Wednesday, March 13, 2013

As I Wait for Spring...

After a long winter, the gardening itch is in full force. There is still snow on the ground and digging in the garden is still weeks away. The general garden planning is complete, new supply of seeds purchased, and the seed-starting schedule is in progress.

I am finding myself thinking about adding some laying chickens to the homestead. This is an idea that I have been mulling over on and off for years. I feel now is a good time since I work from home and can devote more attention to a small flock.

The Cons:

Start Up Costs - We live a frugal lifestyle especially since I have been self-employed. The initial investment of a coop, run, feeders, waterers, etc. will have an impact.

Predators - We have many including fox, raccoon, skunks, dogs, etc. Keeping chickens won't be a lot of fun if I lose them or worry about them all the time.

The Pros:

Fresh Eggs - My mind is already seeing flashes of yummy quiches, egg noodles, breads, baked goods, salads, mayonnaise, etc.

Compost for the Garden - The addition of chicken litter is sure to heat up my compost pile and provide great nutrients.

Clean Up Crew - Fallen apples, grassy and weedy areas, bugs, slugs, etc.

Garden Helpers - A protective chicken hoop over a garden bed will allow the chickens to forage for bugs (goodbye cut worms and slugs), aerate the soil, and prepare it for planting.

Fun - Everyone who raises chickens talks about the personalities that develop.

As I make my list of pros and cons, I realize that the cons are mostly from unknown issues. I can save for the coop, do my research and find less costly way of building a coop. With more research, I will gain knowledge of how to build a more predator proof coop and run to keep the chickens safe.

Until recently, I would have added K to the list of Cons. We have discussed chickens before and he was not fond of the idea. I found it difficult to proceed in a project when my partner in life was not on the same wavelength. Lately, he has shown that he is more accepting of chickens and is helping me plan and build the coop.

Now I am educating myself by reading books, reaching out to friends that have chickens, searching the internet for coop designs, reading blogs and We will see where this goes.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Storage Potatoes Are Sprouting

Early this morning, I set off down to the seed starting area in the basement to water on the onion seedlings and start some herb seeds. It is premature yet for herbs that are planted in the garden, but I like to start some in pots to grow at the sunny kitchen windowsill. This way we can enjoy some fresh herbs earlier. I seeded some small pots with basil, oregano, and chives. I also sowed some oat grass for the kitties, Jasmine and Mysty. Hopefully this will keep them away from the chives.

While I was down stairs, I checked on the potatoes that are stored in the coldest corner of the basement. There are still a lot in storage and are beginning to sprout. I don't know if they will make it until planting time, which depending on how quickly the ground dries out could be 6-8 weeks away.

I did a little research online and found that cooked and mashed potatoes can be frozen. The frozen potatoes can then be thawed in the refrigerator and either baked in the oven or cooked on the stove pot to warm and reduce excess moisture. So I thought I would give it a try. I prepared some mashed potatoes for dinner and included extra to freeze in zipper bags. Has anyone tried this?