Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Golden Rule of Weeding

Wild Things Farm was approved for a grant from the USDA for a high tunnel this year.  Since I've never owned or operated a high tunnel, I started researching both on the Internet and in books.  One book I purchased is written by Eliot Coleman and it's titled "The Four Season Harvest". 

I've learned a lot about gardening with high tunnels from this book, and one thing that has really stuck in my mind from that book (that has nothing to do with high tunnels) is "One year's seeding is 7 years of weeding".  This means that if you let a weed in your garden go to seed, you'll be weeding its offspring for 7 years.  That is my motto for this gardening year.  If I can't pull the weed up, I'll at least chop off its head to keep it from seeding.

That is good advice for all gardeners.


The Best Salads

Ok, so I'm a kitchen tool junkie.  I love anything to do with cooking and kitchen, whether old or new.  I've owned a wide assortment of kitchen tools from my favorite Kitchen Aid stand mixer to a Mr. Bacon Cooker (which I hated). 

One gadget that I had not procured until recently was a salad spinner.  I used to laugh at them and think they were frivolous until I began CSA farming.  A big majority of the crops that are delivered early in the season consist of lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens.  One of the most important parts of making a good salad is having dry greens to comprise the salad mixture so the dressing will stick to the greens.  Enter salad spinner!

My sisters and I went on a "sisters day out" a couple of months ago and one of the main attractions of our shopping was to secure the very best deal in a salad spinner.  I had tried paper towels, dish towels, letting it drain in a colander, but nothing works as great as a salad spinner.  Trust me, it's not a frivolous purchase if you like good salads. 

Anyway, we went to TJ Maxx and checked out the salad spinners.  They ranged in price from $7.99 to over $20.  I decided on a model that cost $9.99.

You simply wash your greens, place them in the colander part of the spinner, put the lid on, and push the red knob like spinning a top (I keep waiting for the whirring noise like a really cool top I had growing up).  After a few spins, check the greens, and oh my, are they fluffy and dry!  It's a miracle.....go get one now.  It's the basic ingredient for a great salad.


Somewhere over the rainbows....

 Yes, I said over the "rainbows".  Saturday was a very unsettled day around here as far as the weather was concerned.  The weather folks were predicting strong storms, lots of rain, thunder, lightning, hail....so we were all "on our toes" so to speak, and spent most of the afternoon battening down the hatches. 

The rain came, the wind blew, but we missed the bullet on that one, thank goodness.  I know that counties west of us were hit by tornadoes and strong storms, but we just got some rain and a little wind, and about 7:00 that evening the sky began to look a lot lighter so I went out to see what was going on, and I saw not one, but two rainbows!  That's the first time I've ever seen a double header, so I grabbed the camera to share the view.  It was much better in person, though :)


Open Farm Day at Wild Things

Last Saturday was Open Farm for new members of Wild Things' CSA.  Many of the new members, as well as returning members, enjoyed the sunshine and wandering around the farm.  Oliver the cat got in on the action....

Whitt the horse enjoyed a facial massage as well!

 The weather cooperated beautifully and everyone got to see the farm and meet their farmer.

Several members brought gifts........

And others preferred to check out the farm equipment

All in all it was a wonderful day of meeting, greeting, and fellowship at Wild Things.


Babies on the farm

Lots of farmers will be saying this over the next few weeks "Look at the cute little chicks"!  And are they cute....little balls of fluff that make lots of noise.


I've been waking up in the middle of the night worried about them being too hot or too cold, so I've been treking the 75 or so steps in the dark to the shop to check on them.  So far, so good, but they are so dependent on someone for EVERYTHING! 

Looks like a schmorgasbord (sp?) with all the different colors, and there are 4 different varieties, all brown eggers except for 5 Amerecaunas (sp?) (blue/green eggs). 

Gee, I needed a spell checker for this blog!  Back to the garden with me now.  All this beautiful weather is killing my back :)


Wild Things happening all at once!

Spring is really springing in full swing this year.  It seems like everything is blooming at once, although I know it's not.  I took a break from the rigors of springtime gardening to "smell the flowers" and I took my camera.  This is part of what I saw on the farm.....

The really cool bluff behind the house is alive with flowers....

As I was walking along the pathway along the backyard, I noticed a Trout Lily in bloom.  They are so cute....

The woods are literally carpeted with these tiny ephemerals (they come up, bloom, and go away before the leaves get on the trees).  Another beautiful ephemeral is the Virginia Bluebell. 

The native plant nursery I owned for several years was about 15 miles from the farm where I am now.  I had a Bluebell plant that I nurtured for several years, so when I left that place I naturally wanted to take a few of my favorite plants, so the Virginia Bluebell was on the list.  I carefully dug up the roots and replanted them in the woods behind where the house was to be built.  Needless to say, I was totally in shock when the next spring revealed the entire hillside behind the house cloaked in Virginia Bluebells!  I still know where the one I transplanted is though.....


There are also Redbuds in bloom, Columbine, Toothwort, Hepatica.... and on and on.  I love spring!


The hands of a gardener

Did you ever stop to think about how much of our food never touches a human hand?  To me, that's scary.  I have three beautiful Red Star chickens and each day they lay three beautiful brown eggs.  I enjoy those eggs, as do my closest friends.  My best friend said she had to buy eggs from the store last week and her husband made the comment to her one day that "those weren't Terry's eggs" and she asked how he could tell.  He said that they didn't have the flavor, the texture, or the color of the farm fresh eggs from my chickens.  That was a compliment!

While working in the garden today and moving the chickens around, it dawned on me that so much of our food is never touched by humans.  I have "gardening" friends that load seed into a machine, plant it in the soil, spray the veggies with a sprayer on a tractor, then use a "picker" to harvest the vegetables.  The only time the vegetable is touched seems like when it hits the kitchen sink to be washed and prepared.  That's sad.

I know there are a lot of people to feed in the world, and everyone can't belong to a CSA or even know where their food comes from, but being in the business really opens you up to just how much junk there is out there that can be done to our food that no one really realizes. 

It's so easy to get caught up in the "spray" for everything that I think today's farmers have just gotten lazy.  Sure, it takes more time and energy to spread manure over a bed rather than sprinkle some fertilizer on, but the manure is feeding the soil and not just the plant. 

It might take a little more time to soak a bag of manure in water to form "manure tea" to water with, but the solution has a lot more microorganisms in it than a solution of chemical fertilizer. 

As far as insect control, building and hanging birdhouses, attracting birds to the garden areas, taking care of toads, bats, and dragonflies might seem frivolous to some, but those are all important aspects of gardening with nature.  Sure, a sprinkle with poison would get rid of the bugs quicker, but what about the critters that eat those bugs?  We don't want rid of them too. 

Every time I see a toad in the garden, a dragonfly cruising overhead, the bluebirds in all the boxes I've built them, the salamanders, snakes, bats, and wood ducks who all call this place home, how can I poison anything?  It's all connected.  Too many gardeners are worried about the perfect plant.  A few bug holes don't hurt anything....hand picking works well, but healthy soil and healthy plants work best.  I think keeping poison out of the food chain is a great start to a happy ending!  It's still a lot of hard work, though :)


Easter Eggs: Brown vs. White

I've always loved Easter eggs.  I loved changing an ordinary object into one of colorful beauty.  I loved coloring eggs when I was little and trying my best to imagine what I was writing on the eggs with the wax crayon that came in those egg coloring kits.  It was also difficult to keep those transfers still enough to keep them from being blurry; but it didn't matter--by the time we got through hiding the eggs for a week (imagine that much time out of a fridge now!) you couldn't tell what it was anyway. 

My best friend Kim and I colored eggs.  She thought I was a lunatic because neither one of us has had kids at home for several years, but it was fun!  I was always curious how brown eggs would look when colored so we did a "scientifical" experiment.  Here are the results:


The eggs on the left side of the towel were white eggs (notice the blowout) and the ones on the right were the brown eggs.  Overall, I would vote for the brown eggs.

I called my Mom and Dad a while ago and asked the proverbial question "Whatchya doin?"  They were COLORING EGGS!  75+ years old and they've colored eggs every year--gotta love it :)

The best part of the whole thing is that at my age I don't have to beg an adult to hide my eggs for me; I can hide them myself!


Irrigation, please

With today being April Fool's Day I kept trying to come up with some kind of April Fool's joke, but was just too busy with springtime chores!  This weather has been so awesome for getting crops going that it's hard to stop.  I did play an April Fool's joke on myself, though.

Each fall I have to remove the irrigation pump from the pond to keep it from freezing, drain the lines, yadda, yadda, and each spring I reverse the cycle.  Today was the day.  Everything was going just great.  Got the pump reinstalled on the end of the little floating dock that it is attached to, got the wiring redone, plumbing reconnected, and even had to install a new breaker in the electrical panel.  Everything was working just great, but there was a small drip coming from the pipe that connected from the pump to the pressure tank that needed tightening up. 

Channel locks in hand, I proceeded to turn the fitting--ever so slowly and carefully, mind you, but evidently the clamp on the black pipe coming in wasn't real happy, so it let go and I got to see just how much water can be pushed from a well pump with nothing attached to it!  I was drenched from head to toe in seconds!  It sort of felt good though, once I caught my breath.  Then I had to run to the breaker box in soaking wet overalls to shut the pump off.

Clamp tightened, overalls eventually dried out, sprinklers ran for a little while, I think I survived April Fool's Day just fine!

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