March 2014

It’s hard to imagine that winter is nearly over and spring is just around the corner. The work began a few weeks ago with Scott working on the irrigation in the high tunnel. Hours were spent last summer hand watering each day. So necessary, but time consuming. What a great time saver this will be this year. A new Honda engine on the Troy Built horse and the high tunnel and squashville are both tilled. Seeds were ordered months ago, ready to start in their tiny peat pots. The raspberries have been pruned and tied and their new shoots grow each day.
Two years ago we had the pleasure of visiting Oregon with friends and not only did we fall in love with the landscape and beautiful scenery, we discovered Marion Berries. A delicious cross between raspberries and blackberries and our first sample of a warm cobbler and slightly melted ice cream. We were hooked and had to try growing them here. Last year they grew, but other things took our time and they trailed across the ground, tangled and thorny. This morning we took time to prune, and tie them on their new trellis. We’re hoping for a crop this year, enough for a warm cobbler, with slightly melted ice cream. Doesn’t that sound good?

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April 12, 2014 Establishing Two New Bee Hives

Last Saturday Scott and Josh picked up two new packages of bees. The packages consist of 3 pounds of bees and a new queen in a separate cell. We purchased them from our bee club, Bristol County Bee Keepers Association who brought them up from Atlanta, Georgia. This year they are Russian bees, last year Italians. All three of our hives from last year have so far wintered over and we’re pretty darn happy about that. We had the hive boxes ready and after we suited up the packages were opened. The can that you see in the video is filled with a sugar water solution to keep them fed along their journey here. The queen is in the separate cell, a small wood/screen box. She is in there with a few workers who basically feed her until she is ready to come out and take over as our “Queen Bee”. Now we wait for the cycle to begin-eggs laid, brood fed until they are ready to start their life, working the flowers, pollinating our plants. I’m wishing for healthy, strong queens and an abundance of fruit and flowers for us all.

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Hello Winter

With the current temperature at 13 degrees and wind chill of negative 3 at the warmest part of the day, outdoor chores just got a bit more difficult. I really don’t know if I can have enough layers of clothes to keep me warm through this. I have discovered that using glove warmers, smart wool socks, hats, and on and on, help. But I don’t like it. Scott works outside a lot and even when he works inside he’s heating with wood. It’s a good thing he’s a tough guy. Our snow storm last week was really beautiful though. There is nothing like sitting by the fire watching the snow fall while we’re all cozy and warm. It gave me a good excuse to go through seed catalogs and place my orders. I can hardly wait to get planting! The snow did a good job helping to insulate the sides on the high tunnel and with the sun out later on it brought the temperature up to 40 degrees in there. I think work will begin in there next month. Until then, hoping for warmer days!

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A Time to Relax

A time to reflect and relax.

A time to reflect and relax.

It has been a busy year. This past March we put up a 72 X 30 foot high tunnel and grew all our tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, some kale, eggplant and raspberries in it. Even though they did well I’m hopeful that this spring it will help give us the jump on early crops.imageIn August we decided to order more chicks and decided on 16 Buff Orpingtons. It’s been fun watching them grow and we hope by the end of December they will be pulling their weight around here and providing us with plenty of fresh eggs.imageMost of the work is done for this year and its time to put our feet up and enjoy some quality down time.

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Beets!

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It is easy to love fresh beets. Roasting them seems to enhance their sweet earthy flavor and probably the easiest way to cook beets. I’ve had more people tell me that they don’t like beets. Well, that was until they taste roasted beets. Roasting beets give them a deep, sweet taste. Serve these beets either as a side dish or in a salad.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Wash about 8 small beets well. Slice or chunk them and place in a roasting pan. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, some kosher salt and pepper and mix well to coat.
Cook about 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out easily. Enjoy!

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Running Out of Patience

I should know by now, there isn’t any instant gratification in gardening. Patience for that seed to sprout, the plant to flower, the tiny vegetable to get just a little bit bigger. So we wait, and wait, one more day, maybe another. A watched garden, it seems, is like a watched pot waiting to boil.

We anxiously await our first squash, the first red tomato, “do you have any cucumbers yet”? Days to harvest are marked on the calendar and we joke, “you call that squash???”. The peppers, they are nearly ready, nearly ready, probably NEXT WEEK. We hope. Who knows?

Our kale and chard seem frozen in time. There’s waiting for rain, or sun. It’s been a cold spring. It’s just too darn hot. Are we constantly wishing for a different kind of weather? Ah, Mother Nature, I know you’re in charge.

The gratification will come. Don’t give up on us, that squash may just be ready next week!

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Cranberry Nut Bread

3 cups fresh cranberries, cut in half
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
4 eggs (farm fresh are best!)
3 cups flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of one 9X5X3 loaf pan. Stir together cranberries, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla, orange peel and eggs in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into pan. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaf from the pan, remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely (about 2 hours before slicing). Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days. Enjoy!

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Harvest Time Easy Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

It’s hard to believe its that time of year again, our annual cranberry harvest. A time where family and friends come together to help us harvest our crop. I hope for a sunny, warm day with a crop that makes my husband proud. I’m thankful for the many hands that make it seem so easy.
What follows is my favorite easy recipe for cranberry sauce.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries (no need to cut them)
2 cups sugar
1 cup cold water

Mix together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the stove and cool. Keep in refrigerator. This makes 2 pints of sauce.

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DELICATA SQUASH

If you’re a fan of butternut squash, you are going to love delicata. I’m a fan of butternut, its probably my favorite, but unless you cook it in a microwave that tough outer skin isn’t easy to work with.
Here’s the good part–delicata doesn’t require peeling. They’re easy to clean, cut and cook with a creamy rich flavor. Roasting it in a metal pan will brown and caramelize it–simply delicious!

Roasted Delicata Squash

Serves 2-4 as a side dish

2 to 4 delicata squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Clean the squash by running it under warm water and scrubbing it with your hands. Cut it in half lengthwise. (easy deal) Scoop out the seeds and discard them, or if you know me, bring them to me and we’ll feed them to the chickens!
Cut each half into 1/2 inch segments and arrange them single layer in a metal baking pan. Coat with the olive oil and salt. The browning occurs when the squash and the pan meet. Roast 10 minutes then carefully flip them over and continue roasting for another 7-10 minutes until both side of the squash are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes

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Cornbread with Fresh Corn

Cornbread with Fresh Corn

2 eggs-beaten

1/2 cup Wesson oil

1 cup self rising cornmeal (I like Hodson Mill all Natural)

1 cup of fresh corn (cooked and cut off cob)

1 cup sour cream

1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Beat eggs and oil in large bowl. Add in the remainder of the ingredients and mix lightly. Bake in 400 degree oven 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes on rack. Remove from pan and enjoy!

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