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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Eugene and Lucy At Market

I realize I have not posted anything for a while but it has been nutz busy what with harvesting, fall planting, weeding, tilling, marketing, the new windows (which are just about all done-just have a bit of caulking to do and a final coat of paint) and putting up food (I have a 5 gallon pot of tomato puree cooking down to sauce which I will can tomorrow). So for enjoyment are photos of us boulder beltians at the Oxford Saturday farmers Market Aug 16th

Here I am selling fresh produce to Dixie Utter, one of my teachers from High School. She taught English and speech at Talawanda High School for years and years. I took her speech class back in 1979 and that class has served me well as I have had many opportunities to do public speaking over the past 25 years.

Eugene showing off some of our heirloom tomatoes.
photo by Nellie Bly Cogan

Monday, August 18, 2008

Canning Tomato Juice

After yesterday's tomato juice disaster (okay, perhaps not a disaster) I got the cleaned up Victorio out again, put if back together, got a bushel of various tomatoes out of the store (anything that looked like it would not last the day) and got to work making tomatoes into juice. After an hour of vigorous grinding, I had 3+ gallons of juice in a 5 gallon pot. Soon it was simmering away and around noon I seasoned it with homemade garlic powder, kosher salt, rice wine vinegar and Worcester sauce. let the tomato juice and the seasoning marry for about 2 hours than got the canner out, cleaned up jars and lids, sterilized them, filled the jars with juice and now the first batch is boiling away. In another 15 minutes they will be done and I can sterilize the second round of jars, lids and rings and I should be done with 14 quarts of homemade and delicious tomato juice by around 6:30pm.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Windows are In Place

windows today. The plan was to get about 1/2 of the windows installed but as I write this they are finishing up installing all but one window (one was damaged and was sent back to Our buddy Mark showed up late last night in order to help Eugene put in our new pellaPella when we picked them up at Lowe's. It will be here in a week or two), pretty slick.

While they took out the old nasty very untight old windows, I spent my time cleaning up some of the many onions we have curing, cleaning dried dill that has been sitting in a dehydrator for a couple of weeks waiting for me to do something with it (dill is a very tedious herb to clean so I avoided doing so for a long time). Now I have around 1/2 pound of dried dill in a freezer. I doubt I will dry any more of it, I have enough to sell and use for the rest of the year.

Waited on a few customers while I was cleaning the dill. Sold some tomatoes, strawberries and green beans.

Than I decided it was time to process tomatoes so I got the Victorio out and put it together, brought in a crate of tomatoes and got to work putting them through the Victorio. After 15 minutes the thing jammed and than fell off the table and tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato waste flew everywhere. I angerly tossed the contraption into the sink (avoiding the thawing turkey) and grabbed a mop to mop up all the tomato crap all over the floor, chair, crate (that was still half full of maters) and table. Took the crate of tomatoes outside and hosed everything down (which meant I found a rotting tomato) and got the crate and fruit really clean.

Now the house is a mess. The boys used some sort of expandable foam that looks a whole lot like marshmallow fluff and that has gotten all over the place (mostly where it needs to be). I have not gone upstairs yet (I think I will avoid doing so until bed time as I heard a lot of crashing up there) but I assume it is messier than the kitchen.

The good news is everything is in place and now all that needs to be done is the finish work, which will start next weekend. Oh yeah and one window is MIA and still needs to be done start to finish.

I gotta say the new windows are marvelous and already are keeping the heat from pouring in the house (and I am certain will keep the cold out of the house). They have an R value of 25 which is far better than the walls that surround them. I don't know what the R value of the old windows was but probably well below an R15. We will be using a lot less energy this winter to keep the house warm and that is a good thing on a lot of levels. For one, it is a very green thing to do and to me, that alone, is worth the $2100 or so this project has cost so far. I am sure by the end of this winter the windows will be close to paying for themselves, certainly over the next 5 years they will in fuel savings alone.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

127 yard Sale; Day 4

It's all over for 2008 and I am glad about that. Overall the sale went swimmingly. The weather was great, lots of people from all over the USA stopped in, had lots of fun. But man, am I tired.

Today was slow, between 8am and noon we had maybe 25 cars stop. Things picked up quite a bit in the afternoon but there were long stretches of time with no one stopping. Even though it was slow, we still sold quite a bit of stuff including the bed/desk thing Mark Jackson left with us at the 2006 127 yard sale because he did not want to haul it around any longer. It is big and heavy and was taking up a lot of room in the back of the store. Granted, we were using it to store stuff but it is better that it is gone. We will figure out new storage in the next couple of days

We also sold a lot of produce today including 12 pounds of beets that were harvested about 2 weeks ago and not selling, at all. So I cut off the greens (which I will happily eat tonight or tomorrow, if we decide to go out to eat somewhere) and within 20 minutes the things were sold. Watermelons sold well as did the sweet corn we bought for the sale.

We did not have Adam's Rib today but Pete and his son Christopher stopped by to drop off raw milk (both our families have cow shares with the same farm and trade off on pick-up so we only have to do it once a month). He asked how it was going and I replied it was very slow today and it was good that he does not work Sundays as he likely would not have made many sales.

We were informed by several salers that most of the sales north of us closed down yesterday. I don't know if the sales to the south did also. I know the past two years most places around us did not do Sunday and it was probably the same this year. Oh well, their loss. It may be a lot slower than the other 3 days but still very much worth it to stay open on Sunday.

This morning a man from California, who has done this sale every year for the past 21 years, said we should open up on Monday like they do down south. He told me this sale used to run 8 days and after the 5th year or so they shortened it to 4 days but a lot of places who are on the original route still do the 8 days. I do not think that will be happening here at Boulder Belt any time soon. 4 days is enough, the farm could not survive an 8 day sale without a couple of full time field workers working with Eugene to keep up with the harvesting.

Now it is time to clean up and plan what we will be doing for next year. It will be, as alway, an improvement over this year.

127 yard Sale; Day 3

I believe this was the slowest day of the sale, so far traffic-wise but the best day we have ever out here on the farm had produce sales-wise. We have had tomatoes, sweet corn through out the sale and the cantaloupe and water melons were harvestable Friday evening so we had those too. Along with zucchini, onions, eggplant, arugula, kale, carrots, green onions, garlic, etc., etc..

Jules and Pete said they did well too. Pete left about 30 minutes early because he sold out of meat and since he is not doing the sale Sunday packed up his tent, smoker, tables, the rabbit cage he bought from me and other BBQ paraphernalia and went home with his boy, Christopher.

Robert, the guy from which I buy honey, came by to see what we had and I order a couple of cases of honey that should be here Sunday. He told me his wife is dying of cancer and he has 3 girls all under the age of 5 to raise and that he needs to get serious about farming for profit. I have known this guy for about 2 years. I don't know him all that well-we see one another maybe 4 or 5 times a year and chat for an hour or so on those occasions but I know he does not live a conventional lifestyle by any means and seems to have a hard time with capitalism in any form (i.e he does not seem at all comfortable with selling things for a decent profit. He sells his honey, for example for less than anyone else around here even though he is the only bee keeper in the area that does not use pesticides and drugs in his hive. In other words, the guy has organic honey which no one else has. He should be selling it for much more than the other bee keepers and yet he feels he cannot). He said he would probably move out of the are so he does not compete with us. I told him there is more than enough business for all the small sustainable growers around here. That we need more farmers, in fact. I would hate to see him leave as I really like his hone and him as well.

The yard sale part of my day (you know where I sell non produce items that are taking up space in my life) was great. I sold a huge broken television to a guy for $5. It was priced at $25 with a note saying it has issues and he asked how little I would take for it and I said five bucks. He pulled out his wallet, paid me and said "I am an idiot for buying a broken set" I disagreed, as for the moment, he was my hero for taking the damned thing away.

Than the skinny guy with the rainbow colored mohawk and multiple tattoos came into the store carrying the muffler that came off the Dodge van that we had for sale grinning from ear to ear. He told me he had just bough a used van and someone stole his exhaust system for the catalytic converter. He could buy a new muffler for over $150 but decided to do the 127 YS to find a cheaper one. His incredibly normal looking girlfriend said she had told him the whole weekend he would not find a cheaper muffler for his van. he proved her wrong and after buying the $5 muffler he walked from the store to his vehicle holding up his trophy proudly for all to see.

Just goes to show, you can find anything you want at the 127 yard sale.

I was tickled to meet several people who came to the sale because they read about it right here on this blog. I hope you all had a good time at our sale and stopped at a few others. Leave a note and tell us all what you did.

All in all it was an excellent day

One more day to go...

Friday, August 08, 2008

127 Yard Sale Day 2

wif9am in the morning crowds are coming in and buying stuff

Pete setting up his smoker

A rare picture of me womanning the store (I'm usually taking the pictures but got Eugene to snap one of me)

We had the first customer of the day at 7:30am looking at knives while Jules got ready for the day. Pete of Adam's Rib showed up a bit after 8 to get his smoker stoked and ready than left as he had other commitments today. Later on his wife Beth showed up to sell BBQ to the masses. I had a good time talking to her and her son Christopher throughout the day.

The traffic was fast and furious for the first hour and than slowed down for the rest of the day. it was busy and our sales were up over yesterday both with produce and yard sale items. But we got maybe 700 people through and not 1000+ like yesterday.

I sold a lot of crap that has gone through this sale the past 2 years. the digital camera is gone, the stereo equipment is gone. A glass light globe is gone (but we still have several more to sell), the partial set of tea cups my mother gave me about 15 years ago is gone. The lace and crochet items I picked at an auction a long time ago are gone. Sold a lot of produce as well.

After we closed up for the evening I pick some beans and Eugene harvested water melons, carrots and potatoes

All in all a good day. Now it is time to commune over dinner and drinks with some of the other vendors

Thursday, August 07, 2008

World's Longest Yard Sale; Day 1

I did not take my camera to the yard sale today so I have no images except in my mind. But despite my lack of camera the first day of the 2008 127 yard sale was a huge success. we were missing several vendors who said they would be here. All I can say is their loss, as everyone who did show up did great business. the place was hopping from 8am until 7pm when I had my last customer, a woman from Richmond, In who wanted some arugula and corn. There were a lot of people coming through who were attempting to do the entire 800+ miles. tomorrow we will not see that because if you don't get started in either Alabama or Ohio on Thursday you will not be able to do the entire route.

The weather was just about perfect-low humidity, temps in the low 80's and dry (though it was raining just to the north of us by 5pm). lats year the temps were in the 90's and the humidity was high so by 9am everyone was dripping.

It was great having a real food vendor. It's even better that it is someone I know fairly well now and makes food I really, really like. There were a lot of people who got to our portion of the sale just after they had already eaten lunch (and probably fast food lunch at that) who got a whiff of the BBQ and said they wish they had known there was going to be food here. There were far more people who had a brisket or pulled pork sandwich and went away happy campers and there were a few who had just eaten and ordered something anyway because it smelled so darned good.

Jules sold this wooden tug boat rope guide she had been toting around for several years. Last night she vowed to toss it on a fire this weekend if it did not sell by Saturday Evening. By around noon it was being carted away by a yard saler. This happened, ironically while I was talking to a couple from Louisiana and the husband revealed he was a Mississippi tug boat captain 30 years ago just as I saw the rope guide being put in a SUV. Karmic, or something.

Now I am bone tired and need to make something for dinner and get ready for tomorrow-I ran out of fliers for the farm and have printed out another 30 and now they need to be folded and I am sure there are other things that need attention like the dogs and cats.

I vow to take my camera out to the sale tomorrow and get some nice shots to post tomorrow night.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Setting up for the 127 yard sale

The big sale starts tomorrow and we are setting up our venues for it. This afternoon Pete Cox brought his smoker in. later Jules brought in her RV loaded with her knives, tools, beanie babies and other euphremia. We spent the morning making apple sauce and than I canned it up so we can sell jars of wonderful apple sauce at the sale (and beyond if there are leftovers). I found we have quite a bit of stuff to sell including a nintendo set (think retro here) with 6 games, lots of composite angels in prayer, lamps, tools, etc.

The weather is forecasted to be wonderful, the price of gas is going down and i believe this sale will be great this year.

I am hoping to make time to post once a day over the next 4 days.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Onions, Onions, Onions

Sunday I harvested about 120 pounds of huge red onions from a single 50' x 4' bed and still have about 1/3 of the bed yet to bring in. Yesterday I harvested five 50 pound boxes of Ailsa Craig onions and Eugene got an even heavier box of Boulder Belt Sweets. We still have another 5 beds to harvest of the sweet onions (so another 20 to 25 bushels) plus a of bed of yellow onions.

I would say the average weight of the onions is 1/2 to 3/4 pounds with a lot of 2 to 3 pound onions (they are ginormous). Last year, a droughty year, the average weight was around 1/3 pound with a few onions getting close to a pound. I now wish we had entered our onions in the county fair as we have several that are twice the size of the onions that won the largest onion class at the fair.

Last year the sweet onions were a failure-the seed did not germinate well in the winter and most died over the long hot and dry spring and summer. I believe we ended up with 10 small to almost medium sized onions So this year we bought fresh seed and over planted assuming we would not get the perfect season for growing alliums. The result is 10+ beds of gorgeous, huge, great tasting onions

The big question is what will we do with a ton of sweet onions that in 2 months without refrigeration will start to go bad. I am hoping we can hook up with a few restaurants and Miami University food service and move some quantities out the door. We have a situation with the onions with which I am not completely comfortable- we have the onions but we do not have great markets for all that we have raised. It is never good to raise a crop with no market for it but than we were not expecting to have such a great onion year.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

127 Yard Sale This Coming Weekend

The World's Longest yard sale is coming up this week, starting Thursday morning at 8am.

Looks like it should be a good one. Gas prices are falling, the weather is forecast to be cool and partly cloudy and we have a nice collection of vendors coming in this year. Once again we will have Jule's knives. She will have the usual knives, hawks and other such items as well as antique tools and other items. new this year is Adam's Rib BBQ. They will be selling great BBQ and drinks Thursday, Friday and Saturday from mid morning on (I have suggested they do coffee and donuts in the morning-who knows maybe they will). Yesterday a man named John who sets up near us at the Saturday and Tuesday farmers markets said he would like to set up at least Thursday, Friday and Sunday (and Saturday too if sales are good). He has very nice and inexpensive (many under $15) necklaces made from metal and stone. Some friends from Indiana say they will be here with largish yard sale items such as couches and futons and likely a lot of other junque. We will have produce and a wide variety of chattels; including a Hammond organ, lamps, china, garden accouterments (these are pretty copper wire and glass marble fancies in the shape of hummingbirds, bees and dragonflies), a St Joseph statue for those needing to sell a house, retro electronic things like tape decks, VCR's, receivers, etc., old computer stuff (printers, a broken iMac) for parts, toiletries, rolling papers by the bunch (we buy tobacco in bulk and get 2 packs per can that we never use. Over the years the supply builds up), glassware, old records (like 78's from the 1930's and newer (than the 1930's) LP's), tools, ceramic tiles, paint, outdoor light fixtures, kitchen items and much, much more.

This is Not a Spam Blog

For the past couple of days Google has locked this blog so I could not post. They said they suspected it to be a spam blog.

I guess they have decided that this is not a spam blog and now I can post again. Hmph!