216 <3

216 <3

It is now 2012. I am going to apologize for the disarray, and then quickly move on as though no time has been lost. First, a quick recap, just to bring you up to speed…

The chickens are doing wonderfully! Although the Winter has been rather mild, and the rest of the United States knows this area was in dire need of a mild Winter’s start, there have been a handful of very cold, flurry-filled days. The ladies seem to spend most of their time hanging out in a blue plastic tub I put on its side to block the wind under their coop. The drop in temperature means they aren’t producing at their full potential, but in the month of December we got 85 eggs from our 5 hens. Not bad at all, if you ask me.

first eggs ever from flock 216

Their shell colours range from tan to a medium brown, sometimes speckled and sometimes not, and some of them are just HUGE! The yolk colours vary as well, and they are amazingly delicious. We have heard only wonderful things from the friends and family who have been lucky enough to partake. They truly are awesome for toast dipping! After their last great escape, which found Mr. T.U.H. and I running through neighbors’ back yards and down the alley on retrieval missions, we fixed the holes in the netting, and haven’t had any recent problems. Of course, now that I have typed that I will get a knock on the door about birds out back. They are worth all of the hassle, however. Their eggs are better than any I have purchased, and I know exactly what they are eating. They really love tomatoes and spent beer grains.

Our farmers markets this year were interesting. Gordon Square was awesome, as usual. There is nothing like meandering over to the market on your bicycle, after someone else has gotten up early and packed and unpacked and set everything up, so you can chit chat with neighbors and other vendors. Hey, Mr. T.U.H. wanted it this way! We did the Downtown Farmers Market for a bit, but it just seemed to be going downhill. Vendors were leaving, never to return, and there was a giant lack of produce; Por Bar Farm was the staple, a mighty fine staple. If the city of Cleveland is going to host a farmers market in Downtown Cleveland, they need to do more than have one press conference the first year of the market. Their lack of support is going to drive that market into the ground.

After we left the Downtown Market, we tried the Euclid Market at the Shore Cultural Center. It is a wonderful little market with tons of produce, and the cutest pie man ever. Unfortunately the Cleveland weather decided not to like us at the Euclid Farmers Market, and we were rained out the last few weeks. We will be back!!!

attack!!!

This Urban Homestead preserves FLEW off the market tables this year. At any time you might have found: strawberry, strawberry chipotle, strawberry rhubarb, strawberry balsamic black pepper, sweet cherry, sour cherry, spiced cherry, yellow watermelon, cherry vanilla bean, cherry balsamic, peach, low sugar peach, tru tom jam, attack of the heirloom tomatoes jam, tim tom jam, apple sauce, or apple butter; I am sure I have forgotten something. Next year will bring even more imaginative preserves along with some savory to boot! In the year 2011, Cleveland ate 130 of my bacon buckeyes and many dozens of This Urban Homestead Compost Cookies (to be renamed in the future) as well! Next year it’s 300 bacon buckeyes or BUST!!!

peanut butter, peanuts, sugar, and bacon all mixed up and then dipped in dark chocolate mmmmmmm

In business news, the building is still not up and running – yet. We have one last holiday event to attend today, and then it is all business in 2012. Origins Beanery and This Urban Homestead need to kick the brick and mortar incarnation into action. In garden happenings, I applied to, and am waiting to hear back from, the OSU Extension Market Gardener Program. Hopefully I will be accepted and then get some of my problems with organization and soil amending sorted out. I have taught myself a lot, but I could still use a lot of instruction.

Oh! I almost forgot that our big food adventure this year is to raise and cook our own turkey for Thanksgiving. We could have homegrown turkey, stuffing with homemade bread components and homemade chicken sausage (since we can’t raise our own pig, and stuffing with sausage is a must), homegrown mashed potatoes made with butter and cream from the farm (since we can’t raise our own cows here, the farm dairy is the closest we have), and greens from the garden that were blanched and frozen for just such an occasion. Now I am drooling and I have to go.

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