Sunday, 4 September 2011

Our Chickens



We "rescued" our chickens from a private parochial school in June.  We were told they were about four weeks old at the time. The teacher didn't know what breed they were, and thought that possibly four were female and three were male, but she couldn't be sure. Some of them looked like the picture above, and some like the picture below:


Despite our best attempts, we were unable to figure out what kind of chickens we had. Based on the second picture, we theorized that some of them were perhaps leghorn, but as the rest of the down fell out and the feathers came in full, that seemed less and less likely.

They are now about 13 weeks old and all their feathers are in. We lost one of the cockerels a few weeks ago to an excited dog (we ate him, though there wasn't much meat on him). With all their feathers in, they are much easier to identify. This is what they looked like a week or so ago:
Pullet?
Cockeral?

It now seems clear that these chickens are indeed sex-linked chickens of some sort. Likely Red Star. Here's what we've learned about Red Star chickens:

While Red Star Chickens do not breed true (future generations will not be able to be sexed by colour) and are not a recognized breed according to whoever it is that recognizes these things, they are productive layers, laying large brown eggs. Further, they do not tend to slow down as much as other chickens as the weather gets cold and the days get shorter (great news for us, as they won't be old enough to lay until late fall). They do not often get broody, which might make any breeding difficult, but will keep us in eggs.  They are also apparently great foragers, with a high return in eggs for the amount of feed they consume.

Sex Linked Chickens are bred by mating a red breed (Rhode Island Red is common) male and a light breed (ex. Delaware) female. Why that makes white males and red females isn't clear to us, but it does. 

Check back soon for news on coop completion and egg production updates!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Pear Tree Pectin

Hello all! We've been gone a while. Nick lost his day job, our computer had some finicky moments, and the phone we were using for a camera also broke. In light of this string of bad luck, we've been alternately vacationing and scrambling. Rest assured the blog is coming back in full swing very soon. In the meantime, here's the recipe for the pear pectin we made a few weeks ago:



Most of the recipes we've found for pectin are done with apples, but pears have a higher pectin content than apples, and we happen to have pear trees behind the house that are just about ripe.

Under ripe fruit is higher in pectin than perfectly ripe (or over ripe fruit) so it's the perfect use for the early fruit that falls due to windstorms, etc. Since this fruit is usually not as nice as the fruit that stays firmly attached to the tree, some paring is necessary, but it's worth it. For this recipe we used the good parts of about 20 small, under ripe pears.



* Trim any bruises, rotten spots and wormholes and discard them. Wash the fruit thoroughly.

* Coarsely chop the remaining fruit. Include the stems, skin, and cores/seeds as these are high in pectin. Put in a good sized pot



* Cut a lemon into eighths and squeeze the juice over the pears. Toss in the peels and seeds as well, these, too, are high in pectin.

* Add water until the fruit is almost covered, put on the heat and heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour.



* Pour through cheesecloth (or a rag made from a clean cotton t-shirt) to strain out the fruit. We poured this into a juice jug, to make it easier to jar. Squeeze all the water through the cloth. Discard the fruit bits (we fed ours to the chickens)

* To test the pectin, add a few drops to a little rubbing alcohol. If it "gels" it's good.

* Use for jams and jellies in equal parts with fruit and sugar.





Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Milkweed Pizza With Wild Garlic


Yesterday's stroll along the ridge yielded a bounty of wild garlic and fresh, tender milkweed pods. What to do with this harvest? Pizza! It was fantastic, well worth doing again. Here's how we did it.

* After washing everything, we separated the milkweed pods from their white filling and roughly chopped the pods. We also roughly chopped all parts of the wild garlic (root bulbs, greens and buds).
















* We sauteed the chopped garlic greens in a generous amount of good olive oil, then discarded the greens (they were far too tough to eat)

* In the remaining oil, we sauteed the chopped garlic buds and milkweed pods, then set aside


* We repeated this with some chopped, thinly sliced salami (this is, of course, optional - omit the salami for a vegetarian or vegan pizza)

* We halved four calabrese buns lengthwise and grilled them, cut sides down in this oil

* Adding a splash more oil, we sauteed the chopped garlic root, adding a large, roughly chopped tomato after a few minutes. To finish the pizza sauce we added a tin of condensed tomato soup, some italian seasoning and a splash of red wine. We spread the sauce on the grilled bread.


* We topped our pizzas with the white milkweed fluff (this makes an excellent cheese substitute), our sauteed pods and garlic, the salami, and a small amount of boconcini (again, omit this step for vegan pizza. You can top with more milkweed fluff, if you like)

* After broiling in our oven for about 8 minutes, we devoured the pizzas.

Yum!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Design Competition

We're trying to find a balance between the homeschooling paradigm we will have come september (which doesn't really take summers off. The children simply learn all year 'round at their own speed) and the "children have been in school all year and need a break" paradigm. In that spirit, they're being given plenty of free time, about 30-45 minutes a day of extra chores (in addition to putting their clean clothes away, bringing the dirty ones to the laundry room, rinsing their dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, and keeping their rooms tidy) and, when we feel inspired, something like this: A Design Competition.

The child who applies what they learned when we made the chicken waterer to create the best chicken feeder will win a cash prize. The kids are all aflutter, they're learning, and we've harnessed the same competitive energy they displayed yesterday (when they were fighting over a blanket in 30 degree celsius weather) in a productive, educational way.

In typical Marie-Celeste fashion, she immediately went seeking materials. Basil, who is more a conceptualist, drew up preliminary sketches. His design is very complicated, with many more parts that could go wrong, but if it does work, it'll result in cleaner, more pest-free feed. We're excited to view the results.

They go back to camp in Toronto in about a week and a half. We'll update then as to which child succeeded, and we'll show both designs.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Milkweed and Heat Wave



It's been hot here, and we've been super busy in Toronto, and trying to keep cool. Thanks go out to Deezwin Greens supporters who got in on the wine. We are now set up with a large number of empty carboys and are just about ready to start fermenting. One good thing about this hot, dry summer is that the grapes ought to be great this year.

We found ourselves without fresh vegetables in the house last week, and far too busy to run to the store. Milkweed to the rescue! After harvesting and washing the flowers, leaves and top 2 inches of the stems of about 2 dozen plants, we set to work on a stir fry.

Milkweed is a highly versatile vegetable. The flowers, especially, are a lovely addition to a stir fry and do not need to be pre-boiled like the rest of the plant. According to Brandeis University, pre-boiling the stems and leaves isn't particularly necessary unless you are one of the unlucky few who are sensitive to the mild toxin in the plant. We boiled it just to be sure.

Here's how we did it:

* Wash the plant bits (carefully ensuring there are no bugs living in the flowers) and separate the leaves, stems and flowers.

* Blanch the leaves and stems in boiling water for about a minute and drain, discarding the water. Repeat, boiling until tender.

* We had some leftover beet salad with caramelized onion which Deni had accidentally over seasoned with salt, pepper, celery salt, mustard seed, and turmeric. Using this as the base for the stir fry meant we didn't have to add any additional seasoning.

* We threw the stems (cut into 1 inch pieces) in first, frying until slightly tender, then threw in the leaves.

* Once the leaves and stems were good and tender, we added the flowers for a couple minutes and plated the whole thing.

The stems were a bit tough for our liking, but it's late in the season for them, so we weren't surprised. The leaves tasted like any bitter leafy vegetable (think collard greens or kale) but the flowers were the true star of the show.

We were hoping to make a milkweed pizza once the pods arrived, but the Crown arrived today and mowed the land we were harvesting from (pest control measures - many of the grasses growing there are considered invasive crops).

Today we will harvest the hay they left behind for our chickens and for making lye - which is on the agenda this week. Now we know what our harvest deadline is for next year.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wine Deal Available to Supporters



We have a line on a small winery in Niagara On The Lake that is liquidating (no pun intended) its assets before the wine makers move overseas. This winery currently has 14 full carboys of 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Baco Noir and Chardonnay in its cellars. It needs to clear these out by this time next week.

2007, we're told, was a very hot, dry year in Niagara On The Lake, yielding excellent grapes and excellent wines.

We only need the carboys (well, we're likely to buy some of the wine, too) but we'd love to pass on the deal we were offered to our friends and supporters.

For about $50-$60 a batch, (including the carboy) we can obtain these full (or mostly full - some have had a bottle or two decanted for tasting) carboys ($50 represents 19 l of wine, $60 represents 24 l). We will pick them up and store them for you until you are ready to bottle them. We cannot legally bottle them for you, but we can have a siphon and corker on hand.

We are hoping that once you bottle your wine, you might be willing, in exchange, to donate the empty carboy to Deezwin Greens. Each batch of wine will fill at least 2 dozen bottles, so you're looking at a decent Niagara Region wine for about $2 a bottle. There's a chance we may be able to catch a better deal if there's enough interest, but we wanted to make sure we quoted you all the top price we're likely to have to pay.


Want to support us but don't drink wine? Click here for a list of other items that might already be in your recycle bins that we can use.

Canning Wild Grape Leaves



The wild grapes in our yard are still small and hard, but there is plenty of vine with no grapes on it at all. In order to encourage the vines which are growing grapes to put all their energy into those grapes, we can trim away the non-productive vine. But there's no reason to just compost the whole vine. The young leaves are part of a greek delicacy called dolmades (we'll make that later) and can be prepared and canned and saved for later.

Here's how we did it:


* Choosing healthy looking leaves about the size of our hands, we trimmed the stem off and washed them thoroughly (watch for bugs which like to spin sticky little homes on the undersides) Again, our leaves have not been sprayed with anything, so we're washing for bugs, dirt and poison ivy oils.


* In the meantime, we prepared two baths on the stove. One very salty (think sea water), boiling rapidly and one of ice water. Not shown is another bath, used for sterilizing our jar and lid. 



* We boiled the leaves in the brine for about 30-45 seconds then transferred them to the ice water using a slotted spoon



* Once the leaves were cooled, we stacked them in groups of five and rolled them, in the same direction as the veins, into cigar-like rolls. Some of the bigger leaves needed to be gently folded down so they would fit in our jar with some head-room


* We made six rolls and  they took up about half the space available in the jar. You can pack them quite a bit tighter if you wish - just leave a small amount of space for expansion. Once they were all in the jar, we poured a boiling solution of 1 part lemon juice, 1 part lime juice and about 3 parts water over them, up to the neck of the jar.


* We capped the jar tightly, then submersed in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. You don't have to do this step with a naked baby in your other hand, but sometimes naked babies are inevitable.

That's it! These'll keep on the shelf for at least a year.



Canning Wild Grape Leaves on Punk Domestics

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Repair, Resell or Replace?

To circulate the air in our house on hotter days, we use a Honeywell commercial-grade fan. It has been in our service for about 4 years & each summer, we've had at least a couple weeks where it was pushed to its mechanical limits. About a week ago, the blades would no longer turn when switching the fan on. Instead, we'd hear an electrical hum of the motor trying to soldier through.

At that point, I assessed our options: 1 - consider it dead & purchase a replacement, 2 - take it in to a small motors repair shop, 3 - sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji. I didn't like any of these options. I could hear that the motor worked, so I loathed the idea of sending it to the dump. I wasn't keen on spending money to have it repaired considering the repair costs would be almost the price of a new one and lastly, I knew that trying to sell it off would return less than the fan was worth.

With that, I decided to try to fix it myself. I had never successfully repaired the guts of such a fan before, but I figured that since it wasn't serving its purpose anymore, then we'd be no worse off for trying.

As I disassembled the cage and then the casing for the motor itself, I was careful to note the position & orientation of each component and I also cleaned the gunk off as I went. Getting the blades off was tricky, but after that was done, the rest came apart very easily. Once I had it apart, it was simple to see that there was no longer any lubrication inside the spindle pocket at the back of the motor or on the spindle at the cap of the motor - underneath where the blades and electromagnet do their thing.

I wondered what I had around the house that could work. I knew that WD-40 wasn't appropriate because it wouldn't last long & would not tolerate the heat that the fan produces on its parts. Then I remembered that I still had half a tube of brake caliper grease from when I replaced the rotors and pads on our car in our driveway. that stuff is made exactly for this sort of lubrication. After finding it, I grinned all the way back to the fan parts that littered our sunroom floor. Once the appropriate parts were lubed, I asked the kids to vacate the room and reassembled the fan except for the front cage so that I could test my work. Sure enough, it now runs like butter. With its front cage back on, the fan has re-entered strenuous work on our behalf during what is turning out to be a most heavy, dry heatwave.

If I Were Queen

If I Were King
by A. A. Milne

I often wish I were a King,
And then I could do anything.

If only I were King of Spain,
I'd take my hat off in the rain.

If only I were King of France,
I wouldn't brush my hair for aunts.

I think, if I were King of Greece,
I'd push things off the mantelpiece.

If I were King of Norroway,
I'd ask an elephant to stay.

If I were King of Babylon,
I'd leave my button gloves undone.

If I were King of Timbuctoo,
I'd think of lovely things to do.

If I were King of anything,
I'd tell the soldiers, "I'm the King!"








If I were queen of the world: what a game to play. If I could be a fairy godmother and grant all the world's children with the ten things I think would be the greatest gifts a child could receive, what would they be?








What I wish for children, all children, can be summed up in one paragraph about a sometimes stimulating, sometimes challenging and sometimes nurturing community of which they are a part, but I think I can break it down into ten individual points:

10) I wish every child responsibility.

It may sound completely against the grain of current popular opinion to suggest that I don't mean responsibility for trivial tasks such as cleaning their room or themselves, or doing their homework. The kind of responsibility I mean runs much deeper than that.
Taking care of one's own concerns isn't really true responsibility. The kind of responsibility which I wish for children, even from an early age, are responsibilities that are external to the child themselves.
Responsibility nurtures empathy, independence and a sense of interconnectedness that builds strong, healthy individuals. While these external responsibilities might seem like a drag to the kids at the time, I also feel that the sense of being needed, being a part of their external surroundings makes for a happier, more fulfilled individual overall.

9) I wish every child conflict

This again, sounds totally counter to the popular idea that children need peace. Fact is, our minds are stimulated by conflict. I don't mean the kind of conflict that is over ANY individual's head, be they adult or child. I don't mean violence.
It's hard it seems, in this day and age, to separate violence from conflict, but the fact is that the two ideas are not interdependent. Violence is often born out of conflict, but I suspect that as we as a society continue to back away from conflict or challenges we are going to become less and less able to deal with it when it comes up. I suspect this will lead to more and more violence, as we begin to mutually associate the two.
Conflict teaches us resolution, it teaches us grace in victory and defeat and it teaches us what makes us the same and what makes us different. It teaches us where our boundries lie and where we are strong and determined. We can never learn to negotiate, speak and be free if we are never challenged.
If we surround ourselves with only those things which never countermand our self-interest we become complacent and self-important.
A good story has to have a conflict, and what is life for if you don't have a good story at the end of it?

8) I wish every child time to just be

Apart from the time they might spend struggling and caring for others, which might sound like I want kids to have pretty bleak lives so far, they also need time to process their input. Everything to them is so much newer than it is to us, which might seem like it goes without saying but the way kids are scheduled these days fails to take this very basic concept into account.
Kids need time to just exist in the moment. We all do, of course, but kids need a bit more of it. So many bits and peices of input which we all take for granted still need to be sorted and processed in a kid's mind.
Some folks might say they wish children time to just be children. That's too exclusionary. Children are not some other strange species which was undiscovered before the industrial revolution and they are not lumps of unmolded clay who are going to use that time in the ways our adult minds have predetermined befit their childish identities.
Children need time and freedom to just be creatures of this world, this society, this community, this family and this body.


7.) I wish every child exploration

This ties into the previous one a bit. I'm not all for completely unguided learning, though my own educational philosophy tends toward the "unschooling" model, but independent exploration is a powerful intellectual stimulator.
They won't always come up with the "correct" theories on how things work, but they'll surprise you every once in a while and even the wildest flights of fanciful pseudo-science stimulate creativity and the imagination.
Children are born scientists and out of that science is born art and spirituality and most of all, questions. A child who doesn't explore will never have any questions worth asking.


6) I wish every child life

I don't mean that I wish that children were immortal. People, sometimes even young people, die. In the words of Neil Gaimen's Death: "You get what everyone else gets: a lifetime."
I mean that I wish for them to be surrounded by life. All of life which does include illness and death and birth and reproduction.
I wish for them to have wilderness to observe and explore and connect with, I wish for babies and geriatrics, those adolescent balls of unfocused energy and middle-aged determination.
I wish for them to have the opportunity to take each and every stage of it completely for granted on one level, so that they understand that none of it is completely granted on another.

5) I wish every child dominion over his or her own person

I'm not sure I need to explain this except that it only works if the next few wishes are already granted.

4) I wish every child adequate access to nutritious food and clean water and freedom from the fast food nation

When children's initial experiences with food are with healthy, fresh foods presented in a low-pressure manner, they develop the ability at a very young age to be in touch with how to properly nourish their own bodies.
It's only when the waters are muddied by the introduction of foods deliberately engineered to exploit the evolutionary cravings (salt, fat) for things that were once hard to come by that this instinct is derailed. Advertising and bribery with bright and shiny toys undoes the rest of it.

3) I wish every child casual, loving touch

Studies show over and over again that children from cultures where they are hugged and kissed and cuddled often turn out much lower rates of physical and sexual violence than those who are more physically reserved.
Freedom from bodily shame and anxiety born of feeling unrooted in their environment will enable children to make the decisions about their bodies that are right for them, and to leave other children to do the same.

2) I wish every child a local community to which they are an active, participating member

This ties into the responsibilities one way up there, but again it is important not just to raise children who can see how their actions and lack thereof effect those around them but also that they experience recognition of their own personal milestones.
Organized religion isn't necessarily the only way to go on this, but in marking the people in our surroundings at their key stages of development and growth (think birth/naming ceremonies, first communions, barmitzvahs, weddings, funerals) we help create fully engaged individuals. Furthermore, in a fractured society such as the one we live in, children and parents miss out on the kind of personalized support they need in times of difficulty.
It truly does take a village to raise a child, and children are increasingly denied the wealth of other people in their lives.

1) I wish every child clean, breathable air, forests, farms and fields, mountains, rivers and oceans full of fish...I wish every child a living, sustaining beautiful earth to walk on and enjoy.





If I Were Queen was originally published by Deni Baldwin at Spunsideways in 2007


Monday, 11 July 2011

Ouch!



So I stepped on one of these on Saturday, as I was rushing around trying to get out the door for my family reunion. A moment of sting, and I thought I'd maybe stepped on some stinging nettle. I lifted my foot and buzzing around on the ground was a guy like this, half crushed and very angry. Then the pain really set in. I hobbled into the house and washed it thoroughly calling for Nick to tell me what the heck I'd stepped on. He identified my assailant as a "big ass hornet" and suggested a baking soda paste.

So I am totally a city girl and had never heard this simple home remedy before. Using the runoff from the ice cube I was already applying to keep the swelling down, we sprinkled some baking soda on the area and rubbed it into a paste. The baking soda drew out the venom, and soothed. Within a few minutes, my foot was entirely free from pain.

What home remedies for bites have you heard of? What else works? I might try this baking soda thing for the horrendous allergic mosquito bites Marie-Celeste suffers from. I'll let you know if it works!

Family Reunion Weekend

Potluck contribution: Deezwin Greens' red clover jelly with brie, blue cheese and blueberries.

Deni comes from a large family. Every year, there's a reunion. From the closest siblings to the most distant cousins, the family descends upon a home in Fergus, Ontario to eat, drink, swim, and yack at each other. For many of us, it's the only time we see each other in the year.

This is, of course, why we've been away from our wee homestead and away from the blog. Today is a catch up day (and, apparently a cranky baby day) but by tomorrow we should be back to it. Stay tuned for posts on Marie-Celeste's batiked play tent, racking our cider, and the status of our various and sundry wild plants over the course of this week.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

There is a Season

I have to keep reminding myself that in farm life, things move in seasons. While I might have excellent ideas for toys, clothes and repairs/building projects, this season needs to be about harvesting and preserving what we can. When I have an hour to work, I need to spend it outside, working on our few remaining plants.

Yes, I said it: Few remaining plants. Our peas and beans were decimated by a dreadful windstorm, leaving only the tomatoes and fruit trees. We have herb seedlings growing, and we're looking into late plants (is it too late to try for peas and beans again? What say you, gardening folk?) but a lot of the focus right now needs to be on preserving what plants we have and foraging.

The clover collection has been going well, (though if we don't get some rain soon, it won't for long) and soon I'll get out and get some pictures of our wild grapes, which are starting to grow. Nick swears he saw raspberries in the "back 40" too, though I have not. Accessing these plants involves trudging through an awful lot of poison ivy, so I'm trying to be patient about checking on them.

The pear trees are getting bitten by worms, so I need to wrap them, and maybe invest in some nematodes. We missed out on pruning time, but I'm confident I know when and how to do it next year. The cherry tree seems to be coming along rather slowly. This may just be due to the long winter we had. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll get a decent harvest when the time comes.

Building attentions need to go towards the chicken coop, before our not-so-wee chicks outgrow the hutch and run they are in.

A solar dehydrator is in the plans, and then we'll be setting up a solar cooker workshop. We're also planning a cobb oven workshop, but I think that will happen when the weather is a little cooler (September, maybe? Must talk to the facilitator about that).

I'm not only a member of the Sesame Street generation, I've also grown up in a large, busy city. It's taking me some time to adjust to moving on Nature's schedule, but it is doing me some good, nonetheless.

-Deni

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Orange Candy


Complete self-sufficiency would require one of two things from us, either give up citrus fruit, or move to a climate where we can grow it. So how can we nurture our family's love affair with all things citrus, while reducing our footprint? Eliminating waste! Behold: Candied Orange Rind. This is a long process, and takes a fair amount of attention, but it only has two ingredients (three if you count water) and it couldn't be simpler.

Candied Citrus Rind:

Wash and slice the peels from 3 oranges (or 6 lemons or 10 limes) into thin strips. Leave the white parts on.
Dissolve 3 cups of sugar into 3 cups of boiling water
Add rind
Simmer until very soft, stirring occasionally (a little more than an hour for orange peel)
Drain (reserve the liquid, we're going to come back to that)
Sprinkle a pan with 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Toss boiled peels into the pan and sprinkle another 1//2 a cup overtop
Mix until peels are coated 
Spread the peels out on a cookie sheet and dry for a day or two (you can speed this process up by drying the candy with the pilot light of your gas oven)

Voila! Delicious, all-natural candy! Mix this in trail mix, coat with chocolate, serve over ice cream or use to garnish vodka martinis (we won't judge)

But wait! What about that sugar water you drained off the peels? There's still a lot of waste going on if you pour that down the drain. Instead, try this:

Take your sugar water (which should be lightly flavoured with the citrus peel) and put it back on the stove.
Dump in any leftover sugar from the pan you tossed the finished peel in
Add thin slices of ginger and a splash of citrus juice
Reduce to a syrup (watch carefully)

Strain out the ginger (go ahead and toss that in a little sugar too, candied ginger, yum!)



Pour over ice cream, use as a glaze, to sweeten tea, or in place of simple syrup in cocktails (we're still not judging).  



All-Natural Orange Candy on Punk Domestics

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Red Clover Jelly


Last night, after the weather cooled a bit, Nick and Isaac played while Deni made red clover jelly. The basic recipe turned out lovely (even better the next day!) but we're playing with some ideas to enhance it. hints of ginger and cranberry come to mind.

The flavour is subtle and very sweet (a little goes a long way), and the open jar, after sitting overnight has taken on a lovely floral hint. Last night, we ate it with almonds dipped in it. I'm also picturing it over a nice vanilla ice cream.




Jars of Red Clover Jelly can be purchased by contacting deezwingreens@gmail.com. In order to save jars from the landfill, a $0.30 jar deposit will be charged. Upon return of the jar only, $0.20 will be returned. Jars and intact lids will return the full $0.30. 

Prices: 125ml (4oz): $3.50 + jar deposit
              250ml (8oz): $5.00 + jar deposit

Ask about quantity discounts.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Clover Infusion


The wild red clover around the edges of our yard are ripening daily into bright pink and deep purple florets. Now is the time to harvest and preserve it! Preserving it starts with an infusion. Here's how it's done:

* Wash your clover: give the flowers a good spray and soak and then another spray. Our clover has not been sprayed with any chemicals, but this'll get rid of any bugs that might have made the flowers their home.


* Separate the flowers from the leaves and stems. It's not the end of the world if some leaves and stems make it into your infusion, but the flowers are the part you want for this. Waste not, want not: the leaves are great in salads and the whole plant is nice in a stir fry. 


* Put clover into a pot and pour hot water over it. Cover tightly and heat to just before boiling. Allow to sit for 12 hours. We did one batch on the stove and one in the sun. The stove batch turned out darker and sweeter, but we're hoping that if we build a solar cooker, we can do this without heating up the kitchen.


* Strain and refrigerate. This can be drunk as a tea or iced tea (it tastes like a mild, sweet, brown tea) or used to make jelly or wine. We fed the used clover flowers to the chicks, but not before tasting it ourselves. Though quite mushy after 12 hours in hot water, the flower retained a nice vegetable taste, and might be good thrown in a stir fry.


Health Benefits of Red Clover



Red Clover contains isoflavones, which are a source of phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens (plant estrogen) are similar to human estrogens, and as such, may attach to estrogen receptors in the human body. In women with estrogen loss from menopause, this can help relieve hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. In women with normal estrogen levels, this can help smooth out estrogen fluctuations due to PMS.

Red Clover has been observed to help slow bone loss (osteoporosis) in peri-menopausal women. It slows the growth of benign prostate tumours and blocks enzymes thought to contribute to prostate cancer. It also helps break down arterial plaque, strengthens arterial walls and is a mild anti-coagulant. It has even been shown to assist in the cessation of tobacco smoking.

Taking concentrated red clover can interfere with necessary estrogen production in pregnancy and is not recommended for use while pregnant.
Women with hormone dependent conditions such as endometriosis and breast cancer should avoid using red clover concentrates.
When in doubt, consult a medical professional before taking any distilled or concentrated supplement.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Want to help, but can't spare any dollars?

We know what it's like to be on a fixed income, and we appreciate every cent of donations offered towards taking Deezwin Greens off the grid and helping us bring sustainability education to as many people as possible. If you can't afford to donate, but would like to help us achieve our educational goals, here's a list of items you might have lying around that we'd be more than happy to rescue from your recycle bins:

* food quality barrels and pails: We often rescue these from restaurant recycling bins. They can be put to a number of uses around the farm, and we're more than happy to re-use them rather than see them go into the dump or even see energy put into recycling.

* mason jars: We do a lot of canning and preserving. Mason jars of all sizes are really helpful to us. Premium brands of spaghetti sauce, soups, jams and some bean products all come in standard mason jars. We'd love to collect them from you, rather than see energy put into recycling them.

* swing top bottles: Drink Grolsch or any of the microbrews that currently come in swing top bottles? We can put these to use bottling cider, beer, and mead.We can't generate revenue from our fermentation projects, but we can use them as thank you gifts and for bartering.

* construction leftovers: Got 7 shingles left over? faucets from a plumbing upgrade? old pipe? Window screens with holes in them? We can use any and all construction leftovers for building animal housing, or rain collection/storage devices, or even educational supply.

* old clothes: Deezwin Greens relies on upcycling to generate revenue for our agricultural projects. Any and all old clothes are useful in some way, even if they are only good for rags.

* Art/office supplies: If you have art or craft supplies gathering dust or drying out, we can incorporate them into our educational programs.

* Anything else: Most "garbage" isn't. If you have it, chances are we can think of a use for it.

* Canadian Tire money: Most people just lose this stuff, I know. If you have some kicking around and you don't think you're likely to use it. We can always use things from the hardware store.

* Coupons: Got coupons gathering dust? We may well be able to use them.

* Click our ads! This is probably the easiest way to help. It doesn't generate a lot of revenue, but every little bit helps. Or, if you need something from Amazon, consider entering the store through our portal. When you make a purchase through us, a portion of the proceeds go into our Amazon account.

* Tell your friends! Tell folks about Deezwin Greens. The more folks who know about us, the more programs we can offer.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Chicken Waterer in Action and Happy Canada Day!



It's a long weekend here in Canada, and we were originally scheduled to head into the deepest wilds of cottage country (to get away from it all?) but those plans fell through, so we've taken the opportunity to get a few things squared away here on the Ridge and enjoy our property some.

The bigger kids are spending the weekend in Toronto, so it's just three of us here. We always miss them when they're gone, but it has provided us with the chance to get Marie-Celeste's play structure together (pictures to follow). It should be ready by the time she returns to us next weekend, after a week of circus camp.

Today we took the chicks and wee Isaac out to the back yard to play. We built some of the play structure, let the chicks run free a bit and harvested some awesome wild food.

About our chicks: They're coming up on 4 weeks old (in the next couple days.) There are seven, and we were told that there were 4 female and three male. We rescued them from a parochial Montessori school in Oakville, who had raised them from eggs, but didn't have anything to do with them as the school year closed out. We don't know the breed, can anyone help?
This one likes to fly. There are four of these.















The white ones are shyer. There are three.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Homemade Chicken Waterer.

So, commercial chicken waterers aren't expensive, but here at Deezwin Greens, we like to re-use as much as possible. It's with this in mind that I present our tutorial for a home made chicken fountain.

Chickens kick a lot of mess into their water, so something that has a reservoir for clean water is a must (unless you really like cleaning their water dish every couple hours). Commercial waterers work using Pascal's Law. We created our own using the lid from a discarded olive oil bucket, a gallon juice jug and some super glue. Here's how.

Step 1:

Collect materials. You need a shallow dish, a reservoir with a lid and some sort of adhesive appropriate to the materials you're using. You also need either a small drill bit or a hammer and a nail.


Step 2: Using your drill, or your hammer and nail, poke holes around the bottom of the reservoir.  You'll need someone to hold the reservoir still.


It's important to be sure those holes are lower than the edge of the dish.



Step 3: Affix the reservoir to the tray using an appropriate adhesive. We used crazy glue, but it didn't hold, so later I used pvc pipe sealant.


Step 5: Fill the reservoir and quickly cap it. It's important to do this quickly to minimize the amount of overflow. Until the cap is on the reservoir, air comes in to replace and push water out and your pan will simply overflow all the water.



If your reservoir has a handle, like mine does, you can hang it. Otherwise, it's a good idea to put it up on some bricks or something similar to limit the amount of dirt that gets in to the pan.

That's about it. As the chicks drink the water down, it'll slowly refill from the holes in the bottom of the jug. It's science! 

Welcome Post


Welcome to Deezwin Greens' home on the web.

Deezwin Greens is a small farm startup in Grimsby, ON, striving toward sustainable farming practices. The "Deezwins" are Deni, Nick, Basil, Marie-Celeste and Isaac. Current animal residents of Deezwin Greens include seven three week old chicks and a dog. The farm produces organic tomatoes, basil and coriander as well as clover jelly, hyssop syrup, pear jelly and cider, cherries, and an assortment of teas. We also produce to order a small selection of toys, waldorf inspired educational supplies, upcycled baby clothes and rain barrels. Keep your eyes peeled for our e-commerce site in the coming months.

Everything produced at Deezwin Greens is done with minimal impact. Recycled, reused and natural materials are used almost exclusively.

This blog will hopefully share with our readers what we learn as we go along and provide step by step updates as to the progress of our projects.

We hope you enjoy!