Saturday, November 7, 2009

Roots and greens!

For our November market, we've harvested lots of roots and greens; turnips, radishes, chard, kale, salad greens, cabbage and more. It was a very cold and wet Friday, which made for tough picking weather, but we got it done. It didn't help that our pig Wilder (aptly named by the kids because she is more wild than the other pig), snuck out of her pasture three times! Brian was at work so I rushed to get the homeschooling and household work done so I could be done harvesting before dark. It was very cold pulling up root veggies out of soggy beds and spraying them off outdoors. By the time I milked the goats, my hands were so cramped with cold I could barely get them to work. Also the goats weren't thrilled with my icy fingers! Thankfully Brian got home and took over the rest of the washing, bundling and bagging, so I could take a hot bath and put the boys to bed. Then we had a nice time listening to music and getting everything ready. We've also made some more soap, salve and new beeswax candles from our beehives.

As I was sorting through radishes and putting aside slug-nibbled ones, I was thinking lots about how we expect our produce to be "perfect", regardless of the cost to the environment and our health to make it so, and the amount of waste created by throwing out cosmetically imperfect food. It is so frustrating to spend all the time and energy growing something, only to harvest it and realize we can't sell it due to light insect damage. But we have had good luck will our customers accepting some imperfect produce because they know we grow organic. Fortunately we are small enough that it is easy for us to eat our market "rejects", and we can always feed things to our animals or the compost pile. But I shudder when I see all the picture perfect produce in the stores and think of how many chemicals it took to grow them that way, and how much food was thrown out that didn't meet aesthetic standards. I think we all need to learn what kind of imperfections are acceptable and won't harm the quality of the food.

The last few days we have had high winds, driving rains, hail and even lightning! Our animals have been hiding in their shelters, waiting for breaks in the rain to come out and forage. Brian made a new cold-frame for our lettuce, and put row covers to protect our spinach and greens. We should have enough to eat fresh greens all winter. We are still eating plenty of fresh tomatoes that have been ripening on my counter. They should hold out until December, when I will start using my home-canned sauce.
I've been trying to get as much plastering done as possible, after chores and homeschooling, before making dinner, nighttime milking and clean up. Here is a picture of the lime plaster over earthen on our south wall.


  1. I would like to purchase some of your fine goat soap, please! So maybe you guys should come over to *visit* hint, hint, wink, wink, & sell me some! ;)
    You made me feel cold just reading this! I bet that was one of the most fantastic baths you've ever taken.
    I can't tell you how many times I've seen guys tossing perfectly fine produce right into the garbage at Winco. Besides all the produce that is wasted along the way, before the perfect looking stuff even makes it to the store, they then constantly toss stuff out as it gets ripe because ripe fruits & veggies are smushy, & bruise easily. It's mind boggling. And I doubt any of those tons of produce are composted either. We always get a serious chuckle when they show huge,red, perfect, shiny & waxy apples on Little House on the Prairie. haha. As if.
    You've had crazy weather! We've only had some high winds, & a wee bit of rain...
    I want to hear more about your row covers. Did you buy official "row covers" somewhere or did you make them or what? I read in Eliot Coleman's book that he "is sometimes lucky enough to get 2 seasons use out of his row covers" & I thought "geez, only 2 seasons?? There's gotta be a better way than that!"
    So do you cover the lime plaster with something or is that the last layer? Have you bred that rutty goat recently? Are you staggering the females pregnancies?
    Geez I'm so chatty. :p

  2. Geez Aubrey, After your late pregnancy hermit-ness, you are totally chatty! We really, really want to come and see you guys. I tried calling but I am assuming you aren't on the phone much with the new baby and toddler and boys.

    So to answer your questions:
    I did buy some heavy duty, official row covers. We will see how long they last. Also Brian built me a new cold frame, which should last way longer.

    Over the lime will go a series of lime washes which I will tint with earthen pigments. It can be almost any earthy color, but I am thinking of adding some ochers and having layers of a really warm, earthy golden-reddish color.

    So...I now need to breed my two goats that give no sign of going into heat. The one goat we don't breed (she was a third nipple which could cause milking difficulties), is crazy when she is in heat:
    she makes tons of noise, wags her tail, mounts the other girls... you get the idea. My other two maybe get a thoughtful look, and that's it! So I am spending time each day looking at their backsides for pinkness and discharge (TMI?) and taking them over to the buck to see if they are in the mood. What fun!