Tag Archives: Market

A Week On The Farm May 14,, 2016

This was the last week of exams and graduation at the University in town.  The event swells the population of town for a few days before the massive exodus and quiet of the summer.  Trying to go anywhere in town during the past few days has been an adventure.  Undergraduate Commencement Ceremonies were are 8:30 a.m. yesterday morning and even trying to get granddaughter to preschool was a challenge.  Many of the families started clearing out today.  After we had a family day in the gardens today during and between rain showers, we decided that we wanted to go to Mellow Mushroom for pizza and a good beer.  When we arrived at about 7 p.m., we were the 11th party of 5 to check in thus it would be a 90 to 120 minute wait, with a tired 4 year old and a nine year old.  We bailed and went down the street to a local Italian Restaurant, were seated immediately and got a good pizza, just not the one we had set out to get.

This morning, bright and early, Jim took off on his BBH motorcycle and met 25 other bikes from the Roanoke Hog group for an overnight ride into West Virginia for a “Hillbillie Hotdog”  Yup, it is a real place.  They have other stops to visit during their two day ride, dealt with some real rain but he seems to be having fun.  I took off not long after him and made the weekly run to the Blacksburg Farmers Market, coming home with lots of vegetables, a bouquet of flowers, some bread and bagels, and some sausages.  Another stop at the local Super Value market for some local pasture raised beef and a weekly run to the grocer for the items that fill lunch boxes and make snacks for the kids.

After our grocery run, K and I tackled the garden.  I have been lacking in the motivation to get out there and get a handle on the overgrowth of Lambs Quarters, that were so thick, it looked like I had sown it as a cover crop.  Every time I have had the time to go out, it has rained.  We toughed some showers, increasing wind, and a drop in temperature, but we succeeded in getting the two beds that are already fully or partially planted with garlic, onions, radishes, Lacinato kale, turnips, peas, chard, and cabbages cleared.  Two paths were cleared and the grands came out.  With all of us working, we finished pulling the weeds in the upper part of the garden.

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The lower garden is still a mess.

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We have two nights in the 30’s then I will get the peppers, cucumbers, and beans planted, then attack this part of the garden for the popcorn, pumpkins, and Anasazi beans.  I still need to find a place for the sweet potatoes and get some flowers planted.

We made our first harvest today.

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A handful of Easter Egg radishes.

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Broody Momma, let herself get removed from the nest a few days ago by another hen who laid her egg then left.  In the meantime, Broody Momma moved to the nest with that day’s eggs in it.  We moved her back over 10 eggs, hoping that they didn’t sit unwarmed for too long.  She hasn’t been bothered for a few days, so we aren’t sure how many she has under her or if they are viable.  If they are, we should have a brood of chicks around Memorial Day.

It has been a good week, but wet.  I have succeeded in getting my 10,000 steps in all but one day.

The Tail of November

November is a busy month for celebrations in our family.  One grandson’s birthday is early in November, then it is quiet for a couple of weeks, but then WOW!  Friday was my step mom’s birthday, yesterday was mine, Tuesday is N’s (the grand that lives with us), Thursday of course is Thanksgiving.  The 28th is a nephew’s birthday and the 29th is K’s (our daughter).  It doesn’t end there as one DIL is December 4, then it will quiet again until we celebrate Christmas.

Yesterday, being Saturday, is also Farmers’ Market Day and the last Saturday that many of the vendors will brave the weather until spring.  Knowing that most of what we need for our Thursday feast is already in the house, but also knowing that we are going to have a house full for 5 days, some breakfast sausage, a green leafy veggie, perhaps some other meat and a few apples were on my list.  J and I left to have breakfast and do the market.  He usually sits in the sun on a bench while I visit and shop, but it was too cold yesterday.  Because yesterday was also the last home game of the season and the last home game for the retiring coach, we knew town would be crazy with out of town football fans.  J found a parking spot, not exactly a legal spot, so he sat in the car, prepared to move it if necessary.  The provisions were obtained and we came home to see if the rest of the household members were going to go with us the hour over to the farm where our Thanksgiving and Christmas pasture raised turkeys were to be picked up.

Turkey pick up is from 2 to 5.  They are fresh turkeys, very, very fresh turkeys.  Off we went with coolers in the back of the car, all 6 of us loaded in to get our birds.  Two birds totaling 36 pounds, one to cook Thursday, one put in the freezer for a month.  As the farm is in Floyd County, we ventured on to the town of Floyd and had wood fired pizza, flatbread and German style pretzels to celebrate my birthday, too late to be lunch, too early to be dinner, but delicious all the same.

Once home again, K and A made fudge brownies, my “cake” choice to end the day of celebration.

Mountaingdad purchased me a hand mill as a gift.  I have been making my own chicken feed mix for a while and T, eldest son, told me I should be grinding or at least cracking the grains for better nutritional absorption by the birds.  I had been using cracked corn, but the oats, sunflower seed, flax and split peas or lentils were whole.  Knowing that whole corn would keep better, I had to switched to it with the last purchase.

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The mill set up and being used to grind the whole corn, oats, Black oil sunflower seed, flax seed (they just seem to pass right through) and split peas.  Once ground, it gets a tablespoon of oil to help hold the kelp granules, a few tablespoons of crushed eggshell for calcium and a half cup of freeze dried meal worms.  The girls love it. They still have the run of the garden for the winter, but finding anything green now is getting more and more scarce.  The neighbor dog that was killing the chickens is no longer there, so maybe the hens and Cogburn can have some free range time in the yard and fields as long as we are home and our dogs are inside.

My celebration is past, now on to the other three that we will have this week.  Hope you have a wonderful and thankful week.

Olio – November 7, 2015

Six batches of soap made for the December Holiday Market.

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Four cut and curing.  Two are cocooned until tomorrow.  After much discussion with others and self arguing, I decided to have my 4 signature unscented soaps; Coffee Scrub, Jasmine Green Tea, Lavender Bud Oatmeal, and Rosemary Oat.  With 5 scented soaps settled on are Lavender, Winter Mint, Bergamot Ylang Ylang, Mountain Man, and Tree Hugger.

To simplify the lotion bars and to try to make pairings easier, there will be Lavender, Rosemary, unscented, Mountain Man, Bergamot Ylang Ylang, and Tree Hugger.

As the beard oils are also Mountain Man and Tree Hugger, gift sets can be assembled for the Market.  K and I took a trip to Michael’s and found some small boxes to facilitate making sample gift sets.

I recently went out for breakfast with a friend and she introduced me to an antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal essential oil blend in a carrier oil that she had been given by her SIL.  Later when I was talking to my daughter, she knew the oil by the name I gave her and another name from a Therapeutic essential oil company.  Figuring out the component oils was fairly easy and coming up with my own blend was not too difficult.  This oil blend carries with it a tale called the Legend of the Four Thieves.  After reading many versions of this tale, I decided to come up with my own summary variation and have printed little scrolls of the legend with the uses of the topical oil to attach to each little 1 ounce bottle that I have prepared.  Thinking that a one ounce bottle with a dropper wasn’t a very good way to carry it with you, some of the oil mixture was blended with a carrier oil and a bit of beeswax to create salve in one of the little screw lid tins as well.

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I await my shipment of more tins to be able to make a supply to add to the wares going to the market next weekend.  Our Farmers’ Market is mostly vendors of Organic produce or pasture raised meat, so I am hoping that adding these two products to the Comfrey Salve and Biker Bum Balm will be items that are successful with the crunchy crowd that frequents it.

My little natural first aid kit that I carry in my shoulder bag now has one more item in it.

Two nights ago, K and I moved two beat up hens and two young roosters to the cull pen with the meat birds that are destined for freezer camp next weekend.  Last night, Mountaingdad and I went out on a date night and K locked the birds up after dark when their family came in from getting pizza.  At least she thought everyone was locked up.  This morning, I found the remains of both hens and one young rooster outside the cull coop but inside the run.  There is a 4 foot fence around the run, a secured gate at the end and no evidence that anything dug in, so I’m not sure what got them, but it had to be able to go over the fence and get back out after eating.  Tomorrow after today’s rain ends, I will attempt to make the electric fence hot again, strung along the top of the runs and around the back of the cull coop near the ground.  Whatever it was did not get into the coop, so the birds must have been hunkered down somewhere in the run.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been knitting a shawl for a cousin.  It was finished last weekend.  Earlier this week, I got the ends woven in, washed and blocked.  It took forever to dry as it is a cotton yarn that she picked.  The package was mailed off and she received it today.  She is delighted with it.

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I hope I get a photo of it being worn.

I’m in, I’m in!

Late last evening, I received an email letting me know that I have been accepted for the Holiday Market in November and again in December.  This weekend, K will help me set up my display for a dry run.  I have been working a bit at a time to improve the curb appeal with the purchase of a few small crates and some small chalkboard signs.

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I felt that my hand printed paper signs and lack of labeling contributed to my low sales at the previous festival.  The little clip on blackboards, were easy to make with wooden clothespins, hot glue, a paint pen and the small blackboards.  It has allowed me to identify the scents available, and each bar has a paper band with the shop logo and soap scent.  I purchased two of the small square trays and glued dividers in them for the lotion bars and salves.  The little soap crates will each have one or two varieties of soap and each of the two beard oils have their own little box.  Testers will be out for the Beard Oil and Lotion Bars.

This left me with a challenge on how to display the handspun yarn.  I have tossed various ideas around for a few days while I waited for decision.  To facilitate carrying the small boxes, crates and trays, supply box, sign, bags and table covers, I use wood fruit box type crates.  T suggested how to reinforce the bottom of those boxes so that I don’t have the bottom fall out when fully loaded.  Those boxes are stapled together, so attractive, but not too sturdy.  My idea was to use these boxes to my advantage in my display and today, I bought 16 Shaker style pegs, dug through my scrap wood supply for a 1 x 4 cedar board and set to work making a yarn display.

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Out came the circular saw and the power drill, some wood glue and furniture clamps and the peg boards were fastened to the bottoms of two crates when stacked on two more crates it make a great display and the pegged crates can still be used to carry the yarn, table covers and other light weight, non breakable items.

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After we set up the tables within a 10 X 10 foot space to see how it will work, we will determine the most appealing appearance to display the soap, lotion bars, beard oils and yarn on the tables.  I am hopeful that the investment in the display items will attract buyers and the market will be a success for my fledgling hobby business.

Olio – October 17, 2015

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been busy and atypical.  Last Sunday, I drove Son #1 and Grandson #1 back to Northern Virginia from a weekend visit with us.  The plan had been to work on the staining of the south and west walls of the house, but again, it rained.  This gave them some much needed down time.  Son #1 and I did succeed in getting the leg leveling hardware on the extension ladder.  I had twice decided to do it myself and the first time I was too foggy headed with a cold and the second time, realized that because the rungs of the ladder extended through the fiberglass uprails, that it wasn’t as straight forward as hoped and I didn’t want to ruin the ladder.  It turned out that we had to go to Lowes and buy more aluminum metal strap to make spacers as the package did not come with enough to do the job.

They took a hike in the drizzle and fog at the top of the mountain and took Grandson that lives with us too.  They came back wet, tired and just in time for a dinner of Empanadas and Yellow Rice that always pleases everyone.  I used some of the last of the tomatoes and peppers to make a homemade Pico de Gallo with black beans and Daughter made a roasted Tomatillo salsa that was very tasty as toppers.

Son #1 and Grandson#1 took a mountain bike ride on the neighbor’s hill and up the gravel road off of which we live.  Sunday, before we left, Son #1 and I took down a dead tree and he started cutting it into firewood lengths.  I hauled loads up in the back of my car and in the tractor bucket and now I need to split  and stack it.  He will finish cutting it up when he comes again, maybe over Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday was spent being Grandmom in charge in Northern Virginia as Grandson #1 had a Columbus Day vacation from school.  We took the Metro into D.C. and spent some time in the Q-rius lab in the Natural History Museum.  That is quite a set up and Grandson #1 loves it.  We also walked through the history of the earth, erosion, meteor impact and minerals areas which he also enjoys.

Tuesday was travel back home with several calls from Mountaingdad that the roofers had showed up to realign and refasten the gutters, fix the leaking vent stack and attach snow guards to the front and back roofs.  This brought to our attention another less than stellar installation by our original contractor in that the metal roofing was not fastened down with enough screws and some of the screws were not even secured into anything when they tried to tighten them down.  We now have a second contract with this roofer to come back and make our decade old metal roof more secure.  We do now have snow guards to try to help prevent the snow from sliding off and taking out the gutters and making snow drifts across the front of the house and piling up on the south deck.

By Wednesday, they were beginning to threaten us with our first freeze due tonight, tomorrow, and Monday, so final harvest was undertaken.  The 5 gallon bucket of peppers that I brought in are all in the process of being preserved.  Three more pints of Jalapenos were pickled.  A quart of hot pepper sauce (mostly Tabascos, but a few Habeneros added in) was made and canned in 8 ounce jars. The smaller green bells sliced or diced and frozen for winter use, the larger ones will be stuffed with rice and ground meat and eaten for dinner this weekend.  The first two pans of Anchos are in a very low oven drying now and the house is filling with the spicy aroma they are emitting.

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There is a string of ripe Anchos hanging in the breezeway south windows and at least two more pans full to oven dry.

The potted herbs and houseplants cleaned, pruned and tucked in corners and window sills to try to get at least a few more weeks of fresh herbs from them.

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The garden was turned over to the laying hen flock and they are quickly cleaning it up.  They have revealed many more pumpkins that I will harvest before tonight’s frost.  If you look in the picture above, you will see our grass mowing neighbor, on the other side of the garden and chicken pens, she pays us daily visits.  I don’t generally mind her visiting, but yesterday, she came right up to the house and left two large gifts that cows tend to leave.  The dogs went straight to one and the German Shepherd did what dogs will do and rubbed her face and side in it.  That prompted an afternoon bath as it was too cool outside to hose her down with cold water.  While she was wet and wrapped in towels, we pinned her down and cut her nails.  She really gets frantic when you do her nails and it requires three of us to do her.  I ended up getting bitten before I got her head pinned down with a towel and my forearm.  The other two dogs and Daughter’s two cats also got theirs done while we were at it.  It is nice to not hear the click, click of them walking on the hardwood.

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The front porch got a fall touch, the fall Welcome garden flag and the large Halloween flag hung.

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Girlie Cat (the name she came with), our barn kitty enjoying the warm sun on the front porch.

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Much of our fall color is already gone at our elevation, the trees already getting bare of leaves.  It won’t be much longer before the only color at all is the green of the evergreens, cedars and pines scattered about.

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Though there was some scattered frost lower on the mountain this morning, we ventured to the Farmers’ Market, got what will probably be my last bouquet from Stonecrop Farms for this season and supplied with some beef and pork, greens, beets, carrots, potatoes and green beans to enjoy this week.  We will continue to be able to get some meat and produce at the market for at least a few more weeks before many of the vendors pack it in for the year until next spring.

We love our life on the farm at all seasons.  It is moving into a slower, hunker down and stay warm period of more reading, knitting and spinning and no garden work.  I do still have to clear a bed and plant the garlic next week after our three nights of freezing temperatures and it moderates again for a while.

Market and Turkey Day

Yesterday, I was silent, it was a birthday, another senior one that I am ready to ignore.  Mountaingdad took me to breakfast at our local diner, gave me an LLBean, leather Healthy Back bag and let me sit around and knit and read until dinner time, then took me for the best dinner at one of our local more upscale restaurants.  Usually when we go out, we skip appetizers and desserts and I typically get soup and salad or a veggie plate.  Not last night.  We shared a Charcuterie plate with a delightful whole grain mustard and an onion/hot pepper jam.  They had homemade mushroom stuffed ravioli with hazelnut butternut squash sauce, adorned with toasted pepitas, white raisens and asiago cheese.  It was delightful.  Makes me want to learn to make my own pasta.  A glass of Malbec, and ended with a shared slice of New York Cheesecake and a scoop of pumpkin ice cream.  I left stuffed and happy.

Today was both Farmers’ Market day and the day we drove to a county about an hour away to pick up our freshly killed and cleaned pasture raised turkey for Thanksgiving.  I cleaned out a market stall of all of their remaining Yukon Gold potatoes and picked up some pork for us and for son to take home after the holiday.  He is still hoping for a successful deer hunt while here and we have a few chores that we need help with, repairing a strip of log siding on the back of the basement and reattaching a downspout that has come loose and may be the cause of the strip of buckled siding.  We also got a cord of seasoned hardwood dumped but not stacked and we need to do that in preparation for the cold and occasional power loss due to ice and snow.

Knitting is progressing on Granddaughter #2’s Christmas sweater, a Wallaby.  It looks like a knitted hooded sweatshirt with the pouch pocket.  I am about to finish the body and start on the hood.  The sleeves are on as this is a bottom up sweater and most of the loose ends are woven in.  I had lots of knitting time between yesterday and the two hours of car time going and returning for the turkey.  Granddaughter #2 called me a couple of days ago and asked for mittens too.  I thought I would have enough of the sweater yarn to make them, but now I don’t think so, so we stopped at one of my favorite yarn shops on the way to get the turkey and bought a skein of a tweedy yarn with the same color in it to make them.

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We came home with a 14.5 pound fresh turkey, a 2.5 pound Boston Butt Roast, 2 pounds of ground pork, 4 chops, a pound each of Garlic Brats and Hot Italian Sausage.

Once this sweater is finished, I need to make her big brother one of a different color, then I will tackle her mittens and hope it all gets done in time for their Christmas.

Today was a balmy day compared to the recent weather, tomorrow is to be about the same but rainy, so I will tackle cleaning up my craft area, vacuuming the whole house, make guest beds, and make bread and prebake the rolls for Thanksgiving Dinner.  Tuesday morning, I will drive to Northern Virginia, pick up son’s family once they are done with their school and work days and we will all drive back to the mountains for some family time.

Love our life in the mountains, our local products, and my ability to make warm cozy sweaters and mittens for family.

Olio – August 23, 2014

A few days ago in the pouring rain, we pressure washed the deck and porch in preparation for resurfacing them with one of the new deck resurface products.  As the outdoor cats often settle on the front porch and have their supplemental food on that porch, it was all moved.  One of the garage doors was open and the dog crate that is used to move the cats to the vet for rabies shots, used to transport chicks when they are purchased locally, but otherwise stored in the garage was sitting on the floor.  We prepared to leave to buy the deck resurface paint and went to close the garage door.  This is what we found. . .

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This guy is our sickly male who is about 5 years old, much older than we were led to believe that he would live as he was born with Feline Aids before we rescued him.  The healthy female bolted for the barn as soon as the powerwasher was started.  I would give him access to stay there, but the 2 week old Rainbow Ranger chicks are in the brooder in the garage.  There is an old window screen over the top, but that wouldn’t stop a dedicated cat.

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In spite of the rain, or maybe because of it, we have had some spectacular sunsets.  We would love to get the decks painted, but the forecast calls for one more day of rain before we finally get a period of dry days, hopefully enough to get the job done.

Tonight as I surveyed the refrigerator for dinner, I remembered about a quart of beef stew made earlier in the week and not wanting another meal of just stew, I added some vegetables and a crust and made one of my favorite comfort foods, pot pie.  Usually I make chicken or turkey pot pie, but the beef stew was just too tempting.

Broody Girl finally gave up her empty nest sit, but she still hasn’t begun to lay.  We are getting 3 eggs most days from the 13 hens and pullets.  Hopefully, we will start seeing more eggs soon.  The pullet eggs are getting larger, but as the only laying hen’s eggs are speckled, I can still distinguish who is laying.  I need at least 3 extra dozen a week to break even on their feed, since we are also feeding 15 Rainbow Ranger chicks.  The chicks are rapidly outgrowing the water tank we use as a brooder.  I am at a loss about what to do with them.  They are only 2 weeks old and still need a heat source.  The chicken tractor is hardware cloth on the lower half and I can’t get power out to it or I would consider putting plastic sheeting on the lower half and moving them there.  If any of my readers have good brooder pen idea for 15 rapidly growing meat chicks, I would love some ideas.

Most Saturday mornings, though not for the past few weeks, we travel into town, enjoy breakfast at Joe’s Diner, a local landmark then wander the Farmers’ Market for goodies.  Today we were able to get potatoes, onions, carrots, and green beans (ours are still not producing).  Some beef and pork from our favorite meat farmers and flowers for the table were scored as well.  It is such a pleasure to visit on Saturday mornings and chat with friends, pet pups and supply with goodies we aren’t producing. Today was a bit crazy in town as this week has been move in week at the University and the town is bursting with new students and parents who are bringing or returning them to school.  The summer of being able to eat at the local restaurants without a wait is over until Winter Break, but the energy they bring to the town is worth that inconvenience.

We love life on our mountain farm.