i-can-runner-lady.

day 3 is today, wednesday 2 miles - the plan is to crank it out at as fast a pace as my body will allow.  a.k.a. wednesday is speedy day!


hippychick is running again and it feels good - most of the time

here we go folks -

monday began my official 1/2 marathon training and i'm feeling good.
i am doing this the smart way. i trained 8 weeks to reach a comfortable 5k/3.1 mile distance and another 8 weeks to train for the 10k/6.2 miles distance before stepping into the 1/2 marathon training.

the preparatory 16 weeks is not always necessary for folks but it sure makes the ride a whole lot easier and due to the fact that i was coming off a bum ankle, i wanted to be sure my body was willing to allow the greater impact.

the early prep should also help me to increase my pace from my current super comfortable 11:15 min/mile to a 10min/10:20 min/mile ideally. now that i have the base strength, i can push a bit. time will tell where i land but the training layout should give me a fighting chance toward my goals. I have run four marathons and 2 1/2 marathons in my day and strongly believe that it is really beneficial to start at ground zero training with each new run.

a few reasons why i believe the ground zero start is the way to go. slow and steady training is best because you are not only training your body but you are training your mind as well and you will come to face personal monsters along the way. as you improve and on certain days fight through, you learn to see the monsters for what they are without breaking pace or giving them much of a thought and pass on by. also the training takes time (real time) and the body will respond if you nurture it into the training. you'll hurt yourself if you try too much at once plus you have to give your feet the chance to get used to being used at impact for several focused hours. if you don't, the dogs will be barking and you'll be the only one to blame. the training does require discipline and you do have to plan for it but the pay off is HUGE!

i actually find that they payoff for training toward any goal is HUGE - be it walk 2 miles, run 5 minutes, whatever it is. the fact the you set out to do it and then did, however long it took to get there is a big deal.

I will share my week to week training if you don't mind. It helps me journal through and it might inspire you to create your own personalized goal. you'll see my good days and my bad days which keeps it real. FYI this is the very same training folks would follow when training to walk a half marathon. It is also similar to the training schedule given to folks interested in the 3 day walk events.

take it for what you wish...

this week's schedule is as follows: i have included the purpose of each day as the distance and time may change over time but the purpose of the day is steady. Good for planning within your own universe.

Monday - rest day
always a rest day - low low impact walk/swim/bike ok but no running
* I use monday to take a brief check in with the body - see where the aches are, stretch when needed and if at all possible, jump in a pool and just put around with no particular purpose other than to allow the water to gently message me. also considering making monday/friday yoga day. i prefer bikram the hot sweat it out yoga.

Tu - 3 miles
base miles - slowly increase every other week
here i test myself to see if I can increase my speed just a bit with each mile

W - 2 miles
base miles - slowly increase every other week
here i try to run at my goal pace as long as i am able

Th - 3 miles
base miles - slowly increase every other week
i make thursday my easy day - i get the miles in but at whatever pace i wish for that day

F - rest day
always a rest day - low low impact walk/swim/bike ok but no running
whatever happens on friday happens - i'm thinking yoga monday/friday might be a nice practice to begin and end the week. also the yoga keeps me food conscious. if i eat too much or eat the wrong things, the yoga feels baaaaaaaaad. if i eat properly, lighter and keep hydrated, the yoga feels great!

S - 30 minute run
run for time not for distance - this is endurance training
here i go with however i feel that day but i try to be conscious of a pace that will allow me to run the time comfortably but slightly challenged.

Su - 4 miles
Sunday is the weekly long run day - this again slowly increases as the weeks go by
the long run is my most disciplined day. i run walk the long run at a pace i hope to hold steady for the entire distance. for example, this week i plan to run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 10 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat @ a pace of 10:50 run and @ a pace of 15:00 walk. it's slower than my overall goal but i want to make sure i stay injury free and make it through. i reserve the right to pick up the pace for the last mile if all is feeling good in the world.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

 here we go back again back again and the wind, she's a whipping through the hippychick universe.  all at once we experience a welcome bit of chill.  

i've got errands to run today
creatures to care for
gardens to protect

the full report and a good bit of catching up is on it's way

stay tuned...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

an omnivore's chilli - eggs noodles 'w' kefir cheese 'n' porcini mushroom - smokey oatmeal cardamom sourdough slow to rise flatbreads

it's sunday and we though we have been up since early, we are not pushing the day along at a rushed rate of speed.  these are the days when it's lovely living in the central texas area.  the temperatures dive into the cool and shiveries at night while the days offer cool aire with sunny warming nice to take a nap in character.

it's 11:23am and i am still in my jammies.  keep in mind jammies for me are also equal to work clothes.  i have feed the chickens, wabbits and kitty creatures, been over to the neighbors to feed their puppy and kitty creatures, shared conversation with neighbors readying for a morning run and tending to bits here and there around the garden all in my jammies.  i love the fact that i live in a neighborhood where chatting in jammies on a sunday is celebrated.  even if it's not, i choose to see it that way.  so far, my jammie universe has not been shunned.  so far...

sunday is also the day i cook up goodie goods for the week's eating.  yesterday we made a loverly butternut sqash soup that proved divine.  today i'm cooking up an omnivore's chilli with smoked paprika - oh my, oh my the smell wafting from the pot - warm and seductive - no kidding!

hippychick's omnivore chilli

1 dry cup white kidney beans
1 dry cup red kidney beans
1 quart water
1 large onion (white or yellow)
1 lb carrots
1 lb corn - fresh off of the cob or frozen
1 lb ground bison (organic grass fed preferred)
2 quarts stewed maters in their juices (lovely to pull your own put up maters from the pantry)
alder smoked salt de mer  (or any good sea salt - i love smoked salts)
smoked paprika
fine ground black or white pepper
fresh chopped basil
fresh chopped rosemary
olive or walnut oil

cookery process

hydrate your beans - place your dried beans in a large container and cover with the 1 quart of water.  allow the beans to soak overnight.  you may skip this step if you choose to use pre-hydrated beans.

the next morning
- coat the bottom of your chilli cooking pot with 2 tbs of oil
- place the ground buffalo in your chilli cooking pot
- add spices to your liking (smoked salt, smoked paprika, marjoram, dill, basil and pepper)
- message spices and oil into the buffalo meat
- set your stovetop to medium high heat and place your cooking pot on the burner
- chop your carrots and onion and add them to the pot
- slowly cook until the onions begin to show translucence

- now add your beans with water, 2 quarts of stewed maters and corn.  the liquid from the soaking beans and stewed maters should prove enough to slowly cook the chilli, if not feel free to add more water and/or broth or liquid of your choice; possibly beer or wine for extra flavor.  a nice red wine would prove excellent in this case.

- turn the stovetop heat to just below medium, set the pots cover loosely over the top and slowly cook until beans are tender stirring every now and again to make sure goods to not stick to the bottom of the pot.  the chilli may take an hour or two to cook through, less if you have used pre-hydrated beans, more if your beans have not soaked a full 6-8 hours.

- while all is slowly cooking, you might consider prepping some yummy toppings
  • roasted pumpkin seeds
  • a good sharp cheddar cheese
  • a good reggiano cheese
  • creme fraiche
  • roasted chillis
- once all is tender, enjoy!
- we'll be munching ours down with a nice slice of home baked bread.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

eggs noodles 'w' kefir cheese
this one is easy
- cook up some egg noodles (homemade noodles are best)
- stir in kefir cheese (you may substitue yogurt cheese, creme fraiche or sour creme)
- add a dash of good salt de mer
- add several dashes of fine ground dried porcini mushrooms
- top it off with a handful of fresh chopped basil
- oooh baby!

*notes -  to make kefir cheese, drain kefir milk in a coffee filter or fine mesh strainer over night.  the process is very much in the same way one makes yogurt cheese.  as for the porcini mushrooms - i purchase dried mushrooms and grind them until fine in a coffee grinder.  it works great. i keep an old one for the purpose of grinding herbs and such goodies regularly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

smokey oatmeal cardamom sourdough slow to rise flatbreads

- i obtained my sourdough starter from cultures for health.  i use their basic sourdough bread recipe and change it up as i feel whenever the urge strikes.  here is their basic recipe.

  • 2 1/3 cups Fresh Sourdough Starter (see below)
  • 3 1/3 cup Flour
  • 1 – 1 ½ cup Water (approximate)
  • Scant Tablespoon Salt
 This recipe can be used to make a basic loaf of sandwich bread or artisan-style bread.
Mix sourdough starter, flour and salt together. Use enough water to make bread dough (a moist dough is preferable to a dry dough). Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test” (a small piece of dough will stretch between four fingers thin enough to allow light to pass through without breaking). Split the dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf. Place in a pan, proofing basket or on a board. Cover lightly with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 4-24 hours. If desired, a short (4-12 hours) proofing period can be used and the dough can be punched down, reshaped and allowed to rise a second time but a second proofing period is not required. If desired, slice an X shape in the top of the loaf with a very sharp knife or razor blade.  Bake at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 190-210 degrees (use a meat thermometer inserted into the bottom or side of the loaf). Bake 30-60 minutes (depending on loaf size). Allow the bread to cool before slicing. Makes two standard size loaves

check out their how to make sourdough site for tips and tricks that help one make a great loaf.

here's how i modified the above sourdough bread recipe.

i substituted
- whey for the water

i added
- 1 cup of oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons of cardamom
- 1 cup of kefir milk
- 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds (sprinkled on top)

i then followed the above directions, kneeding by hand.  i split the dough into four equal sized pieces and shaped them into small round flatbreads.  i then brushed each round with a bit of olive oil before sprinkling the sesame seeds over the top. 

they are now on the rise - photos and the yum yum factor report on the way.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

- cozy bits on a saturday - butternut squash soup -

a day at home
a day of happiness
a day of cozy cookery

hippychick's butternut squash soup
* no moo-ilk or butt-ahhh in this one *

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 quart preserved peaches
  • 1 cup raisins
  • sea salt
  • cardamom
  • clove
  • nutmeg
  • curry
  • mint
  • water 
cookery process
  • peel the butternut squash and chop into small-ish chunks.
  • place squash into a large soup pot.
  • add a dash of good sea salt.
  • add just enough water to cover the squash.
  • cook over medium high heat until squash is soft.
  • remove from heat - do not drain.
  • using a potato masher,  carefully mash the squash in the pot.
  • add peaches and raisins.
  • and spices to your liking.
  • place the pot over medium heat.
  • keeps goods at a slow simmer stirring often until desired thickness is achieved.
note: if you prefer a smoother soup - place all goods in a processor and process until smooth but be careful so as not to burn yourself.


chicken footie!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

later mater!

had a good morning
put up 12 quarts of later maters

yummy oh dear yummy yummy

that's all i could get through today as i'm now busy at work in the theatre
there is bread on the counter rising rising rising
long and slow goes the sourdough

tonight i'll bake
and eat bread with butter

come on now
*  *  *
who can resist fresh out of the oven bread

certainly not this here who
that's fo' sho'!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

it's raining! it's raining! it's raning in texas!

i am so excited i cannot even spell the word raining properly the third time out

- bless the gods of the wet falling skies -
- rain is falling in texas -

 the rainwater harvesting collection tanks are finally seeing some action.  the smaller of the two tanks is full to the brim while the large has room to spare.  given our chances for continued rain today, it might just fill.  it is nice to breathe a long sigh of rain relief.

we might just see some green before year's end
wouldn't that be fine?
quick planting update to start the day off
white carrots
daikon radish
a winter cover crop of winter rye, annual rye, hairy vetch, crimson clover and field pea for areas of the yard that need a bit of building up.

i am still in need of kale - they are seeds i currently have not.

now it's off to the metal shed to prep the wee chickie nursery for the babes that arrive this week. 
i love this part of chickenmamahood

Saturday, October 8, 2011

a few steps forward

 - happy day - 

i built a new pair of brand spankin' compost bins - out of recycled/repurposed wood pallets of course.  for me, there is no other way.  it was time as the few that have been in service for the last five plus years had finally rotted away.  they did a fine job while they lasted and now they too are headed into recycle land.
 - check out these beauties -
looking mighty fine if i say so myself.  

i made the decision to pull out one of the garden beds in the east side garden.  it was a spot that always proved particularly dry and thus required a regularly scheduled frequent and deep watering that current drought conditions cannot support.  i pulled up the raised bed frame thinking i might be able to use it elsewhere but no - it too had served its time and was ready for the reuse universe.  the boards simply broke into smaller bits.  i can use them to edge other smaller garden beds or construct a happy toad, lizard lizard, buggy bug woody wood pile.  over time the boards will break down completely - it happens faster than you think - don't blink.

we do our best to make sure that nothing gets wasted around here.

oh my aching back!
today proved to be a turn the soil over until you can't turn the soil no more kind of day.
i got a good bit of soil turned over yet there is a good bit still in need of turning.  there's a nice mix of soil, grass clippings and composted chicken bedding along with any smallish pulled up plants and such from the hotty hot hot summer garden fry fest.

things are feeling fluffy and nice and should hold water quite well given we are blessed with a good soaking rain.

i relocated a few veggie plants from the outback shady garden.  three pepper plants and five swiss chards now reside in the sunyside east garden.  they are looking a bit wilty at the moment from the shock of the move.  fingers crossed they perk up in the next few days or so.

and just look at all that darn johnson grass growing between the beds
it never goes away

 some of the beds were blessed with mr. bunbuns fertile poopy poops and discarded alfalfa from his nibbling bits.  rabbit poo is safe just as it is for garden soil.  it need not be composted but you may compost it if you wish.  

just turn it in like everything else. 

 i moved the loverly lemon grass today after giving her a good haircut
she's now a featured beauty on the southside of the beds.

all the while 
i thought i was working hard
until i spied those busy buzzing ladies who work far harder than myself

beautiful bees
feeding and flying and feeding and flying
collecting fall's bounty for the benefit of the hive

so at current the garden is planted with
fall maters
swissy chards
greeny peppers
fragrant basils
rosey mary
millet spires
cheery chives

it is a bit slim for my liking as i feel this is a very late start for a fine fall garden
but you just can't beat the
heat oh heat oh heat

and now that the temps have cooled
the list for planting grows
- up next -
and more kale

! super exciting !