A True Family Farm

When our boys help in the gardens they represent the fifth generation of the family to work the soil on Kimker Hill. Four generations still live on the farm today. Strong family bonds and a deep love and respect for the earth influence all of our farm practices.

Our gardens provide us with the best and purest of food, matchless beauty, and the ultimate earth science classroom for our homeschooled boys.

Sustainability is a popular buzz word among small scale agriculture. To us it means giving more than you take. Putting back what you use. Remembering that this beautiful earth will last forever and it's our commision to care for. In our gardens we try hard to follow these ideals and work with the earth's design, not against it.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Things are looking up again.

Today was a nice day at the market. Not too hot, a nice breeze, overcast but no rain. Thanks for all the encouraging words and offers of help.

It's been almost a week now since the hailstorm and I haven't cried for two whole days. There are actually signs of recovery on some of the plants. Yesterday I discovered that one shredded hosta has sent up a new shoot and is getting ready to bloom. And one poor, bent-in-half sunflower is blooming on the ground. There's even one zinnia with one flower.

In the gardens, a few things are starting to put on new leaves, like the swiss chard and some of the peppers and tomatoes. Most of them, however, were broken off at the ground and had to be replaced. With quite a bit of help and encouragement from family and friends, we've managed to transplant a lot of tomatoes and tomatillos as well as peppers. Danny is handling the situation much better than I am. He has worked really hard removing debris and replanting a lot of seeds and transplanting a lot of seedlings.

We've had quite a set-back but we're trying to look ahead and concentrate on the crops to come. I'll keep you posted as things begin to sprout again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Starting over again!

I'd like to tell you all is well here at the farm, unfortunately we were hit hard by a hailstorm on Sunday afternoon. It's hard to believe a few minutes could change everything.

We had golf-ball size hail that seemed to last forever. It did damage on it's way down then bounced back up and caused more damage on it's way back down again. I've never seen anything like it before in my life. I got the camcorder and recorded a few minutes of it until it changed directions and I had to shut the door and head for the basement. The tornado sirens were blaring and we were all really scared.

When it was over we surveyed the damage. It's just unimaginable. There's nothing left of the gardens. The hail shredded everything. There's just little stubs where the vegetables were. Even all our replacement plants were on the back porch and got shredded too (except one container of peppers.) The only other things left are the swiss chard and chives in the hoophouse. They survived but the hoophouse didn't, it too is in shreds.

In the morning we were enjoying our surroundings, the first sunflower and three zinnias were blooming, the entire fence-row of tiger lillies were in full-bloom, the daisies and crown vetch were a mass of yellow and pink. The whole flower bed at Grandma's was blooming. Everywhere we looked made us happy.

Now, it's all gone. I spent most of yesterday crying. Everytime I look out a window I see something else that was destroyed. Even our house and vehicles are damaged. It is so overwhelming.

The only up-side is our family and friends. As soon as they heard what happened to us they started coming to our rescue. Sam and Billy at Sunflower Savannah told us to come and get plants. They sent tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos (I can't believe this will be the third time we'll be planting tomatillos this year!)

The next day, one of our extra moms brought over more tomato plants. Then my little sister, my brother-in-law and his mom (who brought the plants) came and helped us start replanting.

At Danny's work, others were calling around and finding out what we could do to try to save some of the stubs we have left. They even sent organic remedies and formulas we could try.

My uncle is sending cucumber and cantaloupe plants that he needs to thin in his garden. We've had several other offers of help and some are coming tomorrow evening and others are coming to help on Friday.

We really appreciate all the support and love we are receiving!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Excited about getting bees!

Guess what? Today's the day we get our bees!!!

I've been wanting them ever since I got honey from Femme Osage Apiary at the Tower Grove market two summers ago. I started asking questions then and have been doing research ever since. We've gone to lots of beekeeper meetings and asked lots of questions.

Before the meeting this past Monday, we finally got our equipment. Danny and our youngest had fun painting it together a couple days ago to prepare for their arrival. Today, all the boys are helping to clear the area and get set up for the bees.

They've all had fun trying on the beekeepers jacket with the veil and playing with the smoker. I keep telling them they're going to wear it out before we get to use it. Even Danny came in a little while ago to tell me he started a fire in the smoker so he could "try it out."

This evening we get to go pick up the bees. We're all going together to see what a large beekeeping operation looks like. We're just starting with 2 hives.

Our main reason for wanting them is to help with pollination in the gardens. But, we're also anticipating the delicious honey they will provide. We were afraid we were starting too late to get any this year, but were assured at the meeting we should get at least one super of honey by the fall. We can hardly wait!

Ask me about it at the market tomorrow! I'll have swiss chard and radishes again, plus turnip and beet greens and purple kohlrabi for the first time this year. I may even have a few hot peppers.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beautiful day at the market!

What great weather we had at the market today. The sun was shining, it didn't get too hot and the wind didn't try to blow us away! Thanks to all who joined us there, we really appreciate your business.

Thanks also for all the nice in-person comments about our blog. It's very encouraging! I'm happy to hear we are helping others with what we're doing.

I took a stroll through the gardens when I got home. I did a little weeding in the squash patch and then a little more in the herbs. Then I checked on my newly planted kohlrabi plants. I really, really, really hate rabbits right now! Out of the entire new row of plants, they have eaten all but 5 of them!!! Anybody know of a good way of keeping them away from the garden, other than high-velocity intercranial lead therapy? lol It's way too big to fence off all the garden areas and they just keep hitting one section after another.

Well, after the stroll, we all enjoyed Danny's cooking. He made grilled chicken breasts, potatoes and onions. We also got to have a big helping of our rainbow swiss chard. It is so delicious, even our youngest practically inhaled it.

Now I have got to get some sleep.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Planting again!

Well, yesterday was as busy again as usual. Danny planted six varieties of cantaloupe, and I got five varieties of watermelon started. I know they should have been in sooner, but better late than never.

I also transplanted another row of kohlrabi. The plants in the first row are really growing well, we can see the kohlrabi bulbs forming now. If you've never watched them growing you really should. It's the only plant I know of that has the bulb grow above the ground. Mother Earth News called them "space cabbages" and I can understand why. It shouldn't be too much longer now until they're ready to eat!

All over the gardens, things are really taking off. For a while it seemed most of the activity must have been going into the root systems. But now things are starting to get taller. The tomatoes are almost tall enough to start weaving them. The cucumbers and beans are getting closer to the trellis.

The okra Danny replanted last week are all up and trying to catch up to the first ones. The radishes and turnips are doing well. The lettuce and herbs have sprouted.

The only down side this week is with the potatoes. We walked back to check on them yesterday and some of the plants had no leaves left. We discovered these nasty-looking, orange, squishy, sticky bugs all over the place. Danny looked them up, they're potato beetle larvae. We have got to get rid of them! Quickly! He sprayed them with diatomaceous earth (organic friendly, all-natural) and by last night it seemed to be working.

My co-op order arrives tomorrow! Thankfully! I have been out of wheat berries since last Friday, so I haven't been able to make any of my products that need it. Tomorrow is going to be crazy. I don't know yet what time pick-up will be, but I'll be working like mad to catch up once it arrives.

I think I'd just better apoligize in advance for anything I don't have on Saturday. I will do my best to restock, but there are only so many hours in a day. Come by and see how well I do.

I'll have quite a bit of swiss chard and radishes at the market this week, as well as about 7 dozen eggs. I'll even have a dozen guinea eggs. This will be the first dozen this year available for sale, up to now I've been keeping them all for myself. If you have never tried them, they are the most wonderfully flavored eggs, they are very small, but the yolk is the same size as the jumbo chicken egg. They come from the most beautiful bird...from a distance only, they have the ugliest head you can imagine.

Sam, thanks for the comment, I hope you get to celebrate soon!

Stop by, say Hi! and stock up on Saturday! See you there!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Time to celebrate!

Yeah!!!! I finally finished planting the tomatoes (all 230 of them) and replanting the tomatillos, since the frost killed the original ones.

I also got the sunflower/zinnia beds weeded and the zinnias reseeded! And, I got enough weeds out of the long flower bed that we can actually enjoy the peonies, they're beautiful!

The boys discovered the first ripe strawberries yesterday! They taste wonderful! Unfortunately, the kids fed a couple to our dog, Panda. He decided he loved them. While I was pulling weeds, I looked down to find Panda eating the strawberries in my basket. You should have seen the disappointed look on his face when I yelled at him to stop, he gave me those big sad eyes and walked away slowly. A little while later, Danny started laughing out loud, Panda had a strawberry face. Now I just hope he doesn't find the ripe ones before we do.

Today, I need to continue preparing for the market on Saturday. I should have quite a bit of swiss chard this time. The warmer weather is really helping it to take off. I love all the bright colors. If you haven't tried it yet, stop by and get some for yourself. We love it steamed with onions and a little salt and butter.

I may even have the first radishes for this year. I could see some popping out of the ground yesterday.

If you want eggs, you'd better come early. I'll probably have about 9 dozen by Saturday, but they go quickly.

I'll have quite a few plants for sale this weekend. I have heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, a few sweet peppers and a lot of hot peppers, airplane plants, aloe, as well as Pam's Pumpkins. This is my sister's variety, they produce very well.

Last fall, we had a party and all the kids, with help from their parents, scooped out the seeds and then we seasoned them and toasted them. It was a lot of fun! Afterward, I took some of the pumpkins home and turned them into filling for pies. See what you can do with them!

Hope to see you Saturday!