Tag Archives: farm photos

Beans! And fair…..

Happens every year.  End of July rolls around, and bam, it’s fair season, the beans are ready, fall planting needs to be done, and if it isn’t in already, it’s a really good time to get hay.  I don’t feel like I’ve slept in days, napped maybe but that’s it.  The beans always seem to be the more stressful thing for me.  Probably because they are a staple for us.  A 40-50 quart staple.  Plus all the ones we eat fresh in the summer.  And that’s just the beans.  There’s lots more that’s growing, it just seems to be the beans are ready when we don’t have time to give to them.  I even tried to get them in two weeks early this year.  Dry spell, and they seemed to creep out of the ground at a snails pace.  A second sowing is actually working out OK, as they are just now starting to set, and if we stay on top of picking them, we might get enough to put up for the winter.  Ah the unpredictability of farming/gardening/life.  Love it.



Provider (our stand by)


Soleil (new to us this year….)

What’s your favorite garden staple?



On farm foraging… Salmon Berry…

We are not a factory farm.  We have lots of ‘buffers’ around the creek, pond, and in the middle of the fields too!  I think buffer is a nice way to say ‘area that’s out of control’.  Granted there are some areas that need a buffer, to keep them ‘native critter friendly’, but mostly, on our farm, they are just places we don’t want to waste the gas to cut the grass, and our grazing heard just isn’t that big.  Yet.

One of the ‘native’ plants that is thick in the buffers around here are Salmon Berry.  Or Rubus spectabilis.  They range in color when ripe from yellow, to deep red or almost purple.  You have to be on the ball though.  Like raspberry’s they tend to slip off their receptacle very easily when fully ripe.  In some places you also race the birds, but with an orchard full of cherry trees, the birds tend to ignore the Salmon Berry’s.  Last year I picked enough for a small batch of jam (it turned out pretty good, although I should have strained the seeds…)  They are almost all gone now…  Just a few here and there to tempt us.


Goat milk….

So this really is just another part of the dream coming true.  One of our primary goals in living on, managing and having a farm is to be able to provide the safest, most wholesome, humanly treated, lovingly cared for food we possibly can for our family.  Yes.  We take it seriously.  Well, except for apologizing to each and every carrot we pull out of the ground.  Everything from the economics of getting a chicken from ‘fuzzy’ to freezer, in feed cost and time commitment, to the value we place on knowing how they were treated…

Some of the animals on the farm are more pet the livestock.  Really, until a month ago, the goats fit that bill.  Fiber is fun, but neither Farmer ‘J’ or I knit with any diligence.  Enter Ariosa.  We are ‘borrowing’ her at the moment, and she will return home by the end of July (for fair season).  She is a fiber goat, not a dairy breed, but she does well despite this ‘flaw’.  Our biggest hang up with transitioning from a ‘work for money, buy food’ to ‘spend time, harvest food’ has been the impact on our schedule.  We both grew up in ‘the White Ghetto’, and the flexibility to run here, and there, and back over there again is deeply engrained in our subconscious.  Dairy animals have a way of impacting that.  Even if you leave the kids on mom for a few months, you still have to be there, once a day, at the same time, to milk.  It’s kind of like having another job.  We weren’t sure how well it would work for us, and after several weeks, the novelty has worn off, and really, it’s cool.  We all like the milk (even the baby, who will tell you “No” if you ask her, but at the moment she can only say “No”, unless it’s candy).  We have made some yummy yogurt, and once we’ve gotten back up to a gallon in ‘reserve’ we will run a batch of feta and see how that comes out.

We are only getting a shy half gallon a day, and could use more, but we’ve heard of dairy goats giving up to a gallon per milking..  So we’ll just see what comes.  Next up is saving the $ for a good bottle raised dairy goat.  We’ll get her freshened in the fall and be counting the days till next spring…

Oh, and as far as the raw milk (gasp!) thing goes, read up on it if you want to pick a fight.  I still think what we bring in from the goat yard is safer than the half gallon of organic milk we buy from the store.  I know what the goat is eating, how she’s feeling, how the milk was handled, and soooo much more.  In my mind, pasteurization is a band aid for a lack of trust and faith in our food system (probably well placed).

So here it is.  One half gallon half gone, another one behind, and the morning quart chilling in an ice bath.


Goose you!

You goose you….

We’ve had two geese for several years now.  Noisy, and charming in their own ways, having a mis-matched pair has been a blessing.  Not that we are some kind of ‘purest only!’ farm.  But it’s easier to not go there with an Embden and Toulouse as the only two geese on the farm.  And they are a lot of fun.  Ten months out of the year they as as docile as sheep.  Then Toulouse (yes that’s her name) starts to lay eggs….  Embden (yes, again…  That’s his name) also steps up as the proud papa, and will honk your honker if you give him the chance.  And he is smart enough to grab for flesh above the top of a rubber boot…

Then we has a friend with a sad story of a nasty neighbor and chickens and ducks with broken legs.  Yes.  Really.  We offered our farm as a haven for the critters till the folks could find another place to move to.  They covered the feed cost, and we have gotten to keep the eggs.  Not all bad really.  The one down side, more goose yelling about things that freak out geese.  And with almost a dozen of them now either nesting or trying to be the protective papa, unless you are standing close enough to touch each other, you can not carry on a conversation outside…  And yes, there is a bit more poop.  Let’s just say, that pasture is gong to be get a good rest before we run anything on it.

The ‘pretty’ geese in the bunch are Sebastopoles. Imagine a frilly white napkin…  Really a very pretty bird.  But not if they live outside.  Cause then they get dirty, and they look miserable…

My favorites are the Dulap, or African Grey.  Biggest, and with a quiet hoot, (unless you really get them riled up) they are nice.  Probably not as cold hardy as the Embden or Toulouse (they have a big fleshy knob on their head) they have done fine at our place this winter..  Here are a few frames of them honking at the freaky guy with the food…

As for size, these grey guys do get big.  This guy could pull my wallet out of my pocket, and keep his feet flat on the ground.


Succession Planting

Succession Planting.  The process of planting a similar or same crop in intervals to allow continued harvest all season long.  For me, it’s re-planting the cucumbers for the 4th time that keep getting nailed by the slugs.  Urg.  Normally I have a live and let live mantra with slugs.  My eldest has an oddly warm spot in her heart for them.  “Daddy look!  Don’t run over the slug on the driveway!” from the back seat.  I swear she has slug radar.

When I have company slugs get “airlifted” into a big patch of brush about 40′ (or as far as I can throw) from the garden.  When I am operating in solo it’s a different story.  It’s rather stunning how quickly a slug will eviscerate from the light brush of a razor sharp knife.  Quick, clean, no touch.  And in a very macabre way, satisfying.  So when it’s time to lock up the hens for the night.  The sharpest knife I can get my hands on always goes with me.  MuHaHaHaHa!!!

Here is planting #3 just before they got slimed.  #4 didn’t get this far, and I have #5 surrounded by “slugbarbwire” ie. bare copper wire.  Better than any slug bait out there.  Wish me luck.  I have several jars of pickles riding on a cuke crop this year….

Holy Goose Egg!

Well it’s spring time!  The Geese are trying like mad to keep me in shin splints.  You haven’t lived till you have run in fear, as an adult, from an angry momma goose (yea hold the chuckles, you try bending over in a small wire enclosure to raid a nest with two disgruntled parents honking like crazy at the door, my fanny must have a big ol’ target on it).  Don’t let them get a hold of your pant leg either.  They have wings like baseball bats.  And she has good reason.  At an egg every two or three days, she has once again become the “golden goose”.  Why on earth would we be taking our goose’s precious eggs?  Cause there good!  Really good!  They taste more like a chicken egg than a duck egg.  We know that they are about as organic as you can get here.  Somewhere north of 80% of their diet is grass.  The chicken yard looks like a putting green, cut close and fertilized well.  The eggs are nice too.  Your average 3 year old can drop it 5 times and it won’t break (as long as it’s first bounce isn’t a rock).  Once hacked open in the house they fry up well (hold you cholesterol batman!) the yoke is the size of a normal chicken egg.  You can make a respectable 3 egg omelet from one goose egg.  They are a bit like gold, we get $2 each for them, and at that price we get to eat a good number of them ourselves.

We would let Toulouse set on the eggs to have babies, but we have a moritorium on new critters at the moment.  Probably a good thing too.  The last thing I need are more goose nests to check next spring.  I am going to go ice my shins.  And enjoy a nice hot breakfast…

Here is a link to the ALBCA’s page on Toulouse geese.

Glowing Bees

Glowing Bees!
I know it’s been quiet here as of late. It’s not like I’ve been hiding – I’ve just been busy. My gainful employer recently purchased a thermal imaging device. Basically it’s a heat camera. I won’t go into all the details, but it’s got some awesome applications in the electrical industry. I figured as long as I was driving home, I would check on my bees and I was ale to do so without lifting the cover! Sorry for the ittybitty photos, as much as we paid for it, it’s not a 21 megapixel uber-camera. Then again, the pictures aren’t meant to be hung on the side of a building.

In this photo, the closer to black, the cooler the temperature. The closer to white, the hotter. The temperature in the corner shows the temp of the area in the cross hairs. As you can see, it was several degrees warmer than the ambient temperature.

I lifted the lid to see if they really were in there and, sure enough, I even got to take one’s temperature (79.3 is a bit cool, but it was just a touch over freezing outside). Hopefully by now they have started growing babies for this next year!