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Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

 
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Location: Oregon 8b
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Note to self: Your kale is too damn big. Pick less if you only want a meal's worth. Four leaves is almost too much.

That is all.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Like how we view fever as a symptom, when really it's the solution: our bodies are warming up in order to kill off foreign invaders. So too do we see neurodicergence as a symptom rather than a solution to increasing challenges.
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Posts: 19
Location: Harlan, Oregon Coast Range
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Hi Mat! Glad to read an update, and sorry to hear about your struggles. I can sympathize -- I'm only now, at age 51, starting to realize the extent to which I'm probably ADHD, anxious and depressed. Sigh... gonna be a lot of work, I think. But, gaining understanding of your conditions has got to be a crucial step towards building a happy life, right?

Dried favas -- how do you prepare them? I've long enjoyed having a simple middle-eastern bean dish, ful medames, for breakfast, though I rarely actually bother to do it. It's so good, keeps well in the fridge, and is easy to prepare, once the beans are cooked. Garnish with the fresh veg of the season, and it's a winner. Maybe I need to get off my butt and make some...

Your too damn big kale looks awesome!

Loving the ongoing story of your efforts, and I appreciate whatever updates you have capacity to provide. Stay cool in this heat wave.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Have I mentioned climate instability making annuals a dubious proposition? Because I think I mentioned climate instability making annuals a dubious proposition.

We went from 112 degrees one day to 74 degrees the next.

Zucchini survived. Kale survived. Not much else survived.

Even a lot of my perennials were destroyed. Gophers took advantage of the heat wave to dig in all of my wood chips, so that whole section of forest garden is destroyed and won't be usable until the wood chips are no longer tying up nitrogen.

And yesterday I was out scything and stumbled into a sweat bee nest. I'd rather run into yellow jackets. Yellow jackets at least give you fair warning. Sweat bees are just assholes. I booked it as soon as I noticed them coming out of the ground and managed to escape with only about 8 stings. I flooded the area this morning to encourage them to move on. Usually only takes 2 or 3 good soakings if they don't pack up and leave after the first one.

I've decided that there's no point in even bothering with vegetables next year. I may do a fall garden, since that generally goes off without a hitch. But this soil is simply too degraded and the climate is too unstable to rely on annuals. I've put in way too much effort the past two years just to have freak weather destroy everything. With more people, more resources, and with less degraded land, no doubt it could be done. But I don't have more people, more resources, or better land. And the hours I'm putting in to try to make it work with one person and limited resources is killing me and eating up all of the time and energy I need to get perennials in the ground.

I need to build up the soil before I have any hope of getting things to grow reliably and survive our increasingly erratic weather.

Next season my focus is going to be on scything to build up organic matter, and on animals for food.

I'll be fencing in half of the currently garden space (or possibly all of it if I have enough electric poultry net) and letting the chickens loose on it to keep the weeds under control. I'll be dumping in all of my scythings from around the property for the chickens to eat and incorporate. Basically my current deep litter system, but directly in the garden.

All in all, I'm expecting to hatch out 100 birds for my breeding project, and then put 90 in the freezer (or canned, more likely), leaving me with 25 birds to carry forward for the next round of breeding (at least, I should end this season with about 15 birds once I butcher my excess roosters.)

I also want to track down meat rabbits... a buck and a couple of does, most likely.

I did the math on it and it came out to within the target range for calories, with about half the calories coming from chicken/rabbit meat, and the other half coming from eggs. How I handle eggs is still a bit up in the air. I've figured out a breeding schedule such that I can have 5 clans, breeding one clan each month, butcher at 16 weeks, and that has me butchering 15 birds a month from each hatch from June through October, plus retired hens and roosters as it's their time.

Of course, I'm not intending to get all of my calories from meat and eggs. But, no longer having to maintain a garden frees me up to forage. I'll at least get some berries and acorns this year. Next year I'm hoping the hazels will be producing and that I'll be able to get a more substantial harvest of camas and cattail. Plus, sunchokes and achira look like they'll pull through, so I'm planning to increase the quantities of those that I'm growing.

I already have lighting sorted for the hen house, so I'm hoping I'll get good egg production over this fall and winter, since my new birds otherwise won't be old enough to produce before next season. Other than that, I'm hoping forage and whatever money I bring in from the writing job are able to cover what I wasn't able to produce this year.

Basically, what I'm trying to do with the remainder of this season is scythe and irrigate as much as possible to encourage weeds to fill in the areas that are still bare. Dropping what's already there helps hold in moisture and encourages seeds to germinate. What I've discovered is that grass and a few other perennials can hold up the the frequent cutting, and then the thistles can't compete very well with the thick mats of roots from the grasses. As much as possible I'm scything around mullein, plantain, dandelions, clover, etc. to encourage those species I prefer to set seed and fill in the space. The important thing is to have something growing there so that it's not bare ground for another season, so that means encouraging whatever will grow there to grow there and chopping and dropping whatever undesirable species show up.

There's a spot just to the west of where I'm establishing the main chicken "pasture" that will be a convenient spot to start concentrating on perennials. Because there's been no irrigation out here, I've been sticking things in the ground wherever. Now that things are getting a little more solidified, this is one area that has easy access, access to water, and is a convenient spot to start piling excess organic matter. I'll be able to keep a closer eye on things that I plant here, will be able to maintain a more significant sheet mulch, and can even tuck in the few annuals I still want to grow.

I'm really going to be switching things up, but what I've been trying to do as one person just isn't feasible given the circumstances. Leaning on animals to provide my calories will free up time with which I repair the soil and really focus on getting perennials in the ground. This will hopefully be a way saner way to go about things. But we'll see. So far reality has had more than a few things to say about my plans. Only time will tell if this is actually any better than what I've been trying to do.
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Chicken breeding calendar
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Mathew Trotter
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Andrew Sackville-West wrote:Hi Mat! Glad to read an update, and sorry to hear about your struggles. I can sympathize -- I'm only now, at age 51, starting to realize the extent to which I'm probably ADHD, anxious and depressed. Sigh... gonna be a lot of work, I think. But, gaining understanding of your conditions has got to be a crucial step towards building a happy life, right?

Dried favas -- how do you prepare them? I've long enjoyed having a simple middle-eastern bean dish, ful medames, for breakfast, though I rarely actually bother to do it. It's so good, keeps well in the fridge, and is easy to prepare, once the beans are cooked. Garnish with the fresh veg of the season, and it's a winner. Maybe I need to get off my butt and make some...

Your too damn big kale looks awesome!

Loving the ongoing story of your efforts, and I appreciate whatever updates you have capacity to provide. Stay cool in this heat wave.



I have not had any dried favas, only fresh, so this will be a first. I've not harvest about 70% of this year's crop. The early drought didn't do it any favors. It's going to work out to maybe a third of what I was hoping to harvest.

I'll cook some up soon and see how I like them. Given the ease of growing them, favas will likely be one of the few things I grow for next year, since I can basically throw them in the ground and neglect them and still get at least a small crop. I'm getting lots of seeds from my most productive plants, so I'm expecting genetics alone to really ramp up production next year.

Harvesting the rest might have to be my big chore for tomorrow...
 
Mathew Trotter
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Andrew Sackville-West wrote:Dried favas -- how do you prepare them? I've long enjoyed having a simple middle-eastern bean dish, ful medames, for breakfast, though I rarely actually bother to do it. It's so good, keeps well in the fridge, and is easy to prepare, once the beans are cooked. Garnish with the fresh veg of the season, and it's a winner. Maybe I need to get off my butt and make some...



Here's my ful medames for breakfast, at least at close if an approximation as I can get with the ingredients I have on hand. I was unsure about the flavor of the plain beans after cooking them, but once cooked up with spices, they're pretty good.

I didn't remove the skin from the beans, since I figured it was worth trying with as minimal labor we possible. I'm undecided. On the one hand, the skins add an unexpected chew to the dish that I think it would be better without. On the other hand, I feel like it needs the texture otherwise there might be a kind of off-putting smoothness to it. But that could just be down to the types of foods I've been eating, and textures that I'm absolutely sick of. I'll experiment with and without skins and see if it's worth the extra effort. I did see an Egyptian version where the whole beans were pushed through a sieve to exclude the skins. That could be another option (though that might honestly be more effort than just removing the skins.
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author & gardener
Posts: 1802
Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Mathew Trotter wrote:I didn't remove the skin from the beans, since I figured it was worth trying with as minimal labor we possible. I'm undecided. On the one hand, the skins add an unexpected chew to the dish that I think it would be better without.


Mathew, I've been interested in your fava experiments, especially the dried favas. What variety did you grow? This year I tried a variety called Sweet Lorane because they are said to be lower in tannin and don't need the skin removed. We actually ate them raw. I saved and dried a bunch of seed, which I may try cooking with.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Leigh Tate wrote:

Mathew Trotter wrote:I didn't remove the skin from the beans, since I figured it was worth trying with as minimal labor we possible. I'm undecided. On the one hand, the skins add an unexpected chew to the dish that I think it would be better without.


Mathew, I've been interested in your fava experiments, especially the dried favas. What variety did you grow? This year I tried a variety called Sweet Lorane because they are said to be lower in tannin and don't need the skin removed. We actually ate them raw. I saved and dried a bunch of seed, which I may try cooking with.



This is my second year growing them and eating them fresh. They definitely don't need the skins removed for that purpose, in my opinion, but the dried beans are more questionable. The variety is... Precoce di violetto? Something like that, at any rate. This generation was from saved seed, but the previous generation was from Baker Creek. A small percentage from this generation were not purple seeded. I don't know if that's just because they weren't fully mature when I harvested them, or if Baker Creek had some crosses that didn't show up until this generation.

I want to add in new varieties so that I can have a proper landrace. But because eating quality is not the same across varieties, I'm hesitant to add too much stuff at random. There are some with red flowers flowers that I'd love to add for visual interest alone, but I'm not sure how that variety is for eating.

Like I said, this variety is perfectly edible in the fresh stage with the skins on. I tend to just pan roast them and the skin crisps up. With the dry beans, it's probably down to personal preference. The skin didn't have a particularly bad flavor, but it is pretty chewy. Maybe reminiscent of fruit leather? Or gristle? I can't think of anything that's exactly like it. But definitely firmer than the bean itself, which easily took on a refried bean texture without a lot of prodding, and were probably something like a combination of a common bean and a potato when they were fresh off the boil. A slightly starchier mouth feel than a common bean.

They were definitely more flavorful as fresh beans than as dried. As dried beans they were pretty flavorless before the addition of spices. Which puts them on par with most store bought beans. But to be fair, I wouldn't have any concept of how flavorful common beans could be if I hadn't saved way more seeds than I needed for replanting green beans one year and was blown away by how flavorful they were. These favas definitely have room for improvement in the flavor department, at least as far as using them as dried beans. Having no other variety to compare them to, though, it's hard to say how much improvement is possible. Suffice it to say, I was pretty disappointed in them before they were spiced, and I would much prefer that the things I grow be flavorful in their own right.
 
Leigh Tate
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Location: Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
964
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Interesting. I have the same hesitation about trying to landrace favas and for the same reason. This was my second year growing them as well. Last year I grew Broad Windsor, which were delicious de-skinned and steamed, but I did think it was a lot of trouble to remove the skins. I'll probably stick with the same variety, and just see how it does for me over the years.

This was the first year we tried them raw, which I'm glad we did. Raw eating is a first choice here, with cooked food second. But drying or otherwise preserving is important too, for the winter diet! I do agree that a lot of it is probably personal taste. On the other hand, my husband and I want to eat more of our own-grown food, so we're learning to change our tastes.
 
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That's a hard choice to abandon annual vegetables but I get it about the climate instability. Fortunately so far we haven't experienced anything quite so severe as you folks out west. Still I've been working for several years to try to adjust.

My method of favoring short season maturity has had some success. The idea being that a crop has better chance of maturing between extremes and allows for  possibility of replanting one or more times in the same season if necessary. Attempts to grow more things in fall, winter and early spring have also shown some promise. Still, plants can only be pushed so far I'm afraid. Evolution and adaptation, even when purposely guided and selected for just don't work fast enough for such accelerating extremes.  




 
Mathew Trotter
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Mark Reed wrote:That's a hard choice to abandon annual vegetables but I get it about the climate instability. Fortunately so far we haven't experienced anything quite so severe as you folks out west. Still I've been working for several years to try to adjust.

My method of favoring short season maturity has had some success. The idea being that a crop has better chance of maturing between extremes and allows for  possibility of replanting one or more times in the same season if necessary. Attempts to grow more things in fall, winter and early spring have also shown some promise. Still, plants can only be pushed so far I'm afraid. Evolution and adaptation, even when purposely guided and selected for just don't work fast enough for such accelerating extremes.  



Yeah. I'm going to still try to do some fall/winter gardening since those seasons seen to be a little more predictable. And I'll put more focus on the things that mature early and get ahead of the drought. So, things like favas.

I didn't think that any of the Florida betony had lived, but I found two of the six plants and took cuttings to spread them around. Most of the achira had made it as well. Perennial tubers still seem like a promising avenue. They won't produce as well in especially dry conditions, but they'll at least live.

I just harvested pop beans. Out of 30-ish plants, I harvested about a dozen beans. Not great.

I have a spot just beyond the chicken run that I want to start developing with food forest... both to feed the birds and provide shade. It's within the fresh of irrigation, so it'll be less of a crapshoot than other spots I put things before we had irrigation.

We'll see. Always evolving.

Most things are on hold right now, since my scythe is out of commission. Apparently I lost one of the screws that holds the blade in place disappeared while I was running from bees. Waiting for replacements to arrive.

Thinking about broadcasting microgreen seeds I got from a friend over the area I've been irrigating to help fill in the blank spots.

Did leave the chicks outside for the first time last night. Did give them a heat lamp just in case, but they've been going overnight in the barn without a heat lamp. Been looking at different incubators to find something reasonably priced and effective for the amount of hatching I'll be doing. I've got about 6 months to sort it out. I'd prefer to have broodies hatch them out, but I have no expectation that I'll have brushes available to hatch out everything I need to hatch out.

The challenge continues...
 
Mathew Trotter
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