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New Business!

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted here – for good reason.

I’ve spent the past few weeks placing orders for over $3000 of berry and herbs plants and seeds.

Why?

Check it out over at Foraged & Sown!

I’ll be selling herb and berry seedlings, bare root berry plants (and a few hazelnuts and chestnut trees), fresh cut herbs and dried herb blends.

If you’re local to Columbus, and you’re interested in any of the above, drop me a line. If you’d like to be in the know about the latest Foraged & Sown offerings, head over here.

(Last thought for today – have you ever seen my Beet Infused Vodka tutorial? It’s amusing to me that it is by far the most visited page on this site.)

Incubating chicken eggs.

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This is the second in a four-post series about hatching eggs from our 5 deceased laying hens who fell victim to a predator, along with nearly all of their temporary flock-mates, during their transitional stay at Harmonious Homestead. For more, read The Absence of Chickens.

Introducing another partner in our quest to raise a new generation of chickens, the HovaBator incubator from City Folk’s Farm Shop.

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The HovaBator 1588 is a Styrofoam picture-window incubator with digital electronic controls and temperature and humidity sensors. It has a few optional add-ons, including the automatic egg-turner that we brought home with us.

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Right out of the box, the entire operation is intuitive and easy to assemble. The bottom tray goes down first, then the water reservoir, the hardware cloth hatching surface and then the lid. Our automatic egg-turner sits on top of the hardware cloth grate, its power cord exiting through a small, specifically-manufactured channel.

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The digital controls and sensor reading displays are all on the lid of the incubator, along with the large plexiglass window.

To get the eggs started, I searched the internet and found quite a few informative sites about hatching chicken eggs. Instead of giving you a step-by-step myself, since this is my first time endeavoring to hatch eggs, I’ll point you to some resources in the next post of this series.

one more time: a new place to call home.

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Barring any last-minute issues, tomorrow, May 27, we will again become homeowners. We’ll be downsizing our inside space, from 2500 to 1155 sqft, but we’ll be drastically upgrading the yard space: we’ll have over .25 acres to play with.

I expect to be back here frequently to document the changes we make to our new homestead.

I hope that you’ll soon see:
The return of the hens
A tire swing and hammock
Three berry patches
A small meadow lawn
A mini orchard
Outdoor house shows with Dennis
A wild edibles and medicinals learning garden

The simultaneous tasks of purging and packing while working are petty exhausting. So if you see me in the next few weeks, offer me a coffee. Or just a jab in the ribs to get me moving again.

Foraging, Spring 2014

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Spring is decidedly here, as evidenced by temperatures creeping up and up, days of rain, snow and ice now taking the form of streams, buds on the trees and our favorite spring greens popping up everywhere.

In our yard, I’m greeted by Corn Speedwell, Red Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum), Bedstraw (Galium triflorum), Plantain (Plantago major), Curly Dock (Rumex crispus), Chickweed (Stellaria media), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Chicory (Cichorium intybus) Burdock (Arctium lappa), and the beginnings of Violet (Viola sororia), all uncultivated. In the woods, ramps and garlic mustard are springing up in abundance, signaling the beginning of morel season.

With all of these foraging options, today I chose to focus on a wild food that could have, and perhaps should has, been harvested last fall after the first frost: Rose Hips. High in Vitamin C, rose hips are said to be a general health and wellness staple. The fruit of both cultivated and wild roses occurs after the blooms have died, sending nutrients to a round red-orange fruit, containing the seeds, just behind the rose blossom. Embarrassingly, I’ve not tried them myself. Knowing that they are often dried to be used in teas or herbal infusions, I could not ignore the glut of large hips still present on the bushes in our next door neighbor’s front yard.

Darren and I headed out for a twelve foot hike, scissors and buckets in hand.

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With no instruction from me, he chose an effective method to harvest: snip the ends with scissors held in one hand, while your other hand holds a bucket just below to catch the hip as it falls.

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We’ll pick through these to remove any that are mushy instead of sun-dried.

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Happy foraging!

Home Ec: June 24, 2013

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In Columbus, we took the month of May off to accommodate Memorial Day while our Canadian counterparts celebrated their first Home Ec at a new location. This month, though we’re back in the game at the usual date and time, it’s our turn to announce a new location!

Join Rachel and I, and Joel and Dana of Well Preserved – virtually, at City Folk’s Farm Shop on North High Street.

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In Joel and Dana’s words:

“What the heck is picnic? Show up with something to share that’s inspired by the idea of having a picnic. We’re not too serious about rules and we have all levels of cooks so don’t be shy!

If you’ve never been to a HomeEc, we really hope you’ll come out. There’s a friendly stable of regulars and several new people too. We’ll be the best hosts we can be and make sure that you get to meet some fun people and interact with a community of fun people who love food. If you’re really nervous about making something (and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches definitely count!) just show up to your first event and check it out.”

We think this month’s theme is particularly appropriate for our new gathering place of City Folk’s. Perhaps you’ll see a checkered blanket set the scene as we sit among straw bales, chicken feed, rain barrels, canning supplies and other homesteading goods.

Home Ec. Have you been? No need to be shy – join us!
RSVP on Facebook if you’d like to get in on the conversation.

Monday, June 24. 8:00 pm. It’s picnic time.

Press.

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First, a quick public thank you to Joe Blundo of the Columbus Dispatch for joining me on an urban foraging walk recently. You can read about it in today’s paper, Thursday June 13, 2013, or online here.

I’ve been busy “in the field” lately. If you stopped by my yard, though, you might not believe me. The weeds are taking over! (And strategically being left in many spaces.)

Here are a few that have popped up recently. If you find me on Instagram (katehodges2) or Twitter (@kateforagefiber), you’ll see more as I come across wild edibles up in Michigan this weekend.

Scarlet Pimpernel (not edible, or conflicting information, but so pretty)

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Common Mallow (This one is a favorite right now as its cute, fleshy-crunchy seed pods, resembling tiny wheels of cheese, are a great edible garnish.)

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Asiatic Dayflower (This picture shows two tiny flowers, one above the other.)

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Prickly Lettuce (The spines on new leaves are flexible and not so pokey. Our chickens love this almost more than strawberries!)

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Watch for more on Twitter!

Reducing waste: New sunglasses.

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Our culture is one of consumption. We purchase, use and dispose without looking for a different way to engage with the material goods in our lives. Convenience is king, and the many inexpensive options in big box stores make it so.

It takes discipline to begin down the road of lessening waste, and that discipline is tested in almost every purchasing decision. In my own family of three, if we forget the reusable grocery bags at home, do we put off the grocery store trip until tomorrow when it’s on our mind, and the store is in front of us, right now? Will we take home only one of an item if that second one, that we don’t really need, is half-off?

I was tested recently when I went into my local eye doctor to order a pair of prescription sunglasses. My non-prescription eyewear wouldn’t fit over my glasses, and the sun was getting too bright for my sensitive eyes to tolerate. I had taken to going everywhere – including in the car – with a large sunhat on, but even that was no longer cutting it.

I knew the lens to correct my very near-sighted vision would be quite expensive, so I was thrilled to hear that the frames were currently at a deep discount with a specialty lens purchase. The price still added up to a significant cost, but I was expecting it. I tried on frames, one after the other, all the while comparing them to the sunglasses that I already owned – a vintage pair, purchased at a consignment shop.

I asked about putting new lenses in my existing frames. I was told that a template would have to be made at the lens manufacturer, increasing both the cost and time of production. In all, I would save about 10% by dumping my old frames for new ones.

At that moment, I considered an article on Zero Waste Homethat I had come across recently. Though I don’t achieve quite that extreme, the article’s point, that the “cost” of waste should be factored into the price of replacing something for less than it costs to fix it, had been resurfacing for a few days in my thoughts.