Friday, August 30, 2013

the building of the farm stand

Kind of late in the game we decided to build a farm stand to sell a few surplus fruits and vegetables.  We started with an old trailer affectionately called the Root trailer because it had once belonged to a man whose last name was Root.  Here is a photo of the inside of the trailer in its 'before' condition.  The inside and outside were faded plywood that had once been painted gray.

We started by painting the sides barn red and then Caitlin painted the lettering on the sides.
First she painted the left side which says "farm fresh produce" using two different lettering styles.

The next day she painted "hand planted, hand harvested" on the right side.
When it came time to add a roof to shade our fruits and vegetables Dad came to the rescue with labor and reclaimed building materials.  The rafters were two that we had salvaged from my brother's old dog house and the posts were some 2x4s and 2x6s that were rescued from a cabin restoration at the lake.  Here is the rafters and corner posts in place.

Next we added the purlins which were also reclaimed wood.

We added two sheets of salvaged plywood to create the roof and here it is ready for business.  Dad built the bins to display the produce and the white box to collect the payments.  Our stand is self serve on the honor system and will be open when we have produce available.

I have plans to tweak it a little more, closing in the rafter end area and adding a sign and probably a little awning over the bins.  If we have enough traffic to warrant it we could also sell out of the sides and bigger items like watermelons and pumpkins may need a different type of display area and we will add a cooler for more perishable items when we have them.

Thanks Dad and Caitlin for all your assistance in this project!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

today was a project day

Nathan was home yesterday and today and we had a chance to work on some projects.  He had been planning to come to the farm to participate with an installation in the greenhouse of a system to help circulate air during the winter but two days before the installation we sprung a leak in the trap area of the plumbing at the kitchen sink.  So last night he replaced the plumbing.  I took a picture of my new plumbing but decided it needed a little primer and paint in the inside of the cabinet before it will be photo ready.

This is photo worthy.  This is my new faucet.  I have wanted a faucet like this for a long time and a while back Caitlin and I found this one on clearance for about 30% of regular price and it has been sitting here waiting to be installed.  So while we had the cabinet empty fixing the leak Nathan installed the faucet as well.  I am so excited.  My old one was not one that was selected by me and it was not my style and was really dated.  Thank you Nathan!!

Here is the other project, the greenhouse project.  Last winter we met a gentleman at the Deep Winter Growers meeting who had an idea that might work to improve the temperature control in the greenhouse.  Bob suggested that we collect the warm air that naturally rises to the peak of the greenhouse and bring it down and circulate it around the water containers which would be located under the tables.  Fronts will be built on the tables creating a tunnel through which the warm air will travel.  The plan is to make it so that we can circulate the warm are back into the growing spaces if we are trying to keep the greenhouse warmer and to discharge the warm air out of the greenhouse if we are trying to cool it off.

Today Bob and Karen, his wife, arrived with ductwork pieces that he had custom fabricated for our space.  He and Nathan were able to complete stage one of the installation--the overhead collection ductwork.  It was miserable working conditions, working overhead while standing on ladders in a very warm room.
 Here is the finished stage one.

And here are the Bob, Karen and Nathan cooling off in the shade when the project was completed.

Now that part one is installed, measurements for the ductwork which will bring the warm air down the wall to circulate under the tables are taken and that part of the ductwork can be fabricated and then installed.  So appreciative of this group.  Great ideas and great workers.

Bob and Karen have left for home and so have Nathan and Reese.  This is my one more project for the evening as well as some pickles that have been brining and are now ready to can.

Monday, August 19, 2013

red tomatoes

Here are the first of the Big Beef tomatoes.
And these will be the first of the brandywines...not quite ready but getting close.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

my weekend to do list drifted into monday

I started out with ambitious outdoor goals for the weekend and did manage to accomplish a few of the things on my list.  I spent a good part of Saturday finishing the mowing of the yard.  At this point it is all mowed and has started in regrowing. 

The raspberry row

On Sunday I gave the raspberry transplants some attention.  They were sprawling in both directions which kept me from being able to mow close to the row.  I didn't take a before picture but here is an after.

I added another wire at the top of the wood end posts and added a fiberglass post in the center to help support the middle of the wire.  Then I tied all of the canes that were sprawling to the new wire.  The raspberries have thorns so I have pincushion hands.  I have so many volunteer raspberry plants that could be transplanted so I am giving some consideration to adding some to the cornfield perhaps dividing the front half from the back half. 

The orchard

Since it was mowed I could move the hoses back and I watered the fruit trees in the orchard.  I had trimmed up the suckers on the one plum tree.  It still needs a little work with a chainsaw as the lopper was not able to get all of the branches but it is looking better.  The east apple tree still needs a bigger circle around it. 

While I was moving the hose from tree to tree I worked on weeding along the white fence and then watered that.  I got about half of it done so it will look kind of silly until I get the rest done.

The grapes

The earliest grapes were ready for harvesting.  A few of the earliest ones had been eaten by birds and a few of the latter ones were not fully blue yet but I learned my lesson last year that if I wait too long the birds don't leave any for me.  Although I love the look of my grape arbor it does not make for easy picking now that the vines are getting bigger and I have not been diligent about pruning them.  There were quite a few grapes that could only be reached with a ladder from the top.
There are four vines on the arbor. This one is the oldest of the vines and it has a small purple grape.  Here you can see several bunches of the grapes.

And this bunch is on a 6 inch appetizer plate along side of a teaspoon to give an idea of the size of the bunches.

Here is a shot of my big silver bowl with the grape harvest from the one vine.
The sun has kind of washed out the color in this picture.  After washing and plucking the grapes from the stems there was five pounds of grapes which is just the right amount for one batch of jelly!

Making Jelly

Last time I made jelly i made a freezer jelly.  You prepare the fruit as juice and then mix it with sugar and pectin and put it in the freezer.  This year I decided to try a packet of sure jell for less sugar recipes.  This recipe is a cooked type of jelly and is put into jars for storage on the shelf instead of frozen. 
This is the washed grapes that have been removed from the stems.  A potato masher was used to crusth the grapes and then water is added and they are brought to a boil and then the heat is reduces and then they are simmered.  After simmering they juice is strained to remove the seeds and peelings.

 Then the strained juice which has been mixed with a little bit of sugar and the pectin is brought to a boil and the once boiling the remaining sugar is added and it is cooked for one minute once it returns to a boil.  The foam is skimmed off.
The clean jars are held in hot water.
The jelly is ladled into the hot jars.  A funnel is used to keep the mess to a minimum but it is still messy.  Or maybe that is just me.
Then the tops of the jars are wiped clean.
And a lid is applied.
Once the screw band is applied the jars are tipped upside down for five minutes to help with the sealing process.  My box directions said that they could be tipped over to seal or water bath canned.  I decided to to tip them and if they didn't seal then water bath can them but all of mine sealed.
The little bit of extra that didn't fit in the jars is cooling more quickly than the jars and seems to be thickening up nicely as it cools.  Hopefully that means that the jarred jelly will be nice and thick as well.

The cucumber pickles

I am starting to get cucumbers in my cornfield garden and I had this small bowl of random cucumbers.  They were different sizes and different varieties.  I had found this recipe for a copy cat of a Klaussen dill that was a refrigerator pickle.  No canning needed.  I was missing a couple of the spices called for in the recipe but they still turned out good.
These cukes are washed and cut into wedges and then a brine is poured over them and they go into the refrigerator. 

The summer squash pickles

I also have been getting  quite a few zucchini and yellow squash so I decided to try making pickles of these as well.  The recipe i used is for a canned pickle but i decided to do it as a refrigerator pickle.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time doing the canning only to open a jar down the road and find out that it was not a great pickle.  If we like them I will make more and can them so that they keep longer.  If we don't like them i will keep looking at recipes.

These zucchini and yellow squashes are cut into slices along with some onion and then placed in a bowl with salt and water to cover.
After they have soaked they are drained and a brine is poured over them.  This brine is apple cider vinegar and sugar and spices. 
I like the combination of yellow and green on the pickles.  I like the taste and if the rest of the family does as well it will be a good way to use surplus summer squashes.
And lastly some pictures that Caitlin took a few days ago with some produce that we picked from our garden.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

fnally some garden pics of something other than foliage

At the last minute as the sun was getting ready to set i decided to take a few garden pictures now that some of the produce is getting big enough to see in a picture.  Here is the Perry corn.  almost as tall as the Johnny corn and tasseling and just starting to get silks. 
A couple days ago when Cait and I were checking out the corn we noticed that some of this variety was tipped over.  The north half of the most inside three rows were all tipped the same direction.  Wind?  Cody?  Deer?   The next day some more was tipped but this time it was further into the center of the patch and it kind of looked like it followed a path on a diagonal.  So I am thinking perhaps an animal rather than wind and I am hoping that it is one of ours rather than marauding wildlife.

This is a picture of the tiny melons just starting to form.  None of the vines are staying where I planted then but I am guessing that this is a watermelon.  This year we planted two varieties one with red flesh and one with yellow flesh.  I tried to take some pictures one handed to give an idea of the size of the veggies and fruit.  This has a diameter similar to a tennis ball but longer.
Here is a picture of a butternut squash next to a green pumpkin in the section where i planted the butternut squashes.  I estimate the diameter of the pumpkin is about 8 inches.
Here is a group of cantaloupe.  This year we planted a couple different varieties partly because we had some seed from last year that we never planted.  If we find that we like some more than others we will have to follow the vines back to see which one is which.
Here is a picture of a couple acorn squash.
This is the Amish paste tomatoes.  I didn't think we were getting any tomatoes on these plants yet but they are there, kind of hidden in the foliage.
These are the big beef tomatoes.  No red ones yet.
And here are the brandywines.
I did take a look at the apples as well.  The apples are getting bigger and the apples of the east tree are starting to get red.  The ones on the west tree have had a little red blush from the very beginning and that has not really changed.
East tree

West tree
I have to admit to a taste test.  The reddening apple in the east tree picture came off in my hand as I was trying to take its picture so I ate it.  It was a little bit hard and still pretty sour but the flesh had a nice texture and was very pretty.  I didn't see any insect damage or worm holes.

Friday, August 9, 2013

mom's hobby farm has a farm truck-updated

Last weekend my brother Jack surprised me with a Tonka farm truck that he had refinished.  He has been buying up old toys.  He sandblasts them, repaints them and applies decals to personalize them.  I couldn't have been more pleased and was totally surprised.  He has promised to show me the 'before' but here is a bunch of 'afters'.  These photos were taken by Caitlin. 
The paint job is flawless...

I love the color...
he added mud flaps...
it has running boards...

he designed a logo...

and has the Tonka logo on the door...
cute racks on the flatbed...

and the front end.
Her it is from the other side.
And here it is up on the shelf.
 Thanks, Jack.  I love it.  I absolutely love it.
Thanks Cait for taking the pictures.

Jack sent me the before pictures and seeing how this beautiful truck started out make the results even more amazing.

This is a picture Jack sent of my farm truck with a cleaner original in the background.  He says he might leave the second truck as is.