Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Urban Homestead (?!) update ...

The thought occurred to me the other day that I think we might qualify for the title "urban homestead" though I'm not sure!! Who cares. I am so thankful for what we have here. I always wanted to live in the country but gave up that idea (submitted my will to God) shortly after we moved here to Monett. Even though we do not live in the country, we sure do have a lot of 'country-type' things going on around here ... and it's been fun being creative.

Ok ... so here are a few pictures.

We have had a wood burning stove of some sort for the last two winters. Last week some brothers took out our old furnace and discovered there was a hole in the floor going to the crawl space. The boys are digging out some sort of root cellar; I think it's going to be 7'x4' and about 6' deep. The hole is in our back entry / laundry room.

The boys built a bigger green house in the church parking lot. If you are curious, this green house is about 6' tall, 10' wide and I'm not sure how long it is ... 20' or maybe 25'? It cost less than $200 to make - rebar, pvc pipes and plastic were the main materials. It's kind of messy in there but things still grow :) We have really been appreciating the fresh salads and greens for our green smoothies. Our first lettuce harvest was at the end of January. Here you can kind of see some things ... the front right bed is lettuce and beets, the bed behind that is spinach. The front left bed is getting worked over today and planted with something. Directly behind that is a bed with a different kind of lettuce and something else that is not growing yet. And then in the way back is kale and spinach. 

An addition to our green house adventures.  This green house is down the street from us in a sister's backyard. It was made from the heavy plastic sheeting that covers decks (as a roof);  brother from church gave it to us - they got it at a really good price and thought we could turn it into a greenhouse. It seems to have worked but we need to find a way to heat it. Any suggestions? And, in case you were wondering, this cost well under $100 to build but would have been A LOT more if the brother had to pay full price for the plastic sheeting; the frame is mostly 2x4's I think?

Today Corban is working on getting the bee hives ready - we will be placing them at our 'country garden'. This will be our first year as 'bee keepers'. Last evening a few of us went to the local meeting that happens every month; they showed a few segments of a video and it was very encouraging to us ... made it seem like, YES, we really can do this! We are serious about this because honey is so expensive!! A gallon of raw honey in our bulk food order is going for about $40 right now (a gallon of honey is about 12lbs). I remember when we first started ordering from them 10 years or so ago, this same honey was going for $23. I cannot believe it!! But, we still buy it, though not as much. So, lets say we purchase 4 gallons a year. That's $160 plus 8% shipping!! That's more than the cost of a whole new hive!! and the hive lasts for years with a little bit of money each year to maintain it.  So ... I hope this bee keeping thing works out.
Here is a picture of Corban replacing the wax stuff in one of the frames. I'm sure there is a technical name for it but I don't feel like putting forth much effort right now.

Have you ever heard of the Flylady? I heard of her about 10 years ago or more but I always thought, "I know how to clean, I don't need her!" Well, I DO know how to clean, but I am not the best organizer! I got on her mailing list over a month ago and began reading all the emails. Pretty soon I was really inspired and encouraged to give her plan an honest try. I really like the concept of decluttering for 15-minutes a day. Soon there is nothing left to declutter and only things to maintain. I also like the 'hot-spot' thing ... 2 minutes twice a day cleaning off the 'hot-spot' in your house. For us, it was definitely the top of the washer and dryer. Now it's clean every day because I purpose to clear it off twice a day.

Well anyway, I am thankful for this system and it seems to be working for me. Here are a few pictures of things we did to help us organize better:

Nifty air-tight containers for grains, seeds and spices and also a 'lazy susan' for the smaller things. The only one I could find was a real cheap one from WM, but I hope to have a higher quality one some day. My cabinet has been looking so nice now that everything has a home.

More air-tight storage boxes. Two stacked fits just right, and it's in a space that used to be filled with water jugs and fermenting things (see the next picture). I have REALLY been appreciating having these things right at hand instead of spread out around the house ... in the pantry, in the fridge on the porch or in the garage! Now I have them close to me, and I have a scheduled time each week to go replenish the supplies all at once. This helps also to see when I am running out of something BEFORE I run out of it.

I am VERY thankful for this little shelf in our kitchen! Corban built it especially for my gallon and quart jars that hold fermenting things and also for bowls or crocks of sourdough stuff.  All of this stuff used to be sitting on my counter, but now it has a nice home! I think the wood for this shelf cost less than $30; Corban used/recycled some old piano pegs to hold the shelves up.
In the background there you can see 4 tote boxes - that corner back there used to be a mess with all the recycle stuff waiting to be hauled away. Now it's all sectioned out and contained nicely.
And just inside the doorway on the floor you might see all the dirt? That is where the hole is for the new cellar. I am not sure about trying too hard to keep that area clean since it will be a mess till it gets dug out!