Sunday, June 30, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, June 29, 2013

This week has a busy, interesting week here on the farm.  I had the pleasure of visiting with my cousin, which was a wonderful treat for me.  Years ago, each of us went to find our own future and I am so pleased to learn about the wonderful journey she is making, the real treat is to be able to share her journey for it is so different than the path I took but at the same time we have been down so many of the same roads.  When I was asked what is K-E-F-I before she finished I and Mr. Bootsie were on our band boxes, Mr. Bootise was warning be careful or you will be going home with grains and I jumping for joy that I may be able to share one of my daughters with another of my family.  In the last few weeks I have been sharing kefir grains with family and friends.  We have sent some by mail, some have been picked up and everyone seems pleased.  As I saw my cousin for the last time during this visit, I came  with a jar of milk and large cauliflower looking grain of kefir, and of course, asked her to take care of my daughter.  Others are telling me they are sharing their grains.  I am so pleased I have a mother of kefir and share with so many.  As each of these folks learn and share I, also, learn.  What a wonderful journey this has become for me.


I was able to can 4 quarts of snap beans with potatoes on the pantry shelves,  3 quarts of squash were stored (canned) for use this winter.  We have been enjoying meals made with fresh veggies and wonderful breads.   My favorite welcome to summer meal is snaps, graveled new potatoes seasoned with ham and a big pan of fried squash and onions.  This was on table one night this week along with a bowl of coleslaw made with a kefir milk dressing. and corn sticks  


We have had several rains which came down heavy and rain off the land.  We are watching the roads to be sure they are not being washed.  After the road is worked it needs to be packed, as quickly as the rains are coming in we are not having a chance to pack the roads.  We may drive over it a few times and this is just not enough to stop the washing out.  Goats are starting to clear out between the garden and the pasture.  If they clean this area I will be able to work in the garden and see the goats.  


Aurora who had peeps last year is on the nest, she was set on Friday night at 11:00 p.m., and seems very pleased to be back in the brooder waiting for little peeps.  The chicks hatched this spring are growing, they are coming and going when I am at the coop with them.  We have been able to handle these chicks, I can really see the difference of handling the little peeps.  Aurora would not us get near her peeps last year so I am hoping she will be a kinder, gentler momma hen and share her babies with us.  I do like being able to handle the chicks.


They came in, I always get so excited to see the first snaps, and then I become overwhelmed by the amount I am picking.  I look forward to being able to take more than one basket to the garden and filling them with fresh veggies, this week I was bringing in 2 baskets filled with snaps.  More snaps are coming up.  I purchased seeds for a butter bean and when I open the package of seeds, they were snaps of some sort and not my beloved butter beans.  They were planted and came up quickly, they were planted beside the peas and will climb where the peas were supported.  I have enjoyed a few sungold tomatoes in the garden, raspberries are not making they way into the house for they are being munched in the garden.  Voles or moles are still enjoying my garden, as much as I do.  One storm came through this week and took out all of the corn, we worked until dark doing the same corn first-aid as we did last year and it is standing tall, much taller than I and Mr. Bootsie,  butI see no tassels.  I have started harvesting some of the grains I have planted for the animals, the sunflowers are setting their buds.  


I met a neighbor, who has touched my heart, she is one who is willing to share, help you, and give advice in a kind and gentle way.  She shared eggs from her farm with me and we shall be introducing a new breed of chicks here if Aurora does a good job.  Such a kind lady, the eggs are free, but, but, I know the cost of eggs.  With our excess of green beans, I took a bag of green beans with me.  She shared with us, her goats had lunch in her garden when she was away and ate all of the garden.  I was so pleased I could share some of my bumper crop of green snaps beans.  Now,  this is the way I remember my Momma and Daddy farming.  If we had it and you needed it,  they helped and the same came in return.  I am so thankful another wonderful person has come into my life.  This week has been one of so much happiness, good things happening, I find myself just gritting my teeth and saying the  voles need to eat, maybe the fox will go on down the road and leave us alone, but I will keep a watchful eye.  And those stink bugs, well now, that is  another subject just left alone.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, June 22,2013

Mr. Bootsie was a city boy and I was a country girl, where we lived before we moved here was in the city.  Over half of the back yard was my garden and I did a good job of feeding us from my little garden.  I was able to can, freeze and make a few pickles.  Mr. Bootsie decided to move to the country as he thought it would make me happy.  He had no idea what moving to the country was for me.  I did want a place in the country with a riding lawn mower to cut a big yard each week.  If I moved to the country I wanted a big garden and animals.  Why would you move to the country and cut lots of grass for several hours a week?  In the last couple of weeks I have noticed a few changes.  The man, who was afraid the goats were going to go and get on the highway if they were let out of the fence, has now started letting the goats out of the pasture and taking them into our woods to nibble the small trees.  The man, who would only touch a chicken when it was out and I needed help catching the chicken, is now picking up and being friendly with the girls.  Our little farm has started getting into his blood, he sees things differently, the animals are becoming his children, pets and friends.  My journey back to the farm is becoming a shared journey, for a long time I did wonder if the farm would mean as much to Mr. Bootsie as it did to me and now with the dirt on his blue jeans, the farmer's tan and the animals looking to him as their helper, he has the made the turn.  If something should happen to me, Mr. Bootsie would be able to take care of our little farm for me.


The squash are coming in, I have won the battle with the stink bug but the war is not over.  This week I made zucchini bread, squash and onions and zucchini fries.  I have frozen squash for later use.  I have been getting my canning recipes organized and I am ready if the crops come in.


We had a rain storm this week.  I think it was the hardest rain I have ever seen here.  The creeks were almost out of the banks.  A wall of water came down one hill and moved all of the gravel in the road, I spent quite a while cutting drainage ditches and Mr. Bootsie worked the farm road with the tractor.  This was one task we did not have on our list of things to do but it must be done and there were gullies in the road and quite dangerous as this is the road I walk going to the barn and coop.


Egg production is back up.  It may drop with the summer weather coming in.  Little peeps are now sleeping on the roosting poles in the brooder.  They are now going out for the afternoon walk, I stay with them as I do not want the older girls to attack them.  I think these new chicks are going to be good sized birds.


Another raised bed had been replaced, I am going to plant some always plants in this bed.  I had tried asparagus in this bed but the moles has enjoyed the treats I planted, I am going to forget about the asparagus until we start another garden area (if we ever do is questionable) and I can put rat wire under the raised bed.

All of the garlic was cleaned and roots cut this week.  It is now hanging in the top of the pole barn to dry, this rack is on a pulley system, lowered when I need to place garlic on it.  There are now 2 of these racks in the pole barn.  I am hoping these will be helpful when we start drying the sunflower heads, as I will be able to cover the sunflowers with fiberglass wire.


Squash bugs are still here, I am flooding out the squash plants in the mornings, they climb up the leaves to get out of the water and I get those little stinkers.  We are not seeing a lot of eggs, but I am afraid with the temperature going up this may change.  They were on the cucumber plants this week also.

Snow peas are slowing down, green beans are hanging, cherry tomatoes are getting up to size, elephant garlic is just about ready to pull and walking onions are walking as the walkers are very heavy.  The raspberry row is where you will find me having a snack.


Friday, summer arrived, this spring has been one of the most interesting springs I can remember.  The temperature has been up and down, we had a fire in the wood stove much later in May than in the past  and two days later the sun was cooking everything with reading of 90 plus degrees on the thermometer.  I would like to see have a nice summer, one that is not hot and baking the earth.  I hate to see the girls trying to stay cool in the coop at night.  I go out and cool the garden in the late afternoon on the really hot days.  But afternoon watering is not good for all plants and I need to be careful of what I water.  In about 90 days we will know what type of summer we had this year.  I wish for all you a happy and safe summer.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, June 15, 2013

There are times on the farm when there is total silence, I find these times to be very pastoral, to me it means all is right on the farm.  We hear the frogs, chickens, ducks do they ever stop and the ladies calling in the meee-maaa voices most of the time.  But it happens, there is total silence, not a bird chipping, duck making the quacking sound or frog making the one last bleep of the day, it is in these moments I know all is the way it should be here on our farm.  Saturday evening after feeding and putting everyone to bed there was this wonderful moment, when the farmer looked at her husband and said,  "Sometimes you know everything is just the way it should be, the animals, the garden and just being here."  This peace is something so many are looking for, once in a while, we have an opportunity to enjoy these wonderful moments.


Time to empty the freezer and get things ready for this season.  I made a canner of vegetable beef soup. Seven Quarts, means 7 easy meals.  I am thinking about making more soup and soup bases in the canner.  I have a need to learn an easier way to get a meal on the table.  I found some strawberries and raspberries, they found their way into the jelly pan, 6 half-pints of jelly has been added to the pantry.


Mr. Bootsie is making his way around the farm doing oil changes and checking on the things we have with engines.  After all is finished a dump run will be made with the used oil.

We have been going through some of the boxes of treasures we had when we moved here.  I was an antique dealer for a number of years or maybe a truer statement would be junk collector.  I had a hard time turning down any box lot for one dollar.  In a number of these box lots I would find tools without handles.  Hoes, diggers, and shovels, one item we found in a box was a small digger I remember using one like as a child.  Short handle and the little digger worked.  Off to the farm supply with the tools we wanted to return to service.  We walked into the farm store and someone commented on the dutch hoe Mr. Bootsie was taking in, saying, "That is an old tool, you don't see them very often any more."  Where are you handles?  Back on the side wall by the greenhouse, off we went.  No handle to replace the dutch hoe handle, this is a tool which takes a beating here with all of the clearing we are doing, Mr. B would just like to have a replacement because I have broken this handle several times.  As for the little digger there was not any short handles, so we left as empty handed as we came in.  I was on the porch the other afternoon. Mr. Bootsie comes in with a piece of hickory (we have lots of hickory trees) and was working on making a handle for this small digger.  I was using the digger last evening and the handle is great about 18 inches long and just like the wonderful tool I remember as a child.


With much regret, Little Grey's nest has been removed.  Not a one of her eggs hatched,  she was returned to the flock, I do hear her making the sweet Momma hen clucking noise at times. I hope she will want to set again and hatch out a flock of baby chicks.  I find her quite often with the little peeps hatched this year, but they feel they are big now and do not need a momma hen.  Egg production is good and now with all of the girls in coop I see Mr. Bootsie bringing in eggs several times a day.  We do try to collect at least twice a day.

The duck run was a mess, as they are just messy.  Before one of the rains this week, we cleaned the ditch behind the barn, taking out as much sand as possible and putting this in the ducks run.  I am always amazed at the difference in the run with the sand, it takes away all of the slick feeling under your feet.  This was a win-win task as the drainage was much better around the barn.


I pulled the garlic crop, most of it has been cleaned and is in the top of the barn drying in the trays Mr. Bootsie put up for me.  He used a pulley system, so they are up high and out of the way.  I will be pulling the elephant garlic this week.  The onions are not showing signs of laying down at this time.  The walkers are covered with walkers, I did collected a few this week for a salad.   I am harvesting squash, kale, chard and peas.  The potatoes are looking good and I have found a few snaps so maybe next week, there will be a pot of snaps and new potatoes.  Time to thin the beets, I will start those this coming week. I like to pull the small beets clean with the too left on and steam them.

With all of the rain we are having a hard time staying in front of the weeds, in fact we may not be in front of them at this time.  The storm, Thursday, blew the corn over, sun pulled some corn back and with a little help from me, I think I am only going to loose 1 stalk of corn.  Pole beans are starting to climb and tomatoes are blooming.


I am amazed with the weather changes we are experiencing this year.  Once again the fires are doing so much damage.  I am so hurt for all of you who have loss your homes, animals and way of life.   I find it very hard to think of having to start over and so many of those in dangers way have started over many times.  I do think of you and in my way offer a prayer for you.  May we all learn from our pasts and use the knowledge we gain to move forward.

Have a great week, I'll see you in the garden or come visit on the porch for something refreshing to drink!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Making Jelly

While making a batch of jelly I started to remember jellies of yesterdays.  All year long we cleaned and saved every jar with a screw- on lid.  Our jelly was alway put into what ever jars we had in the basement.  There were peanut butter jars and an assortment of some wonderful jars which I still have on my shelves to day.  Momma had some jars which looked like glass barrels, I have these jars and of course, they get filled with pickles here each year.

The jelly would be made with what fruit we had at the time.  Momma would only can only thing a day and on the days there were no vegetables to be canned she would make jelly.  One of my favorites was the strawberry/ cherry jelly.  It was a kind of jelly, cherries were pitted and mixed with the strawberry juice.  You may call this a preserves as there was cherry pulp in the mix.  I waited for this one, every year, and would start eating as soon as it was finished cooking.  Someone needed to taste it to see if the others should have any and MY vote was no this is all for me.

After the jelly was made it was carried to the basement and stored until we needed it.  Now lets get this straight, I am not a spring chicken any more so my memories go way back.  When I was small Momma would bring up a jar of jelly and start scooping out the green stuff, what is that, why are you doing that, it's okay for the hogs to eat but we can't and we eat the hogs later?  I was very confused about what was going on.  Today, I know the answers they would not share with me.  There was mold on the jelly, the moldy jelly would be removed from the jar and we would eat what was left in the jar.  Then someone came along and told Momma if she put wax on top of the jelly it would keep.

Momma made jelly, we melted wax and poured on top of the jelly, put the lid on and now we would have jelly without mold.  Winter came, Momma bought a jar of jelly from the basement opened it and the wax ring was below the neck of the jar, it would not come out easy.  She finally cut the wax into pieces and took it out of the jar only to find mold under the wax.  but she would not give up.  The next year she cut string, laid it on top of the jelly which was put in the jars up to the neck and poured in the wax.  After the wax hardened we put the ends of the string in the jars on top of the wax and put the lids on.  Winter came again, we would open the jars, pick up the string and pull the wax cover off the jelly only to find mold under it.  I wish to add by now there were jelly jars being produced which were not screw on lids, they needed the wax, also.  By the time I started canning there were the cute little 1/2 pint jars with the screw threads on them.

I am so pleased we have come to the place where we are today.  I know there are a number of you who love the old recipes and that is wonderful.  Always use the current method for sealing your jars.   When we open one of our jars of strawberry/raspberry jelly we will not be scooping out the mold for I use the 2 part lids, process in a hot water bath, wait for 12 to 24 hours and check for safe seals on my jars. I label my jars also, you would not believe how many jars of mystery jelly we scooped the mold off, only to taste and say,  this is not the jelly I wanted.

This is one area change is good, I for one am very THANKFUL we have made such good progress when it comes to saving the wonderful flavors of summer in our jelly jars!!!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, June 8, 2013

This week the weather has been interesting.  We had a lot of rain, some from the cold front coming across and the tropical storm,  Andrea, bought rain our way.  I find myself wanting to build a fire as the cold front was a chilly one.  The signal on the computer has been a challenge this week.  I have not been able to receive messages or post hardly anything.  I guess it is a time to reflect and remember when we did have not have all of the gadgets to connect one with the world.  Oh, yes the messages, will be there waiting for me, when the signal returns to the strength I need.  Every once in a while we do need to realize our connection with the outside world is totally dependable on others and there is not a thing we can do about it when it does not function properly.


The garden is starting to produce more than I can use.  I started freezing snow peas.  I enjoy having these in the winters past to add to stir fries and lo meins.

I have been thinking about trying some scone recipes.  I found one for Bacon-Blue Cheese Scones and I wanted to try this one as I had all of the ingredients except for the heavy cream.  No problem, Kefir will be my fix.  I let my kefir milk work for 1 additional day, I hunted in the jar with a spoon to find my grains and removed them.  Poured 1 cup of the heavy kefir into the measuring cup and I made these scones.  These were a hit at our house.  Dinner and the next morning they were finished at breakfast.  Most of all they were easy to make.


We had the ladies munching on more saplings, they look forward to the wagon appearing loaded with trees for them.  They, also, enjoy getting out of the pasture and free ranging in the woods. 

The ladies have spent quite a bit of time this week in the goat barn eating hay.  I really do not blame them because the rain was coming down at times.  


This has been a very sad week in the coop, none, not one of the eggs under Little Grey hatched.  She is still on the nest and pushing out a egg every once in a while.  I feel so bad for her, I have no one to blame, sometimes things like this happen and I have no reason why.  I have thought about everything I did and I think how I handled my part was right.  We have checked some of the eggs and they seem to have rotted.  I am not pushing her to get off the nest.  I am just hoping it will happen one day.  

Little peeps are doing good, they are becoming my buddies and letting me pick them up.  I really want to try and get these to be gentle birds, if one is a rooster it would help if he has knowledge of my handling him.  

The girls were kept in the coop one day during the rain and they seemed to fair well with the weather conditions.  I know they would rather be out but it was just too wet.  Little peeps are going out in the afternoons when the weather is good.


Garden is happy, may be a little too happy.  The bloody butcher corn is growing and the cucumber hills I put between the corn is looking as it it is going to work.  I wanted the corn to shade the cukes and give them a place to climb.  The garden is lush and green.  

Jersey Wakefield cabbages are starting to fill.  I am hoping to have a good cabbage crop this year.

Squash plants are in the blue barrels you see everywhere.  They seem to be so happy.  Tansy was planted in the corners of the garden, squash bugs were found on the tansy plants.  They were planted as catch plants for the bad bugs, I am hoping this will work.  

The snow peas have climbed unto the frame for the cold tunnel.  This is making for such an easy way to pick the peas.  The squash plants and starting to climb the tunnel and I have planted climbing spinach around the frame also.  I would like to have the tunnel covered by the heat of the summer with vegetation.


Learning is something we do everyday.  This week I purchased DE, I will be using this in the barn and coop, I also will be adding this to the feed of the flocks.  I have been told this is very good for the animals. This is a natural product and I look forward to good results.  

Now, what will be the next problem I will need to learn a fix for.  I hope it will be a simple fix but we all know in the garden, pasture and coop everyday is an adventure.  What will today bring?  Time will only tell.  Have a wonderful week!!! 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Triple Creek Farm, June 1, 2013

I like for the animals to mix together.  One evening this week, it happened, the goats were out nibbling and they wanted to go where the chickens were.  I was expecting chickens to go back to the run and having lots of attitude.  But they kept right on scratching and pecking, the ducks were busy doing what they do, and all of them were in the same area, I was so pleased to have all the animals outside of the runs and pastures with no problems.  This was what I consider a major accomplishment.


The crops are starting to come in the door, I always try to use the first of anything.  I remember as a child how wonderful the first berries, new potatoes or string beans were.  I look so forward to the first gathering.  The Swiss Chard was a delight to the kitchen this week.  Spinach pizza made with chard, spaghetti with chard and feta cheese, the stems were saved to make a lo mein but my all time favorite is fresh steamed chard, scrambled eggs with sausage.  I have been waiting for this since last summer, oh I know I could have purchased some chard but this is my chard from my garden.

The chive blossom vinegar was bottled on Sunday and now it is aging in the bottle, of course I am sure it will taste wonderful anytime we decide to open it.  I pickled garlic scapes, they need to mell until July.  At that time I will be making my decision as to what I shall do next year.  I hope they are wonderful and I regret not making more, they are so easy. 


The clean up crew is working and I am surprised how different some of the areas are starting to look.  I have learned goats like variety so they want to do somewhere different just about everyday.  I now have to get them on a program of nibbling where I need them to nibble.

All of the windows have been taken out of the coops and barn.  Rat wire has been put inside all of frames.  The air flow is so much better for the girls and the goats.


The girls seem to be taking an interest in the little chicks.  The little ones are outside in the afternoons, the big girls come over for a visit.  I dread when the time comes to start working on becoming one big happy family.  I do not care to see any of them picked on by other hens.


Picking Swiss Chard, strawberries. zucchini and snow peas.  Most of the garden has been planted.  Mr. Bootsie has repaired 2 raised beds.  I had made them with whatever I could grab 4 years ago and the break down of the wood caught up with us.  Now he has made 2 nice beds, which will last.  They arrived, the squash bugs appeared on Thursday, I am hoping that some of my plants are healthy enough not be damaged by the bugs.  I have sprayer in the garden ready to go, I was told to spray the eggs with dawn dishwashing liquid and water mix.  I do not know if it will work but anything is worth a try.

I pulled a few garlics which had laid down, pretty heads of garlic.  This year I have a drying rack for the garlic and onions.


I finally planted the last tomato in the early planting and I felt like a mountain was lifted off my back.  There will be other things planted but from here on I seem not to be as overwhelmed as the tomatoes make me.  Now the heat has rolled in, I just cannot take the heat anymore.  I have been in the garden at first light a few mornings this week.  Yes, it makes for a long day and I am getting very tired.  Mr. Bootsie was trying to talk with me one day I was nodding, yes, and falling asleep at the same time. Busy days are coming soon, how did I get the balance in my days last summer so I could can, freeze and dehydrate all the goodies from the garden?   I am not sure but I am sure it will happen once again this year.