Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Its been Almost a year!

We took Possession of our farm on September the 1st 2015! Now its the 23 rd of August 2016 and it is odd, it feels like we  have been here forever and yet not long at all! The farm felt like home the day we moved in...well even before that it felt right! In that sense it is a blessing as the farm fits us and I think we fit it. I hope that makes sense.

The planning we had done prior to buying and with the buying delays paid off in so many ways and has let us get a lot done in the way of gardens and poultry and generally setting up the base for our future endeavors. Applying the plans to a new climate has been an adventure!

Above is the current layout of the farm, it is not exactly to scale but is fairly close and has all the pertinent information on it. The house sits at 862 feet of elevation and the high point of the land is around 900 feet and is at the point of fence west of the South Garden. The map is oriented North at the top. There is not a lot of really flat ground but it is all workable if we choose to.
The round dots are trees and the three round dots with red borders are the apple trees. The clothesline is next tot the Herb Garden.

I think the thing that has struck us the most is how this country can grow things. Given the hot, wet and humid summer it  is more like jungle than we had ever expected. Last summer when we gardened here in August it was dry, they all said pretty normal so we did not experience the insane weed and vegetation growth we have seen this year.

This is Ralph flail mowing the West Garden, it was fallow to be used for fall crops, as you can see the weed growth and return of the hay and Johnson Grass got totally away on us! However this complete fail has some good things about it. The flail mower chops the vegetation into a useful mulch which we will work into the soil. (When is gets dry enough) Plus the fresh mowing gives the poultry a wonderful selection of chopped weeds, disturbed bugs and the like to forage on.

This is the front of the house as we saw it the first time, quite plain and bare. We decided since Rhubarb does not like super hot and full sun we would try this location for it. Ralph made a raised bed for the Rhubarb along the house. 

Now it looks like this! That doesn't look like Rhubarb your saying to yourself about now. It isn't....it is the result of adding squash to the winter diet of the poultry. We fed them squash on a regular basis over the winter to give them fresh vegetables and to supplement the commercial diet of chicken ration. When we cleaned the chicken pens we dumped the shavings, old hay and poop mixture in a pile by the Tobacco barn door. We used pails of this mix to add organic and natural fertilizer to the potting soil, dirt mix we made the raised bed with.  Somehow we had both forgotten squash seed are extremely durable so now we have "Wall 'O' Squash" in front of the house. It is climbing the chicken wire fence we made to keep the poultry out of the young Rhubarb. By the way the Rhubarb is liking the location and the Squash makes a wonderful Privacy hedge!

The critter free yard the first time we saw it, the lawn was mowed with a lawn mower not turkeys, ducks and chickens. It was pretty and pristine and just wanting a little bit of fertilizer and love!

Not a tidy pristine lawn any more but filled with noise and all sorts of going's on. Closer to what a farm yard should be and always fun to go out to. The poultry does a really good job of grazing and keeping the bugs down. I have had just one Mosquito bite this year and I think I have to thank the bats, swallows and our birds for that.

The late corn out in the South Garden, this was just hayfield last year and we are pleased with how it is growing after just being broken this spring. I will be getting corn to can from this patch fairly soon.

Imagine these arrivals on the 28th of August last year....our very first livestock. The turkey Poults that came to New Castle by air and then rode with me in the car to Kentucky!

What a difference a year makes!

Little golden balls of fluff were also a delightful addition when we finally got possession and were moved in.

Now some of those same chicks are raising our next generation of poultry and starting the foundation for our farm flock. Its a grand thing!

All in all we are loving our new home and I know it will keep us amused, entertained and fairly fit for years to come. Of course it is also feeding us like kings as the seasons progress. This post does not begin to cover all the aspects of the farm and its progress. We hope it gives you some idea and a few smiles at how the year has gone. I would rate the results of the first year as 60% success, 30%  failure and 10% disaster. We have learned from all aspects and are already working on things to change and do better for 2017.

 God Bless you all and be safe. Take joy in the small things we are blessed with!

Monday, August 15, 2016

It really is Bigger if its from Texas: Texas Gourdseed Corn

It is currently 90 degrees here with humidity of 72 degrees so that makes the "Real Feel" about 102 degrees!

It is not a nice day to work outside in the afternoon so I am going to do a corn post.
I just finished putting up the last of the Texas Gourdseed Corn. (Well there are still a few immature ears I cannot reach that we will eat fresh, when I get Ralph to reach them for me!)

A small patch of 4 rows about 10 feet long and we have 20 quarts of it in the deep freeze. I like this corn. It is not a sweet corn but as I call it a CORNY corn.

Texas Gourdseed Corn [From Baker Creek]

120 days—Prior to the Civil War, gourd-seed corns were among the most prevalent types throughout the South. The kernels are very long or deep, but very small in the amount of space they take up on each ear. This gives them a different appearance than other corns; fancifully compared to the seeds of gourds. The stalks on this variety are a modest 8 feet in height; usually producing two ears per stalk. Each ear contains 18 to 20 rows of cream-colored, dent-type kernels. It is considered to be among the most flavorful of dent types, and is beloved in tortillas, puddings, dumplings, corn bread and more. Can be harvested for fresh eating at the milk stage, about 73 days. Tolerates drought and clay soils better than most, too. Originally brought to Texas by farmers of German descent who migrated there from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee in the late 19th century.

Texas Gourdseed Seed Corn 

Now I have found some of this information to be inaccurate. For one thing the corn is well over 10 feet tall. Yes it does have two ears per stalk but the ears I processed all had at least 25 rows and some as many as 29 rows. They do not mention the incredible husks this corn has, tight around the outside with sort of accordion pleats on the inside to allow the growth of the cobs.

Texas Gourdseed Cobs just picked
I have been learning to cook  more Mexican food and these husks are perfect for tamales. Never mind the thick tight husks make the corn earworm resistant.... you will still get the odd one if your organic and do not use chemicals but they do not seem to be an issue.

 A good sized Husk for tamale making.

You can see how big these husks are. They will roll completely around the cob.

The corn is wonderful fresh eating corn with a rich corn taste and just a hint of sweetness. One cob makes a great meal for two people. The kernels are longer and when it is ready to eat they do not look full as they have the pointed tips of immature corn but this  is deceptive. When you cut the kernels off the cob they are quite long and the empty cobs are actually the same size as  other corn after the kernels are removed. The are a lot bigger with the kernels on.

I have used this corn for fried corn as well as in a stew and chili, it holds up well and adds good flavor. Its nice to cook with. A fresh cob lightly boiled and slathered in butter is mighty good too!

An ear of Texas Gourdseed before I removed the Husk.

 The same ear after Husking.

 A nice batch of Texas Gourdseed cobs ready to prep for freezing.

A close up of the longer Kernels.

 Ralph likes the flavor of this corn and we found it has thrived in the hot and humid summer we have had. It has tolerated the dry spells we have had and with-stood some pretty horrible winds and storms and is tall and straight.  It is not planted in the best soil either. We broke new ground at the south end of this garden area, next to the garden the previous owners had. We found out that there used to be a gravel road in this area. It went to the big shop east of the house. {This shop was cut off from the original farm buildings when our 15 acres was subdivided} The corn patch has a huge amount of road gravel in it but the corn has never looked back.

So the word on this "Old" corn from our first year of growing it is it is well worth it. It will be on our list of corn next year in a larger patch. I hope this gives you another selection of corn for your homestead, one off the beaten path of modern varieties. 


God Bless you all and stay safe!



 Please forgive the strange and irregular format....I have had huge problems with Blogger today!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Getting good information

I just got my email from 5 acres and a Dream. It is one of my most looked forward to emails. Leigh is walking the walk and doing an amazing amount of things to make sure they and the animals on the 5 Acres survive in good and bad times.
She has just finished a new series of books about making do with your own produce and materials and using simpler methods of building preservation.
The books are:
How to Bake without Baking Powder.

How to Grow Ginger

How to Make Amish Whitewash

How to get Cream from Goats Milk.

These are the kind of books we all need to have in our library's. Hard copy...books that will be accessible in the most dreadful of times or easily used out on a front porch as you watch your milk goats graze.

Ralph and I find we are continually learning about all sorts of things. We use the Internet an amazing amount. The world of Blogs was something we had not used so much until we discovered "Thoughts From Frank And Fern".
It led us to an amazing group of dedicated bloggers with a vast wealth of knowledge they want to share.
This willingness to share what they have learned is a remarkable thing and we beleive is building a strong and resourceful community.

The commitment to teach what we learn on our small farm endeavors is something often lost in busy modern life and I think that is a huge loss to human education. Not school education but education someone has worked through, struggled with and succeeded at, hands on education that let's you stand by your garden and see both success and failure, to look at your poultry and see your birds doing what you hoped they would, dealing with mistakes of too many roosters at once and dealing with it.

This is the kind of learning that gives both challenges and immense satisfaction. Leigh and her Husband show that planning, research, hard work and determination really do make us all we can be and much better off both physically and mentally.

Now take the time to go and visit Leigh at 5 acres and A Dream...it is well worth it!