A LOT has been going on here at 47 Daisies. We have been very busy. It is strange for us, because we aren't "farming for the public" this year, but it is still pretty much farming from sun up to sun down.
We are preparing to (hopefully) be open for business next spring. This takes a lot of planning and money (which is hard to come by when you're not currently farming). There is an adorable garage/shop close to the road and we're going to renovate that building and turn it into a farm store. We will sell to the public from that, a lot like the "farm room" in Ruston. At this point we're not planning on doing a CSA just to see how the farm store goes. In the next few years, we'll also be able to have pick your own berries (many varieties) and Christmas trees will go in the ground next year. This will be in addition to all the vegetables we'll have for sale, and EGGS!! 55 Chickens will be laying this spring. :) And we'll also have goat milk soap and other goat milk products...once we get goats and have a milk supply again (missing it!!)
We already have a wood pile for the boiling pan. Dylan's planning on boiling a lot of sap for making maple syrup. I think a fire outside in the winter in Maine sounds amazing!! I told him that will be a great job for me, since I'm sure I'll freeze to death until I acclimate. I will sit by the fire and boil sap. A lot. :)
In the past few weeks, with Dylan's dad's help, we have built a stairway up to the hayloft in the barn and a shed for Dylan's tiller and garden tools...which is very important since he has decided to have his garden beds out in the middle of nowhere. Speaking of, if you knew us in LA, you know we had several of our fields named. This area back in the middle of nowhere will be our main production beds....and now has the "North Dakota" sign up. So now, regularly, I hear from Dylan, "I'm going to North Dakota". Some things never change.
It rains a lot here, or at least it has since the end of May. This is great, because we'll probably never have to irrigate (which was literally OUR LIFE in Louisiana. It consumed us for most of the year....), but we're also not used to the "down time" rain causes. Two days ago, Dylan decided to build a playhouse for the kids out of barn wood. It is almost finished, and it is adorable. It's out by the gardens so the kids can play while we're working in the beds. We did have to make a trip to the hardware store for a few things, but the structure, and then some, were made from wood left in our barn. The kids love it!!! ....and we love it.
I know I'm rambling about anything and everything, but I guess that's okay and I'll just continue to do so.
We have SO MUCH zucchini this year!! That's about the only thing we have in abundance because we knew we weren't going to be selling to the public. But somehow, no matter what...you always end up with too much zucchini. I have LITERALLY been putting it in everything and eating it every single night. A few recipes in the past couple weeks; zucchini quesadillas, zucchini fritters, zucchini lasagna, chocolate zucchini cookies, zucchini grilled cheese, zucchini crispy burritos (we actually replaced the chicken with diced zucchini in this one)...and we have frozen probably 50 bags so far. Funny. I guess we will continue to have zucchini in everything, even after the season is over.
We were fortunate to have a huge blackberry patch on the property, and we've been very much enjoying that. We have about 15 bags in the freezer so far, and Dylan made the first batch of jam with the kids a few hours ago. 100% sealed. Woo hoo!! (That's always exciting for us).
In addition to the berry patch, we have a very nice orchard. Apples have been falling and we've made applesauce that the kids have very much enjoyed. Due to the lack of apple orchards in Louisiana, Basil and Eilah are enjoying their first year of apple abundance. It's nice. We have applesauce in the freezer as well.
All of this food in the freezer really helps with my food hoarding problem (Dylan has accused me of having this disorder for years...). :)
I guess that's enough for now.
Would love to hear what all of you are up to! Anyone have a garden this year? How's it doing?
Dylan decided, for many reasons, to make our main production beds about a 1/2 a mile from the house. One of those reasons being that the soil condition is much better there, and drains better, so it's not as wet in times like this (it has literally rained since we've been here). He has to get the beds prepared this year for next year's production. Our fields are literally ready to be hayed..but can't be because of the rain...so imagine the height of the grass....just for starters. Yesterday, Dylan mowed AN ACRE of open field with our mower...and today we raked it into piles and carted those piles (what felt like 50 miles) to a very large mulch pile in the middle of the field. The mulch will be used on the beds. Now that you have the background...here's what I learned from our DAY LONG experience. :)
-There ARE snakes in Maine. We saw (another) one today. That makes 2 that we've actually spotted, and one that possibly bit Dylan on the back of the leg when his truck was stuck in the mud. Good news? None are poisonous....and unlike Louisiana snakes, they seem to be pretty small. I actually walked up and looked at the one today, then Basil poked it with a stick and it slithered away. This is much improvement from my normal kicking and screaming and running away while kicking my shoes off (don't ask, I can't explain it).
-When you tell the kids you'll buy them a pint of blueberries each for helping, they get really excited. (And yes, they all got their blueberries tonight!).
-After pulling a cart back and forth...back and forth...back and forth...all day over an acre of ground...I can honestly say I know how a horse feels.
-It takes approximately $16 in gas to mow a 1 acre field with our mower to "mulch" standards.
-Dylan is a MUCH faster raker than I am (no surprises there).
-When garden carts say "easy to pull" on the enclosed info, they mean in a flat paved area...with nothing in it. It is significantly harder to pull a fully loaded (with mulch and/or children) cart across somewhat mowed somewhat level somewhat wet ground. "Easy" is not the word that comes to mind.
-It takes exactly 6 Motrin to ease back pains from 1/2 a day of raking and a full day of loading/carting mulch in a one acre field.
-There is no limit to how many times you get to say "Who's idea was this, anyway?" during the "mulch day" event.
-Kids (and husbands) can come up with a song while mulching in the tune of "99 bottles of beer on the wall"...that can go on forever.
-12 year old boys become very motivated when food is involved as a prize.
-There are JUST AS MANY spiders in Maine as in Louisiana...only smaller and they can't kill you.
-An acre is a lot bigger than you think.
-2 and 4 year olds CAN and WILL eat a whole box of chocolate chip Bunny Grahams if left unattended on a blanket in the middle of a field.
-2 and 4 year olds ALSO still have plenty of room in their very small bellies for dinner and blueberries later in the day.
-Dogs like to chase mice...even if the mice are rescued and relocated to the woods.
-A whole day in the field doing mulch gives you lots of time to think about how...exactly...you're going to get all those vegetables back to the house next year once the beds are producing. You hope that it's not in the sorry garden cart that's "easy" to pull.
-Unfortunately, 2 wheel drive trucks will not make it 1/2 mile back into a muddy field to help with the mulch day. Believe me, I asked several times for this to happen.
-And lastly, a family of 5 can actually have a pretty decent day raking and moving mulch on the farm.
Hopefully, this is Dylan's last big field that needs to be prepared for the year, but you NEVER KNOW with him. I think I'm going to start taking donations for some heavy equipment...or farmhands. :)
If there are two tasks that I despise it is planting potatoes and planting strawberries!!!! I dread these tasks each year. I don't really know why because they aren't that difficult, but these farm tasks are my nemesis! On a positive note though, they are complete for another year!! 500 strawberry plants were planted in the high tunnel and the potatoes are in the ground! I am in the clear until next February and lets hope that these two crops repay the effort in bumper crops of juicy strawberries!!
The first low tunnel was constructed in the garden today. These are a derivation of the hoop style row cover you may have seen out at 47 daisies in the past growing seasons. Instead of protecting only one row though.... These protect four rows or a four foot bed....awesome!! Lettuce mix, arugula and a double row of gold ball turnips are planted underneath!
150 pounds of potatoes went in the ground today!!!!! So exciting. Potatoes are one of my favorite things. I get really sad when we run out of potatoes for the year. This time of year I start thinking about all the things I'm going to make when the potatoes are ready; mashed potatoes, "fried" potatoes, potato salad with arugula, steamed potatoes with butter and herbs, oven fries, potato cakes, potato soup........
The list could go on and on!!!!
(Now I'm starving!!!!!)
Very excited......potatoes have arrived and are waiting to be planted!!! In 2011 we planted purple viking potatoes. They did great and were a big hit for eating.......so they will be back in 2013. We will also be planting white and red varieties of potatoes as well.......Can't wait for those first new potatoes which will probably be ready some time in April or early May. Our potatoes will go in the ground in approximately two weeks......weather depending!!
Spring has sprung!!! Have you noticed the elm trees are flowering adding a rosy hue to the horizon? Buds are swelling and certain herbaceous plants and grasses are greening up. What does this mean? It means that we are in the thick of the busiest time of year at 47 Daisies. Seed potatoes are sitting in the farm room waiting to be planted (hopefully Saturday). Strawberry plants are on their way as I write this!! They will be planted in the high tunnel (hopefully Saturday). We are also busy, busy, busy starting seed in the greenhouse.....warm weather transplants are starting to make their way into the greenhouse along side the cool weather plants that are doing well. In addition we are getting ready to do our first sowings of the year in the outside beds.........cool weather greens will get sown (hopefully Saturday) under low tunnels. Low tunnels are a new addition this year and will greatly expand our ability to get spring crops earlier and overwinter fall crops. Should be an exciting year!!!
Hurricane Isaac swept through 47 Daisies in September of this year. We didn't suffer much damage (could have been A LOT worse) but it did damage the front hoophouse beyond repair. So the iconic image of the front fields came down yesterday evening........We have used the hoophouse for many things during its residency at 47 Daisies. We have used it to start seeds, we used it as a coldframe for plants getting ready to be transplanted and we have used it for dormant season growing of greens. It was a sad day and we hated to see it go, but it had become an eyesore and a danger.......so down it came.
Seed starting is well under way!! We got a bit of a late start because of the
actual construction of the greenhouse, but with that behind us seeds are being
planted!! So far the germinants doing well include.....shallots, broccoli,
cabbage, swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, chinese cabbage, collards, cauliflower,
lettuce, pac choi, celery, radicchio and fennel!! We are also trying some cool
new things this year......ginger will be planted in the high tunnel along with
the strawberries, citrus and bananas!! Warm weather transplants won't be far
behind.....especially with the updated forecast for the next three months from
the weather channel. Apparently once we hit March, temperatures will be well
above average.......better get growing!!!
Harmony was making an amish cheesburger soup recipe the other day and needed some ingredients from the garden beds. The list was carrots, onions, and parsley. She asked if we had any parsley and I said we did. We headed out to the garden area to get our veggies for the soup. First the carrots....easy enough!! Big tub full of carrots washed and harvested......then the green onions......also easy enough.....then on to the parsley. Harmony asked where it was and I pointed down to the grassy path in between two beds and said "there it is." She looked at me like I was crazy, but often times after I finish seeding a row or two I will toss the extra seed onto the garden paths..........this has taken somewhat of its own personality!!! As we were harvesting parsley out of the garden path, Kade walked up and asked "what in the world are you guys doing?." We proceeded to explain to him that we were harvesting parsley......he chipped in after registering that it was not a weed or grass that we were picking. The garden paths have taken on a new roll though, with patches of mustard, cilantro, parsley and random lettuce and dill plants popping up here and there!!! Its like cheating the system.....harvesting from places that weren't slated for plants!!!! Oh and by the way, the parsley and the soup were delicious!!!!
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )