Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Plant Bed

Everyone has their own way of starting seeds.  Daddy had a hot bed.  The hot bed was located beside the garden,  the bed was dug into the earth.  The size was 6 feet by 3 feet with a hinged top which was closed at night and if the day was cold.  The hole was dug about 15 inches deep,  there were wooden sides which went into the earth about 15 inches deep,  and came above the ground about 12 inches with a slanted top to about 8 inches on the other side.   This hole has been used for years to start seeds.

Springtime comes early on the farm.  The first warm day, you would see Daddy bringing the canvas to cover the ground by the plant bed.  Shovel in hand he started digging out the bed.  He removed all of the soil and placed it on the canvas.  After digging to the hard earth at the bottom of the boards, he closed the plant bed and covered the removed soil.  Spring rains come quick and he wanted to keep everything dry.

Daddy had made arrangements to get horse manure for the bottom layer of the hot bed.  The bottom layer of manure would be about 6 to 8 inches deep.  The soil was replaced to bring the level back to ground level.  The manure provided the bottom heat, by heating the soil as it broke down.  The soil, he replaced, was full of compost because every year the process was the same.   He would mix some sand into the soil in the top 3 to 4 inches.  Now after a few gentle watering this soil was ready to start our seeds.  The hot bed worked, because you could feel the warm soil on top.

Bootsie, get your bucket and shovel,  find your momma and have her bring the box of seeds.  " Yes, Sir."  Can it be today?  We are going to plant the seeds.  Off I went  "Momma, Momma, I need the wonderful box.  Where is the box of seeds?  Daddy is going to plant."  Momma just looked at me  shaking her head.  She knew what this meant.  In just a few months, she would be canning, making pickles and freezing the wealth of goodies  provided from the seeds in the box.  All I could think of was, I could play in the dirt.

Momma sent me to get my watering can, I had one with flowers painted on the side.  When I returned she had the box.  Oh, my goodness is she going to let me take the seeds to the hot bed?  Handing to me the box of seeds she said,  "Be careful, go slow and do not fall down. "  I went out of the door skipping to the hot bed.

Daddy went through the seeds and lined up peppers, tomatoes and eggplants.  He took my shovel, and divided the hot bed into sections.  We took a thin layer of soil off the top, put it in my bucket and Daddy scattered the California wonder pepper seeds into the section. The seeds were covered with the soft fine soil and sand mix from my bucket.   Next was the eggplant, black beauty followed by the  tomatoes marglobe, rugters, beefsteak, big boy and yellow.   The hot bed was planted, here comes Momma with my watering can.   Daddy looks at me, "All right, time for you to water the seeds."  Daddy closed the hot bed, telling me it would have to be watered everyday.

I have my own way of planting seeds, which works for me.  I use deli cups, drill drain holes in the bottom, fill with potting mix and plant my seeds.   They are placed on the hearth by the wood stove.  I check the pots daily.  When seeds come up they are moved under the grow lights.  I sometimes wonder should I dig a hot bed?  It would be special, I have many fond memories of helping (?)  Daddy check the hot bed.

                            Bootsie, you bring your watering can, we need to water the hot bed.
                                            Here I come,  may I water it?
                                                         No, I do not want you to flood the baby plants.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, February 25, 2012

NEWS FLASH February 19, 2012,  2:13 a.m.

I was awoke to the shaking of our house and the roar of the earth.  This earthquake was a 2.7 magnitude.  I do understand this was a small quake and for that I am very thankful.  The quake was located about midway between Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia.  I do hope and pray,  if there must be future quakes they be small.  So many of the locals are trying to recover from the August 2011 earthquake.

Later in the day we received our first snow fall, about 5 inches.  There was a power failure which lasted about 17 hours.

 Around 6:30 a.m., Friday the 24th another earthquake,  1.7  magnitude.  In the afternoon tornado warnings,  howling winds and beating rain.  This has been a week of if you do not like the weather just wait a little while and it will change.

There was a wonderful accomplishment in our home.  The sunroom has it's own heating system and fans.  I will be able to control the temperature in the sun room and grow plants.  Because of the power fail,  the computer and telephones have been put on the emergency generator.


I am still learning how to work the sourdough.  Shared a cup of starter with Retired Chic.  I hope to get a report from her this week.  When the electrician came, I made sourdough biscuits.  He had several with butter and beet jelly.  The beet jelly was new to him,  Mr. Bootsie came in and informed me these biscuits were the best to date.  I have raspberry vinegar working.  I used some of the frozen raspberries, time to start emptying the freezer.


Wood was cut from the downed tree.  Too wet to take Mrs. Jones in to move wood.  Mr. Bootsie is putting up a shelter for Mrs. Jones, I will no longer have to take tarps off when I use the ole' girl.


The girls are still laying, I am concerned about the earthquakes.  Some of the farms around have not had many eggs, we question if this is because of the earthquakes.  A couple of days this week the girls did not go walking as it was just to wet.  They would not stay in the run on Monday.  I put down straw but they went back into the coop.  I use the 12 inch method and I think I would rather sit in 12 inches of straw than on several inches of straw covering 5 inches of snow.  They are much smarter than people think chickens are.

The egg total for this week February 19 - 25 is 42.   Good job, Girls.


Wet, wet, wet, Friday afternoon the ground was so saturated I was sliding every time I made a step.  The wind  helps to dry the land.  Winds have really been up this Saturday.
My seed order came from R. H. Shumway.  The onions, broccoli and some cabbage plants are in the greenhouse which has no heat, I will be using row covers on cold nights.  Peppers are coming up by the wood stove.  Sugar snap peas have been planted in the garden.    Chickweed everywhere, the girls are loving it.  I take a basket to the run every 2 or 3 days.


This week has been challenging, learning to work with the weather so things will be completed as needed is a learning experience.  One day in snow boots and winter coat.  Several days later,  the high 60's,  a sweat shirt was to warm.  I am glad we had a productive week.

I welcome our 4 new followers, I was very pleased to see two gents sitting the on porch.  There is room for everyone please invite your friends to Happy Hallow.  We are on Facebook, come over and like us.  Start a discussion, ask a question, share a memory,  I am looking forward to hearing from each of you.

                                       Thank you for coming,
                                                          Come back real soon!!
                                                                                   Bye, now,  see you next time.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Beet Patch

There were some crops in the garden we just expected to have and one of them was beets.  Daddy planted Detroit red beets.  We only used the roots for cooking and eating.  During the summer, there was always a bowl of Momma's quick beets in the fridge.  My sister pickled beets for winter storage and entered her beets in the county fair.  She won many ribbons for her work.

When the beets were big enough to pull we would bring in a large bucket full.  Momma's pan, she cooked them in held 6 quarts and she would cook as many as possible.   In the spring when the first cabbage and beets were ready to be picked everyone looked forward to a pot of cabbage and potatoes seasoned with some ham and a delicious bowl of beets.  Throw in a pan of spoon bread and that was a meal to talk about.  When gardening, the first picking of anything is wonderful and you are so pleased to serve it to your family and my family knew how to make the cook feel good.  They ate until their fill and even more.  There would be no reason for dessert because I remember having a bowl of beets for dessert.

The process we used to clean the beets:

Momma would cut the top off the beet leaving about three inches of the stems.  She taught us if you cut the stems too close the beet would bleed out and loose its color during the cooking process.

Wash, wash, wash but handle carefully because the beets bruise easily.  Clean to remove all the grit from the small hair roots.

Put the beets in a pan add water to cover and cook until you can easily push a fork into the beet.   When tender remove from the heat and drain.  We would drain into a bucket and carry the water to the garden to water other crops.  Any cooking water has nutrients from what you have cooked and it is a shame to waste the good water.  This is a way to feed your plants.  Save the water if you are going to make beet jelly.  It will keep in the fridge.

Be sure to cool the beets until they are easy to handle.  If cooked enough the skin and stems will slip off and cut the root off.  Slice or cube the beets any way you wish.  Place the beets in a glass container and store in the fridge.  I usually make my syrup while the beets are cooking and have it ready to pour over my beets as soon as I slice them.  Chill them in the fridge before serving.

Momma never made beet jelly and she never cooked the tops.  Here at Triple Creek Farm we use every part of the beet.  We cook the tops and have beet greens,  the root is pickled and of course there are Momma's Quick Beets.  I use pickled beets and I can them for the winter.    The final thing I do is use my beet water to make jelly.  I make 3 batches of jelly, one of each grape, cherry  and strawberry.

The look on people faces when you tell them it is beet jelly is priceless.  You hear, "I do not like beets,
No thank you, I  do not eat beets" and the list goes on.  In comes a child reaching for a jelly cracker and eats it, smiles and reaches for another.  Get out of the way everyone is helping themselves to beet jelly.
It is a hit and now a staple in the pantry.

       If you should come for tea expect some biscuits with beet jelly, I know you will be surprised.

Recipes for Momma's Quick Beets and Beet Jelly can be found at Happy Hollow Printable Recipes  Click on printable recipes for the link.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, February 18, 2012

Welcome to our weekly update.


Tuesday, the weather man was calling for, maybe, light snow.  I had some lovely cauliflower, 3 huge heads,  I was planning to pickle.  With hopes of snow,  I thought the day was just right for making some Pickled Cauliflower.  I,  now,  have 7 pints of this year's canning to put on shelf.  We did not have any snow.

Wednesday, was the day to work the sourdough
starter and I decided to make a coffeecake.  The
starter is starting to smell like yeast and you can see the air bubbles in it.  I replenished the starter and let it set on the counter until in bubbled.
Which did not take very long.  The coffeecake
has a wonderful smell of cinnamon, taste of nuts, and little bit tangy.   Mr. Bootsie carried some in his lunch and shared with a co-worker.  Yummy!


This week on the farm has been slow.  We did saw some of the hickory wood and move it to the woodyard.  The only workhorse on the farm is a 1952 Ford 8N and is referred to as  Mrs. Jones.


I thought all the new little girls  were laying but I found an egg on the ground which was not shaped very well.  I do believe we have a new layer.  This week,  February12-18, the girls laid  40 eggs.  One of my older girls went broody and she did not lay any eggs.  I can tell when this one is not laying because she is the only one who lays an egg that color.   With the new little girls the color  and the shape is quite the same so I do not know who is laying the eggs.  I try to catch them in the nesting boxes.  This means several trips to the chicken coop each day.

I would like to introduce you to Feather.  She was named by the two most important little folks in my life.  When they come to Gramma's they are ready to go the the chicken coop, look for eggs and hold Feather.  She willingly lets them hold her and I think she understands just how special the little folk are.  When the  Triple Creek Farm Board of Directors  meet Feather keeps things straight.   This young lady is the Chairman of the Board.  She does take her responsibility serious, if there is anything wrong in the coop she is the first to let me know.


The Blackberries are all pruned and tied to the support wires.  I started eggplant seeds on Monday and they were up Saturday.  They were moved under the grow lights.  I am still up potting seedlings. Peppers were started in the seed cups.   The cabbage and broccoli are coming along nicely.


A big THANK YOU to all of you who have been reading my blog and encouraging others to join us.  It is special to see the followers posting about  Happy Hallow on Face Book and I feel like someone hugged me when I see a posting.

The weather for Sunday, 19th,  may or may not be snow.  But never fear I will make my way to the chicken coop with a bowl of warm oatmeal for the girls.

               Starting seed for vegetables or flowers, now is the time to begin.          
                                   Start looking for crocus and primrose blooms
                                                    Think Spring, I am,  so ready  to play in the soil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Heart of Our Home

My first memories of Momma's kitchen was a big round table with wooden chairs, a wooden high chair, a hoosier type cabinet which had a red and white work top plus a flour sifter.  There was also a hanging cabinet without doors, which was covered with a colorful feed sack curtain.  The Maytag wringer washing machine set under the cabinet.  The wash bench was filled with the water buckets and a dipper, the dishes were washed there and all of the family washed off in the kitchen.  The Home Comfort cook stove, beige and green porcelain with warming ovens and a wood box sitting on the floor close by.  There was water in the house, at this time, because the hot water tank was behind the stove.

The kitchen was remodeled before I started school.  Out went the wash bench, in came a Youngstown double porcelain sink with drain boards on each side.  Under the sink was the Youngstown 3 section metal cabinet with drawer and cabinet storage.   The fancy new sink with spigots for hot and cold water, drains in the bottom which carried the water to the cess-pool, no more buckets to carry out with dirty water.  The round table was replaced with a red formica table with matching chairs.  On the wall beside each side of the sink a hanging cabinet with doors, and so high, it went to the ceiling.   A metal kitchen stool and a little metal cart had all of the new electric appliances on it.  Momma made curtains for the windows from feed sacks, white background with hugh red flowers.

In with the new and out with the old.  Momma was so proud of her new kitchen.  The chairs were used all around the home.  The table was given to someone who needed it.  BUT the hoosier cabinet, the WONDERFUL hoosier was sawed into pieces and burned in the wood stove.

A few years later it was decided to add a 4 burner gas stove.  Several years after that, the Home Comfort cook stove finally wore out and was replaced with a combination wood burning and gas stove.

There was no work space in the kitchen everything was prepared on the red table. The table would be cleaned after the meal was prepared, with plates, knives and forks the table was set for us to eat. Spoons, there was a spoon holder which stayed with the salt,  pepper, sugar  and toothpicks in the middle of the table.

I have wonderful memories of the many different meals prepared in Momma's kitchen.  We canned, made pickles, jams and jellies.  When I smell bread baking, vinegars simmering for pickles, the sweetness of fruits as they become jelly, pies baking in the oven and chicken simmering in the blue roaster pan I think of Momma and her kitchen.   Momma had a very special ingredient she put into everything.  Love, lots of love for nothing made my momma happier then fixing a meal for her family.

My kitchen is a working kitchen not a pretty picture room.  I planned to make pasta, bake bread,  can, make jelly and pickles.  I need work areas.  I have a great kitchen, the builders thought I was crazy when I put 2 sinks in the kitchen and 1 in the pantry.  I guess those guys never had to drain brine from pickles and put fresh water in them.  I am not a spring chicken and any lifting I do not have to do makes me very happy.  My kitchen was planned by me, for me and I would not change a thing.

I have a Marsh kitchen cabinet with a flour sifter.  Mr.  Bootsie brought this basket case home in 3 cardboard boxes with some damage to several panels and painted white.  After much work, I have my oak hoosier, my most prized kitchen cabinet.

What a difference Momma's went out of the kitchen and became ashes.  Mine came in pieces was cleaned, put back together and finished with a warm oak stain.  As I sit here looking at my kitchen I remember Momma and her wonderful new kitchen.

Did I just hear Momma say?  "Go down to the basement and bring up some more potatoes,  I see a car coming and supper is almost ready."  Quickly she peels the potatoes,  slices them very thin and adds them to the pot.   As fast as you can blink an eye she is calling us to supper.   As I look over the table, can it be any better?  Creamed potatoes, butter beans and corn,  chow-chow,  pork chops with gravy,  homemade biscuits and a jar of molasses.  On the stove a pot of coffee is perking.   Momma turns and says to the company, "Oh, yes, there is plenty, we have already set another place."  Smelling the blackberry roll baking in the oven and knowing it will be cooling while we are eating supper,  the man says, "How could you not say thank you?"  Momma pointed to a chair and asked, "What would you like to drink?"

After the blessing, the man with a smile from ear to ear, as he looked over the loaded table said, "I have not seen a spread like this in a long time, the smell is so good, I could just sit here and smell the flavors."  Momma's words of wisdom,

                                     You had better eat something before it gets cold.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Triple Creek Farm, February 11, 2012

This post will be a weekly update about what was accomplished and what preparations need to be completed for future projects.


I prepared a new sourdough starter made with an even mix of milk and flour.  I used kefir milk, whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour.  The starter is easy and it only needs to be worked every 7-10 days. The sourdough starter is naturally fermented milk and flour, the smell of the bread is like a bakery in your own  home.  Trust me, when this loaf was baking I cannot explain wonderful it smelled.  If you are interested in the directions let me know.  This one is quite easy to do.  


Mr. Bootsie was clearing for the goat pasture fence row, noticed a leaning tree.  It was decided to take out the tree as it could fall and take down the fence.  The tree was hickory and it was felled on Thursday.  This tree was hollow and a good decision, was made,  to attach a line for pulling it.  Hollow trees can have a mind of their own when being dropped.  Now, it is one the ground and we see how much fire wood we have.  There will be a lot of work cutting to length, moving to the woodyard, splitting and racking the wood.


                Sunday,  February 5th thru Saturday February 11th, the girls laid 42 eggs.

The girls have turned egg gathering into an egg hunt.  It was time to decorate the coop.  The nesting boxes were covered with a curtain.  This must have pleased the girls, after putting in the curtain all the eggs were laid in the boxes.  As we think about spring we will be adding to our flock.  A large run has been added using chain link fence.  The predator protection needs to be put in.  We are seeing quite a number of hawks and one evening this week we thought we saw a falcon.  


The cabbage and broccoli plants had their first true leaves and they were up potted.  Next week, I will be starting peppers and eggplants.  The purchased pre-mixed soil needs to be dampened and 1 lb. food cups filled with the soil.  Labels made for the pots.  I start the seeds on the hearth by the wood stove.  They received plenty of bottom heat and I keep covers on to retain the moisture.  


As I look back this has been a good week.  Daily, sometimes, the accomplishments do not seem like a lot;  however,  a week at a time you see a lot of progress.  Thanks for sharing with me the challenges of opening new land to become productive and rewarding.  I welcome your comments and please share your ideas with me.  I am learning and some days I need all the help I can get.  

We had our second dusting Saturday afternoon, it is always quite pretty and peaceful when the snow falls on Triple Creek.  

                                   Have a good week!  
                                                    Happy Farming!
                                                                      Enjoy your Valentine's day! 


Monday, February 6, 2012

My Vegetable Story

Momma and I went to the mail box.  Our mail box was a large rural box that held lots of mail.  She took out the newspaper.  There was not a paper delivery person so the Richmond Times Dispatch came by mail.  Putting her hand in the box again, she found several letters from family members and, out it came.  The seed catalog with the beautiful vegetables and a picture of a bearded man on the cover.  Momma, smiling said, "This is the one we were waiting for."

Trotting along behind her and kicking every rock I could find, I was thinking Momma will read the newspaper and letters, I can look at the pretty book of vegetables.  I went from cover to cover because the inside was black and white with lots of words and drawings.

After supper, Daddy sat down with me, picked up my wonderful new book.  He read it like a story.  This year we will plant tomatoes, peppers, onions, potatoes and our garden grew larger and larger.  I asked, "What about watermelons, cantaloupes and corn."  Daddy looked at me, shaking his head no, smiling he said, "Maybe next year." " NO!  NO!  NO!  WE HAVE TO PLANT THEM!!!  I love watermelons."  He just laughed out loud and said, "So do I."

A few nights later, Daddy pencil in hand was writing on the funny sheet with lines and boxes from my pretty book.  He gave Momma the mail and the next morning we carried it to the mailbox.  After what must have been years but really was only a week or so, Momma let me carry the most wonderful package from the mailbox.  OUR GARDEN SEEDS,  Momma opened the package of seeds checking to see if everything came.  "Momma , are there any watermelon seeds?"  She smiled at me and said, "Yes, we have them, Daddy was playing with you,  he could never plant a garden that did not have melons and corn.  What would you eat all summer?"

Today, before Thanksgiving the seed houses start sending out their information.  I find myself waiting for the day Mr. Bootsie calls out as he brings in the mail, "The R. H. Shumway's Illustrated Garden Guide is here."  I do not care what I am doing, I stop because Daddy and I need to start planning this year's garden.  As I flip the pages, just like the ones I remember from so very long ago, a voice is saying, "Plant watermelons, cantaloupes and do you remember all the other seeds I planted?"  "Yes sir, I have the list."

Momma and Daddy shared with me the pleasure of having a garden.  They are no longer here to take part in the hard work or reap the rewards.  My gift was the knowledge they taught me.  I learned from them to take care of the land and it will take care of you.  Feed the soil, keep the weeds pulled and hoe, hoe, hoe.  I do enjoy taking care of my garden and

                          I will never forget Daddy reading me the vegetable story.