Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Open Farm Day at Wild Things

The weather couldn't have been better for today's Open Farm.  Although I've hosted several Open Farm days for the CSA members, this one was for both members and customers of the "Organical Veggie List".  Visitors got to pet Hattie and Lucy (the dogs), love on Smoky and Bandit (the cats) and we were mildly entertained by the Happy Hens.

Unfortunately my camera is still laying on the counter in the kitchen, untouched during the days' festivities.   Just imagine the fresh greens in the high tunnels, gorgeous blue skies, Christmas lights in the house......there, you can see it.

Several tie-dye shirts found new homes, I have a feeling that many tubes of soothing lip balm are going to be in stockings this year, as will the awesome handmade soap bars that flew out the door!

The real reason for this communication is to pass along recipes for some of the snacks that folks asked for.  The spinach balls were a big hit and they would be well served in a bun warmer to keep them warm while on the table.  This recipe is from a cookbook from a Tennessee Federation of Garden Clubs cookbook, sponsored by Historic Racheff House and Gardens.  I got suckered....uh....persuaded to buy the book when I was Pres of the Fairfield Glade Garden Club.  It's actually a pretty good book.  Here's the recipe:

Spinach Balls

2 (10 oz) pkgs frozen spinach
2 medium onions (1 cup finely chopped)
2-2-1/2 cups stuffing mix
6 medium eggs (I used Fresh Eggs from the Happy Hens)
3/4 cup melted margarine (I used butter)
1-1/2 tsp thyme
1-1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder or 1 large garlic clove, crushed

Cook spinach and drain well.  Use paper towels to help dry spinach.  (I pressed it into a sieve to get all the liquid out.)  Combine all ingredients and mix well--I used my mixer.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight.  Form into about 1 inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet.  Bake in 350 degree oven for app 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  After baking, balls may be frozen and reheated in oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.

The next favorite recipe was from the same cookbook and this one came from Moira Kay, WBIR TV co-anchor.

Sweet Vidalia Onion Cheese Dip

2 lg Vidalia or sweet onions, chopped (I used sweet onions)
1 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (I used regular)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1-1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Grease baking dish.  Preheat oven to 375.  Mix onions, mayonnaise, cheese and Worcestershire sauce.  Turn into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.  Serve warm with crackers or chips (I used tortilla chips).  I kept the dish on the stove eye on low while everyone dipped and munched, but my stove is very handy to the traffic pattern in the kitchen.  A hot plate would work well also, but it needs to be served hot.

Lastly, is the homemade pimento cheese.  I had clipped this recipe from a Southern Living magazine several years ago.  It's called:

Our Favorite Pimento Cheese

Make the mayo mixture:  In a large bowl stir together 1-1/2 cups mayonnaise, 1 (4 oz) jar pimentos, well drained, 1 tsp worcestershire sauce, 1tsp finely grated onion, and 1/4 tsp ground red pepper.    Mix well.

Toast the pecans (I used walnuts):  Toasting brings out the rich flavor of the nuts.  Preheat oven to 350.  Bake 1 cup nuts in a single layer in a shallow pan for 8-10 minutes or until tasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

Shred the cheese:  Using the small side of a box grater, grate 8 ounces of extra sharp cheddar.  Then use the large side of the grater to grate an 8 ounce block of sharp cheddar.  (I cheated and used packaged shredded, but "they" say that fresh shredded really makes a difference.  I'll try that next time.)

Stir together and enjoy.  It may be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

No one asked for the recipe for the M&M's or Nutter-Butters, but then I don't think anyone tried them either :-)  That's all for now--I'm going to put my feet up for a while!


Preparing for Winter

The weather prognosticators are calling for really cold weather tomorrow night--first really "hard freeze" of the year, although my thermometer read 24 degrees last night.  So that means removing the irrigation pump from the pond and subsequently draining the lines that feed all the different garden areas and the drip irrigation spiderweb that is in place in the gardens.  Done!

Next is to install all the wire hoops over the beds in the high tunnels to protect the winter crops inside the high tunnels.   The second layer of protection inside the tunnels really makes a difference..

rowcoversinhightunnel11.13This is a shot inside the larger high tunnel which is 20x96.  This tunnel has lettuce, kale, braising mix, spinach, broccoli raab, endive, mustard, radiccio, and a few other greens. The newer tunnel is 12x80 and is protecting spinach, swiss chard, arugula and broccoli raab.  Oh, and both tunnels have a row of strawberries on each of the outer walls.  Strawberries outside in this area (on this farm, anyway) are "iffy" during late frosts and freezes in the spring so I'm trying them inside each tunnel.  So far I've been able to eat strawberries with my yogurt about 3 days a week.  We'll see how they do on a production scale next spring.

On Saturday I opened the bee hive and on top of the frames of the top box I placed 2 layers of newspaper, cut a hole in the middle, then poured about 3-1/2 pounds of white sugar on the paper.  The sugar was then spritzed with water to "crust" over.  Several of my beekeeping buddies have said they are going to put a solid bottom board in over the winter because they are thinking that we will have a colder-than-normal winter--so, I decided to do the same.  I cut a piece of 1/4" insulation and covered the bottom board just after I put the sugar on, then I went about my chores.

It was a beautiful Saturday, low 60's and sunshine.  About 30 minutes after tending to the bees I noticed A LOT of bees around the entrance and a few of them on the front starting to "beard"--okay, maybe it was too warm to install the bottom board on Saturday.  I moved it back about halfway and a few minutes later all was back to normal.  It's okay to deal with one or a few hives in this manner but you sure couldn't do this with more than a few!  I've got a lot to learn about beekeeping :-)

Wintertime around here also means doing indoor things and that includes soap making.  I LOVE patchouli scent and bought a couple of patchouli plants this past summer.  They are in pots in the house and doing well.  I've been collecting leaves from them to make an oil infusion and finally gathered enough to actually get it done.  I used sunflower oil as the base oil (it's cheap and effective for this purpose).  I stuffed a pint jar full of dried patchouli leaves then filled it with sunflower oil.  Heat a pan of water to boiling, remove from the heat and set the jar of oil and leaves into the pot of water and let it cool.  Put a lid on the mixture and shake it up every time you walk by it for a few months.



This is my first time doing this, so I'll report back as the experiment progresses.

Another project on the farm is that the chimney for the woodstove is in progress--YAY!  Hopefully it will be ready to use by Christmas--I'm excited!



I plan on stuccoing the block since it's on the back of the house and not visible unless you walk all the way around to the back of the house.  Building the scaffold is just about as tedious as the block work.

Another winter project around here is winterizing the gardens.  The front bluff garden was in pretty good shape but there were 3 beds of overgrown lettuce, pepper plants, and a few ugly cabbages in addition to a few weeds.

I moved the electric poultry fence around this garden since it's adjacent to the chicken pen anyway.  The girls went nuts!



Now that they've gotten that garden cleared out they'll be moved to the pond garden next--I appreciate all the help I can get :-)



Winemaking and Rainbows

This is about Week 6 of my winemaking adventure.  So far I've got Pear Wine, the first batch started, Blackberry, Strawberry, Raspberry Jam, and today a batch of Muscadine was mixed in the fermenting crock.  Everything seems to be going okay so far.......(the taste test will tell in the end).



The big carboy is the pear wine and the others are in gallon jugs.  Sometimes there is too much "must" to fit into a gallon jug so that's where the smaller bottles with balloons on them come into use.

I picked up a quart of pure Muscadine juice at the grocery store the other day so I've got that brewing in the fermenting crock in the pantry where the freezer keeps the temp just a little warmer than the house if I leave the door closed.

Now for the rainbow.....this fall has been great weather-wise; mild temps, bright sunshiny days....but the leaves just sort of turned color really quick then fell off.  A cold front moved through today which caused things like some wind, lots of clouds blowing around, and bright sunshine and rain at the same time, in the late afternoon.  You know, the perfect setup for a rainbow



I didn't notice while I was taking the picture, but it almost looks like there are two rainbows there, doesn't it?

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