Monday, February 29, 2016

Signs of Spring and Frugal Accomplishments

I'm happy to be joining in with Frugal Accomplishments today.  Last week, I boiled eggs for the pups.  Ran errands while I was in town.  A friend gifted me quite a few bags of old grains and lentils for the chickens.  I'll try sprouting the lentils, millet, farro and wheat berries for chicken fodder, and give them the others as is.  The first chicken fodder experiment, using whole oats, is not sprouting as quickly as I read they should.  I have them pretty thin because I was scared of mold, but they may be drying out too quickly and would benefit from a thicker layer.  Some have sprouted, but not all.  The chickens loved them.  The lettuce has not yet sprouted, and I noticed hints of mold, so I lightly sprinkled all with cinnamon.  Made yogurt and kefir.

I picked up a few things at Aldi's, including generic Cheerios at $1.19 a box for J.  On a day I needed to pick up a part for J, I stopped at 2 thrift stores in that town. At one, I got several tops for .50 (their special that day).  At the other, they had all clothes 2 for 1, and I got 2 jackets, a vest and a skirt, all 100% wool, for $1 each.  I made a dish using spaghetti squash and spinach I had frozen.  I ground almost 4 cups of wheat, which ended up being about 5 1/2c flour.  I did use an old step stool this time, and fed it so the grinder did not jamb.  This step stool has a very poor design, and will smash your fingers in a heartbeat, which is why I intend to get another one.  Made a smoothie using homemade yogurt, & bananas, our peaches, pawpaw and raspberries I had frozen, with a little organic pear juice bought at the discount grocery.  Yum!

J & I weeded the asparagus bed, and planted more asparagus.  The original asparagus bed got overrun with bermuda grass, so we moved it early last year, and got only a handful of asparagus.  We found many of those crowns dead today, so I doubt there will be much this year.  We'd read that asparagus don't take kindly to transplanting, but  we finally gave up on the original bed, as we just couldn't keep on top of the bermuda grass, and the harvest was dwindling.  Maybe the new ones will be happier.  I also saw our main strawberry bed has been overrun with mock strawberry.  I spent quite a few hours last spring weeding them out, but at this point, all I can think to do is move the strawberries.  Though perennials can be a wonderful thing, there are also challenges in not being able to till those areas.  I'm hoping to learn more about permaculture, and find natural ways of dealing with these invasive plants.

I scrubbed sweet potatoes in a large bowl, then watered house plants with the water.  Baked sweet potatoes, and dried a batch as treats for the pups.  Made deviled eggs.  Used our green onion tops in an asian slaw.  Made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies with home ground flour.  Added the sweet potato ends and onion bottoms to the broth bag.  Crushed a pan of egg shells and added them to the compost bin.  Began sprouting a batch of lentils for the chickens.  Have been enjoying Victorian Bakers via Netflix youtube.  Made an ebay purchase through Swagbucks.  Made a Lowe's purchase with their credit card, saving 5% ( I will pay it off when due, so no interest).  Made an Amazon purchase, & during checkout was offered $5.99 pantry credit if I let them ship it slower, so I chose that.  Hung 2 loads of laundry on the line on a very windy day, which was an adventure, but it all dried quickly.

lavender and parsley
I'm used to ordinary brown lentils, and after soaking my friend's red ones, I realized they were split, so they would not be able to sprout.  The chickens enjoyed them any way.  I made french toast with our eggs, and sweet potato pie with our sweet potatoes, eggs, and homemade vanilla.  After I spread 1/2 bale of hay in the chicken coop 2 or 3 weeks ago, a few of the girls took it upon themselves to spread the remainder of the bale, which was so deep it interfered with their waterer.  J raked all the hay from their inner yard into one side of their outer yard, then he & I spread oats and soybeans, which our neighbor gave us. In a few weeks, we hope they'll be growing nicely.  We'll then let the chickens into that side, and sow their other yard.

one of the few kale that's survived
I'm determined to have better fruit on this homestead.  We should be enjoying much more and better quality fruit than we have been, with all that is planted.  On Sunday, I tried my hand at spraying the fruit and nut trees with a backpack sprayer.  The recipe was one from The Holistic Orchard, which uses horticultural oil, neem oil, molasses and fish fertilizer.  I'd been struggling with the sprayer for a half hour, ready to cry and about to give up, when the hose flew loose from the sprayer.  I realized if the pressure was that built up, there was obviously a clog somewhere.  J came to the rescue & blew it clean in the shop.  It wasn't easy after that. It still kicked my butt, carrying two gallons of liquid and pumping almost constantly, but it was easier.  The bad news is the book says we need to do it 4 more times this spring :o(.  I sure hope the results are worth it.


Michèle Hastings said...

You've been very busy!
You seem to be able to grow a lot of food for your chickens. Do you have to buy chicken feed as well?
I have only raised meat hens and that was a long time ago. I would love to have some laying hens some day.

Laurie said...

Yes, the chicken feeder always has layer pellets for them, Michele. We used to buy scratch for them and also give that daily, but have been using the grains our neighbor gives us lately... oats, corn. I supplement with all the other goodies... greens, things from the kitchen or garden, etc. As far as cost, we probably do not save any money having our own eggs, particularly when we're feeding older hens who do not lay as often. But, there's nothing like fresh eggs!