Posts Tagged ‘garden’

It’s the middle of July and if you’re like me, you’ve found your garden overrunneth with squash and zucchini.  If you were able to avoid the squash bugs, which we lucked out in accomplishing, by no means of our own.

This year, a friend who sells at the Lynchburg Community Market graced us with a flat of seedlings promising a harvest of heirloom zucchini.  We put on our game face and planted the seedlings, watered them a few times and then we didn’t receive any measurable amount of rain for over a month.  Despite the drought and lack of care, our zucchini pulled through and is giving us a bountiful harvest.

The garden plot we planted zucchini is across the front hay field and down in the hollow between hills.  It’s a hike to get to, and we’ve been busy.  So our zucchini are harvest on the large side, but they are still very tasty.  Last week I took a huge load of zucchini to work to give away.  Some of my co-workers were offering to PAY for the zucchini.  They couldn’t believe they were edible, because of course, being heirloom varieites, we had beauties like these:

Heirloom Zucchini!

So what can we do with all these zucchini?  Well last week I made a pasta featuring sauteed zucchini and grape tomatoes in a cream sauce.  Delicious!

Today for lunch, I’m taking inspiration from one of the veterinarians at work.  Thus, I present you with the latest segment of Cooking with Goat Cheese.

Chevre and Herb Stuffed Zucchini

Chevre and Herb Stuffed Zucchini


Zucchini – these can be of any variety, I chose to use one of my little round heirloom

Chevre – I used one flavored with herbs de Provence because it’s what we had in the fridge

Herbs of your choice, whatever you like, whatever is in season

Herb paste (if you like, I do!)

Salt and Pepper

Parmesan cheese (if you please)


Preheat your oven to 425F.  Start with a clean zucchini.  Cut the top off and scoop out the inside.  Save the zucchini “guts” in a bowl.  Once you’ve scooped out a sufficient amount, chop up any large chunks of zucchini saved in the extra bowl.  Add chevre to the zucchini guts, as well as fresh chopped herbs, the herb paste, and salt and pepper.  Mix and adjust according to your taste.  There is no scientific method to this madness.

Put the zucchini mixture back into the zucchini.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.  Back for 15-20 minutes, until the Parmesan is brown and the skin is soft.

Feel free to dress this up as you like.  I imagine roasted red peppers in the mixture would be delicious.  Serve as a main dish alongside a salad, rice, or pasta.  Or, serve as a side alongside steak or pork.

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As an experiment this year, and partially for fun and curiosity, I have convinced HB to let me devote a small section of the garden towards a “three sisters garden.”

Image from Cordite Country Show Notes

The Three Sisters Garden is a method of planting seeds that has its base in Native American civilization.  Many Native American tribes adopted this form of agriculture, but it is said to have originated with the Haudenosaunee, or the “People of the Longhouse” also known as the Iroquois, of the northeastern United States.

The traditional Three Sisters garden, created by the successive planting of corn, beans, and squash, forms a beneficial mini-ecosystem where the plants rely on each other for nutrients, support, and protection.

From Renee’s Garden:

According to Three Sisters legends corn must grow in community with other crops rather than on its own – it needs the beneficial company and aide of its companions.

The Iroquois believe corn, beans and squash are precious gifts from the Great Spirit, each watched over by one of three sisters spirits, called the De-o-ha-ko, or “Our Sustainers”. The planting season is marked by ceremonies to honor them, and a festival commemorates the first harvest of green corn on the cob. By retelling the stories and performing annual rituals, Native Americans passed down the knowledge of growing, using and preserving the Three Sisters through generations.

A Three Sisters garden is made up of three plants, as previously mentioned:  corn, beans, and squash.  The corn (the oldest sister) provides a trellis for the beans to climb and grow upon.  In return, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil, not only adding to the soil, but also supplying a nutrient that corn relies heavily upon.  The beans also stabilize the corn plants, making them less susceptible to wind damage.  The squash, often in the form of pumpkins and other winter squashes, provide ground cover, helping keep the threat of weeds to a minimum.  Planting squash also helps prevent erosion, maintains soil moisture, aids in a cooler soil, and provides a ground cover that may help keep out predators (such a raccoons) that want to harvest your garden!  At the end of the season, most of the plant life can be returned to the soil to amend it for the following garden season.

Sounding good yet?  There’s more!

Nutritionally, this combination complements each other.  While the corn helps provide carbohydrates, the beans provide protein, and the squash provide vitamins and healthy oils.

Last week I set up a test plot in our garden, and planted corn.  Once the corn is about 4 inches tall, I will plant the beans.  Two weeks later, the squash (pumpkins) will go into the ground.  I’m very excited to try this!  But beware!  Don’t try to plant all the seeds at once, or else you’ll likely end up with a tangled mess of green growth, and probably not a lot of corn due to the competition.

Want to set up your own Three Sisters garden?  Renee’s Garden has the best format to get you started.

Want more information of the historical value of a Three Sisters garden?  The Bird Clan of Alabama has some of the legend.

Want to read more about how a Three Sisters garden can influence children and how they view the world?  The Center for Ecoliteracy has a beautiful, informative website devoted to this topic.

In late spring, we plant the corn and beans and squash. They’re not just plants- we call them the three sisters. We plant them together, three kinds of seeds in one hole. They want to be together with each other, just as we Indians want to be together with each other. So long as the three sisters are with us we know we will never starve. The Creator sends them to us each year. We celebrate them now. We thank Him for the gift He gives us today and every day.  – Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)

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Abba, 148 days

Today marks 148 days bred for Abba and Memphis.   This morning I measured the circumference of their ever-widening abdomens.  Their last measurement was at a month out, so about 3.5 weeks ago.

Today’s measurements:

Abba – 50 inches

Memphis – 51 inches

That’s a gain of nearly 5 inches each!  It’s been a lot of fun watching their bellies (and udders) swell as the time draws closer.

They say their tail ligaments soften as they approach kidding time.  You see the same things in horses, the tail head begins to feel very flaccid.  I’ve been feeling the ligaments for over a week now, at least twice a day, and I don’t really know if they feel “soft” or not.  They’re certainly a lot softer than Jacqsonne or the other goats!  I figure one day I’ll palpate the ligaments and be like “OH!” and know what it’s supposed to feel like.

The girls have been loving the break in weather, warm days combined with extra sunlight and fresh green grass in the pastures has made them very happy.  Yesterday Jacqsonne’s milk production increased by 2/3 of a pound!  She gave a full 3/4 of a gallon yesterday – her biggest production day yet, and definitely the biggest increase we’ve seen in her production.  I couldn’t believe how full her udder looked last night.  I’m sure I insulted HB when I questioned if he had milked in the morning – she was just that full!

We’ve started letting Sweet Roll, Donut, and Xenia out in the barn lot during the day.  Xenia is cooperating with the new schedule, and Sweet Roll enjoys the sunshine so much.  I hate that it’s bad for him – UV light aggravates his pemphigus (go figure).  While I figure out the next step for him, I figure why not let him enjoy sleeping in the sun?  Today is such a nice day, that as long as everyone gets along, I’m letting Huck roam the barn lot with the boys and Xenia.  They adore Huck’s haynets to the point where I’m considering getting them their own!

Well I better get busy.  HB and his dad are putting the roof on the barn shed today.  I picked up some summer-blooming bulbs that need planting (glads and dahlias) and I really want to start some seeds today too.  And Huck needs a ride.

Enjoy this beautiful day!

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When we visited my family for Christmas, there was a very large box with our names on it.  We quizzed each other about what it could be.

Imagine our surprise when we opened it and found the most thoughtful gift!  A cold frame!

And then the snow came.  And it really overstayed its welcome.  But we finally seem to be on the mend, and last weekend I sat down with my drill and the directions and put the cold frame together.

I let it sit for a week to warm up.  It’s definitely warm inside! The frame itself is pretty light, so we’re brainstorming anchors for it.  The wind blew it over on Friday.  But it’s tidy and sits upon a pile of horse manure (thanks, Huck!) and potting soil.

I plan to sow a few seeds this week – perhaps some spinach? and carrots?  I need to dig through my seed packets and see what’s available!

I do have a confession:  I worry about our garden getting too sufficient.  Then we wouldn’t need to go to the market weekly.  And we would miss our market friends.  But self-sufficiency is a long way away, because weeds always get the best of me. 😉

So Mom, Dad, if you’re reading this – thank you!

By the way, that hillside surrounding the cold frame is an erosion masterpiece.  I’m currently supplementing it with Huck’s manure with hope that overtime we can slowly mend it.  Every year I plant every weed imaginable – mint, sunchokes, etc. in hopes that it will conquer the clay hillside.

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*My horse, Huck, is starting to shed!

*Jacqsonne is slowly increasing her milk production

*The young does are starting to fill out their udders

*The hen’s egg production is increasing

*I can finally seen grass, not snow

*The grass I can see is surprisingly green; maybe that’s because it’s  been hiding for two months?

*Seed catalogs are pouring in; and seed displays are popping up in stores

*Birds can be heard chirping

*I have a hankerin’ for salads

What signs of spring are you seeing/hearing/smelling?

(Apparently the two months of snow has slowed down the spreading of chicken manure on nearby fields, because the air smells positively pristine!)

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Vintage Virginia Apples in North Garden, Virginia, is a family-run orchard founded in 2000 with a focus on preserving heirloom varieties of fruit trees.  What started with a few varieties of apples has grown into over 200 unique varieties of apples, peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines, apricots, and pears.  Many of the varieties grown at VVA are becomingly increasingly rare and hard to find, since many no longer fit the needs of today’s commercial marketing and distribution systems.  In an effort to spread the wealth of heirloom varieties, the nursery at VVA offers hundreds of varieties of heirloom trees for sale, as well as rootstock for use in grafting.

Vintage Virginia Apples is also the home of Ablemarle CiderWorks, a family-run cidery that focuses on making hard cider from locally-produced heirloom apples.  Currently producing three delicious varieties of cider, Albemarle CiderWorks has exceeded expectations in their first year of production.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit and taste their cider offerings, I recommend you put it on your calendar.  The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11am – 5pm.

Vintage Virginia Apples also offers a smattering of workshops throughout the year, focusing on orchard development, pruning, grafting, and cidermaking.  For HB’s birthday I gave him the option of attending any of the workshops or purchasing trees or rootstock.  I think he plans on attending the February 27th workshops for pruning and grafting.  I might have to tag along!

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I started this post before leaving for TN, but never got around to finishing it.  So here’s the revised and updated version.  Enjoy!

As I did for 2009, I’m choosing to regulate my upcoming yearly goals for the betterment of the animal husbandry and homesteading skills; oh and a riding goal or two.  In an effort to prioritize, I’m limiting myself to five big goals for the new year.

  • Finish Huckleberry’s rehab, get back to riding, and complete a limited distance ride in the fall of 2010.  In August 2009, my horse was diagnosed with multiple tears of the short dorsal ligaments in his back – an old injury that no one was aware of.  December 2009, with all of its rain and snow, proved difficult to continue the rehab schedule.  Starting out one month behind, here’s to hoping 2010 allows us some respite.  This will also be our first year of going barefoot.
  • Get through the year safely with our new dairy goats.  Here’s to wishes for easy birthings, freshenings, and breedings in the fall.  And on the topic of goats, hopefully clear up Sweet Roll’s skin issues; and if it does indeed turn out to be an auto-immune issue, get the disease into remission!
  • Improve upon 2009’s garden.  My parents gave us a cold frame for Christmas, and I can’t wait to get it going!  This year my big goal for the garden is weed control.  I have a tendency to let it get out of hand, but this year, I’m going to redouble my efforts.  Or so I say, sitting tucked into the warm barn apartment while the cold wind blows outside.
  • Experiment with goat’s milk.  Our 2009 Camembert turned into a very un-Camembert like cheese, as it aged into a delicious hard cheese.  What else can we make?  Soap?  Fudge?  Lotion?  Cheese?  Let’s play!  Oh, and I’ve already staked claim on some milk for attempting feta this year.
  • Keep better records for the goats, horses, and farm events.

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Until next year…

Tomato Cagesthe tomato cages get a well-deserved rest until next spring

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The other week we spent our Sunday morning working on bird houses.  HB went with a traditional bluebird house design, whilst our nephew Adam created what we call the “Taj Mahal of Bird Houses” 🙂

Building Birdhouses

HB Builds



We went out and hung three bird houses around the farm.  It’s my goal to have brightly colored bird houses around the garden plots, and eventually throughout the farm.  So far we have teal and orange bird houses around the insectary, and a cedar bird house by the vegetable garden.  I painted this new bluebird house a lovely shade of fushia and can’t wait to hang it in the insectary!

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Bubbling Cauldron

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

from Macbeth

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

*Picture of our Halloween Brunswick Stew, made with many ingredients from the farm – beef, tomatoes, lima beans, green beans, etc. 🙂

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