The seed catalogs are piling up and it’s a constant reminder of how in flux we’ll be as of
June. It’s been a long time since I’ve not put in a large seed order, and frankly, I’m feeling a bit antsy about it this season. So, to take my mind off of what I won’t be doing, I’m thinking ahead to the things this extra time will provide in terms of opportunities for learning. An ever-growing, ever-bearing, zone 1-10 list of things to learn while not farming:
Tend to the travelling orchard
Improve spinning technique
Improve fiber processing set-up and technique
Experiment with natural dyes
Learn about medicinal herbs
Practice grafting techniques
Volunteer at school or public garden
Help a fellow farmer with farm chores, butchering, shearing, etc.
Learn old-fashioned candy-making
Focus on food preservation techniques:
Take a class in business planning for the fiber mill
Maybe, just maybe, learn a new knitting skill
Explore niche or value added markets
Take a botany class
Spend some time with growers using methods outside of your own, including conventional, biodynamic, and other permaculture or organic farmers and gardeners
Cut up seed catalogs to make art with the kids
Cut up seed catalogs to do some companion planting planning
Re-read Edible Forest Gardens
The list continues to grow and hope blooms eternal, so… suggestions are always welcome and may spring shine warm sunlight upon your gardens!
Revisiting a post from 2012: Churning fresh butter doesn’t have to be a chore with the help of a kitchen mixer or blender. A half quart of heavy cream will yield enough butter and buttermilk to last a family of six one week, so gauge use accordingly. (A quart is shown in the photo).
Pour heavy cream into the mixing bowl. Using a chopping attachment, whip cream for 15 minutes. Mixture will fluff into a whipped cream, then begin to solidify into butter granules (as fat molecules break down), before it divides into a liquid/butter mix.
Next, strain the buttermilk into a bowl through cheesecloth. Squeeze the remaining buttermilk from the butter. You may reuse the heavy cream jar to store your buttermilk, refrigerate.
Rinse the butter a few times in cold water.
As you begin to shape the butter, you’ll notice small droplets of buttermilk forming. Pat dry with a clean towel and continue to press and shape the butter. Add salt, honey, or other flavorings as desired.
Use cookie cutters for prettier molds, or press and divide into smaller portions. Butter will store safely in the refrigerator for one week or longer.
The food dehydrator finally arrived. We’ve been researching the best methods for food storage and it has quickly become one of our favorite tools for preserving the harvest. We can now make jerky, fruit leather, and dry fruit, veggies, and herbs to store for months.
You can even dry sauces and soups for later use (a helpful tip for avid campers/adventurers).
I wasn’t sure what the kids would think – Would our dried apples compete with the store-bought variety? If the toddler had anything to say about it, I think they exceeded all expectations.
I normally buy dried tomatoes – I love the flavor and texture and it sometimes makes a decent meat substitute. Not only do the tomatoes dry really well, they’re something of a work of art when finished.
Buying fruit leather at the co-op is a bit costly for this family. Making our own is not only fun, but a healthy alternative. We use a bit of honey to add some sweet to match any tart flavors on part of the berries and can now make good use of all of that autumn olive at the farm.
I don’t normally do plugs for commercial products but in this instance, with the limited number of options in our region for food-safe dehydration, this product makes a really nice (and quiet) addition to your food storage arsenal. The Nesco Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator FD-5A is one of the higher end models at the lower end of the total wattage spectrum. It’s a smallish unit with stackable trays (up to 12) and very quiet. Highly recommended, if solar isn’t a good option.
"In healing, we teach others; and in teaching, we heal."