24 July 2015

our trip

I headed westward with the kids without a computer.  So, I've taken a pause from blogging for most of July.  We are spending time in both Chicago and Michigan visiting family.  Here are some glimpses of our time off the farm. 

the kids get to experience city living--we travel by bus and train
the bean
maggie daley park
sunset on the train
their grandparents' backyard
the annual cousin jump
foggy day at lake michigan
working at a community garden

We still have a few more days before we are back in Vermont.  Savoring every moment with family while we are here.  

03 July 2015

around the farm

Our computer is getting fixed right now and that means all blog photos must come from our iPad, which I don't often carry around the farm.  And all blog updates must happen from our iPad, which doesn't work the best....I can't even seem to scroll to the bottom of this post to write.  ??  

Our markets have started and our veggies are growing well, despite the endless rains recently.
The high tunnel is working wonderfully for the tomatoes.  Our peppers aren't quite as happy, but we are harvesting some small ones.
After some work we did behind our house this spring, which meant digging up much of the boys' "nature garden", volunteer sunflowers have popped up all over the backyard.  We left a large area of them growing with phlox and milk weed, too. 
We will have sweet corn earlier than any other year...the corn Adam planted in former pig pasture is less than two weeks from bring ready.

As I write, my big boys are camping out in the backyard, by themselves, for the first time.
I'm resisting the urge to go and check on them.  :)

What is going on around your farm, garden or homestead?

29 June 2015

the last 10 days

Summer is here... with farmers' markets, weeding, food preserving, weeding, finishing up homeschooling, weeding, planting, weeding... and some time for fun.

We spend a great deal of time weeding right now.  But, in the past 10 days since my last post, we've also processed 60 pounds of strawberries into jam, the freezer and strawberry shortcake for dinner for a week straight.  We enjoyed our first river swim of the season on father's day and celebrated my friend's birthday at their summer camping spot on the lake.  Fenna is rediscovering the gardens as a big two year old--enjoying fresh baby carrots right out of the ground (wiped quickly on mama's shirt) and barefeet in freshly cultivated soil.  Many days we spend the whole day outside working and playing.  

The next two weeks, before I ventured westward with the kids, are full of swimming lessons, preparing the gardens for us leaving (Adam will still be here working hard, but I tend to do most of the hand-weeding), food saving and farmers' markets.  

Yes, summer is here.

17 June 2015

independence days (bi)weekly challenge

I'm joining Aubrey again this week for my (almost) bi-weekly independence days post.

1. Plant something:  We are still planting regularly--last week we planted many more cabbage and broccoli starts, as well as carrots, cukes, beets and more.  Also some extra lettuce starts we had.  The little ones like to help, so I spend some time re-planting (by hand) the seedlings that don't quite make it in the planter the right way.  But this tool has been so helpful to us on our farm--since we have no employees and Adam and I do everything.  Also, without irrigation, it's a great way to get the seedlings some water as we plant.

2. Harvest something:  It is a slightly slower start to our season, but we are enjoying fresh spinach daily and a friend helped me harvest our chamomile to dry for winter.  This afternoon, I'll be harvesting for our first farmers' market tomorrow!

3. Preserve something:  The chamomile above was air dried to store for teas and soap-making next winter.  

4. Waste not (what have you reused, recycled, or repurposed instead of throwing it away or buying new?):  With a humble farmsteading budget, we do this all the time rather than buying new.  Adam needed a new slow-moving vehicle sign for the hay wagon, so he took a bright red, broken harvest bucket and made one.  The signs I hang for farmers' market are supposed to be hung with zip-ties, but baling twine from old hay bales worked just as good.  We will be repainting signs we already have for markets and the farmstand.

5. Want not (besides what you reported under "preserve something", what else have you done to prepare for the future or become more self sufficient? What new skills are you learning?):
For the past 8 years, we have been steadily working towards putting up our own hay.  This has meant bartering with neighboring farmers to do haying for us, then bartering for our own baler and other equipment and the past couples years, with the exception of hiring a friend to mow the fields for us, we put up our hay on our own.  Adam would love to be able to rent more hay land and mow them himself, so he is always on the lookout for the equipment we need and we hope to find used equipment we can afford someday.  It takes the whole family to do this and our kids work so hard helping us get this done.  

6. Build community food systems:  Our markets start this week!  We attend two small markets where we bring our pastured pork, maple syrup, veggies and eggs.  
I also wanted to share this very neat database I discovered.  Our local Rutland Farm and Food Link, a non-profit that helps link farmers and consumers, among many other things, also organizes glean teams to come to local farms and glean veggies to distribute to food shelves, shelters and other organizations.  There is now a statewide Gleaning Interface where volunteers can sign up and community-based gleaning projects can get organized via the web.  I love this idea!  

7. Eat the food:  It's why we do what we do!  On the menu in the last couple weeks, pierogis with homemade farmer cheese, fresh spinach and sauerkraut, Adam made a big batch of our bbq beef for a church lunch, farm fresh omelets, white chili using up some of the salsa from last summer, spinach lasagna with farm fresh ricotta, and blueberry buckle to name a few things.  Below is my whipped cream mishap--where my cream skipped the whipped and went right to butter.  And one of my little helpers "tooking" with me.  

15 June 2015

strawberry picking

We picked the first strawberries of the season at a lovely farm near us. 
They grow organic berries and raise pastured pork.  The berry field is on the top of a hill that overlooks a lake, backed by mountains.  An amazing spot.
Strawberry shortcake for dinner (and breakfast!)  :)

12 June 2015

first cut

Sometimes it is hard for me to post on the blog.  
Our life on the farm is so much the same year to year...I've posted this post here and here and here.
But it is the cyclical nature of a homestead--and for us, there are always differences.  
This year, we baled the big field we use by ourselves.  
This year, the wild strawberries were ripe and the kids and I enjoyed handfuls while Adam baled.
This year, we packed a picnic dinner that we enjoyed in the shade in the beautiful field we hay.
The variables of weather, the other jobs on the farm, the juggling of kids--these things keep our life constantly interesting, sometimes even stressful...always rewarding.

And the first cut is in the barn.