Friday, April 26, 2013

My Bleeding Heart


Oh the dangers of gardening. I can officially say that I have bled for this farm, and it was worth it. To be honest, it's not my only war wound of the day, and it's not nearly as bad as it looks. I managed to hit myself in the head and the leg with a fencepost pounder, sliced one leg with chicken wire, and the other leg with field fencing. Living in the country is dangerous! Especially for a clumsy person like me.

Injuries aside, today was a BEAUTIFUL day. I would even call it the PERFECT day for working outside. It was sunny, in the high 60's and there was a slight breeze. I was able to pound in fence u-posts and dig in the dirt without breaking to much of a sweat. It was so nice I spent about 5 hours outside getting things done, building the fence for the chicken enclosure, planting bulbs, transplanting rhubarb, and flattening a mound of dirt so I could plant strawberries. I really hope I didn't wait to long to plant the bulbs and strawberries! I'm sure the cold days aren't behind us, but all this sunshine has me nervous that I'm not at all prepared for the growing season.

There is a patch of rhubarb along our west fence line by the pump house that was flourishing when we viewed the house last spring, but was long gone by the time we moved in in July. I am so excited to get to use rhubarb this year! About a month ago it started to sprout and I was jumping for joy- until I realized that the dogs were rooting around and pooping all around it! Boo! That had to be remedied, and fast.

I decided to use some 3 foot field fencing to create cages over it and it worked really well. I was even able to use some pine shavings from the chick coop around the plants to help keep down the weeds. I decided that we couldn't just leave the rhubarb all alone, so when I bought a package of strawberry plants that do well in colder climates I decided to create a mini spring garden.


Today I spend the day shoveling and leveling a mound of dirt that was next to the rhubarb. I couldn't get over how amazing the soil is! It's rich and dark and full of worms. It's going to grow some serious fruits and veggies for us this year. I even uncovered more rhubarb that was buried to deep in the mound to reach the surface. I was able to transplant it closer to the other rhubarb. We are going to have some serious baking and canning to do. It took an hour or so, but I finally got it all leveled, planted, straw around everything to keep the weeds down, and protected in cages (where I got that lovely cut on my leg). I can't wait for strawberries! Only 2 more months (I hope)....


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pink Lemonade Smoothie and Spicy Smoky Tomato Soup

While I didn't eat these two things together, I imagine that the cool and refreshing smoothie would be tasty with the spicy and smoky soup.

Today in the kitchen was all about trying to use up ingredients that have been in the fridge to long, and making quick and healthy meals and snacks.

A note about me and food- I love food and I do my best to eat mostly healthy food (but sometimes my sweet tooth gets the better of me). You will see a lot of low fat, fat free, or lower calorie ingredients- but I promise that they are tasty (at least to me, and usually to my husband). You can alway substitute regular, full fat versions, but I wouldn't share my ideas with you if I didn't think they were super good as is, and I encourage you to try them.

Disclaimer: I don't "test" my recipes. I make them, I eat them. If I like them, you hear about them. Always taste your food as you're cooking, and adjust ingredients to your taste buds preference.

Pink Lemonade Smoothie

Pink Lemonade Smoothie:
  • 1/4 cup meyer lemon juice- meyer lemons are much sweeter than regular ones, substitute at your own risk. 
  • 1 cup diced fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries 
  • 1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese 
  • 1 tsp honey (I like to dissolve honey in warm water first so that it doesn't stick to the sides of the blender). 
  • 1 cup of ice
  • optional: 1tbsp fresh mint leaves. Makes it extra crisp and refreshing 
Blend it up and enjoy! It's a little tart, a little sweet, and a whole lot of refreshing.

Per my nutrition calculator on the LoseIt app: 147 calories, 0g fat, 7.2g protein 

Spicy Tomato Soup

Spicy Smoky Tomato Soup
Makes 4 1 1/2 cup servings.

A little (or a lot) spicy, a little smoky, and tiny hint of sweetness. Yummy, yummy! It would also be amazing with some shredded chicken.

It doesn't get any easier or faster than this:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped onion (approx 1 medium)
  • 5 cloves Black Garlic
  • 1.5-2 tbsp chilis in adobo sauce (approx 1-3)  
  • 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup fat free cream cheese
  • 2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
A note about ingredients:

Black Garlic is awesome. I love it. But if you don't have it or can't find it use 3 cloves regular garlic, minced, add it to the pan after the onions, and a minute before finishing sauteing add in 1-2 tbsp brown sugar. 

Chilis in Adobo- I like things spicy. If you don't like spice, I suggest starting with 1 chili and adding more from there, to taste. If you don't have these chilis available try some smoked paprika and a little cayenne pepper. 

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Return to pot for several minutes, until it starts to bubble and the soup is good and hot. 

Serve with toast, crackers, a salad, you name it! I toasted a piece of nutty bread and then broiled it with a little parmesan. 

Nutrition info for one serving of soup: 185 calories, 4.8g fat, 2.6g fiber, 10.5g protein 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Worlds Converge

Since starting this blog in 2007 is had remained primarily fiber arts focused. There have definitely been high points and low points in my posting frequency, I blame Ravelry for my posts slowing down, and I'm hoping to remedy that in the remainder of 2013. As a way to reach that goal I want to diversify. My world is SO MUCH MORE than fiber arts and I want to share that with you.

I created a farm blog when we bought our first property last year and have be posting about our farm, animals, canning, crafting, and a little bit of cooking. I couldn't find a good reason NOT to merge the blogs into one, so I have brought all of the farm blog posts over here. Take a look through the 2012-13 posts to see what's been going on on the farm.

Get caught up, familiarize yourself with some of the fun new links on the right sidebar, and get geared up for what's ahead. Tomorrow is a brand new day, and the start of some fun new posts. I'm really excited for what's to come, are you?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Springtime Mood Swings

Springtime really can't seem to make up it's mind. In the past two weeks we've had sunny 60 degree weather, rainy 50 degree weather, snowy 30 degree weather, and yesterday we had a particularly unfriendly windy raining ice storm with intermittent sun. I'm really happy that we've taken several opportunities to get ahead on early summer farm work when the sun is shining because there really is no telling how long the nice weather will last.

Yesterday, despite the wind, we rushed out to try and finish the chicken coop. Luckily most of the work was inside the coop and we were able to finish while there was a lull in the stormy weather. All that's left is a coat or two of varnish to seal the floor and we we can move the chicks into their new home. I'm so glad, they've really outgrown the bathroom and they have created quite a mess. I'll get some pictures of the finished coop when the weather is a bit nicer. Although, in order for it to be truly finished, I'll have to wait for a sunny day to paint it.

Panorama from the top of the property in late March (you should be able to click on the image to make it bigger)
Top of the Property Panorama

Last Weeks Freak Snowstorm

As long as the sun is shining, the puppies have to play outside, whether they like it or not.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Pattern: Corridor


By Brittany Wilson


1 US #8/5mm 20-40” circular needles

- Tapestry needle
- 12 stitch markers
- Lace blocking wires and pins

Sunrise Fiber Co Cloud DK [40% alpaca, 40% merino, 20% silk; 252yd/230m per 100g skein] 2 [3] skeins; Color: Sapphire

20 sts/25 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch before blocking
15 sts/26 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch after blocking

Height of Center Spine: 18 (23)”
Height from center spine to row ends: 35 (48)”
Width from tip of left spine to tip or right spine: 41 (52)”

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Libretto Featured By Fleece Artist

I have been incredibly fortunate to work for Colorsong Yarn since February of 2011, even after I moved from Oregon to Montana in November 2011 they found a way to keep me on staff and give me things to do. One of the greatest things they've done is to push me to keep designing knitting patterns, using the yarns that they sell dyed by the  companies Handmaiden Fine Yarn and Fleece Artist based out of Nova Scotia, Canada.

Every so often Handmaiden and Fleece Artist will offer competitions for designers who are already designing with their yarns. The incentive is that the pattern will be featured on the main page of their website for several months, driving traffic to your website. I never mentioned it here but last season my Speakeasy pattern won and was featured on the Handmaiden website.

This season my pattern Libretto won and is currently being featured on the Fleece Artist website. Isn't that exciting?


Chicken TV

The chicks are getting older, almost 4 weeks now (but 3 weeks in the video/pictures below), and as they get older they get more and more entertaining to watch. I find myself getting my morning coffee and going downstairs to see what's new in the chicken world. I can sit there and watch them for what seems like hours.

Most of the time I'm looking at their features, how their feathers are coming in, and trying to guess if they'll be boys or girls. I also try to guess what colors they will be when they're fully feathered and what breeds they might be since we got mixed breed chicks. My opinions of each chick seem to change from day to day, but as they get bigger I think the answers are becoming more clear.

The most interesting thing to watch is their behavior. Some chicks are proficient scratchers and are the main reason their water is always full of wood shavings. Other chicks seem to be "whiners", walking around and chirping their very distinguishable high pitched chirps. A few, I'm assuming they will be boys, are very macho and walk around stealing food from other chicks. I'm always impressed with the chicks who seem to be learning to steer when they fly and can perch up on the edge of the brooder to get a better view of their surroundings (although the minute they see my they fly back to safety.

I feed them treats and try to handle them every day because they are still pretty spooked when I move quickly or stand up. Some are getting better and rush to see me, while others hide in the back and wait to get their treats after I leave. I'm hoping by the time we move them outside in a few weeks will will all be friends. I don't like the idea of running around trying to catch chickens when it's time to go in the coop for the night.

Here's a video of the chicks at snack time. I talk a little bit about them, where they are in their development, and their current temporary chick home:

While I wasn't able to catch any chicks for their movie debut, I was able to snap a few pictures.

This is Sadie, she is one of my favorites (I hope she's a she!). She seems very delicate and shy compared to the others. She's one that has a distinguishable chirp and always hangs back and waits for her treats. I am in love with her grey coloring.

Sadie at 3 days old
Sadie 1 week

Sadie at 3 weeks and 3 days old
Sadie 3 weeks

This is Hank. I'm trying very hard to not get attached to the chicks that I think might be boys, in case they end up going to new homes or in the stew pot, but with Hank I just can't help it. It's very sweet, the first to come to me for treats, and will perch on my hand so he gets the best access to whatever treats I'm hand feeding the chicks. I'll talk more about why I think he's a boy in another post, but it has to do with feather color, his legs, and his comb (the mohawk between his eyes).

Hank at 3 weeks and 3 days old
Hank 3 weeks

This is Poe. She looked very much like a Raven when she was a chick, but is feathering out in the neatest leopard pattern. I'm still on the fence as to whether she's a she or he, but for now I'm going to be optimistic and call her a girl.

Poe at 3 weeks and 3 days old
Poe 3 weeks

All of the other chicks were to anxious and the pictures turned out blurry, but I'm hoping to do a new photo shoot on Tuesday, when they are 4 weeks old.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Planning for a Garden

One of the best parts about having a farm is almost here! Growing Season! Being the Virgo that I am (as my bosses would say) means that I'm almost as excited about the PLANNING of the garden as I am about the actual production of our own food.

We've narrowed down the sites where we want to plant, have begun prepping the areas (aka- weed whack the heck out of it), and starting choosing what we want to grow. My mother in law gave me very sound advice- focus on a couple of things and learn to grow them well before expanding and trying new things. She obviously knows how enthusiastic I can get about things, and while her attempts to reign me in were valiant, she failed. Gwen, I give you permission to say "I told you so" later this autumn.

Plethora is a kind word to use when describing the number of seed packets I have acquired so far this spring. To be exact, I now have 44 bags of seeds (only 4 of which were given to me by someone local), totaling $125. I consider it an investment in my future. I just couldn't help myself. I started by purchasing seeds from some small companies close to our region in hopes that they would do well here. I couldn't find a local seed producer (I have found one since then, but even I have my seed purchasing limits) so I chose a few online. I got the majority of the seeds from Kenyon Organics in Utah, a few from Box Garden Organics in Idaho, and some lavender from Paula Jeans Garden down in Missoula, MT. After that I rounded out our collection with some seeds from Irish Eyes Garden Seeds from Washington that I picked up at the local hardware store. I tried to focus on organic and heirloom breeds, but it got to the point where every time we went to a feed store or hardware store I got a case of the "Ooooohhhh, that looks good!" and I just couldn't resist.

The Seed Collection

In the end (I hope it's the end) we have 3 different kinds of sunflowers, regional and bee attracting wildflowers, some herbs, paste and eating tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, carrots, winter squash, cucumbers, beans, and a few other varieties. Some of them, like the hot peppers, are dependent on our ability to set up the greenhouse. At the moment I'm not sure that's going to happen this year because we have so many other projects going on, but we're going to try. We may try to start some of the seeds early in the shop with a grow light we got from a friend, but really I'll just be happy if we can get the ground tilled and ready by the last frost in early June.

To prepare myself between now and then for this adventure I have torn apart every gardening magazine I own (mostly Mother Earth News) and organized the articles into categories for fruits, vegetables, other food (like grains), soil health, pest control, seasonal gardening tips, and general gardening tips, to make them easier to navigate. This way I can also add in my own notes about each thing from the books I plan to read about gardening. First up will be Organic Gardening in Cold Climates and The Montana Gardener's Companion. I also plan to start reading Zone 4, a magazine just for Rocky Mountain gardeners.

The Garden Site, Pre-Weed Whack