Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Festival

Tomorrow is the Woodsfield Christmas Festival and I've been busy finishing up items for sale, like this knitted Star garland. I've been weaving towels and knitting gloves and  all kinds of warm things. It is a fun time to see people I don't see often and get in the Christmas Spirit. My kids all want money so my shopping is done, or the biggest part. Might as well relax and enjoy the Season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harvesting fall dye plants

 Madder Root

Madder plant
This past weekend was so nice, I took the opportunity to gather the last of the dye plants. First I cut all my woad which I used to try a new dye method using a low PH to extract the dye in room Temp water. Then proceeded to the original recipe using washing soda to raise PH and Spectralite to remove all air in the dye bath and got a very light blue on braided roving.  ( Bottom pictures). There wasn't much dye in the plants probably from being frosted on. Next I cut all my weld that was left in the garden which I hadn't dried earlier. The last dye to gather was madder, which needs to be dug. The roots were 4 years old and very nice. All dye plants and roots will be dried to use this winter and to sell at fiber shows.
 Weld Plant
 Woad Dye Bath
 Woad Dyed Roving

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cover Crops

This time of year is the right time for planting cover crops in our gardens and fields. Now that the major vegetables have been harvested from the garden the bare ground has been sown with winter rye. It not only protects the ground but is a valuable source of natural fertilizer. When turned over in the spring it will add a small amount of nitrogen to the soil but as it is growing it will pull important minerals to the layer of soil that is used for growing.  Among one is potassium. On the PH scale potassium is very alkaline sweetening the soil naturally. In the foreground are Lincoln peas then turnips and the winter rye. So work up some soil and plant a cover crop.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ram 121


This is our new BFL ram #121. We purchased him from Anne and Gordon Bisdorf. This fellow is long and wide throughout. Good bone and fleece and that awesome head. After a little time to himself ( I thought he would come over the top of the pen), we turned him in with the shetlands and they now do not have a moment of peace. It is a good thing he is in very good condition because he is in love with all of them. After a few days of thought I will give him a name, I just want to get to know him better. Thanks Anne and Gordon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Shetland Flock

This past week brought a change to Grouse Ridge Farm. On Monday morning I found my shetland mule ewe dead in the pasture, bloated from something she ate. This left me with 1 BFL ewe, because I just sold my crossed ewes with plans to move forward with shetland mules for a flock more suited for fiber and grass fed meat. With a couple of e-mail conversations I acquired a small flock of shetlands which I plan to use to breed my own shetland mules. They are settling in well and have given my border collie Craig a new and exciting challenge of working small fast sheep. He is rising to the challenge very well. If I can secure a BFL ram this fall mule lambs will come sooner than later.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sauerkraut time

In early June I planted a cabbage called Krautman for my sauerkraut this fall. This morning I was busy shredding cabbage, mixing in the salt tamping down with a wooden mallet and creating delicious kraut. Since my husband is both Dutch and German this is a staple in our home. The heads averaged 5 lbs. each so it didn't take long to do 25 lbs. I will let it ferment in the crock for 3-5 weeks and then can it in quart jars. I would recommend this variety of cabbage to plant as the heads are nice and solid, round and the stem doesn't invade the nice white layers of cabbage inside the head.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sugar Beets

One of the many veggies growing in our garden for fall harvest is the sugar beet. Another name is the mangel used for feeding livestock and for making sugar. These beets are white and can reach an average weight of 5 lbs. Along with beets we have turnips growing also. We plan to feed the pigs most of the roots crops but sweet young turnips are tasty.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spin In Public Day

September 15, 2012  is Spin In Public Day. Old Economy Village in Pittsburgh will be featuring a free spinning day. I won't be able to make it because we have a day planned to go to the Yankee Peddler in Canal Fulton. If their are some spinners there, maybe I can talk them into letting me spin a little in public. Happy Spinning.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Organic Peaches

Peaches are one of those fruits that just need to ripen on the tree to get the most delicious and juicy flavor imaginable. Peach trees require a sweet soil so lime should be added in the fall and top dressed with good composted manure at the drip line. I use the tiller to work the soil a little on top all around the trees' drip line and then add the amendments.  When peaches are the size of golf balls I spray with Surround, a kaolin clay that protects the fruit  from bugs. This freestone peach is Early Elberta and is the size of a baseball. Very easy to pit and freeze or can for pies. I think some more jam is in order too!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pasture Poutry

Here are the Fry Pan special chickens 8 weeks old and out on pasture. The traveling chicken house can be moved to another location daily or as needed. We shut up the chickens at night so no critters can get them. You can see by the photo at the right how healthy they are. We are feeding them a non-GMO grower we get in the heart of Amish country.  We are hoping to butcher them at 12-15 weeks. The biggest just might go earlier for some fried chicken. Next week I am taking some of my Delaware chicken eggs to an Amish friend to be incubated for fall chicks. I'll keep the hens and we'll butcher the roosters along with our older hens for stewing and soups.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Humungous Blackberries

In the first place, does anyone know how to spell humungous? Just when I thought all was lost, concerning my small fruit, blueberries(none), red raspberries(few), more to come later this fall, the rain came and look what the blackberries did. I'll be able to make blackberry jam after all. These are the thorn less variety and they are so easy to grow and pick. My neighbor gave me the canes last year. We mulched with compost and old straw and they grew 6 ft. tall. In the spring you top last years canes which produce this years berries. The new canes you let grow until next year and the process starts all over again. Super easy berries to grow. They multiply fast so a neighbor just might be willing to share. Mummmmmm!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Got tomatoes, Gazpacho!

When the weather is hot we get tomatoes and peppers. This was a CSA share that went to our subscribers today. Since it is 95% in the shade I made Gazpacho soup for supper. This is a cold tomato soup with many ingredients chopped fine. You could serve croutons with it or some chopped  hard boiled eggs or some good goat cheese. The bulb of garlic next to the bowl is this years fresh garlic pulled about 3 weeks ago and dried. Very pungent. Yum!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sun Lovers

This sunflower seems to ignore the fact that it hasn't rained in about 4 weeks. But just when I thought all was lost it rained. Well not really lost just withered a lot. The sweet corn tasseling right next to it is almost lying flat from the previous storm which blew sideways and left everyone without electric for days, some for over a week. I think it will be pig and goat food. We planted a second crop of bi-colored corn that should make it if we get rain now and then. At least watering the garden can be put on hold for awhile. ON an upbeat note, the tomatoes are starting to ripen.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It wasn't a tornado

"Wasn't it a mighty storm, wasn't it a mighty storm in the morning, wasn't it a mighty storm, that blew all the people away". The chorus of a blue grass song kept going through my head after the summer storm of June 2012.  At top is what our front yard looked like after, to the right is what it looks like normally. In our woods, tree tops were blown out and lots of tops were on the fences. In the little town of Somerton(just 15 minutes away) the roof of a historic church was blown off, which made national news. Three of our little chicks were crushed by the chicken tractor which should have blown away were it not for a tree right next to it that held it in place. The news said it wasn't a tornado but called it something else I've never heard of. It was the biggest storm we've had since we've lived here.  The Lord protected His children once more.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Natural Raw Honey

 My bee keeping husband just extracted 2 supers full of golden honey. My oldest daughter took this picture and she has sold 3 quarts and 3 pints just to her facebook friends. We have honey for sale for local pick up only. We use only natural methods and treatments for mites. Contact me for pricing.

Pasture Pork

This is Miss Black our Hamp-York cross shoat. She loves to get milk in the morning after I milk our dairy goats. Milk is very good and a cheap food. She also gets soaked ground grains like corn, barley and field peas. No soybeans here. All the extra garden produce gets thrown to her as well. She loves beet tops and pea shells and a good scratching from the farmer. Ah a pigs life, eat all you want, lay around in the dirt and  get scratched now and then. We don't tell her why she is getting fed so good.  HUMBLE PIG

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Herbal moth repellant

These three aromatic herbs are the main ingredients for my herbal moth repellent. I have been drying and combining Lavender, Pennyroyal and Wormwood  together for over 10 years to keep moths out of my woolen things, and to this day I have no moths. If you plan to grow and use Pennyroyal do not handle it if you are pregnant or nursing. It is very powerful stuff.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rhubarb Custard Pie

I hope all those dads had a great Fathers Day. I know the way to a mans heart is to cook for him so I baked a Rhubarb custard pie. This is the very first harvest I have gotten off my rhubarb plant and this pie did it justice. The recipe came out of an old cookbook called Betty Crockers Picture Cook Book.

Fill pastry-lined 9" pie pan with rhubarb custard filling.
Beat slightly... 3 eggs,
Add... 2- 2/3 tbsp. milk, 
Mix together and stir in...2 cups of sugar, 
4 tbsp. flour, 
3/4 tsp. nutmeg,
Mix in...4 cups cut-up pink rhubarb, 
Dot filling in pan with...1 tbsp butter. 
Cover with lattice top. Bake until nicely browned. Temp. 400 degrees for 50-60 min.

Of course I used my free range chicken eggs, goat milk and home made butter. My pastry was made with lard.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fry Pan Special

Tuesday morning the local post office called and said my chicks had arrived. I ordered 25 heavy breed roosters for meat. Only 1 died in transport and they sent 1extra and all are doing fine. When they get their feathers they will go outside in the traveling chicken house to eat grass,bugs and anything else they find. Until then my piglets are using it because they are too small for the pig pen. Top photo is the traveling chicken house my husband built. I am always amazed how cute these peeps are.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Weekend Sewing Project

This weekend I  finally started and finished a bag I have been trying to get to for so long. I won't say how long but I needle punched the border collie that is appliqued on the front. Needle punching is done with a small pen-like puncher using embroidery floss. It's fairly quick and easy. I picked out the sheepy fabric at a quilt shop and lined it with a floral print to match. This is the first sewing project I've done in a long time other than mending, yes I still mend things.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sainte- Maure Goat Cheese

This year one of my goals is to make the french goat cheese Sainte- Maure. This is a soft cheese(not pressed) but drained in small molds. My guide and inspiration is "The Fabrication of Farmstead Goat Cheese" by Jean-Claude Le Jaouen. So I ordered the chevre' culture and white mold powder and voila'. After the cheese comes our of the mold I sprinkle it with salt and innoculate with penicillium spray. The cheese is then air dried to produce a rind for a few days and placed in my cave fridge so the mold will grow. In just 2-3 weeks I have a very nice flavored cheese. I actually had the opportunity to talk to a lady from France about how to eat a cheese like this and she said to eat it fresh with fruit and or french bread. The flavor is mildly cheesey and the texture is creamy. Yummy!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Honey on the moon?

Not quite honey from the moon but from our busy bees. Wednesday was busy with extracting new honey. It's a little earlier this year because of all the nice weather. This frame of honey is just what you want to see in the super, full and capped off(this means the honey is ready). Honey that is not capped off is really not ready and can seem a little watery. We extracted about 7 gallons off of 3 hives or 21 full frames. A land flowing with milk and honey, now for some goat milk!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cleavers or Catch weed bed-straw

Just about everyone has encountered this sticky weed in the woods. It's name is Catchweed Bed-straw or commonly called cleavers. It is in the Madder family and is a highly valuable plant because it contains high amounts of minerals and silica. Goats and sheep seek it out and a poultice can be made using the green plant to reduce tumors.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Another woodland treasure

Throughout the spring and early summer I will be posting about wild or not so common herbs for farm and stable(us included). This is sweet cicely- Myrrhis odorata. A very tonic plant found in shaded woods with a sweet myrrh scent( I think it smells a little like licorice), that goats and horses love. The leaves and roots are used in treating digestive ailments, constipation and coughs. I often gather all kinds of herbs from my garden or woods to feed the goats. If they don't want it I figure they don't need it so I through it to the chickens and what they don't eat gets composted. Herbs and woody plants are very high in minerals and goats usually crave them.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Double Yolked Delaware Egg

I was a little surprised when I looked into the nest box and found this double yolked egg. It is twice the size of the pullet egg on the right and even bigger than the hen egg in the middle. My heritage Delaware chickens lay large eggs but this is a little extreme.

Wild Herb Identification

To identify wild plants and herbs a pocket identification booklet is very helpful. In the top picture is the flower of ragwort useful as a poultice for pain and in the bottom photo is cinquefoil used as a treatment for thrush in horses. Trush is a condition in the hoof. This time of year is a good time to walk in the meadows, pastures and woodland to find and identify any and all useful plants.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Winter carrots

Early last September I planted some winter carrots in my raised bed, along with lettuce and spinach seeds. When the weather turned colder we covered the beds with plastic hoop houses. We ate the last of the lettuce in December and ate a spinach salad last week. The spinach is still alive but done producing until warmer weather. On Monday I harvested these carrots for a chicken stew from our own stewing hens. I baked a couple of loaves of whole wheat bread to round out the meal. Yum, yum.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Maple syrup time

Maple syrup time is just around the corner. With all our mild winter weather my husband has been able to get the sugar house up. My husband is a wood worker so with Eric Sloanes book "A Reverence for Wood" in hand, he fashioned hinges for the door out of black gum lumber he milled himself from our woods in the fall of 2010. Last year we had an evaporator welded up for boiling off the syrup. There is dry wood in the sugar house so let the sap flow. We only have 1 1/2 quarts left and that is from 3 gallons from last years run.