Saturday, February 28, 2009

Phase II - The Great Bread Experiment


I know that this blog is primarily about building S-wood and the steps we are taking to make it off-grid and green. Part of us becoming more self-sustained is the raising of chickens and learning to do things that we would not normally do. Dave and I are very eager and excited to get back to building at S-wood but the word is the snow is 6 feet deep on the driveway. Despite the 50 degree weather yesterday, it will take a while before we can get up there and begin again. In the mean time, we need to keep ourselves busy. i have been learning to jog, and Dave... well he is cooking (which makes my jogging more necessary).

I think baking bread is one of the hardest things on the planet. Dave is working hard to master the art of bread from scratch. So is born the "Great Bread Experiment".
Last weekend Dave began the process, there was some angst let me assure you it was not an easy process. He was using the Mother Earth News - Crusty Bread recipe and well it wasn't going very well at first. The results were 2 great HUNKS of weighty sour-dough type breads. Tarynn, Andrew and I, being great sports gobbled it up to help boost his ego. OK that was a lie, it was REALLY good so we ate it all. Now I need to jog more.

Today Dave baked the remainder of the sour-dough (shown left) and began a new experiment. Rosemary Garlic Focaccia. The results were very enthusiastically inhaled by all. I did get a picture prior to the dismantling of the bread.

Behold the great bread experiment!

I do believe once he has this mastered, I need to shake it up a bit and have him do it in our "Someday soon" cob oven at Swood... don't you?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Come on, that's funny! I can't take the credit for the title but I still chuckle over it every time I think about it. Ah yes, the point of my story. When I posted earlier I was fretting over the possibility of the new chicken coop being 800s.f. I am here to tell you however, that this is not going to be an issue. Dave and I were discussing today all the necessities of the coop, electricity for light and possible heat, perches, nesting boxes, etc. You name it and we were talking about it. I think all this enthusiasm over raising animals stems partly from learning to take care of ourselves and being more self sustained, but part also goes to boredom.

Funny thing about all this conversation today is that this whole time that we have been trying to design the coop, there was actually an already made (but needs work) coop in our back yard that we are already paying taxes on! Oh sure, it isn't technically a coop but it could be and much faster than building from scratch!! It needs repair work and rearranging and it desperately needs airing out, although I doubt that the chickens will care much, but its a good size and its already here. Its Dave's playhouse that he used to play in as a child.

All of our research was not made in vain mind you... we have to build a Coopywood at Shmoopywood.... *couldn't resist.

So here she is... Coopywood

(where would we be without a gratuitous "Lisa" shot :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

bawk bawk balk

Eager... Thats the only word that describes Dave and Me. We want to get this party started. As if we did not already have enough to do, we have also thrown ourselves an interesting curve ball.

I am not sure if this has come out of complete boredom of winter or just insanity, but we decided to get... chickens. Please keep in mind, we know nothing of it. We tossed the idea around a little. I got a chicken keeping 101 book and then we took the leap.
They aren't here yet, they are coming via mail order from Ideal Poultry and our due date for our little miracles is 3/18. In the mean time, we scramble to prepare. Dave has a coop to build and me, well I am in charge of research and making lists of things we need.

Here is what we have coming:

2 Buff Brahma's - they are just so darned cute
2 New Hampshire Red's - how could I not?
8 Gold Sex linked pullets - these are not all for us, I split the order.
3 dreaded "filler" roosters - gah!

I have a little brooder and we are making a tub for when the babies get too big for my little brooder. Dave is working diligently on a coop that will hold 10 birds. Well thats not true, we have not gotten beyond the design step. Remember folks, S-wood was supposed to be 800 square feet tops. When my beloved got done with his design's and we put it out there for the builder, it inflated significantly to 2,200 sf.

I just hope we don't end up with an 800 s.f. chicken coop.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2009 wish list!

So many exciting things are starting to happen and I cannot wait! We did NOT get up to the cabin as hoped this weekend. Sometimes life gets in the way I'll tell ya! Anyway I did promise to give you a glimpse into the spring though with what our plans for 2009 are. We have so many hopes and wishes for this year!
One of the more exciting things is that we will be planting a 'trial' garden up there. Dave is working (in his head rmember) on a way to automatically irrigate the garden and "critter proof" it as best as he can.

We are also planning on adding onto the driveway so that we can get there in teh winter. All we would need is to hire someone to push the snow away so we can put our cars/trucks off the road.

I would like to complete the bathroom. Last year we ran out of time (and wood btw) before we put walls up and connected the pipes. Basically the sink and tub dont hold water yet.

We will be planting fruit bushes in addition to our already extremely plentiful blackberry bushes. I put in a few "trial" blueberry shrubs to see if they can make the winter (heavy snow load), actually produce fruit, survive deer/bear/others etc. We will have more info about that in the summer months but so far so good!

Personally we had goals regarding health and we are currently tackling the cigarette thing. I am also trying to run. I think being in better shape will help with the great shmoopywood experiment!

Wood, we have to cut split stack and store more wood. I mean we need an unbelievable holy crap amount of wood stacked and ready to go.

Organization, we have a ton of stuff but its everywhere. Dave is a one man tool tornado and we are both pilers. Inevitably he puts a tool down and I will pile stuff on top of it. Its really frustrating for both of us because he can't find something he needs and makes a mess while looking and I am picking up the new mess and piling it on top of something else!! Can we say counterproductive?

Oven: we are working on building a cob/adobe outside oven. Ok wait... we are working on mental plans for said oven.. and yes thats right it will be a "test".

Construction will be happening as well. We would both like to finish the walls under the stairs and put the door in for the basement. That leads me to the next thing which is walls in the "guest" room. We have yet to finish the railing as well.
although we both would love the kitchen work to start, it really is lower on the list I think. We are not sure yet what we need in there so it would be sad to put thins to gether only to have to move them in order to accommodate the new plan.

Finally (or at least the last thing I can think of) we are working on the solar (yay)

so thats it so far. Any tips?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I've been such a bad blogger. I am sorry. We are keeping up with all of you though, I am paying attention to goats with their shirts on and pretty red toenails. Obviously part of the reason I have not posted is because we have not been to our beloved shmoopywood. We do hope to get up there next weekend possibly and have a good look around to make sure things are okay. Perhaps Friday the 13th because we have taken that day off, but maybe that isnt such a good idea all things considered. The truth is, I just haven't felt funny lately. Dave and I have taken the plunge and started Chantix. This is a smoking cessation drug that really is a miracle worker however, nothing in life is free and there are several side effects both physical and mental. Fortunately, we have both been off the smoke for 3 weeks tomorrow but unfortunately, there have been no shortage of symptoms in our house. I am plagued with most of the psychological symptoms: sad, depressed, forked dreams... and Dave suffers from the physical: nausea, sleeplessness... Add to that 2 great danes and 2 teenagers and you can imagine our household at any given time ;) I promise though, if we get up there to check things out next weekend, i will take lots of pictures and give you a good update. I will also be posting this year's wish list and we can see how much Dave and I can get done!

Incidentally - this is going to put a damper on my camp-life beer drinking...
sigh ;)