Wednesday, September 29, 2010

That's (not) A Lot of Salsa!

Here are the fruits of a day of salsa making.

For the amount of time and work put in I should have more jars. My pantry should be full! But this is what I ended up with and I'm happy. Those are quart jars. We've already opened the one on the end.

I learned something today and would like to pass it along. I've heard that instead of wearing rubber gloves when you cut jalapeno and other hot peppers you can instead rub your hands with olive oil. That works - a bit.

This evening my hands feel as if they have a very strong sunburn. I'll be interested to see if they turn red and peel! I think next time I'll wear rubber gloves.

Today I put in push in fences to hold in the chickens near their chicken coop. I plan to move the fences to fresh grass every three days so this is a quick solution. We've had a predator problem and I'm hoping this will help to alleviate it. The chickens were free ranging everywhere and I knew it would only be time... and the time came.

Plus, I'm getting tired of skipping around piles of chicken poo on the walkway to my back door and having them dig through and dig up my landscaping!

A few of the chickens were smart enough to fly over the fence. They had their wings clipped for their troubles. You only cut the outer feathers. It's like cutting fingernails and is painless to the chicken. Though they look a little odd!

6 eggs


I usually keep my blog limited to Sustainable Agriculture. But, as everyone knows, I am very opposed to Marcellus Shale Fracturing (Fracking) - a process of natural gas drilling that fractures seams in the ground for the purpose of pulling out natural gas. There have been many instances of ground water, well water, and streams being destroyed by this process. Frighteningly, the area in which I live is being treated like the next big gold rush by the oil/gas companies. I saw this on a website and had to share it:

I would like point out that I am not opposed to regular gas well drilling - it's the fracking process and the amount of wasted water and chemicals associated with it that research tells me is going to destroy our area.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fresh: The Movie

Heather and I drove to Olean, NY last night for a viewing of the movie, "Fresh" at St. Bonaventure. I came home just full of new ideas and "ah ha!" moments. The movie was presented by my business model, Canticle Farms, and I was fortunate to meet one of the owners and get an invitation to visit.

In the movie, "Fresh," the operation, Growing Power, run by Will Allen was particularly impressive. I love how he went vertical -rather than just horizontal - in his high tunnels and green houses. I love his use of aquaponics and vermiculture. Impressive, and something I'd like to emulate!

When Russ Kremer tells how he went from a conventional intensive hog operation to an organic operation it's completely eye-opening. You realize, this CAN be done.

And finally, there's the Sustainable Living Guru, Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farm

These people are changing the world one small farm operation at a time. They're trying to leave something better for our children and our children's children - sadly, something not much found nowadays.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Autumn Comes

Summer has changed to autumn and tomorrow begins my official Fall planting season. This next weekend is the Coudersport Annual Falling Leaves Festival ( my last hurrah at the Farmer's Market. It'll be run on Friday, Saturday, and maybe Sunday (if I have anything left). Hopefully some maple sap buckets and lids will get some paint thrown on them before the festival.

After that, I will clean out the garden, pull up the leftover weeds, till the outside garden, and plant a cover crop. I may even experiment with a cover crop in the high tunnels... something that can be winter killed in February. I have a lot of spotty, yucky tomatoes that will make lovely food for the pigs.

Now I don't just have an egg problem, but I have a predator problem! We suspect a fox it's coming into the yard and picking off my chickens. I know their numbers are dwindling rapidly! I have some traps that just may have to find their way outside.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Old Trusties

My colander of 22 years finally bit the dust. I bought it in Berlin, Germany, shortly after we married and it's traveled all over the world since then.

Isn't it funny how you adapt to the quirks of something and don't notice as they change (many of us have a spouse or friends we could say that about : )). But this trusty old plastic colander finally developed cracks and a piece fell off.

And had to be replaced with a shiny new model.

Do you have kitchen equipment that you've had for years and years and it's always the first piece you reach for?

Hurray! I've passed 200 visits! How exciting!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


What I find most frustrating about writing this blog is that I go through batteries like it's nobodies business.

A blog is SO much more fun and entertaining with lots of photos and I find that my camera just eats the batteries and spits them out!

Just when I find the most perfect picture... the little screen pops up "Change the batteries." Tomorrow I'm going to venture into the world of rechargeable batteries. Hopefully, this will solve the problem.

And then I will be able to get back on track. I have so many fun and interesting things to show you!

~ The pigs are huge
~ Apple cake recipe
~ Foghorn Leghorn
~ Tomatoes, basil, purple beans
~ New plantings
~ A beautiful autumn

And much more!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fred Does His Job

Today, after I got home from substitute teaching, it was time to feed the critters and collect eggs. I pulled on my tall barn boot and felt something soft. "Huh, I must have left a balled up sock inside," I thought. I pulled off my boot, turned it over, and out dumped a dead mouse. Yeeek!

Wasn't that sweet of Fred to leave me a gift?

7 eggs
Farmer's Market tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Planting and the Beauty of the Garden

It doesn't feel right to be planting at this time of year. I'm experimenting with the idea of people being able to purchase fall shares and receive baskets of fresh greens and other vegetables during the fall. I want to see how long I can keep cold weather vegetables - mostly greens - growing.

I've prepared the beds, spread a rich compost upon them and then run the drip lines before planting.

The lettuces I planted outside are coming up nicely (some are transplants).

While working on the garden I couldn't help but notice the absolute beauty surrounding me. One of the tenets I've been trying to live by is including beauty as well as function into my surroundings.

On an icy cold winter day, when all is dark and drear outside, these photos will sustain my soul.

The horse came back this morning.

As John walked to the bus stop the horse came running across my lawn towards him. I went out and told the horse I'm not his owner and he should go home. He suddenly turned and with tail flagged he thundered back across my lawn towards his own pasture. Boy did the kids on the school bus get a good show!

8 eggs

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Early Morning Visitors

As I was working on my computer I glanced out the window and what did I see on the road in front of my house?

This horse is a regular Houdini and gets out of his fencing just about every day. I've never seen him come this far up the road though.

I kept the dogs inside because this horse has been know to chase them down with the intention of stomping the life out of them!

I went onto my front steps to take pictures and as I snapped I heard a snuff sound to my right. As I turned there were three beautiful white-tailed deer bounding away across the field. Wow.

Farmer's Market Before and After

As the season progresses we find we have less to bring to the Farmer's Market. We are working hard to keep vegetables available through the first weekend in October. I have a dream of having a small clientele that will buy leafy vegetables from me through October and November.

It's been a learning experience. I thought fresh basil would be a huge seller and I planted a lot. Surprisingly people don't buy it so much - and I sell it in huge bunches so that there's enough to make a nice pesto! Beets and acorn squash are very popular right now and I didn't plant as much as I should have.

Next year I'll plant less basil and more beets and acorn squash.

Farmer's Market Table Before:

Farmer's Market Table After:

By the way, Heather did some research and found out her bunny, Clover, is MR. Clover.

The chickens are still averaging about 5 or 6 eggs a day with an occasional 7 egg day and a very occasional 3 or 4 egg day.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Can Be Done, Will Be Done.

Why is it alway so easy to over schedule a day? Today I want to finish cleaning out the beans and cucumber plants, finish my fall planting inside the high tunnel, process a mountain of tomatoes, and run to the dump and Amish feed store. Can it all be done? Very unlikely!

At the end of the day I found I was correct. It couldn't all be done...,especially when you throw in dental appointments for both kids.

I was able to clean out some of the beans and cucumbers. Did you know that pigs love bean leaves even more than they love beans? And they are, well...pigs, about cucumbers! The fall planting and the mountain of tomatoes will have to wait until tomorrow.

The dump and the Amish feed store were accomplished though. We purchased 6 -65 lb. bags of hog feed. 4 - 65 lbs. of chicken feed and 1 -50 lb. bag of shelled corn. The little Amish girl that came out to serve us in the barn weighed about 100 pounds soaking wet, so Fitz kindly loaded the feed for her.

I plan to get some pictures tomorrow!

The weather is changing. Brrr.

5 eggs today.

Monday, September 6, 2010


We had our first official Fall frost last night. The grass was covered with a fine ice carpet.

Happily, it didn't affect any of the outside plants, but I'll have to start thinking ahead!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rest......aaaah... And Meet Clover!

Today is Sunday - a day of rest - but I would like to play a bit of catch up on my blog.

Yesterday was the town wide yard sale and the Farmer's Market. Due to my erroneous belief that the Farmer's Market would do well on Friday we tried it then too and sat in blustery weather from 3 until 6 p.m. No business to speak of. Fitz and I made a pinky pact. No more Fridays! The payoff for the amount of work is just not worth it.

Heather and John are thrilled. We added a new critter to our ever growing "farm" family... Meet our new bunny, "Clover." She was being sold by a family at the yard sales. I'm a softy and when the kids say, "please, please, please." I find it hard to say no.

We thought Clover would do well to be in with the guinea pigs, but last night, after Heather was asleep, I went in to check on her and no Clover in with the guinea pigs! Surprise! Rabbits can jump better than guinea pigs and she spent the night running around Heather's room (I was VERY careful to make sure the bedroom door was shut as I don't want a massacre). Luckily, Fitz was able to affix a top to the cage so that we don't find her jumping (and pooping!) around the bedroom again.

Clover is very cuddly and loves being held. She will even fall asleep in your arms when she is held like this.

Have you ever seen a more relaxed bunny?

We've been getting steadily between 5 and 6 eggs each day. The young chickens should start laying anytime now!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Relishing Time

Wow! Remember back when I was so excited about finding green beans? It seems like just a few days ago and now I'm already pulling them up inside the high tunnel to make way for winter greens! Cucumbers are finished and I'm going to use their trellises to see if I can get a batch of peas growing. We've had a flush of nice hot weather and it was almost 100 degrees in the high tunnel yesterday - so I don't think the cool weather veggies will care for that, but on Saturday our temperature is supposed to drop quite a bit.

I've been relishing the process of making relish. I've made sweet relish and corn relish. Both have such a different smell and taste than what you buy at the store. Who would think that the smell of relish could make your mouth water?

I'm running a bit sporadically here with my blog because I'm so terribly busy trying to process everything that has come into season all at the same time - tomatoes, green and yellow beans, basil, cucumbers, summer squashes, and all of my herbs!

On top of all this processing, fall planting must be done NOW and the Farmer's Market is going full blast. I'm playing lots of catch up.