Sunday, February 27, 2011

Independence Days Challenge

A few more inches of snow have fallen. An ice storm is promised for tomorrow. But a new season is promised soon. The end of our winter hibernation comes with the first few chores of the season: tapping trees, starting seed. So in this spirit it is time for me to think about the Independence Days Challenge.

This will be my fourth year of participating in this challenge. By now, most of what the challenge asks of its participants are pretty well entrenched in my routine. But there is something satisfying about recording the progress I make week to week. Each year I discover new ways of building redundancies into our homestead, find new ways to build self- reliance, learn to let some chores and skills fall by the wayside as I refine what is important to my family.

Plant: I started birdhouse gourd seed, swiss chard and cabbage. I hope to be able to eat the cabbage I start as seed indoors this summer and then plant a succession crop for the fall. I plan to transplant the swiss chard in our cold frame for an early green that can be protected through the fall and perhaps next winter.

Harvested: I brought in a couple of the basil plants I had in the garden last summer. I have kept the pot in a sunny south facing window. We have been eating fresh basil all winter. Not enough to make pesto but definitely enough to serve on pizza and pasta. The plants got a little leggy around winter solstice but since then I have been picking flowers off of it. I hope to bring in a couple more plants next fall. We have tapped some maple trees but it has not been warm enough to really start collecting sap.

Preserve the food: Not yet but soon, very soon...

Local Foods systems: We have been attending our local winter farmer's market. Our local feed store also sells local milk and meats.

Eat the food: Just the usual; soups, breads. In fact we have eaten a lot of food and the freezer has an unsettling echo in it.

Waste not: Our little dorm fridge is keeping food waste down a lot, more about this later this week. We are using an old woodstove that was left on our property as part of our sap boiling set up this year. More on this later too. I also am exploring origami newspaper seed pots this year as a way to save money.

Want not: Seed order has been placed, trees are starting to be tapped, we hope to have 35-40 taps in this year. We might try to make maple sugar this year as well as maple syrup if we get enough sap.


Linda said...

This post reminded me that I have been meaning to get back on track here. I don't write about this challenge but I participate. can't wait to read about your maple sap experience!

Robj98168 said...

I gave this challenge up a few months ago. Maybe need to start it again for no reason than it makes me accountable.

Jennifer said...

Did you start this challenge? It's a really good idea!
I hope to keep better track of things this year, if only to have a better handle on how much we need to plant and preserve to make it through the year. We've been just winging it every year until now.

Fleecenik Farm said...

Jennifer, Sharon Astyk of Casaubon's Book and The Chatelaine's Keys blogs started this challenge 4 years ago.

It really keeps me on track at a time of year when it is so easy to get distracted by warm summer weatehr:)