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Making the Most

November 23rd, 2015

When you have chickens and allow them to hatch their own nuggets, you invariably end up with extra roosters. This year we were lucky in that out of the 9 chicks hatched, there were only 3 roosters (one year out of 17 chicks 12 were roosters). That means you have to find homes for them of cull them. Finding homes for extra roosters is tough, I tried last year and no one wanted any of them.
Making Chicken Stock 1
The result is a day spent processing chickens for the freezer. We freeze the young ones and the older guys get made into chicken stock. Yesterday 6 chickens (5 ours and one from the neighbor) went to Iceland.
Making Chicken Stock 2
I always grow lots of extra celery, carrots, and leeks for my fall stock making days. I’m happy to be able to use up all the excess in the garden to have a freezer full of stock for winter soups and stews.

What are you eating this week?

Friday Favorite: My New Lamp

November 20th, 2015

Last week my trusty desk lamp died, poof, dark. It wasn’t that big of a loss since it was a cheap lamp I got on clearance many years ago. It’s actually been broken for years, but I kept using it because I dislike spending money on things that I don’t technically need. I knew exactly what I’d replace it with, I’ve been eyeing this mercury hobnail lamp from Pottery Barn for years.
new desk lamp
Lucky for me there was a wicked good sale and free shipping, so I ended up getting it for a song. Perfection in my little corner of the world. It makes me smile while I work, especially these days since the sun goes down at 4 pm and I need light to keep working. Now on to perhaps build myself a new desk…

Have you gotten anything lately that you’ve been wanting for a while?

Welcome Volunteers

November 19th, 2015

Last summer I let overwintered carrots go to seed in the garden, the result was welcome volunteers here and there this spring. I left all the carrots seedlings that sprouted up here and there throughout the potager. Yesterday, I harvested a few of them to make soup.
Carrot harvest
There are a few things I allow to go to seed because I enjoy not having to plant them again. Cilantro, parsley, dill, kale, lettuce, and fennel are all things that sprout up here and there every spring. Sometimes I pull them up, most of the time I let them grow as they wish. The result is a lot of wonderful things that I didn’t have to plant myself.

What sorts of edible volunteers do you have in your garden?

Gifts from Readers

November 18th, 2015

A month or so ago I received this lovely hand-forged tool from a blog reader. She said it was one of her favorite garden tools and she thought I’d like it as well. As I’ve been clearing out the front flowerbed, I’ve been using it to level the soil. The extra reach provided by the extra long handle is quite convenient, with it I can reach more of the bed from one location.
homestead iron 1
homestead iron 2
This tool is made handmade in Missouri by Homestead Iron. You can find their tools over in their Etsy shop. I really like some of the other items, a boot scraper would come in handy around here that’s for sure.
homestead iron 3
So far I’m loving this tool. A big thanks to Amy for sending this along. If you’re looking for a gift for yourself or for friends/family this Christmas check out this little shop.

Have you received any thoughtful gifts recently?

Starting from Scratch

November 17th, 2015

When a garden bed is overtake with invasive weeds, sometimes you just have to start from scratch. Quackgrass or couch grass, as it’s also called, is a BIG problem here in my garden (here’s a great article about it if you’re interested in learning more). It’s EVERYWHERE and it’s quite a thug when it comes to the gardens. I’ve been working hard over the past 3 years to eradicate it from the edible beds. The pigs were most useful in dealing with it in the large food garden, in other areas I’ve been digging it out by hand.
digging out front flowerbed 2
It’s a problem in the edible and perennial beds because it reduced yields in edible gardens by up to 95% and in ornamental beds it will slowly choke everything else out. The front flowerbed was filled with it when we arrived three years ago, I haven’t done much to deal with it until this fall. Now I’m digging out everything in the bed, saving what I can, but most of the plants have been choked out or are infested with quack grass rhizomes. Luckily, the plants are easy to get if I want to replace any of them, which I don’t think I do.
digging out front flowerbed 5
digging out front flowerbed 4
I have big plans for this space, which is behind the boxwood hedge that I just moved. There’s the new hedge, a 2-3 foot rock wall, then this garden area. My plan is to put a row of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas in this space, I’ll probably need 5 of them for the front. On the corner of the house I plan on putting some kind of ornamental tree that I can prune to come out from the house.
digging out front flowerbed 3
digging out front flowerbed 1
It’s a lot of work to dig out entire garden areas, but it’s what needs to be done in cases where invasive weeds have taken over. This weed is also in the lawn in front of the box hedge, I’ll have to start dealing with that next spring so it doesn’t creep back into the beds. Most likely the lawn area will be smothered and reseeded with weed free seed. Sometimes starting from scratch is the easiest way to get to where we want to be.

Do you have any invasive weeds you’re dealing with in your garden?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.