Thursday, December 1, 2011

Most recently I was cleaning out the freezer in preparation for butchering our steer in December.  I found a bag marked "goat soup bones" from 2009.  I boiled those on the wood stove with water, salt, bay leaves, and basil.  I also set some crowder peas out to soak overnight.  I took the broth off the stove and set it on the screen porch overnight (it was at a safe temperature - I should mention I'm a dietitian).
The next day I skimmed the fat (my dogs loved it) and trimmed much meat from the bones.  The dogs also loved the bones.  I added back the meat with our potatoes in our root cellar from summer, sweet potatoes from a recent harvest, carrots that are still in the ground, and greens that are still growing (kale, mustards, beet tops and spinach).  Oh, and the crowder peas.  And more herbs and salt. 

I also ground some of our wheat in my coffee grinder and made rolls.  Yum!  I think this will feed us for 5 nights.  Good thing even Calvin loves it. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Aren't We CERTIFIED Organic?

The short answer is that we basically are organic. We use no chemical pesticides or herbicides. Our primary defense against insects is growing healthy plants and hand-picking. Our defenses against weeds are mulching in our smaller space on raised beds. In our crop field we plowed in the winter to freeze Bermuda grass roots, cover cropped, hand-weed, and cultivate between rows. We use no synthetic fertilizer. We run our chickens over rows in the winter in "chicken tractors". We cover crop and till in this green manure. We spread manure from OUR farm animals on our beds. We have a giant compost pile.

So why aren't we certified? We think what we are doing is good enough, and we hope you will take our word for it. Or better yet - come visit and see for yourselves! We don't want to spend 5x the price for certified organic cover crop seed to be mailed to us when we can pick up untreated seed at Coop. We also germinate most of our seed, but peppers don't do well for us. We buy little pepper plants locally - usually at Farmers' Coop. These little transplants aren't certified organic, so we can't be certified either.

We buy our garden seed from a few companies - primarily FedCo and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This later company offers some seed that is certified organic, but some that isn't. Regardless, none of their seed has been treated (with insecticides) and none is GMO. That's good enough for us.

None of the vegetables you buy from us will ever have been sprayed with anything - ever. Not even organically certified sprays. Some of the organic sprays are broad-sepctrum - meaning they impact both nuisance insects and beneficial insects. And what about insect-eating birds, such as the kingbirds that eat bugs in our garden? I'm not sure. We paint squash bugs eggs (on the leaves) with brignt nail polish, which keeps them from hatching. This isn't approved by organic standards, but we think it's okay. We also occasionally spray a bug infestation (the bugs, not the squash) with water & dishsoap. We use about 1 tsp. soap per 2 qt. spray bottle. I figure this is okay too. Heck, I use the stuff on my dishes and my food touches that.

It'd be great to slap the magic word on our market stall sign (*organic*). But it's not worth it right now. And we can't use the magic word unless we pay the man for his okay. That kinda ruffles our all-natural feathers. We know what we are. And now you do too.

To learn more about what organic is and isn't, visit the Kerr Center: We are in support of the organic. So much so that we do all the work without the credit. As found on the Kerr website, organic growing is about a cultural system based on natural principles. It is about building a fertile living soil and an environment that supports the healthy growth of plants and natural biological control - a situation where synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is unneccesary - even counter productive.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Ahh - Spring!

Spring is a season lived fully, where our days are packed and it's a struggle to not to be frustrated at the lack of hours in each day; but rather to stay aware of all the rich things we get to do.

Thanks to Leslie Moyer in Tahlequah, we planted some native fruit & nut trees - baby pawpaws and hazelnut bushes. We also added to our orchard by planting some apple trees, including the native Arkansas Blacks.

Johnny has been busy preparing garden beds and tilling in our crop field. He added a raised bed and 6 squash containers to the garden. As of today, we've planted lettuce, kale, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, snow peas, onions, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and potatoes. Finally! We are a wee bit behind, as we rushed to finish enclosures and a barn for our dairy goats - arriving any day now!

Thanks to the inspiration of Emily Oakley & Mike Appel of Three Springs Farm in Oaks, Johnny build a home-made row-maker to use in our crop field to make modified raised beds to build soild under plants and make between-row cultivating simpler.

Last, we took a field trip to a hatchery in Springfield, MO to buy some baby chicks. The hatchery was not impressive, but we hopefully will raise up some hardier roosters so we can eliminate this step in future years and our hens will raise thier own!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One man's junk is another man's treasure

During the winter months, we make a point of going to at least one of the monthly farm auctions in Inola. Our reasoning is that there will be less compitition in the cold, winter months. I'm always excited to go, even if it is bitter cold out. We get there before the auction starts to scope out all the goods and decide what we want to bid on. Several auctioneers begin at once, and when necessary, we divide up so we can both bid on things simultaneously.

Regardless of how excited I am at the start, after a few hours of being there, I hit the wall. All the metal goods start looking the same, and I can't even pretend to get excited about the finds Johnny is unearthing. Even the people watching has run it's course for me, and that's saying something.
So, imagine my surprise when Johnny points out the hand corn grinder! Yes, ladies and gentleman, I'm placing an exclaimation point after the words "corn grinder". You see, we grew a bit of Hopi Blue field corn this year. We were given a hand sheller, and after drying the corn, we shelled it and put it up in jars in our kitchen. And while it looks beautiful, we haven't been able to eat the dang stuff! Until now!!!

I can't discern a leg trap from a grain mill, but thankfully, Johnny can (where he gets this knowledge I'll never know). So, without further ado - behold...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Third Annual Cow Pucky Slalom

And this was in just the few inches of snow we had about a month ago. We've since had two snows of over 12" each!