Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fun weekend

We still have no internet at the farm- so postings will be weekly or biweekly depending on how many times we get to the old house.
Above is my view from the kitchen.  I love the view.  It has a great breeze and you can see what everyone else is doing from that spot.  Farmers wives knew exactly where the kitchen should go.
Emily and Margaret learned how to ride bikes a few weeks ago-- now they are pros!  Emily now wants a bike with gears.
Mike cleaned out the bank barn yesterday.  He had the music playing from his truck while cleaning everything out.  
And then he got out his tractor to move it all!  He loves his tractor and its actually very cool to see him drive it around.

Margaret at horse back riding lessons.

drying peaches-- yum
Peaches dried and sauce cooking.
Heirloom tomatoes and such.  The bugs really like the heirloom tomatoes the best--- and I thought bugs weren't smart.  They go for the best tomatoes in the garden.
We harvested and froze lots of soybeans for edamame!
This is the Bared Rock chickens that we are going to get 5-10 of them.  We are going to get 10 in total so a mix of a few more.
We are also going to take three goats from our friend Lee.  She is the one giving us the 2 year old hens for practice.  They won't lay a lot of eggs but we'll at least learn how to take care of chickens.  The goat is a cross of Pigmy, Nubian and Arapawa. 
The girls and I processed about a bushel and a bit more of tomatoes---good sauce.
Picking edamame off the stems.
Fresh onions.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making up for lost time

Whew.  I was having intertubes withdrawal.  I almost had to get an I.V. injection at Starbucks.  I love being at the farmhouse, and I can do without TV with no problem, well, except when the Olympics are on, but the lack of internet is seriously giving me the willies.  I've been jonesing pretty bad lately.

Spent the day mucking out the lower part of the bank barn.  Back aching work.  But it was great work because the largest part of the barn looks fantastic now.  I cleared out a couple of pickup loads of dirt, hay, barn swallow guano, bat guano, straw, dirt, and whatever the stuff is that they used to use for mortar for the foundation walls.  Thank baby Jesus for tractors.  Dear Lord Baby Jesus, thank you for tractors.  I feel BLESSED that I have a tractor!  I know you made them just for me so I could scoop stuff up and feel manly.  

Downloading photos now from the last few days.  AD will get them posted tonight.

We had a bit of a problem with the barn cats.  Yesterday I took Eva and Sunflower to the vet.   Eva had a pretty good upper respiratory infection.   She is quite feral still and was pretty much impossible to get into the cat carrier.  NO way you were grabbing that cat.  The kids were outside the barn looking in the window as I was chasing her all over the room trying in vain to grab her.  Belly laughs ensued.  I finally was able to corner her up above a cabinet and held up the cage so her only way out was by escaping into the cage.  Worked like a charm.  After 10 minutes of circus cat hell.

Went to the vet, and they both had ear mites.  Eva got an antibiotic shot.  Sunflower had a high temp and got IV fluids and then a Feline Leukemia shot.  Then, 209 dollars poorer I headed home.

Then this morning, I get up and go to check on the cats, still not let loose yet as the rescue people said to keep them confined for 2 to 3 weeks.  Erm...the door was open.  And no cats to be found.

A bit of searching and calling and the 3 cats I thought we would find came out and I fed them.  Eva, Stripes, and Ned Smith were nowhere to be found.    I think one of them was in the hayloft because I saw some hay falling down.  But I heard no sounds and never saw them.  

So, we still have 3, and probably will be feeding all 6, but I doubt we will ever see the phantom 3 again, or at least not for long.  They arent exactly people cats.

Ill let Annette explain the rest of the weekend.  It was a lot of fun.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beefsteak Tomato

I've never grown a beefsteak tomato that looked this beautiful.
I had to take a picture as it was so perfect and it matches the picture in the seed company!
The above picture was with the flash on, the bottom with the flash off.  The true color was somewhere in between.  I sliced it up tonight and as the marketing material described it best "Fruits are large, meaty, ribbed and deep scarlet in color.  Weights average twelve ounces.  Fairly soft skinned for easy slicing."  I must go back to the garden and see if there are more. 

I am hooked on tomatoes.  I read the book Heirloom:  Notes from an Accidental Tomato Farmer and I don't think I would go to his extreme and start growing 3000 tomato plants but I sure may want to grow 200+ plants again next year- maybe 300-400?  
I will also encourage all those out there that want to plant some tomatoes in your back yard next year to find a good variety.  Ordering seeds is definitely the way to go.  I recommend Victory Seeds and Seeds of Change.  When you buy the tomatoes as plants from your local retail store- you may not get the best variety.  There are so many cool varieties out there.  I am loving all the different roma and plum tomatoes.  Lots of great varieties for canning!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Margaret's First Note

We got 6 new cats today and I am very excited.  Their names are Mickey, sunflower, stripes, Ava, Ned Smith and Lucy.
Daddy said they were our first livestock.  
I can't wait to get cows, goats and chickens.
I want to eat Emily's chicken Shirley, but she won't let me :(

The Garden Update

We have potatoes!!!  They are decent sized potatoes but would have been larger if I had planted them correctly.  I will correct all errors made this year and next year will be a bumper crop.  I'll also have a root cellar by then and have a place to store them.

Call Mike if you want some potatoes.  They are just fabulous when lightly coated in olive oil and baked in a metal pan at 450 for about 45 minutes.  Then just dust with sea salt......mmmmm good!
This is the pumpkin patch.  The weeds also came up from no where and surrounded the garden.  I've decided I really don't care about weeds as long as they are not hindering the growth of my veges.  It's actually less work if you let them grown really tall- and then pull them out.  I might have pulled a weed in the same spot 3-4 times and this way I only pull once in that timeframe.  
Next year I am also planting clover in between the vegetables and choose a nice short weed that I don't even have to pick. 
Pumpkins flowering.  Lots of bees buzzing around this morning.  
I can say that we'll have plenty of pumpkins and we'll be setting a date for a pumpkin picking party.  Say that 6 times really fast.  Pumpkin picking party.

The red lettuce is gorgeous!  And delicious!  We went over to a friends house for dinner friday night and we had a salad that was almost 100% fresh from the garden.  I need to do carrots next year as that was the missing ingredient.

More Swiss Chard, Romaine lettuce and asian greens.  I'm not so sure about the asian greens-- they are even more spicy than arugula.  

I really don't understand how cabbage can be so cheap at the grocery store.  I've spent about $10 in seeds and soil and I'll be lucky to get 5 cabbages.  There is finally a little ball of cabbage starting to form!  The only thing harder for me to grow was eggplant.  I still have not gotten an eggplant to grow.  Maybe next year.

I harvested 4 varieties of beans.  I'll pick them off the vine and let them dry out for another few days.  Then we need to find a tool or machine to help separate the dried beans from the shell. 
Although I'm sure that there has to be something out there that is smaller scale than those links.  Ah Mike just gave me a better link.
Edamame!  Almost ready to pick.  Emily is soooooo excited!  
Although Emily who is a notoriously picky eater, just ate noodles with my homemade tomato sauce today.  The sauce was made today and the only ingredients were: fresh tomatoes and basil with a dash of salt.  That's it.  YUMMMM!   I was going to jar it up - but everyone ate it up so I had no more left to jar!  2 weeks and the serious canning begins.  

Baby watermelon!!  I've never grown watermelon so I was suprised to see how different it grows from pumpkins.  I should have put more straw around the watermelon as the weeds took over and I had to spend 2 hours today clearing a path for the watermelons to grow.  

Barn cats

If you have been reading our blog you'll know that several weeks ago I found mice in our house. So we decided we need barn cats!  
Today we received our 6 new barn cats.  They are hanging out in a part of the barn that can be closed off.  They will stay in this room for 2 weeks or so to get adjusted and then they are out on their own but come back to this room where we will have food and water for them.

So here is the lineup!  The kids were so excited to name the cats-- some names were the cats original names and some are new.

Stripes =- female- She would not come out of the cage and is likely the most feral of them all.

This is Mickey - male.  He is so friendly and loves to be pet and picked up.  For those who know the saga of our last 2 cats-- we used to have a Mickey but had to give him away to friends as Emily is allergic to cats.  The kids were excited to get a new cat named Mickey.
Mickey already snuck past us when we were bringing in the food and water and Mike had to race into the barn and bring him back to kitty jail.  He has this growl and I think its actually a happy growl.  He'll be sneaking into our house soon enough although he does not like to be confined- so he'll be right back out.

This is Lucy.  She's somewhat friendly and likes to be scratched but she stays just far enough away from you.

This next cat we named Ava (pronounced A-- va) but we are debating the spelling.  She was partially friendly but also hid in the corner all day.

This is Sunflower- female.  This was the name she came with and the kids liked it so it stuck.
She is somewhat friendly as well but shy.  She stayed in the carrier almost the entire day except when we brought out the wet cat food.

This is Ned Smith- male.  He doesn't get along with Mickey as Mickey is the dominant cat in the bunch.  The little girl that had him before named him Ned and her last name was Smith.  Mike thought it was a great name- so Ned Smith it is.  Ned hid most of the day as well.

Since today was their first day, we thought we'd take it easy on them.
Next weekend, they will be given their job assignment on the farm.  Keep the mice, voles and snakes away from the house, barn and away from Annette.  That's it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008



I think I picked at least 150 pounds of cucumbers tonight.  And I picked 3 bushels of tomatoes.  At least.

I have about 500 potato plants to start unearthing tomorrow.  They are overgrown with weeds now.  Its gonna be a struggle, but I think I can get most of them dug up in a couple of days.

My entire kitchen is nothing but cukes, zukes, tomatoes and cukes and cukes.  Oh, and cukes.

Stupid cucumbers.

At least I havent had to resort to leaving them in bags on my neighbors doors yet.  They are still taking them gladly and bringing them to work.  

For now...

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Power of Thought

Tomorrow we have another person coming to see the house (the one that is for sale).
The Catholic tradition is to get a St Joseph statue and dig a hole and put it upside down in the dirt in your back yard.  
1.  I don't have a St Joseph statue (I asked my neighbor Julie if I could 'carve' one out of a cucumber and just call it St Joe and just stick in outside upside down in my compost bin) - she looked at me with a stunned expression.  I was serious.
2. I'm not convinced that it actually works

I am thinking that I've read a lot lately about positive thinking and that just by thinking really, really hard about something that you can make it happen.  So I figured that if I thought about getting an offer on the house this week and the rest of you who read the blog could think about it for say 1 minute- then maybe that's all that the St Joseph statue ritual was all about in the first place.  Positive thought.  

All right-- let's see what happens.


I made 2 different batches of pickles today.  One recipe from Phyllis that requires no boiling of water and pickles are ready in 2 hrs.  The other was from Joyce and required boiling but still very simple.  Those take about 3 weeks to be ready.

My Babcia (that's grandma in polish) would be proud.  I remember making pickles with her every summer in the basement of their row house in Chicago.  When I think of it, I remember that she made me wear an apron and a head babushka.   Even now, I smell the dill smell immediately and I sense that cool basement feeling.  My job was to put the dill (sometimes the cucumbers) in the jars and screw on the lids.  Great memories.  

The pumpkins and watermelon are taking over the garden.  Although there is one section I need to weed.  I'm pretty confident that we'll be having a fall pumpkin picking day just by the count of the number of flowers.