Monday, September 29, 2014

Work Worth Doing

It’s been just over 6 months since we moved in, and with little time to explore since Spring, we're now both welcoming the Fall.  Our makeshift greenhouse served us well and though we didn’t expect to have a garden this year, our harvest was bountiful.  Not only are the onions the best tasting we’ve ever had, they're the biggest.  Though we did little to the garden that was in place upon moving in, we were able to can kraut, tomato sauce, and pickles as well as drying onions and peppers with enough to make tomato leather which our little bit of basil went into. 
Storage onion harvest 2014

Drying Walla Walla onions in our solar dryer 2014
Hopefully this next year we’ll be able to till most of the garden and make raised beds like we had at our other property in Junction City. The asparagus will be the only bed that will go undisturbed as it was a delicious treat welcoming us. Though our other property was no till for over 10 years, we have to raise the beds up over the walkways as they are sunken for the time being and we’ll need to continue amending the soil if we want the same results.  

We purchased a beast of a tiller (BCS) and it’s done a good job of throwing David over to the side a few times.  When we lived here in Southern Oregon in the 80’s, we had one and it never let us down with the amount of rocks we had as well as the clay soil.  It’s always worth it to buy a good product and we have no complaints about BCS.

We didn’t know if we would have a garden this year as we had no idea if we would find property to buy.

Garden 2014
Our guess was we were going to have to rent for a year and look while living in the area.  Needless to say we are once again humbled by the graciousness of nature and what it provided for very little work.

A sink load of tomatoes 2014
A quarter of one harvest 2014


After having some compost and sand delivered, David was able to till both in, but after we started working on the cottage remodel, the garden was left alone and we’re quite surprised at the amount of food it produced.  We’ve dried tomatoes and canned them for sauce (40 quarts ) and soup, we also made an herbal tomato leather in which one load consisted of 32 pounds of tomatoes and net us 20 ounces of product.  

We had more zucchini then we needed, 
Drying zucchini chips in the solar dryer 2014
and luckily for the meat birds, they devoured the shredded frozen treats that were offered in the 100+ temps we had.  Peppers still producing and we’ve dried four dehydrator loads thus far as well as all the fresh that was eaten and stuffed with delicious ricotta cheese that our goat friends in Eugene gifted us with. 

Tomato Leather 2014
Tomato sauce or soup? 2014
Our drying beans that we just finished harvesting/shelling, netted us over 40 pounds in an area of 330 sqft.  The varieties we grew this year consisted of Rattlesnake Pole, Brockton Horticulture, Swedish Brown, Tongue of Fire and Aztec Runner.
Drying beans in the garden 2014

Rattlesnake Pole, drying beans in a jar 2014

Our 17 layers are now giving us about 13+ eggs a day and we’re selling the surplus which is paying for the organic/soy free layer pellets.  We let a broody set and so far she’s been great but with 20+ eggs under her we doubt we’ll have that many chicks.

Our 47 Red Ranger meat birds are now part of our freezer and though the deal with neighbors ended bitterly, we were able to end on a good note with nice people that contacted us through an ad on CL.  They had all the equipment (scalder, plucker, killing cones) and were willing to demonstrate how it was done for 8 birds which they kept live.  After about 4 hours (not including the wrapping) we had the birds in coolers and everything cleaned up, (it was another couple of hours to do the wrapping after we returned home).  We learned a skill that many don't/won’t do anymore and were able to build relationships with those who feel the same way we do about sharing and we hope to continue helping and supporting each other.  They were very supportive and quick to help if we needed it but for the most part sat and watched us do a fine job (per what they said).

We learned some very important lessons the hard way and know now what not to do next time.  We didn’t expect for them to cost so much per pound, but neither did we expect to give away 8 birds as our neighbors had butchered before and were going to show us how as part of the deal.  Nothing is lost if lessons are learned and knowledge doesn’t come cheap these days.  Sometimes those chance meetings are the best kind. 

We visited the Farmer’s Market in Medford (the Thursday one by the Armory) and got to see firsthand the display of goods from some of the farmers we’ve met in the area.  I met a spinner that has Shetland sheep, Gotland sheep and Pygora goats.  The fleece from the latter was soft and I imagine a dream to spin.  She indicated a need to sell her farm and animals before long and we exchanged emails and phone numbers to keep in touch.

In posting this blog, we thought it would help us put things in perspective as well as share what we continue to do on a daily basis even though we’re considered to be “doomers”.  Like we’ve mentioned before in our posts even though we don’t see longevity in our lives… we do see reason to continue.  This is what feeds us both physically and mentally.  It’s the richness of the time we have here now to experience, no matter how long it is.  
Following is a list of what we’ve done since moving here the end of January 2014.
  • Moved in
  • Secured chicken coop, fenced in run for egg layers and got 18

  • Red Ranger chicks 2014

    Australorp and Barred Rock chicks 2014

    Australorps and Barred Rock layers 2014
  • Also rewired chicken coop by digging trench and burying it, was strung across in front of old greenhouse from storage area.
  • Got 50 meat birds and helped friends who will help us butcher secure a trampoline with feeders for them as well as housed them on our property and took care of them for 2+ months, as they got bigger they were going through 12 gallons of water a day and spent hours shredding and freezing zucchini when outside temps were over 100.
  • Fixed chimney burned from flue fire and cleaned wood stove.
  • Hot water heater, replaced 2 thermostats
  • Added water shut off valve from well to house
  • Installed new water line to garden
  • Redid electric in shop, fixed wiring problems
  • Built over 6 shelves in shop
  • Put in cat door and built shelves in storage area
  • Put new knobs on all kitchen and bathroom cabinets
  • Hung clothes dryer in house, wrought iron one we bought with us
  • Fixed hall drawers so they would open and fixed shelves in closest with supports
  • Fenced orchard and then had to add wire to it when deer still got in
  • Dug holes and planted 37 fruit and nut trees
  • Planted all transplants that we brought with us including elderberries, blackberries, raspberries, hops, lemon verbena, rosemary, and dahlias.
  • Built hoop house for starts after we discovered old greenhouse couldn’t be repaired
  • Planted and cared for starts until transplanting in garden
  • Had 20 yards of compost and 15 yards of sand delivered… tilled both in garden
  • Washed all wood floors in house with vinegar then oiled them with Olive oil
  • Knitted and felted slippers for Keith
  • Made two pieces of hardanger embroidery to share as gifts
Hardanger piece made for friend's birthday 2014
  • Made three hats to share as gifts
  • Knitted collar for gift
  • Knitted moebius for gift
  • Knitted shawl for myself
  • Attended Grange meeting
  • Volunteer on Wednesday’s at school thrift store, helping to raise funds for new roof
  • Sold extra tomato plants on CL and delivered them to people in town
  • Had several people over for dinner, Farming Fish owners and intern, neighbors that we met buying eggs from, contractor who did work on cottage, librarian that we knew from the 80’s while living here, and cooked a couple of meals for friends we knew while living here (now in their 80’s) one of which was their Anniversary meal
  • Replied and contacted people from iFarm and
  • Tilled a small area where horses were, several times because the soil was so compacted
  • Changed all locks including shop and cottage
  • Set up accounts and met those doing bulk ordering
  • Picked up 20 bales of straw and mulched garden beds
  • Attended two dinner parties from different people
  • Had contact with three of the neighbors surrounding us
  • Still exercising (walking, riding stationary bike and other, lifting weights)
  • Had overnight stays with friends and family
  • Painted bathroom
  • Spent a day driving up the Rogue River to Galice (yes we have fun occasionally)
  • Wrote three blog posts
  • Cleaned shop
  • Insulated attic
  • Drained pond twice, then dismantled and fill it with dirt
  • Transplanted the plants that were around the pond
  • Cut off eve on house that was rotted and reinstalled flashing/gutters
  • Bought tiller
  • Hung ceiling fan in living room and one in cottage
  • Installed new light fixture in our bathroom
  • Fixed drain in both bathrooms
  • Fixed front door so it opens and closes now…and locks
  • Created burn piles
  • After completion of outside of cottage, painted outside and in, picked up trash all around it including all the old roofing shingles
  • Had rock delivered and spread it for cottage driveway
  • Helped neighbors make chicken tractor out of a trampoline
  • Installed bathroom fans
  • Had vapor barrier placed under house and dry rot fixed
  • Harvested and dried herbs (rosemary, basil, thyme, greek oregano,lemon verbena, costmary and calendula also processed fresh for sun infused herbal vinegars
  • Fermented 20 quarts of sauerkraut and 12 quarts of pickles
  • Canned hot cauliflower, sweet pickles and dilly beans
  • Fixed solar dryer
  • Peeled and cut 40 pounds of onions to dry
  • Cut and dried 25 pounds of peppers
  • Processed tomato leather (about 96 pounds of product) and dried it
  • Cut and dried zucchini for chips
  • Worked on tractor…oil change, flushed radiator and changed air filter and thermostat
  • Maintained garden
  • Still continued to make lotion, salve, deodorant, toothpaste and tinctures
  • Bathed dog, combed daily both dog and cat
  • Fixed chipper, replaced blades and sold it on CL
  • Transplanted plants that deer were eating into the fenced area
  • Pruned apple tree for friend we met through Azure Standard
  • Harvested tomatoes, processed and canned tomato sauce
  • Harvested tomatoes, processed and canned tomato soup
  • Remodel of 650 sqft cottage including: new roof, new siding, new windows, new drywall, insulation, painting inside and out, new steps and new stove

Cottage before remodel 2014

Inside of cottage during remodel 2014

Cottage nearing completion of remodel 2014

Sometimes we all lose track of what we do and commiserate over what we don’t get done, but after viewing this list, not only does it help to put things in perspective, it reinforces what we’ve always said, “actions speak louder than words”.  We know why we get up in the morning and why we go to sleep at night.  If nothing else this list shows that we haven’t given up and we’ll continue as long as we can to live and enjoy what life gives us.  We’re both thankful to be able to say, “we’ve always tried”.

We enjoyed profit in the form of money for years, we're so glad now to enjoy more of what  we grow... 
Morning Glory with the beans 2014
Amish melon 2014

and what we see...

September's Full Moon 2014