Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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The "To-Do" List

How many of you have a "To-Do" list? I am really not much of a list person, but in the effort to become more organized, I have created a "To-Do" list for the immediate time. These are some things I will be concentrating in the upcoming days and weeks:

  • Move more soil to transplanting area 
  • Bend hoops for low tunnels and row covers
  • Erect seedling house
  • Prepare transplanting flats
  • Back-fill around High Tunnel #2
  • Fix tire on hay rack
  • Put all produce boxes upstairs in building #3
  • Finish bean harvest
  • Package more popcorn
  • Put up small greenhouse for transplants
  • Change oil in my van
  • Take down old hoop houses
  • Cut wood for office wood burner
  • Organize tool room and storage area
  • Haul greenhouse tables
  • Prepare soil in high tunnels
  • Assemble drip tubes for High Tunnels
  • Measure plastic for low tunnels and row cover
This is just an abbreviated list. The work of a farmer never ends. When it is not fit to be out in the field or even outside, there is plenty of bookwork, planning and construction to do inside. So, you know I will be busy!!! Have a great day! Blessings!
 
 

Leeks - Cold Frame - Hot Bed

One of our main goals at Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce is to produce a top quality vegetable, and make it available over a long period of time. This means finding ways to extend the normal growing season. One avenue we have used the past year is high tunnel farming. This year we actually expanded by adding a second high tunnel. We also have several smaller cold frames and heat beds. Once our seeds have germinated, they are hardened off in either the cold frame, cool house (has some supplemental heat) or the hot bed. The hot bed is basically a cold frame with heated soil. We placed heat coils beneath the soil in the bottom of the cold frame to make a hot bed. Years ago, farmers used fresh manure beneath the soil in a hot bed to heat the soil as the manure composted. We are a little more tech savvy.

 

I am getting the hot bed ready to use in the next few days, as I will be planting leeks. Leeks are a member of the onion family.  The edible part of the leek plant is a long cylinder of bundled leaf sheaths which is sometimes called a stem or stalk. As the leek grows in height, soil is pulled around the base of the plant, blanching the stem- making it white and tender. I will be starting the seed indoors in our seed room, and then when they are large enough, I will move them to the hotbed in the plug trays in which they were seeded. Once the field is ready and weather stabilized, I will move them to the field and transplant. Leeks are fairly hardy and can be planted several weeks prior to the last frost date, so I will move them out as soon as it is fit. The variety we are growing is Lancelot.

 

 

 

Here is a great recipe for Leeks:

 

Leeks Au Gratin

Makes 8 servings

 

2 lbs leeks

1/4 c butter, plus about 1 Tbsp

2 Tbsp flour

3/4 c milk

1 Tbsp white wine

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1 c grated baby Swiss cheese

1/4 tsp Tabasco or similar hot sauce

1. Cut white and tender portion of green leek leaves lengthwise, and then into 1-inch pieces.

2. Boil until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain; place in buttered casserole.

3. In saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 c butter; stir in flour. Whisk in milk and wine. Stir and cook until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper and Tabasco; pour over leeks. Sprinkle with cheese.

4. Bake at 400 degrees 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly. Dot with remaining butter, and brown under broiler, 3-5 minutes.

 

 
 

Windy Cold Day

The wind is blowing; the sun is shinning and the soil is drying out rapidly at Bountiful Blessings Farm. The weather is really working on my nerves as this season is off to another different kind of a year! No matter what, I have faith that God will provide the needed weather at the correct time. However, it is getting a little annoying not to have rain and the colder temperatures are difficult to deal with. Today, I worked on transplanting more tomatoes and moving them in to the hoop house. Some of the larger tomatoes really look nice and I hope the weather is appropriate very soon to get them into the field. Nonetheless, we are way ahead of last year. I did not have any seed in the ground at this point last year. I have over an acre planted already! Of course there is a lot more to accomplish. 

Dad is still working on the some of our equipment. At Bountiful Blessings we do not use chemicals unless it is absolutely necessary. We apply pesticides only we when have a problem and are unable to solve it with organic methods. We try diligently to use sustainable practices in our farming. Nonetheless, even when we use organic methods, we occasionally need a sprayer. Dad has been working very hard to build a sprayer from gathered parts and equipment that others have discarded. He is doing an excellent job. He took an old sprayer and completely revamped it; including removing the old tank and replacing it with a used polyethylene tank that was discarded. It looks great! I am not sure what I would do without his help. He really makes things so much easier for me. I really do not have time to work on the machinery. My time is spent planning and growing. Of course I have to spend time on marketing and management; which also take a lot of effort and time. We strive to give our customers the best possible product at a reasonable price. This takes hours of research. My wife just let me know that supper is ready. It is almost 8:30pm and we are finally able to sit down and eat. Such is the life of a produce farmer in the spring season. May God richly bless you and may you enjoy His grace and mercy in Christ Jesus! Have a wonderful evening!

 
 

A Late February Blizzard

Well I knew it was coming, but somehow I had hoped the weatherman was wrong. I woke up this morning to about 5 inches of snow and strong, gusty winds. It even took sometime to get out the front door due to a drift. Then when I got to the farm office, the door was also blocked by a large drift. Now don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, but just sharing with you how my morning is going so far. I realized that I had very little wood for the office stove, so I had to cut a little wood to get me through the day. Fortunately, I put some inside last night so it would be dry. I was also surprised at how warm the office was this morning; it was 56 degrees. This is great; the insulation we put in this past fall has really helped the temperature in this old shop and now farm office.

As I stated in yesterday's blog, I went to the FSA office yesterday and registered the farm. I had to fill out about 5 or six pages of information only to find out that vegetable crops do not qualify for the program. Nonetheless, the farm is registered and the paperwork is complete. I can mark another item off of my "to do list".

I will be seeding in the seed room today; some tomatoes and cauliflower. It is so exciting getting back into what I really love, working in the soil. I have always loved growing things; whether it be ornamentals or vegetables. The seed room is about 75 degrees and moist. It is a perfect environment for starting seeds. The only thing I am not looking forward to, is going back out in the blizzard to get to the seed room! Wish me luck - here I go!

 
 

German Chocolate Cake

This morning my wife andI were thinking fo something to eat after church. The first thing Kim mentioned was that we have not enjoyed German Chocolate cake in a long time. So, guess what we are making? Yep, our favorite German Chocolate cake. I thought I would share our recipe on the blog. Hope you enjoy it!

 

German Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

1 package bakers sweet chocolate

½ cup of boiling water

1 cup of butter or margarine for cake and ½ cup for frosting

3 cups of sugar

4 egg yokes for cake and 3 for frosting

1 teaspoon vanilla for cake and 1 teaspoon for frosting

2 ½ cups of sifted flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

1 cup of butter milk

4 eggs white beaten

1 1/3 baker’s angel coconut flakes

1 cup of chopped pecans

1 cup of evaporated milk

 

Preparation:

Melt chocolate is boiling water. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg yokes 1 at a time beating well after each. Blend in vanilla and cooked chocolate. Shift flour with soda and salt. Add this to chocolate mixture with buttermilk beating well after each addition until smooth. Add beaten egg whites (fold into batter). Pour into (3) 9 inch pans lined with wax paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes then cool.

Frosting: Add the evaporated milk, sugar beaten egg yokes, butter and vanilla to sauce pan and cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. Watch it, stir continually, if you don’t it will get lumpy. Add 1 1/3 baker’s angel coconut flakes and 2 cup of chopped pecans. Cool till thick enough to spread. Spread on top of cake. Yummy!

 
 

Winter in the Country

After weeks of preparation for the upcoming planting season, I decided to take a day and relax. The weather here at Bountiful Blessings Farm is cold around 25 degrees. Last night we got about an inch of white fluffy snow. This morning it was blowing across the road and drifting in the driveway, but nothing too serious.

My wife gave me the idea to get the old ice cream maker out and make another batch of ice dream. We have been making ice cream about every Saturday in January. I love ice cream, but generally only eat vanilla. My wife thinks I am nuts not to try other flavors. Nonetheless, for me, vanilla is still number one. Well I got the old machine out and mixed up the batch. The key to making great ice cream is not using chunks of ice that are large. They cause the ice cream to be gritty. However, using small ice cubes works very well. Always use rock salt with the ice. So, the machine was going and when it finished, we decided to make some mint chocolate chip this time. We added green food coloring and the chips after the process was finished. YUMMY! It was very good! I was impressed. Anyhow, for me, I still like the vanilla better! Well its off to eat some more!

 
 

Preparing for the Season

I never realized there is so much work just getting ready for the new season. Seed orders, repairing equipment, planting, mixing soil, marketing, are just some of the things going on at Bountiful Blessings. I really believe that being prepared is a good key to being successful. So, I continue to the  prepare. One of the things I am planning on doing this week, is to build a hotbed and a cold frame. My goal is to be able to provide vegetables here in our local area earlier than I was able to do last year. With the High Tunnel, cold frame and hotbed, Bountiful Blessings should get a little bit of a jump on the season. It'll be nice to have lettuce, greens and cool weather crops early! It is exciting and fun getting ready - I can't wait to get my fingers back in the soil, planting and growing!
 
 
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