"Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row."
We are in full swing of summer life here on the farm, and do say it's busy might just be an understatement. There are days I wonder about what we've taken on. When my garden is overgrown in grass is one of them. Luckily with my gardening method, this isn't too much of a challenge if I have a good. Which, incidentally, I do. I have several to be precise. I may have a mild love affair with my Japanese sickle. It is a true workhorse on my farm . I use it to take down 2nd year burdock, to cut all the grass around my plants and drop it on my plants, to cut herbs, to cut Comfrey (oh Comfrey! I have several bunches sitting on the trampoline that I need to tie and hang - ADD moment sorry), to cut rabbit food. The list goes on. I've even cut fencing with it (whops!).
I have more tomato plants this year than I have done since we moved here. Last year I started fermenting my tomato products and fell in love. If you are on facebook and interested in fermented products, you have to check out the group Wild Fermentation. You could spend days searching the archives alone. It's a very active group but I love it and use it often during the growing season. One of my favorite discussions on tomatoes is this one.
My tomato set up this year is a bit different. I think I have close to 20 plants with most of them on strings under a cattle panel trellis. I am planning on climbing pumpkins up the trellis behind the tomatoes. We shall see how that goes. Check it out below.
We only did 4 squash plants this year which will likely be enough once they start producing. Thanks to the good graces of one of I was able to do squash. I didn't get plants at the local nursery soon enough and when I was ready they were sold out. Ahh well, they will start producing later but I am hopeful they will be abundant.
Then we have beans. And ooh boy do we have beans. I may have gone a bit bean crazy this year. I have all my plants panted biointensively but my beans boy. I had almost no seedling losses. So I have 14 feet of pole beans and about 60 green bush bean plants. Oy! I see fermented beans on the horizon!
A new crop for us this year was corn. We were able to find non-GMO verified sweet corn. Figured it would be fun for the kids. The peas are also fun for the kids and they love them! I just had to tie the top of the peas to the trellis today as they are getting a bit unruly. But they are producing quite well for only 8 feet of peas. I have snap and shell mixed together. The kids garden is pretty much just sun gold tomatoes at this point. Sun gold's that need a trellis or cage of some sort!
Garlic is getting ready to harvest. I have a couple fallow beds and then there's my kale and cucumber bed which is rocking. I have the cucumbers on strings this year going vertical. Should be interesting! They are currently about 18" tall. We've had crazy weather so I'm grateful they are that big. My younger son also planted radishes and I planted carrots. The carrots aren't doing much but I have two rather large radish piles.
Then there's my herb garden...which is A MESS! But both the licorice and Ku-shen came back (happy dance!). My Bocking 4 and `14 Comfrey is doing really well and I had an amazing surprise this spring when my Astragulus came back (being zone 3/4 with very little snow cover last winter, I was shocked). The cat used my feverfew and mugwort plant starts as her bathroom...so they didn't take, but my lavender overwintered and is currently blossoming. It's LOVELY! My sea kale appears to have established itself which is exciting (until I have to move it again because it's in a row that's probably going to turn into greenhouse in the future). My other perennials are doing wonderfully but the garden really needs some love! It's getting overrun by grass and the paths need another layer of mulch.
This post is getting long. If there are any plants I've listed that you're interested in, please contact me. I'm sure we could work something out assuming I have enough to part with.
If you want to keep track of us when we aren't posting updates to the blog (because life has a tendency to get away from me at times, please follow us on facebook, instagram, twitter or pinterest.
It's a difficult thing trying to figure out what you can do to scour your raw fleeces without polluting the local watershed. I know that my little bit of Dawn liquid to wash my fleeces isn't that much, but how about when and if I start washing more then just 10 - 12 fleeces a year and what if you extrapolate my environmental impact by 100,000 (very conservative as there are more then 7 billion people on the planet so logically, more then 100,000 use Dawn dish liquid). Well anyway, it got me thinking. I wanted to make a healthy and socially responsible choice (yes I said socially responsible, not environmentally responsible). So I did a bit of research and decided it was time to find an alternative.
Is Dawn safe? Well, to find out I went to the Environmental Working Groups Dawn page...turns out, no, no it's not. Dawn has 0 products that have an A or B rating. And only 15.8% of their products have a C rating...the rest are D and F. I'm not sure I'm even willing to compromise with a C rating, but it turns out the Dawn dish washing liquid I was using has a D rating. Now these ratings, what's the skinny... well the image below is pulled right off the EWG's website and explains it all.
So as you can see, a C rating is moderate concern and D is "high concern." Eep! That's not what I want to be putting in my ground water is it something I wish to be putting in the ground water that my neighbors rely on for their drinking water (this is the socially responsible part).
So the detergent testing began. I decided to just use what I had in the house which left me with 3 cleaners to try (Ecover 0 laundry detergent, Ecover 0 dish soap, and Soap Nuts liquid). In case you are curious here is the EWG sheet on Ecover and the website for Eco Nuts.
In the image above, you will see 4 different covered containers. The one on the left is the Eco Nuts trial, the one with the pink top is the Ecover Zero Dish Soap and the two on the right are the Ecover Zero Laundry Detergent. In the image below you will see how the fiber came out after washing.
After handling all the different fibers after washing and watching the washing process, I[m the most happy with the Ecover Zero Landry Detergent. It did a really nice job and the handle of the dry wool was a little better then the dish soap.
I have another scour on the way that is environmentally responsible. It is really important to me not to pollute my water supply and the washer I use to process my wool drains into the ground (grey water). I will add to the review when I check out the new scour, which is normally way out of my price range but was on over 50% off sale from a store on Amazon.
On a day like today, I gravitate to easy dinner. For me that means pancakes! There is something so simplistic about being able to mix a few ingredients and create a delicious meal quickly. I don't know about you but in our household dinner usually takes at least a half an hour to make. Why most weekdays this is not an issue, weekends can be a different matter entirely. We have been going since 8 AM this morning and we are tired, so time for pancakes.
For those who don't know what going on a farm, even a small one, this is what our day looks like today. Get up, feed kids, Feed animals, dash outdoor for T-ball, play on playground, run home, start burn pile to burn massive trees that were taken down in front yard (the Mr. has literally been throwing 50-100 pound pieces of wood into a crazy hot fire all day), prep garden beds, lunch sometime in there, shovel compost out of chicken coop, do a quick kitchen cleanup, nurse baby ... There's more but I'm tired...everything today has included wearing the little miss in her wrap, except for the broad fork activities.
Our busy season is upon us! Pancakes will be on the me he more. Most commonly served with bacon and eggs or burger drizzled with maple syrup and sprinkled with salt. We aren't vegan, but these pancakes can be made vegan quite easily. Enjoy the recipe!
6 tablespoons Aquafaba or 2 large eggs
Anyone who has been in the gluten free any period of time knows that gluten-free sandwich bread is the proverbial unicorn. Perhaps I should say, simple gluten-free bread is the proverbial unicorn. Most gluten-free bread have about 500 ingredients. Well okay, not really 500, but let's be honest, there's a lot and most of them are not something you could produce in your own kitchen.
I've been at this gluten free bread game a long time. I have young children and one of my favorite memories of my childhood are sandwiches. Sandwiches made by Grammy, loaded with peanut butter and raspberry jam. Grilled cheese. Tomato and cheese sandwiches. Ham and cheese sandwiches. Salami sandwiches. Oh the sandwiches! In high school I always went to the sandwich lunch line...I loved sandwiches. I wanted my kids to have that. But we are gluten free...and have been for nearly 6 years. The other issue I had was a lot of the gluten free ingredients I didn't consider "real food" mostly because I couldn't produce them in my own kitchen. Xanthan gum? Tapioca starch? Potato starch? Can I make these in my kitchen, no. Now you don't know me, but I'm a real foodie. I love real foods and have been trying to figure out how to make gluten free bread from whole foods (albeit ground into flours) in my kitchen for some time. Years if we are being honest. And while I have no problem with the other gluten free ingredients, it just wasn't ever for me. I also have a lot of food intolerances personally, and that drives my real food desire. There just had to be a way to make bread without gluten and without all that other stuff too... Please?!
So I've been trying all sorts of things. For a good chunk of time I focused most, if not all, my time and energy on sourdough. And I must say, that produced a darn good product but it didn't rise like I wanted it to. I had a lot of goals to hit my ideal gluten free bread...basically I wanted it to be just like the bread of my childhood...no big deal right. I only wanted a gluten free bread that was:
Well, I'm also stubborn, tenacious and don't give up real easy. The result, the bread you see in the picture above. The breakthrough point, a little invention called Aquafaba (AF). This was a game changer for me. I had figured out already that I could use glutinous rice in the place of gluten free starches (sweet white rice). I had already played around with whole psyllium a good bit and knew I could use that as a binder (I used it exclusively in my sourdough and all my other baked goods). I knew I could mix apple sauce and palm shortening to replace butter (the ratio is always tricky but it's possible). I had all this stuff I knew and I enjoy a challenge so when AF hit my radar, I started trying recipes again. This particular recipe is based off King Arthur Flour's Gluten Free Sandwich Bread. So thank you KAF for a good base to start with!
Even though I have my own little baking business, I have decided to give this one away. It's just such a game changer for me and my family and I didn't figure it out all by myself. I hope you enjoy it as much my family does! This is a moist bread though, it is not "dry" like gluten based breads on the inside.
Gluten Free Sandwich Bread - Allergen Friendly
150 grams Sweet Rice Flour aka glutinous rice flour (other starch will likely work, but I haven't tried them)
318 grams Sorghum flour (or gf flour bend of choice)
1.25 tsp salt
40 g Whole Psyllium
130 g Aquafaba (3 eggs if you can do eggs)
38 g apple sauce
20 g Palm Shortening
500 g Warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
3 T sugar
2.5 t Active Dry Yeast
1. Mix water, sugar and active dry yeast together and allow to sit for 10 or so minutes while you prepare everything else.
2. In standing mixer, combine all other ingredients using paddle.
3. Add water mixture slowly and mix for 2-3 minutes.
4. Allow to rise for 2-3 hours.
5. Shape and put in greased loaf pan for second rise.
6. Proof your preferred way, allow to rise until the outside of the loaf is within 1/2 inch of the rim of the pan. While it's doing the second rise, preheat oven to 375°F.
7. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes or until internal temp is 205°F
8. Allow to cool completely. If you want to eat it warm it will dry out a little quicker. Cut into when it's hot at your own risk.
Note: I bake my bread in a propane stove, in glass (Pyrex) loaf pans. I use filtered water. The AF I use is home made from chickpeas that were soaked then cooked in instant pot. My flours are bakery flours I buy in bulk and fine ground. My sugar is organic dehydrated cane juice. Humidity/room temperature etc will all change proofing times and possibly baking times. I have not done this in a bread machine, but I would mix outside the bread machine before putting in the machine and baking, it's a dense dough.
I hope you and your family are able to enjoy this bread!
Do you ever have one of those days. You know the type I'm talking about. The days were no matter what you have planned, the Universe (insert your preferred presence/deity) has a completely different plan. Well for me, today is one of those days. Now I don't want to say I'm complaining per se, but the type of day I'm having I would be happy to not be having at this particular point in my pregnancy (I'm due in 2 weeks and my mobility and stamina for farmy things is...limited).
At this point we have had 4 lambs. Two decided to be born to a yearling mama this morning and my rams, who live with the ewes, decided to harass the new mom to no end while she was birthing so she abandoned one of the lambs (the ewe) in an effort to get a bit of peace while she birthed the second lamb. Since this is her first lambing season being drove off from her first lamb has resulted in her not bonding with the first lamb (who is larger, healthier and a ewe). Sigh.
So what to do in a holistic farming situation. Well in this particular case, my wonderful partner sullied his work clothing dragging the new mom down to the "barn" (her lamb was not talking to her nor calling her) while keeping the yearling cow and the two ram's at bay. Multi-species/gender has it's benefits, but it also has it's drawbacks. A ewe flock is a lot easier to manage without testosterone flaring.
Since he got them in the "barn" successfully and had to leave for work I've been managing. I don't know if I have to tell you, but bending and squatting for an hour trying to protect baby ewe from mom and letting her nurse and getting the ram lamb to nurse too because he's tiny and doesn't have much meat on his bones. It's 12 pm and I feel like my back is going to give out. And I get to go back out and do it again here shortly. Sigh. The joys of farm life.
On the plus side, we have 4 lambs now. Two ram's and 2 ewes. I was really hoping that my white ewe would through a colored/variegated lamb but she threw two white. That means my ram carries a white gene I believe...time to pull out my copy of "The Coat of Many Colors" and see what's going on with the genetics of the lambs this year. I also need to take some pictures and get them posted on the Sheep Color Genetics facebook page. A great resource for any and all interested in color genetics.
Things I am grateful for (after venting about my morning):
I should have some pictures shortly of the new lambs as well as some of the older lambs. So until next time, I hope you and yours are well!
We have been quite busy and as you may have noticed, blog upkeep has not been a priority. I would like to be better, but we shall see. With baby 3 on the way, a bunch of critters and just your regular day to day stuff, one can hope! Hoping is about all I've got right now. I am going to look into linking my Instagram account as I post quite regularly on there and that would be wonderful!
What we have going on right is as follows:
It hasn't been a very wintery winter and we haven't gone through a ton of wood. We also haven't had to run our cook stove much which may be a blessing because it's not very air tight and could really use being pulled apart and re-cemented. We have had a lot of ice so far and I'm concerned about a number of the perennials I planted last spring that have very little snow cover to protect their root systems.
Well I'm off to sew or spin some stuff. Hopefully I will be a bit better about blogging but we'll see! If you wish, you can follow our adventures on Facebook or Instagram.
I can not tell you what a pleasure it is to finally have sunshine! All I want to do is be outside. I keep dragging my children outside for every little bit of sunshine we can get as well as working in the garden. Wee man is getting more sun then I would like...he won't keep hats on. Apparently wee ones don't like things on their heads once they figure out they can take them off themselves. Makes you wonder if they are simply tolerating it up until the point of realizing, "HEY, I don't have to deal with this BS anymore! I can remove it MYSELF." And they do. Over and over and over again... I have yet to find a successful hat. But hoods, oh hoods work! They don't come off! They don't have a brim either... but much to the chagrin of my wee one, they don't come off.
I don't know about everyone else out there but my life sure has a way of being very full. The morning starts and everything gets rolling and then daddy's walking in the door and the day is over. In the blink of an eye you are literally in the future. Amazing. I am watching my infant grow so quickly. I haven't been documenting with photographs like I did my older child. Am I going to remember it all? What else have I been doing? I think back to when he was 1, 2 or 3 months old and it feels like an eternity ago...
This may or may not be something that is already part of your awareness. The first time I realized I wasn't the only one experiencing this "phenomenon" was when I was listening to a podcast on The Paleo Parents when Stacy mentioned she had experienced this with one of her children. I would like to make a quick note that I have no issues with raw dairy consumption IF it is tolerated. Pasteurized dairy is a whole other topic that I have no interest in getting into here.
I have now seen a connection with bed wetting (or not being dry at night if still in nappies) and both my sons. It took us over 2 years to figure out with our first son and lots of food trials and removals. With my second son I saw it within a night of introducing butter into my diet. He is exclusively breast fed.
I love herbs and have been studying at home for some time now (through Rosemary Gladstar's home course). When I was young I "helped" my grandmother develop and build an herb garden. Needless to say, now she's stuck with a garden that gets regularly overgrown with the mint family plants because those seem to be what survived! Go figure. She has kept up with the garden and now I have my own so I don't play in hers anymore, but she has gifted me several herbs which I use in my gardens and orchard.
I hope there is some interest in this area. I love herbs and hope to find others sharing their herb recipe's, nourishing infusions, salves, or herbal writings. I will likely utilized this as a place to keep track of the herbs that I am personally studying as well and the adventures I am having in herb land (a lot of wild fermenting too!). Who knows, I may even get better about pictures (and take some of my own!). Please share in the comments section any herb specific posts.
Hi there, Wysteria here. I will be writing as regularly as possible on behalf of my family and regarding our adventures in farming, food, health and things of the like. My interest range widely and my brain wanders far. Namaste.