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Motor City Homestead » 2008 » May

Archive for May, 2008

Rhubarb

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

We always grow lots and lots of rhubarb.  It’s one of the first pieces of produce to ripen in the spring, and it’s great to start eating fresh from the garden in May.  If you’ve never had rhubarb, it has the texture of celery, but is very tart - similar to a lemon.  Only the stalks are edible.  The leaves are actually poisonous. 

Rhubarb

Since we always have a ton of rhubarb growing around our yard (2 or 3 gigantic plants) I decided this year I was going to find the perfect Rhubarb crisp recipe, and I kept making new batches (to the everlasting joy of my family) until I came upon this one.  My search is over.  This is the recipe I’m sticking with.  I know there is a ton of sugar in it - but rhubarb isn’t naturally sweet like apples or peaches, so it needs extra sugar if it’s going to taste like a dessert.  I am going to mess with the sugar content and see if I can swap out honey for some, or just reduce it.  But for now, this is a great recipe.  Enjoy.

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 cups sliced rhubarb

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

In mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, butter, and cinnamon.  Mix together until crumbly.  Press half of the brown sugar and oats mixture into a buttered 8 x 8 baking dish.  Top with the sliced rhubarb.

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, water, and vanilla.  Cook together until clear, then pour over rhubarb.  Top rhubarb with remaining crumb mixture and bake at 350 for 45 - 55 minutes.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Rabbit hutch pictures

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

So, work on the rabbit hutch has gone much slower than I had hoped (big surprise there) - but things are finally far enough along for pictures.  Here is the lean-to we built on the back of our garage.

Hutch

I know what you are thinking . . . “How did you get those pickets so straight and even?”  I’ll post a diagram of the jig I used later.  No, I did not use a traditional dance that includes lots of kicking and flailing to help me space the pickets.  In the woodworking world, a jig is a tool of sorts that one uses specifically for repetitive cuts, spacing, etc.  Here’s a close up of the pickets.  Amy planted lots of rabbit treats and edible flowers in front.

Pickets close up

The last detail of note is that we decided to hang the cages from the ceiling.  Cleaning out under the cages is much, much easier, and the rabbits are slowly adjusting to life on a swing.  When they get hopping, the whole cage set-up rolls like a cruise ship in a storm.  Here is a close up of the hanging cages.

Hanging cages

And one final shot of the side of the hutch.  Eventually, I may close in the sides to give some additional protection from the wind.  But the coldest weather is behind us, so I’m not going to worry about for the next several months.

Side View

We have lots of painting left to do, and more gardens to put in around the picket fences, but for now the rabbits are dry and warm.  But there is an even greater benefit.  Amy and I have spent a lot of time thinking of how to make our yard feel bigger.  Unless we start buying the houses next to us, there is no way to make our lot any bigger than it already is.  But, by making each part of our yard appealing in a different way, kids and guests will naturally spread out in the space.  That makes the space feel bigger, and also makes the kids want to spend more time outside.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been at someone’s house with a huge yard.  My Grandma has an acre around her house, and it’s 95% lawn.  Guess where we spent all of our time as kids.  Either on a boulder in the corner of her yard, or in the tree next to her house.  People need something to focus on to enjoy a space.  And we’re planning on putting several focus pieces (patio, trees, outdoor fireplace, pond, etc) around our yard as time and finance permit.  Most of our yard areas are purely ideas right now.  The rabbit hutch is the first to actually come together, and it has worked phenomenally.  That section of the yard has gone from a patchy section of lawn that the kids avoided like the plague, to an area that they always visit numerous times during the day.  Gabe, our oldest, heads out there several times every day to pet the rabbits or feed them grass and dandelions.  Even when the kids are playing, their play inevitably circulates near the rabbit hutch at several points.  So they are using more of the yard, and that makes the space feel bigger, even though there is less lawn than before.  Playing mind tricks on little children.  Does it ever get old?  I don’t think so.

Great post by someone smarter than me.

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

This blog is, most days, really really funny to those of us raised in the church.  Today he had a great post on hours worked vs. compensation.  It’s so good, I have to link it

Boys will be boys, and dogs will be dogs

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Boys will be boys:  Last week we had dinner with a family we met through church.  I’d never met them before, but Amy had talked to them quite a bit - so we went over to their house one evening for dinner and fun.  After dinner, the kids (they have 4 as well) all trucked outside to play.  After chewing the fat for a couple of minutes, I stuck my head out the back door for a quick check.  In the far corner of the yard, I saw Levi (who is 2 and 1/2) with his pants around his ankles, PEEING ON A TREE IN THEIR YARD!  I yelled, “What are you doing, Levi?”  His shouted over his shoulder, “I had to pee on their tree.”  That explains nothing and everything in seven small words.  Apparently one of our friend’s kids asked several times if he should be peeing outside, and was informed by both Levi and Gabe that “he does it all the time.”  News to his mother and me.

Dogs will be dogs:  I’m working on an outside hutch for the rabbits - it’s essentially a lean-to on the back of our garage.  ‘Nother nifty diagram for your viewing pleasure

Hutch

Eventually, it will be enclosed by a cute picket fence with flowers and vegetables planted around it.  For now, it’s enclosed by a rough-shod wire fence that keeps Ruby from the all-she-can-eat rabbit poop buffet.  The gate is just leaning in place - I plan to attach it tomorrow.  Two days ago, I went out to check on the rabbits in their new home, and noticed that one of the youngsters was holding up a paw covered in blood.  Total bummer.  I washed it with peroxide and put antibiotic ointment on it.  I figured he/she cut it on something in the cage.

Yesterday I was in the garage feeding the chickens, and I heard Fraser, our house-mate’s Boston Terrier scrambling around in the rabbit hutch.  The gate had fallen down and he was in there causing a ruckus.  I chased him out and was about to head back to the chickens when I noticed that Mr Nibbles was bleeding profusely from his foot, and sitting on top his little sleeping cave - which I had never seen him do before.  Suddenly it all clicked in to place.  When the rabbits stand in their cages, their toes and toenails poke through the wire.  To Fraser, the probably look like furry doggy jelly beans - with the thrill of the chase mixed in for good measure.  He was just tall enough, when standing on his hind legs, to reach the underside of the cage.  Mr. Nibbles was now short a toenail - but let me clean it off without too much fuss.  The other rabbit looked a bit worse - and still won’t put weight  on the front paw.  But it is eating and drinking just fine - so we’ll give it a few days and see.  As I said, dogs will be dogs.  But I’m putting up the fence and gate ASAP.

You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone

Monday, May 5th, 2008

When we moved last fall, we left in the manner of the children of Israel fleeing Egypt.  We got the hell out of there as fast as we could.  Unlike the Hebrews, however, we left with the promise that we would return in spring to clean up all the crap we left behind.  So this past weekend we headed back to the old house for some spring clean-up.  We also transplanted our two fruit trees, an apple and a pear.  They are both in full bloom - so if they survive the transplant, we should have fresh fruit this summer and fall.

We lived at that house for 5 years - and each year we spent a great deal of time preparing the garden beds.  We added compost by the wheelbarrow-full every year.  We mulched and weeded and watered and turned over every year.  In contrast, the new MCH is built on clay.  Rocky clay.  I know because I spent all last week digging post-holes by hand.  Eventually there was so much clay piled around the yard that the kids started making sculptures to sell.

I remember complaining about the soil at the old MCH - with it’s rocks and bricks and sand.   But now, looking back, we had it pretty good.  I know in five years our gardens at the new MCH will be just as nice - with rich black soil that grows anything and everything.  But right now, I wish I’d spent more time enjoying the garden I had instead of complaining about how I wish it would be.  Thankfully, I don’t have that problem in any other area of my life.  Just with garden soil.

More videos coming soon

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

We busted out the video camera this weekend and shot some updates of the MCH.  Seth (my brother) is working on them and hopefully we’ll have them posted soon.  In the meantime, here’s a great link on tanning rabbit hides with rock salt and battery acid.  We’re going to try it.