Sunflowers, cidar, and new lead on land…


I have been working all fall to put the sunflowers to bed.  I started chopping and dropping the flowers as they were down with their production.  Then, I put down cardboard/newspaper and pine shavings on top.  
I was using up the pine shavings from our guinea pig cages.  I would get a large garbage bag size each week.  So, I would haul them out and put down the cardboard/newsletter and then place the used shavings on top.  This took weeks to do and I finally just had to buy shavings to finish the last two rows.  I wanted to have it finished before we got our first snow.  Lucky for me that we have had such a mild fall with lots of rain!

In the Kitchen

I just wanted to give an update on the hard cider.  I bottled it a couple of weeks ago.  I added some sugar in to the bottle to help produce some carbonation.  I have to admit that I was really nervous about doing this so I went really conservative.  I was scared the tops would fly off from too much pressure.  
The good news is that I finally got to try some with a friend of mine.  It seems to have turned out really good!  It is so nice when something works!  There is some carbonation but not a lot.  I will definitely be making more next year.

Future Farm lead…

Last week, I went to our Rural Roots meeting and was introduced to a couple of people from the Palouse Land Trust.  The mission of the Palouse Land Trust is to conserve the open space, scenery, wildlife habitat, and water quality of the Palouse region for the benefit of current and future generations.  Check out their website…it is really well done.  They fulfill their mission through conservation easements. Conservation easements enable private landowners to protect and conserve their open space, wildlife habitat, water quality and favorite views. Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limit uses of land. Because they are very flexible, easements can allow continued agricultural or forest production, or limited development.
A conservation easement permits landowners to:
Protect what is special about their land
Control future development and uses of their land
Pass land from one generation to the next with reduced inheritance taxes
Gain significant income and estate tax advantages
So, it seems that a family has 60 acres that literally borders the city of Moscow and they are looking for people to farm part of the property.  I do not have all the details.  I was told that there was a house on 4.86 acres that is available.  I am not sure what “available” really means but I know that I get to have a look at it and the property before it goes up for sale/rent.  
I was surprised to see that there is a property that is only a few hundred yards from our current rental house that is part of the Palouse Land Trust.  I had always been curious about this property because it is like a farm right in town across the street from the city soccer fields.  Mark and I walk past it every weekend when we go for our walks and yesterday the horse the lives in the barn (pictured above) came up to the fence to say hi to us.  You can read more about this Urban farm here.
Another place that the boys and I love to visit in the spring is Idler’s rest.  It is located just about 5 miles outside of town.  It used to be an old farm and there are fruit trees growing wild throughout the area.  We especially like to go in the spring when the winter snow is melting off Moscow mountain and there are little waterfalls to jump over.  There is a hiking trail and scavenger hunts for the kids.  Also, we have located a couple of geocaches out there in the past.  I enjoy riding my bike out to Idler’s Rest…it can be challenging as it is mostly up hill from our house but once you make it to the top, it is easy riding back to town.  Idler’s rest is also managed by the Palouse Land Trust.
So, as I mentioned, I do not have a lot of information.  I talked with Amy Trujillo (she is the Executive Director) and Nicholas Norton gave me his business card.  He is the Conservation Projects Manager.  They were going to talk to the people involved and see when would be a good time to come out…