Friday, April 14, 2017

The Farmer's Table

Shitake mushrooms from a small recent flush sauteed with bamboo shoots from our neighbor's bamboo patch.

Poke greens are one of our favorite spring greens.

Young goat roasted with spring onions, butter and garlic, asparagus, fried grit cakes and lettuce salad.

Farmer's breakfast of Red May wheat pancakes, butter, honey, milk and blueberries (from the freezer).

What's happening on the farm

   Someone asked how we were dealing with this wacky spring weather.  It seems like spring in North Carolina is wacky every year, which, of course, means every spring is a different kind of wacky.  Knowing this, we try to be prepared, having blankets and fabric at the ready for cold snaps, irrigation ready for dry spells, and lots of back-up transplants and seed ready for replanting.  The bigger preparation, though, is probably mental and this we're still learning, to be patient and hopeful.  20 degree March nights followed by a couple weeks of continuous big rain storms isn't ideal, but things are actually looking pretty good.  This year is looking very promising for some of the tree/vine crops that April freezes have really limited or completely wiped out in recent years: pawpaws, hardy kiwis, mulberries, sour cherries, chestnuts...  The cattle are enjoying the lush green pastures, and the milk bucket is so full and heavy that we have to take a break to rest on the way back from the barn to the house.  All in all the weather this spring has been very favorable for the bees.  The wheat and oats are growing thick and lush.  It's a busy time of year as we push forward with getting the last of the spring crops out while starting on the first of the summer crops.  We're hoping to get the first of the field corn seeded this week.  And as always, the weeds are growing well, too, so we're tractor cultivating and putting our hoes to good use.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Farm Update

February teased us with an early spring and we probably put out a few things too early, of which some succumbed to last week's deep chill (some potatoes and onions).  But fortunately, we mostly held off spring planting until this past week, seeding and transplanting, and yesterday's rain watered it all in nicely.  Now that the soil is moist, we have more plants to set out.  It's always encouraging to transform bare garden beds to neat green rows.  Just a few days ago, the first of our setting hens hatched a clutch of the duck eggs we had put under her.  Eric has started grafting fruit trees.  The cows are happy to be eating some new spring grass.  Our bee numbers are down -- too much rain during the main nectar flows last year which was hard on the bees -- but the bees we have had plenty of good flying weather already this year and are off to a strong start.  Swarm season has already started, and the main honey flow will probably begin in less than a month.  And yesterday we had a wonderful afternoon visit to our gardening friends in Rutherford County.  We came back inspired and with more new plants to add to the farm.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

New arrival

Gusty the new calf is doing well.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Our New Facebook Page

If you are on Facebook we wanted to let you know we have started a farm Facebook page.  We'll be keeping this blog up regularly with photos and writing.  The Facebook page will mainly be for pictures.  We hope it helps you stay connected with the farm.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Cover girl

Looking through old catalogs, we came across Nora's cover girl edition of Brushy Mountain Bee Farm.  While Eric was working there, he had a similar picture we had taken as his computer screen saver.  His boss thought that would make a nice catalog cover.  Our little beekeeper became famous at two years old!

Monday, February 13, 2017

What we've been up to

Replacing broken glass in the window panes to make this a little greenhouse

Bamboo bin to put food scraps in for worm compost

Some of the worms at work composting food scraps

Bin made of bamboo to contain leaves while they rot down for part of our future potting mix

Some of the fruit and nut tree scion wood ready for grafting onto our trees and other people's
  Lately our focus has been on infrastructure projects.  We are thankful to have many outbuildings, but each of these takes regular upkeep.  This winter we further shored up an old log building and are getting ready to put new metal roofing on the lean-to part of it.  The next step, which we hope to accomplish next winter, is to modify the east side of the building so that we can back our pull-type combine into it for storage.  Currently the only place we have to store our combine is in our main barn, but the combine is so big and takes up so much space we can't even walk a cow around it, and it's a hassle to have to move the combine every time we want to shovel manure or get hay in and out of the barn.  We're also in the process of repairing broken window panes on the small rock building we've been using for a tool shed.  It's all rock except for three windows which take up most of the south side.  It was previously called a potato house, which must mean that it was used for curing sweet potatoes in the fall.  Our new plans are to use it as a small greenhouse.  We've also been building some new useful structures with bamboo, a bin to hold and compost leaves and a bin to put food scrapes for worms to compost.  We've been weeding in the garlic, strawberry and spinach patches.  It doesn't seem quite fair that weeding is a winter chore as well!  Eric has started collecting scion wood from our fruit and nut trees, in large part to trade with other fruit growers for scion wood to graft onto our trees.  We're particularly excited about Asian persimmons after a small crop this past fall.  We have lots of little lettuce, cabbage and greens plants started in flats.  It will soon be planting time in the fields.  We've started working up ground with the tractor to plant spring oats, which we might even get sowed tomorrow