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.


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Shattered Remains of My Green Bean Dreams

A broken jar is the worst thing about canning. All that work gone to waste.

This is the shattered remains of my green bean dreams. See the bottom of the jar?

The broken jar.

Why do jars break in the canner? Lots of reasons.

A while ago there was a terrific link on the SB Canning site about this very thing. I think  I was the culprit in this case. Previously I had used a regular knife to get all the air bubbles out of the jar....and this could have caused some hairline fractures that caused the bottom to break out of my jar. This time I was sure to use a plastic spatula but apparently the damage was already done.

Knowing the "why" didn't soothe my disappointment. I hate wasting food. I hate broken jars. I hate shattered green bean dreams.

So what could I do? Nothing. Or be mad. But that didn't do any good so I just shook it off.  I would not try and rescue or reuse any food that was part of a broken jar incident. So it all went in the trash.

We were glad tho that we got our second bushel of beans processed. We ended up with 13 quarts canned, plus about one quart that were blanched than frozen....and one terrific ham, bean, and potato supper in the crock pot.

I don't think we'll be able to get anymore green beans this week... but today will be all about peppers. And maybe potatoes.

We've had a tremendous cool down and this week should be cool, clear, and comfortable.  I'm going to try and get a lot of the heavy lifting done outside...right after I get these peppers into the freezer.

Happy Monday everyone? Are you mad about broken jars?


Friday, September 19, 2014

Pigz are lookin' good!

Speaking of fatty pancakes....

That one on the far left is always goofing around.

...the pigz are lookin' good!

We should have butchered one of these pigz by now... but our non-farm life has gotten kind of crazy. And now our schedule is changing - again. So when the dust settles we'll have to see when we can get one of these pigz hanging. The problem now is, of course, um... they are all kind of big for the fridge. So we will have to do some awfully fancy butchering to get the carcass cooled.
#bighogproblems

OK so is the one on the far right. Fine they are all ridiculous.

Until then it's nothing but scampering around the county finding the last of the green beans. Got my second bushel yesterday so I'll be working on them.

Here is a Life Pro Tip (LPT)... even if your best green bean helpers insist on "helping" you snap beans...and by "helping" I mean eating them out of the "just snapped bucket"..... don't let them eat too many. The big dog toots were legendary. I don't know what I was thinking. As one of my favorite pals said, "Beans, yo!" 
#bigdogproblems

Happy Friday everyone! Is your day consumed with thinking about pork and beans?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No really - she's just fat. Right?

Um..... we're still going with "she's just fat." Right? RIGHT?

Dang Nibs..... things could get interesting around here. 

Any thoughts?

Happy Thursday everyone! Let's hope she doesn't blow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Land of Misfit Toys

Our garage/barn has largely turned into the Land of Misfit Toys. Here are a couple of the residents:

You'll have to zoom in to see the little chick peeping out of the carrier.

This is the sole remaining chick from that surprise hatch last week and one of my ratty old hens. I thought this old gal was going to die two winters ago but she just keeps on hanging on. She is mostly lame and lives entirely in the garage. Her job has been to scold me while I am milking... and be adorable. Her new job is to keep this little chick company.

Sadly we've been in Chicken Hell. Not only did we have that random hen flop over and then lost 2 of the 3 chicks... but then I went out to find the chick's momma dead. It was kind of horrible. Then it got worse when we needed to cull my favorite rooster.

So what happened? Who knows. We don't think any of the chicken deaths were related - but we did get some very good advice to worm the flock. So we will be working on that. But mostly some of our flock is getting to be old and it's just the cycle of life. Some of these grand old gals have been around for a while and I'm completely soft on my old bitties.

 Sorry pal. The last of a long and glorious line of roosters named Pansy.

My favorite rooster had been going downhill over the last couple of months. He might have had an impacted crop...and we could not fix his chronic bumblefoot. So it finally just got to be The End for him. I'm still very mad about it... and sad. Fortunately my husband did the deed and then buried him while I was off farm. All I could do was stand over this roo's sad grave and be sad. Dang.

Back to this odd couple....Why is the little guy in the carrier? Well... chickens are not all sunshine and love. They are extremely cannibalistic and chicks are seen as bugs or bait. So I don't want her to kill him. But since one is the loneliest number - and I couldn't find any chicks locally.... I had to do something. So this old gal is now enjoying the heat lamp and clucking at the little chick. It's kind of hilarious.  They keep each other company and she is benefiting from the high protein chick food.

The other garage/barn inhabitants - other than our superfabulous barncats - are an assortment of poultry who need a break from the main herd. Mostly I have one little dwarf duck momma who doesn't do much but peep around and try (unsuccessfully) to hatch a clutch of eggs - it doesn't matter who lays them...and also my Miss Duck who is one of our oldest barnyard residents.

Miss Duck has single-handedly eliminated the flies in the barn from this summer. It's awesome. She is one of my favorites. Pretty much she just toddles around, peeps at me, and eats flies.

Why would we keep these odd ball assortment of lame ducks and useless chickens? Because they just don't take that much effort or resources, they have done their duty for the farm over the years, and because I just really enjoy having them around. I know that this crew won't last long - probably not thru the winter - but I've said that before.

Happy Wednesday everyone - do you have an odd ball mix of old bitties and lame ducks?


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's green bean day!

I picked up my green beans last nite - they were still being picked out of the field. Talk about fresh!

I got a bushel for $20. Aren't they terrific?

I got these from an Amish neighbor. How do you buy from the farm when you can't just call, send a text, or order online? Drive around until you see a hand painted sign and then go on up to the house. Sometimes you need to honk your horn and wait until someone comes out. Is this weird? Nope! This is their business and folks are happy to see you.

I asked the little gal who came out if she still had beans? Yep. How much for a bushel? $20. When can I come back? Monday after 5:00. So how easy is that? Remember that some farms do not allow Sunday sales as this is their day for religious services.

I went back with some extra boxes and baskets that I had accumulated because I knew they would appreciate them... and then I also brought my own bushel basket. Don't have a basket? Just bring a bucket. Or a box. When I got there she said they were still picking and could I wait? Sure! So played with their barncats and checked out the baby calves they had penned up in the yard. Then I paid in cash, loaded up my beans, and drove away.

How fun and easy is that?

Today I'll be snapping these beans then canning half and freezing the rest. Why not all canning? Because some times we like a little variety. Canned beans have a specific texture and quality which is perfect for being fried up with some bacon. But the frozen ones seem to be better for stir fries and adding to stews.

The bean season is winding down so I need to get busy. If I'm lucky I can get another bushel later in the week...but I have to hurry. Hopefully my green bean helpers will be my assistants again today.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Is this your green bean day?


Monday, September 15, 2014

Pretty sure I know what I'm working on today... And canning stragegy.

I'm pretty sure that I know what I'm working on today.... this is my green house.

It's a little weedy. 

I can't tell if I need clippers.... or a goat. This could take a while.

Note to self: next year remember to go into the greenhouse at least once a week to pull weeds and keep it cleaned up.

Also, one of my pals asked about my canning strategy. Pretty much we eat what we have and then fill in with stuff from the store. But we don't consider ourselves to be extreme - for instance, I'd never give up coffee or chocolate just because we can't grow it here. But we don't buy a lot of avocados or pineapples either - mostly because produce here is expensive and the quality is very poor.

You'd think that in this nation's "breadbasket" that there would be a ton of produce of all kinds. Nope. Unless it's clearly local (from a farmer's market, farm stand, or produce auction) most of the food here is shipped in from the South or Mexico. Or China. It's shocking.

Last year we did really well - we had enough beans, potatoes, peppers, and tomato sauce (in all varieties) that we lasted the entire year. This is always our goal. We buy almost no meat from the store. The only exception is lunch meat and cheese for my husband's sandwich at work.

I'm fairly certain that we are on every single watchlist because our grocery shopping generally consists of cat food, chips, beer, and lots and lots of freezer baggies. I'm pretty sure they think we are drug dealers (because of the baggies) who dip chips in cat food and wash it all down with beer.

This year we'll have to see how it goes. This summer has been a smashing success - my lettuce/greens, broccoli, tomato, and onion projects really paid off - so we had mostly fresh veg that we either grew or traded with friends. I'm also purchasing some veg from the produce auction and farmstands that I can't grow - like sweet corn, eggplant, and for heavens sakes... carrots.

And some things don't make sense to grow. For instance I can get a lot of pumpkins for $0.10 each at the produce auction. Since I'm constantly fighting squash bugs and pumpkins take up so much room - it's better for us to just buy some.

There was also no summer fruit - peaches or berries - because of the extremely harsh winter. But the apples and pears are coming on strong.

But to answer your question - if we get stranded out here due to some kind of catastrophe - we are good for a long long time.  But they keep our road plowed during the winter and my husband drives in every day so he can stop and get cat food, chips, and beer just about anytime.

So that's our strategy. And now I'd better go find the clippers and try and bushwhack my way into the greenhouse so I can get some greens growing in there.

Happy Monday everyone - is your greenhouse in tip top shape?


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Seriously.

I think this spider came down as part of the recent solar flares... it can't possibly be from this planet. Seriously. Does anyone know what it is?

Biggest. Spider. Ever.

I was certain it was gonna come flying off that flower and try and suck my brain out or something.

I risked my life for this picture. Look at it! Just LOOK at how big it is!

In other news we've had a total turn around from last week. It was 41* when I got up this morning and it just plain old feels like fall. I'm still not ready for that and have been in denial. You'll have to drag me kicking and screaming from summer.

However that doesn't mean I can hide from the fact that I'm completely behind in canning.

This week is going to be a raging canning success. I hope. I ordered a bushel of green beans from my Amish neighbors - I'll pick them up tomorrow. I keep getting outbid at the auction or they just don't have what I'm looking for - so I'm now racing around the county getting anything we couldn't grow.  One of my friends tipped me off to another farm where I can get sweet potatoes. I'll go there tomorrow.

I also need to work on getting the greenhouse in shape. I'd love to see how far into the season I can grow greens.

In the meantime I'm going to be on the look out for spiders as big as your head.. or you know... just about as big like that guy.

Happy Sunday everyone!
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