Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Deliberate Agrarian

No, you didn't reach the wrong blog....I just wanted to talk about the latest book that the Deliberate Agrarian has written. He was kind enough to send me a copy (thank you Herrick!) and I have devoured it!

Now, I have been reading Herrick's blog for a long time. Somehow I had the impression that he had taken a lot of his postings and put them together into book form......boy was I wrong! Herrick did so much more than that! Herrick was brave enough to uncover and reveal his heart....

This is an amazing book! If you don't have it you are missing out on a truly inspiring message. Herrick has the ability to paint a picture and place you in it. I felt like I was walking through their garden with him,
I was there at their table when they ate a meal produced by their own hands and those of other local farmers and again when Annie got the raccoon.

But this book is so much more than that.....this book is about living the agrarian life from the viewpoint of a man who is doing it on a small piece of land and with one foot still in the corporate world (how many of us are there!) It is about the joys found in living the simple life. In this book, Herrick celebrates the joy found in family life, in watching children grow, learn and mature and the joy of simply gazing with awe at this creature called "my child". He celebrates his relationship with his wife "the lovely Marlene" whom it is plain to see that he adores! He shares joys, heartaches, victories and struggles. It is truly an honest look at a family trying to fulfill
God's mandate to steward the earth.

This book encouraged me at a time I have really needed encouragement! There are some wonderful spiritual insights in this book...."plain truth" as my Grandma used to say! I have read it through once and am now going through it with a note both great agrarian ideas and those spiritual nuggets. I love books that make me think and reassess ideas....this book did that for me....and continues to do so.

I have decided that nothing would be better than to have this family over to share a homegrown, home-prepared meal and then to sit outside under the stars around a campfire while we talked late into the evening under a sky filled with stars....I know this may never happen in this life but am thrilled to know that in eternity we can experience that close fellowship!

Folks, I read a lot.....a LOT.....I rarely read a book twice......this is one book you should not do without if you are at all interested in agrarian living. Visit now to get your copy....I am sure it will encourage and inspire you as much as it has me!!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Home Again!

It has been an incredibly busy few weeks but things are beginning to settle down. I have been doing some traveling locally on the weekends to some festivals and fairs. The purpose of these day trips has been to teach seminars on using herbs. The seminars were well attended and the boys and I had a lot of fun.

During the week we have been trying to get school finished for the year and working on the garden. It will be nice to be home and go back to being a Mom. I love to teach about herbs but truly prefer to do it in my own kitchen here on the farm!

Our last goat kidded and had one ENORMOUS buck. We are beginning to get some goat milk so tomorrow I will be making Feta and Chevre for the first time this season....right after I bake the bread for the week!

We have been busy in the garden. We planted many different varieties of dried beans. I love the names: Jacob's Cattle, Calypso, Vermont Cranberry, Maine Sunset, Yelloweye, etc. I want to do more cooking with beans and hope to find some varieties this year that we like and can use in our soups, stews and casseroles. They are all heirlooms...well...just about everything we grow is an heirloom!

We have also planted 2 varieties of pole beans: Rattlesnake and Fortex. We always grow Rattlesnake - it is an old heirloom and is the sweetest green bean we have ever tasted. It produces prolifically, has little disease or pest problem and tastes wonderful. I can them and make dilly beans....of course lots of fresh eating during the season! I read good things this year about Fortex and hope it tastes as good as it sounded.

The potatoes are won't be long before the boys will need to hill them. The corn is also up and looking good...we will need to hoe this week before the weeds get away from us. We have had an unusual amount of rain and cool weather. Weeds are EVERYWHERE!! We are in the middle of "Blackberry Winter!"

Elijah was in charge of planting all the cantaloupe and watermelon this year. He did a great job. They have all been transplanted to the garden. We have several heirloom varieties of each. Makes my mouth water to think about them!

The squash and zucchini are getting big and are still under floating row cover. They will stay there until they bloom. This allows the plants to get big and strong before the vine borers attack. We will then inject the base of each plant with BT - it gives us a little longer season. I will also plant more in the greenhouse soon - this way when the first ones give out we can plant again in another area of the garden.

Peas, snowpeas, and cucumbers are all doing well. I will only be making sweet pickles this year. I over did dill pickles last time and have plenty left.

I am worried about my tomatoes. Somehow, the last batch of potting soil that was mixed was way to high in nitrogen. After using it to pot the tomatoes up, it burned most of the plants. I have lost a lot and the rest don't look so good. This is a serious problem! I like to have well over 200 plants for all my canning needs (spaghetti sauce, ketchup, tomato sauce, whole tomatoes) and for freezing so that we can make fresh salsa year round! Last year we used over 1800 lbs. of tomatoes. Now, before your jaw drops to the floor, you need to know that it takes 35 lbs. of tomatoes to do 5 - 6 quarts of spaghetti sauce. We like pasta and my boys LOVE my homemade pizza so I can a LOT of spaghetti sauce. We also eat a ton of tomatoes during the season fresh. And canning ketchup takes just as many tomatoes (actually I think it takes more) and we use a lot of ketchup!

We still need to plant okra, peppers, tomatoes and tomatillas. The nights are just a wee bit too cool yet so they will stay in the greenhouse for now.

I also started cleaning up my herb borders this weekend. I need to get them ship shape for the classes that start in a couple of weeks. I have been harvesting chamomile, cilantro, tarragon, gingko, chickweed, and others for a couple of weeks now. I noticed tonight that the chamomile is ready to harvest again. It comes back so quickly after cutting it - almost too quickly!

Strawberries are in and it is time to make jam (and hot jam!)...blackberries will be soon.

I will also be adding some things to the website this week. I have several new soaps, my all natural lip balms and some gift baskets. I'll let you know when they are up!

I will try to get some pictures of the garden up soon and I am working on getting my medicinal class reformatted as a download on our website. The summer looks busy already!

It is good to be back! Thanks so much to all of you who contacted me "just to make sure everything was ok"! I really appreciate it and although my posts may be sporadic during the summer, I will try not to let another month go by in silence.

Grace and peace!
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