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.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Busy, busy, busy!

I've gotten so much done this week! The cloudy days have been very helpful in getting a lot of weeding and mulching done.

Inside I've been busy too. I finished the Good & Hot Salsa, then I made of batch of Fiery Hot Salsa yesterday. Today I got 9 quarts of dill pickles finished, some Spicy and some Old-Fashioned. I'll have all of them with me at the market Saturday. If you get the pickles though you'll want to let them sit a few more days to absorb the flavor.

Back to work now, I still have more to prepare for the weekend.

Hope to see you Saturday!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What a hot week!

We had a good day at the market Saturday, but it sure was hot! While I was gone, Danny checked out the damage to the gardens from the storm Friday night. Things looked pretty good, except for the peppers. They can't get a break this year. There was a wooden crate sitting in the yard above the garden where the peppers are. Well, there was so much rain, in such a short time, that it carried the crate and most of the mulch, across the top of the plants in the raised rows, all the way to the bottom of the garden. It bent over all the plants in it's path. Fortunately, Danny was able to uncover them and straighten them back up. The poor little things are still "hanging in there."

My little sister and her husband came over in the evening and helped weed the okra and the peppers. We also tried to put the mulch back where it belonged, but it's too big a job for one evening.

Sunday felt even hotter and then it brought another storm at bedtime. This one lasted all night. We couldn't belive the lightening display. It went on for hours, I finally fell asleep watching it. All together, we got over 5 inches of rain this weekend.

In the morning it was still misting rain. I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperature and go out and get more weeding done. After so much rain, it's easy to pull out the weeds, but shaking off the mud is a very messy job. I had to stop several times and clean the mud off my glasses. I got all the rhubarb and asparagus weeded and part of the gourds. Then the sun came out and it got hot in a hurry. I kept weeding for a while though. I'm really glad I did. I found 2 nice size bird's nest gourds and probably a hundred more little ones. They're growing on an arch trellis and it gave me a little shade to be able to keep working a little longer. Finally, the heat and humidity were just too overwhelming and I had to go inside.

In the evening, Danny and I went out to work the bees. We moved one frame of brood from the busiest hive to the other, not-so-thriving hive. We'll see if that helps them get established faster. Then, Danny put the second hive body on the thriving hive. It has almost all the frames filled in now so we're giving them room to expand. It is so fascinating to watch them. I'm happy we took the plunge into beekeeping.

Now I need to get busy again. For all those who have been waiting patiently, I have a new batch of Good and Hot Salsa cooking. I'll have it at the market Saturday. Come by and try it out. I'll be sure to have samples.

Friday, July 25, 2008

See you at the market tomorrow!

Hope to see everyone at the market in the morning! I'll have all the usuals plus more fresh veges. Danny picked beets, turnips, radishes, basil and lettuce this evening. My little sister picked 3 kinds of beans: red, purple and green (but there's not many so first come first served.) I picked lots of rainbow swiss chard.

It's hard to believe but we got hit by a major thunderstorm just after we finished picking. I guess we'll see in the morning if it affected the gardens.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Great news!

Guess what I found? Our first 2 cucumbers! After the rain yesterday, I decided to weed the beans and cucumbers. Quite a few of the cucumber plants are large enough now to reach the trellis, so I was trying to train them upwards. I was so excited when I lifted one and found 2 cucumbers ready to pick and another one almost ready. I also found quite a few red noodle beans close to being ready.

There are vegetables all over the gardens now. There are a few small eggplants, tomatillos, green tomatoes, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots and lettuce. Plus the rainbow swiss chard is looking great. I'll have quite a bit to take to the market this weekend.

Tomorrow I'll be starting the day pulling more weeds, it's supposed to be fairly cool again and three days in a row should get the gardens looking pretty good. I hope anyway! I'm being very careful to add more mulch as I go, it makes a big difference. The areas with the most mulch are so much easier and faster to weed.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The heat is speeding up recovery!

Thanks to everytone who joined us at the market yesterday. It started out raining on us, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. It didn't get too hot until the very end.

The heat this past week may be melting us but it's really helping the plants in the garden. We got our first few green beans this week. My sister came and picked a handful this evening for her son, he's 8 months old and he's going to have green beans for the first time. She was waiting for the most healthy, naturally-grown ones she could get. I hope he likes them!

Oh yeah, I got to eat the first ripe tomato a couple days ago. It was delicious! I can hardly wait for more. We're finally seeing green ones here and there but none are turning color yet.

This evening, Danny & I went out to check on the bees. It was the first time I got to work with them. I was glad to have the beekeepers jacket, the heat makes them a little more difficult, but they're not aggressive at all.

Both hives seem to be doing well. We removed the feeders this time and put in the missing frames. Now we'll see how well they do at filling them in. One hive is much stronger than the other, it looks like it's almost ready to put on the first super. I hope that means we'll have honey this fall.

Well, I need to get to bed. I'm going to try to go out early and get some weeding done before it gets too hot tomorrow. The weatherman is predicting record high temperatures this week.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Hail Damage...

Here are some pictures of the hail damage. They were taken about an hour after the storm. As you can see, the plastic on the hoophouse was shredded, but it lasted long enough to save most of the plants inside. The plants on the picnic table were on the back porch when the storm hit. You can see the one container of peppers that survived in tact. They were on the bottom shelf at the very back of a plant stand protected by the rail posts.

This is all that was left of the beautifully colored swiss chard.

Our dog, Buttercup, was injured in one eye by the hail. She's okay now.

This was one of the potato beds. Before the storm, they were good-sized plants in full bloom.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The gardens are definitely making progress!

I found new seedlings all over today, the zucchini, yellow squash and cantaloupe all had more sprouted than the last time I looked.

Danny got the new raspberries planted yesterday. We decided to put them in this year's pumpkin patch. Now he needs to make trellises for them. Although that may have to get put on hold for the time being.

The cantaloupe and cucumber plants my mom and dad transplanted seem to be doing well. Of course it's going to take some time to collect all the newspapers that were covering them and are now scattered all over the place.

This evening I finally started planting the watermelon seedlings that have been patiently waiting in the basement. I got about half of them in the ground and then got sidetracked weeding the eggplant. By the time I got back to planting, a storm had blown up and I had to go indoors. At least there was no damage this time. Just a downpour and then a beautiful double rainbow to enjoy when it was over.

The bees seem to like their new home. We're seeing them all over the place. I felt sorry for them last week. They had only been here two days when the hail came and took out all the flowers. But the clover came back quickly and it seems to be their favorite thing anyway.

It's fun watching the boys with the bees. All three of them want it to be their turn to take care of them. Yesterday, the two oldest went down by themselves. Zach couldn't resist tasting some of the honey and the comb. Danny told him he's not a beekeeper he's a predator. They all wish they needed to be checked on every day. The youngest one is jealous that he hasn't had a turn to wear the beesuit and help dad. I can't say I blame him, I'm still waiting for my turn too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Things are sprouting!

Yesterday, my little sister came to see me. She dragged me out of the house to look at signs of improvement all around the farm. It helped that she brought her kids with her. They brought lots of hugs and kisses and I got to hold the baby and play with him while we walked around.

First she took me out to see the long row of lillies, there are lots of new shoots with buds on them. It looks like we will get to enjoy them this year after all. One of the red and yellow ones is already blooming.

Then we went to Grandma's house. Lots of her flowers are blooming again.

Next, we checked out Danny's grapes. They are putting on new leaves and she helped them along by removing some of the damaged ones. It looks like they are all going to survive.

She pointed out a few new blooms on the sunflowers and a lot of new leaves. The cosmos and daisies and crown vetch are all beginning to bloom too. We even discoved the tiniest zinnia blooming. The plant is only about an inch tall and the flower can't be bigger than a dime, but it's determined to live.

In the garden, we found that a lot of the seeds Danny planted the day before the storm are up. The beans and cucumbers are several inches tall. Even the cucumbers he planted the day after the storm are up about an inch.

The lettuce is growing again. There was enough swiss chard to have some for supper last night. There are even new carrots and radishes. She even pointed out six new blooms on the eggplant.

My mom and dad came a little while after she left and brought cucumber and cantaloupe plants from my uncle. They even stayed and planted them for me. We had to cover them with a sheet of newspaper to protect them from the sun. They are pretty good-sized plants, almost as big as the ones we lost. Maybe we will have a crop to harvest before long.

Oh yeah, we also had a friend bring us some dill and cilantro seedlings on Sunday. The gardens are greening up again.

Gotta get back to work!