Sunday, March 29, 2009

Well Spring creeps on.

We had pretty good weather here this weekend. I managed to get out and clean up the chicken yard. One of the hens kept hoping out of the coop so I had to remove the old broody coop from the run. Which may have been a poor choice as I think one of the hens has gone broody.
I also got into the garden a bit more and cut down the last of the asparagus ferns from last year. It looks like the oregano and thyme survived the winter OK. I am still not sure about the lavender it looks a bit peaked and the sage looks rough as well. I may have to replace them.
I also picked the heads of many of my marigolds and now have an old Gatorade bottle half full of the seeds. I started a few up in the pots I bleached Saturday night.
I also watched a movie on Permaculture in Australia on Saturday night and it has gotten me thinking about how I use my land. I think I need to learn to think more strategicaly about combining areas of land use and also in how I organize the crops.
I also got the old lawn tractor started today. I replaced the battery and fresh gas and lo and behold she started. Which is excelent as I have heard rumors of a snowstorm coming some time tomorrow.

Gotta love Minnnesota.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Well it is officially spring today. I took a few pictures to mark how the garden is doing on Wednesday. I take much the same pictures every year. The first picture is of the rhubarb shoots just coming out of the ground. I am always surprised to see that they have survived. It fills me with excitement at the possibilities of spring to see those shoots coming up every year. So much delicious potential. The other picture is just a overall shot of the garden. I like to take this picture so I can look back at how it all stated in midsummer.

Monday, March 16, 2009


It was 63F today. And it was -1F four days ago! Nothing like living in Minnesota to give you an appreciation of change. We are almost completely snow free and most of the puddles have even dried up. The ground has moved from hard to sploshy. Signs of life are even showing themselves again. This evening I was in the garden in an area that was covered by snow yesterday and today I spotted a woolly bear caterpillar crawling along! While I was outside this evening I could hear a sound like earthworms pulling down bits of leaves and dead grass and while I stood there a flock of Canada goose flew over. They were so low I could hear the sound of their feathers. Yup spring has officialy sprung. I plan to wash pots this week and start some seeds this weekend. WooHoo!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Glorious Weekend

This was a beautiful weekend. We had highs in the 40's and 50's all weekend and tons of sun. most of the snow is gone. I took advantage of the weekend and trimmed up the raspberry canes and burned them along with last years hop bines. Yes they are actually called bines not vines. Not sure why. I can't wait to get some plants started even if it is just some herbs on the windowsill.
I also racked the grape wine this evening. I am going to watch that young cat around all that alcohol.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Winter sowing.

I got an idea from On the Way to Critter Farm or more directly form the site they linked to I had heard about winter sowing. Winter sowing is basically to make a small greenhouse out of a jug or bottle and plant seeds of the appropriate crop in it. You then place the bottle outside and let the spring weather do the rest. I will be trying this with a few tomato plants this year as last years volunteers did quite well without any help.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Well Jess and I spent a few hours walking through the home and patio show in Minneapolis yesterday. These things are always more aimed at the suburban remodeler but it is always a great relief to walk through the gardens that are set up by the landscape companies and smell the hyacinths. It is also fun to drool over the outdoor pizza ovens and paver patios with pergolas.
I definitely noticed a green edge to most of the booths and everyone had an idea how to help you spend some of the stimulus tax credits we have coming. We stopped and talked to a fellow from PAF Architecture. I have been intrigued by there booth before and we found out that one of their portfolio project was a energy efficient house in Cannon Falls that was done in the farmhouse vernacular. We may have to see if we can find that and ogle from the road.
Jess and I also took the time to talk to some folks about solar hot water and also chat with some folks about an interesting roof mount VAWT.
Jess and I then sat in on a home canning presentation byAna Micka author of The Fresh Girls Guide to Easy Canning. It was mostly review for us but did hit on pressure canning which Jess and I have yet to do. We also took away a great way to use pectin from dried apples to reduce the amount of sugar needed in berry jams.

That along with the best lunch I have had all year and a pint of Strongbow at Brit's Pub as well. Not a bad day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

River Cottage

Well I noticed somewhere in my lurkings on the internet that someone thought this show was something those of us interested in a simpler life should be watching so I went out and found this. I can tell you that I am impressed with the clips I found on youtube and considering downloading it from amazon.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seed Inventory

I had a chance to sit down and go through all the leftover seeds from the last few years this afternoon. It looks like I have a bunch of herb seed and some flowers as well. I am also looking good as far as vegetable seeds. My plan for this year is to put some of the money I am saving from planting left over seed into a garden cart and small shed. Some of the seed I still have is from the grocery store Kabocha squash that I planted last year. Not all of those squash were true to type but they have kept well and make delicious soups. From my reading I have learned that viability does drop each year of storage so some of these are a bit of a crap shoot but the seed is free and we have the space so as long as the seed sprouts and grows I'll let it. Some of the best producing plants we have grown were mongrels of one form or another. I would probably feel different if this was my sole means of sustanance or income but as it is we don't mind.


Sunday, February 8, 2009


Well the above is proof that I am starting my first attempt at grape based wine. I purchased a relatively low cost kit that contains both grape juice and toasted oak bits as well as finings to help clarify the wine. If this goes well I may have to consider planting grape vines. I know there are a few great cultivars coming out of the U of M these days.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Don't call it a comeback!

Well I have returned to the blog. I know you may have been wondering if I had given up on this . We no I was just taking a bit of a break and now I am back.
So winter continues here at the farm. We have had a particularly cold winter so far, even by Minnesota standards. That means apart from the driveway clearing and tening the chickens not much farming, hobby or otherwise, was getting done as of late. I have spent a bit of time working on things inside the house like organizing the pantry and actually even started to work on the library again. I have also been doing lots of reading on all maner of foody, hippy and ecogeek subjects. I plan to post some short reviews on many of the books I have been simultaneously not finishing as I am finnaly able to take them off that list.
Also I am going to be starting a few more wine, beer and mead projects in the near future and plan to post on them as well. So stay tuned.

Proof of work on the pantry!