Friday, December 31, 2010

Charlotte's tidbits for 2010

Over the past year, I wrote on one of the pages in my organizer (go figure, say those of you who know what a neurotic organizer freak I am) things of note that I found and thought were useful small lessons for life.  Or at least, small lessons that pertained to my life.  I thought that I would post a few of my favorites here:

-life is not a race
-life is not a competition
-remember you may have no idea what is going on in another person's life
-small actions in your own life and your own community do change the world
-when you're angry or unbalanced: take a walk
-don't compare your life to anyone else' have no idea what their journey is all about
-schedule the important things in your life into your organizer and do them
-if I'm not enjoying the Christmas season, then I am doing something wrong
-the meaning of life is to live it
-trust your instincts: your doctor may know more about the human body, but you know more about your human body
-be yourself: life is too short to pretend to be someone you're not
-don't put anything on your skin you wouldn't eat
-trans fats are not food, they are chemicals: why would you eat them?
-grocery store eggs and farm fresh eggs are not the same product
-if you can only make one organic food switch in your life: Milk

#1 Lesson for 2010 is:  (this one is awesome! I love it!)
-WabiSabi: the beauty in the imperfections (for example, the red wine splashes on your walls are not a stain, but a mark of friendship and a reminder of the loves in your life)

I enjoyed writing those tidbits down, and I think I will do it again this year.  Again, I will put them behind my top ten goals for the year...maybe I can do a little better on that score in 2011 than I did in 2010...but what's life about but trudging along and moving forward.  And to keep on trying!!  At least, I am accomplishing things...slowly, I mean, I just accomplished a goal for 2004 this past year: taking Taylor to Best Friends in it happens...eventually.  Besides, lesson #1: life is not a race.  

Happy New Year Everybody!  
See you next year!!!

And if you still haven't bought your 2011 Calendars, feel free the check out the BumbleChick Farm 2011 Wall Calendar!!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Skiing and Snow Shoeing

Paul and I are enjoying the snow!!!!!  I've decided the secret to winter is having a winter activity you love...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"Be Careful What you Wish For..."

Yes, it's true, WindyFields Farm wished for puppies and got one.  Now it's our turn.

Paul got snow shoes for Christmas and there just wasn't enough snow on the ground to really try them out, so we wished for a little bit more snow.  Looks like we're gonna get it: more than a foot between now and tomorrow night!  Whoohooo.  Now, I am going to enjoy a hot cup of tea and sit in the window, by the fire, and watch it begin.

Merry Snow!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Flaming Coffee

Christmas Eve

I love Christmas Eve and because of the way the holidays fall this year, we have Christmas Eve off together which is really nice.  We're off to breakfast and then to play with a friend's Christmas present...and chocolate lab puppy...what better way to spend Christmas Eve than smothered in puppy love.  No worries, no puppies in the future here...just Troy!

Tonight, it's happy, local stuffed chicken with carrots and Brussels sprouts...I just hope chicken isn't on the menu for Christmas tomorrow night.  And then FLAMING COFFEE...yum!  A favorite holiday tradition from my childhood...I always thought I was getting a treat of Kahlua and brandy and coffee as a kid, as I didn't know the flames burn away the alcohol.  No wonder Mom was always happy to keep my flame going a bit longer...but not too much...she did want us to sleep after all.

And then...How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  The real one, the Boris Karloff one.  And then bed to wait for Santa!

I do love Christmas Eve.  It's all about the food and drink and family...ahhhhhhh.

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!

Flaming Coffee:
Make a pot of your favorite coffee and have it near the stove.
Make fresh, yummy whipped cream...the way you like it.
Light a candle in the middle of your stove.
Have a metal ladle ready.

Use sturdy wine glasses (or the snooty flaming coffee mugs you inherited from your mom) and steam them over a pot of boiling water upside down and immediately dip into sugar to sugar the rims.  Mom was always super generous with this: going almost an inch down the glass with sugar.  Set glasses aside.  (Make sure your glasses are sturdy and warm so they don't break with the heat!!)

Warm half brandy and half Kahlua on the stove so that it is warm enough to flame over the candle, but not so hot that it ignites in the pot--that's bad.  (And this is an art, by the way, and one I am still working on).  Quickly ladle the brandy/Kahlua in a glass and use the ladle to ignite a spoonful and pour into glass flaming the warm alcohol in the glass.  Holding the stem of the wine glass, turn the glass so the flames crystallize the sugar.  Let the flame go for how long you want, but the more it flames, the more alcohol you burn off.  Put out the flames with the coffee.  Add a dollop of whipped cream.  Yum!!

Then clean up the mess...maybe in the morning!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Lunch finally died yesterday morning.  He's been getting more and more neurotic as the weeks have gone by and we've known he was going to have a hard time getting through the winter.  He never really was able to perch and would lie prostrate on the floor of the coop...twitching.  Lately, he has been unable to get into the coop and has been spending the nights under to coop in the cold where we haven't been able to get him to put him away.  I would carry him into the barn in the mornings to feed him and thaw him out.  The last few days, I finally locked him in the barn all together to save him any extra useless suffering out in the cold and snow.  We probably should have put him out of his misery...but...well, that involves killin'.  But he is finally at rest and it's better for him!  Bye, Lunch!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Season...

to be thankful for good friends and good family!!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It was gloomy and dark this morning and cold...the perfect day to stay nestled in bed with all the kitties.  But, I was good and got up and moving and started my day.  Planned to go to Church, but it was cancelled due to icy roads.  Hmm...what happened to us good hardy New Englanders?

We had awesome pork chops last night cooked on the wood stove.  I smothered the chops with BBQ sauce and molasses and brown sugar and a little water and cooked them all afternoon on the stove.  We had frozen corn reheated on the wood stove for a side.  It was so yummy.  The meat was so juicy and tender.  And we used no extra energy to cook it...I wonder when the novelty of cooking dinner without expending any extra energy will wear off?  I find it so satisfying to cook on the wood stove!  

This is my new winter book I am hoping to utilize this year...though I find that I am more of an improvisor than a recipe follower.  But it should give me some good ideas!

And I have stooped to a new low in trying to save energy.  I've strung up a clothes line across the beams in the living room.  Yup...I've gone off the deep end.  It just seems such a waste to use the dryer when we have this wood stove going all day long.  Of course, I can't decide how much I'm saving washing smaller loads so I can hang them on the limited space.  But that dryer...eek, they use so much energy!!!  I did loop the ends of the lines over nails, so it's easy to take down the line and hide them away so no one learns my secret.  I just hope we don't have any surprise visitors!

I'm off to study for my final exam, but am thinking I will get lots of writing done on my latest novel in avoidance tactics.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Waiting for Snow

The cold has finally descended here at BumbleChick Farm.  It's getting harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning, especially when I am snuggled under piles of cats and fleece and Paul tells me it's in the single digits outside...and not much warmer inside.

The goats have each other to pile on top of and are staying pretty warm.  And they are in the barn, which helps.  Troy is in a calf hutch, where he is most happy, but I brought him a fleece throw this morning for him to cuddle up with...well, um, he enjoyed it all right...but, umm, I think its probably in shredded pieces all over the yard.  Oh well.  Whatever makes Troy happy.  Now, I'm off to take him for a walk!  And maybe make up my almost-quarter-mile run I didn't do this morning...whoohoo, don't tax yourself too much, Charlotte!

Happy Cold!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Begins

The Christmas Tree is up and decorated.  I love open up the boxes and they explode all over the house and then after Christmas, you box the explosion back up and your house seems clean again.

It's so nice to go through the ornaments and remember Mom making this one and that one and the other one, looking at the reindeer you made in 1984 that Mom kept, the ones you gave your grandma and grandpa, and the ones you've inherited.  It's like a treasure trove of memories.  I love it.

All that's left to do is put out the collections of Christmas candles that were Grandma's and the houses Mom painted.

Yesterday, we went to Ashfield for their craft and art fair...and for lunch at Elmers.  Yum.  And then we got our tree.  I think it's becoming a tradition: this is year two.  I'm in love with Beverly Duncan's watercolors...and fortunately, she had cards and tags within our price range.

Today, we got some wood cut today, taking care of some of the trees along the driveway that have come down over the past year (or two) and we've got quite a little a dull, nicked chain and a broken sledgehammer.  Well, we know what to ask Santa for Christmas, I guess.

Bree was humming a bit today and had a little bee out front, so she's made it this far.  I think we'll be replacing Avalon's bees with Russians...they seem to do the best for us.  I don't know how Chalice and Dionysus are doing as I haven't been out to look.

Sorry for the lack of pictures these days...the camera is still on the fritz.  We are hoping Canon will repair it without giving us too much trouble for a lack of receipt.  Things just should not break after half a year.  It's crazy!!!  We've been wanting to get pictures of Troy and his new soccer ball he stole from the twins.

And now, I am off to look at how the bread dough is rising and see if I am capable of making a loaf of good, homemade bread.

PS...the new Mountain Rose Herbs blog.  I thought people might be interested in checking it's got awesome ideas:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lilly Goats

We've been very slow on updates these days.  Things and life are beginning to slow down as the cold weather creeps in.  The goats are all happy and fat and fluffy for winter.  The doggy is anxiously awaiting the first real snow he can play in.

Little Lilly took me out in the barn yesterday.  She's a little goat still, but when she steps under you and you're trying not to crush her, you end up face first on the floor of the barn with a sore knee and the goats looking down at you wondering why you're on the floor.  I really think it was karma: I always tease Laura at WindyFields Farm for her animal mishaps...well, payback.  I bet she PAID Lilly with beet pulp and treats to trip me.  I'm on to your secrets, Laura.

Anyhoo.  Christmas is just around the corner and we're very excited.  This weekend, we're heading out to Ashfield to shop the Christmas fair there and bring home our tree.  I'm so happy for Christmas...I finally am making a stand that everyone should just do Christmas the way that makes them happy and we should stop judging each other for how little or how much we buy and just enjoy the season and each other.  It's not about the stuff...and some people love to shop and buy for others and other people love to keep it simple.  And it's all O.K.  I figure, if we spend Christmas in the way makes us truly happy then we're doing it right and everybody should be happy because we're all happy.  If we're frustrated and angry and annoyed all the time, we're doing something wrong.  I mean, what's not to LOVE about a holiday about getting gifts, eating lots, drinking lots, staying warm and cozy, giving to the ones we love...and enjoying family and friends?  I mean, really, us Americans are so discontented sometimes...for having everything we need, I don't understand how we can be so malcontented with life and joy.

So, my wish for you is to truly have a happy and joyous holiday season!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


It's the final days of NaNoWriMo and I am finding all sorts of productive ways of avoiding writing the last of my novel.

Today, the kitchen got a thorough cleaning, even BEHIND things.  It was a bit of a scary thing.  I made a batch of chicken broth and am finishing up a batch of chicken soup.  I annoy Paul when I make broth with a whole, raw chicken instead of roasting the chicken first...but it comes out so yummy and full bodied.  And I save the pieces of chicken in the freezer to throw in casseroles and the like later.  This time, I cut out the breasts and set them aside, so we can have baked, boneless breasts later this week. That should make Paul happy.  I'm trying to stay caught up on the broth so we never have to buy boxed chicken broth again.

I have a fresh batch of Kombucha ready to go.

I also made us yummy lunches to take to work tomorrow.  Stuffed Carnival for each of us.  I'm trying to be better about making us lunches for work.  Me, because I'm a chronic lunch skipper and that is SO BAD.  And Paul, because it seems selfish to just make lunch for me...besides, once I'm making one lunch, it's no big deal to make two.  And it's better for him than cafeteria lunches every day.  And cheaper too!  And I think he likes lunches I make better than work lunches...most of the time.

Now, we're off to do chores and take Troy for a nice, long walk.  It's good for him...and good for us too!  I'm hoping this is a new habit we can keep up for the health of both and all of us.

(oh, and despite the procrastination, I managed a few thousand words...I'm not done yet, but getting closer!)

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Things are very busy in November.  NaNoWriMo began and that takes up a lot of time (though I must write that I beat my own record and wrote 10,0001 words in one day this past week--if I was only close to 'the end' of my novel, I might be feeling home free).

Paul's been splitting wood. We're burning through what we thought was a pretty good stash of wood faster than we anticipated and aren't sure we'll make it too far into next month, let alone next year!  Yikes.

The bees are are tucked in and put away for the winter.  Bree is now suspiciously quiet, I feel even too quiet for the cold, and I am worried for her survival already.  But we can only wait and see...Spring is just around...ummm...a few corners.

We've begun to delve into the freezer and are beginning our first real test of how far we can actually get with what we've stored.  I'm hoping to make it to 'WinterFare' in February!  I don't think we'll have to buy meat or eggs...isn't that a start?  And if we were better about using things from the freezer, that would help too!  But we seem to be getting better and better--there is, at least, an almost full freezer and more local meats on the way.

We're awaiting the first snow...maybe next week, but hopefully not early next week (because I'm not ready at work for any serious snow days).  In the meantime, I'm still occasionally hanging clothes on the line!

Troy is most definitely waiting for snow!!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Autumn is Coming to a Close

You can feel the chill of winter in the air now.  And sometimes, when it rains, I swear, I'm seeing snow drops.

The garlic is finally planted.  We've got two full beds this year with our own garlic, with enough left over to hopefully make it through the winter.  I think we're finally where we want to be with the garlic: two beds should be plenty to plant and plenty to eat.  As long as the garlic forgives me for planting it so late and grows in the spring.

I do need to either plant the winter wheat...or grind and eat it.  I'm worried it's too late to plant it, but I might try a patch anyway.

The garden stakes and fences are packed away in the shed for the winter.

We still need to tie up the last honeybee hive.

The leftover seeds are accounted for and in the the freezer.  I'll be happy to peruse catalogs in January with a cup of hot tea, but I don't think we'll be buying much this year.  We're pretty set in the seed department.

And we had a call last night regarding Annie and Willa.  It would be nice to see us pared down to four goats for the winter, though sad to see those girls go.  Of course, I think I wrote the e-mail address down wrong and wasn't able to send the interested party pictures...and neglected to get a phone number.  So, we shall see.  

Thinking of the fire going, I also need to put the plant shelf that's on the front porch into the shed and replace it with the wood holder.

So, still a bit to do before we're really ready for winter.

I'm off to is NaNoWriMo time after all:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Avalon has finally succumb and has not made it through the fall.  We knew there was something wrong with the Queen (or lack of), but it was at a point where we were not planning to fix it, so it was just a matter of time.  So, we cleaned up the hive and she awaits new spring bees.  We will think it through over the Winter as to how we would like to rehive her.

We might hope and pray that the other hives do well enough that we can split them, but I am leery of doing that as none of our hives is really that strong and we don't know how they will come through the winter.  Or we could hope to catch a swarm.  But what we will probably do is buy new bees.  Probably Russians, as we seem to have the best luck with them.

Eventually, we would like to be at a point where we are producing our own splits and no longer have to purchase bees...but that is at least a year off.

For those of you sharing Avalon with us, if you have not gotten your package, you should have by now.  It included 1/4 pound of honey, a bar of our goat milk and honey soap, and postcards of our bees!  We're only hoping our production goes up and up as the years go by.  We still have lots of faith in our little bees...and the good that we are doing keeping bees.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What goes on on 'real' farms...

and wondering if it's something we could do.

Now, I am pretty sure that I would not be wielding a bow saw to cut a dead pig carcass to pieces, but I have to admit, the photo doesn't look as frightening as I thought it might.  If I were to do it, I would probably have to send my piggies away to come back packaged up in individual cuts, but there is merit to being sure that the creature you sent away is the same creature you get back.  And, there's something to be said for choosing how many and how much of which cuts.  Hmmm.  A lot of something's to be said.

Alas, there is also something to be said for supporting our local farmers...and letting them do the work they love...ummm, by purchasing meat from them!  And not taking the chance of falling in love with your food.  (notice, Dinner and Lunch are still running around the farm here, crowing away).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coming Home...

does life get any better than coming home to this?  

and...goat in bag!  
gotta love aria!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Name that Mushroom....

relaxing at Camp

does life get any better than this?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bree and Bees

Autumn is most definitely upon us.  I took the last honey super off of Bree with a crunch and a crack as I busted through cold bee's wax and proplis.  I am thinking I'm a little late doing this, and now the girls will have to reseal the cracks and crevices of the top of their hive.  There was a little honey in the super, but I left it out for the bees to rescue, as they too, suffered with the loss of the well when I was unable to feed them as I would have liked.

Now, it's time to tie everyone up.  Take a listen and look by the entrance.  And hope and pray and worry through the winter...and wait for spring.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Rings

I canned spiced apple rings...what a bust.  I don't think I will be canning rings again next year.  The peeler, corer, slicer worked, but only how it wanted to.  I think the apples were too soft for rings.  The recipe called for too much mace, which I should have realized when I smelled the mace that it would be too strong a flavor.  And, in the end, I'm not sure all my jars pinged sealed.  Now I have tons of jars of apple rings...and well, maybe they'll be yummy mixed with yogurt.

Maybe drying and freezing apples is the way to go.

And, of course, honeyed applesauce--yum!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lately Happenings

I just took one of our local meat chickens (from Katie) out of the freezer and turned it into broth.  I don't know about you, but I am so confused when I go to buy a can (or box) of chicken broth.  Low sodium or low fat...I don't want either: I want the fat and the salt...but a reasonable, normal amount.  And I certainly don't want conventional chicken broth, because WHO knows what gets thrown in the's kind of like hot dogs and ground beef: WHAT is it, really?  So, I've been wanting to make and stash away my own broth.  So, with one chicken, I think I have enough to get us through most of the winter for soups and risotto and whatever else it turns out we need it for.  Yay!  I love local food.

And I pulled the breasts and meat pieces off and froze those for later meals as well.  So, lots of meat pieces and broth.  Next time I do a bird, I will need to ask Katie for her 'rooster ball' recipe and Laura for her 'chicken nugget' recipe.

And speaking of local food.  We just bought a meat share from The Farm School to split with Katie.  It's five pickups through the winter with a total of 60 pounds worth of eggs (like we need that...but in the winter, who knows, when our chickies start to slack off and know they can get away with it we might want farm fresh eggs).  We're curious to see what we get out of the share and decide if that's a way to go.  Besides, The Farm School does great things and has great programs.  Sometimes, I wish they had a bigger local presence, but maybe that's just me being greedy--they are there.

As for food, I am a natural hoarder.  I never finish my home canned goods because I want to SAVE them and have them for some 'later'.  That 'later'...I'm not sure what it is but it's there in the back of my head.  And the same with my freezer goods.  I'm a hoarder and a saver and then I end up throwing away things I should not be throwing away because I have hoarded for way too long.  So, my plan to keep myself from doing this is to start opening and using the goods as soon as November starts.  And that way, I can see how far it gets us into winter...and how much more I need to save for next winter.  If I'm lucky this year, it will make us to February when Greenfield has their HUGE Winter Farmer's Market.  AND the freezer should be empty by spring for defrosting and starting over.  AND I should not have to buy a lot of food...I stored and stashed a fair amount away.  Not as much as I would like to have, but more than last year!

It's moving into chore time for the season.  I HAVE to make the applesauce I could not make all that time we had no water (BTW, thank goodness for RAIN!!).  But I did freeze some apples and dried some apples, which I might not have done had we had water.  Then it's garden and farm chores.  It's time to take that last honey super off of Bree and get the bee feedings going.  Avalon is still hanging on, and I don't want to stress the bees out by looking too much into the hives when I am not going to do anything but wait and hope, but I might take a quick peek at Avalon when I open Bree.  Then it's time to feed and tie them up for the winter and start crossing fingers!

The barn needs a complete overhaul.  The chickens need to GET OUT!!!  And all the stalls need a good cleaning before winter.  The coop needs a good cleaning before winter.  And the garden needs a good cleaning before winter.  And I need to plant my garlic and winter wheat and move around bulbs!  Phew.  And it all needs to be done before November when NANO starts:

That was a long one...hope you're still awake.

Happy Autumn everyone!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Water Saga

is officially over.  We have good, clean water!  And lots of it, judging from the amounts we had to dump out onto the ground in the well cleansing process!!!


And I can't wait to try them out:  reusable canning lids AND they are BPA free (you know, that creepy chemical that's in all our plastics and leeches into our food and now they're saying that we probably shouldn't be using it around food.  It's the reason you shouldn't heat food in plastic containers...or wrap your cheeses in plastic wrap...or drink from plastic bottles)!!!!  So, yay, for BPA free canning.  I hadn't figured out how to get around that minor canning issue.

Again, I found this info on my new favorite canning website:

The article on the Tattler Lids:

I must do some research on these.  I will keep you posted on the results of my own tests!

As for water...we should have our new test results back today by noon.  If it passes (please let it pass), we won't have to lug water to the barn for all the animals...and we'll be able to taste our new water.

In the meantime, thank goodness it is finally raining.  (It's only been months since we've had any decent rain)...I almost couldn't remember what the noise was on my roof last night!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

We can't use it....

but it's running....

Day Eleven Without Water

I think we've used our allotted lifetime supply of plastic bottles this week!!!  At least some of them were leftover from the Ice Storm of 2008...still in the basement with water we could use for toilet flushing...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Autumn Writing Contest Winner

an autumn haiku:

autumn is better
than summer though summer is
better for cold beer

by katie

Happy Autumn Everyone!!!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Ditch

Just waiting on the water test....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We have water...

It smells like chlorine and we can't proceed further until we finish circulating it out and get it tested, but we have water.  And so far, the only thing we can do with it is haul buckets inside to flush the toilet.

Oh, and I watered the beans until I remembered it's chlorinated water...does it still constitute organic beans if you watered them with chlorinated water?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

425 feet later....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Current State of the Yard

I'm afraid for what it's going to look like...later.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Well, the dry summer has finally caught up with us and the well is all but completely drained.  Only the little critters in the little puddle in the bottom of our well looked sadder than we are.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apple Time

We went to Sentinel Farm in Belchertown to pick apples on Sunday.  And to see the goats: Mary, Samson, and Franklin, who we are happy to say are happy as can be and loved, loved, loved!  That was wonderful to see.  Their new family is also thinking of breeding Mary for milk.  Yay!  So, we'll work with them to help them get Mary bred either this year or next fall.

Apple picking was wonderful.  They have beautiful trees and beautiful apples...and I now am inundated with apples.  It's time to make applesauce, including a Limited Reserve of BumbleChick Honey Applesauce, more applesauce, and some apple rings which I think are going to be awesome in yoghurt this winter.

I also need to dry some apples so I can work on a green and roibois apple tea, as my new favorite harvest apple tea has been discontinued!!!!

AND, of course, it's just about cider pressing time!!!!

And it's quickly closing in...on me too...but the Autumn Writing Contest Deadline is next week.  Midnight of September 22nd!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Squirrels and Red Chickens

I knew the little red hens were bold, but yesterday, I watched one of them chase a fat grey squirrel around the yard and away from any seeds and treats that might be on her turf!!!

I only wish I had gotten a picture.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Putting Food By

It's been a busy weekend preserving and freezing and canning food for the winter.  Pictured above: Tomato relish, watermelon rind pickles, and oven dried tomatoes.

The watermelon rind pickles taste delicious so far...and only took the whole weekend to make.  I hope that as they meld in the jars, they continue to taste great.

I found recipe on line.
I did learn today that you should always boil water bath any pickles you make.

Watermelon Rind Pickles

4 quarts watermelon rind
3T pickling salt
cover the rinds with water and salt and let sit overnight.
in the morning, rinse and rinse and rinse well, then boil on low heat until just tender.

3 1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
6 cups sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
1 T whole cloves
boil and cook for five minutes.
pour over drained watermelon and let sit for 24 hours.

bring syrup to a boil and pour back over rinds and let sit for another 24 hours.

bring everything to a boil for five minutes.
seal in jars and boil in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Samson and Mary and Franklin

For those of you who are asking about the goats in their new home.  We are hoping to visit them next Sunday when we go apple picking at their new home.  In the meantime, here's an update.  Then I am off to can more tomatoes....

"Mary and Samson have settled in like they were born here.  They are kind and gentle and not at all strange in or out of the pen.  Franklin is quite noisy and seems to want people attention all the time.  The two older goats are trying to let him know that he is lowest on the pecking order, so he is trying to get people attention and special privledges.  The boys have fallen in love with Franklin and feed his interest in people company.  He spent an hour at the Farmer's Market being adored by all of the visitors to our apple tent.  Lease training is going well with Franklin and the older goats are getting some exposure to it."

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pickled Peppers

I pickled some peppers I got at the Farmer's Market last night.  The really pretty peppers with the red and greens are actually from Laura's garden!  Mostly these are for Paul, cuz I don't really like hot, hot peppers. But I do like to use them in Mexican dishes and other spicy now, we've got them stashed away for when we need them.

Very Basic Pickled Jalapenos
This technique can be used for just about any small, hot pepper. Measurements are for 1 pound of peppers and yield approximately 2 1/2 pints. Recipe can be doubled.
1 pound of jalapeno peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
Pack clean, hot jars with peppers. Pour hot brine over top. Bubble your jars thoroughly by tapping them firmly on the countertop and using a wooden chopstick to release any stubborn bubbles. Wipe rims, apply lids and bands.
Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes. Store in cool, dark place for up to a year.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


HoneyBees at the Watering Hole

It's been a very dry summer.  We've had to worry about water most of the season...and as you can see, the bees are very grateful for the Bird/Bee Bath.

Remember, for those of you interested, we are running our second writing contest.  The theme is Autumn and the deadline is September 21st.  We welcome poems, short stories, or essays of less than 2500 words.  The winner of the contest will receive a 1/4 pound jar of very coveted BumbleChick Honey.

Please send submissions to

Thursday, August 26, 2010

honey extraction

honey frame in the uncapping tank waiting to be extracted

uncapping the wax cappings from the honey frame

honey frame in the extractor

honey being filtered 

finished honey--25 jars with 1/4 pound of honey

We began cleaning up and closing up our hives for the winter today.  We took what honey we are going to take from them this year, (except that we left one honey super on Bree, who seems to be doing the best of our hives), and took off the honey supers.

We got very, very little honey in our honey supers, but we did manage to take two frames of honey to extract--and from those two frames (one only being 1/4 full on one side), we got our 25 jars.  We are learning that as the years go by and those frames get wax comb on them, the bees will spend less time making wax and more time making us honey...or that's the hope we have!

In bee updates:
Avalon looks terrible and is very cranky.  From what the State Beekeeper Inspector told Paul on Friday (he got a sting that swelled up as bad as any of mine), they either just swarmed, or planned to swarm soon.  And there were no eggs in the hive...NOT a good sign.

Bree looked awesome and was so calm and docile for us.  We got to watch a baby bee hatch...and stole a frame of honey which we replaced with a new frame.  I'm a bad beekeeper and forgot to mark the new 2010 frame so I know what's new in the future.

Chalice had no honey for us to fact, I am worried for their winter survival.  They seem to be short on bees and have several empty frames.  Hmmm.  I'm so sad, that was our swarm hive that was doing so INCREDIBLE back when we first got them.

Dionysus is doing well.  No honey in the supers, but they are building up and have bees and honey...though they still need to get moving to get enough to make it through the winter.

My theory was that since the plants are running two weeks ahead of schedule, I should do my beekeeping chores two weeks ahead of schedule.  I err on the side of leaving more for the bees, less for the people.

For Avalon that we know a bit more about extraction, we are hoping to set extraction dates in the future so that our sponsors can come and get sticky and gooey and play in the honey.  Note, we will be doing these later at night, so we don't have flying company helping...YIKES!!!  But the bees do a GREAT job cleaning up behind us.  And we did learn that they can smell the honey in the house and will swarm the house to try to get's been an interesting evening...

Now, we are trying to decide if we have enough honey excess to sell any of it...

Thanks Kirk and Kari for all of your help!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Got billed $500.00 but the little monsters should be gone....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scary Farm Life

Paul left me to do barn chores all by myself...and it's been a scary ordeal ever since he left!!!

I finally planted a tree that Katie gave me in the spring and I was so proud of myself.  But when I opened the tools in the barn to get a wire cutter (you know, to protect the tree from goats) ENORMOUS mouse jumped out.  I mean, it was HUGE...about the size of a field mouse and scared the b-jeepers out of me.  I screamed like a girl.  (and for the record, Troy just stared at me)

Oh, it gets worse!!!  I'm looking for chicken eggs in new places, knowing there have got to be more out there.  I check under the rose bush where the chickens all hang out...and there is what I think is a GIANT paper wasp nest.  Oh, no, it's not.  I went inside to get the camera cuz that's only a little scary and I realize it's a (insert the expletive of your choice here) HORNET'S NEST bigger than MY HEAD!!!!  I'm a girly, girl.  I am still shaking!!

Here's a picture....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squash Beetles

The nasty, disgusting creatures I mistook for stink bugs have moved out of the picket fence garden, away from the half dead summer squashes, across the lawn, and into the WINTER SQUASH beds.  I am afraid that I will lose all of my squashes!  Damn.  Damn.  Damn.  And it is August, therefore, I have given up on fighting the bugs (besides, the garden is so crazy, I don't think I could get in there to do anything about the bugs anyway).  So, I will let them be and hope that they don't eat everything...then I will let the chickens in to hopefully EAT THEM and their LARVA TOO!!!  Later, after I've harvested what I can, because in a chicken garden massacre, I know from experience I will get nuthing!  Maybe, just maybe, I have a chance with the bugs...ahem, okay, all right...lets hope the farmer's market has some good winter squash this fall.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Homes...

Sammy, Mary, and Franklin went to their new home this evening.  They are going to be so happy in their new home...though right now, Sammy is really unhappy about the car ride to get there.  He and Mary are crated in the back of the SUV, while Franklin is cuddled between two very happy boys who worked very, very hard to get a home ready for the goats to come home.  It's going to be good, happy digs for the kids!

I must admit, it was a bit sad to see Sammy go...he was one of our first kids born on the farm.  And Mary had this little special place in my heart... she is so like her mother.  She will be an awesome mommy and milker!  But I know that I can't keep everyone here at I do the next best thing...find them awesome homes!  And this is another one!

If you want to check out the orchard they are going to, visit  Apple picking starts on September 11th...that's the same day as the HillTown Brew Fest!!!!  Ahhhh....Autumn is on the way.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Honey Bee Hives

We checked all the hives yesterday.  Just a peek to see if they needed new honey supers.  And nope, they sure don't.  I don't know if it's the lack of rain, making a lack of nectar, or the bees are just busy with their own boxes before they work on our honey boxes.  But nothin' is going on in the honey boxes.

There are lots of bees in the top boxes of Avalon, but no honey work being done.  Though they are busy packing the propolis screen with propolis--it looks like they are working the middle of it toward the outer edges (so I did put it on goes between the inner and outer cover...or, even if I put it on wrong, it still seems to be working).  So, we should have some propolis to share with those of you in our bee share...what you're gonna do with it, I don't know, but you should get some anyway.

Bree has lots and lots of bees in the top boxes...and some comb in the honey super, but I think the majority of that is just leftover from last year.

I wasn't hoping for a lot of honey this year, but I was hoping that all the bees would build up the comb in the honey supers so that they'll have a good head start next year (and the years to come) with built up comb to just pack honey in!  But if they don't build up some comb...well, they'll have to do it next year.  Patience, Charlotte, patience.

Oh, and I was hoping for more honey this year than last year.  But we still have a month, a month and a half, or so, before we take the honey supers off for the season.  So we still have time.  We just need some rain and lots and lots of nectar!!!

Chalice...same story.  Few bees up in the honey supers...enough to be annoyed at me, but no honey or comb.

Dionysus...yup, same thing.  No comb.  No honey.  And I did do the silliest thing...D is tucked up under the C, so to open up D, I have to tilt the lid on C.  Yes, we most definitely need to do some rearranging of the new hives before next spring.  And we will need to block those two hives from the wind before winter.

And I just hope they are going to have enough honey to get THEM through the winter.  THAT is the most important thing!!  SURVIVE the winter.

Happy Beeing Everyone.  We will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Franklin visiting BumbleChick Farm!

We sold three goats yesterday morning who will be leaving the farm just after Labor Day.  Franklin went.  Samson went.  And since we didn't have another boy for sale, Mary went.  That leaves every mother with one kid, so the barn should stay a happy place this winter.  We are willing to sell Annie and Willa as a pair if anyone is interested in does...which would leave us with Ginger and Lilly as our breeding does (don't worry, it will be another year before we even THINK about breeding Lilly).  And then our pets, our retired Aria and her Mozart (AKA Chewey).

The plan was to keep Franklin with us until he left with his new owners, but he's a sneaky little critter and when we came home from the airport, I guess the sight of humans was too much for him and as we were unpacking the car, he squeezed between the cattle panel holes and came to help.  After that, there was no keeping him in.  So, he stayed with us while we chatted, and had wine, and grilled dinner.  He hung out while one of those darn red chickens stole the bun off my burger, off my plate!  And then his WindyFields human Mommy came to take him back home.  He was awesome.  He is going to make a great little buddy for someone at the Apple Orchard...he followed us around like a little puppy.

Once we have a second between visitors and traveling, we will shore up the paneling and take him back.  That way he can get used to his new companions before his final destination at

So, it was a very productive visit yesterday.

We also did some egg bartering with a neighbor.  I think we made out on that deal.  One dozen eggs for a g-zillion cukes and zukes and summer squash.  Bartering works for us!

And my batch of Peach Butter came out really, really yummy.  It's a little softer than I intended, but it's still spreadable and delicious.  I might try to make one more batch before I move on to relish making time!  Eek.

Happy Summer Everyone!!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

And in Farm News...

We have Franklin from WindyFields Farm over here whining away.  

We have someone coming this morning to look at  a pair of wethers and since we still aren't sure about selling Aria's Mozart, we thought we'd bring over Franklin to pair up with Samson.  Aria is looking a bit rough these days (she's our old lady) and I just don't have the heart to take the chance that she'll be fine without her Mozart.  I think she'd be all right with another unpaired goat to cozy up with...but well, I'm not sure.  And that's what makes me a softy farmer.

We had someone interested in a pair of does...but we're still waiting to hear back.

So, we will keep you posted on the farming goings ons!  And don't forget to vote above!

Short Story Winner!

The Two Brothers

The fireworks were spectacular.  Bright streams shot across the clear sky, reflected in the smooth water below.  The cracks and booms, and shrieks from the spectators on the crowded dock, were enough to wake the dead.  Unfortunately.

Long slumbering souls stirred amongst the roots of the weeds further up along the shallow shoreline.   Two stiff necks creaked, as long unused ears strained to identify the source of the sounds.  Four damp eye sockets squinted at the surface of the water, saw the streaks of flame shooting across the sky.  Wondered.

A finale of thunderous noise and lights was accompanied by equally thunderous shouts and applause from the persons on the dock.  It was joined by a few appreciative hoots and shouts from camps across the water.  And the mournful howling of one frightened dog.

Slowly the noises faded.  Silence gathered.  But the watery sleeping souls were now awake.  Moving.  Bony limbs burrowed through the thick mud at the bottom of the lake.  Small stones scraped at remembrances of flesh as fingers and then arms disturbed the rocky surface of the lake bottom.

The two souls worked their way out of the muck and then crawled on all fours along the watery shallows at the edge of the lake, occasionally breaking the surface of the water, occasionally sinking back below.  Fifty good yards they travelled, slowly, until the slime covered head of one bumped against something hard, wooden and dry.

The brother followed as he mounted the obstacle, both creeping like cautious iguanas.  Snuffling about the hard flat surface of the dock, the brothers wrinkled their noses at the acrid smell of the firework tracings.  Together, almost as one, they suddenly turned their faces toward the sky, sniffing the air as the wind shifted, and raising themselves up from their crouched positions like the first prehistoric man to lift his blistered knuckles off the ground and stand.

The air was hot.  Steamy.  A mist roiled over the flat surface of the lake.

And as one their faces turned towards the dimly lit cabin up the step on the shore.  Snuffling, grunting, they moved towards the light.  They stumbled on the jutting, uneven rocks that made the stairway up to the ground floor door.  Unwisely unlocked.

Slimy fingers slipped and fumbled over the door handle.  It had been a long time.  Then the door creaked open.  The smell of the warm bodies filled their noses.  Bare feet crept along a slightly cooler corridor.   Slapping on the soothing cold concrete.  Many years under the lake, the heat out of the water was thick.

The brothers entered a  tiny bunk room and sniffed at the sleeping forms, barely covered in their beds.  The first reached out and touched the sweaty forehead of one.  The other ran a dead finger over a clump of long dark hair that spread across the pillow.

Not finding what they thirsted for, they turned away.  Swampy breath congealed over a half a dozen more sleeping forms in the cabin.  Upstairs and down.  The brothers began to boil with anger and a parched and thirsty hunger.

Then a low hum caught the one’s attention.  They stumbled into a kitchen they had passed by before, following the beckoning hum and stood before a large white sweaty box.  A box that murmered and seemed to breathe, calling out with a soothing song.

The other brother ran his hands over the sweaty mystery, confused.  And then he pulled in frustration at a protrusion along one side.  A small door flew open, and the brother fell backwards as many cold hard projectiles launched upon him.  The first brother picked one up, it almost slipped out of his algae covered bony hand,  He squinted at it, licked it, and then smiled with glee.

The following day there was much bickering in the cabin about who had eaten whose ice cream.  The only thing ever determined was that somebody had eaten it all.  And left a big mess.


by Katie

Many...many judges called this one...'laugh out loud funny!' --and now you know why we had so much trouble choosing a winner!

Poetry Winner!!

One of the judges said that this poem was "insightful, poised, and captured the essence of summer."

June 22, 2010
What is summer?
Summer is when the fireflies light up the sky at nightfall,
When the long, eerie shadows of the moon dance among the trees.
Summer is when the ghosts of temperature seep into our homes,
And warm us to discomfort while our eyes are shut.

What is summer?
Summer is when the fields get taller and taller,
Then shrink as the tractor chug, chug, chugs along.
Summer is when the cows out on pasture moo a song
In chorus with the chirping chickadees in the trees.

What is summer?
Summer is when the grass tickles between our toes,
And earthworms crawl beneath our feet.
Summer is when wet kids dance around a sprinkler,
And their mother tends the garden, in hope of a good harvest.

What is summer?
Summer is when honey bees wander out from the hive,
Then rest and gather around the dandelions, in peace.
Summer is when young butterflies spread their wings,
And gracefully flutter about a world new to their eyes.

What is summer?
Summer is the taste of sweet tea,
And the sticky juice of a watermelon drizzling down our chins.
Summer is a cold chocolate Fudgsicle, melting in the heat,
Leaving a ring of chocolate around our chins,
and a sense of satisfaction in our bellies.

I know what summer is.
Summer is all of these things.
Plus one.
Summer is…inspiration

Windyfields Farm

Friday, July 30, 2010

Autumn Writing Contest

AND we have our first entry for the Autumn contest.  Damn...I was hoping we could get out of doing it....

Who's idea was it to have a contest anyway?

Our judges are tied for who belongs in first place.  We asked several people to judge, so that we would have a variety of comments to work with.  But instead, we now have a handful of people split down the middle over who should have the first place seat.  And so, we will have to rethink our judging for the fall contest...maybe we'll just put all the entries in a hat and pick the winner that way.  Or, at least do that with the top two!

In any case, what we've decided this time is that we are going to award the top two entries the first place spot.  Maybe we'll call it: the poetry winner and the story winner.

So, over the weekend, we will post our winning entries.....

And maybe, we'll post a poll on which entry YOU all like best...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Honorable Mentions

Nobody wants to wait until Saturday, including myself, so we're going to post some honorable mentions while we wait for the last of our anonymous judges to make the final decisions.

The Snowman Made Out of Mud
I made a Snowman that was made out of mud.
It came to life and took a bath.
It was still melting and so turned back into mud.
I made another muddy Snowman.
That one melted too.

The Weather
It is not snowing
no rain
my back has pain
this is not weather for snowmen
we can make bookmen
mine might eat you
mine might beat you
we can make them walk
we can make them talk
we can name them Sam or Pam
or Wam or Jam
Let's have one of each
they will have to be like a peach
I will name mine Jam
I will name mine Sam

And we will be doing another contest this fall.  Same rules...only this time, the theme is Autumn.
Deadline: The Autumn Equinox: September 22nd by Midnight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


It's pretty hot and humid out there.  Summer is definitely here!  Things are blooming already that shouldn't be blooming yet, so I'm hoping for a nice long season of blooms that the bees like.  I'm hoping that the fall blooms don't just come early and disappear before the fall, when the bees can really take advantage of it!

The corn is high as an elephants eye and the early sweet is beginning to grow hair, so we should have corn growing in there soon.  The winter squash is growing like crazy beneath the corn.  And the sunflowers in there (from leftover goat food) are ready to bust out in blooms that the bees should love!

I am planning to do some more cleaning and organizing today.  And I really need to get outside and plant a couple of things and move some perennials around.  But, I'm kinda slow and lazy today.  The heat and humidity has sucked the life out of me.  Whine, whine.  Not that I don't like this kind of weather, I do...I live in New England, it's what I expect, but I like it better when I can sit around and do nothing--preferably by a body of water!

The judging is continuing!  We should know soon!

And Mr. Ajax is yet again performing.  TheOrganicGoat should have new kids this fall!  Go, Ajax!!!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Writing Contest

The submissions are in and are with our assortment of judges.  We should know soon, who the winner is and will be sending out the gift basket to them!  The submission will be posted, as stated, on August First--so stay tuned.

This was fun and we will probably do it again.  I am thinking an Autumn theme next, due on the Autumn Equinox...September 21st.  And then a Winter theme and a Spring theme...are you seeing the connection here?  And then we'll have to come up with something new.  We will keep you posted with details of the upcoming Autumn contest in the near future.

Right now, we are enjoying much needed rain.  And I am going to take a much needed nap, while Paul paints the trim in the hallway!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

We have all of our entries for the Contest...I guess

most of us are last minute writers.  We got the majority of our submissions yesterday.

We will be judging over the next few days and will post the winner's piece on August First!

Thank you to everyone who submitted.  I'm excited to start's going to be fun!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Contest Deadline

The submissions are coming in!  Join the Fun!

The last minute is officially here.  You have until midnight TONIGHT to submit your stories, poems, and essays to the Summer Writing Contest!

So, for all you procrastinators, now's the time!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The writing contest entries are starting to come in now.  Remember, you have until Midnight, tomorrow night, the 21st of July to have your entries to  So get writing.   The last minute is almost here!

Here are two of the recipes from the Canning Coop.  These recipes are compliments of Laura from WindyFields Farm.

Here you go...enjoy!

Strawberry Mint Jam
8 cups strawberries
6 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice

In the preserving pot, crush the berries lightly with a potato masher.
Simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes.  Add the sugar and lemon juice, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Increase heat to medium high and boil rapidly for 15-20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Remove from Heat.  Stir for 2-3 minutes, skim foam, stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh mint.

Pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Maple Sugar
1 quart of top grade maple sugar

Bring a pan of water to a boil and check the temperature to determine what the boiling point of water is for the day you are making the sugar.  Heat the syrup to a temperature of 40-45 degrees F above the boiling point of water.  Pour the syrup immediately into a clean pan or bowl for stirring.  Begin stirring immediately and continue to stir until granulation occurs.
Store in a airtight jar.

I must say...I am impressed by someone who makes their own maple sugar.  But like most things, it probably seems more complicated than it is until you try it on your own.  Maybe, I'll try it one day...but not yet, cuz I have a jar of Laura's!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Reminder: June 21st Post updated with Contest Rules:

MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010

Summer Solstice Writing Contest

Happy First Day of Summer!  It's the longest day of the year...make the most of it.

To celebrate the Summer Solstice, BumbleChick Farm is launching our first contest.  To combine our love of literature and reading with our love of farming, it is going to be a writing contest.

Here are the rules.  Don't worry, there are only a few.  We are looking for a work of poetry or a short story or essay (not more than 2100 words).  There is one word we want you to think of when you are writing your piece and that is:


Be creative and have fun!

We will give you a thirty days to write and submit your work, that would be July 21st by midnight.  To be published on our blog on the first day of August (Lughnasadh--the Celtic MidSummer and the beginning of the Harvest Season).

Please submit your work to
Please do not use attachments...I will not open them.  Cut and paste your entire piece into the body of your e-mail.

I will have my husband open all submissions and forward them to me from his own account, so that each story or poem comes to me I won't be tempted to pick anything for any other reason than that it is the piece I like the best.  THIS IS NO LONGER TRUE.  I NOW HAVE IMPARTIAL JUDGES WHO RECEIVE THE SUBMISSIONS WITHOUT NAMES AND WILL MAKE THE FINAL DECISIONS.  I WON'T BE ANY PART OF THE DECISION MAKING--I KNOW TOO WELL SOME OF THE WRITING STYLES OF SOME OF THE SUMITTEES.  

Prize will be a gift bag from  The prize will be worth at least $15.00!  And mailed directly to your home!  


I harvested the last of the garlic from the garden and laid it out in the sun to cure.  We harvested a total of 69 bulbs!  Yay!  I can't remember what we got last year for a total, but we should have enough to make it through the winter with some to plant in the fall!  We are getting better.  This fall we will probably plant two 4X4 beds with garlic instead of just one and half beds, which is what we did for this year.

The bed that is now empty of garlic, we are going to put to bed for the winter.  I am going to cover it with cardboard and then some manure and hay from the goat and chicken stalls and use it as the compost heap for a week and let it break down.  Our garden gets better and better each year as we work those beds and continue to build them up.  I love raised beds...or specific beds with pathways in between so you can really work on and build up your soil.  And you're not stepping in your beds and packing down that soil you worked so hard to make beautiful.  And an added bonus for bad gardeners, like me, is you can work one bed a day and it's not so daunting.  And the limited space keeps you from growing more than you know you can handle.  I love it.

I am planning to put spinach in the half bed the rest of the garlic came out of.

Let's see, the potatoes look awful.  It's interesting that the one plant that really had a chance to bloom is doing just fine.  I'm wondering if the bugs eating off our blossoms before they had a chance to bloom have destroyed the plants.  Probably will harvest the new potatoes soon, if the plants don't perk up.

The soybeans are just starting to have beans.

The drying beans we planted where the wheat was is beginning to come up.  I'm hoping they have enough time to grow and produce before winter.

Everything else is looking good.  It's coming along...though we still have those damn beetles.  I'm not sure how the Brussels sprouts are going to come along.

Oh, and we have one itty bitty eggplant!

The corn and winter squash patch has gone absolutely crazy.  They LOVE being where the goats used to be...where all that old poop and hay used to be.  I'm hoping for a good crop and I'm hoping it will have enough juice left to give the winter wheat a good boost.

Oh, and only TWO more days for the Summer Writing Contest!  You only have until midnight on Wednesday!  Get writing!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


It's time to pull up the garlic.  We took out a third of our crop last night and left it out to begin to cure in the sun and fresh air (of course, it rained a bit last night--now I know another way to get it to rain when we need it).  

Our garlic is beautiful and HUGE this year.  Sometimes, I think we should forget everything else in the garden and just grow rows and rows and rows of garlic and maybe some flowers.  It's tempting.  It's the one thing we grow really well here.  And we no longer have any idea what kind of garlics we have, so we're gonna have to call it the BumbleChick Mutt Garlic.  

I absolutely love garlic.  I use it in EVERYTHING.  And it is so good for you: it's antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, anti-everything-bad-for-you.  (a clove a day, keeps the doctor away)

Garlic is ready to harvest when the plants begin to die off...or if you're slow like me, when they are completely dead.  You pull up the garlic from the ground.  They should come out nicely if you pull them straight up and out of the ground.  You will want to cure the garlic in the sun for a day or so.  After that, I usually tie the stalks together and hang them from the curtain rods in my kitchen for the winter.  Though, last year, I put them all in a loose weave basket and kept them in that.  I used loose weave so that the air would circulate nicely...and I made extra sure that the bulbs were cured before I put them in the basket.  

You can then use the garlic through the winter, cutting a bulb off a stalk and using it as needed.  
You can also plant the cloves in the fall for the next year--we use our best and most beautiful bulbs for replanting, so we are sure that we are reproducing the best of the best and we have the plants that obviously enjoyed being in our hopes that their offspring is adapted and happy in our environment.  

Late in the winter, when the garlic starts to get softer, I take what is left of the cloves and peel them and cut them up into small pieces (about the size of peppercorns) and dry them really well in a low oven until they are completely dry.  I used to just use the larger pieces of dried garlic in soups and pastas and etc., because I am too lazy to pound the dried pieces into a powder.  But this year, I learned that I can put the dried garlic in a pepper grind and have fresh ground garlic to season EVERYTHING!!  

I also make a tincture out of the garlic.  A tincture is a concentration of a certain herb or blend of herb used for medicinal purposes.  A tincture is easy to make.   In the case of garlic, you will put pieces of cut up garlic in a jar and just cover it with cheap vodka.  Let it sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks--if you remember, you can shake it up a bit, daily.  Then strain the vodka out, so you just have the liquid and store it in a dark bottle or a dark place.  (date and label the bottle, of course)  I usually keep my tinctures for only a year, though the time you can keep them is debatable.  

I use garlic tincture in my soapy water mix when I do battle with bugs in the garden!!--in which case, I wouldn't worry about expired tincture.  Just a teaspoon or so for about a quart of water and soap.  Bugs don't like garlic!  

I also use garlic tincture when I feel something really awful coming on in the way of a cold or the flu.  It's a last resort, as nobody wants to be around someone who's taken garlic tincture, so I try to take it at night.  Though usually, by the time I resort to the garlic tincture, I feel so crappy, I don't care about anyone else!  You can take a few drops up to a half teaspoon a few times a day.  (Just remember, it is made with vodka...medicate responsibly!)


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