So why do some people think that a one species farm is the way to go? Our cows seem to love sharing the shade with the chickens! When I took this picture, the chickens were dispersing because I walked up, but there were dozens of them sitting around the calves as I approached. My grandson gets upset when he hears someone singing "Old McDonald had a farm". His momma sings it "Grampa Whitson had a farm". We are the true McDonalds!
We had never grown egg plant until a couple of years ago, but now this is Grampa Tom's absolute favorite. He says they taste just like morel mushrooms. They do taste similar, but I think that's just because I cook them the same way, dipped in egg and then coated with a flour, salt and herb mix. How do you cook yours?
.Had my 53rd birthday this last week. Seems there is a lot of bad news out there, but my life keeps getting better and better. This really isn't farm related, but I thought I'd list some of the ways things have gotten better for me in the last few decades.
I can breathe! As a child and as a young adult, I had severe asthma and a non-stop sinus infection. I was in terrible pain all the time. Now I have a few aches and pains, but this living in a body thing is pretty awesome! Thank You God!
I have a wonderful husband who has loved me in spite of myself for more than 33 years. There was a time when I was pretty certain no one could ever love the pile of dung that I was.
Air conditioning is available to me anytime I want to get out of the heat, and I no longer freeze all winter! My house is always above 65 even in the bedrooms. At one time, a fan was a luxury in the summer and the water glass that I kept beside my bed froze by morning in the winter.
I do not have to type on a type writer!!!! As a kid, I wanted to be a writer. Typing class squelched that dream. Computers have revived it.
Although I am still very conservative about water, I love the fact that we have rural water and don't have to worry about the well running dry. We actually lived in a house for a couple of months where we had to lower a bucket into a well and carry it to the house because the well the house was connected to dried up.
I live on a blacktop road! The dust in my house is usually thick, but not nearly as thick as when we lived on the east side of a gravel road.
The only debt we have is on our farm and for our tractor. At one time we had thousands of dollars in credit card debt and a huge truck payment as well.
I can wear blue jeans and sneakers into a fancy restaurant and no one will care. When I was growing up, it was improper for girls to leave home in pants. We had to dress up to go to school, the grocery store, even McDonalds!
Everyday, I communicate with friends and family who live across the ocean through the internet and by phone. Not to awfully long ago, calling anyone but my in-laws was long distance and cost big time bucks. International communications were limited to airmail letters and even that was pricey.
I know that God loves me and is for me. My future, whatever it brings, is secure. For now, I live in plenty, but if things get rough again, I know that I can trust God. There was a time that I trusted no one, not to mention a God that I could not see. He's been there for me and He will be there for you too. All you have to do is ask.
When I built my mound garden I didn't know if we'd be able to get the outside hydrant to work so I built in some insurance. Near the roots of the plants I knew I'd probably want to water a lot, I planted coffee cans with holes in the bottom. That way I can pour water in them so they will slowly seep water to the roots instead of having to pour the water on top of the plant and have a good deal of it just evaporate.
It seems to be working fairly well in this heat, although I probably should have come over and watered last night. I was just too tired after sitting in the heat all afternoon! You wouldn't believe all the crazy people who came to the Quincy Mall market yesterday ;) Glad Grampa and I aren't the only crazies out there! THANK YOU to all who braved the heat!
It's hot out there ... and yet one of my tiniest most delicate looking herbs is blooming! People are like that too. Those whom you would think wouldn't be able to handle difficult situations often surprise you and bloom when the heat is on. I love how God has created the world!
They say you can't grow lettuce in this heat, but I'm doing it! I was reading that heat really isn't the thing that causes lettuce to bolt. It's lots of sunshine. If you keep it shaded, you can grow lettuce in the heat of summer. This year, I decided to put it on the north side of the house where it only gets about 2 hours of direct sunshine a day. I took my first cutting off of it last week and it tastes good! Some of my customers have been concerned it would be bitter, but they've been pleasantly surprised!
I'm thinking next year I'll plant lettuce like I do cilantro. Plant a new little patch every two weeks. That way if it gets a little bitter, I can just tear it out and still have fresh lettuce.
Hmmm... wonder if spinach would work this way too?
Thought you might want to see how my mound garden is doing. So far, I've harvested arugula, kale, chard, basil, cilantro, a few squash and about 3 tomatoes from it. Pretty good considering that most of it is potatoes that I planted late. Grampa Tom checked it out yesterday. This is another one of my projects he wasn't to sure about. He was impressed! I always love it when I can impress the master farmer :)
Soon after we moved to the home place, Grampa, (who was only Daddy back then) went out, bought some lumber and got a load of sand to build the kids a sand box. After many years, the kids quit using it as much and our cats adopted it as their litter box. I had been reading about raised bed gardens for years so I decided to add some dirt to it and make it into a raised bed. I had never been able to do much in our traditional garden because I'm not strong enough to run the rototiller needed to keep it weeded. Grampa would always till our garden and plant it, but then he'd get to busy with planting fields to do the rototilling and it would go to weeds. Grampa is one of those "I'll believe it when I see it." type of guys. I'm the visionary of the family. He was very skeptical that raised beds would be a good thing, but I raised so much food in this little 4 x 8 ft. garden that he let me build more the next year. Well, actually my boys built them, but you get the drift! Now Grampa builds raised beds for himself!
Couldn't figure out how to leave a photo in the comments of the post with the pretty little flower we were pulling out of the beans. Juanita, you wanted to see the leaves. Here's the same plant that hasn't bloomed yet. Sorry, there's a few other weeds here too. If this doesn't help, I'll have to go pull one and get a pic of it by itself.
Sunflowers always make me smile, and the fact that Grampa Tom loves flowers always amazes me. He's such a macho man! He likes kids too! But then, so does Jesus and He's the ultimate man! Thank God all those misconceptions I had about men and marriage from the media as a kid turned out to be wrong!
I love being 50 something! By this time in life, so much of the garbage you've been fed has been revealed for what it is and you are able to relax and enjoy the important things in life!
Our apple trees were green last night when we were out picking green beans. Then when we were eating lunch around 2 or so this afternoon, my favorite FIL came in and showed us the lacy leaves he had pulled off one of the trees. Japanese Beatles had stripped them over night. We probably won't have any apples off of them this year. I'm not even sure if they will live.
Almost every leaf is damaged or destroyed.
Later, I went over to my farmer's house. His trees looked fine from a distance, but when I went up close this is what I found:
Three of his trees were just covered with them. There were thousands of them. These things are one of the reasons we aren't organic. We try to use organic methods whenever possible, but the only thing that seems to deter these pretty little monsters is sevin. Grampa Tom came over and helped me spray. I mean seriously, if you have a child that will die, wouldn't you use whatever means possible to save it? That's how we are with our plants and animals. Thing is, even when we sprayed, they didn't drop like they have before. Hopefully when we get up tomorrow they will be gone.
We've had these things attack our green beans before, but never the fruit trees and they seem larger this year.
God is able! He is still in control and He has promised that He will use EVERYTHING for our good. Thank You LORD for the good things You will bring out of this! In Jesus Name, Amen!
At the market in Quincy the other day we had someone come looking for squash blossoms. Apparently someone had been selling them there on one of the days we aren't in Quincy. I looked it up on the internet. There are several ways you can fix them, baked, fried, stuffed ... sounds really interesting! However, I'm probably not going to be taking them to the markets unless someone orders them and puts money down.
When we first started doing markets, people often asked for green tomatoes, but when we brought them to market, they usually didn't sell. We'd rather let them mature into a more usable (and marketable) form, but we do take orders!
If you have ever grown squash before, you've probably seen this, but I think it is so cool that even before the bloom is gone, you can see a little squash!
We've had our first ripe tomato, a few cucumbers and now we have green beans and zucchini! Yep! Summer is here!
You all were so brilliant when it came to the yarrow! Anyone know what this beautiful little weed is good for? Surely there has to be something to do with this lovely little plant other than pull and pitch. Grampa Tom's row garden is over run by this stuff this year. We pulled a ton of it today!
Anyone know what this flower is? We've been pasturing the front yard for quite a few years. This year the sheep are visiting a neighbor and these have come up next to the trailer. I used to have a flower/herb bed across the front of the house so I must have planted them at one time, but for the life of me, I can't remember what they are!
Found my first ripe tomato today! I really wasn't expecting one for a couple of weeks yet. I was out weeding and happened to notice some red deep within a tomato plant. It turned out to be a tomato! It was tiny, but it tasted delicious!
We often get comments about how our eggs are far better than eggs from other small farmers. I think this probably has to do with the amount of time our girls spend on pasture. Many small producers deal with predator problems by limiting the time their birds have access to pasture. If your birds are confined to a lot with high fences and netting on the top or not allowed out until you can be around to watch them, they will be pretty safe, but their eggs won't be as good.
We deal with that problem by keeping some big dogs. It costs quite a bit to feed these small horses, but they chase off most of the coyotes, raccoons, fox and other critters who crave chicken dinners. This picture is from when we first got them. They were rescued Great Pyrenees that had been neglected. They aren't anywhere near as skinny now.
Our chickens are able to get out on pasture from dawn to dusk, maximizing the amount of fresh food they are able to consume. Our birds even forage during the winter. As long as the snow isn't to deep, they are out pecking at brown grasses and weeds. If the snow is deep, we provide them with hay and mix alfalfa into their feed.
Of course, we do provide a layer feed that is based on brewers mash (what is left over after ethanol production). This is a fairly high protein feed that our chickens thrive on. Don't ever let anyone tell you that ethanol production takes food away from the livestock industry! The byproduct is a better feed than straight corn. OK, Rant over.
The only time we confine them is for a couple of weeks when they are first starting to lay. If we don't do that, they lay their eggs wherever. If we confine them, they get into a habit of laying them in the hen house so the eggs aren't so difficult to find.
Of course, some of them will still insists on laying their eggs in odd places, but most will go "home" to lay.
Had a great day at the Agency Street Hy-Vee yesterday. THANK YOU BURLINGTON!
Many people were asking questions about terms on egg labels so I thought it would be good to discuss them here.
Natural: Chickens that lay eggs are natural. If nothing is added to the egg after it is laid, it is considered "natural".
Farm Fresh: All places where animals are grown for food are called farms. This includes "factory farms" where chickens are kept in small cages.
Certified Organic: Chickens are fed a certified organic feed, are not caged and have access to sunshine. Usually these birds are in big barns with windows or a small lot where they can go outside for short periods of the day. These birds must be able to nest and perch and inhumane practices like beak cutting are not allowed.
Free Range: Uncaged birds. In a barn with outside access for at least part of the day. Usually a dirt or concrete pen with no grass. No regulations on types of feed or beak cutting. Many small producers use this method of production because it offers a great deal of protection from predators.
Pasture Raised: Birds must have access to pasture. Some producers may limit the amount of time the birds have access to grass each day. Others may use "chicken tractors" - a type of movable pen that has fenced sides and top to protect the birds from predators.
It used to be I loved days that were this hot. Then menopause set in. All of a sudden I'm dripping sweat! I didn't know my body could produce this much perspiration!
Oh yeah! I was going to tell you about my home made icys. Just a little off track there ... So on these super hot days we have to have some heavy duty ice to keep those eggs cool. I fill my empty dish soap bottles with 1/3 alcohol and 2/3 water and glue the tops shut. These babies stay cold! The only problem with them is every now and then the alcohol eats through the glue and they leak, but that's no big. They cost just pennies and cool as well or better than those expensive store bought blue icys.