Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Rented Urban Homestead

As the season of rain yet again creeps up on us, I am reminded that our roof still leaks into our attic, into my son's attic bedroom, and into the garage where the rabbits live right now. I am also reminded that I never finished rainproofing the chicken coop. Apparently our landlady is on the same thought wave, as she now wants to fix the roof. All I can think in response to that is how much RIGHT NOW does not work with where we're at with other projects. But it would be pretty awesome to not have an even leakier roof this winter.

She has other projects in mind for the house that also complicate and conflict with where other projects of ours stand currently. But, we are very lucky to have an easygoing landlady when it comes to certain aspects of urban homesteading like the animals and vegetable gardens. When I think about ways to incorporate greywater systems, I am confident that I could even have that conversation with her, which I couldn't have done in other places I've lived.

As a renter, each new aspect of urban homesteading has to be weighed against possible homeowner objection, lack of permanence, etc. For example, I wanted a chicken coop that could be removed from the backyard without destroying the coop or the gate/fence. That didn't work out, but it's still a goal of mine since we aren't going to live here more than another year or two. The rabbits are another aspect that I'm still nervous about. How do we make a raccoon proof enclosure for their cages that is nice for them AND easy to move? How do I keep the chickens enclosed but also give them enough space without building a permanent fence? Do I put back in a raised bed when I might not be here through another growing season?

What improvements are worth making that you can't take with you? For me, I see my intended drip irrigation project for the side yard being less of a headache for us, as well as any future tenants, which will keep the plants alive and happy and the neighborhood more beautiful.

This is the blogpost where I want to hear from others, so spread it around and repost it till we get a conversation going...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Apples For Idunna

Every 3rd Sunday of September, Solar Cross holds an apple harvest and Idunna blot as an all day version of their usual 3rd Sunday morning devotional. This usually involves a community effort to harvest apples, press them for cider, and make apple butter. We also barbecue and have a potluck feast. 

I'm usually the "apple butter queen." This happens to be my anniversary of canning. I'd wanted to can for a long time and had the tools to do it already, but hadn't yet dove in till Thorn brought apples up to Stone City and I decided that would be my perfect start. That year I called it Thorn Apple Butter, after the bringer of the apples. Every year since, I've made the same apple butter but have called it Idunna Apple Butter for the goddess we honor as I'm making it. 

(If you are reading this and are unfamiliar with the goddess Idunna or what a Heathen blot is, I'd like to tell you what I tell my kids: "The internet is your friend if you use it right. Google it.")

This year was Terran's first time being there for the harvest and blot. He did a great job of helping harvest from up in the apple tree. So great, in fact, that a demand had to be made that he cease apple picking before we all drown in apple pulp and cider...

Here's this years recipe before I forget: 

A full pot of apple pulp, post pressing
7 cups sugar
Some water

Cook that down till it starts looking like apple sauce. Add spices:

3 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves

Keep cooking till it doesn't slide off the spoon. (How's that for scientific? I'm not sure how to explain it better.) 

If you were there and we're able to take home some apple butter, please offer up some feedback. I always like to hear how a batch turned out. If you were there and didn't get to take any home, come over sometime for coffee and toast (gluten free options always available at my house) and I'll get a jar out to share with you.

By the way, steam burns are awful. Always open your steam bath canner away from your body. I'll be nursing this burn for a while...

For more about Solar Cross Temple, go here: http://www.solarcrosstemple.org