Category Archives: Farming

Farming is Not Romantic

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Farming is not romantic. I don’t mean romantic in the sense of love between two people. I mean it is not picturesque. Farming is hard, dirty, hot and sweaty, buggy, and frustrating as heck. You have to love it to do it (or love the man who loves to do it), or you won’t succeed. And even then, there will be lots of times you will fail. The thing with farming is that nothing is concrete or set in stone. Things break down, crops fail, and animals die. When you wake up in the morning you never know what the day will bring.

This is our third season of vegetable and poultry farming. And it is hard and frustrating right now. Chad currently working full-time makes it very difficult on top of the normal hardships of farming. Though we’re growing a lot and getting better, lots of things still go wrong. If it weren’t for Chad’s “never give up” attitude I would have probably thrown in the towel a long time ago. But I know deep down in my heart of hearts that this way of life will provide a good and prosperous life for us some day. And as I’ve written before, I am so thankful my children will grow up here on this farm knowing what it means to work hard and follow your dreams no matter what those around you think.

So for those of you who think the farm life is just idyllic and dreamy with a cute little family in their overalls sitting on the front porch you no nothing about the farm life. (And while I’m at it, the farm dating website most likely has no real farmers on it and if you think you want to marry a real farmer you need to know what you’re getting into first.)

So here is a list of the things that have gone wrong so far this season (most of them this week!):

  • Tomato seed is one of the most expensive seeds we purchase. Because our first planting in the green house did not come up we had to replant all 800ish plants. Most of them did not come up either, but thankfully we have great friends who gave us lots of tomato plants leftover from their farm. We later learned that our greenhouse material is too thick for enough light to come through, which was also why our pepper plants hardly germinated this year either. (Green house dilemma=one more problem to fix this winter).
  • Since we don’t have a very good water well to irrigate with we have to store water in tanks and use a pump to overhead water our crops.   Unfortunately, a small amount of fertilizer was left in the tanks and it burned/killed our pepper and tomato crop and about ¼ of our sweet potato crop. So after we thought most of the problems we had with peppers and tomatoes were solved, we still lost the entire crop! Yes, we cried. (Thankfully, our onion and potato crop this year was the best we’ve had yet!)
  • We ordered 100 turkeys a few weeks ago, but 30 of them died on the way here. Thankfully, the hatchery sent us replacements. Unfortunately, the barn cats killed all but 3 of the replacement turkeys over the past 2 days. (We cried again).
  • Our electric pump went out this week that we use to irrigate our crops.
  • Despite Chad’s best efforts of sealing up one of the hen houses, we’ve lost several hens over the past couple of weeks because of a possum.
  • We currently have a batch of 300 broiler chickens in the pasture. We lost around 20 today because they ran out of water and it was extremely hot. Chad was at work, and I didn’t think about them today because Miss Eden is sick and has had a fever all day.

I’m sure other things went wrong/died, but either Chad did not tell me about them or I just can’t remember right now. I’m not writing this so you will for sorry for us. I’m writing this because it has been a very long day and I need to get this off my chest. Sometimes it would be easier to quit. Sometimes I ask why in the world are we doing this. We can’t win for losing, and nothing is going right. But I know some day we will look back and be glad we kept pushing through. And we are teaching Eden to work hard and not to give up. If you want something you can’t give up. That’s why I love my husband so much. No matter how many things go wrong and no matter how many people think what he is doing is crazy and a waste of time and money, he keeps going.

No, farming is not romantic. But it is enduring. There are several farmers in my life, and I admire them all. No matter how broke down things get they keep going.

This evening as I was getting Eden to sleep I sang “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” to her. I know the lyrics to that song are true. God is taking care of us, even when things go wrong I know he is right here with us. I am grateful to have the peace to know I can put my trust and hope in Christ and know that everything is going to be all right.

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Eden & I rescued these 3 turkeys from the cats this morning.  Though I was frustrated as heck, seeing her with these baby turkeys melted my heart.

 

It’s Hard Not to Stress!

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Written Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I try not to stress about the farming side of things. Chad has told me over and over that he has everything taken care of. “My responsibility is Eden,” he says. When he needs my help around the farm I help him and if I absolutely need his with Eden then he helps me. His favorite line is “We’ll figure it out.” I hate it when he says that ha ha! When I’m in freak-out mode “We’ll figure it out” is not the answer I want to hear! I am thankful Chad’s parents can occasionally watch Eden if we need them to. This weekend was extremely busy and I’m so thankful they watched Eden for us.

On Friday we picked for market and on Saturday we went to market. That in itself is exhausting! The last couple weeks Chad’s dad has watched Eden while we picked, but since he couldn’t this week she sat in her stroller in the field. She fussed a little, but she was a pretty good sport! On Saturday after market we actually rested for a couple hours when we got home and that never happens. It was much needed to simply relax together just the three of us for once. On Saturday evening we transplanted a few random things, and then Chad got everything ready for our plantathon!

On Sunday and Monday (since Chad was off for the holiday) we planted, and we planted, and we planted. We transplanted 1,000 sweet potato starts, 300 lavender plants, and a few hundred watermelons. We transplanted a few other random things like peppers, tomatoes, and basil. Eden rode in the big tractor with Papa Dan while he planted soybeans and we planted sweet potatoes. She was in the air-conditioned tractor while we were outside in the open. And I thought it would be a brilliant idea to wear a tank top and no sunscreen, so needless to say I’m hurting pretty bad right now!

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300 Lavender Plants!  This is our first season to use the plastic mulch, and as you can it’s a learning process!  And so are making straight rows! ha ha 🙂

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1,000 Sweet Potato Slips!  Another issue we’re having is weeds!  But believe it or not, we are managing them better this year than we have in the past!

Like I said at the beginning, I try not to stress about the farm side of things. I try my best to focus on taking care of Eden, keeping the house clean, staying on top of laundry and diapers, and feeding the 3 of us nourishing meals. But. It. Is. So. Hard. Yesterday I was so stressed out about all the things we aren’t getting done and about how mentally and physically exhausted Chad is that I literally could not breathe. Yes, so many things are getting done, but so many things aren’t getting done too. And in those moments of stress I have to take a step back and look at how far we have come since we started farming 3 years ago. The things that have to be done get done and we are making it just fine.

As I mentioned in my last post, this is just a season in our life. Some day when Chad doesn’t have to work full-time more and more things will get done. The biggest thing I need to work on right now is to quite saying, “When Chad doesn’t have to work outside the farm…” this will happen, and things will be like this, etc. Because right now he does have to and this is the season God has given us. Chad and I both have to learn to make the most of this time, no matter how hard, busy, and stressful it may seem. Yesterday I reminded him that we are a team, and we have to handle this time with strength and love and set an example for Eden and give her a good and positive environment even now in the crazy. We have to show her that no matter how hard things may seem we can get through it like champs. We have to embody the now and the present and make the best of it. Yes, maybe the future will be better, and I hope it is, but we have to make the most of right now. I truly believe that no matter what our circumstances are we make the choice to be joyful and stress-free. It’s a very hard choice, but the choice is ours. I know we will look back on this season some day and laugh and be thankful because we came out of it stronger than ever. Hard work does pay off. And I know it will!

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Eden lounging in her stroller in the garden! She melts my heart!

It’s That Season

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Written Thursday, May 27 2016

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I always laugh when I see sleep schedules or stay-at-home mom schedules on Pinterest when I look up things about babies and parenting. I can’t wrap my mind around a schedule with the lifestyle we live. I’m not going to lie, there are definitely times when I wish we lived a “normal” life and could put Eden on a schedule. Sometimes I wish when Chad gets home from work at 5:30, he could simply eat dinner with us, veg in front of the tv all evening, and then we’d go to bed as a family (Yes, I know that probably isn’t what most families do and it would get boring over time, but it would be nice to have that option sometimes). But that’s not the life we live. I try to have dinner ready at 5:30 so when Chad gets home we can eat and get outside to do the chores and then do whatever is first priority on the list, which is normally picking or planting.

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Family Transplanting Selfie!

I probably sound like I’m complaining and unhappy. And maybe I am complaining a bit, but I am happy. Though the farm life is hard at times (especially this time of year), I am so thankful Eden will grow up with this life, out here on this beautiful piece of land surrounded by nothing but fields and all of God’s creation, knowing what it means to work hard. A couple evenings ago as we were driving back to the farm from town I told Chad how thankful I am to live so far from city lights and noises and to literally be surrounded by nothing but nature.

I think I’m having such a hard time right now with this lifestyle because it is the busy time of year, Chad works full-time and comes home and farms so I hardly see him, and this is our first Spring trying to farm with a baby. Let me tell ya, it’s hard to get things done with a baby. I also think I’m still trying to recover from our crazy busy weekend.

On Friday, I picked everything for farmer’s market so when Chad got home all he had to do was wash everything (plus do the regular chores and get the market trailer ready). Even with me picking everything he still didn’t come in until after 10pm. Thankfully, Chad’s dad watched Eden so I could pick. She’s not a fan of sitting in her stroller just staring at me in the field. She’s almost 10 months old and Friday was the longest she’s ever been watched by anyone else since she was born (around 4 hours) and I still fed her and changed her during that time. Though I was picking in the field, the alone time was very much needed.

On Saturday, we got up at 4:30am to get ready for market like we do every week. After market we ran a couple errands, was home by 4pm, did chores, and went into town to have dinner at Chad’s parents house.

On Sunday, we got up and Chad did his morning chores while I took care of Eden. We went to church where I taught Sunday School. After church we went to Bristow to get some mineral that goes in our chicken feed. We didn’t get home until almost dinnertime, so while I cooked dinner Chad wore Eden in the ergo while he hilled potatoes on the tractor.

On Monday, Chad took the day off so we could go on our “Road Trip of Central Oklahoma Tour,” as I’m calling it. We went to Edmond to pick out our high tunnel. After 3 years of trying we finally got approved for a grant to get one! Woo hoo! We are so excited! Then we went to Edmond to pick up our lavender plants.   We will be growing lavender for the first time! We received a discount on the plants since we agreed to be a part of a trial. We just have to keep detailed records of the plants! Soap making, here I come! Then, we went to Shawnee to deliver eggs to our dear friends who farm there and have a grocery store, and to pick up our sweet potato starts from them. We got home just before dark so we could do the chicken chores and get them moved to fresh grass!

Needless to say, it was an exhausting few days! The last three days I’ve been catching up on laundry, housework, and diaper washing. And since tomorrow is Friday we will be running around like chickens with our heads cut off again! But hopefully not quite as cut off as last weekend!

When I start to feel overwhelmed and want to cry because there is more to do than we have time for I just remember Ecclesiastes 3. There is a time for everything under the sun. Right now, it is hard. It’s hard because I hardly see my husband and I take care of Eden almost all by myself. It’s hard because I see how exhausted Chad is and I want so bad to help him more, but we have a beautiful baby girl that needs me now. I know this season in our life is making us stronger. I know it will pay off. One day when Chad doesn’t have to work off the farm and we are able to eat dinner without rushing through it to get things done we will smile on these days of exhaustion and craziness.

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Chad hilling potatoes!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

 

Happenings at the Farm: The Whirlwind Weekend

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The last few days here at the farm have been insane (at least they have been to me.)  Chad was in OKC all day Friday and Saturday taking the last segment of his course on Farm Management.  Since he was gone I was in charge (with the help of Chad’s dad when I needed it!). Normally, this would be no big deal.  We have just over 200 hens that need food and water and their eggs gathered everyday.  We have some pet ducks and roosters that get food and water daily too.  That’s not too hard, right?!  I normally either wear Eden or put her in our stroller (we have one of those huge strollers with giant wheels to use around the farm!).

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Miss Eden all bundled up to help mommy feed chickens!

Well, timing worked against me this time because we got 300 2 day old broiler chickens on Friday morning right before Chad left.  They really aren’t hard to take care of.  You just make sure they always have fresh food and water and that the heat lamps are on so they’re warm enough.  It just happened to be 20 degrees the morning we got them and they love to play in the water.  We thought the 3 heat lamps in the brooder were enough.  We were sadly mistaken.  We lost 100 chicks in 2 days!  That’s a 30% loss!  I had to call Chad and tell him what was going on.  We were both sick!  But we know in farming (regardless of what it is) these things happen.  Plus, we are still learning how to raise that many at one time, since this is only our second time doing so.

Fortunately, Chad found a hatchery that could ship us 100 more chicks so we will be getting them tomorrow.  Fingers crossed that these do well!  We just have to adjust the butcher date, (we take them to Fort Smith around 8 weeks old to get butchered and packaged) and hopefully all will be well.

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Chicks in the brooder.  Aren’t they cute?!

Along with taking care of the hens, I wanted to help in the greenhouse as much as I could while he was away.  Before Eden was born the greenhouse was my responsibility.  I started all the seeds, up-potted plants, and made sure everything had a drink.  It is very difficult to do those things with a baby, so Chad has been trying to keep our planting on schedule (which is very hard to do since he works full-time and has a billion other things to do at the farm).  Thankfully, Chad’s dad watched Eden for about an hour on Friday so I could plant a few trays, and then Chad’s mom watched Eden on Saturday for a bit so I could plant a few more.  I forgot how much I loved starting seeds.  They’ve already started sprouting!  Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, and Lettuce..oh my! 🙂

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Our tiny little greenhouse…but we make it work…for now! 🙂

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Cabbage plants are almost ready to make a new home in the field!

Chad came home on Saturday evening and though we were all exhausted, we had a lovely dinner with some friends at our house.  No matter how busy you are it’s so important to take time out of your schedule to relax and spend time with those you love. 

Sunday we went to church and then came home to finish our onion planting.  We plant around 8,000 onion plants.  We got 1/4 of them in last Monday, spent Sunday afternoon planting, and then finished up the last few on Monday after Chad came home from work.  I’m so thankful for our new transplanter!  This is only our third year of farming, but I will never forget planting all those onions on our hands and knees our first year.  And I’m so thankful for in-laws who watch your child and help you plant when you need the help!  And for the little bit of rain we received Monday night…God is always faithful!

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Aprox. 8,000 Onion Plants!

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Chad just cleaned off the transplanter so it’s ready for it’s next job!

Well, there you have it!  It was a crazy busy few days at the farm.  Maybe this one will be a bit calmer, but I’m not going to count on it, ha ha!  Now I have to go catch up on housework, laundry, and baby food making since that has been severely neglected!

Until Next Time,

Bethany

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What is the Farm Like?

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One of my best friends from college, who sadly I have not talked to since graduation in 2011 messaged me a couple of days ago.  As she asked me about my life, she asked what the farm was like.  I haven’t responded because that is such a big question to me.  As of Christmas Eve, Chad and I have lived here for 2 years now.  It has been a roller coaster ride the past two years that’s for sure!  We started our own business growing vegetables, raising pastured poultry and hens, and we had a baby!  We have seen our business triple in sales just in the second year, all while Chad was working full-time.  We’ve had our moments of great joy and then moments of sadness and hopelessness (I feel like farming is a bit bipolar no matter what you farm).  But if there’s a will there’s a way!

But you ask what the farm is like…

Well, we live 30 minutes from the closest gas station, store, food establishment, etc.  There are about 4-5 miles of gravel/dirt road before you hit blacktop (if you call it blacktop). There is absolutely nothing around.  I say nothing, but there is everything here.  When I get lonely and resent Chad for bringing me here I step outside and take a deep breath.  It is so beautiful out here.  I can see the Arkansas River right out my window.  There are fields and pasture as far as the eye can see.  And the stars at night are as clear as they get.  God romances me everyday by his beautiful creation.  I am so thankful my children will grow up here because of that.  They will have the biggest playground roaming around out here on the farm.

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As far as the actually farming goes it is really hard work.  Our first year we did all the vegetables by hand and we had around an acre.  This past year we invested in some equipment and we were able to plant 3 acres of produce.  We currently have around 250 hens.  And when we have our meat chickens we now have 300 at a time.  Thankfully, we don’t have to butcher those by hand anymore (I’m not going to lie…that was not fun for me!).  I could go into a lot more detail about what we do, but you get the gist.  It’s a lot of work, especially since Chad works full-time, but we know one day we will be able to farm full-time and sustain our family.

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I’ve grown to love what we do.  It’s still a process though.  You get dirty and sweaty and your body hurts after picking green bean after green bean.  And this year will be interesting figuring out how to do everything with Eden running around!

When I really think about where I am in life I have to laugh!  I never would have pictured me living out here on a farm and staying at home with my baby using cloth diapers and making my own baby food!  I love it though.  It’s right where Chad and I and our family are meant to be.

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Turkey Day

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Sunday was turkey day here at the farm. Not the fun Turkey day where you get to stuff your face with food. No, this is the turkey day where you kill all the turkeys your crazy husband decided to get a few weeks ago…as well as make you help him move their pins at 6:30am every morning of their lives. Luckily Eden loves me to wear her in our carrier so she gets to come too!

Though I hate the day we butcher chickens (and now turkeys) and getting up early to help take care of them, a huge part of me loves what we do (or loves what my husband has decided that we do). I love that we work hard to raise our own food. We are able to provide our family and our community with good chicken and turkey that was fed good non-medicated feed, moved to fresh bug-filled grass everyday, and treated with respect. As much as I hate killing animals (and all I think about when we feed them each day is that they are going to die soon) I know they are given a wonderful life and killed so much more humanely than the grocery store poultry that was pumped full of chemicals and forced to stand in their own poop everyday.

As most of you know, farming does not come naturally to me. I hate bugs, heat, and getting dirty, but I always do what I have to do. Until I was in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy I did everything Chad did here on the farm. I helped in the field, in the green house, and even helped butcher chickens. But to be honest, I am so very thankful my role has slightly changed. My priority is to be a mother to Eden and unfortunately for Chad I am not able to help him as much. Sometimes I feel very helpless and would love to help, but on Sunday I was so thankful I could do my inside chores and take care of Eden and not be forced to pull out the turkey feathers the plucker missed. I’m not “that girl” who can handle butchering and plucking poultry like several of the others who have helped us, and I’ve learned to accept that. I often try to be someone I am not out here on the farm and it’s been a process to find my place. And though it’s still a process, over the past 9 weeks as a mother I have felt more at home with myself than I have in years. And I am so thankful Chad respects and understand my role. I will gladly do all I can to help him on the farm and he knows that, but he understands that my job is Eden. On butcher days if all I do is provide breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, etc. for them while they butcher whatever animal we have at the time then that is perfectly fine with Chad. (I really do have the best, most supportive husband in the world!)

Turkey Day was a success, though it was long and challenging. Chad’s best friend from high school, Justin, helped him out and since it was their first time with turkeys it was a learning process. But in the end we had over 40 turkeys to sell to our community and a couple for us to eat at our own holiday festivities! Now I can’t wait until the real Turkey Day! Until then!

 

Our turkeys in their pens that are moved every morning to provide fresh grass for them

 

 

Chad getting turkey out of transport crate

 

 

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“Processing” Chickens…and “Processing” Through It!

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So this coming Saturday we will be butchering 150 chickens. We raise meat chickens, process them, and then sell them. You see, raising your own animals and eating them is 100% new to me. Growing up I did, unfortunately, like the majority of America, not know where my food came from. I ate mostly processed foods and I’m pretty sure my parents just bought the cheapest meats at the grocery store. I never thought about the farmer who grew the wheat and vegetables I ate (though I rarely ate vegetables and when I did they were mostly fried), the peanuts in my peanut butter, or the animal my meat came from. I saw wheat fields all the time but never noticed they were there and if I did I most definitely did not think that bread came from them. I had a complete disconnect with where my food came from. And that is the problem with America today. That is why so many people eat junk because they don’t think about where it comes from. Knowing your food came from a hard-working farmer or a cow that was treated humanely makes you want to eat those foods.

Not only has learning how to farm been a journey, but learning where my food came from has been one too. I am way more conscious of what I eat. It hasn’t exactly been an easy ride though.

When we lived in OKC we bought a lot of our vegetables and meat from local farmers. I never had to see the animal alive and well. For some reason it is very difficult for me to see the animal alive and then eat it a few days later.

Even though we butcher our chickens very humanely, using processing equipment, it is still extremely difficult for me to eat chicken. We butchered 100 chickens in June and I have still not tasted our own chicken or hardly any chicken at all. I know it is 1 million times better than grocery store chicken. I know those chickens lived clean, happy, and nurtured lives without steroids injected into them. They saw daylight everyday and were moved to fresh new pasture with new bugs to eat every single morning.

It is just very difficult for me to see the animals I cared for and fed everyday processed in just a few hours (I’m going to leave it at “processed” for your sake). Last time we processed them it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It took me several minutes of self-motivation before I could even touch the finished product to clean it. Yes, I did cry. So knowing what is ahead of me on Saturday makes me very nervous because I do not handle chicken day very well.

However, I pressed forward last time, and I’m sure I will this time. I just have to remember that those chickens were given the best life possible and I am providing the best food my community can get.

I am the same way with any animal. I get so attached to them and start making them have feelings and thoughts. I know God put them here for us to have food. He put those animals here for us to take care of them properly, which I genuinely believe we do.

I do know this: my children will be taught at a very young age where food comes from. They will take care of animals, giving them dignity and a good life, but understanding that those animals will be food. Thinking about that makes me very happy and giddy!

In saying all of this I ask of you 3 things:

  • Know where your food comes from. Know how that animal was treated. Was it given a good life? Treated ethically? By the way…not all food is real. Some of it is 100% fake ingredients so if you’re eating that throw it away right now!
  • Pray for your farmers and thank them for their hard work and providing the food you eat at your table.
  • Pray for me on Saturday as we give our chickens their ultimate purpose in life: to be food for friends, family, and community members we so cherish. And too that I will be able to get past this issue and eat chicken again.

Thanks friends!!!

 

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My Rainy Day

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It has officially been raining since about lunch time yesterday!  We couldn’t be more excited!  We are in a horrible drought in Pawnee County so when we get rain there is a lot of excitement around here.  What’s even more amazing is that the high today was only 65 degrees.  I can’t believe how incredible this weather is in the middle of July!  We are very very thankful, that’s for sure.  Normally I would be napping most of the day on days like this, but I had an agenda.  So let me tell you all about it!

Watching the rain from our back porch

Watching the rain from our back porch

Breakfast

For the past couple of years Chad has been experimenting with milling our own flour from the wheat his family grows.  I’ve made a few things with it, but the consistency is so different from white flour so I’ve had some issues with certain recipes.  He milled some earlier this week for some customers in our buying group so I had him mill some extra for us.  I made sure the consistency was very fine so it would hopefully work better with recipes I’d found.  When he was selling it in Shawnee the OSU Extension did a cooking demonstration with it and made pancakes.  Chad has been raving and begging me to make these pancakes for months, so this morning I finally did…and they were delicious!

Here is the recipe:

Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe

2 eggs
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 canola oil
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white four
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat eggs and brown sugar with a wire wisk. Beat in canola oil and buttermilk until combined. Add dry ingredients all at once and stir until smooth. Ladle batter onto a hot griddle or skillet until bubble form on the surface. Flip to the other side and cook until both sides are golden brown.

Whole wheat pancakes made with our very own wheat!

Whole wheat pancakes made with our very own wheat!

Canning…Canning…Canning

The past couple of years I have been teaching myself to can and pickle vegetables and jams.  My grandma did a lot of canning while I was little, and though I helped her quite a bit I do not remember very much.  Therefore, I have found most of my recipes and information online.  In years past I’ve canned peaches and tomatoes, pickled okra, and made peach jam and tomato sauce.  Since we have lots of veggies this year I am hoping to can and pickle as much as possible so we are stocked up for the winter.

Today I picked an entire row of banana peppers (yes, in the rain!) and canned them.  Cutting them up and taking most of the seeds out was tedious, but it will be worth having them to put on sandwiches and other meals throughout the winter.

Here is the link to the recipe:

http://www.amandathevirtuouswife.com/2012/07/banana-pepper-rings-canning-tutorial.html

Banana Peppers...yum yum!

Banana Peppers…yum yum!

It has been a beautiful and productive rainy day!  I also spent about 2 hours cleaning house and doing laundry.  Now I’m going to make homemade granola bars.  I have to triple the recipe since the boys and I love them so much!  I’ll post on those soon with pics!

I am normally not this productive, especially on rainy days, so I’m definitely bragging about it.  But hopefully I can put my feet up with a good book this evening since tomorrow is picking day! Busy, busy!

I hope everyone reading this has had a wonderful day too, and I hope you have an even better evening.

Your Guide to Farmer’s Market: What You NEED to Know!

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Growing up in North Texas I had no idea farmer’s markets even existed. I knew you could sometimes find roadside stands with old people selling fruits on the way to Dallas, but my family never stopped. It wasn’t until I was in college in Shawnee that a professor told us about the one in town. My husband ended up managing the farmer’s market in Edmond two summers ago, and then last year we sold at the Shawnee market. I have not been able to be very involved until this year, where we sell in Cleveland. We were accepted to the Stillwater Market, where we know we could sell more and make more money. However, it is very important to us to sell as locally as we can, and to the people in our community: where Chad grew up, where our children will grow up, and where our home is. We want people to have access to good quality homegrown food. We know you can go to the local grocery store or Wal-Mart, but you do not know the farmer who grew that tomato, what chemicals were used, or how far it had to be shipped to get there.

I am only saying this to get you thinking. Most towns have a farmer’s market, and if yours does not I bet there is one close by. Hard working farmers are growing fresh produce in your own back yard because they understand our food crisis and want to give you the opportunity to get good food right where you live. Please go and support them.

Two Important Things I Think You Should Know:

1). Farmer’s Markets are meant to be for locally grown and handmade items ONLY.

  • If you see a watermelon at your market in May, that farmer probably did not grow his melon but bought it from a packing house or auction (yes they have those). Another clue is if they are still in the printed cardboard boxes he brought them in.
  • Ask questions such as, “Did you grow this?”, “Where is your farm located?”, and “How many years have you been producing?” They may still lie to you, but be aware that there are people who buy at auctions and packing houses and resell for Wal-Mart prices or less at your local farmers market.
  • What’s the problem with that?
  1. For one, you have no idea who grew that tomato, where it came from, or what chemicals were used on it. Technically, you’re not buying local.
  2. Secondly, by buying from a reseller you are taking money away from the actual farmers at the market by not buying his/her produce or not waiting for it to come into season.
  • If you see a farmer there that you know is growing his/her own produce, please support them. Wait until their produce is in season before purchasing it, instead of buying from the reseller.

(Side note: I have no problem with people who resell produce. I would and have bought porter peaches from them before. But a Farmer’s Market is meant for local produce/items only. Most farmer’s markets in the state have guidelines and rules, which do not allow items into the market that were not grown locally. There are many other locations to resell produce other than at the farmer’s market. Also, it is important to note that a person reselling produce must have a license from the health department to do so, plus all people selling at the market must have a sales tax permit as well. These are also questions to ask your local farmers/resellers)

2.) Why are Farmer’s Market Prices so expensive?

  • A Farmer’s Market is NOT Wal-Mart.
  • Farmer’s spend hours upon hours planting seed, weeding, fertilizing, etc. etc. etc. Now that I work from home farming, I see first hand how much work goes into it. Yes, we sell our green beans for $4.00/lb. If you do not think they are worth that much, please come plant the seeds, keep them watered, keep them fertilized, and pick them one by one and tell me how much they are worth.
  • Farmer’s spend a lot of money on seed, fertilizer, tools, water, heat for the greenhouse, and not to mention the big items, such as a green house, cooler, tractors, etc.
  • If a farmer is growing his own produce, he/she cannot afford to sell it as cheap as Wal-Mart. Most of the farmer’s you see at your local farmer’s markets make their living off of one or two market days a week.
  • Wal-mart grows their produce in Mexico to avoid paying living wages for their labor, local farmer’s provide most of their own labor and when they do hire labor, they compensate their workers handsomely (there are strict department of labor regulations on how farm labor must be compensated).

I hope this helps you better understand the importance of farmer’s markets, what to look for to make sure your getting locally grown items, and why prices are higher than store bought produce.

Thank you for supporting your local farmers. Doesn’t it feel good to know and put a face with the farmer that grew your food?!

 

 

Our setup at the market this past Saturday!

Our setup at the market this past Saturday!

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Life Update

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Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written a post on here. One of these days I’m going to consistently post what’s going on here at the farm.   It has been insanely busy that’s for sure. Chad’s family has always told me how crazy busy this time of year is but until I lived here during the summer months I had no earthly idea.

Recap (June till now)

For starters, this year is a little off because of the lack of rain and then pretty constant rain there for a while. While the wheat harvest should have been over and the soybeans going in the ground, they were both going on at the same time so it was all hands on deck. During the month of June, Jake (Chad’s brother) and Danny (Chad’s dad) were combining the wheat and planting soybeans like crazy people. Chad was doing the same for the neighbor, which for the most part left me at the farm to take care of our almost 2 acres of vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers, plus all the animals. It was just a little crazy!

I was also kind of put in charge of VBS with another lady from church. I did tell them I would help and was so glad I did, but I had no earthly idea how much of the wrong time it was to volunteer during the middle of June. As I am trying to adjust to summer here at the farm, the first weeks of farmer’s markets, and being able to help move farm equipment at the drop of a hat, I was also planning for VBS and trying to schedule meetings/times to decorate with the nonexistent schedule I had to work with. I think that has been one of the hardest things about being on the farm. There is no schedule. You never know what will happen or when you will be needed and no matter how tired you are or how bad your migraine is or how important you think what your doing at the time is, you have to go and help whoever needs help. It’s definitely teaching me flexibility, but whether I’m learning or not is another story (ha ha).

Storytime:

So VBS was on a Thursday and Friday evening and Saturday morning. And of course it was literally during the busiest week we have had so far. Those of you that have participated in VBS know it’s a lot of work. But on top of that, I had to get everything picked and organized for market, which we do on Fridays. Chad was combining wheat for the neighbor so it was my job to basically do it all by myself. So I’m trying to get everything picked and it is so hot and I’m running out of time because I need to get to the church. And then Chad’s brother comes and gets me and says he needs help pulling a calf. Oh my goodness…for one I’ve never even seen that done, and for two I do not have time for this! But it had to be done so without complaining we took care of it and things ended up fine. Needless to say, I did miss VBS that night, but luckily my amazing church family swept in and took care of everything. Now, it’s normally not that crazy…but almost.

Farmer’s Market Update:

The Farmer’s Market in Cleveland is going well. We knew it would be slow, but it’s important to us to sell fresh produce to the people of Chad’s hometown. The market has had its ups and downs, but it’s getting better each week. We made the newspaper last week too! So now that the market is getting advertised more we are hopeful more people will come out. And the newspaper lady (who we appreciate so much) came out to the farm yesterday and is doing a story on us for the paper next week! We are going to be extra famous! Ha ha! We are also 2 weeks into our buying group where we take orders in the middle of the week and deliver orders into town. We are really excited about how it’s going, plus it helps us find a home for all the veggies that are ready early in the week that won’t make it to Saturday market.

Garden:

We have definitely had our challenges with garden, and there are days where tears are shed and I want to throw in the towel, but we are not giving up. We have a very severe grasshopper problem. I grew up in north Texas so I know what grasshoppers look like but I have never seen anything like this! They are everywhere! Now I understand how pharaoh felt in Egypt…well no I don’t because after all those grasshoppers I would have freed the slaves right then. They are not only gross, but they are eating everything! We have planted several things recently to watch the grasshoppers kill every single plant after they’re barely up. I had a raised bed of chives and oregano that had been doing really well for weeks and when I woke up yesterday every single plant was completely gone. I don’t cry about it anymore because it’s almost become the norm. We’ve tried chemicals, sevendust, and we just got our grasshopper bait in the mail yesterday so please pray it works! We did get 1.67 inches of rain this morning! We are praising God like no other! We are still in a serious drought and have not been getting enough rain so that’s a constant worry we have when it comes to not only our crops but the entire farms’ livelihood. So praise God for the rain and pray he send lots more.

I’m learning everyday that farming is not easy. It has its challenges, but it is so rewarding.   And though we are just two people we have hope that we are changing the food system little by little and making people aware of the importance of buying local.

And a quick shout out to everyone who has supported us this year: Thank you so much! We could not do this without you!

 

My normal: no makeup, crazy hair, denim shorts, and boots!  Who woulda ever thought?!

My normal: no makeup, crazy hair, denim shorts, and boots! Who woulda ever thought?!

Posing with our setup at the farmer's market

Posing with our setup at the farmer’s market