Saturday, April 30, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 30th

More rain today! :(  Hopefully this week we will have a few consecutive days in the garden.  Wind advisory here this afternoon, evening, and into tomorrow....that should help dry things out.
Millie had her babies today.  Ben discovered them when he and Mike were working in the barn.  Another boy and a girl.  Jonny named the boy Buster, but the girl remains nameless.  They were both just over 7lbs.  Mike and Emily will be getting up to feed them throughout the night tonight.  Claire is due tomorrow; she is a first time mom.
Today I experimented with a new bread recipe - cranberry orange.  The boys and Mike ate almost a whole loaf! :)  I guess they liked it!  I want to adjust a few things with it, but am planning to make it along with all my other breads for the Farmer's Market.
Mike and the boys also painted the two new gates that Mike made, and they put wire over the windows in the barn to protect them from goat hooves.
Emily has been complaining of a back ache today.  I think her tumble in the yard is going to land her in the Chiropractor's office.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 29th

This morning the children and I uncovered the rest of our strawberries.  As Emily and I filled the wheelbarrows with the straw, the boys ran the loads to the asparagus patch where the straw got dumped to use as mulch.  The boys were having a great time racing back and forth.  They would bounce their empty wheelbarrows on the bumpy garden dirt to "catch some air".  As Jonny was running along, he called out, "Hey Mom, watch this!"  (I have learned that this is a dangerous statement coming from a boy) :)  Then he bounced his wheelbarrow, and since he was going a little too fast, the wheelbarrow flipped over and he landed on top of it!  Jonny's lips turned white and he had a look of horror on his face as he lay there on top of the wheelbarrow trying to figure out what just happened!  The three of us tried not to laugh....very unsuccessfully! :)  Once Jonny realized he was OK, he was laughing too! :)  As I wiped the tears from my eyes (from laughing so hard), I was reminded of yesterday....when Emily had me laughing so hard I was crying. 
Emily and Ben decided to race down to the garden.  As Emily was cruising along, going very fast, determined to beat Ben, she hit some uneven ground and toppled round and round until she finally came to a stop.  Ben, glad for her fall, cruised past her and won the race to the garden. :)   I wanted to scold Emily because she had on her good skirt, but I was laughing so hard I couldn't.  And as much as Ben should have shown concern for his sister, I was glad he kept going, as he missed the "show" when Emily was rolling across the lawn in her skirt! :)
Another crying episode....this morning....Mike, who likes to be Mr. Practical Joke, pulled a great one on Emily.  If there is one thing Em hates, it's bugs!  She can sit in a goat or sheep pen, assist with labor, and be covered with blood and goop and be perfectly happy.  But if a lady bug or spider is within a few feet of her, she will run and scream.  Well... when Mike was coming in from doing chores with her this morning, he found a very large bug (some kind of beetle, I think).   Emily didn't see him pick it up.  When he came in he set it on her chair.  Mike was playing with his new phone, and Emily knew he was video taping with it, but she didn't know why he was video taping!   As we gathered around the table for breakfast this is what happened..... :)

....oh did we laugh!!  Even Emily laughed...eventually.  Who needs TV with such entertaining children? :)

We also spent about three hours weeding and tilling the herb garden this afternoon.  My chamomile likes to come up EVERYWHERE, so we dug it up (like I do every year) and planted it in a row.  Em and Jonny hauled in a load of manure, which was put on a newly tilled section of the herb garden.  Then I got some dill seed planted, just before it rained...AGAIN! :(  There is still plenty of work to do out there, but we got a lot done! :) 

The BUG!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 27th

Another cold rainy day here in Minnesota. :(
Got behind on watering and may have lost some basil plants. :(
The spinach in the cold frame is growing really well...and it tastes great!
Have been working today on updating our farm tour information.
This evening, Mike and I sat together with our laptops and worked on our blog.  We updated links, added pictures, and made some changes that were long overdue.....still more to do.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 25th

Today we had our sheep sheared.  Two other families brought their sheep over and joined in the fun. :)
One family stayed for lunch, games, and four wheeler rides. 

amazing sheep shearer

precious cargo

Jonny and Eddie

country bumpkins
 My plants got to enjoy another day out in the sun, but more cold rain is coming. :(
Spud did more tilling in his potato patch and even got some potatoes planted.

 We uncovered one of our strawberry patches (500 crowns) this afternoon. The straw was transferred to the blueberry patch for mulch. Lord willing, we will have organic strawberry crowns for sale this spring and lots of strawberries for sale this summer.

Emily gets the family award for the first tick of the season!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 23rd

The weather has been so cold and rainy here that all of our outside projects have been on hold, but today the weather finally cleared up. 
Mike and the boys hung our new root cellar sign.  
The asparagus crowns were side-dressed with composted manure.  Then an older asparagus patch got transplanted into the garden.

The rhubarb was divided and transplanted. 
Ben (recently nicknamed Spud) has been itching to till up some ground so he can plant his potatoes and today he finally got his chance. 

Em and I milked together tonight.  All the animals are doing well.  The chicks are getting so big!  Emily is hoping Bella will have her bunnies soon...preferably on Easter! :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 20th

The past few days have been busy.  I spent one day and part of another at the hospital with a friend.  Our children did an awesome job holding down the fort while I was gone.  All the chores were done well, and they even did some they didn't have to do.  I have great kids! :)
Since I haven't been around much, I don't have a lot to report on about the farm.  One good thing, a near mangled chicken has recovered and was put back in with the rest of the flock.  She almost became lunch for a neighbor's dog (that's a country neighbor...they live about a mile away).  Fortunately Mike and the children were outside working when Jackson starting barking aggressively.  They saw the other dog in the yard, who then took off running toward the chicken coop.  He was fast enough to grab a chicken and then continue running away through the neighbor's field.  Emily was screaming and crying as she frantically chased the dog through the field.  Mike and the boys then hopped on four wheelers and went tearing down the road.  They eventually caught up with the dog....and the owner, who had started walking down the road looking for his dog.  The owner suggested that Mike shoot the dog, which he declined to do.  Although he mentioned that it might have to come to that if the dog does this again.  The owner was very understanding and offered Mike some money, which he agreed to take considering the fact that this same dog killed about 20 of our chickens last fall.
Emily, being completely traumatized, found our chicken along the ditch in a puddle of water.  She brought it home, disinfected its wounds and put it in a separate pen, hoping it would not die.  And sure enough it recovered, thanks to Emily's TLC. 
We are hoping that the owner will be able to keep his dog on his own property, but when a dog gets a taste for chicken it can be hard to keep them away.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 16th

Ben's potatoes arrived this morning.  Now we will have another variety of potatoes growing on our farm.
The milkroom window got primed and painted today, and a countertop was installed to replace what we had in there.
We finished painting our new root cellar sign.  That was a fun family project!
The new chicks are all doing well.  Goats are due in about two weeks.......rabbit too.
I went to a classs on making sourdough bread.

Friday, April 15, 2011


This past Saturday our friend Myrtle died.  We met her at Walmart in December of 2007 and instantly became good friends.  One of her favorite things to do was to go shopping, so we did a lot of that together.  If we weren't out shopping, we were sitting at a coffee shop or donut shop visiting.
Myrtle loved to get out of the house, and she especially loved music.  She was amazing on her accordion!  When we had the chance, we would take her to a concert in the community.  She loved that!  Emily played the piano for her all the time.  She would play at the different apartments and nursing homes that Myrtle lived in.  Sometimes we would go and sing as a family and all the children would take turns playing the piano.  Myrtle also had a keyboard in her room, so Emily and the boys would play that for her too.  Emily and I really enjoyed the time that we got to spend with Myrtle.  She was an inspiration to us! 

I think it was late last summer when she was moved to the nursing home.  She became a little more unstable and had a harder time walking, but she was still determined to get out of that place and move back into her apartment. :)

Then last fall the doctors thought that Myrtle was going to die when she came down with pneumonia.  They gave her only days to live.  We went to say our last good-bye to her, but Myrtle has never been one to give up.  She pulled through and was back to her old self in a matter of weeks.  We were grateful to have more time to spend with her.

Last Saturday, Myrtle died suddenly.  She was not sick, her body was just worn out.  She was 102 ½.  (She would not want me to forget that half a year! ;)  She lived a very full life. 
We will really miss our special friend!

You will find her obituary here:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Farmwife's Journal-April 13th

Today our neighbor finished putting the windows in the barn.  He and his family joined us for lunch and spent most of the afternoon here. 
I got half of my elderberry and echinacea syrup bottled up....will finish the rest tomorrow.
The last of the sap buckets got put away today, and the last of the wood was stacked.  We still need to clean the evaporator and disassemble the sugar shack.
I made a batch of sauerkraut today.
We spotted our first tick of the season on Charlie, our cat. :(

Syrup season wrap-up report

Well, we are done with making Maple (Boxelder) Syrup for the year. It was a bit of a disappointing year due to the lack of good sugaring weather. It needs to get above freezing (40+ degrees is nice) in the day, and below freezing (25 degrees is nice) but not to cold overnight in order to get the sap to run real good. There were only a couple days like that this year, the rest were either above freezing temps during the day and night, or below freezing day and night, so the run was very weak.

That said, we still did process close to 700 gallons of sap on our new (used) equipment. It was a lot quicker this year than two years ago when we processed 700 gallons. That time it took three weeks running the evaporator day and night. This time we only started the evaporator when we had saved up at least 120 gallons to process. So we only ran it five times, and only kept it going for around an eight hour stretch before the sap would be all gone. Sunday we drained the remaining "almost syrup" out of the pan and finished it on the stove in the house.

Currently all the syrup is in buckets in the garage "settling" -- letting all the sugar sand settle to the bottom. We will can it in a week or two, as time permits. All total we made about 13 gallons of syrup, which is about a 1 to 50 ratio. The nice thing about our new setup is that I was able to be more precise about when it was syrup using the built in temp gauge and our hydrometer.

So when you come out to the market this year, make sure you look for our jars of pure Boxelder Syrup! Yum!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Farmwife's Journal - April 12th

Our first batch of broiler chicks arrived this morning.  All seventy-five of them are doing well.  They were checked on throughout the day today. 

We finished washing the sap buckets and barrels this afternoon. It was such a beautiful day - almost 70 degrees!  The boys re-stacked the wood that was in the sugar shack to a new location down by the cottonwood tree.  In a few days our make-shift sugar shack will get taken down and replaced with a building for the farmer's market, which begins in May.

All our plant that are growing under lights got to bask in real sunshine today.  It was a little windy, so I didn't leave them out all day.  I will continue to set them out when the weather is nice, and in about a week they will get put into the cold frame on the driveway.   Then mid to late May they will go in the garden.

Our neighbor came and installed four windows in our barn today.  Tomorrow he will put in two more - one in the mechanic's shop and one in the milk room.  I am not sure if the critters are excited about all the extra light in the barn, but me and Em sure are! :)  We are planning to repaint the milkroom and put a curtain on the window.  It will make milking even more enjoyable ....for us girls anyway! :)

Farmwife's Journal - April 11th

After baking bread, teaching school, and doing house chores, we headed out to remove the sap buckets and pull all the taps from the trees.  Once the buckets were collected, we rinsed them out and set them in the sun to dry.  There are some more to wash tomorrow, along with the taps, but the bulk of it is done.

The season of "remembering to water" has begun again.  First it started with the plants in the cold frame, then the plants started from seed and under lights, and soon it will be the gardens and flowers.  Watering is a huge responsiblity!  All the time, energy, and money that has gone into the care of plants can be lost if watering is forgotten about! :)

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