scraping the earth, moving rocks, making kefir

OUTSIDE   = Starting a low maintenance lawn

When we moved here in December, the septic system and leach field had been freshly rebuilt, giving us a home with a naked front yard.

This spring we dove right in on our outdoor projects. First was the creation of a fence in the back yard (gotta contain the kids+ chickens) . Before we could finish the last portion of the fence, I had to begin making a lawn. Fall is the best time to make a grass lawn, but if we wait till then, we will deal with the summer’s weeds. There is a small window of opportunity for seeding a lawn in the spring. Cool temps and plenty of moisture are perfect. My window is closing and I am scraping as fast as I can,…..a half  hour here, a few hours there, while Cyrus naps, while kids play in the driveway, while the rice boils before dinner.

Scraping rocks from our 3,000 square ft bare leach feild.
photo by Ruby

I decided to use the bow rake ( instead of a gas-tiller) to do all of the rock removal and tilling. We raked pile after pile of golf ball sized to cantaloupe sized rocks into hills, then carted them here and there in the wheelbarrow. A reality of landscaping is refuse. I like to repurpose as much as possible. Some rock and dirt mixtures went along the grass near our back deck as a base for raised herb beds. Some barrows full of rocks went to fill in rain washed areas from the roof runoff. A couple wheelbarrows full filled in some holes the woodchuck made. I stomped those holes pretty well. They are too close to our Veggie Garden area.

After the rocks were removed (crazy amounts of work), the area needed to be graded with a wide rake. I have slept soooooo well this week.

My friend Emily helped me put 4 yards of Herrington’s garden mix (topsoil and composted manure) evenly over the lawn area. I have been sooooo hungry this week.

I did a soil PH test at Cornell Cooperative Extension. I called them about numerous things and was helped by many knowledgable master gardeners as well as David Chinery who knows his grass seed!

The PH result  was 7.4- needs to go down to 6.2- 6.5 to make for  healthy lawn. I could apply 30 pounds of sulphur to lower the PH. Instead I am opting to go with the acid-basic neutrality of five pounds of  10-10-10 fertilizer, (hand broadcasted =old school).

My goal with this lawn is to have a place to play and not to  have to mow all  of the time. I am planting all fescue grasses ( sheeps fescue, creeping red fescue, chewings fescue). Although the fescue species take longer than traditional grasses (i.e.: kentucky bluegrass, perennial rye) to germinate and start roots, the main benefits are SLOW GROWTH and no need for FERTILIZER past the initial planting. I am getting my seeds from Agway in Schaghticoke, Ny. They make all the grass seed mixes for the local garden centers. I’m going to the source and spending a quarter of the price. If you call Agway, talk to John. He’s the man.

I will use only 4 pounds of seed. I will hand broadcast, like feeding chickens, the seed , cover it lightly with straw, water every morning for at least a month say a little prayer, and give thanks.

This summer we hope to mow only once a month.

Next projects / slightly overlapping:

Build a chicken coop. Our girls will be ready on Mothers Day to live outside!

Fence in the Veggie Garden area, dig a perimeter trench and bury chicken wire to attempt to keep out Mr. Woodchuck  and his buds…….Then start to build up the soil (no till) to make raise beds.



My dad gave me some of his Kefir grains. They grow and multiply as you use them, so by nature, they are meant to be shared, given.  Soon I’ll have enough to give.

The process of making Kefir is so incredibly easy. Find out more about Kefir, a Turkish fermented dairy beverage ( I call it “milk beer’).

I take between a quart and a half gallon of cold milk. Put in in a large mason jar ( or a milk bottle ) with a lid. Spoon in the kefir grains ( they look like giant cottage cheese curds. Place it on the counter for 2-3 days. A couple of time a day, tip the kefir milk upside down (don’t shake , don’t stir) a bit to incorporate the grains into the milk. After 2-3 days, strain with a colander into a big bowl. The good stuff in the bowl is your milk-beer! Rinse  grains in a little water and start again!

Straining the grains from the Kefir

Plain kefir is so sour and fizzy . It ‘s medicinal. The liveness of it is invigorating!

Add a little maple syrup or a couple spoonfuls of berry jam to a quart of kefir and your children will have a new favorite drink.

Cy getting ready to dig in to cardamom and coconut kefir ice cream

This week I experimented with making Coconut Kefir Ice Cream. Cyrus and I made a simple syrup with organic sugar and water, then melted a can of coconut milk into the syrup, added a dash of cardamom powder. We let it cool and then blended it into the fresh plain Kefir. I poured it into my ice cream machine, he turned it on. 30 minutes later we enjoyed the most amazing live food delicious nutritious ice cream lunch on our stoop warmed by the Spring sun.



New Growth Necklace with Drusy


One thought on “scraping the earth, moving rocks, making kefir

  1. Thank you for this peek into your beautiful life of color and greenliness (is that a word?). You and Jason, along with your children, are quite a team — an amazing family. I marvel at your energy!

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