Friday, July 25, 2008

Here Kitty Kitty... part trois

Well step 3 has commenced on the kitty raw diet adventure. :-D
I bought a big bird at HyVee a couple of weeks ago. It's called a capon. Not sure what that is, but it was very bird like. I paid 16.81 for it, and it made 1400 grams of kitty food. I portioned it out into 13 days of food. That means I'm paying 1.29 a day to feed Rienne. Still a little high, but manageable. She was begging for scraps as I was preparing the meat, so I gave her a part of a wing to gnaw on. She did attempt to eat parts of the wing off the bone, but was a little put off by the complexity and bone. So, if I ever want to get her to eat prey or raw meaty bones, we'll need to work on that skill set. But, for now, she really enjoys the meat in large chunks, cut off the bone and she eats the organ meat without fuss too. So, we're two hurdles down at least. :-D

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Honeymoon Bliss

Wow, what a week.

Dave and I were handfasted on Sunday. We had lots of family and friends with us for the ceremony. Vows were exchanged, pictures were taken and lots of food eaten. Flowers, dress and 80% of the food were local. I made the best strawberry rhubarb pies from scratch. Daddy and Mom whipped up some tasty ice cream. Everyone left happy. I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. We danced around storms, power outages and Dave’s family being an hour late. And everything turned out wonderful.

We had a small honeymoon, from Sunday night through Weds night. We didn't really go anywhere, stayed home, watched some movies, ate leftover food and lazed about our new house together.

I did get in some gardening in on the honeymoon. Monday I went to the Franklin plot and attempted to reclaim the pea patch. I saved a couple handfuls of seed and got a good start on turning it into a plantable patch for the hairy vetch. I can’t believe how wet it is here. I had water in any hole deeper than 2” in the plot. I’m glad I spent the time to build my soil up, the people on either side of me had standing water in their plots.

I harvested Green Beans, Purple Green Beans and a couple of massive Kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi: 655g
Royalty Purple: 30g
Empress Green Bean: 135g

Wednesday I made it out to my Boone garden with Dave. Everything was lush and well watered. :-P The flowers were heavily damaged by storms on Saturday, but everything else appeared sound. I have tons of tomatoes on the vines. I even harvested one little red one, but I'm not sure what kind he is. (My garden journal hasn't been unpacked yet) :-P

I harvested all the garlic finally. It was definitely close. There are a few that might not cure cause they stayed in the wet ground too long, but over all it was a good harvest. I pulled out 31 garlic heads. The North row outperformed the South row hands down. I'll have to check my journal to figure out which types that would be. I damaged 4 or 5 as I was trying to get them out of the ground. Shovel cuts mostly, so those I cleaned up and cut up and they are now diced garlic in oil in my fridge. The rest of the heads are quietly sitting on a tarp in my living room curing. At least I hope they are curing. It's been raining since I pulled them out of the ground yesterday, so they can't go outside. *shrug*

I harvested all the onions. The tops were laying over on most of them. And, like the garlic, it was just too wet to leave them. So, they too are on the tarp in the living room, hopefully curing. Dave complains it smells "funny" in the living room now. hee hee...

While I was harvesting I grabbed the carrots out of their bed. Something was eating the tops, so I figured I should harvest now while I could still tell where they were. I got a giant pile of carrots. Not sure the best way to store them, some research will need to be done. I did set some aside and Dave helped me cut them up and put them in the dehydrator. So, at least some will be dried. For some reason I think they should be stored in damp sand in the basement, but I could be confusing them with beets.

We harvested from the bean rows too. All three types are putting out bumper crops. Must be all the rain or something. I was a good girl and tied yarn around the beans I'm saving for seed. Dave even helped with it on Weds. So, here's a picture of the harvest, and the totals.Weds Harvests from Boone garden
Purples: 500g
Pole Beans: 273g
Empress Green: 220g
Carrots: 2528g or 2.5 Kg!
Onions: 34 harvested
Garlic: 31 harvested

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

4 days till the handfasting!!

So, two pictures, one of the green beans, and one of the first 4 onions hanging in their braid in my kitchen.

4 days till the handfasting!! So much left to do. :-) I think we’ll make it though. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Dave’s outfit. It shipped from the tailor on Monday. Hee heee.. eek. Definitely cutting it a little close, but barring any natural disasters it should get here by Friday. Except for a slight zipper malfunction, my dress is done and beautiful!

Dave and I went out to the Boone garden last night. I have lots of pretty pretty flowers for bouquets and such. A good chunk of my bulbs are blooming, I have a massive drift of wildflowers, and a couple handfuls of edible flower blooms. Perfect! I might need to go buy a bouquet of white flowers and baby’s breath just to balance out all the yellows and oranges that I grew, but that’s definitely doable. I have 5 huge vases from Valentine’s Days past, I’ll reuse those and I picked up some corsage bracelets and florist’s tape for a total of 5$. I’ll be using leftover ribbon from my dress to decorate my bouquet and the vases. I invested 50$ in bulbs this spring. So… 55$, 65$ after I buy the bouquet of white flowers Friday… $65 for wedding flowers. I’ll use every flower in my garden, and I’m seriously thinking about stealing.. er liberating.. some flowers from my office park median. It won’t be a fancy affair, but there will be flowers and I won’t break the bank. Not bad for 5 months of planning. :-)

While we were checking on the flowers we harvested 782 grams of green beans from one of my Empress bush bean rows, and 4 more onions.

The tomatoes are still stubbornly green. I’m starting to doubt they’ll be ready by Sunday. Oh well. No great loss. More for me to can when they do ripen. :-D

The garlic definitely will need to be harvested as soon as I can get to them. Even if I have to drag Dave out to the garden on our honeymoon. :-D

My cabbage appears to have stopped growing. I’m not sure how to tell if it’s done though. I might ask Dave’s mom when she’s here on Sunday.

The dehydrator was a success on the first batch. The strawberries are tasty, the blueberries are decent, (I’m not the biggest fan of blueberries to start with) Dave swears the banana chips are delicious. I don’t like how the peaches turned out, I might try the next batch of peaches with a pretreatment of citric acid and hope the results are more to my liking.

The Japenese Beetles are officially here. I saw my first handful yesterday. So, the row cover went back over the squash. Hopefully the beans can hold their own against the coming onslaught.

That's all for now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dehydration, not such a bad thing

I walked to a garage sale on my block Friday. Best thing I did all weekend! I picked up a food dehydrator for 4$! 6 trays, 100% working dehydrator!
The bag of strawberries from my Daddy's garden was still sitting in my fridge Friday, about to become an embarassing slime ball. Now they are saved. Safely dehydrated, made my kitchen smell good all weekend I might add. Since I was running the dehydrator for the strawberries and it only has one setting (ON) I figured I should put more stuff into it, so I bought a couple containers of blue berries that were 2 for 4$ and I sliced up a couple of bannanas, and the last decent peach from my counter top. Between the strawberries and the last of the peaches, I was about to have 4 pounds of trash, so I was glad to save them.
The onions went in a braid on Sunday. I was fairly happy with the result. I'm still not sure how I'm going to weigh all of these onions for my records. I'm storing them in braids, so I'm keeping the stems/leaves on, but I'm not going to eat the stem/leaves, so weighing them as a whole for my records seems not quite right. I think I'm going to just harvest them, and keep track of the number of onions I harvest, and then as I'm eating them I'll weigh the first few and average out the weight and multiply it by the number harvested. Not exact, but closer I think than any other method short of taking the tops off of every last one to weigh it properly.
So, in the interest of keeping all records in the same place...
Onions harvested: 4
They look real pretty hanging in their braid in my kitchen. Most of the braids will go in the dark basement, where they will store better, but this first one might just stay right where it's at until I eat them. :-)
I'll try and remember to take a picture tonight and post it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I pulled these monsters out of the ground last night. They are currently curing on my cabinet in the kitchen. That will work well enough for these 4, but not so well for the 30 more still in the ground. Research must be done to figure out the best way to deal with all these onions.

My pea and bean trellis has completely collapsed. :-( The last storm just knocked it completely over. Oh well, I'll do better next year. Luckily 2/3rds of my bean crop are bush beans and thus not dependent on something to climb.
I did harvest probably the last of the peas. 30 grams. The rest of them will be seed stock for next year.
The lettuces are bolting nicely, the romaine is about to flower, the spinach is setting seed.
The two broccoli plants that headed are already flowering. They are hybrid varieties, so it's not worth saving the seed, but I"ll let them flower just for the heck of it. The Romanesco varieties are still showing no signs of heading. They look healthy, so I'll just be patient.
My cabbage is really pretty, the head is a good 5 inches. I think it'll get bigger, so I'm letting it be.
The garlics are getting close to done. I think I might be able to harvest them the week after the handfasting. (Dave is yelling, "No gardening on our honeymoon!") hee hee So, I really need to get these onions cured and out of the way so I can cure the garlics.
I have a dozen tomatoes on the vines. :-D There's a chance a couple will be ready by the handfasting. Not sure what I'll do with them, but they'll be ready. :-)
I'm anxious about the flowers for the handfasting, some are flowering, some are not, hopefully I'll have a few nice looking ones in time. The wildflowers are doing fine. :-) There will be some flowers at least.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Here Kitty Kitty... part duex

Well, the raw diet adventure has begun.
I got Rienne moved to our new house. My other kitty, Demeter, will sadly not be joining us. He has taken a liking to one of my old roommates and would rather stay with him. C'est la vie.

So, to start things out and transition from dry food, Rienne got a couple days of canned kitty food. There was some hesitation on the first meal, she didn't know what to do with it at first, but when I hand fed bits of it to her she figured it out enough to lick the gravy off the portion. :-) She had wet food figured out by the end of the first day though. Seemed to really like it. So, two days of that, and then sadly a day and a half of dry cat food cause I ran out of the cans, and I hadn't cut up the chicken yet. :-P But, this morning, she got her first helping of raw chicken. She had a nibble last night when I was cutting it up, and seemed to really enjoy it. She didn't leave the kitchen the whole time I was cutting up that chicken. This morning... I sensed the same sort of hesitation that she had at the first wet food meal. Like she wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I tried to hand feed her some, but I didn't have the time to sit with her. I think she did nibble a few pieces down while I was in the bath, but it was hard to tell.
Most of the resources I found on this diet recommended leaving a serving out for only 30 minutes. So, when it was time to go to work I scooped up a large part of the portion and put it back in the fridge. I did leave her one chunk, in the hopes that after we left she would take the time to nibble some more. She also had a few nibbles of dry food left from last night. I'm hoping tonight I'll be able to sit with her and maybe cut up some of the bites a little more and hand feed a bit to get her used to the concept of raw food.
I am going to be keeping track of costs and such in order to do this as cheaply as possible, but I don't want to compromise on quality. I think this diet will get much cheaper when I can order in some level of bulk, but I wanted to start small. So, this first chicken was a local organic bird. It was a 4 pound bird at $3 a pound. I got it from the farmers market 3 miles away from my house. After cutting the meat off the bone and cutting up the gibblets I had 6 portions at 110 grams and 1 portion at 80 grams. I kept about half the skin, if Rienne starts to gain weight I'll keep even less skin. So, just to keep things on the same measuring stick, my 7 portions totaled 740 grams which is 1.63 pounds. I'm a little unsure as to how much Rienne will eat daily, but that should be at least 10 days worth of food. If I was buying her 10 days of wet food, at 50 cents a can, that would be 5$. Clearly the 12$ I spent on this 10 days worth is a little expensive. Although, maybe this is more than 10 days worth, I don't know.
On the plus side of the equation, I did steal 6 strips of breast meat for Dave and I to eat and I made a quart of really nice chicken broth with the skin and bones. It would have been nicer with my fresh herbs, but they are still on Dave's porch, they'll be moved tonight. Still, 4 cups of organic chicken broth is at least 4$ and the strips of breast meat would be a couple of bucks worth of meat. That puts me closer to breaking even. :-D
I have a cheaper bird in the freezer from Hyvee, it was only 2.25 a pound. Not sure what kind of bird it is though. It was between the turkeys and gooses in the freezer, it says "All natural, gibblets included Cabon." I have NO idea what a Cabon is. :-D The meat counter guy didn't know either. *shrug* We'll see I guess.
I want to try buying bulk pieces of chicken too. i.e. 10 pound packages of leg quarters or something. Those could be cheaper than whole birds. We'll see.
And of course, if she takes to the diet, I need to see about getting all the supplements to make sure she's getting all her vitamins. But, one thing at a time.

The garden is coming along nicely, I have green tomatoes on the vine, onions about ready to harvest, and a bunch of broccoli ready to harvest. My mustard patch has a BUNCH of seed pods set. I think I might actually get enough to make some mustard. :-D Both gardens have been a little neglected this past week, due to the move. I should remedy that over the next couple of days. :-D In all my free time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Two goals with one stone!

I accomplished two goals this last week.
Goal #1: We are moved! I am now 6.75 miles away from work and Dave is living in the city where 75% of his work happens. That is an improvement. I was working out my fuel budget last night and I had to run the numbers 3 times because I couldn't believe that the numbers I was getting were right. I should use less than 10 gallons of gas a MONTH to get to work and back, and that's assuming I never ride my bike or the bus. Before I was using 10 gallons every 4 or 5 days to get to work and back. :-) We have a nice, clean, cool basement that I'm turning into a root cellar as fast as I can. I already have my kitty on search and destroy missions down there, but so far no mice. :-) I have a clean space to can food in. And a nice kitchen in which to cook from scratch. I couldn't be happier.

Before and after pics. We're not done yet of course, but the space is starting to look like ours.

Goal #2 Hypermiling of my car reached 40mpg!
My last tank of gas got an average of 40.44 miles to the gallon! :-) I've been hovering at 39.5 for awhile, and I guess the wind was on my side this past week or something. I don't have numbers yet for in town driving, that will take another month to trend, but I was really excited to finally get over that 40mpg mark. Honda Civic power! I like to think I don't drive so much as I creatively glide. :-P

Post Apocalyptic Book club reading #1: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein
As some of you may know, I've started reading for a book club. Not a normal book club, this one focuses on literature both popular and classic to explore the ramifications of peak oil and climate change on our society. Each month will have a different theme with 3 different books to discuss. This month the theme is "Classic Guy Doom." With the 3 books being The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Lucifer's Hammer, and the Wasteland. For a full run down on each month, see here. Join us for a month or two if something catches your eye. :-) Whether you believe all the premises or not, the discussion should at least be captivating. It's all online and open invitation.
I haven't quite finished tMiaHM, but I'll say a few words about it here.
At first I didn't quite get why this book was included. It's more of a text book on how to stage a revolution. Then I realized the limits the "Loonies" face on Luna, in terms of water, air and food, can be correlated to the limits we are facing with peak oil and climate change. Their solution to the abuse of those limits, namely the revolution, wouldn't work out as well for us here on Earth. We can't really revolt against the Mid-East, we've paid them good money to put ourselves in this position. We can't revolt against ourselves for buying into the SUV/suburbia dream. We are not a small colony revolting against a well-armed oppressor, if anything, we're the ones doing a lot of the well-armed oppressing.
Our solutions are not going to come from a few national leaders. There are too many variables and too many distractions at that level. Local solutions work better, local leaders will too. Just as the solutions for Luna won’t work for us on Earth, the solutions for Colorado won’t work for New York.
Local leaders, and local solutions to the problem will result in less violence. A series of local community gardens implemented in the next couple of years will do more to change this country than the entire Congress can in the same amount of time. The question Sharon put forward, “Why are we so blase about this?” is one I have asked myself numerous times over the past couple of years. Mannie’s perspective of odds helped me see it a little better though. I think most people run the odds in their heads and figure it isn’t even worth fighting. I think the problems are just so entrenched and so huge that people don’t know where to start, so most of them just don’t.
So, in conclusion, the book was an interesting look at the very real consequences of ignoring limits, but not terribly useful as a blueprint to the way out from here.