Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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A "glomato"?

If there were a contest for the ugliest tomato, I surely believe this one would be in contention:

See, I told you this has been a really weird growing season........

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I've Got Worms!

When I told a friend that, she promptly said "I've got some diatomaceous earth"--I laughed and then told her it was nightcrawlers.  I've been wanting to add worms to the menagerie here on the farm and about 3 weeks ago I made the leap.

My dad told me of a tv clip he had seen on a local news station about a couple raising earthworms for their manure.  That's exactly what I'm wanting them for.  The past couple of years I haven't liked the potting soil mixes that are available locally and I thought that maybe earthworm poop might be the answer.  I watched the video clip on the internet (isn't technology wonderful sometimes?) and contacted the couple featured in the video.  Turns out that they were downsizing a little so they had worms for sale.  Yippee!  Field trip.  My best friend and partner in unusual field trips already had her day planned so I mapped out my route and 2 hours later I was standing in a garage-converted-to-worm-house, complete with air conditioning, all matching buckets, sifters, incubators, instructions on the wall.....a bit intimidating to say the least.

These folks had purchased the complete worm growing operation that cost well over $1,000.  They feed the worms grain that they purchase from the supplier and they use leaf compost (sifted, I might add) for the worms to live in.  I chatted with the lady for a half hour or so, learned a whole lot from her, took 3 paper sacks of worms (3 lbs) with me and started back home wondering how the newbies were going to adapt to life on the farm.

When I got home I gathered up 8 of the cleanest dirty 5 gallon buckets I could find and washed them all fairly well.  I went to the leaf pile (see post on Black Gold to see how many leaves I have)  and went to the oldest part of the pile to get the most composted leaves I could find.  I got a tractor bucket full then proceeded to fill a bucket about 2/3 full of leaves that I had rubbed between my hands--sifting compost?  That's for sissy worms (lol)!  After I got one bucket filled with leaves I realized that I hadn't drilled the ventilation holes in them, so I got the handy-dandy cordless drill and drilled, and drilled, and drilled holes in the top 1/4 of each bucket.  NOW for the leaves.  I picked out the biggest globs, sticks, nuts, etc. and put the compost in the buckets and hauled them into the shop--my tiny 10x14 shop.

I started putting the worms in and thought I'd check online one more time before I did so to make sure I wasn't missing something important.  I WAS!  I read where the containers have to be dark and opaque because worms despise light.  Uh oh--my buckets were white.  Think---paint might kill them--leftover black plastic mulch and electrical tape!  Problem solved.  So now I filled up the buckets and tried to evenly distribute the worms between the buckets, and I put a handful of chicken food on top of the soil in each bucket.  That's only until I can figure out how to wean them off grain and start them on scraps.  I loosely placed the pretty purple bucket lids on top of the buckets and said "Welcome to Crab Orchard".

The next morning there were about a dozen worms that had crawled out of their buckets and committed suicide.  WHAT?  Not happy?  I took off a lid and could see why--it was really warm and stuffy in there, so I took all the lids off and haven't had any more deaths due to crawling out on the floor since then.

The worm folks harvest poop every two weeks.  I imagine they can do it that often because the compost that goes in the buckets looks like something you'd buy in a bag at the store and the grain smells like something wonderful to eat.  I checked a bucket after 3 weeks and wow, there was enough poop in there to start playing with seedlings and worm poop.  I decided that I would be a nice worm mom and sift their compost.  So I spent Friday afternoon sifting and filling and separating worms.  It really didn't take that long and I think they appreciate it.  I'm still working on the food though.....here's their internet debut photo shoot....

Everyone seemed all happy and wiggly when I changed out their bedding and I promised them I'd learn more so I could be a better worm mom.......

 
 

Creamy Garden Vegetable Soup with Tomato Salad

So right about now the fridge is getting overrun with fresh veggies.  It's hard to keep up with them this time of year.  We had much needed rain all day yesterday and other than having to pick squash and dig potatoes in the rain, it was rather enjoyable.

I decided to try out a creamy fresh vegetable soup.  It actually turned out to be very tasty and was relatively easy to prepare.  Here's the recipe (it's a loose one, okay?)

Peel and slice about 3 carrots

Peel and cut 3 or 4 potatoes into 1" chunks

I used about 6" of a Daikon radish, peeled and 1" chunks

1 kohlrabi peeled and cut into about 1/2" chunks

Roma green beans, stem end broken off, sliced lenthwise about 3 times then crosswise to make "French Style" beans

Cover all these with water and simmer slowly until tender.  You might need to drain a little liquid off at this point but save it in case you need to add some back.

Salt and pepper, parsley, and a can of cream of celery soup.  I let this cook a while then added garlic powder, a dash of cayenne pepper and a package of frozen corn from last year.  Then I added a handful of peas I had frozen earlier in the season.  I stirred the pot vigorously to kind of "puree" the potatoes a little to make the soup creamy.

At this point I would have added some cream to thicken the soup a little, (if I had any) but a big dollop of whipped cream cheese was the best I could do.  Stir the cream cheese or cream into the soup and let it thicken a little.

Yum!

For a side dish I prepared a tomato/rice salad.  There was a bowl of leftover wild rice in the fridge so I took about 1/2 cup of that, chopped one tomato, 1/2 of one of the long Diva cucumbers growing so prolifically right now, a generous sprinkling of fresh basil, some chopped onion, minced garlic, then drizzled with lemon juice and a little unfiltered olive oil, salt and pepper, and tossed well.

Yum!

The best part of both of these recipes are that they use fresh ingredients that are pouring in from the garden right now, and that's why we garden (or belong to a CSA), right?

 
 

Good morning, my little chickadees

A friend loaned me an incubator to hatch a few chicken eggs, almost three weeks ago.  The eggs have been kept at a steady 101 temperature and he had told me that on July 8 I should take the eggs out of the egg turner to let the babies hatch out without getting their feet and legs tangled up in the egg container.  Well, Sunday morning I cut the tops of several egg cartons to put them in the incubator and voila!  There were two baby chicks in there :-)

When I saw that the chicken-hatching had already started I needed to go down to the chicken coop and get the utility light with the 100 watt bulb that I use for a "brood box" heater.  I went to the chicken coop, retrieved said light and headed back to the house.  I was walking along, thinking about the chickens and other happy thoughts and Hattie (the battie Catahoula) ran in front of me.  The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground, not even really sure how I got there until I saw Angus (the boxer) looking at me like I'd done something to him.  I'd rather not type the words that came out of my little mouth at this point, but Angus understood and got under the truck.  I didn't say anything else to him but I sure gave him dirty looks.

After I moved everything to make sure nothing was broken I stood up and realized that I had squashed the light and it fell apart.  After straightening the fixture out, screwing it all back together and finding a new non-CFL light bulb, I found clean shavings and a big tub to put the babies in.

Today is Tuesday and there are 12 hatchlings with one struggling to get out of its shell.  It's great fun watching them hatch and grow.  I may get my own incubator.

 

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