Friday, September 30, 2011

Blue Hubbard Squash

I get asked alot about what to do with this beautiful squash --

Well, you can cook it like you do any other winter squash.  Don't let the size of this squash put you off from buying one.  

First I cut it in half, piercing the rind in a rib line with a sharp knife.  I don't try to cut the squash through; just cut each side at a time. 

See how big the hollow is in this half?  Take out the seeds and set them aside to clean and dry for your next year's planting! Then lightly grease a baking sheet and put one half on it.  I have to cook each half separately because both halves won't fit in my oven at the same time.  I usually place it cut side down first and bake it in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes before turning it over and cooking it another 30 minutes.  Depending on how big the squash is and what you want to do with it, it takes between 45 minutes and an hour to bake.  For me, it is done when you can easily pierce the meaty side of the squash with a fork.

I then scrape the meat out of the squash and mash it with a little butter.  We like to drizzle maple syrup over it.  This half squash fed my hungry family of four.  I'm going to use the other half to make this Maple Squash Pie recipe. 

Blue Hubbard squash tastes great and keeps well.  Don't be afraid to try it!

Taking a Walk

The weather lately has been cool and rainy, but I did manage to dodge rain drops the other day to walk around the woods and take some pictures.

I like the spots that let you peek through to see the big marsh.  There are several of them on the other side of the big marsh, but that will have to be a walk on another day.

Here's a nice critter condo.

This looks like a good spot to lay down wet hay and spread around some mushroom spawn.

These little maples aren't wasting any time claiming their place in the forest. 

Look at how these new maples sprout from this stump.

Here's a little basswood tree.  The tornado took out most of the big basswoods and I miss them.

This is a mature yellow birch left to be a seed tree.  Isn't the bark gorgeous?

There are still lots of bees buzzing in these forest flowers.

I don't know what this vine is, but it is thriving on the banks of the creek twisting happily amongst the dogwoods and blackberries.  The tree colors are pretty, too.  When I have more time I'll have to check out how the beaver dam is looking, but that's a longer walk.

Help Save Landreth Seed Company

Thanks to Mr. H over at Subsistence Pattern for passing this on.  I ordered my catalog and some seeds, and I look forward to ordering more after perusing the catalog. 

Have you done a good deed today?
Help Save Landreth Seed Company

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What My Eyes See and Heart Tells

I have to tell you about an incident that occurred at the last farmers market that really disturbed me; I just can't get it out of my head.  Three young people came to my stand, two boys and a girl.  If any of them was over 25, I'd be surprised.  I don't even think the girl was 21.  Anyway, the girl wanted to buy some of my potatoes.  She had a booklet of WIC/FMNP (Women Infant Children/Farmers Market  Nutrition Program) coupons and turned to one of the boys to help her use them.  I was surprised that she did not understand how to use the coupons because they are essentially used the same as money, so I took a closer look at her.  She was very thin with a pretty face, and tatooed and body pierced up and down, but that was not what disturbed me.  When her companion gave her a $3.00 coupon from the booklet and she turned to look at me, her pretty blue eyes and face were absolutely vacant.  There was simply nothing there.  This girl was literally incapable of thinking for herself.  Really.  She could not function independently.  I walked her through picking out the potatoes she liked from the bushel basket and placing them on the scale to be weighed.  She gave me a happy smile when I finally bagged the potatoes and gave them to her.  Then the three of them walked away.  It was then that I thought, if she had WIC coupons . . . then where was the baby?

And that wasn't the worst of it.

While I was waiting for the girl to pick out the potatoes she wanted, I saw another young man walking down the sidewalk across the street.  I doubt that he, too, was more than 25 years old.  I swear that but for the loose overalls he wore, he didn't have a stitch on, and the overalls were slit up to almost the hip on both legs.  He walked, not like a human being, but an ape.  He was fair complexioned, had a lumbering gait, and he kept his head lowered and avoided eye contact with other people in the area. His hands were curled under like an ape's hands when it walks.  It was almost as if they were paralyzed in that position.  I was absolutely shocked. 

On various radio shows I have heard of people talk about America's disaffected youth.  I believe that I have finally seen what these radio hosts have.  But do I think these young people I saw were representative of the majority of American youth?  Adamantly, no.  Yes, we are living through hard times, and the world we know is transforming like a caterpillar into a butterfly before our eyes.  Nothing will ever be the same -- including us.  And, unfortunately, there will be some people not strong enough mentally or emotionally to make it through these times to see the sun shine again.  Many will.  What is important to remember is to be mindful of our attitude.  These hard times WILL pass.  There IS hope. 

I came across a link to a video that was posted on a listserv I subscribe to that I believe is good to share at this point.  It is an example of how one family did not succumb into negativity following adversity, but rather used it to turn their ranch around.  Most people don't have what this family started with, but the point the video makes is relevant no matter what you have:  BELIEVE in yourself and you will find a way to make your life better.  Here's the link --  Imperial Stock Ranch.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Harvest in Full Swing

Did you see the harvest moon?  It was so bright and beautiful, I thought for sure I'd hear some wolves howling at it, but they must be busy elsewhere.

Harvest Moon

I know I've been busy!  First, allergies laid me low for three days again, but thankfully I'm back on my feet.  I thought I'd turn into a lemon from all the lemon tea with honey I drank.  Then there was running to the doctor with Lara for her annual check up.  The nurse practitioner we saw was appalled that Tom and I never had any kind of health care assistance in caring for Lara and Ed.  Suddenly we have seen a home health care intake nurse and had a home physical therapy evaluation to see what kinds of mechanical aids we might be able to utilize at home and what body strengthening exercises we can do with Lara; a nurse has already come out to give Lara a bath for me (to give my back a rest from constantly lifting her); an occupational therapy evaluation is being scheduled to see just what finer motor skills Lara has or may need help with; and, there is the possibility of linking us up with a social worker who would provide us with information about other services we might be able to receive for both Lara and Ed.  And on Monday, Lara and I go to see a dietician to help with setting up a proper dietary program for Lara.  Wow! Am I still on planet Earth?  This all has been difficult for Tom and me.  We have always cared for Lara and Ed ourselves or had close family help us (thanks, Aunt T and Grandma Hon!).  Learning how to accept help from other people is foreign to us, but I realize that we are not getting any younger and taking care of Lara and Ed will not get any easier for us.  So, it is best to admit our limitations and get what intervention we can now before one of us gets injured lifting Lara and care giving turns into an emergency situation.  With the way the economy is there is no telling how long the help will last, but I'll take what we can get for as long as it lasts.  What we learn from working with these professionals can only help us.  I'm grateful for their help.  We paid taxes all our working lives so I guess I shouldn't feel guilty about finally using social services.  Still, it's hard, but I have to admit I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me.  Subconsciously I must have been worried about getting help.  I believe Pluto went direct today.  I surely feel transformed by events!

On other fronts, I started working in the forest garden to get those raised beds built I mentioned in earlier posts.  They don't look like much yet, but you should be able to see the outlines.

I'm going to lay down lots of green matter and cover it with manure and good compost.  As the site slopes slightly, the deep rooted horseradish  and rhubarb will each go into a bed of their own and hold down the soil.  The work is going faster than I thought it would and I should finish it in another day.  Hurray! 

We have a healthy squash harvest this year.

Tom's Garden Squash Harvest
Here are some of my Blue Hubbard and Sunshine squashes.  I'm so happy I finally got some Blue Hubbard to grow.  Some of them are still a little green, but they will keep a couple of weeks and ripen up.  I still have the New England pie pumpkins and a few more Hubbards out in the field that I will have to gather fairly soon now that we had our first hard frost of the season last night.  I don't know what it is about squash, but it's only when I harvest them that I feel like I really have a harvest.

My Red Cloud potatoes sure didn't last long.  Lara and I sold half a bushel the first day at market, then I sold a full bushel to the neighbor down the road, and that leaves barely one more bushel to sell.  When we harvested Tom's potatoes, for some reason he only got two bushels, and those were very small so we won't be taking any of those to market.  He planted Red Pontiacs and Superior varieties.  I think I'll stick with my Red Clouds.

This afternoon we were back in Tom's garden again and harvested another trailer load of corn and squash.  We were going to bundle the collards to sell at the market, but they are so bug chewed I told Tom I couldn't sell them.  But we will eat them.  Bug chewed leaves don't bother us.  I'm going to leave my Golden Bantam corn on the stalk and let it dry.  I'll shock the stalks after they turn brown and shell the corn to use for seed and chicken feed next year.

The kitchen is really full.  From saucers of fermenting tomato and cucumber seeds, kefir brewing, eggs that need to be washed and almost ready crocks of sauerkraut calling out to yum it up with a nice pork loin in a pot, harvest here is in full swing. 

I feel good.

Mining Update

I've just received some information on the September 30th rally.  The event is being billed as a "Hootenanny and Camp Out".  It will be in the Penokee Hills September 30 - October 2, 2011.  It is an alcohol and drug free event.  For more details, go to  If you need even more information, you can email or  If you would like to volunteer, contact

There will also be a presentation about the proposed Penokee mining project and (1) how it would affect the Northwood's flora, fauna, public health, and economic future; and, (2) what YOU can do to raise awareness of it.  This presentation will be held this coming Monday, September 19, 2011 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at the Portage County Library, 1001 Main Street, Stevens Point, WI.  The presenter will be Frank Koehn.  Here is a link to an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that will give you an idea of what the Northwoods faces with this mine: 

Personally, I am all for progress and certainly welcome jobs coming into the area, but I am NOT willing to sell my soul or sacrifice our splendid natural resources just for money.  Once Wisconsin's natural resources are gone, they are gone forever.  No amount of worthless dollars or paper promises is worth the loss!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Something Wicked This Way Comes

One night a couple of years ago there was a meeting up in Glidden "informing" property owners about mineral rights and mining. My sister and I went to this meeting.  While there, as a former legal secretary, my "critical listening" antennae started buzzing -- something was up.  Somebody, somewhere in the mining industry was discretely sniffing for information.  Nothing overt happened that I could detect, and I relegated the event to the remote-but-not-forgotten memory section of my brain because my antennae aren't often wrong about such things. 

Now, guess what I've just learned?  The illustrious corporate whores in the Scott Walker administration are working hard to undermine Wisconsin's strong protective mining laws (look up LRB-2035 and be on the look out for similar legislation to be proposed) and allow Gogebic Taconite LLC (of Cline Resources Group out of millionaire Christopher Cline -- BTW coincidentally(?!) another campaign contributor (from West Virginia) of Governor Scott Walker []) to mine iron ore in the pristine Gogebic-Penokee Range of northern Wisconsin with little to no regard for environment or citizenry.  So what's the big deal, you ask?  Well, go to and check out the information there to find out.  There is supposed to be a rally on September 30th at Copper Falls State Park about this, but I don't have any other information regarding the rally.  While you're at it, think about joining former Senator Russ Feingold's Progressives United that is trying to get the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision overturned that will help prevent outside interests from interfering in political elections. 

This is just one more reason to RECALL SCOTT WALKER and get rid of his cronies.  Does something wicked this way come?  Yeah -- if we let it. 

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Saturday Market

Proud to say I chipped in to have this sign made for our market

Saturday started out rainy and chilly.  I was tempted to turn the car around and come home while Lara and I headed toward Phillips because the rain was coming down so hard, but I took a chance that the rain would stop, and it did shortly after we reached the farmers market.  I was surprised at the number of customers that showed up; usually when the weather is off so are the customers.  I suppose the good numbers were because of visitors and the long Labor Day holiday weekend.

Marie, a local caterer and long time local food supporter, had a tent next to us and cooked samples of the everybody's produce.  The air smelled soooo good!  She bought some of our Red Cloud potatoes and made "Loaded Potatoes" (steamed potato split and filled with your choice of chicken or pulled port, steamed veggies, and topped with dollops of sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese).  Lara and I bought one and was it ever good.  Talk about healthy eating!

Marie and her tent

We sold another bushel of corn and close to 30 pounds of potatoes.  Lara and I were very pleased when a man came to our booth and told us he thought we had the best tasting food at the market!  That really made my day.  My produce may not be the biggest or prettiest or largest quantity, but I don't use commercial fertilizers and I slug through the growing season with only hand tools and my trusty BCS 722 walking tractor.  My produce tends to be small because I am still building my soil's fertility, but you just can't beat those old heirloom varieties for taste.  They shine!  And the lady that bought my small onions last week, came back and bought more because she said she loved the way they tasted.  When customers come back like this you know you are selling real food.

This is Dawn.  She networks with John and Floyd, the guys who take the time to haul everybody's scales down to Medford each Spring to get calibrated for the season. Because they are a network of growers, they always have a wide selection of veggies at their booth.  I like the way they use old potato and feed sacks to decorate their table.  I bought a whole box of tomatos from them for $18 to supplement the less than half a bushel of Rutgers tomatos I got from my garden. 

Phil didn't want his picture taken but allowed me to take one of his booth.  His veggies are simply enviable.  He gave me some advice about my soil, which was very nice of him.  We are a friendly group in Phillips, but we are definitely food oriented.  While we can offer crafts for sale, at least 50% of each booth must be dedicated to food or food products!

Phil's table

This is our market manager, Diane of B's Flambeau Acres.  She and her husband, Alan, sell honey and maple syrup.  It's delicious!  Diane was the first friend I made when we moved to Wisconsin and she is very dear to my heart.

Diane of B's Flambeau Acres
And to round it off, here is our booth and the rest of the vendors at the other end of the market.  I'm embarrassed to say that I can't remember everybody's names.

Find the farmers market nearest where you live and visit it.  Farmers markets are good for the stomach and good for the soul!