Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Storing beets and late season beans

Does everyone read the SBCanning site? They have a terrific facebook page as well. One of the things I love about them is that they share their reader's canning photos. And they have great information. A while ago I saw something that made me stop and think about what I was doing wrong.

Some of my beets in a peck basket. Note the labeling and no rings - for safety.

The post was about storing your home canned goods safely. One of the tips is NOT to stack your jars. What!?! Of course I stacked my jars down in the basement... why not? Well, seems like there are a lot of reasons not to do this. Mostly because if the jars became unsealed the weight of a jar on top of them might reseal it once it was contaminated... or it would just sit there unsealed and stew a toxic brew. So it got me thinking I had to do better.

One of the great things about going to the produce auction is that if you buy a peck basket of something.. you get to keep the basket. So I've been using those baskets to organize my canned goods. If you look closely you can see that the quart jars are shorter than the sides of the baskets. I'm wondering if I can stack the baskets so that the jars are not literally on top of each other. I'll be working on this to see if it is an option. If not I'll be adding more shelves.

In other news.... I had another victory with late season planting. My notes show that I did a late season planting of green beans on or about 8/28. I wasn't sure it would work as we normally get a frost the first couple weeks of October. 

I risked life and limb to carry this hot skillet outside to get this shot.

But check out these babies. Totally worked. I have a lush harvest of lovely beans out there. Last nite we had some with dinner. Dinner was literally the very last pack of pork chops I found when I cleaned out the freezer. I also found a spectacular bag of smoked pancetta. Technically, smoking it makes it "bacon" but the flavorings were more savory. These beans were amazing.

Happy Friday everyone! What are your thoughts on stacking jars and are you taking up the last of your beans?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

You can't beat beets!

You can't beat beets but you can can them!

I had a slight beet related injury - and stained hands. Totally worth it.

Yesterday I canned beets. It was terrific. The only downside is that everything ends up pink - including your hands. I like to pickle beets. They are super in salads...and just to eat out of the jar.

Usually I direct folks to the pickyourown site for canning instructions. But one of my friends reminded me lately that sometimes that site is hard to follow. It can be a little visually "overstimulating" so a great resource that I like to have on hand is the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving - this is the one that I have.

The Ball Blue Book is the go to resource for canning. It is easy to follow, has clear instructions, and has lots of recipes. I never get creative with canning recipes - I always follow the directions to the letter. As far as I can tell these guys are always right on the money. If you are just starting out in canning this is a terrific book for you.

Today is another soggy rain day. But that's OK - I have my beets to make me happy.

Happy Thursday everyone! We are in the summer canning homestretch - what are you canning?

 Editors note: Hey look! I have some affiliate links in this post. Technically I'm supposed to tell you this which is why I'm including this editor's note. How does it work? Easy peasy. I get a tiny portion of the sale when you click on one of the links, go to the Amazon page, and purchase something. It can be anything - this book, movies, or something you need from Amazon anyway.  Do you need anything Amazon? You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. It doesn't cost you once cent more but helps me with the "cost" of this blog. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Potting up celery and setting up the greenhouse

You may remember that planting celery was one of my best projects this summer. First, I can't believe it worked and second, I can't believe that the plants have done so well! We have had a steady supply of fresh and crunchy celery all summer.

I just dug it up and plopped it in a pot. Easy peasy.

I really wanted to keep this success going so one of my projects is to pot up the celery plants and move them into the green house.  All I did was dig up a plant and plop it into a big pot with lots of fresh potting soil. I didn't even need to water it in because it was raining so much that day - I just let it set outside. I'll be doing a few more of these. Most of my celery plants lived and produced well all summer. Buying a couple six-packs of little celery starts was the best $3 I have ever spent.

The hoop house green house has also been a tremendous success this year - even tho I didn't achieve my goal of using the hoop as a trellis for squash and pumpkins... and it sat empty all summer.  I finally got it cleaned out and I'm getting it organized to be used for growing this fall and early winter. In fact, I'm hoping to build a second greenhouse this fall.

I noticed one thing that I could have done better tho. Remember that I just used the plastic I had on hand? My pal ML told me to get the good greenhouse plastic film by A.M. Leonard? And I didn't because I'm cheap (and maybe a little stubborn)? Yep. So the regular plastic I became brittle over the summer and now it has some holes in it. So did it work as I needed it to for this spring? Yes. Is it a permanent solution? No. So I'll be getting the good stuff.

I'm pretty excited about using the greenhouse as a "season extender." I know that it won't stand up to extremely cold temperatures but I'm hoping to keep some greens and my celery going for a while.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are you setting up your green house?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

First Frost?

I think we had our first frost. I need to note this for my records....of course, later this week it will be over 70* so anything could happen.

These last few tomatoes might make it.

In other news. Remember last year when I wonked up my hip? Yeah. I think I did it again. So I'm hanging out on the couch.  I don't end up in urgent care with those quacks again. I'm not even sure they would let me back in.

In the meantime, that pig escaped the freezer. For now.

Anyway. Happy Sunday everyone! Did it frost where you live?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

This is what happens....

This is what happens when you don't pay attention at the produce auction.

 Peppers. My victory at the auction.

A while ago I went running up to the auction at the last minute. Now that we were largely at the end of the growing season there were going to be heaps of bargains to be had. I got there late but across the parking lot I could hear them selling off boxes of peppers for $1.50 and $2! I had to get in on that action. I ran faster.

I shoved my way thru the crowd to see the boxes they were selling. Bushels. Bushels of green peppers and the bidding was stalling at $3. I elbowed my way thru the crush of bargain seekers to see inside the boxes.... and then caught the auctioneer's eye and nodded. Sure, I'd pay $3.50 for a bushel of green peppers!

They were beautiful so I had to have them

Someone else was biding against me. I knew that guy...I knew his weakness...I knew his "tell"... I could win this. My hand shot up first for $3.75. The crowd could smell blood in the water and they started to murmur... this could get good. Everyone loves a good bidding match. 

My bidding opponent got in a twist at my confidence and sent the price sky high to $4.00... then $4.25... and that's where I started shaking off the auctioneer.... going once.... going twice... sold. To me!  I was so excited! Look at me scoring a bushel of green pepper for just $4. All you suckers who are paying $1 per pepper at the store remember my victory! Ha!

I smugly walked off noting the nods of approval from the onlookers. They knew I played for keeps.

Later I scored some tomatoes for just $2.25 per peck. Considering that I saw someone buy tomatoes for $20 earlier that summer I was overjoyed. However, I got skunked on the Chinese cabbage by an older Amish lady with a stone cold poker face and blood in her veins. She won the bid. Dang.

I admitted defeat and went to cash out. My tab was significantly more than I expected.

"Ohmigosh! What did I buy!" This was a legitimate question at the auction where stakes are high and the game moves fast.

I snatched up my tickets.... scanned them... oh geez.

Turns out I didn't buy just one bushel of green peppers... I bought two. TWO BUSHELS!?!?!

That's two bushels.

I quickly did the calculations in my head... that's... that's.... about 40 pounds of fresh and delicious green peppers.


These things happen.

On the way home I tried to figure out what I'd do with 40 pounds of perky peppy goodness. When I got to town I started handing them out to all my friends. I tried foisting a bushel off on the local burger guy but he had seen my sad story before.

Of course, my big concern was not the extra $4 for an extra 20 pounds of peppers.... it was what was I going to tell The Big Man. My husband got quite a laugh the last time I came home over loaded from the auction. We refer to it as The Great Spaghetti Squash Mistake of 2014. It was a lot of spaghetti squash.

Instead he laughed and whooped excitedly that we were gonna have so much pizza with those peppers. So I was off the hook.

But now I have a lot of peppers to process. Forty pounds to be exact. Um... anyone want some peppers?

Happy Saturday everyone! Whatcha buying at the auction? Are you getting any end of season deals?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pig Butcher Day Prep Part Two - Tools

I'm still sitting around on the couch thinking about our impending pig butcher day. Folks usually ask me what tools we use so here is my list. Note: you probably have most of this stuff. But if you don't, now is a great time to get your tools lined up.

My tray of tools.

* We love our Bacon Wagon of Doom.. otherwise known as a garden cart. Get the extra heavy duty one. This trolley is great for hauling a huge hog carcass up the hill. Plus if you put the sides down it's a great work surface do skin the pig. Then you can just hose the whole thing off. Easy-peasy.

* Sawsall. Yep. You heard me. Sure you can use a meat saw- and I think everyone should have one of those especially for the parting up day - but the sawsall with a clean blade makes taking off the trotters, cutting off the head, and opening the chest cavity a breeze. We love this kit - it includes a bunch of hand dandy tools for general farm work including the Sawsall.

* A couple of good knives. I'm completely gaga for my Henckels knives that I've had forever. But nothing makes you feel like you've smited your enemy and thrown his ruin upon the mountainside  like this bad boy.  A warning tho, a scimitar is not for the novice. So keep your eye on the end of that blade and tell everyone to stand back.

* Lots and lots of heavy duty half sheet pans.These are better than the average cookie sheet from the store. They are extra heavy duty, can take a beating, and keep your fridge from being filled with bloo..er.. pig juice. I have a stack of these and use them for everything. 

 And it helps if you have a couple of good dogs as back up.  Remember when Kai did such a great job?

My Excellent Good Dog with the Bacon Wagon of Doom.

So that is pretty much all of the tools that we will use for the first day. We still need to figure out exactly how we'll get that carcass cooled... but we think we'll be OK. Today I'll go down and get a bunch of ice for our biggest cooler and then make as much room as possible in the fridges. We think it will work.

Happy Friday everyone! What do you think - what tools do you need for your butcher day?

 Editors note: Gosh, it's been a while since we've had any affiliate links to my Amazon store - so I've loaded up this post with sales links. These are tools that I actually use and have right now.  Do you need anything Amazon? You can support this blog by just clicking one of these links. Or using the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. This gets me a tiny percentage of the sale and doesn't cost you once cent more. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page. You can order anything you want and need to purchase anyway. I never know who orders what. THANK YOU for your purchases!

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