Monthly Archives: June 2018

Pickin’ and Preserving

I just thought I would do a quick post about what we have harvested in the past week.

Strawberries – Since we began picking strawberries we have harvested nearly 50 quarts of strawberries. After I froze enough to keep us in homemade jam through the year we began offering them to family and friends. We have had a lack of rain so the berries are not big this year but they are delicious.  Due the dry conditions we are not certain that the plants will continue to produce berries much longer.

Garlic Scapes – Several people who visited the farm this week went home with some garlic scapes. We cut, bundled and delivered scapes to a local retailer and are having scapes for dinner tonight.

Oregano – It was time to start picking oregano before it blossoms. Oregano is a very prolific herb that is spreading throughout, and making a nice ground cover in our prayer garden. Since I will not be ready to can spaghetti sauce for at least a month I will dry the herbs as I harvest them and they will keep well until I am ready to use them. When it flowers the bees are very attracted to it.

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I find that air drying herbs works well. I have a couple different methods for doing this. One is to tie the herbs in a bunch, like I have done with the oregano in the above picture, and hang then where they will get good air flow until the leaves completely dry. Once they are completely dry I remove the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight container.

Basil – Basil is another herb that I use in my spaghetti sauce. It is an annual so we plant a few plant each year. It is not very large yet but picking some of it now will encourage it to grow more and discourage it from flowering too soon. Since the basil stems were pretty short I decided it was best to dry them on our drying screen (shown in the photo below).

The drying screen is simply made of a wooden frame with screen stapled together. The frame that we used actually came as packaging from a table that we had purchased. I saved it because I knew there was a better use for it the just throwing it away. The screen that we used was part of a roll of screen that I had picked up for a couple dollars at an estate sale.

Since the drying screen does not have legs I usually put a box under each end so there is good air flow all the way around. Depending on the temperature, leafy herbs will usually dry in a few days on the drying screen. They are then stored in air tight containers until we are ready to use them

Plantain Leaves –  When you see plantain you may think of a fruit similar to a banana that grows on trees (Musa paradisiaca) but we can’t grow that here. Apparently plantain trees grow best in zones 8 through 11 and require 10-15 months with temperatures above freezing to bear fruit. That doesn’t happen in Michigan.

The plantain I am referring to is know as common plantain (plantago major) and common it is. It pops up seemly everywhere and you would probably recognize it even if you don’t know it’s name. Along with not knowing it’s name you may not be aware that plantain had many health benefits and is often included in list of the top weeds that we should be eating. Although we have not yet included plantain in our diet I have been harvesting it for medicinal purposes for several years. The following website includes a photo and information about plantains medicinal uses https://usesofherbs.com/plantain.

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Marshmallow Leaves On The Drying Screen

 

Marshmallow Leaves –  If you are not familiar with the wonder benefits of the Marshmallow plant you can read about it here https://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-marshmallow.html.

We have been growing marshmallow for several years now and in the fall I harvest some of the roots as I use it in my Hair Care soap. Last year I also harvested some of the leaves, dried them and stored them. I enjoyed marshmallow tea a few times and have begun harvesting and drying the leaves so I can replenish my herbal “medicine cabinet”.

I actually started this post last week intending for it to be a short summery of our weeks efforts but as the time passes we are harvesting more and more produce. Before I wrap it up I will quickly add –

Blueberries –  We are picking fully ripened blueberries and not having to worry about the birds getting them first. If you aren’t sure why click here to read about our blueberry patch update.

and last but not least

Currants – I have been waiting for months for these little berries to be ready. In my opinion they are a superfood and I intend on doing a separate post on them and how I am preserving them.

I am going to wrap up this post now before the list gets any longer. As I head to the farm to pick berries I wish you all a blessed day.

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to know what foods are in our future please sign  up to follow this blog and if you have found this information valuable feel free to share it with your friends.

 

 

 

 

 

When Dreams Come True

 

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View Of Our Farm Across the Adjoining Field

I am so excited!!! Over the last two weeks the vista of our farm has been transformed. WE HAVE A BARN!!! Something we have been wanting since we bought the farm.

As garlic growers one of our challenges each year has been finding space for the garlic to cure for several weeks after it comes out of the ground. The space needs to be dry, out of direct sunlight and have good airflow. We have been very innovative over the last few years to accomplish this, but as our crop size increased each year it became more and more apparent that what we needed to do it right was a barn.

I thought about making this a post about the entire process – including why township ordinances prevented us from building a barn and how we overcame that obstacle, securing the funds, finding a builder, etc… I instead decided just allow you to share in our excitement and give you a photo tour.

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On June 14 my husband hung the building permit as the builders (JP Construction)started working. Woo Hoo!!!

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The site as the work was just beginning.

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Drilling into the ground where the footings would be set. The footings are set 48 inches underground.

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At the end of the first day all of the posts were set. The rest of the boards that are up are acting as bracing.

IMG_4149I wasn’t around much for the actual building but each evening I would check it out and photograph the progress. Little by little our dream was becoming reality.

Various stages of construction – getting closer every day.

 

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View from the loft looking toward the front of our property. This photo was taken before the barn was finished. The 2×4 boards that were bracing the barn have now been removed and we have an unobstructed view.

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View from the dormer over looking our pond.

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Arriving at the farm.

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View from the back of the barn.

 

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The work crew. A job well done. 🙂

My husband has been working on putting in the gravel floor and there are a few finishing touches that we will add, but the barn was finished none too soon, as we will be digging garlic in July and we now have the perfect place to hang it for several weeks while it cures.

Thanks for visiting!

Garlic Scapes – Now Available At Neiman’s Family Market In Saint Clair, Michigan

Our locally grown (Saint Clair County, Michigan) Garlic Scapes are now available at Neiman’s Family Market in Saint Clair, Michigan. Check out their website here.

What are Garlic Scapes???

They are the seed heads produced by hardneck garlic varieties. They appear in the spring, and if left to grow they will flower and produce dozens of tiny garlic bubils (seeds). Most growers cut the scape off the garlic plant in order to allow the garlic to put more energy into growing a bigger bulb. If cut early the scapes are tender and delicious. They are said to have the same nutritional value as garlic bulbs, and although they possess a milder flavor when cooked, they are a culinary delight. They are great roasted, grilled, stir fried, sautee’d or used raw in dips, salads and pesto. To discover great garlic scape recipes simply do an internet search for garlic scape recipes or try the pesto recipe at the bottom of the page. They are only available for a short time in the spring but can be preserved by freezing or pickling.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Ingredients:

1 cup garlic scapes (8 or 9 scapes), top flowery part removed, cut into 14-inch slices
13 cup walnuts
34cup olive oil
14to 12 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper

Method:

1. Place the scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and blend until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil and process until integrated.

2. With a rubber spatula, scoop the pesto out of the bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.

3. Keeps for up to one week in the refrigerator. Also freezes well; the cheese can be added to the pesto after it has thawed.

Makes about 34 cup.

 

Remember Garlic Scapes are only available for a few weeks so stop by Neiman’s and grab a bunch or two. (While you are there you might just want to sneak back to the bakery department and treat yourself to one of the best doughnuts around 😉 )

Garlic Soap???

Yesterday my blog stats showed that someone came across my site, twice, through a search engine – The search terms were “where can I buy garlic soap?” and “how to make garlic soap”. I am certain that my blog came up because both soap and garlic are topics I blog about. While I do use many types of plants and foods in my handcrafted soaps Garlic is not one of them. I would be lying if I said that the thought never crossed my mind, but whenever it has I have immediately dismissed it, thinking it was not a good idea.

Regretfully the person searching for information on garlic soap did not find what they were looking for on my blog, so today I want to fix that.

There are actually two things that come to my mind when I hear the term “garlic soap”. One is a soap that would remove the smell of garlic. For this purpose a coffee soap is commonly recommended. Truthfully you wouldn’t even need a coffee soap, just rub some wet coffee grounds onto your hands and the garlic smell should be eliminated.

I do, however, make a coffee soap and many of my customers love it. This soap is made with a triple coffee infusion. I use brewed coffee as the liquid in the soap. I infuse the oils with coffee by adding coffee grounds to the oil and heating it to about 190 degrees Fahrenheit, and I then leave the coffee grounds in the soap to add some extra scrubbing power. I do sell my soaps locally and am willing to ship within the U.S. but I feel that shipping out of the country would be cost prohibitive. You can view my selection of soaps and skincare products here and if you are interested in ordering please email me at ruth20012001@yahoo.com and be sure to put “soap” in the subject line..

The second thing that comes to mind when I hear the term garlic soap is a soap that is infused with garlic. This is the one that I thought was a bad idea. I can see some potential benefits to applying garlic to the skin. Garlic is said to be antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. It sometimes used as a pesticide and is said to ward off evil. All that being said, it is questionable whether any of the beneficial properties of the garlic would survive the chemical process required in soap making.

If I were going attempt to make a soap infused with garlic I would start by infusing the oil (probably olive oil) with garlic. I would use a cold infusion method – mince the fresh garlic, add it to the oil and let it sit on a sunny window sill for several days. I would probably also infuse the water with garlic, again using a cold infusion process because heat tends to destroy the beneficial properties of garlic. I would strain all of the garlic from both the oil and water before making soap with it. For an experienced soap maker this should answer the question of how to make garlic soap. (I have not done a basic soap making tutorial but there are many available online.)

As for the other search question “where can I buy garlic soap?”. Even though I have never thought it was a good idea there are some things you just don’t know until you try. I do make custom orders. To request a custom order you must be willing to order a minimum of a two pound batch of soap (8-10 bars). Shipping would be limited to within the U.S.A.

Anyone wanting to request this type of soap or a soap made with specific ingredients just for you can send me an email at ruth20012001@yahoo.com be sure to put “soap” in the subject line.

Thanks for reading and have a great day 🙂

 

Rescue Rooster

I decided to share this post again in honor of Father’s Day. Before you read the original post let me tell you about my dad. My dad is a story teller. His stories may be related to the content of the conversation , they my be told as an object lesson, or they my be just a funny story to make you laugh, but dad always has a story to tell. Anyone who spends a lot of time with my dad is likely to hear a story more than once.
When I was thinking about this I realized that my blogging is much like dad’s story telling except in a different format. I also realized that for my last few blog posts I have reposted articles that I had previous published. Since we have been very busy lately I haven’t had a lot of time for writing so recycling some of my older posts that are relevant seemed a good way to stay in touch, and with many new readers I feel these posts are worth repeating. For the few of you who are long time followers – I apologize for the repetition – but I simply couldn’t resist retelling this story in honor of my dad.
To all of my readers I encourage you to hang in there because I will have some new posts coming soon.
Happy Father’s Day Dad!

Don't Eat It! Soap and Skin Care

We’ve been raising chickens on our farm since 2013. Having a free range flock of egg layers was one of our priorities when we bought the farm and everyone that knows us knows how much we love our chickens. You can read some of my previous posts about chickens here https://donteatitsoap.com/category/chickens/ .

Ever since we put our first flock of chickens in the coop our lives have revolved around chickens. Every morning without fail, we (nowadays my husband) open up the coop as the sun is coming up, and provide fresh food and water for the flock. On days that he or we are not working at the farm it is necessary to make at least one, but usually two, midday runs to the farm to check on the chickens. Our presence helps to deter predators. Every evening, after doing a beak count,  the chickens are closed in the coop for the night. If any…

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