Sunday, May 29, 2011

Totally Urban Farmer Benchmark Assessment

it's been two weeks since pearl and ninja came to live in our chicken habitat (fancy sounding!), and we collected the 6th egg this morning.  yesterday, dan and i created our first backyard chicken-base brunch...home made biscuits topped with delicate silkie eggs.  it was a perfectly delicious repast.  i have cookie/sharing plans for the next few eggs, but this time we needed to fully taste the first 'fruits' of our TUF experiment.  and those are some good egg fruits!  um, fruit eggs? fruition eggs? anyway. they are lovely.

and it is lovely to try something out and have it work, and continue making plans and having ideas and looking forward to other developments and delights in the near future.  this is a good time to do a TUF progress assessment! to see if we've reached some benchmarks! hurray!

TUF Benchmark 1: More Conscientious Food Consumership
we have been going to the farmer's market on a monthly to bimonthly basis, and have been getting all non-seafood meat from there, as well as a solid supply of produce.  the produce obviously runs out faster than the meat, for storage and perishibility reasons--we do still get many fresh and (especially) frozen vegetables from the big box grocery store, but not as many.  the future garden will help to reduce our reliance upon big box even more.

seafood still comes from the big box, but we have been enjoying delicious, ethically raised lamb, bison, pork and chicken from the farmer's market.  we have definitely noticed a hike in the amount we pay for food on a monthly basis, but i am glad we have the resources to make that choice.  i am willing to pay more for food that is a) real food b) better for me c) better for the planet, and i hope that i am contributing to a change in the greater social consciousness that will result in more sustainable food production systems.

BUT, enough with the preaching!   i should mention that our dogs have benefitted from our consumption choices lately...we switched from a mainstream (cheap) dog food to a premium, all-natural/organic (EXPENSIVE) kind.  not surprisingly, they totally love it.  and, admittedly, their poop is less stinky.  but, i gotta ask, when are they going to get jobs?
TUF Benchmark 2: Conscientious General Consumption

i had mentioned in an earlier post about the mosquito issue here in central texas at this time of year, and i can report that it has gotten worse.  i was out in the yard at around 6:30pm the other day, and the mosquitos, who have grown the size of ponies, were so thick around my legs and the dogs that i could clap randomly in the air around us and smash several.  at one point i even felt a pony-size needle bite me THROUGH my pants.  GROSS.  so bug repellent is definitely a necessity.  i had been using OFF with great abandon, but hating the DEET poison stench of it, until i found this on a recent Home Depot run:
it works pretty well, and feels/smells a lot nicer than the OFF.  being honest, i'll say it doesn't work AS well as the super duper DEET poison.  but, even though i might get one or two bites, at least i don't feel like i have to instantly leap into the shower as soon as i come in from the yard.  and just one or two is way less than i would've had otherwise!  damn texas summer pony mosquitoes!

i have also started buying Seventh Generation household cleaning products--thus far, dryer sheets, dish soap, and dishwasher liquid.  i would love to hear about the household cleaning choices of others who are attempting to be more conscious consumers.  one challenge i would like to overcome: a helpless dependence on paper towels.  i will work on that!  but i have been very pleased with the Seventh Generation products, especially the dryer sheets.  when you're used to the superscented white huggy-bear cloth kind, the perforated brown paper  is a bit off-putting.  but it works just as well--clothes and sheets are soft and fluffy, there's no cloying scent, and you can compost or recycle the used sheets.  i'm a convert!

TUF Benchmark 3: Chicken Keeping
i am so pleased as to how my dream of chickens is coming to eggition! recent chicken lessons:
--they didn't like peach yogurt.  they LOVE strawberry banana yogurt.
--they love apples, but not lettuce or cabbage that much.
--ninja can go up and down the ramp on her own.
--pearl can't, or would prefer not to hassle with it.
--they don't use the nesting box. yet.
--their eggs are ever so slightly different, but we're not entirely sure who lays what. yet.
--i am approximating 3 silkie eggs = 2 regular eggs. but will need to experiment.
 the next chicken development will be acquiring a couple of chicks, probably in 2 weekends.  i. can't. wait.

TUF Benchmark 4: Life, Time, and Gardening
i am pleased to report that i recently locked in a job as a 7th grade science teacher at a school even more nearby than my current one! that means we can continue attempting TUFness with two full-time jobs.  i am determined that we can be reasonably prolific gardeners, conscientious consumers and menagerie managers even with the time and resource constraints of 'normal' life.  it does, of course, help that teaching jobs automatically come with a significant amount of vacation time...all the better for TUFing it up!  it will be verrrry interesting to see what happens with TUF once human reproduction has occured around here....i have been following the stories of some dear friends and contemporaries who have just begun their lives as parents, and WHOO that is a whole different deal, isn't it?  but never fear, gentle reader: it shall all be set down here, as it happens.  (in theory).

and i will end here with a glimpse of what happens to farmer's market produce in our kitchen!

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