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, August 30, 2011

Tuesday and the canning is at full speed!

Is everyone canning today?

If you hear that snap snap snap - its us canning up more green beans. Of course, we've also been cooking some low and slow in the crock pot... with an odd ham end for a delish and easy summer meal.

Hope all our friends on the East Coast and in New England get their lights turned on soon.  I don't know about you but I was pretty irked about all the complaining some folks did about how Irene was a big "nothing" and it was "overhyped." Are you kidding? Thirty-eight people dead and 5 million without power? The flooding in Vermont?

You'd think those folks in a certain big city would be happy they aren't standing in the dark, knee deep in water. Better yet, they should repent....and then donate something to help the folks who felt Irene's full wrath.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tomato Madness!

Did everyone survive Irene? We had nothing but blue skies here.... and wow! That northerly wind brought us a cool and refreshing day on Sunday.

Unfortunately our weather guy said that we are headed for a cool fall. Soon. So I've been canning like mad. Its been total tomato madness around here. Check out these beauties!

And what a deal! I found a great bargain to tell all the South Eastern Ohio folks about - do you have one of those Witten Farm Stands near you? They sell boxes of "canning tomatoes" for $8! That's 25 pounds of tomatoes for $8! What a deal!

I wasn't sure how they'd cook down but they were nice and meaty and did great. You can see that Nicholas is still working hard as our "for scale" model, right Ginny?

Anyway, you might have to ask at the stand and they may take your name and tell you to come back a different day. The only reason I found out about this great deal was that I happened to see one small sign on their counter.  It was a fluke that I even stopped. Normally I just pass them by and go to a local orchard for peaches, but I stopped for something one day. I was glad to see Witten Farms was an Ohio, family owned farm. I'll definitely be sure to stop by more often to support local produce. 

As for green beans, we are still in full scale green bean mania. We got another bushel from our Amish neighbor and that noise you are hearing is us snappin' beans as fast as we can.

I had an epic canning fail tho - two of my jars broke! What a waste! The bottoms of the quart jars broke out and they were a total loss. I was just heartsick.  All that snapping gone to waste... but onward and upward, right? Especially if you've got adorable little ducks to look at all day....

Hope that everyone is OK after the big storm... the next couple days should be interesting as everyone gets their power back on and assesses the damage. If you hear from Veggie PAK please let him know I'm pacing the floor with worry. I know they got hit pretty hard.  
UPDATE: Our pal VPAK, is just fine and so is his garden. WHEW! Thanks to some luck and some careful planning they are A-OK. Great to hear from you, VPAK and glad all is well.

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Green Bean Mania!

Yesterday was green bean mania! It was all green beans, all the time as I processed a bushel of beans.

Aren't they beautiful?

And they were HUGE beans - I've never seen green beans so big before. And since Ginny rightly thinks Nicholas needs a job.... he became our "for scale" model to show how big the beans were....

Click to enlarge for full bean on cat glory

...can you believe it? Remember Nicholas is huge - he's our 17 pounder (Maine Coon x raccoon) and we believe to be a direct descendant of Dragon, son of Thor HammerPaw. Dragon's fell deeds were so terrible that his very name was whispered like a curse.  For his part, earlier this week we saw how Nicholas stretches across the counter top. So that's one big bean on one big cat.

We ended up buying a bushel of beans from an Amish neighbor - the whole bushel for $18! We thought that was a pretty good deal. We ended the day with 14 quarts of canned beans, 5 frozen quart-sized bags o' beans, and a big green bean supper (with ham in the crock pot). What a bean-o-rific day!

Today we are all tomatoes all the time.. I'm headed out to scoop up as many maters as I can find.

Happy Thursday everyone! Whatcha cannin' today?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shake THIS!

Hey did everyone feel the whole lotta shakin' Tuesday? Eye witness reports, including someone I know who was shaken awake from a nap (you know who you are) said that they felt the earthquake here in Ohio!

Me? I was too busy drowning in this loveliness... honestly I thought I was just dizzy from a sugar/caffeine rush and I missed the whole thing. Ha!

This is totally my new favorite snack.  It has all my favorites - coffee, milk, ice cream...and cream. Can you believe it? I found this here and just so's ya know... I'm considering moving to Aussie-land just so I can have one of these everyday. More likely tho....I'll just make my own right here on the farm.

Its totally easy peasy: make a shot of espresso (or strongly brewed coffee) and let it cool. Pour in a tall glass, add fresh, cold goat milk, then scoop up some vanilla ice cream. Top with whipped cream (yeah the real stuff) and then dust with cocoa. I thought this was just for show but the cocoa really adds some deliciousness. And actually you don't shake or mix it.. it just melts into a yummy mix. Can I get a hallelujah?

Chai Chai - since you "prefer coffee" I know you'll love this snack. Tell your walking friends I said "hi." Did everyone see how our Chai Chai gave some 'hell yeah' to a vexing vixen?  That's the way to get 'er done.

Anyway, back to the quake. Around here we didn't feel it. Dog#2 acted like there was a storm coming but everyone else was at their normal level of ridiculousness.... so no change and how would we even tell?

West Side friends, you'd give a laugh for sure about this quake and probably wouldn't even look up from your iPhones.... but the earthquake was big news around here. The local news just can't get enough.

So what's the word - did everyone survive EarthQuake 2011? And are you ready for the hurricane?

Buckle up friends, its gonna be a wild ride for sure. But at least we've got a new coffee snack to get us thru.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rotten bean row - worked! And some Tuesday Happy Snaps

I'm so excited I had to just tell everyone that my idea for the Rotten Bean Row totally worked! I planted the leavin's and overripe and sprouted beans on the 15th... and by the 19th they had sprouted!

So looks like I'll have one more round of horticulture beans this year - and if not I'll have a big pile for seeds for next year.  Horticulture beans really are my new favorite thing. And I have to give a shout out to Sheila who gave me the idea to use a can of our beans to make a bean and garlic spread. It was so good we had it for dinner on our home made bread and it was perfect. I'm making some more today. THANKS Sheila!

Our fresh green beans that I just planted are sailing right along also. These should be ready just before we have a frost. I can easily cover them if we get a extra cold nite. But I'm hoping for a long, warm fall.

I ended up mowing off the rest of our Hill O' Beans.. the bugs just destroyed them in no time flat.  I got a couple of baskets full and some great suppers so its not a total loss. I might just till everything under and plant some oats with the expectation that the beans may produce another flush to harvest before it gets too cold. If not it will be good for the soil for sure. I haven't heard back about my soil sample yet. Maybe I'll be able to amend the soil before I replant.

Yesterday afternoon I picked these beauties and then started getting saucey. I'll can them later today.

One thing I'm kinda hacked off over... these are NOT oxheart tomatoes.

Sure they are big and meaty but they aren't as big and they dont have the right shape. They are kinda melted hearts or something. Unfortunately I can't remember when I got the seeds.. harumph.. next year I'm getting them from one of the heritage seed places. One year I had orange oxhearts the size of a large cat's head. Like this one....

Nicholas eating corn from the cob. Now I've seen everything.

Happy sunny and cool Tuesday everyone! Now get out there and get one more row of beans planted!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hog hosing and Ducklet for Heiko

How to Have a Happy Hog? Hose 'em off, baby!

When the days are hot we follow the long, long, long hose down the hill and crank it up to hose down the pigz. They just love it. Not only does this give them a cool down, but its a great way to keep their wallow full and muddy - just like they love it.

Them pigz come running from the far end of their lot as soon as they hear the dogs and I tromp down the hill.

They belly right up and enjoy the cool water. They stand there and let it run all over them, shake their heads, drink from the spray, and then run around carvorting in the mud.

Remember that pigz don't cool themselves like we do so this is a great way to keep the bacon happy.

Afterwards, they are shiny and happy - would you just look at that beautiful red color! Yay bacon! We are so glad that we found Spring Hill Farms.... wow! For those of you who aren't lucky enough to have your own Tamworths - if you are in or even near Central Ohio - run, don't walk over to their site and order you up some fresh pork. And word is... they are now raising Large Blacks.... I know... that's what I'm talking about. You can bet that I'll have my name on that list for more feeders next spring.

And, my dear Heiko requested a ducklet.. I mean.. a duckling so here you go, brother!
Your little pal is the far one in the water pan - she's a peach and a winner for sure. Name suggestion please....

Is everyone enjoying this cool morning!? Ohmigosh I need a long sleeved shirt to be outside - I'm lovin' the cool down.

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2011

He still can't stand the heat

The roiling stock markets continue to plague Nicholas. Yesterday all he could do was make a batch of Stir Crazy popcorn, drink a bottle Two Buck Chuck, and watch the ticker until he passed out.

Nicholas still can't stand the heat. You'd think he'd stay out of the kitchen.

Hours later he woke up to find out it was baking day and so he proceeded to complain bitterly about the heat and when was I going to turn on the air conditioning?  The lasagna, two kinds of bread, and the batch of cookies could not lift his spirits. Sorry, Nicholas, looks like another hard day....the fifth of such.

Nicholas's Hard Day #1
Nicholas's Hard Day #2
Nicholas's Hard Day #3
Nicholas's Hard Day #4
Nicholas's Hard Day #5
Nicholas's Hard Day #6 
Nicholas's Hard Day #7
Nicholas's Hard Day#8
Nicholas's Hard Day #9 
Nicholas's Hard Day #10
Happy Friday everyone! Onward and upward!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hey Mr. H - Here's your chick!

As requested... here's your chick, Mr. H!

She's a beauty for sure..... I'm holding her funny but check out her coloring...

...and those funny feet! Her momma is a Salmon Faverolle... and they have an extra toe. I just love them - they have a funny round shape and are a little ridiculous..but thats OK. This is Jane's singleton chick. We decided to put her with the chicks inside - turns out Jane has started to lay again which is VERY unusual while a hen who still has a baby to raise. So she has been leaving this little one alone to make googoo eyes at her rooster, Mr. Tibbles. So for her safety we decided to put this chick with The Mob. Any name suggestions, Mr. H?

Ginny, your gal is doing just great - her 'racing stripes' are coming in beautifully. I'll see if I can get some pix later today. She's the best one of The Mob for sure.

Today we marched our Momma Duck and her Eight up to baby yard by the hen house. Its a long walk if you have tiny little feet.They are having a blast. When I last checked them they were all sitting in a cake pan full of water. They took to it like.. well... like a duck to water.

We are heading out for more fencing - is everyone gonna have a great day?

Reach for the sun!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I would have posted sooner but.....

I would have posted sooner but I was sucked into the vortex of cute that is baby ducks... ohmigolly... can you stand it? Milking took a long time today because these little cuties were toddling around.

Their first big day - seeing the Whole Wide World

How was I supposed to milk with all this cuteness toddling around the milk stand?

As I was taking one goat back and bringing the next up for milking, the Momma Duck took her babies on walkabout.

They thought the bridge to the hen house was awesome!

And Momma Duck was very proud of her babies.

They loved the green stuff.

It took a while but I slowly walked all the babies to the baby yard by the hen house. I felt confident that they were safe when I watched Momma Duck run two of the turkey hens off and then go after our barn cat. The hens actually have to be afraid of her! This afternoon I'll walk Momma Duck and her Eight back to her original nest. Its already been a big day for these little cuties.

And by popular demand... here's a quick pic of the pigz. They are huge! More on this tomorrow..

Baby ducks are way cuter than pigz.....but can you believe the bacons on these two porkers???

Hope everyone is having a great day and enjoying the sunshine! Happy Wednesday !!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Happy Snaps

Well, there way no way Momma Duck was going to let me take some happy snaps of her little ones today... so I'll try again tomorrow. But she got the troop up - all 8 of them - and led them around. We scooted her back to her nest tho - we need to get her secured into a 'crow free' area until those little guys are a bit bigger than 'bite sized." But here are a few snaps of what else is going on today.

I liked this view of the turkey house thru the front garden flowers this morning. If you look closely you can see that the corn grew really tall this year - its just to the left of the building in the back.

I don't know about you but fall is in the air. I love the morning lighting in the hen yard at this time of year. It gives some beautiful light and shade to the hen swarm.

We've been working on getting the electric hot wire up on the new fenced in area. Tomorrow we need to work on gates and then we are good to go!

Happy Tuesday everyone - I'm about to get another pot of tomato sauce going....anyone else gettin' sauced?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rotten bean row and making vanilla....and ducklings?

I think the solar flares got my wireless router because its been kinda funky. Hopefully its all fixed up. But I'm getting some quick notes in before it goes out again....

That's all there is to it - vodka and vanilla beans.

First, I'm starting a batch of home made vanilla. Vanilla - I know! How weird is that? Actually not so weird. Have you noticed how ridiculously expensive it is in the store now? So I'm taking evasive action. I found these directions here and they seem to be pretty consistent with a few other links I found. I had to make a slight alteration because the $13 I shelled out for Madagascar whole vanilla beans only bought me TWO.  So I used slightly less than 2 cups of vodka to accommodate the recommended 3 beans per 2 cups of booze. Its in a dark cupboard where it will be shaken every once in a while and will be ready in October. Until then I think I paid about $9 for my current store-bought bottle of vanilla.

Next - as for planting notes, I took all the over-ripe beans from our Horticulture Bean binge and planted them, shells and all next to the 4 new rows of fresh green beans in the square garden. If they don't sprout that's just fine, I'll just heavily mulch that row and call it a slow compost heap. I planted cylindrical beets on the other side of that raised row.

And here is a funny thing... this morning there was some mysterious peeping in the garage.... turns out my little milking helper micro duck hatched! This was quite a surprise because we got rid of our drakes a while ago.... hum...... I knew she had a nest but let her sit on what I thought we unfertilized eggs just to give her something to do (she's kind of a trouble maker)....and there you have it. There were at least 3 of the cutest little duckling ever this morning. Pix tomorrow, I'm sure.

So far its been quite a day. Hope the solar flares haven't wonked out your router like mine!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ham Slab on the Grill, Fencing, and Soil Sample

This is what we had for supper last nite - an enormous slab o' ham done up on the grill.

The pic doesnt do it justice - that slab was bigger than my head! And oh, the smokey goodness from being grilled - a summer delight for sure. And since we worked so hard yesterday, I made a quick and saucy mac 'n cheese with some maters and pesto.

We spent all day yesterday clearing down by the pigz. We are going to run another line of fence and move Dahlia (Debbie's doeling from this spring) and Nibbles down to this new area during the day to do some bushwhacking for us.

And also because we figured out Debbie's milk production wasn't "strangely low."  Nope, Dahlia's been milk stealin' when we weren't looking. The good news is that Debbie isn't on her way to the ethnic market due to uselessness (just kidding)....the bad news is that we had to clear all day so we could run the fence.

Today we'll be finishing up - we'll probably need a few more tposts but then we'll be in business. Moving Dahlia and Nibs will either be our best idea yet - or will end in either hilarity.... or possibly tragedy. I'm pretty sure they'll be mad they are going to be fence-neighbors with the pigz. But we need to get Dahlia to stop nursing off Debbie and separating them is the best way to go. At nite we'll put everyone in the goat house but Dahlia will be in the stall, locked up tight.

Ideally we would not have the goats next to the pigz - but the area is pretty big and they should just stay away from the pig-stinkiness. But the new area is already fenced on 3 sides and has a hot wire (electric) set up. Remember when you are fencing - especially prey animals like goats - that, sure, fencing is for keeping your goats IN...but more importantly for keeping predators OUT. This new area is out of our line of sight and is in The Impenetrable Forest so we want to make sure the neighborhood dogs don't help themselves to our meat bags... I mean.... adorable little goaties. 

Hands down the worst predator for your goats is the neighbors dog (or your dog). Don't fool yourself that just because your big doe stomped at your dog once that she can protect herself. Very few animals can defend themselves from a big (or medium) dog and almost no barnyard animal is safe from several dogs working together. Mr. Woofy-woof my be your best friend but he'll turn back to his wolf roots just as soon as he sees your lovely doe turn and run.

Anyway, my point is we are doing double duty on the new fencing and hopefully Nibs and Dahlia will do some clearing for us. If it doesn't work out we'll just turn the pigz into the new area and we'll work on taking down the trees in the lot they are in now. The pigz have grazed all of the green out of their current lot and are tilling it up beautifully. And yeah, I can't wait to send in the "before and after" pix to them boys at Hobby Farms who said animals can't clear land as effectively as chemicals.

In other news - I need to get into my notes that Friday the 12th I look a soil sample into our local Extension office for testing. The process was easy peasy. I took a clean bucket and a shovel out into our field, scraped off the vegetation, dug down a bit, and scooped up some dirt. I did this several places and just put it all in the bucket together. Then I mixed it up with a clean stainless, trowel...and away we went to town.

The folks at the Extension office gave me a bag - kinda like a coffee bean bag. I filled it to the appointed "fill line" and handed it back. $11 later I was on my way.  In about a week they will email me the results. I'm pretty sure the results will say "This is the Worst Soil in the County."

That's what is going on here. Hope everyone has a grill-happy Sunday! Now whatcha waitin' for? Go and get a big ham slab and grill it up, you won't be sorry.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Holy Horticulture Beans!

Holy Horticulture Beans! Would you look at these beauties?

Wow did we score - the Good Neighbors spent the other day canning 32 pints of beans and they still had 2 five gallon buckets of them. Did I want them? Sure I did!

Regionally these beautiful pink and cream beans are known as "Horticulture Beans" but I think they go by other names. To me these look like some of the Italian varieties - so you can bet your brushetta there is gonna be some pasta y fagioli coming soon.

I was able to find some seeds for my garden at a local feed store but Ed Hume also sells the seeds. I'd never even heard of them but when the Good Neighbors gave me a can last year, well, it was love at first bite. You can use them for just about anything - ours may be used like pinto beans for refried beans, in stews, in a savory baked bean pot, or just as a side dish.

To grow Horticulture Beans, just like any bean, stick 'em in the ground and stand back. However, unlike fresh green beans, let these guys mature on the vine before you pick them. Wait until the pods start getting dried out then bring in your haul and make yourself comfortable.  Shelling beans is easy and fun. Just grab an empty bucket for the pods, crack open a pod, and let the fresh and lovely beans fall into a clean bowl. Last nite while I was watching So You Think You Can Dance I shelled a big pile of them. Easy peasy.

You can compost the leavin's or any beans that are too far gone, or do like I am later today - toss them in an empty garden row and see if any sprout.Of course, keep some for seeds next year - just let them get good and dried out in the pod before storage.

Canning is just as easy. Check out how I canned some pinto beans - its basically the same process. Pickyourown.org is a great site for canning know-how. I swear, once you can your own beans you'll never go back to buying them in the store. Sound like a lot of work? Nope and besides, what else are you gonna do? Might as well do something useful.

While we're talking about canning.... I was in one of those big stores the other day and noticed a no-name/store-name box of canning jars for a dollar or so less than my regular brand.. Folks, everyone has to make their own decisions, but I tell you the truth - that Made in the USA label gets my dollars every time. So I picked up my case of Ball Canning Jars and marched up to the cashier to vote for American jobs with my money. 

Is everyone canning today? I've got a batch of tomato sauce finishing up right now. Beans are next and then we'll see what else I can get done today.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Even MORE planting!

I know that everyone in the Mid-West is running right outside today to enjoy the cooler weather.... what a relief!

Maters are still setting blooms.... 

I have a lot to say about the weather around here - most of it is me complaining about that its too hot or  too cold... but wow. You just can't beat the growing season in these parts. Remember the beans I started just the other day? They are flying out of the ground....

So are the squash seeds......

I'm pushing the limit of our "first frost" with these butternut squash - but they just might make it. The beans will be ready at the end of September so they are perfect. And we tend to get a night or two of frost then some warmer weather. Altho - one of the old timer's in town said he thought there would be an early fall. We'll have to keep a look out for that.

These scarlet runner beans are some of my favorites. From seeds last year - they did great.

Work on the Square Garden continues with even more planting. The soil really has improved over last year. Mostly I made a big pile of barnyard litter and poo and just let it sit. Nope - I didn't even turn it. But the results are pretty dramatic. I also planted winter wheat and clover over it. That really helped.

The 'before' picture was pretty much red clay - now.. this is what I'm talking about!

I had to pull up some gourds that were failing (stupid squash bugs!) - but these early plants did a great job of being a trap for those bad bugs. I went out every morning and soaked the bugs and their eggs with a strong mix of Dawn detergent and water. Of course, it was kinda hard on the plants but the bugs pretty much killed them anyway. These few gourds were much appreciated by the pigz, tho.

And finally.... a rare self portrait. That's me with the seed packets...and my big goofy garden hat.

Other self portaits can be seen here as The Abominable Snow Dork, A Girl and Her Goat, and OFG Bloodaxe Varmint Killer.

Planting Notes from yesterday. BTW, Walmart of all places, still has some seeds left. But they are going fast.

* Three rows of bush beans next to the raised bed.
* One empty row - but Kale started under cover at the top of the row.
* Leeks (dont think they will be ready) beside the foot path running east/west.
* Two short rows of sugar peas
* Brussels Spouts
* Moved more Big Pumpkins over to square raised bed, also the leftover watermelons along the fence line.

That's all the news that's fit to print. Hope everyone is enjoying the cooler weather!

Happy Thursday everyone - are you all watching the finale of So You Think You Can Dance?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


What a beautiful morning!
What a wonderful sunrise!

The air conditioning is finally off, the windows are open, and wow the sun is shining!

Ginny - This is your little gal. She has "racing stripes" on her eyes. She's gonna be a beauty for sure.

I've got a busy day ahead but wanted to get some notes in and a quick update on our crazy hatch.  We now have a total of 15 (or sixteen?) chicks - all one or two days apart. I moved them our of their brooder and into a kiddie in the basement.

The mob. I love how they are all in a clump.

A kiddie pool is a great grow-out area for babies. They are cheap (this one was $9), easy to clean, provides a 'wind break' to keep the breeze out, and gives them plenty of space to run around. Yesterday I snuck up on them and they were all sprawled in all directions - kinda like someone threw a chick grenade and there was little chick shrapnel everywhere. They are just hilarious.

Monday we had three new arrivals - including this little guy. I had to help pip him out of his shell... but he's doing just fine. See that the pine bedding gets into everything. I put their waterer on a plastic lid and it keeps it much cleaner than this. I use empty cat food cans as feeders for these little ones.

Little Baldy is still their leader. Here he's making sure that the new arrivals are well supervised.

Planting notes for the square garden (sorry for the cryptic notes, folks, this is just a list so I remember):

Starting in the corner by the gate:
Swiss chard

Next to the far gate:
Beans + sunflowers

By bee balm:
Beats + radishes (??? dang, now I cant remember!)

Broccoli + cabbage

Row nearest fence:
Butternut squash

Long row before raised bed:
Swiss chard

Happy Wednesday everyone!
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