Squash figs onions garden harvest

Today we are eating our hard-won  harvest from the garden.  This year has been quite a challenge.  We have barely been able to gather anything from the garden due mainly to a population explosion of rats.
I’ll be making soup from the squash and onions, with fresh figs on the side.  I am looking forward to it.
Do you have a favorite squash soup recipe?  Let me know, I’d love to hear about it!


Rain Water Solutions partnered with Suburban Stone Age to film this micro-documentary on the impact rain barrels can have towards making sustainable changes at Home. We have had rain barrels for three years now, and they have been the instrumental in helping us survive the historic California drought. Enjoy this video and please leave us questions in the comments if you’d like to know more about harvesting rain water with rain barrels.

Video Transcript

[Music] sustainable living to me is leaving the earth better than it was when you came here we raise our own chickens we grow our own vegetables we use rainwater to irrigate as much as we can any little way that we can keep the resources from our home within our home and continue to use it to benefit ourselves he is something that’s more sustainable I [Music] first got my rainwater barrels when I was notified in my water bill that the county was sponsoring a rainwater barrel rebate program all I had to do is participate the county helped me step up and do something that was good for the whole community by recycling a resource that may otherwise just go straight to the sewer what I loved about them is that they did all the thinking for me anything that I thought I needed was already thought about in that rain barrel I went inside opened up the little accessory package set it up and I just modified my rain gutters to now shunt into the top of the barrel I did use a little hose so that when the barrel is full I can drain it where I want it also I have a hose for the overflow so that I can collect a barrels worth of water to use at my discretion when it isn’t raining [Music] we get most of our rain during the winter I stopped counting at five thousand seven thousand gallons right in there it’s astonishing how much water you can collect my kids grew up seeing that all the little changes you can make add up to making a pretty big difference making these improvements is really an accumulation of little baby steps as you go a rain barrel is perfect way to start because you can take something that was formerly wasted and you can use it to grow herbs for your salad or a favorite tree that you like or even flowers that are beautiful and make you happy rain barrels make a big difference and it’s something small you can do right away [Music]


You’re harvested your grapes, now what? In this video, I explain how to make DIY raisins from home grown, hand harvested grapes. Please enjoy, and leave a comment below if you have questions about making your own raisins!

DIY Raisins

Video Transcript

[Music] all right so I’m here processing grapes to be dried for raisins these are homegrown grapes from our backyard vines and here’s a few nobody um tips and tricks that I’ve come across working with these grapes first of all all these little stems that want to be attached and will take forever to remove my approach with that is to get as many off as I can in this pass but I know I will be back to prot you know work with these and kind of move them around they’re going in a dehydrator so I’ll want to switch the trays around and you know turn the grapes make sure that they get even drying conditions and every time I’m in here working with them I will take even more stems off my concern with stopping and doing it all at once right the second is that minute by minute these grapes are getting drier and drier and I don’t want to leave them on the vine I’m gonna get them picked and sorted and all that as fast as possible and get them into the dehydrator so that’s a decision that I made second of all I thought about leaving them on the cluster in the dehydrator as a even faster way to process all the grapes the problem I came across with that is that when they’re in a cluster it’s very difficult to see the bad ones so you are or I feel you’re better off spreading them out picking them off and then you can go through and you can get rid of the ones that are too small or have splits in them or or dirty or whatever don’t meet quality standards so I’m gonna spread out and you can see them it’s much better also a tool that has come in handy is this brush not only to kind of clean the trash out from underneath the tray as it falls through while you’re sorting but as you go through and you want to turn the grapes around it’s a gentle way to sort of flip them around and look for bad ones without being too rough on the grapes and this is nice because at this stage they’re pretty ripe a lot of them and too much pressure you can burst the skin on them and then they’re gonna you know be prone to rotting and not not make a good reason so you know you do it you can do it with gentle pressure you get them off the stem and then you know you go through and you pick out the other ones but this is a nice gentle way to just sort of move things around and get a better view using a brush like this also you can take this in and you can poke it through the trays in the dehydrator or to like get these little ones that get stuck like this one for example here it’s a tiny one I may not want to keep that in as a super small raising when it’s done it’ll be like a little rock so I’m gonna poke it through and then I can get it from this side and then get rid of it so I’m liking this this brush a lot oh another trick by the way is make sure you’re comfortable cuz you’re gonna be going through a lot of grapes and if yours I started standing and now I’m sitting at a table that’s comfortable because you’re gonna be picking through a lot of things so I ergonomics are good make sure you’re in a position that’s comfortable so you’re not you’re not trying to rush you know you do a pretty good job on the first pass don’t crowd the trays make sure there’s plenty of open spaces for circulation so that the warm air can you know come up and around and through also when I first started doing this I did it with a straight trip excuse me with the trays stacked right on top of the dehydrator but pretty quick I didn’t like that idea because all the trash started to fall through the top tray onto all the bottom trays and ended up having to clean the trays twice and it didn’t seem like I was actually saving any effort by doing that plus it made it got to a height where I had to stand to deal with it which was uncomfortable after a few minutes and so I abandoned that that technique pretty quick and now I’m just doing it tray by tray then I can clean the trash falls into the pad below on the table and then I can sit down and be comfortable and work with them and still make decent progress so these are these are grapes grown on my backyard vine which is three years old there are Thompson seedless grapes they’re pretty small they’re not like the grapes that you see in the store the reason is is that I don’t do anything as of yet to try to artificially get them to be larger I was wondering myself why are my grapes as small and so I started looking into it and I found that commercial growers in addition to a technique they called girdling where you cut a trench around the phloem of the plant any way you cut it cut the nutrients off from the plant and it makes the nutrients stay up in the fruit instead of being able to acts like flow down to the roots that’s a technique but also they dust them with hormones which I’m you know I’m not I’m not gonna do and that’s you know plant hormones but still you know I will try it girdling cuz my grape is so robust that I yeah it’ll stress the plant a little bit making to girdle it but it’s so healthy and soda bust that I just think it’s gonna grow it like keep on growing it won’t even make it blink so I don’t really feel I’m gonna do damage to the mother plant yeah so I’m gonna try and future harvests to get my grapes as big as possible because it’s better if you if you’re gonna do the work it’s better to you know have more quality and maybe less quantity I have found when it comes to processing fruit then it is to have a bunch but help them be kind of little and a pain in there you know they’re just they’re not the quality you’re looking for and not you know philosophy also applies to like thinning fruits on your trees which is hard for me to do I don’t like to remove fruit you know it’s it’s it’s tough because you feel like you might be wasting or whatever but you know you do it because it’s better better in the long run at the time of Marvis to have more quality than quantity and your future you will thank you for preparing the way when it’s harvest time and preparation time to make the job as efficient as possible finally another technique to two large grapes is thinning so if you see here this is a really long natural like mine right you see it now oftentimes if you look at the structure of a vine at the store they’ll take it and they’ll pinch off the tip so it’s like a fatter cluster but I don’t you want to do that with sheers you these vines are so tough you never want to twist or yank or pull or whatever we’ll go over that in a different video on how to hand harvest your grapes but but anyway they’ll go through and they’ll trim off this bottom piece and they’ll trim out pieces so that although there are less fruit there is more nutrients available to the fruit that remains and that helps them to grow bigger and juicier and and all those things so I missed my window this year all this preparation happens in the spring when the vines are small you thin the fruit when they’re flowering you know you can trim the vines when they’re when they’re trimmed the clusters when they’re very small and you know I’m kind of getting to it behind the curve now but I pay I’m paying the price so you know my grapes are small they’re they have good flavor and it was definitely time to harvest and you can tell that because the animals start to eat them like the animals are on high alert for for a grape time and they’ll start eating them as soon as the first ones start to get ripe so they’ll tip you off also they get plump they get kind of translucent they get sweet so you’ll have to go in there and taste them once you pick them they don’t get any sweeter so you’ve you got to keep tasting them to sort of you know pull the plug when you think their flavor is as sweet as you want without letting it go too far also the longer you leave them on the vine you know the more risk there is to splitting and damage and blah blah so anyway um so that’s what I’m gonna try next year is how to grow large grapes didn’t get them this year but I I’m going to make use of the grapes I did get we’re gonna learn some things about how to make reasons and we’ll see put these in the dehydrator and see how they do we have some leftovers in the you know the split ones and such that I have kind of a rejects see this is oh never mind it’s gonna say when it looked like that it’s kind of how a trimmed cluster will look will fatten and juicy but not you won’t have that big long tail hanging down like this one has the big long tail hanging down see it there’s like a trim cluster you can tell it’d be more more chunky do the like that look there like that you see the difference okay so anyway so the ones that are left my dehydrator is full right now a lot of these are acceptable but I’m not gonna get greedy I’m gonna run my batch in the dehydrator I think I will make my chickens in my tortoise extremely happy they love these grapes I’m gonna eat some I’m gonna share some with my family and I’m gonna share some with my animals fresh I may leave some for the birds although I did leave some out on the vine just for the birds I always do that as like a little offering the birds in my yard helped me so much with pest control and there’s such a delight for me to watch and I enjoy their company that whatever I grow I will leave a little bit for them so that they and their babies I have so many wild bird babies in our yard you know have have enough to eat it’s like a little you know thank you so yeah that’s our grape harvest that’s us how to make raisins thoughts behind it few little creative ideas and tips and tricks and thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time


Siberian Husky Shedding Coat

Video Transcript

this is Roxy our a Siberian Husky Buck see hey Roxy cuckoo Danny now and she’s shedding right now it’s spring this is what it looks like you can see the fur crater where all her hair isn’t and then when a husky blows their coat in spring the hair just comes out and it’s so much I brush like a lot oh but you still get hair bombs everywhere it’s just what it is to have a husky and so that you can really see the difference in the in the fur this is nothing left here but like the guard hairs and then all this is that warm awesome double coat you can do Rosie good girl oh okay stop

New Farm

As I look back on Suburban Stone Age over the last seven years, I realize we have been through many stages of growth.

The first three years we were getting established.  I was home full time, and invested in the long-term foundations of the farm, such as planting fruit trees.

The next three years, I went back to work at an office job full time.  Also, the worst drought in California’s recorded history peaked.  The results on the farm were that because I did not have the same time to devote, nor the water to spend, the farm contracted and simplified and went into survival mode.  Outwardly, it looked more like a leisure garden than a working farm.

But survive we did, and now I am  back on the farm full time, now and forever. It has taken several months of reorganizing, soul-searching, planning, failing, and trying again to get to a place where I’m ready to launch.  But we are there.

I will be rebooting the farm, and bringing you along for the ride.  Buckle up and hang on, we are going to have some fun proving sustainability works!

More to follow, stay tuned.

 

I have the whole, entire house to myself for the weekend – and you know what that means?  Aside from being able to walk around naked whenever I want, it means I get to try out old-fashioned beauty treatments that would otherwise be too messy, weird, and drippy to use when there is a house full of men getting in the way and asking awkward questions.

So today, I am treating myself to a DIY all natural hair conditioner to see if it really lives up to the hype.  Ever since my mom chopped my hair to the shoulders when I was six because I would never brush it before rolling out of bed to go play in the dirt field, I have wanted long hair.  LONG hair.  Like to my butt, at least.  But alas, after all these years, I have never been able to grow it past my bra strap. I’ve been on a mission for the last two years to break my hair record, and experimenting with age old hair-nourishing beauty treatments is part of the program.

All Natural Ingredients

Taking a tip from the ladies of Youtube, I decided I’d try some kind of blend of protein, oils, and acids that I could find around the house.  Here’s what I could find:

  • Yoghurt, plain.  A fistful is a good amount.
  • Coconut oil. I have it around for… reasons.  Conditioning my long hair has now become one of them. Use as much as you think might make a nice sized spoonful of ice cream.
  • An egg.  Sadly, not from my own chickens, who are still too young, but one from the store.  Use whatcha got, we can get fancy later.
  • Juice of one lemon.  Thankfully my neighbor has a lemon tree that has been dropping lemons on my side yard for months.  So I was able to scrounge the least offensive looking one from under the boat and juiced it. Worked great.
  • Now, blend. Nuff said.

Applying Conditioner to Hair

I reasoned that the ends of my hair awere in the worst shape, so I grabbed them up in a bunch and dunked them into the mixture as if they were a big, fat frazzled paintbrush.  Amazingly, the ends soaked up a lot of the goop and it didn’t drip off too much.  With what was left in the bowl, I massaged my hair working my way toward the roots until the goop was all gone. Finally, I wrapped my goopy hair in a towel and let it marinade while I walked around the house naked and did whatever.

Rinsing

When it’s been a good 20 mins or so, or you’ve run out of things to do naked, wash the goop out under the faucet.  Then shampoo and condition your hair per usual. Easy.

Results

If you wash it well, your hair should not be greasy, or eggy, or dairy-y.  In fact, my hair came out very soft, although it seemed to have a little “heavier” of a texture than usual.  Not that I mind.  I enjoyed how soft my hair had become, how easy it was to braid, and that warm, fuzzy feeling I got when I knew I had done something nice for my hair AND found a DIY all natural treatment that actually seems to work.  I’ll be coming back to this one for sure.

Try it!

Give the above treatment a try and let me know your thoughts.  Or, if you have an all natural hair conditioner secret to share, I’d love to hear about it (and even try it!)

Here’s to long flowing locks to our butts and beyond!

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce we officially have frogs at SSA!
 
How do I know, you may ask? Because I could tell from what was left of a webbed back leg on my lawn that we definitely had a (former) frog on our hands.
 
I am sure Roxy (our Husky) has been hunting the frog for some time. It was a beauty too, (at least the part I could still see). After I scraped if off the lawn and put it in the trash, I was able to admire how fat (now flat) and colorful (now covered in dirt) this handsome (and smelly) frog once was. My chest swelled with pride (and so did my nostrils from the stink cloud).
 
As I measure my success in biodiversity, dead or not this frog represents a special first. Over six and a half years, and we are still new getting surprises.
 
If there is one, there are more. And I am hoping this is the start of a new froggy trend. Next they just need to learn how to avoid the wolves (Huskies).

Permaculture QuoteThe gardens at Suburban Stone Age have been strongly influenced by permaculture concepts. For those new to the term, permaculture is defined by Wikipedia as “a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.”

The promise is that if your follow Nature’s grand design, you not only build a sustainable garden that provides you with food and resources. You build a food web that extends beyond your human needs and into the natural community that exists beyond your backyard fence, for the benefit of all.

It has been over 6.5 years that Suburban Stone Age has been in operation – long enough to flirt with being a “mature” garden.  And I can tell you, without a doubt, that permaculture principles work.

We don’t use pesticides, we invite birds to do the work instead.  We recycle nutrients through the use of compost to let the land feed itself.  We build the soil with humus so that it can hold more water – this helped our plants survive the greatest drought in California’s recorded history. We group plants according to their habits and functions, so they can thrive and provide the maximum amount of usefulness to ourselves and the natural community.

This was all begun because of the promise that if you build it, they will come.  The plants, animals, and abundance, that is.  And there has been no truer promise, no more spectacular return on the investment, than what the gardens of Suburban Stone Age have become.

If you are curious about permaculture and how it works, please leave a comment.  I am happy to share whatever knowledge and experience I can.  And be sure to keep checking back for updates, as the best is yet to come!