Ahhhh........ summertime......... The grass is green as are the leaves. The days are long, hot, and sticky followed by a hopefully cooler night. Thunderstorms pop up occasionally to water the earth and cool the air. The garden is sprouting with green beans and beets and carrots and budding tomatoes and zucchini. The scent of basil and oregano are in the air as I water. The daylilies are blooming. Birds and butterflies abound. Robins nest on our home’s log corners, finches nest in the bushes, barn swallows nest in the barn, killdeer nest in the pasture, bluebirds nest in the birdhouses along the pasture fence, and the hawk makes a daily appearance swooping over the pasture. Stella spends the entire day outside, lounging about in the shade. She sometimes takes herself for a casual walk around the fence perimeter, all the time keeping an eye out for a chipmunk to chase. I sit quietly outside soaking up the sunshine while I spin, weave, or knit, facing the alpacas grazing in the pasture.
Wild critters large and small quietly pass through our property at night. The other day my neighbor mentioned that a raccoon had gotten into his coop, again, and decimated his poultry flock, and that a bear had destroyed his beehive. :( Whether you have a teeny homestead or a large one, farming is not always easy or fun; Nature works on her own schedule.
Coyotes and deer still abound. We’ve been fortunate. The deer have not decimated the garden yet and the coyotes have never, ever bothered the alpacas. They do that well enough amongst themselves! 10 intact male alpacas on a hot summer day can get easily bored or irritated with each other ~ I’m guessing that’s it ~ and suddenly have to provide themselves with their own entertainment by chasing each other down .......... which means I’m having to run out to the barn to break up the ‘fight.’ ‘They say’ it’s a normal thing, a hierarchy thing, and to let the boys work it out amongst themselves but I have a hard time standing by idly when a smaller one is screeching.
And usually they do work it out amongst themselves but when it carries on and on, there I am, running. And stumbling as I run. Yes folks. 12 years of ballet as a kid and I can still manage to trip over my own feet on a daily basis.
At least it’s summertime. All I have to do is jump into my little barn shoes ........
We woke up this morning to the Winter That Just Won’t End.
Good thing I didn’t plant anything yesterday on Earth Day.
I would say my life’s mission is to leave the world a better place than I found it. Our farm’s simple mission statement reflects that. A friend of mine from college used to say, ‘Of course I want to take care of the planet. It’s the only one we’ve got.’ It was true then and true now.
The celebration of Earth Day inspires me to continually ask myself, What else can I do to help the Earth?
Spaceship Earth is just a teeny speck of a planet in our giant Universe. In the here and now, and the foreseeable future, it’s probably the only place that we humans can live. And such a beautiful planet our Earth is! Why trash it?
Oh Beautiful for smoggy skies, insecticided grain,
For strip-mined mountain's majesty above the asphalt plain.
America, America, man sheds his waste on thee,
And hides the pines with billboard signs, from sea to oily sea.
I’m not sure when George Carlin said that, but it continues to hold true today, doesn’t it? So sad that our beautiful living space of planet Earth is slowly being transformed into a huge dumping ground. Sadder still is when humans refuse and then cease to acknowledge that. Waste is an inevitable by-product of life, but please, there’s got to be a better way to keep our planet clean and healthy.
George Carlin’s satire of our popular American song, America the Beautiful, is a reminder to me to do something, everyday, to help regain and retain the health of the Earth, which in turn helps all the living beings that inhabit it.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day than by just spending time outdoors and breathing fresh air. Fortunately, I get that opportunity daily by just caring for the alpacas’ daily needs and by walking Stella. I’ll probably spend some time in the garden, pulling up debris from last year’s plantings and throwing that into the compost pile. Maybe I’ll do some Sun Salutations in between the raised beds!
How are you all celebrating Earth Day?
The snow is finally all melted and spring has arrived! We've taken down most of the tarps and dragged the stand up hay feeder outside. It's great to see the alpacas outside in the sunshine, grazing on the new growth, running, or cushed around the feeder. It's great to be able to wear less layers. It's great to see the early flowers popping up here and there and blooming.
Last evening I picked this fabulous assortment of tomatoes ~ roma, celebrity, and cherry. Also in there is one fabulous hot pepper and one fabulous bell pepper. Teamed up with my parsley, fresh salsa for sure! And look at that purple basil! The plant is huge, and along with my other basil plants and flavorful olive oil, I'll be making pesto. Yes, folks, the white-kitchen-trash-bag-tied-to-a-stake trick has successfully kept away the deer this year.
Hope your gardens are yielding you great treasures too.
I love that part of summer when you head out to the vegetable garden and seemingly overnight all the plants have grown to double in size, and also have a bud of something starting to grow. It always feels like I’ve just accomplished something big. And even better is finding your first tomato, well hidden amongst all those leaves, that is ready to pick. In July no less! Picking tomatoes in July in New Hampshire is, well, really wonderful. So is not having the plants eaten by the deer!
Home of the free, Because of the brave.
Enjoy the picnics and fireworks as we all celebrate our beautiful country's 234th Independence Day.
We’re really late this year planting the garden. Usually I like to have everything planted right after Memorial Day weekend, but this year we’ve moved the garden to the back yard, near the corner of the pasture fencing, and behind the old shed that was here when we bought the property. A garden near the garden shed sounds logical! And now the hose will reach every part of the garden easily, and I can see it from the house. Dan built 4 more 4 X 12 garden boxes, and we’ve moved 3 of the 4 from the old garden in the side yard. The last box has some rogue lettuces and scallions that sprang up on their own (I love when that happens!), my huge garlic chive plant, and my really, really, huge oregano plant. I’m waiting for the lettuces to bolt and the scallions to be ready to be picked, and then I’ll figure out how to best move the oregano plant and then we’ll move that last raised bed. The oregano plant is more like an oregano bush, and I want it to continue to do well.
We filled up the new boxes with compost from the local nursery, and I’ve been busy planting and planting. I’m hoping that because I’ve planted a few weeks late, and during the week of the summer solstice, that the bugs will be few and far between this growing season. Dan put in several stakes around this new garden area, and tied white plastic trash bags to them. This is my neighbor's trick to keep away the deer; hopefully it will work for us too! What a beautiful week we’ve had, these longest days of the year, warm and breezy and perfect for planting.
Now I have 8 large raised bed boxes, arranged somewhat in a square, with a four foot path going down the middle both ways, sort of like 4 small squares with 2 raised beds in each. I wanted the paths to be wide enough to accommodate the garden cart. The north side of the garden is the side closest to the pasture fence, and Dan will probably build me a long, narrow garden box, and eventually I’ll grow vining veggies there, like sweet peas or maybe pole beans, with some morning glories mixed in. Around my veggie plants I’ve always planted marigolds and petunias, both for bug control as well as color. Bright red tomatoes are great, but we won’t see them until late August!
The little garden shed that is here was surprisingly painted purple (!). It’s in need of some repair, mostly to the roof, but basically serves its purpose. Dan even thinks he may be able to build a small chicken coop right off the back. Fresh eggs!
The best part is that I’m really close to the alpacas now. Coty and Arlo love to graze together at this far end of the pasture. I can see right into the barn and watch the others cushed in front the fan, my ‘vampire’ alpacas that they are on these hot days. I call out to them easily, and they all look up at the sound of my voice. They watch me curiously, as I work in the garden, Stella sleeping in the cool grass under the maple tree nearby.
A few months back, I wrote about my wonderful, winter-worthy muck boots for doing barn chores. They’re still wonderful, but mighty hot now for this time of year. It’s time to get a different pair of boots for summer. I’m still wearing the Muck Boots brand, but now I have lightweight purple clogs!
Purple! My favorite color. And much, much cooler on the feet.
The weather has been good to us lately. Sunny cool days and crisp nights with little frost, and only gentle rains rather than fierce storms. It’s still a bit early to plant most of the garden, but it’s good weather for weeding. As I weed, I can see the side of the barn and most of the east side of the pasture. I’ve purchased a few plants in peat pots from a local organic farmer and they’re set out on the porch at night and under the shade of a maple tree during the day. We’re going to move our garden sometime this year to a sunnier spot right in the back yard, in front of the pasture fencing. We’d planted the garden way over in the side yard when we first moved here so that it wouldn’t be disturbed while we cleared land, and at the time it was sunnier there. Turns out, not sunny enough!
The oregano and garlic chive plants are huge already. Every garden I’ve ever had has surprised me in the spring with something that has self-sowed from the year before. So far this year I’ve found green onions (scallions) and lettuce plants. I was happily surprised to find a few teeny carrots had survived last summer’s ‘deer attacks.’ As I continued weeding, there are a lot of carrots, and not all of them are teeny. They’re all bright orange and solid, as a carrot should be. I also found several small beets. Here I am expecting to be getting the garden ready for planting, and I’m harvesting carrots and beets! I can’t wait to roast them in olive oil with fresh oregano and garlic. Maybe I'll save a couple carrots for snacks for the alpacas.
I just love to go barefoot. In the warm weather, the sun on my toes and the feel of grass or beach sand beneath my feet is such a relaxing sensation. I’ve always hated to have anything on my feet except for wool socks in the winter when I’m in the house and my feet are cold. I only put slippers on to run down cellar or going onto the porch for wood. When I come into the house, whatever is on my feet I quickly kick off. Dan even has a family friend who does go barefoot in the winter, even outside! (Hi Jeff) My mom often reminds me of the Easter day when I was 2 years old and cried all day. That evening when she took off my new little shoes, my feet were covered in blisters, and I stopped crying. I imagine I’ve hated wearing shoes since then.
I do have to have something on my feet to drive or walk or get around so in the warm weather you’ll usually find me in something like Teva sandals or Birkenstocks. I can easily take them off before I start driving. If I’m hiking in the woods I will wear proper hiking boots to protect my feet. I wear the hiking boots for getting around in the winter too. And somewhere I do have men’s type work boots for safety when we cut and stack wood, move rocks, and other yard chores. And now we have livestock, so another boot beckons. It just wouldn’t be healthy for me to be barefoot in the barn and pastures! Dan on the other hand, has no shoe issues and always prefers to wear something on his feet.
So what’s a barefoot loving girl to do? She wears boots from a company appropriately named The Muck Boot Company! We are lucky enough that the feed store here in town carries them. We were looking for a boot that would keep our feet warm while doing barn chores in the snow and wind and we tried on their ‘Artic’ boot style. Oh my! The sole is quite cushy but also has arch support and while walking around the store, my feet were actually comfortable! They come up almost to my knees which keep out deep snow, but they also fold down so I can easily tuck my pants in, and then roll them back up. How great is that! They are rated to keep your feet warm to 40 degrees below zero. And may I dare say, my feet have never been cold while I’m out in the barn!
During those weeks of below zero temperatures and fierce winds, all I could think of was Elaine on a Seinfeld episode when she was writing for Peterman’s catalog: “Thank goodness I was wearing my Muck Boot company’s Artic zone boots!”
Last weekend at the feed store Dan was showing me some clog style boots for spring and summer. Lucy, the owner, quickly opened the catalog to show me that they also come in purple. Purple! How can I resist a boot that comes in my favorite color! Come summer folks, you will probably find me about the farm not barefoot, but in my purple clog-style farm boots.
Jenna Woginrich blogs on the Mother Earth News as the Happy Homesteader. She recently posted a fabulous entry she entitled ‘Yearning to be a Farmer.’ Many readers have commented that her term ‘Barnheart’ will be this year’s ‘locavore.’ I’d have to agree. I am relieved to hear that many people share my affliction. If you have a chance you can read her blog post here and on her personal blog site here.
Barnheart is essentially the heartfelt, intense longing for the outdoors, of growing our own food, building our own shelters, and raising our own livestock for food and clothing. It’s our longing for self-sufficiency and breathing fresh air while we live our conventional lives, working in our windowless, stuffy office cubicles. It’s that calling we feel while discussing average percentages and quarterly reports with co-workers. That longing for a quiet and peaceful life based on simplicity and nature is what wakes people with Barnheart up at night.
I have had Barnheart all my life and now it has a name! I grew up in suburbia with its developments, soccer games, traffic lights with congestion and honking, and strip malls. On paper my hometown had a wonderful school system and safe neighborhoods. During and after college I continued to live in suburbia for years. But I longed for large open fields of lush grasses and wildflowers. I longed for large expanses of land that beckoned to be hiked in solitude from crowds. I longed for that smell of fresh air. I longed for hearing nothing but birds singing and the wind rustling grass and leaves. I longed for that life where joy is found in pulling up that first unperfect carrot grown from the soil you created and rainwater, baking bread from grain you grew, upon finding that first egg in your coop in the springtime, vases filled with flowering weeds, attending to animals in an old barn, and running your hands through freshly sheared wool. I longed for wearing wool from animals I raise and care for. I longed for working my land, for having dirty hands and knees and unbrushed hair and for that to be my fashion statement. I longed for starry nights that can be seen from my porch, my land, my homestead.
I longed so much and for so long and now joy is here with my little farm. The longing never really goes away, yet with each step forward one’s smile becomes wider. For all of you with Barnheart too, may you find your joy soon and may that joy bring you peace.
My name is Mona and I have Barnheart.
It is December in New Hampshire and today it is sunny and 65 degrees! If you’re from another part of the country ......... yes this is very much unseasonably warm!
Here we are preparing for winter, in fact on Saturday we’re supposed to get snow, but today, I feel like gardening.
We really don’t mind our home being surrounded by green, growing grass but we also don’t follow the American obsession with perfect looking, golf course style lawns. We mow, albeit not regularly, rake when necessary, but that’s about it. I’ve read that American households use way, way, too much fertilizer and pesticides on their lawns, much more by square foot than is used in commercial agriculture. This creates a ‘chemically dependent’ lawn, the runoff pollutes groundwater, the pollution kills beneficial bugs and birds and other species ....... and the horrid cycle continues.
Dan and I, we welcome the natural world and its micro-ecosystems. Nature does know best; why mess with it? We don’t want Stella rolling on pesticide laden grass, nor do we want to walk on it. We welcome the dandelions and clover and other weeds, and we don’t fret over yellow grass due to grubs. The grubs feed the robins, blue jays, woodpeckers and other birds, which in turn eat bugs that would invade our gardens. The skunks also eat the grubs and frankly I’d prefer they not hang around because of the alpacas! But oh well.
So folks, dig up your lawns! Plant a garden! I realize we’re all starting winter, but here’s a couple of links for you all to start planning gardens for next year:
We love autumn and October in New Hampshire is especially beautiful. The maple trees’ leaves slowly turn to glorious hues of reds and orange, making the sky look so blue and the grass and fields so green. The air is wonderfully crisp and dry and there’s always a great breeze. It’s perfect weather for hiking. This is such a fabulous corner of the country to live in, and autumn our favorite season.
This is the time of year I switch to drinking more tea as coffee really doesn’t keep one warm, we go apple picking, we split and stack large piles of wood, we rake huge amounts of leaves, we cut down the perennials, we pull up the veggie garden and till back in large amounts of compost. I go back to cooking soups and casseroles and baking bread. As the days get shorter we lament ‘oh no soon it will be snowing once again’ but we wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else but here, where we have 4 distinct seasons.
It went from normal autumn chilly to downright cold just like that this week which of course now makes me concerned that the alpacas are cold. Yes they are livestock with super thick fleece so by nature are just fine in the cold weather. Yet here we are in the house, all of us ~ me, Dan, Stella, and our indoor kitty Gracie ~ all snuggled up near the woodstove so it’s hard not to want to bring the alpacas inside!
Dan is concerned too, so the other day he came home with some straw to put down for bedding for them. We have found out that hay that is on the ground will wick up moisture and not dry if it’s been rained on, so yeah, the alpacas would get cold. The straw is hollow and does not absorb moisture, so it’s perfect for them to snuggle on. We spread out a bale and it didn’t take long for them to all cush on it. Smart alpacas! We will continue to add straw on top of what’s there, layer upon layer, to keep them dry and warm over the fall and through winter. Apparently, if done correctly, there is a composting effect, therefore creating heat which does help to keep the alpacas warm.
Off to make soup!
The next best thing to eating food fresh from the garden during the summer and fall is having it to eat during those cold winter months. I found this terrific article on the Farmer's Almanac website regarding preserving those wonderful summertime harvests and thought it perfect to share with all of you. The link to this article follows at the end. Enjoy! ~ Mona
Easy Ways to Preserve Summer's Bounty
In the summertime, nothing is better than fresh food straight from your garden or the local farmers’ market. Wouldn’t it be great to have these delicious fruits and vegetables available year round? Well, you can. Save money and eat healthy, tasty meals all winter long by preserving those homegrown fruits and vegetables. It’s easier than you think!
Freezing is a simple and convenient way to preserve food for several months. It slows food deterioration and stops the growth of bacteria. Food can be frozen in containers such as freezer bags (these are heavier duty than the thinner sandwich bags), plastic containers (butter tubs and whipped topping containers work well), canning jars, aluminum foil, or freezer paper. Remember – food expands as it freezes, so do not overfill containers.
Prevent cut fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears from darkening by first soaking them in a commercial anti-darkening agent or make your own solution by combining one teaspoonful of lemon juice to one quart of water. For many fruits, it is best to add sugar or a sugar syrup (see recipe below) to enhance taste and help the fruit retain its color.
Sugar Syrup Recipe
Light Syrup: Boil 2 cups sugar and 4 cups water. Makes 5 cups syrup.
Medium Syrup: Boil 3 cups sugar and 4 cups water. Makes 5 ½ cups syrup.
Heavy Syrup: Boil 4 ¾ cups sugar and 4 cups water. Makes 6 ½ cups syrup.
Cool syrup, then pour over fruit before freezing.
Fresh vegetables must be blanched before freezing. Blanching involves submerging vegetables into boiling water for a short period of time, then immersing them into cold water to stop the cooking process. Blanching kills enzymes that age the produce, resulting in fresher tasting food.
Home canning is another great way to preserve food. With canning, the food is placed in jars and is heated to a specific temperature in which food-spoiling germs are killed. This heat forces the air out of the jar, sealing it once it cools. Since bacteria cannot enter a sealed jar, the food can be preserved for a number of years.
There are two types of canners: a boiling-water canner and a pressure canner. The boiling-water canner is a huge pot in which jars can be covered with boiling water. This type of canner cannot reach temperatures high enough to completely kill all bacteria in jars no matter how long they are boiled, so this method is used primarily for canning
fruits and pickles since they contain natural acids that will prevent growth of bacteria.
Vegetables are more safely canned in a pressure canner where higher temperatures can be reached through the use of its tightly locking lid that holds steam inside the pot. A modern day pressure canner has a safety valve that will pop off if the pressure becomes too great, so do not worry about the unit exploding. However, precautions must still be taken. Never open the canner until it is fully depressurized. Once all pressure is released, open the lid away from your face so as not to be burnt by the release of steam.
What You Will Need for Canning:
- Canning Jars – Canning jars are made with thicker glass than standard jars to prevent breakage at high temperatures. Jars are available in different sizes and can be purchased by the dozen or found at garage sales.
- Lids and Bands – Lids and bands should fit the jars perfectly in order to obtain a good seal. Lids (or “flats”) should always be purchased new and must never be reused, as they may not seal properly a second time. Bands (or “rings”) may be washed and used again as long as they remain in good condition.
- Canning Salt – Canning salt is optional and enhances the flavor of the vegetables. Do not use regular table salt as this will result in soggy vegetables.
- Be sure jar rims are not chipped, nicked, or cracked, as this will prevent the lid from sealing.
- Do not fill jars to the top. Leave headspace so food will have room to expand while cooking.
- Remove air bubbles from the jar by sliding a plastic spatula between the food and sides of the jar. Releasing air bubbles will help ensure food stays covered in liquid.
- Wipe off food debris or salt from rims of jars so sealing will not be hindered.
- Before placing lids on jars, first heat them by simmering (not boiling) in hot water. Let lids sit in the hot water until ready to use. Any remaining bacteria will be killed during canning.
- Check jar seals within 24 hours of processing. Any jars that did not seal properly should be reprocessed (using a clean jar and new lid) within one day, or else the food should be refrigerated and eaten within several days.
- Thoroughly read all operating and safety instructions that come with your canner.
Now that you are armed with knowledge on how to preserve that delicious summer bounty, go ahead and plant those extra veggies or buy an extra bushel of fruit at the farmers’ market. When wintertime comes, you’ll be eating garden fresh!
Farmers almanac link:
We’ve finally had another stretch of hot, sunny days so it feels like summer. I’ve actually had to water the vegetable garden for the first time since I planted it. Our mid-summer flower gardens are blooming with many brightly-colored hybrid daylilies, purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, liatris, and hostas. All the nearby fields are filled with bloomers too, goldenrod and queen’s anne lace, wild black-eyed susans, ragweed, and many others of which I haven’t got a clue. In the late-day summer sun, our yard and pastures are teeming with hundreds of beautiful dragonflies. Walking by the nearby fields there are clouds of them, hovering and swooping, their presence so magical and uplifting. Sometimes one will land on us while we’re floating in the canoe or in the gardens. We love to sit and admire them close up, such a fascinating little bug.
We love to see the dragonflies and have planted many of the flowers that attract them. Dragonflies are harmless to people and animals, and because they eat so many mosquitoes it only makes sense to have plantings that attract them. These same plants also attract many insect-eating birds too, another bonus. And when it comes to eating mosquitoes, we don’t argue with the bats that show up at night either! Attracting dragonflies and birds (and bats), not having standing water, and fans in the barn are our top choices for keeping mosquitoes, flies, and other disease-spreading insects away from the alpacas. We know there will always be some bugs, and sometimes plenty of them, in our humid climate, so every little bit helps.
I headed out to the garden earlier to pick some more cherry tomatoes. Isn’t this wonderful? Weeks and weeks of heavy rain and cool temperatures, yet I’ve been picking cherry tomatoes! So tasty right off the vine, it’s amazing I can walk back to the house and still have a couple for my salad. The plum tomatoes and sandwich size tomatoes are still green, but there are plenty of them! The zucchini plants are getting huge, but have still to give me anything to pick. The beets, spinach, kale, and carrots have grown and there are lots and lots of buds on the green bean plants .......... and weren’t there more leaves yesterday??? I’m in a daze, probably because of the shockingly sunny day, and then I noticed the hoof prints again. Only a few leaves were missing, but in the next box ........... all the leaves off the sunflowers were gone! Bummer!! I just love sunflowers in a garden. The deer are beautiful creatures, but I’d rather have them in our garden than the alpaca pastures!
Last week I went out to check the garden, after all those days of rain. My transplants looked fine, seeds were sprouting, and then I noticed that the tops of most of the bean plants were gone! A few sunflower tops were missing too. I looked around for tell-tale signs of a wood chuck and instead found deer tracks! I thought for sure they would be eating the nearby lawn that we haven't mowed. The deer never bothered the garden last year so I just assumed that all would be well again this year. I decided to leave well enough alone.
Today is another day of an entire week with beautiful sunshine. No signs of another deer attack. In fact, the green beans all have green leaves again, and the sunflowers seem to have new leaves sprouting again too. How odd, yet isn’t Mother Nature wonderful? I spent quite a while weeding, and weeding, and enjoying the sunshine and all the plants that have managed to sprout up. I’m going to have to re-seed spinach and Swiss chard and carrots. The rain must have washed most of the seeds away but at least there are sprouts here and there. The teeny oregano plant from last year is a huge bush now, about to flower. And the tomatoes! Lots and lots of green tomatoes are growing, with dark green leaves on the plants, and I even was able to eat a red cherry tomato. In July! How fantastic. I staked them all up with bamboo poles. The zucchini plants have really bushed out and have plenty of flowers but no zucchini yet that I could see. The chives have blossomed and are falling over; I’ll have to stake them too. My lone eggplant is not looking happy. There are lots of tomatoes and lettuce that have re-seeded from last year up and about too. Looks like it will be a good garden year after all.
The ground was actually dry. I’m going to have water the garden for the first time since I planted everything .......................
Here in New Hampshire we have only a short season for fresh off-the-vine tomatoes. As the plants grow we impatiently wait to harvest them. In the meantime, please enjoy our quick, pantry-style, spicy tomato soup.
A couple cups or so of the usual soup veggies, chopped: onion, celery, bell pepper
1 large can 28 oz diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 7 oz jar tomato paste
1 12 oz jar salsa
4 cups chicken-style broth
Large bay leaf or a few small ones
Parsley, freshly chopped or dried
Chopped scallions for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste, if needed
Saute onions, celery, and bell pepper in some olive oil until somewhat softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir well until tomato paste is blended in. Add salsa, broth, bay leaf, and parsley and stir well again. Cook over low-medium heat stirring occasionally, until heated through. Add chopped scallions when serving.
Great with grilled cheese!
***Once the tomatoes and other veggies ripen (!) you can substitute fresh ones for the canned, as well as freshly made salsa. If you don’t have your own garden, remember your neighbors at the local farmers’ markets!
Here in the Northeast it has been raining for the past week and it seems like it’s getting to be time for us to build the ark. I’ve been reading a rather funny thread on alpacanation about all rain we’ve been getting here in New Hampshire, Maine, and the entire Northeast. I say funny only because I just thought it was a funny topic to start a thread on. But, here in the Northeast excessive rain is certainly a real concern for us alpaca farmers. The rain brings out the slugs, gross little creatures, which bring along the meningeal worm, hosted by our cute wildlife, the white-tailed deer. M-worm is of particular concern for alpaca farmers as it is a deadly disease, and here in the Northeast we routinely de-worm as part of our prevention program. (Note to self: get chickens, sooner rather than later.) And of course, any of us with new pastures from recently disturbed soil, as well as anyone with clay soil, is having additional problems with mud, mud, and yes, more mud!!
Not to mention all that standing puddle water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes and all the yucky diseases they carry.
So times like these make me appreciate the dry Southwest more and more, and like I already mentioned, make me start thinking about building that ark.
Or perhaps at least I should remind myself of the good things about rain........ The most obvious benefit is it waters, usually evenly, our lawns and gardens. In a previous post I mentioned that I had planted seeds and transplants for our little vegetable garden. I’ve only had to water once, the day I planted! Most of the seeds are sprouting, but by now, they could certainly use some sun! ............ A related benefit is that I don’t have to be out there watering morning and night, and subsequently feeding the mosquitoes while I stand there.......... Another benefit is that is replenishes our wells.......Rain runoff from our roofs fills up our rain barrels, to water the gardens............ The birds have plenty to drink naturally, rather than me filling up birdbaths. Water attracts birds to your yards, and birds eat many, many, bugs; no need for pesticides! ....... And as my friend Deb says, "At least we're not shoveling it!"
But we’ve had many, many inches of rain and we’re more than ready for sunshine! Those of you who practice yoga, please join me daily in spirit for a Salute to the Sun!!!!
Good morning all!
Welcome to Sweet Harmony Farm’s first blog entry.
As I sit here typing it is yet another cloudy, rainy day, after a week of cloudy, rainy days. I am looking out the windows at beautiful green grass on our back lawn, filled with many clumps of blooming white clover and yellow dandelions. We even have clumps of what looks to be red dandelions. They are so cute, and Dan always mows around them. Both our lawnmowers and the weed wacker need repair so the grass is getting long and seems to have gone to seed. We’re thinking that’s a good thing! It should help fill in the patches of bare ground.
Last week I planted seeds and transplants in our little garden so the rain has been welcome. Last years’ oregano and chive plants are huge and spreading. The tomato, zucchini, eggplant, and basil transplants that I planted with them, the ‘Ratatouille Bin,’ are doing wonderfully and so far no little critters have dug them up. (Note to self: pick up large container of cayenne pepper to sprinkle around the plants!) Something from the year before always sprouts up in the current year on its own, and this year it’s tomatoes again, and surprisingly a few lettuce plants. I’m still waiting for the veggie seeds to sprout: green beans, carrots, beets, kale, and swiss chard, and a whole of bin of sunflowers. We have 4 bins, all made with 4 x 8 pine boards and filled with compost, a total of 128 square feet, so it’s not that big, but plenty to keep us busy.