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Hi Everyone,

Just a quick reminder about my booksigning event this coming Saturday, October 20th, at the Pueblo, CO Barnes & Nobel bookshop. I hope you’ll be able to stop in and say hello while I’m there. Below are all the details…

 

Tammi’s latest book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, is the winner of 2 book awards…The 2016 Silver Nautilus Award and the 2017 International Herb Society Thomas Debaggio Book of the Year Award.

Homegrown Herbs has been on the National Bestseller list for many years now and continues to be very popular!

If you love wildlife and you love to grow herbs, vegetables and fruit, this is a great book for your personal library!!

October 20, 2018     Pueblo Barnes & Nobel Bookshop hosts Tammi for a Book-Signing event

Tammi Hartung will be visiting with Barnes & Nobel bookstore customers about plants and signing books for all three of her book titles, including Homegrown Herbs, Cattail Moonshine & MIlkweed Medicine, & The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener. Please stop in and say hello if you are near the bookshop on this Saturday and during these times. She will love to see you!

This is a great opportunity to get a signed copy of one of Tammi’s books to treat yourself or to begin some of your holiday gift shopping

Time: 11:00am to 3:00 pm

Location: Barnes & Nobel Bookshop in Pueblo, CO at 4300 N. Freeway in Eagleridge Shopping Center

 

 

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Desert Canyon Farm is a registered Wildlife Habitat and is part of the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Watchable Wildlife and Birding Trail, so needless to say we welcome wildlife of all kinds here and we do our best to co-exist in a peaceable way even when there are challenges.

Last week I discovered that Chris had forgotten to close the garage door the night before and a whily raccoon went into the garage that night and thought it had found a delicious feast in our bags of greenhouse fertilizer. Oh my goodness! The fault was ours for forgetting to close the garage door that night, but all the same I was pretty distressed to see that this critter had chewed holes in every single bag of fertilizer we had. There was fertilizer scattered all over the garage floor, which Chris cleaned up while I figured out a way to remedy this raccoon challenge from happening again.

We use tubs in our supply barn for supplies that need to stay perfectly dry. Fortunately, we had several that were not being used at the moment, so now they have a new job to do. The bags of fertilizer are now inside these tubs, lids closed, and stacked neatly in the garage until we are ready to use them.  That will hopefully make the fertilizer a bit less obvious to the “Coons” if the door would ever get left open again (better not happen), and they are moisture proof so the torn bags won’t absorb any moisture and the fertilizer pellets won’t be ruined. Yay…problem solved and no critters were scared or harmed in the process ;-}

And while we’re on the topic of wildlife, we have a rock squirrel that lives in the middle of the desert garden and has been there for the past 2 years or so. This little fur-ball is pretty cute and really fun to watch as he/she moves around the farm collecting seeds and fruits and other tidbits to eat and store for winter. Below is either the front door ( I think so, because this is where I see the squirrel entering and exiting all the time) or the back door to its burrow. The hole goes deep under the roots of an old cholla cactus.

On the other side of the garden is the “back” door (or maybe it is the front door) and it comes out in the middle of a big patch of yucca plants.

One year we had rock squirrels get under our house and they started renovating our crawl space and the heating duct system of our house. We did have to get them out of that space and Chris cemented their doors so that they wouldn’t get back under our house to live. That was about 8 or 9 years ago and thankfully they haven’t gotten back under the house again. They do live in one of our equipment sheds, the desert garden and around a pair of old cisterns that no longer function, but all of those places are fine and they haven’t caused us any trouble so they are most welcome.

The squirrels, cottontail rabbits, and mice are all part of the food supply for predators like foxes, coyotes, hawks and bobcats, and these predators keep those other critter populations from becoming too big while getting a meal for themselves. All things in balance, and we are all part of the food chain at some point, so it is a good way to think about nature like this. Everything contributes to everything else on this Earth.

As I was filling the bird baths this morning, the honeybees were happy to get a drink for themselves too. Shallow bird baths provide water for many different kinds of wildlife including pollinators.

Last weekend, we took a short hike to the Cowboy Cabin, an old homestead cabin not too far from the farm. It is a beautiful hike, especially during the autumn season. Shrek did a bit of wildlife management of his own on that hike. He is forever finding bones and he is very serious about his work of finding the perfect place to bury them. On this hike, he found a rather large bone and set about finding a good spot with soft moist soil to bury the bone.

On another subject, we are expecting an early taste of winter here tonight and for the next couple of days. The low temperature tonight is supposed to be in the mid-20’s F, and Sunday night they tell us it will be 14 F degrees. Tomorrow during the day it is supposed to warm up to only the high-20’sF, and Monday a bit warmer, but not by a lot. So, we have been spending today preparing for this cold spell.

Below are great huge rolls of plant frost blanket that Chris and I will use this afternoon to cover the seed crops that are not yet ripe enough to harvest. There are a lot of these crops not yet ripe, so a large portion of our flower seed crop field will be covered in frost blankets for the next couple of days until the temperatures warm back up enough and then we will have to uncover the flowers so that they can finish ripening to seed before we pick the seed harvest.

I’ve also been preparing the retail nursery yard so that I can winter store shrubs and trees outdoors under frost blanket for the winter months. In preparation for doing that, I had to dis-assemble our retail benches and plant sign lattice boards, and stack them all up so that I have a big open area to put the shrubs and trees. I wanted them in a good spot that is protected a bit and also easy for me to water them every couple of weeks as needed during the cold months.

My intention was to put the pots in place on Friday and today and have them all covered over with the frost blanket, but this winter cold spell temporarily postponed that task until later next week. I want to put them out when the night low temps will stay in the 30’s for several days so that they can adjust more easily to being outdoors, even under frost blanket, in the cold. That way when the next really cold spell happens, and the temps go below 30 F, the plants will be more acclimated and shouldn’t have any trouble handling the cold with the help of the frost blanket.

The fairy garden was put to bed today, along with the last things harvested from the outdoor food garden, I moved the remaining container plants into an unheated greenhouse space for the winter months.

My hardy kiwi is still green and growing, and I think the cold will shock this plant into doing dormant for the rest of the year.

The Sweet Briar Rose is loaded with rosehips and after the hard frost they will be ready to harvest.

The same is true for the Juniper berries. The hard frost sets the vitamin C complex in these fruits so that it will be more stable. I’ll harvest both after this hard frost, dry or freeze them for later use both as herbal medicine and for cooking and tea.

I managed to get 2 loads of laundry wash hung on the clothesline to dry before the rain and snow starts this evening. Chris split a supply of wood and stacked it on the back porch so we will have plenty at a hands touch for our wood stove, which is the primary way we heat our home. We are ready now I think for the first big cold snap of the year. All that will be needed is a pot of soup on the stove and hot beverages to drink. Yay!

I suppose I’ll close this post and be back again next week with more happenings. Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s 3am and there is a soft gentle rain happening here, finally.  I feel so much gratitude to Mother Nature for nourishing this part of our earth with this moisture. It has been such a very long time since we have gotten any moisture here and the ground is very very dry. This gentle soaking rain will help greatly and will make it easier for the plants and wildlife to begin facing the cold seasons of the year.

I’ve been laying awake for a couple of hours, wishing desperately that sleep would take me away into the land of lovely dreams and restful relaxation, but tonight it is not happening. Too much on my mind. Too many tasks on the list of things to be done. Too many thoughts circling round and round in my brain keeping me awake. Sleep is such a precious thing and for me it is a mandatory requirement for my physical, mental and emotional well-being. It is one of those daily acts of life I hold sacred. Tonight it is eluding me.

The fall season is a time when the farm work continues, but at a much more sane pace than late winter, spring and summer. This is normally my favorite season and the slowest work season of the year for me. This year feels different. I love the autumn with the cooler temperatures, beautiful fall colors, the crisp morning and evening air, with mid-day temps that are perfect for working or playing outdoors. I usually enjoy being in my garden in the fall, tending the plants, harvesting, or just sitting on the porch reading a non-work-related book. Instead the gardens are weedy and the harvesting is nearly done for this year. I’ve been trying to read books just for the pleasure of reading, which I love to do so much, but the list of work tasks is always lingering close to my thoughts trying to persuade me to stop my attempts at relaxation and instead focus more on getting work tasks done and checked off the list. When I have a hard time sleeping, relaxing and resting I feel flustered and frustrated because I know that once the end of December arrives I will be working full boil ahead 7 days a week with no possibility of rest and relaxation, or even a day off, happening again until mid-June. If I don’t start that working time of the year rested and relaxed, the work will be more difficult to accomplish and my stamina won’t be enough to see me through those months of non-stop work.

This past day and tonight I have been feeling frustrated about how people think about farmers and our value in the world. I hope this post won’t come across as too much whining, because I’m not intending it to be sent into the world that way, but something happened that has me pondering this a lot and I guess I just need to express my thoughts.

Not for the first time, we had a farm visitor asking personal questions about our life as farmers and how our farm business functions. These questions get asked of us pretty often actually, and I always make every effort to answer them truthfully, whether or not I feel the questions are appropriate, because maybe in the bigger world picture of how people view farmers and small farms (not just in the limited scope of Chris and I and this specific farm), maybe the questions are needing to be asked. Perhaps they are more appropriate than my personal feelings admit. So, I answer the questions if I can. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the opportunity to give a complete answer, because too often that answer would be more lengthy or complex than the person asking the question has time to hear or desire to listen to.

I was asked how much money this farm business makes in a year and how many employees we hire and what seasons they work, how many hours they work and so on. Well, if you are thinking about farming, these things are important to have an idea about. If you put value on what farmers contribute to society and to the daily existence for every person on this planet, then of course these questions and the answers are valuable to have insight about. So, I always feel I should at least try to answer these kind of questions as truthfully as possible.

So I told this person what our farm’s gross income is, how many employees we hire and what time of the year they work and what they do as part of their job here. The reaction I got from this person was all too familiar. They clearly thought that we make a rich living and we have a lot of help to do the work here. I didn’t have the opportunity to finish my answer and explain that our gross income is what we earn before we pay out all of the farm expenses and wages to our employees, and that Chris and I combined actually earn 1/6 of that gross income to pay ourselves if it is a good year and less in a challenging year. We have the most incredible employees possible, and they are truly amazing people to work with, and we usually consider them family in a short period of time. However, we hire a very small crew, especially in comparison to the work load, and they accomplish so much! Still, there is always more work to be done than all of us together can completely accomplish.

I think this is just the nature of farming and I’m sure every farmer feels the same way. As to earning a rich living, well…that is almost laughable. We do pay our bills, but there isn’t much, if any, savings and little possibility of retirement. What we are very rich in is a lifestyle that is nurturing to us…we live  in a beautiful place and we do the kind of work we feel good about and think is important to a bigger picture than this small farm. We eat fresh delicious food, breath good air and can take our dog for a walk in the peace and quiet of wild BLM lands in the evenings just 10 minutes from our home. We are surrounded by the beautiful place this small farm has become in the nearly 23 years we have lived and worked here and we have a community around us that is friendly, kind and supportive of us and our farm business. We were able to raise our daughter in this place and with the values this kind of lifestyle instills in you…that if you work hard and love life, if you are honest and respectful of and to all living beings, then you will be blessed with a wonderful life, even if it isn’t a “rich” or “easy” life. These are the things we treasure about our lives. We have so much to be grateful for, and believe me, we are grateful for our life here and the success of our small farm business! We work very hard for this success and this life. We earn a lot less income than nearly everyone else we know, but we do work we enjoy and that work provides us with enough livelihood.

If you are thinking of being a farmer, this is most likely what you can expect of your life. Farmers, and especially small family farms, are critical to the well-being of whatever part of the world you live in. Collectively these farmers and their farms play a huge important role in the world in a positive way.

To every farmer out there…from one farmer to another…I want to thank you for what you do! I know your not getting rich farming and I know you have more work to do than you have time or help to accomplish. I know that you look forward to the “slow season”, if there really is such a thing as that, to rest and relax so that you can be ready for the busy seasons of the year. I know that some nights you are awake, just as I am tonight, trying to let go of that feeling of being flustered or having too much on your mind. Know that you are appreciated by many, as I know Chris and I are appreciated by so many!  We are thankful for that love and appreciate and respect that we are given every day. Now I’m going back to bed because there is still a bit more than an hour of sleep time before I will get up to smile at another new day of being a farmer.

To everyone who has read this post…thank you for listening to my thoughts. I think I just needed to tell someone and I’m grateful that you were here to lend me a listening ear or in this case listening eyes as you read my words.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

Tammi’s latest book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, is the winner of 2 book awards…The 2016 Silver Nautilus Award and the 2017 International Herb Society Thomas Debaggio Book of the Year Award.

Homegrown Herbs has been on the National Bestseller list for many years now and continues to be very popular!

If you love wildlife and you love to grow herbs, vegetables and fruit, this is a great book for your personal library!!

October 20, 2018     Pueblo Barnes & Nobel Bookshop hosts Tammi for a Book-Signing event

Tammi Hartung will be visiting with Barnes & Nobel bookstore customers about plants and signing books for all three of her book titles, including Homegrown Herbs, Cattail Moonshine & MIlkweed Medicine, & The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener. Please stop in and say hello if you are near the bookshop on this Saturday and during these times. She will love to see you!

This is a great opportunity to get a signed copy of one of Tammi’s books to treat yourself or to begin some of your holiday gift shopping

Time: 11:00am to 3:00 pm

Location: Barnes & Nobel Bookshop in Pueblo, CO at 4300 N. Freeway in Eagleridge Shopping Center

 

 

 

The garden is providing us with so much abundance right now and it tastes delicious! These are Striped Cavern tomatoes, which are pillowed on the outside and mostly hollow inside with only a few seeds. They are one of my favorite tomatoes to grow because they taste so good and they are beautiful with orange and red stripes on the outside. We have a bumper crop of them, so last week we mixed mushrooms, pesto and mozzarella cheese together, filled the inside of the tomatoes, put them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and enjoyed a scrupulous meal!

Today, I’m  going to fill them with Italian sausage, mushrooms, ricotta cheese and pesto and that will be a yummy meal for Chris and I. If you are growing tomatoes that are good for stuffing, experiment with all different types of fillings. It makes for an easy and nutritious, delicious meal.

I also have an over abundance of different kinds of peppers right now. Italian pepperoncini, Mosca pueblo, Cuban sweet heirloom and so many more. I’ve been running the dehydrator 24/7 lately drying all these extra peppers for future use.

Once they are dried, I crush them up coarsely and store them in a glass canning jars. Hot chilies go in one jar and sweet peppers go in another jar. I keep a pepper grinding mill filled with coarsely crushed peppers and we can then grind and sprinkle our plate with peppers whenever we want to add some extra zip to our meal. Dehydrated peppers work well for me and I cook with with them all year-long. They take up a fraction of the space to store than canned pickled peppers would until I’m ready to use them  I also freeze them, which is super easy, just putting the fresh peppers in a freezer container and then pulling out however many I want to cook with in the moment all through the year. No fuss and easy as can be! Of course, right now, we have plenty of fresh peppers to eat and cook with.

For many years we have been getting together a couple of times a year with other small growers in this region. It is a chance for us to “talk shop”, sharing ideas, commiserating over challenges, getting excited about successes, and just enjoying the company of good friends who happen to do the same kind of work Chris and I do.

This time we gathered at Peter and Elaine’s place in the mountains. Everyone brought food to share and we ate a gourmet meal. The weather was a perfect fall day.

Thank you Peter and Elaine, Jeff, Bill, Merrilee and Diana for being an amazing group of friends and sharing ideas, hopes and frustrations with us. You are always a wonderful inspiration to Chris and I!

This past week has been extra nice for us. We hiked the Cottonwood Creek trail in the Sangres last Sunday and it was an incredible autumn day. Much of the color up high is finished, but lower down on the trail the aspens gave us quite a lovely show. We had lunch in a big meadow up in the basin. It was a great day.

And this week, Chris and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary! We took the day off from work, and packed a picnic, and went to Lion’s Canyon for a beautiful hike. Chris and Shrek told me to stop messing around taking pictures and get moving ;-}

I did take a lot of pictures and I’m enjoying every one of them. Even Chris took some of Shrek and I, which was fun.

When we got home, everyone was ready for a nap. Willow has decided he wants to share Shrek’s bed with him. Shrek is a good big brother and very patient, but in truth, he would probably prefer to have his bed to himself. I’m not sure Willow is listening to that message, though, because he keeps curling up with Shrek every chance he gets. Pretty sweet.

 

 

Happy Autumn Everyone!

The season has officially changed and there are some hints of it here in Canon City, but it’s still unseasonably hot and dry. This week the forecasters think it will cool down and there is a small chance of rain, so we are hoping all that happens.

In the meantime, I want to introduce you to the newest duck to join the farm family. Meet Rosie (she is the one in the middle with the most dark markings). Rosie came from the neighbor to visit Hannah and Gretel and she is going to stay permanently with us. So now we have three duck hens in our pond and they are helping us with bug hunting on the farm. Such fun!!

This is our mesquite bush and it has been growing in the ground here for the past three years. This coming winter will be its forth, so I feel safe to say it is hardy at least for gardeners in this area of Colorado. This plant was gifted to us about 15 years ago by my parents, who brought it to us from Apache Junction, Arizona. For many years I grew it in a clay pot, putting it outdoors in the summer, but bringing it indoors for the cold months. Then three Autumn seasons ago I decided to plant it in the garden rather than bringing it back indoors for the cold months. It has come back every year so far. It’s never going to grow into a mesquite tree like it would have done in southern Arizona, but it is an attractive bush and my hope is that it will produce some mesquite pods at some point. Mesquite pods are delicious! They can be dried and ground into flour to use in baking muffins or cookies or you can make a really wonderful beverage from them that is sweet and delicious.

For those of you that are interested in growing mesquite in your gardens, we plan to have some young mesquite plants for sale in the Farm Stand store next spring. They have sprouted and are getting true leaves and looking very promising.

And this beauty is a hardy fig plant. You can see that it is loaded with little figs. This plant is also growing in my garden and it has been very hardy for us, coming back each year. This is the first year it has produced figs outdoors.

I also grow a hardy fig indoors so that I can pick fresh figs to eat all winter and spring. They are easy to grow indoors or outdoors, preferring bright indirect light and a once-a-month meal of organic fertilizer for the plants that are being grown in a pot rather than in the garden soil.  We will have 2 varieties of hardy figs for sale both retail in the Farm Stand store and wholesale to our garden center customers next spring.

If you have never eaten a fresh fig, you should try them! They are so delicious! I’m not really a fan of dried figs, but fresh figs are hard to get enough of. I pick and eat them as soon as they get ripe.

Last Sunday we hiked with Brad and Jan to Stout Lakes. It was a beautiful day and we saw just the beginning signs of fall color in the high country.

A perfect way to spend a Sunday!

It is hunting season, though, so Shrek was wearing a bright orange ribbon tied to his color so that no one would mistake him for wildlife.

Have a great week!

 

 

This is the view from my desk and as I was working on book-keeping last week, mama doe and her twins were looking under the pear tree to see if the birds dropped any sunflower seeds (which of course the birds would never do). The fawn that has its rump towards the window had just whirled around that way from looking inside my window at me with its nose on the window glass. I think it could probably hear the piano music I had playing while I was working.

It really is a delight to have wildlife all around us all of the time!

Chicken guacamole tacos for lunch with freshly harvested cilantro and tomatoes from the garden and the greenhouse. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Tomorrow will be our annual organic renewal inspection. The inspector comes out several times a year for different reasons. We get inspected for our nursery and greenhouse license, for our Japanese beetle certification, we have a retail nursery inspection and the most important inspection is our annual organic inspection. It’s also possible that we can be inspected, and we have been, for our compliance with EPA requirements, which even organic growers much do, even though we only use OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certified imputs like neem oil or soap spray.

When the inspector arrives, we will walk all of the farm for her to check on everything that happens here, both in the flower seed crop field and in all the greenhouses and gardens and our heirloom orchard. She will check our equipment shed and our supply barn and will inspect our record-keeping documents (which we have to keep for 7 years). We even have to keep every single empty seed packet we use for 7 years and have them available when the inspector comes. She looks in our seed fridges where we store our seeds until we are ready to plant them. She will be looking to see what type of weeds and insects (good and bad) we have here and how many we have, and how we manage them. She will check on our buffer zones between us and our neighbors and the local streets. You name it…it’s all up for inspection. She’ll be here the better part of the day.

Everyone who is certified organic must have this annual inspection, in addition to many other requirements in the course of being certified. Once the inspection is completed, she will write a report and turn it in to the certifying agent (in our case this is the Colorado Dept of Agriculture acting for USDA) for a complete review. If there are any concerns, they will let us know and we will have to remedy them satisfactorily. If there are no concerns or if we have fixed any concerns they might have had, then we will be granted our certification renewal for another year.

This is a very big deal and we are pleased to say we have always done well in our inspections.

A couple of weeks ago I told you that I thought the scarecrows we had from Open Farm Days were getting a bit weary. This week one of them got a bit of refreshing. She is now a gathering woman, taking a rest break from picking pine cones.

I still have two more scarecrows to refresh, but I haven’t decided how they will be re-invented just yet.

The Winter Red Flesh apples are ready to eat now. When you cut into these apples they are reddish-pink inside! They are tartly yummy and make the most tasty applesauce. I think I’ll also dehydrate quite a few of these, sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon. They will make perfect trail snacks when we are hiking or they can be added to hot cereal this winter to make it gourmet.

Have a great autumn week and I’ll be back again soon.