Monday, October 31, 2011

Harvest Monday 10/25-10/31 2011

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Kale, spinach, deertongue and red romaine lettuce salad. We had 3-4 this week.

More tomatoes

Happy Halloween everyone! We have been eating salads all week long trying to eat from the backyard instead of buying from the store. We are still getting tomatoes but they are taking a long time to really ripen and we end up losing a lot of them before they are ready. I think we will be able to make one or two more batch of sauce. Our awesome neighbors brought us a whole bucket of pomegrantes and we will be making something out of them later this week.

In other news, yesterday I found 4 eggs in the chicken coop! Two of them were in the new nesting box we put in and the other two were where they normally are, where South and West always lay. So this means we probably have all four girls laying. I was lazy the last few days about getting eggs, so it may be that the day before I didn't check the nesting box and we only have three girls laying. I guess we will find out later today! :)

Don't forget to enter our first giveaway (free seeds). Today is the last day to enter and all you need to do is take a guess!

We are linking up with daphnes dandelions for Harvest Monday!

Carving a pumpkin with the little guy

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He didn't really want to carve it or even help get the gucky/seedy stuff out.

grrrr...the pumpkin is going to eat you daddy!

OMG...don't get me pumpkin!

The end result...Thanks daddy for "helping" me carve my first pumpkin!

The pumpkin seeds are toasting up right now...we will have a yummy treat soon! I love Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween used to be my favortie holiday...

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and I won't lie...it kind of still is. I really cannot choose between Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. My reasons for loving Halloween have changed a lot. I used to love it because I would create awesome costumes, most of the time I would plan months in advance! Then I would spend the night, well the Saturday surrounding Halloween, out with my honey!

Times have changed and I must admit I love it just as much. I still get to create awesome costumes...one for the little guy and one for me. My honey (the doctor) now plays his music every year on the Saturday surrounding Halloween (some year I will make it to see him). Plus we get the fun of being parents and seeing the little guy in his silly costume(s) all excited to go trick or treating.


As silly as this sounds the real reason I started to write this post is because I found the candy corn! For some reason I love this stuff but only at Halloween. Any other time I get sick even thinking about it. What a silly thing to get me writing...right? It reminds me of quick writes in high school. :)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sseko Designs Pink Ribbon project: Friday feature-week Three

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Check out Sseko Designs third friday feature for their pink ribbon project to show their support for breast cancer awareness month. I have my pink ribbon on my purse and I have been using a pink reusable shopping bag! What are you doing to show your support?




 
 
I think it should be week four but they didn't have one last week! :)
 
Don't forget to enter our first giveaway (free seeds)! You have until Halloween! :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Our take on local and organic food

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The Doctor and I are not against eating organic but we would like to share a little about how we feel about the issue. We are most certainly not organic eaters or even completely local eaters. We are striving to get to the point where we can live off and with the land. It is a long process to learn how to farm.

In the past people were taught by their parents (who had been taught by their parents and so forth) and usually the family farm, with equipment, was passed down. Now a days you not only have to learn it all but you also need the finances to be able to afford to purchase the land, equipment and have the time (which=$) to be able to learn and work with the land.

We enjoy what we do and think that is extremely important for our son and our community to live with the land. We are learning as we go with lots of help from others and hope to be able to share with our community along the way.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on organic:

1.We personally know someone who paid to get their organic certification without really being organic...I'm sure this is not the only time this has happened.
2. Organic doesn't not equal healthy, corn-free, and does not mean WITHOUT pesticides or fungicides, but rather without SYNTHETIC fungicides or pesticides.
3. Even if you talk with someone at the farmers market and they tell you they are organic that doesn't mean that they are being truthful. Yes this is sad, but it is the reality we all have to deal with.

I recently read this article from one of the blogs I follow and think its important to share:
Root Simple: A Raw Deal: Photo from Aajonus Vonderplanitz's website http://unhealthyfamilyfarm.com/ of eggs at Healthy Family Farms in Hohberg Poultry Ranch box...

We feel growing our own food and purchasing things from farmers we know and have visited the farm is the best option out there. This of course is not possible for everyone so organic is a good option to have on the table. I think what everyone should take out of this is to educate yourself about healthy eating habits and what is going on in the world and not just believe the first thing you hear or read.

We struggle on a tight budget every month and understand how hard it can be to pay the expensive price of local or organic food even knowing that it is so so worth it. The time and energy good farmers put in deserves a reward and a pay check. I struggle every time I cannot buy local...sometimes providing a roof over your kids head is more important.

We are trying to make a lifestyle change, it will take a long time and will be a life time goal. We hope to change our lives, our sons life and change our community or at least provide a different perspective.

Don't forget to enter our first giveaway, an assortment of seeds! All you have to do is take a guess at what our mistake was. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our first giveaway! Take a guess and you might win! (ended 10/31/2011)

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This is what you might win! An assortment of Missouri Bill's pole beans, and Holstein bush beans.

Redwood seeds say, "As a 'local heirloom' Missouri Bill was saved for 25 years by Epperson Family Farm in northern California and originally was given to them by a man named Bill from Missouri." We purchased both of these from them and they were very easy to grow and also gave back to the soil, we saved seeds and the lucky winners will get a few from our stock.


Take a guess...what do you think this is?

We decided to have two winners for the first giveaway! Both will receive a pack of assorted seeds, we will pay the post. To enter please take a gander at what it is in the second photo.

For additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1. Follow our blog and/or through Google Friend connect and let us know in a comment (even if you already do).

2. Like Circle Five Homestead on facebook and let us know in a comment (even if you already do).

You have until Monday Oct. 31st to enter. One winner from the correct guesses will be selected and in addition a second winner will be selected using random.org.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Harvest Monday 10/18-10/24 2011

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Our first(and only) pumpkin, this week 3 more started...but most likely they will not ripen.

Red winter kale

We had kale four times this week, spinach once and a few romaine salads. The pumpkin plant finally decided to try and create pumpkins but I think it is to late for them to actually become pumpkins. At least we got one, our son will happily crave it (pictures will follow). We are also now getting 1-2 eggs a day, still a bit confused why only two of our girls are laying but oh well.

We had a little mishap this week and decided to have a giveaway in honor of it. Tomorrow I will post a pic and all you have to do is guess what is is, then you might be the lucky winner of a pack of assorted seeds. Check out our blog tomorrow for more info! We are linking up with daphnes dandelions for harvest Monday! Happy (harvest) Monday!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Raising Cornish Cross Chicks: Update

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We are a little over four weeks into raising the Cornish cross chicks and they are so big we are thinking sometime next week it will have to deal with processing them. This last week we started taking the food away from them at night because after doing more research we thought it might be best for them. The info is about 50-50 on the subject, they seem so so hungry in the morning it is hard to want to take it away from them at night but I also know that they are getting plenty of food. They are now eating the "layer" food we have for our girls. We ran out the other day because they eat so much and I remembered the feed store owner saying it was fine to just give them the other stuff. The are still in their cage but we moved the cage into the chicken coop because the poop was to much to handle on our house anymore. I have been pitchforking the crap out of the coop everyday! I am filling their food 2-3 times during the day and I fill their water 4-5 times.

We get most of our info from backyardchickens.com's forum, we just searched Cornish cross chick(ens). I have been unable to really find any info anywhere else. That is why I thought I would write little updates along the way so that other people can get some answers...feel free to ask questions.


This is me headed out to check the chicks one last time in our pitchblack back yard. Yes I have two head lamps on and a lantern...the doctor told me he would get me a new headlamp.

Friday, October 21, 2011

favorite things...fall

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I love fall and I decided to wait to post this until fall actually arrived...instead of the first day of fall. I feel like it is finally here...I have been leaving our windows cracked everyday, all day long! I love fall and...

being able to enjoy a hot cup of tea on the back porch
the first fire that is almost to warm
wearing my hair down instead of always in a ponytail
wearing my Sseko's with pants
planting our first fall/winter garden
wearing warm ViolaStitchStudio hats
thanksgiving
fall leaves...colors...everything

my favorite season for sure

picture from I <3 Chico on facebook

Surprised...

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I am a blogger which means I also read a lot of blogs. I am constantly surprised by other bloggers who simply do not research anything. Two blogs I follow (one who has two books published and another that is fairly popular) recently made huge mistakes that could have been avoided by a few minutes of internet research. If you have time to blog and garden and raise chickens and/or kids, why can't you take few second to learn about what you are doing???? Surprised and confused...how does someone get a book deal about something they really don't know much about???

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Raising Cornish Cross Chicks: A reflection of the entire process.

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I like to use the word process instead of kill, slaughter, cull, butcher...but use whatever ya like. We found these websites helpful when learning how to process our poultry:

the modern homestead
food water and fire
girls guide to guns and butter
cultivating home

We are still learning and I did not feel like we should write a "how to" blog post. We do have a picture of how big our birds got in about 6 weeks...


From this, only a few days old...


to this, about six weeks old

Pretty crazy...right? All in all I am okay with the outcome. I know we will not get this breed again but I am glad that we went through the whole process. I was not bothered by the fact that I had to take care of them a lot, just the fact that the way they grow seems unnatural. I guess what I am trying to get to is that I'm willing to take the extra time and money to care for birds longer knowing that they will have a better, happier and most likely healthier life.

It was a really great experience for us and I'm happy that I now know a basic life skill! I'm a proud woman who now knows how to raise and process a chicken! I was talking with a friend who grew up on a farm the other day about how to process them and I confessed that the part I was the most worried about was plucking them. He of course was surprised and laughed at me. I ended up having a hard time with the killing of the bird and ended up just being the one to hold it down and try to calm it. Most people don't think about the fact that someone killed the meat they are eating and it was hard. We gave the birds a good life and a quick end and I know it sounds weird but I'm thankful that we now know this basic life skill. It may be hard but it is the cycle of life...you come in the world and you leave it.

We worked really well as a team and I think two people helps a lot in the process. We started to pluck but the skin with tearing so much that we ended up just skinning all of them. We must have not had the water temp right to scorch them...rookie mistake! By the last bird we had it down pretty well and I'm sure next time it will go a lot better.

We are also glad to be able to offer info on this breed for others since we had somewhat of a hard time finding any info on the internet. I was told that this breed would take 6-8 weeks to be the right size and pictured the Cornish game hens you see in the store, a serving size for one person, boy is that wrong.

Our birds dressed at 2lbs 8oz for the biggest and 2lbs 3/8oz for the smallest . I think they take about 4 weeks to get to the store bought size. This was a great learning experience for us and now we are one step closer towards our goal of living off and with the land.

Thanksgiving is awhile away (wait...I guess its only a couple of weeks) and our freezer is now full for the thanksgiving feast! I really think that it is my favorite holiday...so I'm getting really excited!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A green alternative to store bought sponges...Knit a reusable one!

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I recently realized how wasteful I was when it came to sponges. They get dirty so fast and there is really no way to sanitize them. So what to do? Stop washing dishes...no! It relaxes me...one thing I actually enjoy doing...I know I'm weird. I decided that I would knit something to replace them, it was really simple.

Basically knit (or crochet) a square double the size of a regular sponge, then fold in half and sew shut...your done! I used cotton yarn so that I could just throw it in the washer and dryer. It doesn't dry out very well so I recommend making at least three depending on how often you do laundry. I also made one in a different color for the bathroom, this way I will never get confused. I'm somewhat of a germ freak when it comes to certain things, toilets being one of them.

I have been using these for the past 6 months and they have been working great!



Monday, October 17, 2011

Harvest Monday 10/11-10/17 2011

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Tomatoes

Tomatoes

and more tomatoes
our last zucchini

Red Romaine, our son pulled this whole plant out when I had my back turned.
Last week We made more sauce and I thought it was going to be our last batch but as you can see it looks like we will have a few more batches this year. We pulled down about 10-15 tomato plants and pulled off all the green ones. We have not yet decided what we are going to do with them but as you can see some of them are ripening. We still have about 18-20 tomato plants still going and they are still producing. We had a little warm up this week and it helped to ripening at lot of tomatoes. We are pulling out the last zucchini plant sometime this week because it is finally not producing. I'm excited for our new adventure in fall/winter gardening but I will hopefully be able to continue posting harvest Mondays!

We are linking up with daphne's dandelions for Harvest Monday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sseko Designs Pink Ribbon project: Friday feature-week two

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Check out Sseko Designs second friday feature for their pink ribbon project to show their support for breast cancer awareness month. I have my pink ribbon on my purse and I have been using a pink reusable shopping bag! What are you doing to show your support?






Neighbors...

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What happen to the neighborhood? I was walking to the grocery store everyday awhile ago because the starter went out in our car (now fixed, thanks to the best neighbors anyone could ever ask for...I'm not joking...the BEST). It seems that most people don't think I should be walking...I have almost been run over a few times. Oh and then there are the wonderful "neighbors" who hear your son (two and in the stroller) yelling, "HI...HI...HI!" waving crazily and you saying, "Good morning" and they decide the best they can do is turn their head and start walking faster. What happen to "it takes a village(community) to raise a child"? What happened to common decency? I don't expect you to be my best friend...but you can say Hi! Sorry for the rant...and keep reading.

We are actually very lucky in our neighborhood (those people are not my close neighbors). This is the third house we have lived in on this street because we fell in love with it! We know at least 11 of our neighbors and I would say 4 of them well. I really don't know what we will do if we have to leave this neighborhood, I don't even want to think or talk about it. We also keep meeting more and more wonderful neighbors, this is the best neighborhood!

In our current house we kept our previous neighbor by moving to the house on the other side of him. I would say he is the night-watch-man of the neighborhood. Most people think he is a grump because of this but he is really just a sweet guy. He watches out for everyone, not to snoop but because he cares about the neighborhood and everyone in it. He loves our son dearly.

Our awesome neighbors to the other side of us simply amazing me with how giving they are. I honestly cannot even explain how shocked and amazed I am by them. They are constantly sharing; food, advice, things, and the best of all; their time. I feel that the little guy is getting a taste of "it takes a village to raise a child" because of them and a few other people in our lives. One the latest gift completely astonished me...the woman of the house (I don't want to post their names) had a close friend of hers paint a picture of the little guy and the Doctor...she used a picture I took and the artist captured it in 9 different mediums, perfectly. I was left completely speechless when she left after bringing it over to us...they simply amaze me ever day with their kindness and generosity.

I don't know how put in words how thankful I am for them...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Root Simple: Quick and Easy Fire Starters

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We made these last week with things we had around the house.

Root Simple: Quick and Easy Fire Starters: "I came across these fire starters this week while sorting out our camping gear, and thought I should blog about them..."

I suck at starting fires...the doctor is always in charge of the fire but using fire starters makes it pretty easy to start a fire. So when I found these on one of the blogs we follow, we figured we might as well try them. Wow, they work really well! He decided we needed to used 6 to start a fire. Of course you really only need one or two.

You really only need a paper egg carton, dryer lint, and an old candle. So much cheaper than buying fire starters at the store. I also feel like they are probably better for the environment. They were so easy to make and use. These would be great for campers and fires at home.



Thank you to root simple for the info!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Super Grover costume Part 1

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I had been thinking a lot about the Halloween costume I had decided to make the little guy and started to get worried that I wouldn't have enough time or it would come out horrible. So I started working on it and got inspired...
A Super Grover helmet, knitted by hand

Here is the first part, the helmet that Super Grover wears. I'm excited by the way it turned out and so is the little guy! Now I have to start the cape! Most likely both items will become a part of the ViolaStitchStudio Esty shop when it finally opens...it should be next month!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Raising cornish cross chicks: we switched to grower food...

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Wow...last time I wrote about our chicks I was grossed out by them but they reached a whole new level this week. We switched them to the grower food as recommended by the feed store owner. I don't know if this is just normal but the poop has increased and is now the squirts! Its everywhere...they shoot it out of the cage and everything. NEVER again will I get Cornish cross chicks...not to mention I now have to fill the food up at least two to three times a day...

Oh and I forgot they are now balding on their wings...gross!

I try to remain positive about things...so hey at least I now hate them so much that I won't mind them being thanksgiving dinner, although right now its hard to imagine wanting to eat them at all.

My girls (our laying chickens) where much different as chicks. Yes they pooped and made a mess but not like this. They played around, not just sat in front of the food. We are learning again, next time we will just get a regular old meat or dual purpose breed instead.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Harvest Monday 10/4-10/10 2011

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Lots of green bell peppers

Holstein bush beans and Missouri Bill's pole beans
I got really busy this week and totally forgot to take any pictures of any of our harvests, I snapped these two this morning. We had a big hail storm here this week, the hail was about quarter or cherry tomato sized! Crazy...I was more worried about the girls than the garden. The garden did get a bit damaged but really only to the tomato plants which are not really producing much anymore. We did get two baskets of tomatoes earlier in the week but I think they are now pretty much done. Sad to see the summer stuff go but excited for our new adventure in fall/winter gardening!

We are linking up with daphne's dandelions for harvest monday!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

ViolaStitchStudio: Exctied to debut at the Sweet Repeats Sale

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Headbands size newborn-Kids
 I decided to participate in the fall Sweet Repeats sale. I wanted to make a lot more, like fingerless mittens and cute fall hats but some family stuff came up and I was only able to focus on finishing 12 headbands. I still plan on making them and finally opening an Etsy shop! Sweet Repeats is an awesome company that has seasonal infant, children, teen and maternity consignment sales. I spent some time going through all of the clothes that no longer fit the little guy and instead of tagging them myself I had the Sweet Repeats crew do it for me!

The sale is this weekend so check it out! Saturday Oct. 8th 9am-5pm and Sunday Oct. 9th 10am-2pm at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds Art Center building in Chico, CA. Please check out their website for more information or find them on facebook.






Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Raising cornish cross chicks: the new digs.

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Last time we had chicks we made our own make shift brooder, after about two days of having the Cornish cross chicks we noticed that they were losing the feathers on their chest. I had been changing the bedding sometimes twice a day and we had even created a second brooder so we could change it more often. I headed out to the feed store to talk with the owner about them losing feathers, plus we had decided it was time to get ourselves a better set up. He explained that since they grow so fast their feathers cannot keep up and they end up having bald patches. We ordered a custom cage for them so that it would be much easier to keep them clean and healthy.

I think we have decided that next time around we will just raise a meat or dual purpose breed that is not so cross bred that it grows crazy fast. Here are a few things to consider when your deciding on Cornish cross chicks: They are disgusting, they poop about 4 times as much as a regular chick and eat all the time. I mean all the time...they literally sit down next to the food and eat, then fall asleep with their head in it. I have to fill up the food way way more than with our last chicks. Ours are only a couple weeks old and they already are having trouble with walking around. They also learned how to fly within about 2 days of having them...which means they need a top or full cage from the start.

I will be trying to give tips and updates over the next 6-8 weeks and I'm sure we will be happy with the end result...meat from our own backyard but I know next time we will choose a different breed. They are not all bad just not right for us. I feel kind of sick about the whole thing...like I'm twisting nature for my own benefit.


The new custom cage with scrap wood to hold up the light and an oil pan under.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Harvest Monday 9/27-10/3 2011

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Melon, tomatoes, basil, millet, parsley, and oregano

The little guy with zucchini

our sad carrots, and more tomatoes

A huge zucchini (for pickles) and more tomatoes

again more tomatoes

holstein bush beans (dry/shelling) drying
We spent a lot of time this week in the garden. We pulled out about 5 more tomato plants and really focused on getting things cleaned up. It looks so bare right now out there it makes me a bit sad. Of course to most people 20-30 tomato plants and a whole host of other things would not look bare but in our summer garden we really took every bit of land and used it.

We built three frames to plant things in for the fall/winter garden and we filled the one raised bed we have with as many things as we could. We are going to be creating some hoop houses over the three frames to give everything a better chance. Thanks Stoney Acres for the great info on hoop houses...it will definitely help us construct ours this year.

We also transplanted the herbs in to large pots so we are able to pull them in during the cold  nights as needed and re-plant them in a much better place next spring. The second crop of Missouri Bill's pole beans is almost ready to come down and the purple snap peas we just planted a few weeks ago are doing amazing...growing so fast, we attached twine to the stakes to give them help in growing up the fence.

This year has really been an amazing year for us in the garden...we learned so much and I cannot wait to learn from our fall/winter garden. We are linking up with Daphnes Dandelions for Harvest Monday...its so fun to see what people all over are harvesting.
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