Saturday, September 23, 2017

Old farm houses need a lot of work

When we first laid eyes on our Appalachian farmhouse, we thought it was charming.  We overlooked all the work it was going to take to get it fixed up. The only things we saw were the beautiful creek, the open farmland and the hardwood forest that covered the mountains behind the house. We could not wait to get a veggie garden planted, lots of blueberries bushes put in and the orchard finely finished. We tried not to notice the house. We put in a driveway added a retaining wall and put up our farm sign. Lots of flowers were planted and it looks great Oh there's that house again, we need to work on it. But right now let's plant some sugar cane that will be fun! Oh and let's add some strawberries too, we could build some beds for them. We needed to tear down some old buildings that could not be repaired. When we would be busy on all the other things the house just sat as it had for almost a hundred years. Three years later we are forced to take a long hard look at all the work that needs to be done on the farmhouse.  Where do we start? There is so much to do but if you know us you will not be surprised to find out we started with the kitchen. It is the heart of any home after all. We would love to do a total redo on the kitchen. But for now redoing some cabinets so we could have a place to put the refrigerator was at the top of the list of things to do. Then we painted the cabinets white so it is looking great. More on the kitchen later.  The house needed some work we that we had not planned on. Surprise!  It does not just need painting that would be too easy. There is lots of rotten siding that will need to be replaced. The good news is that we are starting on the outside of the house, siding is being replaced and the paint is going up. We decided on a dark green color with white trim. The best part will be the bright red front door. We can't wait till it is finished!  We will keep you updated, more to come!





Monday, September 4, 2017

Pole Brans

Early this summer we planted Fortex pole beans. We set up cow panels in ends in an arch shape. T-post were set in the ground to hold the panels in the right shape. We planted the young bean plants on the inside of the arches. We also wrapped chicken wire around the whole arch, hoping this would at least hold back the deer and rabbits somewhat. Well, let me tell you they for evermore started growing some beans! Fortex is Grand's favorite pole beans and she is really old! Not really, we just thought that would make her laugh.  Now back to the beans, as you can see in the pictures Fortex makes beans galore and many are over a foot long. Yep! a foot long. and even at that size, they are still tender and just delicious. Pole beans also produce over a long period of time so we were able to eat our fill. Grands makes the best green beans and new potatoes you have ever tasted. She first fries a piece of bacon in the pot she cooks the beans in. Then adds a chopped onion and cooks it with the bacon. When the onion is tender add the green beans and cover with water. Boil till as tender as you like your green beans. Add potatoes and cook them till done all the way through Best green beans ever!  No matter how good much we enjoy these green beans you can only eat so many. But thank goodness Grand canned some for winter. Grand has been canning green beans for over fifty years. If you would like to know how she does it please check out our Cooking with Grand page.





Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Grand's Fried Green Tomatoes


Ingredients

4 large green tomatoes
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup cornmeal mix
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup finely crushed buttery crackers
1 tsp Nature's Seasoning
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp paprika
1/4 Tsp ground red pepper
2 eggs

Directions

  1. Slice the tomatoes about 1/4" thick
  2. In a large bowl beat 2 eggs into 1 cup buttermilk and set aside
  3. In a separate bowl mix the cornmeal, crushed crackers, and seasonings
  4. Place 1/2 cup of flour on a plate
  5. Dip sliced tomatoes into flour, then into egg and milk mixture, then coat with cornmeal and cracker mixture.
  6. In a cast iron skillet heat 1/2 inch of oil to med-high and fry tomatoes to golden brown on each side
  7. Enjoy with a big glass of sweet tea!

The plate of flour
Egg and milk mixture

Cornmeal and cracker mixture
Slicing the green tomatoes
Cover the tomato slices with flour

Dip tomatoes in egg mixture
Then, in cornmeal mixture
Tomatoes ready to fry!
Tomatoes frying in cast iron skillet
Fried green tomatoes ready to eat!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Planting tomatoes

Yesterday we planted tomatoes. We decided to try a different technique. We decided that instead of just planting them in an open field where the weeds would soon over take them, we would solve the problem with weed barrier. We went down to our newly plowed and tilled beds and started laying down the weed barrier. The barrier was about 4x300 and the bed was 20x60 So we layed four strips of weed barrier, and that roughly covered the bed. After we did that we started burning medium sized holes in the weed barrier. Why are we burning holes in perfectly good weed barrier? Well, the idea is that we burn holes just big enough to plant the tomatoes in so just the tomatoes could grow and not the weeds. How is also a good question. We bought a flame torch at our local hardware store. It was very exciting for us kids to watch the weed barrier get burned. It's probably not as cool as we think, but at least we enjoyed it. We also measured were to burn the holes by using two tomato cages and putting them side by side down the row. We would later plant the tomatoes. But first, we had to bring all the tomato cages! Which is a bigger job than you think. We had to bring all the tomato cages, plus make more to fulfill all the tomato plants needs. We had many flats of tomatoes with many plants in each peat pot. Then the tomato planting started which went pretty well, except for the rocks, but we did eventually get them planted. We placed some tomato cages on top, and put rocks on the tomato cages, to hold them down. We are hoping this new technique will work, and help us with weeds. We will soon be eating ripe red tomatoes. OK OK, we could not wait.  It's fried green tomatoes for supper tonight! Check Cooking with Grand for the recipe











Friday, June 2, 2017

Breaking Ground at Sweet Summer Farm

     After we purchased the tractor, we decided to try out the plow. This is the first large bed we have attempted to plow. We marked out a 20x60  foot bed on the side of the farm and decided to get started. We backed up the tractor and started to hook up the plow. The plow is the most interesting thing to connect to the tractor. The bottom pins on the plow are on two different levels making it a little more difficult to connect. First, you back the tractor up to the plow and try to connect the lower pin. Then, you raise the three point hitch up until it is level with the higher pin and connect the other side. Then you connect the top pin to the top bar on the hitch. After we spent a while connecting the plow we were ready to start plowing. We hopped on the tractor and drove it over to the field. We were ready. We drove forward and dropped the plow in. To our amazement, it went right in and began to turn the dirt over. We were ecstatic that it worked. As we continued to plow, we started taking pictures. Some of our pictures are down below. While we were plowing, we noticed all the rocks that were coming up with the dirt. We had never seen that many rocks in one place. Well, I guess we have but only in every other place we ever tried to dig in the ground at our farm! After we finished plowing it was a little rough, so we decided to re-plow it. This did smooth it out, but it was still too rough to plant. After some thinking, we decided to see if we could use the rototiller to break up the soil for planting. We spent some time out there, working on tilling and after about 2 hours of tilling (the field is big, the tiller is small) we decided it was tilled enough for planting. We are very happy about this achievement and can't wait to fill this bed with delicious vegetables. We are also looking forward to using the plow to cultivate some more large beds.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother Earth News Fair 2017

Once again we visited the Mother Earth News Fair 2017 in Asheville, NC. We drove over to the fair early on Saturday morning. Grand fixed us breakfast sandwiches to take with us, so we stopped on the way to eat. Ater a couple of hours on the road we arrived at the fair, well almost. First, we had to make our way through all the traffic. Finally, we were looking out at many interesting exhibitors and shows. First, we went to the Expo building and visited Homestead Iron. We visited their booth at the last fair and bought some of their hand tools and have enjoyed using them. We stopped by their booth again this year and bought two more of their spades and a rake to dig up rocks. After that, we stopped by the Premier 1 fencing company to see about fencing for free ranging the chickens on the pasture. We also wondered if they offered a fencing that had a cover so that hawks couldn't swoop down and eat our chickens. The Premier salesperson said that they didn't offer that yet, but that they were working on it. We also talked to Premier about deer fencing to fence in our garden to keep the deer from eating our vegetables. We also looked at some different types of solar cookers. There were two types we liked. One of the cookers was made by Solavore and had a large tin box with one end open. It uses your current pots/pans and allows you to easily access the food inside. The other type we liked was made by All American Sun Ovens and has a black box with a plastic top that opens. Above that, there is a set of four tin sheets to reflect the sun into the box. It also had a thermometer included so you can know the temperature your food is cooking at. After we browsed around the fair for a little while, we found Twin Oaks Farm. They were selling goat milk products and natural bug repellent. While there, we met Karen White and Susan Smith. They were very nice and we found out that they breed Great Pyrenees dogs and Kinder Goats, both of which we are interested in. Kinder Goats are a mix between Pigmy Goats and Nubian Goats. They have the high butterfat milk of a Nubian with the size of a Pigmy. Later, we stopped by Bushy Mountain Bee Company. There we looked at some different types of bee hives. We looked at a "display hive" where you can see the bees inside the hive without disturbing them. We would love one of these to show poeple when they visit the farm. Next, we visited the animals. We saw some chickens and a team of oxen. The team was being trained at the fair and were starting to work as a team. We also got to see some large, heritage breed turkeys. We hope to add some of these to our farm in the future. We saw some rabbits at the fair and would also like to add them to our farm. The rabbits we saw are known as Angora Rabbits that have a lot of fur.We found out that they must be brushed once a week. We might get a rabbit with a little less hair.  We attended a number of presentations about everything from Sourdough Bread to Wildcrafted Cocktails.We also enjoyed going to Women in Agriculture and Taking care of Business. One presentation that we loved was on marketing and podcasts. There we met C S Wurzberger also known as the Green Up Girl. She was very nice and agreed to help us with marketing our farm to the public. She also agreed to help us launch a weekly podcast. We are happy to announce that podcasts will be coming soon! We have enjoyed going to the Mother Earth News Fair and we are already looking forward to next year!


Love their tools!

 










Summer wanted to bring this sweetie home 


Dawson and the Green Up Girl