Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

Let’s pretend that blogging has a fiscal year that floats from the calendar year, that will make me feel better about this post.  I was looking back at 2015 and realized that I manged three shameful posts the whole year, I apologize.  In my mind I am much more active in the blogging space, telling you all about the changes that are happening around here, what we are eating and how we making it.  But reality is I suck at this whole blogging bit lately. 20151207_212016

So let me give you a little catch up, the blog has been devoid of tasty recipes as of late – with good reason we have been eating lots of the same things, lot’s of venison and vegetables from our garden.  This past year we canned up a lot of food from our garden in all sorts of fun arrangements, we are eating it this winter and hopefully I will tell you about some of those, but in the mean time here is a picture of our canned stash – it is not amazing, but it is sustaining us through the winter.

Since this blog started off as a cooking blog I suppose its only fair to issue a warning, this will probably become more of a generic farmstead type blog in the future.  We still like to eat and cook – but we are much closer to our food now that we are out in the sticks.

Our chickens are doing their job too, giving us eggs and lots of manure, their coop after some finagling, is finally working out better than we could have hoped.  It is still stationary for the moment, but we are hoping to get it mobile here just in time for spring.  The wheels are sitting in the kitchen – just showed up yesterday.

In addition to updates to the chicken coop we will be adding more fruit this year – we have a couple more fruit trees on the way and have purchased blackberries, blueberries and strawberries to plant this spring.  We will be doing a bit of work to create a suitable planting area for them as we live on the worst drained hillside known to mankind.

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I have started to plant seeds in our grow box in the basement and thus far have twelve varieties of peppers planted, artichokes, rosemary and sage.  In a couple of weeks we will start our tomatoes and a couple weeks after that our melons.  I am hoping to get a cold frame in, in our root vegetable garden plot to get some onions started in the ground.  And I am excited to try some garlic scapes when the garlic I planted last fall pops up this spring.

And like that we are off, I promise this year I will do better, if nothing else come and tag along on Instagram

Posted in Blogroll, Chickens, Gardening, Preserving the Harvest Tagged with: ,

Ever Been Pecked by a Woodpecker?

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I found this guy this evening after dark, I was out back doing chores with my headlamp on and looked up and say something up in one of the trees.  He let me get quite a few pictures of him from the extension ladder before he decided he had enough and tried to peck me, which he succeeded in.  Enjoy.

Posted in Blogroll, Uncategorized

And then there were chickens…

Disclaimer: This is just going to be a teaser.

This year our ‘farm’ as it is referred to around the office has grown, we are no longer a fruit and vegetables operation, we have added poultry to the mix.  We opted for egg laying chickens at this point and not meat birds, we prefer to find our meat running around in the woods at this point, you know from a cost perspective (total sarcasm).

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Anyways back to the topic at hand, we got chickens – and chickens need a place to live so we built a portable smart chicken coop that is solar powered, self contained and at least a little automated, one of my conditions for getting chickens was that I could still go away and at most have someone stop by and collect the eggs – at most.  So we built it, but, its a work in progress and I would like to get a few more weeks/months of working with and on it before I throw out a detailed write up about it.  So for now, just know, we have a solar powered smart chicken coop that keeps the girls contained and the predators out – and we can leave for a week and not worry about it.

 

Posted in Chickens

Wait…I still have a blog?

This is horrible, I have neglected my poor blog, nearly a year since I posted last and it feels like I have lived two.  Our first year in our home, with out bigger than we should have started with garden was a success.  We are still consuming the fruits, or more appropriately, the vegetables of our labor.  In addition to the produce we produced not 100 feet from our back door – I was fortunate enough to get a few deer this fall as well; as a result we are living high on the hog with lean, truly free range protein and garden vegetables and preserves.  Aside from our garden last year we planted a couple of peach trees, -which seem to have made the winter, found a neighbor who is also a bee keeper willing to keep a hive here – which is fascinating to watch and spectacular for pickle production and we put in a compost bin.

We also did some landscaping and got a couple of cats, well actually we got one cat we rescued from being coyote bait, he was scrawny and malnourished, someone thought he needed a friend and as such we got him a friend.  But let me tell you what I have learned about cats, cats are not dogs – good grief these two HATED each other when we brought the second one home, hated, would not tolerate each other.  Because of their deep seated hatred for one another we created the friendship cage – maybe a little obsessive but we did it and after several months of the friendship cage and slowly acclimating them to one another and then allowing them to be together we have a couple of cats who seem to be the best of friends, in fact Hazel the second cat we brought home will cry and cry and Finley, the first is out of sight.  Who knew cats could be such a pain?  But they are barn cats – and thus they live in the barn, but fear not the ‘cat condo’ as it is known is quite posh and climate controlled, these are the yuppiest barn cats one will meet.

As I write this our seedlings for this year a growing away in the science fare experiment that is my grow box, surely I will write more about the grow box in the future but is my attempt to liberate my seedlings from the pillaging of the mice and provide them with a climate controlled location to thrive prior to being subjected to the outdoors.  It’s also as close as I think we are going to come to a greenhouse, even though it is in the basement, like I said more on this later.

In addition to the garden this year we are going to be adding some chickens to our portfolio for eggs – we are getting them for eggs.  Well more correctly I am more anxious for the chicken poop they will leave behind I can use to build up my garden, but the eggs will be a nice bonus.  We have a bit going on here but I wanted to make sure I remembered how to use this thing before we get started on another summer season, one with hopefully some updates.

Posted in Chickens, Gardening

An Update

Sadly this seems like a theme, it’s been a while, I will get better I promise!  I did spend some time revamping the site this spring with full intention of writing again and well here we are almost a full year after my last post begging for forgiveness once again.

We have been cooking up a storm, lots of from scratch dishes, some  incredible and some mundane, but I don’t have any of them to write about today, instead I wanted to give you all a little life update, its been a busy six months in the Elston home, a lot has happened.

First we bought a house, well not just a house, a house and a barn and a shed and a couple of acres – in the country.  We came across our house last fall and proceeded to move in just in time for deer hunting and then winter.  The deer season was good to us this year and we ended up with a couple of deer in the freezer that we have been eating ever since – the winter was not so good to us though.  It was a tough initiation winter in the country, I had never actually been snowed in before and I can now say I have, multiple times.

You see our real snow started out in early January, we had a few inches here and there before that but my real initiation took place on my way home from a successful hunting trip in Ohio, woke up that morning and hunted it was 40ºF when I hit the stand and 0ºF when I left the house to head home a mere four hours later, the typical seven hour drive home took about twelve and by the time I was on hour two the car thermometer reminded me that it was -40ºF outside.  All through Ohio, Indiana and into Michigan it was snow, blowing snow and cold.  On one stretch of highway I went 60 miles without seeing a car.  But nothing compared to the fun I had once leaving the highway to make the last few miles home.  I captured that with my cell phone (leaned up on the dash not held in hand).

Usually in Michigan we get a snow, it melts and then we get another snow or we get a few snows they melt and then we get a few more.  Not so this year, we got snow, and then snow, and then snow and then snow.  In fact between the snow and then wind we ended up several times with so much snow in our driveway that you could not push it will a full size pickup with a plow and it had to be dug out by hand, which is a not fun task.  You can see the results of our repeated blows here, which at this point they had come through with a loader and opened the road back up to two full lanes of traffic, you can also see our snow piles – which continued to pile up all through March.

And if you get bored there are plenty more winter videos on my YouTube Channel.

And so winter went, not only were we stricken with snow but we were over run by mice, catching seventeen in one week.  We did our best to get the mouse problem under control but not in time to save our seed starts in the basement which the mice decided they would be happy to eat, thanks mice.  So we tried again to much the same result and when winter finally loosened its grip we gave up on the seedlings and planted straight in the ground for a lot of things.

But I am ahead of myself, with plenty of room for gardening we decided to put in our main garden and I say main because we also have an experimental garden behind the barn, but we decided to put our main garden on the properties southern most edge as it was most suitable to be tilled, or so I thought.  After eight hours with a walk behind tiller, literally dozens of rocks and bricks removed we had a tilled garden.

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And now we are stuck with the challenge of watering all that space, which is a challenge because after 250′ of hose to get the water out there we don’t have good pressure, we are now on our third type of sprinkler to try and get decent coverage.  If anyone has any recommendations, send them our way! 

And because of all of this, I, based on lots of feedback am moving away from a food blog and moving into a more comprehensive blog of what is happening in our little corner of Hamilton.  For instance, we bought a house on a hill but for some reason still have a wet basement and a constant puddle behind the barn – so this past weekend we put in drain tile and perhaps the moment most worth noting was the planning and the redneck laser level to make it easy to figure out where we should stay consistent with the trencher and where we should aim to go a little deeper.  So I will leave you with a picture, that is worth a thousand words, sometimes you don’t have the right tool for the job but you can make one that will do the job just as well with what you have (the yellow on is actually a laser level)

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Posted in Gardening Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

about me

this is me

I am a husband, an avid outdoorsmen, a cook, a geek, a runner and a fitness junkie. I love my God, my wife, my country, my food, a good workout and any hunt - good or bad. I enjoy cooking especially with fire and do it as often as I can, you will find my many tales of adventure here - and by adventure I mean mundane adventure.

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