You can find Grama Sue's Rainbow Eggs at:

The Hy Vee on Agency in Burlington, IA


Wednesday - Friday 9am to 1pm at the farm 1/2 mi east of the Nauvoo-Colusa Jr. High then 3/4 mile North on 1050.

Wednesday 3-7 pm at the Painted Corners on HWY 96 in Lomax, IL


7 - 11 am Keokuk Farmer's Market at the mall

Monday, April 30, 2012

Look What I Found!

I had planned to blog about my modified straw bale garden beds this evening, but after I got the asparagus bed done tonight, I decided I'd better  dig up the volunteer potatoes that were growing in last year's potato beds. They say you shouldn't grow potatoes in the same place 2 years in a row. Doing that minimizes the risk of disease. Anyway, apparently I hadn't removed all the potatoes from these beds last year. I figured there would just be the plants and maybe the soggy remains of an old potato to pull out, but look at this! 

I left the plants on a couple of potatoes just so I could show you what they looked like coming out of the ground. Aren't they beautiful? I don't have very many, but I think I'll take them to the markets that are starting up this week. Who would think that you could have freshly dug potatoes on April 30th?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Olivia's First Day on the Farm

Our 5 y/o granddaughter has been living in the UK for the last 4 years. Her dad was recently assigned to Scott AFB just east of St. Louis so we ran down to pick her up and brought her home last night. 

She had a ball with the chickens. The bunch we got from that Amish farm like to peck on you. It's not hard, just annoying. Olivia was delighted with them "kissing me".

She even got to hold a hen. Later she held a baby chicken that pooped on her, but I don't have a picture of that.

She loves the dogs.

And the cows.

But feeding the baby lambs was probably the highlight of the day. 

Our day was really packed. We picked up a couple of cousins and went shopping for "farm clothes" and groceries. The kids had a ball on the rope swings in the old tree. They also helped me plant some bushes and gather eggs. After supper, we candled the eggs in the incubator to see if there were chickens in them. Looks like almost all of them were fertile!

They have all passed out and I need to do that too so night, night!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Monday, April 23, 2012

More Gardens!

I have this awesome friend, Juanita, who lives in town, but actually farms her little yard. Someday, I'll have to take a few pictures of her yard and blog about it. Anyway, the other day I went to visit her. She loaded me up on all kinds of plants while I was there. I'm trying to put in some flower boarders around the front yard at my farmer's house. She gave me lots of rose of sharon, which will make a great tall base for these beds.

She also gave me a rose bush that she says makes huge rose hips for teas and jellies. I planted it by the post in this herb garden off the porch. I'm hoping it will discourage my grandson from walking through there :)

I put several rose of sharon and a couple of lilacs along the flower garden next to the driveway. Hopefully they will create a barrier that will help kids understand the difference between the yard and the drive way.

My cilantro is already bolting. I will plant more for tomato season soon.

Juanita also gave me some fennel. I've never had this herb before. It smells absolutely delicious! I must learn what to do with it!

One of the thorn-less raspberry plants that I ordered this spring has leaves! 

I put a bunch of elderberry sticks that I didn't know what to do with in this pile of compost. Most of them are taking off. They are way to close, I'll have to dig them up and put them further apart this fall.

This morning I started some modified straw bale beds. I'll try to post about that tomorrow!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Garden Update

 Here's a couple of shots of my garden today. I have 4 more full beds since last year. Just finished the last two (seen here)  this week. There is also a short bed up against the building here.

Here's a shot from the other end. I put in the first two mounds here last fall. 

I want to put in another 1/2 mound back here. And I want to put in a long row of asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke on the north end of my "garden buffer". I've been spraying straight vinegar around it to kill the grass around the garden so I can run vines like melons and pumpkins out on it. It takes several applications to get a good kill, but with a 2 year old and an old man following me around, I feel much safer with vinegar than round-up. I'll cover it with straw as soon as my asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke are up.

Last week, I visited a friend of mine in Hamilton who farms her yard. She gave me lots and lots of flowers and herbs. I'll try to blog about them next.

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Incubating Eggs

Hi Folks! I promised to blog about incubating eggs didn't I? We fired up the incubator on Sunday, but didn't get it up to temp until Tuesday, so we loaded it then.

My incubator is ancient. I've probably had it for 10 years or more. One of the windows has a hole in it and it doesn't fit as tightly around the windows and the edges as it once did, but I can still make it work. Eggs will incubate at temps between 99.5 and 102. It takes approximately 21 days, so we should start hearing chirps on the 7th or the 8th of May. 

This is a still air incubator. You can actually hatch with anything you can keep at the required temp. I've heard of people hatching eggs in their gas stove with the pilot light on, in cardboard boxes, etc. This is basically just a styrofoam box with a heating coil and a couple of wells on the bottom for water. 

To get a good hatch, you need a fairly humid environment. At least 50% is recommended for the first 18 days with 70-90% humidity for the last 3 days. This keeps the eggs from drying out and the chicks from sticking to the shells. We have a thermometer that also reads the humidity. 

Little chicks will also stick to the shells if the eggs aren't turned enough. We started out hatching without an automatic egg turner, but this is so much easier! I actually have 4 eggs at the back that aren't in the turner. We turn them as often as we think about it, but at least 3 times a day. We will take the egg turner out on day 18 and turn them by hand from then on. Wouldn't want the little darlings getting all tangled up in that thing!

The dark brown eggs are Cuckoo Marans and the blue eggs are Araucanas. 

We have the thermometer placed so we can see both the humidity level and the temp without lifting the lid.

Later these windows will let us see the chicks as they hatch. Next week sometime we will candle them to see how many are fertile and are developing a chick. We will pitch any that don't show a chick in them. I'll try to post some pictures of that process. 

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Silex River Hills Farmer's Market Poultry Expo 3

Just a few of the other things offered at the Poultry Expo, but certainly not all!


Cute  dolls!

My favorite - a John Deere Baby Basket $48

Goat Soap

Goodies, beaded work and needlework. I asked for the recipe of those delicious whole wheat chocolate chip cookies. She wouldn't give it to me :(


Here's a better look at the ducks.


Sweet Great Pyrenees pups. They were both males for $500/each. These are our favorite breed of dog. They are such great guard dogs and so well behaved! They do bark all night long, but that's their job, to scare away coyotes, foxes and other critters.  Talked with Helen for quite a while. Her contact info is: Helen Lemon 573-248-6464. She is in Warrenton, MO

The chocolate chip lady had some pretty house birds.

And Kelly even brought some gerbils.

I should have collected more contact info. But if you are interested in any of the things I've featured in these posts, just contact the folks at River Hills Farmer's Market, 136 Zumwalt Rd, Silex MO 63377. There are two contact #s to call: 636-579-9311 and 537-485-7261 or just check out the market: Market dates for this year are 5/12, 6/9, 7/14, 8/11, 9/8, 10/13, 11/10 and 12/8. Markets start at 8am. All are at the Silex school house!

I did get cards from the ladies we bought plants from. The one in Silex has a website: http://riverhillspoultry.com/ and the lady from Moscow Mills, MO is Carol Lancaster. Her # is 636-356-1123 and her e-mail is NiktrasDream2004@yahoo.com. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Silex River Hills Farmer's Market Poultry Expo 2

Here are pictures of some of the birds we didn't buy. My computer is refusing to upload any more tonight, so I'll have to show you the other animals and the crafts in another post. Not sure if it's blogger or my internet connection :( 

More baby chicks

All kinds of fancy pigeons.

Black chickens (I think Australorp)

White Rocks

Bantams and more bantams. We don't do bantams. Why anyone would want birds that you can't feed at least two people with  and lay tiny eggs is beyond me, but they sure are popular!

There were also geese and ducks there, but I can't load the pictures. They usually have turkeys as well, but we didn't see any this trip. So ... till tomorrow!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Silex River Hills Farmer's Market Poultry Expo

Yesterday, Grampa Tom drug me out of bed at 5am (in spite of severe weather warnings) to drive down to Silex for their Spring Poultry Expo. We didn't know if anyone would be there, but we went anyway. We were not the only ones who braved the rain. Plenty of producers showed up as well as quite a few buyers like us. They have a poultry expo twice a year. Sometimes we go set up ourselves, but we almost always show up at least to hang out and spend way to much money. Grampa Tom was telling our son that I had fun spending all of his money. My son told him it was his fault for waking me up at 5 am. He ought to know better than to wake me up that early and expect me to actually make good decisions!

Several years ago, Grampa Tom went to a small farm conference in Columbia, MO. While he was there, he met Kelly Klober and they hit it off. Kelly is an old farm boy who raises heritage breeds of livestock the old fashioned way. He has become a good friend and mentor. He is one of the leaders of the River Hills Farmer's Market in Silex and that is why we go there. This is Kelly with his bullhorn. He's low tech -  another reason Grampa Tom loves him.

Kelly is a writer. One of the things they auctioned off at the end of the expo was a copy of Kelly's book Talking Chicken. Naturally, Grampa Tom had to have one. You can get one here: http://www.amazon.com/Talking-Chicken-Kelly-Klober/dp/B004IAAJOA

Kelly even autographed it. Grampa Tom is very pleased with his new treasure. 

We also have an autographed copy of Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living. I wore out my first copy. It's pretty much a Bible for those of us who want to do things the old fashioned way. We saw Carla at the Small Farm Today Show in Columbia a few years back. She had an updated version and autographed it. We felt very blessed to have the chance to meet her and get her autograph. She passed away not long after we met her. Such a huge source of wisdom! You can get Carla's book here:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_30?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=encyclopedia+of+country+living+by+carla+emery&sprefix=encyclopedia+of+country+living%2Cstripbooks%2C492  
So now we have a real library of famous autographed works.

There was a raffle. Grampa Tom bought 10 tickets. They had a drawing every 30 minutes. The first drawing after we got there was for this $20 gift certificate from Metzer Farms. Grampa Tom won. Then an hour later, he won again! That prize was the bag of chicken feed in the picture below. Kelly came by and told Grampa if he won again, there were people there threatening to rub him out!

We bought a few bedding plants. We got several types of tomatoes and some different mints. The cage there is pretty neat. It has a wooden tray that it sits in that is designed to catch the poo of whatever you put in there. It cost a mere $5. We intended to buy just a few chicks, but ended up only using it for plants, no poo ;) 


We also bought some hatching eggs to put in our incubator. We didn't hatch any eggs last year, but since our grandkids are going to be around so much this year, we decided to get our incubator out. I cleaned it out this morning. We will need to let it run for a day or two before we load it just to make sure everything is running well. I'll blog more about that later. The blue eggs on the left are Araucana eggs. The dark brown eggs on the right are Cuckoo Marans. 

And then there's the real reason we spent way to much money. Kelly offered us this box of 75 Welsummer chicks for only $150. 75 birds were just to many to put in the little cage we bought. It's really all Kelly's fault. We've been wanting some of these birds for such a long time. They are hard to get and that was a really great price. They lay a dark brown chocolate egg like the Cuckoo Marans, but we think they are a prettier bird. We've never aggressively pursued them because they aren't really good layers. To make money off of them you have to breed them to sell chicks and hatching eggs. We've hung back because we don't really have space to create a separate area for them. Now we will have to do it. That's basically how we do things. We weren't ready to have kids either!

Kelly told me that Welsummer male and female chicks are marked differently. The dark stripe down the middle of the back is broken on the males, but solid on the females. If you look closely, you can see the difference on these birds. It looks like we got more females than males. That's a good thing!

Well, I've got a lot more pictures to show you of stuff we didn't buy, but I can't get them to load so I'll have to make another post of it.

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cool Things To Do With Eggs

Ran across this Instructable on how to make a shelless egg. We occasionally get shelless eggs that are natural, but if you put any egg in vinegar it will dissolve the hard outer shell and leave you with the inner membrane. I knew this, but what I really found interesting was all the different suggestions in the comments section. Check it out:


What suggestion do you find most intriguing?

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Twister Update

Went to the chiropractor yesterday. He said he'd never seen me so out of place. Almost every joint in my body was out of place. Must have been that twister game I had with my garden the other day :)

Read all about it if you missed it! http://gramasuesrainbowfarm.blogspot.com/2012/04/playing-twister.htm

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Surviving the Cold

My tomatoes made it through the night last night. I wasn't to worried about them last night, but when I woke up at 7:30 this morning and saw that it was still only 28 degrees, I wasn't to sure how they would fare.

The garden that I planted on February 1st finally came up. Some of the stuff I planted didn't come up and what did come up isn't to much ahead of the stuff I planted later. Probably wasn't worth it, but it's not a total bust. 

Here's the February 1st garden.

And here's a similar mound that I planted in March.  Do you see the kale and chard in the background? That's left from last year. I've got two patches of those, and they taste pretty good! 

I was thinking about going into Nauvoo with some of it this week, but Grampa Tom tells me this weekend is the Silex Poultry Expo. I didn't get to go last year and full days on both Friday and Saturday would be just a little to much right now. If I just let things grow, we'll have lots the first week of May. Patience, I must be patient! It's so hard!!!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Plastic Bottle Greenhouse Update

Yipeee! I managed to get my sample wall panel done today! I've decided the actual walls are going to be at least 6 foot tall, but I made this smaller panel to take to the farmer's markets so I can show people. Hopefully, a lot of people will be inspired to donate their pop bottles to this project.

The panels will be approximately 3 foot wide. I put bailing wire through each stack and attached them to fencing stays at each end. Then for extra support I wrapped bailing wire around the whole thing a couple of times. When I put the panels together, I'll wire the fence stays together and attach them to the frame of the greenhouse. 

I'm figuring I'll need approximately 36 3' x 6' panels to make the roof and the south end of the greenhouse. It will be sitting on the south end of my trailer. My trailer sits kinda cockeyed so the east side will be facing slightly north, so I plan to use old tires and plywood for that side. I want to stagger old tires filled with dirt in a stack on that wall. It will have a strawberry garden on it and will serve as a solar gain bank. I'll put the door on that side too. The northwest wall will be my bedroom wall and the south west wall will be 4 panels with tapered tops. I'll need to attach a sheet of plastic over the roof to prevent leaks. There will be cracks in the walls, but according to what I've read, that doesn't hurt much. I may decide we need some sort of plastic curtains during the coldest part of the winter, but we'll see. I'm thinking I'll need approximately 425 two liter bottles to complete this project. With a little help, it ought to be doable!

Happy Easter Everyone!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Playing Twister

Well, I'm sore from head to foot. I spent a couple of hours this morning in my makeshift greenhouse playing twister. No cute colored dots to aim for, just feet, knees, hands and elbows trying to aim between tiny rows of garlic and basil while twisted around tomato cages. When I came in I told Grampa Tom we needed to play twister 2 or 3 times a week all winter so we would be in shape for garden season. 

This picture is of the lemon boy tomato plant that I had inside all winter. It looks kind of rough, but there are at least a couple dozen blooms on it and if you look really carefully behind the middle cage wire there, you can see a very ripe lemon boy tomato. It is almost red! I brought it in. We will have it for supper tonight. 

The markets start in less than a month! Burlington starts on May 3rd and I plan to start in Nauvoo the following day if not before. I've got lots of kale, chard and herb that I could cut now. I'm toying with the idea of going in next week for a couple of hours if the weather is decent. Haven't heard anything about when Keokuk starts, but we will probably go ahead and set up there the first Saturday in May if we have enough even if the market isn't officially open. I have arranged my hours at my sleeping around job (elder care) so that I can be at the Saturday market most of the time this year. Not looking forward to those early mornings, but Grampa Tom says he could really use the help there so I'm elected!

God Bless You All!

~Grama Sue