Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Attempt...

Hey everyone,
This is Debby's daughter Sarah writing. I will try to write something "blog worthy." Since I don't garden it is a little hard to know what to write on this "farm" blog.

Ever since Ellie appeared in my life sustainable living took on a whole new meaning. Walking through the grocery store the most tempting foods are filled with corn syrup, GMO's and other nasty chemicals. Before Ellie I have always knew this things existed. Generally, my family has followed a strict chemical free-ish diet. For me Ellie and the other five girls really mixed things up.

For any new pet one must (hopefully) read up on that particular animal breed. The same with my little Ellie. All the reading has forced me to really think about my food. I mean REALLY think. Like paying closer attention to what is in my food.

I thought it would be fun or not so fun to walk around the grocery store and look at the GMO foods. There are aisles and aisles full of 'um! SICCKK! So that GMO food free diet of mine...includes eating the same thing every day. Mostly because there are/is not a large selection of whole foods. I will note that since the "green living" trend started, the organic line of stuff is getting bigger and better.

I watch the Biggest Loser. One contestant on BL quoted that the foods that are good for you...are expensive. That they are. But to me, and hopefully to you, spending money on whole foods is worth it. I want to see my children grow up. (Providing I have them...in the distant future.)

Another short thing:
The relationship America has with it's food. I am pretty sure America has more fast food places than any other nation...and we're the fattest. Many people argue this is due to being so wealthy. I say we are fat because we get a hamburger, eat it in the car while driving to our destination. Have we ever stopped to think about what we are about to eat? Eating around a table can help with this. We have prepared the food set before us, we chew it slowly, we are having a relaxed meal...and are simulated to think about our food (self consciously)

Ok, this blog entry is waaay off track. It was suppose to be about the fact that I am not going to rely on big box stores to make my clothing. And being all sustainable. And sewing my apron. Sorry! If you take anything away from this entry...it's this: farming maybe not be easy (at first), but the rewards are great. And GMo foods are nasty.

I love my little Ellie!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Planting Time

This week I've been starting some seeds in my basement under lights...it brings out the maternal instinct in me, nurturing those little suckers. Yesterday it was both heirloom tomatoes (brandywine) and hybrid tomatoes (beefsteak).
I've also started some easy perennials, Shasta daisies, small Sunflowers and Rudbeckia, to inexpensively fill in some empty places in my back yard. I put in some Basil to go along with a few other herbs I already have. I think I'll make little herb gardens in pretty pots for both of my daughters.
In the next day or so I should be receiving my order from the seed company. I've picked out some specific flower seeds for a cutting garden suggested in a book I've been reading a book called "The Flower Farmer". The author is quite a successful flower farmer, selling at farmers markets and florists, and luckily she is very free with advice. I think I'd like to start small, just enough flowers for myself and friends...
Anyway...that's what's been happening around here...just waiting for sunshine and warmer weather!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sunny March day, Again.

I'm sure you readers...(mom, dad?) have been saying to yourself, "I wonder what Deb has been up to on this beautiful day?" Well, maybe you haven't thought that, but I'll tell you anyway!
I set my sights low for the day, there was a light dusting of snow, it was a chilly morning. I had hoped to maybe enlarge the broilers brooder, they are getting BIG. I had hoped to maybe plant a few seeds for the growing lights in the basement. Not much else...but by noon it was almost 50 degrees again, so outside I went.
I planted a row of snow peas (Oregon Sugar Pod II) behind the Little Marvels I had planted last week, and I added a few more paths to my garden. Can you see the pea coming up in the picture? I also managed to clean out one of my raised beds. It is kind of hard to get a lot done (when you are me). I walk away to get a tool and end up getting distracted by some other thing in the yard..or I go over to the neighbors to see what they are up to. It's all good though. Nothing is that important that it can't wait til I wander in that direction again.
In the chicken department, I introduced greens which didn't go over well. I tried carrot tops, strawberries and chives. But I see they are just drying up in the chickens little brooder. The hens are growing so tame, if I put my arm in the hen box they run up it to look me in the face. I also gave the hens a little window and put their box up next to the slider so they can look out.
It ended up being a good day, think I'll sit down and read for a while :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And this is what's for dinner


Part of my journey to living a somewhat more sustainable lifestyle has been to join the local West Michigan Coop. I can order grass fed poultry, beef, handmade organic cheese, locally roasted and freetrade coffee and fresh eggs...all raised by local farmers. I order online and then pick up my order on their "pickup day". It's so much fun, popular, and the items I buy are delicious! This is the kind of food my husband grew up on and we can really taste the differance. I also get to pick up my products from the very people who raised and processed the products. It's satisfying, and not that much more expensive.
My girlfriend Carla has taken this one step further. She milks her own cow and drinks raw milk. She raises (and has butchered!) her own broiler chickens and she gets her own fresh eggs from her little hens. This year, I went in with her on an order of hybrid Cornish X meat chickies. Soooo, last week our order came in and I got 25 of them! All is going well, they are growing fast, eating well and seem happy. I had them in the basement for a few days, but they eat so much and poop so much I made a nice brooder in the garage and I think they like it.
Carla says I won't have them long, just a few months until they reach a good size for...you know.
I guess they are bred to grow so fast that sometimes their little legs cannot hold them up! Just like some plants are bred to have such big flowers they flop over on weak stems. Yikes!
Anyway, these are my meat chicks at two days old...still yellow. They are quickly turning white though!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I know the nice weather we've been having (50+ degrees!!) has been teasing me. It's really hard NOT to start all my seeds in the basement yet or I'm going to have some really scraggly plants in April. I did find lots to do outside this weekend, including getting my peas in. Traditionally St Patty's day is a good time to get that done in my zone 5b and I was lucky enough to have some soil thawed out and dry. Almost ready to go in fact! I planted some "Little Marvel" peas which are English peas grown for their mature seed...they need to be shelled, and this week I will plant some snap peas as well. I started cleaning out the rest of my little kitchen garden, working on some paths and such. I worked so hard in fact I could barely dance a jig on Saturday night! (but I did manage)

Whilst ( is that a word?) I was working away on my garden my dear husband, without any nudging from me, decided our little hens needed a more proper living quarters when it's time to send them outside. He designed a nifty tractor/chicken coop and started scrounging around the barn to find wood to make it! I'm pretty excited about that. In a related note, our six little girls have moved into the kitchen area to be nearer their moms (Sarah and me, of course). I could tell they were much happier immediately, the basement was just too lonely. Sarah and I are happier as well. :)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Eating What's in Season - Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

I thought I'd add a few recipes to my blog, primarily using the fruits and veggies and meat we grow, but I found a recipe for Asparagus in my favorite foodie magazine "Eating Well" which I made last night and it was sooo good! We all love asparagus in this house and I usually steam it or roast it, but this was really outstanding.

16 spears asparagus (about one bunch)...I used two!
1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
very thin slices of prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise.

1. Preheat grill ( I use a grill pan and I love it)
2. Toss asparagus with oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Wrap one length of prosciutto around the middle of 4 asparagus spears. Repeat, making lots of bundles. Grill the asparagus bundles, turning once or twice, until the asparagus in tender and charred in spots, about 10 minutes.

SOOO Good. I just left the plate on the counter and all the bundles were gone in minutes!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

It's what's for breakfast...


Two days ago my daughter Sarah and I went to the local farm store to pick up six little chicks. We envision lovely hens following us around in the yard and sleeping in the little Swiss chalet playhouse that has been sitting empty for years. In 24 weeks we hope to have plenty of fresh organic eggs from our little girls. So far, so good!
Sarahs' little Isa Brown is named Ellie. The breed lays brown eggs and it's supposedly a calm and loving hen which makes a great pet.
I picked out two Buff Orpington chicks.. These little chickies will grow up to be a most beautiful golden color. They should be big girls (8 lbs!!) but they are a calm, docile and friendly breed. They will lay great big pinky brown eggs. They are named Daisy and Violet.
We also brought home two "Easter Eggers". They are a breed that does not have any tail feathers (they are rumpless), but they have tufts of feathers where their ears might be. Their eggs will be pale blue and green! How fun!. These girls are named Betsy and LuLu.
The last little chick we brought home is a Black Australorp named Addie. This chick will grow up to be a beautiful blackish violet hen. The breed is known for its prolific egg laying, and it is a tame, shy bird.
So, that's our new little family of hens! We are loving it already and can see the difference in personalities.


An Easter Egger Baby!

This is just the cutest picture of how these babies sleep! Just like a puppy all stretched out with their head on the ground! I never knew...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dreaming (Again!)



Every year about this time I put away the historical biographies, self help books and interior design magazines that have helped me get through winter and move on to fresh new thoughts about the garden I have created in my head. Usually, after surrounding myself with gardening books, I can keep myself safely engaged on the sofa until any danger of any sort of actual planting is past. By the time I look up from the beautiful pictures and have memorized another list of botanical names it is well into June and too late to get any sort of worthwhile garden planted. Safe again!
This year, however, I aim to act on my dreams...and this blog will help me journal this journey from my head to my actual yard!