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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A New Coop

 A few months ago we had a devastating chicken coop fire.  
And this...
 turned into this....
Luckily, we had a Red Barn Coop, and this is where the girls have been since the fire.
Isn't is just so cute? It is just perfect for about 3-4 chickens and we have 7. Plus, we want to add more chicks to our little flock. So we have been busy building a new coop. 

Michael and our friend Lance have been building all weekend. Here is what we have so far. 
I'm so pleased with how it is turning out! 

The only problem, is that little Madelyn thinks it is her playhouse!

What color do you think it should be?


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Learning and Growing with the Garden

by cousin Allen

We live on a very steep slope in urban Arlington, Virginia.  Our first year we turned the small patch of soil on the side of our patio into tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.  The only thing that really grew were the cherry tomatoes and the cucumber.  Then last year we expanded significantly as seen in last years blog post .  Again we had a huge amount of cucumbers and pear tomatoes.  We also had great success with green beans,black berries, peppers, and broccoli.  We also had some big failures, normal tomatoes and squash of all varieties. 
This year we have had some big plans.  We wanted to make better use of our very limited space and we also wanted to put up a shed.  There was only one solution: Terracing.  I originally hadn't planned to start the project until April, but in February my in-laws came to town for two weeks to see the baby.  As an active busy body my father-in-law decide we should tackle this project.   
While I'm not done with all of work on the back hill, we now have around 500 square feet of garden space (almost 20% of our total property.  With these new planters I’m planning on planting with a modified square foot method.   In the process of buying supplies I happened to show up at Home Depot the same night that all of the winter crops came in.  As I have a habit of doing I went crazy and bought 120 onion starts, 24 broccili plants, 4 cabbages, and 20 Brussels’ sprouts.  I figure that most of these will be done when the time comes for planting the summer crops.  I've also planted 60 carrots.  So here is to a good start to the gardening season.
 Good luck getting everything started in your area.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!!!

Woman Sued for Planting Flowers in Her Front Yard

Thank you to Angela, for sending us the link to this article.  It seems a little crazy to me, what about you?

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (CBS) – Kimberly Bois’ tiny front yard garden isn’t much to look at right now. But in a few weeks, it’ll be in full bloom, and every blossom will cost her dearly.
Even though she says her builder gave her permission to do a little planting, the current condo board now says she’s in violation.

They’re charging the Portsmouth, New Hampshire homeowner $50 a day for being so petal pushy. That fine has reached close to $6,000, plus the board’s legal fees.

“It’s just not a happy place to live anymore for me,” says Bois, who planted the small flower bed with the help of her mother, who has since passed away.

She says, “It just feels like we’ve been bullied and really all we wanted to do was have a conversation to figure out how this can benefit all of us.”

A new certified letter arrives every month, ordering Bois to uproot her garden and keeping track of her fines.

It got so bad, she contacted a Realtor friend of hers to talk about just selling the place that she has owned since 2008.

That’s when she got the real shock: the board put a lien on her townhouse for their fines.
Bois says the whole situation has, “gotten out of control.”

She even offered to pull up the flowers and pay part of the board’s legal fees a couple of weeks ago – an offer she says was refused.

The association’s bylaws don’t expressly forbid planting flowers on your property, Bois explains, nor do they explicitly allow it.

Board members have told Bois they just want all the units to look the same.
“Now we’ve gone down a rabbit hole that I just can’t seem to get out of and it’s very sad, and it’s upsetting,” she says.

WBZ reached out to the attorney who represents the condo association, but he did not respond our request for comment.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What is a Food Forest?

The Internet is abuzz lately over a Food Forest that is being proposed in Seattle. The Beacon Food Forest is a proposal that has been given to the city of Seattle as a potential community garden area on a 7 acre plot in Jefferson Park. It sounds a little different than a normal community garden or park. Here is a picture of the site schematic.

According to the Beacon Food Forest website a food forest is a "gardening technique or land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.  Fruit and nut trees are the upper level, while below are berry shrubs, edible perennials and annuals.  Companions or beneficial plants are included to attract insects for natural pest management while some plants are soil amenders providing nitrogen and mulch.  Together they create relationships to form a forest garden ecosystem able to produce high yields of food with less maintenance."

This sounds like community gardening on steroids as it goes beyond the garden to creating and entirely edible ecosystem. This is not an edible ecosystem the likes of Willy Wonka either. It's not candy, but instead, food that is good or healthy for you. Eat your heart out Willy.

While it seems like a great idea, I couldn't find a lot of information on how this will be funded and since money makes the world go round, a big part of their success will be determinant on whether they can raise funds and make it economically feasible.

I am a big fan of any idea that gives people that might not otherwise have the chance to garden, the opportunity to grow their own fresh food. I hope this works and I look forward to following the progress of the Beacon Food Forest.

Write a comment below if you have participated in something similar to the Food Forest. I would love to feature other successful community gardens or food forests on our blog.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Essential Oils Class- Denver

Some of you may know that I have been teaching classes on essential oils. They have changed my and my family's life. I love them! We no longer rely on over the counter medications.

I will be in the Denver area the end of March.  I have availability to teach a free live essential oils class Friday March 30th  around 11:00 am.  If you are interested in hosting a class for your friends, family, or neighbors please contact me at backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com

If you are interested in attending a class in Greely, CO March 30th at 5:30, contact me at backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com

If you are interested in listening to a free live webinar, there is one tonight taught by a friend of mine. She is super fun, and very entertaining! You can register here, tell them Marisa sent ya.
7:00 PM Mountain Time


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

There's Never a Dull Moment

We have had quite a bit of action here in our backyard.

We have had Fantastic Mr. Fox running around back there.

We have had a swarm of bees (not our own), which I was able to capture.

We get antelope all the time.

We had a herd of cows one time. 

Then of course we can't forget the devastating chicken coop fire we had.

Recently, I woke up, looked out the window to find what I thought were 2 horses in my backyard. I hadn't yet put on my contacts or glasses. I started making phone calls to everyone in the neighborhood who had horses, and I couldn't track down the owner. I put on my glasses and noticed they actually weren't horses, but mules. They lived two doors down from us and had gotten out. They must have heard from the other animals that our house was "The Place To Hang Out". 
There is never a dull moment here on our backyard farm, and I LOVE IT!

I can't wait to see what happens next!

What exciting things are happening in your neck of the woods?


Monday, March 12, 2012

Seed Starting

By Cousin Allen (Dale's Son)

This year we decided to get an early start.  So early, the lady at the local green house told me that it wouldn’t work.  Well this has been the 17th mildest winter on record and I want an early start.  We also another motivation, we wanted to get it ready before my wife had our second baby. 

This year we are growing several crops from seed including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and a lot of perennials.  We thought about starting our herbs but we have not had much success growing them indoors.  I also went a little crazy and have planted over 60 perennials.  I have a goal this year to have enough perennials planted that I don’t have to worry about growing or planting flower at this house ever again.

So now three and a half weeks after we started the seeds we have not only a bunch of little plants, but a baby boy.

by Cousin Allen

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What's Your Extension?

We have had snowstorms this last week in Utah so I wonder if our growing season is going to start late like it did last year. There are a couple of things that we do to determine when we might be able to start planting our vegetables. First of all we keep a garden journal.You can read more about journals here. One of the things we record in our journal is the planting dates, maturation dates, and end of season dates. This helps us to remember when we planted in previous years, and also how well it worked for us.

We like to plant new vegetables each year and our journal doesn't help us with new plants. When we run into the situation where we have never planted something before, we search out the information from our local extension office. Dale wrote a great article on extensions here. Local extensions are extremely valuable to backyard farmers. I wanted to find out planting dates for kohlrabi this year and I found this awesome PDF from Utah State University that gives general planting dates for a large variety of vegetables, and it shows some suggestions on what will do well in my area.

You might wonder how to find your local extension. If you go to this USDA website you can click on your state and find your local extension. I would use them as much as you can as the information they provide is extensive, and specific to your area.

I hope to be able to start prepping our garden this weekend as some years we start beets, radishes, spinach, and other greens by mid march. It has snowed recently so I don't know for sure if the ground will be dry enough to start in the next week. We will do a post on checking to see if soil is ready to plant soon.

Have you started your garden yet? What have you done?


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Goaty Goat Goat Goat

I'm SO ready for spring, to work in the yard, and to work the ground. I'm excited to get more baby chicks.  I'm hopeful that we will be building a new beautiful coop. I can't wait to get a couple of goats. Is it strange that I think goats are cute? 

What are you excited about?


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Freezer Beef

By Uncle Dale

We purchase a quarter of a pastured beef from one of my students at the university. When buying beef in bulk, people usually purchase a side of beef, which is one half of a carcass or a mixed quarter. With a mixed quarter you receive a mixture of cuts from the hind quarter (where the preferable cuts are) and the front quarter (where the less desirable cuts are). This was a small steer and as such, the steaks and roasts are also small and lean. Although I prefer big, well-marbled steaks, this will force us to healthier eating. The lean ground beef is packaged in one pound bags which are very convenient. We received 85 pounds of beef – 55 pounds of steaks & roasts and 30 pounds of ground beef. We paid about $425 which calculates to $5 per pound. When you look at the price of beef in the grocery store, this is reasonable and I feel good supporting a student who is trying to pay her way through school, rather than an industrial feed lot in Nebraska. The cuts are shrink-wrapped which extends the freezer life and you can see what you have. With paper wrap, you will have freezer burn by the time you get to the end and the print, which indicates the cut, fades so you don’t know what is inside. You then have to open the package to see what you have. If it is not what you want you have now let more air in to exacerbate freezer burn. We keep our freezer at the coldest setting, -10 F. which helps preserve meat longer. Our freezer also sucks air out like a vacuum when you close the door. This further prevents deterioration of food. In the past we have had chickens and other meat cuts in the freezer for more than a year without any problems. Our freezer is now full with this beef and chicken left over from last year. With only four of us in the house now, I am not sure we are going to raise broilers again this year.
Our beef is the one on the right

Porterhouse & T bone steaks, Chuck Roast, and Ground Beef
 Just enough room on the 2nd and 3rd shelves of the freezer

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit

In an effort to be healthier our family has made a goal to eat more beans. This is a big undertaking since most of us claim that we don't like beans. We have only been adding more beans to our meals for about a week but I have found some great recipes that anyone will love, even kids. Why do we want to use more beans? Let's talk about the benefits of beans.

  • Beans lower cholesterol
  • Beans are an excellent source of non fat protein.
  • Beans are and excellent source of complex carbohydrates.
  • The carbohydrates in beans are absorbed slower than simple sugars so you stay fuller longer when you eat them.
  • Beans have lots of fiber.
  • They are easy to store and cook.
  • Beans are an inexpensive protein.
As a personal non scientific note I have upped my bean intake for only one week. It might be psychosomatic, but I don't feel hungry after eating a meal that contains a serving of beans for up to 4 or 5 hours. I really think it's because they digest slower. I also have more energy throughout the day and I don't have that big drop in blood sugar that makes me feel like I need to take a nap.

 Now that I have convinced you to eat beans, watch for the insanely delicious black bean soup recipe in my next article.