Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I realized that I really haven't said much about my sheep. So I'll tell you about them now...

Every day when I feed and water my sheep (I have three; Amelia, Ramona and Beatrix), I open the pen so they can get out and stretch their legs. All winter long, though, they have been confined to the barn because it has been to icy for them to walk around outside. This morning was particularity nice because it had a damp, early spring feel to it, so I decided to take my sheep for a short walk so that they could "pronk" as my friends like to call it. If you have never seen pronking, it is when the sheep jumps as high in the air as she can and kicks her hind legs out. Or she starts running, then jumps up straight legged and lands as hard as she can. It is quite fun to watch and I can't help but laugh out loud. I brought the grain pail out to the front yard and they followed like good sheep until they realized that they were out in the open, it didn't take them long to start running around like little lambs.

I have had my sheep for about 9 months now, and I have to say that they are the sweetest animals I have ever dealt with. Tending the sheep in the morning is the only farm chore that requires me to slow down and talk softly. Sheep are very skittish and like routine and familiarity. My girls are a family (a mother and 2 lambs) and stay together. They are Corriedales, a wool and meat breed, but I don't intend to eat their babies. I didn't have them bred this past fall because only the mother, Ramona, was old enough. This fall I am going to have them all bred, and that will probably be as big as my flock will get for a few years (no lamb chops for you!). I really think that animals want babies, it's just the way nature works. This spring I am going to have to learn to shear them. I can wash, card, spin and knit the wool. Now I just need to learn how to dye it! Maybe you'll see some of the finished product at the Farmers Market this year!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maple Syrup

It is a month early, but we have started tapping trees. Andy was as sick as a dog when he went out there and tapped on a beautiful, 40 degree day. It was a tough decision to make, to tap or not to tap was the question. But after a full week of gorgeous March-like weather and no cooling trend in sight, he could no longer wait. The trees have been tapped since Wednesday, 4 full days now, and we have gathered 120 gallons. That is enough to make about 3 gallons of syrup. Apparently the sap from early runs is the highest in sugar content, so it is the best. We will have some to sell at the next farmers market, so if you are a CSA member and were hoping to get Maple Syrup, stop in soon because it sells out quickly!

Here is our operation in a nutshell:

We have about 100 taps out, no more than 3 taps in a tree (and those are big trees). We are hoping to put more out, but we need to find more clean 5 gallon pails with lids first. Andy chooses the maple that he wants to drill based on its size, the look of the crown, and its location. He then drills a hole about 1 1/2 inch deep on the south facing side of the tree.

Then he gently hammers the tap in until it stops. Hang the bucket off of the hook, and the sap just starts running! It's like magic. The sap is clear and slightly sweet.
When the buckets are full, he goes around with a sled and collects into these giant pails that he got from "The Bucket Man". He pulls the sled down to the sap house and starts boiling. It takes a full day of boiling in 3 different pans to get the sap to the right sugar content. Today will be the first time we "draw off" the syrup, so that means blueberry pancakes for supper tonight!
Apple Pecan Coffee Cake

2 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Cup maple syrup
1/3 Cup canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups apple, peeled, cored and chopped.
1/4 Cup chopped pecans
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
1/2 Cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
~ Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together and set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugar, maple syrup, oil, and eggs together. Stir in the dry ingredients, then fold in the apples and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn out onto plate when cake is slightly cooled.
~ Stir together the topping ingredients and drizzle over the top of the warm cake.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Farmers Market

We are running into some difficulties with the location of the summer farmers market in Farmington. First of all, BLC employees and customers have lost parking spaces in front of the store, so more and more there are people who have to park where the market takes place. This is incredibly frustrating for both market vendors, and people who can't find parking spaces!! Second, depending on a few factors, the movie theatre may put up a fence at the end of the parking lot, leaving no place for our customers to park. Third, we are getting to big for the lot. We have turned down some really great vendors because we simply don't have the space. It is a shame!

If you live in the Farmington area please take this Farmers Market Survey. If you have already taken the survey, please ignore it.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Warm in the Greenhouse!

Well, It is planting day here at Marble Family Farms!

Last night we moved the chickens from the "old" greenhouse (now called the East Greenhouse) to the "new" greenhouse (now called the West Greenhouse to avoid further confusion on our part!). The ladies did a great job of picking the greenhouse clean, and leaving a lot of fertilizer! Here is the greenhouse after 25 chickens have cleaned it up for us!

And here are the chickens at home in the East Greenhouse now! We have a lot of carbon in the soil, so the high amount of nitrogen in the chicken manure should help break it down. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will be in this greenhouse later in the spring.

So today we are rototilling and planting a 90 foot row of Beets, a 90 foot row of Spinach, 20 feet of kale, 20 feet of Swiss Chard, and 90 feet of salad greens! We are hoping that in 70 days we will have something to harvest! I can't wait for vegetables. Okay, the carrots and potatoes that we have in storage are wonderful, but you can only cook them so many ways before they get old! I need fresh, crisp greens!

Usually we have greens all year long, but this year we decided that the East greenhouse needed fertilizer in a big way, and that we wanted the addition on the West greenhouse. So we decided to take the winter off. We also wanted to get away for a while and this gave us the opportunity. It was really great to take a break from farming for a little while. We came back to it with the enthusiasm that we needed to regain. Now we are ready for a new growing season, and I know that I will never go without having at least a small plot of winter greens again!!

Here is my favorite soup recipe (although I did have homemade Minestrone soup that was even better! You can find the recipe at 4boysonly!) I thought I should post something to do with all of those storage vegetables! I always chop up potatoes and throw them in with the tomatoes. Also, a great addition is to chop up greens (spinach, swiss chard or kale) and throw them in as soon as you turn the heat off at the end... Delicious!!

Tomato-Lentil Soup with Brown Rice
The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

2 Tbl. EV Olive Oil
½ Cup Onion, Chopped
2 Small Carrots, Chopped
1 Celery Stalk, Chopped
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
4 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Lentils, rinsed and picked over
¼ Cup Brown Rice
14 oz. Canned Whole Tomatoes, drained and chopped
½ tsp. Thyme
1 Bay leaf
Salt and Pepper to taste

~In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic; cook, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the broth, water, lentils, rice, tomatoes and their juices, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, until the lentils and rice are tender, stirring occasionally, 50 to 60 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Serve hot.

Per serving: Calories 378, Protein 28g, Total Fat 8g, Saturated Fat 1g, Cholesterol 0mg, Carbohydrate 52g, Dietary Fiber 22g, Sodium 763mg.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Hello again!

After the rush of the holiday season, we had a MAD DASH to get the greenhouse addition constructed. With lots of help from family and friends, Andy and I were able to complete the project before our January 7th dedline. Here are a few pictures of the construction.

We moved the gable end 50 feet forward, then put up bows every 4 feet along with purlings, coller ties, and lots of wind bracing. The hardest task, however, was securing the plastic.

On January 5th, we had a completely calm day, all of the bows were up and everything was ready, the weather was perfect with not a hint of wind. We decided to put the plastic on as soon as we could get enough hands to help. By the time we had the 60ft x 120ft piece of plastic rolled out and tied to the ropes that draped over the peak of the greenhouse, it was starting to get dark. The wind started to whisper slightly as we started heaving the plastic toward the peak and over to the other side. Well, it doesn't take much wind to move a sheet of plastic that big. Three hours, many cuss words, and only 1 gaping hole later and it was in place. It is not pretty, but it will do until it warms up enough for us to gain motivation to make it a tighter fit.
On January 7th we were on a plane to Ecuador! What a relief to have the greenhouse finished. We are hoping to plant spinach and beets by next week. It will be so nice to get out there again!