Saturday, November 8, 2014

not a moment too soon

I finally got my two beds of garlic planted, just in time before winter truly arrives. I'm hoping about 100 cloves are in the ground, but planting with these babes of mine, I never quite know! They are like little guerrilla gardeners throwing seed bombs in random fashion as quickly as possible before I (the gardening police) can stop them.

My big girl - the last of summer on her face and the fall dirt on her hands.

Our duck friends came for a visit while we worked! Always happy to see them (feral as they now are) enjoying the pond.

I might try for just one more bed of 50 tomorrow. For the past few years, I've planted only seed from my own saved supply, selecting more for large bulbs than any particular variety. This year, I really started to see this pay off, as most of the bulbs turned out to be a good size of nice uniformity, and they are keeping very well so far. It's so rewarding to see this progress through the years, grounding me more and more in this place and way of life.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

a girly baby blanket

When my first daughter was born, I shied heavily away from the massive amounts pink that seem to suddenly descend when people find out you are having a girl. Even now, I prefer to offer her clothes to wear and things to play with that have a more natural tone. Although she did tell me the other day how nice it would be for her to have a pink horse. Ah, rebellion! 

This time around, with this new baby girl, I let a little pink in -  a nice soft shade here and there seems to suit her for some reason. I finished her baby blanket literally the night before she was born, using alternating yarns for a striped look - the pink yarn called "ballet slipper" and the other one (naturally) an undyed wool.

I was so pleased with how it came out (albeit a little small, as all my knitted baby blankets seem to end up). It's delicate and sweet with a touch of pink! Very much like our new little girly.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Or, rather, these are things that already happened a month or so ago, but that I'm grateful to document here; even late as they are.

:: Harvesting all we could before the early September first frost

:: A weather pattern which has since yielded to many glorious days outdoors in such appropriate attire as swimsuits and muck boots

:: Or whatever you would call this get-up!

 :: Still milking our sweet new doe, Piper, an American Alpine. And giving the Nigerians a break. From afar, people often mistake Piper for an antelope!  

 :: The first honey harvest from our hive, and the best honey I've ever tasted - lightly fragrant and delicately sweet.

:: "Beeby-sitting" a few hives over the winter for our beekeeper (who has just published a very comprehensive beekeeping book!). These hives were attacked by a bear at their original location. Aren't they just beautiful?!

:: Attempting my first sourdough starter using these most delicious, beautiful little grapes from a friend's garden. (Not that I really need another thing to keep alive - plant, animal, or otherwise - since I've failed quite miserably at that this year, save for the children of course!)

:: And for good measure, I can't resist sharing a picture of our new squishy babushka baby. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What has the world come to??

The other day I saw a woman in her driveway spraying pots of fake flowers with RoundUp weed killer. I think this is one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen. Did she stick her fake flowers in real dirt where real weeds grow, I wonder?

And if that's not enough to make me question our collective social sanity, I recently met the person in charge of granting agricultural status in our county, who insists that chickens cannot be qualified as "grazing animals" because they do not eat grass. They might eat bugs, she concedes, but certainly not grass.

And so, if we have people trying to kill what was never alive, and people in authority (presumed to be knowledgeable in the proper ways of agricultural land management) who have no clue about even a chicken's natural diet, is it any wonder that so many kids don't know where eggs come from?

And a human's natural diet is not coke and cheetos. But perhaps an alien visitor might presume otherwise.

We are doomed, I say. DOOMED!

And that is a bleak, not at all elegant way of saying Hello! after my long absence from this space.

So maybe this would be better:

Hello! and We had a(nother) baby! (which makes just about everything right with the world, as babies tend to do).

Saturday, July 19, 2014


and so in love with this Mama Duck. She's hatched out 4 ducklings! It appears the drake has joined her today in helping protect her nest. These are the very first animals born right here on our farm!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

hope and destruction

We had an incredibly powerful ice/wind/thunderstorm roll through earlier this week. It left the fruit trees stripped of their leaves, the garden completely decimated. Two nests of duck eggs in the tall grass were abandoned just a week before hatching out. It looks like a tornado came through. It's taken me a few days to even be able to walk into the garden. It's just so sad looking!

Ten minutes of severe weather has undone a seasons' worth (and in some cases, years' worth) of work.

It's hard not to look at all this and just feel defeated and devastated, if I'm honest about it. It's humbling, to say the least.

And yet...

I have two does to milk, garlic braids from last week's harvest (over 100 big, beautiful bulbs this year!), and a fierce and brave mama duck still sitting on her nest. And a will that I've determined to be stronger than even the forces of nature. I'm planting seeds again this weekend, and there's hope in that - for a fall garden now. I'm also hoping that the local farms at the market weren't hit as hard, and I can pick up some beautiful summer bounty from them this season.

Before the storm, we did enjoy a few meals of fresh mixed salad greens. So, so good!

And I made this rhubarb meringue pie, which looks good enough, but was just so-so. My meringues need practice, I think.

And then, after the storm, there's always consolation in the form of cake. Lots and lots of cake.   

Monday, June 16, 2014

peeking around the farm

There is a bird - That Crazy Bird, we call her - who built a nest in the fan of our mudroom bath. Now we hear the hungry chirps of chicks in the morning and the soft cooing at night. And soft downy feathers occasionally float down onto the toilet seat. Strange, but lovely; like living in a tree top, I imagine!

There is also a rabbit - That Crazy Rabbit - who has a black spot on her face and sits in front of the house staring at us through the windows. Cute, and well...creepy.

And speaking of living among the trees and wild things, I had an amazing experience the other day. While weeding some barrels I planted with a mixture of greens, I heard a chorus of buzzing in the tree canopy above me. When I looked up, there were hundreds of bees. Each of us going about our work, separately, but connected in that moment. Amazing.   

The path to the bees

I'm in an experimental and make-do mood in the garden this year. I've got patches of this and that planted all around - some things close to the house and others in the main garden and others still in a leveled mound of dirt on the side of the driveway.

Peas growing along the porch
Vietnamese mint on the side of the house
Tom Thumb lettuce on the front lawn
Potato patch. Intensively planted and heavily mulched with straw

Last year's wood chip mulch garden became this year's chock-full-of-weeds disaster area, and so a few more raised beds were added just so I could get some seedlings planted in a reasonable amount of time. I also used a different seed starting mix this year - wanting to use what I have or what I could source locally, I mixed equal parts peat moss (still had a big bag from last year), sand from our property, and soil/compost from the garden. It worked great, and I don't think I'll be buying perlite or vermiculite again. It's not a sterile mix, but the weed seeds that germinated were easy to identify and pull, and I'm also wondering if transplanting went a little better this year because the vegetable seedlings were already acclimated to the garden soil.

Looking into the main garden from across the pond
Always faithful garlic growing well. There's an identical bed of garlic to the right. The four new beds in the back are planted with peppers, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. There's also two rows of tomatoes planted directly in the soil. I covered that area with landscaping fabric as a weed block, and mulched with grass clippings.

Happy June!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

checking in

Eek!!! What happened to May (and now the beginning of June)?! We've been so busy here - mostly with good things like a family wedding and birthdays and other early summer happenings - that I've been away from the computer, and even the camera! for quite some time. I'm looking forward to catching up with you soon, friends, but for now I have an unruly garden (and some equally unruly children) calling to me! Happy warm days.

Monday, April 28, 2014

in my kitchen {the last of}

This is such a hard time of year in the kitchen for me. Waiting for the first sprouts of something, anything!, to appear. It's that transitional season that I refer to as "the last of." The last of last year's harvest - the last of the pizza sauce. The last freezer chicken. The last head of garlic. And so on.

Homemade goat cheese pizzas.

And I start stealing little bits of whatever is appearing. A couple leaves off the tiny basil starts and spinach that's only just starting to grow. We're not supposed to harvest the asparagus for another year, but tasting just one (or three) can't hurt, right? I had never tasted homegrown asparagus before, and oh, it is just phenomenal!

The first asparagus! I planted crowns in the herb bed close to the house last year.

 I feel I've been relying more heavily on baking these days, too, trying to fill in the gaps a bit.

Clover leaf rolls, inspired by Beth, using braided bread dough.
Early morning baking is becoming an almost daily routine. These are English muffins, also using braided bread dough.     

But soon, soon, we'll be eating fresh again. I can't wait!     

Sunday, April 20, 2014

an Easter sweater

I wasn't sure I would finish this sweater in time, but I did! It's the hatchling cardigan (a perfect spring sweater name, yes?) and it's just darling, I think. (Although I thought the picking up of stitches for the finishing might be my undoing). The sweet little buttons are from Wooly Moss Roots, and I used a naturally dyed yellow wool yarn. And do you see all that green we have all of a sudden? Thanks to a few evening rain showers. I hope you had a beautiful Easter, friends! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

expanding the herd

We have new goat friends! They are unnamed as of yet, this young Nigerian dwarf doe and her four-week-old adorable buckling (who I know will get bigger and increasingly stinkier come fall - and may actually have only one horn - but isn't he just the cutest little guy?! Prepare to be inundated with irresistible baby goat photos). They came to us just an hour before dusk last night, and I fretted quite a bit about letting them stay unsupervised with the rest of our herd. The new ones kept following me toward the house as dark settled. But then I saw Spring coming to the lower pasture to lead them back to the barn, and I felt she would look after them. And so she did. Such a good herd queen, that girl, with a strong maternal instinct that I've grown myself to deeply understand; she was Abby's guardian, too, during her recent struggle with bloat.

Slowly, we're trying to expand our herd to add more milking does, and hopefully another buck so we can breed and maintain a closed herd. This is kind of the next step for us, I think. At some point, I'd actually love to have a few fiber goats, too!

But for now, these are the sweetest, tiniest little things, and to be quite honest I'm not sure how milk-able the doe will be (she really is small!) but oh, we're enjoying them so. I certainly don't need any excuses to venture out into the warmer air to snuggle a new baby goat. (Or, for that mater, to work on the garden or look for the "beautiful little duck," as my daughter calls the wild drake living by the pond). Ah, sweet spring. It's the best medicine for a rough day or any sort of weary heart. You can't put a price on that.
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