Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Review (or how to knit several posts into one)

Plant Something: At this time of year, it's hardly news to plant something...but the corn is in the ground, and about a third of the vegetable plants, and raspberry starts, and the best so far was some horseradish from a friend farmer, Becky.  Horseradish fans - when do you harvest and grind?  Why? I've heard both Spring and Fall...

Harvest Something: I've told you about my aspirations of supporting myself from our about including the wild?  I picked fiddleheads from our camp a while back and made a nice big dish for dinner - yumm!
Preserve something: (Allow me a little latitude on the word "preserve") we are trying doggedly to incubate and hatch heritage turkeys.  After fifty eggs, rats, skunks, bad weather, faulty thermometers, four different incubators and pretty uncooperative hens, we are just letting nature handle things.  This season, the preservation of Narragansett, Bourbon Red, and Midget White populations is just going to have to rely on the whims of nature.  
So far:
Born this morning.

Prep something: Spent days and days winding and dyeing yarn for the summer festivals and markets.  Don't want to touch sock yarn anytime soon...

Cook something:  In the never-ending quest for things made with maple syrup instead of cane sugar...I present maple-banana-fudge bars: (a made-up recipe, but my ample butt can attest to the goodness)

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

1 C maple syrup, Grade B preferred
1/2 C softened shortening (butter)
2 free-range eggs
2 C flour
1/2 C rolled oats
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 Soft ripe bananas, mashed

Cream shortening and maple syrup.  Add mashed banana.  Mix, then add eggs and mix again.  Sift flour, oats, soda, and powder together and add to liquid ingredients in portions; mixing after each one.   Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Pour batter into prepared 9x13 pan, bake for 40-45 minutes.  Test for doneness with the toothpick thing...

Manage reserves:  (Well, more emphasis on the "manage" than the "reserves")  About a week ago now, we checked the hive to make sure the queen had been released.  Yep.  She's left the wee box and is off to laying eggs and eating royal jelly, or something like that...
Work on local food systems: We've finished taking memberships for this year's CSA and have compiled the little surveys on what folks want.  Beets are a new request, and less greens and lettuce was mentioned a few times.  Other than that, we appear to be on target.  We are trying more dry beans this year, more onions, broccoli and herbs.  First Market weekend: June 6th.

Reduce Waste/Recycle:  We finished our 3-bin compost system.  (Plans from the Winter issue of Organic Gardening magazine)  Due to the presence of bears in the neighborhood, we cannot compost food waste; just chicken coop droppings, barn sweepings, grass and weeds, etc.
Learn Something: Never think that you're done learning anything.  Even after all the socks I have knit, I learned a new technique - knitting on two circular needles.  And I like it!

Be a friend:  I have connected via the phone with one of my blog buddies, Michelle.  It is always so interesting to hear an actual voice to go with the persona you have already put together in your head. We are having a wonderful time delving into the world of sock knitting...actually, I already live there, and I am pulling her in to join me...(*evil grin*)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pygoras for Sale

Reg. Pygora goats for Sale $150 each; White Doe and Silver wether - you must take both. 4-H discount of $50.

Almost since the inception of the farm we have had the Pygoras.  They are an excellent hobby farm animal - milk, fleece, and meat.  Not too large, and not too small.  But we have decided to concentrate on sheep as our primary ruminant for now - with all the projects we have going on, it was time to consolidate.  We've used them mainly for fiber - and even now we are not taking full advantage of that.  So it is time to find them a new home.

They are The Oaks Cicero, b. 2004 and The Oaks Clio, b. 2004.  

If you know of anyone who would like to add to a fiber/spinners flock, or if they just need two more goats, let them know.  They can contact the farm through our e-mail:

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I went to BetterBee Friday afternoon and picked up our bees. (They suggested I should put them in the truck cab to drive them home; I declined.) They came in a screened box.  And we had the hive ready - one super and parts; all painted for durability and cooling.  (No paint on the surfaces the bees will contact.)

Here's a picture of the frames before bees (we'll get more pictures like this as the season goes on):
The smoker won't work with new bees; so you have to spray down the bees, all the frames, and the box with sugar water.

You pry the cover off the box of bees and remove the queen - she is in a little box with several drones attending her.
Then you shake the box of bees hard to get them all to the bottom, invert the box over the hive, and shake hard again to allow the bulk of the bees to fall into the hive. (The idiocy of shaking a box of bee just inches from oneself was not lost on me - but it worked.)

Once most of the bees are in, you replace the frames, and hang the queen box between two frames.  (Ours fell in, and I had to retrieve it, but it worked the second time.)

Put everything back together, and marvel at how easy it was, how calm the bees seem, and how quickly they seem to settle right down to business.

And of course, say "thank you" to the photographer: