Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve

Well, the sun is shining this morning and it's 2 below 0 -- more in keeping with the season than the temperature has been these last few days. More snow is expected by this afternoon. Tom bought in some more wood yesterday so we are ready for it.

Today is baking day for the holiday dinner tomorrow. I like to cook a day ahead because the flavors of the food cooked have time to mellow. Tom is baking bread rolls in his bread machine, and later I will make a pineapple upside down cake in Great-Grandma's cast iron skillet and black-eyed peas, of course, for good luck. Since everyone is supposed to be on some sort of diet restriction, our meal will be much simpler than in the past. We will have ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, bread rolls, and the upside down cake for dessert. My dad is coming over to eat with us and I am sure we will have a nice day. The only person missing will be our soldier girl in Afghanistan.

After tomorrow, it's back to work in earnest. I will get back to cutting wood posts and getting the poultry housing in order. Yesterday Eddy and I started shifting stuff around in the basement so I can put together the brooder. And last night I ordered more seeds from Baker Creek and blueberries, hops, sweet potatoes, and grapes from Miller Nurseries. I still have my Fedco and St. Lawrence Nursery orders to send. Mostly herb seed from Fedco this year, and from St. Lawrence I think I will get some sumac to plant on the berm out next to the front driveway, two more Golden Spice pear trees and two apple trees -- one Northwest Greening and one Honeygold -- for the expanding orchard area in the field. I hope I am more successful this year in starting the herb seeds! I am really looking forward to creating a nicely filled medicine wheel herb garden. The hops section should take off this year, too.

On one of my Yahoo lists there is a thread running where people are listing their top 5 projects to complete for the coming year. Easier said than done when it comes to projects! You just never know what will happen. With that in mind I would like to: 1) tighten up the fence and finally build a good gate for the field; 2) get the well put in the field (haven't managed to get that done yet but I am still positive imaging it); 3) succeed with the free-range poultry and egg production trial; 4) improve succession planting and increase general veggie production; and 5) finally build a garden storage shed so we can park the van in the garage again.

New veggies for this year include Turkish Orange, Pandora Striped Rose and Malaysian Dark Red eggplants; garden huckleberry; wonderberry; Senposai greens; Golden Self-Blanching Celery; Golden Giant Amaranth; Philadelphia and White Ice Box radishes; Navet Des Vertus Marteau turnip; ground cherry husk tomato; Rouge D'Hiver, Rouge Grenobloise, Dark Lollo Rossa, and Paris Cos lettuces; Giant Musselburgh leek; Snowball cauliflower; for tomatoes there will be Vintage Wine, Italian Tree, Brandywine Red, Large Red, Lemmony, Green Gage and Indian Moon. And, of course, I will have my usual veggies. I think this will be a great year! (And if Tom doesn't plant his garden area over by Dad, I'll fill that up, too! ;)

May everyone have a safe and happy holiday, and may 2009 be a better year for us all!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fence Posts

Finally made it outside today and chopped down my first tree. I got three fence posts out of it and started a pile for the smaller branches for Ed and I to break up next summer and put in the kindling bin. As long as the temperature is not too cold, I will try to get out every day and cut posts. Once I get the hang of cutting down the trees, the job should not take too long and I should get more posts finished per day. I will need to get Ed out there to help me haul the posts up by the wood pile so I can load them into the truck fairly easily next Spring.

I was thinking about the duck house. I think I will cut 6' and 5' posts, space them 2' apart, and bury them 1' down into the ground, then use hammer staples to attach some 4' woven wire to them. I have a fair amount of top grade woven wire left over from when I put up the fence in the field. I'm sure it will be enough to go round for a duck house. I'll make a little door I can bolt shut at night, and buy some plywood for a roof. Hay bales will be a good insulator outside the wire. I'll lay 1/2" hardware cloth over the ground to prevent burrowing critters, and a good layer of wood shavings should make a nice bedding. Four nest boxes should be enough. I think a similar house will be good for a brooder house for the hens. I know New Hamps tend to go broody, and that is a trait I want since the price of day-old chicks is skyrocketing. I would sure welcome being able to hatch replacement stock.

We are still on earthquake watch here. Tom probably thinks I'm nuts as I've taken just about everything off the walls and secured them. Today is the first day in almost two weeks that I've seen any birds. The methane smell outside is stronger though, and I am still getting waves of dizziness and ear ringing. I do think we are still in for it.

Well, time to throw another log on the fire. Take care!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Woke up this morning with horrid pressure in my frontal sinuses; my ears are ringing and boy, do I feel nauseaus. Got an e-mail from my friend, Kim, in DC and she is in bed with aches and pain, and Tom has bad body ache today, too. Normally I wouldn't think much of it -- after all, we are in our 50's and cold weather doesn't bring out the best in us -- but I follow George Ure's web site and today he has a posting from the ALTA report from HalfPastHuman and their web bot's linguistic data about massive twin earthquakes occurring any time now. I have read the window to be December 10-12 or December 9-18 depending on where you read on the Net about projections. I have also read that odd colored water and suddenly low water levels are signs of impending earthquake. Don't know if that is true, but I have noticed our well has been having fluctuating water levels this last week, and yesterday while I was outside brushing the snow off my plastic covered garden boxes, I noticed a slight methane odor in the air, very unusual for this time of year, especially since the temperature has been so cold that the marshes are well frozen. Whether or not the web bots are right about the twin quakes happening, the Old Farmers Almanac information about earthquakes indicates that this full moon (on the 12th) combined with the tides is astronomically a highly likely time for an earthquake to occur. And FEMA has issue a catastrophic earthquake warning for the New Madrid fault area. There are differing possible locales being tossed about for these events. I guess all anybody can do is take the pictures off the wall and batten down the hatches -- which is what I'm doing.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Feast of St. Nicholas

When we were kids, on the evening of December 5th we would carefully shine our shoes and put them all in a row, largest size to smallest, on the living room coffee table before going to bed. In the morning on the Feast of St. Nicholas, we would find our shoes filled with candies and dime store treats -- gifts of Little Christmas from St. Nicholas. Being children, it was hard not to get excited about Christmas coming, and celebrating Little Christmas was a sure sign that Santa was coming soon. I suppose my parents looked forward to some early Christmas season joy, too, as they always seemed happy during Christmas season.

This was also the time of year when Dad would pack up the old station wagon with his M-1 carbine and hunting clothes and leave for the Big Woods of Wisconsin where Grandpa and Grandma still lived on the big farm and all the uncles annually congregated for hunting season. Then, a week later, Dad would return home showing off a deer AND a Christmas tree strapped to the top of the car. All the neighbors would come over and admire Dad's cargo, and Dad would casually light his pipe and tell everybody his hunting tales. Later, he and Mom would work all night in the kitchen to butcher the deer, wrap it in freezer paper, mark the cut, and store it carefully in Mom's white 27 c/ft. Montgomery Ward freezer.

And while we were at school the next day, Mom would put up and decorate the Christmas tree. We couldn't wait to go home and see all the shining silver tinsel and bright fuse-busting light strands that burned our fingers if we touched them and that drew out the essential oils in the tree boughs and made the house smell so good. We knew there would be venison for supper.


We are now celebrating our 4th Christmas season in Wisconsin, our 3rd in our new house. It has been unusually cold for this time of year, but Tom and Eddy bundled up and found a nice Christmas tree to cut down and drag back to the house. Tom and I set it up in the tree stand and let it thaw out for a day, then the next day I decorated it. We like balsams because the needles don't drop the way they do on pine trees. Eddy likes to help decorate by hanging candy canes on the branches. I play Cristmas music on the computer to listen to as we decorate. A cup of hot chocolate for us with a shot of Peppermint Schnapps and marshmallows is a great ending to the day.

Today was very cold and snowy again, and the wind was whipping the trees all day. No birds or animals were in sight. The bird feeders looked lonely swaying in the wind. It felt good to be inside. Lara wanted banana nut muffins for breakfast, so after I made those I decided to bake two loaves of rye bread (I like baking bread by hand) as we were just about out of bread. Tom started a fire in the wood stove early. Everyone picked at Christmas fudge and chocolate peanut butter cookies. Ed and I exercised down in the basement, and I chewed on Eliot Coleman's Winter Harvest Manual again. I got out the 2009 Old Farmer's Almanac and figured out when we will have 10 hours a day of sunlight again at our location, and it comes out to be around the last week of January, so I will plan to seed onions, leeks, and carrots after the new moon in January out in the high tunnel. We will try some lettuces and radishes and see how they do, too.

Here are some wintry pics for you of dawn from the living room window, snow falling, and my garden boxes -- holding up so far but I think I'm going to add a top purlin to give the hoops a bit more strength.

I ordered the chicks the other day for March 1st delivery. I am getting 50 New Hampshire Red pullets from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio. They will go in the chicken coop. Because I ordered 50 chicks, I got 25 more (cockerels) for free, and as I am going to try my hand at Herman Beck Chenoweth's Free-Range Poultry Production and Marketing model, I bought another 100 cockerels for $36 to fill one skid. So that's 175 chicks all together. And I got an early order discount on top of everything. That's a pretty good deal. Shipping cost $27. I think I will stop in and see Bernie at the Fifield Feed Store and see if he can mix me up some feed according to the recipe in Herm's manual and find out what that will cost. I was really torn about not getting more Dominiques, but I told myself I have to learn to be more business-minded. By getting a dual purpose chicken breed, I can cut future poultry costs by hatching my own replacement stock. New Hamps give a cleaner carcass than Doms because they don't have dark pin feathers and therefore should take less time to pick. They lay larger brown eggs than Dominiques and are slightly meatier. While not as good foragers or layers as Doms, they do forage and lay well, and they will set eggs. They are supposed to be docile birds. The ladies will stay by the house at the chicken coop where the nest boxes are, and the gents will rough it out in the field by the high tunnel. I will see if Brad the vet in Phillips can show me how to turn the boys into capons. If I am not overwhelmed with the chickens, I want to get some Ancona ducks and put them down by the marsh. We'll see how it goes. I still have to get out in the woods to cut wood for the skid, duck house, tomato trellis in the high tunnel, fence posts and hop posts. And with 50 layers I will need to make more nest boxes and add another roost in the coop. I plan on brooding the chicks in the garage, but if the weather is too cold, I'll put them in the basement like my sister does. I don't think I'll have any problem burning off extra calories this winter.

A big thanks to Bill and Linda Betz for sending the Thai basil, Asian eggplant, and hot pepper seeds. I can't wait to plant them. BTW, we got an e-mail from Sarah and she said she is sending you something but she would'nt say what it was, so be on the look out for that. Thank you for remembering her!

And another big thank you to the Butternut American Legion post. Sarah said she got your box and it was great! I don't know what you sent her, but she said she distributed all the "men" stuff to her section and everybody is happy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feast of St. Andrew

I like old customs, and one of the customs I grew up with was the Christmas Novena that started on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30) and ran till Christmas Day. According to tradition, if you said the following prayer 15 times a day from the Feast of St. Andrew to Christmas Day, you would receive whatever you were praying for. I actually have never tried doing this novena, but here is the prayer if you care to say it:

Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the Most Pure Virgin Mary at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe O my God, to hear my prayers, and grant my desires (here you ask for what you want), through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(Imprimatur, Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York, NY, February 6, 1897)

I just want to tell you that some of the Novena prayers I am familiar with are very powerful, so I guess the old saying, "Be careful what you wish for", is a good caution.

It has been very cold here. Tom went out hunting but didn't even see any deer. Now the poor guy has a cold.

I have been very busy deep cleaning the house -- it's always hard to keep the house really clean during the warm months because of being out in the field all the time, so I look forward to the arrival of cold weather. Boy, does the basement need to be organized! I usually do a pretty good job of keeping the main floor the way I like it, but the unfinished part of the basement does get neglected. I have piles of "stuff" everywhere and that is bad feng shui for sure. Like everybody else I could sure use some money so I will soon have the whole house sparkling and the wealth areas of the house enhanced. And I hate it when I can't find books I want to refer back to -- I am looking for two craft books that I bought from Gooseberry Patch a few years ago to look for Christmas gift ideas and I can't find either one of them. I just hate that when that happens. It's like the pot lid I was looking for a couple of weeks ago: I searched high and low for that dumb pot lid and couldn't find it, and then two days ago while I was looking for something else, I found it! I think as one gets older being organized becomes a more important part of life as it helps one maintain one's equipoise. Got to watch that high blood pressure!

I haven't made it out to the woods yet to start gathering those fence posts, but it is still on my list. I figure that working out in the woods and working out on my Nordic Track exercise machine will help whittle down my weight. My doctor changed my high blood pressure medicine and it does not help with my water retention as the old medicine did. I am drinking parsley tea throughout the day but the weight is coming back on. I am faithfully on a 1,000 calorie a day diet so I know the gain is from fluid. It's too bad my elderberries weren't big enough this year to collect leaves from -- elderberry tea is the best diuretic I know of.

I ordered my potato seed from Moose Tubers yesterday. Holy Fright, has the price of seed gone up! 40 pounds of organic potatoes cost about $85! I am going to cut those tubers into smaller pieces where possible and chit them before I plant in an effort to get more plants. I really mean to plant up my whole field (except where I want to range the chickens) with potatoes, corn, wheat and oats. I'll sell the potatoes and save the grain for animal feed and the following year's seed. Most of the veggies will come from the garden boxes in back of the house and the high tunnel. Which reminds me that I need to bring in some feed sacks from the garage so I can sew up some grow bags for tomatoes to hang in the high tunnel. And that reminds me that I need to cut some wood posts to build a trellis to hang the grow bags from! The Circle of Life -- one thing always leads to another. . . .

I have one gift basket to get for my sister and her family, and then the Christmas shopping is done. $500 for Christmas this year (roughly $100 per person). That covers all gifts. I already have most of the food we will eat canned or in the freezer, so a Christmas turkey will be the biggest food expense. That amount is 1/3 what we spent last year. We live on a fixed income and I worry about expenses for next year -- I don't see the bottom yet in the economy.

Well, stay warm and I'll talk to you soon!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The thermometer this morning read a frosty 10F. Everything was heavy with hoarfrost that didn't melt till around 11 a.m. The trees looked so pretty. I bundled up, went outside, and unloaded from the van the cement blocks I bought yesterday. I bought 25 of them and stacked them around the camp fire ring I set up a few weeks back for boiling maple sap down. I had just enough blocks to make a three wall enclosure around the fire ring to keep the wind, rain and snow out. I laid two doors across the top of the blocks for a makeshift roof, and I covered the whole thing with a large tarp. That should keep out the wet. I will keep a path to the rig dug open as the snow falls and I should have no problems getting out to the fire ring and uncovering it so I can start boiling down sap come March. Hopefully I worked off a few calories lugging those blocks! I was glad to get the job done because the weather forecast is calling for 1-3" of freezing rain starting tonight. Yuck!

Went to the eye doctor today and finally got my eyes checked. My prescription had changed quite a bit. Saw my brother-in-law there, too! He sure gets around LOL!

After the eye doctor I went grocery shopping. I simply cannot believe the price of basic food staples! The tab was almost $165 and I bought NO meat. A gallon of cooking oil was almost $12. Same for a 3 lb. block of cheese slices. Flour was nearly $5.50 for 10 lbs. A 10 lb. sack of rice was nearly $13. I bought a small bottle of green olives for making deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and it was ON SALE for $1.93. Butter was on sale for $2.50 a pound. Everyone I saw in the store was reading labels and comparing prices. And if you look at what is on the shelves to "compare" prices with, all you see is crap -- generic brand packaged goods of questionable quality. From past experience I can tell you that these unknown cheap generic brands are terrible to cook with. Once I bought a generic type of cheese, supposedly like Velveeta, to melt for making macaroni and cheese and that stuff never did melt. It burned, but it did not melt. People better plan on digging up their back yards BIG TIME this Spring and planting gardens.

If we don't get that freezing rain, I think tomorrow I'll go cut those fence posts from all the tree top limbs that are down. If the weather's bad I'll study the plans for the free range poultry skids. I just might run ducks in a skid and see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Kraut Question From Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: Only once have I had "foaming" and "fizzing", and that was because I used wet cabbage (cabbage that was too fresh and had a lot of water content) and the fermenting temperature was warmer than what is desirable (above 72F). Did you have a strong acrid smell? I would leave the batch and wait to see what it ultimately looks like after six weeks and you skim off the mold and top 2" of kraut. The kraut just may be "strong". Don't give up on it yet. If, after you check it out, half your container or more is slimy or gray in color and doesn't smell right, then dump it, clean and sanitize your container, and start over. Sometimes it just doesn't turn out. (Sorry I answered your question so late -- for some reason I just found it and could not reply to you directly or even post a comment underneath yours).

Election Day

Today is Election Day. It is also my birthday, and like countless other Americans I went to my polling place and voted for Change. I believe that America can rid herself of corrupt politicians and the corruptive influences rampant in the halls of our Government. I believe that We The People can rebuild America's economy from the LOCAL LEVEL UP to create a stronger, more equitable and sustainable economy. I believe that a new paradigm of just governance is forming here, and it is a good one based on community service. We The People can prevail to raise America from her adolescence and propel her into glorious adulthood. It will not be easy, and I have no doubt there will be much suffering and hardship to endure for many years to come. But our national soul with all our ideals are intact, and our national heart still beats strongly. God Bless America! God Bless Us All!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Saints Day

Our Sarah called this morning from Afghanistan. Tom talked to her. He said she sounded good and told him she wanted cookies. I guess everybody that is getting cookies is sharing them around. Sarah's unit got a gift box from somewhere and when the goodies were divied up Sarah got a pair of hand knit socks. She really likes them. Sooooo, I spent all day making cookies and Tom asked me if I could knit socks. In between cookie batches I worked on the laundry. That is half done. Maybe tomorrow I'll finish cleaning out the chicken coop.

Yes, that's right! I finally gathered up the nerve to go in the coop. You would have laughed: I had a long-handled broom in one hand to poke things with and my machete in the other hand to start swinging. I was banging the walls and tapping around the doors and in nooks and crannies like crazy. And thank God, so far I haven't come across any snakes! You know, I am STILL having nightmares about snakes. I've raked the leaves away and cut down all the brush from around the coop. We have a couple of trees down in the woods that I can easily get to now that everything has died back for the season so I think I'll cut a couple of smaller tree limbs for fence posts and put the chicken wire back up. I am really thinking about only having the fence right around the coop to deter night predators and just letting the chickens out to run around wherever they want during the day. Our Ag Extension Agent thought that keeping the chickens under the trees was a good idea -- they eat bugs, scratch up the duff layer which allows tree seedlings to grow better, and the chickens stay cooler while adding fertility to the soil. They are easy enough to train to return to the coop at night. I don't know though, there are dogs in the neighborhood that do occasionally get loose, and letting the chickens run without a perimeter fence may not be a good idea. Of course, I could always buy that .22 rifle I want and shoot any dog that goes after my chickens. Well, I'm too tired to crunch this topic any more tonight. Talk to you later!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Now what would Halloween be without a Strange-But-True story. . .

When I was in the sixth grade I went to Catholic school where besides a daily religion class, once a week one of the priests would visit the class for additional instruction. At this time, our parish had a young priest that everyone liked. All the mothers in the parish said he would be a bishop one day, and all the school children liked him, too, because unlike many of the older priests, this young man was approachable and the kids felt they could talk to him. All us children liked the day when Father * came to class. I did, too -- until the strange event happened.

"Put your books away," Sister said when the school bell rang and the current class hour ended. "Father * will be coming today." And all of us children dutifully lifted our desk tops, and after putting away our books, we folded our hands on top of our desks and waited.

Father * came swiftly into the classroom, and as his wont, sat on the edge of Sister's desk and began to talk to us. I settled down to listen since Sister usually gave us a quiz on whatever topic Father lectured us on, but my ears began to ring, and as I looked at Father, the room seemed to go slightly dark, like a thin curtain being drawn across a too sunny window. I could no longer hear what he was saying. Then, through the door strode a being. Tall he was, taller than the doorway, and thin. He wore no clothes, but that was not what bothered me: his skin was gray though not naturally so -- as I looked closer at him I could see a red light close all around him. It was the glow from his ashen flesh that burned from an invisible fire. Somehow I knew the pain was excruciating. His face did not seem quite human and he was regal. Oh! Quite so. But his gaze was truly terrible and I could feel his contempt for us. High intellect without empathy or a quality of mercy. He hated us. On his head he wore a simple golden crown with a solitary, large purple gem inserted in it.

I saw the being held a chain in one hand. He pulled it, and through the door bounded what I at first thought was a little black dog. It whimpered constantly and strained to get away from the being that held it, but the thick collar around its neck and the chain affixed to it portended no escape. Each time the chain was pulled, the black dog jumped up and whispered into the young Father's ear, then tried to get away only to be jerked back. I suddenly realized that the collared creature was a human!

I looked at the young Father, amazed by what I was seeing. Could he not hear the pitiful creature whispering in his ear? Could no one else see what I was seeing?

The crowned being slowly looked at all of us children, back and forth went his hard, cold eyes. Then he stopped at me. Somehow he knew I could see him. "You won't have him for long," he told me. I looked at the young priest. I became very sad because I somehow knew that he would not be a priest for very long. This thought made me feel sick, and as suddenly as it started, the horrible vision ended. I thought I would faint. No one else had noticed a thing. I wanted to say something to the Father or Sister, but I didn't think they would believe my story. And so I stayed quiet.

I watched the young Father. I never spoke to him again as the other children did, and I never went to him for Confession after that. He left the priesthood a short time after that to the surprise and dismay of most members of our parish church and married a divorced woman. No one could understand why he left the priesthood; it was all so sudden . . . .

But I knew.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Finishing Up

Boy! Tom and I got a lot done today. I went out to the high tunnel and tilled everything under. I kept the South Side row nearest the sidewall because that is where the parsley and spearmint are still doing fine and dandy. I want to go back out there and collect the catnip seed, too. I turned over a small section next to the parsley and transplanted my chives there. I will turn over the rest of the tunnel nearest the North sidewall by hand and rake new rows into shape another day. I can't wait to get some 2"x4"s and build the tomato trellis. I'm also toying around with making a raised bed box over another row for just lettuces; I mean, the high tunnel is 12' high so why not utilize more vertical space? After working in the high tunnel I took the BCS and tilled the horseradish row. I dug up the roots and sliced them up and replanted them. Then I dug the three holes for the grafted plum trees that will be coming, and I marked all the tree holes with bamboo poles in case it snows again before the trees arrive. I'll have to draw a new garden layout diagram to show you all how the original layout has changed.

Tom walked out to the field and helped me get the BCS into the truck. Back at the house we cleaned out the garage -- I'm going to have to make building a storage shed next year a priority. Maybe I'll just cut poles for one when I go out this winter to cut fence posts. We need to put the garden tools and farmers market supplies somewhere besides the garage. He winterized the BCS and we put it away for the year. Then he pulled out the snow thrower and got that ready for use.

I got up the nerve to go near the chicken coop (remember the rattlesnake?) and carefully retrieved the feeders and waterers for cleaning. If the weather holds, I think I've built up enough courage to finally go inside the coop and get it ready for next year.

Did I tell you I bought Free-Range Poultry Production & Marketing by Herman Beck-Chenoweth at ? I am reading and studying it. I want to raise layers for eggs and good stew hens near the house, and I am thinking about where to put the meat birds. I originally wanted to have them in the remaining pasture section next to the high tunnel, but with all the livestock theft going on all around, I'm toying with putting them under the trees by the house in an area separate from the hens. Lots to think about! I need to call Brad (the vet) and see if he can show me how to turn roosters into capons.

I sent off today for Eliot Coleman's book Winter Harvest Manual. I think it will be a good accompaniment to Au Naturel Farm's book on high tunnel growing. Using the info in both of those manuals should give me a good idea on how to increase next year's production using the big high tunnel and the covered garden boxes I built this year. I really think I may be at the turning point where I can actually start to make some money. I'll keep my fingers crossed and get my production plans set down in writing. Between the veggie production and chickens we should at least make enough to pay the taxes -- that's my goal anyway. Don't want to get rich, just pay the taxes and keep healthy by staying active. When the different fruits starts coming on, that will be all gravy. Maybe by then I'll really know what I'm doing.

You know how I'm always looking for info and recipes about the produce I sell for my customers? Well, I came across a really great cookbook utilizing all sorts of herbs and heirloom veggies called
The Kitchen Garden Cookbook
by Sylvia Thompson. Excellent. I think it's the best cookbook about using home grown veggies since The
Victory Garden Cookbook
by Marian Moresh.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

First Snow of the Season

Well, we had the first snow of the season yesterday. We probably got about 2", but today it is already melting -- not all melted, but you can see the grass show here and there. The air temperature stayed pretty cold, too, despite the sun shining most of the day.

I decided to stay inside the house and clean. I scrubbed the floors, dusted, and vaccuumed the downstairs bedrooms and stairs. I cleaned the living room rugs. Then I moved the wash tubs from the garage into the basement and put most of the canning stuff away for now. The herb dehydrator and Mehu Lisa steamer were put away, too. It's amazing how much more room the house seems to have when everything is put away properly! This evening I intend to read and work on my planting succession plan for the garden and high tunnel for next year. I can't wait for the garden catalogs to start coming so I can glean them for seed varieties. Tom has lit a fire in the wood stove and the house is getting warm and cozy as the daylight fades . . . .

Here are pics of my wash tubs and the bench I bought at the auction:

I need to buy a new hose and a couple of rubber stoppers for the wash tubs. Right now they are good to hold the oats I bought to plant for a cover crop this Fall and wasn't able to get planted. Well, I'll be able to plant them next Spring after the snow melts.

The bench is really cute. I think I may paint it black to match the appliances but I haven't decided yet. Right now it is a good place to hold my plastic storage containers in the tall basket, and potatoes and onions in the smaller baskets. The plastic storage lids, my food processor and blender fill in the bottom shelf, and some cookbooks fit nicely in the storage area under the bench lid.

I like to say a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our friend, Bill Betz, up in Albany, NY. HOPE YOU HAD A GREAT DAY!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Great News

I have some GREAT news! I received an e-mail today from an editor at Mother Earth News telling me that my latest gallery in the share photo section of their web site has been chosen an "Editor's Pick". The gallery is called "Canning Sauerkraut 2008" and is a shorter version of my blog entry of the same name. That means that both my "Making Sauerkraut 2008" and "Canning Sauerkraut 2008" are Editor's Picks. I am SO happy -- Happy Happy Joy Joy, Happy Happy Joy Joy, Happy Happy Joy Joy Joy!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Went to an Auction Today

It was cold and dreary today, and the wind cut with a sharp chill. But that didn't stop me from going to the auction in town today. I made out pretty good, too. I bought a nice little metal toolbox to put all my hand tools in for $20, and there was a pair of pliers, a perfect condition hand drill inscribed with "Greenfield Mass. 1868", a grommet tool, and a never opened metal stapler inside it. I bought a large quantity of galvanized nails for $2, a nice bench with storage for $15, and a good condition pair of galvanized wash tubs with stand (I need to replace the plug and drain tube) for $20. To buy those wash tubs new would cost around $250 with tax and shipping! My sister, Mary, stopped by the auction and helped me get the wash tubs down from the loft they were in, and she helped me take them and the storage bench to our van. I was feeling pretty good. I went over to Mary's house for a while before coming home. It was a nice day.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Much Time Left for Digging

Today was a perfect October day. The sky was dark blue and the blowing clouds had steel gray in them. The temperature was in the 40s so when I went out to sift dirt I made sure I had my gloves and a heavy shirt on. Even after working a while I didn't get overheated. I managed to get the box closest to the rhubarb, the one where I had planted the peas and beans, filled with dirt. I buried all the vines and I noticed several worms in the dirt I added, so I expect that when I go out in February to plant there will be loads of worms. That will be wonderful! I covered the box with its plastic over the hoops so that box is all set. I have only the second box, the one with the carrots, bunching onions, and sorrel, to add dirt to and hopefully I will get that done tomorrow. Tom says he heard we are to get snow some time this week, so I have to hurry.

I would have gone to the field and re-strung the fence wire today, but Tom had to take the van in for an oil change and to get checked because we think the transmission is shot. When it rains, it pours! He is taking it back to town tomorrow.

Saturday there is an auction in Park Falls I want to go to. I hope I can get some items I am looking for. I could really use a decent grain mixer for mixing chicken feed, a working grain grinder -- I'd love a Milpa #2 hand mill -- miscellaneous hardware like nails, screws, nuts, bolts, washers, etc., and I am looking for some galvanized tubs -- at least 15 gallons each -- I could use two of those for washing produce, butchering chickens, and doing laundry if the power goes out. They are supposed to be selling a couple of piles of lumber, too. I wonder what those will go for -- I need to build a duck house, a goose house, and a bigger chicken coop. With the way the economy is going, better try to get what you need now while you can. says the shipping from overseas is way backed up because of the credit crunch and we will see shortages in stores very shortly. A European financial analyst, I don't remember where I saw the story, is predicting US default on treasuries next summer. I don't like the sound of that. Anyway, I paid off the credit card today and we are hunkering down now.

Here are some more pics from my walk.

There is a view of Swamp Creek, the hay road, the fence I'm working on, a bird's nest I spotted in some raspberry brambles, and a view of the snowmobile bridge from the other side of the creek.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Canning Sauerkraut, Part II

Well, now's the time to finish my kraut. I just need to remind you all that these kraut listings (Making Sauerkraut and Canning Sauerkraut) are how I make kraut. They are not intended to be definitive "how-to's" and I am not responsible for what you assume or do because of them. If you click on the title to this post, you should be taken to the earlier post on making sauerkraut. BTW, I also am posting these pics to the Mother Earth News web site WeCU photo section; just search for either "sauerkraut" or Swamp Creek Farm.

So! My kraut has fermented and fortunately I had minimal problem with vinegar flies. I wheeled my crock into the kitchen and put it near the garbage can.

Then I prepare my jars and lids. The jars and lids are washed with hot, soapy water, then the jars are filled with hot water to keep them warm, and the lids and bands are placed in hot water, too. I try to use my oldest screw bands because the acid in the kraut wrecks the shiny finish and I use my nice bands on gifts I give to friends and family. My pressure canner is clean and in good working order. About two inches of water is put in it, and the canner is set on the stove with the heat on "low" to warm it up.

I go back to my crock and carefully remove the cheesecloth covering.

Yuck! The mold is gross but I don't fret. I take off my rock weight, rinse it off and put it in the dishwasher. Then I take a stainless steel spoon and carefully scoop off the mold. The mold goes into the garbage. Then, using the spoon I pry off the plate and expose the kraut. The plate goes into the dishwasher.

Next, taking my stainless steel spoon I peel off about the top 2" of kraut and toss it in the garbage -- not the compost bin! This spoon then goes into the dishwasher with the kraut rock and plate, and I get another stainless steel spoon, this time a slotted one -- using a slotted spoon at this point is less messy. Why use stainless steel? Because it's easy to sterilize.

Working quickly, I fill my jars, top them with hot water, remove the air bubbles, put the lids and screw bands on, and put them into the canner.

I lock on the canner lid and turn up the heat. When I see steam venting clearly in a steady stream from the canner vent hole, I set a timer for 5 minutes and allow the steam to vent unhindered. When the timer goes off I put on an oven glove and carefully set the weighted steam gauge at 15psi over the vent hole.

Then I start watching the pressure dial gauge. I never leave the kitchen at this point. When the dial gauge reaches 15psi, the weighted gauge starts jiggling and I start a timer set for a 20 minute count down. I carefully watch the dial gauge and adjust the heat under the canner as necessary to keep the dial gauge as close to 15psi as possible. The weighted gauge will have a steady jiggle. When the timer goes off, I shut off the heat under the canner and let the pressure come down to 0psi naturally. Once the pressure is down, I take off the weighted gauge and carefully remove the canner lid being sure to open it away from me. Anyone who doesn't have a healthy respect for steam deserves what they get! I remove the hot jars from the canner and let them cool undisturbed.

Two canners makes the work go quicker.

When the canning is done I clean my work area, set the dishwasher to sterilize and hand wash my canners and crock with hot soapy water and a little bleach. Then everything gets put away for next year. The next day I remove the screw bands from the sauerkraut jars and put them in the dishwasher to get washed. I wipe down the jars, check to make sure all jar lids have sealed, and write the contents and date on the jar lid. Then the jars get taken to the basement and put on the pantry shelf. This year I made one 5-gallon crock and canned 15 1/2 quarts of finished sauerkraut. Eating one quart a week starting in November will give us kraut till about the end of February. Of course, I will send my soldier girl the pint jar for Christmas!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Working Hard

Yesterday I dug, sifted, and hauled to the first garden box 20 wheelbarrows full of dirt that I dug up from behind the blackberries' trellis. Believe me, I went to bed early last night! This morning I planted my garlics (Shvlisi, Inchelium Red, Samarkand, and Czech Tan), potato onions, and golden shallots in the box. And now that planting is off my mind for a while, if the weather cooperates tomorrow, I'll be able to get out to the field and work on restringing the fence wire.

While I was planting the garlic, I thought I heard someone in the woods, so I put on my bright colored sweater, grabbed my camera and machete, called the dog and headed into the woods to check things out: companies are buying balsam boughs now and Tom has chased people out of the woods that were stealing them. I don't take kindly to trespassers or thieves. Well, we walked around quite a bit but didn't see anyone, so I took a few pictures, went out to the high tunnel and brought back to the house four Charentais melons that smelled heavenly (and tasted just as good as they smelled).

Guess what I found and took a picture of!

That's right -- that pesky little squatter beaver's dam. He did a pretty good job, too. Now so long as his dam doesn't cause any flooding I'll leave him alone!

The photo upload for Blogger seems to be acting up so I'll try to post a few more pics later.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Restful Sunday

Yesterday I canned the beets and their greens. I wound up with about 10 quarts of greens and 4 quarts of beets. It doesn't seem like much for a full day's work. (My back was killing me by the time I was finished.) Still, I cooked a jar of greens with the Sunday meal today and even Tom couldn't believe they weren't spinach. Lara even ate hers, and I had to laugh at that because when she was a baby, she was the big spinach eater while Sarah was the squash eater -- maybe she unconsciously remembered how much she liked spinach!

After I did the beets, I thought I would try out my dirt sifter and work on filling up the boxes with dirt. The sifter works great. It was a good idea, but because the weather was warmer, the sand gnats were out in force and I decided I'd rather hack cold ground with a pick-axe than be eaten alive by sand gnats, so the dirt project will have to wait.

Today after lunch while Tom watched the Bears lose to Atlanta, I put about a gallon of cranberries in the dehydrator and canned 5 more quarts of tomato sauce. Most of the tomatoes are now canned. I have one consolidated brown bag of green tomatoes left, and at the end of this week I'll can whatever is turned red and put what's left go into the compost bin. The raspberries I dried taste ok; I don't care for them as much as I do the dried blueberries and cranberries. This week I'll get some more canning jars and make cranberry sauce and can the sauerkraut. I want to get some more apples and put up some slices for pies.

I got my first 2009 catalog yesterday: Fedco Trees. I've gone through it twice already and will graze through it again later today. I'm looking at their cider apple tree collection for one thing and thinking about whether or not to get some more hops or just use rhizomes from the plants I already have to extend my fledgling hop yard. I'm itching to get about 20 lowbush blueberry plants, too. I will put those down by the swamp in a spot I scouted out about two years ago. I love looking through garden catalogs!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

October Days

Today, Eddy and I decided to forego watching people on television freaking out over the global economy and went to work out in the field. We put up 6 of the angle iron posts Dad gave me (from an old electrical tower he scrounged years ago) that I had drilled holes in for stringing the fence wire through, and added them to the short side of the fence line on the snowmobile trail side of the field. It was very windy as we worked, but it and the chill October air kept the sand gnats off us. I was very proud of myself for getting the new corner post up yesterday all by myself: This Spring out in the front yard I cut down what was left of a nice sized tree that snapped in half during a storm. It had dried out pretty good and wasn't too heavy, so it only took me about 2 hours using a furniture dolly and the kids' wagon to get it out of the woods and into the truck. I dug a 3' deep hole and backed the truck up to it. Then I got up into the truck bed and slid the tree post off the bed and into the hole. I was able to "walk" the pole upright and fortunately the hole was deep enough to hold the post in place while I got off the truck bed and filled in the hole. That was all I decided to do in the field yesterday! (After I did that I took some tomatoes to my two neighbors, Kathy and Carrie, but they weren't home so I wound up leaving the tomatoes by their doors; I hope they got them.) If I can, tomorrow I will go back out and work on putting the wire back up, but I have a lot of canning to do tomorrow and the wire may have to wait a day or so.

I canned 3 quarts of green beans early this morning that I picked off the beans in the garden boxes last night. I need to fill the boxes with more soil so I am going to turn under the peas and beans (I can experiment with winter gardening later). I pulled up all the beets (4 bushels of them) and that's what I'm going to work on tomorrow. A lot of them were pretty limp (it's been cold), and I think the soil was too fertile because I had lots of greens but not many beets. Anyway, I plan to can both greens and whatever beets I get. I don't think I have enough canning jars though and will have to buy some more jars to be sure I have enough for when I can the sauerkraut. I also cut down all the sorrel -- boy, does that grow fast! -- and most of the lettuce. I will make some sorrel soup tomorrow and freeze it. The carrots and scallions are starting to firm up, so the second box is the only box still growing. When I finish the lettuce I will turn that section over and add soil to it. I am hoping to get all the boxes filled with dirt within the next two weeks -- I need to get the garlic, shallots, Egyptian and potato onions planted.

I read in the paper today that November 13 is the deadline for sending Christmas boxes to the soldiers so I have to get my boxes for Sarah done. I am sending her some of the maple syrup I made this Spring, the apple butter I made a couple of days ago and some different jams and preserves. I think I will get a tube container and dig up a little Christmas tree to send her that she can stick in a coffee can and decorate for her barracks. I'll string some dried cranberries and send those for trimming the tree. I'll make some cookies, too. She could hang those on the tree and eat them over the course of the holidays. I know she likes sugar cookies and oatmeal cookies. I have to remember not to put any raisins in anything.

I sure hope I can get caught up with this work because I want to get cracking on the Local Food Atlas. Well, I'm pretty beat so I'll talk to you later.

Friday, October 03, 2008

More Ramblings

When I picked the tomatoes from the high tunnel the other day, they were all green so I put them into brown paper bags and set them underneath my buffet where they wouldn't accidentally get kicked to ripen. They are ripening unevenly so I have to check every few days to see if I have enough to process. I am making tomato juice and tomato sauce with my Mehu Lisa steamer from Lehmans. That steamer sure saves a lot of time. Here are some pics of the tomatoes:

Oh! I forgot that I had enough Perkins Long Pod Okra to make a pint of pickled okra. I've never eaten okra pickled so am looking forward to having it. I think I'll save the jar for Thanksgiving.

My brother-in-law, John Ertl, gave me some nice rutabegas from his garden. I canned 31 pints from them. I used my American canners that I bought at Bud Lucas' estate sale. I think Bud and his wife would be happy to see their former belongings being used and appreciated.

Here are some pics of the fire ring. You can see how I started building the concrete brick wall enclosure around it.

The leaves are almost gone from the trees already. I can't believe how fast they fall. This has been a pretty Fall even though the colors were short in staying. I like the way the leaves make a carpet over the ground. I want to take a picture of the hay road by the field because that will be a lovely picture.

Dad told me to get a gate for the ramp on FF where the snowmobile access is because he says people are going back and forth through there on ATVs. That REALLY PISSES ME OFF because I specifically told the snowmobile people that ATVs ARE NOT ALLOWED on this farm and someone took down the NO ATV signs that were there. I know I have chased people off the grounds, but I didn't know Dad was being bothered by the !@#$#*(_)(*@! too. Dad says he doesn't want anybody on the trail either except for snowmobile people, too, so I will get a gate and call the police for whatever else I should do. I'll have to tell John and Mary to put a gate on the trail at their end. Mary works for DOC so maybe she can tell me what else to do, come to think of it. It's a darn shame you have low-lifes here, locals and out-of-towners, who just take advantage of any goodwill extended by people. This farm is private property and anyone coming on this property without our express permission is trespassing. Only the snowmobile people have permission to be on that trail out of season for trail maintenance -- that is the ONLY time ATVs are allowed on the property -- and during snowmobile season from December 1 through March. We are sick and tired of people breaking trees, stealing timber and balsam boughs, making campfires, poaching animals and leaving the carcass to rot after taking what animal part they want, hunting without permission, and in general, treating our property like some public park. Be forewarned: you will be prosecuted.

Whew! My blood pressure must have gone up 20 points with that tirade. Well, I've forgotten what else I wanted to talk about so I'll leave off for now.

Glorious Fall

It's been a busy couple of weeks here at Swamp Creek Farm. Sarah called from overseas and sounds good but tired. She loved the trail mix we sent her. She shared it with her soldiers. I hope she got all of the boxes we sent.

I have been busy working around the farm. Out in the field I harvested all of the tomatoes from the high tunnel and pulled the vines. I tilled part of the perennial bed where I will plant the apple trees that are coming and I dug two holes for them. I cut the grass down around the hazelnut trees, hoed all the fruit trees and wrapped them, cut all the grass around the gooseberries row and I planted a whole row of native plum trees (trees that I had previously put along the long (road) side of the fence). There are still more to plant, too! I need to dig three more holes for the grafted plum trees that will be coming, but digging holes is kind of hard on my arthritic knees so I decided to wait a couple of days before going back and digging again.

Closer to the house I set up my campfire/cook ring I bought after Christmas from Cabelas. I am stacking cement blocks around it and will cover the blocks with a piece of plywood and a tarp to keep the ring dry. That way, when Spring comes round next year I can just pull off the plywood and tarp and get to work boiling down maple sap. My Dad is going to come cut down a bad tree for me (the one by the chicken run that I took the fence down for) and split it up. He'll leave the wood right there and I can use it for boiling down the sap. That was really nice of him. He must have liked that maple syrup I gave him this Spring. Anyway, when I get all of the cement blocks set up I'll take some pictures so you can see how it looks.

I am slowly chopping down the brush around the chicken coop and working my way up to it. Still haven't worked up the nerve to really go near it. I've been stacking any loose rocks I stumble upon around the herb bed. It will look nice when it is done.

I went to the building supply store and bought a 2" x 4" and a 2' x 3' piece of 1/2" hardware cloth. I made a nice sifter. As soon as I pick out a spot to dig, I'll get the soil for filling up the new garden boxes. Speaking of which, I still have lettuce and sorrel for salads -- not enough to sell, but enough for me and Lara -- and I am pleasantly surprised that the beans, peas, carrots, bunching onions, and beets are looking GREAT! This morning it was 26F at 8 a.m. and the frost was hard on the grass, too. I won't have much longer to get the work done.

Early this morning Tom took Eddy to Minocqua to get his ingrown toenails fixed. I know it's gross, but I remember how that hurts so I am glad the poor kid was finally able to get in and have the problem taken care of. Soooo, while they were gone, I started processing the fruit I picked up from the 4-H truck sale yesterday. I made raspberry and blackberry jam, and put a little over a gallon of blueberries in the dehydrator. Sarah really liked those blazons I put in the trail mix, so I thought I would dry alot more fruit to send over there. She said there are never enough bananas over there; people are always fighting over them, and she was glad I had dried some bananas for the trail mix, so bananas will be another fruit I will dry. I am thinking about doing some raspberries, and will definitely dry more sour cherries and cranberries again. Which reminds me, after I picked up my 4-H order I stopped at the little gas station on highway W in Phillips to buy my cranberries for the year. I told the woman how I made the trail mix and sent it over to our troop and she was SO happy that I had used their cranberries in the mix. People really to support our troops up here; it's a big deal. I need to email Sarah that there is a soldier by her from Phillips. My sister Mary is trying to find the news story about the guy so we can send Sarah his name. Lastly, I stopped at the Fifield Feed Store to get some deer apples for making the apple butter, sauce and slices. Bernie wasn't there so I didn't get to ask him how his salsa turned out and how he liked those Red Cloud potatoes, but there will be other times; I like that Fifield Feed Store. The apples were small, but they looked pretty good, and you can really smell their scent when you come into the kitchen. Less than $20 for 80#, well, these days you can't beat that! I going to try drying apply slices like the Amish do and see how we like them.

After Tom and Ed returned home, I went over to Dad's because he wanted to give me some angle iron posts for my fence. The iron was from an old electrical tower -- Dad always was a great scrounger (must run in the family, you should see the stuff my sister, Mary, has scrounged over the years!). We dug through this mountain of metal and I got enough 9' pieces to fix up at least the short side of the fence. He showed me how to mark it, drill it, and string a line to make the fence line straight -- something I wish I had known when I first put up the fence. So, I hope to get that done in the next week or two before the ground freezes up. He also gave me some cement blocks he wasn't going to be using any more so I added them to the wall around the maple syrup rig.

I have to tell you what I did. I have been a subscriber to Mother Earth News Magazine for years. Well, if you've never been to their web site, you should go and check it out. It has all sorts of good information on modern homesteading. Anyway, one of their offerings is called CU and it is where people can upload pictures to share with other people who visit the web site. I decided to create a photoblog there of Swamp Creek Farm and I uploaded all my old time "pioneer" pictures of the family and made a pictorial history of each year we've been in Wisconsin. I call those files "As We Grow" followed by the year. I also uploaded the series of pictures I put on this blog for making sauerkraut. Well, the day after I uploaded the pics to Mother, I went back to the site to make sure everything had posted correctly, and lo and behold, above my sauerkraut gallery was posted "Editor's Pick". I was so excited, and the neat thing about going back to look at your galleries is there is a counter that tells you how many people have looked at your pictures. It's pretty neat and there are some gorgeous pictures. My "Favorites" and "Original Homesteaders and New" galleries have gotten several views. The old picture of building Grandpa's barn was even emailed to somebody.

This post is getting pretty long so I think I'll quit here and make another!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Summer Fading Fast

The nights are definitely cold now. When I get up in the morning the fog is heavy in the marshes and my Vermont Country Store brass thermometer reads in the upper 30s - low 40s. The winter birds like nuthatches and chickadees are more prevalent at the bird feeders. I don't see the hummingbirds any more. And, of course, the leaves are changing their colors almost as you look at them. With the seeming collapse of the world's financial markets into BGD (Bottomless-Global-Depression), I decided to soothe my psyche and work in my field communing with Nature.

(I had a great time until Our-Government-At-Work decided to chemtrail the sky and spoil the view -- I guess The-Powers-That-Be are worried about farmers with pitchforks?)

Today I finished tilling the weeds under in the hops section that I began yesterday. Then I tilled the section next to it. I still need to do the section next to the perennial bed, and that should take me a whole day to do as it is the largest of my growing sections. I also checked the fruit trees and tilled the row I turned over a few weeks ago where I will put the plum trees. I think tomorrow I will dig the individual tree holes for them and the two apple trees that will be coming from St. Lawrence Nursery. I'll put the dirt from the holes in the high tunnel so it doesn't freeze. I'll be wrapping the fruit tree trunks with bark protectors before I know it.

There were some more tomatoes turning red in the high tunnel that I picked and took back to the house. I will have a great time canning the tomatoes when they are all ripe. I hope I can keep the plants in the high tunnel alive at least until the majority of tomatoes on them are sure to ripen.

I brought the camera with me out to the field to try and catch some of the Fall colors.

I also took some pics around the house.

My kindling box made from fallen tree branches isn't quite finished, but I like the rustic look of it. I'll cover it with a tarp when it's done to help keep out rain and snow. The picture with the wooden swing is a view of part of the front yard from our front steps. Tom's wood pile looks pretty good -- you should see how much wood he has stashed in the garage!

I am already thinking about next year. Despite our economic free-fall, I made a couple of seed/stock orders. I bought heirloom potato onions, Egyptian Walking onions, and golden shallots from Jung; and I found a great tomato seed company: where I found some neat heirlooms. I bought Indian Moon, an orange tomato heirloom from the Navajo people; Green Gage, a yellow cherry tomato but I forget where it comes from; Limmony, a beautiful large yellow variety from Russia; Large Red, the US commercial variety dominant before the Civil War; Red Brandywine; Italian Tree, another great-tasting, all purpose red variety that supposedly bears a full bushel of fruit per plant (I couldn't resist that hook!); and some more of the excellent Cherokee Purple that I tried for the first time this year. Lastly, from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., I bought Golden Giant amaranth, more Bull's Blood beets and St. Valery carrots, Di Firenze sweet fennel, Ground Cherry (husk tomato), Wonderberry (huckleberries), Early Purple Vienna kohlrabi, Giant Musselburgh leeks, my favorite Forellenschluss lettuce, and some more lettuces to try -- Rouge d'Hiver, Dark Lollo Rossa, and Rough Grenobloise; more Perkins Long Pod okra and Chinese Pak Choy; French Breakfast, White Hailstone, and Philadelphia White Box radishes; Laurentian rutabegas, and Navet des Vertus Marteau turnips. These, along with the various squashes, cabbages, and corn seeds I already have, should make for a great garden next year. I can't wait to sit down and work out the garden plan.

Did I tell you I bought from the Weideger's Au Naturel Farm ( their hoop house growing book, Walk to Spring? That is a great book! I feel more confident about growing in my high tunnel already! And from I bought Herman Beck Chenoweth's Free Range Poultry Production and Marketing set (production manual and accompanying video). I can't wait to work up my poultry plan for next year. If you want to sell chickens or turkeys, this is the manual to get.

With Mercury getting to go retrograde, it will be a good time to finish up tasks that I haven't been able to get to, and to do more research on the Local Food Atlas. I feel bad that I didn't do more work on it this summer, but I was just not mentally there, if you know what I mean. Anyway, we should have at least two more days of nice weather and I plan to get as much work done as possible.

We heard from Sarah and she seems to be doing fine. She has not received the majority of the boxes we sent her, but I think they will reach her soon.

Eddy goes Friday to see the doctor for his pre-op appointment before getting his ingrown toenails fixed. I will be getting him new shoes! Lara is doing well, and Tom is ok; the interferon makes him very tired. I am doing well on my diet and may just make my goal of 10 more pounds lost by the end of this month. I am very proud of myself! I can actually fit into my size 16 jeans. If I can get down to a size 14 before the end of the year, I will buy myself something nice as a reward.

It is getting late so I think I will go to Facebook and try to figure out how that works. Take care and keep your chins up -- when the economy finally hits bottom, it can only go up!