I decided to buy Daisy because she was pretty, had big brown eyes and long, long legs. Also she was an Ayrshire, a breed of Scottish origin, known for its ability to give good creamy milk on forage. I want to make my own tasty cheese and butter and drink my own milk. I cannot support those big dairy farms where the cows never even SEE grass standing on their carousels and being milked three times a day. So we needed our own gentle pasture raised milk cow.
We decided not to feed her or our beef cows bulk feed field corn. They may have sweetcorn grown on our land in the season but only if they eat their greens first! Corn is too acidic for a cows stomach. They cannot digest it. And yes most of the industrially grown field corn is genetically modified. (Here she goes again). Also as it has been engineered for maximum yield per acre the corn has lost a frightening amount of protein over the last few years, this has been replaced by starchy sugars. ie fat, sick cows. So we decided – no field corn for our cows. Which means we needs lots and lots of grass and hay.
So sweet.. look at her skinny wee legs.
Now leap forward Two years and this is Daisy this morning. As I got the shot she galloped straight at me and skidded to a stop just short of my head. Like some cartoon cow, you can almost hear the pretend screeching and skidding sounds. She was probably making them under her breath. You know how cows are! She does this all the time trying to scare an apple up out of my pockets!
She still is a cute cow though. Big and tall. She is a nuzzly cow. Always looking for treats. Beautiful big healthy grass-fed cow. I am hoping that she is pregnant too. A few weeks ago she had a visit from the vet. We are hoping for a virgin birth in March. The vet will visit in a few weeks to see if she is enciente. So stay tuned.
So we have chickens, cows (one dairy cow, one beef heifer and one beef steer) and the sheep, ( Mama and her progeny – Mia and the two Murphys who are destined for christmas dinners – and Hairy MacLairy the ram) All of whom eat a variety of grasses and legumes and forbes ( a fancy name for weeds! Don’t you love it). When you get down to it we are grass farmers. Weed farmers. Worm growers. Lovely.
An important element of a sustainable outfit is diversity, both animals and plants, so that one metaphorically and sometimes literally feeds the other. It is all intertwined. As long as you are growing what grows naturally. But everything depends on the ground. The ground we walk on. The earth from which all things should grow. The fundamental building block of a good property is good SOIL.
The other reason for having cows is that cows are brilliant players in the game of soil health. As long as they have access to good food they give the good straight back, with a big plop. Cows merrily drop all the components for good soil all over the fields all day long, and then lift their tails and water it in! Later my feathered manure spreaders peck at the manure and scatter it all about and drop a bit of their own in there as well. After a few years of this all those lovely worms, and soil creatures (I am desperate to see a dung beetle or a mole – both of whom are great signs of soil health) and most especially those micro organisms that promote soil and plant health, will return. It will take some time though. I am trying to be patient.
We love to see people catch the self-sufficiency, sustainably managed, small holding, lifestyle block, homesteading, getting back to nature, whatever you want to call it, bug. Save the Barns. Feed themselves. Mitigate the destructive monoculture industrial growing. Go and find an old house with a broken down barn and three or four acres and get out a hammer and a shovel and a dog and start making a go of it. It can be done and it is immensely satisfying. Instantly satisfying. But GO SLOW. Do not overstock. If you overstock you are becoming like THEM! Have more grass than you need. Plan for your lambs and calves to be born outside when you have lots of grass and before the flies. Milk during the summer. Fatten your pig on your milk. Plant a fattening field to fatten lambs and steers in the late summer. Take your stock to the abattoir when the grass starts to die off. Plan according to your climate. It is all so sensible really this way. Plant your flowers and trees every year and make sure you sit on your verandah and admire them every evening. It is about living the life. The easy way. There is no destination. We are not going to get rich. We just want to live like rich people, eating good food.
I will keep you updated. Because it can be done, he said. He is also rebuilding the old house and his wife is having air conditioning no matter what! She cannot believe that I refuse to turn our air on.
Well, I have a chook standing around in the chook house just not looking happy. I cannot see anything wrong with her except for this lethargy and loss of appetite. I will isolate her in the hospital wing ( an old dog crate in the run) Then I will dose her and the whole flock with extra garlic, and yoghurt and thyme (I just mix it with their food) .. then I will give the same to the cows and the sheep. Twice a day for a few days actually. All water barrels will be emptied scrubbed and refilled fresh with cider vinegar in them, just to be sure. It may just be the heat. Bit of a bore but there you are. Speaking of water. i popped outside to get your last shot of the day: Look!
Well your kitty survived the night and here he/she is with a wet little nose and a bowl of milk and honey. Still limping and slow but at least it has given up on that piteous crying. And yes – ( thank you for all your heart-wrenching messages ..) she is kind of cute I guess.
Very very early this morning because it is terribly hot today already. But that is Ok as I am going to spend most of today driving The Matriarchs’ refrigerator on wheels with the air conditioning ON, up to Chicago and then back again.
Anyway so I pulled up these beetroot. I Love beetroot. Here they calls them Beets. I am growing a fair few because this year I want to put some in jars and store them.
I will quickly tell you my favorite way to prepare beetroot as a side dish. The tang of the beets and sweetness of the balsamic are just great. If you are drinking a corona and have a lime on the counter just a tiny squeeze of lime at the end is lovely too.
Wash Beets, trim leaves off, leaving about an inch of stalk on. Boil until soft but not too soft. Cool. Slice about 1/4 inch thick. Heat a cast iron pan then melt a good tablespoon of butter, throw in a few dill seeds and grind in some pepper and a pinch of sea salt, toss for a few seconds. Add your sliced beetroot and cook through quickly turning until they are sizzling in the hot butter. Barely cover in balsamic vinegar, turn the heat down and cook gently until the balsamic is a heavy sheen on the beets. It will evaporate quite quickly so pay attention. No wandering outside to sit on the swing chair with that Corona until you are done! Remove from heat, cool and serve at room temperature topped with chopped fresh dill.
DIVINE. My beets are in the pot and when I get back from the airport I will go to the second stage.
You will also see that behind the Beets is a pile of Sweetcorn. (yes sweetcorn season is here and it will be a short one because of this massive heat.) Sweetcorn pleases everyone.
Our John cooks it on the grill. Gently peel the green husks back, do not rip off, extract all the sticky silks, re-wrap in its green, soak for a while in cold water, (now you can sit in the swing chair) then onto the grill for however long it takes depending on the heat of your fire, we do this every night while there is corn.
But wait there is more to the corn story. After I have finished picking enough for us for a meal, I haul the entire corn-stalk out of the ground and throw it over the fence to the cows and sheep. They love sweetcorn stalks. Especially now that the grass is turning to upright hay in the fields. I used to chop the stalks up for the young ones but then I got lazy one day and just yanked them out hurled them over the fence and to my delight the animals just gnawed away for hours eventually consuming everything. So there you are laziness has its own reward! Of course when the chickens get in on the act, it is quite the free for all.
Just now I took the camera out to grab a few shots for you and look at this sad shot of my grapevines. All the upper third of the vines look like this. The Aftermath of the Beetle. However as I said before we will not have to summer prune that much this year. And with it being so hot and dry. Well, Maybe we will get some grapes. And then a few bottles of wine. Maybe? Poor poor vine.
And here are a couple of the bee hives. With their lids propped open to help the bees cool inside their hives a little. It must be SO hot in there. It is over 100 degrees out there now. The topmost supers on these hives are smaller because they are for gathering honey. We have high hopes for these little boxes. I will take you out in a few weeks and we will see how they are doing!
You will remember that both these hives lost a swarm (about half their bees ran off!). I did capture these swarms and they were returned to new hives, one of which is your Blog hive. But with the loss of so many bees it will be interesting to see what honey production we do get.
You all have a good day.
I am off onto the Highways.
Well I came back from walking the dogs down the creek path early this morning and look what I found trying to haul its miserable limping cobweb covered self, up my verandah steps. Crying piteously. With all its fluff stuck up on end and such a big sad look. Where did this come from? And no, I am NOT keeping it. I do not do strays. I am NOT a cat person. NO. I told you. I did give it milk and then a wee bit of my breakfast. Well it was staring at me through the screen what was I to do? But I am NOT keeping it. That is quite enough of that talk. Anyway it appears to be a little girl cat and you know how girl cats multiply!
No. We are here today to talk about Quiche. Because I really want to share this with you. Quiche is a seasonal dish in that the filling is determined by the gardens. At the moment we have piles of zuchinni and onions. Sometimes I use butternuts and sweet potatoes. Or mushrooms and spinach with feta. I have also made a quiche with feta, avocado and spinach. So use what you have. But with spinach and mushrooms and any wet vegetables make sure you get the excess moisture out first. The Best part of this Quiche is this base. It is so easy and crunchy. have fun with your flavours.
Everyone's a critic!
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
Fresh herbs. Today I added rosemary.
Mix altogether until it is firm and will form a soft ball. With fingertips pat gently into greased quiche dish covering the base and sides of the dish.
Beat 4 or 5 fresh eggs with a little fresh cream or milk. Salt and pepper to taste.
About 6 thinly sliced mushrooms (dry sauté the mushrooms in a pan first to extract the moisture. )
Alternate layers of vegetables onto the base. Divide 1 Cup grated tasty/sharp cheese and ½ cup parmesan cheese throughout the layers, leave some for the top.
In between layers I added the egg mixture until it was all poured through.
Top with cheese.
Cook for about 50 – 60 minutes until golden brown. Cool in its dish on a cake rack.
Perfect for lunch today. And so that is what I am going to do. Have lunch.
Have fun with your cooking. What are you having for lunch?. Don’t eat anything you can’t recognise as food! Well I had better go and check on the little interloper. Cooder is probably looking after it! See you again soon. c
Hey it just started to rain. Oh no, its gone. Well there was a wee bit of something. It was spitting. Though the sky spitting on me is not a sweet analogy. We have not had rain since the middle of June so I guess even those few spits are welcome. Shortly we are going to have to resort to some kind of rain dance. And that is not a picture I want anyone carrying around in their heads for the day. And yes it is still hot, but there is a wee breeze, so all is not lost. This is a chook photo from my archives. I will tell you about it soon.
Now we were going to discuss chickens on the farm. They are pretty important. Because they are the clean up guys. They are practically camped under the apple trees this week. When I weed the flower and vegetable gardens all the weeds that are deemed edible, which is most of them, are thrown into the chook run. They eat left overs from the house kitchen. They turn over the hay in the barn every day looking for tasty morsels. they have dust baths in the most inconvenient places but what can you do. They work for free. They are my waste disposal units.
I have two flocks. One spends their morning in the chook house being good girls and laying their eggs before coming out in the afternoon to make trouble. The other flock is smaller and sleeps in the rafters of the barn with the guineas. See below: These are the guineas, these are not chickens. And yes these birds are really as ugly as they appear. Their job is to wander about and eat bugs. But they just wander about and make a sound similar to a bug that needs his bicycle chain oiled. They squeak about the property. And they don’t even eat Japanese Beetles! People say they are good watchdogs but they don’t do that either, more often than not they saunter slowly in front of the approaching car thinking squeaky thoughts. TonTon used to herd them but he has given up on that because they take no notice of him anymore.
Anyway back to the chickens. Their eggs are fed to every animal on the property. The cats dogs, cows and sheep all line up for their daily eggs and milk. I have tried every recipe known to man or woman that uses lots of eggs. I cannot wait to get a pig and then I can feed the little oink eggs and milk as well and won’t he be YUM! Here is Rooster 3. Not pretty either really.
And so to all those egg shells. These get crushed then thrown into the vegetable gardens. Good for tomatoes evidently and a great deterrent for all manner of little crawlies in the soil. Calcium for the soil. I also put crushed shell into the worm farm. I must tell you about the worm farm sometime soon.
The chickens are the manure spreaders in the fields. Now anyone with a weak stomach may not want to read this paragraph. But the moment the chook house flock is let out in the afternoon, they race each other to the cow pats. They jump into them and scratch about looking for seeds. Flicking clumps of cow poo in all directions. It is quite revolting to watch but perfect for fertilising the fields. Sometimes I feed Daisy oats (which pass right through her undigested), to encourage the chickens in their job as farm manure spreaders. Isn’t that just awful! I feel so bad. OK moving on. Here is a nice picture of lambs to take the nasty image of flying poo out of your head.
Hen Health. To raise animals naturally we must always be proactive about their health. Cider vinegar in the water once a week. Yoghurt mixed into their feed once a week. Garlic when you think about it. Lots and lots of green. Make sure they have oyster shell and a varied diet. In the winter our girls will not take a step out that door, they HATE the snow, so sometimes I throw a slice of hay in for them to munch during the cold times. I used to give them a heat lamp when it was below freezing but the cats kept shuffling the chickens out of the way and sleeping under the lamp all day, so we gave up. (See First Image. Unless I tell you, all photos are taken on the day I write , but I could not resist including this old one of Thing Two as a heat seeking cat. Bad cat)
So there you are. Chickens, chooks, hens. They are one of the pivots of my little farm system. Our attempt to live sustainably without waste.
Now I have started a flag counter on this page so we can see where our readers are visiting from as a bit of interest. So far though I have had 379 visits. Thank you so much for dropping by. I am loving it. And your comments are great.
Now, I am going to go and make quiche. I will use todays eggs, and zuchinni and onion from the garden. This is a popular Buyswheeler recipe so I will write it up for you tomorrow. Though I need to warn you that my recipes are of the ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ variety.
Talk to you again soon.
I know I was going to talk with you about the chooks/chickens/hens. But before I go there: I am sorry to do this to all my readers who are in the winter on the other side of the world shivering quietly in your corners but evidently it is going to be Really HOT here this week. Everyone is talking about the heat index here. So I thought I would too. But I was not sure what it means so I looked it up in good old Wikipedia:
The heat index (HI) is an index that combines air temperature and relative humidity in an attempt to determine the human-perceived equivalent temperature .. blah blah blah..
In other words : if you feel hot, the heat index tells you that you don’t feel hot enough yet and you should be feeling hotter!
So, an Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for central Illinois from today until Friday. They are predicting 115F (46C) or something. Anyway it is going to be a wee bit Hot here for the next week, and we are all supposed to be scorched right into the ground if we go outside. We are to make frequent checks on the elderly or people without airconditioning. And that would be us without the air-conditioning.
So I thought I would share with you the 10 things I do to keep cool in a heatwave without airconditioning.
1.Get up really, really early and do as much as you can BEFORE the sun comes up. It is always cooler in the dark. Carry a torch. Work in your nightie. Wear your gumboots. Do not leap with fright when a heavy breathing sheep appears out of the dark to see what you are doing filling up the water troughs at 4 am in the morning and dumping loose salt into buckets. Open all the gates that lead into the shade. Do not let the ram in with your ewes by mistake though and then run around in the dark without a torch, wishing you had put on your gumboots and trying to sort it all out again before something dreadful occurs.
2. As the day goes on do NOT look at the temperature. Turn off any media devices that may shout out the temperature. Banish all temperature guages. If you are surprised by a weather report put your hands over your ears and makes loud mumbly noises. Knowing it is hot makes you hotter. You do NOT want to know!
3. Put the sprinkler on TOP of your house and make some rain. Just the sound of rain on your roof makes you cooler.
4. Eat really COLD watermelon, on the verandah, sweating gently in front of a fan. The fan cools the sweat on your miserable body. You may idly spit the seeds into the garden to amuse yourself.
5. Avoid any alcoholic drink unless it is really cold beer. Put an UMBRELLA in it. An umbrella makes the drink taste colder. However if your husband comes in with the last pick of the peaches and begs you to drink fresh peach daiquiri’s you may have one or maybe two. You do not need an umbrella for the daiquiri. Though a lime is nice.
6. Embrace the heat, think of it as an extended steam treatment for your skin. Sweating is good. Think of the impurities you are sweating out and the weight loss. There has to be weight loss. I am sure I read that somewhere. Maybe you could wrap yourself up in rags like a mummy or smear yourself in mud or something and pretend you are at a spa. Or do that mad yoga thing that they do in really hot rooms! Please check with your doctor first. My doctor, who I have not seen now for twenty years or something, said NO.
7. Take any footwear off your feet – that includes the heels. (What were you thinking?) Take all your closefitting clothing OFF and put on a really big bad taste Hawaiian shirt, (ask your brother-in-law for one I bet he has dozens hidden in the back of his wardrobe) then suitably attired, go and lie in the hammock, under a mosquito net and refer to line 1 of Instruction 6.
8. Drink water. Tons of it. The loo is usually the coolest spot in the house anyway, so pour that water down your throat! If you have not peed for an hour you are dehydrating. Your brain is beginning to shrivel up. Your skin is beginning to sag. Drink more! I drink my water out of a wine glass, for some reason I drink more when it is in a wine glass.
9. Lay about in the pool. Pretend you are cleaning it for the whole afternoon. If you don’t have a pool – SHIFT! Wear suntan lotion, a sunhat and sunglasses IN the pool. Remember NO suntan lotion is waterproof that is a lie! Or better still float a really big sun umbrella (not the umbrella from your drink) in the pool. I am not sure exactly how you should do this but I think it is a great idea! Oh and do NOT dry off after a swim, this is always a mistake.
10. DO NOT SAY.. “God, I am hot” because The Gods will make it hotter just where you are sitting. You will be in an oozing puddle of hotness. Instead say, ” you know I think it is starting to cool off.” and if anyone says anything to the contrary refer to Instruction 2.
There. Don’t we all feel better already.
(Here is a picture of some little chicks for you. These guys will hang out under the big trees all day with their mama. They are part of the barn flock. Very sadly their daddy (Rooster 3 who is camera shy) has feathers on his feet, so they will eventually have feathers on their feet too, which will make them look a bit silly. So far they are just cute.)
OK I am going to have another go at making mint sauce. The last one did not work. I will let you know when I find a recipe that is simple enough for me! Nothing like a hot kitchen on a hot day. Good for the skin. Actually I think it is cooling off already!!.
If you are in a hot place : well you know what to do. If you are in a cold place: thinking of US being in the hot place may or may not make you feel better about being in a cold place.
OK, now I promise I will start thinking about writing about the chickens, chooks and hens for next time.
PS If you want the recipes for anything I talk about leave me a comment and I will pop it in a Post for you!
First: When we began to develop the place I planted flowers. The flower garden is such an important part of ANY property. Especially any place that I am. I was new here so I had to do my homework and find the flowers that LOVE neglect and love to live right HERE. I had to find plants that were native to our environment. Among others – Coneflowers are one of the natives that grow really happily around here. And the label said native and invasive and it has a bright juicy flower – so I bought one of each and then divided them and just let them have at it!
Once I had my flowers then I got hordes of these guys flying about. I have a number of flower gardens that are getting bigger every year, well Our John was sick of mowing grass anyway. And of course our bees need millions of flowers.
And yes the gardens are all about the bees. However sometimes other insect life creates problems. We are in a land of extremes. Here the pests come in droves, stay awhile and then leave just as suddenly. The year before last we had a plague of aphids – you could not breathe, they just stopped everything, the air was dark with them, it was so bizarre and deeply unsettling. Almost biblical except they were APHIDS! We had to hold cloths over our faces as we ran through these immense clouds of migrating aphids to and from the barn to the house. The animals were almost driven mad, these tiny tiny bugs took up all the air. They were coughing desperately trying to take a breath without inhaling the little buggers. They were here two days in a row then gone.
And look below for pest of the week, an introduced pest – this guy is not a native and he does not take up my air but this Japanese Beetle eats tons and tons of leaves. He eats everything in sight, silently. We have had trees stripped of all the green in their leaves, just left with these miserable skeletal leaves. He is voracious, greedy and my ENEMY!
This year they landed in the asparagus and then decimated the grape vine. In a day. I was appalled. I do not use pesticides. But you can kill them as long as you get the timing right. When they are really dense. Get the dishwashing liquid, (I use Dawn – I know it is not natural but something had to be done) water it down a bit, load up a wee sprayer and SOAK them. Just douse them in the stuff. I stood out there two nights in a row (after all good self respecting bees and butterflies and husbands were in bed) and sprayed with my little hand sprayer until my little hand about dropped off. Slowly working up and down the rows. And they DIED! I was thrilled. I was cackling with delight. Doing a little murderous caper. I was the sweet old lady knitting at the guillitine.
Though we are a wee bit worried that the wine will taste soapy this year. And there is no need for a summer prune just yet as most of the leaves have gone.. eaten in just a few hours. But fingers crossed. No other insects were harmed. And maybe we will still get grapes for the wine. Our first iddy biddy vintage this year so stay posted for that.
But I have digressed. Back to the journey into the cycle of sustainable farming. (I am still not happy with the label) But as I said: The first thing I did when I began to develop our little property was plant flowers, (and now I have this wonderful insect life for my birds and flowers for the bees and me) and after the flowers came the vegetable gardens and next I got a box of chickens delivered in the mail, then we bought Daisy.
Tomorrow I will tell you about the chickens and how they fit in. They do more than lay eggs you know. I will go out and take some shots of them now. Then I will make another batch of pickles. And maybe some crostini to go with the pickles. And what are we going to have for dinner?. I had better go out into the garden and see what is ready!
Well, I guess it is crostini and pickles and cheese for dinner. Did I tell you that I made that pound cake? It did not make it to the camera though.. got pounced on!
Talk to you soon.
Bad bugs eating my vines. Pesticide Free is such a Chore sometimes . I am whining about the threat to my wine….. Japanese Beetles but there is a way to deter them. I will tell you about that next time. For now Sunday Brunch:
Breakfast Potato Cakes. (for two and a half).. I am usually one and a half when it comes to these. This is really my daughters recipe and I have not asked her permission so HUSH! But I told you I would do breakfast.!
Grate two potatoes, finely chop one small onion, add a sprinkle of salt, wrap in an old thin tea towel and wring all the water out of it. Give it all you got! Get as much moisture out as you can. Empty the potato and onion mixture into a bowl. Sops adds finely sliced bacon now too but you can choose.
Add one egg, tblsp finely chopped fresh herbs of choice (I use parsley or thyme or basil or coriander). Pepper. I am big on pepper less on salt.
Mix. So simple I can’t bear it!!
Heat cast iron skillet, or electric frypan. When it is HOT add a tablespoon of butter. Melt. Place a good spoonful of the mixture at a time into the pan, making about 6 little potato cakes. Now, turn your heat low and let them cook. No poking, no turning. Do not harrass the potato cake! When you can see the sides crinkling up and browning (about 5 minutes). Carefully flip each one over, press gently with your egg slice to flatten slightly and cook the other side for another 5 minutes. Take your time, keep the heat on medium-low and let the cake really cook and get nice a crispy. Both onions and potatoes need to be well cooked. About 10 minutes should do it.
Serve hot, hot. With fresh parsley or chopped chives tucked in.
Tonight we had these potato cakes for dinner ( I added cilantro and lime) with freshly picked beans in a red curry sauce. This is why the photo is so rubbish, we were desperate to eat them while they were hot!
YUM! let me know how they turn out.
Reclaiming land from industrial horticulture, or factory growing (as I call it) is a daunting process. Our plans have the locals rolling their eyes. Why would you want to grow beef on grass when they get nice and fat (read obese) on corn. Whole generations of people actually think that a cow will go all scrawny if you let it graze grass and nothing else. That if it is not fed antibiotics with its water it will get sick. They have been convinced that grass fed beef is tough and inedible. Lean is bad. Healthy is a gimmick. And why grow your own vegetables when it is so much cheaper to buy a frozen pizza at Walmart? Yet growing food on your own farm to feed your family is not some new idea. This piece of land had been feeding people for generations. All food was organic until after the 20’s!. All farms had their own pig, chickens, beef, their own milk cow and enormous vegetable gardens.
I have an old poster for the sale of some stock from the farm we live on now. As I understand it Bert (My husband’s Great-Grandfather ), became ill, could no longer farm and sold off his stock (not the land), he died shortly after in 1921 and his wife Emma took over the cropping with the help of hired men and her sons as they grew. The barns and home fields still housed a few animals for the family table, the horses that were used on the farms grazed along side the beef cows. Big vegetable gardens grew close to each of the houses. The food was canned(bottled) in big glass jars some of which I have in my pantry. They were running a sustainable farm before the label was even invented. They took responsibility for feeding themselves. Here is the poster for the sale:Later, after the second world war with its warfare chemicals looking for a new home (i.e. fertilisers and pesticides), then aided by the corn subsidies of the 70’s. Big horticulture took over these small farms. In came the big machines, cutting a swathe of corn and soya bean rotational cropping through the small farms and systematically abusing some of the best growing land in the country. The barns were gutted and used to house tractors and combine harvesters that grew in size like Palmer’s, A Fish out of Water and they are still getting bigger. The animals were herded onto concrete pads and fed corn. The hogs jammed into sheds and fed corn. Sheep almost disappeared from around here completely. A huge percentage of the land is rented out to the big croppers who own the big machines that grow the corn. It is corn, beans and a little wheat absolutely everywhere around here. That is all.
Ironically I am surrounded on FOUR sides by this low protein, high yield, genetically modified field corn. With a wee lane to drive in and out.
I cannot see out. Yet there is no food in these fields. I cannot make a meal from what is all around me. It is a constant reminder of how a destructive trend can be so insidious in its pretty-ness. Look how green and healthy it all looks. Don’t get me started!! This is where High Fructose Corn Syrup, a banned substance in my home and a proven cause of obesity, and all manner of other icky food stuffs, comes from. OK I will stop now. Rants take up too much space! Below: TonTon helps show how tall the corn is.
So we are slowly breaking in new ground, acre by acre – year by year. Replacing the corn that we have no use for, our cows are not fed corn at all and nor am I. We have three acres in grass around the house already and below you will see our next two reclaimed acres. Sown in three different kinds of grasses and two kinds of clover. Our first task in reclaiming the land is to begin to build some topsoil. Millions of years of topsoil has been tilled into the air in only the last few decades, so building the soil back up is going to take some time and a lot of cow manure and compost. We have let the grass grow tall so what the stock doesn’t eat will be knocked down covering the dirt and encouraging micro-organisms and worms and new growth. Once again this will take a while. Daisy and friends are doing their best.
As you can see we are still fencing. We use recycled old power poles. Here is the old barn, which is needing a lot of work too. Our John’s Grandfather ripped the South side out to fit a combine in there. As we find the old gates, smaller doors, windows and interior timbers. We are not building it new, we are building it old and solid. Another long project.
So now you may be getting a feel for our mission. ( I ‘m sorry but we have to get serious every now and then) We are developing the strong sustainable cycle of growing and feeding and composting that will heal the ground and grow our clean food. I don’t mean that to sound so airy fairy. It really is much simpler than that. It is ordinary really. Simple.
Now I am going to go and work in the garden, in my short skirt but without the heels! Well maybe in the heels just to prove a point. Trouble is the pointy bits sink into the ground!
Tomorrow we will do breakfast. Thanks for dropping in again.
Here is the mint jelly – dripping (it will take the day).. oh and hmm.. yes that is baling twine .. holding it up.. oh. Ok moving right along!
These are the little cucumbers that I turned into the pickles you will see below
All before I had even dressed this morning. I did all this hot and messy work in my nightie early early. Actually I often work in my night attire in the morning. The kitchen gets hot. I am the barefoot cook. Plus I do not like to mix farm chores with canning/bottling. When I make cheese I have to stay clean for Hours!! It is Awful! OK I am going to leave you with the pickles as I am going to begin writing my next series of posts that are actually ABOUT how we farm as we do. But first I am off outside to do dirty stuff. See you soon. c
As promised here are the photos of us housing the new bees. I am learning as we go with bees but one thing for sure is that when working with them I move slowly and gently so as not to cause a ruckus. For some reason this is always accompanied by a soothing monologue. I tell them what I am doing and why. In a very low and soothing voice. I drone on!!! (terrible pun) OK, First the new super. For the moment it is sitting on a window screen which is set on a pallet under the trees. I was horrified to discover that the Pallet has Monsanto proudly stenciled onto the side .. horrors. I will paint peace signs all over their name later on!!
Here I am unpacking the nuc. It was a perfect temporary home. You can see the frames that I placed in there are full of bees. I will unpack each of those frames and replace them in the new super carrying their load of buzzing girls with them.
Mercy, those gardening gloves are ugly aren’t they. My beekeepers outfits are just whatever is hanging around that is pale. I wear long-sleeves because when I get hot I begin to glow (ladies never sweat they glow – don’t you know) and it seems the little bees are a bit attracted to the ‘glow’ and they tickle when they stand on me. Hence the covered arms and legs in 98 degree heat. Moving slowly and calmly is an exercise in discipline when it is that hot!
Now look below and you will see all the wee girls who have been left behind in the cardboard nuc. They will have to do The Crawl. You will remember last time they did the bee crawl. Once again I will place the box so that they can see the dark entrance and hopefully they will puddle straight in like good little bees.
Well, all the left over bees did crawl straight in. So grateful for the extra room I am sure. Those nuc’s are useful but small. Now this hive can get on with the important business of making babies and storing honey. I am not sure that I will be stealing any honey from this hive this year, we will see. If they give up any for me I will show you.
Well my gas tank was filled this morning (yay) so I am going to pick some peaches, set the gas burners aflame and make peach jam. Then pickle all the little cucumbers that seem to have been multiplying in the bottom of my ‘fridge.
See you again soon.