Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Planting update and Bubby Buckethead

Yesterday was a productive garden day. I ran right out and started planting potatoes before the sun hit the garden. I had a lot of helpers....and some malcontents. I need to get some notes down....

Hey look it's me!

We planted potatoes by the far gate near the shattered remains of my asparagus patch. It's gone. Dang.

Then we did a row of sweet onions and some broccoli near the weird apple tree that has never fruited. 

Zander and Kai helped. Mostly they looked bored. 

Bubby Buckethead. You know who you are. But isn't he a dream?

"Please throw the stick, please throw the stick, please throw the stick...."

Then the chickens showed up. I immediately implemented my #1 chicken deterrent. For his efforts all he wanted was for me to throw the stick. I did and he kept chasing the hennies out of the garden.

Easiest way to keep the hens out. I covered the hoops with netting.

Then we put more passive chicken deterrent devices in place. This works really well - I put some netting over the hoops until the seeds start to sprout.

Destroyers and usurpers! Curse them!

After planting I did a lot of tilling. I'm still working on improving the soil in the upper garden. The heat and sunshine helped kill off the uprooted weeds. I'll be doing some deep mulching which will also help.

I'm also working on strategic planting. We don't know if the predictions for a hot and dry summer are going to happen, but I'm making sure to plant stuff with heavy water requirements closest to the water source. With enough hoses I can reach just about everywhere in the Upper Garden - but for the furthest reaches the water pressure isn't very good. So by planting close to the house I can set up the sprinklers most effectively.

As for now we got a bit of rain which is perfect for the stuff I planted yesterday. Soon I'll be moving stuff out of the greenhouse but we are still a bit early.

Happy planting everyone! Do you have good garden helpers? Or just malcontents?




Monday, April 21, 2014

Tiny Sprouts and Pear Blossoms

This whole weekend was glorious. Both Saturday and Sunday were nothing but blue sky and sunshine. We had a terrific time.

Come on, basil! Grow! Grow!

I was thrilled to see the tiniest sprouts coming up in the greenhouse. This whole winter I've been dying for fresh basil and now it's on the way.

I have big plans for this little tomato sprout.

And this little tomato will grow up to be a giant and produce huge, 1 pound fruit. But right now it's barely bigger than the perlite in the soil mix.

We are going to have a lot of pears.

Our pears are doing great. We might not have any peaches this year but our pears will be off the hook. The other great news was that the trees were buzzing. They might not be our beez but we'll share our blossoms with them.

We also got some chickens butchered on Saturday. We now have 10 left. Unfortunately we probably butchered the one that was laying eggs! We'll fire up the incubator here soon to see if these eggs I've been saving will give us free meat.

At this writing the sun is just coming up and I can't wait to run right out and plant more potatoes. The Dog Horde will help me... but when I say "help" I mean they will probably just give me bored looks and then go and hunt bunnies down in the woods.

Happy Monday everyone! It's another glorious day!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Back to planting potatoes

Before all of this adorableness - and snow - happened I was planting potatoes...

Sprouted spud.

We had plenty of spuds left over from last year. The taters I couldn't get canned or frozen just happily sat in a bucket taking up space. Then they started to sprout.

Potatoes growing in a bucket.

You know how potatoes you get from the store just get mushy and weird if you don't use them? This is what happened to farm fresh potatoes. From last fall. They never got mushy or weird. They grew. In a bucket without any water or soil.  Isn't that amazing?

My potato planting method is extremely simple and can be found here. But I'll shorthand it for you - till up the spot for your potato patch - but don't put a lot of effort into it. Dig a small trench, throw potato parts on the ground, cover with dirt, then heavily mulch with clean straw. Then it's just a matter of sitting back and waiting - and keeping the chickens out of the straw.

Straw them in deeply.

I know that planting potatoes sounds like it should be more complicated but it's not. I found this method in a great gardening book by Barbara Doyen called The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden. This little book provides all kinds of terrific, common sense information in an easy and fun little book. She also provides farm-style recipes. It's just terrific. 

Anyway, I pile all the branches from trimming the fruit trees on top of the straw to keep the chickens from digging up the potatoes. Or whatever I can find. Once the plants take hold they will be fine. While they are growing I just keep piling on the clean straw to keep the weeds down and to keep the potatoes from being exposed to sunlight.

The best thing about this method is that you get potatoes... and fabulously improved, weed free soil when they are ready. When you dig up the potatoes you are basically tilling the soil - and then you can plant a fall crop of beans. Talk about a win! Tilled, weed free, clean soil and then the nitrogen gets "fixed" from the beans. Next year you are ready for tomatoes. Easy peasy.

Two things that worked really well last year were.... first, canning potatoes. I'm telling you this is the best thing going. No more of that senseless peeling - they are all ready to go in a jar. So easy. Next, freezing blanched potatoes in serving sized freezer bags. Now THIS is easy. Both make excellent fried potatoes. But I think I prefer the frozen ones for mashed potatoes. 

Look! They were really growing!

Today I'm hoping to get a few more rows of potatoes planted. I keep finding buckets of potatoes - all of them are sprouting... and none of them are weird and mushy.

Happy Friday everyone! Do you have your potatoes planted?


Editor's note:  Check it out - this is an affiliate link. Anything you buy from Amazon from these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. It doesn't cost you one cent more but it helps me with the "cost" of this blog. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Thanks!

Planting potatoes

Note: I have no idea why this republished today... it was from a couple years ago and I updated it this morning with a link to the book.... hum..... oh well.. Carry on...

Planting potatoes is as easy as throwing them on the ground. I'm telling you I learned the easiest, sure fire way to get a good harvest of taters from Barb Doyen's spectacular book, The Farmer's Wife Guide To Growing A Great Garden I'm sure there's lots of other ways, but lets face it. I have bad soil so I needed a way to grow stuff and improve the soil at the same time. This tater method does both. Here's how.

It's as easy as throwing taters on the ground.

Step 1: Pick your worst growing spot and give it a little bit of a rototill. My tiller creates two little, side by side dug out rows which makes the next step even easier.

Step 2: Get your seed taters and cut them so that each piece has a bit of a sprout, or an eye. I usually do this as I'm going along.

Step 3: Throw the cut pieces on the ground. Aim for your little rows. If you'd like, take your hoe and cover them a bit. But don't spend a lot of time on this - just enough to anchor them.

Step 4: Mulch deeply with fresh straw.

Tater Row - ready for action!

That's it. I'm not even kidding. As the summer goes along I add more fresh straw to make sure the taters are completely covered and just the grow-y end is sticking up.

I know. It sounds like there is no way it could work but it sure does. Really! For whatever reason the taters kind of dig themselves down into the ground. So when they are ready all you have to do is grab a pitch fork and its like the world's best Easter egg hunt (with digging). Not only will have you have spectacular friable soil, but you've killed the weeds, and when you are done digging - you've tilled up a place for next season. So get your barn litter and mulch again and voila! You're ready to plant in the spring.

And wow do you get great results! Remember all the taters we had last year? We also really loved how well canning potatoes worked. I know it sounds stupid, but wow its easy and fun to get all the prep work done so you can have a quick supper any time. We are going for tons of taters this year.

I planted two batches. The first was the long row of taters featured above. I created this row just below the Pasture Mix in the front of the property outside of the fence. I'm not particularily worried about varmints, but I want to fence that area anyway. So any malfeasance will just give me a reason to hurry up and get it done.

This first batch was from the taters we kept by from last year. They are a mix of Yukon Gold (best variety ever) and Red Pontiac. They had a ton of sprouts on them and very little rotten ones. I had two half-full five gallon buckets. They are planted really close in this row.

The second batch are all Yukon Gold - a 5 pound bag from the feed store. The taters were lovely but really they looked like they should just be peeled and cooked. They only have a few sprouts each - which I didn't feel was a great value considering the price. I planted these on the north east corner of the upper garden along the fenceline by the cow peas.

Cow peas - who knows what they are but I like cows and I like peas so I think we're good.

In other news - Wednesday was hot. Like summer hot. Like - I have the 'air conditioning' on hot. What's with that? Fortunately the creepy meats all seemed to have lived but I was nervous there for a while. Pigz are doing well. I think they realized that I'm "She who brings the yums." Great. Not I'll have to spend all summer convincing them that I'm not their mommy and I don't love them. Sheesh!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Editor's note:  Check it out - I have an Amazon store for my blog. Anything you buy from Amazon from these links gets me a tiny percentage of the sale. It doesn't cost you one cent more but it helps me with the "cost" of this blog. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Thanks!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nibbles had her babies!

Yeah, so remember yesterday I said that there was no way Nibs would have her babies that day? She's always trying to make a liar out of me. Check out these little cuties!
Sunshine!

These could be the best litter yet. This little splashy gal arrived first. Just LOOK at her coloring! For no good reason we are calling her, Snickerdoodle.

Totable little goat! Totes adorbs.

This is the first time Nibs has had all long-eared babies. We were pretty surprised. The baby daddy is a flashy show buck - entirely Nigerian. We normally only have one long eared baby but this was a surprise. Goats with ears? Who knew!?!

Then this big girl arrived - she as a big bundle. In honor of that crazy bloodmoon/eclipse we had the other night we are calling her Moonpie. She has one partial moonspot on her side. Her main buff color is a new one for us. Isn't she a dream?

Moon mark on Moonpie

Nibbles is fine and is actually taking care of them so she gets an A+. I'm afraid it won't last, tho, so we are keeping an eye on them. But for now they are adorable and very funny.

And would you look at those ears!

The star of the day, tho, was my Dog#1. After all the hullabaloo of the babies arrival I let the dogs smell my hands. Kai and Zander thought they smelled delicious but my #1 was immediately on the job. A little later I asked him, "Where's the babies?" and he trotted right over to where Nibbles and the babies were - and he was eager to start guarding them. So he'll be helping me when we transition the babies to bottles. Good dog!

In the meantime the air is filled with the tiny little squeaky toy noises of little baby goats!

Happy Thursday everyone! Would you just look at these little cutie pies!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

This has to be the end of winter. Last snow. It has to be.

Last Sunday when it was sunny and 80* and I just could not make myself believe that it was going to snow again. It did. This is my official record keeping note that yesterday's snow was the last. Stick a fork in it, this winter has to be done. It snowed really hard yesterday morning.

 Sunday was glorious.

But we are just getting some blooms!  My orchard friends are not expecting peaches this year. "Maybe a few."  He said. But nothing like the basket busting crop last year. They tell me that they get a really good crop every 2 or 3 years. Drat.

And then this happened...

The pears seem to be doing OK but we haven't seen any other blossoms yet. By this time last year we had apple and peach blossoms - and we had a lost hard frost also, on the 21st. This morning it was 21* when I took the dogs out.

I know that city folks and our friends in more temperate regions are probably tired of hearing about all this weather. But it's really been a looloo. I can't get anything planted yet and can only do so much work outside. This, of course, pushes back any harvest. So it's all very frustrating.

But keeping these notes makes it easier for future planning.  I like being able to see where our progress is in relation to previous years. And it helps me figure out what I should be working on next. 

In other news.... Nibbles should be ready to have her babies soon. Probably not today but soon. Maybe tomorrow? I checked this morning and she looks irritated but not ready to burst. One thing that I'm glad about is that we waited so late to breed the goats. This cold winter has made a difficult kidding season for many folks.

Today we'll have more sunshine and blue sky. And hopefully we will get to our normal temperature soon.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


Monday, April 14, 2014

All our beez died....

So, all our beez died. They didn't make it thru this long and difficult winter. We think that they did OK up until the last polar vortex got us. It had been warm one day then bitterly cold the next - we think that is what did them in. It's very sad.

Back when we had beez and were happy.

We talked to a lady in town who said she knew some folks who moved their hives into their basement on the coldest nites. To tell you the truth I would have never thought of that. I can't imagine that would go well for us. I'm picturing over-interested cats covered in honey, wax, and angry beez.

We did what we could which was to take up most of the honey. We left some of it out there, tho,  in the off chance a swarm is out and about and wants to move right on into our a nice and roomy hive.

Not a bad supper - Honey Soy chicken.

The good news is that the honey is terrific. Last nite we made Honey Soy chicken and it was really good. I can't wait to drizzle some of the honey over goat cheese once the goats ramp up to full production next month.

In the meantime the crazy weather is making us all insane. At this writing (a couple hours before sunrise on Monday) its 73*...but it will snow within 24 hours. It's all a little ridiculous. I'm glad I didn't put any plants out yet and I hope my greenhouse will keep my seedlings from freezing tomorrow morning.

Happy Monday everyone - did your beez make it?


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