Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy new year!

We would like to wish everyone a happy new year.
This past year for us has been tough, personally, and we would like to thank all our family, friends, and members for sticking with us through it.

Especially our members. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

We will be offering our open shares in February, after first offering 2007 members renewales in January.

We have so much planned for 2008. We know it will be a great year! We are busy planning!
If you have any questions about next year please email us at

First Draft seed list...

We got our first draft of our seed list done last night. Finally.

85 different varieties. OH! But we forgot Basil, or any herbs, and we need more of this less of that. I still think that 8 varieties of radishes may be excessive! But those pretty multicolored bunches (which sell great at market) require 4 types. Then we have an extra early for the spring, a black winter radish (anyone like those?), a diakon, and a wonderful heirloom French one, which you cannot take from me!

So far our seeds are being sourced pretty reasonably with Johnnies Selected Seeds, E&R Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange being our main sources. There are other sources for the harder to find stuff, but I will not reveal them! :) Well maybe if someone asked I would.

The next thing to do will be to figure out our heirlooms, and make sure we have enough in all the categories. As we grow very naturally it is a safety net for us to grow some hybrids (many of which are still older varieties) but they can have more disease resistance then others, and like the heirloom radish, you will have to pry my powdery mildew resistant Acorn Squash from me to get them!

All our seeds come from "safe seed" sources which promise not to knowingly sell any genetically modified seeds.

We may actually stay under 100 varieties this year?

((probably not :) ))

Friday, December 28, 2007

What to get?

It is hard to explain how the seed selection process works.

First, we get all the catalogues and are filled with optimism at the possibilities. We flip through them casually, again and again, reading descriptions to each other. Marveling at what is available.

Then reality starts to hit. We have a list of items from previous years we know we need to grow...
  • Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes - an unbelievably long producer of cherry tomatoes.
  • Pink Brandywines - which even through we have had mixed luck with we almost HAVE to grow if we say we grow heirlooms!
  • Padron peppers - which we feel there HAS to be a local market for.
  • Santa Fe Grande peppers - which I need for my jelly.
  • Mexican Gerkin Cucumbers - which are just fun!
  • The list goes on on and on...
Then there are items which we did not grow last year and miss! This list is maybe 4 or 5 things long.

Then we have the "staple" items. We need 2 or 3 varieties of green beans, of beets, of turnips, of radish, of lettuce, of lots of stuff.

Then there are items we are still looking for the best in. What is the best variety of green pepper, of jalapenos, of zucchini?

When we are done with all of this sometime in the next couple weeks our list will be too long. It is a guarantee! Then the hard work of cutting begins. We will only grow 4 types of radishes! We only need 10 types of tomatoes. 3 hot peppers and 2 sweet.

The pea shown above is SO cool. It is an edible yellow pod pea from Seed Savers exchange. But it will not make the cut. The plants require trellising (we are avoiding trellising peas this year) and grow 6 feet tall. And we already have 3 types of peas on the list!

Eventually we will have a list of somewhere near 100 items that we will grow. The list always creeps a little, but a goal is good! So seed varieties, here we come!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What to buy organic...

In these cold dark days of winter we in Northeast Ohio are forced to buy much produce at the grocery store if we do not want to subsist on beans, root crops, onions, and hydroponic lettuce! So how do we know what we should buy?

I have found the following list to be very helpful. The "dirty dozen." Those foods which we should buy organic when we can... • Apples• Bell Peppers• Celery• Cherries• Imported Grapes• Nectarines• Peaches• Pears• Potatoes• Red Raspberries• Spinach• Strawberries...

Then there are the 12 which are least likely to be contaminated. • Asparagus• Avocados• Bananas• Broccoli• Cauliflower• Corn (sweet)• Kiwi• Mangos• Onions• Papaya• Pineapples• Peas (sweet)

Here is a pocket sized pdf to carry with you when you shop.

This is a breakdown of the results of testing.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Another BlogPulse Chart

Look at how closely the terms "local food" and "organic" track each others on blog posts across the web.

What I find even more interesting is that "local food" is a more popular term then "organic."

Time for farm!

Well, the holidays are almost over. And hundreds of cookies, pounds of candy, and a handful of meals later I can finally breath!


But now it is time to get ready for the 2008 season! We expect to take deposits from existing members in January and order our seeds. In February, we will accept new members and put up a small hoophouse. In March the first of the starts are planted. The first items go in the garden in April. In May the major transplanting is done. In June we will have our first shares available. In July the bounty of the season will really start. By August everyone will be tired of summer squash. In September we will reach the peak of peppers and tomatoes. In October the winter squashes will start to appear. November may see a short fall season. In December we hope to offer one last "Christmas" share featuring storage crops.

And then it will be time to start over again!

(I'm tired just thinking about it. I better take a nap when I get home, or curl up in front of the fire with my seed catalogues!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not alone...

The following is a trend log from BlogPulse which indicates in the past 6 months how often a certain phrase was used in blog posts. It can show an upsurge of interest. The 1.3% of all blog posts have the phrase r-BGH.

Compare that if you like to "republican" peaking at .5% in the past two months or 1.05% for "President" or .75% for Bush and .7% for election and you will see how important this issue is to people.

More on Milk...

The labeling of milk battle continues and 7 out of 20 people who will get to make the decision about labeling our milk have a direct interest in preventing it.

A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch said "Dairy farmers who don't use hormones in their cows want to advertise that fact on product labels. But farmers who do use the hormones to stimulate milk production say such labels imply that their products are inferior." By this argument is not almost all product labeling (not to mention advertising) wrong. And should vitamin enriched milk be permitted to be labeled? What about skim or 1% milk? What about that perky word "organic?" Does not all that imply inferiority of non-complying milk? Does a sell by date indicate older milk is inferior?

Why would they think that consumers would jump to the conclusion that hormone free milk is superior? Because people are starting to wake up. It is the same reason that they don't want GM-free foods labeled. If people are kept blind then their product is safe. Read this...

The first step to prevent the ban of a product is to remove public awareness of its use.

I am not normally an activist, and if you read my blog you will not see me having done this before BUT this is important, because Ohio is the second battle in this war, and it will be a war. And in Pennsylvania, the first battle, we lost. Ohio can set a precedent, good or bad, for other states to follow.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Why do I care so much about milk labeling when I have never even touched a cow? (Well maybe I did when I was kid, I don't remember.)

I think it is the beginning of a slippery slope. When big Ag starts saying what we can and cannot truthfully label our products we are in trouble. What if they decide that we cannot say we are sustainable, or natural, or plant heirlooms? They want to equalize all food, a tomato is a tomato (although tell someone comparing a Brandywine and a grocery store "normal" tomato that), milk is milk, and food is food. There are no differences and if you as a small producer say there is they will come after you.

I believe that there may come a time in my life when doing what I am doing, selling produce which is grown naturally and small scale directly to customers, will become illegal. But I will discuss that another day. For now consider taking action this milk issue, because it is a slippery slope!

I just received this email from another friend... Another good idea for action... They are hoping to push it through when people are busy with the holidays. But we can stop them... We can!

"The Organic Valley website says:

This Wednesday (that's tomorrow, Dec 19) the Ohio Dairy Labeling Advisory Committee is meeting for the last time, and the Ohio Dept of Ag could make a decision on the "labeling gag rule" as early as January 1. If we can make a successful stand in Ohio, we'll send a clear message to decision makers everywhere that citizens will not allow corporate interests to prevent us from making informed choices about the foods we eat.

In addition to contacting the Governor, and write to your local paper. You'll alert the public and let decision-makers know that you value the right to know how your food is produced."

We need your help! Labeling Milk...

As many of you may know there is a hormone, rBGH, which is regularly injected into cows to make them produce more milk. This is not good for the cows. It makes them more prone to infection, which in turn means more antibiotic. In addition, there is quite a controversy about what exactly this hormone might do to us or our kids. Look at this. Or this.

Now, if a company wants to manufacture this and people want to buy it, I'm not going to make any comments. But don't we have a right to know if it is in our milk? (Or was injected into the cows our milk comes from?) But Monsanto does not want you to know what you are consuming. They say it does not make any diffrence to the milk and milk is milk is milk...

I think we do have that right to know, and the state of Ohio is trying to pass a law that would make it against the law to accurately label milk as rBGH free! If you think we have the right to know what is in our food, please consider calling the governor's office : 614-466-3555 or going to their website and send an email or write them Governor Ted Strickland, Governor's Office , Riffe Center, 30th Floor, 77 South High Street, Columbus, OH 43215-6108.

This already happened in Pennsylvania. And it can happen here to!

Info from Food and Water Watch:
This isn't just an issue for these states, this is certainly an issue that affects all of us. Known as rBGH or rBST, the genetically engineered hormone is injected into cows to make them produce more milk. Besides the documented increase of infections in dairy cows injected with rBGH, which necessitates increased use of antibiotics, there are ongoing questions about links to cancer in humans. As a result, most of the industrialized countries in the world have banned this hormone, including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and all 27 countries in the European Union. Denying consumers information about dairy products made from milk produced without rBGH leaves consumers without the information they need to make informed choices.

Reading or writing a blog...

This morning I hoped on BlogLines and noticed I was up to 42 feeds!

((How a feed works is that every time there is a new post on a blog you like it automatically is shown on your feed list so you can click and read it without actually going to the blog.))

On a normal day these 42 feeds result in 10-15 posts, and it makes it so much easier to keep up with the blogs. But until I started mine in late October I had never read a blog! Now I spend 30 minutes or more a day reading other blogs. My feeds include a lot of small farms, organic food and natural living blogs, blogs about babies and pregnancy, blogs from chefs, and more. I had to take off Wired and Fast Company because I could not keep up with all their entries!

The issue is when I am reading other people's blogs I am not posting on mine!

I guess I am now a full blown resident of the blogoshere.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Well, we got our snow. I guess you have to be careful what you wish for!

But really, I enjoy the snow, especially when it is polite enough to come on the weekend and be relatively clear by Monday morning commute... Heck, even the windy, curvy, hilly road to our farm was plowed and pretty good.

But it was a productive weekend. I got double batches of 6 types of cookies made, carmels, and marshmallows. I got gifts bought and wrapped. On Saturday I even made a new recipe, an Onion Panade. It was very different, but good. My husband even declared it good enough to put in "winter rotation," which I guess means I should make it often. It was layers of dried bread, caramelized onions, and cheese, then topped with beef broth and baked for an hour. (But when I thing of how many dozen cookies I could have made in that time! :) The biggest issue was that it called to be put in a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. As I was layering I thought this would be a mistake, but I did not take precautions and put a dish under it. So when it overflowed (and it did) I ended up with a kitchen filled with onion smoke! Onion smoke and cookies do NOT go together! So I had to stop to clean the oven, which really slowed down my cookie production.

Anyway, one more week until Christmas, and after that I will FINALLY get back to talking about farm stuff! But this time of year (November - mid-January) is our farm down time. When we do little more then make some plans, service some equipment, and decide what seeds we will order. But soon that will change and I will bore you all with different stuff....

Friday, December 14, 2007


Well, I guess there is a chance of snow for tommorow. 2-4 inches...

If it did that, it'd make a perfect Saturday for cookie, carmel, and marshmellow making!

Dreaming of a white Christmas!

I am so far behind on all my Christmas stuff! Shopping and baking have barley started.

Part of the problem is we have no snow! When my mom moved up here I warned her how much heavier winters here are compared to where they were, and they usually are! But this year, so far, next to nothing.

A little snow on Thanksgiving, furriers a couple times, a couple snow covered days, a little ice yesterday, but mostly tons of days above freezing!
Where is our North east Ohio winter? Where is the snow and freezing temperatures.
My husband was talking to a lady the other day who said that winters used to be cold enough that they would hang all their winter meat (that they butchered on the farm) in the smoke house and it would be fine there all winter! Not this winter. Or last either, to speak of it. I wonder what could possibly be causing that?
But in the mean time, if anyone wants my cookies, it better start snowing! I'm dreaming of a white Christmas (and the weather forecast does not look promising.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Farm Girls List to Santa....

Hello Santa!

I've been very good this year. I weeded the turnips and thinned the radishes. I watered my plants late into the night. I practiced my succession planting and sat with a smile during pickups (even when I was feeling yucky!)

So I think I deserve a very good Christmas. Under the tree I'd like to see:

  • A waterwheel transplanter (so I can plant transplants sitting on my bottom and and not bending over for days.)
  • A couple hundred pounds of cover crop seeds (so I can feed my soil good and healthy things, all 30 acres of it!)
  • Fifty or so Dominique Hens (I miss those fresh eggs!)
  • A heated hoophouse (to give those new plants an early start)
  • A new barn coat (to keep me feeling cozy and warm)
  • And most of all Santa, an extra 3 or 4 hours a day in the summer (because WOW! do I need those.)
I hope you agree that I have been a good farmer girl this year!


Your friend

Monday, December 10, 2007

Seeds, seeds everywhere!

Well, not seeds so much as catolouges. My favriote, Seed Savers, came this weekend. It is so hard to decide what to grow next year. It seems that each year as we intigrate the previous years favriotes there is less room for all the fantastic options, especially with our new rule. "We never need less then 100 feet of ANYTHING!"

How many types of cucumbers? Or worse squash! I am a winter squash fanatic!

Or Leeks. We will get transplants for some, but the oldest coolest varieties, we will need to start in Febuary, our first seeds of the year! So much to do before early january seed orders are placed. It seems like we just finished and now we are gearing up for 2008!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Look at this!

I am green with envy! Look at this photo...

WOW! (from this blog... Two Small Farms) When I grow up I want to be them!

Oh and if anyone would like some acorn squash let us know we have a couple bushels left.

So sorry...

I am being a bad blogger! I need to try to blog almost every day, and I have been falling short. The holiday season is getting to me as it does everyone else!

So much to do, house guests 3 weekends out of 5, several "nice" meals for 10+ people, cookies to make, and more!

I did make risotto from the cookbook and it came out well (= not a gooy lump) but I was rather disappointed that for the time and attention it took it seemed to lack something... Maybe that something is homemade chicken stock, as I used Pacific Rim broth, and SO much of the stuff is chicken stock. After an hour of adding and stirring and watching and adding and stirring and watching it was looking promising, but when I finished it I could not help but think that this pan cost me $8 and it tastes rather like a box of rice mix from the grocrey store. (But at least I know what was in it - Rice(Carnaroli), butter, white wine, salt, broth, and parm cheese.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Art of Simple Food

Today I bought Alice Walters' (Chez Panisse) new cookbook "The Art of Simple Food."

I am in love, and finally think I may be brave enough to chance risotto, which has always intimidated me and my one and only try turned into a sticky, yucky, tasteless mess! In the next couple of days we'll try and I'll ;et you know if it turns out.

But in general the book is amazing in its simplicity and still amazing recipies, I suppose what Alice Waters and her food is known for.

The focus on local seasonal food is amazing! I can hardly wait to try the recipies, it seems to be one of those few cookbooks where there seem to be few "filler" recipies, the ones you look at and know you will never make...