Sunday, April 27, 2008


greg got the tiller going on the tractor today and tilled up our garden area, including the market herb garden. of course, it immediately got cold and started raining afterwards and the weather is predicted to remain cold and rainy for the next two days. once that clears i have my work cut out for me:

-plant 40# potatoes (still need to chit? 20#)
-plant 2 final bunches of onions if they are still alive
-plant a dozen or so brassicas (i am way behind on this): cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts
-plant out zucchini and pattypan starts
-plant out tomatoes
-start sowing seeds: lettuce, beets, mangels, carrots, spinach, green beans, watermelon, winter squashes (i have 5 kinds), okra, etc. i have corn too but greg needs to till that area
-plant out herb plants and start sowing more: chamomile, dill, thyme, nasturtium, basil, amaranth, elecampagne, chives, cilantro, parsley, borage, wild tobacco, summer savory, winter savory
-coax peppers (cayenne, habanero and paprika) and celery to grow, grow, grow

i love this time of year. it's crazy as hell but so rewarding.

the bees are settling into their new digs. tomorrow i'll mix karl's mite powder and add it to the hive. i also need to call mt bee guy and buy another hive box. we are still wanting more hives.

there was a great thought provoking post on casaubon's book today.

got bees?

we just got back from capturing our very first hive. we had listed ourselves online at awhile ago (thanks again for the link gina!). the guy had found a swarm early evening last night and went online to figure out what to do with them. he didn't want to kill them because he had heard of the shortages of bees. so, in doing a search, he stumbled on the beesource website and found us and called.

so, at the crack of dawn, we hit the snooze on the alarm 3 times and finally rolled out of bed around 6:30am. after having a leisurely cup of coffee (greg) and tea (me) we hopped in the truck and headed over there (about a 15 minute drive).

the swarm was tiny. it was about 15' or so up in a pine tree that was very scrawny which made it easy to get to although it was on sloped ground so maneuvering the ladder was a bit tricky. greg was fully clothed in his keeper's outfit, i was in a pale blue dress hovering off to the side handing him things as needed.

it was right next to the house so the wife opened a window and sat and talked to me as we watched. the bees were fairly mild. it was cool so the bees were sluggish. greg swept them into a bucket then poured them into the hive box. after sundown, we'll go back and pick up the box and bring it home.

let the beekeeping adventures begin!

(i regret to state that i forgot to bring my camera to record our efforts)

Friday, April 25, 2008

huge steps for farmettes...

today i saw a lawyer about converting my little ole sole proprietorship into a llc. it's going to cost close to 1k when it's all said and done but this is good for us i think. first off, it removes the liability from my personal assets (read: house) and it opens up the spectrum of my business from one small abeit endless category (herbs) to something even larger (farm: eggs, meat, milk, wool, herbs, etc) and makes the opportunities endless.

i am changing the company name from herb company to farm. i'll still use the herb co. name for my herbal products. not being business/legal oriented, i'm not sure how this will work but supposedly it will.

sadly, the farm name is taken for a website. i wonder what it would take to buy the domain from them. i thought about adding llc to the domain name but i'd rather it just be it just looks better.

while i write this entry, i'm cooking another batch (tripled) of violet jelly for market. this will probably be it for the violets and i'll move on to dandelions and lilacs as they are both abundant right now too. i'm hoping to have a huge offering of herbal jellies this year.

yesterday, i picked up our 3 goats from the processor and went about bagging them. it took about 5 hours to do it and it was a great learning experience. i requested them to just put them in chops and stew meat. next time, i'll know better, this was just what a friend who sells goat meat told me to do. well, after bagging the first two, i went online and started googling chevon to see what cuts were for sale and prices. after handling those two and looking online, i was able to identify the various parts of the sides and so i was able to label the third one better and package it better. i was too tired to pull the first two out and rebag them so they will sell as is.

our broiler chicks are growing fast. i'll have to photograph them and show the difference between them and the pullet chicks i purchased for a friend. the size difference is amazing even though they are only about 12 days old. the broilers legs are HUGE. following the reminder from ron's posting about giving his chicks gravel, i gave them a container of coarse sand which they devoured. oops! sorry about that. in the past, i've always been on the ball about making sure they had enough grit but not this year. all is well though.

my seedlings are growing by leaps and bounds too. i separated all the basil seedlings today. i've got about 36ish of each of the 4 types of culinary (genovese, red rubin, spicy globe and thai). i'm also growing holy basil but it has been slower to germinate and is just now doing so. my seedlings are ready to be planted out. hopefully greg will be able to till tomorrow and work up the new area for the herb garden (who knows, once again it rained the day before the weekend). it's supposed to rain again on sunday so i won't be able to get out there until monday probably. another week gone by w/o any outdoor planting. i'm starting to get frustrated.

tomorrow, the only nice day of the weekend, i'm signed up for a class down in carbondale, project learning tree. i'm going with a friend. as usual, when i sign up for stuff like this, it sounds great until the day approaches and then i'm always wondering WHY i signed myself up for these things. once i'm there, i'll enjoy it but i sure and bummed that i'll be missing a beautiful day for working outdoors. why couldn't it rain tomorrow and be nice on sunday?!

sunday, it is supposed to get down to 39 at night. winter's last hurrah i suppose. next week will be cooler as well, in the 50's and 60's. darnit, i want the warmer weather back! (soon enough, the humidity will be knocking me on my butt and i'll be wishing for cooler weather).

tonight, my oldest informed me he saw morels behind the chicken coop. dodging the fast approaching storm, he showed them to me. holy moly, they made the ones by the house look pathetic. these were HUGE. i quickly snatched them up and since it was too dim to search for more, i made a mental note of their location and i'll be back! i am ecstatic that we have such a find so close to our house!!

this week, i got ambitious with all the cow's milk (i purchase raw milk from a relative) and made mozzarella and cottage cheese. they both turned out quite well. i'm looking forward to more cheese making adventures!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

calling all pasta makers

i'm in the market for a manual pasta maker. any suggestions?

Monday, April 21, 2008


we purchased 6 excellent looking fruit trees this weekend for $19.99 - $21.99 each. they are about 7' tall. we got 2 types of peaches, a red one and a regular one (the names escape me at the moment), a bartlett pear, a bing cherry, a granny smith apple and a honeycrisp apple.

greg did quite a bit of equipment purchasing this weekend, one item being a post hole digger attachment for his tractor. so, after 6 hours of manually adjusting the settings on the tractor (it's an old ford dated between 1949 - 52) he was able to get it up and running and got the holes dug and the trees planted. next time he uses it to dig posts for the goat fence (soon i hope!) it should go a lot more quickly and smoothly.

he also purchased a rototiller attachment for his tractor. it's supposed to be delivered this week and i've got my fingers crossed that the garden will be tilled this weekend, including the new herb garden. our garden started out being raised beds but it's too time consuming to keep the areas weeded and even though the soil is primo in them, i've given up using them for gardening full time. instead, they will eventually be filled with the perennial stuff: asparagus, horseradish, rhubarb and strawberries. i'll just start dumping the goat stall stuff onto the garden for it to be tilled in to help build the soil. sage permitting (and he's not very), i'll at least get that task accomplished this week.

the broilers are growing by leaps and bounds. it's always amazing to watch their growth rate in comparison to the pullets. the difference is unbelievable. we are hoping to start breeding our one cornish crosses so when i place my next broiler order, i'll order several cornish and rock chicks as well. i need to get on that order soon.

we are hoping to get rid of the 5 goats we purchased a month ago. they've been nothing but diseased and i'm thoroughly disgusted with the guy who sold them to me. we've got our eyes on a few pregnant does from a trusted friend. hopefully something will come of that.

looking ahead to next year, we are going to purchase a few ewelings and a ram lambs and start raising navajo-churro sheep. i can't wait! instead of mowing our yard, we'll corral them with electranet fencing and just continously rotate them. in the fall, the babies will be put into our freezer. i am looking forward to owning sheep. it will be fun learning to sheer and using the fiber. i miss spinning. it's going to be another year or two before it will be safe to bring the spinning wheel back out but hopefully by then, everything else will be running smoothly and i'll actually have time to do it.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

morel goodness

just a stone's throw from my back door we have a patch of morels growing...

the things i do for fellow bloggers...i lay on my belly for the above shot! the twigs in the foreground mark the morels...


yum...and more yum!

we discovered them last year. it appears they like our maple tree (the year before that we built a temporary fairy house in that area. i wonder if it's the fairies' way of thanking us?!)

right now they are tiny. yesterday, there were 2, today there are 7.

Friday, April 18, 2008

growing seedlings

soil blocks (top row: green cotton, bottom 2 rows: zucchini) these need to be potted in bigger pots asap.

thyme sprouting in soil blocks

potted herbs for market: mullein, feverfew, woodruff, yarrow, motherwort, horseradish, peppermint and bergamot.

same view (scroll down), one week later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

dandy dandelions

today we harvested the glorious dandelion flowers to start making our dandelion goodness...jelly, syrup, wine, fritters, burgers...the variations never end! you can never have too much of a good thing and one thing i could use a lot of is dandelions tonic power right now! but, even so, it's fun to play with your herbs too!

we started by harvesting 8 cups of flowers. why is it the biggest ones grew in the vacant lot next to us, in the sub division (an area that has never been sprayed or used. during the summer, after they mow, we harvest the dried grass to feed our goats. it's full of clovers and alfalfa and other goodness that they love. i'm sure the folks that watch us think we've gone mad!).here's the fun part, cutting the yellow petals away from the green stems (which will make your goodies bitter if left in).

8 cups of flowers yields about 4 cups of petals. at this point, i ran out of time so i stuffed them in a qt. jar and tossed them in the freezer. we'll harvest many more before we're done.
jaden proudly displays the finished product. she helped a lot with the picking and a bit with the separating. she is quite the little helper and i take every chance i can to teach her about herbs.

it would be so easy to turn dandelions alone into a unit study:

here's a page all about dandelions. and, there are always plenty of dandelion coloring pages. with the blossoms alone, one can make: dandelion jelly, dandy fritters, dandelion mead*, dandelion syrup (also great when made into dandelion soda (2 oz syrup: 8 oz seltzer water). be sure to always remove the green parts from the flower or it will be bitter. here's a new one for us to try: dandelion burgers!

that's just with the blossoms. imagine what you could do with the rest of the plant (i have lots of links for those as well but i'm too tired to add them tonight...maybe another time!)

*i have a mead recipe somewhere but i can't find it at the moment. we are still drinking our brew from last year.

another view

this is what the entire 'brooder' looks like. at night, the entire top is covered with the blanket.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

the broilers are here!

the past few nights, temps have dipped to the lower 30's so we rigged up heat lamps in the greenhouse.

the broilers will hang out in the greenhouse (in a dog kennel modified to be varmit proof...cardboard around the edges) until they are big enough to go into the chicken tractor that greg is still building.

the colored ones in the mix are actually layers we are raising for a city friend who wants chicks but is afraid to take them so young. we'll pass them along as soon as they are old enough.

at night, i cover the kennel with a blanket to hold in the heat. during the day, temps warm up enough that the overhead lights are shut off (in the greenhouse only, in the brooder, the 250 watt bulb stays on) and the blanket is partially removed.

i've started feeding them greens and they love them!

Friday, April 11, 2008

baker's dozen

me and my boy...those cheeks are delicious! (his, not mine)

ginger has had 1 buckling. i think she's done which surprises me because we've always gotten twins from her. he was a big boy and took her longer than ever to birth him. his coat is very soft. he takes after his daddy:

now that he's all dried off, he's pure white. i've been calling him whitey jr. but perhaps turnip would be nicer.

that makes 2 bucks this year. a first ever for no does. this kid will be wethered and either sold at auction when he is bigger or put into our freezer. fact of life, boys don't often make the cut around here.

the new goats are still in the sick house. i have attempted to contact the previous owner to come take them back with no effort on his part to right this asinine situation he left us in. i guess the next step will be to offer them back for sale on craigslist for meat. if no one buys, once they are 'healthy' again, i'll take them to the sale barn. i'm not going to risk infecting my herd any further. they probably have a whole string of other illnesses ready to crop up. this guy's goat handling has a lot to be desired.

my seedlings are kicking bootie in the greenhouse (here's hoping tonights dropping temperatures don't kill them...the 'greenhouse' is a pretty sorry little thing and doesn't offer much heat at night). tomorrow i hope to install heat lamps in there to keep them warm and to keep our broilers warm...we will be housing the day old baby chicks in there as well. we did that last year and it worked out well, no more causalties than usual. the chicks arrive on monday.these are obviously not seedlings in my seed blocks. these were planted at the same time when i ran out of containers to put the blocks in. the seed block seeds are growing slower. not sure if it's because of the blocks or just the seeds i planted in there. (probably the seeds). i'll photograph them when the seedlings are not so embarrassingly small.

i ran out of 'pots' for tomato seedlings so i started rounding up anything i could find...a juice container, several yogurt containers and then duh! a few clay pots that i had....clay pots, the ORIGINAL seed pots.

sometimes i'm not too with it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

i am the egg man...

the inspector is coming today. hopefully, effective may 1, we will be licensed to sell our eggs at market.

eta: approved. he wore bags over his shoes and had to remove them upon re-entering his car to combat the bio-terrorism bs.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

remember 1993?

raise your hand if you were in the midwest then. i was actually living in la at the time but my family was here.

i woke up to rain today. and it's supposed to be here tomorrow. and most of next week.

so, forget about the laundry, we can live wearing stinky clothes. we can't however live w/o food and i can't put in a garden if it's under water.

found this gem on wiki:

An Illinois man, James Scott, 24 at the time, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in causing some of the flooding, officially convicted for "intentionally causing a catastrophe". Scott removed several sandbags from a levee holding back the water, in an attempt to strand his wife on the other side of the river so he could continue partying. The breach flooded 14,000 acres (57 km²) of farmland, destroyed buildings and closed a bridge. While Scott caused one levee to fail, more than 1,000 levees failed in the flooding.

he got life for that! serves the jerk he can have a non-stop party for the rest of his life.

guess i'd better go drain the seedling trays...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


today was the first day in a long time that there was sun, like weeks it seems. although it was chilly, i got a lot done outside.

i tethered most of the goats. i left the 4 boys in the fenced in area and let the 3 doelings run free. quarantined mamas were tethered away from the other 3. they all enjoyed being out.

2 loads on laundry on the line, didn't even need to dodge thunerstorms! hopefully, i'll be able to put 3 up tomorrow. i was out running errands this am so that cut my laundry time behind. i'm behind already from the rainy, warm days...our dryer died a few years ago and i depend on the sun or wood stove to dry. neither have been 'on' lately so laundry has been at a standstill.

i dug up and filled 20 4" pots with herbs for the upcoming market: mullein, feverfew, mugwort, bergamot, peppermint, yarrow, motherwort and horseradish. in 6 weeks they should fill out the pots nicely. i'll fill some more with other herbs as i can: calendula, lamb's ears, marshmallow, etc. i hope to sell a lot more plants this year.

my seedlings are starting to sprout: chamomile, thyme, borage, hollyhocks, basil (5 kinds: spicy globe, thai, red rubin, genovese and holy) to name a few. i sowed 2 more flats that i discovered i could adapt the blocks to: each block fit nicely in the pre-molded plastic slot. i sowed mostly medicinals in these two flats: stinging nettles, sages, tea tree, astragalus, eyebright, black cohosh, blue cohosh, false unicorn, saw palmetto, lavender, gipseywort, soapwort, wormwood, angelica, sweetgrass...i can't remember the rest. i also sowed poppy, feverfew and rhubarb in the garden.

time to repot the tomatoes, that's for tomorrow. and as soon as we can get into the garden i'll bust my butt planting the onions and potatoes. then, on to broccoli, beets, cabbage and other cool weather crops. peas can be sown too. i've already sown some but none have germinated. the chickens might have eaten them. i'll gently dig and investigate.

more rain is in the forecast. and more sunshine too. when it rains, it leaks into the greenhouse and fills my seedling trays with water. i have to pour them off butt i cannot find the leaking point.

in answer to your question ron, i haven't had to water the blocks yet but i would water them at the base.

according to my il extension calendar, today i should prune my butterfly bush, which i did before i even saw that. i was looking for a guide of what should be planted when. that's the best i found so i'll continue to shadow what karl and tabitha do as their weather is usually a day ahead of us. ;)
Related Posts with Thumbnails