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Feb. 12th, 2013

viola

The next step!

There are always new steps to every venture. I've been working hard to produce the merchandise to sell, now we are starting to fund ourselves for the purchase of a shop. From the date of this posting, I have 60 days to raise the funds through IndieGoGo to purchase a building in which to base the shop in. Excited yet? I sure am!  I have at least one vendor lined up for natural soaps and balms, as well.
We've recently added some large animals to the farm. We have a Shetland pony named Daisy, a miniature donkey named Onslo, and two beautiful Angora goats named Father Thyme and Rose. We also have had a Pygmy/Angora hybrid for a year now, and an Angora rabbit named Angelica, who will soon, we hope, have friends.
We are initiating a new form of vertical gardening to reduce space needed by tenfold for plants on any given piece of land, without the use of petroleum for tilling, or the use of pesticides or herbicides. I hope to be able to share information on how this new idea works within the year.
So, without further ado, here is the campaign link to fund us, if you feel the same passion for natural living as we do!  The link will lay out exactly what we need, and any amount funded is helpful!
Thank you so much!
http://igg.me/at/SouthByNorthFarm/x/1496316

May. 25th, 2011

viola

Nothing could be finer...

Is there anything more wonderful than a late spring morning in South Carolina?  To go out in the early morning before it gets hot, and hang clothes on the line, breathe in the fresh air, and hear the birds sing?
The peaches on our tree are getting to be huge, and I so look forward to making Andrew's favorite spiced peach jam for him.  The herbs are coming up to beat the band, and so are my scarlet runner beans, which will grow (hopefully!) over the wrought iron posts on our front porch, are springing up beautifully.

This year's garden is going in as soon as possible.  We have the seeds, we have the space, we can plant it.  We are going to be trying white cucumbers this year, which I look forward to.  They are unusual!  Also planting green cukes, and my favorites, the lemon cucumbers.  Also, french cooking pumpkins, tomatoes and peppers, zucchinis (the regular, and the baby french), and sweet corn.  I have the carnival carrot seeds, which will give us multicolored carrots for fun, and yellow wax beans.  I get so hungry just thinking about all the things I will make for the family this year.  Pickles, pickled beans, canned stews, canned tomatoes, pumpkin soups...  yum.

Of course, my poor husband will have to take care of the garden alone for a couple of weeks, and feed the chickens, fish, and Scooter, the hermit crab, while I take the kids to visit their grandparents in Maine.  It will be a lovely time, I think- a good vacation for the kids, and I miss my folks so much, I can't wait to see them.
***
I'll post pics of all our growing things soon.

Jun. 20th, 2010

viola

A trip home


Recently my husband, children and I took a trip to Maine.  It was bittersweet, and much too short.  My father in law was in the ICU in the hospital up there, and things were not looking good at the time.  We spent a lot of time traveling to and from the hospital, and sitting with him, but we also took  time to relax with the kids.

One of the special things we did was go to Kettle Cove, one of my favorite places since I was very little, and the place where my husband and I used to go on nearly every one of our dates before and after marriage.  It is a little rocky beach- a working beach where fisherman launch their boats, and carry back traps full of lobsters and crabs.  There is a lovely sandy stretch nestled in huge arms of sea battered stone for people to picnic and play on.  Tidal pools among the stones collect life from the sea, like tiny windows into the ocean, we were able to see many specimens of snails, crabs, seaweed, sea-worms, and more.

Kettle Cove is hedged with a tangle of beach-roses- old rugosas that have spread and thrive in the salt spray.  They had begun to bloom while we were there, unusually early this year.  My husband took some photos for me to work from.


Sep. 30th, 2009

viola

goodness... almost October already....

and I am soooo far behind on posting here!

It has been a busy, busy summer here, between the canning, preserving, pickling, gardening, raising children, making Christmas gifts, and everything else we do.  We have started homeschooling again, and are 1 month into our school year.  The children are doing great, learning lots, and having fun.  Life can't get any better than this. (ok, maybe it can, but I won't worry about that right now, hehe.)

Due to a rather devastating computer crash a few weeks ago, I'm far behind on scanning art to post here and in the cafepress shop.  I should have some new stuff scanned in for autumn and Christmas/winter very soon, though.  I will update here when I do.

Ta for now!

Els

Jul. 11th, 2009

viola

Christmas contest updates?

Here is where I do a Ben Stein impression...  "Bueller? ... Bueller? ... Bueller?..."

Does anyone care to update to gain points? (I'm sorry I'm a day late.)

I've managed to get several things done, but I can't mention what they are, as members of my family read this blog. But I will say I'm well ahead of my schedule, and did 3 more small things today, as well as picked up materials to do more.

Jun. 25th, 2009

viola

Christmas in July- a challenge!


Last year, Thanksgiving arrived, and my sister asked me, "Can you believe it is Thanksgiving already?  It's only a month til Christmas!"
And I had one of those heart stopping, oh NO moments.  I don't think I had one single thing done for anyone, and we make about 90% of our Christmas gifts.
I don't want to spend this December scurrying like I did last year.  I'm not one of those who enjoys last minute preparations- I want to enjoy the peacefulness of the season.  So I decided that I would start holiday preparations now.  I'm setting aside jars of certain favorite foods, like pickles and chutney and such, for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But I also am planning on making at least 1 gift a week.
So that is the challenge.  You will get 1 mark for each gift they make.  If a gift is bought, you get 1/2 a mark.  If you prewrap it you get another 1/2 mark.  If you post a picture of your wrapping, another 1/2 mark.
The challenge will end on midnight, Thanksgiving eve.
Whoever gets the most marks will get a winter themed pisanky egg from one of my own hens in one of my homemade boxes as a gift.

I will keep a running tally here on Fridays, and announce the winner the Friday after Thanksgiving.
And everyone else will be winners, too, because just imagine the peace and contentment that you will be wrapped in knowing that you don't have to scurry for Christmas!

Here are the boxes-

viola

I'm still here, I promise you!


click on picture to see larger picture
I've been busy.  Here is a sampling of what I've been doing- each jar here represents between 6 and 20 jars of like produce preserved in our pantry, except for the dried stuff, which only represents 2-3 like jars.

Left to right-
Bread and butter pickles.  Strawberry jam.  Peach jam. Dill pickles. Dried onions.  Spiced peach fruit leathers.  Dried zucchini chips. Refrigerator pickles.  Sweet pickle spears.

Here is the second round of roses for this year.  This really isn't bad for a cheapie walmart rosebush!  Last year it was a bare stem about 6 inches tall.
 

Jun. 11th, 2009

viola

Some changes coming...

In the next few weeks, there will be some changes made to this blog, with a possible name change, in order to better represent what we are doing here.
I'm very excited about these changes.
Some of these will include-
Transient physical locations to buy farm crafts (baskets, candles, pisanky, etc) and fresh eggs. (The locations will be South Carolina farmers markets, fairs, craft fairs, etc.  There will be a calendar of the "wheres and whens.")
Art prints, cards, and calendars for sale, as well as possibly some tee shirts and sweaters at a more reasonable price than the Cafepress site is able to offer.

Please "stay tuned" as these changes come about!

***
I have not been online as much lately as I used to be.  First, this is our "busy season."  Between gardening, canning, drying, crafting, wrapping up our school year and getting ready for the next...  I'm swamped!
Secondly, the computer is acting up again.  It is time to add more memory to this baby, so she can keep up with all I am asking of her.  It makes it difficult to do anything online, though, as the mouse freezes frequently.  (I should knit him a blanket.)

A quick update of what is going on around here, though...

We made, and subsequently DEVOURED our first batch ever of pickled eggs. Oh. My. Goodness.  If I ever get an inspected kitchen going, that could be a major seller! They were divine!

Our tomato plants are starting to put on fruit.  It won't be long before the cherry tomatoes are ripe, and they will be closely followed by the patio tomatoes, the Cherokee Purples, and the Speckled Romas.
We have been picking our hot peppers already, and the bell peppers are putting on some beautiful fruits.
We have beans coming on like mad, so I will be freezing and canning them soon, as well.
I've been drying herbs from the herb beds, and they are just lovely.  It's a good way to preserve summer sunshine for winter soups and stews.
My cucumbers are doing very, very well, and I should have some to make pickles soon.

And, the mouse just froze again...  so will hit tab and post this. *sigh.*

Jun. 8th, 2009

viola

In the Bee Garden, and other related things.


I took this at 6:30 this morning.  The flowers were just beautiful- fresh and dewy and ready for the day.

As some of you know, my husband and I are getting ready to add bees to our tiny homestead.  We have many reasons for wishing to do so- our deep love of the taste of honey, the usefulness of beeswax, and the aspects of pollination that bees carry out on the local flora.

For the past three years I've been putting in plants around this house.  We have some native bees visit, which is lovely, but the number of honey bees I have seen in our garden is rarely above 1, and not nearly every day.
Bee keepers are seeing a lot of losses in their hives of late, due to many reasons we know, and some that are more mysterious.  This problem is called Colony Collapse Disorder.  Some of the known reasons are things such as Varroa mites, disease, and possibly the need to broaden the gene pool here in America, and such other problems.
Another major problem is the lack of biodiversity in what people are growing.

First of all, there is the issue with mega farms.  There are miles upon miles upon miles of one crop.  You'd think it would be great for bees, all those flowers, all at one place!   The trouble is, especially for wild bees which can't be moved around by their keepers, bees tend to only travel about 2 miles from their hive to gather nectar.  The bloom period for most crops is very, very short, and then there is nothing else in bloom in that whole area until the next year, so the bees cannot gather enough nectar to make the honey they need to sustain themselves through the winter, much less make enough to share with human beings.
Another problem is with the spraying of pesticides.  Many kinds of pesticides don't differentiate between beneficial insects and pests. We should use caution in spraying our gardens with chemical treatments lest we cause damage to a beekeeper's hard labor. 

So why are bees important?  90% of our food production relies on the need for pollinating insects.  When a bee visits a flower, it picks up pollen on its body, and that bee goes from flower to flower to flower, climbing deeply into the flower to gather nectar and pollen for the hive.  While inside the flower, the bee transfer some pollen on its body from one flower to the next, enabling plant reproduction.  Pollen is, essentially, plant sperm.  Many of our foods are seeds, or fruits encasing seeds.  If they are not pollinated, the seeds will not grow plump, and the fruits will be deformed.
Colony Collapse Disorder is something that affects every human being on this planet, and there are ways for everyone to help, in the city, in the suburbs, in the country. 

First, buy local honey.  You can find it at any farmer's market.  Not only will you be supporting a local beekeeper, but you will also be benefiting from the reported allergy reducing properties of local honey.

Secondly, plant some flowers.  Setting out some pots of flowers on a balcony or windowbox, creating some lovely mass plantings on your front lawn, raising flowering veggies like tomatoes and squashes and cucumbers all helps.  This encourages biodiversity in your own area. 

These are some of the plants I put in recently to draw bees.  This is my "purple" garden.  Most of the flowers are in the purple, blue, violet, and white range.  It looks awful now, but next year the plants will fill in and spread out, and we will have some large clumps of flowers that will attract more and more bees.

Third, consider keeping a hive of bees yourself.  Bees are not the vicious, angry brutes that they are often made out to be.  If they are not pestered, and are handled correctly, they can be quite calm and gentle additions to a back yard, or a farm.  Honey bees rarely sting, but because most people don't know how to differentiate between different bees and wasps, they will just assume they've been stung by a honey bee.  It is not in a bee's best interest for it to sting- that is literally the last resort in defense of the hive, because the bee will die.

Here are just a few varieties of bee attractive flowers:
Butterfly bush
bee balm (bumbles seem to love mine.)
salvia
Texas Tarragon
Sage
Rosemary
Mint
Yarrow
Russian Sage
Sunflowers
lavender
Basil
thyme
hyssop
roses (not the doubled flower varieties, but the single, 5 petaled ones.)
blueberry bushes
strawberries
black and raspberry canes...
vitex
honeysuckle
apple trees
orange trees
chives (garlic and onion)
veronica...

I could list them all day.  There are certain colors of flowers that are more attractive to bees, though, which you might consider when putting them in.  They love purples and blues, and violet most of all, followed by whites and yellows.  Try to plant things that will bloom at different times, and plant like kinds in large groups, preferably 4 feet across. (unless you don't have that kind of space.  Every little bit helps.)  Bees like sun, but they also like shelter.  Putting up wind barriers on the windward side of your beds, like a hedge or a fence, can keep your bees (or your neighbor's bees) very happy.

*pictures of our herb and flower beds will be added later... my computer is acting up, so I must shut down.*

May. 24th, 2009

viola

Terrapene Carolina

Or, the Eastern Box Turtle.  Or, as we more fondly know him, "Constable Visit."  We rescued him from a busy road and he lives in our back garden, now, safe from vehicles, with a private "in-ground swimming pool," and people feeding him fresh goodies from the garden, slices of fruit, nuts and seeds...   I rather wish I was a turtle.
It is fairly easy to tell the difference between male and female box turtles.  One of the more striking differences is in eye color.  The males tend to have a bright orange or red eye, whereas the females have brown or yellowish eyes.  Visit's eyes are brilliant orangy red, so we are fairly confident in saying "he."


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