Monday, August 29, 2011

Veggie-ball season is finally here!

   This is my absolute fav time of year...autumn. I love the smell of wood smoke, the warm days and cool nights, the taste of squash and apples, and the crisp clean air.

We also like to go to the football games...high school that is. We are proud supporters (when we can get the eve off) of Prairie Central High School. This year we are going to try to make it to all the varsity games. I like sitting on the bleachers, freezing my butt off, and yelling my fool head off for those kids. I try to get Marty to do the wave, sometimes it works.
    So, in the spirit of autumn and football season, we have been practicing up. We've been working on our veggie-ball game. It should definitely be a national sport - Farmer Veggie-ball.
   We started the veggie-ball season a couple of weeks ago actually, with cabbage. The guys were in the fenced garden pitching the cabbage to me on the outside so I could put it in the crates. These cabbages were just for us as they didn't look good enough to sell. The name of the game...Cabbage Stab. I stand on the outside of the fence with a kitchen knife, they lob the cabbage up and over the fence, I try to impale it on the knife. Did it too! Takes a little practice of course.
   The next veggie was the Bucket List Cucumber Catch. If you don't have this on your Bucket List - put it on! Then get a bucket, have someone pitch cucumbers from one end of the 50' hoophouse to you on the other end, and you try to catch them in the bucket. Tricky as they spiral a little and also catch the wind different due to their shape (and maybe their little spines). (These, again, are not the ones we sell...they are pig food. Thank goodness, huh!)
   Then today we had some fun with Zuc Shoot - shooting the zucchini across the patch and into the wagon. But - the rule is to do it without exploding it in the wagon! It is way easier to lob it to the next person and then they can gently put it in. It is also extremely sporty to lob one that is on the very ripe side...heh, heh.

This is the wagon we use for this sport.
   Tatume Toss is another game. Tatume are a little round squash from Mexico, about the size of a large softball or small volleyball. And, then there is the Pumpkin Pitch. The smaller pie pumpkins work better for this one. don't need one of those large sling shots like some competitions require, just your bare hands and some great catching skills.
left - Tatume, center - Italian Zucchini, right - Hubbard
   We are seeing some different methods of pitching/tossing/shooting/etc. on the field (or should I say "in" the field). There is the normal over hand, then the underhand lob, then the side arm, and my favorite is the medicine ball lob. When I was a kid we had this thing in PE called a "medicine ball". It was very large, very heavy, and leather. This lob is definitely needed for the overly large squash and pumpkins. It is a two-handed, between the legs wind up, and as much strength as can be mustered, kind of pitch. I'm pretty good at this one. I used this pitch for the Hubbards today.
   For the fast ball, we tend to like to use the little round guys like the lemon squash or tiny pumpkins. The lemon squash are great as they are the size and about the shape of a lemon. Nice overhand with that one!
   We try to keep things lively by changing the rules...pitching one person to another to another then in the wagon, pitching directly into the wagon, catching in a bucket, and also having the wagon moving while pitching them in.
   So, when you get the next ballot to elect the next olympic sport...don't forget to write in Farmer Veggie-ball!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sorry, don't have a tomato song

   And, I don't have any great tomato pictures...except this one.

This pic was taken last fall by Lori Leavitt at our Crop Mob (I hope that is who took it!). These are the little Galapagos tomatoes we grow. Galapagos tomatoes are little powerfully tasty cherry tomatoes from the Galapagos Islands, seed brought to us thru our friend John Swenson, seed expert and collector extroidanaire.
   So...tomato season is in full swing for most of the farmers around us. Ours are poking along. We just got a nice refreshing downpour so should have a ton of split ones in the next few days from all the water they are soaking up. Lov-e-ly.
   I have to say that most people I know love tomatoes and get very excited for this season to come every year. I'm very happy for them. I like tomatoes a little...cooked, sauces, ketchup (homemade of course), chopped into a taco. But, sliced and juicy and gooey and eew! Not me! I think it is a texture thing...all that goo gives me the willies. Just like the willies I get from those nasty tomato horn worms!
   Picking tomatoes is NOT my favorite thing to do. The plants emit this toxic fume that makes me nauseous. I don't know why, but I just can't stand it. And, then the leaves (or something) makes my hands yellow and green when I pick. AND...those worms!! Have you ever been picking tomatoes, enjoying just being with the little guys, and all of a sudden you see fangs and horns an inch in front of your face? I have! And I must say that I jumped about two rows over and fell splat back on my butt on big red tomatoes.
   But this year is different...I have become a Wild Woman (check out the book "Women Who Run with the Wolves") and am getting in touch with my natural native self. This does not mean running around naked with nasty hair streaming thru the woods. Nope...just that I'm looking deeper inside at the true me. So, I have decided I need to come into touch with a stronger person, focus on the One Strong Woman I am (name is trade marked for my next business venture).
   Off to the tomato patch, I said! I can conquer them! I can do this! I can be strong! Whew...what a stench! But, I can do this!
   I, by myself, picked all the Galapagos tomatoes this week for orders...14 1/2 quarts! I was soooo proud of myself. And I learned a couple of things. First, I can hold my breath while bent over practically standing on my head for longer than I thought if the smell of tomatoes is present to egg me on. Two, tomatoes stink worse in the afternoon and on sunny days. Third, look for tomato horn worms BEFORE picking. And, fourth, if I stay focused I can pick the Galagpagos which don't stink as bad as some of the other bigger tomatoes.
   Usually I break off the stem where the worms are hanging on and squash them under my shoe. Refreshing!This time I actually picked two tiny ones off by hand and squashed them.'s a start! They have that same squishy texture problem as tomatoes...hence the reason they love them? But, I conquered all I saw even tho they gave me the evil eye and horn attitude.
   Next I'll be looking forward to doing some ketchup and tomato canning I can do and love.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hey Bud!

Do you remember this little guy (the little black bull)? His name is Hey Bud and he was born the end of May. This picture was taken just about 15 minutes after he was born. Surprise was patiently trying to get him to stand up.
Will has spent the last couple of months milking Surprise one or two times a day.

She looks thrilled, huh?
And, Will struggled to feed the little bugger...

Needless to say, the sheep were not happy to have him in a stall with them, or even one next to them. BAAAD BUUUD!

Bud (for short) has turned into a stocky, cute little guy with a great personality. Very gentle and loving. Very unlike his BAAAD sister, Dini. Bud's goal in stay out of the freezer. So, we are helping him as best we can.

We began his halter training a couple of weeks ago and are now working on real ox stuff. Below is Marty at the beginning of the training when we were figuring out how to keep him from falling over. He would topple himself over if he didn't want to follow us. We've got that corrected and have now moved on to some other maneouvers. 

Since this is a little bit of a learning curve for us all (my ox driving class at Garfielf Farm had well behaved and already trained oxen), we purchased a dvd from Rural Heritage ( The dvd has given us some ideas of what to do and what not to do. But, there are still some things we are trying to figure how to get him to stay when we walk away.

I have to say that he is coming along nicely. He can come and stop (even tho he doesn't stay yet), comes up for his halter to be put on, and stands for a period of time attached to a post. We have also introduced him to the tractor, the mower, the measuring tape (had it in my hand), the pigs, and a little kid (thanks to Val!). We walk him in the morn and eve. We call it going for a Bud Walk, which is a little different than walking to the fridge for a cold brewsky. In a couple of weeks he'll get castrated (ouch) and will then be a little steer.

Eventually we plan to put a yoke or a harness on him and have him pull things, move the pig cages twice a day, pull a sled with maple sap on it, and pull small logs out of the woods. It will take a few years to get to that point, but we are determined to try. It takes patience on both sides, committment, and determination. I think he is up to it...hopefully us too!

And as for his sister...well, no more running around the woods for her! She has been wild since day one.

We never bottle fed her and she has quite the bad attitude. In the picture above, Will is discussing her bad attitude with her...look at her defiance! When our farmer friend and dairyman, Paul Kilgus, told us he would've butchered her a long time ago we got to thinking he is probly right. So, this fall we will cull Dini which will give us meat for a year for the family. We'll keep Bud and Surprise together, continue to work Bud into an ox, and then breed Surprise for another calf next year (hopefully a female). We think Bud might have a calming effect on Surprise also.

That's all about the Bud for now!