Sunday, December 27, 2015

Snowy Surprise

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We had a much needed, super low-key day that included naps. Ah yes, glorious napping. 

Today we woke up to smooth gray skies and a chill in the air. The forecast called for snow, but they really down played the whole ordeal. Then, just before noon, it started snowing, and it didn't stop. 
Just as it started to stick
And it kept snowing!
All in all, we got, 2 inches tops. But it was enough to make everything pretty. 

Happy new year!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lip Balm - Burt's Bees Style

Rainy days are perfect for working on those indoor projects that you've :really: wanted to do, but the great outdoors call. Today, this past week, actually, has dumped buckets with no break in sight. Things have been cleaned up inside leaving time for other things such as trying my hand at making my own lip balm. I've had the recipe pinned to one of my boards for a very long time, I've had the supplies in the cupboard... I just haven't had time to dedicate to figure out how to make it. 

And now I'm wondering why I didn't try this sooner because it's a cinch to make.  

I followed this recipe and only changed out the shea butter for cocoa butter which is what I had on hand. My only regret is not having purchased more plastic tubes because I ended up using some tins as well. 

Until next time!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Fall Term

 Apparently it's been a long time since I last posted. 5 months to be exact. 
School certainly has taken a lot of time and work fills in the other days, so between those two things and whatever moments I have to work on things around the farm, I don't have the mental or willpower to even think about writing a blog post. I was thinking that I could be posting all the papers that I've written for classes, but it would have to be a show-stopper and not some quickly thrown together excuse of an assignment that seemed to be the theme of this last term. I was ready for the term to be over before it even started because of how tired I was. Yeah, it certainly has been a long haul the last 10 weeks. But it is almost over! I have my last final tomorrow, and then I'm free until January. Well, free to catch up on all the things that I've put off. 
My fun class this term was a fall flower arrangers garden. Just about every week we did some sort of an arrangement featuring different techniques used in the floral industry to bring home. My mom loved Tuesdays because she never knew exactly what sort of creation I would come home with. Because the class was smaller, we were also able to cover other topics that the instructor had researched such as the flowers of Jane Austen's world. I nearly died of happiness when my number wasn't called for jury duty, so I would be able to go to that class.  
One of my other classes (food harvest) did a farmer's market with produce harvested that very morning by the students in the class. The leftovers from the market were up for grabs for those that helped with the market clean-up. I was just hanging out at the college waiting for my next class, so those days I was able to bring home all sorts of vegetable goodness. Mom loved seeing what stocked the fridge after I came home from class. The day before Thanksgiving, the instructor essentially let the class loose on the farm site at the school and we divided the spoils between everyone to supplement the meal the next day. Fresh brussel sprouts, cabbage, salad mix, chard, butternut squash, cauliflower, bok choy and more were brought home that day. We pretty much didn't have to buy any vegetables for Thanksgiving because of all that I brought home. 

This last Saturday, I had a workshop that featured different herbal products that you could make yourself and use as gifts. 12 ladies sat around the tables in the classroom, and we just had a blast. We made an herbal tea, spice blend, a fines herb mix, diffusers, sprays, wreaths, and more. I was in heaven, and I can't wait until the actual herbal products class that they'll be having next term.
An herb wreath on the left and a Christmas wreath on the right 

Until next time!

Monday, July 27, 2015

How Things Are Supposed to Be

Let me tell you the tale of the past weekend. Starting on Friday morning, Stella, one of my sister's very special goats, started baa-ing incessantly. Oh no... It was time for Stella to go into labor.

After last year's horrible experience with kiddings, we were not looking forward to breeding any of our goats (Read here and here). In fact, we procrastinated in 'taking care of things' because we still were grappling with the emotional roller coaster it had been the previous year. But the bucks got out anyway (three separate times) and made the decision for us. :sigh: Billy goats...

So this would be Stella's first kidding. Ever. Her mom had never truly bonded with her, so we were wondering how she would do in bringing her own minions into the world. We anxiously counted the days and watched for the signs. And that day had come.

The little girl
Emily had already cleaned out the kidding stall, but we didn't want to isolate poor Stella until we absolutely had to. We checked on her frequently all day Friday (actually, it was Mom and Emily because I was at work). Still nothing. We wrapped up chores that evening, checked on her again, and went to bed.

The little boy
The next morning, I headed out to the barn to get started on chores, and what did I hear coming from the far corner? A baby squeak! Excitement was surging as I peaked my head around the stall door to behold a sweet little one standing there, and she was already dry. This is how things are supposed to go. Mama takes care of everything, and we just get to bask in the cuteness of the little ones. Since there was a placenta (eww...) in a different corner, I thought that maybe Stella only had one baby. That's fine by me. Perfect for a first time mama. I ran into the house to tell Emily that her goat had a surprise for us that morning. She came rushing out to revel in the blessing, and then she ran back into the house to wake Mom up. The two of them standing there was quite entertaining - pj's, muck boots, and bed hair. I handed Mom the little one so that she could wake everyone else up with the sweetie. As she turned to leave the barn, I heard another little squeak coming from a different corner with all the tools in it. TWINS! The other was a little boy that looked just like his daddy, Sam, before he got bleached by the sun. So mom took the little girl into the house, and everyone groggily noted 'baby goat' except for Jacob, who without his glasses thought that it was a squirrel. (???)

The truly funny thing in all of this is how Stella's mom was behaving. From what we could tell, she helped to clean up the little girl and was standing protectively by her when I first came into the barn. At first, it was all, "Aww! She's helping her daughter with the grand kids!" That song quickly changed when we realized that grandma goat was trying to steal the little girl for herself while completely pushing away the little boy. "Dis one. It looks like me. I'm keeping it." She was trying to nudge the baby girl closer to her (and away from her real mom) and attempting to get her to nurse. Whaaat?! Stop that. Bad grandma. She's not yours. So we had to separate the babies and their real mom from the rest of the herd until Genievive chills out a little bit and the babies bond with Stella. Stella isn't too fond of the isolation, but what she doesn't realize is that it's for the better. ;)

Now... To figure out names for these two.

Until next time!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ode to the Rootstock of Apple

 Ode to the Roostock of Apple

A Shakespearean Sonnet by Yours Truly

O apple growing in the sky so high,
Arduous and labored becomes the toil.
Remedy the problem, the best to buy;
A rooty solution: what grows through the soil.

M.106, of semi-standard size,
has an early crop yet gets collar rot.
Fire blight resistance becomes quite the prize,
M.7 suited also for cold or hot.

Wintry chills bother it not: M.26;
early fruit bearing yet falls eas'ly ill.
A Geneva 202 is the fix;
dwarf yet robust, it shall fit the bill.

The slightest of them all: G.65.
Shunning blight and cold, it then shall thrive. 
This is so painfully plant-nerdy. At least that's what my sister said when she read it over. ;) This is part of an assignment for one of the classes that I'm taking over the summer. According to the worksheet, I can either write a poem or a rap 'proclaiming their virtues and limitations.' Homey don't rap, but a poem? I can fake my way through that. 

Until next time!

Monday, June 8, 2015

All in a Monday Morning

Hope you're enjoying your sunny (hot) Monday!

So far today, we've picked up the latest meat chick order from the post office (2 didn't make it) and got them situated in their brooder tank.
 Last night, we moved the turkey poults from the brooder to the pasture to make room for the new arrivals. This morning, we found 4 dead and 1 missing which leaves 6 still derping and chirping. I guess someone gets to sit out with the turkeys tonight to take care of the skunk (at least, that's what we're assuming it was. Skunks leave tell-tale signs at the scene of the crime. They slaughter their prey which is usually a significant percentage of the flock (that's putting it nicely), let their kills ferment for a day, and then they'll return the next night to feast. Really disturbing. Really gross. But it means that we can deal with the perpetrator. 
On top of turkey drama, we need to get the first batch of meat chickens out of their brooder tanks and onto pasture. They've put on enough weight and size to be moved out. Guess we'll have to do the great chicken shuffle this evening since it's going to be too warm to do anything productive this afternoon. 

Today is a day for chocolate. And a lot of iced tea. Because it's too hot for a proper cup of tea. ;) 

Until next time!

The Great Llama Shearing

With the impending first heat wave of summer, we decided that we needed to get the llama sheared before it became too miserable for the big guy. We didn't get around to shearing him last year (it costs a pretty penny to have the shearer to come out for 1 llama), so Zorro spent the hotter days under a sprinkler that we had set up in the pasture. With 2 years worth of a fur coat and not calling the shearer in a timely fashion, we had to get down to business and shear him ourselves. Thankfully, a friend of ours was more than willing to help. You see, back in high school, he did 4H llamas, and he :really: wanted some llama time. So we set aside a Saturday to tackle the project. Nathan came up wearing his 4H llama shirt from yonder llama days and armed with the biggest, baddest shears I ever did behold. After some llama wrangling, we set to work taking off the mat of a fur coat. 

With Nathan working on one side of the llama with his shears, and Dad working on the other side with the clippers, we finished in a fairly decent amount of time. The impressive part was when the mat of fur came tumbling down the llama's side like a giant shag rug - one big, tangled mess. We really didn't care about saving the wool for spinning because we still have bins full of the wool from past shearings with all our other llamas. The sole purpose of this shearing session was to make the summer heat more bearable.

Sorry for the blurry picture... 

And after:

Silly llama doesn't like any sort of drama, but he'll feel much better without that heavy coat. 

Now if anyone would like to help give the billy goats a buzzcut... :P 

Until next time!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Garden in Bloom

My peony is blooming!!! Peony flowers are short-lived, but what a glorious bloom.


Oma's heirloom rose

What everything else looks like
Until next time!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weekend Warrior

207 herb starts.

That's how many baby plants I was able to transplant over the weekend after converting the porch to a makeshift gardening shed. :P
And now the porch has been taken over by baby plants.
The next step? Let these little guys get some size on them, and then it's time for them to be transplanted into the herb garden! 
Yay for slug-eaten Johnny Jump-Ups... 

Until next time!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Celtic Ball

Last Saturday, my sister and I were able to attend the Celtic Ball!

If you want a detailed write-up of our costumes you can see mine and hers

'A lady does not place her weapon on the table.'

There was even a bagpiper! (and he played the Star Wars theme) 

Until next time!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Of Edibles and Finals

After finishing the finals for the term, I got to bring home all these lovelies from my propagation class. Apples, figs, kiwis, herbs, and grapes, oh my! 
And this doesn't even include all the microgreens that I got to bring home as well! 

So I scoured the greenhouse on campus looking for my plants, loaded them up into the backseat of my sedan (yay for rubber floor mats!), and headed home. The skies were blue, the trees are all in bloom, the grass is green again, and the wild mustard covers the hillsides with a blanket of yellow. The classical radio station was playing lively string quartets all the way home (nothing else was on the radio). It was a good way to derazzle from studying for finals. Now onward to spring break and getting these guys into the garden!

Until next time!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Orchard Installation

A BIG box came to the front door filled with fruit trees. Then Dad and Oma headed out to the 'plant mobil' on Saturday morning to pick up even more trees! 'Tis time to put in the orchard. 

But let me back up here for a moment. For years, we (meaning Dad) have been pondering about what to put in the south 3/4 acre field. He staked that part of the property as his. There will be no touching or planning his territory (but I didn't see any flags). Should we do a vineyard? We don't need that much wine. Orchard? But some homemade wine would be nice. ;) How 'bout we do BOTH! Well, with months of planning and pouring over catalogs (those wonderful distractions that start coming in the darkest days of winter making you wish it were warm again even though you can't stand the heat), Dad came up with a grand plan and a step-by-step process to get to the final destination. Since it is such an undertaking, we're taking this project on in pieces, so on Saturday, the crew got almost 50 trees planted. I say 'the crew' because I was sitting in a class. On a sunny day. On a Saturday. (but it's an herb class, so I'm not complaining ^_^) 

So into the ground went the apples, pears, peaches, and... pawpaws! 
My what a wonderful spring we're having this winter! 

Mom donning her latest farmer t-shirt from the farm conference last weekend. 

And of course Susie wanted to help, but she just likes to be underfoot. So little miss had to stay on the goat side of the fence. 

Until next time! 

Friday, February 13, 2015

How to Propagate Lavender

For one of my projects this term, I have to do a report (and oral presentation) about propagating an edible plant. Lavender counts, right?

So I gathered the necessary supplies for rooting cuttings.
-Rooting hormone of your choice (please read the label to make sure that it is strong enough for what you're trying to root!). They come in powders and liquid. If you use liquid, you're going to have to dilute it out. Again, please read the directions on the bottle. 
- Peat Moss. You can go with peat or coir. The store didn't have any coir though. We'll save the discussion about the no-so-environmental-savvy-ness of peat for another time. For getting cuttings to root, you need something that retains a lot of water.  

Which brings me to the next point. You don't want gigantic pots to start your cuttings in. It will take a ton of water to keep the media moist enough for your baby clones to survive. Use a pot that has plugs just big enough for your cuttings. 

Then you fill you pot with the growing media of choice, and wet the stuff down. You want it wet enough that it clumps, but not so much that water oozes from it when you give it a squeeze.
Following the directions on the bottle of glorified auxin (rooting hormone), I diluted it out to the appropriate strength. If you just dip the cutting straight into the bottle you will a)introduce pathogens into the community bottle and b)you just made an herbicide and will now grow your plant to death.
 For my project, I ended up with waaaay more rooting hormone than I needed... You don't need much. Just enough to dip the tips of your cuttings in. 
Next, grab your cuttings. Mine happen to be lavender (Sarah to be precise). You don't need much. Just enough to have about 3 nodes to dip in the rooting hormone and then a few leaves to remind you that they're still there. You don't want many leaves because they will lose water. Not enough water = dead plant.  
So, take your cutting, and strip the leaves to expose the nodes (the spots where the leaves are growing). These zones are where the plant will grow roots from. By removing the leaves, you're telling the plant to grow roots instead.  
To get a better look at the nodes. There are 4 shown here. 
Now dip the exposed nodes into the rooting hormone. If you have a powder, you will have a small cup of water and a small cup of the powder. First dip the cutting into the water, then the powder (it helps the powder to stick). But with my liquid, the cutting just goes for a quick dip.  
And into the prepared pot it goes! Mine is just a re-used veggie pack from last year that was cleaned out to make sure that no pathogens get to the cuttings. 
And voila! You have lavender (or thyme, or rosemary, or or or or or...) cuttings. Keep the babies damp and in place with cooler air and warmer ground. Then your little hopefuls will grow roots. 

No project is complete without a cat hanging around. ;)  

Until next time!