Self Reliance

We live by the principle of self-reliance at Five Feline Farm. Whenever practical, we do for ourselves. It is both a matter of saving money and the satisfaction of being able to do things for ourselves. Mostly the satisfaction. There is not much that stops us from trying to figure things out.

Of course, some tasks we hire out. Usually because it is something we don’t want to do or don’t have the tools to do correctly. Occasionally it is because we would rather spend our time doing something other than that particular task. We also dream up with projects where it is more expensive to buy the tools than to pay for someone else to do it. 

But when we can do for ourselves, we do.

For example, when we needed a new greenhouse, we decided to build from a kit.

Shopping around and exploring all of the options, we found a Palram model we like. It is small but expandable in 4 foot sections if we choose. This particular model has an integrated covered guttering system with small downspouts.

What are downspouts without a rain barrel?

A quick order on Amazon and a rain barrel was delivered to the front door. Now to make the gutters useful, we needed some type of hose to direct the rain water to the barrel. 

Wandering the aisles of our local home improvement warehouse, we found something that would work. One and quarter inch discharge hose. Easy to cut to length, hose clamp to the downspout and screwed to the top of the rain barrel. One good rain and the barrel is full. It is easy now to run a garden hose into the greenhouse to water as needed.

It is common for us to use parts for other than their intended purpose. We browse the home improvement store, with a project in mind, looking for anything that will suit. Our theory is: if it works, it works.

A Challenge

What can you do to be more self-reliant? Think about a small task you need to accomplish. Is it something you can do for yourself? Can you repurpose some random part you have lying around the house?

We challenge you to do one thing today to be more self-reliant. Let us know in the comments or on any of our social media channels. (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Five Feline Farm is a modern homestead where two women and their cats seek to make their corner of the world full of creativity and fresh food. Sign up for our email list and get a free ebook “Wisdom of the Bees”.

Why is the World Dog-Centric?

Today’s post is a guest post by Five Feline Farm’s very own Sassy. She has a lot of opinions and isn’t afraid to let you know.

I’m writing (actually dictating to one of my humans since it’s hard to type with paws) from the comfort of one of the greenhouses here at the Farm. It is a cool day but toasty warm in here. I have my own cushion to lie on.

Lying here in the sunshine I have time to think about important things. Like why is the world dog-centric?

Cats Rule!

Just take a look around your nearest pet supply store. One entire side, aisle after aisle of dog products. Food, beds, toys, leashes, collars, grooming products.

Granted, cats require far fewer grooming products, being the self groomers we are. And those leashes! No self-respecting cat would be caught in public at the end of a leash. How humiliating.

But cats have to share their side of the store with fish, rats, mice, birds, reptiles. Where is the toy selection? We want more food choices.

I’m going to write to my congresscat and start a petition. Dogs should be required to share equally with cats.

Except beagles. They are calico after all.

If you would like to hear more from Sassy or the other residents of Five Feline Farm, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here on our blog. There are exciting things coming and you won’t want to miss it.

Grilled Sweet Corn

It is that time of year in Central Illinois for sweet corn to be available in ample supply. We are growing a lot of our own vegetables but we made the decision not to grow sweet corn. To do sweet corn well and in the quantity we like to freeze, it takes a good size plot. We have the room, but have dedicated our efforts to other crops. 

In our continued quest to eat more local and healthy, what better way than looking around the Farmer’s Market after we set up our own booth? There is plenty of sweet corn available at the 18th Street Farmer’s Market. 

One of our favorite ways to enjoy corn on the cob is to grill it. 

To grill sweet corn, remove the outer dark green husks, leaving the lighter colored inner husks intact. Cut off the exposed silks and any extra cob on the other end. Soak the ears in cold water for about 30 minutes. Just enough time to get the charcoal grill ready to cook.

Throw the corn on the grates, turning every 10 minutes or so until the husk is charred on all sides. Remove from the grill and carefully remove the husks and silks. The best way I have found to do this: hold the cob in one hand protected by a hot pad while stripping away the husk and silk with the other. 

Serve with butter, salt and pepper for a classic summer treat. There are a number of equally good variations to spread on the corn: equal parts butter and blue cheese mixed together, substitute seasoned salt for the salt and pepper, just to name a couple. Another option is prior to grilling, peel back the husks, remove silks and spread with equal parts butter and prepared horseradish.

No matter how you enjoy your corn on the cob, grill a couple extra for this rainy day dish.

Roasted Corn and Potato Chowder

3 medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

2 ears of roasted corn, cut off the cob

2 cups milk

3 Tbsp butter

1/4 tsp Penzey’s Chipotle (ground red)

1/4 tsp Penzey’s Roasted Garlic

1 tsp minced cilantro

1 Tbsp finely shredded parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain. While the potatoes are draining, melt the butter in the same pot. Add corn and stir until heated thoroughly. Add Chipotle, Roasted Garlic, salt and pepper. Stir for about 30 seconds until the seasonings are distributed and fragrant. Add potatoes and milk. Heat through over low heat, stirring occasionally. 

Ladle into bowls and garnish with parmesan and cilantro. 

There is always something new to enjoy here at Five Feline Farm. Thanks for stopping by and check in often on Facebook and Twitter to see the latest. 

Three Sisters Update

As our regular followers know, the premier area this year is the Three Sisters Garden. Like most things around Five Feline Farm, a simple idea grows and expands into much more. This garden feature started with a vision of a simple garden plot in a Native American style. Corn supporting climbing beans, surrounded by yellow squash to double as a weed blocking mulch. The garden expanded to include an area for gourds, buckwheat, lavender, mammoth sunflowers and additional dent corns.

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A recent discovery is the Google Earth view. The design was to reflect a honeycomb and without a doubt it does. The outline is less visible now that the plants are filling in, but the base is still there.

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Already these plants are nourishing us. Yellow crookneck squash abounds. It is a goal to find as many delicious ways to cook this new vegetable as possible.

Perhaps we are picking them smaller but this variety seems to have a different flavor than standard yellow squash. When picked small the squash is tender yet firm enough to hold up and not become slimy. So far we have had it grilled, roasted, sautéed, added to a foil packet of green beans, dehydrated into chips, fried and in stir fry. It feels a bit like Bubba in Forrest Gump naming all the ways to cook shrimp. “Ya got ‘yer fried squash, roasted squash, squash casserole…..”

The next anticipated produce from Three Sisters will be pinto beans. These will be picked when the pods dry, then shelled and vacuum sealed. Surely pintos will produce in a more manageable quantity than yellow crookneck squash.

As always, the Farm blesses us with bounty from vegetables to a gorgeous vista.

Leave us a comment if you have a novel way to prepare yellow squash. If you are in our neighborhood and need some, let us know that too.