Monday, February 27, 2012

Sourdough Starter

See the bubbles?

This beautiful little mother was made of some flour, some water and a little bit of dry yeast.  Exactly those measurements.  She's bubbling away and I'm hoping to not only use her often, but not have to ever toss her out and start again... like I have in the past.

You'll be happy to know that sourdough bread (when made with 100% wheat flour) is a higher protein food than the fresh yeast breads of the same make and model.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Foot In the Door

Just put in a little order for some heirloom barley and shell beans and threw in a packet of southwest wildflowers.

I'm getting really excited about Barley, as it is has the lowest glycemic index of any grain ever tested.  I fell in love with the story of this particular barley strain and that it was created (and expects to grow well) here in southern California.  I'm planning on doing a lot of experiments with barley and low-glycemic recipes as well as figuring out how to get from a packet of seeds to a loaf of bread.

We've also decided to post some of our favorite low-glycemic recipes here on the site, so look out for that as well!

My mom also stopped by this morning with a horse trailer full of goods.  Pallets and branches for heating the house, some fun old pieces of tack, a whole box full of used and rusted horseshoes and some other random bits of rusted junk.  We now have plenty of fodder for our store, we just have to get working on it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

How I Am Making Gravel

When we bought this house, it came with large piles of dirt.  The outer piles had been formed into a dirt bike riding course, with a really nice curve and some jumps, like 8 steep little hills with a curve in the middle.  And since we purchased the property we have wondered, what will we do with those hills?

Well, the first thing we did was introduce them to the kids as 'the mountains'.  These hills are the kids' favorite thing to play with in our yard.

A few weeks ago I decided that the area right outside our front door was destined to be a wildflower garden.  But, it was to have walkways lined with rocks and little pockets of flowers also surrounded with rocks.  Gravel would be perfect for the space between flowers, but where to get it?  Any amount of money was too much for this project.

Then, I saw these:
'The mountains' otherwise known as - 'random piles of dirt'.

And I thought, the soil is pretty course, I bet I could make some gravel and then well, if I wanted the whole two acres covered in plastic with a layer of gravel on top to deter weeds, well I'm half way there!  Over the course of a few days, my plan involved the metal window screens that came with the house.  Or rather, on the house.  But seeing as we have a ton of windows and about 5 screens, we will need to re-screen most of the house anyways and if one old metal screen gets injured in the making of gravel, it's a small price to pay.

So I took two patio chairs, my old screen and set to work!

The set up.

How it works: shovel dirt on top of screen, move it all around until dust and debris stop falling out the bottom.  Move remaining bits (gravel) to bucket.  Take bucket, pour in desired spot.  Return.  Repeat.

So I got a few buckets full after sifting.  Here is the result:

Not the most uniform, but over some plastic it will definitely keep the weeds away!

Now.  There was the stuff that fell out of the bottom and it was beautiful.

Extremely uniform, wonderful, slightly orange sand.

I was thinking of all the uses the sand could have and decided that it needed to go on the walk ways through the wildflower garden.  When I sift the dirt, I get about half and half.  Here are some pictures of the gravel and sand in action.

Gravel in action, the stick in that clump of grass there is a rose bush.

Sand on the walkway.

I'm really excited to see how it will look when the whole garden has the sand and gravel in the appropriate places.  It will be a long time going because two buckets of gravel and two of sand take a totally of about 45 minutes.  But I'm out there watching the kids play most days anyways, so it's all good.

I can't wait to take my rake and leave wonderful little rake lines down my walk ways with bright bloom wildflowers hanging out the side of their planters... Slow and steady!  April looks like it may possibly be a big month here at Dusty Acres, so I'm setting April as my set up goal for the front and back gardens.  It's a tall order, but I'm a tall girl...


Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Over the last week or so I have been plotting out our front flower garden.  In lou of a green lawn that is expensive to upkeep we have opted for a wildflower garden out our front door.  My hope is to fill the plots with drought resistant flowers that give us a beautiful show and yet don't require overhead sprinklers twice a day.  Honestly, my dream would be to water by hand 2-3 times a week, but I don't think I'm quite savy enough to find plants that fit that model yet.

Since we live in the desert I have yet to notice a small flowering plant that is native to our area.  There are blooms on the yucca and Joshua trees in the spring, and a certain bush I have yet to find the name of, completely covers itself in tiny yellow flowers at the end of summer for one week, and for that week the high desert is a sea of yellow.  But nothing dainty and flowering, yet.

In our front garden I wanted flowers, bright, abundant blooms all throughout the growing season.

I am using two resources:

My Own Experiences

So far, I've decided on a packet of California wild flowers that has flowers in it that bloom from early spring to late summer.  I've also decided on some of the Black Eyed Susans that sprinkle themselves liberally over the Los Angeles basin in the heat of summer.  They are not native, although they have naturalized to Southern California and I have had a love affair with Black Eyed Susans since I was very small.  The way they spring up on the side of the freeway in a crack in the pavement, a 2'6" scrubby plant covered in large yellow blooms that hasn't seen rain or even clouds in months.  They wave a cheery hello at the motorists as they grumble in smoggy traffic.  These girls are still a poem waiting to be written, and I'm more than a little excited to see them swaying in the wind outside my window!

Payne's #1: Rainbow Mixture Available Here.

Black Eyed Susans in all their glory, Available Here.

So, we have already turned this:  
Before we moved in.
Into this:

Bright blaring morning sun, but painted the front white, the door red
and added a scrappy little fence.

And some fun little rock paths. 

So this is the inbetween period, the period of plotting, rock hauling, gravel making and watering plans.  Soon, there will be lots of wild flowers beside those paths!  And the scrappy little winter time rose bushes along the house there will be blooming and beautiful.  It'll be such a transformation!