Thursday, August 14, 2014

Want to visit?

Kat doing a goat milking demo in 2012
We are busy getting ready for the Third Annual Livingston County Farm Crawl, which will be held next weekend, August 23 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. In addition to visiting our farm, you can also visit four other nearby family farms.

Set-up of our soap and wool the first year
Why are we doing this? Well, it all started when I was complaining to a friend one day. You see, we used to get quite a few phone calls and emails from total strangers who wanted to come see our farm in person because they'd seen our website or read one of my books or seen an article and so on. At first it was a lot of fun! But after the tenth or fifteenth time, you start to realize that nothing gets done when you're walking around with visitors chatting -- even when they volunteer to help you, because really, they don't know what they're doing so it takes longer to explain things to them than it would to just do it yourself. So, I decided to set aside a few days each summer just for visitors. Whenever someone would contact me about visiting, I'd suggest that they come on one of our Open Farm days. We did that for a few years, and then one day I was complaining to a farm friend in Iowa about how much work it was to get the farm all gussied up just for a dozen or so visitors. And she said, "Why don't you have a farm crawl?" A what?

I guess pubs are few and far between in Iowa, so instead of pub crawls they do farm crawls. It made sense that if a few farms got together to promote a day where people could visit multiple farms, we would get more visitors. There were four farms total, and we figured that if each of us could get 10 or 20 people to come, that would be 40 to 80 for all four farms. We were all very surprised and excited when we had 300 visitors that first year!

Last year another farm joined, making a total of five farms for people to visit, and this year we've decided to go from Saturday only to Sunday also. If the number of visitors continues to grow, it could get a little crazy on a single day.

You can visit the official Farm Crawl website to see the map and list of farms, which includes what you will see at each farm and what will be available to buy. Here is what will be happening on Antiquity Oaks:

Available to purchase: vegetables, eggs (both chicken and duck), goat milk soap made with organic oils, Shetland wool roving, Shetland and llama yarn, raw Shetland fleeces, Old English Southdown wool batting, naturally colored sheepskins, llama and wool rugs, books on raising livestock, gardening, homesteading, etc. Credit cards accepted.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m. Goat milking
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Solar oven cooking demo
Saturday, 2 p.m. Mozzarella making
Sunday, 11 a.m. Scything (cutting grass hay with a scythe)
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Solar oven cooking demo
Sunday, 3 p.m. Goat milking

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Virtual garden tour

Due to all the challenges that you've all been hearing about over the past few months, things happened later than usual this year, and the garden was no exception. However, we are doing better than I had expected. Here's what it looks like now ...

The perennials are done producing and just hanging out until next year. That's asparagus in the middle, rhubarb on the left and strawberries in the lower right corner...

The tomato plants are still really small ...

but we have tomatoes! They are still green but should be ripening soon. These are chocolate cherry tomatoes, and I can hardly wait. No, they do not taste like chocolate. They are chocolate colored, and they are as yummy as chocolate in their own way. They are definitely my favorite cherry tomato.

The zucchini and patty pan squash are doing great. The row on the left is zucchini, and the row on the right is patty pan squash. They were planted six feet apart, but they are so big, they have eclipsed the walkway. It seems like we can never plant them far enough apart. When you have nothing but seeds in your hands, it always seems like you are giving them more than enough room. I think I may have even posted on here in a previous year that I was going to start planting them eight feet apart.

And here are some awesome peppers that we are trying for the first time -- feher ozon paprika. They are supposed to ripen to a peachy-orange color. It's a sweet pepper, and yes, you can supposedly dry them and grind them up to make paprika.

A month ago, I planted some Swiss chard...

There are also onions and kale, but I didn't get pictures of them. Sunday I planted five types of lettuce in one of the raised beds: flame, Ella Kropf, speckled, Yugoslavian red butterhead, and bunte forellenschluss. Some of the raised beds have hoops on them so that we can cover them and continue to harvest through the winter! Soon we'll be planting more fall crops, such as arugula and more spinach and lettuce, also in the raised beds.

Monday, August 4, 2014


This poor tree was planted in 2008, and this is the first year that it has produced more than three or four fruit. Most of our fruit trees are producing a decent harvest by three years of age. Our pears trees produced an average of 27 pounds each in their third year.

I do have to give the apple tree credit for merely surviving, as it is the young fruit tree closest to the barn, which means that whenever the goats accidentally get out, it is the first one to be attacked. You can see that the bark was recently stripped off on the left side of the trunk. Unfortunately, this type of thing happens at least annually.

You may have also noticed the lack of mulch, which doesn't help, as the tree has to compete with the grass and weeds for water and nutrients. As soon as the apples are harvested, I will add compost and mulch. I normally do that twice a year -- in spring and in fall -- but because of my injuries and illnesses the first six months, it was one of the many things that slipped through the cracks. So, I am especially grateful that this little tree pulled through with such a nice harvest!


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