Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 goals

Before I started writing a blog I read a lot of blogs.  I read gardening blogs and decorating blogs and food blogs.  All kinds of blogs.  Through pinterest I found a blog written by Jim and Mary who are building a small farm from scratch.  I originally found them because of a pin with a cute barn door that we eventually copied to make a replacement door for our granary.  If you are not familiar with their blog and want to check it out there is a link to it on the right side of this blog called "inspiration".  They are doing a lot of the things that I am trying to do and they truly are inspiring. 

One of the things that they do each year is set goals for the upcoming year.  They do this about this time of year and they just published their goal list for 2014.  This has inspired me to create my own list.  The process that Jim and Mary say that they use is that each of them separately makes their own list and then they compare lists and create a joint list.  They then print the list and place it on their refrigerator where they can check off items as they accomplish them.  They have been doing this now for four years and it is amazing what they have been able to accomplish.

Since I am the lone list maker at Mom's Hobby Farm I only need to brainstorm a bunch of ideas and then fine tune the ideas into a list that is both ambitious and mostly doable.  I am choosing projects that require limited resources, mostly labor with little financial input.  I am going to have some farm goals and some blog goals.  I also have a few things that I do but would like to do better and I will list those as "15 minutes every day" goals.  Jim and Mary were able to accomplish much of their projects by doing a little bit at a time until all the bits became a finished project.  I plan to use this approach to do a better job with big, ongoing tasks--things that are never really 'done'  but would definitely benefit from some daily attention.  So here is my list--

Farm goals for 2014
Garden goals
Complete the south side of the cornfield in raised rows
Complete the line of posts dividing the south cornfield from the north cornfield and number
Construct the post rows in the north cornfield
Transplant raspberries to the dividing row
Plant asparagus in the dividing row
Plant cranberries in the sandbox
Replace last two long raised beds in the potager
Build trellising for the cornfield
Leaf storage
Purchase a chipper/shredder
Plant grapes to train on wire

Greenhouse goals
Four more tables for the greenhouse
Three more pairs of chains for hanging gutters
Rod for hanging pots

Farmstand goals
Six tables for the farmstand
Awning on the farmstand
Recipe storage
Sell excess seedlings in spring
Sell winter greens
Host a harvest meal for family July
Host a harvest meal for family August
Host a harvest meal for family September
Host a harvest meal for family October

“15 minutes every day” goals for 2014
Compost turning
Weeding the gravel and cement areas
Weigh produce harvested/sold

Blog goals for 2014
Cookbook reviews
Link posts of completed projects to parties
Link posts of harvest meals to parties

General goals for 2014
Grow more
Sell more
Preserve more
Eat healthier
Keep better records
Expand perennial fruits and vegetables
Add laying hens

And here is a picture of a Christmas present that will help me achieve one of these goals :

an antique scale from the 1940's
It might just be too beautiful to use. 

I am joining Susan at Between Naps On The Porch for Metamorphosis Monday.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

storm coming?

We have  a blizzard warning set to go into effect in 30 minutes for our county with winds predicted to be blowing the snow around and bitterly cold wind chills for tonight but this is what we have right now.
41 degrees

partly sunny

snow is all staying put

temperature in the greenhouse near the peak

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas salad

A few photos from the greenhouse.  It will be salad by Christmas.  Not everything will be big enough to eat by them but some of it will!
allstar salad mix

allstar salad mix


Pac Choi

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas dishes

Twenty years ago my mom started a collection of Christmas dishes for me and every year she added to the collection.  

Some years there were place settings,

 some years there were serving pieces,


nesting storage bowls with covers

salt and peppers

and some years there were fun accent pieces.

cookie jars


cookies and milk for Santa

pitcher and candy dishes

The pattern is Happy Holidays by Nikko.
I like the swirled edges on the plates.  I like that each of the pieces has the same Christmas tree on it with the teddy bear and the star on top.

But what I like most are the collector plates.

Beginning in 1993 the Happy Holidays pattern produced a dated collector plate. They all had the same tree.  The first year the tree was the same as the place setting tree.

First Edition

Sometimes the scene was an indoor one 

Rockin Around the Christmas Tree

and sometimes the scene was an outdoor one.

Frosty the Snowman
White Christmas

Always the plates were named for a favorite Christmas carol. 

And then something happened in 2009.  

There was a shortage of plates and we were unable to get one that year.
And so the decision needed to be made.  Do we skip that year and have a hole in the 'complete set' hoping to be able to find one later on?  Or do we stop where we are?  When 2010 rolled around I decided to stop with the plates that I have.  Sixteen is quite a few.  Added to the 12 place settings that I have I could serve 28 people which is much more than I have room for in my little house.  I used to display them on the wall and 16 is even a lot to find room to display.  

I still look every once in a while to see if there is one out there for sale online knowing that if I found 2009 those that came after would be easier to find and I could fill out my set.  Nikko also has another set of Christmas dishes called Christmastime which is an octagonal shaped stoneware with the exact same design on the collector plate and I have thought occasionally about getting the 2009 plate in that pattern but it wouldn't be the same. 

And it is fine.  There are still pieces that I need to fill out my set.  More salad plates, more bread plates and more glasses.  And all the cute serving pieces and accent pieces--new ones every year.  I will be okay.

Here are the dishes out of storage and ready to be washed and used for anther season.

Thanks Mom for the not so small fortune that you have invested in these favorite dishes over the years, usually it was my favorite present under your tree.

I am reprising this post to join Susan for Tablescape Thursday at Between Naps On The Porch

Monday, December 9, 2013

"the cornfield" before and after

I would like to share a before and after but winter has descended upon Minnesota so some of the after is not going to happen until spring.  This post will have to be a before and during.

I live on 11 acres in rural Minnesota.  When we move here the farmsite where I live was a working farm.  Then for a while it was a rural residence, a small house, a big yard, some outbuildings and a few animals.  I lived here but worked in town.   Now I work from home and the farm is becoming a hobby farm.  Over the past couple years a lot of changes have happened to this little farm and to the farmer, me, who is undergoing her own metamorphosis, but this post is about the new garden affectionately called "the cornfield". 

October 29, 2012

This is a patch of what used to be grass.  We decided to make a garden here and my brother-in-law came over with his tractor and ripper and broke ground for the new garden.  It would sit this way until spring.

I have had a small vegetable garden, a potager with raised beds, up near the house.  The potager did not allow for the growing of crops that take up a lot of room so this new garden would allow me to grow sweetcorn and vine crops like melons and squashes and pumpkin.  And tomatoes.  Lots of tomatoes.

May 29, 2013
In the spring we tilled up the soil and began laying out the garden.  The garden measured 40 feet by 120 feet.  The south half would be laid out in permanent raised rows and the north half would be the cornfield.  Our cool wet spring did not allow for getting in the garden early.  Some of the raised rows were installed in the spring but others would be done when the crop season was over.

To make the raised rows I first dug a trench.  In the bottom of the trench I placed a layer of straw to help conserve moisture.  On top of the straw I placed a layer of compost.  I compost the animal manure and bedding from the barn along with kitchen scraps and garden waste.  Then I replaced the soil from the trench leaving a raised mound to plant in.

The trench

straw in the bottom of the trench

compost on top of the straw

soil on top of the compost

ready to plant, grass clippings mulch both sides of the row

Once the raised rows were created grass clippings, and later fallen leaves, were used as mulch between the rows to make permanent walking spaces.  I was only able to get some of the raised rows made in the spring with the plan being that the whole garden would be planted and then once the crops come out in the fall the remainder of the rows would be built as part of the fall end of the season clean up.

a few photos of the garden in production:




In the fall as the crops came out I planted oats as a cover crop in the rows that were already raised and continued to build more raised rows.

I put in wood posts along the center marking every fifth row. 

I plan to number the rows so that I can keep records of what was grown in each row each year to aid with crop rotation.

As you can see in this picture I ran out of fall weather before I ran out of garden so there will still need to be a few raised rows built in the spring.  The ones that were finished this year will just need the cover crop turned over and a layer of compost added in the spring and they will be ready to plant.

Raised row inspiration came from here.

My first ever post joining Susan at Between Naps On The Porch.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

coldest night of the winter--so far

So this morning is telling me that it is -15 degrees outside.  The sun is not yet shining on the greenhouse so I head outside to check on how the greenhouse fared in this cold weather.  It is 28 degrees with the little milkhouse heater running all night.  Last year I used a second heater on really cold nights and when I was checking on things this fall in preparation for cold I discovered that the electronics of that little heater no longer worked and some of the plastic parts were a little misshapen (from melting?) so I am assuming that it died during the really hot weather this summer.  I think the plants will survive an occasional cold night but if it looks like there will be a lot of cold I might want to replace the dead heater with another milkhouse heater.  Our goal has always been to use as few resources as possible in the greenhouse but I want to keep the plants alive and thriving as well.  There are a few more cold nights predicted this weekend and early next week but then it looks to be above zero lows for the rest of the 10 day forecast.  I guess winter has arrived.  It is supposed to be sunny today and that should warm things up nicely.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

winter storm warning

Our part of the country is expecting some snow the next day or two so it was  a good time to get a couple of winterizing projects done.  Mom and Dad were out to the farm and we got the wood splitter tucked in the garage.  The bales that insulate the well room are covered with a tarp and the west door on the wood barn now has a smaller opening so it should cut down on the cross ventilation coming through the building.  The rider mower is put away and the fall decorations at the gate have been taken down and replaced with a lighted snowflake. 

the tarp on the bales
the new dog door
There are still a few projects to do but I am feeling good about what is done.