Monday, August 30, 2010

Mondays vege growing installment

The weekend at the State fair was really enjoyable. All the standardbreds were very pleasant to be around. I have officially been reinfected with the horse racing bug. Poor Yogi, he's in for it, LOL.

While I was enjoying the horses, my mind was moving in multiple directions (as usual) and I thought about this post and what I'd like to share. As you can probably already tell, I want to share some thoughts on growing corn. Corn is actually much easier than some folks make it out to be and you don't need a 100 acre field to enjoy any type of corn. The plant consists of 2 parts for pollination, the tassle on the top and the silks on the stalk. The silks are where the ear of corn comes from. The particles from the tassle fall down onto the silks and make the ear. So, it is much better to plant your corn in clumps or blocks as opposed to just a couple long rows. Corn is a heavy feeder and loves rich soil. Corn prefers well drained, slightly acidic soil with plenty of moisture. Consistent watering through ear development is the key to a good crop. Planting is pretty simple, the soil needs to be at least 55F, deep and well worked. Set your seeds around 1” deep, around 4” apart, rows should be around 30” apart to allow for crop maintenance with in ground crops, raised beds and container plantings can be spaced much closer. Corn has plenty of roots close to the surface so close cultivation is difficult. Mulching around the stalks helps reduce weeds. There are a couple simple signs to let you know if your corn is growing properly. Purple tinged leaves signals phosphorus deficiency and pale green leaves signals nitrogen deficiency. Side dress as needed. If you planted sweet corn, the ears are ready when the silks are brown but still moist. A quick check of the kernels by pricking one- clear liquid means the ear is not ready. Milky liquid means it's ready and no liquid means it is past it's prime. Within 24 hours of being picked, sweet corn has turned more than half it's sugar to starch so it's best to eat or process your corn quickly after picking for the freshest, sweetest taste. If you planted popcorn, feed corn or cornmeal corn, it is best to allow the ears to dry on the stalk for as long as you can before picking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Escape

Hey all! I got myself invited to work in the test barn for the horse races at the State Fair this weekend. It will be a nice change of pace for me to hang out with the winning race horse instead of the one that came home 5th... I'll see you all on Monday......

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thinking about beans

Yes, I know I already posted this picture but my Mom and I were just talking about it and I realized what a truly great little snapshot it is(thanks Mom!). It's getting harder and harder to ignore the hard truth about the direction this country is headed. Our economy is in the tank, we're bleeding jobs by the hundreds of thousands, the middle class is all but sank to the new working poor. Folks are starting to accept the horrible truth that we are not in a recession but a full blown working depression and things are NOT getting better. Price increases over the past several months on all basic necessities have driven some people to pass on paying their mortgage and other bills to maintain their dietary habits. Food prices are not going down, drought, fire, floods all affecting the bottom line. Electricity rates keep going up and I even read a report just this morning that says the amount of people "paying" for television services is at the lowest level in history. Well, that's good, we all need to turn the dang thing off anyway, LOL.

There is nothing wrong with having a good supply of healthy food stored up in your pantry, cabinets, closet, someplace. Everyone should have a good food supply, it just makes sense. You just never know when you will find yourself out of work or be in some sort of other financial disaster. You have to eat so why not have a little insurance policy to make sure you keep on eating well?

Growing yourself a little food should not be an idea that makes you cringe, it's really not all that difficult. Look at that picture, there is probably just 30 bean plants piled in that truck bed. Beans are prolific plants, the bush varieties will produce a huge amount of beans, all at once and require just a small bit of attention. Beans like soil temperatures to be at least 70F, prefer a loose, moist soil and a pH slightly below neutral. The seeds like to be 1-2 inches deep, 5-7" apart and like to be watered regularly until sprouting which usually takes 8 to 10 days in full sun. Beans like to have some compost or well seasoned manure about half way thru the growing season. Mulching also benefits them as their roots are shallow and helps to retain moisture. Bush varieties grow well almost anywhere, including containers, raised beds and tire gardens. Vine type beans need some sort of support like a trellis or teepee that should be set up before starting the plants to eliminate disturbing the roots. The vine types have a longer production period but as just are good as the bush types, just more work.

Don't be afraid to grow yourself some food, if you don't believe me, just think about how much food gets grown on that tiny lot in California.......

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thoughts on 'dirty" food

You know, I was just thinking about chickens and eggs. Not a big leap since the huge egg recall is all over the news. 3 of the brand names on the recall list are popular brands sold almost at every grocery around here. Salmonella is a nasty bacteria. It can give you all sorts of nasty sickness. I actually know a little bit about this particular bacteria. When I first introduced chickens to this farm, all my horses suffered from a bout of Salmonella from eating the chicken droppings.

There is no fresher, healthier for you egg than the one just laid right here on the farm in a clean straw nest by a free ranging chicken. No chicken poop in the nest or stuck to the backside of the chicken to spread Salmonella, the egg shell is spotless so there is no reason to "dip" it in some dirty bucket of antibacterial solution 10,000 other eggs got dipped into first.

Our government via the FDA and the USDA is now calling for "stricter" food safety laws. Of course they are! Let's have stricter measures in place so no one but large corporations with tons of bribe money can produce food. Wake up folks, commercially produced food is poisoning us and the amount of antibiotics being pumped into those poor critters is making us immune to medications we'd need to cure what ails us from eating commercially produced food.

Hmmm, that food co-op is looking better and better, eh? Time to find a farmer and make friends. Or, better yet, produce that food for yourself!

late summer running

Here's the view I've been seeing about every day for the last week. I've been up and down this road at least 20 times going back and forth to the neighbors' place trying to help 2 of my neighbors out. As a result, I haven't gotten much done around my own farm. Ah, I shouldn't say that really, maybe just nothing majorly constructive got done. I still feed the critters every day, grind feed, pick up eggs and clean up after my house full of hogs etc.

We finally got a break in the heat, today is a beautiful day, medium humidity and at least 10 degrees cooler than it was yesterday. Rain must be coming, LOL.

The egg recall happening right now has turned out kind of good for me, for the first time this year I have sold every single egg I have and still have folks looking for some. For once a government agency has done well for me, LOL.

I've been reading the news paper quite a bit lately. Not having internet at home is kind of a drag. I have decided that reading the news paper is more for the distraction than it is for any real news. I find it very hard to find anything pertinent in the paper anymore. I think I'll just roll them into fire starters and forget about it, LOL.

The cow is still not here yet. I've changed my approach on it a little. Since the feller that keeps promising to get me the cow has not done it yet, I am working on getting directions to the farm and I'll just go get the darn thing myself. Getting the directions will probably take at least a week the way this boy is operating so it will give me time to come up with fuel money and a trailer to haul it with, LOL. Always something, isn't it? I am sooo ready to get milking!

Goat breeding season is in full swing and Johnny Boy is driving me crazy! He never shuts up and you can smell him from 50 yards away. Why do I keep a billy goat???

I'm thinking about starting another round of tire taters. I know it's almost September but the tires keep so much heat and I can always build a plastic tent over the tops. I think I'm going to try it......

Monday, August 23, 2010

gone too long

Okay, I see I've been remiss in posting... I am working on a good post.....

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's hot again

Even nastier sitting here in the truck. The storm we had last Saturday knocked the wi-fi dish for the library out of line so I am back to finding a signal where I can in the truck. Oh well, such is life.

The article I linked to in the last post has really been on my mind hard. It is of course, a subject I get worked up over pretty easily. Especially when I feel like my government is trying to encroach on my freedom. What freedom this week? LOL My freedom to choose what I eat of course!

Did you watch the video that went with the article? The Dervaes family grows all that food on a tiny lot in California. Their forum board site is Freedom Gardens. I've been a member there for quite a while. What is being done on that tiny California lot is proof that anyone can feed themselves. I am a little ashamed tho when I look at pictures of their garden. My garden is bigger than their entire lot, home and all and they still out produce me! Guess i better get after it and shape up, huh?

But wait, not everyone has the ability to grow a garden like that, right? Ah, the proverbial "green thumb" thing is a myth. It is, I promise you. How do I know that? LOL well, I didn't start out a super gardener and I killed my fair share of plants. I just kept trying. The desire was there and helped me to keep on trying and learning. It took more than 10 years to get me to the point of being able to say that I don't buy food from the grocery store.

I know not everyone is ready or able to devote the time it takes to be completely free of commercially produced foods. Some people don't have the space to keep rabbits, chickens, a pig or 2 or a couple cows. That doesn't mean you still can't provide a considerable amount of food for yourself. Even if it's just 10 lbs of diced carrots and beans or a couple cases of diced tomatoes. Grow a pumpkin vine and you will never regret canning your own pumpkin for a pie. Even growing common cooking herbs helps. Have you priced any at the grocery lately? Outrageous! Fruit trees are nice too. Landscaping you can eat. Think about adding some raspberry or blackberries to your security or privacy fence. Add some strawberry plants to the flower bed, grow a couple tomatoes in with the marigolds.

I have some hay sitting in the field waiting to be baled up. I'm sure i will be thinking more on this subject as I circle the field on the tractor....

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Finally some rain!

It was real rain with some thunder boomers and it even knocked the power out for a few hours. The storm knocked a branch off the sugar maple at the top of the drive. Now, of course, it's 3 times as humid as it's been, LOL. Yesterday tho, with the storm pushing it, it was actually only 90 degrees in the kitchen and only 85% humidity. I dehydrated some taters and got a batch of blackberry jam done.

Check out this potato I dug out of the tires. Well, it sure does to me.

The goats are now jumping in and out of their pen whenever they feel like it. I was thinking that maybe I had a loose spot somewhere and they were just pushing out but this morning, I let the boy sleep and went off and took care of the morning chores all by myself. As I got close to the goat pen, they all jumped out to greet the feed bucket I was carrying. I got into the pen, dumped the rain water out of the feed pans and they all jumped back in! Hmmm, this could prove to be a problem. Not much I can do about it right now tho. Cattle panels are pretty low on the list, LOL.

I managed to get 3 bags of cans picked up so far. The county has been mowing the ditches and chewing them up pretty good. But, it does make it easier to find any new ones people throw out their vehicle windows. Sometimes I'm glad this is such a dirty state. Lots of aluminum laying around. I'm hoping to have the cow all lined up by this coming weekend so I need to keep working on getting cans picked up so I can pay the man. I'm still $100 short. I can hardly wait to make some cheese. Especially not having to give up half what I make to "pay" for the milk.

I browsed one of my favorite news sites today and found this cool article on eating local organic foods. I thought it was share worthy. I instantly liked it because it reflects my whole attitude toward the USDA and government control of our food source. That same thing I always preach about he who controls the food controls humanity. With the fake food safety bill waiting on the Senate to pass it (S 510 I think it is), we're just a dogs hair away from the government controlling every aspect of what we eat. This bill waiting says that "we" ( citizens of this country) will no longer be "allowed" to grow our own food even for personal consumption. Guess who wrote this idiotic bill? Oh, you guessed it, a Monsanto executive! LOL, I dare some USDA rep to visit me on my farm and tell me it's illegal for me to feed myself. Anybody who finds the whole idea of the government controlling our food to be completely idiotic had better make sure they have a good supply of heirloom, open pollinated seed before there isn't any left. If Monsanto gets their way, we'll all be paying out the nose to be poisoned with GMO food we are forced to eat.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Teasing rain and thanks

It's sprinkling rain here. Hardly enough so far to even knock the dust in the barn lot down but it sure cooled off nice! The poor rabbits were huffing for air this morning. I feel so bad for them wrapped up in fur coats like they are. The fan doesn't seem to be helping at all but the 20 degree temperature drop will help.

I spent the morning smashing cans. They're back up to .55 a lb here, much better than the .30 a lb they've been all summer. I took some in and made $35! Now, thanks to 2 great people, I'm $100 closer to that jersey cow. Thank you to both of you, God bless for your love and help.

I've got the canner going on the stove, it's full of corn from this years harvest.

I may get a batch of soap done this weekend if the cool weather holds out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good news and bad

Some good news and some bad all wrapped up together today. So, I'll just share what's new and let the news fall where it may, LOL. My daughter got herself a job with her college education. I'm so proud of her. It will be tough for her to juggle it with her basketball scholarship and classes starting soon but I think she will do fine. I am still waiting for a call on the applications and resumes I already have out there.

I spent a little time on Monday catching up with some old friends and helped out at a food pantry this morning. 231 people came to the pantry this morning. I was pretty surprised and a little disappointed all rolled up into one. Every single person that came thru there had a cell phone and several had those bluetooth ear things. I helped people to their vehicles with the food and every vehicle out there was newer than mine. Way newer than mine. If they can afford the monthly phone bill, why can't they buy food? The bad economy is hurting everyone and now on top of it, food inflation is coming on strong. Check out this article about price increases on food at of all places, walmart. I despise Walmart for many reasons but the biggest one is- where ever there is a Walmart, there is no other venue to shop. Walmart wipes out every bit of competition, leaving you with no where to shop but there. Anyway, the food pantry was giving away a bag with 2 cans of corn, 2 cans of peas, a can of green beans, a can of pork, a can of chicken soup, 2 loaves of bread, a box of mini corn dogs, a bag of powdered milk, a box of doughnuts and some cookies. Folks, this country is in trouble. That is a 30 day food bag, one visit per month allowed.

We've not had any rain and this heat is really drying everything out. I have run out of rain water and have not watered the garden in almost a week now. It's dying and there's nothing I can do about it. I have even put off cutting the hay because of the lack of rain. I hope we get some this weekend like the weatherman says we should. We need some. The critters are all hanging on thru this horrible humidity. They aren't moving around too much and I can't blame them. Even the poor rabbits look rough. I broke down and put a fan on them after I lost a breeding doe to the heat. I can't afford to lose any more, they are part of my winter meat supply.

I have a line on a Jersey milk cow. I just need to figure out where to come up with $200. Such a small amount to stand between me and a constant milk supply for drinking and cheese but broke is broke. I'm doing all I can to make it work out.

One small blessing is the chickens. They are really coming thru for me with their egg production. I lost a few hens to a neighbors dog so I was worried for a bit when they all quit laying from the trauma. A couple days and I am back to a dozen and a half. The dog deprived me of 7 eggs a day. The owner of the dog passed away and her son decided the best way to care for her dog was to turn it loose and I paid for his ignorance. I so hate that. Seems to be a trend lately tho.

The field corn is coming close to harvesting. The crop looks decent too. I should start harvesting in the next 2 weeks....

Saturday, August 7, 2010

This weeks happenings

We got a nice cool off following a tiny bit of rain this week. Of course I have been spending some time in the kitchen. I mashed up a ton of tomatoes and have a 5 gallon stock pot on the stove simmering down into sauce for canning. I picked up a big box of bananas from a church food pantry close to me. They were going to throw them away! Yes, some were past good but the majority of the nanners didn't have a blemish on them. I dehydrated this gallon bag plus I have 2 gallon bags in the freezer for banana shakes if I can ever afford to buy milk to make ice cream. The peppers plants are doing great even with the horrible heat we've been suffering thru and a couple 3 gallon buckets full are waiting in the kitchen for me to do something with.

I mashed a couple gallon bags of blackberries yesterday but forgot to grab the camera. I will be cooking it all into jam this evening since it's still a decent temperature in the house. Sunday brings more mid 90 degree weather and the house will be back to horribly hot so I need to get it done while I can.

Things around the farm are the same as they have been for the last year. I have several resumes and a few applications for work outside of coal mining. I hope I can find work quickly as my husband has decided to do nothing about us not meeting our financial obligations. I just can't make enough farming and selling produce I should be storing for us to eat to cover the taxes and mortgage. Farm business is incredibly slow as no one around us has any money to spend. It's not really a big surprise since this is a pretty poor area even before the economy took a dive. I'm doing everything I can......

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Slow thought process

I've spent quite a while focused on myself and my little farm, removed from the general realities of what's going on around me in the world. Not necessarily a bad thing, LOL. As usual, it takes the latest issue of Mother Earth news to remind me that even tho we may be struggling from week to week to keep the bills paid, we are pretty fortunate to live way out in the country. while this country setting may not be the optimal place for an internet connection or finding decent work, it does allow us to provide healthy, clean food for ourselves.
I spent a little time this week sweating under a tree in the town closest to me, connected to an unsecured wi-fi feed. Sticky and uncomfortable but I had a serious urge to read a little news. I found this story about the Raw Milk police once again attempting to control free will. Plus, another new story I just found today. Honestly, I drink raw milk all the time and with the exception of some sort of udder infection in the cow itself, the rest of the bacterias the government claims will harm me all come from poor hygiene/cleaning practices and poor milk handling. I view the USDAs attempted control over my personal diet to be a serious threat to my freedom. Now that I have made my own cheese, there is NO WAY I will ever go back to eating the store bought crap sold as cheese. The simple thought of drinking BGH laced milk makes me shudder. The difference between store bought and home made yogurt is amazing. But, of course, the government thinks we are too stupid to think for ourselves and it's only going to get worse if we do not fight for our right to choose what we eat and when we eat it.
Mother Earth news has an article in this months issue talking about Living on less. I thought overall it was a pretty good article. A reminder for me though, since i do almost everything here myself already. There's also a neat little chart based on an average gross income of $63,000 a year (yah, I wish). It shows where the majority of expenses for the average family are. I found it pretty interesting with housing being the biggest expense, transportation being second and food being third on the list just slightly above insurance. That of course leads right into the very next article- Save Money on Groceries. This article I found to be kind of neat too. the price comparison charts are a big off but maybe they are area specific. I would love to find organic sweet corn for $2.00 a dozen around here. Even at the farmers market where it was picked the day before and sitting out in baskets prebaking in the sun, they still want $1 for 3 ears which is double what the article quotes sweet corn at. I wish I could find peaches so darn cheap too, LOL. $9.00 for a peck of "2nds" from the local orchards here. Since that Dericho, I don't have any fruit trees left and do I ever miss them! But the whole idea is to buy in bulk and preserve it for later use. That's what I do with my garden produce. No doubt I get it in bulk, LOL. No matter what you do tho, the best deal you'll ever find is the cost of what you can grow for yourself.
I once tried to figure out how much money I would spend to stock my pantry with purchased food in the amount equivalent to what I produce for myself. It gave me a migraine headache and I gave up. I did figure out that we saved more than $500 a year just in cheese. Of course, if we had to buy cheese, we'd not eat nearly as much as we do when I make it for us. LOL The way we eat around here, I could easily spend more than our mortgage payment every month buying food from a grocery. We eat pretty well most of the time. I say "most" because every now and then we run out of meat before something else is ready to butcher or a hunting season comes around. We're meat eaters here and not having meat makes us a little cranky, LOL.
I even learned how to make my own laundry soap this year. Thanks to some survival/prepper friends a bit north of me whom I am very fond of and wish I could visit more often, I have a great washing powder that costs just .09 a load! It really does a great job and the clothes have never smelled better. I'm always up for learning something new. Any new little trick to save myself some time and money, make life easier.
I look back over the last 12 months and realize how truly blessed I am to still have a home to live in. Still be here on the farm, thanks to some wonderful people and I am truly grateful. So, all in all, even with this economy and unfriendly job market combined with a government denial of recession, the price of things we need about doubling in the past 18 months, we're still very fortunate folks to be able to provide for ourselves in ways others can not. I pray I can continue to live this free for a long, long time to come.........