Sunday, October 21, 2012

Winding Down Here at the Farm

Summer flew by! Hard to believe it is almost Halloween. Today we covered the garlic that was planted three weeks ago with straw. I still need to pull up the tomato, pepper & squash plants and put them in the brush pile to burn. We also are going to put horse manure on the garden before snow fall. Then I think we are done outside. As much as I love being outdoors, I am ready for a break. It's hard work taking care of two large gardens, 4000 garlic plants, canning, dehydrating & freezing the garden harvest. And doing the shop book work and running a garlic business, etc., etc., etc...
It is getting to be the time to think about making Christmas presents, sewing projects for the house and working on the new project, the attic guest area. We will have a full bath (the fixtures have been bought & plumbing is started) & the rest will be open. It will serve as a craft area, too. I have been painting the floor with a white stain blocking paint, which really brightens it up & sorting through all the "stuff" we have stored up there. Goodwill will be happy when we are through.
There will be a knee wall on the sides & the ceiling will be wood.

Steve has been busy finishing up trim around the windows & doors and putting up crown in the main floor living area. It is really coming together. Our next big project is putting in the pine floor. We bought it from a man who disassembles old barns and it will look awesome when it is in.
Grover the cat is almost as big as Tigger now. The are so cute together. They sleep together with Vinnie on the couch. Of course, there is no room for me then :-). We did lose a chicken this summer. The suspect is the Amish neighbor's dog. They failed to tell us that he was killing their chickens even though they could see ours were out every day and the dog was allowed to run lose. They have since put the dog down for killing their chickens. That is the third dog they have had in the five years that we have owned the farm. Very sad.
The grandkids are growing so fast. Hayley turned one in September!
Such a cute pic of Hayley by KB Photography.
Jaelyn rooting for the Bears.

 That's all for now. Will try to post more now that things are slowing down. Have a great week.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Garlic Website is Up & Ready for Orders

Seems like summer is flying by, even though it has been so hot. We have been busy, busy, busy with the garlic. This year's harvest was over 4000 bulbs. We now have them all cured or curing & cataloged for sale. You can pre-order now for shipping in mid-August. Pre-orders are suggested if you would like to get the larger size bulbs for planting (or roasting).
Here is the website...

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meet Grover!

This is Grover, our new 8 week old kitten.
He likes the chickens...
He likes Vinnie...
And after a week of hissing & growling, I think Tigger is accepting him :-)
We are having a mini heat wave right now in Wisconsin. It is hot and that is why I am indoors while it is still light out, blogging. Working outside in this heat is killer. I did it all day yesterday & then came in & used the steam juicer to make cherry & strawberry juice. It was very hot in the kitchen, but oh so worth it. I wanted to get the cherry juice done before vacation so we can sit on the dock, sipping our cherry/lemonade drink while looking out over the lake & listening to the loons.
There is a lot to be done before Saturday. My list is long. One thing about the lack of rain here. The grass isn't growing much. I have been harvesting fruit every day though. Nanking cherries are now done. The strawberries just won't quit. Raspberries are coming on strong. Blueberries are just starting. The potatoes look great right now but we have been picking off potato bugs every day. I am going to hire one of the neighbor boys to take care of that while we are gone. If left on the plants, they will strip the leaves in a couple days.
This is the lower garden. The potatoes are the back 3 1/2 rows. There are also sweet potatoes, cabbage, squash & a few extra tomato plants. The hazelnuts are planted in the pasture area below.
There is about an hour of daylight left & the sun is down behind the woods by the orchard...maybe I'll get in a little more weeding :-).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Planting, Watering, Harvesting & Weeding

Letting Ron know I'm ready to go.
Concentrating on getting the trees into the shute.
The tree is placed in between the blades which are holding the soil apart. In this pic, the ground is already closing around the tree as the planter moves along. As soon as one goes by, another is planted.
What the ground looks like after the tree planter is done. There are hazelnut trees there. Just hard to see.
Ron was the tractor driver.
It has been a busy week! The tree planting went well. We planted over 700 trees in one day. I didn't know until that morning that I would be doing the planting. :-). Mark had another job to go to, so he left me & Ron ( an intern at his farm) to do it ourselves. It ended up to be fun (except for almost tipping over when we hit a rock). The pasture area is now a tree grove. It is very hard to see the trees & will be until they start to leaf out more. I do know each one up close & personal though after watering them for two days! I have been hoping for rain since then & it looks like we will get storms tonight sometime. I really don't want to water them again. We bought a 35 gallon water tank that fits in the utility trailer we pull around with the lawn tractor. I wish I would have counted the number of times I filled it up. Oh, and don't ever go down an uneven steep hill pulling a 35 gallon water tank in a trailer. Water shifts...remember that. I know I always will. So the tongue of the trailer is a little bent & the side of it a little dented up...I was able to right the trailer, drain the tank & lift it back into the trailer & start over. Could have been worse. The tongue might not have twisted & the tractor would have gone over with it.
What we've been harvesting...
Strawberries...43 pounds plus a full five gallon bucket that I didn't weigh.
Garlic scapes...20 pounds so far.
Nanking cherries... started picking tonight...6 1/2 pounds from one tree.
Raspberries...about a cup full. Just starting.
Lettuce...came up as volunteers from last years' plants going to seed.
Garlic...a few small stragglers not in the rows, probably put there by the chickens. front garden is weeded. Unfortunately the potato bugs have found the new garden.  We picked some off yesterday & about 10 more today. There were over one hundred batches of eggs on the leaves this morning & there were at least 15-25 eggs in each batch. I mashed all of them I could see. Last year they were vicious. I plan on keeping them under control this year :-).
Back garden is weeded now and the original hazelnut grove is also done.
Vacation to Minnesota is coming up fast. I hope to keep the weeds under control as much as possible until then. It is usually a weedy mess when we get back, so I will look at it as much as possible now. :-)
I have begun to realize that I am not so interested in marketing my garlic as I am growing it. It is the least enjoyable part of farming so far. Still trying to work on the website after working outside all day until dark. Need to learn more about getting the website "out there" so people find it when they do a search. Oh well.  I sound whiny :-( Time to buck up & get er done.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tomorrow Will Be an Exciting Day!

It has been a very busy spring here in Wisconsin.  Lots of projects happening. Tomorrow, Mark Shepard is coming here to the farm to plant around 450 mostly hazelnut (along with nineteen chestnut we purchased from him earlier) trees in the pasture. We are picking up a tree planter from the DNR that pulls behind a tractor (thanks to our neighbors for letting us use theirs) in the morning. Mark will then pick up the trees from cold storage in town & head over here. Should be fun!
In preparation for the planting, we took down a dead tree in the pasture. Our neighbor Jim came over with his chainsaw & took it down.
Dead elm in the pasture.

It's been dead a couple years and will be excellent firewood. Jim cut up the trunk & Steve & I took care of the little stuff. We now have extra firewood plus a lot of twigs for the campfire pit.
Here are some pics I took of the pasture tonight...
Looking northwest.

That's the neighbor's tractor in front of the barn.

Looking west.

Can't wait to see trees growing there!

In other news....we have a broody chicken. She has been sitting on the nest for about a week now. I feel bad when there is an egg under her & I take it. She is very calm with me though. No pecking when I move her. The other hens are pissed off at her for some reason. She came out of the coop & tried to hang out with them a little & one of them started to peck at her. Lots of fluffed up feathers & squawking going on. Vinne got upset with it all & chased the broody hen back to the coop :-).
Garlic is looking great & we have been picking scapes. I put some recipes on the garlic website for scapes if you want to check it out. I will be updating the site & am considering taking early orders for garlic. It should also be early this year, so shipping of the cured garlic could begin at the end of August.
Strawberries are coming on strong now, too. They are about two weeks early. So far, we've picked 28 pounds! Lots of smoothies, fruit leather, strawberry shortcake & frozen strawberries! Considering that we have a smoothie every day & eats tons of fruit with our vegetarian diet, having a freezer full is a great thing :-).
We just got the last of the garden planted this weekend. We have been enjoying the volunteer lettuce & spinach though for quite a while. The new "front" garden has potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage, squash, pumpkin, & cucumbers. The "back" garden has the rest.
Well, time to get to bed. The alarm will go off really early tomorrow. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Spring!

Garlic is getting tall.
 Everything is budding here at the farm. It has been unusually warm for March. Kind of makes you wonder what summer holds in store for us. I haven't posted anything for a while but it doesn't mean we haven't been busy doing projects. Our newest project is tearing down the wall between the old guest area & the shop. The shop needs to be bigger in anticipation of the shop in Illinois moving here. No, it hasn't sold yet, but we have had a couple showings. Lots of rearranging is taking place to do this. Moving stuff up to the attic storage area & donating stuff to the resale shop in town. We are also making plans for the new guest area upstairs. Last year, we had a coat of soy-based insulation blown onto the ceiling. We are now insulating the end walls and planning the bathroom layout. The plumbing was roughed out for it two years ago when we did the main floor bathroom and of course we have changed our minds since then. :-) The plumber came over the other day & said our new plans are no problem and can move the things we need.
Steve has been working on the trim & pine wall wood & will soon be installing it. That will make such a difference! We also will be getting a sander to do all the pine barn boards for the floor.
All the Amish around us are planting their gardens. I am NOT ready for that yet. Not that I don't want to get my hands in the dirt. I'm just not confident that this weather can't turn colder & have a frost.
 Hayley is 6 months old now. They are both getting so big!

Apple tree

Pear tree

Cherry tree

Elderberry bush


Lilacs budding out.

Nanking Cherry  blossoms.
Best buds.
Hunter. She has been catching mice all week.
Chickens are getting big.
Tearing down the wall between the old guest area & the shop.
I will update as the projects are completed. Have a great week!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rejuvelac-The Energy Drink

Thought I would share a recipe today for an easy energy boost. It is a fermented drink and it is not hard to make. It only requires two things: clean (non-fluoridated) water &  1/2 cup of wheat or rye berries.

This is what Dr. Ann Wigmore , Living Foods Lifestyle founder, said about it: “Rejuvelac contains all the nutritional nourishment of wheat and is more easily digested. It contains the friendly bacteria that are necessary for a healthy colon and to remove toxins. It is also filled with B complex vitamins and vitamins C and E.”  
Rejuvelac is full of enzymes that help in the digestion process, lactic acid that creates a healthy intestinal flora and  additional protein, dextrines, carbohydrates, phosphates and amylases.

Soak the grains overnight in a warm area overnight in a half-gallon jar. The next morning, rinse & drain. Sprout the grain for two days, rinsing & draining twice a day, doing the last rinse with purified water. For a stronger rejuvelac, process the grains in a food processor until broken up & place them back in the jar again. Fill the jar with purified water & allow to ferment for 48-72 hours, or until the desired tartness is achieved. Pour off the rejuvelac into a container & store in the fridge. For a second batch, fill with water again, ferment 24 hours & pour off the rejuvelac. For a third batch, fill the jar with water one last time, ferment for 24 hours & pour off the rejuvelac. .Discard the grains (into your compost pile)
One the left is a new batch soaking. The other has been sprouted & fermenting a couple of days.
This is what the fermenting batch looks like today. You can see the berries floating in the jar. They are being pushed around by the fermenting bubbles. Almost like watching a lava lamp. :-)
I use a piece of screening & a rubber band for the top. It is easy to drain the berries that way. After I rinse the berries, I leave the jar in the dish drainer like this...
What a healthy & cheap drink. So put down that soda and get your energy from something good for you. :-)

Here in the Midwest, we are waiting for a winter storm to hit. Supposed to start tomorrow morning in our part of Wisconsin and we could see (depending on which weatherman you watch) anywhere from 3 to 12 inches. On top of that, it has been below zero temperatures & windchills in the minus 20+ range.
The wood stove is stoked, there is food in the pantry and the "snow dog" Vinnie is whining to go out (again) :-). At least Tigger is getting smart. This morning, she just had to beat Vinnie out the door when I went out to feed the chickens. She didn't even get off the porch :-).

I will leave you with a new photo of Hayley. It was taken by KB Photography. I love it :-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Seed Orders (So Far)

For the last week or so, I've been looking through the seed catalogs & the other day I brought the seed packets out of cold storage to see what I need for this year. The companies I ordered from are Seed Savers, Baker Creek, Peaceful Valley & The Natural Gardening Co.
Here is a list of the new seeds I've ordered so far...

Yukon Gold
German Butterball
Purple Viking

Green Arrow
Dwarf Gray Sugar
Amish Snap

White Lunar Carrot
Parisian Carrot
Scarlet Nantes

Florence Fennel
Slow Bolt Cilantro
Nasturtium-Jewel Peach Melba
Lacinato Kale
Cucumber-Homemade Pickles

Winter Dickenson
Summer Fordhook
Long Island Cheese
Hopi Pale Grey

Collective Farm Woman
Hearts of Gold

Early Jersey Wakefield
Mammoth Red Rock

Snowball Turnip
Chinese Red Meat Radish (Beauty Heart)

I have other things on my list to buy this year too & many outdoor projects in mind. I've also been looking at making a seed starting table like this one at The Door Garden. This pic is from his blog of the table in progress...
Another idea I have been giving some thought is beekeeping. Making the top bar hives wouldn't be that difficult (for Steve :-) and I would like to do my part to help the bee population (honey would be a bonus).
And then there is the hoop house we'd like to get up in the spring. Winter greens for next year....yum.
We still have chard  & cilantro growing in the cold frame on the south side of the barn. This was taken on January 12th.
I planted the cilantro from the garden in Oct. when it re-sprouted.
Neither one looks pretty, but they are edible. :-)
Blue Jay...pesky, but pretty.
I am also going to take some cuttings from our Nanking Cherry bushes & lilacs to start new plants. Still looking into that. I'll have to find some older posts on Christer's blog about propagation.
Enough for now...time to get busy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Another Project Done

This weekend, Steve put up the doors going to the basement & workshop. We have had temporary doors there since we moved to the west side of the barn. Big improvement! In look & warmth. I went to town today to check out some paint colors. We are sticking with the "fiesta" color scheme. We got  the Fiestaware dishes out of the cupboard & held them up to the doors :-).  Both the doors are exterior doors. The one on the left goes down to the basement & the right one leads to the workshop. They should be more sound proof than interior doors.
We also took time out to play with Tigger & Vinnie outside. It was such a nice weekend.
Tigger bounding through the snow.
At first, Tigger would only walk  in the existing footprints. Then she got brave when she wanted to go over by the bird feeder.
Vinne & Steve played catch with the tennis ball.
Vinnie would stay out all day if we let him. :-) He loves the cold & snow. His fur is so thick with the two layers he has. Sometimes he licks at his paws though. Snow gets caked in between the pads.

Woodpecker at the feeder.
Vinnie & Tig playing tug of war with some yarn.
We are expecting an inch or so more of snow tonight into tomorrow. That's okay. I don't have to drive anywhere. I'll be able to enjoy watching out the window.
Tonight's sunset.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Moon Set at Sunrise

The last couple of mornings, we've been awakened by a bright setting moon out the western window. I took a walk with Vinnie & Tigger to get a picture but it was already too light out for a good shot of the moon.
A thoughtful look.

Tigger investigating a stump.

The weather here has been so spring-like. It is a strange January indeed. But wait. Don't even think it is going to last. There is a weather advisory. Up to eight inches of the fluffy white stuff coming our way. Plus a little wind. How exciting! (Only if you don't have to drive anywhere.) Part of living here at the farm is being self-sufficient. Food on hand in the pantry, wood drying inside for the stove, and a neighbor who will plow the driveway :-).
Last weekend we went to Jaelyn's 2nd birthday party. Time is just flying by. Such a big girl now.
Mom made good cupcakes!

A new tricycle!

Here's those Minnie Mouse cupcakes Kristin made.

Hayley is such a smiley baby.

Going back in time a little...we had a great Christmas celebration with the family.
Amy & Rob cooked a great breakfast.

Steve made Rob & Tim baseball card display cabinets.

I made aprons for the crew.
Jaelyn hugging her new dolly.
Uncle Shane enjoying some "Hayley-time"
 The week between Christmas & New Year's, we painted. We've always done the neutral colors but decided to go a little "fiesta crazy". Put on your is a pic...
It's bright & cheery & definitely out of our "comfort zone", but we like it. The rest of the walls will be pine & the the trim at the ceiling & floor too.

That's all for now. Time to sew some more curtains...