Most visited this week:
Fighting tomato blight with pennies
Building a bee waterer
How many batteries do I need for my solar panels?
How to make a fly trap
How to help chicks during hatching
A year ago this week:
White leghorn hen problems
Apple varieties that don't get cedar apple rust
Chicken coop rain barrel
Saving seeds from hybrid cucumbers
Walden Effect Facebook page
As for cost --- the $55
we paid to the slaughterhouse was very much worth it. We ended up with
26 pounds of goat meat (which I think includes the weight of the bones I
requested to have returned to me for broth-making), and the thinly
sliced steaks and ground meat will definitely making cooking with our
homegrown chevon much easier. Considering that we've been willing to pay top dollar for pastured lamb in the past, the slaughterhouse fee is quite
acceptable for meat that is otherwise nearly free. Suddenly, I'm
wishing Abigail had popped out two kids instead of one, and I'm looking
forward to an even larger goat harvest next summer.
We're getting a little behind
schedule on our firewood cutting.
I don't usually bore you
with too many book posts, but I'm hoping you'll bear with a bit more
publishing news. First of all, if you missed last week's summer sale post, Homegrown Humus is marked down to 99 cents for one more day, you've got two days left to snap up Thrifty Chicken Breeds on sale, Pasture Basics went on sale this morning, and Growing into a Farm will join the 99-cent ranks on Thursday.
The overarching goal is
to help the box set hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller
lists. We have the first of these in the bag (we hope), but it's going
to take some serious book-selling if we want Aimee to be able to call
herself a New York Times bestseller.
Between morning and
evening milkings Saturday, I collected my mom and went back in time to
the nineteenth century. The age of steam!
Back when steam trains were starting to go out of style, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
started buying up engines and passenger cars in an effort to keep at
least a few of these old-timey trains on the rails. They renovated the
steam trains, and now you can take short or slightly longer trips behind
a coal-powered locomotive. When I saw that a day trip was leaving from
Bristol (1.25 hours from our farm and a five minute walk from my mom's
house), I was hooked. My summer adventure had been decided!
After enjoying the rush
of watching the steam locomotive back the train up to the historic
Bristol train station, Mom and I climbed aboard and settled in to watch
the scenery pass by. Although we were paralleling a minor highway (11E)
the whole way, it was intriguing to see the countryside from a different
perspective. Even just a few miles from the highway, the landscape was
pastoral, full of cattle pastures, ancient farm houses, and the
occasional backyard garden.
I'm pretty sure I noticed someone emulating Salatin's egg-mobile along with an example of Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method.
There were blooming mimosas and trumpet vines, one wild deer, and at
least a hundred interested people parked at crossroads with cameras in
hand, ready to record the steam locomotive's charismatic presence (and
to wave us on our way).
About halfway through the
journey, Mom and I decided it was time to explore! So we set out to
walk to the commissary car in the middle of the train, four cars
forward. I loved the gaps between cars, where you could hear the wheels
turning beneath you and felt closer to the world whooshing by outside.
And then, before we knew it, we'd reached our destination --- the tiny town of Bulls Gap, Tennessee. It felt like all 719 residents were involved in welcoming us with a festival erected in our honor. There were tents full of sale items, two museums opened for our perusal, and a delightful bluegrass band playing live music.
Yes, with nearly a
quarter of the town's population living below the poverty line, I'm sure
the goal was to grab some much-needed tourist dollars. But the event
had the feel of a down-home welcome anyway, and Mom and I dove right in.
The museums were a little too packed for comfort (at least for this introvert), but the homeplace of Archie Campbell
was more my style. The house is furnished with period stoves, beds, and
other paraphernalia, and nothing is marked as hands-off. You can play
with the wringer washer and hand-cranked record player and can pick
through ancient packets of flower seeds to enjoy the artwork. If you're
ever in the area, I recommend dropping by Bulls Gap to see for yourself.
Back in the melee of
tents, Mom picked up a book by a local herbalist (which came with a free
plant), and then we marveled over a scene painted on a saw blade. The
section photographed above shows the very engine we rode into town
We were allotted an hour
in Bulls Gap, which was just about right. Although the train folks
kindly provided us box lunches before we reached our destination, I'd
also packed homegrown goodies since I don't trust the outside world to
feed me properly anymore. So Mom and I munched on cucumber sticks,
blueberries, and brownies, washing it down with slowly-thawing jars of
frozen goat's milk. I felt a bit bad for the folks trying to sell us hot
dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks...but, really, which snack would you
And then engine 4501 pulled back into the Bulls Gap downtown and we climbed aboard.
(Here's an extra photo of Mom with her plant in front of the locomotive, just because.)
The ride home was quieter as we all drifted back into the beauty of the surrounding scenery.
And just when I was
starting to think that Abigail would be pissed if I was gone much
longer, we pulled up to the Bristol station in a pounding rain. Maggie
had kindly brought the car down to pick us up so we didn't get soaked,
and she'd cooked up Lamb Chop's right front leg into a delicious supper.
runner beans are over 7 feet tall.
I often use garden weeds
to hold down newspaper or cardboard kill mulches around berries or to
lower weed pressure under large fruit trees. But the weeds were growing
faster than I could use them in June, so this week I gathered up two
days worth of weeds to make a compost pile.
In other soil-related news, Mark had the bright idea of solarizing
the last remaining weed patch within our core homestead. This area gets
mowed maybe once a year, and in between it tends to grow up into
blackberries and ragweed. My hard-working husband whacked the weeds to
the ground and then we laid down a sheet of plastic to see if this
technique can work its magic in an area with much higher weed pressure
than we've tried it on previously.
And now that you've seen
the weediest parts of our core homestead, I'll end with a happier photo
--- the summer's first green beans. Sauted with homegrown garlic and a
bit of salt, they were delicious!
I used to write letters
to a few college friends and family members long-hand. The trouble is
that, in this age of computers, writing by hand feels terribly slow, so
we all got behind in our correspondence and began to consider the
letters a chore. Plus, it's hard to fill a letter with unique
information now that I share 90% of my daily thoughts with the world on
The first few weeks, it
felt like I was fishing. I'd send out postcards to people I hadn't heard
from in a while...then wait to see if they'd bite. My mom and I soon
settled into a weekly postcard routine, and my grand-niece and
grand-nephew came through with the amusing replies above. Glad I'm not
the only one who likes strawberries!
This is shaping up to be one of our best tomato years ever!
Which isn't to say that
our pair of capricious beasties don't stop for a few more mouthfuls of
succulent treats on the way back to the coop. Here, Lucy is reminding
the goats that the porches (a couple of feet to the left of the photo)
belong to her.
A few mouthfuls of
alfalfa make a good post-breakfast dessert. Then back to the coop to nap
and chew their cuds until after the humans' dinner. Such a fun way to
start the day, with an hour weeding beside the goats!
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