Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Farm Notes July 30th

Last week the raspberries came into season and we have been busy picking away at the patch.  Once the berries are picked into clean plastic clamshell containers, they are chilled in a cold place to lower their temperature and prolong their shelf life.  The chilling also firms up the berries to reduce crushing as they sit in refrigeration before being delivered to their destination.  Raspberries are a favorite in our family, and raspberry jam is a family tradition around here.  I will always remember the mornings we ate breakfast around the table at Grandpa and Grandma's house, and Grandma served crunchy toast smothered with her very own fresh, deep red, handpicked, homemade raspberry jam!  Those fun memories revive when I think of the delicious smell that fills the house while making raspberry jam.

Apple and cherry trees scattered throughout the raspberry patch contribute to the orchard.

Your farmer,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Garden Salads


A few posts back I wrote about planting the salad garden this spring, and anticipating the harvest of a few different kinds of fresh greens.  Well, the effort paid off because now it is time to harvest and enjoy the blessing of God's increase.  We plant seeds, water, and pray, but God makes it grow.  It is tempting to doubt whether those tiny seeds can actually produce anything, especially since we tend to get busy and neglect the garden quite often.  But God is faithful and we are thankful.  I thought I'd share some pictures of the end results of that simple little lettuce patch I planted not long ago.

Fresh romaine lettuce, full leaf lettuce, spinach, shelled peas, baby carrots, juicy raspberries, sprinkled with a bit of cheese, and dressed with Mom's thick and tasty raw whole milk yogurt.  Dad purchased a hoop bender from Johnny's Seeds to allow us to bend metal electrical conduit into hoops for extending the lettuce growing season into the late fall.  We will be setting up a plot for that purpose soon.  The trick to keeping lettuce on the table throughout the growing season is succession planting (i.e. replant every three weeks).

The garlic is also doing quite well.  We were able to cut off the garlic scapes this year, whereas we hadn't in years past.  The scapes are young flower blossoms on the garlic that form a loop on top like a pig's tail.  They can be used for different cooking purposes, but I found them pleasant to nibble on raw.  They are very garlicy and rather woody. 
Yesterday I picked a variety of garden veggies like sugar snap peas, a few different lettuces, and carrots, and then on my way back from the cows I noticed the cherries are turning red and few were close to ripe.  Nearby, the current berries were also almost ripe.  Yesterday morning Dad, Jonathan, Andrew, David, and I picked the raspberry patch and got about a quart and a half of nice berries.  We will need to watch for bird trouble this year since there seems to be a lot of Cedar Waxwings taking bites from the ripest berries.  They were robbing strawberries earlier too.

See those nice carrots?  I am glad they are doing so well.  We are getting better at progressively thinning the carrots.  The goal is 2 to 3 inches between individual carrots so they can enlarge easily without competition for space and moisture.

Farm Notes July 23

Faithful Samson, the farm dog.  What a wonderful part of our family!  On many occasions Samson has proven his "Shepherding" traits by rounding up runaway kid goats or flighty feathered hard-to-catch chickens.  He listens to our commands and voice tones and seems to know precisely what we are telling him to do.  He's smart, and whether listens perfectly or not, we enjoy having him at our side.  He doesn't kill chickens, or unnecessarily nip at the heels of cattle, and his favorite pastime is chasing rocks.  Yep, he loves rocks – and snowballs.  I thought the photo below that Andrew took of him was too nice to pass by, so I had to share it with you.
Samson is about six years old and a purebred German Shepherd.
Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Farm Notes July 16th

We were pleased with a good turnout for the farm tour last Saturday.  The weather was perfect with a gentle breeze.  Not too hot, but not too cool either.  Demonstrations of chicken tractor usage, daily cattle rotation, hand milking, and horseback riding filled the afternoon with fun activities and learning for all.  A pulled pork sandwich with whole wheat rolls, naturally yellow raw butter on wheat crackers, wedges of juicy watermelon, and glasses of sweet raw Jersey milk capped the day off with refreshing fellowship in the shade.  It is so nice to take the time to make memories that children remember for the rest of their lives.  The day was a highlight of our summer!
Dad (Jim) shows onlookers how to safely test the voltage of an electric fence near the hogs.
Your farmer,