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Friday, April 30, 2010

Muck Buckets and Mobile Babies

They don't mix!

(no babies were harmed in the making of this post)
Luckily the muck bucket just had some stale bread and nothing too disgusting!

To find out how to recycle your food and how to make your own muck bucket, click here.

Homeschoolers are so weird!

But better to be weird than boring!

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ideas or Mother's Day

Michael Johnson

Mother's day stresses me out. I think women are wonderful and I want to try to find a gift for my mom and my wife that show them the appreciation I have for all that they do. For some reason, a flower that dies, chocolates that are gone in a day, or breakfast in bed while leaving the kitchen messy just don't seem to cut it. Here are some ideas for Mother's day gifts for that mom that loves her backyard farm.

Rare Chicken

Get her a cool chicken that you might not already have. Something that will stand out from the rest of the group. The first breed that comes to mind is a Silkie, but there are a lot of other beautiful birds out there to chose from. I like to peruse my pet chicken to see some of them and you can order them from there website. The picture is from their website.

Sprout Lid

Does the Mom in your life like fresh veggies for her salad the whole year round. If so, get her a sprout lid. It is a cheap gift that she can use with a mason jar to grow sprouts all year.

Mushroom Kit

How about those Mom's that like to eat new and exotic foods. I can't think of anything more exotic than Mushrooms that you grow yourself. I know it's not romantic but you can always have a nice romantic dinner. I am thinking maybe some mushroom ravioli. Type in mushroom kit into your browser and you will find a lot of stores where you can have a kit shipped to you. I recommend that you buy as local as you can.

Garden Fashion

Mom's like to look good, even when they are playing in freshly tilled dirt. Find some garden fashion and make them the envy of all the ladies. I am thinking boots, gloves, aprons and even hats. Whatever you think they might like.

Yogurt Culture

Buy your Mom some yogurt cultures and make them some fresh homemade yogurt for Mothers Day. There are a lot of different kind of cultures but all you need is a packet of the culture and some milk and viola, you have fresh creamy yogurt for your Mom to enjoy.

These are just a few ideas. I wanted to say how much I appreciate and love the female spirit. The world is a better place because of your love and nurturing. You Moms smooth out the roughness of men. Thank you for all you do.

We need more ideas. Let us know what you are all getting the Mom's in your life. What are you buying, or better yet, what are you making for them. Share some ideas so we can make Mother's Day a special day for all mom's.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Egg Predators

I think we may have some sort of pest problem. What makes me think that? 

You may be asking why a picture of 4 measly eggs would make me think we have pests. If it were December and we only had 4 eggs, there would be no alarm, but this time of year, my fridge should be overflowing with eggs. My dog Jada has also been waking up 2-3 times per night and running outside. At first I thought it was just an overactive bladder due to her getting older. But, combined with the decreased number of eggs, I think she may be hearing something outside, waking me up, and running after it. 

What do I do?!?!??!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pick of the Day

Mike Johnson
I have worked in the financial industry for 10 years and currently I teach people how to develop trading systems for active investing in stocks and options. As I talk to people every day they are always asking me for my stock pick of the day. Because of regulations I always have to be careful what I tell them, but I am going to share with you all my pick of the day today, CSA.
Before you all go and type CSA into your online brokerage accounts let me stop you. I am not referring to a company. I am referring to Community Supported Agriculture. We have had articles that talk about CSA’s in the past but it is that time of the year to start thinking about signing up for CSA’s again.
CSA’ give you an opportunity to buy a share of one of your local farms. This share gives you the right to a portion of the produce that the farmer harvests from his/her farm. The food is fresh, and often times organic. It also gives you an opportunity to try foods that you would not normally buy. In addition to the benefits you also share the farmers risk and if the farm does not produce you will receive smaller portions of food.
To get more information about CSA’s go to local harvest's website. On the right side of this page you can find local CSA’s by typing in your Zip Code. Support your local farmers and enjoy the benefits of fresh food.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Backyard broilers 2010 video 3

by Dale
This is video 3 in my ongoing series on broiler production where I am raising 50 Freedom ranger broilers and 50 Cornish Cross broilers to compare the results.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

FDA Raids Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer

Please take action (see ACTION at end of notice)
Kinzers, PA-At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday April 20, Amish farmer Dan Allgyer went outside to begin milking his small herd of dairy cows.  On the normally quiet Kinzer Road in front of his farm, just a few miles from the Nickel Mines Amish massacre of 2006, several unfamiliar vehicles drove slowly past.  Two months prior, on February 4, FDA agents had trespassed on Allgyer's farm, claiming to be conducting an "investigation."  Allgyer had suspected they would be back at some point, because many other small dairy farms around the country have been similarly treated by the FDA. Following is Dan's account of Tuesday morning's events:

I became aware of the cars as soon as I walked out on the sidewalk as part of my morning routine around 4:30 a.m. and immediately said to myself something is going on, there is too much traffic on Kinzer Road.  I was watching and noticed three cars were cruising down Kinzer Road right behind each other, and immediately thought, hey, that looks like trouble. I watched and pretty soon one car came back and parked on my neighbor's farm, on private property, just as the FDA agents had when they came on my property in February; it was exactly the same place.

A couple minutes later, the other two cars pulled up and joined the first on my neighbor's property, where the occupants appeared to be in conference with one another. Shortly after that, they turned their headlights on and drove in my lane - this would have been at about 5:00.

I stood back in the dark barn to see what they were going to do. They drove past my two Private Property signs, up to where my coolers were, with their headlights shining right on them. They all got out of their vehicles - five men all together - with big bright flashlights they were shining all around. My wife and family were still asleep. When they couldn't find anybody, they prepared to knock on the door of my darkened house. Just before they got to the house I stepped out of the barn and hollered at them, then they came up to me and introduced themselves. Two were from the FDA, agent Joshua C. Schafer who had been there in February and another. They showed me identification, but I was too flustered to ask for their cards. I remember being told that two were deputy U.S. Marshals and one a state trooper. They started asking me questions right away.  They handed me a paper and I didn't realize what it was. Agent Joshua C. Schafer told me they were there to do a "routine inspection." At 5:00 in the morning, I wondered to myself? "Do you have a warrant?" I asked, and one of them, a marshal or the state policeman, said, "You've got in your hand buddy." I asked, "What is the warrant about?" Schafer responded, "We have credible evidence that you are involved in interstate commerce."

They wanted me to answer some questions, my name, middle initial, last name, wanted to know how many cows we have on the farm. I answered those questions and some more. Finally, I got over my initial shock and said I would not be answering any more questions. They said O.K., we'll get on with the "inspection."

I went to go talk to my wife. As I walked away, they held a quick excited conversation and I heard one of them say, "I'll take care of him." At that point, apparently, they had designated one of the marshals to stick close to me and dog my footsteps. He followed me as I walked toward the house. I went in the house quickly and told my wife a few words to let her know the situation, then immediately came back out of the house before the marshal had time to follow me in. When I came back out, they were inspecting all the coolers sitting out. They spent about a half hour digging through the packed coolers filled with milk and other food - all private property - taking pictures.

At one point during the cooler inspection the state trooper said to me, "You have a nice farm." I responded, "We're trying to be sustainable, but they don't want to let us."

While they inspected the coolers, I read the warrant. Among other things it said that any search was to be conducted "at reasonable times during ordinary business hours." When I exclaimed, "Ordinary business hours!" and pointed this out to the marshal who was dogging me, he said, "Ordinary business hours for agriculture start at 5:00 a.m." I challenged him that the warrant does not say agriculture hours, it said ordinary hours. He replied, "That's what the government told us."

Then they started looking around, as though in search of something in particular. They went up to one door that had a clear No Trespassing sign on it, specifically including government agents, and they did not go in the room, though they shone their flashlights around in it. Then they asked me, "What is on the other side of the door in that [same] room?" Agent Joshua Schafer asked this. I looked him in the eye and did not answer. When they saw I was not going to answer, the other FDA agent said, "Okay, come on," to agent Schafer, and they went into the room and through the closed door on the opposite side. I had another one of those signs on my walk-in cooler adjacent to my freezer, so they went through that door also. They spent probably another half hour rooting around, like a couple of pigs, in the freezer and cooler area and took many pictures.

When they came out, they asked me where I keep my containers and jugs for milk, and I refused to tell them. I figured they could look for themselves. Then they were walking all over the farm, checking everything out, everything except the house. Agent Joshua Schafer even opened my dumpster and inspected inside it, as though he thought I was hiding something in it. At that point I went and started milking my cows - it was way past milking time.

When I was just about done milking, Schafer and the other agent came in the barn and wanted me to answer some more questions. I told them I would not. The second agent said, "Are you gong to deliver those coolers to Bethesda and Bowie Maryland?" I just looked at him. Then Schafer made a gesture and said, "The stickers with those towns names are on the coolers," as through to say, you might as well tell me.

I replied, "I told you I won't answer any questions." After that they said, "We are done for today. You'll be hearing back from headquarters."

Then they got in their car and left. The state trooper and the marshals had left already.

They came in the dark, shining bright flashlights while my family was asleep, keeping me from milking my cows, from my family, from breakfast with my family and from our morning devotions, and alarming my children enough so that they first question they asked my wife was, "Is Daddy going to jail?"
THE NEXT MORNING Allgyer received an overnight, extremely urgent Letter of Warning from the FDA stating that "Failure to make prompt corrections could result in regulatory action without further notice. Possible actions include seizure and/or injunction."

ACTION: Please call and write the number and address below. Express yourself. Tell them that you support Dan Allgyer. If you drink fresh, unpastuerized milk tell them that. Tell them that more people every day are drinking fresh milk and this is going to increase. It's not going to stop no matter how many farmers they persecute. Tell them the government has no placebetween individuals and the farmers from whom they get their food.

Philadelphia District Office
Serves Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Food and Drug Administration
U.S. Customhouse
Second and Chestnut Streets, Room 900
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 597-4390 8:00a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time)

Yours for real food freedom,
Deborah Stockton, Executive Director
National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)

Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade
that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products.
NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Truck Farm

You might recall a review I did last year of a great movie called King Corn that was made by Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney. Well, they are in the process of making another movie right now called Truck Farm. They prepare a bed of a truck with a garden and then travel around to educate people on growing food at home. Most of us can't grow food in a truck but it gives you some hope that whether you live in an apartment or in the middle of a vast wilderness, you can grow some of your own food. Check out the teaser trailer.

The movie is in the process of being edited and created. You can even donate to their cause by going to the project on Kickstarter. They are trying to raise $15,000 to get the movie made.A mere $35 will get you a cool trucker hat. I am excited to see the movie. They expect to have the movie done this summer if they can raise a little more money.

Share some comments with us about some of the movies that you have watched lately that have anything to do with the backyard farming genre. I would love to get some ideas of other movies to watch.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ideas for Earth Day

Start recycling food with a muck bucket
I was introduced to the muck bucket when Michael showed the neighbor my "science experiment" I was growing in the kitchen. The science experiment was a cute counter-top  container that I was throwing scraps of food into to later feed to the chickens. I would empty it every other day to keep it clean and fresh, when it went an entire week without being emptied, it turned into the "science experiment" YIKES! I ended up throwing the cute container away. The neighbor then told me about the muck bucket, and we have been doing this ever since.

Start with a plain old plastic milk container.
Give it a rinse and prepare to cut the top of it off, leaving the handle.

 Once the top is off, you are done. It is as easy as that!
The great thing about it is, if it gets nasty, throw it in the recycle bin and start with a fresh new one. 

If you don't have chickens, you can still recycle your food. We have a rule that nothing goes down the garbage disposal, and here is why. Leafy greens, carrot tops, apples and such go out to the rabbit, the rabbit then poops which makes a great fertilizer for the garden. The chickens eat all the meat, breads, egg shells, and any extra food that the rabbit doesn't eat. The chickens then poop which we can then add to the compost bin. If you don't have chickens or a rabbit, you can add almost all your food (except meat and dairy) to a compost bin to make your own beautiful black compost!

Simple Organic has started Make Week, where you turn off your TV and make life happen.

Go paperless on your bills. 
sorry, no image for this one.

Start a guerrilla gardening campaign 
image by cubeme.com

Ask your boss if you can permanently work from home to decrease your carbon footprint. 
image by crate and barrel

Ride your bike to work

Keep sending us your ideas, and we will continue to add to this post!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ideas for Earth Day

Earth day is Thursday, so I thought it would be fun for us all to share our Earth Day ideas. Yes, that means you! Email us pictures, stories, ideas, links to blogs, and things you are doing, would like to do, or have done in the past to commemorate Earth Day. As I receive your emails, I will be posting your ideas. So start sharing!

Please email backyardfarmingblog@gmail.com

Tips from a successful chicken ordinance change

By Jennifer

Do you want to raise chickens but are deterred because your city currently does not allow them? Take heart, and take notes, from the story of one Northern Utah town’s ordinance change.

Like the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” it’s hard to pinpoint who exactly got the ball rolling. On one side is Syracuse resident Paul Gardener whose interest in gardening and sustainability evolved to the point that he wanted to raise hens on his quarter acre. So he checked with his city.

The city code at that time allowed chickens in agricultural zones (naturally), but was vague about residential areas. Some could interpret chickens falling under the category of household pets. Yet further examination of the city code about household pets showed this phrase: that owners could not raise pets for food -- an interesting distinction given that hens lay eggs. Ambiguous? Yes.

Through his research Gardener also discovered that the city was in the process of revising its land use ordinances. He figured the time was right to make a few suggestions.

Meanwhile, on the other side of our “Which came first?” debate, Syracuse Planning Commission Chairman Robert Whiteley had the same idea. He deemed his own previous time raising hens “an amazing experience,” particularly for the responsibility it taught his children. He wanted his town residents to have the same chance, so introduced the idea to his colleagues in the midst of their other ordinance revisions.

Then Gardener showed up at public hearings. The timing was serendipitous, Gardener acknowledges. Like opposite sides of the same coin, he supported Whiteley by giving the voice of the citizenry; Whiteley was a champion to Gardener’s cause.

After some healthy debate over a couple months' time and a little education (such as pointing out that no roosters are required), the ordinance passed with nary a dissenting vote.
The resulting ordinance clearly identifies chickens in a category separate from farm animals or household pets. Citizens in Syracuse residential zones may tend up to six hens (or six rabbits, or a combination of the two totaling six). These animals must be kept outside the human dwelling in their own contained pens, which must be kept clean. No roosters are allowed in residential zones.

Unlike other cities’ chicken ordinances, Syracuse does not have acreage or boundary requirements (such as how many feet a coop is from property lines). Whiteley said he felt no need for the city to regulate where in the yard someone places a coop, so long as it is kept clean.

Whiteley agrees that Syracuse’s ordinance is looser than most -- and to him that’s a good thing. He doesn’t know how many people have started raising hens as a result of the ordinance change, since the city doesn’t require residents to register their birds. He reported, however, that the city has received no complaints in the two years the ordinance has been in place.

Gardener owns six hens and collected 876 eggs from them last year. Not every experience changing ordinances may be as smooth as his, Gardener knows, but he enthusiastically encourages others to give it a try. He and Whiteley offer the following advice for working with city officials:

1. Do your homework.

• Thoroughly examine your motives. What makes you want chickens? Is it for fun? For food? For science fair projects? You can’t convince someone to let you have chickens if you can’t articulate why you want them.

• Research chicken breeds, coop options, etc. that will work best in your climate and yard space.

• Learn everything you can about chicken care, so you can convincingly eliminate a panel’s concerns that they may be too noisy or smelly. Round up the testimonials of any people you know who raise chickens.

• Anticipate other questions, and have a plan. For instance, what will you do when your hens stop laying?

• Be familiar with your city’s codes. Ask at the city offices, or research online.

• Investigate the codes of neighboring cities, especially towns that allow chickens. “Then it’s not a unique request,” Whiteley said, noting that cities routinely compare their ordinances to other locales.

2. Plan your attack.

• Send probing emails or letters to city council and planning commission members, asking their opinions about raising chickens. Ask if the issue has been addressed before, and what obstacles resulted.

“If you find one person that is receptive to it, build rapport with that person,” Gardener said. “It can be a united front.”

• Network. Mention your interest everywhere you go; by so doing you may find valuable contacts. *

• Ask for the chance to appear before the city. This is where all your homework comes into play.

• Show your commitment, both in written communication and in attendance at meetings. If the issue goes before the governing panel, make it a point to be there for the vote. If a proposal to allow chickens is denied, note the reason for that.

3. Above all, be positive.

• Be persistent, but not to the point of annoying those you contact.

• Be pleasant and play to your audience. Whiteley doesn’t recommend angrily approaching a panel to say, “Hey, why won’t you let us do this?” Instead, point out all the positives of raising chickens, especially to the city itself. Does your city want to attract and retain citizens who value self-reliance? Show them how allowing chickens can do just that.

Gardener said he took this spin when pleaded his case. “In this big renaissance of keeping chickens, it’s not considered just a rural thing,” he said. “It’s modern and progressive. We had to make sure that was understood.”

Please check out Paul Gardener's blog at: http://apaetoday.blogspot.com/

* Jennifer’s note: As an example of networking, I don’t live in Syracuse and my town’s current acreage restrictions disable me from having chickens. During my telephone interview with Robert Whiteley he told me he has a relative in my town – who is on the planning commission to boot! Too bad my biggest obstacle to raising chickens is convincing my husband. But I now know whom to call if I do …

Monday, April 19, 2010

And the winner is......

Day in the life of A Parmentier

Who said: I love reading about gardening!

Please email us your address to backyardfarmingblog(at)gmail.com

so you can claim your prize


Sunday, April 18, 2010

The spiritual conversion of an omnivore

by Dale

Many people debate the merits of vegetarian and omnivore diets. I was a vegetarian for a full calendar year because I wanted the experience. It was good. I was an omnivore because I enjoyed meat. Now I am an omnivore because of a spiritual conversion to this diet. It happened this past year when I made chicken noodle soup from scratch, almost from scratch. I didn’t hatch the eggs but I purchased the chicks and brooded them for four weeks. I moved them across the pasture in a pasture coop twice a day for five weeks and then took them to be processed (See Broilers 101). I didn’t slaughter them myself but I will this year’s broilers. I cooked one of my chickens for my soup. I didn’t grow the wheat but I purchased wheat and ground it to flour for the egg noodles (In my former career as a farmer I raised wheat). I raise the layers who gave me the eggs. I made the noodles (Noodles). I used composted chicken manure to fertilize the onions I grew to add to the soup.

As I completed this ten week project, I set the kettle of soup on the dining room table. I thanked Heavenly Father for it. I was truly thankful. When I put the first spoonful of chicken and noodles in my mouth and watched my family do the same, I realized that I could never be a vegetarian, not because the soup was fabulous but because the entire experience convinced me that an omnivore diet is how mankind should eat – it was a spiritual conversion. I got this year’s broiler chicks two weeks ago. Some people ask “How can you possible think about eating those darling chicks?” They are cute. But I understand our symbiotic relationship. My purpose is to take good care of them and sustain them for their short lives. Their purpose is then to sustain my family. I believe it is a holistic relationship formed by God.  Because of this experience I think differently about all my food. I view that top sirloin steak differently than I used to even thought I didn’t raise the beef. I hope to someday raise my own beef. The telling of my experience will probably not convert any vegetarians. But I would ask all vegetarians to withhold judgment of omnivores until you have made your own chicken noodle soup from scratch. 

By Dale

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Charlie Anderson’s Prayer

By Dale

One of my favorite movies is Shenandoah. I first saw this civil war movie at age 8 when it came out in 1965, the centennial of the end of the civil war. It stars Jimmy Stewart as Charlie Anderson, a gruff Virginia farmer who desperately tries to keep his family out of the war. The movie opens as Charlie Anderson sits at the head of the dining room table surrounded by his 6 sons, 1 daughter, and 1 daughter-in-law. A place is set at the other end of the table for his wife who died in bearing his last son. Before the meal begins, Charlie offers grace:

“Lord, we cleared this land, we plowed it, sowed it, and harvested. We cooked the harvest, it wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you just the same anyway Lord for this food we are about to eat. Amen.”

This is the essence of backyard farming. We till our gardens, we plant, and we reap. We raise our chickens and goats. We prepare our meals. We work dog bone hard for every crumb and morsel. We teach our children how to work. Big Macs and Whoppers just don’t cut it. But one thing we realize that Charlie Anderson missed is our reliance on Heavenly Father for the soil, air, rain, and sunshine which is the foundation of our existence.

I want to thank our more than 250 followers. I don’t know most of you but I wish I did. I appreciate your comments. I appreciate your questions. I have enjoyed looking at many of your blogs to see the exciting things you are doing with your backyard farms. Please stick with us and share with others this wonderful journey of backyard farming that we have all embarked on.

Another great line of Shenandoah is when a beaten Charlie Anderson ends his futile search for his 16 year old son who was mistaken as a soldier and captured. He asks his family:
 “If we don’t try, we don’t do, and if we don’t do, then why are we here on this earth?”

By Dale

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I'm so excited about this super fabulous giveaway sponsored by CSN Stores. They have everything from lighting to cookware to fitness equipment.  They are giving away this beautiful red apple peeler to one of you lucky readers!
This baby peels, slices, and cores apples. Just think how much apple sauce you can make if you have this peeler, think of how many dehydrated apples you can make. But, best of all, with this baby, you can enlist the help of your kids.  And when apple season is over,  it can also peel your potatoes!!! I'm starting to feel like an infomercial!

Tip: Each comment equals 1 entry. So leave a separate comment for each!

For your first entry: Leave us a comment about what your favorite theme here on backyard farming is. Example: recipes, gardening, chickens, current events, organic foods, raw milk etc.

For another entry: Blog about this giveaway on your blog, come back and leave a comment with your blog address. (This will also help promote your blog!)

For another entry: Become a fan of backyard farming on facebook, come back and leave us a comment that says "facebook". If you are already a fan on facebook, you already qualify for this entry.

For another entry: become a follower of backyard farming. You do this by clicking on the "follow" button on the right hand side of this blog. Come back and leave a comment that says "follower". If you are already a follower, you already qualify for this entry.

This giveaway closes Sunday April 19th 12:00 MST. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Adventures in FRONT yard farming

By Jennifer
Roma tomatoes are set to ripen last summer, in front of my red front door.

Who says backyards are the only place we can grow our own food?

Not me!

Here are two different views of our front yard, where we mixed flowers with crops. The pictures were taken last August.

A: Three tomato plants in a built-in concrete planter box attached to my front steps.
B: Cedar garden box containing six tomato plants, parsley and basil. Visible behind this is a black metal railing on which I grew mini pumpkins and scarlet runner beans.
C: One pumpkin plant. (A concrete sidewalk cuts through yard from driveway to backyard entrance at about this point.)
D: Plum tree.
E: Pumpkin plant trained around edge of lawn. (Yes, we do have a small front lawn!)
F: Strawberry patch covered with black netting (to protect from birds). The strawberries are on a slope, so it is easy to tend to them from the sidewalk without even bending over. Lemon thyme is in flower below strawberries and at the edge of small retaining wall, which also marks city sidewalk location. Other herbs are in parking strip.
G: More strawberries.
H: Peach tree.

In a land that loves its manicured lawns, I realize devoting front yard space to fruit and veggie gardens is not for everyone. It was a tough sell for even my husband. I envisioned the entire front yard as a vegetable garden. He thought I was a bit crazy, to tell you the truth. How would vegetables look, he wondered? He didn't want our yard to stand out as the "weird" one, which given its history as a steep slope filled with nothing but bushes and big lava rocks, is rather funny. Any change we made would be an improvement, right?

Well, in the end we compromised. My husband built a retaining wall to create a relatively flat spot for a lawn. I gave up my hopes for all veggies in the parking strip in exchange for lovely perennials. We are both thrilled with the results. Our eyes and our tastebuds rejoice.  (But my husband shouldn't be surprised if I sneak pepper plants between the flowers this year.)

As more and more people start to garden, it makes sense that more and more people turn to space in their front yards. One name for this movement is "Edible Landscapes" -- look up those words on the Internet for all sorts of inspiration. 

Our adventure in front yard farming was unique because we had to redo our yard anyway. If you wish to make your own edible landscape, it may be best to start small before dismantling your entire yard. 

Here are some ideas from other yards I have seen:

At first glance, this in an attractive set of flower beds around a home's front entrance. A closer look shows the vines are actually peas.

I love this garden right in the parking strip. 

One of my husband's reasons for not wanting our parking strip used as a garden is because he wouldn't want passersby to harvest. But I say, so what? Someday I will have a garden like this, complete with a sign that says, "Please help yourself. One tomato for every weed you pick. Thank you!"

Have you had your own adventures in front yard farming? We'd love to hear about them.

Our front yard pumpkins, last September.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Reap What You Sow

By Mike

We have been busy getting our house for sale lately so our garden has been a little neglected. We finally got around to planting our root vegetables and our leafy greens. Check out this video about planting root vegetables. Watch for the various tips embedded throughout.

By Mike

Monday, April 12, 2010

Modern Chicken

by Mike Johnson

I am a fan of modern style architecture. I love the idea of having a modern design home on a farm homestead. Following is a good example of what I am talking about. These are pictures that I got from one of my favorite websites http://www.trendir.com/

Imagine my surprise when I saw this modern designed chicken house on mocoloco. Can you imagine how cool your chickens would be living here? I wonder if their eggs would taste better.

This is the first chicken house that I have seen that I want to live in. I don’t think I would fit though. Send us some pictures of your chicken coops and we will post them on our website.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Passive Solar

When researching building straw bale homes, we learned about passive solar energy. Our dream of building a straw bale home may have come to an end because of the cost and our small budget.  We are hanging onto the hope that we can build some straw bale structures (coop/shed/barn) where ever we may move and continue to work toward our "dream straw bale home."

What is passive solar?  It is the use of the sun to help meet a building's energy needs by means of architectural design such as arrangement of windows and materials such as floors that store heat, or other thermal mass. What this means is that you don't need any other heat source like propane, it uses sunlight only.

Instructions on how to build a passive solar greenhouse.

Passive solar barn.

Passive solar chicken coop.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Raw Milk Debate

Raw milk warning issued
Dairy Herd news source  |  Friday, March 26, 2010
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with several state agencies, is alerting consumers to an outbreak of campylobacteriosis associated with drinking raw milk. At least 12 confirmed illnesses have been recently reported in Michigan. Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever.
The FDA is collaborating with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the Indiana State Health Department, to investigate the outbreak. MDCH reports that, as of March 24, it received reports of 12 confirmed cases of illness from Campylobacter infections in consumers who drank raw milk. The raw milk originated from Forest Grove Dairy in Middlebury, Ind.
Public health authorities, including FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have expressed concerns about the hazards of drinking raw milk for decades.
Since 1987, the FDA has required all milk packaged for human consumption to be pasteurized before being delivered for introduction into interstate commerce. Pasteurization, a process that heats milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time, kills bacteria responsible for diseases, such as listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis. FDA’s pasteurization requirement also applies to other milk products, with the exception of a few aged cheeses.
From 1998 to 2008, 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from consumption of raw milk were reported to CDC. These outbreaks included a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and two deaths. Because not all cases of foodborne illness are recognized and reported, the actual number of illnesses associated with raw milk likely is greater.
More information on raw milk.

Some raw milk drinkers put their heads in the sand an ignore this. Others actual deny it saying that it is a government conspiracy against raw milk. But it happens. Farmers who practice good methods are very unlikely to have problems with their milk. However it can happen to any farmer.

If your children have any health problems, I wouldn’t give them raw milk. If they are healthy, the risk is small. But don’t let them drink a whole quart in one setting like I do.

Think of it this way, from 1998 to 2008, 85 outbreaks of human infections resulting from consumption of raw milk were reported to CDC. These outbreaks included a total of 1,614 reported illnesses, 187 hospitalizations and two deaths. Hundreds of thousands if not millions of people drank raw milk during that time. If your family is the one out of 100,000 or a million that gets sick, then go to the doctor.  

What are your chances of getting the flue, or other illnesses? What are your chances of dying from cancer or getting killed in a car accident? Life is fraught with risk. I wouldn’t start smoking because of the risks associated with it (not to mention my religious abstinence). But I don’t hesitate to drink raw milk.

All of that said, Grade A pasteurized, homogenized, vitamin A&D fortified milk purchased at the store is still pretty darn good and healthy. The most important thing – GOT MILK?



Now that Michael and I have our house on the market, and no home to go to, the sky is the limit when it comes to dreaming. We have had so much fun exploring ideas of a straw bale house, or making our own house from adobe. My parents would flip! We have also enjoyed the Farmhouse Modern Blog.  And this post on barn renovations, why can't all houses have so much character and personality?   Until our house sells and we are about to get kicked out, I'm enjoying the dream.

What do you read or look at when dreaming of your dream house?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bountiful Basket

 Have you looked into food co-ops? If you haven't you might want to. Here is how they work. There is an organizer of the food co-op who purchases large amounts of food from a distributor at the low prices grocery stores and restaurants are buying at. Then you can purchase a share of the food and pick it up on the specified day. The prices are very low since the middle man (grocery store) is getting cut out of the equation.  I have been participating in the Bountiful Basket food co-op for the last 3 weeks. The picture above is what we relieved for just $15. When Michael and I priced it out, according to the very best prices at the grocery store, we figured we saved about $25. Not bad! Here is what we got:

2 bunches of asparagus
1 bunch of celery
2 heads of lettuce
2 bunches of green onions
1 head orange cauliflower
3 lbs of tomatoes
3.3 lbs of bananas
2 mangos
1 lb strawberries
8 oz. kumquats
2 lbs of apples

This last week we got even more produce than pictured above, still for the same $15 price, it has been just a little different each week. The Bountiful Basket is available in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and Utah. Their website is terrible, but should be updated in the next few weeks. It is also VERY popular and sells out fast. I set my alarm clock so I don't forget to log on 15 mins. early.  Since I started getting the Bountiful Basket, I have found out about 2 other food co-ops very similar to this, I will be trying them out, one of them offers meat. So, if you don't live where the Bountiful Basket it is available, do a search to see if you can find something similar in your area.

There are some disadvantages to a co-op like this. You don't know what you are going to get. We have to wait until Saturday morning to plan our grocery list and menu for the week. Not knowing what you are going to get does help us eat produce we may not have chosen for the week, and has gotten us to try new things. The produce is not locally grown, so we aren't supporting our local farmers. Here in Utah there isn't much growing in the winter anyways, but come summer, we will be shopping our farmers markets and eating out of our garden. 

Here is the line, see all those people prepared with their basket? I forgot to bring a basket, luckily there was a good samaritan in the line that gave me a box. 

Come looking your best, because their are cute babes in the line. 

 And beware of the weird homeschool kids with boxes on their heads!
 (Reece was blocking the sun glare with the box so he could play his Nintendo DS) 

It makes it so easy to eat healthy when there is so many healthy options in our home, especially when it is so inexpensive. I was worried I wouldn't even get a picture taken of all the produce because the kids were eating it so fast.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We are on the market!

Our 1400 square foot .11 acre backyard farm is on the market! Our family of 6, dog, cat, bunny, and 5 chickens have outgrown our space. We are looking for something on about an acre or more so we can expand and have goats and bees. After reading Raw Milk Revolution, I think I might want a cow.

Would you like a tour?

Here she is...

Here is where the living happens.

Our sweet little kitchen...oops, one of our light bulbs burnt out.  Oh how I will miss this house once we are gone. My friend Nicol and I have mastered our own form of sign language to communicate through this kitchen window here.

And here is where the magic happens....now stop being gross, sleeping is magical. That bed spread looks a little lopsided. Why didn't I notice that for the pictures?

The boys room.
See those quilts there, those are the first quilts I've ever actually finished...all by myself.  Oh, and I just love those curtains.

And here is where the farming actually happens. 
From this picture it may look like a regular backyard, but let me give you a tour.
A. Where our 5 chickens are housed, if you look at the picture of the front of the house, on the right hand side you can see their red chicken coop.

B. Our garden (about 18'x6') and 5 garden boxes. Right above the arrow you can see our strawberry box, right next to that is the kids garden box and our compost bin. Our bunny is also over in this corner (we've got a lot going on in section B) Bunny poopies are great for the garden, it can go right into the garden without composting.

C. Our raspberry bushes and our failed attempt at asparagus. Also where we were planning on putting our bees, but our neighbors weren't big fans of that plan.

D. Where our rabbit cages are. I know, it is so ghetto. We used the bunny cages for our baby chicks until they are ready to be outside with the big girls. 

E. A large black bucket that we used for potatoes one year and for pumpkins last year. This winter the kids used it to make a snow fort. Disregard the deflated pool...why that didn't get properly put away last fall, nobody knows.

F. The window where all my little seedlings normally start. But, since having cluttered counters is frowned upon when trying to sell your house, I only have about 10 starts that can be easily moved.