Sunday, June 29, 2008

Great Moments

Every once in a while I have a perfect moment. I am not sure what makes it be perfect but it is one of those times where things are just awesome and you want to soak in the moment. Sometimes I think these moments kick in when something happens that reminds you of a good time in your past and some of them are just purely new good moments. I hope I don't sound to crazy and maybe some of you know what I am talking about. Anyway, I had one of these moments the other day and to some of you it may sound crazy as to when it happened. We were out picking green beans in the garden one evening, there was a nice breeze, and a Cicada was making it's call. It just seemed like a perfect summertime moment, it was awesome.

We also had a great time on Friday night. A couple of our good friends (Adam and Sarah) came over for dinner and games. A cool front came through in the afternoon so it was perfect weather outside so we grilled and set up a table on the deck and ate outside. It was really a great time eating outside. After dinner, we went for a walk and then shot fireworks and played games. It was a great night.

We had steak for dinner, from our cow (Buster) that we had butchered. I am not sure if we ever gave an update on how much meat we got from him. We got 310 lbs of beef from him. We split it with Margo's parents so we each got 155 lbs. The meat is really good and lean.

And lastly, I wanted to let you all know that so far we have canned 46 jars of green beans, we had to buy a bunch more jars to can them. We have so many green beans. I still have half of a 5 gallon bucket full that we picked today that I don't have any more jars to can them with. If any of you want green beans, come out and you can have whatever you pick.

P.S. I added some new photos to our favorite's slide show on the side bar.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Hi, my name is Josh, and I planted too many green beans.

Yesterday, we discovered our green beans were starting to be ready to be picked. But before I get to the green beans, let me start with what we did yesterday. We have been getting a lot of cucumbers the past few days so we decided it was time to can pickles. So that is what we did yesterday evening. Here are some pics that will show what we did.

First, I sliced the cucumbers. We do some spears and a lot of sandwich stackers (cut long ways in strips).

Next we packed the jars with the cucumbers.

Then, we filled the jars with our brine solution and then water bath canned them. We used a new brine solution this year so I hope it turns out good.

Here is the finished product. They really don't look good in this pic but hopefully they will taste good. They have to sit for a month before eating them.

Now, back to the green beans. We had to wait until today to pick the green beans because we were busy with the pickling last night. So, this afternoon we went out and picked green beans. I have 3 rows of green beans (40 feet long rows). We got tons of green beans and this is only the first picking. Here is Margo with our bushel basket full of green beans, we also filled half a 5 gallon bucket.

So tonight, we canned green beans. We basically ran out of jars tonight. I still have the jars that I do my spagetti sauce and salsa in but I used all my other jars for the green beans. We canned 17 jars of green beans tonight and only used half of what we picked. We are going to have to get more jars.

Here are some pics of the canning process. First we snapped off the end of the beans and then broke them into 1-2inch pieces. Next, we packed them into jars.

Then we filled the jars with boiling water and put the lids on and put them in the pressure canner to can them. This is our first use of this pressure canner. It was a Christmas gift from Margo's parents last year.

I don't have a pic of the final product because they are cooling down right now in the canner before I can take off the lid.

One other thing had to be harvested out of the garden tonight before it was too late, the garlic. I am going to cure it to save for use in canning my salsa and spaghetti sauce, general use, and to plant back next year. I am still trying to get the curing thing down, the last time I tried to cure garlic it ended up rotting so I hope it does better this time. I had already harvested about a third of it but here is the rest of it that I got today.

For any of you interested in canning. Here are some good links to sites that I use.

National Center for Home Food Preservation

And if any of you want some hands on experience we will be doing lots more canning this year: more pickles, green beans, salsa, spaghetti sauce.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I thought I would post a couple pics of some more veggies we have been getting from the garden the past few weeks. We have been getting cucumbers, squash and zucchini. We should have green beans pretty soon as well.

Cucumbers. I have never planted this variety before, they are really long, they still taste good.

squash and zucchini

Since we are getting all these veggies now, it is going to be canning time soon. In fact, we may can some pickles this week. So here is where you all, my devoted readers, can help out. I am asking for any canning jars that any of you have that you do not use that you would be willing to give to me for use in canning our veggies. I have some but I think I am going to need more this year. I could always go buy more but I figured I might as well ask to see if anyone had any they don't want.

Monday, June 23, 2008


I planted a lot of garlic this year, something around 50-70 plants I think , and 4 different varieties. My plan is to have enough for us to use when we can our salsa and spaghetti sauce this year and some for in the kitchen and then have enough left to plant for next year so I don't have to buy some every year to plant. One of the varieties I planted got ready earlier than the others so I have been harvesting it. I would tell you what variety it is but the writing washed off the little row markers that I wrote the names of the garlic on. The rest of my ingredients (mainly tomatoes) for my salsa and spaghetti sauce are not quite ready for canning, and I let this garlic go a little to long before harvesting in order to dry it so I decided to try freezing it. I read some articles online that said you can peel the individual little cloves and mince them up and freeze them it and it is supposed to turn out pretty good. I figure it will at least work for my canning. I guess we'll see. The other garlic I will try to dry and braid so it will keep longer. It would also be nice if I knew someone who made garlic pots (hint, hint).

This is from 8 garlic plants, I counted 90 cloves.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

New Bed

No, not a sleeping bed, an outside bed. Behind the house, past where they leveled to build the house, the ground goes up kind of sharply and joins the natural elevation of the land. When we moved in there were a few rocks on the ground back there and a random smattering of landscaping plants. It was not very nice looking. So, I finally got around to riping all that out and had to decide what to do with the weird little section of the yard since it would be a little hard to mow. I decided to put in a rock wall and make it into a bed to plant berries in, specifically blackberries and blueberries. I finally got done with it the other week so I thought I would post some before and after pictures. The rocks all came from our property. It looks a lot better although a lot of it may be that the before pics were taken in winter and the after pics just the other day when everything is nice and green.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Birds 2

I think that if they make a sequel to the movie The Birds, they should do it only with hummingbirds. If any of you have been around hummingbirds buzzing around your head, it is kind of freaky. Last year we put up a couple of hummingbird feeders but we only had like one hummingbird all year. This year we bought a couple more feeders to put up, hoping to attract more. Well, attract we have, they seem to be multiplying week by week. We are having to fill our 4 feeders, which are pretty big feeders, at least twice a week. I am not sure how many we have total but I have counted 10-15 at a time at the feeders. It is quite an experience, it sounds like a swarm of bees. I tried to get some pictures but it was tough to get a good picture with a bunch of them in the picture and with the lighting right, it would be easier if I had a fancy camera like John's. Here is one picture with 4 hummingbirds in it, see if you can see them.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Results

Just thought I would let everyone know that our chickens came back negative for bird flu. I know you were all anxiously awaiting the results.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A New Delicacy

Tonight we tried a new recipe that I thought I would share. I saw the recipe a while back and have really been wanting to try it. It is for fried squash blossoms. We have tons of blossoms right now and we should have squash in a few days.

Here is what you do:
First, get some squash blossoms that aren't opened yet, wash them on the outside and open them at the top and wash out the inside, remove the pistils (the easiest way for me to do this without ripping the flower apart was to stick my kitchen scissors down in there and cut it out).

Next, stuff the flower. I used goat cheese with some basil, oregano, and garlic mixed with it. You could probably use what ever good cheese you like(probably not something like american or cheddar). After stuffing, twist the flower top back together to close it.

Heat some oil in a skillet. Dip the flower in some egg, then dip into some flour. Place squash in hot oil and fry until golden brown, turning them as necessary.

They were really good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mad Chicken Disease

Don't you wish that all diseases had the word mad in them. Mad Flu Disease, Mad Ear Infection Disease, Mad Herpes Disease. I think it would be a lot more fun. The real thing I want to talk about is Bird Flu (Avian Influenza). If any of you have not heard, a flock of chickens at a chicken house here in West Fork tested positive for bird flu. Luckily it was the H7N3 virus that they found, which is not considered dangerous for people. The bad one that has jumped from bird to human and killed people overseas is the H5N1. It is still a big deal, the last time that any chickens tested positive for bird flu in Arkansas was in 1995. Anyway, this flock of chickens (15,000 to be exact) were destroyed. They think they got it from some Canadian geese that were on a pond that the farmer was watering his chickens from. You can read more about it here. So anyway, the state Livestock and Poultry Commission set a 6.2 mile quarantine area around that farm which means any poultry within that area has to be tested for the bird flu and no poultry can be moved out or sold from this area until the testing is done. Well, guess who barely falls within this area....that's right yours truly. So, today 2 really nice old guys came out to the Farm of Hale and tested our chickens. They donned their hazmat type suits and took blood from all of our chickens, there is no way to really draw blood with a needle from a chicken so they had to cut them under the wind with a razor blade and bleed them a little to get a sample. It was pretty interesting but I feel sorry for the guys because they have to try to find every person who owns chickens in the area and test them. They are going to come back and test them again in 2 weeks. Hopefully we will find out soon the results. That was our big excitement of the day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Black Sheep

We acquired another sheep this past weekend, a ram. He is a Katahdin. We got him to breed with our two ewes. He was born in January and is already pretty big but will get bigger. The guy we got him from had several rams to choose from of different colors. The one we got is jet black, he looks really cool and he was the best looking one of the bunch. He is a little calmer as well so hopefully he will help calm our other two down. We have decided to call him Bah Bah.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

More New Animals

Spring has been a time of lots of new additions on the Farm of Hale. This week has been no different. We have wanted to get some sheep since we got the farm but we had to get more grass growing so we could support them. I planted tons of grass seed in the spring and it is all doing really well so far so we decided it was time for sheep. We wanted hair sheep because we don't want to have to sheer them. Hair sheep have a thick wool like hair that they shed on their own. They are used for meat. One of my favorite meats is lamb so I look forward to having some to butcher. Anyway, on Monday we got some sheep. I had been scanning the classifieds the past month or so trying to find some for sale for a decent price, I wanted either Katahdin or Barbados sheep. One of our neighbors has hair sheep and had a bunch of lambs this year. I had never talked to these neighbors before but decided to call them out of the blue to see if they wanted to sell any of their lambs. Well, the neighbors were really nice and offered to give us two ewe lambs if we would give them back two lambs when we have babies next year. This was an awesome deal because we won't be out any money. Their sheep are mixed breed hair sheep but have mostly Barbados in them. We went and picked them up on Monday. When we got them home they turned out to be kind of wild and would not let you get within about 30 yards of them and would not come when you called them even if you had feed. So, I decided to try to get them in the corral and try to feed them and tame them down. This proved to be next to impossible, they are a lot faster than me and did not want to be corralled. It took forever but after much running and cussing I got them in the barn. I am going to leave them in there for a few days and pet them and feed them and try to get them calmed down a little. I am tempted to do something my dad once did, that to a 8 year old was one of the funniest things. He had these two really wild goats that were hard to catch and control so he tied them together to make them easier to catch. These goats would be running like crazy away from us and one would go on one side of a tree and one on the other side and the rope would hit the tree and sling them around into each other. It was awesome. Anyway, back to the sheep. I plan on getting a ram soon as well to breed with them and have babies next year and hopefully eat some of them. Here is a pic of the two ewes.

We also got baby chickens this week. We ordered some along with our next door neighbors and we received them on Wednesday, that's right they send them into the mail. We got 10 chicks total:Ameraucauna, Red Sex Link, Barred Rock, Australorp. These will help get our chicken count back up to where we want it. Here is a pic of them.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Finally, a Garden Update

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the garden this evening so I could give you all an update on how it is doing. I get asked a lot about it so here are some pictures so you can see for yourself. The plants got a little beat up by the hail the other day but not to bad.
Let me start off by saying that I am really liking the no till, raised bed gardening that I decided to do. This is my second year of doing it and I am very pleased so far. I think it is less work than conventional gardening but am not sure how much less work it is. I definitely think it is much better overall. The soil is better and the plants seem to do much better. My soil is really good, fertile, loose and not all packed down. The mulched leaves I use on the beds to keep weeds down also keep the soil moist when it gets dry in the summer and they compost really well into the soil. The beds being raised shed the water if there is to much rain like there has been this spring so the plants don't get bogged down.

One indicator of good soil and a good garden is earthworms because they like to be where good soil is so the more worms you have the better soil you have and the worms work like little tillers turning the soil and breaking up organic matter and increasing soil fertility. So tonight, I was shoveling some soil from one of the beds and here is what I saw, and no, these pictures weren't set up this is just a shovel full of dirt I just scooped up. Worms were everywhere.

This is the corn and Margo's leg.

Here is the squash and zucchini


sugar snap peas (Margo looks like a hippie)


green beans

And this is the overall view

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Hail and Peas

This morning around 6am Margo and I awoke to a thunderstorm and what sounded like firecrackers going off. As you can probably guess from the title of this post, it was not firecrackers but hail. We ran downstairs and outside and pulled the truck under the carport. Like true country folk we don't normally park under the carport, that is where all our junk is. We decide to put the truck under there because we only have liability insurance on it so if it got destroyed by hail we would have to pay for it out of our pocket, whereas the CRV has full coverage so insurance will pay to fix it. Anyway, it hailed for several minutes and it was pretty good sized hail. It put some pretty good dings in the CRV. Here are some pics of the hail.

And this is not really related but I thought I would tell you the garden is doing really well. The hail did damage it a little but not to bad. We have been picking sugar snap peas like crazy. I only planted half as many this year because we had way to many last year and there is no good way to keep them for a long time so we only eat them fresh. I don't know if all this rain has done it or not, but they are growing amazingly well this year. We are getting way more than we could ever eat. Here is a picture of what I picked just today. I will try to post some pics of the garden in the next few days.