The Dirty on Composting

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There is nothing new or inventive I can say about composting. I’m just gonna share how we do it and what we use. Last summer Logan’s grandfather whipped up this nifty compost bin for us. He knew we were not going to stay put for very long and would want to take our compost with us. It’s pretty simple I don’t think he used any plans or anything Just put it together. He is crafty like that.

Compost Bin

Two post hold up a metal pole. The metal pole runs through a plastic drum. The plastic drum has several holes drilled in it for ventilation and little tines on the inside to keep the material broke up.

Compost Bin Holes

Of course there is a door for dumping our goodies in. Our door has a lock to keep tricky little animals out.

Compost Bin Door

Thats it. Pretty simple.

Inside, we keep our daily compostables in a pretty little Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper.Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper

Its really one of my favorite things in my kitchen. It made something ugly and gross into something adorably chic. Its only one gallon and thats a little bittersweet. I have to empty it more often than I would with my big bowl but its kinds nice that it forces me to empty it more… Best part- NO Smell. It has this dandy little filter in the lid that keep the smell at bay and I have to say I am ver impressed with the odor control.

Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper Filter | Chic Sustainability

I ordered this chic little beauty on Amazon for just $24.32 and free shipping because I’m an Amazon Prime Member (totally worth it). It also comes in red, black and a stainless steel (a little different model). I highly recommend this compost keeper. I truly love mine. Norpro Ceramic Compost Keeper on Amazon.com

When I am preparing a big meal with lots of compostables I just put it in a bowl (first picture) and take it directly to the bin. Compostables in Bowl

Now what to compost. We keep it pretty simple in this department too. Only plant materials with the exception of egg shells (great when growing things like okra). Most composted things in our bin: tea leaves, egg shells, potato skins, onion skins, garlic skins, coffee grounds and carrot peels, in that order.

That is composting at our house we try to keep things simply sustainable and a dash of chic.

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The Egg Switch

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Most people are missing out when it comes to eggs. Farm raised, free range eggs are like gold, precious and incomparable to their store bought counterparts. Though usually smaller, the farm egg makes up for it’s size with big flavor. When we moved to the farm it was still warm out and the chickens were laying 4-5 eggs per day. It was wonderful. Now that it stays under 40 degrees consistently we get maybe one egg per day. That isn’t nearly enough, breakfast alone Amelia and I share 3 eggs. So I resorted to buying the tasteless store bought until today when I passed this sign on the way to the post office.

IMG_0389This little shop behind a house off the highway sold guns and eggs, yes guns and eggs. I really wanted to look around, they had huge chickens and geese or ducks (I didn’t look close enough). I would have loved to peek at her cute baby blue chicken coop but unfortunately the lady there was rude and very short with me. I bought my eggs at $2 per dozen which is worth the unpleasantness until we can amp up our own production. We have plans get a few more chickens to build a small coop to keep the them safe at night and give them a place to roost. Right now the hens take turns laying in this make shift bucket nest on the wall inside the barn.

Chicken roosting in make shift bucket nest | Chic Sustainability Blog

I don’t know why I this its so funny to me but I seriously crack up every time I see a chicken in there. I am looking forward to having a coop maybe like this on I found on Pinterest. Isn’t it dreamy? The plans are on Heather Bulllard’s website.

Heather Bullard's Chicken Coop-500wi

I know its a bit fancy but I really love it. I’m sure ours will be a little more practical but I’m determined to throw in that little bit of style. Maybe paint it a cute color like the gun/egg store’s baby blue coop. Either way I am glad to say we have switched to only local eggs and this spring when the sale barns start selling chicks we will build our coop and buy a few more egg chickens. Hopefully, also some bigger meat chickens so I can stop buying that dreadful Tyson chicken.

One step at a time we are reaching our goals!

the bread switch

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Last weekend Logan got the itch to make bread. We were out of sugar (I know, I know, how did I let that happen?). He found a recipe for white bread that used honey instead. You see, we are never out of honey. Logan’s dad raises a few hives of bees so honey is always on hand. At 7 PM last Saturday my husband starts making bread, he didn’t finish till after midnight. This recipe was found on reddit.com (when we went back to link to it, the recipe was gone).

White Bread

Ingredients

• 3 ½ cups hot water

• 2 Packets yeast

• 2 Farm Eggs

• ½ stick butter

• 1/3 cup honey

• 2 tablespoons salt

• 2 cups whole-wheat bread flour

• 6 to 7 cups white bread flour (preferably unbleached and stone-ground)

• four 8½X4½X2¾ bread pans, or 3 9X5X3 loaf pans, lightly greased

Procedure

  1. Place the butter, honey, salt, egg and whole wheat flour in a large bowl or bucket. Add hot water (just hot enough that you wouldn’t want to wash your hands under it–about 125°F for those of you who don’t like ambiguity) and stir until the butter is melted.
  2. Add yeast and allow to proof until the mixture is slightly frothy (it should sound like rice krispies when you stir it).
  3. Slowly work in some of the white flour, about ½ cup at a time, using a wooden spoon to stir. Once all the flour has been integrated, cover the dough and allow to rise until doubled in size (about an hour in a warm kitchen).
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until pliable and no longer sticky.
  5. Divide the dough into enough equal pieces to fill your loaf pans. Roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin until about ½ inch thick. Roll up tightly like a jelly roll, then return to the loaf pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under, pinching to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover the loaves again and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  6. During the last 15 minutes of rising, heat the oven to 350°. Bake the loves for about 45 minutes. Turn out the loaves from the pans onto wire racks. Allow to cool completely before freezing or cutting.

Note: You can substitute bread flour for all purpose flour (Logan did).

While I always like fresh bread. I was especially impressed with this recipe. It yields 4 loaves which is perfect for our bread loving family. Between our morning toast, Logan’s packed lunch sandwiches and the occasional sopping up of gravy at dinner those four loaves will last us a week. I stumbled upon this site for all things bread, thefreshloaf.com. There I found good tips for keeping bread. I choose this freezing method.

Slice in sandwich bread size slices.

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Group in 2-4 slices. Place in zip locking freezer bags in a staggered fashion.

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Now I wanted there to be as little air in it as possible. So I zipped the bag almost closed, left just a half of an inch open and sucked the air out. Sounds silly but it helps keep the bread fresh. (Alternately, you could use a vacuum sealer but the bags are so expensive I reserve them for keeping meat and other things that will be stored for longer than a week.) According to the website, you should be able to keep the bread this way for 2-3 months but like I said it never lasts that long in our house.

Place in freezer. Make sure they aren’t stuffed in they will squish. Once frozen, you can stick them anywhere.

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To eat: remove from bag and let thaw on the counter or toast.

After eating only fresh, homemade bread for a week we decided this is the everyday bread for us. The crust is just a little crunchy and the inside is oh-so-soft. We are making the switch to homemade bread. Look! We have already reached our first goal and crossed it off the list!

big plans

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we have big plans. lots of big plans. will we do everything we list here? probably not. something may end up too hard, somethings may end up unnecessary. they are just plans.
short term: starting in the next weeks
  • build a small green house
  • start herb garden
  • plant large veggie garden
  • build chicken coup
  • start using only our eggs
  • purchase and raise meat chickens
  • get serious about composting
  • find and use local Dairy source
  • make butter
  • switch to homemade bread
  • switch to natural homemade cleansers
near-ish future: in the next months
  • become totally independent of store bought meat (buy from local butcher or family)
  • build pig pin
  • purchase a goat for milk
  • learn to “put up” (canning, freezing, drying, ect.)
  • try to make cheeses
  • make homemade soda syrups for SodaStream
  • homemade soap
long term: in the coming years
  • grow grains for bread and beer
  • grow potatoes and corn al though they are easy they are also very cheap and accessible so no need to grow them
  • plant berry bushes
  • plant fruit trees
  • learn to grow mushrooms
  • learn to cultivate yeast
  • solar panels for new house water pump and water heater
  • raise our own calf, pig, occasional lamb

we have already started on some of these things. next post will be about the sustainable things we already do.