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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bu-Bye 2005

It's the last day of 2005.

I am making a complicated Italian bread for a party later on today and Eugene is turning compost piles.

the weather is damp grey and cool, above freezing but not by much. there is a stiff SW breeze making it rather raw outside unless you are moving.

The pond is melting. I tossed a 2 pound rock through the ice this morning. It caused some air bubbles to cruise to the edge of the ice than disappear. Tried tossing smaller rocks through the ice but they were not heavy enough and sat on top.

Bu-bye 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Do Not Call

Something I had not thought about when we moved is you really need to get your new phone number(s) on the national Do Not Call List ASAP. I think the numbers need to be registered about 10 weeks before you even know what your new number will be.

I have about 10 real phone calls since I have been here and about a Gajillion telemarketing calls. Some days they start at 7am. Now to me a 7am call is an emergency call. People only call that early to tell me that something very bad like a death in the family has happened. so the first time I got a 7am telemarketing call I rushed to the phone an answered it only to hear an automated voice on the other end asking if I wanted a timeshare or new replacement windows or a new credit card or perhaps I want to become a member of AOL.

Generally we let the answering machine take all calls (so if you call here you will be screened, just keep on talking and we will get to your call as soon as possible. Your call is very important to us...) But every now and again I like to pick up the phone and talk to the sales rep. Generally I tell them for whom ever they are calling that person is dead. Once when I did this (told the caller my husband Eugene had died) the person did not skip a beat and than wanted anyone else in the house to buy their service (a credit card from MBNA. IIRC). Shameless, I hung up about 3 seconds into the conversation.

I have registered the phone number with the Do Not Call Registry but it takes months for this to kick in so I will have to put up with such calls for a while longer. perhaps I should start engaging each person that calls to sell me something in political rhetoric. Or maybe I should be selling them organic foods or CSA shares.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Eggplanthead Gets Karmic

He's visiting the Buddhas in the living room today.

Where will he be tomorrow?

Its cold and rainy today so I got the seed order together. Or at least most of it. I am still waiting on the Seed Saver's Exchange catalog to catch up with me. They always have interesting heirloom varieties no one else has.

But the main order is done for the most part. Need to double check that we are not forgetting anything important and than add up the damage and write checks and send the forms to their appropriate places. It's a small order this year maybe around $200 to $250. But last year we did a huge order and still have a lot of seed left over that will work just fine.

Now we have to start thinking about the perennials that need to be looked into. We need to order and plant before April or May:

strawberries (200+ plants)
asparagus (250 plants)
raspberries (100 plants)
blackberries (100 plants)
fruit trees (peach, pear, apple, saskatoons, pawpaw. Several of each)
grapes (1/4 acre)
rhubarb (100 plants)

Pretty big order but if the weather cooperates and we can get a bit of help we should be able to get everything on the list in this spring.

After lunch prepped a bunch of apples for drying. Had to peel the skin from each one than cut out the cores and slice them into thin slices, removing any brown spots (which there were a lot of on many of the apples), put the slices into lemon water than after letting the fruit soak for at least 15 minutes into the dehydrator. Added a lot of material to the compost.

After the apples were put into the dehydrator Eugene went on to cut up even more apples for apple sauce and now those are being turned into mush because of heat. later on I will get out the Victorio and separate the skin and seeds from the good stuff and turn the rough cut apples into apple sauce. I will add brown sugar, cinnamon to taste and let the flavors meld for a bit over low heat and than get out the canner, clean up some jars and lids and can the sauce. Unless I decide to freeze it instead which means getting many quart yogurt containers really clean and than ladling the sauce into them and putting them into a freezer.

Sex Farm

I recently put a counter that keeps a few stats about the visitors to this site and one of the items it keeps track of is the keywords people use to find this site. So far only 3 have been noted by the software.

And they are

Farm Life Blogs

Sex farm

Sex belt

The first one makes sense but sex farm?!? Okay I know there are a lot of sexual kinks out there and that there is a website for damn near everyone of them (and if there is not one for your strokes you can develop such a site, such is the beauty and magic of the world wide web). I know that there is at least one website devoted to pictures of women in rubber killing chickens (and perhaps other livestock) and that the webmaster will pay women to allow themselves to be photographed killing farm animals while wearing rubber items. I know this because I was approached by such a person many years due to a chicken raising list I was active on.

I did not take him up on his offer

And sex belt. Okay, there is the word belt in the name Boulder Belt Farm. If you ask me, boulders would make a bad sex belt and we have zero to do with strap-ons. I hope this site was not too much of a disappointment to this person

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Eating Locally, One Person's (not mine) Experience

This is very interesting reading.  Written by a woman in California,
it could apply anywhere. The full article is found here:

"[It's one thing to acknowledge that food production might revert to
local in the face of Peak Oil. It is another thing altogether to
attempt to eat locally, as this graduate student finishing a Master's
Degree in Ecological Agriculture at New College demonstrates. Not only
is the prospect a daunting one, even for an agriculturally-blessed
region like Sonoma County, California; the task of eating only food
produced within a 100 mile radius for one week raises much more
fundamental questions about our society. By way of full disclosure I
should tell you that Wendy Talaro is my fiancée and that you'll be
hearing more from her. I'm a lucky guy in many ways. Even if they
weren't produced locally, "I Hate Peak Oil" cookies are great. –


It's been very warm today, like 55˚F warm and this warmth has spawned spring-like storms.

Because it is warm and rain was predicted we decided the roof of the barn should be patched before it rains. The last time it rained a waterfall cascaded down a wall of the barn over n electric outlet and a freezer. It was not a good situation but no harm done. but we did not want another waterfall in the barn if we could avoid it. So Eugene got up on the barn roof with a can of roofing tar and I stood in the barn with a mirror and used that to look up at the gaps in the roof. After about a half hour of yelling at each other over the trucks I guided Eugene to the places needing tarring and we got most the holes covered. What the area really needs is new flashing but that will have to wait for another time.

After getting the roof attended to we potted around the farm picking up things and waiting for a tractor trailer to arrive with a load of garden stuff-plastic for greenhouses, landscaping mulch and row covers. the truck was supposed to arrive at 10am but at ten there was no truck. I checked the answering machine and there was a message saying the truck would be there in an half hour. The time signature said the trucking folks had called at 5:34am so I had no idea when they actually called (but not 5:34am).

So I went back out and helped Eugene fix a fence and than used the new cordless drill to remove screws from rotten wood and they still hadn't arrived so I went in and prepared dried garlic to be made into garlic powder.

At noon they still had not arrived but Eugene got a pile of branches chipped and shredded and Nate, the puppy, managed to get loose and almost made it across the busy highway before I called him in. I went out for a minute and when I came back in the trucking company had called saying they were on the way and about 7 minutes later a big truck stopped traffic on the highway as they backed in the parking lot. At the far end of a very long trailer was our small looking skid of our stuff. We got the stuff unloaded and into the barn just as a thundershower moved in.

Went in the house and had lunch while it poured.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What I gave for Xmas

Not much actually....

I gave $30 to heifer International to help buy bees and a llama for some family I suppose in S. America. My sister wanted to buy chcickens and ducks for a family in SE Asia but I was worried that avian flu would kill off the small flock leaving the people with more problems. This will not happen with a llama and bees. Though I suppose the bees could get virora mites or hive beetles. It seems little is safe any more. My other family members kicked in enuff cash so we gave $200 total.

I gave Eugene good winter socks and an organic cotton jersey that looks really good on him (but he looks good in rags, he's just one of those people who can wear about anything well) and he bought a cordless drill a few weeks ago, gave it to me and said that it was his present from me. So I wrapped the thing up and presented it to him on xmas morn. he was delighted with his toy. Oh yeah, I got Eugene a lot of chocolate. Dove chocolate, bonbons filled with yummy things, wafers, bars. Lots of chocolate. He has been in a cocoa orgy ever since.

I bough tubs of Shea Butter for the in-laws. I get this stuff from The Wildberry in Oxford, OH. they get it from 2 brothers from Ghana. It is really wonderful skin cream and 100% natural, nothing added because nothing needs to be added.

I was able to stay away from the malls and Wal-mart. It was either local merchants or on-line purchases this year.

Halcyon Days

It seems we in SW/WC Ohio (and the rest of the mid section of N. America) have entered our Halcyon Days. This is when there is a warm-up in December, usually in the middle of the month.

This year the Halcyon Days are about 10 days late, better late than never.

The HD's came in on Christmas with a lot of fog and a gentle rain that eventually washed all the snow away. The temps got well above freezing during the day and at night just hover around that mark without going too far below it. We will be flirting with the high 50˚F's this week.

Enjoy your halcyon days friends, winter will return.

What I got Fer Xmas

My Husband, Eugene, gave me a memory Foam pillow for Xmas.

It is the best thing ever!

Okay that is an exaggeration, it is not the best thing ever but it is the best pillow I have ever used and I have gone from a restless 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night to a sound 7 to 8 hours per night. And this happened literally overnight. It's like sleeping on some sort of synthetic breast, very nice.

I also got other stuff from my husband including a chocolate orange (but with no orange flavor which I find strange). A flotation device to lie upon on the pond this summer. A generic play dough set with blue and yellow fake play dough (that is becoming a nice emerald green BTW), a copper mixing bowl (never again will the egg whites refuse to whip!).

I also go a calendar of cats in Tuscany, a $50 GC to LL Bean (I don't know what I will get yet), a subscription to Cooks Illustrated (a great cooking periodical).

That's the loot from Xmas 2005. From a capitalist POA pretty pitiful but from my POA not bad and not too much.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Smoking is Cool (an arguement)

Over the years the term COOL has gone from being a term used by the antiestablishment crowd to a term that has gone mainstream and who's meaning has been turned on its' head.

Cool comes to us from Jazz musicians, people your mother did not want you to even go near. These were mainly men (though there were some women too) who did not seem to work, hung out in bars and speak easies, played the devil's music, smoked dope, snorted coke, drank to excess, had sex with people who were not their spouses (and horrors, may have doing THE SAME SEX!!!). The cool people were (and are) not the type of folks respectable conservative, uncool people bring home to Mama.

Fast forward to the late 1960/early 1970's. The term Cool becomes a part of the hippie lexicon. It starts as a way of describing someone-"he's cool" meaning he is not a narc and likely gets high. At the very least a person could pull out their stash and not worry about getting busted. But the term started changing. Cool started to have other meanings, the most common one being "Good" as in "It's Cool" meaning "It's good". This meaning slipped into the main stream as hippies grew up had kids, bought mortgages and started running things.

The term cool, in about a decade, went from being a term of anti establishment to being the opposite, a common term used by most people under 65 in the USA

So how can I say smoking is cool? Does that mean I want every teenager to light up a cigarette? Nope, it does not. But I still maintain smoking is one of the coolest things anyone can do.

This does not mean smoking cigarettes or marijuana is a good thing, it does not mean taking the smoke of certain plants into your lungs is good for your health or that the act will get you accolades from your teachers or parents.

But it is cool. Why? Because smoking is antiestablishment. It is exotic, especially to youngsters. It is taboo (again, especially to youngsters) and all these things combine to make smoking very very cool.

But in these modern times most folks believe being cool is something good. Something everyone can and should aspire too. They are wrong to think this way. They forget where this term came from (or perhaps never knew or cared and for that will be doomed to use the term wrong in ignorance). it is unfortunate that too many of these folks work for major media outlets and major advertisers and unwittingly have an amazing amount of power over the rest of us who consume their media.

But because you have read this you can help to break this ignorance by speaking when ever you hear the word Cool being misused.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Noncommital PC Seasonal Wish


Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of them winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or the secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

May you have a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and
medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped to make our country the uniquely wonderful place that it is (not to imply that our country is necessarily greater than any
other country, including yours, should yours be different from mine,
but nonetheless including and recognizing the distinctiveness of our country) and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age,
physical ability, religious faith, political belief, choice of
computer platform or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting you are accepting these terms. This
greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal.
It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within
the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or
until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and the warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or
issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Plastics Order

Rowcovers on the ground surrounded by hoophouses. Both row covers and hoophouses allow us to grow in some pretty bad conditions and get better quality and yields in good conditions but they are made from PLASTICS, which are not sustainable

It's Solstice week meaning we in the north have the shortest photo periods of the year but at the same time the sun is as close as it will get to us. Does that make summers in the southern hemisphere just that much more hotter than in the north?

For solstice week we got busy getting orders for farm stuff together. We got our first order of the 2006 season (and ironically our last order of 2005) phoned into Nolt's Produce Supply (Amish outfit, no web-presence) on Monday. About $2,000 worth of plastics for hoophouses, landscape mulch and AG-30 row covers. In the past we have ordered about $500 worth of plastics from this company but they had an ominous note on the cover of their newest catalogue suggesting the price of plastic will sky rocket Jan 1st. Plus they give an 6% discount to everyone who orders before the first of the year.

Because this new farm has a hell of a lot more storage space than the old farm we decided to order more than we will need this season (hopefully). I believe this will save us about $500 bucks in the next couple of years on shipping and plastic prices. This will also buy us a bit of time while we figure out how to farm using without using as much plastic.

You see over the years this sustainable farm has started using less than sustainable practices and it is now the time to reassess our sustainability. We need to grow a lot more op/Heirloom crops, we need to cut the use of plastics dramatically (and how we will be able to make lightweight moveable hoophouses is a mystery) and we need to get off the power grid. And when we do these things than we can feel more honest about using the term sustainable.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Ah! Local Foods

Yesterday we did a farmers' market in Oxford, OH. It was cold, but not too cold, sunny and windless. A very nice morning for Mid December.

We got to the market and the first thing I did (before setting up our space) was buy 6 dozen eggs from Karen, who sets up next to us and sells pastured eggs and handcrafted soaps. She has some really good eggs, almost as good as our own hen fruit back in the days when we raised pastured eggs. Last market I waited until the end of market to buy eggs and she was sold out and so was everyone else leaving me with 2.5 dozen eggs to last me 30 days. this is why I bought eggs first thing. Probably should have gotten 8 dozen but don't have the fridge space.

I put the eggs on the front seat of the van and started helping Eugene set up. We had a truncated stand. 2 tables with piles of root crops and bushel baskets of onions, garlic and squashes. Also had gourd crafts (wind chimes, rattles, etc).

After set up and waiting on a few folks I continued to buy food. Got some organic lard (yes there is such a thing, from organically raised pigs with no BHT or anything else, just pure rendered fat from healthy, happy, drug free pigs) from the Filbruns. The youngest son, Seth, was doing the selling. I remember when he was a baby and now he is a teenager. Eugene makes some fantastic pie crusts with the Filbrun's lard.

Bought some pastured beef from the S****s. They have the BEST hamburger and this market was the first time they had cuts other than ground beef so I bought some kind of cheaper cut of beef. Talked to them about getting a Cow Share . For $50 I will buy a share of a cow and that entitles me to buy raw, drug free pastured milk for $4 a gallon. Because of a lot of wrong headed thinking raw milk is illegal to sell or buy in most states but farmers in many states have found this cow share idea is a way they can conduct business and sell a wholesome and healthy product to those people who choose to consume such products. I have been looking for a clean source of dairy products and now I have found one and they will deliver the milk to the farmers market so I do not have to drive to Trenton weekly. One day I will write about the wonders of raw milk in the garden and in cooking. It is a very different creature from pasteurized homogenized milk.

One thing I noticed about the market was that it was cold enough for all the meat vendors to bring their wares out of their coolers and freezers and put them on their tables. meanwhile us produce vendors were keeping our wares in our coolers to keep them from freezing. We were lucky that we did a brisk enough business most of the market and it was sunny enough that things on the table did not freeze. I wish I had brought the camera and had gotten some pics of the meat tables. We were selling in a freezer!

After buying all that I was out of money so went back to work and sold things for several hours talked to people saw may favorite dog at the market, Skye. My friend René stopped by and invited us out to her house for a visit. So we made plans to do that after we left the market and than went over to a house we are looking after for some friends.

Market ended. We packed up and went out to check on things at the house. Did things around there for an hour (lit a fire in the woodstove, played with the kitties, shoveled the driveway so we would no slide down it into the highway). Went over to Scott and René's and talked left wing politics for hours (these are old friends who are on the same plane as myself, rare to find good to have contact with). It was a fine tonic to sit around and bash the neocons and discuss how we as citizens can work for positive change. It was a good visit.

Went home at dusk and made a dinner of hot dogs (kosher, hebrew nation), kale and 2 kinds of squash, acorn and buttercup. The kale I bought at Kroger's a week ago and it was fresher feeling last night than when I bought it. It was pretty good Kale but not as good as what we grow. I can be such a food snob. but hey once you get used to the best food going back to lesser quality, well, sucks. The taste just isn't there 9 times out of 10 and if there is not much taste there is not a lot of nutrition. All the food I bought at the farmer's market (and I waited too long to buy Lettuce from Harv) I bought from people I know. I would have bought greens at the market but no one had any Kale or Chard because that is our out of season niche and we did not do any season extension this fall/winter because we moved at the time that stuff had to be planted. In most cases I have been to the farms where my food is grown and have had lots of conversations with these people (because they are my colleagues after all) about how we are growing our food. Let me tell you, my fellow farmers know their stuff when it comes to what they sell. No produce manager at any grocery will have the knowledge that the grower has. I cannot be sure that the kale I bought at Kroger's was not shipped in from thousands of miles away nor that it was not exposed to a lot of nasty chemicals. buying from local growers and artisans I am assured I am getting the best there is. But, any way, I was craving greens and this is the best I can do locally right now.

Next year we will have greens and things will be better.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Farmers' Market in Winter

It's the Middle of December, there is about 6 inches of snow on the ground and tomorrow we have a farmers' market (outside)

back in July the Oxford Uptown farmers' Market council, of which I was a member at the time, decided a winter market would be a really good idea. We would get to market our produce once a month November thru April. It would mean income for us farmers who tend to get financially strapped around February when the seed and other input orders go out but little to no money is coming in.

It was hot and humid on the evening we made this decision. But it ain't no more. Now it is cooold and snowy. And the idea of a farmers' market in a parking lot is not sounding so great to me any longer.

Granted we do have quite a bit of produce to sell at this market and getting some cash is always a good thing but selling fresh produce when it is below freezing creates a few problems. The big one is how do you put produce out on tables to display it in a beautiful fashion without destroying your stock? The answer is you don't put the stuff out on tables, keep it all in coolers which will be used to keep things warm, not cooler (so the name of the vessels become oxymoronic). The other problem is staying warm. We will have to stand in pretty much one spot for a couple of hours in temps that probably will not get above 28˚F. I plan on wearing a hat, layers and really warm boots and I should be fine.

I am thinking the turnout will be light but people will probably be buying in bulk since we will not be back for at least another month and likely it will be more like 3 months before we venture out to sell again. Why? well weather is one big reason and the other is we will not have a lot to sell come the middle of January. Perhaps taters and garlic and a few onions but probably not much else (especially if we do well tomorrow).

Am I crazy or what?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seed ordering time

One thing I have been asked a lot over the years is what do you farmers do in the winter.

My smart ass reply is "as little as possible..." but in reality we keep pretty darned busy over winter getting ready for the coming season. One of the more important chores is getting the seed order done before January 1st. yes January 1st, you see we commercial gardeners have to get a lot of our seeds started by early April (which is when most home gardeners are just getting around to ordering their seeds) and we cannot afford to order late and find our seeds either out of stock or on back order because we have deadlines to hit with our crops like having something to harvest for the first farmers' markets or first CSA pick-up.

And we boulder belt farmers are worse than most because we are into season extension and starting a lot of crops very early in hoophouses which means getting a lot of seeds started in Feb. or even Jan.

And so the task for this week is to take inventory on the seeds we have. Look over the catalogs we have on hand (because we have moved several places have not found us) and decide what we need and write the order down on the appropriate forms.

I don't like doing inventory because I am a person who will toss out seeds and my husband and partner in this farming activity is a person who hates to throw away ANYTHING much less seeds that might or might not work. So we generally have little sparring matches over whether or not we should be saving the 7 year old seed with zero germination rates (that really bad) that there are 5 other seed packets of the same variety that are newer and viable.

Eugene does not like me doing the inventory on my own but I do anyway because he dislikes it so much he finds other things to do out in the barn or in the field and will not come in and do the task until we have 1 day left before having to order the seeds and than mistakes are made that come back to haunt us months later. Mistakes like forgetting to order any red tomatoes and not noticing this until you are all ready to pop the seeds into soil blocks. And by that time it is a bit late. Sure I can go on-line and order the seeds and have them shipped overnight so the seed cost is something like a buck a seed but that is stupid and hurts our bottom line so I try to avoid that from happening.

After the seed order is in we start our taxes, perhaps the merriest time of the year for us all (and you have not experienced taxes until you have done a form "F")

Monday, December 12, 2005

Garlic Powder

One of Boulder Belt Farm's specialties is garlic powder and today I finished one batch and started another.

Garlic powder is not hard to make as long as you have many pounds of cloves lying around that you have no other use for. Basically all one has to do is separate cloves, cut off the butt ends of each clove and put them in a dehydrator and let them dessicate for a few days (which fills the house with garlic scent). When they are dry simply remove the wrappers put in a blender and blend until you have a fine garlic powder.

I have the garlic to dry and make into powder because we grow garlic for sale to the public and we generally grow more than we need. This year it looks like I have about 15 to 20 pounds of garlic that will get turned into powder. the first garlic to get dried each year is the dregs from our seed stock. You see, when we plant garlic we have to open up and separate hundreds of bulbs (corms, really) and make sure nothing is diseased (that gets tossed ASAP) and that the individual cloves are not too small, leaving only the best and most healthy cloves for planting. What is left over is put into paper bags and stored until I dry it. I will do at least 10 drying episodes over the next couple of months (I only have so much room in the dehydrators and it takes several days to dry a batch)

I think it takes about 10 medium bulbs of garlic to make 1 ounce.

I use a mix of the 3 hardnecked garlics we grow, German White, Shvilisi and Persian Star. These make a wonderfully pugent powder that puts store bough garlic powder to shame. Once you try the real stuff you will not go back willingly to the tepid cream colored powder they call garlic powder.

If you feel you must try some of this garlic powder to the Gods (and you really should if you like garlic) click here and purchase some for yourself or as a holiday gift.

The annual Holiday letter

...and no it is not reproduced in this blog. You gotta know me fer real-like to get the missive

I got the annual (non religion specific) holiday letter done. Now just have to print it out, stuff envelopes, address and stamp and get them in the mail. For my more electronically inclined friends (i.e. the folks on my email address lists) they will get an e-copy (pdf). I have noticed when I do not send these things out I get few (non religion specific) holiday cards. So far this year I have gotten zero cards but that could be due to the fact I have moved and few folks know my new address and have sent their cards to my old address so there is a sack of (non religion specific) Holiday mail somewhere between New Paris and Eaton Ohio (about 11 miles separates the two metropolises) with my cards. Or perhaps my friends and acquaintances are just lame this year and have not sent anything out. Or perhaps my PO Box is at this very moment crammed full of (non religion specific) Holiday cheer.

I dunno, but I do know I got this damned letter done and ready to print and it is full of news information and photos.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Yep it Snowed

The snow is over. We got around 5" of the stuff. All the schools are closed.

Eugene spent a great deal of the late morning/early afternoon pushing snow around using the BCS (that is a walking or two wheeled tractor) with the plow attachment. The high winds last night scoured out most of the snow in the parking area. Except the part right up by the road (For which I think we can thank an O-DOT plow). But he sold a hay rack a couple of days ago and they guy is supposed to come by tomorrow to get it so he got the snow up to and around the hay rack cleared away.

Nate, the puppy thought the snow was GRRREAT!!! He now knows drifts are for running through and biting. He stayed out so long in the snow his pads got pretty frozen. Just like a kid.

The cats are not at all amused by the snow. Navin wanted out last night while it was still snowing. He went to the front door and was faced with a lot of frozen precip. No good. So he went to the kitchen door hoping that door would open up onto some warm dry weather. but that didn't happen, snow at that door too. So he went back to the space heater and laid down and soaked up more heat.

The farm is a very different place today. Lots of white and very little green. the house is extra cold today. The thermostat on the wall says it is 55˚F. Brrrr! Wouldn't be bad if it was 59˚F, that 4 degrees makes a big difference.

Invited friends out tomorrow for a sledding party. I have no idea how many folks will come. It doesn't matter as sledding is always fun.

I am thawing some apple cider we pressed in August. The plan is to heat it up and put in some spices and drink the sweet warming fluid. The adults can add rum as well. Will also make hot cocoa to which the adults can add kaluah and/or rum if they choose.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

1st Big Snow of the Season

The weather prediction for today is our first snow storm of the year. 3" to 6" of the white stuff. Ought to make it really pretty and we can test out our sledding hills.

The local news media has freaked out about the coming storm. There are heavy snow warnings in a variety of colors, depending on which channel one watches. Some channels have winter storm warnings and no mention of heavy snow at all. The media talking heads are acting as if there is no such thing as snow removal equipment.

Yeah the snow will make rush hour a real bitch and a half (and rush hour is something I do not deal with seeing as how I work for myself and not The Man). But if some folks would quit pretending that the roads are clear and there is great visibility there would be very few problems. But the roads seem to be full of delusional drivers.

So I guess the greater Dayton/Cincinnati area can expect a rodeo this evening on their way home.

But it ain't started yet so things are still a green hue, but quite frozen.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Eggplant-Head Wishes Christians a Merry Christmas

Eggplant-head in an x-mass tree (fake with fiber-optic lights, very chic)wishing Christians (and non christians practising x-mas or who just want x-mass wishes) a very Merry Christmas

Fedco and why Boulder Belt will be Growing Heirlooms

God, I love Fedco Seeds. I got their catalog in the mail two days ago and found CR Lawn (yes that is the owner's real name) has decided to drop any and all seeds owned by the Monsanto Corporation. This was not a huge problem last year but over the past year Monsanto has bought Seminis seeds and Seminis had about 1/5th of the catalog of the world's vegetable seeds, mostly hybrids.

Now why did Fedco drop Monsanto? Because Monsanto is the biggest seller of ag chemicals and Genetically Modified Seeds (AKA GMO). They have 88% of the GMO market world wide and now they want to take over the veggie seeds and likely make many of them into GMO's. Monsanto is the 1800 pound gorilla that a lot of us small sustainable hippy farmers rail against. They have been quite hostile to our way of farming for decades.

Now to those of you who are aware of GMO's and say hey they are a good thing, no one has ever been harmed by them. To you I say go out and find me the peered reviewed food studies that have been done on humans (or even rats) You will first find only one short term inconclusive study has been done on humans and most of the other feeding studies either have problems in protocol or the subjects are getting sick and dying from eating biotech corn, soy, cotton seed and canola (but the industry surpresses such findings so they are quite hard to find). You will also find a growing body of peer reviewed evidence that says yields are down, environmental damage is up and more RoundUp™ has been sold since the intro of RoundUp ready crops (so much for the argument that GMO crops use less chemicals and yields more than non GMO crops)

But I digress, dear reader, this post is about Fedco. So Fedco has dropped a lot of varieties, many of which we have been using for years. And that has gotten me to think about what we grow and why. In the beginning we grew a lot of heirloom crops (an heirloom is any plant that is Open pollinated (OP) -i.e. a seed from two parents of the same variety that yield saved seed that comes back true to the parents-and has a good story/background history). As a matter of fact about 90% of our crops were heirloom the first couple of years. But we found that the buying public, especially if they are not well educated foodies, find the heirlooms strange and not worth eating (much less buying). Our bottom line was bottoming out with the heirloom veggies so we decided over the years to drop more and more of them and replace them with hybrids. Hybrids are the result of two (or more) parents of different varieties. The plants are generally uniform and often, but by no means always, better yields . Hybrids have been around for about 75 to 100 years and are really the first stab at genetic engineering with crops (but unlike GMO's, sex is used in reproduction and the passing of genetic material). Seed saved from hybrids almost never comes back true and often the plants will not produce edible fruit. This makes the farmer beholding to the seed company. Since the farmer cannot save seeds from hybrid plants the farmer must buy seed every year from a commercial source. One of the things hybrids do a lot better than OP/Heirlooms at is shipping. OP's tend to be very delicate and will not stand a lot of handling and sitting in warehouses. They generally must be sold and consumed within a few days of harvest. Hybrids have been bred for decades to be able to withstand shipping and storage and can still look good weeks after harvest (granted all the nutrients and taste will be gone, but it will look good)

Over the past 2 or 3 years I have read research that indicates that OP/heirloom plants have a lot more nutrition than hybrid crops and since I am in the business of grow HEALTHY food this is something I pay attention to. The past several years we have been doing something like 60:40 hybrids to heirlooms. This season we will try for a 20:80 hybrid to heirloom. I know I will have to buy hybrid red tomatoes because too many people seem to like the tasteless red globes. But for every red tomato hybrid we will have 4 or 5 fun heirloom maters such as Persimmon, West Va Hillbilly, yellow taxi, Opalka, Brandywine and others I have yet to decide upon. Tomatoes is what got us going on heirlooms and seed saving about 11 years ago. And why grow red round maters when there are 1800+ varieties out there in all shapes, colors and tastes. There are purple, black, white, orange, yellow, striped and green tomatoes in the world. there are tomatoes shaped like grapes, pears, cherries, peppers. Some are sugary sweet some are sour, some are tart some are not. Knowing this I cannot in good conscience grow boring red maters.

Same with squashes. Hybrid zukes are tasteless and boring. But the heirloom zukes come in many colors, shapes and, for the most part, have great taste. Same with melons, peppers, corn, winter squash, etc..

So now you know a part of the game plan for next season-HEIRLOOMS

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Going to the Dentist

Gotta a Dentist appointment bright and early this morning. 9am appointment

At least Dr Dave is a painless dentist and I do not expect to have to go back for any surgery, but who knows, my mouth is not at all normal and has more problems than most 40-something mouths. I have the dental problems of a 65 year old woman-already have had major periodontal surgery. I still have 8 baby teeth (and until they are gone I get to be a child) and I have a gold crown that will have to be fixed in the next couple of years or when the pain gets too bad to chew at all (fixing means a bridge, something I want to avoid as long as possible). So now you know more about my dental state than perhaps you wanted to know. But, hey no one forced you to read this.

After the dentist we will go to a friend's farm and hang out there for a while than come back home and do things. I know I need to either can or dry a bunch of pears before they go bad (if this has not happened already) and Eugene needs to paint a for sale sign so we can get a big metal round hay rack, some truck tires and other crap sold in the next month or so.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Time for dog photos

Maybe not the best dog photos I have taken but they are current

Nate (blonde) and Arlo (black and Tan)in an embrace

We have two dogs, Arlo and Nate. Arlo we have had for over 8 years. he was found by our vet at the time, Carolyn Blakey and she gave him to us to replace Tlingt (the dog that had major health issues and was hit by cars 3 different times and none of that killed her. It was a chocolate brownie she stole off of the front seat of the car that did her in-Death by chocolate, literally). Arlo, after about 16 months of differences of opinions, is a fantastic farm dog. He keeps deer away from the gardens and coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons, etc away from the chickens

Nate and Arlo playing in the back yard

Nate found us on the day we closed on this farm. He was skin and bones and wiggly and ecstatic to see a human that was not chasing him away. Upon seeing the poor thing I got him a bowl and filled it with food, twice. Eugene was not happy at first but he did end up naming the dog and now is Nate's best buddy. He is well under a year and knows nothing. He has not seen a chicken and I suspect he will want to kill and eat any chicken he sees but arlo had the same problem and it is possible to convince a chiken killer that it is better to guard chickens and kill any predators as we were able to do this with Arlo. Nate is smart, a fast learner and he really wants to please. I think he will be as good and perhaps a bit better farm dog than Arlo in a few years

I should be a Philosopher

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.

You'd make a talented professor or writer.

I already knew this and perhaps one day I will go and get a doctorate in anthropology/sustainable farming. Though philosphy would be a hoot too

Pretty impressive, me lifting html from content sites aint it

Country Auctions

It was freezing so Eugene and I decided to go to a couple of outdoor farm auctions we saw advertised in the local paper. One was simply done, the other was much more fancy with rings under canvas and chairs and heaters. Both had a lot of crap but the simpler auction called by Larry McMechan and his son Lyle had better crap so we spent a lot more time at that auction and bought a martin house, a pile of hand towels and girlie girl aprons, an aluminum extension ladder and a hand truck all for $17.

Both required that we drive over frozen fields. The simple auction had a far better field than the rutted corn field at the other sale. But that is what you get at country farm auctions, field parking. At least it was not muddy and vehicles getting stuck. The crowd was a sea of tan Carhardt coveralls. I noticed anyone who came early and was not dressed for standing still in subfreezing weather did not stay very long. Ball caps were not good head gear yesterday, one needed a good hat or hood (or both) along with heavy boots and gloves. Many of the older people elected to stay in their trucks with the engines and heaters on waiting on what ever item they were interested in to come up, actually for the auctioneer and crowd to move to it.

The food concession at the simple auction sold out of hot chocolate (or is it cocoa?) early in the sale. Eugene bought a bowl of chili, I had nothing.

Taking a piss in a Port-A-John when you have a big parka and several layers is not easy. Port-A-Johns were not made for such conditions but at least nothing dropped down the hole that wasn't supposed to and it was there in the first place.

Because the two auctions were about 5 miles apart people were driving back and forth quite a bit and the question was asked more than once "did you go to the other (fancy) auction?" and when the answer was yes the reply was "man they has a lot of crap and in worse shape than the crap at this auction" (the simpler auction).

Both were being held because of probate cases. Farm owners died a while back and now the heirs are doing something with the estates. Having been through dealing with a parental estate it is both sad and empowering work.

It's been several years since we have had the space to put the stuff we buy at auction so we have not been to many in a long time. But now it looks like we will make a habit of going to auctions once again. there is much we need. You can get such good stuff generally for a song and one is not using new resources.

Auctions are the ultimate in recycling and one can always E-Bay what they do not want or if it is not E-Bayable than one can post the stuff on their local freecycle lists and get rid of it that way.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Eggplant Head

A photo of the Eggplant head taken in late October. It still looks the same in early December

My father, Bill and my step mother, Rebecca came to visit the new farm back in early October. They brought along a strange gift of an eggplant that had been grown in a mold so it looks like the head of a gnome or something. We took it to the farmers market several times and most people agreed it was one of the weirdest things they had ever seen.

The head spent much of November in the unheated barn and other than a bit of shriveling it was no worse for wear. It is now December and the head is sitting in the kitchen (heated but not very) still in good shape.

Yesterday I tossed the last one of our eggplants in the compost-It had been sitting in the door of the fridge for weeks (months?). It had gotten covered in mold and deflated pretty badly. Now, the question is, why is the eggplant grown in a mold doing so well at survival? Eugene thinks it is because no fungus or bacteria got on the fruit while it was developing in the mold form so there is nothing to attack it and make it rot. Sounds reasonable to me.