28 May 2015

independence days challenge

I'm joining Aubrey again with the independence days challenge.  I'm alternating these every other week with my around the farm posts, on Wednesdays (or Thursdays...or when I get caught up with uploading pictures--ha!)  
Homesteading and want to share your journey?...interested in homesteading and want to try and do a few of these each week?...Join us (and share the link on her blog).

1. Plant something:  The weather has been so dry here that we are not planting much right now.  Though it rained last night, so I'm headed out shortly to replant onions and leeks (fill in the gaps where we lost some due to the dryness).  We did plant brassicas last week, and this picture ended up on the front page of our local section of our local paper.  
from the Rutland Herald
2. Harvest something:  Lettuce and rhubarb is it right now.  Selling some lettuce at our farmstand and enjoying it every day.  And I've made a few more rhubarb crisps this past week.

3. Preserve something:  Not much preservation happening at this point, in fact, we are trying to use up a lot of frozen blueberries and spinach to make room for this years harvests.  
4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  I know we do this often, but I'll have to try and remember these more.  Basically, we try and buy as little as possible all the time...

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):  Adam's friend dowsed for water across the road, and we are hoping to install a well there to have water for animals.  It also would be nice to know we would have a source of water when we lose power--since we have an electric well pump for our house.  
6. Build community food systems:  Our farmstand has opened with just lettuce and eggs, but we also just got our pork back to sell to our neighbors who ordered meat shares with us.  
7. Eat the food:  Every day!  This weekend, a dear friend visited and we had fun making her meals with our preserved veggies (corn, spinach, tomatoes), eggs, pork, blueberries, rhubarb, onions.  We enjoyed a feast prepared by Adam the night she got here, and homemade pizza, pie with cherries we froze last year, blueberry-rhubarb crisp, homemade yogurt for much good food!  We went from cold temps to hot temps in a matter of days and so the kids have been loving frozen (homegrown) smoothie-pops.  I just blend blueberries, strawberries, yogurt, raw milk, spinach and a dash of maple syrup and freeze them in these (gifted from a friend).  Honestly, I put whatever we have in them (sometimes include tart cherries or coconut milk, carrots or kale).  

26 May 2015

k's printmaking

Thought I'd share some of K's crafting this week.
He just finished a four-week print-making class at a beautifully renovated art studio in our local town.  Two friends of ours run kids' art classes out of the building, a different theme each month.  
May was printmaking and he had so much fun.  I highly suggest local friends check out the Poultney Children's Art Studio!  

20 May 2015

around the farm

I've decided to alternate my independence days and around the farm posts.  

blueberry blooms and pollinators
so many lilacs (and lilac bouquets from my little men)
sweet corn in former pig pasture
three little kittens (our favorite is becky)
grape vines
kitty watching
gourds and birds
the serious farmer

What's going on around your farm, garden or homestead?

19 May 2015

happy chickens and the self-closing door

This spring, we bought 40 pullets from a friend, rhode island red crosses, right about the time when we moved the chickens from their winter coop near our house to a (rickety old) coop that we can (very carefully) pull with the tractor.  Many of our barred rocks were no longer laying and it was time for new birds.  The kids and I tried to hatch our own, so we'd have some barred rocks and araucanas, too, but none of the eggs we incubated hatched!  (Any suggestions from readers?  This was our first time incubating eggs.  I can't imagine that *none* of the eggs were fertilized of the 18 we incubated, but maybe?... We borrowed an incubator with a self-turning egg tray.)

Keeping 40-50 layers is an ideal number for our farm--enough for farmshare members, our local co-op, a farmers' market and our family.

We've been moving them through some winter wheat cover crop that hasn't been ploughed in yet and it is so nice to see happy birds running through the wheat and digging up bugs.  

While my parents were visiting a few weeks ago, Adam and my dad figured out a system to counter weight a heavy slate door with a bucket full of water.  The bucket has a small hole in it that slowly lets water out into one of the chickens' water bowls.  It's timed to take about 2½ hours, so when we do chores at night and fill the bucket, the door will close just after dark.

Happy birds, happy farmers. :)

14 May 2015

independence days challenge #2

Joining Aubrey again this week with the independence days challenge--working on the homesteading side of our small market farm.

1. Plant something:  We planted flats of brassicas this week (and the kids helped me plant some small flats of flowers--notice on the right--the only ones coming up are the flats LOADED with seeds, planted by F) ;)  With the heat and then, finally, the rains, our spinach, carrots, beans, beets and other greens are starting to come up.

2. Harvest something:  I am still harvesting lettuce from the high tunnel and the first of our rhubarb, which we enjoyed in both a pie and a crisp this week.

3. Preserve something:  No preserving going on yet, but I am trying to make room in the freezer by using up the bags and bags of spinach from last summer.  Here's a busy, blurry F helping with eggs and the spinach-egg bake waiting to go in the oven.   Adam and Z slaughtered our beef calf and brought him to a local custom cutting place.  Soon our freezer will be filled with beef for the year.  

4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  Many of the flats of plants we have coming up are coming up in old wooden drawers (see top photo).  These were found in our barn and have served us well as flats for years now.  We also reuse our plug flats every year.  I've been finding various plants around the farm (yarrow, chamomile, sunflowers) that I've been digging up and transferring to the herb garden before Adam starts mowing the yard.  Does that count?  

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):  I'm busy (re)reading Wild Fermentation and enjoying it more now than I did when I was in college and read it for the first time.  I can't wait to try out more of the recipes this year.  (Sauerrüben or Honey wine-anyone?)

6. Build community food systems:  Several of our neighbors have signed on for farmshares this year.  We love to be able to provide healthy, affordable food for friends and neighbors.  We've also been selling eggs at our local food co-op.  
Last week, I mentioned a great non-profit in our county, but our state has several as well.  Rural Vermont has been a wonderful resource for us as we've started marketing our raw milk.  They are really the voice for farmers like us and consumers who are passionate about food issues on topics like raw milk, GMOs, farm fresh meats and more.  In a way, they make it simple for us to stay up-to-date on what is going on in the state (and state legislature) and work to activate, educate and advocate for community food systems in Vermont.  Check out their page!  I hope farmers in other states have great organizations like Rural Vermont working for them.  

7. Eat the food:  I love that this one is last--saving the best for last.  Tonight we ate homemade pizza with our canned tomatoes on it, our fresh lettuce and enjoyed raw milk ice cream with our milk.  Last night we ate our chicken, our spinach and eggs (and Adam foraged for some nettles, too).  Every meal has something homegrown in it here!  Yogurt (above) is the family favorite.  I make one of these 2 quart containers at least five times a week!  Thank goodness we have our own milk--local jersey milk yogurt is more than $6/quart from the store!  

Interested in trying to be more self-sufficient?  Want to join in?  Check out Aubrey's blog and join the challenge.  

13 May 2015

Jeju's orchard

Yesterday marked four years since Adam's dad died.
Three years ago, we planted Jeju's Orchard in his memory.
We are so excited to see blooms on both of the plums and one of the cherry trees this year!  
M, who was just barely one when Jeju died, asks about him all the time.  I told him this year, he could paint a sign for the orchard.  He's looking forward to getting started...and looking forward to (hopefully) some plums later this summer.

12 May 2015

rain, finally

We are so thankful for the rain last night.  After more than two weeks without rain, and with very hot days, we were getting worried about the seedlings we'd already planted.  Fortunately, the work Adam puts into cover cropping and soil amendment helps with moisture retention and it seems that most of the seedlings fared well.

Slowly but surely I'm working on my february lady sweater.  Inspired by Sarah's project with the peace fleece wild mustard color and Kim's february lady sweater, I decided to make one for myself.  A slight mistake in the lace meant that I pulled out several inches.  It's been hard for me to motivate myself to keep working on it now.  But I do love the color and love knitting with peace fleece.

Joining Nicole this week.

09 May 2015

taconic peaks ramble

My mother's day gift this weekend was an afternoon at the Taconic Peaks Ramble (which I only learned the name of today!)  Since college, we have referred to this wonderful spot as "zen gardens" or "Japanese gardens" amazing, privately owned property that the owner shares with the public by allowing them to enjoy extensive hiking trails he's made.  
We didn't hike much, but rather enjoyed the views (and animals) around the ponds.  It was a relaxing afternoon.

Wishing everyone a wonderful and relaxing weekend, too!