Saturday, July 21, 2018

Building raised beds

We have started some new projects down here at the farm. Among those are some new raised strawberry beds. Our current beds are made of rocks found on the farm. These beds work as a short-term solution that uses up extra rocks around the farm. However, after our recent strawberry success, we needed a more long-term solution.  This year we had a very nice crop of strawberries, despite the deer and rabbits all fighting us for a share. This allowed us to make a number of strawberry based goodies including strawberry preserves, syrup, cakes, pies, and muffins too.

This time we decided to use a raised bed design that Grand has used for a number of years. We made these beds using three 2x10x8 board and cut one in half to create two end pieces. When assembled the boards create an 8x4 raised bed. These beds can fit double the strawberries our other rock beds can. We built two of the above beds and are hoping to have as many as six beds when we are finally finished. We ordered our strawberry plants from Indiana Berry Company. We have always been very happy with their plants. Their plants always come in very good condition when they arrive and do great after planting. We used an assortment of potting soil, compost, sand, and peat moss to fill the beds. To prepare the area for the beds we burned off all the weeds with a propane burner. We are determined to get a handle on these weeds without using any evil pesticides. We also put down weed block over the entire space. We just rolled it out, covering under the beds and the paths between the beds and space around the edge. We are edging the whole strawberry world with the rocks the old beds were made out of. This will make a nice finished edge between the pasture and the raised bed section. Pictures of the building process and the finished beds are below.

Burning off the grass in preparation for laying weed block 

Weed block to go under the strawberry beds
Empty strawberry bed ready to be moved into position
L-Bracket holding together the corner of a strawberry bed
Soil used to fill the strawberry beds
A finished bed with strawberries ready to grow!

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Past Lives on at the Farm

         As time passes on the farm we find more and more bits of the past. When we plow there are always bits of glass and pottery tossed up from the earth. They are tiny reminders of all that went before us. Broken candlesticks covered in the dirt. Did they once sit shiny and bright on someone's dinner table? Did they once hold Christmas candles for a joyful holiday? We will never know. Once deep in the woods, we found old bottles mostly broken and tossed away. Once they held canned food for a family, likely vegetables that were grown on the farm. What happened to the mother that stood over the stove on a hot summer day canning food to feed her family. This woman who walked on the same land we now walk on, she lived her life in a different time from us but yet we share so much. The other day we were cleaning out a room in the barn and found some odd things. a woman's pocketbook and an old shoe. The barn seems a strange place for such things but who knows how they came to be there. When we opened the pocketbook we found birthday cards, a Christmas card, and some mail also a piece of paper with some writing on it, but sadly it was not filled with money. The envelopes were marked To Aunt Clara and the handwriting is the same but one of the cards was signed "love Carol West."  The other card was signed "So sorry to be late Lots of love Always Carol Lee" in different handwriting. There is also a Christmas card that is signed "Shelby and Frank Rogers." One piece of mail has the name Willis C Burrell  Rt 3 Hiawassee GA on it this is strange because our farm is not in Hiawassee GA but about thirty miles away in Batesville GA. The piece of paper had a phone number and an address 338 McDonald Dr. Versailles KY. We would love to find out more about who the people are who gave the cards to Clara and who is Aunt Clara also who Willis Burrell from Hiawassee is and how he is connected to Aunt Clara. It goes without saying that we would love to find out any information we could, but the truth is we may never know. I guess we will just have to continue to wonder about the past while we press on with our future on this beautiful farm that we are blessed to call ours.  Please let us know what you have found from the past on your farms we would love to hear your stories.

Cards from the old pocketbook

Assorted mail from the pocketbook

The pocketbook found in the barn

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Beekman Boys in Atlanta, GA

Last weekend we loaded up into our minivan and headed down to Atlanta, GA. We were going to see the Beekman Boys. We were so looking forward to getting to meet them. We had always enjoyed watching The Fabulous Beekman Boys when the show was on TV. It told the story of the two of them buying an old mansion located in NY, how they came to have goats on the farm and all the other goings on at the farm and starting a new business   Then we cheered Josh and Brent when they were on The Amazing Race. It was so thrilling when they won! Josh and Brent have built a wonderful business called Beekman 1802. The business is based on the milk the goats produce from cheese to soap and everything in between. They have brought lots of business to the little town of Sharon Springs. One thing we really love about Josh and Brent is how they have brought so many other farmers along on their journey to success. We also love how they call their customers their neighbors. What a great idea! Thank you, Brent and Josh, for being so warm and welcoming to us. The two of you were exactly like we always thought you would be.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sweet Summer Farm is now offering classes

Sweet Summer Farm is now offering classes in baking and crafts. Please view our full class list below!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Canning Green Beans

We raw pack our beans. To raw pack your beans,

 1. The first thing to canning beans is wash the beans, and trim of the ends, and break into 1-to-2 inch pieces.

2. Next you pack the beans tightly into hot jars, leaving a 1/2-inch head space.

3.Then add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar for pint jars and 1 teaspoon to quart jars.

4. Fill jars with boiling water within half an inch of the top of the jar.

5. Remove air bubbles.

6. Then you wipe off your jar lids and adjust them.

7. You process them in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure. (240 f) you can them for 20 minutes if they are pint jars and 25 minutes for quart jars.

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 Beans

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


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


  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