Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lured to Lake Superior

After six years of noTTafarming, we finally bit the bullet and planned an actual vacation - one where we spent more than one night away from home, traveled out of state, and tried not to worry about the kitties or the yardwork awaiting our return. It was wonderful to escape to the shore of Lake Superior for four mid-September days.
We last took a trip north of the Twin Cities in 2009 so it was really fun to see the changes in Duluth, Minnesota. We stayed at brand new hotel (www.pierbresort.com/) right on the water. Though the trees hadn't quite started changing, there was a hint of fall in the cool air.
Duluth's waterfront has been developed into a wonderful event space. There were a lot of people enjoying the area, even during the work week when we visited.
We stayed in Duluth but traveled north along the scenic highway to Grand Marais the first day. We stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park and enjoyed a hike.
Next stop:  Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.  
The activity Scott looked forward to the most was picking up rocks on the lakeshore. He made it home with a couple of handfuls which he now has displayed on his desk.
In Grand Marais, the skies turned darker as the afternoon wore on, casting an ominous shadow over the lake.
On the second day, we drove east to Bayfield, Wisconsin, home of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It's a beautiful, quaint little town with lots of cute shops and incredible scenery. The following day, we stopped in Minneapolis on the way home for lunch downtown and a short shopping spree then hopped in the car for an uneventful trip home. The kitties were expertly cared for by Gramma and Grampa Camp so they were unfazed by our absence (but I sure was happy to see them.)

We enjoyed our time away but are happily back in the swing of things here at noTTafarm.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Rocks, Rocks, Everywhere

When someone asks, "Hey, Scott. Do you want all the river rock we're taking off this giant building's roof?" you know the answer is going to be, "Sure!" After all, why would anyone turn down three dump truck loads of FREE river rock? The rock was delivered to us on Monday, Sept. 19.
The rocks were placed in a very neat pile on the south side of the barn.
So Pretty!
We're not exactly sure what we're going to do with all of the rock but we know we can use it. One possibility is the creation of a retaining wall for the cottonwood flower bed using Gabion Walls.
Scott is researching this option; we're not sure that the small size of the rocks in our stockpile will work with commercially-available gabion baskets. Raise your hand if you have learned a new word today:  gabion!

According to Wikipedia:
A gabion (from Italian gabbione meaning "big cage"; from Italian gabbia and Latin cavea meaning "cage") is a cage, cylinder, or box filled with rocks, concrete, or sometimes sand and soil for use in civil engineering, road building, military applications and landscaping.  

Whatever we decide to do, we'll probably need to rent a Bobcat - so at least I'll have something to blog about! 
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Peppers for Everyone!

The funny thing about planting six pepper plants (five surviving) is that you actually get a ton of peppers to harvest. Sadly, only 50% of noTTafarmers actually enjoy eating peppers. Luckily, the Internet told me that peppers can easily be frozen.
Scott selected Yellow Blush and Orange Blaze bell peppers and Carmen (a small sweet red peppers.)
Scott and I washed the peppers and cut them into skinny strips before popping them into freezer bags. The yield of six bags, each about 8 oz., will need to be eaten in the next six months...(not to mention the next batch waiting for harvest in the garden.) Hopefully, the Internet will also help me find pepper-rich recipes to try for Scott.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Garden Update!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Tomato Harvest Yields 16 Pints

Faced with an overabundance of ripening tomatoes, I decided to try my hand at canning. Marita and Carl volunteered to help (and share in the finished product.) We spent Sunday afternoon peeling, dicing, and working up steamy conditions in the kitchen.
We picked tomotoes over the span of a few weeks, keeping them in the garage fridge until canning day. It turned out to be quite a haul!
We decided to use pint jars since we're generally cooking for two. 
I had everything set up for my helpers:  cutting board, strainer, and bowl to catch the juice. 
Carl let me borrow his canning kettle, and I used a big pot to quickly blanch the tomatoes to help pop the skins. 
 Scoring the bottoms, quickly dunking in boiling water then in ice water gets the skin ready to peel.
Mom and Dad, hard at work.  
The tomatoes were peeled and cut in half (or quarters). The juice was saved, too, and canned for use in soup.  
 10 pints at a time were placed in the hot water bath for 40 minutes. 
Ta Da!
Our first canning session was deemed a success!
And, of course, I had to make a special tag. How else can we identify what's in the jar? I am looking forward to having a taste of noTTafarm tomatoes this winter. It will keep us dreaming about the possibilities of our 2017 garden.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friend or Foe?

It's a beautiful afternoon with an incredible temp of only 72 degrees - seemed like a perfect time to get a few tomatoes out of the garden. Check out the little visitors I spotted. Tell me, are these friends or foes of our vegetables? I'm guessing our plants would be better without them.
Hello, Hungry Little Catepillar! Are you the one, nipping big holes in the sides of my tomatoes? You and your brothers and sisters need to beat it.
Everyone's favorite summertime pest, the grasshopper. Hop away, please.
These parsley-chompers have been relocated. Perhaps they'll enjoy the taste of poke weed.
Hooray for Pollinators! There's a bumble bee inside this gourd blossom.
Here are two of our ornamental gourds, getting bigger and turning bright yellow.
Scotty is happy that his peppers are turning red! 
Stay Tuned for More Garden Updates!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Ho Hum Summer Drags Along

The highlight of our August so far has been the distribution of dirt. Yes, the big pile of top soil we had delivered to create our garden beds has finally been eliminated. Scott shoveled and hauled away the final two Ranger-loads today. He's been moving the dirt slowly but surely to several holes and low spots in the east yard along the driveway.
Hooray! The big pile of dirt near the corn crib is finally gone! The neighborhood tiny-yellow-butterflies were happy to find a muddy patch in which to do their butterfly things.
Scott planted grass seed in all of the various dirt patches he created. Several larger holes along the driveway/culvert area have also been filled in over the past few months (sorry, Raccoon family. Your underground hideout has been eliminated.) 

In other news . . . 
The garden has taken off and given us a lot of enjoyment. I still can't get over how the plants are actually living and producing. The ornamental gourd that Scott planted is slowly (actually, not that slowly) taking over its bed. Somewhere under that vine is our green beans.
The tomatoes are ripening all at once. Marita and I have plans to attempt canning next weekend. It turns out that 15 tomato plants is perhaps a few too many for two mater-eaters. (Carl doesn't eat them and Scott only likes them cooked . . . it's up to Marita and I to enjoy them in their delicious, natural, raw state.) At least I'll have something to blog about!
An overview of the garden. I'm especially fond of the marigold border; the flowers are so cheerful!
This is one of our first harvests. We ate everything in this bucket for dinner and all of it was delicious!
Dave, our once-a-year-farmer, stopped by a few days ago to mow the tall grass in the front pasture. He returned today (Aug. 14) to bale it. (Note: I caught a Monarch butterfly in this photo - that's pretty cool!)
The hay harvest was kinda skimpy; only 2 big bales this time. 
Ahhhhh . . . now this is more like it! I should spend less time worrying about finding projects to do and more time hanging out in the hammock with Wilson! All of my project suggestions are usually met with, "let's wait until bad, cold weather to do inside stuff . . . I'd rather shovel dirt or chop down poke weed." Silly Scotty!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy Birthday, noTTafarm!

on July 30, noTTafarm turns 6 years old!

How will you celebrate this special day? If you're searching for something to do, go ahead and read the blog from the beginning. It's fun to look back - and it's fun for us to look to the future! Thank you for sharing our noTTafarm journey with us.

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!