The boys and Denise headed to Kansas for 12 days to visit family. First thing we noticed...it's hot in Kansas! My mom's horse died the first night we were there (it was not the heat, she had some tummy troubles but the heat did not help things...). Always something interesting happening on the farm.
Triple digits heat the second our flight landed. Luckily, we didn't melt too much. Great excuse to hit the swimming pool a lot!
One morning, I went for a walk and took this picture. The church (it is small and to the left of the sign) is the church I went to as a child in the town where I grew up (Pilsen, KS).
One afternoon, we went to visit my Aunt Julie's free range chicken egg farm.
Mark and Milo (the dog) checking out the chickens.
The next day, my mom was mowing the lawn and she went under her grape arbor with the lawn mower and noticed a "clump" of bees...I am going to make a separate blog post about this at a later time!
Went fishing with cousins!
My mom's friend started a new vermiculture business. We went to see her set up...lots of bins of worms! We are interested in raising worms to feed the chickens. This could be another side business...
Went to Maxwell Game Refuge to check out the bison.
A (late) Father's Day pic...me and my dad in the pickup (yes, I rode standing up in the pickup a lot as a kid...)
Last weekend, our family went to an open house of a site just 5 miles north of Moscow. It was an older farmhouse that had been updated. There were mature apple trees and 12 acres of pasture-type land. Unfortunately, the pasture area was really hilly. Just too hilly for the chickens and movable pens...
This is really the first place that we have looked at to seriously consider purchasing. It was fun to dream for a bit. I keep thinking of that property and how I would set up things on that site. I guess the decluttering I undertook earlier this year was a good thing. I had a goal of getting rid of 1 ton of stuff. I ended up donating or tossing out over 600 pounds. So, I am happy with that and will continue to re-evaluate things, especially if we find a new farm/house to move to.
Mark has just completed his Freshman year of High School. It is still hard for me to believe! This past year went so fast! Three more years of High School and two and half years until he turns 18. We started saving money for the egg business and we were able to save $1000 since last fall. Our goal is to have $5000 saved before Mark graduates from High School so we are right on track with this goal. I am still working on the business plan and making good progress.
As we were leaving church last night, Joshua turned to me and said, "I don't think Mark will be able to have a job when he grows up." It really caught me by surprise and was just really out of the blue. I pointed out that it was the reason that we wanted to have the farm. The farm egg business would be Mark's business to run. He can work flexible hours and complete similar tasks each day (feeding, watering, collecting eggs, washing eggs, packaging eggs) and have a product to sell at the end of the day!
I have finally finished planting sunflowers! I have planted over 1100 seeds/transplants. I did a count of germination earlier in the season and I am getting over 80% germination from the seeds and the transplants. So, next year, I will just plant seeds and this will save a lot of time.
This picture was take about 3 weeks ago (looking down rosw 2)
Last year, I only had about 300 sunflower plants and about 90% of those plants were single stem flowers (i.e. only 1 flower her plant).
This picture was taken yesterday (6/11/16).
I was hoping we would not have to do this but the grass was getting taller than the sunflowers and I still have lots of seedlings coming up. So, Henry came out and mowed between the rows for me.
I would say about only 30% of sunflowers planted this year are single stem flowers. I planted a lot more of the branching varieties. We will see how this works out. Also, I was able to extend the timing of my plantings. Basically, I was able to plant about 120 seeds each week from April until June on a fairly routine basis...every week or two. So, hopefully, that will give me a longer season. I was at the Farmers Market for 7 weeks last season. We will see what this year brings...fingers still crossed...
The bees are doing well and continue to expand their hive. Joshua and I checked the hive a couple weeks ago and we both got stung! Mine hurt and itched for a good week. Joshua did not have any reaction to his sting. We are still learning and I was so proud of Joshua for wanting to go out and check the bees with me (he was a little nervous about getting stung). We went out again last weekend and did not get stung! A couple days ago, our 4-H beekeeping leader came and looked through the hive with me and said it all looked good.
Three Sisters Garden
I did some sheet mulching last fall with the idea of starting a 3 sister's garden (corn, pumpkins, and runner beans). The corn is taking off with some early heat we are having (and then it got cool again..) I read that you are supposed to plant the runner beans when the corn is about 10 inches tall. I went ahead and planted them today (this picture was taken last week)...it is hard to see but I planted 100 corn plants in a 10x10 foot square and there are 4 pumpkin seedlings in the middle. I planted 50 runner beans yesterday and fertilized everything.
Jams and Jellies
I took some low sugar plum jam to the WSU Food Science lab to be tested for acidity and water content. If you want to sell "low sugar" jams and jellies, they must be tested first to make sure the acidity is low and the food is safe.
Yeah! The low sugar plum jam passed! So, we should be able to bring it to market this summer!
I am excited to try to make some low sugar raspberry jams this summer too. Several people were asking for low sugar jams last year at the Market so I am hoping this will be a good niche to fill.
In the Kitchen
We picked cherries this past week at Wilson Banner Ranch. We made cherry ice cream, took a bunch of cherries to a potluck and made a cherry clafloutis (which did not turn out super great but we ate it anyway!) I also froze some cherries for later!
I received this cherry pitter for Christmas last year (it was on my Wishlist). You set it on top of a mason jar. It worked awesome!
Then, I noticed that the garlic scapes were out. So, I picked them and made garlic scape pesto using this recipe.
I used a little cookie dough scoop to put a small amount in little muffin tins and then froze them so we could pull out individual servings of pesto and put in soup, sauces or dips...