Monday, December 30, 2013

The Straw Bale And It's Many Uses

Mighty straw bales...utilized in almost all of our projects, they are especially valuable for use with the livestock, in the garden, and for creative endeavors like building.  The straw bale is an essential reusable staple on our homestead.   Check out some of the ways we reuse this free available resource.

Cold Frame/Mini Greenhouse
Simply made from bales and old windows, this greenhouse fits about twenty wooden seedflats.

Natural Building

making cob with clay, straw, sand, and water
 Animal Bedding 

 Compost Material

layers of  green grass, horse manure, straw and a variety of compostable scraps
 from around the farm make a nice hot pile
Growing Mushrooms

 Mulching Garden Beds

potatoes do well mulched heavily with straw
photo by Lori Eanes
Children's Archery Range

Another good idea: Straw Bale Compost Bins

For the small scale farmer and urban homesteader the possibilities are endless.  You can find bales for sale at your local race track, feed stores and often free on craigslist.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

More Magic Wool

Our annual winter wool class last weekend seemed to be a success. We had fun learning some basic felting techniques such as needle felting and making wet felted soaps.  Both were a hit with the children who did not want to stop once class was over.  The color combinations were beautiful!  Hot spicy chai, lentil soup with cheddar muffins, and gluten free brownies topped off our afternoon.  Working with wool is a perfect way to enjoy a cold, blustery day.

Resources for felting supplies:
-Paper Scissors Stone: 
-Any foam mattress store (for less expensive needle felting boards)
-Local artisan yarn stores: more expensive but usually have unique materials and colors

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Urban Farming Book Give Away

Hey folks, this is our first give away!  We have three copies of Backyard Roots waiting to be mailed out.  If you have not yet seen it, this beautiful compilation by Lori Eanes is a photographic essay of thirty-five urban farms along the west coast ranging from the SF Bay area to Vancouver.  The pictures are stunning and the stories delightful.  All you have to do is leave a comment and we will randomly pick three winners.  Whether you want this book to give as a holiday gift or for your own coffee table, you will love it!  Check out Lori's blog for info and interviews with more local urban farmers.  The give away will close Friday December 6th at 5pm.  Below are some pics from the book (surprise we are in there!)
*photos by Lori Eanes

Monday, December 2, 2013

Real Men Make Cheese

You can only imagine what's been going on late nights around here. After the kidos are in bed its time to make cheddar-cheddar and more cheddar.  We have finally been breaking open some of the first hard cheese we made after Ginger calved back in May when we were inundated with milk.  The cheese is sharp and creamy, each one tasting totally different. One or two tasting not-so-edible but several that have been devoured with soup and crackers or warm bread. Making hard cheese definitely has a learning curve and since I have a shorter attention span, hubby seems to be the cheese scientist in our kitchen.  It is super fun to have different interests within the same overall genre of homesteading/farming.  We can enjoy and benefit from each others hobbies without having to do everything ourselves. There has been talk of creating a cheese cave for properly aging all this hard cheese.  But for now it is stored at the bottom of the fridge.  I have visions of shelves of yellow cheese rounds dancing in my head.  Who knows what 2014 will hold....