Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
[ Member listing ]

The Canner is Bubbling Again

I love this time of year in the garden, everything is so plentiful!  We had our first sweet corn this weekend and a few ripe tomatoes as well.  The plants don't look great, but they don't have the killer blight and the tomatoes are finally turning red! It must be the sunshine, which has finally reappeared. As I type, I'm keeping an eye on my canner as I am making salsa with the leftovers from the market- tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers.  Growing up, no one in my family canned, but I taught myself a few summers ago and I really enjoy it.  I love knowing what's really in my food and being able to control the amout of chemicals, salt and sugar that goes into whatever I'm eating.  I love trying new recipies, and I love finding ones that use the herbs and vegetables I have just out my back door! I do make some other things, like mustards, that I need to buy most of the ingredients for, but they are so much better than anything store bought!  I enjoy canning so much that I have started putting some of my sauces and other things for sale at the stand.  If you stop by, along with 2 kinds of mustards I have flavored vinegar, a sweet & sour dipping sauce, hot pepper jelly, dilled green beans and this weekend, salsa!

 Opening the stand has made us so busy, getting laid off was really a blessing in disguise.  People remember our sausage and we have sold quite a lot of the secret family recipe breakfast sausage.  Dan and I introduced a mild and a hot Italian sausage 2 weeks ago and they were so popular, we're going to have them again this weekend.  So Thursday I'll be busy stuffing sausage and packaging it.  

 Another thing keeping me busy lately is working on the website.  I've added a lot on new pictures of the animals and the stand.  I'm also working on a page with pictures and descriptions of the various polutry we raise, which is taking some time and isn't live yet.  If you'd like to check it out, the address is www.pleasantvalleyfarm.weebly.com.

If you're planning on being in Tionesta for the Rumble on the River Bike Fest, stop by and see us!  We always enjoy meeting the people who follow us online.  And if it isn't too hot, you can meet Puff, our cat who thinks he is the farm stand mascot.  He love to be the greeter and be petted by everyone!  

 
 

Not a bird, not a plane...

Recenly I've noticed a strange visitor to the flower garden in the back yard.  To me, it looks like what would happen if you crossed a ruby-throated hummingbird with a crayfish from a nearby creek, but there it was, flitting among my bee balm like a bee.  I called Dan over, as he has spent most of his life on this farm and is well aquainted with everything that lives here, but he was as surprised as I was.  After some research on the internet, I found a picture that looked like my little creature...it is called a Hummingbird Clearwing moth.  Among the food sources listed for this insect were bee balm, mint, butterfly buish, red clover and lilac, all of which all grow here on the farm, so I'm pretty sure I have a positive ID.  I know in recent years honeybees have become scarce, we have notice far more bumblebees acting as our pollinators, so my first guess was that these moths have moved in to take the bee's place since they are benificial pollinators too.    However, I was thrilled to notice that all the melons, squash and pumpkins were being pollinated by real honeybees this week.  I've seen limited amounts of the bees, mostly on the clover that grows in the yard, but not as much in the garden.  It makes me hopeful that maybe our space, free of chemicals, really is benifitting the local wildlife.  I'm not the only one noticing the moths though- a local gardner snapped a photo that ended up on the front page of our local newspaper just yesterday!

 

We are anticipating a busy weekend here at the farm stand.  Tionesta's Indian Festival ends this weekend with a big parade on Saturday.  If you're in town, we will have the stand open from 10-2 and our special this weekend is fresh sausage made right here at the farm.  We'll have our secret family recipe loose breakfast sausage, plus mild and  hot  Italian sausage links, perfect for cookouts!  We hope to see you Saturday!

 
 

Hoping for Heritage Tomato Time

The weather just has not cooperated for us this summer, and it seems like a month since I've been able to garden or make hay.  The plants seem to be loving it though, and I'm just hoping for a bit more sun so all these green tomatoes and ears of corn will hurry up and ripen!  I've got lots of plans for them, and LOTS of people in this part of Pennsylvania have been experiencing tomato blight early this year.  It's a scary thing, by the time the leaves start to turn yellow, there is nothing you can do to save your plants but pull up and burn the affected ones. The only preventitive is to hose the plants down with fungicide weekly, but being organic that's not an option for us anyway.  But I'm crossing my fingers and hoping.  I planted 3 heirloom varieties which I bought as seeds from Seed Savers Exchange- a grape, a Brandywine and a Roma.  They seem to have just as many blooms coming on as the hybrid varieties, I'm really curious about comparing them.  I'd like to switch to more heirloom varieties in the coming years.  Many people don't realize it, but there are hundreds of varieties of plants and livestock that are endangered of becoming extinct.  Agribusiness only cares about the bottom lines of production and storage for transport, so unique, tasty and valuable strains die out because they don't grow fast enough or ship without wilting before they get to Wal-Mart.  Aniamls such as chickens or pigs that can't handle the confinement of factory farms suffer the same fate. So I'm very excited about the success we've had this year, we have a wonderful lettuce called Grandpa Admire's and the squash and other gourds seem to be growing like wildfire.  My goal is to find varieties that will grow well on the farm and help us pay the bills, but also to find ones with history and heritage, because that just fits our horse powed farm.  And watching an heirloom seedling sprout, or seeing an endangered chick hatch makes you realize that you don't have to go to the North Pole or the Amazon to save an endangered species...it really is possible right here at home. 

 
 

Opening the Stand

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to see us at the stand's reopening on Saturday!  After being closed for over 3 years, we weren't sure what kind of turnout we would have.  Once the stand opened, everything ran smoothly, but we did have a little more craziness than expected that morning.  Frankie Blue Eyes, a rabbit, has been on the loose for about a month, but as he was doing no damage, we didn't try real hard to catch him.  Of course, Saturday morning he discovered the cabbage transplants we had set out 2 weeks ago and was systematically eating them all. After catching him, which required both Dan and I and a large net on a pole, we had to catch the other 2 boys from that pen.  They have not been out since we put wire on the floor of the moveable pen months ago, but not only were they hopping through the yard, but the cats were chasing them.  Now the cats have never chased Frankie, but the other boys must have looked like lunch because the cats were really being aggressive.  Finally the rabbits are put away, the stand is stocked, and I go to change into something a little nicer than muddy jeans and wet sneakers.  Having a few minutes to spare, I thought I'd go into the barnyard and cut a bit of chammomile to pretty up the checkout counter.  As I, in a skirt no less, am cutting stems, around the corner of the building comes Wilbur, our boar hog.  Now the last thing I wanted was a mud covered 800 pound creature coming to rub all over my nice clean clothes, but Wil thought I might be interested in scratching his back like usual.  I'm not sure he understood my threats of turning him into bacon if he got any closer, but we settled on a compromise...I scratched behind his ears and decided that I had enough flowers!  

I got to the stand and hoped my animal excitement was over for the day.  However, Puff had other ideas.  Puff is a great big fluffy housecat that I raised by hand after his mother was killed on the road.  Puff was 3 weeks old then and is now 8 years old and spoiled rotten.  Puff strode into the stand as if he owned it, and being carried back out several times did not deter him.  He thought about jumping up on my table of sauces, probably because they are all in glass jars and they'd make a great mess if he knocked them onto the cement floor.  Luckily for me, that was too much work for a lazy cat.  Then the people started coming in.  I was excited to have customers and Puff was excited to have visitors!  He lay in the very middle of the floor and seemed quite pleased to have new friends to pet him.  Apparently there were too many new friends because he jumped into the horse drawn sleigh and went to sleep.  After awhile he'd feel more sociable and be back down oon the floor, then back to the sleigh again.  I will be back at the stand on Saturday from 10 am-2pm and I imagine "Puff the Farm Stand Mascot" will be too.  We hope to see you there!

 

 
 
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