Category Archives: garlic

Spring Has Sprung and The Chicks are On The Move

IMG_3900

This was what I saw when I looked out the window in the morning last Sunday, April 15. Ice coated the all of the windows on the East side of the house.

IMG_3901 When I looked out the North window I could see that most of the precipitation that had fallen was in the form of sleet and freezing rain. It felt very discouraging since we should be three weeks into spring by now. Thankfully the power was still on. We had prepared for a power outage by bringing extra firewood inside, making sure that there was oil in the oil lamps, checking flashlight batteries and making sure the freezers were full so that foods would stay frozen longer. When the freezers are only partially full of food I freeze blocks of ice in cardboard milk containers to fill the empty space. When warm weather comes, and we are spending days at the farm, we will use these blocks of ice in a cooler at the farm to keep drinks and food cold. Buying bags of ice everyday can get quite expensive.

My husband also added extra weight to the back of the van, for added traction, in anticipation of driving on icy roads.  We use to buy bags of sand every year to keep in the back of the van during winter driving season. Then last year we began taking a different approach – instead of buying bags of sand, that we really didn’t need, we began using things that we did need. Having several bags of chicken feed or a load of firewood in the back of the van can provide that extra traction just as well as sand bags.

Temperatures warmed slightly throughout the day, so even though it continued to rain the ice on the windows melted. We were fortunate that we were not among the 350,000 in South East Michigan that lost power due to this storm.

The rest of the week seemed to be a slow transition into spring. While daytime temperatures were above freezing most days the winds out of the North kept the chill in the air. It wasn’t until Friday that it felt like Spring had arrived. The day was partly sunny and it was comfortable to go outside with just a hooded sweatshirt rather than a heavy coat.

Saturday’s weather along with the rest of the 10 day forecast confirmed it. Spring has Sprung!!! We began doing the spring happy dance yesterday. 🙂 🙂 🙂 I find that garden and leaf rakes, pruning shears and a wheelbarrow make great dance partners when it comes to the spring happy dance, and popular dance moves involve raking last years leaves from the lawn and flower beds, and pruning dead foliage from perennial plants. My husband made a very bold move yesterday as he stored the snow shovel away for the season. He also discovered the very first dandelion of the year. There was only one but I am sure that in a week or so there will be yellow blossoms everywhere.

IMG_3903

The garlic has been slow to emerge but is now about three inches above ground.

The pond is pretty much as full as it gets. Very little of the beach is not under water.

IMG_3907

At this level it is seeping over the edge in a couple of places. This is a good starting point for spring, as we will use the pond for irrigating crops as needed.

IMG_3905

The chicks have moved to their stage-two brooder. They had begun getting their feathers and had become very curious about the world beyond the stock tank brooder. Flying up to the rim of the stock tank had become a fun adventure for them. Here is their new set up.

IMG_3885After assembling the hutch and putting in straw for bedding we use a zip tie to anchor the heat lamp in place.

IMG_3892

We put in food and water and a roost. Then put the chicks in their new home. They can now see the outside, and they can’t fly out of the brooder.

IMG_3897

We cover the hutch with a large piece of canvass. The canvass keeps water out and warmth in. The chicks regulate their body temperature by move closer or farther from the heat lamp as needed. We lift or lower the sides of the canvass as the weather gets warmer or cooler as well.

IMG_3917

Last night it was warm enough to watch a little chicken TV. As the chicks get the rest of their feathers and the temperatures continue to warm we will be transitioning them to stage three – at the farm. I’ll post about that soon.

In the mean time I hope that, if you too have been waiting on spring, your Spring has Sprung. Thanks for reading and have a beautiful day.

National Garlic Day – Really?

IMG_0586

When I got out of the shower this morning I discovered that I had a voicemail from my dad wishing me a “Happy National Garlic Day”. I honestly had no idea it was National Garlic Day. It wasn’t marked on my calendar and our local news show had failed to report it.

I decided to do an internet search to learn more.

According to this National Garlic Day is celebrated every year on April 19, and it should be celebrated by eating lots of garlic and learning about the benefits of eating garlic. The page notes that the origin of this “National Day” could not be determined and that there was no evidence that it had ever been recorded by congress or proclaimed by the president as such. Sorry, if you were hoping to get holiday pay I am afraid you are out of luck. However, if you decide to begin your celebration early with a garlic omelet or smoothie for breakfast your boss just might decided to give you the day off. 😉

Now I am not usually a person to rant, so this is probably the closest you will come to reading a rant on my blog. I just want to know who comes up with this stuff??? As a garlic grower I certainly support celebrating garlic by eating lots of it and learning about the health benefits, and if it takes a designated day to get people to do that then so be it. The thing that I am not ok with is the USA celebrating National Garlic Day in April!

April is probably the WORST time of year to celebrate “National Garlic Day”. Maybe you never thought about it because when you go to the grocery store you can usually buy fresh bulbs of garlic anytime of the year, but the truth is most of the garlic sold in the United States is imported. If we are celebrating “National Garlic Day” shouldn’t we be celebrating by eating garlic that is grown in the USA???

In the USA garlic is generally planted in the fall and harvested in summer (mid to late July in our area). After it is harvested garlic is generally cured or allowed to dry for several weeks before it is sold. This is when it is freshest. If garlic is properly cured and stored it will remain fresh for between 3 and 8 months depending on the variety. As garlic begins to shrivel or sprout it is still edible but I certainly would not consider it fresh. Unless you grow your own garlic it would be very difficult to find USA grown garlic this time of year. So why on earth are we celebrating National Garlic Day today? The only thing we are doing with our garlic crops right now is praying for the weather to warm up and dry up so that we may have a bountiful crop this year.

In my opinion, if anyone cares, the optimal time to celebrate “National Garlic Day” would be in early September, when most growers in the USA have had time to harvest and cure their garlic and are then able to take it to market. Garlic growers could then use the “Holiday” to teach people about how garlic is grown, about different varieties of garlic, about ways to cook with garlic, as well as the health benefits all while selling fresh locally grown garlic. Doesn’t this make more sense???

I’m am certain my rant is not going to change anything but thanks for listening and I sure would like to hear what you think.

 

Dehydrating Garlic Again

I first wrote about this topic in January of 2016 but I tried some new methods this year and thought I would give you an update.

Peeling the garlic is the longest part of the process and is probably the reason most people will choose to buy garlic powder rather than make their own. Peeling garlic is not a hard job, if fact with this handy silicone garlic peeler, that we highly recommend, it is so easy that a child can do it. However, peeling large amounts of garlic to dehydrate is still a big and seemingly never ending a chore.

IMG_0552

In a quest to find an easier or at least quicker way I did an internet search. I found a few methods that looked promising so I tried a couple. I first tried putting the garlic in a bowl and placing a second bowl on top and shaking it. The video made this look so easy that I figured I could have all my garlic peeled in no time. My attempts at this were futile. I ended up with one or two cloves partially peeled and the rest of the peels clung tight to the cloves.  😦 I really don’t think it was anything that I did wrong or that these videos are fake. I suspect it has everything to do with the variety of garlic that they were using verses the varieties of garlic that I was using. Yes, in case you are wondering there are many (I’ve heard as many as 600) different varieties of garlic.  While I can’t endorse this method of peeling garlic I would say it is probably worth a try before you move on to something else. It might just work for you.

The other method I decided to try was blanching the garlic. I didn’t want to cook the garlic so rather than put it in boiling water I decided to immerse it in hot (probably about 180 F) water for 1-2 minutes I then put the cloves in a bowl of cold water until I was ready to peel each one. This method produced better results in that once the skin was pierced or broken it easily slipped off the clove. I pierced the skin using a paring knife while cutting off the root end.  Even though it seemed easier I’m not sure that it was any quicker than peeling each clove with the handy little garlic peeler shown above. It is also worth mentioning that I would only recommend this method if you are peeling a large amount of garlic.

Another thought came to my mind as I was writing this and it may just be the answer you/we are looking for – purchase several of the silicone garlic peelers and get the whole family or even the neighbor kids involved. Many hands make light work. (See why my kids moved out. LOL)

There was one other thing I did differently this year. Last year I wrote that I used the slicing blade in my food processor to slice the garlic. For some reason my slicing blade is missing so I decided to use the shredding blade. This actually turned out really well. It was difficult to spread the garlic evenly on the dehydrator trays but even in small clumps the garlic dried in about 1/2 the time as it did last year.

Lastly I will leave you with a warning. Dehydrating garlic in a food dehydrator produces a strong and somewhat overpowering garlic odor. This is a job that is best done in outdoors, in an out building, or in a closed off room with an exhaust fan.

I hope you find these tips useful and if you have any tips to share please leave them in the comments section below.

 

 

Fall Activities

To start off this post I want to send a great big Thank You to anyone reading this. My readership is growing and in the past few months the number of people who are following my blog has doubled. It’s still not a big number but it is very encouraging. Having followers is kind of like making new friends. Followers can visit our farm through many of the pictures I post and can keep up with what we are up to just by reading along. It’s always exciting when somebody hits the “like” button or I get hits off Facebook indicating that somebody liked my writing well enough to share it with their friends. Best of all is when someone takes the time to leave a comment.  It’s almost as good as having friends stop by for coffee and a chat. So again thank you to all those who are reading.

This is a quick update on some of our fall activities before we begin planting garlic this week. If you are interested in what we will be doing with garlic planting you can check out this page https://donteatitsoap.com/a-year-in-growing-garlic/ .

IMG_3325

My husband has been working on expanding our strawberry patch. He first weeded  them then cut and transplanted runners before mulching with straw. Since this picture was taken he has finished the center so there is now 7 full rows of strawberry plants. We are praying for a bountiful crop in 2018.

After finishing the strawberry patch he moved on to the asparagus bed. We added to the asparagus this spring so we now have around 100 plants. Over the past few days he has cut down the ferns that were dead leaving a few that were still green. With hands and knees in the dirt he weeded the areas directly around each plant. He then tilled in between the rows. Since I didn’t get a picture you’ll have to trust me when I say it looks beautiful. Straw will also be used to mulch the asparagus before winter sets in.

He has cleared out most of the garden since nearly everything is done producing. He cut corn stalks and gave some to friends and neighbors to use for fall decorations.

While he has been busy with all of the fall farming activities my time has been split more between the farm and the house. My activities at the farm were mostly preparing the prayer garden for winter.

IMG_3329

I gave it a good weeding, then I trimmed dead foliage and blossoms from most of the plants. I left any blossoms that were still open, as they were being used by bees and butterflies in search of food. I also dug out some Irises because they were spreading beyond where I wanted to go. I gave the dug up Iris bulbs to a neighbor who was happy to receive them.

At home I cooked up and froze pumpkins from our one volunteer pumpkin plant that produced this year. It was not a pie pumpkin but it made a fabulous pumpkin pie.  You can find my pumpkin pie recipe here https://donteatitsoap.com/2015/09/22/pumpkin/   I froze several packages of eggplant and I turned some of the strawberries, that I had froze in June, into jam. I also filtered the beeswax that had been tucked in the freezer after the our honey harvest.  Check out this post to see how I filter beeswax. https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/06/06/filtering-bees-wax/

After several months of not making soap, I made two batches last week. The first one I made was Sweet Dandelion. Since it was such a big hit when I made it in the spring, I knew that I would want to make another batch so even though they were nearly done blossoming, in late June I walked the farm in search of dandelions. I was able to find enough to make a pot of dandelion tea and infused the rest in some sunflower oil. I froze the dandelion tea and I had both of my key ingredients ( tea and oil) last week when I was ready to make this soap.

The other soap I made was coffee soap. I am really looking forward to trying this soap because I used a new and (hopefully) improved method. I will post about it in the future, probably in six weeks or so when the soap is ready.

For now I must refocus on the task at hand – garlic planting, so until next time I wish you well.

Find Our Michigan Grown Garlic

We are thrilled to announce that you can now purchase our Michigan grown garlic at Vinckier Foods in Armada, Michigan  http://www.vinckierfoods.com/contact-armada.php  and Fronney’s Foods in Capac, Michigan http://www.fronneysfoods.com/

You can also purchase our garlic at:

Neiman’s Family Market in Saint Clair, Michigan. http://www.neimansfamilymarket.com/neimans/stclair.jsp

Nino Salvaggio Saint Clair Shores, Michigan location

Water To Go In Richmond, Michigan

Pure Michigan Country Market on 10th Street in Port Huron, Michigan

If you shop at any of these retailers please be sure to thank them for supporting local farmers while bringing you quality products. Your words will be appreciated.