Saturday, July 28, 2007

Too much fun

OK, I usually don't do these kinds of things but this was hilarious and lots of fun. Thanks to Diana for showing us this fun Simpsons trick! Here are the four of us, as we would look in Springfield. The Chris one is eerily realistic, especially when you are playing the game and he winds up with Homer in Moe's bar.

NOTE: I've removed the Flash media because it takes too long for my page to load--it was driving me crazy--so if you missed it and really need to see our Simpsons avatars, let me know and I'll make it happen for you.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It doesn't get any more local than this!

After six years of planning, dreaming, building, digging, sweating, bleeding, crying, laughing, and even dancing, we are finally producing enough food here on the farm to create whole meals for ourselves! Last night we and some friends indulged in a completely farm-generated meal. Every bit of the meal except the salt and pepper was either produced here on the farm or acquired from two other farms within a 7 mile radius by barter.

We roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, green chiles, and onions from our garden and blended them to make a salsa. There was no need for any additional seasoning.

Here is the salsa with greens and herbs.

We made our own butter from the milk that we get from our friend with the mini jerseys. Note the rich yellow color--that's from a grass fed milk cow!

We cooked potatoes from our garden with the herbs and butter.

Steamed the greens

And grilled lamb chops and beef from our pasture.

The result: Grilled beef and lamb with steamed greens, pan fried potatoes, and tomatillo salsa, garnished with beets and cilantro pesto (made earlier this season from our garden and frozen).

OK, I admit that the beverages were not produced on-farm, although the beer did come from a local microbrewery and the mint for the mojitos was from our partner CSA.

To market we go

I have now officially started selling produce at the market! I have gone twice now, and have had a great time and learned a lot already. I decided to attend the market closest to our farm, just 4.5 miles away, because of a sense of responsibility towards my community. Unfortunately, this market does not seem to be the most profitable for us as farmers. Part of the problem is that it is located in a semi-rural community, where many people already have their own gardens. Another is the site for the market. It is an exposed parking lot which is very hot and makes for an uncomfortable shopping trip for the customers. There are markets in the city that are much more heavily visited and located in parks with plenty of shade, and we will probably switch to one of those markets next season.

But for now, our little local market is the perfect place for me to learn the ropes, especially since I don't have much to sell just yet. Here is my market stand from last weekend:

Scotty's latest

More K'NEX inventions from Scotty.

A steam hoist

And here's a little contraption he made for heating water, complete with a holder for the thermometer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

My baby is four!

What happened?

What Eliza wanted most for her fourth birthday was a party at Chuck E Cheese's. So our Tribe came out to spend the afternoon with us, which was such a thrill for her. Chris even came along, and if you know him you know how far out of his element he is at a place like that, but he loves his little girl so! And my mom was able to stop by too since she works nearby. Thanks to everyone for making it such a special day for Eli. She was obviously a very happy girl:

And her parents were very happy for her:

It especially meant a lot to Eli to have her girl friends there with her. Here she is with Clare and Emma:

More and more, our tribe comes together for our kids. Here is much of the gang: Crystal, Sylvia, Teresa, Beth, Helene, and the back of Chris' head. This party was held on short notice, it was a bit of a drive for many, and it's not the most fun place for adults, but all these wonderful people turned out for our Eliza. We were so touched, but not surprised. For another great story of how these great homeschooling families support our kids see Sylvia's blog here.

Eli opened her gifts on the floor and had some help from Sophie. She was thrilled with all of them. Thanks to everyone!

A highlight for her was playing games with her Daddy.

And if the day wasn't magical enough, when we arrived home we discovered twin lambs born that same day! Two girls exactly four years younger than Eliza.

Happy birthday my precious girl. You are so loved.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

In answer to all your questions

I'm doing a new post to answer everyone's recent questions. Thanks to all of you for your comments!

homemoma: The tomatillo is related to the winter cherry (it's the same genus) but it's not the same thing. Tomatillos are used in Mexican cuisine for green salsas. Roast them and combine with garlic, peppers, onions, cilantro. Yum!

Alan: Yes, we seeded the onions inside in January. Two varieties--Valencia and Newburg. We planted them in the garden in mid-April. Also, thanks for your comments on vegetarianism. It has been an interesting journey for me.

Mike: The jury is still out on the tomato cages. So far it's working pretty well but there are some kinks to iron out. We cut the hog panels in half lengthwise both to save money and to be able to access the bottoms of the plants easily to weed, prune, and harvest fruit. But the cut ends are sharp so it requires extra caution when working in there. Also we didn't put them close together enough in some places so that is something to keep in mind--I'd say around 16-18" apart is ideal (depending on the plant--some of our varieties are much bushier than others).

As for the lettuce, it's a butter lettuce called Bronze Mignonette. I got the seed from Seeds of Change.

And Mik: Eliza is doing well! She's looking forward to her birthday on Tuesday. We're still waiting to see if she gets chicken pox but if not she would like to have a party at Chuck E Cheese's. I'll go snap a few photos of her now.

And here's the photo of the house from the driveway, as you requested. You can't see much through the weeds! Although I do want to point out that the sunflowers that grow as weeds here are selling well at the market!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Latest garden photos

This is the large field garden we are trying this year. We have corn, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, watermelon, peppers, green chile, tomatillos, and some freestanding tomatoes out here. It is irrigated with ditch water, as opposed to the gardens near the house which are irrigated with well water. Behind it you can see the beautiful stand of hairy vetch, which we put in as a cover crop last winter. We have fallen in love with this crop and plan to put it in again in many places this year.

We are experimenting with using black landscape fabric with our sweet potatoes. It is said to increase yields. We have one row with the fabric and one without. Behind you can see the pasture where we have our chicken tractor.

We are experimenting with a new way to cage our tomatoes this year. We cut some welded wire fence panels in half lengthwise and set them up on either side. The only disadvantage we see so far is the cut ends that stick down, which are sharp and can cut you when working underneath the plants.

Here is the East garden, so named because it is directly next to the house on the east side. The first row is our berry patch, where we have raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries planted. We're hoping for a good first harvest next Spring! Then we have some tomatoes and peppers, potatoes in the next row (I know, they shouldn't be so close to the tomatoes, but we have to seriously amend our soil for potatoes and this was the only area we had available for that this year), and onions that I started from seed way back in January in the last row. This garden benefits from afternoon shade, which has been very helpful these last two weeks of very hot and dry weather without a drop of rain.

We finally got a few grapes planted on the fence next to the East garden. Our apple trees and some vitex trees are here too.

The tomatillos are so neat. They are like little chinese lantern plants. Eliza can't resist picking them, so between that and the "Old Fashioned Potato Beetle" which seems to like tomatillos more than potatoes, we may not get that many.

Blue Lake green beans getting going.

San Marzano paste tomatoes. I planted a LOT of these, hoping to can enough tomatoes and paste for the entire year.

And just to prove that it's not all green out there, here are some close-ups of some of the color.