The Last Few Months

At the end of last year, I posted this on our family blog, mainly because I didn’t do a great job of regularly blogging throughout the summer.  Well, it has happened again, what with children, and farm and LIFE, looks like I fell off the blogging wagon again.  So, here is a summary of what happened this summer that DIDN’T get blogged about:

The overarching theme of the summer was … again … TOMATOES.  We love growing tomatoes, and with the high tunnel this year, we grew a lot – and I mean a LOT – of tomatoes.  Thankfully, our customers at farmers market love tomatoes as much as we do.  🙂


Turns out, heirloom tomatoes don’t so much like the rain.  We had a lot of great early heirlooms, but when that wet July weather hit, they all but disintegrated.  Split like CRAZY.  It was hard to find one good heirloom for every 15 on the vine.

Another anomaly this summer – 12 foot tall tomato vines.  Yes, our high tunnel was quite literally a jungle.  We contemplated installing speakers to pipe ambient jungle animal sounds through the tunnel and charge admission.  It was quite the adventure every time we picked tomatoes.

This is a new location for tomatoes for us, so perhaps the soil was too rich?  We didn’t fertilize, so that can’t be it.  We are thinking the weird summer weather just made the plants extra vegetative instead of generative (lots of vines, and not as much fruit).  We aren’t quite sure, but are looking forward to seeing what happens next year.  Already planning how to tweak the high tunnel set-up, to make it easier to pick.


Look out for jungle animals!  Or at least garden spiders – those suckers are HUGE!


Tomato Man!  My husband has a weird sense of humor.  🙂

Speaking of all of the rain we had this summer, here is a picture of Timber Creek in late July.  This is unsettling.  We have seen the creek get this high in April, maybe May … but never July.  Weird weather this year.


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Flood waters getting dangerously close to our blackberry trellises.  Luckily, the water went back down quickly.



This summer was a strange one for me with farmers market.  I helped out with market right up until Willa was born in July, but after that Gage did all the heavy lifting … literally.  I sure missed Saturday mornings at market and am already looking forward to next year!

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We had great vegetable crops this year.  Usually, we struggle with at least one type of vegetable, but this year we had plenty of tomatoes, peppers, okra, summer squash, winter squash, and a smattering of other items.  Next year we are REALLY simplifying our operation, and only growing the items we are really good at.  More on that later.


Our raspberry plants really came on strong this summer.  Wish we could sell raspberries at market, but they just seem to be too fragile.  Instead, we froze most of these (okay, we ate a fair amount, too) and will make jam with them this winter.

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We had great luck with blackberries however.  As you can see, we grow berries as big as FEET!  Well, as big as baby feet, anyway, but that’s still pretty big.  🙂  We thought this picture would be really cool, but instead it just turned out kinda weird.  But, before we could get another picture, this happened …


Oh well.  I’m sure it tasted good.  🙂

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Someone enjoying her favorite mode of transportation around the farm.  🙂


We are also making some changes to our livestock.  After working to hatch chicks this summer, we have decided not to keep chickens right now.  We relocated all of our chickens to my father-in-law Roger’s house.  Our chicken coop was just not great, and we were feeling badly about the conditions our chickens were living in.  I’m sure they are much happier at their new home.

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Our feeder pigs grew to mammoth proportions this year.  I SO wish I had gotten a picture of them before we took them to butcher in September.  These pictures were from MAY, so you can imagine how big they were by the fall.

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Our little pet pig, Ruby, is doing great, and we are getting ready to breed her for the first time.  I think.  Not sure we are ready to add baby pigs to our list of things to take care of, but Gage is sure we can handle it.  Here she is in May.  New pictures of Ruby coming soon, too.


Last of all, I finally need to post about losing our cat Milo this summer.  I took these pictures of Dusty and Milo lounging together in the backyard in early July.  When I went to the hospital to have Willa was the last time we saw him.  When I came home, Milo was gone.  😦


Rest in peace, good friend.

So, a Goat Shows up at Our House …

No, that’s not the first line of a joke.  We actually had a goat show up at our house last weekend.


Poor little thing seemed awfully confused.  She is fairly tame, but won’t let us touch her.  However, when she tried to follow me into the house, we took advantage of the opportunity to catch her and pen her up.

Yes, she is living in Koda’s pen.  Poor dog.  He had to give up his dog house during the summer for Ruby the pig.  Ruby had just moved out and into a bigger pen, and now this … a goat.  Needless to say, his pen will be getting a “makeover” once all of the farm animals have vacated.

We don’t know of any one in 5 miles who has goats, so not sure how to find the owner.

We may have just adopted a new pet.

Our Prayers for a Killing Frost … Answered!

That may seem like a strange thing to pray for, but I think every market farmer – and one point or another in late summer/early fall – just wants it to be OVER.  Well, it was over for us last Friday night, when we finally got a killing frost.  I went out to the tomato plants after work on Friday and quickly picked one last flat of tomatoes.  We had already harvested all of the peppers.  I also cut the last remaining basil … anything I could salvage last minute (with two small kids in tow, and a husband away at a conference).

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During the weekend, I took that last flat of UGLY tomatoes … 10.21.13 048

Along with the final UGLY jalapenos, combined with our bell peppers and onions from the Olds’ farm, and made one tiny batch of salsa.  I think this is the least amount of salsa I have ever made.  To our family who has come to hope for salsa each Christmas, it will be slim pickings this year.  Promises for double salsa next year!

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Over the weekend, I also took about 35 pounds of tomatoes that we froze during our bumper crop this summer ….

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Combined it with TONS of that fresh basil …

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Added lots of fresh garlic that I bought from Ed Scott at the farmers market …

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And added roasted peppers to make more of that awesome pasta sauce I posted about earlier this year.

Also made and froze seven servings of pesto with the rest of the basil.  Love, love, love having pesto in the freezer during the winter.  I never get tired of it.

Only a few final canning projects left on the horizon.  Possibly up this weekend is a batch of apple butter with the remaining apples from the September harvest.  Also planning to make tomato jam, strawberry jam, and mixed berry jam again sometime in the next few months.

Happy Birthday to Me

Inevitably in the month of September, I always buy myself a birthday gift.  Is that wrong?  But, I always really NEED it, whatever “it” is.

Here is what I got myself this year:

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An awesome 20 quart, stainless steel pot for canning!  I am already in love with this pot!

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It replaces this pot, which I had been using … mom’s old enamel canning pot.  It has seen better days, as you can tell.  It has now been relegated to the out-of-doors.  I see a worm of some sort has already claimed it as home.  Gross.

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Knew I needed a new pot for all of these apples.

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One batch of applesauce – DONE!

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More applesauce and apple butter to come later this fall.

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With the expansion of our family this summer, I haven’t done much canning – just a little corn salsa, my pasta sauce, some pickled okra, and now applesauce.  Hopefully the tomatoes will hold out, and I can can all the way up to November!

Honey Harvest

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Our bees are doing quite well.  Wwe weren’t supposed to be able to harvest any honey from our bees this year, since we split our one hive into multiple hives this spring.  But apparently it was a good year for honey.  Gage recently harvested around 200 pounds of honey from our 10 hives (really from just nine of the ten, as we just acquired one, so there is no honey on that one yet).

We have been selling honey at farmers market the past few weeks, and I think folks are glad to have local honey back at the market.  🙂 It has been a popular item!

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The honey extracting process …. or whatever you call it … is pretty interesting.  We now also have a lot of beeswax, which I plan to use at some point for lip balm and hand salves.  Maybe we will start a new product line … Bruce’s Bees?  🙂

Gage also has some honey wine – mead – in the works.  Stay tuned!

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