Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Upcoming Winter Small Farm Webinars

Saturday, December 31, 2016

I'm in the process of updating the Events Calendar (see link on the right) and wanted to give everyone a heads up on one of the best resources I've found over the past couple of years.  The University of Illinois Extension presents a weekly educational series for the small farm community on emerging topics which advance local food production. And guess what....even if you're just growing for your family (like us), many of these webinars will have useful information for you as well.

Webinars will be held from noon -1:00 pm on Thursdays and are free.  Note that you must pre-register but, if you miss the webinar, they will send you a link to the archived, recorded version.

Topics include:
  • Jan. 19 - ABCs of Strawberry Plasticulture Production, Bronwyn Aly, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Jan. 26 - Buying Hay: Quality vs. Cost, Jamie Washburn, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Feb. 2 - Slow Flowers: Small-Scale Cut Flower Production, Candice Hart, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator
  • Feb. 9 - Out with the Old: Pruning Old and Neglected Fruit Trees, Grant McCarty, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Feb. 16 - Small Commercial Microgreen Production, Zack Grant, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Feb. 23 - Food Safety Needs for Midwest Produce Growers, Dr. Angela Shaw, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Food Safety Specialist
  • Mar. 2 - Growing Your Hobby Farm into a Business, Andy Larson, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Mar. 9 - Do Your Bees Have PMS (Parasitic Mite Syndrome), Doug Gucker, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Mar. 16 - Maximizing Windbreaks on Your Farm, David Shiley, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Mar. 23 - Benefits of Mulching Vegetables, James Theuri, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
  • Mar. 30 - Soil Management for High Tunnels, Nathan Johanning, University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems and Small Farms Educator
I've added the complete list of topics and speakers to the Events Calendar so it's easy to copy to your own Google calendar if you like.

Please keep an eye on the calendar, as I'll be updating it over the next week or so with more local and online events that might be of interest. And, if you know of any events that you'd like to share, please send them my way at crankypuppy at gmail.com.

Have a great New Year's Eve, everyone!

Feathered Family Planning

Friday, December 30, 2016

Spring will be here before we know it, so I'm using up some my vacation time today planning out my chick order on the MyPetChicken site. This will be the 3rd time we've ordered our chicks from them and we do for several reasons:
  1. I haven't found a good source of sexed chicks locally and, since we can't have roosters in the city, I don't want to take the chance of ending up with all rooster and no hen.
  2. They cater to hobbyists and will ship as few as 3 chicks at a time.  Other hatcheries want you to order 15 or more which is, well, just way more chickens than I need in my backyard.  We'd be eating omelets morning, noon and night!
  3. We've never had a problem with any of the chicks and they have great customer service!
For those of you who are thinking about chickens but are tentative about picking up a peeping, cheeping package of chicks from the post office, let me reassure you:  it's the most fun ever!

This year, we'll have more heavy birds that are great egg layers.  Of course, we'll have 2 of our favorite, the Austrolorp.  They're consistent daily layers of a light brown egg and their docile, perky personality makes them a great bird to have in the backyard.  Kermit and Henrietta, my favorite hens who like to talk to me as they followed me around the yard, were both Austrolorps. 

I fell in love with the Golden Laced Wyandottes we had last year so we'll get another of those.  And then the rest of the gang is all new to us:  1 Lavender Orpington, 1 Buff Brahma, 1 Blue Copper Maran and a Double-Laced Barnevelder for a total of 7 colorful hens.  The Maran and Barnevelder lay darker, chocolate-colored eggs and I'm excited to have those for the first time.
April 3rd is the delivery date.  I see adorable chick pictures in our future.  Are you adding to your flock this year?  I'd love to hear what breeds you have - please leave a comment!

Starting Again

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hello!  I'm happy to be back here after a loooong hiatus from the blog.  It's been a crazy 18+ months of post-back surgery life-rebuilding and life-living.  The short version is that my back pain is gone although a nasty infection nearly killed me in February, everyone else is fine and we started work on another beautiful Victorian house restoration.

Our house, along with the project house and another one we completed a few years ago were both featured on the Historic Fall Homes Tour in October, which almost killed us.  It certainly killed our garden, since we were so busy trying to make the project house walkable and ready for the tour that we didn't have time to tend to the veggies.  So they ended up looking sad and forgotten among a sea of ever-encroaching rye grass and weeds. I suspect the super-wet Spring this year and then bone-dry summer had something to do with it also.

It's with a heavy heart that I mention that we lost our entire flock of chickens not long ago.  We suspect it was a possum given the small space that the fiend would have had to fit through to get to them in their enclosed kennel.  J. and I had never fully re-fortified the coop and pen when we moved it to make way for the solar panels, so it's entirely on our heads.  My beloved green-feathered Kermit, the oldest of the flock and J.'s self-declared nemesis, will never again follow him around the yard demanding mealworms.  She made it to the ripe old age of 4, which I suspect is old age for a chicken in  most cases, though.

R.I.P. Kermit. We will miss you giving us a stern talking-to every time we visited the coop.

And I just realized that there's a lot of references to death in this post, which makes this title so apropos.  It's the circle of life that ends and then begins anew and that's where we are now on the cusp of the new year.  2017 will bring a new flock, a renewed garden, a honey-do list dragged out from under the cobwebs and spit-cleaned, and a revitalized hope for what we can accomplish this year. 

Let's begin, shall we?

Nice Deal on Canning Jars at KMart

Friday, April 01, 2016

We may still be dreaming about garden season (heck, I don't have a thing in the ground yet!), but canning season will be upon us before we know it.  What else are you going to do when you are knee deep in tomatoes this summer because you went a little overboard on planting? 

I just spotted this great deal over on kmart.com where you can score this Ball Quart 32oz Mason Jars 12-Pack for just $5.99 (regularly $11.99). You can't have them shipped, but you can choose free in-store pick up if they are available near you.  That's a nice deal on quart-sized jars that doesn't come around very often.

The Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Friday, January 01, 2016

Is anybody out there?

Well, the prodigal urban farmer has returned.  Sure did take long enough!  In addition to missing all of you, I have endured a massive amount of browbeating for having not gotten back to posting here. 

The reality is that, after my back surgery in April, I've spent 8 long months in physical therapy trying to build up all the muscle tone that I lost after a year spent sitting and laying on the sofa.  Not being able to walk without pain just...well...sucks.  So you can imagine how happy I was to be pain-free a week after surgery.  I felt (and continue to feel) that I had gotten my life back and been given a second chance.  So I hope you understand my having taken the last 8 months to live rather than sit in front of a computer writing about living!

So here we all are in 2016 with the shiny promise of a better year ahead of us.  I have so many things to tell you about!  How about:

  •  another project house that we bought a few months ago
  • our plans for expanding the urban farm and this year's garden
  • an update on our solar project (one year later!)
  • a new addition to our barn
  • some new recipes
  • ....hmmm...what else?
But I'm going to leave you hanging until next time for the really good stuff.  Gotta ease back into this posting thing, you know?  Wouldn't want to sprain something...  ;-)

Until next time,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...