Saturday, May 28, 2011

1st Day at the Farmer's Market

Today was our first day at the Knoxville Farmer's Market.  It went pretty well, but it did rain on us some.  We ended up leaving a little early because of it.  We have not bought our shade canopy yet, but plan on getting one before the next market.  We will be at the market every Tuesday afternoon and Saturday morning.

 Here is our table set up before the market started.  We also have a banner type sign that we need to figure out how to hang or display.  We'll also have the shade canaopy next week to protect our merchandise from rain/hot sun.
 Here is a close up view of the table.  We sold cinnamon rolls made with freshly ground organic hard white wheat berries, chocolate granola made with organic rolled oats, mini apple pies made with organic apples, green onions (both white and purple), and herb bundles (garlic chives, onion chives, and thyme).  We also had pastured eggs, market bags, and bottle cap magnets (a little craft I did for fun).

 Close up of the cinnamon rolls...we taste tested these and they were pretty good I must say. 

 Close up of our onions. They are sweet and mild, perfect for salads or maybe in a egg dish.

 Our egg sign.  Our eggs are from pastured hens and cost $2.50 per dozen.

These are the little magnets I made, displayed on a vintage metal tray.   All in all I would say our first market went pretty well.  Hopefully we will get more customers throughout the season.  Hope to see all of the locals at the market next week!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Farming: A School of Hard Knocks

Well, we had some major disappointment this morning when we woke up.  We lost close to 40 of our broiler chickens in the storm last night.  The silly things seemed to stay out in the rain (on the side of the pen that is covered in chicken wire so they get sunshine), instead of getting under cover where it was drier.  So it looks like they died of exposure.  This is a pretty big loss... not sure if we will have broilers for sale at the end of June like originally planned.  We also gave the goats to a friend.  Nettie wasn't letting me milk her (plus my inexperience with that and lack of time) swayed my decision to give her away.  She will have a good home with other goats and more experienced goat keepers.  The garden is a huge mudhole right now, too muddy to plant or weed.  Such is life on the's not always easy (I guess it rarely is actually), but we are not ready to give up.  This way of life is important to us, so we just try to learn from our mistakes and come up with a better plan.  So, right now we are rethinking the moveable pens for the meat birds (who seem to be much more finicky than the laying hens) and also what type of meat birds we will raise.  We have had some problems with these Cornish X type birds.  But, with all of the disappointment, I try to keep it in perspective...thank the Lord we have not lost our family or our home in recent tornadoes.  We are all alive and healthy, and that is the most important thing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Broiler Chicken Update

We finally got the broiler chickens moved out to pasture today.  Troy made another Joel Salatin-type moveable pen for them.  They seem to really like it.  They are running around, pecking at the ground and acting like happy chickens. 
 Here's another view of them at the waterer.  They drink an amazing amount of water a seems to be about 10 gallons!  We have a 5 gallon waterer and it has to be filled twice a day. 
They are growing fast.  About 4 weeks to go...

Friday, May 20, 2011

16 Foods with Scary Suprises...May Suprise You

Check out this link (but not while eating your lunch):  16 Foods with Scary Surprises.  It gives 16 foods that we commonly buy from major companies, and the FDA requirements as far as ACCEPTABLE levels of rodent hairs, mammal excrement, larvae, fly eggs and more...Can you even believe there are "acceptable" levels... I don't know about you, but this article motivates me even more to grow/ raise my own food, or at least buy local from a farmer you trust! 

What's Happening On The Farm

We have been planting a lot this week, getting ready for the rain that's coming this weekend...and even today.  Not sure how much we have gotten so far, but it rained pretty good for a little while.  We have planted green beans, cucumbers, zucchini/summer squash, sweet potatoes, asparagus, sweet corn, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and I'm sure I am forgetting something.  We have gotten quite a bit accomplished thanks to all of our helpers.
 Here is a pic of our newly planted sweet corn field.  We are trying two different varieties this year, a bicolor and a white sweet corn.  I can't wait until harvest time...we love us some sweet corn!  My Mom and Randy also planted popcorn in another field down the hill.  That will be fun to try.  We've never grown our own popcorn before.
 Sorry for the picture quality on these by the was super sunny out when I took them.  My strawberries are blooming!  I am really happy with the quality of the plants and seeds I ordered from Johnny's Selected Seeds, by the way.  They have great products and a high standard of quality.  I can't recommend them enough.
And here is a picture of my onion chives in bloom.  They really look pretty, more so than this picture shows.  So, things are growing...a little slower than I would like, but growing none the less.  I have to remind myself that we are doing great considering all of the other things on our plate, like my husband's full-time job off the farm and children to homeschool!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Meet Nettie and Denver!

We added goats to the farm this weekend.  Nettie is a Toggenburg/Nubian mix.  Her buckling Denver is mostly Nubian.  We brought them home in a large dog kennel in the back of the truck.
They were happy to get out on pasture as soon as they arrived.  They really didn't want to come around us much yesterday, but by this morning they were becoming more friendly.  This afternoon they are letting us pet them and are coming right to us.
 Denver is a sweet buckling.  He is very friendly and tries to jump up on us like a dog would.  His little tail wags a bit too when he is excited.  So cute.  He stays pretty close to Mama, but he is not quite a month old.  We are planning on weaning him pretty soon so we can milk Nettie for ourselves.  I'm excited to try making kefir, yogurt, cheese, and maybe even goatmilk soap.
 This is our make-shift shelter for them until we can make them something better.  We added plenty of fresh straw, and the tarp works to keep the rain and sun off of them.  It's not the prettiest, but it was free.  Mary Jane's Farm magazine has plans for a pallet barn that we are thinking about making.  We are also considering a three sided type shelter.  We'll have to see. 
Welcome to Bountiful Harvest Farm Nettie and Denver!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Starts Ready to Go!

 Our starts are out on the porch awaiting planting.  We grew them under growlights in my Mom's garage, which are pictured below.  They have done great, now we are in the process of hardening them off.  Most of these are tomatoes and peppers.  I was able to get out this morning and plant all of the herbs into my raised beds.  I added rosemary, lemon thyme, oregano, mint, and sage.  I already have garlic chives, onion chives, and german thyme growing well.  I have basil and dill yet to plant, and I can't seem to find lavender plants this year...anyone know where I can find some? 

These are the growlights set up in the garage.  Our greenhouse had blown apart in a windstorm, so we had to go to plan B with the plant starts.  The lights are just regular shop lights.  They worked well.  We plan on covering the greenhouse frame with some poly-carbonate later in the season.  Hopefully that won't blow away as easily!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Side Project...

We have been having some rainy weather here lately, and I got a project done that I had wanted to do for a while.  I painted my metal lawn chairs aqua blue.  I am LOVING this color.  I think I 'll be painting more things this shade of aqua really soon!  I should have gotten a "before" pic, but forgot.  They were gray and white (with some rust, I might add).  This is a great improvement!

Garden Update

We had great weather this weekend to get out in the garden.  Things we got planted:  lettuces, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, spinach, peas, and a few flower seeds as well.  We had a few garden helpers shown in the picture above.  He was pushing his toy mower, following as Daddy tilled in the garden.  So cute.  We also started our dwarf tree orchard... 9 trees planted so far... 2 peach, 2 apple, 2 plum, and 3 pear.  I can't wait until they produce fruit; we'll be one step closer to a self-sufficient life.