Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Snow Day

Heavy wet snow
We got our first significant snow fall of the season - the most moisture since last August.  

We are pretty excited to see this blanket of snow.  

Ken believes if we continue to have temperatures in the 30's it will melt from below and the frost will come up.

Get out the snow shoes!

The First of the season!


The goose eggs have begun!

Growing chicks

Two days old
Chicks grow so quickly!  They hatched just over a week ago.
From this...

Fluff balls

Nine days old this. 

Check out the wings!

They are growing wing feathers!  
Soon they will be gawky tweens.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Weaving Merrily Along

I am slow and steady like a turtle.  I love to weave.  But there I am slow, too.  I choose patterns that take more time.  I had a rough realization today.  I get sad at the end of February as I realize winter is winding down and I still have many enjoyable tasks I had hoped to accomplish this winter.  It is the same in August when the days get shorter and I realize summer is coming to an end.

Here is a photo of the third rug on the loom.  I hope to complete this one and start another tomorrow.  Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback and encouragement.  I will keep at it!

Sprouts for Poultry

While Ken is at the organic conference, I am taking on his chores.  One is to sprout grain for the birds. Grain comes in a complete little package and once sprouted, that grain has more nutrition.  Ken has had a tough time finding grain that will sprout.  Grain that is not viable has less nutrition. Once grain is broken or ground it begins to decay.  Grain that has been ground a long time becomes rancid. Ground feed from grain that doesn't sprout has lower nutrition.

In the old days farmers sprouted grain for livestock and poultry.  I have seen plans for sprouting grain for cows from a book published in the early 1900's.  Ken's and my grandfathers  ground grain once a week for their animals.  Now we buy feed of unknown age and viability for our animals.  This does not seem like progress. 

Currently we are transitioning our animals away from soy as we read more and more of its adverse affects.  It amazes me as the chickens have picked through their feed leaving the soybeans as long as I can remember.  Soybeans are a relatively new addition to feed.  Soy was added as a protein source as corn became grown for volume not nutrition and its protein dropped dramatically. 

Pottery Progress

Drying bowls and platters
Ken is winding up the throwing and trimming part of pottery making.  He forms a pot, trims the bottom, lets the piece dry slowly, and then bisques it.

Teapots and more      
 Bisque is to to fire clay to the point it will not return to mud.  Ken has found that using a bisque firing enables him to make lighter pottery and have less breakage in the final glaze firing.  

Botanical prints and trays
Once pots are at this point, they all need to be glazed and stacked in the kiln.  For our large kiln that holds 2,000 - 3,000 pieces, the glazing and stacking requires about a month.

New chicks

We have some new chicks from the incubator.  The best is a broody hen hatching and caring for chicks.  We had some hatches last season, but our demand for eggs exceeded our flock.  We have ordered some chicks that should arrive next month.  They have characteristics we want to add to our flock - better broodiness and good foraging. 

We also are hatching using our incubator. One batch has hatched and I will start a new batch tonight.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recipe for Potatoes

Today I experimented with some left over mashed potatoes.  Add a beaten egg, some minced onion tops (from the few that start to grow) or minced onion and a bit of sour cream or yogurt.  Mix and form small patties.  Flour both sides and place in a hot heavy skillet with a bit of fat.  Turn when golden or lightly brown.  Serve with some hot tomato pepper sauce  - Great with eggs at breakfast.


 Ken plants onions first, and they come up bent in half and spring open.  Each year I pause and gaze in wonder. And I think Rockettes or kick line of dancers.  Not many people see onion tops like dancers.  But as a former dance student, I appreciate that choreographed movement of a whole tray of onions.
Once they get long Ken will give them a haircut and I will use the trimmings like chives -delicious!

Monday, February 13, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the "Garden!"  This box has winter squash, onions, "potato onions," garlic, carrots,celery root, black radishes, beets, potatoes, and micro greens.

Field Notes.  Ken maintains records on the mobile tunnel and medium stationary tunnel.  Soon he will be transplanting greens and planting radishes, beets and carrots.  Inside he has been planting micro greens all winter and he just planted the onion seeds.  Next he plants celery, celery root, and parsley.  Once the frost is out we will be digging parsnips - usually between March 21st and April 7th - it all depends on the weather.

We are both curious to see how this spring compares to last winter.  Although we have had warmer temperatures this winter, the lack of snow means that when we have had cold weather the frost has dropped deeper than it did last year as the snow kept the soil warm.

The first of the Asian lady beetles have arrived and this makes Ken most happy.  I know many people find them an obnoxious pest, but they do not carry disease like Lymes, West Nile, etc. Why is Ken happy?  Well, we can watch the beetles walk up and down the rows of seedlings, and they feast on any insects eating the seedlings such as aphids.  And I like them as they eat fungus gnats, tiny little insects like fruit flies that live in potting soil and come out once the February sun is warm.

From the Kitchen.  With the cooler temperatures we have had the cook stove going.  Ken has been making squash or apple pies.  I have been roasting vegetables with meats.  Ken and I also love to slow cook shanks with onions, garlic, and assorted vegetables.  

We find this to be our season of slow cooking  - soups and stews. Ken made a batch of mushroom soup with sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions, meat and stock with grated potatoes for thickening.  He also makes a mean cream of carrot soup with sauteed onions, carrots simmered in stock and run through a blender or food mill.  He adds herbs, a hint of nutmeg, and a bit of cream or yogurt. We often have a pot of chili with corn bread made from our flint corn.

I also start sprouting seeds and we have sprout slaw with sprouts, grated carrots, grated black radishes, and minced onions topped with a creamy dressing from herbs, kefir or yogurt, honey, vinegar, salt and pepper.
Now is the time to reserve your vegetables for next season!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Progress - More pots, more weaving

I have gotten a few hours in on weaving - here's the before

and here is the "after."

And Ken continues to make pots - throwing bowls

and cups.  Once they dry a bit he will be trimming the bottoms and adding handles

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I make rugs from reclaimed materials - rags.  I start with old garments that are ripped or stained or frayed.

Then I cut off seams and waistbands.  Ken finally came up with an idea for these scraps - dog beds.  I am looking for some tough fabric and then I will be using up the scraps.

Then I cut the pieces into strips.  I use a Fraser cutter or a rotary cutter and mat.  Some people rip.  I don't as I want to avoid dust - the old fabric is dusty enough!

Then I use my grandmother's sewing machine to sew the strips together.

I roll them into balls  and balls.

Once the loom is warped, I start in  - hurrah!

Ken Making Pottery

Ken has been making pottery - right now he is making baking pans in all sizes.  This afternoon I took some photos of him getting handles on them.

He rolls out coils
 Then he attaches a handle to each side
 He continually works to smooth out the inside and sides

 Later he will smooth and clean up the bottom

Baking Season

Stuffed squash, cornbread, and apple ground cherry pie  
During the winter our day starts with lighting the cook stove.  As a result we do a lot of slow cooking and bakingWe had a good squash season, and a few beautiful Hubbards.  Stuffed squash is one of our favorite pot luck meals.  

We roll the squash to determine its best resting position.  Cut a top like you would a jack o lantern, Scoop out seeds. We have done a sage bread crumb stuffing or a rice with sausage stuffing.  Cool the stuffing to room temperature (I cook rice the day before). Stuff, recap and bake.  Ken often oils the outside so it browns up and just glows.

This photo also has corn bread from our corn (use buckwheat instead of wheat flour for a no gluten alternative) and Ken's apple and ground cherry pie.