Saturday, June 29, 2013


Tonight we're having taco night at our house. We're making carne asada on the grill and all kinds of fixings. We're using the same marinade that the Hub's sister used when we went camping Memorial Day weekend, Tyler Florence's Mojo Marinade:
juice of 1 orange
juice of 2 limes, plus their zest
1/2 c olive oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

I tweaked it a little by adding the zest.

For dessert, I made Oreo Pie, from a recipe given to me at my bachelorette party by a college friend.

This morning I went over to the farm to check on the bees. I was going to add another super, and had it all put together and ready to go. But then I checked on the bees and the super we added a couple weeks ago had barely been touched. So I rearranged the supers, to put the empty one below a full one. I think we might harvest honey this year (fingers crossed)!

While at the farm, I also played with Freddy. We played fetch with the tire. I brushed him. I asked him to sit and smile, and he rolled over on his side:

I asked a second time and got this:
He's probably thinking "Mom, just throw the damn tire already!"

He's such a smart dog. Handsome, too. And ornery.

And a kitchen update:
Please excuse the construction equipment beside the food...
We started putting our island together again last weekend. The wall on the backside for the bar was installed, as well as the bar top. We decided to go with butcher block countertops. I've been rubbing them down with a butcher block conditioner that I bought at Menards. Construction is on hold because we're still debating on putting an electric outlet in - which requires chiseling out the floor and connecting the new outlet to the existing outlet by the dishwasher.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Raindrops keep falling on my head

I had no idea it was going to rain yesterday. I shy away from watching the news and forecast on the weekends because most of the news is depressing and if I'm at home most of the weekend I can change clothes to accommodate the weather.

Yesterday afternoon it poured down rain. Two inches per my rain gauge. I'll always welcome rain because it helps the garden and orchard grow. But I had been waiting all week for the garden to dry out so I could weed (we had 3 inches earlier in the week).

Right before the rain started, my replacement plants from Burgess arrived in the mail. They have a great, hassle-free replacement policy. They don't even ask you to send back the dead plants, just the shipping label. About $100 worth of plants had to be replaced. They had been in the ground for over a month and were not greening up at all. I asked for replacements for:
Blue spruce x 3
Blackberries x 5
Red raspberries x 3
Gold raspberries x 3
Cherry bushes x 4
Creeping phlox x 6
Rhubarb x 1

Early this morning, I donned my galoshes and replanted everything. I also took a walk to check out the Norway Spruce that I ordered from the Conservation Department this year. On the lower side of the property, 5 out of 19 trees are alive. On the upper side, 19 out of 25 are alive. The differences: the upper side was planted with leftover Myke from when I put our live Christmas tree in the ground, and the upper part gets more sun. I expected the lower side to have a better survival rate because it is partly sunny and wetter. I ordered 50 trees; I have two leftover in a bucket of water, and the rest were DOA.

Yesterday, we bought most of what we need to finish the kitchen island: 2x4s, wainscoting (for the backside) and a butcherblock countertop. We were going to do concrete countertops, but I was dreading the dust all over our furniture and carpet, and the amount of time it would take to make the countertops, and was really concerned about cracking. An 8' butcherblock countertop cost us $160 at Menards. If we like it on the island, we may replace the remaining countertops, which are currently a (nonlovely) forest green marble laminate.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Garden Report 6.9.13

Today was a rather productive day in the garden. It's not even noon yet and I accomplished all the garden chores I wanted to do today (except for one).

At this point, until I start harvesting, I am finished planting seeds. Unless, of course, I have to replant seeds again.

Today I replanted:
all the cucurbit family items: watermelon, cantaloupe, three varieties of cucumbers, acorn squash and summer squash. Of all the seeds I planted several weeks ago, only about half a dozen plants have emerged.

Illini and Kandy Korn sweet corn - because only about a dozen plants came up in two 20' rows - pretty disappointing saying the seed was this year's seed

I planted, for the first time:
2 half rows of Iochief and Golden Bantam sweet corn, and a whole row of Early Bird Garden sweet corn. The latter two are left over seed from last year.

a row of Top Notch yellow bush beans, and a row of Topcrop green bush beans

American Flag leeks where I harvested Karina peas - I pulled the pea plants because they were starting to yellow/die

I also planted marigold seeds between some of the tomato and pepper plants

Yesterday I hoe-ed between all the rows and today the Hubs rototilled between each row.

I put a slow release 14-14-14 fertilizer around all emerged plants. This way I'll know which seeds were replanted. I also put a combination of Dipel Dust and diatomaceous earth on the peppers, potatoes, beans and cucurbits. I put the dusts in one of the Hub's old socks and shook it around each plant. So much easier than a shaker!

The only chore left to do is mulch the strawberry and asparagus plants with straw. I may do that later this afternoon.

Chickens! (and bees)

I'm not gonna lie; this post may be graphic if you don't like to see raw chickens. There's a photo at the bottom of me plucking feathers from a chicken but otherwise nothing too crazy.

My personal belief is if you can't handle butchering an animal you have no business eating meat. Butchering gives you a whole level of respect and understanding for animals that is lost when you're standing at the meat counter at the grocery store. Butchering makes you really think about how many animals had to die to put 20 thighs in that big family package, and makes you realize just how pumped full of growth inducing hormones and food all those supermarket animals are.

Yesterday we butchered 4 roosters, 2 were from our farm and 2 were from my grandma. When you have multiple roosters in the same pen, they tend to fight each other and harass the chickens. Roosters aren't necessary for egg production, only for producing chick-filled eggs, so we decided to reduce the number of roosters. We still have one, a Buff Orpington. 

Curiosity did not kill this kitten!

Friday night, the roosters were pulled out separate from the flock and put in cages so they wouldn't eat anything. The less they eat, the less likely you are to get poop on yourself and the raw meat when you're butchering. 

My brother is responsible for the head-whacking, and I am responsible for holding the rooster in place during and after the head whacking. Surprisingly, chickens move A LOT after their head is gone and make some pretty strange noises as the wind is leaving their windpipes. I try to hold the headless body in place so blood doesn't go everywhere. 
 We hand-pluck the feathers after dipping the bird in hot water for a couple minutes. This helps the feathers to come out quickly. Then we remove the innards from the bird and break it down (cut the wings, legs, etc off the main body), and package each bird with my Foodsaver. Start to finish, it takes about 4 hours to process 4 birds.
You can see on my apron that a couple of the birds went a little crazy ...
Also yesterday, we added another super to the beehive because the one we added a couple weeks ago is completely full! We have one more super ready to add that needs to be painted, to protect it from the elements. I've been reading a lot about how much honey we need to leave for the bees over winter, and trying to figure out how we're going to harvest honey and honeycomb when it gets to be that time...

Friday, June 7, 2013


On our three country acres, I have a garden that is about 1400 square feet. Almost the same footprint as our house. 

We have unwanted visitors to the garden - the neighbor's horses, deer, and probably smaller critters that I haven't seen yet. 

Last weekend my dad and brother came over to help install the electric fence. My supplies included: 
a bundle of electric fence posts (kind of like rebar with an anchor on the bottom)
a bundle of t-posts
a spool of polywire
2 bags of electric fence post insulators
1 bag of t-post insulators
solar powered electric fence
ground rod

Installing the ground rod

My brother looks rather happy about pounding an 8' ground rod into the ground.... good thing it rained a lot recently and went in pretty smoothly.

I am missing a couple pieces that I didn't realize I needed, so the fence isn't electrified yet - hopefully it will be this weekend.
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