Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lost duck returns

About 6 weeks ago we lost one of our 2 older ducks when I forgot to close the rear hatch of the coop after cleaning. In the morning there was only 1 lonely duck, and signs of a struggle near the river. However, last week our neighbor called and said she saw one of our ducks in the river near her house.

The ducks are well known for wandering the road and stopping traffic. Actually I like that. Especially cause it slows down the damn dump trucks.

The neighbor and another in their 70's succeeded in capturing it, only to lose it as they handed it off to our daughter. The next day I set off in rain, armed with 3 umbrellas (which they hate) and 2 butterfly nets. I set a barrier of umbrellas just above the small falls, and herded the missing duck towards the umbrellas. Then trapped it against the wall and grabbed it, put it in a pail and closed the lid.

He was sentenced to 48 hrs in the pen to remember where home is.

Here are our new ducks, we lost one early on.

In other homesteading news: I've officially given up on field #1. It will be used by the neighboring field's owner from here on. I am relieved. Today I dug out the fig, lemon, chestnut and tangerine trees and brought them here. Don't know how they will fare in this climate though.

Now I can work on field #2 which is in front of our house. This time I am actually going to (cough) buy (cough) black plastic mulch and even some super heavy agri-sheet mulch. . No more messing around. In between rows will be laid cardboard boxes from the supermarket. These are harmless, free, and will degrade back into the soil soon. That is IF the neighbor will let me use it again in spring. Have to get the tiller over here soon and make everything look nice.

Monday, November 9, 2009

First family hike

Now that wonderboy is big enough, we are able to hike as a family. We climbed the nearby mountain just behind the house, it is 5 mins to the trailhead by car. We can hike it right out the door, but this would add another hour each way at least.

Parts of it are quite steep. He did great and never once asked to be carried, whew. He did however need promises of snacks at each rest stop, which worked like a charm.

The elevation gain is 400 meters over 1.6 km. ( 1200 feet in 1 mile )
The equivalent of climbing Bear Mountain NY, from the Hudson River, a decent climb.

This mountainous region extends uninterupted except for rough woods roads for thousands of square kilometers. It is the end of the spine of mountains that runs from 大山 Mt. Daisen in Tottori, past Hyounosen 氷ノ山 in Hyogo. It would be possible to walk all that way, occasionally encountering a village or crossing a paved road.

On the way down the forest floor was literally littered with beautiful acorns.

They say they are too bitter to eat. But I am processing them now to remove the tannin. If this works, there is possibly an enormous food supply lying in wait. Shelling the nuts was easy enough. Put them in the oven at 100C/200F for about 10-15 mins. and they will begin to split open. Take them out and give them a squeeze, the shell will split in two. After several boilings they were still too bitter. The other method is to put the shelled acorns in a mesh bag in a fast moving stream, which we have. I will try that if continued boiling fails.

boiling out the tannin


end result:about 6 cups of honey roasted acorns. Some are a little bitter, like the skin on a walnut, but not bad. The boiling out of the tannin was time consuming the way I did it, in small batches. I probably changed the water 12-15 times. A larger batch done on the stove in my large brew pot would work better I think. Again there is also the stream method, which I really want to try next. Have to get out and pick more acorns soon.

PS - after shelling split the nuts into halves or quarters.
you don't need a rolling boil to process them. Process until the water is clear and the nuts begin to lose shape a little.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

climbing wall

I picked up a box of holds cheap when I was in the states and finally got around to making the wall today.

the first route up, aptly named "green road" by supergirl, rated 5.8 by yours truly

wonderboy on sites the 5.8

supergirl flashes "green road"

2 more routes to make, but first, tomorrow we will all go climb a real mountain