Kelvin Grove Farm

  (Calhoun, Georgia)
Kelvin Grove Farm

Trying out the local farmers market

Getting ready for Saturday's farmers market across from Starbucks. I'll have beans, squash, hot and sweet peppers, black radishes, basil, and eggs. I'm bring samples of tomato-basil jam and radish sauce to inspire your cooking! Stop by and say hi.  We went last Saturday and learned a lot about how to get ready for this.  Of course, it was a good day.  We sold two bushel of beans which meant I didn't have to can them.  Looking forward to doing the market again.  Just a little nervous since I'm new to this. 


Tomato Basil Jam

The tomatoes are coming in slowly here.  The cool June nights and lots of rain are delaying ripening.  I do have a few ripe tomatoes though.  Not enough to make sauce, but enough to try something new.  

I'v seen lots of recipes for tomato and basil jam.  Some get fancy and add wine or balsamic vinegar.  Some have long cooking times.  I went for simple and the results are pretty yummy.  I'm thinking it's time for an everything bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and tomato jam.  Maybe even a slice of sweet onion. 

This jam is deep red flecked with dark green pieces of basil.  It sets soft.

6 c coarsely chopped and peeled tomatoes 

4 c sugar

1 box powdered fruit pectin

1 c chopped basil leaves

Combine sugar and pectin.  Add to tomatoes and bring to boil to dissolve sugar.  Stir in basil.

Bring to a roiling boil, stirring frequently.  Boil 1 minute.

Fill sterilized 1/2 pint or pint jars.

Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 8 1/2 pints or 4 pints. 


Blackberry Cordial

One of the things I've come to love about farming is discovering new flavors.  Blackberry cordial is the newest and we are absolutely in love.   We are fortunate to live near a good blackberry patch.  After making several years worth of jelly, we branched out.  The mulled blackberry vinegar is still mulling, but the cordial is done.

 The whole process is so simple.

Place your washed berries in a large pot or bowl that you can cover and put in the fridge.  Add just enough apple juice to cover the berries.  Place in the fridge for about 4 days, stirring daily.

Now the messy part, mash the berries and run through a jelly cone strainer. Take that juice and filter through a coffee filter or fine mesh screen.  

Measure the juice and place in a pot.  Add an equal measure of sugar and boil to dissolve the sugar.  Let cool enough that you won't burn yourself while pouring.

Mix equal parts blackberry syrup and brandy.  I store mine in mason jars in the fridge.  I've also used vodka, but find the brandy to be a deeper and smoother flavor. 

I'm also working on a blueberry cordial using a different method.  It will be done July 19th.  I'll let you know how that comes out. 


What do you do with an overabundance of radish greens?

We planted late, but the radishes did great.  So what do we do with them?  They're great in salads, great dipped in salt with good beer on the side.  They're great sliced and baked in a little olive oil and salt till the edges begin to brown.  

But what about all those beautiful radish greens my husband asked.  We don't want to waste them.   Oh, a man after my own heart!  A quick internet search revealed that they are safe to eat and make a rather tasty stir fried green.  Our favorite is this creamy radish green soup we doctored to suit our taste.


olive oil, or butter

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 potatoes, diced

4 cups radish greens, or more if you like

chicken broth


Fry onion and garlic in olive oil til softened.  

Add potatoes and radish greens.  Stir to coat with oil.  

Add chicken broth to just cover.  Simmer until potatoes are soft.

Let soup cool and puree in blender.

Mix equal parts cream and puree for a comfortable soup.

Sprinkle coriander seed on top if you want an extra zing. 

I store the puree in the fridge then reheat it with the cream whenever I want a quick soup.  In fact, this has become a quick to drink breakfast.

I also plan on canning the puree.  Should take 70 minutes per pint at 10 lbs pressure. 

 We are glad to once again find a way to use all the bounty of our garden.  Now what about zucchini squash leaves????



The Joy of Getting Started

It's been a busy and cooler than normal spring.  We've been slow in starting, but now we're off and running.  Thanks to the help from all the family!  We've planted 100 tomato plants, 60 hot pepper plants, 32 sweet pepper plants, 18 sweet potato slips, rows and rows of beans, and lots more.  The kids get out every evening and help weed and till and plant.  We're already talking about what to do with all  the veggies.  Even Lauren is laying claim to what goes off to college with her!  Yesterday we finally got that warm, heavy rain.  It's like starting new every year.

We're really making progress....

I was looking at our farm description and realized how far we've come in the last 3 years.  Now when we sit down to a meal, the majority of our food is either grown by us or by neighboring farmers.  Consider our usual breakfast - bacon or ham from our pig, eggs from our chickens, milk and butter from a neighbor's cow, and jams and jellies made from locally grown or wild fruits.  

It hasn't been easy, but well worth all the extra work.  


Another Spring

A cold spring in Georgia, but spring nonetheless.  Chicks are hatching and the pig is soon to take her trip to Sheriff's.  This time we're delving into the Italian meat curing - experimenting with hog jowls the Italian way.  This is one big pig.  Looks like our freezer will be overflowing with sausage, ham, pork loin, and more.  Boomer - the wonder Basset Hound - has turned into quite the chicken herder.  He rounds up the stray hens and herds them into the henhouse and stands guard until I close them up.  Who'd have thought it!

pig whisperer

I think our sole pig gets lonely.  Every few days she goes for a walk about.  Fortunately our neighbors are really, really nice people.  She just wanders about and eventually comes home - around feeding time.  Yesterday, Lauren and I spent the day in Chattanooga.  We are nearly home when the call comes - Sue Pig is visiting the horses.   Now the extraordinary part.  Lauren goes to the fence calls her and then flaps her arms up and down and smacks the side of her legs.  Sue Pig perks right up and jogs home following Lauren all the way.  Lauren's arms are flapping and the pig's following eagerly.  Damnedest thing I've ever seen.  This morning I got to try it.  It worked!!!  I think I'll change Lauren's name to Pig Whisperer.  For a self-proclaimed city girl, she's got a unique farm talent.  Wish I had a video :(

apple chutney

A cool fall day and a bushel of apples.  Time to make apple chutney.   We've also discovered that if we run the chutney through a food mill, it is very similar to H&P Sauce.  Here's the recipe....

2 lbs apples; peeled, cored, and diced

1/2 lb raisins (any kind you like)

2 oranges finely chopped, skin and pulp, but pull out the seeds

1 lemon, done the same as the orange

1 1/2 pints apple cider vinegar

1 lb brown sugar (white sugar works too)

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tsp ground coriander

1/3 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp very finely chopped ginger root

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 lb onions chopped

 Boil vinegar, sugar, and spices to dissolve the sugar.  Add onions and apples and simmer 10 minutes.  Add raisins and simmer until thickened.  Stir frequently to prevent scorching.  Pack boiling hot into sterile, hot pint jars.   Wipe rims and cover with sterile, hot lids.  Hot water bath process for 20 minutes.

Store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 months to let the flavors blend.

This is great with ham, pork, chicken, and turkey!  Sometimes we just put some on a cracker with a slice of sharp cheddar. 



What to do with a bushel of hard pears?

This is a quick one.  A bushel of hard pears and little time.  Make pear and rum pickles!  Absolutely delicious alone or over vanilla ice cream.

Peam and Rum Pickles

4 quarts cider vinegar

4 lbs sugar

Simmer to disslove sugar

Add 6 quarts peeled, cored, quartered pears.

Simmer briskly for 30 minutes

Pack hot into quart jars, and add 2 tbs spiced rum, 1/2 tsp pieces of cinnamon stick, and two whole cloves to each quart.

Cover with vinegar mixture to 1/2 inch of top.

Process 40 min. in boiling water bath.


Leftover vinegar?  It's great to drink hot or iced.  Heat and spiced rum for a yummy toddy.  Guaranteed to cure a cold - or at least make you not care anymore.


Tomato Curry

Tomatoes are still the hot topic here.  Fortunately, it's the eating part now.  Romas are definitely the way to go here in N. Georgia if you want to can LOTS of tomatoes.  Once we'd reached our goal for sauce, stewed, spaghetti, chili, and ketchup, it was time to experiment.  One weekend we had indulged in a visit to an Indian restaurant.  Divine!  Of course, I set out to make my own curry and with lots of tomatoes on hand....the rest is history.  Last week we opened a jar of Tomato Curry and baked some chicken breasts in it.  Also Divine!  It's a little late for tomatoes, but there is next year (and the Romas have set a new crop that are the size of bouncy balls now) to try this one for yourself.  I intend to at least double what I made this year.  The curry spices take a little time and expense, but a little goes a long way.  I adapted my recipe to suit my family and you could do the same.  It's not a hot curry, but it is full of flavor.  Plus, I wasn't sure how much the hot peppers would heat up the tomatoes as they sat in the jar.  Anyway, here's the recipe.

Spice Mix

Grind together:

6 cloves

4 tbs corriander seeds

2 inches of cinnamon stick

4 pieces of a star anise

1 tsp black peppercorns

2 tsp fennel seeds

4 tbs cumin seeds

Once ground add and mix well:

1 tbs kosher salt, no iodine

2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbs ground ginger

4 tbs ground tumeric

2 tsp ground mace

2 tsp ground ardamon

2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Add to 10 quarts of peeled, cored, and quartered tomatoes.

Simmer vigorously for 15 minutes.

Pour into quart jars, add 2 tbs lemon juice to each jar.

Process in hot water bath for 40 minutes.

The flavor needs time to blend and mellow.  Allow about 1 month for this.


Tomatoes Everywhere!!

The tomatoes are in.  Why on the earth did my humans plant 75 Roma tomato plants?  They claim they plan to make all thier own spaghetti, chii, and ketchup.  I think we've more than reached that goal.  So far I think we've brought in over 100 gallons of tomatoes.  Who knew Romas would bear and bear and bear.  They obviously love the hot, humid summers in Georgia.  The thing is, we can't possibly work up all of them and we can't even give them away.  Believe me we've tried - come pick all you need for free.  No takers so far.  Just to keep up, Peggie's freezing them to work up later.  And to be on the safe side, this spring they  planted 20 more various tomatoes to come in later this summer.  Still, who can complain about such a bounty.  I can since I don't eat spaghetti or chili.  But the ketchup is good on hamburgers - when I can sneak one off the grill.

Boomer the Basset Hound and I have also discovered that tomatoes don't make great balls either.  Just to mushy to hold in the canine mouth, and the taste.  Well, it's not meat or peanut butter flavored.  Although they do make an exciting explosion when they hit the grass.

There is other good news too.  We have 7 new chicks.  One of the barred rocks hid her nest under the hydrangea bush and one day there they were - the Magnificent Seven.  She's a bit touchy!  A dog can't even get close enough to sniff the new babies.  The way they peep and run around, I bet they'd be fun to play with.   But Mama Hen will have none of that.  She even scratched my nose and ran Boomer back in the house one day.  Maybe she'll let them play when they're a bit older.

Speaking of older - the other hens are laying like crazy.  I have to admit, I'm a little tired of the smell of pickling brine for pickled eggs.  They are yummy if you can manage to snag one.

A final thought.   In all this canning frenzy I have yet to see a jar labeled Smokey Joe's Hash or Boomer's Meat.  I hope they haven't fogotten us! 


Good Neighbors and Pigs

Robert Frost once said that good fences make good neighbors; obviously he never raised pigs. 

At midnight our phone rang.  It was our neighbor M. and he'd found our pig lying in his horse pasture.  Tim and Peggie sprung from the bed and threw on warm clothes and we ran to M's.  There was Apples, asleep.  Needless to say she didn't want to move.  I later discovered that she had raided the feed in the tractor shed and eaten every crumb.  What a pig!

The night was cold but clear enough, at first, to see by the stars and security lights from the surrounding houses.  We roused her and started slowly walking her towards the fence, but she would have none of that.  Pigs have good eyesight and I guess Apples could see the bottom strands of wire.  After an hour, M. and Tim cut the lower two strands in part of the fence.  What a neighbor!  It was then that I fully understood the expressions 'pig-headed' and 'stubborn as a pig.'  Then the drizzle began.  By that time my paws were getting pretty chilled, and caked in, well, horse poop.  Still we kept trying - me, Tim, Peggie, and M. 

M. had an idea.  He has several horse panels and he thought we could just  let her lie back down and then surround her with the panels.  A great idea!  But I think Apples understood.  She laid down and let us get three panels in place before she ran across the field again with me in pursuit.  Then the drizzle turned to a good, solid, icy rain.  I kept telling myself how great those pork chops, hams, bacon, and sausage would taste -  someday.  It's hard to be too mad at an animal whose fate is sealed.

Finally, a stroke of luck.  Apples lay in the corner of the lower passage.  Tim whispered that since she wouldn't go through the horse fence, we could corner her with the horse panels.  It was beautiful.  Peggie and I stood in the open corner, and M. and Tim slowly advanced with the panels until they clinked together in my corner.  B-E-A beautiful!  We all let out a sigh of relief.  Apples could sleep there 'til morning, and Peggie, Ian, and Noah could lead her home in daylight.  We let out a little chuckle.  At least I think we chuckled.  It may have been Apples because the next thing we knew, she'd slipped through the fence into the upper pasture.  Beauty is a fleeting thing - or in this case a fleeing pig.

Believe it or not, this was the beginning of the end.  I guess Apples had had enough adventure for one night.  I nipped at her heels and she slipped throough the fence onto our farm.  Then she spritely trotted across the front yard, past the tractor shed, and into the run around the chicken coop.  Tim and M. secured a palate across the entrance, threw in some hay, and called it a night.  I gave Apples a warning bark - stay!!!

Peggie began singing a Patsy Cline tune - Walking After Midnight.  What she lacks in musical talent, she makes for in enthusiasm.  It was 3:30 before we finally settled down for a short winter's sleep.

Back to Frost.  Good fences are all good and well, but a good neighbor is a guy who will spend three hours in the middle of a rainy, cold night chasing a reluctant pig just because he was there.  Thanks M!


Cold Weather and the hens and spring plans

This was one of those mornings I'd rather be in bed, but lucky for me I have a fur coat.  We started a little late today.   Peggie and Lauren went to the high school playoffs at the dome in Atlanta and didn't get home 'til late.  They were a little disappointed that the Jackets lost, but really enjoyed the game. 

So, we didn't get started until 7 this morning.  Last year the hens quick laying when it turned cold, this year they're still going strong.  We even resorted to using a light for a few hours in the morning last year.  I don't think we'll need it.  Of course, having 30 hens does keep the hen house warmer than the 6 we had last year.  And the winter equinox is near and days will be lengthening.  Today we'll be visiting some friends and giving away a few dozen.  I hope this doesn't eat into my daily scrambled egg ration.   LOL No pun intended with the 'eat into'. 

The new puppy is fitting right in.  I'm not sure what a Basset can do on the farm, but what he lacks in skill he makes up for in enthusiasm.  He is a bit of a barker and enjoys howling at 3am.  Once the farm chores really start up in the spring, he'll be to tired to howl.  He has been learning to play tug of war with me.  I'm not sure he gets it though.  Once I've given the rope a good tug, he rolls over on his back and ends up being drug around the house.  Lots of amusement there!

Peggie and Ian are reading up on turkeys.  Looks like I'll have a new flock to keep track of.  Listening to them, I've discovered that turkeys have names!  Like Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Beltsville Small, White Palm, and the strange names go on.  I just hope the birds are smart enough to make it to Thanksgiving.  There's nothing quite like turkey leftovers.  Peggie says these turkeys will taste even better than the ones from the Piggly Wiggly.  Makes my mouth water. 

And as if I don't have enough to keep track of, Tim's talking about starting new pigs in the spring.  He figures our freezer will be getting pretty empty by the end of summer.  Of course, pork leftovers are nearly as good as turkey leftovers.  I sound like Jed Clampitt - the only thing better than 'possum is leftover 'possum.  We've been on a Beverly Hillbillys thing lately.  There's just so much Ellie May and Jethro a dog can endure.  Then Lauren keeps claiming that Granny is her role model.  She could have chose worse role models.  They keep throwing out the CSA letters.  I'm not sure how that's gonna play out.

Oh no!  Peggie's got the seed catalogs out.  Who knows what she'll plant this year.

This turkey thing and CSA is new to us.  If any of you farm dogs have any words of wisdom, give me a howl.  I'll try to steer my humans in the right direction.

Smokey Joe


New Addition to the farm

More changes at the farm!  I'm Smokey Joe, border collie extraordinary, and run this place.  Five people, a pig,3 1/2 cats, and 30 chickens can wear a dog out.  At least the garden has been tucked in for the winter.

The change is a new addition.  I now have a 13 week old assistant.  He is Boomer, a Basset hound.  Just one more thing to heard around here.  At least the pig has decided to stay home!  The chickens are laying like crazy which is good for me - I get a fresh scrambled egg every day.

By the way, I keep this blog up since my humans are busy with other pursuits.  If there are any other 'top dogs' in the area give me a howl.  I'd like to know how you run things on your farm


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