Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Guinea Project

The squash bugs finally got a foothold in my garden and this is what my pumpkin patch looks like now.

At least I was able to hold them off for most of the season.  There are several more pumpkins and butternut squash still on the vine.  Although, I have more than I can use, I would hate to loose these, so am hoping that the vines will live long enough to ripen what's left.

So, since the squash bugs have multiplied themselves, I have a plan for next year and it's in the works.

Guineas!  I went to pick these up today.

They're a month or two old, but will be fully grown by the time the next planting season comes around.  Supposedly, guineas eat squash bugs, ticks, and other pests, but they don't scratch up the ground like chickens do.  So, hopefully, I can turn these loose in the garden to eat the squash bugs.

So, they need a home.  In a mad dash to the finish line (which is the nephew leaving for Tennessee), I crammed in yet another project for him to finish....the guinea coop.  It is well underway.

Using up the last of the cedar.

In the meantime, we had to come up with a safe temporary place for the young guineas.  The barn is too hot so we couldn't keep them in there.  We tried the back yard, but the cats were too interested in them and we feared a casualty.  This was our solution.  In the greenhouse, sitting halfway on top of the aquaponics, hovering over the water.  We figured the cats wouldn't jump up there because of the water.

We tied it to the roof bar to help hold it up.

Barn Beautification

In my quest for fancying up the farm, I enlisted Jordan and his fine wood working talents again for my barn beautification project.  When the idea of putting shutters on the barn first began to blossom in my brain, I was thinking pretty small.  Like, I would nail a few boards together to resemble rustic shutters and then attach them around the windows.  It seemed pretty simple to me, but still a pipe dream.  The best I could hope for was for Tom to feel sorry for me and my feeble efforts, step in and take over.  Even then, we'd not have accomplished this kind of finery.

But, that was before the nephew.
Using more planks from the cedar trees that he milled, Jordan built these beautiful barn shutters.
Sooo much better than I originally planned.

Unfortunately, the trailer parked on the side of the barn hides almost all the windows.  The ones that are not blocked have these ugly (but very useful) window air conditioning units.

One of these days, the trailer will be moved and that little tree will be a big beautiful shade tree.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thinking of Autumn

I'm a summer girl all the way.  Love summer.  But, I must admit, that I would enjoy a little cooler weather right about now, especially when the pumpkins are looking so fall-ish.  We actually have had a fairly mild summer temperature wise and it has been lovely, but the whole year has been very dry.  If we didn't have a deep water well, there is no way I could have kept my garden (which I expanded this year) so productive all season.

These are the pumpkins I picked just today, 18 of them.  I've picked at least that many already and have probably as many that aren't ripe yet.  I rinse them off in my handy ol' farm sink, then carry as many as I can and line them up on the fence to later make several trips carrying them to the house.

These pumpkins are grown from heirloom seeds, called Jack O' Lantern, from my survival seed kit that I bought a couple of years ago.  I think they're a type of sugar pumpkin and they are quite sweet when roasted even without any kind of seasoning.

Once again, I've taken to the internet in search of tasty pumpkin recipes.  Every few days, I roast a couple of pumpkins and butternuts, scoop out the meat and freeze it for later use.  But, I'm trying to use them fresh, too, as well as giving many away.

I had a good harvest of potatoes, too, which have been sitting in a box in the breezeway where I store my extra produce.  I was rinsing those off in the farm sink before I brought them in until I read that they will last longer if you don't rinse them.  So the last bunch (about half the harvest) that I dug up, I just put in the box with the dirt still on them.  Guess what?  Not true.  I had to go through the box yesterday and throw out about half of the potatoes because they're starting to go bad.  And it's the ones that I left the dirt on that are going bad.  The ones I rinsed off are still fine.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Prepare To Be Amazed

The first side of the new entryway to our farm is done.

We think it's gorgeous.


Jordan did a fabulous job on the cedar slabs and caps for the columns.  We never want them to get dirty, so it's Jordan's job to go out and dust them every day.

To install the slabs, the brick mason built a channel into the columns, so all we had to do is slide the slabs down into place.

And, another picture just because it looks so good.

I hope to do some landscaping around the base, but will have to wait until the other side is done and Tom gets the sprinklers reinstalled.  They have been inoperable for a long time.  Somewhere along the the way, the lines have been cut and when Tom dug them up, the pipes were full of sand.

What a difference, huh?  It doesn't even look like the same brick, but believe it or not, we did reuse the brick.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Almost There!

Jordan is putting the final finishes on the cedar slabs and caps for the entryway.  I can't wait to see it all put together.

This dull piece of wood has been transformed into...

...this beautiful rich color simply by sanding and putting a clear sealant on it.

I never really appreciated cedar before, but I now see each piece as a work of art.

These are equally vibrant, but are covered with a coat of sawdust.  I know Jordan is cringing at this picture because these are his babies, but I'll make it up to him with a picture of the final reveal.  These are the caps to go on the brick pillars, handcrafted by Jordan.  He made all kinds of jigs, templates, and miter boxes to cut out all the angles and fit them together like a puzzle.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dogs and Their Days

This is Ginger's signature look.

One ear flipped back.

Veronica Lake-esque.  See, I should have named her Veronica (Ronnie).

Sometimes, she mixes it up and flips the other side back.  Every girl wants a new style once in a while.

She's almost as tall as Harry now, but he still weighs twice as much as her.

She's learned to keep a safe distance from the food while Harry is around.  We have two feeders, but Harry doesn't want her eating out of them.  We finally decided we need to stand guard with her while she eats a couple of times a day just to make sure Harry doesn't chase her away from the food.

Waiting impatiently while Harry takes his time eating.

Voicing her displeasure, but not brave enough to approach Harry.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Loving the Entryway

The brick mason did a great job on the brick entryway columns.  He only did one side of the drive because he had another job scheduled, but he's coming back in a few weeks to get the other side done.

In the meantime, Jordan is making progress on the wood portion of the project.

He is milling the cedar trees.

And is in the process of building caps for the brick columns.

It's going to be beautiful.  Can't wait till it's done!

More pictures to come.

Hubba, Hubba Watermelon

I'm confused about when to pick watermelons because my one surviving vine has them growing at all stages - older ones and younger ones.  I thought I had it all figured out.  Pick them when the tendril closest to the fruit has dried.  That worked great for the first three that I picked.  They were nice and sweet and not too ripe.  But now I'm second guessing myself.  With these later ones, they just keep growing and growing and the tendril is staying green so then I wonder if maybe the season isn't right and it's too late in the summer for watermelon and maybe they aren't ripening the same way.  Then there's the dilemma about how much to water.  I read that if a watermelon in the last stages of ripening gets watered too much, it won't be sweet.  But there are younger ones on the vine that need watering.

I finally picked this one when the tendril was half dried.

It was 34.4 pounds.  Mostly sweet.  I couldn't tell if it was on the verge of overripe or on the verge of underripe in some areas.  I had to freeze part of it because it wouldn't all fit in my giant rubbermaid container.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Butternut, Butternut

It's butternut squash season, so my challenge is to come up with different and tasty recipes using butternut squash.  And, by "come up with", I mean, search the internet and find recipes that sound good; not make them up myself.  I am no good at making up recipes.

I found this Butternut Bisque recipe on Martha Stewart's website and it's pretty good.  I doubled it so I could freeze some.


3 Tbs. butter
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
coarse salt
1 large butternut squash (about 4 lbs.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
15 ounces chicken broth (or one can)
1 cup half-and-half
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Sour cream, for serving

Cooking with butternut squash is pretty labor intensive.  Usually, they have to be peeled, seeded and chopped.  No fun.  Especially if you have sore thumbs left over from milking season.  

So, get busy and peel, seed, and cube those butternut.  I think I used three squash for this recipe.  I weighed them out got eight pounds.

Here's my chopped onion and garlic.  I went ahead and added the thyme, cinnamon, and cayenne to this.

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium.
  Add the onion mix.  Season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened, 5-7 minutes.

Add squash, broth, half and half, and three cups of water.  Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Working in baqtches, puree in a blender until smooth.  Stir in lemon juice.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

I doubled the recipe and it made about 16 cups.  I froze 12 cups for later.

It's a pretty thick soup, and even thicker after it sits in the refrigerator for a while - almost like a runny mashed potato.  When I served it a few days after making it, I added some chicken broth to it to make it more soup like.

It's very tasty and you can change up the flavor by replacing the cinnamon with chili powder or other spices that you might like.  I think this might be good with curry in it.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Unimpressive Aquaponics

I was expecting great things, but the aquaponics has been a bit disappointing.  The only veggie that survived from Tom's original planting was the cabbage.

They're growing ever so slowly.  But, I planted several cabbage seeds (in the ground) at the beginning of the season and only one survived.  It has yet to make a head.  So, I've learned by now that gardening is sort of hit or miss sometimes.

Because I read that cilantro and carrots were veggies that can be planted in July, I went ahead and tossed a few seeds in the side abandoned by the other seeds.  It's hard to see the tiny seedlings, but there are several carrots coming up and, so far, one cilantro.  I use a lot of cilantro, so I wish I could grow it continually.

I planted the same seeds in my regular garden on the same day and none of them have come up.  I guess we could call the aquaponics a success when it comes to germination.

On another note, I'm so excited about this...

We hired a brick mason to rebuild the entryway columns that Tom and Jordan tore down.

He's doing a great job.  One down, five to go.

It's 102 degrees out there today.  I don't envy the brick layer's job.