A few years ago I made a tailor-made wedding dress for Stacy in Denver. Her and her (now) husband are Wedding Photographers, so they went to Thailand to shoot some stunning pictures showing beautiful Stacy in her raori dress. You can check out the result on her website, and here are a few of my favourite shots I would like to share with you. Photos courtesy of Gillespie Photography. Thank you Stacy for this lovely adventure with you🙂
Before and after: heavy wooden structures filled to the brim with flowers and food.
It took some time to get everything going and working, so much actually, that I had to quit my beloved raori for a while. But here we are now. No more hard work, just a functioning Edible Garden filled with flowers and food. This is what I wrote one year ago:
The plan is:
– to try to grow as much food as we can by ourselves.
– to eat mainly vegetarian (although Max and the kids will eat meat occasionally).
– to buy what we can’t grow in bulk and locally grown (flour, oats, cheese, butter, milk).
– to have our own eggs (there is a chicken coop in our garden already!)
– to cook and bake everything by ourselves and really avoid processed food.
– to create a peaceful, organised and beautiful garden full of flowers and food.
Sometimes we have relatives coming over, and they always bring cakes. Inside the boxes they bring from the bakery are of course the creamy pastries topped with all kinds of jellied fruit, marzipan or Belgian chocolate, but it is what you find in the bottom of the box that interests me: a thick paper with one side gold, one side silver. All you need to do is: wash it up, cut small triangles and stitch them together on the sewing machine (or by hand) into this pretty little bunting!
I knoooow it’s been ages, but seriously I’ve been about to work myself mental! I truly needed a break to catch up with… LIFE! And now, five months later, I’m finally getting ready to start my work-life again. The raori shop is up and running again, my studio has gone through a mega-clean-up and I’m full of energy and ready for business again. As I like to just jump straight into things and do it all at the same time, I also decided to dust of my vintage shop and open it with a fresh new model (my wonderful friend Lynn) and some cool and kitschy new things…
The raori vintage shop is still under construction and I’ll be adding lots of new things the coming week, but please feel free to have a quick peek.
The lack of storage in our shower room was driving me nuts, so I grabbed some left-over fabrics in my studio and a piece of wood and made this!
The shelf contains of two fabric bands with a button hole for the screws on each end. Fold them together and balance the plank on a straight line. When you are happy with your shelf you could also nail down a few nails through the fabric underneath the plank for extra security.
If I would’ve known how easy it was to keep chickens, I think I would have started to raise my backyard chick-chick flock so much sooner. The truth is that I spend about 5 min per day on them, and they are three very happy and plump chicken ladies.
These are our girls and their eggs:
Tingeling (orange) is at the top of the pecking order, our mother-hen chicken leader. She is also the toughest and bravest of the three. She always comes running when she sees me, and she lets me take her up for a cuddle. She is an “Isa Brown”, a Sexalinks Hybrid. She lays one egg per day, all year around. One BIG pinkish brown egg with white sparkles. Delicious! Isa Brown chickens lay around 300-320 eggs per year.
Gittan (black) is a black Harco chicken (a Black Rocks breed), an excellent egg-layer of 280-300 eggs per year. She is a little shy, but has the same body build as Tingeling. They are BFF’s, Tingeling and Gittan. Her eggs are smooth and dark brown, she likes to spend hours before laying them. And she always lays them around my lunch hour, which stops me from eating fresh eggs for lunch. I don’t want to disturb her. She is usually done around 2 pm, so if I take a late lunch, I’ll get a warm, fresh egg on my toast!
Lotta (white) is the difficult one… She laid one egg, ONE egg, her first 6 month with us. We though something was wrong with her first, but after some research we understood that White Leghorn Chickens don’t lay eggs during the winter. Her eggs are really tasty, a real treat! And it’s so pretty to see her pure white and smooth egg in the nesting box. She is very shy, she doesn’t like to come near us, but she is much more relaxed now and has started to trust us. She does a funny little thing… The other two gladly lay their eggs on top of the other one’s egg, but not Lotta. Oh no, she gets really annoyed if there is an egg in the box when it’s her turn. She hides the other eggs by throwing straws on top of them, then makes a deep little nest for herself where she lays her egg. If we see a Lotta-egg in the nest, you have to dig around to find the other two eggs!
Morning: We open the (big to stand in) cage where they have been pecking around in the hay since dawn. I give them about 1 dl each of chicken food (as they are free range chickens, they see to most of the food on their own. They have a huge space to roam around freely. I check that they have enough water (they can never run out of water!) and then I open the roof to the chicken coop, grab a small garden fork and start poking away the poop from the night. I put it all, straw and poop, in a pile next to the cage. Once a month I collect all the straw and throw it on the compost. During the growing season we keep them behind the garage, where a locked fence keeps them away from the vegetables, but during the winter they have access to the entire garden!
Lunch: I go for my first egg-collecting and to check that everything is ok. Most of the time it’s just in and out, as the nest is busy and I don’t want to disturb. I do like to sit down to stroke Tingeling for a while (she likes it too!) and to talk to them or give them worms if I find any.
Late afternoon: This is when I usually pick up the eggs of the day. Most of the time there are 3 pretty eggs in different colors waiting for me.
Before sunset: I trick them to go into the cage by throwing some chicken food into the straw (yes, the pooped down straw…) Once they are in I lock the cage, say goodnight and leave them. Just to be sure, I close the fence on my way out as well. There are a lot of foxes around and every neighbour have told me how the fox took their chickens! Our cage go underground as well, so I really hope we can keep him out…
– They live in a small chicken coop, which is basically just a box with a roof, filled with straw. I always thought I needed to have a special place for the egg-laying (a nest box), but if I keep the routine of taking away the poop in the morning, I never have any accidents with soiled eggs.
– The chicken coop is located in a big metal cage that also runs underground (3×3 m wide and 2 m high). There is a tarp on the roof to protect from the rain. The food dispenser is attached to the cage, in perfect chicken height. The water dispenser stand right on the ground for now. I need to change that as there is straw in the water constantly… The cage is big enough to keep chickens in all the time, but I like to give them more space, which is why they have the entire area behind the garage. They love it! It’s their (and my kids’) play ground. This is where we have our composts, there is a bamboo bush that they love to play under, there is also a big pine tree, with loose, dry ground underneath, always protected from rain. This is where they clean up themselves. Chickens stay clean by “dust bathing”.
I just cut down all the ornamental grass, we are cutting it down to small pieces to use as straw in the chicken coop, but for now, my kids like to sit on this huge bed of dry grass and play with their feathered friends.
Early spring and square feet.
The gardening reading material that I have been plowing through this winter is Mel Bartolomew’s “the square foot garden”. I think this gardening method will fit our small garden perfectly as it enables you to squeeze in A LOT on a very small space. To quickly explain this method:
You grow everything in squares instead of rows.
By doing this you eliminate weeds growing and the endless weeding between rows. You avoid planting more than you need and there won’t be any more hard work or analyzing of the soil as you use a special mix, perfectly fitted for anything you want to grow, in raised beds.
The result is an impressive harvest in little space. Perfect for a small vegetarian family.
You plant by following a formula, a plant spacing guide, based on the size of your finished plant/ vegetable. For example: carrots are thin and don’t need a lot of space in between, so 1 square can fit 16 carrots. Beetroots are bigger, but doesn’t need a lot of space in between, thus 9 beets in 1 square. Squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage etc are bigger plants, so they need more space. 1 plant per square. See the diagram below.
March 2015 was spent building the beds, mixing the soil (Mel’s mix) and planting a few early seedlings that could stand the frost. I also gave my older kids 3 square feet each, where they can plant what they want. My son planted in each square: 6 pea plants, 1 cauliflower and 16 carrots. My daughter: 16 radishes, 16 carrots and 1 cauliflower.
My biggest challenge at the moment is to make my baby daughter understand that dirt is not meant to be eaten…