Monthly Archives: August 2012

Fermentation Experimentation

I have become very excited about fermentation. You may remember that last year I tried my hand at sauerkraut. At the time, I had only a cursory description in a book and, gasp, no internet access, so I was a little short on details and subsequently failed at my first attempt. So this year, with an eye on the cabbages in the garden, I began to read more about it, and discovered a whole world of food fermentation. I managed to get a copy of Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation from the library but have also been finding loads of info online.

Unlike canning, fermentation techniques seem to invite experimentation, and make diving right in seem incredibly simple. So, that’s what I did. I started with some grated zucchini with a little onion and garlic. The result, though not prize-winning, was definitely tasty. Onwards! Now there are three jars bubbling away; banana peppers, sauerkraut and a jar of zucchini and dill pickles. And all of this fermentation reminded me of sourdough bread, so I am also nurturing a starter in a crock.

I’ll have to wait until I can do some taste tests to truly know the results of all this, but I am very optimistic. And I’m eager to get more jars filled and learn more about fermentation.

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Filed under food, gardening, making

Carrot and Lentil Soup

Yesterday Little R and I pulled a bunch of carrots. We put them in a basket, took them out of the basket, and tried to feed them to the cat. Then we made carrot and lentil soup. I found the recipe here and it’s easy, quick and delicious.

I’ll stick this in The Weekly Soup category, though it’s just a link. Maybe I’ll get back into doing a weekly soup post when the weather turns cold!


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Filed under food, The Weekly Soup

Cheery Chickens

To cheer things up around here, I though I should write a post about our chickens. Because we are loving them!

Gary built them a fabulous coop. We used the plans for The Garden Coop, though we made it shorter, and switched a few things around. The height change was largely to try to save a bit of money, though in retrospect we can’t have saved much. When all was said and done, it was not a cheep coop, but we were anxious to “do it right” from the beginning, and so we are very pleased with the result. The coop is an integrated run and henhouse, which means they can get up on their own in the morning, and if we are away, they can still safely go outside. We let them out in the morning, and they free range about our property, finding lots of things to eat. It is a lovely sight to see them roaming about, and hear that pleasant clucking. I love that they stick together as a flock, though occasionally somebody looses track of the group and starts the unmistakable “purrup purrup!” of a lost chicken.

We are pretty sure the rooster/hen count is now, incredibly, 5 and 5. (well, it was always thus, we just had no idea). Just what we were aiming for. Ernest, our oldest rooster, has been crowing for some weeks, and so far it is quite acceptable.  We are thinking we may allow him to stay-on to look after the girls. This will be revised, if he becomes a problem. The hens are two Barred Rocks, two Silver Laced Wyandotte and one Black Australorp.

Little R loves her chickens. “Dick, dick, dick!” It’s not uncommon to see her “free-ranging” with them on the grass. I’m becoming more mindful of this, of course, as they get older, since I know roosters can be aggressive. So far there have been no problems. She was not best-pleased when they cheekily stole her apple (though she was probably trying to feed it to them anyway), but that has been the only conflict.

We have a while to wait yet, but are looking forward to the first egg!

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Filed under gardening, Uncategorized

A Farewell

This morning we said goodbye to the goats. They have gone to a new home, to join a herd, where we hope they will be happy.

It was a problem of noise. The initial “I miss my mother!” screaming settled down, but was soon replaced by habitual racket. I’m not going to get into it, and we tried various things to no avail. Eventually, I had to conceded that it wasn’t working for us, and maybe not even for them. So the difficult decision was made.

I am feeling a little sad about it today – they looked so small and loveable driving off in the back of the car, and Little R’s “Bye bye, guts” brought a tear to my eye. There is the inevitable feeling of failure, and disappointment. The goats were a big dream, and in spite of their noise, they were also terribly cute and friendly. But I have learned from this. And I keep reminding myself that this difficult situation is not the heart-rending nightmare that some beginner mistakes and bad luck can produce. I’m thinking lost, injured or dead animals. Gertie and Gretel are off to a new life, where it sounds like they will be very happy.

There is talk, now, of sheep; quieter farm friends. I like thinking about this, since it is good to feel that this unsuccessful experience is not the end of our livestock ideas. But we will take our time.

Bye bye, guts. Thanks for the good times: for eating the japanese knotweed, amusing the baby and being a part, though transitory, of our life here at Good Cheer.

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(oh my, I just can’t keep up with the blogging!)

In response to a complete lack of clothing for Ruth, I’ve been doing some sewing. I found this pattern for an easy peasant top and I’ve made three so far. I guess that tells you that it is very easy, quick and satisfying to sew. And I love Little R in these tops. I want to make some with long sleeves, since if she is out in the sun I’d prefer to have her little arms covered.


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