Sunday, October 31, 2010

The stars!

So tonight my husband and I picked up some unwanted limbs and firewood and drug them back to our property to burn tonight.  They finally lifted the burn ban in our area so my husband has been just itching to start a fire.  We left him to it.  So I called around 9pm wondering if he was camping out...nope...just needed some water to put out the remaining embers.  I drove out to the property to meet him with a 5 gallon bucket of water and looked up into the sky on the way there and didn't see any stars so I assumed it was cloudy.   Once I arrived at the property I realized I was wrong, yes it was partly cloudy, but our city has a good deal of light pollution in town that prevents you from seeing those lovely stars.  Out on the property, you can see a lovely sky full of small white twinkles and only a few wispy clouds. 

This is one of many reasons why we love this property!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gahhhhrlic and cake

I have all the garlic planted!  Yeah!!  I planted a little over 50 cloves in between our asparagus plants.  About 20 were from last years crop and most of the rest were whatever white variety was at the store this season.  I did also put down some store bought elephant garlic, but only about 6 cloves.  I totally didn't get an order in this year so here's to a little experiment :)  I plan to try more of these experiments next year.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I've heard from the bank that our appraiser has requested additional information from the builder.  Not sure exactly what that might be but I put in a call to our builder today to follow up and try to get this thing off the ground.  I had hoped that I we might be started by now since my mother is coming next week but alas, we have no progress at this time.

Speaking of next week, its my husband's birthday!  I'm making this cake King Arthur's favorite fudge birthday cake recipe  and it just looks so indulgent.  I may have to post pictures of it.  My mom is coming up from Florida on that same day and the following day we are going to see my sister.  Should make for an exciting week around here.

Here's the birthday boy and his biggest fan.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pondering on Profitability

Ok well maybe not exactly profit but at least supplemental income to help support our farm efforts.  Obviously the hay business is not for us.  Our plan is to take 4-5 acres and fence it in for pasture.  So what after that?  I'm pretty sure I want to do pastured broilers and layers...those are pretty easy with low overhead.  I'm debating goat herd milk shares but I'm still not sure what I need to do to get started.  I mean obviously we need goats and milk jugs and grass but do I need any kind of licensing or special equipment?  What if we get a cow and do cow shares?  I know to sell our own cheese I pretty much am out of luck until we have the kind of money that will allow me to purchase full on dairy equipment.  I know I'd like to try to do a small CSA eventually but I need at least another year to work out the issues with nutrient deficiencies in the land first. 
An idea I'm considering for the spring farmer's market is selling baked goods.  So far my breads get raved reviews and at the church bake sale they sold pretty fast at $4/loaf.  I could also do jellies and pickles I believe without a special kitchen as long as its through the farm market.  I think if I tried it otherwise I'd have to set up a commercial kitchen.  Another idea would be to make soaps from the goat milk and also I've been making dishwasher and laundry detergent...maybe I could sell versions of that too?
So much spinning about in my head, I really hope something will clearly come through as the right path.  Might be a whole lot of trial and error next year...actually I can promise that!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A lovely walk

We took today a lovely walk around the perimeter of the property and my husband is embarking on the task of removing saplings and brush that have grown up and are eating up valuable acreage.  We were IDing trees and we have elms, maples, oaks, chokecherry, mulberry, crab apple, elderberry, apple, wild plum and hawthorns.  Among the rest of the plants we have a bunch of raspberries, blackberries, wild grapes and wild roses.  There are a lot of forageables there to work with really.  Hopefully I'll report next year what I manage to harvest and process of those.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


So if you look back a couple of posts you'll see we've had this problem before.  Hay cutters come out, cut the field, fluff it and bale it only to let our bales get rained on (there was obvious rain in the forecast) and to make sure and take their share of them....leaving us high and well ...wet!
Our arrangement is that in exchange for half of the hay they are to cut and bale our field, leaving us bales to use for whatever or to sell.  The first cutting was in big round bales, which we have about 11 remaining of.  The second cutting was square bales in which they were supposed to stack and put a tarp over.  They claimed the hired help wasn't worth the trouble and fired them, leaving our bales in the rain and making sure to get theirs home.  We have about 160 of those bales, all ruined now.  Now on our third cutting we actually didn't expect them to cut.  They didn't call, they just came and cut.  Well they baled that on Monday and once again left ours to the least they stacked them this time but we didn't even have a chance being as it rained on Monday!  Seriously I would have been happier to see them leave it to improve the soil after cutting than to bale it up. 
So in my book, they are stealing our hay.  We should have really good hay to sell  but they've left us with ruined bales twice now and made sure to take theirs.  I think we should fire them, I also think they should pay us for the bales that have ruined and take them off our hands.  I'm so over it.  We were never looking to make a profit selling hay but we had hoped to offset the cost of planting the field.  Now, we have a 1/2 of our years worth of hay, most of it unsellable.  Really high quality garbage! 
I have someone coming (at least I think I do) to take the bales as a donation.  At least we can get them off our land as right now they are just sitting on and killing grass.

Still no news on the appraisal.  I really hope to hear something this week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Channeling a great grandmother?

Today we celebrated my grandfather's 85th birthday.  It was lovely to see family and enjoy a good time with some good food. 

Strange conversation topic came up between my grandparents and my uncle about some foods that my grandmother's mother used to make.  It all started with me talking about the baking I did yesterday; I made 16 loaves of bread and 4 dozen cookies for a bake sale.  It reminded them of my great grandmother baking many loaves of bread at a time.  A little further into the conversation they were talking about some of her German cooking....things like fried brains and some kind of loaf that contained tongue, heart, liver and oatmeal (and/or cornmeal) that was chopped, congealed, baked and sliced.  I'm not sure how likely it is that I would make those exact dishes but they spoke of the dishes with a great deal of fondness.  I guess as we plan to raise and probably butcher our own animals we may have a unique chance to try some of those out.  Like they were telling me .....nothing should go to waste.  I can't help but be the modern day girl that I am and my knee jerk reaction is yuck!  Maybe I won't be channeling her after all. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm told it won't be to much longer now

 I'm told by both TK and by Tony the bank dude (yes, that is how I have him listed in my cell phone) that we should hear something from the appraisal in the next couple of days.  This is so unnerving.  I'm mostly worried that the appraisal will be too low and we will be back to square one (or two since we already own the land).

I did have the pleasure of visiting the old house I grew up in since its in foreclosure now and I have to say that I thought I might be more interested in buying it at one time but in reality its just too much work.  It was a little sad to visit memory lane, after all I did get married there, had my sweet sixteen birthday there and so much more.  The house is in some disrepair but not unlivable or impossible to make nice.  Its also going for a bargain so I REALLY hope that someone who buys it will fix it up and really love it.  Houses that old really deserve to be well loved.

I did get some pruning done in the last few days.  All of the fruit trees have now been fall pruned and the trees on the back acre have been relieved of their water sprouts and dead limbs.  By fall pruned I mean pruned to restrict growth.  I'm really hoping to properly train our fruit trees to be a manageable size and highly productive.  I'm also really hoping we actually get a few pieces of homegrown fruit next year.  We still need to fortify and possibly move our blueberries, plant the new honeyberries and goji fruits I just received yesterday and move the surviving raspberries into our windbreak.  Lots to get done before winter :)  Oh and we have more orchard trees (1 each apricot, apple, nectarine and asian pear) on the way and 3 additional blueberries.  Some year we should have a crazy amount of produce from our own land...I can't wait.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Maple Valley Off-Grid Farm

First let me give you the linkage to them:

So after visiting the beautiful Hope College in Holland, MI we headed north to visit Homemaker Ang of Maple Valley Farm.  She greeted us with spiced cake and coffee and we got a peek at farm living for just a few hours.  They are off-grid but not like the new generation of off grid but rather the Amish version of off grid.  I didn't take any pictures of inside the house, quite frankly because I forgot but I did take some outdoor pictures.  We didn't stay long, mostly because we were trying to get back to Anderson that night but we really enjoyed meeting the family and getting a look around. 
a quick picture with Homemaker Ang

the fawn, Betty

Those crazy kids!

Maylon pets the fawn

Mighty Hunter Neil petting the fawn


the cabin bedroom (which you can rent for a night ;) )

a view from one of the rooms into the kitchen

kitchen complete with wood stove

another cool building on the farm

the view of the main farm from the cabin

a trail in the woods leading to the cabin from the pond

isn't this scenic!  They said there are some big fish in there.

One of the girls coming up the road on her pony.

milking time


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Crazy Week!

This week has been an incredible roller coaster. 

Monday- I'll keep this short, basically we found out last week that we were pregnant, however, the pregnancy appeared to not be viable and I had a miscarriage on monday.  We are fine, this is something that has happened to us several times (4) before and while it sucks we are moving on and not trying to dwell on it. 

Tuesday- We left Tuesday evening for South Bend to visit my sister.  I <3 her :)  She's the best, we really kind of sprung on her with us arriving late, with our dog (who I totally neglected to make plans for while we were out of town)....and she loves our son-  I have the best sister!  Really!

Wednesday-  We had the privilege of listening to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms speak at Hope College in Michigan.  The earlier lecture was "Ballet in the Pasture".  In summary, it was a description of the whys and hows of their farm's pasture rotation system of cows, followed by chickens, followed by pigs and rest.  We plan to model some of what he does on our own farm.  The later lecture was "Local Food to the Rescue" and that was about the ins and outs of the processing, packing and sales of locally produced meat.  I've not listened to that one yet because my husband and I switched off between watching our son and the lectures.  We filmed them both so we will watch them more closely later and I may have more details to add in another blog post.
Later that day we visited Maple Valley Off-Grid Farm.  I'll make a separate blog post for that one too since I have pictures to share.

Today!  Thursday- We have bank approval on the house subject to the pending appraisal.  That's really the only thing holding us up at this point.