Year in Review

I never have as much time as I would like to write about our farm.  I always have a running list in my mind of the things I WANT to write about.  Only a small percentage of those make it here.

So, as the year winds down, I thought I would go through some highlights from the year, as well as fill in some gaps.

Highlight #1

We had baby pigs on our farm for the first time!  DSC_0446

Speaking of pigs, here is our sow Ruby.  Have you ever seen such a big pig??  I mean, she’s almost as tall as our 5-year-old.  Good thing she is friendly.


Highlight #2

We expanded our goat herd with Salvador Perez (or Salvy), our little grey buck, and three more little females.  Sadly, we lost our littlest goat this past weekend.  Not quite sure what happened, but Gage worked and worked to save that little goat.


We are getting ready to comb cashmere for the first time next year.  Excited to send our cashmere fiber off to the fiber mill and get back some beautiful yarn!

Speaking of yarn, my “knitter’s block” seems to be ebbing and flowing this year.  I certainly haven’t knitted as much as in past years, but I was determined to make this little dress for Willa for her 1 year birthday.  Luckily, it is big enough, she will be able to wear it for awhile.  🙂

112- Willa_1

P.S.  Thanks, Amy Shepherd for the awesome pictures!

Back to the goats, something that happened this summer is that we almost lost Petunia, our little red goat – and our friendliest goat.  Gage was out in Western Kansas helping with wheat harvest when Petunia was bitten on the face by a copperhead snake.


You can see how swollen her face is here.  It’s a miracle she survived!


Seems like the crises always happen when Gage isn’t around …  Murphy’s law, I suppose.

Highlight #3

We hosted three groups on our farm this summer:


…a Farm Bureau Day Camp


…a summer Science and Adventure Camp

DSC_0200 DSC_0206

… and the Kansas Rural Center high tunnel workshop.  We really enjoyed having so many people out to our farm this past year, and hope to continue this in the future.

Highlight #4

In the midst of the summer craziness, I somehow forgot to mention that we got a new kitten.

This is Charlie.


He is a total spaz, but we like him.  He has been known to alternately jump into fire pits, and jump into outdoor showers.  He may not be the brightest cat we have ever had, but he sure is entertaining.  🙂


Charlie is weird and wonderful, and luckily likes little kids.

DSC_0123 DSC_0131

Highlight #5

We significantly expanded our beekeeping operation this year.  We nearly doubled our number of hives, now being at around 21.  We have big plans for the bees next year, and hope to expand even more.


Incidentally, this is what a REALLY BAD bee sting looks like.  And also why I haven’t yet gotten my nerve up to start beekeeping with Gage.


Highlight #6

We had a BUMPER year with our vegetables and fruits!  We rarely ran out for our faithful customers at farmers market …


And had plenty left over to can …


IMG_20140928_080154751 IMG_20140928_085010194

… And eat fresh.  Pretty sure this baby girl was alone responsible for eating an entire bushel of apples in the month of September.

IMG_20140928_075559541 IMG_20140928_080158870


Applesauce for the pantry!

IMG_20141021_171605132 IMG_20141029_175412793

Lots of Caprese Pizza‘s this summer!


This fall, I have been experimenting with our fresh carrots.  So far this Glazed Carrot recipe is my favorite.  I will post the recipe soon.


I’ve tried, tried, TRIED to find a good use for all of the green tomatoes we had in November.  Made this delicious looking green tomato pie.

It was NOT delicious.

Experimenting this year with the low tunnel we got from the Kansas Rural Center.  So far, we have been enjoying carrots, spinach, lettuce, and hopefully soon – cabbage.

IMG_20141031_172423229 DSC_0456 DSC_0468

It’s good to have help when digging carrots.  🙂

Highlight #7

We added the fuzzy little Jack Jack livestock guardian to our family!



He is just the best.  We love Jack Jack and have faith he will turn out to be a great guardian for our goats (even though some may argue he might be “over-socialized”)


The kids love Jack Jack.


Jack Jack loves the kids.  Maybe a little too much.  He will NOT leave Willa alone.  It is pretty cute.  Even when he plants himself right in front of her so she falls over him.




I think he has already quadrupled in size from when we brought him home less than two months ago.  Jack Jack, what did we ever do without you!


It’s been a great year on our farm!  Looking forward to an even better one in 2015!

Local Product Prizes

We were super excited to be called on to provide prizes for last weekend’s Elrod’s Cirque bike ride.  We sent 24 jars of jam – blackberry, raspberry, and mixed berry –  with race coordinator Bobby Smith to be handed out as prizes.

How cool that they wanted to use local products as prizes!  Thanks, Bobby!

IMG_20140514_093523106_HDR IMG_20140514_093559811

We will be selling the rest of our blackberry, raspberry, and tomato jam at farmers market starting NEXT WEEK!  Get excited!


Jam Making

When I decided to take on jam-making last weekend, I really had no concept of just how many berries were left in our freezer.  I mean, we certainly ate our fair share of fresh berries last summer, and Gage has made plenty in to wine, but …

… here is the tip of the iceberg …IMG_20140308_075333068

I didn’t even get through this mess, and there is still a PILE of grapes in the freezer.  Not the mention the tomatoes, for tomato jam.

I guess my weekend of jam making is going to be more like a month of jam making.

This time around, I made the traditional strawberry jam (which turned out a little gummy, to be perfectly honest … too much pectin, I guess), but I also tried blackberry jam and raspberry jam for the first time.  The raspberry jam is good, but the blackberry jam is AWESOME.  Definitely making more of that yummy goodness!

3.11.14 011

Blackberry Jam and Strawberry Jam

3.11.14 012

Raspberry Jam.  You can find these recipes in my post here.  I used the mixed berry jam recipe for the blackberry and raspberry jams, and it worked great.

Still can’t wait to see how the frozen tomatoes do as tomato jam.  Yum!

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).

10.21.13 046

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!

10.21.13 049

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

10.21.13 050

Combined it with TONS of that fresh basil …

10.21.13 047

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

10.21.13 051

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:

9.11.13 019


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

9.11.13 020

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.

9.11.13 021

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

9.11.13 022

One batch of applesauce – DONE!

9.11.13 023

More applesauce and apple butter to come later this fall.

9.11.13 018


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!