Sunday, June 3, 2012

Putting "Scraps" To Work

There are so many parts of plants that are discarded. Leaves, flowers, roots - you name it. One of these that I think is VERY overlooked is garlic scapes. These thick, vine-like things grow out of growing garlic bulbs.

And they are good. Very, very good. They taste like an odd, yet interesting mix of garlic and green onion. They are crisp and burst with flavor, especially the younger they are.

The swollen part in the center there is actually a very teeny tiny garlic bulb. There are people who say not to eat it (they say it is bitter), but I tried one and really it's not! I just chopped it up with the rest of the scapes.

Choppity chop!

The finished product - about 1.5 cups of chopped scapes, ready for stewing, stir-frying, or other nummy delights! I just froze these straight - no need to blanch.

This came from about 75 garlic plants (we have about 100 total). 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Seeds? Oh, we've got seeds.

This, my friends, is the beginning of our spring/summer 2012 garden.
The beginning. This is set one of three.

We tried a new way to start seeds. The wood boxes are filled with compressed plugs of dirt, where we put a seed. The bottom black trays are "traditional" cells with dirt and seeds. The plugs worked... okay. However, the effort and pain in the rear factor of making them outweighed the benefits, so we stuck to the black trays.

We have everything from chammomile to regular ole' tomatoes in there. Some lettuces, broccoli, melons, and kiwi. Did you know there is a hardy kiwi that can live in our zone? I think we're 6A. Anyway, hubby introduced me to kiwi about a week ago and I'm in love.

In the back, we also have strawberries, lettuces, asparagus, carrots, and spinach coming up. Those are already planted. We have corn planted that should be sprouting any day now.

Luckily we have plenty of space to put all this stuff!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesay: 'allo!

Checkers says hi.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Four-feets

Spring is always crazy on the farm (and I do consider us a farm now).

Last year I went back to work full time, so we put most things on hold. We sold our goats, paused the gardening, and paused the house renovations.

This year we're back in full swing. I'm no longer working (at least not for pay), so I'm back "in the saddle" so to speak. Here's a quick farm tour update!

One of the most recent (and most important) projects was the goat shed. We had to build that before we could get any animals, since they were tearing up our garage-barn.

Yes, those are pallets. The roof was made with some aluminum roofing materials that Ben's dad gave us. Overall the shed cost about $10, because we had to buy long screws to hold the pallets together. The next step is to nail on some plywood (that we got for free at work) for siding, paint it, and scatter a ton of straw on the ground.

In that picture you can see the new goat additions as well: Snowcap (brown) and Maggie (black).

We also were lucky enough to acquire a pretty little fuzzball:

Meet Checkers! She's a 4 week old holestein heifer. She's an absolute sweetie and follows you around. She licks you. Her ears are amazingly soft. She's had a hard life so far (more on that later) but has bounced back.

Later on i'll take you through a tour of our gardens, but for now, here is a glimpse!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Farm Happenings, and Stuff

Do you know that Wii Sports boxing can burn about 100 calories per 15 minutes?

I kid you not.

The last few nights Ben and I have been looking for something other than movies to do after the kids go to bed. We figured out that our Wii can be used for more than just netflix. ;) We loaded up Sports and actually had quite a good time, bowling and boxing. And it's burning pretty good calories.

My weight has been steadily climbing since my last pregnancy and it's got to stop. I'm sure part of it is the ultra-fatty pasta alfredo, pizza, and fried pork chops we've been eating. So the last two weeks or so I have started cutting down on calories and getting more exercise. Luckily exercise is coming fairly easy now that the weather is (well, WAS) warming up. Mucking out a barn burns a lot of calories!

We found out that the goats are too small still for breeding. :( So now I am on the lookout for a doe that is ready to deliver in a month or so that we can purchase. I found a beautiful Alpine doe on craigslist, but alas, I can't justify spending $300 for a goat.

We have a flock of 8 chickens now - 6 hens and 2 roosters. Ole Red and Popcorn made it through the winter. Roosie Jr. Jr. did not. :( We had three generations of that roo on our farm and now he's gone. It makes me sad.

We have decided to increase our flock - again. We will be going to Tractor Supply during their Chick Days and letting the girls pick out a few. We'll also try to hatch at least one incubator (20-30 eggs). Ben is on the fence about trying meat chickens again this year - we need some equipment, but if we can make/purchase that in time, we'll do a small meat chicken order.

Over last weekend we dug up 12 wild raspberry plants and replanted them in our nice mulched/fertalized berry patch. I also dug up 3 of my grapes that may or may not make it - I can't remember which ones were growing last year. This weekend we hope to dig up all the wild blackberries that we have around - hundreds, easily, and add some of them to the berry patch.

I have fruit trees on order - quite a few, actually, as well as a few more grape plants. I have apples, peaches, pears, and cherries coming. It's very exciting. We have found these large 'cages' that are used with large glue tanks in commercial glue companies. They are about 5 foot square and they keep the goats from being able to eat newly planted trees.

Our bees are alive! We're not sure just HOW alive, but there was definite activity during the few warm days we had. I do hope that the cold snap again hasn't hurt them. Hopefully they got some pollen while they were out and have a tiny bit extra food. We saw a lot of small, tiny bees (hopefully babies = good breeding/hatching going on). Ben has another hive up and ready and we are getting another 4 pound package of bees in April, so we'll have two hives going. And hopefully our first hive will swarm and we will catch it - 3 hives!

We also took out our mason bee house and looked inside, which I will post later because I got some cool pictures of it. We only found larve. :( But we're going to try again. Mason bees and "orchard" bees are great for fruit trees because they buzz around right as most trees are budding and flowering - unlike honey bees, which come out either too early or too late, depending on what kind of tree.

So that's the farm happenings! I love spring.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Spring? SPRING?

I love winter. Really, I love winter.

But you know what? Enough's enough. I would go into all the reasons why I'm sick of it, but, well, I'm sure you know.

Yesterday was a balmy, sunny 45 degrees. The farm jumped into action. I swear, it was like a switch had turned on. The bees came back to life (we were pretty sure they were dead) and were buzzing frantically around, cleaning out their house and starting up life again. The chickens were wandering around for the first time in a while. The goats were nibbling some grass that had come uncovered as the snow melted. Even the birds were chirping.

I saw our hated enemy friend the hawk, sweeping over the fields. I have to admit, he's a beauty. I just wish he would stop eating our chickens. I get sick of watching him dive after them.

Spring is such a frenzied time, even for a small farm like ours. Here's some of the things that need to be done this year:

  • Clean out the barn completely. Everything is going. All the bedding, stocked hay, everything. The goats are now corraled in the smaller pen and sleeping in the (empty) chicken house. The barn needs to be completely mucked, pressure washed, and set to rights.
  • Fence in the whole pasture with field wire fence, layered with electric lines. We've found that the electric-only works only so-so, and goats are natural escape artists anyway, so we're going to panel it all in field wire before we let the goats out into the main pasture. We'll use the electric lines to keep them from head-butting or rubbing up against the field fence.
  • Start up our berry patch in the back. We mucked out about 1/3 of the barn Sunday and all of that wonderful, crappy mulch and straw went back to the berry area. I layered it down nicely.
  • Get some grape trellises up and running.
  • At least experiment with cold weather crops - lettuces, broccoli, etc. I've never even attempted them, so I'm going to semi-blindly dive in.
  • Get some fruit trees going.
  • Construction: What I would like to do is construct a new chicken house, complete with roosts and a secure chick area. The chicken house we have now is tiny and not really suited in the way I want it to be (call me picky). The new house will be made of pallet wood and recycled wood as much as possible. I really want to build it myself...
  • That being said, I would also like to construct a goat shed with a kidding stall and shelter from the wind. This isn't going to be a complex thing by any means. It just needs to be built.
  • Lonnie-the-goat goes to butcher this fall.
  • I am on the fence about breeding the girls... I need to do it quick if we're going to do it.
  • We will be picking out some chicks from Tractor Supply and also hatching some of our own out here again. We will be butchering 5 or so in fall.
Sooo... yeah, that's it so far! LOL.

Menu Plan Monday: $400 grocery trip

We got our income taxes back and it was sizeable amount, so Saturday I went grocery shopping... and spent $400. Wow. It took  me hours to put away the food, I swear.

So needless to say, we have ingredients for probably every single meal you can think of. The problem is, of course, putting them all together!

Monday - Beef stew with bread and salad. I am debating on this version, which is a "baked" version made in the oven.
Tuesday - Bourbon Chicken with rice and stir-fry veggies (we LOVE this recipe)
Wednesday - Carmelized onion pork chops with baked potatoes and roasted garlic lemon broccoli
Thursday - Pasta, nummy quick garlic breadsticks, salad
Friday - Meatloaf, potatoes, salad, rolls
Saturday - I have no idea...
Sunday - Pot roast and rolls, mmmm...

This is the first week in a month or so that I have actually made a plan, and it feels good to get back in the groove!

Now I'm going to go browse the other plans at Org Junkie to see if I can fill in that Saturday gap...