fresh from the garden
Welcome to the ramblings of a fifty-something suburban "farmer"
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
We've taken quite a few baby steps on our path to sustainability this year from growing our own produce to baking our own bread (with local organic flour, milk ,and honey) and today I will be making our first batch of homemade soap. Early this fall I built a greenhouse around the summers garden in an effort to get closer to year round production of organic nutrient dense food . Since I have a few irons in the fire (OK quite a few irons in the fire ) it has been a slow pace but it's withstood four inches of rain in five hours and forty five mile an hour winds (now let's see how it will handle snow and sleet).
My journey with time banking has connected me with Pam and Dave at Golden Oak farm. They are really nice folks that have shared with me the joys of organic practices as well as sending chickens and a pig to freezer camp ( a cow will join them in a month or so).Because of them I now have a freezer full of organically raised veal (it wasn't intended that way but the calf had an injury that was life threatening so he had to go to freezer camp way before his time ).He was a really beautiful calf and now he's really tender roast. I hope to be raising turkey chickens ,pigs and maybe a cow or two in the spring.
The decision to become Suburban Artisan seemed like a natural progression as we (OK , I) dabble in new directions of sustainability .Did I mention it's getting kind of chilly around here lately?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
It's interesting how Jackie is slowly warming to some of my new dietary choices (notice I said slowly and some). She actually tried raw milk and raw cream ice cream and didn't throw up. While I don't expect her to jump on the nutrient dense foods bandwagon there's more than enough room for everyone.
The bounty of the harvest from the garden is overflowing our need at the moment so I've been sharing with the neighbors and while visiting with one of them it hit me " You can't get any more local than this!!" .I think that will be the catch phrase for my market garden . Suburban Artisan farm ,you can't get any more local than this!! Because I will only have a small operation I think I can sell what I have available directly to my immediate neighbors thereby totally eliminating transportation costs to market from the equation . No transpo means no oil ,smaller footprint and no industrial pesticides or fertilizers means even smaller footprint. This will also mean the absolute freshest products available using only heirloom seeds and organic principles with no GMO. This could actually be a good side effect of living in suburbia. Maybe I could even get to know some of my neighbors (we've only been living here for nineteen years).I was also thinking that I could actually find out what types of products my "market" would like to have available so that I may be able to tailor my layout to provide just what they require. If anyone is reading this please let me know what you think . Did I mention that there's still a whole lotta wood to split?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
We were able to get most of the brush cleared from the trees that we took down recently. What a massive pile ,it's amazing that when it goes through the chipper it will only be a few feet high.We were joking about "boy a pyromaniac would sure come in handy about now". It would make a SERIOUS bonfire for about a minute and a half . My goal is to get all of this cleared so that I can get the bobcat guy here early Sept. I can see next years fields coming together .It's pretty exciting, Suburban Artisan farm is starting to be more than just an idea.Hopefully chickens in Sept.Maybe. Did i mention that enough twigs carried together are still pretty heavy?
Friday, August 6, 2010
Maybe it's been a couple of weeks. Time flies when you are having fun or going senile (you choose). My last post was a bit out of date as I tried to be cool and write it on my new old laptop as I was traveling to NYC on Amtrak. It was really nice to have time to think and rethink as I was writing ,hence the looong post. The problem was that my new old laptop didn't want to play nice with the household wireless connection . So the post was stuck in digital limbo until I got around to hooking a cat 5 cable.
So much has changed since the last post. The deck is up ,the trees are down, my corn can hear (shows how much of a greenhorn I am) I made another cake (a horse's head sans the bed and blood) and Jackie Becca and myself are now movies stars (autographs only nineteen ninety nine,please send cash only self addressed stamped envelope, please allow ten years for delivery).I got a call last Friday night for the three of us to be extras in the making of American Jubilee.it was something Jackie said she wanted to do so we went down to Bristol Ct and got to sit on a bus going around the block ten times while they filmed the star of the movie sitting next to me with a thirty pound brass lion (you'll have to see it to figure out what I'm talking about )<<<<<shameless plug!!!!!
Marc is home on leave which is great but there is a down side that I can't discuss (national security and all)if I told you I'd have to kill you. Of course I have no idea if anyone besides my wife is reading this . we are planning a trip to the green mountain national forest next week .Hope I survive.
The date has been set for the introductory meeting for the Valley Time Trade at the Wilbraham public Library. It will be held on Tuesday aug seventeenth at six pm. All are welcome to learn about the idea of time banking and what the VTT has to offer. I was able to trade some of my time that I earned working on Golden oak farm for s deep tissue massage for Jackie,I thought that was pretty cool. Well off to pick up my new log splitter.Is that like the huband who buys his wife a vacuum cleaner for her birthday?
Actually I really like it and it will save me so much work.Did I mention that logs are really really heavy?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
As we come up on the mid- point of the summer there is so much going on it's hard to figure out what to write about. The race is on to get the projects done before the snow flies (that's right, snow). As fast as this July has gone by it will be December before you know it. The deck is almost done (thanks Rick), and the tree guys will have the area for next year's garden cleared in the next few days. Next will be having the bobcat guy here to level out the land a bit and setup the footings for the greenhouse and oven. A little guilt has surfaced about taking down the trees, mind you only a little. As my wife so eloquently put it "And you call yourself an earthy crunchy". Some solace can be found in the fact that I do plan to replant trees there next spring (dwarf peach and cherry trees) as well as creating a permaculture forest garden in the area.
I caught some crap for not recycling some paper, oh well I guess I'm not perfect on this front either. Almost fifty three years of life won't be changed in a few weeks, but I'm doing better than I did a month ago. This Hopefully I'll be able to say the same thing next month. Why is it so hard to break a bad habit and so tough to keep doing a good new one. This transition has been an interesting although not an easy one, the patterns formed over the decades are not easily changed , so many things are done on auto-pilot. At least I've become more concious of the repercusions of the lifestyle I live and am willing to change some of the things that are really part of the problem. I don't know if it will change the world but I think it will change my world. While I don't see myself becoming a democrat anytime soon I do feel like being more involved because I feel both parties have let us down.
The garden is growing really well except for a few kind of strange things going on. My radishes never made radishes just lots o leaves and my corn is deaf ,beautiful stalks and tassles but no ears. We've been eating lettuce, cukes ,wax beans ,a few snow peas and raspberries and the grape tomatoes are starting to come in now . The first bite of a crisp cucumber or the pungent pop of a grape tomato reminds me of why I want to do this, vegetables actually are supposed to taste like something .Someday maybe we'll be able to eat mostly from our own land. Did I mention it's really sunny in tha backyard with those trees down?
Monday, July 19, 2010
Vacation was really quite nice this year.A new place (Ocean City NJ) was a pleasant surprise.The drive was rather uneventful ( a good thing) The hotel was clean (it even had thick walls ,You couldn't hear the kids screaming in the adjacent rooms, Thank You God )the boardwalk was interesting and also really clean considering the crowds . The ocean had a nice beach with warm (OK warmish ,anything is warmer than Hampton Beach)water with great waves . The only minus was the food .It wasn't bad, but it wasn't WOW either .We got to experience the full spectrum of travel on this trip .In the morning we rented a surrey which is basically a pedal powered car that we traveled the boardwalk with .People don't drive them any better than they drive cars on the highway. Even had a problem with someone on a cell phone (surprise ,surprise). In the afternoon we went on a speedboat that skimmed the water at fifty five mph. It seemed like we were flying .
I was greeted by a whole new crop of weeds when we returned . They had grown almost as much as my "good" plants in the garden . My tomatoes have become a large clump of plants with tomatoes everywhere .I brought in our first wax beans ,cukes, and lettuce and two raspberries ( not two pints ,not two pounds ,two berries, hey you gotta start somewhere.
) Well the students are starting to scream it's time to get to work.
Did I mention That there sure is a lot to get done?
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Jackie and I arrived at around nine along with around a dozen other folks to learn about the process as well as the virtues and pitfalls associated with raising chickens. Our group had a wide swath of the areas culture. I guess we held up the right wing and things moved to the left from there. Everyone was nice and the tires on my car stayed in tact. During the three or so hours we were there Pam and David took us on a walking tour of their farm explaining many details of the day to day care of chickens. I look forward the next seminars held by NOFA.
I got a rush birthday cake order on Wednesday .A friend wanted an over the hill cake for Friday. I think it came out pretty well and my speed is definately improving .You can see the cake on my photobucket page and soon on the slideshow here.Did I mention it's sunny?
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday was a rather interesting day (besides the fact that i was sweating like I was back in Honduras), I got to use one of my "time dollars" for a haircut. Since most of the people in the Valley time trade time bank are in the Northampton area at the moment I tried to conserve gas and plan a few service calls in the same day .First I would receive a service ie. my haircut then I would travel to Pam And David's farm to earn more time dollars working there. This is the time banking principal in a nutshell. I think that it's really cool (that's right I said "cool " man). Arriving at Betty W's house in Florence I felt a little out of place as there were PEACE flags adorning multiple houses . Not that I'm against peace mind you but my bumper stickers are a little to the right. Betty my "barber " cheerfully greeted me at the door and welcomed me into her home. They are in the middle of a cleanse and Betty was busy making a raw veg juice blend .She offered some of this reddish purple fluid and it turned out to be quite tasty. While getting my haircut Betty and I discussed many different ideas and ideals ,some were polar opposites and others were perfectly parallel. I found it very interesting how even though there exists a deep chasm in our political leanings we have many of the same core values. Jackie is concerned that I might become a liberal .I tried to allay her fears then she retorted "well I never thought you'd like country music either". Point taken.
While I doubt that I will ever become a liberal, the experience so far with the Valley time trade has been an excellent investment of my time. Not only have I gotten a "free" haircut but I've been able to meet people that I'm certain I wouldn't normally come in contact with and share a sense of community ,exchange information and ideas and to help someone in need . I also found out that Betty is a potter (one of the things I 'm looking for from the time bank is pottery lessons). Did I mention that it's hot?
Friday, July 2, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Man plans, God laughs. Originally the clearing of some of our land for next years market garden was going to be an ongoing project that I would like to have finished by the fall. How things change. A friend had his heirloom tomato and chili farm pulled out from under him and now has hundreds of beautiful heirloom tomato plant orphans needing a home .So it seems we'll be clearing a little faster than planned. Was that a spotted salamander that just ran across the back yard?
Monday, May 31, 2010
I started Clearing some trees from my back lot to make a market garden for next year .We had four down when one of my neighbors came over and starting grilling me about my decision to remove some of her woods. In as polite a tone as I could muster I explained that these were my woods and maybe she should go find some other trees to hug (hope she gets a splinter). Ironically looking at her property I see lots of lawn and only a couple of trees ,HHMMMM. I figure that there will probably be a national geographics team here soon to report about the slash and farm methods of suburban land barons . Was that a horned owl in the tree?
Friday, April 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Tomorrow back to the hustle and bustle of life in the USA .Funny thing my list of things to do didn't get nay shorter
Did I mention it was HOT?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Got the cake gallery up I think ,waiting for the puggle pix and start on the guitar cake on Monday. Who needs to sleep.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
My wife agreed that we might at least hear them out ,so we set up an appointment for this morning figuring even the dog whisperer couldn't do anything with our whackjob.We were amazed within one minute he showed us how to change his attitude .He's a different dog. We figure he must have drugged him when we weren't looking.We'll see how long it lasts.The tic-tac cake took over fours hours ,I'll post more on it on the sugar arts page with photos tomorrow.Oh yeah And by the way I collected twenty four gallons of sap toady (the most in one day so far) Go figure.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
In the meantime I'll turn to my other new hobby, cake decorating. Did my second cake project for class last night .hopefully photos below.It's very interesting the reaction people have to clowns.The full spectrum including the extremes .My daughter absolutely HATES clowns ,she didn't even want me to bring the clowns home. Others think clowns are the next best thing to sliced white bread. It's amazing how time flies on class day ,I was only able to make white frosting and had to color it on the fly during class .I am going to attempt a box of tic-tacs cake for the girl next doors birthday on Saturday .I'm going to try and do a Youtube video of it .Hopefully I'll be able to show step by step.We'll see.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Wow!! This was not a very large show (less than 60 cakes ) but nonetheless some of this stuff was amazing.Every piece of every cake had to be edible. Every flower,leaf ,bug,tree,waterfall,shoe,toy ,face,picture,everything. I really should have taken pictures (next time, I promise). It was like an art gallery with direct interpretation , minimalist, abstract ,classic, modern, etc. The attention to detail was meticulous from the veining on the oak leaves to the life like texture of the scarlet roses.
We ran into one of my decorating teachers who was there with her niece,they both had entries that were very impressive.
Now the real fun begins. About half an hour before my class with Carol Murdock (food network competitor oooh!!) I decide it's time to round up my box o goodies for this class.No problem it's a five minute walk to the garage ,the car is parked in 3E , five minutes back no prob.Yeah right....
Getting to the garage I immediately start through the labyrinth for 3E which has got me thinking "where's the cheese?"I find 3E after 15 turns ,6 levels and about 10 minutes.NO CAR!!! It's got to be here somewhere ,continuing to look I go down to 2E ,up to 4E, NO CAR!!!!Now I start getting a bit nervous so I call my wife "3E right?" She assures me that's it. Time is quickly getting away and I'm starting to panic a little .All of my decorating stuff is in the trunk(we were thinking about a new car anyways).It's funny how my mind works sometimes. By this time I am now late for my class ,out of breath from going up and down and around and I still haven't found the car or the cheese*.Suddenly from between the pillars I see our car jeering at me "haha I 'm here and you can't get me!"Logic momentarily left as I thought about jumping over the fence and through the pillars (watching too many 24 episodes and I'm not Jack).Looking down rapidly brought me to my senses as it was about 40 feet down if I miscalculated.Viewing my options it didn't seem that I "coold get theya from heah".calculating that i had to go down 2 floors then come up I was finally reunited with my required material for my class and only 45 minutes later.
All hot and sweaty with my blood pressure through the roof I finally get to my class 20 minutes late . We made a cake sculpted smart car. pretty cool I must say .
*cheese reference "mouse in maze".
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I was cruising along full steam ahead, The evaporator was boiling sap and the amounts collected were growing exponentially .Expectations were on the rise ,then boom ,nothing but rain. Can I boil that?Hmmmm.
It's funny how in such a short time I can go from not even thinking about maple syrup except will I have it on french toast or waffles to Jonesing for the smell of wood smoke and maple steam. Must remember this is only a hobby.it's only a hobby ,it's only a hobby, it's onl................