Friday, September 30, 2011

Two Great Events In Potter County, PA This Weekend!

We have two great events going on this weekend here in Potter County.  One is the annual Falling Leaves Festival.  This annual small town festival includes rides for the kiddies, pumpkin painting, vendors, live music, a parade, and much more!  

Fitzgerald's Family Farm Farmer's Market stand will be set up at the Falling Leaves Festival for my regular Saturday hours of 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.  We're the stand with the blue roof.  This is the very last Farmer's Market Saturday of the year.  Please stop by and say hello! 

Potter County Festivals

The second big event is in Austin, PA - about 15 miles from Coudersport.  Austin has a fantastic museum, the E.O Austin Home, that you won't want to miss!  

On September 30, 1911, poor construction, coupled with torrential rain, resulted in the Austin dam's collapse. At least 78 people perished in the tragedy. News of the flood quickly spread worldwide. It was the second worst flood disaster in Pennsylvania’s history, and sixth worst dam failure in U.S. history. 

The tragedy sparked new legislation to improve dam safety, and the Austin Dam was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1987. The lessons of the delicate balance between mankind and nature, as well as corporate responsibility, are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago. (from
For more information about the Austin Flood Centennial times and events go to:  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sweet Pepper Harvest

My family LOVES sweet peppers - particularly red sweet peppers.  I had a pretty decent crop.  These are some of the ones that didn't get blossom end rot - I didn't even know peppers could get blossom end rot!  They're in the tomato family so it certainly makes sense.  I think I'll never ever stop learning!  This batch has been washed, sliced, and frozen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sweet Relish and "No Right To Eat or Produce Food"

Yesterday, I teased the very last of the cucumbers (just a few) from the high tunnel to make a batch of sweet relish.  I love homemade relish.  As I cook it, it's one of those foods whose smell makes my mouth water.  The flavor of homemade relish is like the difference between a store-bought tomato and a home-grown tomato.  You can't describe how it's different, but the flavor is so much more ... there.  Yum!

I love growing my own food.  I love that the food I'm feeding my family is more nutritionally dense then what I would buy at the store.  And the food I grow is, I feel, safer than what I buy at the store.  

But my right to eat and produce food seems to be under attack.

In Wisconsin, during a raw milk trial (the sale of raw milk has been targeted in sting operations leading to court cases) a judge said that, "Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume foods of their choice."  Walter at Sugar Mountain Farm, writes about it here.

In a previous post, Walter writes about the attack on small American farmers seen in the movie Farmageddon: The Unseen War On American Family Farms.  

I have to wonder if someday I'll be on a back alley selling my freshly grown - in dirt - carrots like they're  contraband?

To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
 ~Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948)

"I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural."
- Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Winter Squash Harvest 2011

The past few weeks have been a frenzy of harvesting and putting up vegetables before the first hard frost hits. 

 We've had one light frost already!  

This week we harvested all the winter squash out of my summer and winter squash garden (the summer squash is finished).  

While this looks like a lot of winter squash, it wasn't nearly the harvest I had hoped for.  I think - no, I know - the early summer drought we had cut into yields.  I'm not complaining though.  This section of my garden was dust dry during the drought and I'm happy I pulled anything at all off it!  

We had to get out and harvest everything that was in that section of my gardens because the chickens had figured out how to get in and were having a very good time pecking at everything.  They certainly can put a hurting on some vegetables.  Look at this poor hubbard squash!    

(You can actually see the beak marks!)

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.  For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.  ~Edwin Way Teale

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pig Goes For A Stroll!

I woke up on the first chance to sleep in a little bit, looked out the window, and saw one of the pigs walking around my yard!  Boy did I hustle fast into my clothes and run out to get it before it took a walk over to the neighbor's houses!

Luckily, it came when it saw me and I was able to get it to go back into the pen when I filled the feed trough.  

I'm not sure how it got out, but when I wanted it to go in it wouldn't even step over the lowest fence wire.  I had to undo all three gate wires for it to go into the pen.  I think maybe it just got really hungry and went looking for more food.  The damage that a hungry pig does to a lawn is amazing.  It dug up at least  20 feet of grass!   

They're getting to the size now where all they do is eat all day and scream for me to bring more food.  I'm a slave to bringing them goodies to nosh on.  Corn stalks, apples, old tomatoes, giant zucchini - they eat it all!  Don't be concerned if you see a lady picking up buckets of dropped apples along the road (the apple crop is phenomenal this year)... that'll be me!  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Liebster Blog Award

Dr. momi over at Homesteading at Red Tail Ridge surprised me with this award!  Thank you!  What a great way to tell the world about all the newly started and oh-so-very-talented bloggers out there whom I'm lucky enough to read.

Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

The Liebster is awarded to spotlight up and coming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

How fun!! Now for the rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all - have fun!

So, without further ado, here are my five picks to receive this special honor:

1.  Wooleylot's Blog

2.  On The Metzger's Farm

3.  BitsnBrambles

4. The Apple Pie Gal

5.  A Home Grown Journal

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good Reading

Although I know they're considered Young Adult books, I've been enjoying reading my way through the Anne of Green Gables series and anything else I can find by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  It's refreshing to read about a time with simpler and more elegant manners and a 
much slower pace of life.  

What fiction do you read that refreshes you?  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Purple Beans

I love growing purple beans.  We sell them at the Farmer's Market as "Barney Beans" and let the kids taste them.  They usually like them!

Last year I grew purple pole beans and they were pretty good, but I really liked the tenderness of the variety I grew this year: 

"Burpees Organic Garden Bean Royalty Purple Pod" - a bush snap bean. 

Here's the funny thing about cooking purple beans - they turn green!  

Fresh picked beans in the basket waiting to be blanched for freezing: 

Beans with the tops snipped off and broken into pieces - look at the green insides:  

Beans dropped into a pot of boiling water and starting to turn green!:

And finally, blanched and cooled purple beans that have turned green:

Isn't that fun?  

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Day of Sadness and Anger

The military had moved us to Japan two days before.  It was the middle of the night.  The phone rang and I'll never forget my husband answering it and saying, "Is this a joke?"

Never Forget

Friday, September 9, 2011

Refrigerator Dishes

We had a town-wide yard sale over the Labor Day weekend and I found this wonderful refrigerator dish.   I've read about some of the nasty stuff found in plastic storage-ware nowadays and have been trying to go back to good, old-fashioned glass for storing and heating.    

I hoped it would be the just right size for quick breads.  And it was!  This loaf of banana bread fits perfectly!  

And it looks so pretty in the refrigerator!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

20 Unusual Uses for Honey

From:  The Huffington Post, "20 Unusual Uses for Honey" 

by Anna Brones

This article came at an opportune time after our honey collection weekend!

It was brought to my attention last week that September is in fact National Honey Month. Honey gets an entire month all to itself? Why yes, it certainly does.
Turns out that Americans consume 1.5 pounds of honey per person annually, and there are more than 300 types of honey in the United States alone. That's impressive, and we figured that if honey gets to be honored all month long, the least we could do is give you 20 different uses for it. Enjoy!
1. Put it on your lips
Did you know that making your own lip balm is as easy as tracking down some almond oil, beeswax and honey? Sure is. Makes you feel a little guilty about that $10 version you picked up at the health food store yesterday, doesn't it?
2. Make your own honey moisturizer
If you've got a handful of sweet smelling herbs -- think lavender -- laying around and ready to be used, why not use them for your own homemade honey lotion? Warm honey over a saucepan until it gets to a liquid consistency. Pour honey over herbs and cap tightly; the ratio you want to use is 1 tablespoon of herbs per 8 ounces of honey. Let sit for a week and then mix 1 teaspoon of liquid into an 8 ounce bottle of unscented lotion.

3. Eat it with goat cheese
In need of a classy hors d'oeuvre but lacking in the time department? Try this: put a round of goat cheese in a ramekin, sprinkle honey and chopped walnuts on top and place in oven at 350F until honey and cheese are both soft. Serve with baguette or crackers and you'll be the life of the party.
4. Prepare for the end of the world
You never know what's going to happen, so stock it. Now.
5. Drink it
We all know a drop of honey in tea is good for a sore throat, but you can add it to most drinks for an extra energy boost. And simply because it's a whole lot better than tossing in a few Sweet 'N Lows.
6. Make a salad
One of my favorite and easiest fruit salads uses just a touch of honey to enhance the sugars in the fruit, and it's a perfect late summer dessert.

  • 1 cantaloupe, chopped

  • 3 nectarines, chopped

  • 4 tablespoons chopped basil

  • 2 tablespoons honey

Mix together and enjoy!
7. Give yourself a facial
Honey is a natural humectant with antimicrobial properties, which means your skin will be happy when you give it some sweet honey love. Try a basic honey wash by mixing a dollop of honey and two tablespoons of warm water and massaging the mixture into your skin. Or you can go all out and try theCucumber Honey Facial.
8. Go the extra mile
Forget energy bars and shots, just pop a tablespoon of honey before your next workout. Seriously, it has been proven to boost athletic performance.

9. Remove parasites
Got a post-Southeast Asia backpacking trip bug that just won't leave you alone? Mix up a good blend of honey, water and vinegar and you'll quickly be on your way to being parasite free.
10. Clean your cuts and scrapes
Honey can actually be used as an antiseptic, like a natural Neosporin. Because of its many antimicrobial properties, it can be used to treat wounds and even burns.
11. Get rid of your hangover
Forget a morning of popping ibuprofen, spread some honey on your toast or add some to your tea. Because honey is loaded with fructose, it will help speed up the metabolism of alcohol.
12. Clear up your dry elbows
Nothing's worse than scratchy elbows (no really) so next time, after you've washed and scrubbed, rub some honey on to soften the skin. Leave on for 30 minutes then wash off.
13. Soften your skin
14. Mix a drink
After you've been busy reaping all the health benefits that honey has to offer, it's time to celebrate, and what better way than with a good ole cocktail. Honey Gin Cocktail? Bring it.

15. Eat the honeycomb. No really, just do it. 
Yes, it can be done! One of our fave food bloggers Clotilde Dusoulier, of Chocolate & Zucchini, put the ingredient to her readers and got some fun responses. The best sounding one? Mix it with crunchy peanut butter on toast.
16. Get an energy boost
Feeling a tad lethargic? Skip the coffee and go for the honey instead. Mix a tablespoon into a cup of tea and you'll be feeling better in no time.
17. Beautify your hair
In the shower, after you wash your, coat the ends with a bit of honey. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing out and you'll find that your hair is less frizzy and extra conditioned. Or make your hair shiny and bright by adding one teaspoon honey to one quart of water, and after washing your hair, pouring the mixture over your head. Let dry and enjoy your new-found shiny do.
18. Preserve fruit
Jam is so five years ago; show you're truly cutting edge by preserving your fruits in a honey sauce. All it takes is one part honey to ten parts water and then covering your berries. Pretty much the closest you're ever going to get to bottling up a little bit of summer. 

19. Relax in the tub
Add a few tablespoons of honey to your bath, for sweeter smelling, softer feeling water. Pure bliss.
20. Lose weight
Well, what were you expecting? With a list this long it had to be pretty apparent that honey is in fact a wonder food, and as it turns out, you can even make it part of your next weight loss plan. Honey is an excellent substitute for sugar and it also helps speed up metabolism. Just remember: all things in moderation.

I've provided the link to the original article at the top of this blog post.   

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Honey... Finally!

After lots of hiccups and run ins with bears, skunks, varroa mites, swarming, and just about every other mishap that  a beekeeper can have we have finally pulled honey off our hives!

We decided to spin the honey off the frames at night because our building isn't bee proof and we feared that if we spun it during the day that every bee within two miles would come to check out the delicious smell.  This way we hoped all the local bees were safely in their beds.  

 Fitz gets the honey frames out of the truck.  

And we bring them into our building to the 

uncapping unit..

and honey extractor...

Then we begin the long process of uncapping the honey frames.  We have an electric knife that gets hot (you can see John using it), but we found it cuts through the caps very slowly.  A sharp serrated knife did a much quicker job.  The wax caps that we cut off fall down into the uncapping unit and any honey that comes out of the comb drains into a bucket placed underneath. 

Fitz comes in and gives it a try.

Then we put the uncapped frames into the extractor.  This unit spins and through centrifugal force makes the honey fly out of the combs and drip to the bottom of the unit.  

We catch the honey in a bucket. 

As the honey comes out of the extractor we pour it through double screen strainers to catch the wax bits, bee parts, and other debris.  

And end up with lots of beautiful golden honey!
(the white stuff is foam from the honey drizzling out of the strainer)

Winnie the Pooh:   Christopher Robin, I think the bees S-U-S-P-E-C-T something. 
Christopher Robin:   Perhaps they think you're after their honey. 
Winnie the Pooh:   Well, it may be that. You never can tell with bees. 
~from "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree"

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Drying Zucchini Chunks

From this.....

To this!...

I took that great big zucchini and used a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Then chopped it into chunks (because I like chunks better than slices for soup) and put it in the dehydrator.  

After about 12 hours I ended up with the above 3/4-full quart jar of very, very dry zucchini chunks.  

I dried the zucchini because it seems like frozen zucchini always gets slimy when it's cooked (even with blanching).  My goal is to find ways to store foods that don't require any type of refrigeration or freezing and have them taste as close to fresh as possible. 

I don't know if the electricity expenditure used during the drying process is worth the final product - it takes such a long time.  But, if the zucchini chunks rehydrate nicely and taste good in a soup then we'll definitely look into building a solar dehydrator! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back To The Start

You're probably going to see this commercial from Chipolte hitting a lot of the sustainable living blogs.    It's perfectly eloquent!

Coldplay's haunting classic 'The Scientist' is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled, "Back to the Start." The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.  Chipolte is known for purchasing sustainable and locally produced food for their stores.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Chickens Get One More Day

I had planned to butcher a bunch of chickens today, but the forecast calls for scattered thundershowers and looking outside I can see it keeps getting darker and darker.  I think I'll wait until tomorrow when the forecast is better! 

It's a good day for harvesting and processing vegetables.