Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Simple Things

Give the kid some string and old bean teepee and he's set for a long time.

The row cover is already on one of the beds, the other has the chicken tractor on top.

We also harvested the last of the peppers, tomatoes and eggplants before the first low, low temps of the season last week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tiny Grape Harvest

This poor grapevine has taken a beating and has been pretty much neglected. Yet, it still gave us (and the birds) some sweet, tasty fruit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Can You Dig It?

At the most recent Beginning Farmers class the summer interns Katie Kilpatrick and Jacob Delahoussaye at the Kerr Center demonstrated John Jeavons' Double-Digging method and bio-intensive garden layout.

I can't wait to give this a try in our yard! We've ordered Jeavons' most recent edition of 'How to Grow More Vegetables', and have the perfect spot to try the double digging method. We'll be doing a 4-foot wide (not sure how long yet) bed in the spot we had originally cleared for our small greenhouse. My folks have graciously said we can put the greenhouse in their backyard so that leaves us more room for growing beds. Right now the area has a few bean teepees (which are pretty well drying up in this heat) and is mostly covered with mulch. So we'll have minimal weeding to do to get started.

We also learned a lot about pest and weed control in organic systems. As well as different methods of staking tomatoes and wheel hoes for cultivation and weeding. Can't wait to get a wheel hoe!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Experiments in Sweet Potato Culture.

We are giving the 'hot foot' method of growing sweet potatoes a try. In a 4 x 4 bed we've got 'Qualls' and 'Continental Red' varieties. Not pictured, in a completely different bed, are 'Oklahoma Heirloom' and 'Edna Evans' varieties.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Like Butta.

Trying our hand and making butter with fresh from the farm cream. My mom hand the antique butter churn as decoration and gave it to us to put to use.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chicken Progress

We put the finishing touches (minus the laying boxes) on the chicken tractor last weekend. It is now much easier to move. Yay! We think that Winnie, the golden headed Easter Egger, might be a rooster. She (he) has been aggressive from day one, the tail feathers are looking pointy, and has started making some strange, almost crowing-like noises.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Food is Medicine

This post has been brewing for a while. The evolution of how we think about food. What we eat. What it does to our bodies.

Awhile back I was obsessed with menu planning and, in general, mapping out what we consume.  I was also feeling woefully unprepared, haggard, often struggling to make the healthy meals I had planned out for my family while at the same time giving what little attention I could to my son in the evening hours. You see, the evening is when we most often see each other on weekdays.

We used to spend a lot more time together. I stayed home with our son from age 17 months to 28 months. When I was 'not working outside of the home' I was still obsessed with food, and what we ate. Food was probably what most motivated me to quit my job and stay home with him. TV and play was a close second, but that's a whole different topic.

Shortly after returning to work part time, or sometime close to then, a close friend was diagnosed with cancer. She has two young kids. All I knew to do in the face of something like cancer was provide food. She told me, as a part of her combating cancer, she was embarking on a mainly raw foods diet. I had heard of such things, but really didn't know what it meant.

A few months into returning to work part time I took a second, part time, job. This job meant I didn't get home until after 7 o'clock. My husband enjoys food, not cooking. So in order to save us from the fast-food, pizza delivery trap, and pissing away any extra money the second job would give us, I devised menus relying more and more on 'convenience food'. I shudder to think of what we ate during this time. All at the cost of earning more/saving money.

A little over a year ago, I got a full time job, super close to home. This job enables me to pick the kid up early-ish, spend some time playing, then when Daddy gets home I get to cooking dinner. In the past few months I've completely shifted from menu planning to ensuring we have staples on hand like whole grains (wheatberries, rice, couscous, quinoa) veggies and herbs from the yard, various proteins to make some really great dinners. This means more knowing what is in season, more checking out what is growing in the backyard, and some pre-cooking on the weekends to make sure things are ready to go on those busy weeknights where the temptation to eat out are strong.

In December of last year my uncle died. He was my favorite uncle, my mom's younger brother. My grandparents have outlived him. He loved food, and cooking. And making sure everyone around him was happy. But somewhere along the way he lost the ability to really take care of himself. Food was medicine, and he suffered, what I believe, to be a completely avoidable stroke. One, which obliterated his brain stem and left him nothing more than a 'vegetable'.  Such an interesting turn-of-phrase – VEGETABLE. In this connotation vegetables are lifeless, nothing. Yet, in reality they are life giving, full of nutrients. How did we get so far away from the knowledge, and often necessity, of our ancestors? Food is medicine!

Throughout all this time we've watched and read all sorts of informative things like
Food, Inc.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Food Matters
Riddle Love

We have quit eating virtually all processed food...almost. We've really limited our meat intake, relying more and more on plant based foods. We try to eat some raw foods at most meals. This is much easier during the growing season. We try our best to shop at small, local groceries stores, the farmers market...and our yard. Things I've noticed since we stopped shopping at the big-box retailers - many less impulse purchases, virtually stress-free shopping, more community connections and spending less money on better, quality, nutrient dense foods. Also, I've dropped the 'bulk' mentality places like Sam's instills. We still have a membership there, I think it expires next month, and we won't be renewing.

And we've talked to our almost kindergartener about no longer eating at the Chinese buffet because of MSG, and no longer eating at Sonic (the only fast food place we ate at with any regularity). He is the ultimate in keeping us on track...anytime we even talk about going to one of those places he reminds us that it's not healthy, or might 'make us zombies'. Luckily we have great local places like The Earth, Pepe's, LOCAL, Ludivine, etc. if we do 'need' to eat out.

We have a long-term plan of starting a farm. This will take some paying down debts, acquiring of some land, and more planning over the next 3 to 5 years. In the meantime we are practicing and refining our skills, applying permaculture and organic growing techniques to our little patch of land. And learning a lot about ourselves, and the value of real food in the meantime.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring in a bowl

Sugar Snap Peas from the Farmers Market
Radishes, Spring Onion, Basil, Dill & Thyme from our garden
All dressed with lemon juice and olive oil

The Morris Tribe Blog Carnival

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Real Food Breakfast

Our breakfast this morning was simple and oh so yummy. Toasted slice of multigrain bread from a local bakery, topped with our homemade labneh (yogurt cheese), drizzle of local honey and sprinkled with strawberries from our backyard.
It's the simple things that are the best. In case you're interested in labneh, a delicious way to get your good belly bugs, here's our recipe:

1 quart cream top, plain yogurt  
We make our own yogurt from raw cow milk, any milk will do, but try for the lesser, more gently pasteurized types, and opt for non-homogenized. Not only does it taste better, it is better for you!
1 tsp salt

Place yogurt in a bowl, whisk in the salt. Place muslin, or a few of layers of cheesecloth in a strainer, and place the strainer in a bowl. You want the strainer to sit towards the top of the bowl so that there's enough room for liquid to drain off. Pour in the whisked yogurt. Let it sit like this for an hour or two, until some of the liquid (whey, if using animal milk) drains off. Then gather the edges of the cloth up and tie it closed. Now you hang it for 18 - 24 hours. Some people do this in the fridge. We have a set up over one of our kitchen counters - since we're using yogurt there are plenty of good bugs in there to protect it from any bad bugs taking over. But if you're kitchen is really hot or you're concerned at all it's not hard to set up a hanging area in the fridge. We've got a simple plant hanger screwed into the ceiling and a piece of string. We hang the labneh from the string, and leave a bowl underneath to catch any more drips. After it is hung and almost all the liquid is drained out you're left with a spreadable cheese akin to cream cheese - a little tangier, and a whole lot better for you!

This post is shared on Frugally Sustainable's Sustainable Ways # 26

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Asmina triloba

Our Pawpaw trees came today from One Green World. Four varieties - Taylor, Pennsylvania Golden, Wabash, Shenandoah.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Productive Weekend

We let the girls explore the chicken tractor for just a bit. Built some bean teepees, and planted all manner of beans and peas. Also planted okra, corn and two cherry trees. One of our apples didn't make it through the winter, so we replaced it as well.

Friday, March 23, 2012


Spring is here! We have our baby chicks. They actually arrived on the first day of Spring.
From left to right we have Stella Luna (Barred Rock), Bacon (Rhode Island Red), Bunny (Easter Egger), Winnie Cooper (Golden Laced Wyandotte).  Winne is clearly the leader, and Stella is a little slow. It is really neat to get to know their personalities and see them grow and change each day.

What are we supposed to do with this thing?

We are so excited about all the flowers, and potential strawberries. Hopefully the birds won't get them all.

Weirdly, the apricots have already set fruit. And the pears aren't far behind. We really hope to get some nectarines and apples this year too.

We finished the keyhole bed at my parents' place last weekend and planted it with herbs. Hopefully all the seeds didn't get washed away in the deluge of rain we had earlier this week.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Learning, so much learning

Yesterday was my first horticulture class at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Back in November I found out I was lucky enough to be chosen to participate in their first ever Beginning Farmers program. There are two tracks - Horticulture and Livestock. It is a year long program, and we 'graduate' in October.

I learned so much. My head is full and tired (I drove to Poteau, OK and back in the same day). We learned about Organic Certification...what a process! Biointensive and bioextensive methods of farming. Different methods of starting transplants; many different types of cover crops; and compost, compost, compost. Below are some photo highlights of the day; next time I'll have to bring my real camera.

 Beautiful southeast Oklahoma.

 Compost Trace Mineral Amendment - going to have to mix up some of this for our compost!

 Radish as cover crop. This particular type of radish is related to a Daikon radish.

Bio-extensive method of cover crops at a large scale. There are 4 plots at almost a half-acre each. They test many different types of cover crops, methods of cutting and are moving more and more to the no-till method of gardening. The no till method involves cutting the cover crop, leaving it in place and then planting transplants. The 'green' material acts as mulch and food for the transplants, and keeps out weeds. These plots were amazing! So much beneficial insect life - bumble bees, honey bees, and the heartiest ladybugs (and their larvae) I've ever seen.

Compost, compost, compost.  This pile is made up of just sweet potato clippings (mulched with a mower) and corn stalks. The middle of the pile was nearly 70 degrees!

Biochar Reactor. We're going to learn a lot more about this, and see it in action next month at the Resilient Farmer Workshop.

Bio-extensive method scaled down to our 'urban farm' size. We've been playing around with the bio-extensive method of cover crops, and intend to do more of this in the future.

George Kuepper demonstrating how to do a soil test.

Inside the greenhouse - giant tubs of Comfrey, Stinging Nettle and Horseradish. They use the Comfrey and Stinging Nettle to make a fermented plant juice.

I didn't get any photos of the transplant starting session. It was late, I was tired, and in a daze. We got to use a soil blocker, and paper potmaker. And they very generously shared some heirloom peppers, tomato, and eggplant seeds with all of us.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Expansion and Experiments

We're taking over my folks backyard...slowly. It's just down the street and they're willing...as long as, according to my dad, we don't make it an obstacle course to mow. We have ordered two Paw Paw trees to plant in their backyard. Are planning to expand the raised bed area the previous owners left behind as well as try a keyhole bed. We decided to get working on the keyhole bed today.

Awhile back we attended a free course at OSU/OKC on season extension methods. We learned about low tunnels, hoop houses and greenhouses. We decided to try a low tunnel on one of our raised beds. I'm not sure why the photos got all jumbly...blogger is not cooperating. Hopefully you get the idea - we planted some cool weather crops, we bent some EMT (metal tubes), stuck them in the ground, attached a purlin, covered the whole thing in agribond (special fabric that lets in light and moisture while keeping things warmer). The photo from the inside was from a few weeks back, things have grown some since then.