The City Girl Farmer


Harvesting Lettuce Seed
October 21, 2010, 6:15 pm
Filed under: Garden, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I’m afraid my garden suffered from its usual late summer neglect as I burned out on weeding and making my children weed early in August.  Most of my lettuce did not come up or was killed by the days of hot winds we had in the spring.  Despite the awful growing conditions prevalent in my garden this year, some plants came up and actually produced.  I decided since the garden was already suffering from a great deal of neglect, that would let those plants go to seed and see if I could save the seed for next year’s garden, which will be in square foot boxes!

Lettuce that has gone to seed

When lettuce seed is ready to harvest, little tufts that are somewhat reminiscent of dandelion seed will appear at the top of the plant.   If you pluck those you will find that they are rooted in a tiny cup full of lettuce seed.

I gathered some and put them in ziploc bags for use next year.  Check back next spring to see the results of my first seed saving project.  Who needs Monsanto, eh?

Lettuce seed still on the plant

Lettuce seed

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Making Soap
August 6, 2009, 8:27 am
Filed under: Goats, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

My neighbor has dairy goats and I was able to get hold of a little goats milk to try my hand at soap making.  I’m afraid I’m not much of a chemist and do not really understand the saponification process.  It’s actually quite intimidating since anywhere you look on the web there are stern warnings with regard to handling lye.  I wore rubber gloves and goggles but drew the line at shoes.  It was a hot summer day.

Just poured into the mold

Just poured into the mold

As I was mixing it all together, I thought I’d check the internet to see how long it was supposed to take before “trace”, where the soap begins to thicken.  In the 5 minutes I was away from the soap it went from making a line across the top of the mixture to being a batter consistency.  Oops!  I managed to get it into the molds anyway but I’m afraid it was a little thick.  The other thing that occurred to me after the fact was that perhaps I should have weighed all the fat instead of using liquid measuring cups for the liquid fat, like avocado and wheat germ oil.  Still don’t know the answer to that one.  Unfortunately it takes a little more care to make soap than a batch of cookies.  If you get the fat to lye ration wrong, you either end up with a caustic soap-like product or too much fat-not-bonded-with-lye which will go rancid with time.   I’ll try to remember to post an update.  Here are some tidbits I found interesting during the process:

  • The most expensive ingredient was the essential oil used for scenting the soap
  • The color in the picture is the natural color
  • I need to grease my molds better next time
  • Different oils add different qualities to your soap

The soap needs to cure for 3 weeks so I’ll post results of the quality of the product after we have a chance to try it.   The two obvious flaws are that the bottoms of the soaps are not flat as the mixture was a little too thick when poured and there was some damage to a couple of bars because the molds were not adequately greased.  Next batch should be significantly better.



Poetry in Motion
May 28, 2009, 9:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized
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Jazz and Julie coming to the barn through the mist

 



Nothing Says Home School Dork Like Making Soap From a Yucca
May 9, 2009, 8:14 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Jon found an article about how you can make soap from a yucca and suggested we try it some time as a home school project.  Yuccas are plentiful around here and they are a weed that can take over your pasture, so it seemed like a good idea to make use of the weed.   In fact, I learned yucca has another name:  soapweed.  Who knew?

So off Thomas and I went to stalk the kill.

Returning victorious with hands full of yucca root

Returning victorious with hands full of yucca root

We found a decent sized plant and went about digging it up.  Yucca roots grow deep and we dug a hole about 2 1/2 feet deep and still didn’t get the whole root out.

We came home and started to prepare the roots for the food processor.  They have a thick, bark-like covering, but on the inside they are white and have a consistency much like ginger.

Yucca roots

Yucca roots

Cutting the bark away from the root

Cutting the bark away from the root

Yucca root cleaned and ready to be chopped up

Yucca root cleaned and ready to be chopped up

After the roots were peeled, I washed them, chopped them up and put them into the food processor.  What came out was a creamy white puree about triple in volume to what had gone in.

Processed yucca root

Processed yucca root

I added about 2 cups of water to get the soap into solution and then strained it.  We added some essential oil and voila!  Soap!  It seems to work well and it’s good to know you can do it.  It was a lot of work, though, so I’m not sure that’s how we’ll always get our soap around here.

Update:

I had an allergic reaction to the soap and don’t use it any more.

Straining the puree

Straining the puree

Finished product

Finished product



Colorado Springs Residents Will Sleep More Soundly
January 15, 2009, 6:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,
Just a little review of the damage....

Just a little review of the damage....

I know I should be on my knees thanking God that we were unhurt….but anyone who’s been

Hmmm...Might be kind of close *drip sarcasm here*

Hmmm...Might be kind of close *drip sarcasm here*

in an accident knows that it generates a bunch of inconvenience at best.  It took our carrier eleven business days to settle a total loss on a vehicle.  Could someone please explain that to me?   I looked at Kelley Blue Book’s website, looked at the damage on our car and even I could tell is was well over $2,500.   Just to prove I’m no rocket scientist, let’s review the damage, shall we?   This is a front wheel drive vehicle and by the time it made it to the towing yard that left front wheel had been rotated 90 degrees.  Here’s what it looked like on the the inside of the wheel well.  OK, so much for rocket science.  We worked our butts off and found a car last weekend we could afford once the insurance company settled.

This is where the wheel was shorn off

This is where the wheel was shorn off

The seller kindly waited  for us to be paid and I got someone to drive me the 70 plus miles to go get it yesterday afternoon.

Since I had to go into Colorado Springs today anyway to see the chiropractor and meet with the drunk driver’s claims adjuster (both of which would have been unnecessary in the absence of an accident) I thought I’d stop by the DMV and pay the sales tax and get it registered.  I had the title and the bill of sale with me in the car.  I was maybe two miles into the Colorado Springs city limits when one of their finest pulled me over for having “no visible evidence of registration.”  I told him my plan:  going to the doctor, meeting with the adjuster and stopping by DMV.  I explained that we had been hit by a drunk driver three weeks ago and that this was the replacement vehicle.  I showed him the title, the bill of sale, my license and proof of insurance, all to no avail.  He informed me that he was letting me off easy as there were many offenses involved with a lack of license plates  and he was only citing me for one of them (sorry, didn’t bother to ask what the others were but I got the impression he could have “thrown the book at me”), and that it was illegal to drive an unregistered vehicle anywhere but home.   I clarified that it was illegal to drive it straight from where you bought it to the DMV.  So anyone buying a used car from a private party in the state of Colorado can consider this post a public service.  Now you know.  I was told by the employee at the DMV that technically a person is supposed to come in with the seller and do all the signing together, in person, at the DMV.   Right.

Anyway, I have a court date on April 9th and I intend to be there.  I’m sure teaching an errant citizen like me a lesson has made it so the residents of Colorado Springs will sleep better tonight.

Here’s the new car.  Thomas is thrilled.  It’s an upgraded minivan:  towing capacity and four-wheel drive.  And license plates.

The "new" Tahoe

The "new" Tahoe

UPDATE:  I went to court on April 9th, armed to the gills to argue my case.  I presented myself to the nice lady at the desk who, when she looked up my case, simply said, “Just bring me your registration and I’ll dismiss this for you.”   It was rather anti-climactic not to be able to tell the whole awful story to the DA’s office but we’re a hundred dollars richer and it took less than five minutes.



Update on the Accident
December 30, 2008, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,
Minivan in the tow yard

Minivan in the tow yard

I spoke to the state trooper this afternoon and found out some things.  The driver who hit us was arrested in his home by two state patrol officers.  He was passed out on his couch when they found him and so seriously inebriated that they could not leave him alone when they were done.  They found open alcohol containers in his car and his home.  His car keys were in his pocket.  That was nice since he won’t be able to claim that some drunk person (not him) stole his car and ran into us.  He refused blood alcohol testing which apparently a person has a right to do in the state of Colorado, however it results in an automatic one year suspension of your driver’s license.  If he is caught driving without a license he will go straight to jail and have to post a $10, 000 bond.

He was driving a black jeep and his car was damaged in a way very similar to ours.  His airbag deployed which spared him facial injuries the officer believes he would have received without its protection.  Apparently he bumped his left knee on the dashboard and otherwise escaped with minor injuries, much as we did.  The driver of the car we were knocked into was unhurt and was able to drive his car home.

The driver who caused the accident was insured and did not have a Colorado license.  The officer found out that he had had his license suspended in another state.

Unfortunately, I’m still suffering mentally and that information combined with what I know about recitivism in drunk drivers does not contribute to my sense of safety on the road.  Am I too cynical in believing that he will do it again, without a license and without insurance next time?



The Many Miracles of Christmas Eve
December 27, 2008, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

The old fashioned name for Christmas Eve is the Vigil of the Nativity of  Our Lord.  Historically, it has been a day of fasting (who knew?) and abstinence.  I had been spending time thinking about the miracle that God would humble himself to take on human flesh and suffer Himself to be born in poverty in a nation which was in a state of political turmoil.  I did penance by cleaning the house. 🙂  There was a peaceful lull after I got done feeding the horses (note the plural:  there is a story about that that should have been told before this story.  I’ll tell it later.) where we were just enjoying the peace and anticipating picking up the kids and taking them to Midnight Mass.  Christmas Eve

We never made it.  We were heading out of town when a drunk driver crossed into our lane, both of us traveling 60-65 mph.  It was very dark and very cold.  It was clear and a bit windy but there was no moon and where we live, no street lights on the highway.  All we saw were the headlights coming at us and it was about 3-4 seconds between the time he crossed the line and impact.  Jon swerved to the right and we took the hit on the left front corner of our minivan.  The impact knocked us into the car on our right which we had just passed.  The impact knocked our left front wheel 90 degrees, from the vertical, rolling position to the horizontal, scraping position, with the tire being knocked completely off and dragging along.   At some point we became attached to the car on our right and instead of rolling over our left front wheel (or spinning around it, miracle #1), we skidded at a 45 degree angle to the left with the car next to us providing braking power and ballast, and came to rest on the opposite side of the highway, on the shoulder as if we intended to park there.  (There was a ditch there, which we mercifully did not continue into, miracle #2.)  The car that had been attached to us came loose and pulled in about two car lengths ahead of us.  Jon and I both sat there, somewhat stunned.  My purse had been opened on my lap so much of its contents had flown out and landed on the floor.  The interior lights were on (maybe because Jon’s door had been punched open?) and I was able to find my phone.

Front left wheel after accident

Front left wheel after accident

The driver of the car that we were knocked into offered us a blanket as all of a sudden we had two wide open windows and no heater.  Jon’s teeth were beginning to chatter from the cold and I was trying to warm him with my body heat.  The guy who offered us the blanket was apparently unhurt (miracle #3).  I never saw his car as the ambulance that responded first parked between us.   Did I mention that it was dark?  It turns out his wife and children were in the car ahead of him and saw it happen.  His wife was the one who called 911.  She was doing that while I tried to call Juliana to let her know we would not be able to pick her up.  She had turned her phone down since we were picking them up for church and she didn’t want her phone going off in the middle of the service.  She didn’t get the messages I left for her until she noticed that we were really late.  She turned on her phone and saw texts, voice messages, and a few missed calls, poor thing. 😦

We got out of the car and walked to the ambulance, both of us covered with shattered glass.  Anyone who’s been in an accident like this knows about the glass shower.   It’s amazing where you keep finding glass.  Jon had a nasty goose-egg bruise on his cheekbone and a half-inch laceration right on top of it and his shin was bruised.  He received the greatest injury of anyone involved.  We did not want to go to the Emergency Room where Jon might have received a stitch or two (miracle #3 and greatest of all).

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Jon's laceration/contusion 2 days after the accident

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Bruise on my right thigh after two days

Unfortunately, the minivan did not fare so well.  For some silly reason it’s really traumatic losing a car.   It’s just a car and it did it’s job.  The passenger compartment was mostly intact and we had just suffered a fairly high-speed collision.   But it was the car we have had since the kids were really little, the only car Thomas really remembers and it is sad to see it go.  He is particularly crushed about it.

Thomas and I went to the tow yard together yesterday to get the rest of our personal belongings out.  Here is what it looked like in the daylight.

Left side of minivan in the daylight

Left side of minivan in the daylight

Front left corner of van in the daylight

Front left corner of van in the daylight

Wondering about the driver that hit us?  He was drunk.  He tried to escape in his car but it came to rest about 1/4 mi down the road in a ditch near the cemetery, ironically enough.  When he couldn’t go in his car any more, he fled on foot.  Last I heard there were two state troopers and a sheriff’s deputy after him/her.  I heard the car was a Jeep or SUV, but I never saw it, only its headlights.  Did I mention that it was dark?

Since all our friends were either in bed or at church, we were offered a ride home by the volunteer fire dept. in Calhan.  The kids’ bio-Dad brought them home at their request and after we hugged each other and thanked God we could be together again, we opened some presents and then went to bed around 3:30 Christmas morning.

Our priest asked for prayers for us at the later Christmas masses and we have been the beneficiaries of much love and offers of help.  We are truly grateful and basking in the prayers.