DIY, Food, Homesteading

Coming Right Up: Sprouts

IMG_3236Before I moved out to the country, my ability to grow my own food was fairly limited. I had potted herbs galore, but past that, veggies weren’t really an option. One food I learned to grow at home was alfalfa sprouts. In fact, now that we’re starting our little farm, we have these on hand all the time!  It only takes a matter of days, it’s simple and incredibly delicious. All you need is a mason jar, sprout seeds, and a piece of cloth, fine mesh, or one of the fancy lids that I used. (I got my lid at Natural Gardener in Austin, TX).

A couple notes before getting started: I highly recommend you purchase USDA Certified Organic Seeds. A lot of seeds are treated with chemicals and you do not want to ingest them. Also, if you’re a sprout fanatic, maybe get two jars going and stagger them so you have fresh sprouts every couple of days.

IMG_3234Sprouting Sprouts

    1. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons of seeds into the jar
    2. Fill the jar with water until the seeds are suspended and covered an inch or two
    3. Let them soak 8-10 hours
    4. Drain/strain the water out of the jar
    5. Rinse the seeds and give them a swirl then drain again
    6. Leave the jar tilted upside down so that the water can drain out the jar (Leave a paper towel underneath or, what I do, is leave it on my dish mat to drain)
    7. Rinse and drain twice a day (AM and PM) for roughly 3 days or until sprouts are full-grown
    8. When the sprouts are ready, remove from container and rinse thoroughly to remove seed hulls
    9. Store in a closed container in the fridge for several days.

These are great in salads, sandwiches, and tacos! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Let me know how it goes… or in this case, grows!

 

 

Before & After, DIY, Homesteading, Updates

July Homestead Update

Can you believe we’re already through the first week of July?! With all the craziness in the world, it seems the days are flying by. To be honest, we are certainly keeping ourselves busy here at the Homestead. I wanted to give a quick update as many of you have expressed interest!

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Gardens

Our first bed is finally bearing fruit and veggies. We’ve enjoyed bell peppers, serranos, yellow tomatoes, and sweet potato greens. The rescue tomatoes we saved from Lowe’s are finally established and are now growing. We’ve built a third bed and have planted kale, cucumbers, acorn squash, radishes, and red onion. Our hanging garden is making huge progress, the sprouts are inching higher!

ChickensIMG_4298

Our five girls have been introduced to their lay boxes and we are hoping for farm fresh eggs next month! Earlier this week, we placed an order from a local hatchery for ten more baby chicks. We spent days researching and picked ten that are unique, beautiful, and will give us eggs just as diverse as their feathers. Stay tuned for cream-colored eggs, blue, green, and even red!

Aquaponics

Last week, we stumbled across a 250-gallon water tank which we will be setting up for an aquaponics system. We are looking forward to having fresh fish and healthy greens.

IMG_4300Worm Farm

One of the key ingredients to a functioning farm is healthy dirt. We’ve been trucking in dirt and compost to build our beds, but after a while it won’t be sustainable. Our compost bins are collecting kitchen scraps, chicken droppings, and mixed with worms, we’ll be making our own dirt in no time… ok, six months or so.

Thank you so much to everyone for your support and excitement during this process. All I can say right now in regards to all of this is, “Dreams really do come true.”

Garden, Homesteading, Updates

Meet My Babies

I would like to take the time to formally introduce you to my new babies. My chicken babies, that is. Three weeks ago, ten little chicks from the New Braunfels Feed Supply Store made their way back to the homestead. The line of people at the store was out the front door at 7:30 AM. I guess Texans want the chicks!

The first thing everyone asks is, “Are they for eggs or eating?” These girls are for their eggs, just their eggs. In fact, we strategically picked the breeds for their laying ability.

  • Red Sex Links
  • Gold Sex Links
  • Buff Orpingtons
  • Black Sex Links
  • Polish Crested

Ok, the Polish Gal is more for show with her feather tufted cap, but the others are going to be good layers.

When we first brought the girls home, they were little balls of downy fluff. Three and a half weeks in, their feathers are pushing through, they are getting gangly and awkward, just like a teenager.  Their personalities are evolving and their curiosity is exciting. I’ve never raised chickens from just two days old and this is proving to be a learning experience. Forming a bond with them has been quite rewarding as well. While you may not think a little chicken can bond with a human, they certainly know who we are. Rosie always runs to my hand first and Vicky always to her daddy.

This is just the beginning of our chicken story and I’m looking forward to sharing more of our journey as we learn, raise, and collect eggs from our girls.

Garden, Story, Updates

Mother Earth News Recap

Good morning, happy Monday! I hope y’all had a wonderful weekend.  I’m slowly on the mend, just feeling really running down, but at least my cough has subsided.  As I’m coming back around to feeling better, I realized I hadn’t shared too much about the Mother Earth News Conference that I was so excited about.

While Belton isn’t exactly a the thriving metropolis that you dream about spending a weekend away in, it sure had it’s gems. Saturday morning before the conference, we discovered a charming little coffee shop, Arusha Coffee, where we spent the bulk of time caffeinating when not at the conference.  Ample time was also spent day dreaming about future homestead plans, the idea for another new book, and more.

I digress…. the conference though was fun and educational.  Not all the speakers were as captivating as others, here are the highlights:

Texas Food Laws – there has been a major update on some of the Texas Cottage Laws for food makers like myself and I am happy to announce that I will be able to start selling some of my fermented goodies very soon.

Homestead Air B&B – while I don’t have a homestead geared up for a bed and breakfast, it’s nice to know that there are easy options out there when I am ready to go.

Other workshops and lectures I attended were Ladies in Homesteading, Growing Mushrooms, Homesteading Laws in Texas, Gardening in Small Spaces, and Companion Gardening, just to name a few. I’m looking forward to next years conference already!

Canning, Uncategorized

Cool as a Cuke

It’s Summer.  It’s hot and some of my favorite vegetables are in season: okra, shishito peppers, and tomatoes.  Watermelon (yes, I realize this is a fruit) and cucumbers are runners up and with cucumbers means PICKLES!

I’ve been waiting since January, when I finished my last jar of bread and butter pickles, for cucumbers to make their come back.  I made sure to get some at the HOPE Farmer’s Market from Johnson’s Backyard Garden this weekend.

I spent Sunday afternoon slicing, packing, and brining these crisp cucumbers.  I still use the recipe Grandmother, Nettie, gave me.  It’s still on the same piece of paper she typed it up on her typewriter eight years ago.  My Grandmother passed away a few years ago and my family is delighted that her recipe was passed on.

That being said…

Austinites! I will be selling these pints of pickles at the HOPE Farmer’s Market this Sunday.  Swing by and get you some!  They’re just like Nettie used to make!

 

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Book of the Month, Garden

Book of the Month 2

IMG_1905  While I have been relatively quiet on the blog front, I have several projects brewing.  I have also turned into a little bit of an introvert since the last few weeks in Austin, the weather is slowly morphing into that of Seattle.  Grey, cold, and rainy.  I don’t mind the grey if it’s warmer, I don’t mind the cold if it’s sunny, but it seems like it has been an eternity since the sun has warmed my skin.  That being said, it has been perfect “curl up with a book” weather and I am glad to announce that I have completed my second book of 2015.

 

February’s Book: Grow the Good Life by Michelle Owens

My brother gave me this book a couple of years ago.  Itching for Spring and the chance to play in the dirt, I figured this little gem would be great inspiration for my next plant project.  I’ve always loved growing food and flowers.  Ten years ago worked on a small farm called Paisley’s Farm & Greenhouse.     To this day, it is still the best job I have ever had.  I never recall a day I didn’t want to get out of bed and go to work.  If I wasn’t at the Paisleys, I was bringing home the sickly looking IMG_1893plants to my dads farm to nurse them back to health. Rain or shine, I was outside, playing in the dirt, repotting perennials, etc.  What I would give to be able to have that again?!

I have always known gardening was a wonderful thing, but Owens book gave some very interesting insight as to why it is so important and why as a society we have moved away and back towards gardening. I must say I am completely envious of Owens given description of her house and her garden bursting with colors, vegetables, and greenery, especially since I live in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment that has a nonexistent balcony.  I make do with the walkway space and have a small collection of potted plants and window boxes.  Knock on wood, no one has yet to complain about my taking up of valuable walkway real estate.

That being said, today I finally breathed some life back into my little garden. The cold had done a number on a few of my fragile friends and I knew that planting some spring flowers would lift my spirits.  How could it not?  Digging in the soil, the bright colors of the blooms, and the hope for sun…

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