Independence Days Update: The Deluge Begins

Sharon August 9th, 2010

We’ve hit the high season for produce, which is a good reminder that once harvested, you cannot screw around.  When the peaches need canning, they need canning.  Trust me, you won’t like the fruit flies and the mold.  Ask me how I know this!

We’ve also hit peak goat birthing, with Eric delivering five babies on Saturday while I was on a train back from Maryland.  Three does and two bucks - and bucks from Bast, who I was hoping would give us one.   Maia’s two girls are “Licorice” and “Marshmallow” (remember, we have an herb them going this year, the first baby was Meadowsweet), Bast’s little doeling is “Calendula” and the two boys are “Basil” and Goldenrod.”

 Frodo, our herd sire is getting on in years for a buck - with all luck he should have 2-3 more good years of fathering babies, but bucks don’t live as long as does (the physiological stress of rut) and just in case, we wanted one of his sons.  Bast, whose sire is Gilgalad, Frodo’s nephwe, is about as closely related to Frodo as you can get, and she delighted us by giving us two boys, so at least one of them will be a keeper.  Hard to prefer between them as yet, but I’m leaning towards Goldenrod, who is slightly longer, and has a studly name (we cracked up when Isaiah suggested it).

Mina, Jessie and Selene have yet to kid, along with Tekky, who is way behind the others and may birth in September, October or never.  We think she probably aborted the first time, but aren’t sure.    But Selene is due tomorrow, Mina and Jessie early next week (Jessie possibly earlier, but probably not).  So we are on goat watch.

While I was on the train to Maryland, I did some of the math on the break-even point for our farm, including one scenario that used only goats, and found that we could achieve our ag exemption and our goals for net sales if we upped our goat production into the low thirties with does - we have the land base for that (and more, but I want to stock pastures at well below the maximum), and we love working with the goats.  So we’re thinking of expanding the herd into the thirties, and possibly replacing the sheep with fiber or meat-fiber cross goats - angora, pygora or perhaps kiki meat goats.  Still mulling the details on all of this.  But in general we like goats better than sheep. This has had the advantage of making it easier to eat the sheep - but I don’t think it compensates for the fact that most of the year we don’t find the sheep nearly as much fun or as interesting as the goats.

And I think the goats are more likely to turn a profit, particularly the small goats - bringing small scale production of meat, milk and fiber into people’s communities has a lot of virtues, IMHO, and the desire for it seems to be there - small goats can be maintained in a lot of neighborhoods.

The herb and vegetable plant business has more imponderables in it - our estimates on sales and costs are pretty preliminary and still in the experimental stages.  We’ll just have to see how that works out.  Look, over the next few weeks, for a big expansion of this website and the farm materials.

The main goal is for us to put our own subsistence first at every stage - that is, all of our forms of agricultural production have to feed or serve or help us first - that is, I want to sell dairy goats only over and above our production of our own milk.  I want to produce vegetable plants as a by-result of also raising my own seedlings.  I want to produce medicinal herbs and herb products over and above our own use of the herbs.  Any other way just doesn’t seem to make sense - growing food to sell and then using the money to buy other food -  that’s the failed model of agriculture that has cost us so much.

That means that what we do can’t take away from our subsistence activities too much, and ideally, is integrated into them.  It doesn’t, however, mean that I feel a need to produce everything I use.  We have in the past cut a portion of our own firewood, but last year I didn’t cut any - whch means this year I’ll buy all of our wood from neighbors.  I didn’t grow any sweet corn this year, since we were working on the bed building, much less as much as my kids would like to eat.  We don’t produce our own (traditional) hay on any scale, and we probably won’t do so - four of my immediate neighbors sell hay as a main portion of their living, and I’d much rather work with them.  But that doesn’t stop me from experimenting with woody crops for winter hay as well.

Doing the calculations on how to make the farm profitable and successful for us involves balancing on three legs - maintaining and increasing our subsistence activities, the things that get us further along in meeting our own needs.  Expanind the production of things that are both needed in my area and also concordant with my basic values as a farmer - that is, I want to produce things that people need and that enrich my community.  And finally, building strong relationships with both other growers and producers and also customers.    The great thing about havintg three legs is that is way more stable than two ;-) .

Meanwhile, the subsistence preserving is going apace - and I’m working on getting the small kitchen ready to be a preserving kitchen for the production of syrups and jams for winter.  

The peaches are ripe, and the early cabbages are ready to be made into slaw.  The first peppers are in, and I’ll be making hot sauce soon.  We’re eating the eggplant so fast I doubt I’ll freeze much, but I’ve had some luck with freezing eggplant purees like baba ganoush and chinese style strange flavor eggplant.  The heat and drought have been good for crops that don’t usually grow that well for me - I’ve got an abundance of okra, peppers and tomatoes, and even a few small watermelons looking hopeful.

It is time to plant the last round of fall crops, excepting spinach and arugula, and I’m looking forward to getting those in the ground.  Meanwhile, we’re in that stage where everything is rich and abundant and hey, what’s not to like about that!

Plant something: Beets, arugula, pea shoots, kale, turnips.

Harvest something: Eggs, milk, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, beans, beets, onions, garlic, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, blackberries, kale, chard, many herbs.

Preserve something: Peach salsa, mint sauce, rosemary-lemon jelly, dried peaches, salsa, dried various herbs, tinctured various herbs, made pickles.

Waste Not: The usual

Want Not: Nothing unusual

Eat the food - corn, tomatoes, green beans, eggplant… in every conceivable combination.

Build community food systems: Attended a meeting with Poverty agencies on adapting to peak oil, food was a major component, including advocacy for urban small scale meat production on city food waste, and, of course, more gardens.


19 Responses to “Independence Days Update: The Deluge Begins”

  1. Andrea G. says:

    ..we could achieve our ag exemption and our goals for net sales if we upped our goat production into the low thirties with does – we have the land base for that (and more, but I want to stock pastures at well below the maximum)…

    How many full-size vs. dwarf goats can one keep on an acre without overgrazing? In particular, I haven’t been able to find solid information about the dwarf goats.

  2. Claire says:

    We had a few decent days (lows in the mid to upper 60sF) in between lots of too-hot-even-for-me weather. Today starts a four day excessive heat warning. It finally stopped raining too, of course, so now I have to water with city water because the DH hasn’t figured out how to get the new rainwater tank plumbed up. Eventually he’ll figure it out.

    Plant: cabbage, broccoli, collard, and bok choy seedlings. Lettuce, carrot, beet, mustard green, storage radish, and turnip seeds during the stretch of a few mild days.

    Harvest: tomatoes, loads of them. Some peppers, but I got them in too late and it’s been too hot for them to pollinate well, and some of my pepper plants died of some disease … I’ll get more peppers later but it won’t be a real good pepper year for me. The last two summer cabbages. Lots of potatoes and onions. Eggplants. Cucumbers. Hops flowers. Black walnuts. Rose hips. Elderberries, and lots of them. A few raspberries (my patch is a mix of varieties that fruit at different times).

    Preserve: hops flowers, by drying. Tomatoes, drying some and pureeing others, freezing the puree. Onions are being stored on the front porch and in the basement, in open air. Potatoes are being stored in buckets sitting on the basement floor. The DH is fermenting cucumbers into dill pickles. Froze rose hips and elderberries for later winemaking.

    Waste not: the usual.

    Want not: checked the stores of bulk goods, ordered more as needed.

    Community food systems: telling Facebook friends about the winemaking and what we harvest (hoping to inspire them to try some things for themselves). Gave some of our tomatoes to a neighbor. Brought homebrewed beer to a party, it went over well and people asked how it was made.

    Eat the food: braised potatoes. Various stir-fry dishes with all veggie ingredients from the garden. Tomato-onion salad, all ingredients from the garden. Last year’s plum wine, after bottling. The first taste of this year’s Nanking cherry wine after completion of fermentation. Popcorn from last year’s garden as a snack for a visiting friend and as a quick dinner on busy nights.

  3. Karen says:

    Claire, I am curious what you are doing with the hops flowers?


  4. Lynne says:

    Way to go Eric, birthing those goat babies! Man, if my goats had all their babies while I was away I’d be a little miffed. Goldenrod. Hee.

    Our fruit trees aren’t producing anything yet as they are babies and have been through some trauma (major hail storm last year). But, we have fruit stands a nice short day trip away and went and got apricots and peaches.

    I’m really happy with the preservation this year. First, I’m more in the habit - that slightly large summer squash now gets dried instead of avoided, left to grow huge and stuck in some friend’s car. Also, I’m more willing to experiment and less willing to let things go to waste. It’s such a learning process…just things like, I dislike frozen peppers, but love them dried, takes time to learn.

    Plant: lettuce, spinach, kale - we have loads of kale for the chickens for winter (and for us)

    Harvest: raspberries, boysenberries (just a few), soup peas, onions, garlic, peppers - hungarian spice, bell and jalapeno, summer squash - patty pan and zucchini, tomatoes, corn, beans, potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, parsley, thyme, dill, basil, oregano, zinnias

    Preserve: dried herbs (in the car) - basil, thyme, parsley; pulled sad onions that were no longer growing, set up in shade to dry; raspberry syrup, frozen raspberries, dried apricots, canned apricots (= mush and I forgot the brandy!), peach salsa, peach jam, Sharon’s raspberry/cinnamon vodka, my own raspberry/peach rum, dried squash, cucumber and bean pickles galore, canned nectarines,

    Waste not: as usual, but also the point about preserving things pronto and less waste

    Want not: replenished pickling supplies;

    Eat: all produce; pastas, grilled, salads, quesadillas stuffed with veggies,

    Community: nothing, as usual, except sharing produce

  5. The Mom says:

    It’s the time of year that I’m buried under weeds and trying to dig my way out. Everything is coming ripe and I’m in full squirrel mode right now. I actually cancelled a day at the beach to stay home and can.

    Plant: lettuce, kale, pac choi, tatsoi

    Harvest: tomatoes, green beans, beets, tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, cabbage, potatoes, cucumbers, swiss chard, eggs and 1 butternut that my 5 year old thought looked good

    Preserve something: pickles, peaches, tomatoes all got canned and froze beans and beets

    Waste not: After both my fridge and stove stopped working, I called an actual repairman instead of buying new ones. Apparently, according to him, this is unusual. Sad

    Want not: nothing

    Eat the food: Lots of pizza with sauce from the garden and veggies galore. Peach pie, which was amazing. The rest was rather boring.

    Community: Continue to blog and encourage friends. I have a few old friends that i have connected with on facebook, who now want me to help them start their own gardens. How cool!

  6. Fern says:

    I made my first pickles - we’re being buried in cucs right now, and can’t keep up only by eating fresh salads and bon bon chicken salad. One jar of spicy half sours, my husband’s favorite. Looks as if I’ll be making one jar every week while the cucs are coming in, as he likes them only lightly pickled.

    Everything else is about the same, but I had a garage sale this last weekend and every single herb sold, a first for me. That was especially surprising because while I had a few basil plants, most of what I had was ginger and turmeric.

  7. aimee says:

    Andrea - ask your local county land use people, but here in NW washington, they say 5 sheep or goats/acre. That’s full size, who knows about minis. And our area is very wet and lush, I would assume it’s fewer animals in, say, Phoenix. Also, I think five is pushing it, and I have four.

    Plant - nuffin’. Have garlic curing getting ready to plant.

    harvested - a very tiny and disappointing potato harvest, too many zucchinis, a buttload of beets. Oh and eggs and milk. Will be butchering a goat this weekend

    preserve - made five quarts dill pickles, will be canning beets later. Hopefully making goat-sausage too

    waste not: give table scraps to chickens

    want not: making cajeta out of excess goat milk

  8. Gabrielle says:

    The weekend brought us slightly cooler temperatures, if you can really say that 92 is “cooler”. It made spending time outdoors a bit more bearable, though I won’t say that I actually accomplished all that much more than last week.

    Plant— Nothing planted. The plants that I put in over the last few weeks are really struggling in the heat. I doubt I’ll plant anything until towards the end of August.

    Harvest—cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, green onions, yellow onions, watermelons, bell pepper, jalapenos, basil, just a few blueberries (not much more of them left on the bushes now). I also helped with the church garden on Saturday, and I really didn’t put a dent in what needed to be done there. We picked okra, beans, zucchini, and squash there.

    Preserve—I froze some more bell peppers. Nothing else preserved, in part because we aren’t making any food purchases for the first 2 weeks of August and don’t have an abundance in our home gardens.

    Waste Not/Reduce Waste—Other than the usual conservation and recycling efforts, I can’t think of anything in this category.

    Want Not/Prep/Storage— I restrained myself very well during the Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday Weekend. The main things that I wanted to be sure we purchased were underwear and a swimsuit both for next year for our daughter. Those are items that we just don’t do as hand-me-downs. I was tempted, and I looked, but I didn’t see any other clothes that we need now and couldn’t buyat a consignment sale for just as cheap later. I picked up a handful of school supplies to add to the craft supplies for our daughter.

    Building Community Food Systems— I shopped for the church food pantry and did some work organizing in there this week. I helped with the men’s breakfast at church on Saturday, and like I mentioned above, helped with the garden at that time.

    Eat the Food— We’ve made it through a week of our 2 week eat from the pantry food challenge. We’ve had some hiccups with planning, but overall are learning from the experience and doing well.

  9. Sharon says:

    The standard for our region is about 1000lbs of livestock per acre. Buck nigerians are around 100lbs, full grown does about 65lbs. You’d want to know the weight of the goats. But I’m aiming for a stocking rate of closer to 500lbs an acre. As mentioned above, your local stocking rate may be different.


  10. NM says:

    Plant: nothing. We did get more blackberries cut back. Also talked with a local farmer about giving us a lesson in scything, and with local farmers about touring their farms. Weeded the garden.
    Harvest: Sweet cherries, local eggs, CSA vegetables, farmers market and fruit stand fruit vegetables, pickling cucumbers, herbs from the garden, blackberries.
    Summer started late, and may end early, according to the National Weather Service; I’m a little worried about whether there will be tomatoes to can this year. Holding my breath, and meanwhile, focusing on preserving other things.
    Preserve: Unsweetened cherry butter, peach-apricot jam, pickle relish, dried lemon balm and spearmint, dried mixed greens to sprinkle into casseroles and things for added nutrition, candied cherries, froze blueberry turnovers, raspberry liqueur.
    Want not: Attended two days of lectures on gardening and farming put on annually by the extension service. Picked up several good books on gardening and seed saving, and a cookbook, while there. Not that I needed another cookbook, but I couldn’t resist it. But I’m most excited about the book on no-till gardening, that appears to answer some of my questions about practical details. We’re hoping to start a small market farm, and I’d been wondering how to expand the no-till garden concept to a larger scale.
    Husband, who loves tools, whether for him or for me, bought a lovely one at an estate sale; an old-fashioned hand food processor, in new condition, for just $5. He is very excited and immediately designed and built a wooden rack to hold the cones so they will be easily accessible but the cutting edges won’t be damaged. I am not really a gadget person, and tend to just use a knife, but he worries about my carpal tunnel-damaged wrist (sweet man), and wanted to be sure I’d remember to use the device. So the cone holder now lives right in front of my eyeballs over my baking table. He gleefully used the machine to chop the vegetables for the pickle relish.
    Waste not: Only the usual.
    Community food systems: wrote bi-monthly cooking column. Gave canning jars and the Ball Blue Book as a birthday gift to a friend who is thinking of taking up canning (I am tempted to take credit for her taking a recent canning class; she’s spent several years telling me I’m nuts for all the preserving I do, and being very happy with gifts of jam. Now she wants to turn her raspberry crop into jam. : D ).
    Eat the food: Peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, fruit salads, local eggs, blueberry turnovers, ruffled potato chips made using the new food processor, potato pancakes, using the new food processor and served with home-canned applesauce, omelet with roasted pepper spread and roasted vegetables, potato pancake topped with tomato, avocado and tomatillo salsa, white wine cookies, big salads with basil dressing, vegetable pot pie, pretend vanilla ice cream with blackberry liqueur sauce canned last summer, blackberry cobbler.

  11. Leigh says:

    Sharon I just wanted to say that I was interested in both your prospect as well as your decision making on your potential move. I’m glad you’re satisfied with your decision.

    Here’s my update -

  12. Ed Straker says:

    Sharon, what is your plan to maintain soil fertility if you are exporting a steady stream of biomass for sale? Even if you close the circle with waste composting, it’s going to be a net loss unless you somehow replace the organic matter that constitutes your surplus production.

  13. Evey says:

    After a few days of low 80s, we’re back in the 90s again and very dry. Thank goodness we water from a spring totally separate from our well.

    Plant something: more brussels sprout seeds to replace the starts eaten in their cell packs( ramie NOW over all the fall starts and worm checks twice a day), 2 types of cucumbers for fall harvest, trying to transplant wee beet thinnings but it is sooo hot.

    Harvest something: tomatoes finally- too many to eat but not quite enough to process yet, cucumbers at few a day, basil & bulb fennel to go with neighbors’ extra tomatoes below. EGGS from our youngest chickens just strating to lay.

    Preserve something: pressure canned tomato sauce with Italian sausage and above mentioned herbs, froze peaches from a local orchard, farm members canned about 20 quarts of large dill pickles- I’m concerned that the cukes were too old( 4 days including 2 in a car) and they might not be that great, we’ll see.

    Waste not: went to a friend’s property that is going to be bulldozed soon for construction and dug 5 small oak trees to transplant. We’ll know by fall planting time if they will make it. I hope for at least 3 out of 5.

    Community Food systems: Hey, I used the neighbors 3 gallons of tomatoes for my sauce.
    For larger community, as in strangers in need, I started volunteer cooking at a local Hospitality House that gives room and meals (donation or not depending on personal circumstances) to visiting family of female inmates at a federal prison.

  14. Brad K. says:

    It is interesting, reading how the slippery slope into full-blown, agribusiness CAFO operations starts with . . meeting tax guidelines for “exemptions”, instead of first what the family needs, next what the earth needs.


    And I do mean this facetiously. Except, Sharon, I hope you are also working to get the terms of the exemptions modified so anyone adapting in place has the opportunity to take advantage, and not just those on the cusp of Monsanto-driven, feedlot style, agribusiness. Just kidding. Kind of.

    You do know, though, that getting past four or eight head of livestock means that none of them get the personal attention - or excite your interest or delight - in quite the same way, ever again? It is the difference between an amateur (for the love of it), and a professional (for the profit and community stature).


  15. michelle says:

    Reading your recent posts have answered a question that has been on my mind since I started buying chicken feed: How does one become an official, tax exempt farm?
    Now that they know me the cashiers at the feed store don’t ask, “are you tax exempt?” .
    I have been wondering how to get to that farm status.
    We are just trying to produce any bit of food on our acre & that is a bit of work. I admire your efforts & can appreciate all the work that you are doing to get there.
    Looking forward to following your farm as it grows!

  16. Sharon says:

    Michelle, for property tax exemptions, it is different in every state - so don’t use my experience as a guide. For New York state it is 10K in sales averaged over 2 years and 7 acres in production.

    Brad, I think we’re a long way from becoming a CAFO, but thanks for the warning. On the other hand, we’ve been able to manage loving our animals pretty well even though we passed the 4-8 number a while back. I don’t have a sense of loss there.

    Ed, well, it depends on what terms you are talking about. Most of the dairying nutrients get cycled back in the form of humanure and livestock manure. The bedding plants really are using a very small amount of compost and leaf mold - they don’t use a lot of nutrients up in the cycle before they are sold off farm.

    For the eggs, we’re inputting food scraps to replace feed. Really the only major nutrient cycling loss out of our main crops is in the medicinal herbs, and the answer there is pretty various -with many of them we use white clover as an understory living mulch, which also fixes nitrogen. Some of the plants we produce are leguminous like wild indigo and red clover themselves. Others are good carbon crops, producing large amounts of biomass with relatively small quantities removed - consider chamomile, for example, where on only the blossoms, a tiny percentage of the plant, are harvested, or the total biomass produced by a marshmallow plant to harvest the roots.

    That said, there is a net loss - and the answer is various. In the near term we harvest other people’s useful compostables, mostly in the form of bagged leaves we pick up anytime we go into town. We have modest inputs for feed and some soil inputs - I buy greensand and fairly local rock powders.


  17. Claire says:

    Karen, what we are planning to do with the hops flowers is use them to flavor home-brewed beer. But they could also be used as herbs. I understand hops have a calming effect, which can be helpful to induce easy sleeping, for instance.

  18. Sonrisa says:

    This is about the time we would start harvesting our heat lovers, but because of our cold spring (including a hard frost on June 17) it’ll be a while. Unfortunately we usually get our first frost in the first week of September. Last year our first frost was August 16. Yikes! We’ll be lucky to get 20 lbs from the outside tomatoes. The peppers got pulled out and replaced because even with our day time temps in the high 90s the soil never warmed up enough to get them going. Even the zucchini and basil aren’t doing much. Luckily I have tomatoes and peppers in my little greenhouse that will keep going till December (knock on wood).

    I’ve finished cutting the wheat and we have started the threshing and winnowing. The beds have been replanted to quick, frost tolerant, or hay/ cover crops.

    Plant- Flax, hulless oats, hulless barley, buckwheat (I planted this less than a month ago and it is already flowering), carrots, beets, turnips, radish, spinach, peas, kale, lettuce.

    Harvest- Dry favas, soup peas, green beans, carrots, kale, peppers, a few tomatoes, lettuce, beets, broccoli, radishes, onions, potatoes, cardoons, herbs, alfalfa, pasture, comfrey, aquaponic strawberries, quail, quail eggs, milk, goat, pig, wheat, wheat, and more wheat.

    Preserve- Dried herbs and peppers. Canned beets, quail, goat, and pork. Cured onions.

    Waste not- same

    Want not- Bought more canning jars. Ordered a few dozen reusable canning lids to try. Picked up some high quality sheets at the thrift store for making my feather window shades. Also got a lace tablecloth to make into onion and garlic storage sacks. Purchased more food storage staples (especially tomato powder).

    Community- Talked to the lady at the store about pressure canning.

    Eat the food- Pork loin fajitas, goat steaks with cardoons, garden veggie hash with homegrown and processed sausage.

  19. KC says:

    In Virginia: Most of the fall crops are in and I have to keep a close watch on them because it has been so hot! almost everything is up and growing … except maybe some parsnips and salsify (I think I am sorta late in planting both of these). It’s been fun to see the little mushrooms cropping up here and there in the garden mulch. (I innoculated with miccorrhizia sp? this year). I’ve been harvesting my first crop of pole beans. I love them - such beany flavor. The Miriam edible sunflowers seem like they are 10 feet tall (they were supposed to be 6!). The peanuts are sprawling and starting to go underground to make their goobers. I have one crop of crowder peas crawling up the fence - (I thought they were half runners). Another crop is flowering now. My giant hopi red dye amaranth have toppled over and I dont think they will be making any seed this year. I will have to plant them near a fence next year.

    I am planning to work on the root cellar soon. I need to bank up the south facing wall more so that it will cool down sooner in there. I my need to insulate it more. I had planned to plant a shade crop this year, but never got around to it. I also want to create some rodent proof boxes for the potatoes. Putting beets, carrots and other root crops in buckets of sand worked well last year - kept the rodents at bay and kept the roots fresh. I need to put the sand from last year in the sun — to purify it for this year’s crops.

    I am trying to carve out some time for garden planning for next year. This will help me determine what cover crops to plant and in which beds and also where to plant the garlic this fall. I will plant oats in the spring crop bed, favas where the tomatoes go next year, triticale in the late summer beds. I want to plant the cover crops earlier this year so that they have some good roots before the low lights of nov/dec. I may also plant crimson clover and I have some annual rye (grass not grain) that I could plant soon. I need to buy more innoculant for the beans. Maybe I cn plant the crimson clover in between the fall crops (once they get bigger).

    planted: I found the bag of buckwheat and scattered it on every bare spot I could find in the garden. It is up and growing. I love cover crops. I planted: beets, parsnips, arugula, carrots, misoto rose radish, daikon, kale, collard, brussel sprouts, asian greens, tatsoi, chard, mesclun mix, dill, burdock, rutabaga, turnip, kolrabi. Several plants were started in flats near the end of July. (I should’ve started them late June or early July, but I was out of town for several weeks). They germinated fine, but don’t get quite enough light up at the house. I need to create a nursery bed near the garden. Something protected that can get better light. My early seedlings got leggy too - once the trees leafed out. I planted some spinach in the shade of my okra plants.

    harvest: I harvested a bunch of spaghetti squash today. The bugs had gotten into some of them, so I harvest several (a tad early) to save them from bug damage. tomatoes - I love speckled roman and have been snacking on sungold in the garden. I also grew deutsche fleiss which is holding up well and mule team. The large red cherry (Ben Quisenberry’s) is my favorite. Sometimes I think I should just grow large cherry tomatoes. The Nardello peppers are doing well and I have been harvesting rattlesnake pole beans, okra, chard, mustard greens, dill (for seed), basil, and a few cucumbers are dwindling in.

    preserve: elderberry jam, froze tomatoes (and plan to can them later when the weather cools down). dried beans, basil, yarrow. froze peach halves. braided onions and garlics and hung them in the kitchen. curing spaghetti squash on the windowsills and on the porch.

    eat the food: spaghetti squash with tomato, peppers, onions, okra. We are nearing the end of last years sweet potato crop (finally). Good timing, though … and they seem to have held up well through July and just now starting to sprout a little. Beets, rutabagas and kohlrabi. grated kohrabi in eggs. Chiogga beets are delicious (and they don’t bleed). For anyone with family that doesn’t like beets - try chiogga beets - they are almost like a different vegetable. I made some crepes filled with garden veggies and sprouted mung beans (for protein).

    waste not/want not: after harvesting the october beans, some of them had sprouted in the shell, so I planted them in bare spots in the garden as soil enhancement. I’ve been going through the food storage, reorganizing, taking notes. I have over 30 pints of tomatoes left from last year - which is fine. Taking inventory of the freezer and trying to make room for applesauce and tomatoes.

    build community food systems: We are feeding the neighbor’s chickens while they are gone and they asked us to harvest some grapes for ourselves. One of the neighbors shared her chart for keeping track of how much she preserves each year. I need to keep track from year to year so that I know how much to plant and put away each year.

    I have been trading small amounts of heirloom tomatoes with another farmer so that we can each taste some different varieties. She likes Mr. Stripey. I sent over Eva Purple Ball, Speckled Roman and Nyagous. Tomorrow, we play music at a local orchard. Hopefully, we will take home some apples. This week, we will play music at a dinner (in the small town where I live) where Joel Salladin will be giving a talk… should be fun. There will be 150 people there.

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