Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Winter here yet?!

Hi there!!
 I guess you can tell that we've been busy as I haven't been writing for soooo long. So, here's the latest of what is happening...

Harvests - we are almost done with our tomatoes. No frost yet but some other nearby farms had some. We've been selling our green tomatoes to some of the chefs. I like to use them as fried green tomatoes. But a couple of years ago I made a veggie mincemeat that had the main ingredient as green tomatoes. Yummy.
   We harvested and sold all of our pie pumpkins...about 400 pounds. Now the rest of the pumpkins that were yucky are being fed to the piggies who LOVE them. We are also harvesting tons and tons and tons of butternut squash. Marty thinks there might be around 10,000 pounds. (I hope not as I'm not sure where it will be stored and the white corn is already in my dining room!)

Wilds - Pawpaw season was the best ever. For those who don't know...pawpaws are a native understory tree that has huge tropical looking leaves and smells kind of like kerosene. The fruit is green with a skin like a mango. The inside of the fruit has a large seed and creamy custard like guts that make wonderful pastries, sauces, and ice creams. In the past we had about 500 pounds as our top amount. This year was 788 pounds! And many were huge - half pounders. They are very very perishable so we pick them and then have to deliver them within a day or two. Here's a pic...

Truck farm - I did pretty well with it. My swiss chard was great looking, the celery still has a huge root mass, and the onions were perky. The radishes were coming up thick too. Notice the past tense some? WELL...I couldn't stand it anymore! I am so used to having a truck bed to put stuff in. No more hauling stuff around the farm, putting the gas cans in back to go get filled, etc. I was also very conscious of windy days and trucks going by me on the road. I was able to drive 55 easy and even up to 65 with no problem and the topper never even moved. But, I was still careful.
     Needless to say, it was cramping my freedom. So, I took the plants out two days ago and put them in the greenhouse for continued growing. I'm hanging the top in the barn in case I want to try it again in a different season. I learned some valuable lessons from it tho. First, a heavier duty truck would be better. My little Toy didn't have the suspension to handle it and I was worried about a blow out. Next time I would put less soil in and grow smaller rooted plants like lettuces, cress, etc. Another lesson was the one about my need to be able to pick up and go whenever I wanted without worry about how strong the gusts were. But, I also learned that it can be done and works. So...don't be afraid to try it!!

In the woods - other farmers are finding Hen of the Woods mushrooms right now. We didn't have luck with that. But I did find a few huge puff balls near the tomatoes! And we found some small ones in the woods.
     We have started cutting our firewood to heat our house and there are a lot of trees that came down in a storm this year that we have to clean up. It is really nice in the woods on these fall days. The trees are changing and looking lovely...mostly yellow and rust and lime green. And the wood smoke smell is so very autumn like. The woodbine vines are beautiful as are our sumac bushes. Leaves are falling, falling!

Budley - I call Hey Bud that now. He's really cute! No horns. We think he is a polled Dexter, which sucks cuz now we have to figure out how to hook him up as an ox without the yoke that a horned ox would normally use. We have some ideas and were actually at a harness shop in Arthur, Illinois, today discussing some ideas with the guys there. We haven't done a good job keeping up on training as harvest and other volunteer work got in the way. But, we did get him trained to the electric fence and he is now out on pasture like a big boy...with mommy tho. And...he's really cute!

Volunteer work - Spence Farm Foundation is a not-for-profit education organization located on the farm...check out their website at So, Marty and I have been volunteering quite a bit of time for a few programs, namely Chef Camp and the annual fundraiser Harvest Feast. Now Marty is involved heavily with hundreds of 2nd and 5th graders coming to the farm each week, as well as a class of college students from Illinois Weslyan. On the 16th is a Crop Mob - check that out at
    On another note for volunteering, I've been working on knitting some titties. Yep, you read that right! These are for women who have had mascectomies and take the place of those rubbery uncomfortable silicon ones. You can find out about them at I think this is a great project. It is easy for me to do these as I can knit while travelling around delivering in Chicago each week. I also think it is a wonderful way for women to connect with each other in a very supportive way, making something personal and beautiful to help someone else feel beautiful. I like that.

And...field work - we were able to harvest our Red Floriani corn and our Iroquois White corn. Our red corn is just about dry, we left it in the sun for a few days. We'll shell it and mill it as corn meal for some of our customers. Then the white corn was horrible. We pretty much had a crop failure so are salvaging all we can for seed. We'll try again with it next year. The other two corns (orange Henry Moore and a blue) are still drying in the field and we hope to harvest them soon also.
     After harvesting, I mowed the areas down and Will worked on tilling them (as Marty was teaching the kids about the corns). Will is also tilling areas for us to plant our winter wheat crop. We'll be getting that and our rye in the ground in the next week.

And Swee - my big fat sweetie of a Swee piggie. She's in the barn stall...sitting. Sitting, grunting, eating, being crabby and waiting for the little piglets to pop out. Hopefully she'll have them this week (she's really crabby).

Well...lots to do and tell you about. But that is a quick (okay a long) update. Touch back again and I'll have more. All in all, I'm really looking forward to cozying down in front of the fireplace and knitting and reading away while the snows swirl outside. That is always such a wonderful holiday for me...fireplace, soup, reading...just hope we have all the firewood in before then!