Ronan taking mom on an adventure.

Ronan and I (look up and in the middle)  60 feet above terra ferma.

Ronan and I (look up and in the middle) 60 feet above terra ferma.

Mama’s little cowboy

Ryan Boren

On a tractor.

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101 ways to cook zucchini… and counting

Every year I am surprised by the bounty in my garden.  One or two specific items take off, while others whither away.  Last year it was okra and basil.  Every three days we would have a bowlful of okra and our basil grew to a size of a miniature tree.  Luckily okra is a very versatile vegetable.  You can saute it, fry it, boil it, stew it, bake it and pickle it.  Some methods were more popular then others, but okra was well received at our table.

This year we have zucchini.

We get about one every few days, and as you can see they are big, bigger and biggest!!!  So far I have tried sautee, and frying; on the list are stuffed, baked, grated, pickled. Our much anticipated tomatoes are a dud.  The plants are gigantic, but the fruit has been foraged over by the local squirrel population or stays permanently green on the vine.  Corn was also underwhelming, we did get ears, but they were only a few inches tall.

Mother nature has her own rythme and reason when it comes to my garden, and it effects what we eat and how we eat it.  I am used to choosing the menu, and then getting the things I need at the store.  Even the most basic grocery store has rudimentary fruits and veggies.   With my garden things are very much the opposite, yields dictate whats for dinner and there is very little variety.

Creative cooking is must when herbs, eggplant, peppers and zucchini are our everyday garden staples.  And this year zucchini recipes are greatly appreciated.

the unromantic side of homesteading: we lost our first baby goat today

They dont tell you about animal loss in any of the homesteading books.  Unless you are a pro, caring for a newborn animal is serious business.

We had two baby goats born a day apart.  The first was sickly and we took her to the doc twice, got lots of antibiotics and watched her carefully (I even learned how to give her shots).  The second one was born to an experienced mom and looked well feed.  He did seem to pant in the heat but was spry, nursed frequently  and looked good.  We watched him but left him with mom, mostly because she already had lots and lots and lots of babies.  This afternoon he was unsteady on his feet and had trouble latching on.  I took him inside the house to cool him off, and he wanted to nurse.  So I took him outside but he had trouble latching on.  I tired to milk mom and her milk was not flowing so well, still he found that udder.   My plan was to check in two hours and if he was still doing poorly,  I would prep some goat formula and supplement him.  When I checked, he was already gone.

I feel awful. In hindsight I should have supplemented him at first sign of distress.  Now I am not a novice baby goat owner, last year I hand raised a kid who was rejected by his mom, but I do not have 4-h or in depth farming experience.  My knowledge was acquired in books, online forums and trial/error.  Today it turned out not to be enough.

I think that is a serious flaw with the homesteading movement.  Book make it sound so wholesome and romantic.  In fact is hard work, that requires you to be part farmer, part doctor, part animal surrogate mom.  Mistakes have real consequences and animals suffer and die.  As a sign of respect to this little calf, I am going to be a lot more respectful with our little ranch from here on out.  I am going to work with area farmers, ranchers and others who can become my mentors in the this ranching adventure.

If you are thinking of sustainable living or homesteading and I hope you see this blog post.  I hope it makes you think about the responsibility you have towards the animals you acquire, and get adequate training support group beforehand.

Praying for rain

I have turned into a weather nut. Each time there is even a slight chance of rain, I have scrutinized the local radar sites, and plotted the trajectory of the oncoming clouds to see if possibly, this time we can get a few sprinkles. Ryan says I have turned into an old woman who is spends her whole time obsessing about the weather. But really you can not blame me, as this is the driest season on record for Central Texas. We have had two tornado watches, and numerous thunderstorm warnings, and untold number of thunderstorm watches issues by the powers that be; but none have produced more than 30 minutes of moderate rainfall. We hear thunder, see lightning, share the humidity, but are lucky to get a token sprinkle.

Until last night, last night we had lightening, thunder and rain!  It started at midnight and lasted until early morning.  Everyone but the kids got up and went outside to watch the storm from the porch.   After a while I went upstairs and fell asleep to the sweet sounds of raindrops striking a metal roof.  Beautiful.

Turn a Polywoven Feed Sack Into a Reusable Shopping Bag from the February/March, 2011 issue of Backyard Poultry

Turn a Polywoven Feed Sack Into a Reusable Shopping Bag from the February/March, 2011 issue of Backyard Poultry.

my next project

How the Borens do Hannukah

Happy thanksgiving

Tractor baiting

Howdy Y’all

We are now in the Austin Texas area.  We decided that it was best for our family to move sooner rather than later, so we made the move this summer.  We are now living in Dripping Springs, TX and so far I really like the small town feel.  Plus I love our house, there is room for everyone, its got an awesome floorplan, and the yard is amazing.  I am really glad to be here.

So here are some of my observations about Texas life.

– The vibe/buzz/atmosphere is not much different then the in the Bay Area.  I guess that weird is weird everywhere.

– The big Texas sky that you read about, is so true.  Where in California we have great stretches in blue water, here we endless swathes of blue sky.

– BBQ and grilling is a religious experience here.

– People here are incredibly polite and friendly.

– Iced tea, iced tea, and more iced tea.