Archive for the Urban Farming Category

1st snow proves that Henny & Penny are hardy lasses, indeed!

Posted in Urban Farming on October 11, 2009 by xxxicana

I was awakened Saturday morning to Tom’s loud exclamation, “Oh, F@#k . . . it snowed last night.”  Needless to say, Mister Man is not favorably disposed to the winter season.  Fortunately, it was just a light ball in snow

But, it did require some “farm” chores.   Henny and Penny weren’t too sure what was going on . . . it was their first snow.  So, I raked up the snow from around their yard so their little toes wouldn’t get too cold.  Maybe I should ask Onion Tears to knit them some gloves!  Tom had already fortified their coop with straw bales to keep out the wind and retain heat.

winterized coop

Here’s a video of the chickens enjoying the brisk winter air (and Balam, too).

I fortified the “chickie cave” to keep the snow out . . .

photo chicken cave

The girls seem to appreciate it!

The rain barrel had to be drained

rain barrel

So, that was Saturday morning . . . trying to winterize in early October . . . frankly, we were not prepared for snow.  We still had not taken the garden hoses off the spigots and Thursday evening we were out at 11 pm picking green tomatoes in the dark.  Global warming is perhaps a misnomer . . . we should call it global climate change.  Our summer was very cool and winter has made a fairly early appearance.  The cats, however, don’t seem to be too phased by the whole thing


They spend most of the day sleeping

fast asleep

The kitties are best buddies now.

Tom & cats

Mister Man enjoying cat company

cleo & car sleepingCleo and me taking a nap

What better way to enjoy the cooling weather?

Phew, what a day!

Posted in Musings, Urban Farming with tags , , , , on October 4, 2009 by xxxicana

Mister Man had a gig with the New Delta Boogie Boys at the 4th Annual Veg Fest held in the “Historic Havelock District”.


This event was organized by several organizations that we support . . . and they invited the NDBB to play.  It was a brisk afternoon, pleasant enough, but hard on the musicians (stiff fingers).  As always, Tom, Stan, Pablo, and Patrick served up some great  blues to entertain young and old alike.

Delta boogie BoysYou can keep track of upcoming gigs at

Veg Fest also hosted a salsa contest (the condiment, not the dance) with the stipulation that the ingredients had to be locally grown and include melon.  Luckily, our neighbor Keith had just given me a watermelon earlier in the week. So I diced, seeded, chopped, tasted, salted, sawed, scooped, and garnished a recipe I made up for the contest.  Here’s my entry:

Watermelon and Mint Chiffonade Salsa

salsaJudging was by Pepe Fiero (owner of Pepe’s Veggie Mex Bistro), Maggie (owner of Maggie’s Wraps), and Judy a la Carte  (radio host on KFOR).  It was a blind taste test . . . competition was a little lacking . . . only 3 entries until the final minute when two more showed up.

judgingJudging. . . . .


certifFirst Place!!  And there were prizes!

1st place

Woohoo!! A Rain Barrel!!

1st place 2the long view

At the end of Veg Fest a few of us headed over to

Bobs taverto enjoy a few brews with friends.

Dave and Joan were kind enough to schlep the barrel to our house since it wouldn’t fit in my car even if it hadn’t been filled with Mister Man’s guitars, gig bags, guitar stand, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Had beer & wine with Dave and Joan.  Ran out to DeLeone’s for quick Mexican food  . . . and then just enough time to powder my nose, touch up my lipstick and drive over to Q to join my BFFs for the Drag review.  We had a great time.  Girls looked great  . . . I was complemented by a couple of performers on my hair and boots !!!  YES!  What we all need sometimes – validation that our internal diva-ness is workin’ it!

A lot of fun packed into one day!  Phew.  I think I’ll take it easy today.

Domestic Diva and State Fair Winner!

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , , on September 5, 2009 by xxxicana

bandana, cropped

Never thought that I was going to adapt to Nebraska . . .  but I realize now that my upbringing pre-adapted me to Midwestern living.  My grandmother taught me to embroider when I was in kindergarten; I still embroider as means of keeping busy while watching TV [after all, idle hands are the Devil’s playthings].  My Mom and Grandmother can/canned, so I learned to appreciate the process of “putting up” food for the winter.  My Mom has recounted her childhood memories of her grandmother drying squash to make calabazitas in the winter.  I vividly remember my Grandmother’s chokecherry jelly.  On a couple of occasions I helped my Grandma roast, skin, and bag Hatch green chilies.  If you check out Onion Tear’s Blog, you’ll see that this tradition has been passed on to my daughter.

sanchez women[I “stole” this photo from Onion Tears Blog . . . 3 generations of crafty and domestic diva women]

This culinary “herstory” is not the stuff of books, but rather of tradition.  Generations of women, from many different cultures, regions, and walks of life have passed down food preservation techniques, recipes, arts and crafts, and other over-looked domestic tasks.  However, how much do we acknowledge these oral traditions, folkways, and women’s experiences?  For me, cooking, canning, embroidering, and other domestic tasks provide great personal satisfaction.  Now that I live in Nebraska, I have found a means of showing off the skills I learned from my mother and grandmother — the State Fair.

expo bldgThis year I entered four projects:  embroidered tea towel and pillowcase, canned Hatch chiles and escabeche (mexican pickled cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and onion).  I won three ribbons — the escabeche didn’t win (the vegetable colors faded and I think the taste might have been too “exotic”).  So, here’s how things turned out . . .

1st place pillow

First Place Ribbon for Embroidered Pillowcase

pillow case

This is the full view

2nd place tea towelSecond Place Ribbon for embroidered tea towel

tea towelFull view

I thought I would take 1st place by capitalizing on the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign.

But I was blown out of the water by the first place winner

1st place tea towelVery nice work!

2nd place hot peppersMy New Mexican Hatch chiles won a Second Place Ribbon.

cannerMister Man gave me a HUGE pressure canner last Christmas . . . I had to wait until this summer to use it.

Now I am able to can all kinds of things, including . . .


winnerHere I am in front of my chiles.

Note the western shirt . . . when my sis and I were little, our mom ALWAYS got us new cowboy shirts, jeans, and moccasins for the Monte Vista, Colorado Stampede.  I still love to wear western shirts . . . especially the grotesquely gaudy fringy types!

After checking out the exhibits it was time to get food.  Mister Man and I opted for Polish sausages with onions and peppers.   Following up we had dessert . . . .

cakesFunnel Cakes!!!

funnel cakeCaught in the act!

While we were sitting eating our deep fried dough and probably laying down a coating of cholesterol inside our arteries . . . I noticed this food vendor . . .

beef sundaeNebraska is a major beef producer . . . but what the heck is a Beef Sundae?????  I didn’t have the nerve to ask.

Regardless, the notion is just gross!

So that was our State Fair experience.  We didn’t stay for the evening’s entertainment: Brett Michaels.  I didn’t care for Poison the first time around, I wasn’t going to be tortured by him cover bad hair band  tunes out of tune.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

More Domestic Diva stuff.  Yesterday I drove out to Martin’s Hillside Orchard to pick peaches and raspberries.  I picked up a small bag of apples since it’s still a tad early for the really good apples.  I spent about an hour gathering this beautiful fruit.  The peaches are DIVINE!  I’ve never eaten a fresh picked peach.  The scent wafting from the fruit in the trees was intoxicating . . . I ended up picking 20 pounds!  We’ll eat some, I’ll make a cobbler or two, and then I’ll can the rest for later in the winter.

fruitSome raspberries will be individually frozen and packed.  But my favorite is raspberry jam, so I’ll load the canner up for that.

Speaking of canning, I’ll be directing a boiling water canning workshop next Saturday for Community CROPS.  We’ll be canning tomatoes.

So . . . that’s some of the recent news from Lincoln, Nebraska.  Henny and Penny are doing well, laying progressively larger eggs.  Balam and Amby (who’s nickname is now Bunny) are getting along very nicely now and chase each other around the house.  All’s right and well in our little home.

We finally did it . . . ate the pullet eggs

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on July 14, 2009 by xxxicana

Mister Man and I were pretty busy this weekend.  We didn’t get around to eating them until Sunday evening.  I made Huevos Rancheros topped with Mexican white cheese.  Here are all the eggs collected since July 4th:

HP eggs

The eggs cooking in sauce:

HR cooking

Huevos plated

plate of HR

Yesterday I made pickled vegetables, Mexican style (Escabeche)



How to lay an egg

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on July 12, 2009 by xxxicana

Either Henny or Penny laid an egg this morning . .  and I was able to catch the process on video.  Nesting thru crowing took about 12 minutes.   This video is of the last few minutes; you can hear the egg drop.  Oops . . . I didn’t put enough nesting material in the box.

The girls have gotten quite big and should probably get even bigger now that I’ve switched them to layer feed.

Here are a couple of other photos from the garden.


Tom was going to throw out these old work boots, but felt bad to let them go.  Instead I put them in the garden and planted petunias.  The leather will degrade over time, but meanwhile we’ll ejoy the silly juxtoposition.


I planted a row of sunflowers for the winter birds.

P1010011Potatoes growing in a recycled container.  I’m hoping to get a good crop of little reds.

Mister Man and I attended Zoofest last night.  Here’s a photo with our pal Pablo

zoofestI got a new rodeo style top for the occasion!

Chickens don’t like mice

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on July 8, 2009 by xxxicana

Fortuitous circumstances found me with my camera just as a mouse tried to run the gauntlet of the backyard.  The mouse did get away . . . but I’m not sure if it survived.

Just a quick post of yesterday’s antics on the S & M Ranchette!

Hey Baby, it’s the 4th of July

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , on July 5, 2009 by xxxicana

One of our girls decided to celebrate the 4th of July by laying her first egg!  Our party had just started when someone noticed there was something in the coop . . . a little brown egg.   The girls are on their way to helping us eat local, fresh food.  Mister Man and I were as proud as new grandparents!  Here are some photos from yesterday:

1st eggThe Proud Grandpa

(notice the resemblance?)

car wth 1st eggThe proud Grandma

chickies in coopThe mamas

Early arrivals to the party were witness to the first egg . . . thanks guys for sharing this great moment!

dave, joan, timDave, Joan, and Tim

duncan, tomDuncan and Tom

4th of julyFolks enjoying food, drink, and conversation

Our party turned out to very fun, casual, and relaxing.  Here are Joan and Kim enjoying the evening:

joan, kim

Entertainment was provided by Tom Martin (playing his new National), Stan Martinez (drums), Pablo Rangel (harmonica), Gunter Voelker (Guitar), and Tom Voelker (harmonica)

july 4th jam 2

(left to right: Pablo, Tom, Stan, Gunter)

Phew, another great party . . . the day after has turned out to be exciting.  While Mister Man and I were enjoying our coffee outside, another egg was laid.  I took video of the process . . . .


(nesting material is shredded bills, thus foiling (or should that be fowling) identity thieves!)

egg #2Hen fruit #2

Proud mamas

I always thought that chickens squawked when the egg was popping out . . . but we have now learned that once the egg is laid the hen jumps out of the coop and starts yelling out “hey! look what I did!”  Since we can’t tell the chickens apart we don’t know if only one is laying or both . . . but from the video you can see that both are happy about the new egg.

Pullet eggs are the first eggs laid and are small.

egg #2a

Comparison with store bought large eggs

eggs in carton 2

The only down side to this is that I just bought a 50# bag of feed for growing chickens.  Now I’ll have to go back out to the Tractor Store to get layer  feed.   Nevertheless, Mister Man and I are so happy with our chickies – we enjoy their company and antics.  Hope y’all enjoy them virtually as well!

More Chickie-vision

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , on June 10, 2009 by xxxicana

Mister Man worked very hard today creating an enclosure for the chickies.  Our gals are now fully free range and seem to be enjoying their new area.  There’s a corner pile of grass clippings and leaf litter; perfect for a short nap.  The weeds are yummy, as are the bugs.  Here’s a view:

free range

You can see Mister Man’s handywork:  a coop and the enclosure.

The cats remain intrigued albeit  nonplussed:

chx & balam3

Today’s Chickie-vision:

Chickie update

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , on June 7, 2009 by xxxicana

It rained quite a bit last night and it’s too wet to go outside, so, I’ll write about the chickens.  We have been graced by our hens for almost month now . . . and the novelty hasn’t yet worn off.  Friday evening we sat out watching the girls scratch in the dirt while we played around on our computers, ordered food for delivery (with instructions to bring it out back), and drank (beer for Mister Man; iced tea for me since I’m on antibiotics).  It was a pleasant evening worth getting bit by bugs.   The chickies now have a coop thanks to Mister Man and I have clipped their wings so they can’t fly away.  I’ll share some old and new photos, plus a short video clip.

let me out

Here’s one of the girls . . . I know she’s thinking “Hey, Let me out!”

1st homeThis was their first home — very very makeshift.  Nevertheless, the girls did seem content.  They slept in a large cat carrier and had a small chicken-wire enclosure that I moved around the yard every day.  I covered it all with netting to keep the girls in and other critters out.  At night I moved the carrier into the garage since we have raccoons and opossums in the neighborhood.

Mister Man put together a very nice coop — but I haven’t taken pictures yet.  He plans on fencing and netting off the back part of the yard to create a large living area for the girls.

Meanwhile, I put the hens back by the compost pile which they LOVED!!  ooooooooh . . . . so many tasty bugs, grubs, flies, and worms!

grubin for dinnerWhat fun they had!

If I haven’t stated yet, the hens are Buff Orpingtons – a good hardy breed that is considered dual purpose (eggs and meat).  Orpingtons are docile, cold hardy, good mamas and self-sufficient — the perfect type for Nebraska.

looks like a cinder blockHere they are inspecting a broken cinder block. Since chickens have beaks, they seem to think that the world is in need of pecking!

who's over thereWho’s over there?

Live from Lincoln, Nebraska . . . .

Urban homesteading is all the rage now — and it’s a fad I hope more people choose to follow.  Home chickens are easy to care for, provide eggs, bug control, and entertainment.  Further, raising a couple of hens and sharing the proceeds with friends and neighbors lessens our reliance on egg factories that inhumanely treat hens like cogs in a machine.

Chickie-vision: Our new entertainment

Posted in Urban Farming on May 17, 2009 by xxxicana

Last weekend, Mister Man and I went to a party; the hostess has six chickens.  I was envious.  Monday, I called around for chickens.  Tuesday I drove out to the little town Clatonia to pick up two Buff Orpington pullets.  I couldn’t be happier!!

Now I can strike ‘getting chickens’ off my to do list.  Mister Man has been obsessing all week about a coop and ordered a kit last night.  He wants me to call Farmer Dan back up to get a sister for Bobbie and Teddy.  I’m not so sure that we need three hens . . . . that’s a lot of eggs (maybe up to 900 per year)!!!   Here are photos of the girls:


Two chickens fit just fine in a cat carrier!

spot & hens

Spot was very curious about the hens . . .

balam & hens

Balam was actually afraid of the chickens!

stepin out

First steps into the kitchen.

That’s right, into the kitchen.  Tom said that this reminded him of something his mom once said, “Just because you have chickens in the house, it doesn’t make you a farmer.”  The translation is that chickens in the house make you TPT (trailer park trash).  Well, that’s ok . . . I can live with that!  The hens did spend the first night in the house.  The cats paid them no attention!  But, the next day they had to go outside — it is only right and proper that chickens live outside where they can feast on grass, weeds, bugs, and worms.


On Thursday, our amigo Pablo came over to watch “chickie-vision” with us.  We sat out in the yard drinking beer and watched the hens.  I highly recommend chickens as stress relievers!  You just can’t worry too much about the world sitting around drinking beer, shootin’ the breeze, and watching the chickens.

I’ll be posting updates on the hens here and there, so check back to see how things are going!