Thursday, November 10, 2011

The chickens are finally earning their keep around here.  

We got our first brown egg last week -- a broken one.  The next 3, also broken (one of them was even a double-yolker!).  Add some oyster shell to their feed, and put some extra wood shavings in their nest boxes, and..... 

 Voila!!  Our first edible egg!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another reason shake hands with your neighbor

I've been battling a cold for the last week.  Now it is just a lingering, annoying cough, that always seems to strike at the wrong time.  Earlier today, I was at Customer Service at the store when a serious coughing fit came on.  I'm literally handing the woman money and trying so hard not to cough that my eyes are watering.  She looked genuinely worried.  I could barely choke out "thank you". 

I hurried to the bathroom and locked myself in a stall, coughing the whole time.  I was in there about 2 minutes, coughing... waiting... coughing.. thinking to myself I'm going to have to bag the trip and go home.  Then I hear someone outside the door say "Goodness!  Do you need a cough drop?"

Slightly embarassed, and still coughing, I leave the stall, and try to say something that sounds similar to "yes, pelase".  I see the woman with the voice digging in her purse.  She looks up, and I am pleasantly surprised to see that she is my neighbor, Deb, from 2 doors down.  She took 1 cough drop (the best kind apparently, and you can only order them online, she says), and gave me the rest of the package, saying I need it more than her.

I don't know if it's something about the small town, but I run into people I know in Fremont County more than I ever have out of it.  Today I was grateful that the woman who saved my day turned out to be my neighbor :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I went through a minor egg shortage last week, and had to resort to buying a 6 pack of store bought eggs -- still "cage free" (or so they say), but my idea of cage free and their idea of cage free are probably a little bit different.

I've got eggs again, but I had 1 store bought egg still to use.  One of the eggs in this picture is store bought, and the other came from farm chickens.  Bet you can guess which one is the fresh egg.

(ps, I cracked them with the same force.  I cracked 7 more farm fresh eggs after this picture and not-a-one of them broke like the store egg did)

Monday, October 17, 2011

I'm back... and better late than never :)

Well, it goes without saying (but I'm saying it anyway) that I have neglected this blog. Initially, there was always something else to do instead. Then, enough time passed and we had done enough that I didn't know where to start, so, I didn't. But I am here now and going to work on the blogging motivation over the weeks and months ahead. I am a work in progress. Always will be.

We have now lived in Penrose a full year. I think often about how much has changed about our lives since we have been here. I freaked out a little before we moved down here. We were going through the inspection phase, and the worrier in me took over and I was scared. I remember wishing then that I could just see into the future a year and see if we really would be happy here, then I could easily make a decision. Well, here we are, a year later, and I am happy (and relieved) to say that I have no regrets :)

Despite being a REALLY dry year in Penrose, we managed to have a pretty successful garden. In addition to being an extra dry year, it was also an extra buggy year. Squash bugs quickly became my nemesis. Although the flea beetles, cutworms, horn worms, and ants (millions of ants) are not far behind on the list. At least now we have a little help with the bugs.....


We got 6 week old chicks in July from a feed store here in Penrose. 3 of them are Aracaunas -- they lay the pretty easter eggs. The other 3 are Black Sex Links. They are a cross between the Rhode Island Red, and the Barred Rock. When you mix those breeds, the females come out black. They are now 5 months old, and none turned out to be roosters :) Still waiting on that first egg! (this is where we usually joke about them either laying an egg soon, or becoming, well, chicken... hehe). We decided it's better if we don't name the chickens. I just refer to them as gold, brown, grey, black, black, and blacker.

I love having the extra animal life around here. Chickens are more entertaining than you might think they would be. Especially in the mornings when I let them out of the coop and into their run. They run and jump around, flapping their wings and going chest to chest with each other, like they're trying to show who's tougher. I think they're trying to burn off some extra energy from being cooped up all night -- pun intended :) (that joke may never get old).

Chicken stare-down!

Now the garden is winding down. We are still getting tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, and there are still potatoes waiting to be dug out. We also planted some late lettuce and a couple of other cool crops. Next year by this time we hope to have a greenhouse. I want to extend the garden season as long as possible. There is, and I suspect there always will be a project to work on outside, and now we have to use our warm days wisely while we still have them.

Here's a few pictures of our garden progress....

And as of last Friday...

It was our first year in Penrose, and our 2nd ever garden. Kelly and I have both put in a lot of hard work, and it looks and feels to me like it all paid off. I'm pretty proud of both of us for that :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy 2nd day of Summer :)

It's been just about 9 years since I graduated high school (D'Evelyn class of '02!). I'm not really in regular contact with anyone from high school, but I always like seeing people I knew back then who are now doing something I think is awesome.

Like this! This is Steve Mudd doing his cover of One Republic's "Good Life". Very awesome, Steve! (and I'm not a One Republic fan!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hello blog. It's been a bit.

I am loving this Spring weather! Although I could do without all the wind. Everyone keeps saying this is windier than "usual", but we are still waiting for it to calm down and give us (and newly planted tomatoes!) a break.

We have made a lot of progress in the garden. It feels really good to get outside and work in the sun. Vitamin D is doing me some good! I have probably done more hard work in the last month, consistently, than I've ever done. I'm not saying I've been lazy, I just haven't had this kind of hard work to do. It feels really good to see that I can really do it. I've underestimated myself. Also, if you told me 3 years ago that someday my idea of fun work would be shoveling trailer after trailer of composted horse manure, I would have laughed at you.

We have our 7 raised beds dug in and filled with soil. We also have 2 tire "containers", and 1 small book shelf that was turned into a raised bed and filled with onions and garlic (better late on the garlic than never). 5 of the raised beds are completely planted, 4 of them have green stuff sprouting, and 2 have hoophouse frames on them. I like to walk around the garden and examine the beds, checking to see what I have missed.

One of the 4 hops plants we planted has sprouted! It's actually up past that wood block now :)

Last weekend we went hiking around Beaver Creek, here in Fremont County. Daisy had a blast. Turns out she might have some water dog in her after all!

My loves :)

This weekend we are taking off and heading up to our property in Park County. We haven't been up there since last year, and I am looking forward to getting away for a few days. I'm also looking forward to a few naps with the camper window open and fresh breeze blowing in :)

Everyone have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bill Maher anti-pharma rant...

"Someone has to stand up and say that the answer isn't another pill -- the answer is spinach."

Monday, April 18, 2011

A lesson in ants

We have ants in our field. Red ones, and lots of them. Millions of them. Crawling around in enormous (at least to me) ant hills. I've been watching them, sometimes taking a shovel to them and creating mass ant hysteria. But they always rebuild. I don't like the ants. They don't look like they do anything useful to me, so I got on the Google this morning to learn how to get rid of them. I went to the CSU Extension website, which I should add is enormously helpful to people with small acreage. Instead of learning how to rid myself of ants, I found this little tidbit:

Q. What is the best way to get rid of large ant piles in a pasture?

A. The piles are probably from harvester ants, which play a critical role in recycling nutrients in rangeland ecosystems. They play a role in turning over the soils and allowing enhanced infiltration of water, so they should not be eliminated. And even if they were treated for control, they would probably return.

Another insect I am just going to have to learn to live and work with :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Our Big Day!!

Our first irrigation day, I mean.

It was yesterday. Although we didn't have a lot of notice. We noticed our neighbors getting water Wednesday, but hadn't heard anything from Don Ditchrider (that's what I have him in my phone as) about when it was going to be our turn. So I call him and get the ol' "oh I was just going to call you..." Oooookay. A little more notice would have been nice so that Kelly could take the day off and stomp around in the mud with me, but now we know for next time.

We opened our gate in the water box at 8 in the AM. 3 shares means 24 hours of water, so our gate has most likely been closed now.

As Kelly put it, directing the water is like herding cats. (If you have ever easily herded a cat, you don't get what I am saying here). Like everything else, this was a learning experience, and I thought it was another fun one. I kind of feel like we have accomplished something. This time last year we were setting up a 5 x 8 foot garden in the backyard of our rental home. Now we live on 5 acres of land with irrigation and room for a HUGE garden.

Spring has arrived, and everything feels like it is coming together nicely :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our first composter... and other happenings around the farm

This past weekend, we built our first composter! Our friend Richard at Green Desert Eco Farm got us started with some extra pallets he had, as well as the name of the place we can get them from. After I picked up some more last Friday, we were ready to build.

I never realized how many uses there are for pallets. And they are perfect for building an easy composter. We decided to build a long composter with 3 bins. We will start filling one side, and move to the next once that one is full. If we fill up those quickly, we can always build single composters, also using pallets. We spent Saturday morning building. It turned out to be a beautiful day, and we have the sunburns to prove it.

Here's what we came up with :)

See? Not too hard, and it doesn't look too bad either. We will still build a removable top section, as well as one for the front. Right off the bat, we threw in a little bit of soil, some leaves I finally raked up, and some hay from the barn (brown stuff). I've been adding more green stuff from the kitchen -- coffee grounds, veggie scraps, etc. (Random side note: you can also compost fingernails, and hair!) I'll keep an eye on it, and wet it and turn it every once in awhile, and before we know it, we'll have our own compost.

Another thing we did this weekend was brew 2 batches of beer. We haven't done as much of it over the last year as we did previously, but we prefer home-brewed to store-bought, so this was long overdue. Our new friend Joe from Westcliffe came over and helped us brew 2 batches -- a Sunshine Wheat clone, and an Amber.

(Daisy helps. It's sanitary.. really)

We should have some tasty homebrew by the time we can sit outside and enjoy it :)

It's becoming more and more apparent around here that Spring is just around the corner. Huge patches of green grass around Penrose seem to be growing every day. And we saw quite a few honey bees this weekend. (Another random note.. bees come out when it is 50 degrees outside. Just learned that one, too). Another sign it's getting warmer -- the bugs are coming out. Or should I say, into my house.

We decided to postpone chickens slightly. First, we are going to focus on the garden, which is really the reason for it all. Our next step is the raised beds. Once we have those built, we can build our coop. It will only be a few weeks extra before we get our chicks, though. I have them picked out :)

I recently, (as in, this morning), found out about an organization called
The Greenhorns. It is a non-profit organization made up of young farmers with a mission to recruit and support other young farmers.

Watch the trailer for their documentary film, which is now in post-production.

One of the young farmers, Amy Courtney, says "I'm doing the best that I can to live honestly. I'm not relying on some strange economic structures that have been set up that benefit some and hurt others to make my livelihood. I think that makes me feel just a little bit safer in a world gone mad.”

This is what we are after -- living honestly and purposefully. I want to create a better life for ourselves and our family now, and a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our story

Just when I start to feel like winter is never going to end and I'm going to be stuck inside forever, nature throws in a few beautiful days. They have refreshed me and reminded me that Spring is just around the corner. I'm itching to get started.

For anyone who doesn't know what I have been up to over the last few months, (or may not have gotten the Christmas newsletter... oh, yes, there was a newsletter), I'll give the "short" overview.

Kelly and I moved to Erie, Colorado the summer of 2009. Erie was close enough to Boulder to be able to work there but not have to pay the price to live in Boulder. While living there, we got a better taste of what fresh, local, organic food is like. We also started eating healthy, and drinking a lot of juice. I mean fresh juice. (Fresh juice gets in your blood stream as fast as alcohol!) With just changing our diets, drinking juice, and cutting out crappy, processed food, we both noticed a difference in how we felt. For the first time, people would tell me I was healthy, and I'd take it as a true compliment.

In the Summer of 2010, we started our first garden.

(Daisy helps too)

It was small, but just what we needed to get started. From that little garden, we learned a lot. Among other things, I learned that zucchini is not a container plant (neither are cukes). If you plant garlic and onion bulbs too late, they are basically just preserved underground. I learned that grasshoppers like to bask in the sun on a good tomato, and I also learned that wasp stings hurt.

By the time our garden was in full swing, we knew we wanted to garden on a larger scale -- full time, and indefinitely. Like a real farm. With a lot of searching, and even more positive thinking, we happened to find what we now call our home.

We found 5 acres in Penrose, Colorado. We have been here for about 4, almost 5 months, although it feels like that has gone by fast. Our house was a foreclosure, and we are still working on the inside. We were lucky it was in pretty good shape -- nothing a little paint can't fix. Our 5 acres has the potential to do anything we want it to.

We plan on having chickens first (fingers crossed we are ready to order chicks in 1 month). In the future, we will have goats. Some of the other possibilities we like are llamas, pigs, and maybe even a mini dairy cow.

And the big reason we are here in the first place, we will have a very large organic garden. Being in the sun and working in the dirt is like the best kind of therapy. I can't wait to get started.

So that is how we ended up here in Penrose. It is a little strange to, at 27, be living in a house that I have no intentions of moving out of, but it is also pretty exciting. I don't know what we have in store for us, but I have a vision of us in 20 years, sitting outside, relaxing on the porch, and looking out at everything we have done with our little slice of earth, and feeling very accomplished, and very happy with what we have done :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I love the way a good quote can grab you. I love hearing or reading something like that and feeling like, hey, I can relate.

Here's one that grabbed me today :)

It's a quote from "Juno". (If you haven't seen this movie, you should. It's a good one).

"Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with."

(Mac MacGuff)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Have you met Daisy?

If you haven't, I highly recommend you do. Really, she'll win you over too.

She's a 4 (almost 5) year old lab mix. We think there is some Pit Bull in there. I, personally, think there is also a human hiding in there.

Daisy likes sleeping, sniffing, rolling in dirt, napping, chasing flies, half-chewed bones, the perfect sunny spot to lay in, and of course, her awesome parents.

Her dislikes include squirrels, the vacuum, and guarding the house.

You'll be seeing a lot of her here. She's my shadow all day long. And she's a member of our family :)