Skip Fancy, Serve the Marry Maddi at Your Wedding, or Your TV Binge Night


Casey is Hub's little brother.  We sure do love that kid! Well, he is not really a kid, he is actually a grown man who fights fires and loves sweet Maddi, his new bride!  Casey and Maddi's southern barn style wedding was last month. It was adorbs, like them, and the reception was incredibly sweet, in more ways than one! 
  
Let me let you in on a little secret.

Cucamelons Are a Fall Fruit



I caved to the peer pressure and got on the cucamelon wagon last Spring.  I wanted a living tee-pee and used the cucamelon vine to create one.  It turned out awesome! I loved it!  You can see and read about it here. 

As I said in the post about pickle pops, the baby cucumbers that look like baby watermelon were quite tasty as refrigerator pickles and a tangy little novel gift for friends, but I was not totally sold on the plant.

Garden Friend or Foe: Japanese Blue Wing Wasp


In organic gardening knowing your friends and foes is essential.  It was the last day of August yesterday and my garden friends are quickly disappearing along with the beautiful foliage and blooms.  But on one side of my deck I grow some pretty robust chive that blooms late in the year. That is where I found an entire swarm of big, blueish-black winged waspish flies. The walkway off my deck to the barn is small and the chives hang over a bit with the zinnias so needless to say I was a bit nervous to just plow through with no alarm to how bad the sting could possibly be from one of these things. So I kept my distance, but  as usual, I got as close as I could without alarming anyone and started snapping. Next steps were as I am sure you guessed. Good ole Google!  So what are these fellow, friends or foes? 

FREIND! - The JAPANESE BLUE WING WASP  
Here is a short video of how many wasp were on my chives. 


Boy, oh boy do we ever have an abundance of wasp species around here.  They make me nervous because I do not fare well from stings, but they are such great pollinators I just keep my distance and let by-gones be by-gones over that. And turns out, these beauties are very docile. But don't go grabbing them because the female will sting if you try to get all up in her business.  But won't we all? 
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MORE GOOD FACTS ABOUT THE JAPANESE BLUE WING:
  • Scientific name: scolia dubia (I never know why)
  • Late season pollinator. 
  • Not a nester. Busy collecting nectar by day and hang out in bushes and sleeps in the grass at night. 
  • AKA: Digger Wasp as they dig for larger meals
  • Predator of beetles, especially the Japanese beetle larvae. 
That predator of beetles thing is all I need to know! I now have a grub worm predator on my little urban farmish, and that makes me very happy! Those Japanese beetles...ugh.

And then the next morning... 
You know that part in the facts list about these guys sleeping in the grass?  Looks like Dude laid out all night and didn't make it home?  They really should've limited his bar tab! haha


Flip on Y'all!



Asparagus Mushroom Quiche:

For like, half of my life I baked these egg pies and felt so fancy until I realized "keesh" is actually spelled quiche. Hunny, I am just a small town southern gal who never had "keesh" at my momma's table.  Momma's eggs were fried and her pie crust full of sugar!  Sometimes you just have to resort to phonetics, right? Geez.  Oh well, it may have been spelled wrong on my recipe card, but that didn't change the fact that there was never a morsel of my fancy keeshes left on a plate!

Pop Pickles: Cucamelon Refrigerator Pickles


For a couple of years now I have seen these little mini-watermelon cucumbers that have quickly become all the rage for urban gardeners. The seed packet labeled them as mouse melons but I think the true name for them is Mexican Sour Gherkins. Either way, I had no idea really what they are or how they taste. So, I got on the wagon and grew a patch in my backyard.  I’ve been wanting to grow a tee-pee from some sort of vine, so it sounded like a good idea to try my tee-pee using these seeds.

Our Niche In Modern Day Homesteading: You Can Do It Too

I am an urban farm girl.  That just means that I grow my food, and keep my chickens inside the city limits.  There is nothing at all wrong with that! In fact, it has a lot of benefits.  Let me quantify tho; my chickens are a huge flock of four after Ruby died, and my bountiful organic garden is organized and edged in 15 very "neighborhood-like" raised beds, mainly because I just like it that way, but also because there is no point in becoming the neighborhood eye-sore.  Daddy always said, "anything worth doing, is worth doing right", and I agree.  So we work a bit harder to keep the gardens right. 

On less than an acre, we utilize about half of our culde-de-sac yard for grow beds, the chicken coop, rabbit hutch and the 10x15 barn that sits a whopping nine foot from the corner of our house.  I plan to keep growing.  We don't have fruit bearing trees, and we need those, so that's not far in the future of this little place.  Who knows, if we live here many more years we will probably end up with a fence, but for now that is not in our budget.  Budget is a meaningful word here. We do not fear it. It is our friend and helps us to keep our little urban farm growing at a manageable pace. 

We did not set out to eventually grow, harvest and hunt two thirds of our food.  There were a few determining factors, but mostly we started out just like the other middle class Americans that want to tone down the materialism, get off  the fast-to-death foods, and on to Mother Earth as she was created to be enjoyed.  There is so much on our planet to embrace.  Why spend your entire life chasing something God did not create? Yes, the dollar is necessary but it is not to be worshiped. So we stopped, plain and simple. That is when our time here got great! 

My point is not to boast or promote our life choices as if they are more, or better than all the others. It is just to say it is better for us, and if by chance you are also contemplating living smaller and cleaner, free of being controlled by paying for things you don't need and sometimes don't even want, then by all means, start where you are, and go for it!  

Like us, you can do it on any scale.  We are self employed photographers/printers.  We love how we make our living, and it easily affords us our low key lifestyle of growing and preserving food. Hunting venison and cutting wood for winter fires. But it hasn't always been this way. We gave up careers in nuclear power and corporate America to pursue our dream of dreaming together in the same bed each night. Nuclear power took Jay from state to state earning a sweet salary, and the world of corporate put me exactly where I am least happy, indoors and in heels.  But hey, if jingle-jangle could make you happy, we would have been ecstatic because extra cash was not a problem! 

We did not arrive at giving up both of our careers quickly nor easily.  We were a bit nervous, and knew it would take a lot of work on the front end getting out of debt and structuring our way of doing things differently. I wasn't sure how all that was going to work out since I am not very structured by nature myself, but luckily Jay is.  What I did know was we love each other more than we loved our stuff and a heck of a lot more than we loved being away from one another to pay for it.  So, in stages we began our journey to arrive at where we are today.  And what a beautiful pilgrimage it has been. Jay and I are free from worry of having to be apart and I don't have to dread my commute to the office. Best of all, there's no pondering of where we are going store all the boxed non-foods (ie: fishy crackers, that fake block cheese, sugar cereals) and cases and cases of diet beverages that we drink.  Okay, truth: I could go for a diet coke right now, but I'll be good and stick with this cucumber and pineapple water. Man, it truly is way better, so why do I still crave the other stuff? I know why.  We can talk about that another day. 

As everyone's does, our scale of meeting goals ebbs and flows.   We have niched out a plan that for typically works for us, but is ever changing.   

In 2010 I had a 4x8 foot garden bed, a compost tumbler, and YouTube.  I quickly realized that almost anything you question about organic anything and homesteading how-to's can be googled. Now I am trying to figure out how to find the time to squeeze my own YouTube channel into my day so I can help promote the benefits of growing food over grocery stores and memories over money. In just a few short years we arrived at growing and hunting more food than we buy, appreciating the clover that grows with the burmuda in our yard rather than spray it with carcinogens, and almost every Spring morning you will find me plucking beetles and worms from vegetable seedlings and tossing them to the chickens rather use pesticide that will quickly kill the insects and me. We work hard for our food, we give to others when we see the need or have a surplus, and we play on trails and creeks for fun.  Our children are our life and we have time for them now that the work commute is so short!  We are thankful for our little corner of the cul-de-sac to continue to learn all we can about homesteading.  We are eager to implement new ideas on this tiny urban almost farm.  

In hindsight we gave up nothing to be here.  Being where we are is exactly where I was made to be, in my farm boots. I guess you can say we are officially modern day homesteaders. And we are happy. 

Go ahead... give it a try! 

 

A few pics of our little urban homestead. 
SPRING GARDEN BEDS. THE TOMATOES ARE OUT IN THIS PICTURE BUT NOT TALL YET. SPRING IS MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR. THIS IS WHY.
THE SPOILED ROTTEN NENS. THEY LIVE ON THE KITCHEN WINDO SIDE OF THE HOUSE.  I CAN WATCH THEM AND CAN TOMATOES ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  THEY ARE THE REASON WE ENJOY OUR BREAKFAST.
Learn more about chicken keeping here.
MY KITCHEN TABLE DURING HARVEST ALMOST THE ENTIRE SEASON.  HUBS IS BUILDING NEW INSIDE STORAGE SO THIS BEAUTIFUL SIGHT WILL SOON BE SHINING FROM A NEW CORNER.
There are Black Krim tomatoes on that table. They are our favorite variety. Read more about black krims here


A BUSY SPOT AROUND HERE.  HUBS BUILT THE WORK STATION AND I USE IT, A LOT!
I grow potatoes every year. The potato flea beetle is a monster in the south.  Here is a great DIY organic pesticide that I used for two years in a row. This year we had very few of the beetle. I hope it is because I got them with Wicked Bug Brew. Want the recipe? Get it here.
HAZEL'S DIGS. SHE IS AN IMPORTANT PART TO WHY OUR VEGGIES ARE SO BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY. WE USE ORGANIC FERTILIZER. HAZEL MAKES IT.

Read more about Hazel here. 
BACK VIEW OF OUR HOUSE. CAN YOU SEE ALL THAT TERRIBLE CLOVER THAT NEEDS TO BE POISONED? IT IS THERE AND BEAUTIFULLY GREEN...AND ALIVE...LIKE ME.  ALSO, I HAVE NOTICED HOW COOL AND SOFT UNDER YOUR BARE FEET CLOVER IS.  IF IT WEREN'T A WEED IN MY YARD I THINK I WOULD BE LOOKING TO GROW IT! 
MY OFFICE MOST OF THE YEAR. I AM SO THANKFUL MY VIEW IS NOW GREEN INSTEAD OF THAT MONOTONE SILVERY GREY OF THE CITY IN MY WINDOW ON THE 14TH FLOOR.  OH, AND THAT STONE PATH IS MY COMMUTE. HAHA










Easy Smoothie Concoction: Soaked Oats & Berries



I have read that soaked oats are better for you than cooked oats because of something called resistant starches, which are the starches hidden in food fiber that actually resist digestion in the small intestine. The article I read that gave this most information about resistant starches and how they work basically explained how the large intestine acts as a "fermenting station" for food so that the small intestines can continue to break the food down further to gain nutrients for the body. I'll link the article by "Today's Dietician" here. It's very interesting, but this is just a recipe that I am sharing, so you jump over to Today's Dietician to read more about it after saving this recipe.
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