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Archive for June, 2009

Finally.

Everything is planted in the garden.

Today I put in four more rows of Silver Queen and also planted pumpkins. I am really excited because I should have three varieties of pumpkins coming in the next 96 days. Most are in the 25lb range but I have a couple that are expected to reach 100 pounds! Next year I would like to try one of those super-huge pumpkins… the 800-1000lb type. The kind where I’ll need straps and a forklift to move it. I can’t explain my fascination with those gigantic pumpkins but I have always wanted to grow one. For now I need to concentrate on my current crops.

I have to say┬áthere is something calming about working the ground with a shovel or hoe. Something about free-handing the rows of corn. It is all experimentation for me at this point. I don’t expect this year to give the highest yield of crops since a lot of the time my work is guided by brief glances at the back of seed packets and mostly guessing what I should do next. So far it is turning out alright. I will know for sure when it is time to harvest!

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This book is a “must read” for anyone who is thinking about starting a kitchen garden, has just started, or even for those garden veterans as I am sure any veteran will be able to relate, laugh and cry with the author through the many seasons. I myself am relatively new to gardening. Like the author I was around, perhaps grudgingly participating because my parents made me, the garden in my youth but I was never fully involved. Now I am venturing in to the world of gardening and growing vegetables. This book has been a great inspiration with many tips tucked away in the small stories throughout the book. While the ending left me wishing I knew just what he had done to perfect his garden, I can only imagine the author left it open so I will take the time to imagine my perfect garden and what I can do to help it represent me as well as fulfill my own needs. Or he may have wanted to leave readers hanging so we all can better understand the elusive “whore in the bedroom, horticulturist in the garden.” Either way, I do recommend reading this book. It is light and fun with small tidbits of information you can remember next season!

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Hay Day!

Phew! It was a great day. Specifically my first day stacking hay. Yes, I am a little crazy to enjoy this kind of labor. However, seeing the 170 bales of stacked hay feels so good. Almost energizing. Almost. I am pretty exhausted and slightly itchy after today’s work. But the result – hay for our animals through the winter – is worth it. Here is the hay I stacked (or helped stack, I stacked the hay on the bed of the red truck).

This red truck, also my favorite truck on the farm, was stacked with hay by myself and two other girls. We are pretty proud of ourselves. Stacking hay isn’t easy because bales can range between 50 and 80 pounds each!

The process of creating and harvesting hay is relatively simple. It takes the right amount of rain and the right timing for dry, hot weather. Hay can be made from various grasses with Timothy and Orchard grasses being the most popular on the East Coast. Alfalfa seems to be more popular out west (at least in places like Colorado and Utah). Grow, cut, dry, flip, dry, bale. Simple. If the weather cooperates!

For us it hasn’t been the best weather this year. We’ve had a lot of rain which threatened our cuttings with mold. Not only can moldy hay cause animals to get sick but it is very important to choose a dry week to harvest hay because wet bales generate a lot of heat and can easily cause barn fires. Thankfully our hay looks nice and smells nice. Good hay will have a sweet scent while moldy hay smells… well, awful!

So, what happens with all this cut and dried grass? It will be given to the horses, cows, goats and sheep on the farm. If we continue to have a good summer with lots of growth we should cut enough hay for our animals to eat over the next year.

170 down, over 500 more to go!

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dinner time!

dinner time!

I was greeted by two friendly snouts covered in mud today. It really does not differ between morning and night or lunchtime check ups. These two piglets – who are quickly growing! – are always covered in mud. Their precious mud. These two are currently being fed a mixture of crushed corn and soybeans to help them grow nicely while the 4H show season approaches. It will be up to their assigned handlers (children and young adults ranging between 9 and 16) to teach them proper manners and get them accustomed to minding people. As it stands right now, they love to give my legs muddy kisses and root at my shoes which must smell amazing to them after all the places I go on the farm.

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First Tomato!

Finally! Our first tomato decided to show up over the weekend. I have been tending the garden since the beginning of May but I stepped up my game over the past two weeks. Between the late start, rain and the difficult soil which likes to compact down it has felt like an uphill battle. Is it always like this? I don’t know because this is my first attempt at working in a garden. Of course the weeds seem to be doing well no matter what! However the whole garden is starting to take shape. We did have a poor showing of strawberries even though this was expected to be a nice year. But our two varieties of corn are growing and the potatoes will be ready for harvesting in a few weeks. The melons had a weak start but seem to be thriving now and growing more and more each time I look at them. And of course the tomatoes are coming around. They are my favorite and I just love the smell of their leaves when I am up close and retying them to the stakes. Other things in the garden that are growing are bush beans, snap peas, cucumbers, carrots and two types of peppers. I noticed a few peppers starting to grow so I will try and take some pictures soon.

first tomato of the season

first tomato of the season

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The other weekend a few friends and I headed over to another farm for a “pick your own strawberries” event. As you can see from the photo below, we came home with A LOT! Actually, the photo is only half of what was picked between the four of us.

my camera did not capture the true colors, these strawberries were much more ripe and less yellow/orange

After bringing home the morning’s harvest my boyfriend and I decided to select a few new recipes to try. One was a strawberry shortcake, another a strawberry crumb pie and the third (which I thought was the best and will be reviewing today) was strawberries covered in a sweet sour cream with red wine sauce.

The original recipe can be found here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/fresh-strawberries-with-sweet-sour-cream-and-red-wine-sauce-recipe/index.html . I did change it a little because I did not have any orange liqueur in the apartment.

Fresh Strawberries with Sweet Sour Cream and Red Wine Sauce

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence, 2007

Ingredients

  • 3 cups full-bodied red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 to 5 (1-inch wide, 3-inches long) strips orange peel
  • 1/4 orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, refrigerated
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

In a large saucepan add red wine, sugar, orange peel and orange-flavored liqueur. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes over low-heat until slightly syrupy and liquid has reduced by half. Set aside and cool in the refrigerator. Strain.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream with confectioners’ sugar. Take a large platter and make a smear of the sweet sour cream. Arrange the strawberries with the bottoms down in the sour cream. Pour over the red wine sauce and dust the entire plate with confectioners’ sugar.

As I stated, we did not use the orange liqueur. However, even without that ingredient it was marvelous! Truly worth doing if you have a little spare time. The wine should not be anything fancy. We used a simple Merlot that did not have a very robust or distinct taste. I think it may have cost us $6 at the local Safeway store.

This recipe is perfect for a hot summer afternoon. You can serve it warm or chilled depending on your tastes. I liked it both ways. If you are making enough for multiple “meals” (or just don’t plan on eating it all in one sitting) then my recommendation would be to keep the cream, sauce and strawberries in separate containers. Although letting the strawberries soak in both the cream and wine sauce works just as well.

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Welcome to the world, Bobbie!

Welcome to the world, Bobbie!

Name: Bobbie

Sex: Female

Born: 6/18/09 at 1pm EST in the pasture between rain showers.

Mom is Brittany, a Hereford.

Dad is Dennis, an Angus.

Bobbie has the white face, four white feet and white on the tip of her tail. The rest of her should stay black (like dad!).

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