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Seeds, Oliver, beekeeping class, ferments, and GAPS diet.

Seed catalogs have started to arrive.  Doesn’t it seem a bit earlier this year?  I don’t remember getting catalogs before December.  Whatever, it’s nice to start figuring the next season’s planting as we head into the dark, chilly part of the year.  I’ll be sticking to the usuals, such as peppers, tomatoes, beans, etc, but I want to get more herbs going this year, along with root veggies, and maybe try again with the squash family.  (Why am I the only person on the planet who cannot grow squash??)

This past weekend, Isaac was in a musical at the high school.  He was in the chorus, playing one of the orphans and, later on, one of the thieves.  Rehearsals had been going on for two to three months — that was a lot of work, I bet.  They put on three shows over the weekend and we went to the Saturday evening one.  It was really amazing!  I was so incredibly impressed!  Not just at the hard work & talent involved but that people can get up on stage and do… anything.. in front of so many people — without having a nervous breakdown and passing out.  *shudder*  Taking him to & from rehearsals felt like a major pain in the butt at the time (it wasn’t, really; it only took a few minutes out of my day) but seeing the show made it all worth it on my end.  I hope he chooses to do more!

Our beekeeping club will be having their annual holiday dinner in a couple of weeks.  Man, those people are some good cooks!  At each holiday dinner, they hold a silent auction.  Most everyone brings something or two to put on the table and then we all mill around and jot down bids.  It’s to raise funds for the club and it’s just plain ol’ fun.  We’re not talking big ticket items, just little things.  I think last year I made a bee-themed bag?  This year, I’m making some bee sting/bug bite balm.  I’ve got some herbs infusing for it right now.  Maybe if I get enough time after Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll sew something up as well.

Speaking of the bee club, they’ve decided on a time for the 2013 beginning beekeeping class.  I’ll make a separate post about it down the road but, for now, it’s going to be February 16 from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.  Same as always:  Everyone is welcome, kids included.  You get not the class but also membership into the world’s best local beekeeping club, the Illinois state beekeeping association (you don’t have to live in Illinois), a free beginning beekeeping book, and door prizes.  The cost is $30 — that’s for the entire family, not per person, and includes everything I listed.  Good, good stuff from good, good people.  If you’re in northeastern Missouri, southeastern Iowa, or western Illinois and are at all interested in learning about bees, this is where you want to be.  You won’t be pressured to buy bees — at all — but you will have an opportunity to get in on the group buy if you wish.  Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you want more info.

I recently got in a much-awaited order:  Pickl-It jars.  Oh, man, I’m excited!  I’ve done great with ferments like kombucha, viili yogurt, and kefir — even doing some salsa now & then.  But, overall, I’ve had horrid luck fermenting veggies.  Sauerkraut, I’ve tried repeatedly and all have been disasters.  Blech.  Now, armed with the Pickl-Its, I can give t another go — anaerobically, as it should be.  This week, I’m prepping to start sauerkraut, kimchi, cranberries, ginger carrots, and beet kvass.  I got the beet tops cut off the beets this morning and put into the dehydrator.  I’ll pound those to dust and sneak them into various soups & stews over the winter.  I can’t stand the things but I can’t stand to let them go to waste , either.  From the book I have on anaerobic ferments, it says the beets need to sit for a week or so without their tops to concentrate the sugars, before I make the beet roots themselves into beet kvass.  I should be able to get the other ferments going over the next couple of days, though.  I’ll keep you all updated on my new fermenting adventures!

In other news, I’m going to be starting on the GAPS diet Monday.  GAPS stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome”.  Don’t let the “psychology” part of it fool you — while I may be completely psycho, it’s also for allergies and a gazillion other things.  It’s not a permanent diet but a temporary, healing diet.  The first month or so, the “intro” is rather restrictve but it’s very quick.  You start out with a limited range of well-cooked meats & veggies that are not likely to offend your system and then add other things back in, one by one, backing off if they cause you any issues.  Once you’re on the full GAPS diet, it’s pretty  easy as the choices are plenty.  The gut continues to heal and, after a year or two, all should be as well as can be and you can transition to a normal diet, to hopefully include even grains and other major offenders.  I’m going on it for my severe allergies.  There’s not much I can eat anymore without some sort of reaction — and those reactions are getting worse and worse.  I went on the full GAPS diet last year and saw some remarkable improvements, even without doing the intro.  It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure, but I’ve experimented on myself enough to think this could be at least part of the answer for me.  Either that or I end up in the ER one of these days with one of these stupid reactions to food.

So now ya know.  I’m sure I’ll be rambling on about GAPS this or that stages & foods over the next few months, probably some whining along with it.  Keep me in line, folks!

The poor, neglected orchard. (Neo-Hippies, unite!)

Waaaay back in later winter, I began desodding around the fruit trees, following up with a nice, thick layer of wood chips for mulch.  Then I busted my ankle and the farmer’s market came along and that was the end of my shoveling career for the spring & summer.  And the drought.  Oh, the drought.  Those poor trees had to compete with all of that grass for nonexistent water.

Finally, over the past few days, Cody & I have begun the desodding & mulching again.

After completely desodding to a 5-6′ radius, we put on a thick layer of fresh wood chips, courtesy of our electric company.

These wood chips are perfect for I’m doing, ala The Holistic Orchard.  Everyone has always told me that you cannot grow fruit without at least some spraying of chemical soup.  I’ve never done it but I did break down this spring and buy a bottle of spray… but could not bring myself to use it.  Then I found The Holistic Orchard (see short video from the author here) and got confirmation in what I’d already been working towards.  Ha ha!  Take that, bottle of chemical goo!

Finally, as we clean out the goat shed now & then. we dump a wheelbarrow full of soiled bedding to one side of the tree.  That side will being to break down into one that that favors certain soil critters while the plain chipped side will favor others.  As we work our way around the orchard, we’ll eventually get to dumping fresh soiled bedding on the opposite sides of the previously strawed trees.  By then, the already-strawed sides will have broken down somewhat and be favoring yet other critters while the fresh bedding  starts its thing again.  And so on, with a few other random things thrown in now & then.

The above tree was one I had started desodding early this year, pre-ankle bust, so it’s a smaller circle.  We’ll get around to enlarging the few smaller desods after we finish the completely neglected ones.

The mulching method I’m using is only part of the equation — it’s just the portion I’m working on right now.  I’m sure many will snicker at my attempt to keep everything spray-free but I truly believe it can be done.  Just as many snickered at my open-air poultry house but we went ahead with it.  It’s worked out beautifully. And my garden with the lack of synthetic mulch, fertilizers, and various ‘cides.  Once I get the soil back to health, the plants will be healthy, happy things, able to fully defend themselves against nature’s challenges.  And bluebirds & various forest critters will sing in beautiful three-part harmony.  And unicorns will glide over rainbows.  Groovy.

So keep the faith fellow neo-hippies!  Our nutty ways may one day rule the world.  ;-)

How long has it been?

I’m not at all happy with the way this summer has just blasted right past me while I’m distracted with market baking.  The baking has taken over my life.  Don’t get me wrong — I have a blast at market and love hanging out there with all of the folks.  But, dang.  I haven’t had time to tend to the garden.  I haven’t been able to just hang out with the kids and enjoy the summer off from school.  I can barely keep the house from getting to “condemned” status.  And I’ve certainly not had time to keep up with regular blog posting.  Not that I’m fretting over lack of blog posts for blogging’s sake, it’s that I haven’t had time to add to our little “family journal” here.  This is where I keep tidbits of our life so, when the kids are all grown & gone, we can all look back and say, “Oh, that’s when we did so & so” and “See how little I was then?”  Those sorts of family album “unimportant” things.  I do not like this whole missing a chunk of our life thing.

So what’s happened in the past month?

Duke had a birthday!!  He turned 10 on the 8th of July.  I can’t believe he’s 10 already.  Almost a teenager.  Geez.  A week or two later, he and Isaac got to fly out to Phoenix with Grandma Kaye and spend a few days with David & Miranda and Uncle Richard.  Duke & Charlie spent a week at 4-H camp earlier in the summer and had a good time.  Isaac spent a few days at the Missouri 4-H Congress.  Then Charlie & Isaac spent a week at Boy Scout camp and had fun.  The boys have all sorts of fun things to fill their summer and that is a good thing!  The girls are still a bit young for those sorts of trips but they’ve been able to hang at home and swim in our little redneck pool.  (Ooh, I have to get a pic of that for you guys!  Ha!)  Cody’s been working a few hours each week for some neighbors down the road.  That’s a good thing for gaining some independence & work experience and a little spending cash in the process.

The garden.  Oy.  The garden.  What a year, huh?  If there was ever a year to miss tending to a garden, this has been the one.  Even if I’d been here to take care of it properly, it wouldn’t have mattered a lick.  It’s just been too dry and too hot for too long.  In Oklahoma, we had heat & drought like this but we were prepared for it.  Here, we weren’t expecting it and our garden is still in its infancy.  We don’t yet have it all set up the way we want it with heavy mulch, etc.  In five years, maybe it’d be better able to withstand this summer’s weather but certainly not this year.  We’re getting a few tomatoes and will probably get cucumbers soon and melons in a few weeks.  Other than that, it’s a bust.  What’s the gardener’s motto?  Next year will be better!

Our birds took heavy losses this summer.  We had birds dying left & right from heat and raccoons/rats/possums/whatevers.  We hatched out a lot this year and lost most of them.  Remember the Ft. Knox of chicken houses we built in Oklahoma?  We expected heavy predator pressure there and built appropriately.  We never guessed that the “little” predators here in civilization would be so rough on the population so we built lighter.  We built open-air style to combat the colder climate but didn’t put in a concrete floor.  We meant to get around to it one day but figured it wasn’t at the top of the priority list and put it off.  But this year…  After losing several chickens, ducks, turkeys, and geese to digging predators, we finally got the hint.  A week or two ago, we finally poured concrete.  We poured a floor in the existing chicken house, plus one floor adjacent to that for a new waterfowl house, and a floor in our new back room addition.  (I don’t think I’ve ever posted here about the new back room we started adding last winter?  I’ll have to take pics of that, too, once I have more time.)  Steve is now working on an elevated chick cage for our new hatchlings.  We keep them in an aquarium in the house for a couple of weeks and will then move them outdoors where they have more room.  In the past, we’ve set them on the floor of the coop in a cage but mice & rats can still occasionally squeeze through the wire mesh and wipe them out in a single night.  This new elevated cage will solve that problem.  Ha!  Take that, you nasty little things!  With the concrete floor, we’ve not had any further losses to predators and the birds are laying better.  But, still, we’re not taking any chances with the hatchlings as mice & rats can squeeze in through any little opening and, even if there are no openings, they can hitch rides in with feed bags.  We’ve had a lot of trouble with our usual feed store (Farm & Home) having critters in the feed bags so we’ve just switched to a different one (Orscheln) that seems to be a lot better in that department.  Chicken house bonus:  To combat the recent heat, Steve has added a strip of wire mesh to the back wall of the chicken house, in place of one piece of sheet metal.  It provides a very nice cross breeze in there and can be added back on quickly once cooler weather arrives.

After completing the elevated hatchling cage (hopefully tonight or tomorrow), next on Steve’s to-do list is building the waterfowl house, expanding our fence, and building a bigger, better Critter House.  Know why?  Want a hint?

Goats!  We’re getting goats again!  At last!  We’re so excited!  (The exclamation marks might have clued you in as to our excitement.)  The above kid is a doeling called Gidget.  (Fitting name, eh?)

That big ol’ hunk of Black Angus-looking goat up there nursing?  That’s ShowTime, another doeling that will soon be ours.

And this is Patrick, the white-eared, handfed wether to keep the gals company.

Aren’t they gorgeous?!  The goats (and pics) are coming from Harmony Hill Goat Farm an hour or two south of us.  These are Kinder goats, a dual-purpose breed (milk & meat).  While their main purpose for us will be dairy, we will also be “harvesting” the excess down the road for meat.  Trying to find pastured meat & dairy that is affordable for us is next to impossible so we figured we’d be better off getting a dual-purpose breed.  Two birds, one stone, etc.  Plus we just flat-out love goats.  Well, most goats.  ;-)  (I’m talking about you, Bullseye!)  We’ll be picking the goats up a week from today, Sunday morning.  So excited!!

What else?  We’re gearing up for the start of school here.  Isaac is going to be entering the public school system in August so I’m working on transcripts for the local high school to see what he’s been up to.  The others will all be homeschooled still so I’m working on curricula & lesson planning and all of that fun stuff.  And, after going over my schedule a few million times, trying & trying to squeeze more time out of my days (and nights), I’ve come to the conclusion that there is  Just.  No.  Way.  I cannot possibly do a decent job of schooling these guys while working the 40-60 additional hours each week for market baking.  (Told you this baking thing had become full time!)  Homeschooling, with recordkeeping & planning, takes a good 60 hours each week for me.  Add in normal household duties, gardening (not that there’s much left to garden out there), settling in & caring for new critters, etc, and there’s no time left for sleep.  And I have to sleep. I’m so behind on sleep already, I don’t have any functioning brain cells left.  That’s not so good for teaching.  So I’ll be doing one or two more markets and then “retiring” for the year.

So that’s about where we’re at.  I’ll spare you pics of the shriveled-up garden with the shriveled-up cornfield behind it and, instead, treat you to goatie pics in a week or so!  And I hope to be back to more regular blogging again once I’m done with market in a couple of weeks.  See ya then!

Pest ID?

Before I forget, the new website is partially up if you want to go take a peek:  SlowMoFood  I’m going to be adding some more content this week.  A humongous thanks to David for setting it all up — and an even bigger thanks to Miranda for sharing him!

This morning, a neighbor stopped by for a pest ID.  I’m horrible with that stuff myself so figured I’d ask around.  These little bugs were on a squash leaf that had a shotgun pattern working in a curve across the leaf.  Any ideas?

Garden update:  Charlie has started picking the first of his cherry tomatoes!  We’re all very jealous but he has been nice enough to share them.  Some of our larger tomatoes have started blushing but our cherries in the main garden didn’t go in until much later so they’re behind the curve.  We have been picking blackberries and raspberries lately and, man, are they good!!!  And no thorns!  Both plantings of bush beans are up and doing well.  I think I’ll get another planting of them in this week or next.  I’m finally getting around to pulling the sugar snap peas this week and will be planting some pole beans in their place at last.  I got a few rows of muskmelons and watermelons planted last week, along with some basil the week before.Both plantings of cucumbers are up and doing well but nowhere near fruiting yet.  Luckily for me, my booth at the market is right next to some wonderful veggie farmers and they loaded me up with cukes this past weekend!  I pickled a couple dozen quarts yesterday.  We’ll probably crack one jar open tonight for a taste test because we’re all pickle freaks.

Another vendor gave me a big bag of apricots a couple of weeks ago and all I had time for then was to get them in the freezer.  I was going to turn them into jam and can them last night after I finished the pickles but the dang power went out.  A transformer blew right outside our house and we were a couple hours without electricity.  Maybe I’ll get time to do them up today?

Bimbo Bakeries

I’m not sure where we picked up these bread racks but they’re pretty fitting, eh?  We only have four and, man, have they come in handy!  I need to find out where I can get more.  With “Bimbo Bakeries USA” imprinted on them.

So remember I was doing a little baking to fill in at the farmer’s market until the garden starts to produce?  Ha.  It seems that baking is becoming a full-time profession for me.  Sourdoughs, French breads, soft sandwich breads, aged rustic breads…  And the sweet breads have become quite popular — sweet lemon bread, sweet orange marmalade bread, and pumpkin cinnamon bread.  I’m having trouble keeping up with demand with my crappy little one-rack oven.  We have a spare oven in the basement that someone gave us.  Assuming it’s in working condition, I’m hoping Steve can get it installed in the next week or two.

FYI:  I’ve decided I don’t want to mix this personal blog/journal/family photos with the biz side of things.  David is currently working on getting me set up on a new, separate site:  SlowMoFood.com.  I’ll let you all know when that’s up and running so you can take a peek.  In the meantime, I set up a Facebook page for it here:  Facebook/SlowMoFood

The garden is behind where I’d like it to be but certainly ahead of last year.  I’ve gotten in a second planting of bush beans and am still working on getting the last of the peppers in the ground.  I’ll try to finish that this next week, along with seeding some melons.  It’s still dry as a bone here, although we did get a very welcome 4/10″ several days ago.  There’s another chance for rain this weekend so everyone cross your fingers!

In my busy-ness, I didn’t make my usual birthday post but Nellie turned seven about a month ago!  Good grief, they grow up quickly!  She got several girly things for gifts but her favorite was having Grandma Kaye take her to a real beauty salon for a fancy-pants haircut.

In the animal department, things are going pretty well.  We’re now up to 24 ducks, including some Anconas I bought from a fellow vendor at the market last week.  I’m really, really, really liking ducks.  We had six geese but a coon or other nasty thing dug under their night pen and took the three smallest of them.  Our turkeys kept dying off until we only had a few left.  I finally got around to mentioning it to Gail, our turkey guru, and she suggested they might be eating the medicated chick feed.  Yep, sure enough, I had been mixing medicated chick grower with higher protein game feed for them as I had read somewhere on the internet.  We’ve now stopped that and we’ve had no more deaths.

The bees.  Oh, don’t ask about the bees.  I’ve been so busy, I haven’t checked them in forever.  I hope to get out there and do that this next week but don’t hold your breath.

So, yes, we’re still alive.  Things are going well — very well.  I love working at the market.  The customers are great and, even better, my fellow vendors are wonderful.  I was pretty intimidated by most of the other vendors at first, thinking they’d be competitive & snooty. Afterall, they’re all so experienced and I’m so very new to it all.   Nope, they are incredibly generous and welcoming, openly sharing their knowledge with me, friendly & chatting all morning long.  It’s a great group of people and I’m very thankful to be a part of them.  I look forward to each & every Saturday morning.  Pretty cool stuff.

Back to bimbo baking!

Eating my lunch.

I think Ilene put it best:  The farmer’s market has been eating my lunch.  It’s been fun.  It’s been educational.  And I’m so glad I’m doing it.  But, dang,…  Busy, busy, busy.

To do a quickie catch up on the garden:

We strung up fencing for additional tomato rows.  I’ll have to do a count but I think we’re talking a total of around 300 tomato plants in the main garden.  I just have about 50 more to put in the ground tomorrow and I can forget about tomatoes for a while.

The sugar snap peas are doing well, after a bit of sulking during the heat.  I came very close to pulling them during their pouty period so that some pole beans could take their place.  Remembering Josie’s pea drama last year, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Good thing because they’re now producing pretty well and I have some happy, pea-breathed kids.

I got the TPS (true potato seedlings) in the ground, taking the place of the frost-bitten potato pulls from earlier this year.  The frost-bitten onions are being replaced by a row of basil seedlings and a three double rows of bush beans.  With pole beans late to go in and needing bigger flushes for market, I bought a few pounds each of Contender and Top Crop bush green beans and got them planted tonight.  I’ll plant another couple of rows each week for a steady supply.  Pickling cucumbers went in this afternoon, as did a couple of rows of okra.  I’m not a big okra fan but I planted a row of green and a row of burgandy for my market customers.  Not being in the south, I don’t know how well they’ll be received so we’ll just have to wait and find out.  My broccoli and cabbages are a flop this year.  Either I put them in too late or summer weather arrived a bit to early — or both.  I’m still leaving them out there to grow for the moment since I can harvest the leaves here and there for slaw.

The front sidewalk is almost cleared out now.  I have the peppers still to plant, along with a few miscellaneous things.  Those giant piles of tomatoes, though?  Gone!  I think I have 20 tomato plants left.  All of the others have either been sold or given to friends & neighbors.  Makes me feel good to not have so many left over this year!

Hatching season, for us, is finally nearing the end.  There are a few dozen chicken eggs hatching out right now.  Most of those will go to friends of ours and the others will either be sold or go to replacing aging hens.  (We also have a couple of broody hens so there will be no shortage of chicks this summer.)  One incubator has eight or ten duck eggs, saved from our own ducks, and three more goose eggs to go.  If I’m remembering right, the incubators should be all cleared out by mid-June.  Whew.  We might have gone a little nuts on the incubating this year…

Farmer’s Market!  It really has been fun!  Mostly because the other vendors are so nice, as are the customers.  I’ve sold a ton of plants — man, those were a pain in the butt to haul back & forth.  Still, it was great getting others to try new varieties & colors of tomatoes.  I can’t wait to see them come back excited about growing even more next year.  I’ve also been selling fresh & dried herbs and some lettuce mixes.  The lettuce is about petered out for the spring so I’ll be pulling it out to be replaced with some hot-weather greens.  My big seller right now?  Breads.  I’ve been making French breads, Italian breads, and sourdoughs.  The sourdoughs will, I think, become my hottest item.  I love, love, love sourdough and I think that comes through.  I’m also making a few oddball sweet bakery items to round things out.  Last week was lemon bread and this week will be cinnamon pumpkin bread and chocolate cake with honeycream frosting.  Later on, I plan on adding some sourdough cakes & other sweets.

So, yeah, I’ve been a bit absent on here but we’re all doing well — and working hard.  Once I get a better rhythm down for this baking schedule, I hope to be more efficient & have more time to, well, sleep.  And maybe blog a bit.  ;-)

Caught another swarm & the end of potting up.

Over the weekend, one of Steve’s coworkers let him know that a swarm had landed in his front yard.  Would we like it?  Yes, please!  Steve was working so I loaded up a couple of kids and headed north of Quincy.  It was in a three foot tree in the front yard.  A couple of good shakes of the branch and they all fell nicely into a swarm box.  Got ‘em duct taped up, taken home, and hived up with some old comb to make them feel more at home.  Easy peasy.

A week or two ago, we got a call from Cara about doing a cut out.  A contractor working on an old house found bees living somewhere in the third story and contacted her to find an interested beekeeper.  I got there and the fella pointed out where they had been going in & out, way up high in the eaves of this gorgeous, historic three-story home.  I didn’t see any activity outside but he assured me that it had been up until that morning.  Not knowing bees, he thought that maybe bees just weren’t active in the mornings.  Once inside the third story, there were no bees to be found.  The walls were brick so they couldn’t be in there.  The ceilings were lathe & plaster, much of it fallen away so that I could see inside.  No bees.  I knocked all over the ceiling, trying to get a rise out of them in case they were hiding out of sight.  Nope, no bees.  We did find a pile of dead bees on a window sill in an adjoining room, away from the entrance/exit area but that was it.  That pile was only a couple of cups’ worth of bees so it wasn’t as if the entire colony had died.  We figure they must have heard that I was coming and moved away to escape the horror of my cooties.

In other news, the Great Potting Up Event has finally ended!  Whew! The pic below shows the sidewalk before I had even started the peppers, ground cherries, and wonderberries.  (The big, green clump on the left is the patch of sunchokes and the big, green clumps on the right are lemon balm and mints.)

Now, after potting up 551 tomatoes, 273 peppers, 42 ground cherries, and 54 wonderberries, plus the TPS and other miscellaneous seedlings already there, the sidewalk is full.  Good thing I didn’t bother potting up my own several hundred seedlings.  Those suckers are getting/have been planted out directly from their smaller 6-cell packs.

Speaking of which, it’s time to get out there and plant the TPS and the rest of the tomatoes.  I’m not sure if I’ll put the peppers, wonderberries, and ground cherries out yet.  I’ll have to see what my gut tells me when I’m out playing in the dirt today.  Have a good day, everyone!

Countdown to the farmer’s market…

The opening day of the new Hannibal Farmer’s Market is this Saturday.  Yikes.  I am so not ready.  These past couple of weeks have seen my spending hours on the phone with various state & local offices, getting paperwork, permits, & fees in order, and trying to come up with some general (sane) plan for it all.

A few days ago, I planted out 170 tomato seedlings into TomatoHenge.  I still have about 100 left to find spots for — and support.  I might end up having to do some fence trellising with them for this year.  The onions I planted earlier this year were bitten back by frost pretty hard and many of them did not survive.  I’ve bought a few replacements that I’ll get planted out this week.  Same for the potato pulls that were hit by frost.  I have a few dozen TPS with which to replace them this week.  I’m thinking I’ll get some dent corn planted this week as well and maybe some early plantings of bush beans.  I bought a few pounds so that I can succession crop them over the summer.

I’ll be spending the rest of today potting up the rest of the seedlings to sell.  And watching ducklings hatch!  We have six already hatched with several more eggs left to go.  Of course, they won’t all hatch out but we’ll hope for a good percentage.  Six goose eggs are keeping them company and due to hatch out in the next couple of days as well, along with a few chickens. Shortly after that, there are more goose eggs and a dozen White Silkies to hatch.  And did I mention I’m saving back duck eggs now to incubate?  Yeah, because I need more to do.

(For my notes, I set about five dozen chicken eggs to incubate on the… 9th?  10th?  Thirty of these will be for the Cooks to raise for a laying flock and we’ll keep the leftovers to sell or add to our flock.)

(Are you getting the sense of scatterbrained-ness in this post?  Yep.  I’m there.  Consider this one of my thinking-out-loud posts.)

The salad greens and herbs are doing very well so I’ll have plenty of those to sell at market on Saturday.  I’ll also have all of those seedlings for sale, along with some sourdough.  I fed the starter this morning and will begin baking tomorrow. (Cody’s grinding wheat as quickly as he can for me while I’m out tending to plants.  I don’t know what I’d do without him!)  Steve’s going to be working some miracles for me in the next few days to get canopy weights & tables made for me.  This is truly a family effort!  Then again, most things we do are.

By the way, the Hannibal Farmer’s Market does not yet have a website up and running but they do have a Facebook page.  Check them out here:  Hannibal Famer’s Market.  On that same note, I’ve been tinkering with the SpeedKin Facebook page.  I’ve had to go back to old blog pics since the garden isn’t terribly photogenic at present.  I’ll try to get some better pics with this in mind over the season.  In the meantime, check it out here:  SpeedKin on Facebook.  I’m open to suggestions.  :-)

The New Hannibal Farmers Market

When we first moved here, I asked around about the farmers market in Hannibal and got nothing but negative responses.  This year, a group of people got together and decided to take control.  The Hannibal Farmers Market is being reborn this year and I get to be a part of it!  How exciting!  Or at least it was exciting until I started trying to find my through all of the regulations at the various levels.  Sheesh. I think I’m finally getting a solid understanding of most of the requirements and I’ve typed it all out on my reference page here.  Maybe it’ll help some other poor schmuck out.

For the rest of you out there, stop by a see us!  We’ll be in the historic section of downtown Hannibal, Missouri every Saturday from May 19th through October 13th this year, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  We should have a pretty good mix of vendors selling a variety of items.  Once the gardens start coming in, I expect there will be lots and lots of fresh produce for you to choose from!

Personally, I’ll be selling breads (including sourdoughs), produce, sewn items and other crafts, soaps, seedlings for your gardens, and fresh eggs.  Later in the season, I hope to have beeswax and raw honey available (remind me to go give the bees a pep  talk!).  I’ll also take orders for live chicks to hatch out.  If you have any special requests you would like to see me carry, please let me know.

I’ll be working on getting a separate page set up for my farmers market customers.  You can see a link to it already along the top navigation bar.  I’ll try to get that done this week, along with reworking the Speedkin Facebook page and a newsletter.  I figure three different choices for customers/potential customers to be updated should be enough, right?  I assume that the Hannibal Farmers Market will be getting a website as well and I’ll link that once it’s up & running.

In other news, we had another turkey poult die overnight, one of the black ones.  That brings us down to 14 live chicks, I believe.  That’s still plenty enough to get us started on turkeys.

Yesterday, I got my main tomatoes planted out in TomatoHenge.  170 of ‘em.  I still have another 100 or so to plant out…. somewhere.  I’ll try to figure that out this weekend while I’m potting up the remaining seedlings for sale at the market.

Now off I go to don a beesuit and do a quickie inspection.  I’m betting (hoping?) at least a couple of the hives need a super added right about now.

Pokebator: Gonna hatch ‘em all!

So have I ever told you about my fear of styrofoam?

We now have two incubators and, for those of you unfamiliar with them, they’re made of styrofoam.  So what’s a slightly-off-her-rocker gal to do?  Modge Podge & Pokemon fabric!  We now have two dozen turkey eggs, two dozen duck eggs, and ten goose eggs in various stages of incubation.  The first of them should be hatching out in a week or so.

We bought the turkey eggs from a wonderful local lady we recently met, Gail.  The other eggs came from Bob, mighty leader of our Boy Scouts and an animal control officer to boot.  Ducks and geese at one of the local parks lay eggs and then kids come along and smash them.  What a waste.  So he’s been collecting them and giving them to us to hatch out for ourselves.  Good stuff!

He also let us know about a hen and chick at the humane society a week or so ago.  They’re not really set up for birds and wanted them out of there ASAP.  We bopped over there the next day and picked them up but it turns out that the chick did not belong to the hen.  The hen went out to be introduced to our flock and we built a small brooder for the chick.  (We had a few brooders already but they’re big, not appropriate for smaller amounts of chicks.)  Of course, one lone chick is a pitiful thing so we went and bought him a half dozen friends from the farm store.

Bee update:

I did a bee check today.  A fella came out to interview for the local paper this morning, doing a story to help us get the word out about a new 4-H beekeeping club we’re starting up.  While I was already suited up and showing him the hives, I went ahead and dug through them all.  The bees were very well behaved for us.  Thanks for coming out, Matt!

Fred, the 2011 Italian hive, is doing well.  This is the hive that split & swarmed.  So, while it is smaller than what it was, it’s doing fine.  Lots of nice brood in there.

Phyllis is still very small and I’m just not sure how that’ll all work out.  Our local beekeeping meeting is tomorrow evening so I’m sure I’ll get some good advice on how to handle it.

Hans Huberman is doing great!  Beautiful comb being built.

The new swarm hive completely wowed us.  Every frame was filled with bees and comb.  Gorgeous, creamy white comb!  I added a second medium to it, knocked off the entrance reducer to add a boardman feeder from one of the empty hives, and gave it one of the outer covers from the same empty hive.  (Originally, I’d put an empty box on top and gave it a tub of syrup, along with a Rubbermaid tote lid as a temporary cover.)  I love, love, love this hive so far.  We’ll have to give it a name soon and either give it a real hive stand or move it to one of the existing ones.

All in all, losing all of those packages was pretty tough but we’re already over it and moving on.  I’m sure there’s some Giant Life and/or Bee Lesson in all of this that we’ll figure out later.  I’ll try to read up on making splits and, eventually, someone will call us to collect a swarm or two.  In the end, we’ll come out just fine.

Garden update:

The Sugar Snap peas are up and doing well.  The broccoli & cabbage are growing… slowly.  The self-seeded lettuce patch is loving the spring and the lettuces I recently seeded are up.

All of the pulled (potato) sprouts got bitten back by frost.  Since there are no tubers under them, there are no reserves from which they can spring back.  I’ll replant those rows with something else, maybe the TPS (potato seedlings from True Potato Seed).

The onions I started from seed this year were perfect!  I’ll definitely be starting my own from seed from now on.  I love Dixondale but you all know how much I like being able to collect seed & start them myself.  But, this year, I’ll have to buy some plants from a local store.  We had just one too many frosts/freezes after I set them out.  Some will come through it but some are completely gone.

All of my mass-planted seeds are now separated, potted up, and living on the front walk (except for frosty nights).  In an effort to reduce the amount of potting soil I go through each year, I’m trying to keep most of them in 6-pack cells.  If I’m going to sell them, I’ll probably pot them up because people just won’t pay what the time and supplies are worth for the smaller plants.  Then again, once I pot them up and put that time & expense into it, there are so many unsold ones at the end that it’s not really worth it, either.  I need to get better at estimating what I’ll use + what I’ll sell + what I give away.  Heck, I give away far more than I sell each year.  That might be part of the problem.  Heh.  But, yeah, the sidewalk is still crowded with seedlings.

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