Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Rocky now has a guard buddy. Meet Rose - or Rosie as she'll likely be called.
She is a Anatolian Sheppard and Akbash mix. She looks pretty big in the picture so I'll have to put one that shows her next to Rocky. Though she will get taller than Rocky- she's going to be a big dog. I sold a few chickens yesterday night to a very nice couple who just built a gorgeous coop and really wanted laying eggs. I know the feeling of having a coop but then realizing that it takes 20+ weeks before hens will lay eggs if you buy baby chicks. So every so often I'll sell a few laying chickens depending on how many eggs customers I have. So then that money went towards Rosie as we did need to buy her- Rocky was a sort of rescue/find a good home for him dog.

So we're now up to 5 dogs-- evidently when you get to 25 you need a kennel license (i don't think we'll ever get that high).

It's her first night out there with Rocky- the neighbors have been given a little warning just in case she decides to go under the fence.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mike on TV

Sustainable Ag Fair Show

I just have to say on this blog that I really, really like our CSA members. I'd say that I love them but then I don't know them that well- but it's pretty close.

This year folks could choose to pay $600 for the season with 2 days of work (16 hrs) or pay $800 with no work. We were hoping folks would choose the work option and almost all did.

For those out there who think that is a lot of money-- think again- 20+ weeks of veggies-- and I can certainly tell you that our folks are getting their moneys worth. Just a pint of raspberries and a bunch of flowers each week could cost you $10. When those pumpkins come in-- 5-6 pumpkins per family could cost $50 bucks or more if you had to buy them elsewhere.

I can say the work option has been a HUGE success. A few extra hands makes ALL the different in the world. Today my pumpkin patch looks beautiful because I had 2 wonderful helpers. Tomorrow the potatoes will get pulled. My 'pretty' garden as I call it- does look pretty. The key is mulch-- mulch, mulch, mulch!!!

Now one CSA member wrote me a note today to say that he saw Mike on TV. We helped out at the Sustainable Ag Fair this year as we just didn't think it would be right for folks to eat corn fed food at the sustainable fair. So Mike did a short commentary and our CSA member saw it. How funny. I'm going to tape it- details for the next shows on Sunday and Tuesday.

Hey, this is just the first step! Maybe Mike has a future TV career? He-he

Show Detail: Maryland Heartland Sustainable Living Fair 2010



Event Date:






Certified Producer:

Craig Paskoski

Show Description:

Annual fair that explores recycling and renewable resources.

Schedule Information:

8/29/2010 at 10:30 PM
8/31/2010 at 9:30 PM

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Canning and Reading

I've been canning the past few days. Lots of yellow tomatoes in the garden this week. They are wonderful! Low acid and nice and sweet.
Now while I can veggies, I like to read. Meaning I listen to books on tape. I am listening to Star Island by Carl Hiaasen this week. Now the CD wouldn't play in my computer for some reason so I had to find an alternative. So what did I find in the basement? A boom box with a CD player. Problem was that I couldn't find the cord to power it.

Who has D batteries in their house? Evidently I do. He-he.
So I was able to do 2 of my favorite things- can and listen to a book.
Happy day!
Lots of calls/requests for eggs this week-- 5 to be exact. I guess the egg recall is at least helping me out. And I was just about ready to thin my flock as I had more supply than demand.

Whole hog sausage should be in next week! I actually sold the last link today- well technically I threw it in a sampler package because it was all I had left and I wanted the person to at least try the pork. I still think it's funny that it's our most popular product when we really never wanted to raise pigs. Next year--- whey-fed pigs. I'm getting to be a good milker. I'm at about 8 minutes per goat and developing strong milking muscles.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

CSA Shelves

This year, my outdoor CSA shelves are loaded up. Cucumbers, zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, melons, watermelons, potatoes and garlic!

Then the bell peppers and hot peppers are inside the fridge with other greens. Of course will all that good stuff outside- who needs greens?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Farmer Summer Kitchen

I love summer and summer garden food. Cute little honeydew melon from the garden.

Yellow, red and white tomatoes.

Zucchini and tomato sauce in back and bread and butter pickles in the front. They are upside down because that's how you get them to seal if they aren't sealing. Yes, somehow I find the time to can as well. I'm really fast at it now.

Goat milk, asian greens and 1/2 a watermelon.

And my personal favorite--- yellow watermelon.

I hope you have as much fun eating the foods of summer as I do!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Plunge

Meet the newest members of the family and another steps towards never leaving the farm. Yes, babysitters wanted and serious offers will be considered. Come enjoy a few days of farm life and live in our house- no charge and you can eat all the food you want. You just have to do a few daily chores and not be scared of animals. Not sure what we have left to get in terms of animals - I really don't want a donkey or an alpaca-- I know- a milking cow....

Ah-- and as it goes for us- we got the goats today and we'll use the rest of the week to figure out what we need to do to milk them and get our process in order. This is our style- jump in and figure it out. I mean how hard can it be to milk a goat? He-he -- not so easy when they are new, you have no milking stand yet and 3 kids who want to milk one goat at the same time.

Grace is the brown goat and she is 7. Sierra is the larger white goat and she is just about 2. The little ones are Phyllis and Fiona and boy can they yell!!!!! If it sounds like someone is dying at our house- check the goats first- they just want attention evidently and are a little stressed from the move today. Folks ask me if my kids like the farm and help with the animals. I always say- well....... But I've never seen them so happy as when they were with these goats. I guess we needed milking goats or milking sheep all along!

Everyone milked except me. I stood there and took pictures or I held the goat still while she was milked. I know how these things go. The kids will want to milk the goats for the first month and then I'll get all the chances I want to milk. It looks kind of fun and relaxing.

Stay tuned for updates on our little goat experiment. We'll need something to do once the CSA is over in October... time to perfect cheese making!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Monday is Goat Day!

Pictures will be posted tomorrow-
We are getting 4 Nubian goats. 2 of the goats we'll need to milk once a day.
Grace, Sierra, Phyllis and Fiona. Grace is the oldest at 7 years old, Sierra is 2 and Phyllis and Fiona are 4 months old.

Grace produces about 2 quarts and Sierra just a pint or so.
Enough to get us started practicing making cheese! Now I never, ever thought I'd have goats milk in my coffee, but I did yesterday morning. Only a slight goat flavor. Though Mike had the milk with his cereal and I really couldn't tell the difference and would have had no idea it was goat milk and not cow milk. The kids used it to make mac and cheese as well. (We were out of regular milk so we used what we had gotten from the practice session that Mike and the kids went to on Friday. The seller let us keep the milk and take it home.)

We'll be goat proofing the barn and all learning how to milk the girls. We're going to do it the old fashioned way and just milk them by hand into a milking bucket. In a year or so when we have more than 4, then we may get a milking machine and do a setup to milk 4 at a time but for now we'll just have fun doing this ourselves.

Ah-- 4 more animal names to memorize.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not quite Outstanding in the Field

If you have no idea what I'm talking about when I say Outstanding in the Field then click the link and find out. We need to attend a dinner sometime when they are close to us. Great stuff happening with them.

This is my humble version. I bought a picnic table recently (actually I bought 2 to the dismay of my husband-- hey- when we have lots of people over for dinner we'll use both of them...).
My favorite thing has been to eat meals outside under the tree and look out onto the pasture.

If you come over and work a long hard day at the farm--- you may get to eat a meal on this picnic table! Grass fed burgers with onion, pepper, parsley was served with asian greens (instead of lettuce- try it out it was a fun change), cantalope, watermelon and a few other leftovers from lunch.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The new things I'm learning....

One of the things I value in life is the ability to learn new things. I love learning. Recently, we had a little campfire party for CSA members and other customers and Toni and her husband and friends played us music around the fire. Toni played the violin and the penny whistle (like a flute or recorder) and she said she hadn't been playing long. So she inspired me that night- and she didn't even know it!
I decided that my 10 year old was going to teach me the penny whistle. So far I can play Mary had a little lamb and row, row, row your boat and I'm great! I just need to memorize the fingering to the notes and I will be able to slowly play.

On the farm I decided I needed to learn to drive the tractor. I'm happy to say I can drive and I can scoop dirt but I need to learn to till and change the implements. But I'm on my way! (of course when I told my husband on Saturday that I was going to go scoop a load of dirt he did move his truck far away from the tractor so he's still not confident that I won't hit anything). It kind of makes me laugh when I'm driving the tractor. I have no idea why-- I just crack up laughing.

I also didn't know that I could grow cantaloupes and watermelon- but evidently I can!
Now, I did ruin 4 cantaloupes because they got too ripe but I caught on quickly.
Below is a different variety of a cross between a cantaloupes and honeydew. I of course didn't keep great records so I have no idea the variety but it sure was tasty.

This watermelon didn't really have all the 'signs' of a ripe watermelon but I picked it anyway because I just had to see inside. It was perfect. Of course I picked another and it was not perfect. So trial and error and I'll get the watermelon picking down as well.
Key ingredient for lopes and melons--- drip hose, organic fertilizer and it would have also helped if I had mulched them better- but I was out of straw. Next year use straw. I suppose I could try the weed barrier but it never seems to work for me. So if someone knows tricks for the weed barrier and using it please fill me in. Sometimes all you need is a little expert advice.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Farmer as Builder

Mike didn't really realize that he'd have to learn woodshop skills in order to run a good farm. I suppose we could just buy 3 rabbit tractors but they are kind of a custom item and it would cost too much- hence you learn to make it yourself. These little structures will be for Daisy, Xeno and Pansy (yeah I know- this is what happens when you let your kids name the rabbits). It's similar to a chicken tractor but for individual rabbits. This way they can live outside on the grass, manure the area underneath and get fresh grass and whatnot to nibble on.
Speaking of rabbit-- we have 2 unsold and Daisy just had a little of 9 on Thursday. Rabbit production is ramping up!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Garden-quick photo update

The tomatoes are growing. But a lot of them are still GREEN! I really, really don't understand why but they look good- just green. Some are just starting to turn yellow, red, orange, etc- but I'm really afraid that they are going to turn all at once.

But in terms of success-- see that pretty stars and moons watermelon? I have lots of lopes, honeydew melons and watermelons growing nicely. I check them every few days and they are still steadily growing. I'm very, very excited as I've never been able to grow cantalopes before!
The peppers also look gorgeous. The zucchini is starting to exhaust itself though I've got another shorter 2 rows that are started for a second crop.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

I thought this picture looked good until I uploaded it. You can barely see the pumpkin plants but they are near the drip hose. I'll have to take another picture tomorrow and post it again as this picture is already outdated. It's amazing how fast pumpkin plants grow.

This is the gourd and pumpkin patch. Notice all the hay for mulch. Key item if you want weed free, herbicide free gardening-- lots of mulch to stop the weeds. I'm learning!
Although you will see weeds in the middle of that one row and those will get tilled under this weekend as I ran out of hay/straw for the entire area so I had to go for areas closest to the plants and know that I could till under the middle weeds.

Some of you are probably wondering if the pumpkins will be big by Fall. Yep, they sure will. I planted them 3 weeks ago so even at the longest time of 100 days that puts the pumpkins at 2nd week of October. Can't wait!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Potato Picking!

For those in our CSA, this is Week 10 out of 20 and is officially declared as Potato Week!
Saturday was a gorgeous day and I managed to round up 7 CSA members to come out and help pick potatoes (to be in our CSA you need to volunteer 16 hrs or pay more- most people choose the work option which is what we really wanted). Some varieties were good in terms of yield, some not so good but all in all it was a decent harvest. We still have more to pick - 2 medium sized varieties plus the baking potatoes won't be ready for another few weeks.

Every year I learn something new about how to grow potatoes. I think I've got it finally figured out and so next year I'll try my refinements. Dig really, really wide hills - 3 feet width and maybe 2 feet high (this is not easy to do even with a cool tiller/plow). Then take a hoe and make a decent ditch in the middle to plant your potatoes. Then after you cover the plants up 2 times, use straw to cover them up after the last dirt covering. Don't count on weeding to do it-- the weeds will win- mulch is the key and then water. Water, water, water. I put my drip hose on too late when I realized we could be in the drought for a long time. And I didn't use straw to mulch. Straw to mulch is critical in my garden.

I'm sure the fingerling potatoes are available at your local farmers market- be sure to go pick some up. They are fabulous and they don't keep long so buy them now!