Rain, Rain Go Away!

We had a lot, lot, LOT of gardening to do last weekend due to the fact that it has been raining every day for almost two months, and the ground has just been too muddy to plant. This is what our radar has looked like for the last two months. Haha!

Really, I am ready for the rain to be over! What has been scary is to see the impact that this rain has had on my neighbors, who are the real farmers. They have 400-500 acres awaiting planting, but just can’t do anything because their land is drenched. Their crops are truly their livelihood, so It will be interesting to see how this late planting affects food prices and food supply later this year.

So….I think it’s finally gone away.  And now onto the gardening. As I have said, Linus has wanted to go ALL organic. This is not as easy as it sounds. To start with, because of the rain, the land that we had our neighbor June ‘tractor up’ has since grown a lot of weeds. So, last weekend, we set out to RE-DIG up the garden and get the weeds up before the planting. We bought a little hand-held tiller that we used to put some organic fertilizer and soil mineralizer into the ground. All went well there, except for the fact that we about broke our backs b/c yes, this is back-breaking work. However, we finally created our garden mounds (see picture)  then, bought some pine bark to lay on the walking paths…and wallah!! Squash, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, basil and lettuce all planted – all from seeds, and all organic. NO GMO’s here! Now, we water and wait…………………..

Oh, yes and I forgot to mention the tornadoes. I think we have had at least 20 tornado warnings in the past month. We have been fortunate to have stayed away from major damage, however we did have this big tree down. Another project to add to the list!

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My Wish ‘A Big Green Tractor’

Some girls wish for diamonds. Others for fancy cars. All I desire right now is a tractor. Is that too much to ask?

Why… because we have 1,500 square feet of grass and are trying to start this garden. And it is kicking our butts!

However, we plow ahead. (No pun intended.) Because this is a new garden, we are having to tear up all of this grass. It’s not easy and we are doing it by hand. As Linus says, “we need machinery.” I have wanted a tractor since owning the farm, but I didn’t really see the need for it. So, I held off. Well, now…….I SEE the NEED for a TRACTOR!

Yes, I am in love with a man. And his name is John Deere.

Or, I’ll take this cute one…a little pink Farmall.

Alas, this weekend, we hope to FINALLY get the seedlings into the ground – by hand, without the coveted big green machine. We have to till the soil first, which we will do when I am at the farm mid-week. We are adding soil mineralizer and an organic fertilizer to the soil. When I took my soil sample to the guy at the organic farming store, he told me that Kentucky soil tends to be very clay-like. Thus, the soil additions.

Anyhow, beyond the gardening wishes and tractor dreams, the last two or three weekends at the farm have been absolutely beautiful. The weather has been close to perfect! Hopefully, the great Kentucky Spring will lead to an amazing – and fruitful – summer! Here are our next-door neighbors enjoying the weather.

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Preparing the Garden

Here’s our garden – we have a LOT of work to do! We are planting an approx. 1,200 sq ft. garden and it is a lot of work. Linus has convinced me to do an organic garden. So, here we go!

Over the weekend, we had our neighbor, June, tear up the ground with his tractor. Now we are in the process of getting the grass up and out of the garden. We are doing this by hand and it is backbreaking! I woke up this Monday morning needing lots of ibuprofen.

I tested the soil this weekend also with a little $4.99 soil testing kit. I am not 100% positive on what all of the results mean, but apparently our soil is high alkaline. So, I need to make it more acidic – and I need to do this organically! Tomorrow, I am heading to a local organic gardening store to get some advice – soil samples in hand, of course.

As far as veggies, we have started some early ones (yes, from organic seeds -no Monsanto here!) in peet pellets inside. The broccoli is kicking butt, however the cauliflower and okra are taking their time. Linus encourages the little guys with supportive words such as “come on little sprouts, spread the love.”

 

I found this interesting article on when we can finally move the little sprouts to the garden. I have been a little hesitant because the weather has been less than predictable recently. But it looks like we can do it soon. More veggies to come – we are just going to try a bunch of different things this summer to see what works the best. It will be an adventure!

Here’s the resource:

http://www.almanac.com/content/when-soil-ready-planting

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Abraham Lincoln’s Failure List

I love learning about Abraham Lincoln.

Most people don’t realize that Abe had a lot of setbacks in his life. From my readings about him, I think that he was very hard on himself. And although he is (now) one of history’s most celebrated individuals, I wonder if (then) he truly realized his tremendous accomplishments over the course of his lifetime. Thus, I find the following ‘synopsis’ of his life pretty entertaining.

Abraham Lincoln’s “Failure” List
• Lost job in 1832
• Defeated for state legislature in 1832
• Failed in business in 1833

Elected to state legislature in 1834……..
• Sweetheart died in 1835
• Had nervous breakdown in 1836
• Defeated for Speaker in 1838
• Defeated for nomination for Congress in 1843

Elected to Congress in 1846…….
• Lost renomination in 1848
• Rejected for land officer in 1849
• Defeated for U.S. Senate in 1854
• Defeated for nomination for Vice President in 1856
• Again defeated for U.S. Senate in 1858

Elected President in 1860……and the rest is history.

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Calculating Our Carbon Footprint

I heard about an interesting measurement tool today that calculates your carbon footprint on the environment. It is through the Nature Conservancy. Of course, with the farm and all, I feel like we have a very small carbon footprint – I mean, Linus has replaced all of our lightbulbs with the super-efficient kind. We compost EVERYthing at the farm, AND we always keep our air and heat down very, very low. (sometimes to the point of freezing our butts off this winter!)

And just today, we had Kentucky Utilities come out and do an energy audit for us (this was only a mere $25 through the electric company and totally worth it. I would recommend this to anyone – it is offered by KU and LG&E in Kentucky).  Linus and I learned a LOT – such as, we had a HUGE hole in our air conditioning duct in the attic. We had no idea we were losing so much heat/air every single day! Our auditor suggested a little metal tape to fix the duct – that said, we took care of this immediately today!

After all of this, I was still a bit concerned after I took the carbon footprint test because my number was more than double the national average. I went back and studied the details and realized that the main reason my personal carbon footprint number is so high is because I travel so much. (This is unfortunately something that I can’t change right now b/c often my job depends on it.)

That being said, taking the carbon footprint test did make me aware of some additional things that Linus and I can do at the farm to save energy, For example, checking the tire pressure on the tires of my car more regularly (since I drive back and forth to the farm regularly) and changing the air filter at our house more often.

All the little things add up – it’s amazing.

Check out what number your carbon footprint is by taking the test at…http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/

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Making – and Breaking – Bread

Today was bread-making day! I know it sounds funny, but I have never made homemade bread. (Considering the fact that I just started cooking only 1 year ago, I guess this is not so strange.)

I love the rosemary bread at Macaroni Grill, so that’s what I decided to make. I even used fresh rosemary from our little rosemary bush on the porch. All in all, it was a successful bread-making experience (although it took a while, with all the kneading and the rising and the cutting in half and the rising again!) But the bread that Linus and I enjoyed with dinner was delicious! So, here’s the recipe and pics…

1 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1 (1/4 cup) package active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 cups white flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten

1. Dissolve the sugar in warm water in a medium bowl, and mix in the yeast. When yeast is bubbly, mix in salt, butter, 1 tablespoon rosemary, and Italian seasoning. Mix in 2 cups flour. Gradually add remaining flour to form a workable dough, and knead 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Place dough in bowl, cover, and allow to rise 1 hour in a warm location.
3. Punch down dough, and divide in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly grease paper. Shape dough into 2 round loaves, and place on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Cover, and allow to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Brush loaves with egg. Bake 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.
(I forgot to do this last step, so my bread doesn’t look as fancy or shiny, but I would suggest it.)

Breaking the bread, the final product

 

 

 

 

Splitting the loaf, ready to bake

 

 

 

 

Kneading

 

 

 

 

 

The cute little rosemary bush:)

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Meet June

Let me introduce you to our neighbor and best friend, June. He is a gun-toten’, scallywaggin’, bushhoggin’ true Kentucky son.

Linus and I met June only a few days after we moved to the farm last year. He came roaming over onto our property, hollerin’ literally, “Come on out!.” Needless to say, when I first opened the door and saw June on the front porch, rifle in hand, overgrown facial hair and extra-weathered jeans, tennis shoes and flannel shirt, I was more than freaked out. I pretty much saw my life pass before my eyes. I thought, OK, god, you are right, buying a farm was not my brightest idea.

However, upon June’s arrival, he said “sit down girl. What’s your name?” “I said “Sarah” and he said “OK, Sally, well welcome to the farm.”

And that was the start of a great friendship between June, Linus and I that continues a year later. Since then, June has become our greatest friend and neighbor at the farm. And, honestly, he is one of the most interesting people that I have ever met in my life. Linus sees June a couple times a week – they are buddies and perhaps best friends! They sit and BS on the porch about world events, the weather, shooting coyotes, history in our little Kentucky holler, and lots more things that I don’t even begin to understand – or sometimes have an interest in. But they love it.

I don’t see June as often as Linus because I am not at the farm as often, but when I do, I always learn much about humanity and the true goodness of people. The great thing is that we look out for June and June looks out for us. Isn’t that all you can ask for in life?

When our grass around the house was getting way too long last summer, June said, “You can’t cut that with that cheap riding mower.” And I said, “oh yes, we can June.” Well, the next morning, I awoke at 7am to the sound of June’s crickety old tractor riding around our our property – bush-hogging our 3 ft. grass.

Likewise, we look out for June. June does not like to use the cooling or heating system in his lil house. He says it’s too darn expensive! However, on some of the hottest nights last summer, June told us that instead of turning his air conditioning on, he would just sleep outside on his porch. Yikes! Needless to say, this concerned us when we hadn’t seen him for about a week. So, Linus went over and checked on him and sure enough, June was fine, of course! He had just been a bit under the weather so hadn’t been out for a while.

All in all, June has become our great buddy at the farm. I don’t think that June has ever traveled out of the state of Kentucky, however, us city-slickers and world travelers have no doubt learned more from June than he has learned from us. Funny how life works that way.

So…I will leave this post with a picture of June. This picture will make you look twice. First – you’ll see the weathered-look of June. This is a man who has worked a farm with his bare hands for his whole life – and he just doesn’t care that he hasn’t shaved in 5 years. Second – you may wonder about the stuffed animals attached to June’s barn. Well, this is June’s source of pride and joy. He doesn’t have any kids, but he collects stuffed animals from flea markets and garage sales and ‘mounts’ them to his barn. We don’t ask questions – we just like June for who he is and wouldn’t change a thing!

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