Sunday, June 15, 2008

Independence Days Week 7

With the crazy heat last week, it was hard to get much of anything done. We lost three broilers to the heat, but everyone else seemed to fare okay. Lots of water all around. Latte still hasn't had her baby.

Plant:

Several lettuce varieties, carrots, bunching onions, chard, beets, watermelon, muskmelon, corn, amaranth, popcorn.

I practice succession planting, which means that I plant smaller amounts in staggered plantings so that we'll continue to have fresh plants coming into harvest. I also try to sneak lettuces in where ever I can get them, so last week's lettuce planting went alongside the tomatoes that are still growing. This week's went into the high tunnel where I pulled all the old head lettuces. Eventually, the tomatoes will provide some shade to the greens, and the greens will help prevent soil splash on the tomatoes.

Harvest:

milk, eggs, strawberries, mixed lettuces, spinach, kale, radishes, turnips, beets, green onions, thyme, citrus thyme, cilantro, dill, rosemary.

Preserve:

10 half pints strawberry jam, 3.5 lbs butter, 1/2 gallon milk into queso blanco.



Store:

6 gallons maple syrup

Prep:

Jim and Jules continue to work on the bunny hutch, which is very nearly done now. Ordered irrigation materials. Jim got a new rifle for father's day.

Manage:

Took up the soaker hoses that I laid down last week—yup, I have a tendency to do stuff like that. After some hemming and hawing over the price tag, I sucked it up this week and ordered the drip tape set up that I've been wanting for the market garden. After last year's drought and drastic loss of potato crop, not to mention the low yields on other crops as well, I really wanted to get some drip tape in place for emergency irrigation. We're also working on a large gravity fed rainwater irrigation system that will operate without power, but for efficiency, it's hard to beat drip tape. I went with a small company in the next state over, so somewhat local. Joe, the owner, was very patient and kind on the phone as he helped me navigate the different options and choose one that would work for our needs.

I also weeded the market garden, laid polymulch between the tomatoes and peppers, Jim and I got about half of the trellises up, and I cleaned out the older lettuces in the high tunnel and brought some hens in to help with critter control before replanting.

Cook:

I made queso blanco for the first time, and it came out pretty well, though I think I hung it for too long, as it was a bit dry. The cool thing about queso blanco is that it won't melt, so you can even deep fry it, which I did. Its properties are very similar to tofu, so it will work well in any recipe that calls for tofu in addition to Mexican cuisine. We had ours on homemade flour tortillas that I deep fried as well and made beef quesadillas. Not the healthiest of meals, but tasty and local.


Add:

CSA harvest for 10 families. Had my first work share person offer hours yesterday, so I put him to work in the new berry bed for about 2.5 hours, trying to find the berries.

Reduce:

Continued with all of our composting, reusable bags, etc. But something I thought of that I haven't talked about was my shift away from using the vacuum cleaner whenever possible. I do a lot more sweeping than I used to, and we're moving away from carpeted surfaces in the house that can't be swept or taken outside to clean. I don't know how much this saves electricity-wise, but considering that with 3 kids and 2 dogs in the house I'd reach for the vacuum at least 2-3 times a week, it must save a considerable bit. Now, I use a broom every day—well, erm... almost every day—and vacuum once every couple of weeks for a deep clean. Moving the dogs outside into the barn really helped to cut down on dust and dirt as well. Man, farm dogs are just plain filthy!

Learn:

I continue learning about cheesemaking, and yes folks, I'll post those recipes soon. But in the meantime, let me declare that I'm working exclusively out of Ricki Carroll's book Home Cheese Making for those interested in purchasing it. It's a really great resource with loads of info and tips. I also buy my cultures through Ricki's business The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Just a fabulous resource for the beginning cheesemaker.

Also this week, I've been delving back into seed saving info, trying to cement in my sieve of a brain which things cross pollinate with which. I ended up yanking the michihli that I'd been saving because both the tatsoi and the turnips in the high tunnel bolted quickly, and I wasn't able to stay on top of those flower heads. So, my michihli was likely compromised. My radishes, spinach and lettuces should be good though, so I left some of those in place. I'm hopeful for my sorrel as well.

12 comments:

Verde said...

I think I'll get that cheesemaking book. I'm just a little discouraged about my cheese making falures and need to get some successes going.

Great post as always.

jenny said...

Boy! I'm jealous of that butter you are preserving! We are butter lovers here and the best I can do is look for sales on butter at the local food stores. How much cream/milk does it take to make a pound of butter? Do you salt it or add anything or is it just pure churned cream?

Dave K - a fellow gardener said...

While you're using hens for critter control, you may instead want to check out some cool products I found online for getting rid of pests in your gardens. There's a product I picked up for my wife's garden called the YardGard, I think by a company called Bird-X. It uses high frequency sounds (above human hearing) an has a motion detector attached. It has a setting for several different types of critters, is weatherproof and can run by AC power or batteries. It has worked like a charm for my wife. This company has all kinds of products that get rid of critters without hurting them at www.bird-x.com

Madeline said...

Interesting info from Dave there. And you! You are the independence queen. That fried meal you made, by the way, is so much healthier than the fried southern meal we had out (Jesse's birthday request) the other night. You are using wholesome oils and cheese. Sounded delicious.

Also, thanks for the yogurt/yolk poult recipe as it seems to be working. Two of the three poults that G has brought home to hand raise are thriving.

Angie said...

I love reading your blog. Our lives are very similar with the exception of milking the cow!

We are actually getting dairy goats, so we too will be jumping into the milking/cheese making ring.

Your veggies look great!

Alex Polikowsky said...

Hey thanks for the info on the book about cheese making. I will be getting it right away!

Danielle said...

Thanks for the comments, and glad the book info was helpful. I've found her stuff indispensable for getting started—everything conveniently in one place.

Jenny, at the moment I get about a pound of butter, maybe a little more, from 2 quarts of cream. I get one quart of cream from skimming between 1.5-2 gallons of milk, but Jerseys are high in butterfat. I don't know, for instance, whether Alex would get that from her holsteins, but maybe.

Madeline, glad the yucky mix is working for you. I'm now making mine with homemade raw yogurt. What could be better than that?

Angie, I'm enjoying perusing your blog as well, though I find myself wanting to see more on the farm blog—I'm intrigued! Good luck with the goaties. We have Nigerian Dwarf goats, but I never really got enough milk to make much cheese, and I'd have to save it over days. I'm lovin' the cow's milk!

Alex Polikowsky said...

Hey I got a milking Jersey too!!!:)and I actually have a handful of holsteins that are pretty high on fat content ( they get tested every month so we know exactly what they are making) But Jerseys are the best!!
I can still get plenty of cream milking about 90 cows twice a day!!
I can't wait for the book to get here. I ordered that day from amazon and been dreaming of home made cream cheese....thanks again.

Alex Polikowsky said...

Oh, You are such an inspiration Danielle!

Danielle said...

lol

I was meaning cow per cow, Alex. Lord knows with 90 holsteins you could probably be bathing in cream if you wanted!

I didn't know you had a Jersey too—just one?

Alex Polikowsky said...

I know isn't it ridiculous that I have never made cheese? Its one of my favorite things in the world( next to ice-cream)!
We have only one Jersey. It is a cute story and I think I will post in my blog about it since we just had a baby jersey bull born last week.
Minnow is my son's cow.
We love Jerseys. Well actually we had a few more we co-owned with a friend but they lived in his farm. We sold two last year and we have one more there but I don't count them cause they are not here. Now am blabing....;)

CG said...

I never liked Ricki's book, mostly because she pushes her own products and makes it seem like one cannot make cheese without them. One can. Cultures are simply buttermilk (mesophilic) and yogurt (thermophilic). Very simplest, easiest, self-sufficient book by far is Goats Produce Too by Mary Jane Toth. For supplies, I like Hoegger's.