…his name should have been Pooh Bear

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This was just before the snow storm, one of the first nice Spring like days, and someone got a little over excited about getting the hay in the middle of the feeder and got stock, not unlike Winnie the Pooh. Hubby had to take apart the feeder while I chatted with the wedged over eater. He didn’t seem too disturbed by the process, he just kept eating.

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The other night we sat down to dinner and I just had to take a picture of these beans from last summer. Still beautiful, still delicious and still plentiful in the freezer. I believe we will make it to be bean season ever being without! I do need to sort through the freezer, though, and tidy it up to make sure I know how much of everything we have. It’s a fine line to have enough till fresh veggies come in, but not too much when fresh veggies come in… It will be interesting to see how it balances out.

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And here are next season’s beans in this box!

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This here was an accomplishment! I am hoping, like last year, to knit a scarf for many at holiday time. Last year when I tried for this goal  I had never knit anything before, and well, yes, I thought it would go quicker. I did get two projects done but that was all. My goal this year is to be prepared with many knitted gifts. The good news is that I had started quite a few for different recipients and so I have a start on several of them. This one, though, is for my friend’s birthday. I accidentally finished it incorrectly, but it doesn’t matter. I am excited to give it to her. I really like the material. When I first started knitting, I found that buying yarn at a mega craft store offered many choices and I have a few very pretty scarves going that use some nice looking yarns from that store, but I found that I wished there was also a story behind the yarn, rather than a factory. I looked around on Craigslist and it was great luck to have find a very nice woman selling wool! This scarf is made from that wool, which I bought from her over a year ago. She raised the sheep that this wool came from. She showed me knitted sweaters and socks she had made while she told me about the new life she was starting in Mexico, which was why she couldn’t keep it all. She was sorry to part with so much of her wool and also some wool she had from her friend’s sheep, but she was glad it was going home with me, she knew it was appreciated. Hopefully she is enjoying her new start in Mexico, I am enjoying my start at knitting and using her wool that came with a story attached to it.

Some of this and a lot of that!

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First we did this… Hubby was pleased to find a window of nice weather in mid March to get some early burning done, and I got the mini High Tunnel planted.

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Then Midwest weather happened…

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Back to making fires in the morning, and rearranging schedules due to not being able to get out of the driveway.

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Of course that returned us back to soup and bread, but when isn’t soup and bread good? This was a pork based broth from roasted neck bones, I browned slices of our Italian brats and added that and lots of beans and vegetables, so it was a spicy bean and sausage soup. I had no idea what it would be till it was done, but it turned out great!

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I am happy to have re-found a sandwich bread recipe that I like, because sometimes I tire of my go to, no knead bread even though it is delicious. This bread sliced up really nicely and I made it into two slightly smaller loaves so one is sliced and in the freezer, ready to go for a busier day. It’s nice to have a back up loaf

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Despite the snow Hubby did get me into the property where my granola kitchen is located, but without his 4 wheel drive and determination it wouldn’t have happened. He also sees snow vs. truck as a personal challenge (insert winky face here).

On the farm news:

I got the mushroom spawn ordered and all bare root stock has been ordered. This year 2 dwarf Plum trees, 6 Somerset Red Seedless Grapes, 2 Elderberry, 1 Goji Berry, 3 High Bush Cranberry, and 2 Red Currants. My hope is to turn the area around our house into food, wherever I can, by adding each year. Fruit is something that we have the least diversity of here, and this would really improve that. Currently our wild fruit on the farm are limited to, apple trees, black cap berries, and a few Mulberries, and possibly still some gooseberries to nibble in the woods, but that is a complete stretch. We do have fruits that we have planted such as a small amount of raspberries, some grapes which so far is just enough for a couple of weeks of table grapes in the summer, and some trees that we planted such as; 1 pear, several apples, and 1 sour cherry. Last year I traded for melons, but hoping this year I will do well with Watermelons and Cantaloupe. Turns out they are both amazing dried, but more so the Watermelon which could be marketed as natural candy:)

Hubby would prefer farming not so close to the house, but I really like it this way. The predators are less likely to come up on the lawn near the house, which makes vulnerable berries and such, safer and I like to be able to see all the animals when I go out and have the garden close by. Our food is knitted into our everyday life, and without getting too warm and fuzzy, it makes me feel just a little bit closer to the way people lived a long time ago…right here.

Getting my feet back on muddy ground, and it feels great!

Well, for the first time in a long time I have been off the farm for an extended period. Interestingly, everyone’s idea of an extended period is different, and I have to be frank and say that being a way for a whole weekend is hard for me these days. This was much longer. It started with a birthday trip to Florida to celebrate Dad’s 90th with Mom and Dad and my sister (who also flew in from North Carolina). It was great spending the weekend with Mom and Dad and we were all so very grateful to be able to celebrate this mile marker with Dad. The flip side is Dad was not feeling terrific and as his doctor said, “these men of the greatest generation are minimalists and never complain, the flip side is you often don’t know how bad they really are feeling.  This is my Dad, definitely among the greatest of that great generation. The long and short of it was we ended up back down there a week later for an extended period of moving them home, getting the necessary medical work done and getting Dad feeling better, and to that end, he IS feeling better. I feel a bottomless well of gratefulness for this. Once we got them comfortably in their house, and moved in, as best as sister and I could do, we all did a lot of hugging and returned to our homes. Turning into the driveway and seeing the farm after being gone over 13 days this month, was an incredible thing. Simply being in the same room as my husband was an incredible thing. It was good to get the rundown on what’s been happening on the farm. I missed a week of “brutal cold”, according to hubby who generally thinks sub-zero is “nice out”, so it must have been bad. By the time I got home it was Mud Season, yes that’s a title. I couldn’t have been happier to put on my tall boots!

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It’s official!

Here are other signs of Spring!

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I am up to about 4 gallons of sap at this point. I decided to only tap Black Walnut trees this year. We got a little bit of the Black Walnut syrup last year and it was great! Up until now we have been tapping the neighbors Box Elder Trees, but this year we will stay on our land and just tap what we have. We should have plenty of sweetener for the year! I still have a bit of Box Elder Syrup from last year too!

The farm spring round up news…chicks, hogs, and cattle

It is an amazing time of year. Due to the last month being an odd one for me I am behind on a few things, ok, a lot of things! I have been baking and delivering granola like crazy and finally got my chicks ordered and seeds ordered. I may have pushed my limits a bit on the chicks and garden this year, but the chicks arrive on May 11, will be in the brooder for 5-6 weeks in the garage and then we move them on grass each night till late August. It’s a fair investment in time, I think, for enough chicken meat for the year. This year I am going to push to have all livestock have not just two purposes on our farm (as I did for the chickens and hogs last year) but, at the least 3 purposes. Instead of the chickens that we pay to purchase and raise providing us with just meat and eggs, this year they will provide us meat, eggs, egg money (that covers their initial cost as chicks) and a bartering tool. I ordered 50 roos, and 8 hens, of the 50 I will freeze 30 birds in halves so we have 60 halves for the year, that is more than one half a week, or enough for extra people as needed. We eat a half at dinner, so it is perfect for us. I will freeze 5 whole for company, which always looks nice, and then the remaining 15 I will barter with our neighbor or other neighbors for items we need, such as goat milk, or a winter share of potatoes, carrots etc. We are planning 4 hogs this year… if, as the Hog farmer friend told me, “the girls work their magic”. Here’s hoping that they do! I will try to sell 2 in halves or whole, one by piece and for barter, and one for us. The even bigger news is that the cattle will begin to “earn” their place on the farm this year. It’s been almost 3 years since we got the Scottish Highlands, but when you raise grass fed, grass finished beef, you need to be one patient farmer. Well the time has come, which has prompted a lot of research, conversation and exploration. On one of my explores I decided to look for Facebook pages relating to these type of cattle. I proceeded to message a person who had just such a page, and guess what? Not only did they want to help me, they messaged back and forth with me for over an hour answering so many questions we had about upcoming processing, knowing if the animal is ready, and many other questions. I asked this kind man for his address to send him a granola gift, and as of yet he still hasn’t. People can say all that they want about the pitfalls of Facebook, and I agree there are a host of them, but being able to have this easy connection as a resource, and learning and sharing with kind helpful people is wonderful. It made the world smaller that night as I messaged from my farm in Wisconsin to his farm in North Dakota. Obviously, one has to be careful when reaching out like this, but really, getting help from someone who raises Highlands seemed pretty low risk;) After this communication hubby and I  feel so much better about our upcoming processing and now I am thinking more about the terrific upcoming soup bones and less about all the worries! I think perhaps I was thinking too hard. I do this. Ask anyone in my family.

Saturday is my birthday and I think I will spend it working up the soil in the mini high tunnel and getting my first seeds in the ground. A perfect birthday. Oh and of course one must plink on one’s birthday too, so maybe a little shoot out with hubby?