Sunday, July 31, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
We are enjoying the beauty and bounty of the summer. We are eating well, putting food away for winter, sleeping with the windows open and enjoying the low humidity. Lovely rains the last few days have everything adding lots of growth. And family arrives over the next week to help celebrate Claire's birthday..the girl is now a full fledged adult!
Homer plants seeds every week in spots all over the farm. We do not spray or drop chemicals of any kind, so some things just get chomped by the bugs. We still get lots of growth to distribute to our CSA customers. The learning curve was to just keep putting seeds in the ground, at some point the good bugs eat the bad, the breeze and rain pick back up..the seeds germinate, grow, set flowers, get pollinated and we eat well. And where do we fail? Eggplant and peppers. In 2 years we have produced zero of each. We are trying to grow the non-hybrids, trying to get the old varieties to work here and have had zero sucess. Started in the basement under lights in February, more in March, more outside week after week..and nothing. nada, the big goose egg. Here is the most recent planting:
Friday, July 29, 2011
Two went off to college in different spots: Gavi to University of Maryland, Tom to Notre Dame. Reports from their parents indicated that each of them was doing well, adjusting to college life, maintaining their GPA's, still involved in serivce work, interesting internships, travels abroad..a good life for these young men.
Earlier this year, at Kyle's Eagle Scout induction, a chance to catch up with both sets of parents. And a strange thing happened..we heard the same story from each about their kids plans. Um..did you know that the other is planning the same thing? And how about it, both Tom and Gavi are in the same officer training class in Quantico, VA! Getting worked to the bone no doubt. And based on what we had the joy to see as they grew up, they will each make great commanding officers. And lawyers too! Proud of these young men.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Yesterday was a cool, low humidity, slight breeze kind of day. Claire and I were up early boiling the big pot of water, sterilizing jars and converting cucumbers to pickles. Thought there would be a greater reduction in cucumbers but while we were pickling the plants outpaced us. Here is the process. At the same time we were gabbing about all sorts of things..such a pleasure to catch up with my girl!
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
We are supposed to be milking her daily, bonding with her. Quickly Homer realized that milking by hand takes time..more time than is available right now. And the farmer's wife realized that $1,500 for a milking system for a single cow is not in the budget this month..real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and business insurance all come due this month. So new tech toys/gadgets are off the list right now. We Must Be Adults.
August marks the time we will "breed back" Sybil. A dude with a turkey baster visits the farm. And in 9 moths (if all goes well) Sybil will gift us with another mimi me. Between now and then we should get the individual milker and make use of all she is producing. For now, she is making enough milk to keep the 2 smallest calves happy..and she is keeping the milk going the old fashioned way:
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
We have not had that experience with our turkeys. We take delivery on Thanksgiving turkey polts while the weather is still cold and rainy, and find that the polts need babying at the beginning otherwise they just fall over dead. And last week when it was so hot they needed shade and plenty of water..but then so do we. No evidence there of stupidity.
We are awaiting the next delivery of feed from our supplier, Ross of Quarryville, PA. They are the only feed supplier that we could find locally who offers a GMO free mix..and so sometimes we have to wait. They would prefer to deliver by the truckload and blow into a grain hopper but we are not yet equipped with one of those, so our deliveries still arrive in feed bags. I think the bagging puts us last on the delivery list, it must be a hassle for them!
So the turkeys were fed what every other animal was fed..left over, going stale and moldy bread from Atwaters. The pigs, laying hens, chickens, and even the cows (the cows helped themselves, it was not intentionally fed to them) jumped on that bread. It is stale and hard and requires the animals to work, which they love. With the exception of the turkeys. While I do not think they are stupid they do like a routine. And they are suspicious of anything different in their little worlds. A stick added for a roost will throw them into a tizzy. And bread, added to the pen at the time their grain is usually added (in the morning, right after moving the pen) caused this minor rucus, and consumption took hours rather than the usual 6-10 minutes.
Monday, July 25, 2011
We start more than 100 tomato plants from seed under lights when it is still cold out. They get a bit of heat underneath too. As the weather warms we begin planting under the protection of the hoophouse..the hardiest varieties first. Shown here is the beginning of the tomato harvest: Glacier and Green Cherokee, an additional 8 types were planted. This week each share received one tomato and all the cucumbers we could get them to take, in just a few short weeks we will have buckets of tomatoes. The drip irrigation system has made a huge difference, with steady water input we get steady tomato output. Only compost goes on the plants, and we search for hornworms on a regular basis. Bees buzzing everyday in the tomatoes..as long as we keep tobacco smokers/chewers away from these beauties all should be well..
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Homer is a continuing inspiration
The evolution of goslings
Leisure to catch up with friends visiting the farm
Drop in stops from my brother and cousin (cousin from Cordoba, Argentina)
Cool snap on the way
Family get together here for Claire's birthday
Cloud coverage on a morning like this
Dog in our household
Kevin's duck egg ice cream
Cucumbers with Keswick feta
When blogger works for me, which it is not right now :(
Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Homer has been hit with poison ivy, as usual it comes and goes all summer. Last couple days have been an impressive amount coverage on his body. Liz, who makes soaps and is a fellow vendor on Tuesday nights in Lauraville, offered to put together a prototype healing poison ivy kit for Homer to use. That got a big yes from us!
It is a combination of honey/oatmeal soap, tea tree oil, green clay and a few other lovely smelling things. The green clay sticks to the skin, does not really flake off, and along with everything else slows down the itch and spread of nasty poison ivy. Once Liz has this for sale we will keep on the farm all the time, as using hormones to combat the itch is not really an option..we have poison ivy for months at a time!
Watering for all critters, human and livestock.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Part of the job we do is sorting the broken, dirty, tiny and just not pretty eggs from the beautiful ones. Homer says the farmer eats the scratch and dent models of everything grown..gashed potatoes, lettuce full of holes. Eggs that have been nicked or clicked against another. And the little tiny eggs, called maiden eggs, that indicate a new hen is starting to lay. There are 3 in the bowl, and when opened they will only have egg whites, no yolks at all. Their first few eggs are practice ones: tiny and unable to be fertilized. Another in the bowl is perfect, just leftover from the 14 dozen packed and taken to market last night.
Hoping that breakfast are a few knicked potatoes, a couple of cracked eggs, and a fried green tomato or two. Tastes like summer!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Sunflowers shade our water barrels. And the hoophouse looks smaller with these massive plants growing.
and a few more just spring up in the grass..all season long we take sunflowers to market for folks to use as decoration in their homes. Some of the flowers do not look good enough..hit by hail, pecked at by a crow..so we feed them to the chickens..and a few fall or get missed and then grow on their own..much to our delight! And the bees too, there is always a bee or two on every sunflower.
Monday, July 18, 2011
We don't know the answer. Our girls start with us as day old peepers, with full beaks and no growth hormones. They get new spots to chow down on constantly..here they are under one of the apple trees (yes, we will trim the suckers off just as soon as those hens move out) scratching and eating every bug in sight. While our fruit is not the prettiest, and there is an occasional critter inside..we offer them to our CSA members with that bit of information, and most people take the risk. Truly organic, with no sprays of any kind, the apples are delicious and we cannot wait for them to ripen. Arkansas Black is this tree..a keeping apple..wrapped in newspaper and placed in the right spot we can eat for months..and the flavor deepens as they age..oh yeah..
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Kremen points out that honeybees are very important to the almond crop, and the almond growers bring them in to pollinate the trees.
And when she examined productivity and output of all other types of foodstuff grown in CA it turned out that orchards/growing fields/vineyards near open range cattle ranches had the greatest output. She makes the connection that the wide variety of things growing in the pastureland provides habitat for some of the 4,000 or so native bees of North America..and that these and other pollinators, sheltered in grasses, undisturbed ground nests, holes in fallen trees, brush piles, etc. share their love with all the plants in their area.
Kremen asks about the connection with eating beef from free range or pasture beef and how it helps the environment. She makes the link between the ability of all sorts of pollinators to thrive in fields and then visit vegetable and fruit plants and have a significant impact on productivity.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
The tomato plants look great with lots of green fruit on them. This week we have a couple of red tomatoes, which means next week a few more and August a flood! Collecting glass jars for canning.
We studied a lot about how to get maximum production on the squash and melons. We have 4 kinds each of pumpkins, cantaloupe, winter squash, summer squash and watermelon in the ground. Our greatest challenge isthe bugs that love to eat the stems of these plants, so we keep an eye on them and plant after the bugs lay their devouring babies. Because we grow for a CSA and are not racing to be first to market we don't feel the push to plant early and spray insecticides, organic or other, to keep the bugs at bay. Many of the fruit from these plants keep for months in a cool place, so our efforts go into keeping plants healthy and not having early crops. We can eat much of these all winter long!
The flowers are the beginning of the fruit. There are male and female flowers, and tons of bees buzzing around. Under the hoophouse where there are tomatoes, cucumbers and lots of different melons and squash you can feel and hear the buzzing. Look closely and you can see the melon forming at the base of this flower:
|King Of Mammoth Pumpkin|
|Rouge Vif D' Etampes Pumpkin|
|Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin|
|Musquee De Provence Pumpkin|
|Jack Be Little Pumpkin|
Table Queen Acorn
Sugar Baby WATERMELON
Black Tail Mountain WATERMELON
Northstar (Planet and Stars) WATERMELON
Small Sugar PUMPKIN
Yellow Crookneck SQUASH
Tender Grey zucchini
Delicata Zeppelin SQUASH
Benning's Green Tint SQUASH
and the list goes on..banana melons and more!
3 types on cucumber, that are up on the trellis, thanks to Jerry's help. And while we were sleeping, they were growing..
Friday, July 15, 2011
Homer also bought plastic panels from his plastic supplier years ago. Not certain of the original intended use, but these panels now comprise both ends of our hoophouse, used in a shingle like fashion to keep out the cold. And when cut up into different shapes, as a part of this windmill:
time to look for hornworms..
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Also starting to get crowded now are the pigs. We have multiple pens for them, and while we start them all off in early spring all together to help keep each other warm, by midsummer we split them into multiple pens. They work to clear out our fence lines and do an amazing job "hogging" the fields. Here is how long it takes to eat through the stuff I pick up at Belvedere Square for them:
What is left are tomato and cucumber plants. The cucumbers are running to the ceiling, we hope to need a ladder to pick them!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
We are gathering Mason jars for peaches, pickles and tomato sauce. Homer will be building shelves in the laundry room, just the depth of the canning jars, so that they will be visible to us every day, the strawberry jam is ready and waiting for a spot, much more to join soon.
The pond is watertight, and refills itself with rain and occasional additions from the hose. The fish are safe in their overturned milk carton, and the geese are loving it.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
On our farm the only animal that consumes thistle before it grows out and flowers are the turkeys. And when their pen is moved the thistle is the first thing they seek out and devour. They even fight over who gets to eat them. This year there are no where near as many thistles as last year. The finches like to eat the seeds, and the goldfinch is such a beautiful bird we love to have them here. But the turkeys still get the majority of the plant.
Here is the before:
Stumps's son gets married today, so we are getting ready to see Jerry & Felisha get hitched. Beautiful day for a wedding!
Friday, July 8, 2011
We will have beans soon! The bees have been all over them, all different sorts of bees.
Plums full on too, we don;t spray so there are small creatures in some..
Thursday, July 7, 2011
duct tape! It will hold up until the fall rains come, and by then we will be emptying full size poultry out, so this is a great solution until next year.
and our first cucumber is here! Small, but there will be many more. We can't believe Homer snapped this picture with a bee in the flower just behind..and that bee means many more cucumbers are on the way!