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Monday, July 28, 2008

The New Packing Shed

Putting the uprights on the concrete footers

Just about ready to put the decking on

Eugene and Mark putting last bit of decking on the porch.

Mark nailing the roof onto the structure

The finished product

Last week we took a space that was being used to "store" trash metal and turned it into a useful and beautiful packing shed/wash porch by Thursday. I was hoping to post several pictures of the construction but I did not realize that I did not have the memory card in my camera and the images are now stuck in the camera's memory because I cannot find the proper USB cable to hook the thing into my computer and get everything off of the camera's memory (which is now full so I wonder what else is on there?).

At the 127 yard sale I found the cable I needed to download the picture that were in the camera and as you can see I have now posted them. The 7 or so pictures I took of this construction filled up the camera's memory. Good thing they make memory cards.

Building this thing was really stressful and quite expensive (around $1600 for lumber, nails, concrete, metal roofing) Our friend Mark had quoted us about half that price for materials as he was going by 2007 prices and did not realize the price of everything has gone up 100% to 400% in the past 6 months.

Fortunately, we are have a great growing and marketing year so can afford the more expensive materials and this will allow us to to do more work more easily. I made good use of it Friday and it works well and makes me feel good just to look at it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just 21 Days...

Just 21 days until the annual 127 Yard sale, AKA "The World's Longest Yard Sale"

We will be doing this once again as it is such a fun weekend. We will have a nice mix of junque including a Hammond organ, tools, old record albums (by old I mean from the 1930's, 40's and 50's), china, old computers and printers, stereo equipment, porcelain tile, etc.. And we will have lots of fresh produce grown in our market garden. Plus we will have Jule's back with her knives and such

Vendors, if you are looking for prime space for this multi state event we have it. $10 a day or $30 for the entire 4 days for a 15' x 15' space. You provide your own tables, tents, chairs, water etc.. You can camp on your site for no additional charge. We will have a port o' john on site for public use. We are less than 3 miles south of I-70 so easy to get to from Columbus, Indy, etc..
if interested go to for contact information

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Wotta Market/Wotta a Year (so far)

What a day we had at the farmers market yesterday. We showed up with over 130 boxes of red raspberries, strawberries and black raspberries and sold all but 6 of them at $3.50 to $5 a box. We also had the first tomatoes of the season for the market (actually it was last week we had the first tomatoes of the season but this week we were still the only people with fresh home grow maters) And this was despite the weather that, regardless of the assurances of the weather profits that rain would be light and intermittent and certainly not a washout, was a gully washer complete with air to ground lightening and thunder that lasted for about 2 hours. I would call that a washout.

But washouts don't seem to keep dedicated locavores away from the market. Customer traffic was good for most of the market and we did great sales of berries and few other things (tomatoes, scallions, peas). Scott Downing, next to us, sold all of his sweet corn and peaches as well as most of his yellow plums. The farmers who had no fruit did not seem to fair as well. I saw a lot of onions and beets sitting on tables at the end of the market (we had poor onion and beet sales as well).

Money wise we had one of our top ten markets ever (and the 3rd time this year we have had a top 10 market for us) and we did on a week that traditionally quite slow for us. Not to mention, the weather sucked. We have a combination of a great fruit year (growing year in general), a lot of interest in locally raised foods and 14 years of preparing for this. Does this mean we are getting rich? No it does not, but it does mean we are almost making minimum wage for the first time ever as farmers, which means we are economically sustainable and will be sticking around and providing top flight locally raised food to the area locavores for years to come.

I mean it when I say to all of you who come to the store and the farmers markets, thanks for your support, without you we could not do this.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Market Garden on the Last Day of Spring

Looking to the NW there are several beds ready for melons (they have black landscape mulch) and some not quite ready for melons (they are bare) the hoop house in the middle of the background is no longer there but the cukes, zukes and melons that it was protecting are, though they are just about done. the other hoop house is still up and has peppers in it. the peppers were a last minute experiment that has worked out well. We had an extra hoop house and I suggested in April that maybe we should set up the hoop house over peppers and so we planted out around 70 peppers plants on black mulch with row covers over top in mid to late April (they went in a couple weeks after the early tomatoes) and this past Tuesday I harvested the first 3 green peppers. The main crop of peppers won't be producing for another 3 to 4 weeks.

This is looking west towards the pepper hoop house and the raspberries. I am standing among the various peas we grow. Under the row covers are various crops such as beets, carrots turnips, melons, winter squash.

Looking north. This is taken at the east end of the market garden. the grain is barley and I believe the row covers are covering beets and radishes. I do know that the bed with the holey cover is now open and will be replanted with something like green beans. The much nicer covers to the left are covering beets which are just beginning to come in. I took a picture of the holey cover to demonstrate row covers do not have to be in perfect shape to be useful. this cover was used to keep weather off of the plants. It provided a lot of shade and and kept in moisture and the plants grew well. Unfortunately they did not grow in a useful way as they were from home saved seed that was badly saved (i.e Eugene saved seed from less than perfect plants, far less than perfect as a matter of fact, so we got red meat radishes that did not for radishes. Eugene learned a lesson about seed saving-you save only from the best plants that have the traits you want. What he did was save seed from plants that bolted early and so he got a crop of early bolting radishes)

What to Do with All Those Raspberries

When life gives you raspberries it is one's responsibility to do something with those raspberries and this is what I have been doing with the bounty.

The overwhelming majority has been sold. I know we have sold around 200 1/2 pints (that's 12.5 gallons if my math is correct).

I have made raspberry jam with commercial pectin. So far I have done two batches which has yielded 20 pints. 3/4 I am selling and the rest I am keeping for winter use

I have frozen 5 pints and will freeze more today and tomorrow. I put the berries on cookie sheets and than into the freezer and when frozen completely put in marked bags. if you put them into bags unfrozen and than freeze you get a mess-the berries will turn into a block and are not very usable. I will likely sell most of these this winter when we need product and it is easy to sell frozen items outside at the winter market.

Raspberry Pancakes

Put a 1/2 pint of raspberries into your favorite recipe, my favorite is:
2 cup flour (I like to do a 50/50 mix of white to whole wheat
2 cups milk (you can use soy milk or you can use a mix of milk/soy milk and fruit juice, or yogurt or butter milk)
1tbl sugar
2 eggs
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1tbl melted butter (or vegetable oil)
1/2tsp salt
1/2 pint raspberries

Mix the flour baking soda and powder, salt, sugar together. Add the milk and eggs one at a time and than the butter. Mix batter a bit (it should be a bit lumpy) than add the raspberries and mix again. pour onto a pan over medium to medium high heat and cook until full of bubbles, flip and finish. I like to make extra pancakes, cool them on a cooling rack and freeze for future use. just reheat in a warm oven or microwave

Raspberry Walnut Brownies

I made these last night because I was making brownies for company and had raspberries so I said, what the hell, toss 'em in. They were excellent. I use the recipe on the baker's Chocolate box but I think any would work

Use your favorite browning mix and in a separate bowl mix together 1/2 pint of berries and 1/2 cup white flour. Coat the berries in the flour and than carefully fold in the coated berries into the brownie batter. Coating is important. Cook about 5 minutes longer than normal and you have some incredible gourmet brownies

Well, those are some of the things I have been doing with the raspberries

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Short Tuesday

Yesterday, being Tuesday meant we had a farmers market in Oxford. So we got up early and did a lot of harvesting, washing, bagging and bunching in order to get various produce items ready for market before 2:30pm.

Around noon a woman stopped looking for berries. She wanted to know if we were open and I said no. She wanted to look around the store to see what we had to offer and I told because we are not open on Tuesdays I did not have the sales floor set up. that most things were stored away in the back but that I could still sell her what ever it was she wanted. She wanted strawberries and red raspberries so I grabbed her a box of each and she went on her way. I continued getting things ready for market.

It was good she stopped and bought some berries as we have a lot of raspberries and they are showing no sing of letting up. every day dither Eugene of I go our to pick the berries and we say "well tomorrow there should be less. It looks like they are beginning to slack off." And the next day we go out and pick more than the day before. We were thinking when the Japanese beetles exploded, which they have done in the past 5 days, they would damage most of the berries and we would have less to pick. That has not happened yet. I am not complaining, the raspberries have been great sellers and will likely allow us to either buy another vehicle (we only have one-the market van and that does not get the best gas mileage in the world) or put a new roof on the barn so it quits leaking when it rains. maybe both if they keep on keeping on.

Any way, at 2:45 I go up to the garden to see what Eugen was doing and to tell him it is time to wrap up his project so we can go to Oxford for the farmers market. he's picking raspberries and still has 6 empty 1/2 pint tills (what we call the berry boxes). So I pick up a till and start to fill it with the biggest and best tasting raspberries we have so far harvested from these bushes (it seems every day they get better). 20 minutes later we have the the 6 tills filled and go back to the store to wrap them and put them in the fridge. Than I quickly load the coolers and crates in the van. I run into the house to change and notice it is after 3pm-we are officially running late. I yell at Eugene to stop whatever he is doing (piddling around) and come in the house and get some dry and clean cloths on (it was hot and very humid so we were both sopping wet after picking berries). We get dressed and in the van and are about ready to leave when Pekar stops by to tell us about his upcoming Birthday party this Saturday. This is a party I have gone to for at least 15 years but over the years it has drawn in more and more people I do not know or want to hang with (a lot of neo-cons and cops). Add to that that our buddy Chuck is having one of his annual parties the same night and he has a pool and a lot of old hippy liberals, most of whom I have known for a couple of decades. So we had to tell Pekar we probably would not make his party. Chuck's party is a lot more fun, better food, better conversation and a pool.

So we got rid of Pekar and got on the road and got to Oxford right around 4pm (so not late). The weather was becoming changeable and the winds were gusting up to 30mph. this was making it hard for Kim Traylor to keep her jewelry from falling to the ground and the Ison's had their shelter damaged when the wind caught it and moved it several feet. We got set up and started selling produce to the public all the while keeping an eye to the sky. Around 6pm, just as our business was really picking up, the sky was looking pretty black and officer Butts, one of the OPD, came by and suggested strongly we close up the market as there was a severe storm coming towards Oxford and was about 15 miles west of us. So everyone packed up their stuff and we all traded food. We got some Lamb and an orange bread and gave out boxes of raspberries in exchange. I dunno where the other went after the short market but we went to the Smokin' Ox for a draft beer and light conversation. while we were there it started raining and the winds came up a bit and it even thundered a little but looking at a weather radar we saw the big storm missed Oxford. it went about 1/2 mile to the south. So it turned out we did not need to tear down early. We justified doing so by telling ourselves it was just rainy enough to keep everyone indoors and we would not have sold anything. After the beer we left the restaurant and headed home and had an early night.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


It's raining today and likely tomorrow as well (and why not Saturday morning, after all we have a farmers market than and so far this season we have had maybe 2 rain free markets on Saturday). This means suddenly we are not busy today. Yesterday I spent a lot of the day harvesting 41 half pint boxes of raspberries while Eugene did weeding/hoeing and waiting on customers.

Today I processed some of those raspberries into jam. Some I will sell and some I will keep for use this winter.

I have a feeling the first raspberries are about over. I won't be able to pick them for a couple of days due to rain and the Japanese beetles are coming out enforce and they will do a lot of damage to the berries. I am sure when I can harvest again there will be some but it won't be like the past 7 days or so of 40+ boxes picked every 36 hours. That's a lot of picking. But raspberries are a great seller so well worth the effort.

In about 50 days the late summer/early fall raspberries should be ready to harvest. Until than we will have blackberries and strawberries.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

We have been very, very busy the past few weeks. Eugene has been ripping out old plants , tilling the ground where they were and replanting with new crops. Monday he removed several beds of peas and pea fencing, tilled and planted potatoes. I have been harvesting and selling raspberries. I am a slave to the raspberries at the moment. I spend around 3 to 5 hours daily harvesting the things. It's an interesting job as there is a wonderful ecosystem living in the berry bushes. I see many kinds of spiders, Daddy long legs (harvestmen), wheel bugs, pirate bugs all preying on the stink bugs, aphids, worms laid by some sort of moth, japanese Beetles etc.. The birds have surprisingly, not done a lot of damage to the raspberries, maybe because there are so many that even if they are eating a lot I am not noticing it.

Along with harvesting raspberries we are also picking kale (except the dinosaur kale that has pretty much died-We think because it has been too wet), broccoli, peas (which take almost as much time to pick as the raspberries), turnips, rutabagas, basil, parsley, cucumbers, zucchini, onions, garlic, scallions and a few strawberries.

On top of all that the rain has lead to many weeds so someone has to hoe and pull weeds. Eugene has been doing the bulk of that work though I pull weeds when I harvest out of beds that have a weed problem.

And if all that work is not enough we have to market the crops. We have markets 6 days a week right now though I am thinking of closing the store either on Wednesday or Sunday (even though we do good sales on both of those days) just so we have an extra day to get stuff done in the garden and also off the farm as we have errands to run just like everyone else and lately it has been difficult to schedule trips to the bank, grocery, post office (they don't deliver out here). the good news is even though we are insanely busy business has been excellent so at least we are getting minimum wage for our efforts (in the past were doing well to make $2.50 an hour-farming has not been a well paying profession since the 1920's)

I will be happy when work slacks off a bit. if you don't see any new entries to this blog for a while this is why.