Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Got a minute?

I need your assistance...or rather, a neighbor does.

Jordan, a local farmwoman, suffered the most heart-wrenching, devastating event in a homesteader's life - the senseless, brutal loss of her animals to a vicious dog. Her two little does were killed by a neighbor's dog and today she is grieving the terrible loss, trying to sort out the best path to take, and wondering what could have been done.

If you have ever been through this type of thing, or if you live in fear of it (like I do), or if you just have the knack for supporting someone in need, could you go to her blog and leave her a note?

Thanks. I owe you one..

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Can't really say enough about this wonderful crop - it should be a part of every homesteader's garden (and probably you backyard gardeners!) - here's why it works on our farm:

1. You plant in the fall. So when you have more time, and the regular garden is starting to fade and you are already dreaming of Spring, you get to farm! We usually plant in October, perhaps later than the catalogs recommend, but around here we still get pretty warm Septembers and I don't want the cloves sending up shoots above ground.

Plant cloves like a bulb; you should get 6-10 from each seed head. 3 inches down usually does it - but we cover with a good layer of straw for insulation and weed suppression. If you don't, I would plant a little deeper.

2. It is pretty tolerant and not a fussy crop. It will tolerate mediocre soil, although adding nice mulch insures bigger bulbs...and it can be planted pretty close so it doesn't take a lot of room for the yield. Just allow enough room for each clove to expand to a 4" diameter bulb.

3. Two crops in one. We plant a hardneck variety that "flowers" around June. The flower is the scape; a curly stem that looks much like a pig's tail and is about the same diameter. You pick scapes when they have just made it around in one loop. Removing them is a must, or the final bulb is much smaller. The scapes make an excellent item for the market, as well as the main ingredient in scape pesto which we freeze for the winter.

The garlic is typically harvested about a month later, when the leaves start to yellow. We save the biggest bulbs for seed for the following year, it always sells well as a market item, we use it in CSA shares, for our cooking, and even the smaller bulbs get put to use. Garlic is part of practically every cuisine on the planet, and has been a part of mankind's spice rack and medicine cabinet for centuries.

4. Good for everyone. What the humans don't consume, the farm critters do. We chop smaller cloves up for the poultry once or twice a summer. On a day when we are feeding some other scraps, we mix in the garlic and they love it. Good for their systems!

We also use garlic as part of our organic plan for parasite control for the ruminants. In the Spring, and again in the Fall, we feed each animal a clove or two for three straight days to rid their systems of any heavy worm load. The Fall application is followed with as many pumpkins as they want since the seeds are also part of the worm reduction, and they love pumpkins...We have tested at zero in our latest fecal samples!

5. Sustainability. Since we save our seed for the next year, it becomes part of the cycle of the farm that requires minimal new input. (We only have had to buy new seed once since the original investment - we wanted much more than I had been able to save). Also, being a member of the allium family, the plant has antiseptic properties that help to cleanse the soil it grows in, so we move the garlic bed often as part of the rotational use of the accessible land.

6. Lore. There are as many non-food uses for garlic as there are standard recipes. My favorite : rub the doors and windowsills of new buildings to ward off witches, ghosts, and ill fortune. Who knew?

Find a corner of your garden and try some this year - even flower gardens can use the spikey, green foliage as a contrast (and it is a cousin to the Lily...).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Grey Foxes - 9, Humans - 1

We have been heavily hit this year by grey foxes. They have taken everything from fledgling pullets to full size roosters. Everyone has stories to tell - the old timers are saying this is a record year and they don't remember when they ever saw so many. In fact, a rabid fox bit it little boy in Bennington (9 miles away) just last week.

But tonight, DH got a yearling female.

Part of the cycle of life; but I am going to enjoy tipping one back for the ladies tonight.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Incredibly Good Very Bad Thing

My friend Sue introduced us to 5 Minute Ice Cream.

5 Minutes to make...about 5 seconds to consume.

I just made Strawberry...and this photo is what my dish looked like - for about a nanosecond. I was just eating too fast to stop and take an actual picture, so I Googled the image.

10 oz. frozen fruit
1/2 C sugar
2/3 C heavy cream

Place frozen fruit and sugar in a food processor. Chop for a few seconds until roughly mixed. Now, turn on the processor and chop while pouring the heavy cream in a small, steady stream into the mixture. In an instant it turns creamy and thick. Continue until all cream is added. Place in freezer for a few minutes, or until it reaches the consistency you desire.

By the time I run out of frozen fruit from this year's picking, my butt will be the size of Pittsburgh. Ahhhh.....oh well.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Barry White is alive...and living with my sheep

Or so you might think, if you ever heard them. (Or should that be, "herd" them?) There's the usual symphony of nasal blatting, followed by the deep, bass rumbling of "Barry":
a.k.a. Leonidas, our ram. The funny part is, he is the smallest member of the flock. (And when we got him, he was the smallest Shetland I had ever seen.) But when he speaks, it's like listening to chocolate thunder.

Here he is at 1 yr. old, riding in the passenger seat of a Dodge Dakota, on his way to his first haircut and shearing demonstration. (Told you he was tiny...)
Of course, we are expecting big things of him, despite his small beginnings, so our fingers are crossed and the band is warming up.

Let me introduce Love Unlimited:
That's Secret and Angel, the back-up singers, and oh yeah, Alexander (on the right) plays the keyboards.

Walkin' in the rain with the one I love....