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This past week our summer’s worth of seed crop picking was finished, boxed and ready to be sent to Jelitto Perennial Seed Company in Germany. We stacked 19 great huge boxes of seed into a cargo truck, which would make it’s way to the airport, and our seed crops are now on their journey across the world to Germany. Yahoo!

You can see in the basket filled with un-shelled bean pods how I filled an afternoon last week. It was a sunny warm day, and it found me sitting in the sun on the back porch shelling the different kinds of beans I grew in my garden this year. The variety in the basket is Rio Zape Hopi beans and they are purple with black mottling.

Lizz shelled some of these beans too. She shelled the white beans, which are Silver Cannelini Beans, part of the Tiger’s Eyes orange beans and part of the Painted Pony brown and white beans. I had more of these varieties to shell sitting on the kitchen counter, along with the Black Turtle beans and the Rio Zape beans.

It was a very enjoyable task. There is something really special about doing a simple chore that results in so many good things. Now Chris and I will enjoy many delicious meals with these beans included as ingredients. Beans are so great for supporting health and well-being, especially kidney health too.

I will also save aside a small quantity of each variety to plant so that more can be grown in future. Every year I grow half a dozen different kinds of dried beans, because I love them so much, and because there are so many different,  great and delicious dried beans. Chris is fond of telling people “My wife likes to look at dried beans”, and it is true. I have canning jars filled with different varieties I grow and cook with lining shelves in my kitchen where I can enjoy all their beautiful colors and shapes.  There is no way I can grow them all every year, so I rotate them in my garden planting. In that way, I always replenish my supply for both planting and for cooking.

On Saturday, we hiked in a very rugged and beautiful area not farm from the farm called Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area. It is a wonderful place to hike this time of the year. We usually avoid hiking there in the summer months, because it has a reputation, well deserved, for having an over abundance of rattlesnakes, but in the cool months of the year we can hike there without worry for ourselves or our dog, Shrek, who has a bad habit of poking his nose under rocks and in holes and other places a snake might like to hang out.

Look at this perfect solstice tree out in nature where it is best admired! Our friends Jan and Brad went hiking with us. You can see, from them standing at the bottom of this beautiful Douglas Fir tree, just how tall and majestic this tree is.

Today, we took a bit of time out of our morning work to carve some Apple-Head People from some of the apples we grew in our heirloom orchard. The small dark red apples are called Winter Red Flesh and they are a large sized crabapple. The large apples were Blue Parmaine.

We each carved several apples with fun faces and now the apple-heads are sitting on plates to finish drying out. As the apples dry, the faces will shrink up and each will develop its own personality. They will look like wisen old elders when they are totally dry! Then we will make bodies for each of the apple-heads.

Between the three of us, we created a whole village of apple-head people heads. I’ll post pictures when they finish drying.

Today was a very frigid day, but tomorrow the sun and the warmth will return. We are swinging like a pendulum between fall and winter these days and I hardly know which season we will be in one day to the next. Still, I’m grateful for each and every day no matter the weather.

Swing Farm

“Swing Farm” is a collaboration of three seasoned musicians who share a love of Gypsy Jazz and classic Swing Standards. Chris Hartung, a long-time veteran of many musical genres and bands, holds down the guitar duties with steady rhythm and exhilarating solos. And then there’s “The Professor”…: former music teacher, band leader, brass and string player extraordinaire, Dan Epperson on bass fiddle. Filling in the high end with his enthusiastic mandolin and occasional vocal, is Drew Horton.

Swing Farm adds an enjoyable musical component to any occasion!

Enjoy the music of Swing Farm on November 16, 2019, from 2:00-4:00 pm
Brady’s Garden Center Annual Holiday Open House
1121 South 9th Street, Canon City, CO 719-275-1286

Here we are at the end of October and we are having a snow storm here today! Last week, we had to concede to the fact that we needed to come up with a better plan for two of our 9 greenhouses that are heated with propane furnaces.

For the past two years we have struggled with the propane company to get the gas tank filled in time before we would run out of gas and to coordinate that process to have it happen when the field was dry enough for the propane truck to drive in and fill the tank. It’s just not easy for people to grasp the fact that greenhouse are NOT like regular houses in terms of how much propane they use when the weather is very cold, and I could never quite get the propane company to understand that the tank was going to need to be filled more often than a house tank would, plus, it is never a good idea to let it run down to near empty when you have to drive through a pasture to fill the tank. If there is an irrigation, or more importantly, a snow or rain event that happens, the field will be too soggy for those massive trucks to drive into and not get stuck. Last year, twice!, the propane driver got stuck trying to fill the tank because they didn’t believe me when I said it wasn’t a good day to drive in and fill the tank. On well…hard lesson learned for all of us. It was super stressful last winter, and scary, to think if we ran out of propane, we would loose thousands of dollars worth of our business plant inventory, so this fall Chris and I decided a change was needed.

I found a different company that works with farms and seems to understand better the situation. That involved bringing us a bigger propane tank so that there could be less filling times needed and more flexibility to work around times when the pasture is too wet for the truck to drive in and fill the tank. They brought the new tank this week and filled it just in time for our third snow storm this month! Whew.

On Saturday, we took Shrek to hike at Deer Haven because another storm was due to arrive on Sunday when we normally do our all-day hiking. There was still about 4″ of snow on the ground from last week’s snow event, but the day was perfect weather – warm and sunny. We had a wonderful day of hiking.

You can see Pike’s Peak in the near distance from where we were hiking. A pretty nice view I must say.

It has been an excellent year for pinon nuts, which is a native tree for us here, and we have been enjoying pinon nut snacks as we’ve been hiking the past few weeks.

I think this tree has the most beautiful pine cones, especially just after they have opened to release the pinon nuts. Most of the nuts have dropped by now, but you can still see one nestled in the cone from our Saturday hike.

It takes 22 months for a pinon pine tree to produce a crop of nuts, which is why not very year is a good year to harvest pinon nuts, and also why they are typically not produced as a commercial farm crop. Most farmers don’t want to wait that long for a harvest to yield dollars towards livelihood. The nuts are also very difficult to harvest and are usually harvested by hand by picking them up off the ground just below the tree from which they fell. This is very labor intensive work and it takes a really long time to pick enough nuts to earn very much money. Sadly, folks that pick pinon nuts are normally paid very poorly, and most of the money made goes to the person brokering the crop, not the people harvesting it, even though you might pay what you consider to be a high price for the pinon nuts in the grocery market.

I have picked enough pinon nuts myself to recognize the hard work it is to harvest them, not to mention the difficult process it is to shell them in quantity, and I so appreciate each nut I get to eat or cook with. If I buy pinon nuts, I always try to seek out purchasing them from someone who has harvested them and will get the money directly that I am paying for them. The other option is to buy your pinon nuts from a company that honors Fair Trade practices and pays the gatherers a good price for the nuts they have harvested. If you get to pick them yourself, you will enjoy every delicious bite!

Yesterday, it began to snow again. Not too much yesterday, but at 5am this morning the snow queen was cranked up and covering the ground with lots of wet juicy snowflakes at the rate of about an inch per hour. It’s still snowing like crazy here and now it’s nearly lunch time.

I have shoveled walking paths three times so far and it’s about time to make another pass with the snow shovel.

The goldfish pond (which does not actually have any goldfish in it) looks rather pretty with all the cattails draped in snow.

Inside the greenhouse the ginger is blooming and so wonderfully fragrant! This is a new flower and you can see the spent flowers from last week too.

At the top is what the flower bud looks like before it opens.

My pomegranates are beginning to get a blush of red color as they continue growing bigger and starting to ripen.

You can see our next crop of baby pomegranate trees are off to a great start and will be looking for homes before long.

There are baby kumquates on my tree that will be ripe next spring.

Have you ever considered growing a sweet potato plant indoors, so that you can harvest your own sweet potatoes? It is an easy plant to grow, providing you give it a warm place to live, like in your house or your personal greenhouse or sunroom. It likes indirect like and should be fertilized about once a month with organic fertilizer.

You can start your own sweet potato plant by buying an organic sweet potato at the grocery and cutting it into large junks so that there is an eye on each junk. This is similar to how you grow white potatoes too, only they don’t mind the cold and do better as an outdoor crop in spring and summer. Remember that the sweet potatoes you buy to start your plants do need to be organic ones, as the non-organic ones are often treated to prevent them from sprouting. That will never do if you are trying to get them to sprout into a new plant. Give them a large pot and be patient, as it does take a while for the tubers (sweet potato roots) to grow enough size to eat.

Your patience will be worth the wait when you enjoy a meal with sweet potatoes you grew yourself.

Now for the plant experts among you, we need some help figuring out what species this Agave is. It was gifted to Chris well over 30 years ago by an elderly woman he met thru Denver Botanic Gardens when he worked there. The tag in the pot says it was planted in 1988, but the name is not clear and we don’t know what species it is. This spring, it decided to flower and now the seed pots are getting big and are full of ripening black seeds. We are hoping to grow some new plants of this interesting Agave from the seeds, but it would be best if we have the proper name for it.

Here is the seed stalk and you can see in the picture below how long the flower stalk was. If you have any good ideas what the name of this Agave is, please let us know.

All for now. Time for lunch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a sky picture to make you feel good! The beauty of clouds, blue sky and green mountain trees is always soothing to me.

This week we had a good wet snow, which we badly needed, to help restore the Earth of a bit of the moisture that is lacking right now. It has been hot and dry with cold nights and windy! Not fall weather behavior. Not my favorite kind of fall weather either. It feels like we are skipping fall all together and going straight into the winter.

Last night it was 22 degrees for the low temperature and today it was in the high 60’s and sunny. Yesterday we had lots of moisture-laden snow on the ground. Lizz got a foot of snow at her mountain home and we had 3″ of soggy white stuff. Sunday is supposed to bring the next storm and this time it is going to last thru Wednesday next week. Yay – more moisture for the Earth. We’ll take it.

Chris is thinking about back-country skiing with the arrival of snow and now he is looking forward to when the snow gets deep enough he can pack his skis in the Mad Hatter (aka: our Honda Element) and head to the mountains. In the meantime, there is still plenty of farm work that is not going away and that is going to fill our days with tasks to be done. It’s all good though.

So, this is a short post, without any other new pictures to show, and next week I’m sure I’ll be back to normal with my posting and pictures too. In truth, I just was too busy this week to take any pictures to share.

Back in touch soon.

Almost two weeks ago we had a very hard frost event. There were several seed crops not yet finished ripening, so we covered what we could with frost blanket and kept our fingers crossed that all would be ok.

The cold spell caused the seed crops to finish out sooner than we expected them too, but for the most part everything has turned out ok. Chris finished harvesting nearly all the seed crops this last week.

Today, he began the very big process of getting the harvested seed ready to ship to Germany to Jelitto Perennial Seed Company, which is the company we contract grow our seed crops for.

That hard frost did put the rose hips and hawthorn berries in the perfect place to be harvested now. It’s important to wait until a good strong frost happens before you harvest berries like these, as the frost helps to “set” the Vitamin C complex and stabilize it. In this way, you can dry the fruits of roses and hawthorns, and as long as you keep the berries whole, and don’t crush them until you are ready to use them, and store them properly, they will maintain their nutritional value very nicely for a year’s time in proper storage.

Now that this hard frost has happened, it is a good time to pick your rose hips and hawthorn berries to dry and use for tea, medicine, to stew as a winter fruit, make jam or jellies- all sorts of delicious things!

I had a wonderful lunch visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends last week. We live over two hours away from each other, so our “in person” visits are not nearly often enough, but when we do get a chance to come together for a visit, it is so nice.

Amy stitched this golden mandala and gifted it to me at our visit. It is beautiful and amazing! It has a place of honor on my wall just above the baby owl photo that I also love very much. Thank you again, Amy, for this beautiful piece of art!

We had two more groups of school children visiting the farm last week and what a great time we had!

The 5th grade from Harrison School nearly got totally away after their visit before I could get a picture to document their farm visit. You can only see a few of them as they began their walk back to school. The school is close enough to us that the kids typically walk to do their visit, rather than riding a bus up.

We also had the 2nd grade from Mountain View Core Knowledge School visiting. The kids had just finished shelling and planting their “Painted Pony Heirloom Bean” seeds when I got a picture of them taking in their planting work.

It was a busy week for Lizz too. She harvested honey from the beehives and there was quite a bit of yield this year. You can see her at work in the photo above and below is a picture of one of the honeycomb frames full of honey that she harvested.

There have been a lot of perennial seedlings ready for transplanting too, so that is another task that has filled some of Lizz’ work time.

I cooked up a pot of “Winter Red Flesh Crabapples”, which is one of my favorite varieties for making crock pot apples. They are small apples, but large as far as crabapple size goes, with deep red almost purple skin and rosy red flesh inside. They taste delicious!

I will be cooking up more apples this week to make chunky applesauce. I will be cooking Gravenstein apples for that project. I am so in gratitude for all the amazing tree fruit we harvested this summer and fall. Yesterday, I baked a fruit crisp with peaches and tart cherries I had put in the freezer from the summer harvest.

We went hiking with our friend Marc and his dog Cleo to Goodwin Lake. There was ice on the lake, but the day was wonderful and the temperature perfect for hiking. The dogs had a blast and so did we people!

Cornelia Funke and I continue working on our plant book project for children and it is one of my most favorite projects!

Cornelia is the author of many famous children’s books you may recognize like Reckless and Dragonrider. She has become such a dear friend of mine and we are having a really good time working on this book together.

Tomorrow I will be filling in the text for Rose. Cornelia does the illustrations and some of the writing. Much of the writing of the text is my part of the project. Together we plan to make learning about plants a magical adventure for kids. Here is peek at one of our pages.

My other big project to work on this week (well, actually there are two other big projects I must work on),  is doing our seed orders for seed we don’t grow ourselves for next year’s plant production and starting to put together my planting schedule.

We have begun our planting for next year’s inventory already, but when we get to the last week of December everything gets very hectic and the work schedule is quite full. At that point, I need to have all the planting and quantities slated for each week on my planting calendar or we may miss something important or get the growing timelines out of whack. Neither of those things happening is an option, so best to be as organized as possible.

So, I guess that is all the news for now. Have a great week!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

We had an amazing and fun week filled with all the children from the Lincoln School of Science & Technology! The entire school visited the farm over the course of 3 days.

The kids had an opportunity to explore the farm and learn all sorts of things. In this photo they have just discovered that Chocolate Flower smells like hot chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven!

Every grade level was here during the week. They had a treasure hunt in the greenhouse looking for 4 different plants – one that smelled like chewing gum, one that smelled like pizza, another that smelled like a grandma’s perfume, and finally one that smelled like a lemon lollipop. There was a lot of rubbing and smelling plants in the greenhouse as they hunted for the right plants to match the right aromas.

Everyone had a picnic in the fruit garden, which is where Hannah and Gretel the ducks live near the pond. I was amazed that the ducks got out of the pond water and waddled around socializing with the kids and the adults while they were having their picnic.

Last week, we had a visit from our friends at Ft. Collins Nursery. They came down to spend the day talking shop. We spent a lot of time talking about organic integrated pest management and also shared insights of native plant propagation. We all enjoyed it very much and came away from the day feeling inspired and joyful, celebrating the company of good friends.

This weekend, Chris is visiting his family in Lincoln, Nebraska. Of course, the visit includes a Husker college football game as part of the deal, but the main things that make the visits special is sharing time with all the family!

While Chris is on this trip, I’m the farm caretaker. Three weeks ago it was his turn to be the farm caretaker while I had a visit with M’lissa and Luke in Montana. We’re still too much in the farm growing season for us to both get away together, so one of us must stay home to do the chores.

Chris and I also celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this week. He is absolutely the man of my heart and every day I am in gratitude that I get to share my life with him!

So, there has been a lot going on recently. This next week promises to be a busy one too, although not quite as many people around.

It’s looking a lot like Autumn is in full swing here too, with fall color starting to show up in all the gardens and tree plantings. Oh how I love this time of the year!!

This week has largely been about preparing for the Lincoln School of Science and Technology to visit the farm next week. We have been planting, preparing supplies, getting the farm tidy and all the things that go into getting ready to host 300 elementary school children and their teachers and other staff over three days next week.

One of the most fun things that happened this week as we get ready for the kids to visit, is that the Farm Ambassadors have arrived. They are ready and eager to interact with the kids.

The scarewoman above is the flowerpot scarecrow and she says “I’m basket in the sun” ready to greet children.

This is the gathering scarecrow, who has a broom handy to sweep pine cones into a basket. This scarecrow’s message is “Is there broom for another pine cone?”

Of course one of the Farm Ambassadors is a jestor scarecrow and he is all about having fun! His message is ‘I encourage clowning around!” He really wants the kids to have a grand time while they are here.

The driveway lady scarecrow, you might notice, has a carrot nose. She is wondering “Do you smell carrots?”

These two are the front porch scarecrow couple and they have been here since last Autumn, so they are the “Old Timers”.

All this silliness is great for making us laugh and giggle and really…that’s how life should be. Right?!

Last weekend, we had a glorious hike to Comanche Lake. The weather was perfect and there was a hint of fall color starting. It is hunting season now, so Shrek has to wear a bright orange bow on his collar so that all hunters know he is a dog and not a wild critter. He also now wears a bear bell, after our recent bear adventures, in the hope that he won’t startle any more baby cubs and their bear mothers!

We’re thinking that the fall colors ought to be really nice in the next week or two.

See you later allegator!