Independence Days Here on the Farm

I decided to join the Independence Days Challenge so here is my first post about it:

1. PLANT SOMETHING: Well let’s see… already this year I have planted carrots, onions, bush beans, pole beans, snap peas and sugar peas, potatoes, and tomatoes. The seeds all came from Baker Creek Seed Co. and are heirloom varietes. The tomatoes plants came from a small greenhouse at a local farm but I’m afraid they shipped them in from somewhere else. I tried to start my own tomatoes from seed but I killed them – better luck next year I guess. The potatoes came from another local greenhouse. They do come from out of state but the family personal selects them and brings them home every year.

Everything mentioned above has been planted for atleast a week now. Oh I also planted sunflowers (heirloom), and some raspberry, black currant, and gooseberry bushes. Today I got the dward blueberry bushes that I ordered. Tonight my fiance rototilled another section of the garden one last time and we spread a thick layer of composted hay over the top. I planted 3 different varieties of watermelon in hills in this new section. I also finished mulching the rest of the garden with straw. It is really coming along!

2. Harvest something. About the only thing I have harvested so far is asparagus. This is pretty tasty stuff, I have a piece every morning on my way by as part of the garden tour. I have also been given rhubarb and made some delicious muffins with brown sugar topping. In fact I have more in the fridge waiting to be used.

3. Preserve something. My Mom and sister and I spent Saturday afternoon picking strawberries (Oh I also planted my own of these this year!) and making 72 4-ounce jars of jam as favors for my wedding. We picked the berries at a local U-pick farm and I plan to visit another farm and make atleast as many more jars before the season is over. I am hoping the jam will actually get used and maybe I’ll even get some of the jars back. It will be better than some silly plastic favor anyway.

4. Prep something. Well I guess I’m doing more in this area than I originally thought. I’m reading Living With Sheep to develop my skills as a shepherd. I am thinking about requesting a sewing machine on our wedding registry so that I can make my own scrubs and I’m trying to figure out if it would be cost and time efficient to make my fiance’s t-shirts instead of buying them. We sorted through all of our clothes and have a big pile to go to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Our winter wardrobe is going to go in a rubbermaid container in the attic to make room for the summer stuff. I have a large supply of shampoo and toothpaste (more than I’ll ever use) so I was thinking of putting some of it on Freecycle and trying out the shampoo bars that FakePlasticFish found. We have tried to pick eco-friendly items for our wedding registry and avoid junk. I really want a food grinder to make apple sauce and a bean frencher but I’ll have to buy them later because none of the stores with registries carry them.

5. Cook something. Well I tried to make homemade bread from scratch twice last week and it failed both times. I think I might have had some crappy yeast. I’ll try again this week. I’ll also be making more rhubarb muffins.

6. Manage your reserves. This is a neverending project for me. We have a great system for the pantry where each item goes on the grocery list when there is only one extra left in storage. So if a bottle of mustard goes in the fridge and there is one left on the shelf it goes on the list. Then I have time to watch for a sale. I’d like to make a grocery price book like I use to have where each item (bread, PB, etc.) gets a page and you note what you pay for it each time with a breakdown per ounce, etc. This made it easy to find the best prices. I also keep trying to eliminate processed foods and replace them with homemade items. I quit buying poptarts in hopes of supplying us with homemade muffins but have yet to make any that Brian likes (he’s not much for rhubarb). There are a lot of jars of old canned food that were here in the farmhouse when we moved in. I need to dump them out and wash the jars someday.

7. Work on local food systems. This is not as easy as I thought. I found a Mennonite store in the area that sells organic, unbleached flour in bulk. I was very excited until I questioned them and found that they buy it from a company in Indiana that ships it in from Montana. 😦
I am still looking for a local supplier of organic (certified or not) chicken and sheep feed. I guess supporting the U-pick farm will have to be my local contribution for this week.

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