May Flowers

We’ve been doing quite a bit of work on the homestead over the past few weeks.

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Our bees were delivered! We set them up in our hive with some sugar water and left them alone for a couple of days. When we went to check on them, we saw that the queen was dead. We put a few feelers out there and found someone that had a spare queen that only lived 2.5 hours away from us. It was a bit of a drive, but we knew if we didn’t requeen the hive ASAP all of our bees would die. It’s been 2 weeks since we picked up the new queen, and everything seems like it’s going great. We’re going to check on them again in late May.

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The garden is coming along. It’s very hard to tell in this picture, but there are some things starting to pop up. Our potato plants all look great. We’ve also got two sections of salad greens that should be making their way onto our dinner plates within the next couple of weeks. I’m going to put our tomato plants in the ground tomorrow. I’m also going to put our second batch of succession carrots in the ground. We spent about $250 on seeds, so I’ll be very happy if we can get at least 250lbs of produce.

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The chickens are laying an average of 19 eggs a day. We currently have 14 dozen eggs in the fridge. We still have 23 hens and 1 rooster. We’re going to get chicks at some point this year. I don’t want to raise them inside, so I’m trying to trick a hen into going broody. I haven’t been successful yet.

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When we end up with too many eggs, we just start letting the word out that we have extra for sale, and we almost always sell them all within a day. People love fresh, free range, happy chicken eggs. I always have to put a dozen back for me so I can make homemade egg noodles. Here’s a test batch of spaghetti drying.

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This test batch of spaghetti was delicious. We used a recipe that I found in my grandma’s recipe box.

I saw one of the craziest things for sale at Atwoods a couple of weeks ago.

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It’s two half pint mason jars taped together. The mason jars had holes in the lid. They were labeled “Redneck Salt and Pepper Shakers.” It was highly amusing to me, since they were right next to a box full of mason jars that were $1 each.

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Since we’ve been spending so much time outside, we’ve been able to enjoy the gorgeous surprise irises that decided to pop up by our gate.

I’ll try to be better about posting more often. Our internet here is mediocre at best, so I have to try to download pictures one at a time throughout the week. The internet company is going to be replacing our tower soon, so hopefully I will be able to post more regularly after that.

Happy Homesteading!

Aldi’s vs. Bountiful Baskets

We couldn’t make it to our site this morning, so I didn’t order a basket this week. Instead, I decided to head over to my local Aldi’s and buy some produce there, just to see if Bountiful Baskets (BB) is as good of a deal as I feel like it is. (Aldi’s is a sack your own grocery store that primarily sells off brand items. They only take Debit Cards and Cash, so their overhead is very low.)

My Bountiful Basket order usually has 4-5 assorted varieties of fruits and veggies in it, so that is what I aimed for. I also tried to stay close to the $16.50 that BB charges for one basket. This is what I bought.

 

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10 pounds of potates (2.99)

2 pounds of carrots (1.19)

4 tomatoes (.99)

8 red onions (2.49)

2 cucumber (.98)

10 fuji apples (3.59)

1 canteloupe (.99)

8 bananas (1.28)

1 container of green grapes (3.59)

For a total of $18.09

 

If I had gotten the 5lb bag of potatoes instead of the 10lb bag and if I had only gotten 1 cucumber, my total would have been $16.60, just ten cents different from my usual bountiful basket order. If you look back at my Bountiful Baskets posts on this blog, you will see that the amount of food is very similar to a regular bountiful basket order. The food isn’t as fresh, but it was nice to be able to pick out what I needed to restock. It’s also nice to know my fridge isn’t filled with a vegetable that no one particularly likes.

It was an interesting experiment. I think that BB is worth the money, but I’m not sure each basket is worth the $25 – $35 that the company claims.  I do think that some of the bulk add ons are a great deal though, especially if you have a way to preserve excess. And their tortillas are so delicious that I don’t think I will ever eat another store bought tortilla.

The next time I have to skip a week at BB, I’ll hop over to the Dallas Farmer’s Market and see what I can get there for $16.50. (Too bad that gas to get there is an additiona $10. Ugh.)

 

Bountiful Baskets 4/6/2013

In my Bountiful Basket Food Co-Op basket for April 6th, 2013, we got the following:

1 container of strawberries

12 oranges

8 bananas

8 braeburn apples

1 bunch of asparagus

1 head of lettuce

2 bunches of celery

4 zuchinni

1 container of cherry tomatoes

1 box of mushrooms

and about 30 assorted small sweet peppers

 

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I’m most excited about the peppers and least excited about the celery. It’s also nice to see cherry tomatoes. All of the above cost $16.50.

 

The bunnies are doing well. I don’t have a picture this week, but they have gotten much bigger. They are starting to get out of the cute bunny stage. I offically sexed them yesterday, and we have 4 boys and 2 girls. They are all healthy and sweet tempered. I’m fairly confident that I’m keeping one of the girls, but I want to see what their weights are before we make that decision. One of the girls looks like the mom and the other one looks like the dad. It will be interesting to see how they change over the next few weeks.

 

I’m digging out half of my spring garden and planting my summer crops today. We are keeping the newly planted bed of salad greens and my bed of swiss chard.  They are both planted close to the house, so they are well shaded from the sun. I hope we can get another month or two of crops from them before they bolt.

From the main garden, we are keeping the spinach, onions, two different kinds of carrots, and bush snap peas. To that, I’m adding watermelon, assorted peppers, green beans, zuchinni, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, okra, and celery. As soon as I can pull the onions, carrots, and spinach, I’ll be planting cucumbers, pickling cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins. Yummy.

I’ve also got 10-12 strawberry plants. We are getting about 2-3 delicious strawberries a day. Luckily, the birds have left them alone so far.

As for herbs this year, I’m going a little crazy – We’ve got Thyme, Savory Basil, Sweet Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Chocolate Mint, Dill, Rosemary, and Cilantro growing in pots around the yard. I’d like to plant 4-5 times the amount of herbs that I have now, but that’s something that is going to have to wait until after we move.

I know it seems silly to plant such a large garden just a few weeks before we list the house for sale, but gardening has become a part of our lives, and I don’t want to put our lives on hold while we are waiting for someone to put in an offer. Just to be on the safe side though, we are practing our ninja moves, so if someone does buy this house, we can ninja stealth into the backyard and harvest the veggies under the cloak of the moon. (I’m kidding.) (Maybe.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bountiful Baskets 3/30/2013

Here is our bountiful basket order for today, March 30, 2013. We did volunteer this week, and it was nice to be outside this morning.

Here is the picture of the veggies that came in our basket this week.

 

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Here are the fruits

 

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And here is everything together. This cost me a total of $16.50. This week was most certainly worth it. We had 8 bananas, 1 pineapple, 1 bag of oranges, 8 apples, 1 clamshell of strawberries, 1 head of lettuce, 1 bunch of celery, 2 cucumers, 7 tomatoes, 4 zucchini, and 6 baking potatoes.

 

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I also ordered the veggie lovers – Italian themed pack as an additional add on this week. It included a medium sized eggplant, 3 assorted onions, 1 box of mushrooms, garlic, 2 red pepper, 2 green pepper, basil, oregano, and rosemary. It cost an additional $8.00 or $8.50. Last time I made eggplant, it ended up salty and mushy. I hope I can find a good recipe to use this time.

 

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All in all, it was a great basket. I’m glad I got a basket this week, but I’m also glad I didn’t get one last week. My spring garden is giving us so many yummy greens. Here is my haul from yesterday. I put the can opener in the picture so you could get a better idea of the amount of food that is here. It’s enough for all 5 of us to have a huge salad tonight. Best of all – this organic produce was grown less than 50 feet from my door – every bite has a little bit of love in it.

 

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I’m starting to get a nice little collection of water kefir soda. I’ve currently got 4 quarts on their first ferment. It’s so good. It’s better than any soda. I like adding frozen blackberries to the second ferment. It tastes like a fizzy grape juice. I should write a blog post about water kefir one day. Although, if someone walked into my kitchen right now, they might think I had some weird science experiments going on. I should invest in some vials and freak my parents out the next time they come over for supper.

 

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Here is a recent picture of the bunnies. They are 4.5 weeks old. They are currently weaning from their mom. There are only 5 in this picture, since I took the mom out and put her in a different hutch with the 6th kit. The 6th kit was alittle smaller than the others, and she will help give the mom some relief over the next couple of days.  The mom is due in 15 days, and I want her to have 10-14 days to recoup before she has her next litter. Then, she gets a nice long break during the summer.

 

Aren’t the kits getting big? They want to eat all the time. I put them on pasture yesterday for about 20 minutes. Tomorrow, I’ll let them have another 20 minutes in the run. I have to be very careful with these little guys. It’s tempted to think they can eat just like the mom and dad can, but their tummies need to be introduced to new foods slowly. I hope they tolerate grass well, so in a few weeks, I can take some of the sting out of my feed bill this month. Yikes.

 

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Have a blessed, safe, and joyous Easter weekend!

Bountiful Baskets 3/16/2013

Here is our bountiful basket order for March 16, 2013. I only took one picture of our one basket today.

We got 1 head of lettuce, 1 head of brocolli, 1 head of cauliflower, 2 bunches of asparagus, 1 yellow onion, 7 bananas, 2 grapefruit, 2 lemon, 5 apples (pink lady, I would guess), and 5 oranges. There were a few mangoes as well, but the lady that runs our site remembered that I am allergic, so she kept them out of our basket this week. (I feel spoiled rotten, it was so sweet of her to do that for us.)

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I ordered another Thai Add on pack. We loved the one we had last week and I am looking forward to making a shrimp curry again this week. This add on included 1 coconut, 1 head of cabbage, 1 bunch of oregano, 1 bunch of basil, 1 bunch of green onions, 1 red onion, 1 container of mushrooms, 1 bag of chile de arbol peppers, 2 stalks of lemon grass, 10 small limes, 1 head of garlic, 1 piece of ginger, 2 carrots, and 1 parsnip. This was $14.

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The baby rabbitss are getting big. They are 2.5 weeks old now. I took the nestbox out of their hutch two days ago, and now the kits spend their days trying to chase the mom around so they can nurse. Mwah haw haw. The mom hates my guts right now. She keeps trying to shoot laser beams at me from her eyeballs. Luckily, she has not suceeded yet.

Aren’t the little fuzzy nuggets cute?

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This one wants me to dye it pastel colors with food coloring and use it as a living prop for Easter pictures with my kids. I hate to crush his dream, but it’s not going to happen. Last time I picked him up, he pee’d on me. Little bugger.

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Bountiful Baskets 3/9/2013

Here is the fruit portion of my bountiful basket order for March 9th, 2013. It included 4 lemons, 1 container of strawberries, 10 bananas, and 3 mangoes. I donated the mangoes to someone else, since I’m allergic to the oil that is on their skin. (The oil in the skin of mangoes is in the sumac family.) 4 of the bananas were extras because the kids and I volunteered this morning.

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There were a lot of green veggies in the vegetable portion of our basket. There were 2 heads of bok choy, 1 bunch of salad greens, 1 bunch of radishes, 4 green peppers, 1 head of celergy, 2 heads of garlic, and 2 bunches of asparagus.

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Here is the fruit and veggie portion of our basket together. This cost a total of $15 (plus an additional $1.50 for processing every week).

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This is the Thai add on pack. It cost $10.50 and it included a coconut, 1 head of napa cabbage, 2 lemon grass, 1 bunch of green onions, 2 limes, 1 container of mushrooms, 1 head of garlic, 1 piece of ginger, 1 bunch of basil, 1 bunch of cilantro, 2 carrots, and 1 bag filled with a few dozen chile de arbols. I’m making coconut shrimp curry tonight. Yummy.

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The juice pack was an extra $8.00 this week, and as usual, it seems to be a pretty good deal. There was 1 bunch of celery, 2 carrots, 3 lemons, 2 limes, 1 piece of ginger, 3 apples, 1 cucumber, 1 bunch of swiss chard, 1 bunch of parsley, and 1 beet with attached greens.

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Here is my entire order with everything. Today’s order cost me $38.50. Sorry for the blurry picture, the 4 year old was attempting to use me as a living jungle gym as I was taking it.

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And last but not least, here is the obligatory baby rabbit photo. All 6 are doing well, they look more like rabbits than rats now, and their eyes are starting to open. It’s really, really, really hard to tell the sex of baby rabbits, but I *think* we have 3 boys and 3 girls. Don’t hold me to that though.. I’ll update you in a few weeks when I found out for sure. Don’t they look happy?

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Bountiful Baskets 3/2/2013

Here is our bountiful basket order for March 2, 2013. We did not volunteer this morning, since most of us have colds and I don’t want to pass around the sniffles to anyone else.

Here’s the fruit portion of our one box. There is 1 bag of blood oranges, 6 bananas, 5 apples, and 5 small pears.  The pears are already gone, my 4 year old loves them.

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Here is the veggie portion of our basket this week. There was 1 container of living lettuce (so yummy!), 3 green peppers, 4 big fat carrots, 4 winter squash, 7 tomatoes, 1 bunch of asparagus, and a head of garlic.  I guess I should have put the tomatoes with the fruit, to make the pictures more even, but I didn’t think about it in time. Oh well.

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Here is the fruit and veggies together, isn’t this a great deal for $15??

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In the top right corner of that last picture, you can see the bag that contains my juice pack add on. It costs an extra $8, and is only offered some weeks. I love getting it. Even if you don’t juice, it is a great value for the money.  In our juice add on this week, we got 1 bag of spinach (12 cups worth), 1 head of chard, 1 head of celery, 3 beets with attached greens, 1 bunch of parsley, 2 key limes, 1 lemon, 3 apples, 2 big fat carrots, and 1 piece of ginger.

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I also picked up a 40 lb box of navel oranges. This was sort of an impluse buy. It cost $14. I’m planning to juice most of it. 40 lbs of oranges will make about 4 gallons of orange juice. There are 113 oranges there, if you are curious.  If anyone is planning on buying these in the future, make sure you carry the box from the bottom. These boxes are not designed to carry this much weight.

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Lastly, here are the gratuitous baby rabbit pictures. They are three days old today, and they are just starting to get their baby fine fur. All six of them are doing well. I hope the cold spell ends soon, so I can take some better pictures of them.

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I hope you all have a wonderful and safe weekend!