Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back to the Front Page

Thanks to some prodding from friends, we're back to blog more regularly. Aw - you guys are great. So there should be a few posts appearing more often than the usual "every blue moon." In this post, I'll catch you up on whats been news lately.

If you've not heard the old news, flip back and read about our trip through Patagonia, which wrapped up in January. Since then, I've switched jobs - haha, yet again. I decided to recognize that tougher times are just around the corner and picked up a full-time position at an old client. They're a good shop and have their eye on the long-term, instead of what seemed like very short-term thinking in some other places I've seen. Plus, the people are wonderful.

On the home front, we're still fuzting around with our bathroom remodel - slowly picking through the final pieces and putting them together now and again. We've definitely fallen into the "long tail" finish of this project. There's around 5 things left, its all going well though. We use everything in the room and it all works great.

We overhauled the "back 40" on our lot and tilled the yard up, spread compost everywhere and planted a mix of grass and wildflowers. It's been a cool, wet Spring so the sprouts are slowly coming along, but there's a peach-fuzz of green across the yard.

The chickens have been moved to the side yard. They don't like this area as much since their view is obscured and their sunlight is more limited. However, it gives the back yard time to revitalize and allows us to set up the garden without worrying about their scratching and pecking at all the sprouts.

I'm learning to bake bread! We don't have a bread mixer or a bread machine, so I'm perfecting the use of the food processor (the "chopper") for some initial mixing. I'm quite impatient so the "rising" portion of the making sometimes gets cut short. I still don't know what a second rise is all about, so I skip it. The first loaf was horrendously bad, as I didn't understand the purpose of gluten. (Imagine an all-gluten loaf of gum) The second loaf was better, but it was a little dense, as my yeast poured right through the chopper's center hole (note to self: turn machine on).

Han has been out in the nicer Spring days on paid shooting gigs. She's also picked up a very fun assistant position as a web designer for a sustainability blog. She's quite busy when those schedules converge, and the post-processing is a big job.

The bikes have been tuned up for Spring. I performed my first "brake job" on the mountain bike the other day - it was tricky but when finished, the lines have no bubbles and I could flip over the handlebars as easily as my first day. I rode to the new job yesterday and it was one of the most magical, wonderful routes I've ever enjoyed on the way to work. It's close to 15 miles each way, with a few steep hills, so the evening was a hot bath in the gigantic tub.

Hanmi set out the sprouts and our first round of garden plants are just about ready to go in the ground. She also prepped the plot and sowed seeds directly last weekend. I'm very excited. After a break last year from tomatoes and similar plants (peppers) - we're back with a full-range of vegetables: Potatoes, Cucumbers, Peppers, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Blueberries, Swiss Chard, Cilantro, Basil, Oregano, Sage, Spinach, Snow Peas, and 2 different kinds of Beans. The lots of Carrots and Brussel Sprouts, Mustard Greens, Kale, Lettuce, Chives, Onions, Garlic and other stuff are all around the house in planters. We also have a fig tree and a persimmon tree we planted last winter that will hopefully bear fruit this year. Should be interesting!

The eggs are arriving steadily, about 3 a day. We have given a lot away lately, which feels good. We received a cute Thank You note from a small child (and family) that walked by to "visit" the chickens, since they are now visible in the front yard. The chickens are quite friendly, almost to to point of being nagging in their quest for food, sunlight and attention. Riding on shoulders is a common sight when we're in the yard. We let them out to clean the front yard of slugs now and then. It's a fun, carefree feeling to relax with chickens napping on your legs on a lounge chair on the porch.

We are harvesting rain! The first 2 rain barrels are in place and full already. I'm slowly adding delivery pieces to the output side of the system. Our barrels are "nonstandard" in their storage, so that I could fit them under the back deck. But after a few tests everything seemed to work out. I'm very happy with it. We'll have the garden on a pH-balanced and filtered water system, run off a battery timer, flowing every morning for an hour or so. It's drip irrigation so there's not a lot of waste. The pressure from the gravity feed, with 110 gallons about 2 feet about ground seems fine.

We've played a lot with the numbers and the space we could devote to this concept. We have room for 6 more barrels for a total of ~400 gallons (about 3200 pounds!). I've been imagining some neat uses for all the water in later phases (toilet, basement sink, bird feeder, etc). For now, I've been advised to finish some older projects first. Wise, those unnamed advisers.

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