Pickling Radishes

When we returned from vacation every single radish was ready to be picked. Radishes are a fast growing crop that can be fun to have in your garden because they outpace every other plant, besides the weeds! The down side to that is when they are ready they are ready all at once.

How do you preserve your radish crop?

There are a few different ways to store radishes that will retain their crispiness:

  • Slice off the tops and bottoms, wash and store them in water in the refrigerator. This will keep them fresh for about a week.
  • Store in a sand box in a cool place, which is also a good way to store carrots.
  • Cook them like a carrot or potato. When radishes are cooked it takes most of the spice out of them.
  • Pickle or ferment them.

I’m not a big radish eater but Lucian picked out the seed for his row in the garden and he wanted radishes. No amount of coaxing could talk him out of it. He picked out white icicle radishes and was very excited when they were ready to harvest. Did he like them? NO, “There too spicy!” Were his exact words.

So…….it was time to get creative with storing radishes. I decided to try to pickle them.

I found this Ball recipe for sweet pickled radishes and decided to give it a try. We’ll see how they taste in a few weeks when I crack them open.

  • 1/2 pound sliced radishes
  • 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Pack sliced radishes in a hot 1 pint jar. bring all other ingredients to a boil and add to jar.
  2. Wipe rim clean, place lids, and hand tighten band. Let cool. Chill before serving and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

I am more of an impromptu cook and I always change recipes. For starters, I had to pickled radishquadruple this recipe for the amount of radishes I had. I also did not have mustard seed in my cupboard so I used ground mustard instead. I used 1/2 tsp. ground mustard rather than 1 tsp. mustard seeds. I thought 1 tsp ground black pepper was a little much so I measured in about 3/4 of a tsp. instead. Finally, I put dill weed into two of the jars to test out different flavors. I also put the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to seal them.

In 4-6 weeks I am going to open a jar to see if the pickled radish experiment was a success or not. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they taste delicious when I open the lid. If they do I’ll plan on traditional red radishes for next year. Not to judge a jar of pickled radishes by their appearance but I think red radishes will be prettier.

Back Home on the Farm

When vacation is over the farm will still be waiting.

We had a great time at WinterHaven Resort on Block Lake in Parkers Prairie, Minnesota. I spent a lot of time on the deck while feeding Penelope and reading with a great view of the lake. We finally had the kayaks out for the first time this kimg03402.jpgyear. Lucian paddled his own kayak for the first time while we were there. He used one of the small 8 foot kayaks they had at the resort and we had a little mother-son time out on the water. It was great!

Fiona spent most of her time playing with her cousin Maddie, who is also two, in the giant sandbox. She went out with both Trenton and I in our kayaks while Grandma “da” watched Penelope. She did much better this year in the boats. She sat nicely while we paddled along exploring the lake.

We are home now and we have a little catching up to do. In the four days we were gone the weeds have taken over and it seems everything has ripened at once. Before we left I picked our black raspberries and the radishes but apparently I didn’t pick enough. Last night Lucian and I harvested the rest of the radishes. I cut the tops off and washed them before putting the in the fridge for now. I am currently looking for radish recipes. I am thinking of trying to pickle radishes.

What do you do with your radishes?

kimg03242.jpgI’m planning to take the kids berry picking today. I think one more picking will finish off the raspberries. I’ll wash them up and freeze them today until I decide what I want my finished product to be. I’m thinking either black raspberry jelly or black raspberry syrup. I have never made berry syrup before so maybe I will try that.

 

Trials of Vacationing

Going on vacation can be wonderful and an event to look forward to, but when you own a small farm the process becomes more complicated. You cannot just pack up and go. Arrangements need to be made for the care of your property and animals. It can be surprisingly difficult to find the special person or people to feed, water, move, and milk a variety of animals.

We have not been away from the farm for more than two nights in years, but we’re going for a little longer vacation in two weeks. My husband’s Aunt Lori has rented a resort for July 14th through the 21st and has invited us to spend the week with the whole family. Although we won’t be able to spend the whole week we’re very excited to get away from home for awhile.

To make this happen we have to find a few willing farm sitters and accomplish of a few lingering chores to make our sitters’ lives easier. Every season has different challenges and with July comes the heat. My sister, Sondra, and our neighbor, Bridget, will be doing chores twice a day for us but I worry about watering the animals when it is very hot. Especially the pigs. Pigs are wasteful with their water because they like to roll in the mud to cool off when they are hot. Pigs don’t sweat so they have to find different ways to stay cool, mug rolling is the preferred method. After they dump their water dish to make mud their drinking water is then gone.

A list of chores to be completed before we leave:

  1. Plumb in drinking cup for pigs. This way they have continuous water to drink but not to waste. Our lovely chore ladies can throw a bucket of water in for them twice a day to roll in.
  2. Weed whip the fence line. Although Jack, our horse, does not test he fence our goats are constantly testing it. We want the fences working at high voltage so animals aren’t wandering far and wide.
  3. Till the garden. Weeds seem to grow twice as fast as the vegetables. To keep them down until we get back Trenton is going to till the rows before we leave.

I’m planning on having our chore ladies come over to practimilking goatce. Bridget has never milked a goat before so it should be fun for her! We are only milking Fauna once a day. She still has a kid with her so if she is not milked completely it is okay, the kid will finish her off but unfortunantly she is not the most patient goat when it comes to milking.

I’m excited to head out for a few days. Planning to read, write, and knit in between chasing children around!

Into Summer

Finally it looks like summer is coming to the north woods. Suddenly the leaves are green, the grass is green, and little green silk worms are appearing in the trees. June is green and I love it.

For the first time we have had a hen successfully brood a small flock of chicks. I’m excited about it. Every year we have had one or two hens try but when they set¬† in the chicken coop the other hens want to lay eggs where they are. Eventually we take the eggs away but it turns into a smelly mess. If you have never heard a rotten egg explode and sniffed the corresponding odor count yourself lucky. The smell fills the entire barn and lingers. Yuck! This setting hen (its always the Buff Orpingtons) found a nice quiet spot in the big goat stall. zhenThere is an old dog house in there for the goat kids and because they like to climb on it. Mamma hen set on her eggs in there and has hatched out 3 chicks. It works perfectly to have them in the dog house because I can put food in there for them and they are safe from the cats.

We had a fox stealing chickens so I am glad for the replacements. We lost about 6 hens and all 4 of our ducks. I really hope these chicks are hens!

Lucian and I also decided that Franky, our buck, needed a toy. He likes to ram his head into the side of the barn. I get a little tired of hearing him. Dong, Dong, DONG! He does it mostly when he wants his hay, but I know he was also bored. We found him a great toy. Lucian rolled a wooden spool used for electrical wire all the way through the barn and when Trenton got home he tossed it in for Franky. He has been having a blast with it ever since.

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Let the Gardens Grow

The gardens are finally planted!

Sometimes I wonder if having a garden is worth all the work that goes into it, but when the vegetables start ripening I remember. Until then I keep thinking of how much work it is to start a garden. There are many different steps that go into creating a garden and each requires a fair amount of physical effort.

Step 1: Fertilizingzgarden

The better the soil the less fertilizer you will need on a garden to feed the plants that will feed you. Our soil is sandy so we need to fertilize it every year. There are different types of fertilizer that can be put on your garden. While there are chemical fertilizers that will help your garden grow most gardens do better with organic material to improve the soil. The preferred fertilizer is cow manure but we don’t own any cows so our garden gets filled with horse manure. This year I looked after Penelope while¬†Trenton, Lucian, and even Fiona hauled countless wheelbarrows full of horse manure onto the various gardens.

Step 2: Breaking It In

If you do not already have an established garden plot this would be your Step 1. This step requires a nice rototiller or a tractor with a tiller to breakup the sod and get the soil ready to plant. For us we complete this step after the garden has a layer of horse manure on it then Trenton runs the rototiller to mix the manure into the soil. This year some of my perennial herbs died out of my herb garden which opened up considerable space. I decided to take advantage of this and fertilized it well before Trenton maneuvered the tiller into the little space. The herb garden has not been tilled with the big rototiller for 5 years so it was nice to turn the soil.

Step 3: Plant

Now its time to mark out your rows to plant. Trenton measured his rototiller and built a row marker so there is room to run it between the rows. After your rows are marked it is time to put your seed in. If you have time to complete this all in one day, great! If not start with potatoes and onions which take a little longer to grow. Like crop farmers we rotate the location of our plants each year so the soil is not drained of nutrients in specific areas. Make sure to at least rotate your corn which depletes nitrogen from the soil. This year the corn is where the squash was and the pumpkins and squash are in a side garden so they have room to spread. Plant all of your seeds before putting any starter plants in the ground. Lucian, who is 5 this year, is very excited because he has his own row in the garden and Fiona, at a rowdy 2, had fun putting the seed into rows and tried really hard to keep the seed in the lines and not too close to each other.

Step 4: Weed

Weed, wait, weed, wait, and WEED AGAIN! Its a never ending battle with gardens. Mulching helps unless you have chickens roaming around then don’t bother because they will spread the mulch all over and ruin your hard work in 5 seconds. I know this from experience. While waiting for your crop to ripen it is nice to have pre-measured rows that you can run your rototiller down once or twice. It will

zfiona

cut down on the amount of hand weeding tremendously.

Step 5: Grow Garden Grow!

When the first vegetables ripen and taste so much better than the produce bought in stores I remember why I put so much time and effort into growing a garden.

After a hard day we all look a little dirty. Fiona’s grubby little face just shows how hard she worked and played today!

Springtime Extras

The coming of spring is a hopeful time when the sun shining and the grass greening up lightens the spirit. More sun exposure means more vitamin D which helps you to feel better. While you are feeling better there is also so much work to do in the spring and a short time to do it in. Not only is there work to do in the yard and garden it is also time to clean out the barns and barnyards. It is also the time to remove parasites and vaccinate animals.

The goats need to be dewormed on a regular basis or they will develop Coccidiosis which is a parasitic infection which sometimes occurs when there are too many intestinal parasites in their systems. Like most conditions it is easier and cheaper to practice preventative care. Our goats developed Coccidia three years ago. IMG_0047Nora started to have diarrhea and soon she looked a little thin, then Fauna started to have diarrhea so we called the vet out. She explained Coccidiosis to me and prescribed Sulfamethoxazole Trimethoprim Oral Suspension to treat it. I was surprised that Coccidia was caused by an over abundance of parasites considering I had wormed them not a month ago. She recommended a stronger wormer, Injectable Ivermectin, which is used for cattle and swine. According to her, small ruminants in our area were having problems with intestinal parasites that year. We give them 2 1/2 mL of Ivomec orally about every 8 to 12 weeks and no longer have a problem with Coccidia.

Unfortunately this dewormer is expensive but I have discovered that pumpkin seeds and pulp are a natural dewormer. Not only do the pumpkins provide food for the goats but they clear their system of parasites and give their bodies a break from harsh chemical wormers. It’s too bad pumpkins are only readily available in the fall because they work great for keeping my goats healthy.

Another spring project is getting my horse Jack all ready to go for the nicer weather. That means deworming, vaccinating, and hoof trimming. I vaccinated and wormed Jack without any problems, he’s a real champ when it comes to needles. The vet was out to complete his checkup which was perfect timing because he had developed some kind of skin problem that became infected. Between his front legs he developed swelling and oozing spots. It looked like a hot spot on a dog. She took blood to check that his liver and kidneys were functioning properly. Last spring he had a different skin problem so she wanted to be sure his organs were filtering enzymes properly, which they are. She also gave him an injection of a long lasting antibiotic that cleared the infection overnight. KIMG0254[1]When the infection was all clear the farrier came out to trim his hooves. He has been a little sore in the front for the last year so it took a while longer than it should have. He no longer likes to stand on one front leg for very long.

He is 22 now and starting to get a bit touchy with his health. We have been together for 21 years now and he has traveled with me to each of my homes. I know I can’t stop his aging but it makes me a little sad and apprehensive of the future.

Lucian has been working on putting horse manure on the garden so we can get it planted. He is very excited that he is getting his own corner to plant this year. He wants to plant strawberries, blueberries, corn, and tomatoes. This list changes every time I ask him though.

Eventually Spring Overcomes Winter

As each season has it’s own unique challenges there are aspects of spring that are not seen any other time of the year. With warming days the itch to work outdoors is ever present but not always attainable. For instance, a few beautiful days in March melted the snow to such an extent that there was a lake between my house and barn. This lovely pond later half froze making trips to the barn treacherous at best. This slippery path blocking situation made doing chores difficult for a few weeks especially with baby Penelope. It wasn’t safe to carry her with me so Lucian kept an eye on her while she slept and I listened on the baby monitor. Mostly he made sure Fiona left her alone. Fiona is two and she loves her baby sister but she is not the gentlest when showing the love.

heidi1As the pond dried up we have been able to get out and about better. The rains have been coming at least once or twice a week now which keeps us inside but overall the temperature is much warmer. The ducks love it when it rains and the kids and I enjoy watching them splash around in the puddles. The goats however do not enjoy the rain. I watch Nora in the doorway of her shelter voicing her displeasure over the wet weather. However, Nora loves to complain about every little thing so I tune out her vociferous appeals for drier days.

Besides the warmer temperature and wetter days the animals are showing me signs that winter is at an end. The chickens and ducks are laying eggs again. They are laying between 10 to 20 eggs a day right now, so if anyone wants farm fresh eggs I am up to my eyeballs in eggs. We were getting 2 duck eggs a day from our two hens but one of the hens went missing last week. I’m not sure if a predator found her when they were splashing in the creek or if she is nesting somewhere and she’ll waddle back in a month with a trail of ducklings.

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Another sign of spring is Fauna our Nubian/Oberhasli cross had her kids a week before Easter. She had 1 doeling and 1 buckling. Unfortunately she is not the best mother of our two goats. She has a habit of ignoring the weaker of her babies until they are lethargic from cold and lack of food. Every year we have to warm one up in the house and bottle feed it until it is strong enough to go back outside. Usually it takes a few hours until the kid is ready to go. This year she ignored the little girl so we brought her in where she was subjected to Fiona’s loving care for a few hours until she was strong enough to go back to mom. When I put her back out I made sure Fauna let her eat for a while. She is now just as rambunctious as her bigger brother.

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The chicks are hatching out at Northwood School with the 4th grade class like they do every year. As of yesterday there were a dozen healthily hatched chicks but the incubator will be running until tomorrow so we may have a few more. Last year we hit our best hatch out record. Of the 41 eggs in the incubator 26 hatched. I hope this year does just as well. The school kids love this project and I am happy I can help broaden their agricultural horizons. This year the chicks will be going to my sister Sondra who lost all her chickens last year to a persistent fox or two.

I am ready for spring to fully bloom so we can get started on the garden. Lucian is going to have his own corner of the garden to take care of this year and I am planning to improve my herb garden. Trenton is going to be working on aerating, liming, and reseeding the pastures this week so they are more productive. The window of spring is small but there is so much work to be done. Better get cracking!

2019 Farm Goals

As I look back on previous posts I realized it was time to lay out our goals for this upcoming year. Technically speaking we are already 3 months into the new year but for farming most of the yearly goals happen after the snow melts. Since there is still 2 feet of snow on the ground and the temperature is still in the single digits there is a little time to contemplate what we want to accomplish this year on the farm.

KIMG0154[2]First a look at last year’s goals:

  1. Remodel the bathroom: This goal is still in progress, I would say 1/3 of the way done. We have learned that bathrooms are harder and more expensive to remodel than any other room in the house except the kitchen.
  2. Roof the barn: Unfortunately the steel for the barn is still in the shed rather than on the barn.
  3. Cut trees, burn brush, and plant orchard: We cut the trees out of the orchard plot but the brush still needs to be gathered and burned before we plant trees.
  4. Build a movable duck coop: Goal accomplished!
  5. Repair chicken coop: The door to the coop has been repaired but the bottom board along the foundation of the barn still needs replacing.
  6. Mulch vegetable garden, flower beds, and herb garden: All the flower beds were happily mulched this year. We mulched a good portion of the garden but a few escaping chickens destroyed that handy work so we may not repeat it next year. The herb garden still awaits mulching day.

Recap of last year is finished. Many of these goals will be on the list for this year but I hope we have better luck accomplishing them. We have a new baby this year so it is hard to say how many goals I will be able to tick off the list.

Top Priority:

  1. Put new steel on barn roof.
  2. Finish bathroom remodel.

Smaller Goals:

  1. Burn brush from orchard
  2. Mulch herb garden
  3. Make new nesting boxes for chicken coop and repair outside.
  4. Fix foundation crack in pig pen.

IMG_1080Most of my goals are fix-it goals this year but buying an old farmstead requires a lot of fix-it work. New babies also have low stamina for hanging out in strollers or bouncy seats outside while mom and dad work on projects so attainable goals are what I’m after this year.

 

Chores in Winter

Everyday chores get a little harder to do in the winter time. Especially when the winter starts to seem like the never ending winter from Narnia. For example today is nice and sunny at 21 degrees and we have accumulated about 24″ of snow so far this season in northwestern Wisconsin. I know it is not the harshest winter we have had but we are running out of places to put all the snow.

The critters have hunkered down for the cold season. The goats have been snuggling together to keep warm in the barn. The girls even huddled up with the smelly buck during the 3 day super freeze in January when the high was -17 not including the wind. We put them all together for those days so he wouldn’t freeze to death and not one animal left the barn while it was that cold with the wind as nasty as it was. Now that it is above zero and not snowing (today) the goats are back outside during the day. Even though it is still cold I believe they do better outside than cooped in their stalls in the barn. The girls and the buck each have a shelter outside to get out of the wind.

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The ducks have settled in with the chickens, although I don’t think the chickens or the ducks appreciate it. I may have to rethink their housing situation for next year. Right now they are creating a big icy hump in the coop under the water dish because they like to splash around. Trenton built them a beautiful duck house when they were small but they quickly grew out of it. As we learned more about the habits and behaviors of ducks we realized that the house he built was not appropriate for them. It will however make a great contained chicken coop with a run for any broody hens we have in the spring. We usually have one or two but they have never been successful hatching chicks. Hopefully with a pen to themselves the hens will have better luck.

The barn kitties spend half their day huddled under the heat lamp in our pump house. We have never had a heat source for them before and they have done fine in the barn during the cold months but after our house cat was spayed she decided to start spraying in the house. That’s a deal breaker for a house cat so she became a barn cat but it would have been too harsh a temperature change going from the heated house to the unheated barn so we put a heat lamp out there for her. The rest of the barn cats are loving it too. I think we are going to insulate the pump house this year and keep it lightly heated for next winter.

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Morning chores are not as fun in the winter. I spend half my time pounding ice out of water buckets and trudging through snow to put animals out. I also no longer have my little helpers out there with me. It is too cold for them and they only have a 15 minute tolerance to being outside when it is this cold. With all that and the fact that I am 9 months pregnant right now, winter chores just stink.

As we step into March I can look forward to three things:

  1. Warmer Temperatures (Usually)
  2. Highest Snowfall Month (Always)
  3. New Baby (Anytime Now)

As a farmer I have to be out there to take care of my animals because I know they depend on me to survive the winter and stay healthy. I may complain about it a little but secretly I like it. It makes me go outside which keeps me healthy and gives me a little better endurance for the elements. It also gives me the drive to finish what I start and I want my kids to have that also. Even though I know I am getting frostbite on my face and hands I need to finish feeding the animals because while I am only in the cold for a short time they are out there all day and they need the food to keep warm.

Hope everyone is enjoying the winter. Technically only 20 days to go until spring, but actually it will be in another 2 months. Which is why we have books, coffee, play-dough, and hot cocoa in between our bouts out in the weather. And why mommy knits scarves, hats, and slippers for little tikes.

 

Goodbye and Hello

This is a very belated post that I started in October! I have no idea where the last two months went. I thought about scrapping it and moving on to current events but I decided since it was half done I would post it anyway as a catch up from fall.

Fall is a time when the garden is harvested but it is also time for the spring chickens to be processed.

Every year I hatch chicks with a local school. This year we kept 14 of the 26 chicks that hatched. Usually I only keep a few or I sell them but this year I kept almost half of them. Unfortunately 10 of them were roosters. What do you do with 10 extra roosters in a coop full of laying hens?

This year we also experimented with ducks. We were able to successfully hatch out 11 ducklings from 20 eggs. Unfortunately there were two little ones that were the last to hatch and we helped them along with the hatching process a little. It proved to be a reminder for me that although I want to help them, in the end it didn’t really help them at all. One died a few weeks later and the other after a few months. Out of the 9 surviving ducks 7 of them were drakes. Again what do you do with a surplus of drakes?

It was time to thin the flock. We borrowed my Uncle Loni’s chicken plucker and set the date which turned out to be very cold. As we butchered 9 roosters (we kept one, he is too pretty to eat) and 4 ducks I discovered a few differences in butchering chickens and ducks.

Ducks are not the same to butcher as chickens:

  1. Using the chicken plucker did not work well for ducks. The feathers did not come off easily.
  2. Dunking them in boiling water did not make the feathers easy to remove.
  3. They have a lot more fat than chickens.
  4. Their physical structure made cleaning them a little trickier.

Overall butchering ducks is not an experiment I will be repeating. We kept two hens and two drakes and I am looking forward to eggs in the spring. If they are able to hatch out any ducklings they will be for sale in the spring because I will not be butchering anymore ducks.

Goodbye to extra roosters and ducks.

Hello to kittens.

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Our house kitty managed to escape into the great outdoors before we were able to spay her so we have kittens. The kids are loving them. Trying to keep Fiona, who is two now, from loving them too much is a bit of a challenge.