Food and medicine

This is the year of the gardens for food and medicine. I’ve rough-planned out the vegetable garden to take advantage of companion planting, and we’ll be breaking ground on the new herb garden. It’s going to be a hard-working spring. And summer, and fall. And I’m sure there will plenty of weeds (there always are), so if you just can’t find anything to do, you can always come help pull weeds. It’s hot, dirty, unending work, but the rewards are delicious.

“Let Your Food Be Your Medicine; and Your Medicine be Your Food” – Hippocrates

Smart guy, that Hippocrates.

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Fennel, Greek and Roman Chamomile, Chervil, Lady’s bedstraw, Mulberry, Elderberry, Lemon balm, Lemon mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, Rosemary, Greek oregano, Tansy, Lavender,and more. And these are just the trays of herbs I’m starting. The veggies will be started soon.

Day 271

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog!  With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post.  Here’s to good intentions! Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their […]

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog!  With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post.  Here’s to good intentions!

Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their amount of time, and it doesn’t help matters that I’m creating everything for my humanities class. But that also means that when I teach it again, I will have much more time to tweak things and not worry about having to make a presentation for the next class.  Good news there.

The barn is filled with hay – next step is to go back out and mow the second cutting. For that, we all need to be healthy and able to sit on a tractor for hours. We’re working on that. It may be a touch of the flu, it’s definitely allergies, and all the bean/corn dust in the air from harvesting isn’t helping one bit. If you’re driving down the road in the morning and notice what looks like smoke hanging over a harvested field – that’s probably dust still hanging in the air from the combine harvesting the day before. And it is horrible for breathing!

Remember these cute, fuzzy things?

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They now look like almost proper chickens, just smaller:

2013-09-28 08.26.46They still have the fuzzy chick head, but the rest of them look like proper Barred Rocks. I didn’t know this, but their legs have black bands on them.

Lovely harvest moon the other evening – hope you had a chance to see it. Yes, those are geese!

2013-09-18 19.27.31

 

We have a couple large stands of pampas grass (a tall, decorative grass) that the dogs love to hide in. You’ll be walking around and hear “swish swish” as they move through. I found Prince hanging out in here the other day:

2013-09-18 14.00.12He’s such a silly dog.

Interwebz shopping is just about awesome. Click, click, and here comes the UPS or FedEx truck with your goodies. I don’t remember ordering this though:

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The garden is finished – we got a lot more tomatoes of the vines, harvested the potatoes, and pulled the last cabbages. Now for the clean-up crew.

2013-09-28 08.25.34They’ve done (as always) an amazing job of eating, and they haven’t even been in here a week. After they’re finished, we’ll put them back in the “test garden” to work in there some more, then start our soil amending in this garden – cow/horse manure, straw, and green manure (a seed mixture that fixes nitrogen and other good stuff in the soil). After the green manure has a chance to get started, we’ll probably open the gate for the chickens to scratch around and do their thing. It’s going to be a lot of work (well, what isn’t around here!!), and a lot of poo to move, but in the end, we’ll have better soil for food growing.

If your garden didn’t perform “up to snuff” this year, chances are you may be missing something in the soil. Our corn was pretty lack-luster – small stalks, small ears that weren’t all filled out – so that was our clue that the ground needs some TLC. You can buy soil analysis kits at home improvement stores – try one and see what your soil is telling you.

 

 

 

Day 250 – tomatoes, chicks, fall, onion eggs

There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of […]

IMG_0361There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of picking tomatoes!

IMG_0368It’s done!  And I have no idea what that fuzzy bit in the center is all about.  But the mini-yard is enclosed (and lidded to keep little nuggets from becoming hawk snacks), the door has latches, and —

IMG_0370—we have new nuggets!  These are Barred Rock hens from Meyer Hatchery – we’re trying them to see how their chicks do for us.  They were shipped on Tuesday, arriving on Thursday morning.  So they are already growing their wing feathers and giving me the “stink eye” as I call it – that sideways look that chickens give when they’re sizing you up.

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More nugget pictures, just because they’re cute!  And one has figured out how to jump up on the warmer.  That’s, Just. Great.  Usually if they are that quick, they are going to be a handful when they grow up.

IMG_0363It’s looking more and more like fall.  The tall grasses are dried, the bean fields have a little more yellow in the green, and the corn is about 1/2 dried (or more).  It will be nice to see all the way to the river.  Corn makes me a bit claustrophobic – it’s so tall and looming!

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And which of these things is not like the others?  I’ve been drying the onions on racks in the garage, and it seems that a lot of the onions are more or less egg-shaped.  Which leads to the hens pulling the onions off the racks, and nesting them.  Sigh.  They’re going to be pretty upset in the morning – I removed all the onions.  This is the fun you get with free-range chickens who are too smart for their own good.

 

 

 

 

Day 250 – tomatoes, chicks, fall, onion eggs

IMG_0361There’s still so many of them – I picked the left side of this row and ended up with a 1/2 bushel basket full.  And I still have the right side to pick!  I’m going to enjoy tomato soup this winter, I’m going to enjoy tomato sauce this winter.  But right now I’m tired of picking tomatoes!

IMG_0368It’s done!  And I have no idea what that fuzzy bit in the center is all about.  But the mini-yard is enclosed (and lidded to keep little nuggets from becoming hawk snacks), the door has latches, and —

IMG_0370—we have new nuggets!  These are Barred Rock hens from Meyer Hatchery – we’re trying them to see how their chicks do for us.  They were shipped on Tuesday, arriving on Thursday morning.  So they are already growing their wing feathers and giving me the “stink eye” as I call it – that sideways look that chickens give when they’re sizing you up.

More nugget pictures, just because they’re cute!  And one has figured out how to jump up on the warmer.  That’s, Just. Great.  Usually if they are that quick, they are going to be a handful when they grow up.

IMG_0363It’s looking more and more like fall.  The tall grasses are dried, the bean fields have a little more yellow in the green, and the corn is about 1/2 dried (or more).  It will be nice to see all the way to the river.  Corn makes me a bit claustrophobic – it’s so tall and looming!

IMG_0375

And which of these things is not like the others?  I’ve been drying the onions on racks in the garage, and it seems that a lot of the onions are more or less egg-shaped.  Which leads to the hens pulling the onions off the racks, and nesting them.  Sigh.  They’re going to be pretty upset in the morning – I removed all the onions.  This is the fun you get with free-range chickens who are too smart for their own good.

 

 

 

 

Day 244 – another week in the books

My part-time teaching gig began this past Monday night, so I am re-acclimating myself to being places at particular times and articulating all that Spanish that’s banging around in my head.  Added a Humanities class just to spice things up a bit (2 mornings a week), and am loving it.  It’s all those things I’m […]

My part-time teaching gig began this past Monday night, so I am re-acclimating myself to being places at particular times and articulating all that Spanish that’s banging around in my head.  Added a Humanities class just to spice things up a bit (2 mornings a week), and am loving it.  It’s all those things I’m interested in – music, dance, 2D and 3D arts, art history, theater, cinema.  And it’s hopefully giving people a wider window to the world.  Plus my class is pretty good on the participation thing, which always makes a teacher’s life easier.

So the chick coop is mostly ready to go – as you can see, the door is on, the ramps are installed!  I need to adjust the frame piece on the right – this is on corrugated siding, and it won’t lay flat for me to install the door locks.  So will pull it off, add an appropriate shim, re-install, and hopefully it will be even enough to install the locks.

And as an FYI – oak is a pain to work with.  For cutting, used the circular saw.  For drilling – punch through a pilot hole, then ready to run a screw through.  But it should last!

As to the grooves cut in the ramps, my Dremel Trio helped out with that.  We had seen a chicken coop at the fair that had grooves cut in the ramps (as opposed to nailing a small piece of wood across the ramp), and I thought that was pretty neat.  Just in case – the grooves or cross pieces of woods give the chickens something to grab on to as they go up and down the ramp. Otherwise, they slide down, and may not be able to get back up the ramp into the coop because there’s nothing for their claws to grip.

2013-08-29 17.28.41 2013-08-29 17.29.11

What else happened this week?  More canning of apples and tomatoes and green beans (they’re still blooming?!!)

And our chickens look like someone did a bad job plucking them.  This poor birdy is scraggly all over.  Some have just lost their neck feathers, some just on their backs between their wings.  They look really sad right now.

2013-08-29 17.27.06Another week of farmers markets, and it was pretty stinking hot and humid for our afternoon markets.  This is my view at Vandalia:2013-08-30 15.05.12

The red tent on the left has salsa (new vendor, didn’t get a chance to try their product), then we have Muddy Truck Patch with some great veg (and mums for those of you who need some fall decor).  Rinaldo’s – simply amazing baked goods (breads of all types, sweets, soft pretzels…), and next to them is Rue Farms from Springfield with their delish potato chips (several varieties and no salt chips available).  And looks like some coffee and mugs in the foreground.  :)

Seriously, this is a great market to patronize if you’re anywhere near Vandalia on Fridays from 3-7.  Fruit, veg, soaps, baked goods, coffee, honey, food trucks, artisans.

And if we needed another sign besides the cicadas that fall is coming, check out the goldenrod.  2013-09-01 19.17.23

 

Day 244 – another week in the books

My part-time teaching gig began this past Monday night, so I am re-acclimating myself to being places at particular times and articulating all that Spanish that’s banging around in my head.  Added a Humanities class just to spice things up a bit (2 mornings a week), and am loving it.  It’s all those things I’m interested in – music, dance, 2D and 3D arts, art history, theater, cinema.  And it’s hopefully giving people a wider window to the world.  Plus my class is pretty good on the participation thing, which always makes a teacher’s life easier.

So the chick coop is mostly ready to go – as you can see, the door is on, the ramps are installed!  I need to adjust the frame piece on the right – this is on corrugated siding, and it won’t lay flat for me to install the door locks.  So will pull it off, add an appropriate shim, re-install, and hopefully it will be even enough to install the locks.

And as an FYI – oak is a pain to work with.  For cutting, used the circular saw.  For drilling – punch through a pilot hole, then ready to run a screw through.  But it should last!

As to the grooves cut in the ramps, my Dremel Trio helped out with that.  We had seen a chicken coop at the fair that had grooves cut in the ramps (as opposed to nailing a small piece of wood across the ramp), and I thought that was pretty neat.  Just in case – the grooves or cross pieces of woods give the chickens something to grab on to as they go up and down the ramp. Otherwise, they slide down, and may not be able to get back up the ramp into the coop because there’s nothing for their claws to grip.

What else happened this week?  More canning of apples and tomatoes and green beans (they’re still blooming?!!)

And our chickens look like someone did a bad job plucking them.  This poor birdy is scraggly all over.  Some have just lost their neck feathers, some just on their backs between their wings.  They look really sad right now.

2013-08-29 17.27.06Another week of farmers markets, and it was pretty stinking hot and humid for our afternoon markets.  This is my view at Vandalia:2013-08-30 15.05.12

The red tent on the left has salsa (new vendor, didn’t get a chance to try their product), then we have Muddy Truck Patch with some great veg (and mums for those of you who need some fall decor).  Rinaldo’s – simply amazing baked goods (breads of all types, sweets, soft pretzels…), and next to them is Rue Farms from Springfield with their delish potato chips (several varieties and no salt chips available).  And looks like some coffee and mugs in the foreground.  🙂

Seriously, this is a great market to patronize if you’re anywhere near Vandalia on Fridays from 3-7.  Fruit, veg, soaps, baked goods, coffee, honey, food trucks, artisans.

And if we needed another sign besides the cicadas that fall is coming, check out the goldenrod.  2013-09-01 19.17.23

 

Day 237 – applesauce, tomatoes and honey

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now. I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were […]

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now.

I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were cooking, and saw that there are even more green beans ready to pick.  I’m very happy about this, since we had to dispose of jars that did not seal properly this year.  As the House Stark motto goes – winter is coming.  I’d rather see too much food preserved, than not enough.

Also cooked down and canned up the mess of apples from our tree, along with some various and sundry apples that were laying around our refrigerators.  6 pints of applesauce later, that’s done.

Had the great opportunity to watch a honey harvest Saturday afternoon at Angry Hippy Farms.  Robert has had bees for several years, and they open their home at honey harvest time to show the process and sell the honey right then and there.  Doesn’t get much fresher and pure than that.

We’ve been considering getting bees for the farm, and since it would be up to me to tend the hives (Denny + bees = bad), I wanted to get an idea of what I would be getting into.  Robert already had taken the supers (the boxes with the honey frames) from the entire hive, so I didn’t get to see the excitement that happens when working around angry bees, but I remember from having hives as a youngster that lots of smoke is advised, to keep the bees sluggish and less likely to sting.  Robert said he wasn’t able to pull all the frames because of time, and the bees were particularly angry that morning.  Good thing for bee suits.

2013-08-24 15.32.29

This picture is Robert using an electric “knife” to cut the wax caps from the comb.  Once both sides are un-capped, the frame goes into a separator, which spins the honey out of the frame.  From there, the honey is collected and strained several times to remove any wax, bee bits, and other debris.  Finally, the strained honey goes into the jar, and out the door.

Final answer – it’s not easy (but what is on a farm?), but doable.  Another beekeeper friend gave me his last year catalog, from which I can buy starter kits – comes with everything needed to start beekeeping.  Looks like my Christmas list will be very short – beekeeping kit, please!

Tomorrow is the first day of one of my 2 college courses to teach, so that will throw another “thing to do” into the mix.  I’m ok with that though, because time management has never been one of my strong points.  I actually do better (well, up to a point!) with a busy schedule, because I know that thing A needs to be done, and class A starts at this time, so I better keep on track or else thing A doesn’t get finished.

 

Day 237 – applesauce, tomatoes and honey

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now.

I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were cooking, and saw that there are even more green beans ready to pick.  I’m very happy about this, since we had to dispose of jars that did not seal properly this year.  As the House Stark motto goes – winter is coming.  I’d rather see too much food preserved, than not enough.

Also cooked down and canned up the mess of apples from our tree, along with some various and sundry apples that were laying around our refrigerators.  6 pints of applesauce later, that’s done.

Had the great opportunity to watch a honey harvest Saturday afternoon at Angry Hippy Farms.  Robert has had bees for several years, and they open their home at honey harvest time to show the process and sell the honey right then and there.  Doesn’t get much fresher and pure than that.

We’ve been considering getting bees for the farm, and since it would be up to me to tend the hives (Denny + bees = bad), I wanted to get an idea of what I would be getting into.  Robert already had taken the supers (the boxes with the honey frames) from the entire hive, so I didn’t get to see the excitement that happens when working around angry bees, but I remember from having hives as a youngster that lots of smoke is advised, to keep the bees sluggish and less likely to sting.  Robert said he wasn’t able to pull all the frames because of time, and the bees were particularly angry that morning.  Good thing for bee suits.

2013-08-24 15.32.29

This picture is Robert using an electric “knife” to cut the wax caps from the comb.  Once both sides are un-capped, the frame goes into a separator, which spins the honey out of the frame.  From there, the honey is collected and strained several times to remove any wax, bee bits, and other debris.  Finally, the strained honey goes into the jar, and out the door.

Final answer – it’s not easy (but what is on a farm?), but doable.  Another beekeeper friend gave me his last year catalog, from which I can buy starter kits – comes with everything needed to start beekeeping.  Looks like my Christmas list will be very short – beekeeping kit, please!

Tomorrow is the first day of one of my 2 college courses to teach, so that will throw another “thing to do” into the mix.  I’m ok with that though, because time management has never been one of my strong points.  I actually do better (well, up to a point!) with a busy schedule, because I know that thing A needs to be done, and class A starts at this time, so I better keep on track or else thing A doesn’t get finished.

 

Day 190 – vertical gardening

2013-07-09 20.34.40One of Denny’s cool gardening ideas.  This one is a two-person job.  Take one hog panel and 8 sturdy stakes (these are rebar).  Pound 4 of the stakes in a line, each one about a foot from the next.  Put the edge of the hog panel against the stakes and push the other end towards the stakes.  Your helper should be arching the panel as you move.  When the “loose” end is where you want it to be, hold the panel in place and drive in the other 4 stakes on the outside.  And you now have a temporary trellis for peas, cucumbers, pole beans, anything that climbs.  Take it down at the end of the season, store the materials in the garage/barn, pull it out again for next year.

We have 2 of these next to each other – 8 pickling cucumbers, and 4 Winter Luxury pumpkins.  The pumpkins are an experiment – I’ve read that you can make slings for the pumpkins to rest in as they grow – tie a strip of t-shirt to the panel and rest the pumpkin in the sling.  As it grows, it will fill in the sling, but not break the stem.  I also read that if you don’t sling the pumpkin, it will only grow to a certain size so the stem won’t be stressed or break.  Smart plants!

I also tried a new (for me) planting method – hilling.  You can see that there is a lot of grass here (we mowed the plot before starting work).  I dug traditional holes for some of the plants, but hilled the rest. Basically, you put the plant on the ground and build up a dirt mound around it.  The dirt kills the grass underneath and the plant grows just fine.  Keep the area around the plant free from grass/weeds, and you just did a lot less work for the same reward.

 

Web roundup

Want to know what I’m reading about agriculture, food, and sustainability? Well this periodic post is the place to find out: Kajabi on the old wise farmer Treehugger on exploding pig barns The New York times on the rise of the artisanal food producer Scientific American on the impracticality of the cheeseburger Foreign Policy Magazine on […]

Want to know what I’m reading about agriculture, food, and sustainability? Well this periodic post is the place to find out:

  1. Kajabi on the old wise farmer
  2. Treehugger on exploding pig barns
  3. The New York times on the rise of the artisanal food producer
  4. Scientific American on the impracticality of the cheeseburger
  5. Foreign Policy Magazine on commodity induced food price inflation
  6. Popular Science on how feeding antibiotics to pigs is helping to create superbugs
  7. The Guardian on Monsanto being found guilty of poisoning by a French court
  8. Gene Logsdon at The Contrary Farmer on the need for secret crying places
  9. Wake Up World on bus roof gardens
  10. Treehugger on Seattle’s attempt to create the world’s first public food forest

You can also get these kind of links in real time by following me on Facebook or Twitter.

DLH

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