Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting things together

I finally sorted my seeds and found out that I have no less than 6 varieties/packets of beets, 3 of the same variety packets of spinach, 3 each of pea types and green bean types....what I'm saying here is "Hi, my name is Melody and I am a seed addict".  Kinda feeling like a hoarder about now.  A hoarder who will have a really awesome, yummy garden this year.
The house is still in the works.  We have an inspection coming up on Wednesday that will make or break the deal (not worried though).  If they find anything major we can walk from it.  Fortunately my husband and a friend who happens to be a contractor had already looked at the house inside and out (except the roof) and determined it looked pretty good AND there was an inspection from two years ago that a bunch of things were brought up and fixed at that time.
We are still undecided if we are selling our 9 acre lot.  On the one hand, its a great lot for growing hay, animal feeds and grains.  We could fatten up grazing animals over there if we added some fencing and there is a lot of wild fruits along the perimeter that are pretty awesome.  On the other hand though, its a monthly payment that doesn't really earn its keep now.  The money we pay into that lot every month could go a long way into the new house and its acreage.  Also the upkeep of the lot is a pretty decent task all by itself.  We had been relying on a local guy to cut the hay but if you've been keeping up with my blog you already know that so far that hasn't been really working out.  So if we keep it, we could really use to buy a tractor and hay cutting equipment.  More $$.
If we keep it then we really need to earn money off of it.  Enough to offset at least some of its costs.  Steers could pretty easily do that as the demand for grassfed beef is pretty good, we'd need to purchase though the livestock, fencing, vet bills and processor fees.  A CSA could do it pretty well too, but for that option we really do need a tractor.  An orchard could work, but there are a lot of apple orchards around here. Pastured poultry, maybe, but I'm concerned that we'd have trouble keeping them safe from predators when we aren't right there for them.
Sorry guys, I get to thinking on paper sometimes with this blog and just start rambling on.  I'll keep you posted as things get interesting.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Accepted Offer!

I'll keep this short since this is all just getting started but we have an accepted offer for a house! It's all pretty exciting and there is a lot to get done between now and closing so here we go.

Monday, January 24, 2011

counter offer

Their counter offer was terrible.  They barely left their original price and are refusing to make any of our requested repairs.  Mind you we haven't had the place inspected yet so there might be more needed to the place than what we requested.  I have a feeling that this may end up being a dead end.  We have a price in our heads that sounds just right for this house and they are still 10k above that price in their counter offer.  We plan to counter back but I don't think they will like it.

Tomorrow I go and look at another house, one that is in the running right up with the one we bid on.  Its in the next county....about a 1400 sq ft log cabin on 8+ acres w/ a barn.  I've heard from my husband that its a tad small but we should be able to work it out.  Its out in the middle of nowhere so I don't suspect anyone would have a problem if we added on to it in the future.  (One of the things I won't miss from our old cookie cutter, vinyl village home we used to live in...the one with a restrictive HOA)

My seed order arrived in the mail today and I'm feeling so charged for this spring's garden.  I need to start a few seeds soon for cold weather crops and artichokes but we have no place to set up the mini-greenhouse.  We really need to find a place soon!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Offer in

We put an offer in on a house just outside of town here.  Its a nice big house with 5 acres, a barn, pastures, hayfield...its really just lovely.  We offered 85% of what they are asking for so come Monday we'll get an idea on if they are interested in negotiating.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boston beans, homemade dishwasher powder and laundry soaps

pressure cooking on my barely adequate stove
I've been trying to convert some of the things I used to take for granted into things I make homemade.  A year or so ago we gave up grocery store canned goods (metal cans) because of BPA.  As a result, simple easy lunches like beanie weanies (baked beans and hot dogs) had been virtually removed from our diet.  I was getting pretty good at using the pressure cooker to provide cooked beans for us but still that requires enough foresight to get the beans out and soak them, sprout get the idea.  Last week though is the beginning of the end of that inconvenience!  I canned my first batch of Boston baked beans!  I know real exciting but we were missing having that as a food option.  I used the recipe from Jackie Clay's Growing and Canning Your Own Food  which I'd recommend if you want to take canning to a level beyond just single ingredient fruits and veggies.  If you don't, the classic Ball Book of Canning is just right for just about everything else.  I don't think I can just post the recipe but it was basically navy beans, brown sugar, molasses, onion, mustard and bacon- which the instructions didn't say to cook and drain the bacon but I think next time I will since there is a LOT of grease in those beans.  They are super tasty though!  I think this is the start of some serious bean canning because that will seriously make dinner time easier to do on the fly.

the turkey roaster was the only pot big enough to cook them in

finished jars (after a few were given away)
A few other items I now DIY are dishwasher and laundry soaps.  I found the recipes on a website (I think e-how) but since I've adjusted it a bit I'll just post mine.  I was using those cascade complete packets with lemishine on the side but I'm not missing the cascade at all.  I can't seem to get away from lemishine though.  That stuff just rocks!  If TEOTWAWKI happens I'll have to try to get case loads of the stuff....oh wait, I won't have electricity most likely so nevermind.  I need a good liquid dishwashing soap recipe if anyone has one.

Dishwasher Machine powder

1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup kosher or canning salt (I use canning salt...its what I have on hand)
1/2 cup lemishine or citric acid

(after breaking up the borax clumps) dump all ingredients into a wide mouth quart jar.  apply lid and shake.  Use about 1TBS per load.  If you have cruddy water like mine you'll need to add a 1/2 TBS of lemishine in the prewash pocket. 

My laundry soap is just as easy...can't remember where I found this one but its really close to the way I found it.  Its gets even my kid's nasty stinky cloth diapers clean so I feel pretty good about it.

Basic dry laundry soap

1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1/2 cup kosher or canning salt (can you tell I have bad water?)
1 bar of Fels naptha shaved

I take the ingredients and put in the powder-y stuff first into my blender.  I put the shavings on top and pulse until I get a nice fine consistancy.  I use about a heaping TBS in each large washload.  Its best to dissolve this stuff in hot water first but I'm usually too lazy and it does just fine.   I would imagine you can substitute the Fels Naptha but I kind of like the smell.  We were formerly using Country Save and it had absolutely no smell so a little scent is nice.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

brrrr! cold day for looking at houses!

We are still house shopping.  Its really hit and miss, a lot of homes overpriced for this economy and even more that need more work than would be sensible for us with a toddler roaming about.  We're looking pretty much anything within an hour of Indianapolis that has greater than 4 acres.  Its a smaller list of homes than I would have anticipated. 

Our realtor is also sending out letters and making phone calls to the houses that border our lot and see if anyone has been considering selling.  To us, that sounds like a pretty good option too.

We are putting in a poultry order this weekend for shipment in April.  If we are still in this apartment by then it should make life REALLY interesting; keeping chicks in a small apartment isn't my favorite idea but fortunately its only until we get away from frost and they gain some feathers to keep them warm or until we get a place where we have room.  So far the order looks like it will be 25 meat chickens (a mixed bag of heavy breeds), 10 layers (2 americanas, 2 blue andulusians, 6 buff orphingtons), 2 geese, 7 ducks and 7 turkeys - all whatever breed they give us.  Should make an interesting brood!  I'm following the advice of Joel Salatin to get only as many birds as you can eat in a year on your first bunch being as we are new at this.  I'm really hoping we get a decent breeding set of chickens, turkeys and ducks out of the deal so we can either let them restock us next spring instead of placing another order. 

I'm still working on my seed inventory.  I think I've got most of the garden covered though.  I'm going to try picking up some organic sweet potatoes and starting my own slips this year.  I completely forgot to grow them last year and they will be a brand new experience for us.  I kept all my smalls from my regular (and by regular I of course mean Cranberry reds, All Blues, Yukon golds and Russett burbanks) to plant this year and I'm really hoping they'll be good by time planting comes 'round.  I think I found a use for all that hay that was ruined last mulch!  Surely we can use it for mulch and maybe it will breakdown and help improve our garden soil.