A Local Victory for Backyard Farmers

The taste of victory.

The taste of victory.

Most you know that I have a  friendship with Senator David Farnsworth. Though I do not consider myself political, I have heartily endorsed this man. My respect for him as a leader comes from the fact that not only is he what he says that he is, but he fought hard for the Home Grown Freedom Act. In the face of much opposition, he was brave enough to go up against the League of Towns and Cities, and the HOAs in Arizona for our group of less than 1,000 people, to fight for our right to raise food in our backyard.

This man came to my backyard to see what all I was able to accomplish cleanly and humanely in small area. He looked me in the eye and asked me to help him fight this fight. What I was impressed with most was his gentle, quiet resolve. His desire not to put his opponents down, but to lift them up. I found that he is a true ambassador and I decided to hitch my wagon to his.

We had a meeting in my home of people who, like me are influential in their own realms. We then went out to network and bring others to new meetings.

We started the Backyard Farmers United Facebook page hoping to attract people from all over the country to follow our fight to get the Senate Bill 1151 passed in our legislature. This man won the day in the Senate, but  due to lobbyist whose backing came from the HOAs in our state, the bill was stopped in the house.

Senator Farnsworth has vowed to take us back to the legislature again this next year. But first he has to get re-elected. The primaries were held yesterday and his opponent was a young man being groomed and backed by some powerful people in our state. He also was receiving lots of money from lobbyists and big business. He had people working for his campaign, hanging his signs, making phone calls, and creating Facebook pages.  He was more moderate in the stands that he was taking and was even attracting liberals from his district.

Many of my friends were worried and said that how can their vote even count against all of this. The last count that I heard was that this opponent had over $130,000 in campaign donations. This is just a district seat. Why so much? Our friend Dave had around $30,000.

The concern is that if Dave lost, SB1151 would no longer have a champion.

I woke up and saw that Dave won the primary. I just got off of the phone congratulating him. He will be running for his seat in the upcoming election. I understand if you do not care to follow this train of thought. But my local readers are very interested in this. My wish to encourage all.

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Journey to the Farm

 

Sailing or Saleing?

Sailing or Sale ing?

Now that my little house is sold, and the money from the sale is safely in the bank…

We are searching far and wide for our little farm. We use the normal tools; the internet sites, and suggestions from friends. But so far, the perfect property has eluded us. Steve wants a beautifully updated home- single story and no pool. I am not as picky; but I do insist on irrigation.

Our new home is out there somewhere, just waiting for us. It will all happen.

In the mean time, we started looking at all the stuff that we will have to move or store when we go. We have a lot of stuff! When I met Steve, I had a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom house full of stuff. When my former spouse left-he took his pillow, his binoculars and his car. Oh yeah, on his way out he stopped at the bank and took all the money.

When Steve’s former wife left-she took her wardrobe, her jewelry, her cat and half the money.

So we each had a houseful of- you guessed it-stuff. His house was big enough to cram it all into. Over time, we have gotten rid of some of it, but this is a big house and so we became quite comfortable holding on to things that the kids don’t want and we don’t use. Sound familiar?

Now, with the thought of moving (Please God-let it be a smaller home!) we need to get rid of some of it.

Today was our first official “Journey to the Farm-Yard sale”!

Last night after dinner, we decided to go through the house and gather items (I bet you thought that I was going to say stuff), that we were now ready to part with. We carried it all out to the garage. We opened the garage door at 6:30 and sold most of it by 9:00.

We met a lot of nice people, I stopped one lady from stealing an arm load of purses. (She said that she did not realize that she had 4 purses on one arm and two on the other.) I gave my cards out to people who want to follow along with the blog and the Facebook page.

We loaded up what little was left and took it to Good Will and then we took a nap. One of my friends says that she would rather just take the donation credit and haul it all to Good Will. But we would miss all the fun if we did that.

I am going to dive in and find more stuff around here; to drag out there and do this a few more times before we move.

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A Quick Review of Duck Eggs

Duck and chicken egg

The egg to the bottom left is the chicken egg.

 

Last week I bought some pastured duck eggs at the Farmer’s Market.

That night, I made an omelet, a salad and some bread rolls for dinner. The omelet tasted no different than one made from my hen’s eggs.

A few days later, I made some scrambled eggs for breakfast. Again, no difference.

But yesterday I made myself some fried eggs. That is where I noticed the difference. The eggs tasted the same, but the texture of the white part was just a little tougher. It was not the melt in your mouth texture that I am used to. The flavor was the same, at least to me.

I have had people tell me that a duck egg is  1 1/2 times the size of a hen’s egg and that 2 duck eggs equals 3 hen’s eggs.  I measured the eggs in a measuring cup. What I found is that the duck egg is 1 1/3 the size of a hen’s egg. That means in my kitchen, 4 duck eggs equals 3 chicken eggs. Maybe my chicken eggs are a little bigger than conventionally raised chicken eggs.

I will tell you that the shell of a duck egg is very thick and much tougher to crack than a chicken egg. You can bet that I saved those shells to grind and feed back to my hens.

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A Trip to the Local Farmer’s Market in August

Duck eggs next to a chicken egg

Duck eggs next to a chicken egg

The bad news first. For many years, a trip to the local Farmer’s Market was a disappointment. When my kids were younger, I would go to the Farmer’s Market to supplement the fruit and vegetables from my garden. I was met by tents full of jewelry vendors, artists and musicians. Occasionally during the winter time, I would find a vegetable vendor. But normally they were a conventional farmer from the far reaches of the valley.

Here is the good news. In the last 5 years, what people are referring to as the “backyard homesteading trend” has provided lots of excess fruits and vegetables for people to share with their friends or to pack up and sell at the Farmer’s Market.

I went to the Farmer’s Market last Sunday for the first time this summer. I begged Steve to go with me. I was glad to see that there were a few vegetable stands. While Steve was browsing through the tent that had baked goods, I was looking for lamb.

Though I did not find lamb, I did find duck eggs. It has been years since I owned ducks. I had Pekings and Mallards (think Donald and Daffey). They are very noisy. I have been looking into the Muscovy variety because they do not quack. They are a large duel purpose breed (eggs and meat) and are very good mothers. The perfect water fowl for a small homestead. They also dine on ticks. Though I do have them here, I have heard that they can be a problem in the desert dirt.

Why have I not acquired any ducks at this home? They are just as full of personality as a chicken and they play well with others. But they love to play, eat and poop in the water sources. All of them. My goats will not drink dirty water. I do not blame them. When the goats lived here, the ducks would have to share the pen with the goats.

Steve loves ponds. He plans on building a pond, complete with fish and pond plants. So there will be room for ducks in the future. Until then, I will buy him duck eggs at the Farmer’s Market once in awhile.

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Watermelons in August

Watermelon

Who would have thought that a fruit that is so full of water is growing at this time of year. Although we have had some rain, July and August are usually the worst times for a desert gardener such as myself.

Because I do not plant a lot of different veggies in the garden (in the summer) and 800 square feet is a lot of space to fill; I plant melons. They trail around and take up a lot of space. This acts as a ground cover to protect the soil a bit. Add that to the fact that I have an awesome shade contraption that Steve built for me, and I have a green lawn of watermelon.

I do not get as much fruit as I would like, but I do get fruit. I know that it is started from heirloom seed and organically grown. So that makes it important to me.

The challenges that I face? Pill bugs. Roly Polys, sow bugs (whatever you call them). Where the melon sits on the ground the bugs will eat away at the bottom. I do not know how conventional farmers do it. (Pesticides?) So right or wrong-here is what I do. As soon as I see a fruit growing on this tangled web of vine, I cut a thick sheet of card board about 1 foot square and place it under the melon. I will carefully lift the melon every few days to make sure that the cardboard is intact that the bugs have not gotten past it.

The other thing that I do is to watch for peck marks. The birds seem to know exactly when this melon is sweet enough. They might do a few exploratory pecks. But once they know that they know, your melon will be gone before you can say “Dog gone birds!”

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Okra in August

Okra blossom

Okra blossom

Okra loves the heat. The hotter, the better. I planted my okra in March and spent all summer waiting for this. The plants take their time to grow big and strong. My stalks are 4 feet high. But the wait was worth it. In the morning I am greeted by this beautiful blossom. It only stays open a short time. I will pick a pod in the next day or two where this flower once was.

The pods grow so fast as a matter of fact that I have to pick pods twice a day. The pods that are not quite ready in the morning will be too big and woody tomorrow, so I will have to pick them tonight.  The pods that are not quite ready tonight will be ready to pick in the morning. We have been eating a lot of okra the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so. Soon we will be sick of eating it fresh and I will freeze it. Okra is also canned, but I am not fond of it that way.

My favorite way to eat okra is after it has been roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper.

It is just one more way to eat year round from the garden.

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The Wonders of Eggplant

Eggplant Blossom

 

 

August in the desert is blistering hot. Though we have had some rain to cool us down a bit, August is consistently the worst time of the year.

The plants struggle too. There are a few plants that like it though, the hotter the better. The one that I am focusing on in this post is eggplant.

I have some plants that I planted a year ago March. That is right; March of 2013. Buy all rights, they should have died out during that same winter-at the first sign of frost. But here we are; over a year later and still getting fruits.

I planted these babies in a bed that I composted mostly with pine needles. They have been the healthiest eggplants that I have ever had. Now in August, they are in direct sunlight and seem very happy. The only thing that I have amended the bed with is  water from the aquaponics system.

Note to self. Pine needles are a good thing in the compost pile.

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