a semi-rural, mini-homestead on 1/2 acre in Vermont's Green Mountains

Fresh Eggs, Organic Rocks, Pick-Your-Own Weeds, Foolish Pursuits!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gerty’s Balsamic-Sugared Pearl Onions 
This is a fantastic condiment to serve with all meats- especially beef. At holiday time it’s a beautiful addition to offer in a dish alongside of prime rib- or even with little rare roast beef finger sandwiches. More than once I’ve made fancy glass crocks of these little gems to pass out for Christmas gifts and they’ve always been received well. 
3 T. butter
Two 1 lb. bags of frozen pearl onions (may use fresh if you wish to take the time)
¾ c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. apple jelly
¼ c. sugar
salt and pepper to taste   
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, cook the frozen onions for 10-12 minutes, until most of the moisture is gone and the onions are tender. Add vinegar, jelly and sugar into onions and stir until sugar is dissolved and jelly is melted. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until liquid is reduced to a thick, glaze consistency. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chill. Serve chilled or may heat slightly over a warm flame.  


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Making Sauerkraut

 Sauerkrat Update #2 Total Failure!!!
  Finally had the courage at around week 3.5 to open the crock and take a whiff. Now, I know sauerkraut smells kind of ripe, but this was downright stinky and spoiled smelling. Glynn was brave enough to try it-and immediately spit it out and pronounced it no good. We gave it all to the chickens who scarfed it down like it was manna from heaven. I don't know what went wrong. I followed the recipe exactly. I'd like to try it again, but not until I figure out the problem.

Sauerkraut Update:  Just as I was about to relegate this glass cookie jar to the basement I had an "A-HA" moment and realized that it would be a perfect sauerkraut crock. Cabbage went in on Aug. 12th with the salted brine, and a saltwater filled bag on top to keep the cabbage under the brine. It is sitting quietly on my counter, hopefully fermenting as it should. I haven't opened the lid to take a sniff- I don't know what it should smell like anyway- and there is no odor escaping. So, we'll see what happens!


I don't know if I will even like sauerkraut-the only kind I have ever had came out of a can. It's okay but nothing I would go out of my way to eat. But  my friend Jodi loves the artisian sauerkraut she buys at the health food store, and I need to know how to store cabbage. So I am going to try to make some. I have some beautiful heads of cabbage out in the garden, the best I have ever grown. I am going to try the mason jar method first, but I would love to find some nice crocks!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Books on order!

Two or three times a year I break down and place a multiple book order from Amazon.com. I hope they are not the Wal-mart of the book world, because I love their site and their service. Here's what should arrive in the mail next week! There are two more I am drooling over, I may succumb to tempation and order them too! The two foraging books maybe similar, and it's possible I may return one of them. We'll see. I have a fondness for donating books to my local library. Coming to a bookshelf near me soon:

The Complete Compost Gardening Guide: Banner batches, grow heaps, comforter compost, and other amazing techniques for saving time and money, and producing the most favorful, nutritious vegetables ever!  by Barbara Martin

The Forager's Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by
Samuel Thayer

A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs: Of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guide) by  Steven Foster, et al

 Nature's Garden: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants by Steven Foster

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A New Enemy

I discovered these cute red beetles on my Asian lily. Fortunately the lily is in a pot on the porch, isolated from the lilies in the garden. As pretty as these little beetles are, they will swarm your lilies and completely destroy them. They are an invasive species, showed up on the east coast in early 2000's, and have no natural predators here. The Sevin is coming out of the shed again.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Striped Cucumber Beetles are evil, and must be destroyed!


Okay, I admit it....I cannot be entirely organic. :( I discovered these nasty little beetles on my squash, and did some research. Not only will they eat my squash into oblivion, they spread viral disease and bacterial wilt. I spend several evenings squishing them, but was afraid I would lose the battle. One poor little squash seemed to be their breeding ground. While most of the squash had just a few beetles, this one was swarmed. When I touched it they all dove into the ground where they breed. Out came the sevin! I doused the ground around this plant; today there are many dead bodies and no beetles in the garden that I could find! Victory!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Best of Times, Worst of Times

Life is busy, and wonderful right now! Glynn and I will be getting married in just 6 days! Everything is mostly under control, just some last minute odds and ends to do this week. It should be a fun party! Reception is at the Gale's field on the river, with pulled pork, a keg, and pot-luck! No idea how many people will be there, maybe 80 or so!
We have put in two gardens, the one that I started last year and a new one that Sky tilled up for us as a wedding present. It is in the front yard to get the sun, and is about 30x40', and STILL not big enough! We also have 4 raised beds in the backyard, 3 cold frames now, and have started constructing a hoop house. I am very excited about the hoop house and hope it will extend the growing season by a couple of months.
We put the manual pump on the well and it works great although even with a foot valve it still needs some priming. I hope not to ever have to rely on that for a water supply in the winter, it would be most unpleasant to have to be out there pumping water in a Vermont winter. But at least we can if we have to.
I owe DirectTV money so they turned off the satellite. Good. I will pay them eventually but have NO plans to have TV service again. Too expensive and we just don't watch it enough to make it worthwhile.
We haven't replaced or repaired the broken microwave yet, and I have pretty much decided not to, at least not in the near future. I miss it, but have learned to do without it.
Last week we picked 12 pounds of strawberries and have made lots of jam, the first canning I have done in years. It was fun.
That is the good stuff. The bad is the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico last month. The oil continues to gush into the ocean in vast amounts, poisoning and polluting everything it touches. It is too depressing for words. The environmental and economic fallout will be catastrophic. It is giving me nightmares during waking hours. I am glad we are taking the preparations we are but I doubt they will be sufficient. It is alot like being in a nightmare and screaming for help and no one listens...very few people I know seem to be as worried as we are at what is happening...are we crazy? Or are they? Time will tell. We certainly hope that we are wrong...but my gut says no.

Living without a fridge


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Busy time!

The erratic Vermont mountain weather is slowing improving. We have had several warm-ish and sunny days in a row. I really shouldn't be complaining-the trees, flowers and gardens are all a good 3 weeks ahead of schedule this year. Glynn and I have worn ourselves out this past week. Project #1 is finishing the replacement of the clapboard siding on the south side of the house. We've made good headway on that, but it is tiring, as it requires many trips up and down the ladder, and it is a bit nerve-wracking too, since we are now up to the 3rd story!
Project #2 is putting in a manual pump on the well, so when the power goes out (which it does on a regular basis here) we can still get water. It only took a few hours and a couple of trips to the hardware store to get the parts and install them...unfortunately it won't pump! Rather than get frustrated we stopped for the day. Last night in the middle of the night I woke up with a possible solution- the water line is longer than the depth of the well, resulting in a curve to the line, therefore the foot valve is not vertical. Could this be the reason why it won't pump? I don't know how foot valves work, but we will trim off the line and see if that helps!
Project #3-the gardens. We have made another cold frame,and now have 3. Made another raised bed and sized it so that we can lay 2 old windows right on top of it-instant frost protection/cold frame! I am going to put a cluster of raised beds near the fish pond...I had a beautiful flower garden there, but it got dug up when the water line to the house was replaced. I think it will look nice when it is done. We have continued to rack up the millions of rocks brought to the surface during the well line repair. I have realized that I really have absolutely no topsoil left in the disturbed area-and don't want to pay to have any delivered. Oh well, I hate grass anyway!
That exciting June 1st date is fast approaching-that is when it is safe (hopefully) to put in the rest of the garden!
The baby chicks we picked up on May 6th seem to be thriving. I got 3 Black Astralorps and 4 Buff Orpingtons to add to the flock. I just discovered a great idea on OneStraw.wordpress.com! A chicken moat!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Water Woes

I have always been bad at keeping a journal, and it seems that a blog is no different! Life goes by,and it is hard to take the time to sit and write about it, at least for me! It is a beautiful, sunny and chilly Sat. morning, and as I write I am listening to a woodpecker tapping on the aluminum ladder on the side of the house. he has been functioning as an alarm clock for several days now in his attempt to attract a mate! On the agenda for today is a trip to the dump, getting our photo taken for the new church directory, and maybe a trip to the Rutland Farmer's Market to try our friend Jenn's pulled pork!
Not much gardening has been going on around here...even though we have had a lot of nice weather it has just been too darn cool. My lettuce transplants are surviving in the garden, but not growing. The cold frame is a wonder tho! I have to make several more of those.
A few days ago we had to have the water line from the well (we have a shallow dug well) to the house replaced. That required a back hoe digging up most of the south side yard. My little frog pond got fairly damaged in the process. Now comes the long slow job of raking and picking up the thousands of rocks that were brought to the surface, then seeding grass. We live on old river bed, under the topsoil is nothing but rock, gravel and sand. In 1998 the river that runs along the edge of the property flooded, and the whole yard was under water. One good thing that happened was that the front yard was covered with an 8 inch layer of mud! Free topsoil! Last week, in exchange for a computer repair, a neighbor tilled up a new garden in the front yard, and not a rock in sight! Just amazing! The new garden is where I plan to plant tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and squash this year. I already know it is not big enough!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do-it -yourself laundry detergent


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Is it Spring yet?

Spring in the Vermont mountains is an opportunity to practice patience! I want to be out in the garden SO badly but today it is 32 degrees and snowing lightly. Yesterday it was cold and rainy, we have had the woodstove fired up again for the past two days! However, we were blessed with a beautiful day a couple of days ago! The sun came out and it got up in the 60's! We got a lot done that day including general yard cleaning and building a 4X4X6 raised bed for a square foot garden. I was excited to discover the spinach has sprouted. I planted carrots, parsnips, onions and peas in the main garden and transplanted 3 lettuce seedlings from the galvanized tub "cold frame."
This year I started a multitude of seeds in the house, but they are not doing very well-not enough light. I'll have to restart alot of them, I think. The squash in particular is very scraggly looking. I am experimenting with growing onions from seed, they have sprouted well.
Despite my crabbing about the weather, we are about 3 to 4 weeks ahead of usual, weather-wise, this year. My forsythia and daffodils are blooming already, they usually don't bloom til May. And March 18th was so warm I was able to prepare the beds in the main garden and plant the spinach that just came out. I also planted peas that day, but no sign of them yet. This winter was undoubtedly the mildest winter I have ever spent in Vermont. It is a little scary. I just got my hands on the "Water" issue of National Geographic. I have been wanting badly to read it, although I know it is full of bad environmental news. Don't drink bottled water friends!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Welcome to Yankee Notion Farm! No, it's not really a farm...unless having 11 chickens, 3 cats, 1 dog, a fiance and two 20-somethings living with me counts as a farm! I have lived in the very small town of Lincoln, Vermont for about 18 years now, in a 100+ year old house right in Lincoln's quaint village. This may be one of the last places in the US where you can have livestock right in the village limits, but in deference to my neighbors I will limit myself to chickens...no pigs, cows or horses for me!
With tongue in cheek, I have called my home "Yankee Notion Farm" for many years, in memory of a wonderful place in a remote town in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont where I spent every summer vacation of my life while growing up. It was a hand-made log cabin built in the 1930's by a farmer friend of the family's as a "camp". No electricity, gravity-fed spring water, an outhouse, a woodstove and a fireplace, in the middle of nowhere....a magical place where this "Jersey girl" and her family could live a simpler life for a few weeks every year. It had a deep effect on me.
I am old enough to remember the first Earth Day back in the 1970's, and am sad to say that it seems the human race seems to learn some things very slowly....the degradation of the environment is scary. Scarier still is the large majority of people who seem not to care, or who live in denial. I know that I, as a resource-consuming American, am part of the problem, and so I am trying to find as many ways possible to be part of the solution. I have joined the quiet but growing urban and suburban homesteading revolution, and am trying to live sustainably and responsibly on my little 1/2 acre homestead! I hope you will join me as I live and learn!