Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The farmers market

The little town where I grew up and which is the nearest town to the farm has a small farmer's market that happens on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  I have started to participate.  For the last three weeks or so I have taken a table and set up in the shade of the park and sold my wares.  My garden went in late so I am not yet flush with surplus garden goodies so I have been taking baked goods.

It is a small group of vendors, 5 or 6 most days, who have been doing this twice a week for many years.  I am the new kid on the block and these pros couldn't be more helpful and friendly.  I hope to make a little money but I think that the social aspect of it will be at least as much fun.

Here is picture of my table.  I have been taking a different combination each time of baguettes, buns, mini loaves, biscotti, scones, almond cake and Danish puff.  I also have taken a few jars of savory and sweet jelly.

Finally I am getting produce to actually take to the market.  My summer squash has started to come.  So I have had a few zucchini and yellow squash in addition to the baked goods.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

orchard update

At the farm I have started a small orchard.  It began with a couple of apple trees and then a year later two plum trees and two pear trees.  My goal was to add more fruit every year.  This year was supposed to be peaches and some nut trees but the place where we tried to order them from sold out before our order could be filled. 

Last year I noticed that one of our apple trees was missing a lot of leaves.  It still produced apples and I hoped that it would be better this year.  This year it is even worse.  I did some research online and the suggestions were to fertilize and to try to give optimal care.  So today I spent some time in the orchard.  I mowed under the trees and weeded the area around the trunk.  I tried some of those pound in fertilizer spikes and gave the trees a good drink.  My other apple tree is one that seems to produce apples every other year.  This is the off year and although there are a few apples coming it is not as many as last year. 
sparsely leafed apple

a apple of the other tree
I have not had any pears yet but the trees are only a couple of years old.  My plum trees are not very old either but I have one plum tree that got fruit last year and then the fruit disappeared overnight while it was small and hard and green.  In my research online the consensus seemed to be squirrels. This year I am going to try coating the trunk in several places with petroleum jelly laced with hot sauce.   From my research it sounds like the squirrels do not always eat from the same trees each year but we will see. 
The elderberries are flowering.  Last year I made an elderberry cordial from the berries.  This year I am considering using the flowers for jam or sharing them with Cait and Robb who are budding wine makers for an elderflower wine if they are interested in giving it a try..   
heavenly scent

tiny flowers
The grapes are starting to form
It has been a dry year.  It was supposed to rain overnight, thunderstorms, and heavy thunderstorms even, were predicted and we only received a sprinkle so I am back to watering. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

what a Friday. And Saturday

We have been experiencing some really hot, dry weather.  On Friday, my brother Jack and his friend Todd, came over to replace the skylights on my machine shed that had been damaged awhile back by hail.  The process involved removing the damaged fiberglass panels and replacing them with new panels.  The old ones were nailed in place and the top edge was tucked under the ridge cap which would need to be loosened to make the change and then the new panels would be screwed into place.  There were five to do, high up on a tin roof.  Todd brought a rolling scaffolding which was very helpful.  By the time the panels were cut to size the west skylights were in the shade so they started at that end.  Not knowing exactly what they would find it actually went much better than anticipated.  The original idea was to get a couple done in the evening and finish up the rest on Saturday morning and instead they got them all done.  It was very hot, 90 degrees, so it was a blessing that it went as well as it did. 
Jack and Todd removing the first skylight

putting in the new panel

on the scaffolding
My mom had sent out barbecues, chips and baked beans and I had made a potato salad so after finishing the last skylight we were eating supper together.  Dad had been here for the whole process and Cait and Robb joined us as we finished up and the six of us were sitting at a table near the shed and we heard one cracking noise and then another.  As we watched a very large branch broke off of the maple tree next to my driveway.  It fell, just missing my car and luckily the rest of the vehicles were parked near the shed.  I refer to the part of the tree that fell as a branch but it really is the size of a good sized tree.  The maple that it broke off of has four or five branches that form a huge canopy.   

Saturday morning, still hot, muggy but today with stiff winds, Jack and Dad arrived to cut up the branch.  We cut off all of the small branches with leaves and they were piled to burn after they dry out.  We cut up and piled the larger branch pieces.  They will be cut to length and split and stacked when it is cooler.  Jack was running the chain saw, Dad was dragging the larger branch pieces behind the truck and I was dragging the brush to the pile. 
The brush

the branch with the brush mostly removed

Dad dragging a big log backwards with the pickup

The wood piled for cutting and splitting.
I feel so fortunate that no one was hurt and no real damage was done.  I am so blessed to have great family and friends.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

garden update

Things in the garden are coming along.  I am still planting.  But a lot has been accomplished.  The potager is planted.  The main part of the garden is planted.  The hitching post flower garden is coming along.  There are challenges.  It has been very hot and dry so watering takes up a part of the day.  The potager and the big garden are on sprinklers but the pots of herbs and the hitching post and the things left to plant are all watered by hand.  I had great help from my kids getting ready to plant.  We replaced the ineffective posts on the deer fence and got that back up.  We added poultry netting at the bottom to deter the rabbits.  And we added landscape fabric to the planting rows in a part of the garden to hopefully kill the weeds which are a very big problem.  The plan is to move across the garden weeding and placing landscape fabric and planting summer and fall crops. 
hot peppers in the potager

cabbage and edamame

onions cabbage and kohlrabi

transplants at the big garden.
I am ready for mother nature to do her share of the watering.  I had to look back to the calendar on to find the last rain which was May 20.  We have quite a few days in the high 80s and low 90s and it appears that a heat wave may be due.  My lawn is getting crispy in the sunny parts and I need to start watering the fruit trees.  Sigh...

chicken coop re-purpose

Quite often I am inspired by a blog post or a blogger.  Sometimes it is an idea for a post.  Sometimes it is an idea for a project.  This time it is inspiration for a post.  I have actually been building the project in my head and on pinterest for at least a year.  The blogger is Helen at Entertablement.  I have written about Helen once before here.  There is a link in that post to her post about bar carts and her husband's decanter collection.

Recently she wrote about barware for Father's Day gifts.  That post is here.

I wrote a comment sharing how I was interested in her post but not as a gift idea but for me.  I shared that I have a chicken coop that I have been thinking about making into a little family bar and that I have been finding and picking up barware when thrifting.  She responded to my comment and expressed an interest in my thrifted treasures.

So here is the post inspired by Helen's post.  I am hoping that actually talking about it might get me moving to get going on it.

This is my chicken coop.

In the nearly 30 years that we have lived here it has only housed chickens one time.  That was for maybe a year when my youngest showed chickens in 4H.  The rest of the time it stored stuff.  It has potential.  There is no running water but it is wired and it has a cement floor. There is no insulation and no drywall, only exposed studs and the back of the siding boards. It is not heated so in Minnesota that means it will be a three season room. There is a 'room' at the south end formed by studs and poultry net (chicken wire) that separated the chickens into two groups.  I will leave that in place and have the bar at the north end and a game/card area in the poultry netting room.  Our family likes to play cards, dice and board games.  Lawn games too.

My plan is to use all re-purposed and  reclaimed materials so the actual bar will be made from pallets.  My sister has access to pallets at her work.  My parents have old dock sections that have been replaced by new and my plan is to use those dock sections to make a deck across the front of the building where I can set up tables for outdoor dining and tablescapes.  I am still considering if there is some way that I can hang outdoor lights around the deck or a chandelier over the table.  

When I thrift I have never gone thinking that I I am looking for 'x'.  Instead I go wondering what great items have been donated this week, no longer loved by their previous owners or their heirs.  It saddens me to think of all of the treasures that are discarded.  I did not ever go looking for barware but would purchase each piece as I spotted it, knowing that I had building a bar in the back of my mind.

I seem to gravitate to heavy bottomed glassware.  I found two groups of shot glasses and some glasses inscribed with Bailey's on the side with the heavy bottoms.  The ice bucket in the front and the small covered container are Wexford, a vintage pattern that seems to be easily found and relatively inexpensive in our area.  I have been picking up their wine glasses for a while.  I have three cocktail shakers, several drink mixer pitchers one with recipes printed on the side.  The six white tidbit plates have a wine design in the center as do the small colored ceramic divided dishes.  The green bubble glass margaritas will be fun to use.  Not pictured is a set of four small wood snack dishes in the shape of the heart, club, spade and diamond from a deck of playing cards and a drink tray.  Also not pictured is my decanter collection.    

 Joining Tablescape Thursday at BNOTP

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

quite a bit has happened in two weeks

My last post, two weeks ago showed a picture of our latest snowfall.  That snow only lasted the better part of the day and was gone by evening.  Since that we have had the couple of 85 degree days.  Quite a change.

The newest growing space that I have is a huge garden that was created several years ago.  To say that it is a challenge would be an understatement.  It was created in an area that was a lawn and for a short time fenced as a pasture.  Grass, weeds and alfalfa were dug under at the onset and it  has been coming back ever since.

It was tilled up in the fall and the second year was our first crop year.  The following year the deer found our garden and last year we put up a deer fence that ended up being woefully inadequate for the amount of wind that we have.  I spent much of my time trying to reinforce the plastic posts that came with the system with metal T posts.  By spring of this year the plastic posts and even some of the metal ones were bent or broken and the mesh, which held up really well and was still attached to said posts was in disarray.  In the meantime last years crop was a disaster.  The deer seemed to stay away after the fence was installed but it really didn't deter the rabbits.  The weeds came.  And came.  And came.

Fast forward to Spring 2017.  My bunch came on two weekends, some on the weekend prior and some on Mother's Day weekend to apply landscape fabric.  The landscape fabric was a mother's day and birthday gift.  It is part of a new plan to try to kill off the weeds and prevent their regrowth.  So far we are planning a three pronged approach.  We will use tarps and heavy plastic on the bare ground when no crops are present, landscape fabric when the crops are planted and then that will be picked up and cover crops planted for late fall.  The tarps will then be used to smother the cover crop and keep the beds covered over the winter.

The other thing that happened is that a plan was made to replace the flimsy plastic posts and their ineffective reinforcements with wood posts.  Last night 18 post holes were dug by Robb who borrowed his dad's post hole auger and I am hoping a trip to the lumber yard today will have me doing fence repair and then planting crops very soon.  In the pictures below the landscape fabric is in the foreground and black plastic and tarps to the rear.  When I built the permanent raised rows my spacing was inconsistent so in order to keep the fabric centered over my rows some of the gaps is taken up by a band of paper grocery sacks so that the garden is completely covered in those spots.  Of course we are not nearly done but I am hoping to get the fence repaired, plant the fabric covered areas and keep advancing across the garden.  I may have a temporarily smaller garden while I work my way across but I am okay with that. 
1st weekend progress.  Thanks Nikole and Brad
2nd weekend progress.  Thanks Nathan, Michelle and Caitlin

Robb digging post holes.  Thanks Robb.
While the Mother's Day bunch was here we were able to get the farmstand to the end of the driveway and put out some surplus plants for sale.  Caitlin and Michelle  made some signs to place on the edge of the highway that passes by the farmstand and pictures were posted by Nikole to facebook and a Craig's list notice was placed by Nathan to let people know who don't happen to be driving past.  So far we have had a few sales.

I have a second garden space which is a small group of raised beds surrounded by a fence that I refer to as the potager.  Some of those beds have been weeded and planted.  I have more to do but it is good to get something in the ground. 

The weather has been dry so it has allowed the top of the soil to dry out but we got some rain and more is predicted.  That should buy me some time to allow me a chance to get the irrigation hoses set up for watering in the big garden before there is a need to water.  Lots to do.  And I think it is time to mow again. 

The ornamental flowering tree that was a gift from Nikole a few years back hoping that it would be blooming on Mother's day did not disappoint.
The lilac and lily of the valley are perfuming the yard so it is a joy to work outside. 

Thanks for visiting.

Monday, May 1, 2017

my dandelion field today

Yesterday I shared a picture of my front yard where I had collected the dandelions for jelly.  Today that area which was green and yellow is white.  Gotta love Minnesota weather.