Archive for the Urban Farming Category

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!

September Rain

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , on September 3, 2008 by xxxicana

It was a rainy day today, a test of my commitment to bike to work. I was lucky — I was able to dodge rain drops to and from! The change in weather is a reminder that fall is imminent – my favorite time of the year. Readers in the Lincoln area are invited to check out my sidebar for the link to Community CROPS. They will be giving a tour of the Sunset Community Farm on Monday Sept. 15th 5:30- 7:30 pm. Additionally, Martin’s Hillside Orchard has opened apple picking season. And, the various farmers markets are still going strong. I took a little time this weekend to do some prep work for fall jams and jellies. Big thanks go out to Joan, Leslie, and Shari for sharing grapes with me. My plan is to put up mint, sage, lemon balm, grape and raspberry jams/jellies. Last fall I made cran-apple butter which was super on pancakes. I have one jar left — just enough to see us through the month.

I have added a link recommended by CROPS — 50 Ways to Help the Planet. Check it out and see how many things you are already doing and new ideas to save energy.

Roasting Chiles, Part Deux

Posted in Urban Farming with tags on August 24, 2008 by xxxicana

Mister Man ordered 25 lbs of Hot Hatch Chiles from Berridge Farms, NM — right after my mom and dad sent 25 lbs to us the week before! We gave some of them to friends, and roasted the rest last night. I am thinking of awarding Tom an “Honorary Mexican” card for being an ace roaster. He also brought out Los Lobos music to work by [plus he’s trying to learn the song ‘Mas y mas y mas”]. Tom also knows the correct response to the New Mexican State Question: “Red or Green” . . . . and he took a ritual dusting at Chimayo a couple of years back . . so, his apprenticeship is going pretty well!

Chiles in a Tub

Waiting for the coals to heat up

Skinning the peppers

Check out the nice grill table hand-made by Mister Man. It is the perfect height for working and looks very nice, too.

Pinto Beans – It’s what’s for dinner

Tonight we’ll be enjoying a pot of pinto beans (with a ham hock thrown in) and green chile.  These pintos are also from New Mexico — I picked them up in Bernalillo last summer.  Any Southwesterner worth her salt knows that the right bean is the pinto.  Black beans, Kidney beans, Navy beans, Garbanzo beans — these area all fabulous beans in their own right . . . but for the perfect southwestern dinner, it’s gotta be a pinto!

Roasting Green Chiles!

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , on August 20, 2008 by xxxicana

Monday was roasting day! My mom and dad sent a box of Hatch Green Chile from Albuquerque . . . it arrived while we were out of town. For those of you not in the know, Hatch chile is the premier chile . . . and people from New Mexico and Colorado won’t settle for anything less. We will be eating a lot of this vitimine C packed chile over the winter . . . the day after my mom told me she was sending a box, Tom ordered another 25 lbs from the farm!

Step 1: Cleaning

Cleaning is important to wash off any dirt and gunk. Since the chile box sat for a few days, I also checked each chile for rot — fortunately, my neighbor Leslie brought the box indoors for me and opened it up to allow the chile to breathe. We had hardly any chiles that had gone bad.

All clean and ready to go! Note the brown paper bag — this is to “steam” the chiles after they have been roasted. It makes removing the skin easier.

Step 2: Put them on the Barbie

Yummmmmm . . . . can’t you just SMELL the chiles roasting? At this rate, the roasting took all afternoon. In New Mexico the vendors use big propane roasters that take care of the job quickly. But, once roasted, the chiles have to be refrigerated or frozen.

Step 3: Peel and Bag

I didn’t take pictures of the peeling process since it is pretty messy. But be warned – WEAR GLOVES. My daughter one time processed a bunch of jalapeños and had to call the poison control line. Their advice — soak your hands in milk of magnesia!

The final count: 25 lbs = 16 1/2 quart bags. It doesn’t seem like much, but it will do for now.

Chile, it’s whats for dinner. I had pork bones in the freezer, boiled ’em up and made green chile stew and fresh flour tortillas for dinner.

Here’s the recipe: pork (1/2 to 1 pound), fry with onions and garlic. toss in green chile (1 bag), can of fire roasted tomatoes, 1 pound of cut up potatoes, 2 cups of water or stock; salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer until it is time to eat dinner. I forgot to take a picture of the finished stew.

[you are probably wondering who keeps pork bones in the freezer . . . I was brought up with a “waste not, want not” mentality.  The pork bones were from our 4th of July party — I made pulled pork and some of the pork butt had bones.  I threw them in the freezer thinking that at some point boiling the hell out of them would make a nice broth and cook the bits of meat still attached.]

Canning Workshop with Community CROPS

Posted in Urban Farming with tags , , on August 10, 2008 by xxxicana

Yesterday I led a workshop on boiling water canning for Community CROPS (Combining Resources, Opportunities, and People for Sustainability) which works with refugee, immigrant, and low income people in Nebraska. Community CROPS also works diligently with gardeners, local organizations, and schools to promote local, organic food production. I am proud to be able to offer my small part to the efforts.

Our group consisted of nine local women, CROPS Assistant Director Brad Kindler, and myself:

please note: I am scrunched down so everyone would be visible in the photo . . . I am NOT, I repeat, NOT that short!!

As can be seen, we did a simple procedure: hot packed tomatoes (which came from the CROPS farm). All the participants helped to blanch, skin, cut and pack the tomatoes. Once we had the jars in the canners, Brad took everyone out for a visit to the Antelope Brethren Church plot (the church donates the plot for gardeners).

Here are a few picts of our tour.

Brad Kindler explaining the garden. Community members from Bosnia, Africa, Iraq, and Mexico grow over 35 different types of plants in this small garden!

Some of the plants:

These red inflorescences are volunteer Amaranth, a grain from Mexico that is higher in protein than any other grain. Its cultivation was banned by the Spanish due to its association with “pagan” Aztec rituals.

Okra: I had okra for the first time last year — an Iraqi recipe made with tomatoes . . . .YUMMM! Okra really grows well in Nebraska and is popular with lots of people.

Tomatillo: Also from Mexico. These are similar to green tomatoes, except they grow in little papery husks (like chinese lanterns). Tomatillos make the BEST green salasa!

Tree collards: CROPS got the cuttings from California. I had never heard of such a plant. Apparently it is not as susceptible to insects (they don’t know what it is either!) — and has served as cattle forage and human consumption in Africa. The problem CROPS is facing is how to overwinter this California adapted plant!

To end the tour, we received advice on composting from Brad.

Once we got back into the kitchen, we had to wait another 20 minutes for the tomatoes to finish. This was the best part! We sat around and exchanged stories of our mothers, grandmothers, and our own experiences with canning, gardening, and life. What a fulfilling day!