October 2016 ...and beyond {in review}

Our 2016 season came to a close in October. It was a bit of a relief, but also disappointing to be at the end of our growing season. The rest of fall was used for garden and farm cleanup, winterizing the chicken coops and resetting. The hens molt every fall and take a break from laying, but luckily our new babies from the summer started laying just in time. Two of those chicks have turned out to be beautiful roosters, which we didn't want, but are hoping work out to be a good addition to our flock.

 

 

September 2016 {in review}

September was a pepper party for us here. SO many peppers! Basil and bok choi were also thriving, and the tomatoes did well throughout considering how dry it had been.

We saw glimpses of fall weather, cool thunderstorms and the appearance of fall critters made their way to the garden. Caterpillars and large garden spiders became common companions for garden work.

Shares consisted of peppers, greens and herbs, winter squash and potatoes and the remaining tomatoes.

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August 2016 {in review}

August was hot and dry, but we made it through without too many disruptions. The best thing abut August? TOMATOES!

Squash beetles overtook the summer squash plants and started moving in towards the winter squash and pumpkins, that was terribly frustrating, so I am working on better plans for this coming summer.

CSA shares were filled with tomatoes and peppers, fresh herbs, cucumbers and still some greens. Summer brings the very best of what we have to offer.

July 2016 {in review}

July is always my very favorite month of the year, and last July was no exception. Lots of veggies, warm sun, the occasional thunderstorm and long days. It's the best.

The CSA baskets started to fill up due to the abundance of squash and cucumbers. Beans were producing beautifully, until the bean beetles attacked. Relentless squishing extended the beans further than expected, but ultimately their season was cut a bit short. No pesticides, or chemicals of an kind are ever used here, which means that is a reality we deal with. Pests are ever present and more often than not we are just trying to stay ahead of them.

Some extra fun in July was the arrival of a new flock of chicks and the kids setup a lemonade stand {lifelong wish of theirs fulfilled!} for CSA pickups.

Can we all agree that a little bit of summer right now would be a good thing?

June 2016 {in review}

The month of June was such a relief for us. The weather was beautiful, vegetables started really growing well and we finally got our pickups underway!

The 1st Friday in June was Week 1 pickup for shares here at the farm. It had originally been scheduled for 2 weeks prior, but had to be postponed due to poor growing conditions.

May 2016 {in review}

For as mild and pretty April was, May was the opposite. It was very cool and extremely wet. The plants that started with a great start were stunted from the chilly temperatures and many of the seeds I directly planted into the soil failed to germinate. It was a frustrating few weeks, to say the least. I felt like I was waiting then re-doing so many things. Our 1st CSA pickup had to be pushed back 2 weeks!! The rainy days allowed for lots of time in the hoophouse and packing eggs.

By the end of the month we finally started to see real growth. The greens had picked up speed and the potatoes were established enough to allow the chickens in the forage. We also had the outdoor washing station setup and our farmstand was ready for CSA pickup!

April 2016 {in review}

A big project for last April was fixing our hoop house and stretching new plastic over it. Naturally, I didn't take a single picture of this process, but it was so huge for us to be able to move our seedlings and seed starting operation outside and out of our house! The farmstand project was ongoing and there was lots of soil prep happening. At then end the prior fall we put down a nice layer of compost, a layer of dried leaves and covered it all with black plastic, so then in April we uncovered it all and added a new thick layer of compost. Since we were starting the CSA, and over-sold our initial goal for membership, we had to expand which meant moving fences and tilling.  

We started April cool and with even a bit of snow, but ended warm and sunny. By the end of the month we had seedlings transplanted, more seeds directly sown into the ground (like carrots and radishes) and even our first batch of seed potatoes planted.

March 2016 {in review}

Sometimes March can feel like a tease...it's the month when spring officially arrives, and usually temperatures start to warm up a smidge, but usually winter sticks around longer than we anticipate. Last March we were too busy to be bothered when it didn't really feel all that spring-like outside. March was a time of continued seed starting and lots of transplanting tomato seedlings. Our old corn crib on the property started to have a new life in what became our farmstand/CSA pickup area and we had to deal with a medical scare for one of our goats.

Every spring our cat Ashby seems to find the baby garter snakes and brings them home again and again. She rarely kills them, it's really for her entertainment I think. The daffodils bloom early and that is always a good sign! And our poor wether had a surgical procedure (he's 100%fine now thank goodness!) that left us with having to give him meds orally, which he hated, and daily injections in his side, which I hated. That was a huge learning experience for me and it really drives home how much you need to be able to handle on a day to day basis with living things so dependent on you. He is not a huge goat, but big enough to be stronger than me and he's pretty fast. Luckily, his recovery was easy and he is a very sweet boy so we were all able to get through it ok!

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February 2016 {in review}

February 2016 was really about starting seeds. All of my herbs, tomatoes and peppers were sown in February for a nice long growth period before final transplanting. Unfortunately our hoop house sustained major damage the prior year so all seeds before April were started in our house.

We opened up our CSA to members and were greatly surprised by the interest. Sign ups for this year will begin in just a few weeks...stay tuned!

feb2016eggs.jpg

We were blessed with an abundance of eggs as our older hens recovered from their annual molt and our summer Easter Egger chicks started laying.

And we were treated to some warmer weather (60 degrees!) that all of us got to enjoy!

60 degrees in February is my jam- I HATE the cold. I am hoping for a repeat, not that January blizzard, but a mild winter would be the BEST!

January 2016 {in review}

As I am readying for this upcoming growing season I am naturally looking back at last year to keep myself on track, and to adjust missteps from the past. For the next couple of weeks I'm going to recap (especially since I neglected the blog last year) month by month through 2016.

As I am now, last January I took inventory of my seed collection and placed some orders for seeds. My very favorite place to order from is  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Last year I started my 1st spring seeds the last week of January, so that is also my plan for this year. January is a quieter month on the farm. Things pick up when frigid temperatures arrive, and also when we have a blizzard. Yes, last January we did in fact have to deal with a major snowstorm, with wicked winds and cold.

Farming during a blizzard basically amount to just a few things. Welfare checks throughout the day, making sure all animals are dry, warm enough and have water to drink. Our goats have a heated water bucket, so they are good all winter long. Our chickens do not have heat of any kind in either coop, so I bring fresh buckets of water daily to them to make sure it's not frozen and its clean.  Beyond that, after the snow has fallen, its just a matter of making life easier for the animals. Making/shoveling paths for them to move through, and allowing them even small snow free areas to get to. When you live a free range life being literally cooped up is a problem. Most of the girls hate the snow, but after a day or two they need freedom and will venture out.

jan2016mike.jpg

Although the snow sure does look pretty, I'd be very happy to skip it this winter!

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Happy New Year!

Welcome to a new year! Looking back at 2016 I have mixed emotions. We surely had some big successes, as we opened up and completed our very first CSA season, but lots of challenges and setbacks too. I am excited to work on changes and get our 2nd season underway!

Our 2017 shares will be available in just a few weeks so my to-do list is long! I have inventory and supplies to stock up on, seeds to start and lots of decisions and adjustments to make. I hope everyone is feeling refreshed and energized to start a new prosperous year, cheers to 2017!

New Year! {New Price}

Happy New Year! Hopefully everyone is looking forward to a positive, exciting new year!

It seems as though our girls have finally gotten the memo that they are laying hens and we are starting to get a decent number of eggs each day after a looooong hiatus. Fall into winter always means production slows down, almost stops even. This is due to shorter days {less daylight}, colder temperatures and mainly molting. Unfortunately their slowest time falls right during the peak of my holiday entertaining and baking and every December I am forced to BUY eggs. I hate buying eggs, but generally I am hurried and I will only use them in baking so I'll grab them while doing my regular grocery shopping. I'm typically so annoyed with having to buy eggs, and horrified at having to use said purchased eggs that I don't pay too much attention to their cost. Until this year.

I paid almost $5 a dozen for store bought organic eggs. They aren't nearly as delicious as ours, not as fresh, and we all have seen the reports, not nearly as healthy and I paid more for them then what we charge for our eggs! Raising the price per dozen is something we've been thinking about for a while. The feed we use is the highest quality and in turn is quite expensive. We could've bumped up some time ago but I have been reluctant to do so because I believe eating well shouldn't be expensive. Unfortunately there are reasons why better food is more costly, and we had to come to terms with that here. Starting Jan 1st we will now be charging $5.00/dozen for our eggs. We hope our regular customers understand why it was necessary to increase. As always, we are so very thankful for our customers. Happy New Year to all! 

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{CYBER MONDAY SALE!!!!}

Today, as I'm sure you well know, is Cyber Monday. Today we will be offering 20% off all items in our Farm Home Shop {prices already marked} and FREE shipping on orders over $100 (use code CYBER100 at checkout). There are some really adorable items at great prices. Perfect for your holiday entertaining or even hostess gifts. Thanks everyone for being so supportive of our small business, Merry Christmas!


A Bountiful Season {Summer 2015}

I'm kind of amazed I haven't blogged since April. But not really. Life is busy...the farm, the kids, school, work, sports, family...But we had a really wonderful and productive summer here at the farm. Our harvests were lackluster in 2014. Our soil needed work, I needed to do more research on planting and growing, time felt limited so we worked really hard to improve from that and amazingly it worked! We had success in most areas and grew things we had never tried before! Take a look at our summer here at TickleBelly Farm.

Our family and our customers ate some delicious food from the farm this summer and I cannot wait to do it again. We are planning to double the space for our planting next year which makes me so excited to see what our harvests will look like! As for now we are looking into starting our CSA on a small scale for next year, so be on the lookout for information on that!

{Spring Entertaining}

The hint at warmer weather has me thinking about Easter and spring entertaining. Deviled eggs, fresh OJ, berries. Yum! I pulled together a few items that would make a sweet impression on your next get together.

Farm Home Shop items: Stoneware Berry Basket, Deviled Egg Plate, Cream Stoneware Bowls, Zinc Tray, Mason Jar Vase.

Farm Home Shop items: Stoneware Berry Basket, Deviled Egg Plate, Cream Stoneware Bowls, Zinc Tray, Mason Jar Vase.

Deviled Egg Plate
14.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart
Farm Home Shop items: Glass Bottle, Ceramic Measuring Set, Enameled Metal Canister Set.

Farm Home Shop items: Glass Bottle, Ceramic Measuring Set, Enameled Metal Canister Set.

Enameled Metal Canister set {three canisters}
24.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart

I'm sure every family has a recipe for their very favorite deviled eggs, but in case you don't or are looking for a new one to try I have looked to the most trusted site on these matters, MarthaStewart.com  ...Enjoy!


CLASSIC DEVILED EGGS

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1.  

    In a medium saucepan, cover eggs with 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 12 minutes. Drain eggs; run under cold water until cool enough to handle.

     

  2.  

    Peel and halve eggs lengthwise; remove yolks and transfer to a bowl. Mash with a fork; mix in mayonnaise, mustard, and vinegar. Press through a sieve to make smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

     

  3.  

    Using a pastry bag fitted with desired tip (we used plain and star tips), pipe yolk mixture into whites. Serve immediately, or chill up to 2 hours.


OLD BAY DEVILED EGGS 

*As a Maryland girl I love Old BAy anything!

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 celery stalk, finely chopped (1/3 cup), plus 12 leaves for serving
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  • Ground pepper

Directions

  1.  

    In a large pot, cover eggs with cold water by 2 inches and bring to a boil over high. Boil 1 minute, remove from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Transfer eggs to a colander and run cold water over them until cool enough to handle. Peel, then slice each egg in half lengthwise. Remove yolks with a spoon and place in a small bowl.

     

  2.  

    Mash yolks with a fork. Add mayonnaise, celery, Old Bay, and mustard and mash into a smooth paste. Gradually add milk, stirring, until yolk mixture has a creamy consistency. Season mixture with pepper. With a spoon, fill each egg white half with about 1 tablespoon yolk mixture. Top each with a celery leaf before serving.

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