Saturday, October 31, 2009

glorious days ahead


the glorious days are upon us. crisp mornings with warming sunny afternoons. these are the days folks live for in the central texas area. these are the days i thought might not ever come this year. and the sigh of my relief is great and the comfort in the cool is deep and i find great joy in the wearing of a sweater and vest.

another great glory is that these are the days for seasonal greens. and i plant them, lots of them, all kinds, anywhere they might catch a bit of sun. i prefer mixed greens anyday. more variety, more nutrition, more flavor, more texture and simply more interesting in the eating experience.

i've got red lettuces, green lettuces, leaf lettuces, romains, arugula, tatsoi, chinese greens, cabbages, kales, borage, comfrey, chards, beet greens and a mix of cool weather herbs - both sweet and savory.

when harvesting, i head out with my big green collecting bin and a pair of snips then i simply move from bed to bed taking no care to separate out one type of green from the other. then it's a quick dip in a water bath and a spin in the greens dryer before popping into a bag for fridge storage. they don't last long and could not be more healthy which is good for me in these autumnal months. no need for extra weight on my bones - i've got plenty already for winter stores.

in addition to the greens a bit of okra and long beans
not too much - a nice bit for afternoon grilling - add a little olive oil, salt, pepper and you've got yourself a small bit of magic.

also up today
the waxing of hard cheeses - a batch of baba - a pot of basil pesto - and a batch of hippychick pasta

i was able to wax out three rounds of cheese made earlier this week - two rounds in the italian hard spiky flavor family. the third round - the largest of the three - in the aged hard cheddar family. now it's the three month wait. if these rounds mature in flavor like this summer's cheese, then the three months will be more than worth the wait. i have tapped into the first - the result - a tangy goodness - i'm thrilled

the cheese stores are slowly but surely building. at present there 4 full waxed rounds in store and 3lbs of fresh mozzarella ready for present eating. the super fantastic hippychick cheese plan is to make two to four rounds every other week which would put me in long term cheese happiness in near to no time leaving plenty to share with family and/or to pull out for special occasions. that may not sound like a whole lot to the tried and true cheese makers out there but for a solo small time farmer like myself - it's gold.

this mornings basil harvest put up to 3 1/2 pints of glowing green pesto and a single eggplant put up to 1 1/2 pints of baba ghanoush. so with fresh greens, pesto, baba, fresh mozzarella and fresh pasta in house, i will want for nothing.

- - - - - - - - -


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

jived! jived! i'm feelin' alive!

it's a clear blue sky of a day

the temperature is hovering near 55˚f

the air is crisp cool

it feels great to be wearing a sweater, boots and cushy socks

the creatures are playing, flying and jumping

and everything is green, flowering and growing steadily

it's a day for jivin' jivin' feeling so alivin'

cheers!

Monday, October 26, 2009

sweetest of sweets makes a tough day most beautiful

thank you
mommy cara

thank you
daddy chris

thank you
sweetflower hazel

you have made auntie m so happy

i love thee tree
(as great-grandpa would say)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

it all depends in how you look at it



the morning's harvest
this a half plus dozen eggs
beans for lunch
yummy

i planted out another patch of greens this morning - a simple task really considering that most lettuce greens prefer a surface seeding - throw them down - water them in - done

it's a beautiful morning - good light - comfortable temperatures and a slight breeze
it's a good day for light outdoor tasks
these are the days i relish most
keep um' comin' naturemama

- - - - - - - - - -
it is now nearly 8:oopm and i sit bushed tired and happy for the feeling a bit better and for the tasks now complete.

metal shed chicken coop
  • clean and dust out coop
  • replace bedding
  • change feeders out to big birdie feeder
  • change waterer out to big birdie waterer
  • add in a third perch for night time snoozing
  • treat the ladies with sweet tater vines, greens and chards
  • compost all used bedding - this is the good stuff
garage barn coop
  • unload six 5olb bags of organic chicken feed from car to storage cart
  • mix a 4olb batch of hippychicks extra special feed suppliment* - enough to last a good six weeks - the mix? - ground alfalfa, flaked molasses, fish meal, kelp, food grade d.e. and crushed oyster shell - *read up before you choose to do this at home - know your ratios - too much of anything is not a good thing and could possibly be a very bad thing if not researched.
  • feed and water the chickygirls
  • treat the ladies with sweet tater vines, over-ripe maters and leafy herbs
  • sweep out the garage
the orignal coop
  • feed, water and treats of greens, chards and sweet tater vines
  • collect eggs - beauties today!
  • cuddle, scratch and chat a while - ya' know socializing with my homegirls
bunny
  • feed, water, cuddles and greens for treats
the house
  • wash 99% laundry
  • change bed sheets - i love fresh sheets
  • sweep all floors
  • wash all dishes
  • cook a batch of homemade tapioca pudding
  • fold and put all clothes away
  • wash sink and clean all kitchen counters
  • clean downstairs bathroom
  • harvest 6 beer size bottles of kombucha
  • recycle, recycle, recycle
  • sweep front porch, back porch and mud porch
  • clean up kitty land
  • trash out
  • play with darla kitten, cuddle mr. t
  • removed cheese from cheese press - wrapped it in cheese cloth - set on wood stand for 2-3 day air dry prior to waxing
all in one day - slow and steady as the stomach is still queezy - it was an all day affair but i am happy to have spent the time so. i still have mail to go through, papers to sort through for recycling. then there is the back studio porch that needs a whole lot of attention - one step at a time...

the daytime temps were just lovely and tonight is said to cool - possibly rain - all is well.

hippychick tip -
  • if your chickys are laying fewer eggs there is no need for alarm. as the days grow shorter the laying slows. chickens require light in order to lay eggs. long summer days = longer hours of sunlight = more eggs. shorter autumnal days = less hours of sunlight = less eggs. hey everybody deserves a break - it is a natural cycle. give your girls the rest. the eggs will come just at a slower rate. note - a series of overcast skies can have the same effect.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

the rising hour


wee taters from the soil - just a few from the tippy top layer of soil - little sweet things - enough for a tender fresh lunch - now slowly roasting in a simple foil wrap

the days have cooled
today's morning is crisp

the fall flu caught me for a start this week but as it comes it too goes. a fresh start to more carefully choose the foods that go in the body.

today i will keep things simple - a bit of rice, sweet taters, hot tea, and peaches. even this list seems a bit hopeful as my stomach still gurgles away but i will try and if not today then tomorrow. so far the tea feels good on this chilly cool morn'.

we had rain this week - a good fine bit of rain - rain that finally was able to soak deep into the soil and feed the thirsty trees. the ground now soft allows such soaking in where weeks earlier was rock hard and impervious to such an idea.

the citrus trees are showing great spurts of growth, sending out shoots and new branches nearly overnight. it seems here in my patch of central texas that they prefer to send out their greatest growth in the fall. the lemons and limes are near ready for picking and each morning i steady my hand while silently saying to myself "not yet, not quite yet, soon enough".

soon i will pull the remainder of the sweet taters out of the soil for curing. i grow curious and curiouser at the wonder of the size of this year's harvest. enough i am sure and happy we will be for what we gain as this summer proved so very trying on so many of the crops.

greens are now growing and crisp and lovely in the morning light. i have thrown down another batch of seed filling empty spots or those recently cleared out - no bit of soil goes unplanted for too long around here.

there are creatures munching on the leaves of the broccoli but not so much munching to harm. the sunflowers are blooming and their heads bowing heavy filled with seed that will ripen and be left for birds and climbing creatures to forage. the okra and peppers are still setting flower and fruit like they have not all year.

the chickeny creatures have slowed in their laying as summer's sunny long days have passed. yet the eggs they are laying are beautiful and full and the color inside gold and orange. they share in the feast of the greens and the goods - just this week they ate melons and chards and fresh herbs. what goes in is what comes out so i feed fresh and fragrant and so far i have yet to be disappointed.

the teenager chicken babes are ready for their new home and it looks like next week they will travel. to austintown they will go to a farm where they will live each like queens with a mom as doting as myself. they will be kept for egg laying and for loving and for playing. what more could a chicken baby mama ask for?

the sun has now risen and the leaves crisp edges reflect and shudder in the softest barely there breeze.

it feels a good day for making cheese


Monday, October 19, 2009

hippychick's first honey

amazing
so very beautiful
and with light passing through...
ahh
* * * * * *
the numbers are in...

total harvest - 24 lbs of dark rich honey

equal to
8 full quarts plus a half pint of honey
(all this from a single shallow super - oh my!)

* * * * * *
enough for family gift this holiday season

lovely

* * * * * *
next year - who knows
maybe even more this year - there is still time

i want to play it safe with the bees this first winter
the better they feed themselves - the more survive for next year's hive

* * * * * *
happy for that which has been harvested

that is for sure

Sunday, October 18, 2009

hippychick honey yup yup sustainable success

a harvest indeed
super dark honey
woo hoo and a big yee haa



the harvest is not huge huge huge but kind enough in light of the brutal summer the bees recently survived.

i pulled seven frames from a single shallow super. the second super was not yet fully capped upon further inspection so best to let the bees finish up the process and to allow the honey to mature before any further robbing.

it looks like the filtering process may take a day or so. it's looking a very slow process dripping through the filter. looks like i'll not know the volume of honey harvested for a bit. ah the lessons of patience one must learn through the sustainable living process.

the wait in this case will prove more than worth it i am sure.

how did i do it? harvest the honey that is?
without anything fancy that's for sure. i kept the process pretty darn plain and simple.

i pumped in a little smoke. i removed the super i was robbing from the hive. - heavy! oh my! i sure am glad i am working with 8 frame supers and not 10 frame - woof it had some weight to it! i then replaced the top feeder and the hive cover to keep as many bees contained inside of the hive as possible because i knew the next actions would prove most exciting to the bees. i removed each honey capped frame from the super one by one trying to keep the frame fully in tact. i removed the bees on the comb with a gentle brushing off then i placed the frame in a covered plastic bin.

i leaned the empty super upon the side of the hive. i would be back with the extracted frames as soon as i was able. the bees in the mean time were working on bits of comb that might have fallen from frames and or were still sticking to the inside of the super. i smoked all around myself before heading for the house.

i then transported the bin full with the seven supers inside and shut the doors. you do not want to be extracting honey from frames anywhere the bees can get to you. they'd overpower and drive you off in a jiffy. that's no fun and could cause a big ole' mess.

at this point, you can check out the you tube video for the next few steps which include
  • uncapping the honey
  • loading the frames into the extractor
  • spinning the frames
  • draining the honey into a filtered bucket
so now i wait for the slow filtering process to complete... another slow drip
honey sweet honey
honey sweet honey bee
thank you thank you thank you

hippychick honey? maybe maybe

i plan to make my first attempt to harvest honey this afternoon - fingers crossed it goes well.

woo hoo! this is very exciting.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

climate change - blog action day - central texas

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

today is blog action day - the topic - global climate change

in this vein i present, as one voice, a series of links leading you to information relevant to climate change in from voices in central texas, greater texas and to the universe beyond.


The top 100 effects of Global Climate Warming at center for american progress

Climate Change, Carbon Credits and Agriculture at carbon offsets daily news

Texas Climate News @ texas climate news

Three season outlook @ capital climate

Envision Central Texas @ envision central texas

Austin Climate Protection Program - myth and fact
@ austin city connection

Climate Change in Texas @ next generation earth

New El Nino @ The Independent

rainfall patters at the fly gap division of double helix ranch in mason texas

intergovernmental panel on climate change @ ipcc

united nations educational scientific and cultural organization a.k.a. unesco

unesco world heritage center and climate change report from paris july conference

and remember...

Monday, October 12, 2009

sweet morning

the skies are yet a pale slate blue and there is misty moisture in the air. and excellent day for the rubberydubbery boots. the chickeny creatures are out and about scratching away for gold and other such wiggly creeping crawling goodies. the wet brings the worms to the surface, seconds pass, a scratch or two then with an excited joy they are quickly gobbled down.

get ya protein here! we got protein! dig for protein!

good for the girls - good for the eggs
did you ever think that you were eating worms too?
hee, hee hee - you are, you are

meanwhile the pepper plants are blooming up a storm and those fruits already formed are shaping up. their size is compact. it's funny, i have yet to grow a large sized sweet pepper in this texas climate. the flavor is great so i don't complain. we are happy for the harvest we are blessed with.

the morning's harvest presented a little bit of this and a little bit of that. nice bits for rounding out the day's salad and beautiful for observing.


the basil leaves are wide and long and full of more than fine flavor. i missed trimming a few plants yesterday. i think i've got enough for another three or four pints of pesto in the waiting. i left quite a bit on the plants ready for trimming.

half of this basil harvest will be thrown in with the salad greens for extra flavor and half will be thinly sliced for fresh mater, basil, mozz salad. i think there may be a bit more than i need even for today's goods. maybe a good drying off then a swim in olive oil will do a bit of the harvest good.

- basil flavored olive oil -
mmm mmm nummie!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

still life of an urban homesteader's kitchen

it is early sunday of the first weekend home in a great long while and there is rain falling lightly in the autumnal light. the nights are growing longer, the chickenygirls are laying a few less eggs of late. the skies have been cloudy, been protected from the wilds of outer space by a thickened cottony cover.

the sun has peeked through in bits and speckles. she sun is on break, a well deserved break around here. she has been taxed with her constant shining on these parts for far too long. i for one welcome her break.

i for one welcome the cool wet. it feels autumnal. the ground is once again mushy. the cool weather vegetable seeds and starts are planted. flowers are blooming, tomatoes are setting, greens are popping upward while pecans wait a thrifty wind for falling.

creatures begin to think about the seasonal tucking in. the bees are sticking close to home. the rains suggest as much. though when they fly i notice upon return their legs are packed with nurturing golden soft powdered pollen. food for feeding brood. food for feeding the hive. all prepare for the cool.

the basil plants are booming, suffering no harm from my cuttings today. cuttings that allowed for a fair five quarts of garlic, lemon, basil, pecorino cheese, and basil pesto. the okra though heat loving seem equally relieved for the recent cool. they flower and produce like never before and i trim the sweet pods for eating and for storing. salads greens are eaten nearly as fast as they are harvested. i must at this early stage of fall growth ration my wanting for a fresh salad though soon the harvest will prove a challenge to keep up with.

three of four gallons of the raw milk made its way to cheese this weekend. 3 full quarts of fresh mozzarella and a single pint of ricotta. a nice harvest from an excellent source. the final gallon i enjoy fresh early morn and just prior to turning in late eve.

the whey from the cheese was used to soak a collection of whole grains for the clucking ladies. i split the goods between the three coops and no sooner had it been rationed out, was it gone baby gone. in addition, the girly chickenchica egg laying, soon to be egg laying and wee little girls have enjoyed a fine harvest of radish tops, kale, chard, sweet potato greens and other such garden trimmings these past few days.

two loaves of bread bake and three cozy kitties nap as i write. i set up a special space in the garage barn for opera kitty. it is this time of year, the cool time of year that opera opts for an out of doors existence. the homestead is warm. and the universe sets for a short while in a place of relaxation. so set we will a while as there are many a chores that still need a doing - as they always do.

sharing the wealth -
a loaf of bread for me - a loaf for a neighbor. pesto for me - pesto for neighbors. extra basil gifted to various neighbors. the wee not for sale eggs for a neighbor

i wish you warmth, happiness and a place of cozy peace.

pretty pretties about the place



Saturday, October 10, 2009

taming wild kittens and other odd uncertain beasts

it's been a lumpy bumpy few three plus weeks of near to non posts due to a certain unexpected unwelcome "mess with your mama's health" beast. this beast visited my mama and sapped her of her energy, her verve, her strength but certainly not her will for a length of time. the moment i learned of the beast, i set travel to mama to assist her as i could in defeating the beast. the beast fought hard and tested and prodded but mama had decided that this beast's visit was soon to end.

yet i worried and i prayed and i held her and my father's hands. i pondered then, i ponder now, the beauty of family. brother, mother, father and i - each friend - each family - each present and supportive of mother's challenging beast. those unnamed days passed, time shifted, i lost track of time, i cared not for concepts, i cared only for those moments with and beside mama. i cared for the health of my father.

all else fell away
for a time

now there are signs of improvement and the beast must fight harder to burden mama. slowly but surely she fights, slowly but surely the beast must retreat and soon i hope soon victory will be claimed by mama, power filled mama, willful mama, my stubborn in the best kind of way mama.

we rise for a bit of fresh air and i am back at home in smalltown texas and the cheer filled beast i battle is a wild kitten filled with playful joy, ready to romp and stoop and pounce and tumble and mew for hours until the excitement of it all leads to deep slumber. she, ms darla kitten kittygirl, gives old man termite kittyboy and i a good run for our money. he, mr. t, plays a very patient big brother to the wee one. she not yet old enough to understand when enough is enough is enough frequently tests the waters with the old man. she simply adores the old man, purs at the sight of him and can rarely resist the urge to climb upon his back, over his head, under his belly... funny how the old man, every so often, prefers a bit of time and space to his self and will often deliver a quick batting of the paw and a soft mrrowwwl to throw out the hint. the odds run 5o/5o hint taken, hint missed. just the same mr. man cuddles up, he purrs and he bears the efforts one must endure when taming wild kittens.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

anticipation





sweet taters

i adore your blushed ruby stem

your pale violet flower

your fresh toned variated greens








broccoli-
occoli

sunlight and dew on you temp my wanting


grant me patience


as i await your sweet flowery heads made fruity by the season's first frost

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

autumnal growth in the hippychick universe


future pesto

lima beans - hops - okra - black eyed peas

hippychick favorite greens! i love fresh greens

sweet taters and basils - mmm mmm yummie

leek - basil - carrot - kale - chard - volunteer beans

it's going to be a big big big pesto year
i have no problem with that!

more to come...

Monday, October 5, 2009

each day is a gift

a hippychick wee homestead peek at happiness
- one of many -

a wee homestead breakfast

egg laying chicas

plus
fresh baked homemade bread

plus
a nice hot pan

plus
sunny sunshine morning light
equals
wee homestead happiness
and
a start to a great day

each day is a gift folk
one idea not to be taken for granted