This month in the Homestead Notebook I was able to add a few recipes we like and the plans for the
backyard micro homestead this year. Plus, there are also some details on our chickens and plans to put together some DIY hoop tunnels for our garden this spring.
First, the Cowboy Candy (also known as Candied Jalapenos). This is the second year we’ve made them, and they go way too fast. Last year we doubled the amount of jalapeno plants we grew and we’re hoping to double them again this year too. These are so good on any type of meat (grilled chicken, roast, burgers, etc) and my husband loves them. Plus, they make great gifts for sweet and spicy lovers!
The other new recipe is a DUAL PURPOSE recipe! One gallon of milk and a small container of yogurt and it turns into yogurt and cream cheese! This is the first time I have ever made any yogurt or cheese and I have to say, it was super fun to see it actually work! The yogurt is creamy and not as bitter as regular plain yogurt you get at the store. And the cream cheese is delicious with a slight tang that makes it really interesting. This recipe came from Alaska Prepper on YouTube.
Here lie the hopes and dreams for the homestead this year. All the black lines are the things I’d like to do in 2022. We got Corey a very small manual chainsaw mill for Christmas this year (to saw logs into rough cut lumber) and I’m hoping he can saw the tree we fell last summer into some cedar boards that we can use for a retaining wall and some raised bed planters. That will save a ton of money and put to use some really good cedar! We live in a 1970’s subdivision, and all the houses here are on at least 1/4 acre. Most of our 1/4 acre is in the backyard and we are so thankful. It used to be a well manicured park like yard when we bought it, but we had boys, and were broke, and it slowly grew old, and trees blew down and/or rotted, and now we call it TreeFell Farm. (I think we’ve taken out 8 trees so far that fell in storms, or were rotten, or causing damage to things.)
Meet our little flock! We had never raised chickens before so we started out with just 4 one day old “peeps” from the local farm store. (One rudely turned into a rooster, so he moved to a new home at a nearby farm with 100’s of other free range chickens.) We bought two Rhode Island Reds and two Salmon Faverolle’s because that is what they had available that week. Turns out that chickens are really low maintenance, great fertilizer factories, excellent pest control, and are just fun to have around. Plus the eggs are a great side benefit (and the eggs don’t take up space in our fridge, because fresh eggs are stable at room temps!) Having three means that we don’t have a ton of eggs, but we have enough to pretty much make and eat what we normally do. During the holiday baking season I did have to supplement with some store bought ones though (shhhh… don’t tell them).
The Reds are absolutely our favorites! They are sweet, quiet, and amazing little workhorses. They till the garden, eat slugs, and lay eggs almost every single day. The eggs are large and brown and always laid right where they are supposed to be, all neat and tidy. However, to be fair, the Reds are not perfect, and have been known to eat flaking paint off a shelf we have outside that has since been moved… and sometimes Nugget gets lost between a stump in their run and the way to the door outside, but we don’t need to talk about that. When they get bored outside, they will come knock on the sliding glass door at us.
The Salmon Faverolle, however, is NOT a workhorse. Kiev is constantly worried about where the Reds are and what they are eating (and tries to snatch it from them). She doesn’t forage as much as they do because she’s way too busy sprinting across the yard all day trying to boss everyone (the Reds hardly pay attention to her. Paprika is constantly rolling her eyes.) Kiev is quite vocal and judgy when she doesn’t like what Corey and I are doing in the yard and makes a loud static sound (like the old TVs did) to let us know of her disapproval. She is always supervising and stands exactly where we are digging or raking or working. Exactly on top and in the way. She is horribly irregular and sporadic with her egg laying, and she has no problem laying them anywhere– in poop, on the lawn, in the mud–she really doesn’t care. But she is completely entertaining.
And the last page for this month is from a video on YouTube on how to make a row cover for a garden bed. In the spring, the squirrels are relentless at digging in the garden and especially like to dig up whatever plant I’ve just put in the ground, usually killing it. I hope to build a few of these to keep the squirrels out until the plants are big enough to take on the little jerks.
That’s it for this month. Next month, around Valentine’s Day is the typical time to start a bunch of seeds here in NW Oregon. I’ll need to start making garden bed plans!