Berry Season Starts June 1st!

2016 BlackberriesJune is Berry Picking Month!

Berry Season is right on schedule in 2017 for the whole month of June and we are open for picking Thursday’s and Sunday’s beginning June 1st. Our schedule (and prices) are the exactly same as last year.

** THURSDAYS and SUNDAYS in June **
MORNING pick from 6AM-10AM 
EVENING pick from 5PM-9PM

We provide a bucket with a plastic liner for you to pick into, then you keep the clear liner to conveniently carry your berries home. You can pick blueberries, blackberries and you may also find some red raspberries.

Large Bucket is $15, Small Bucket is $7

Here is a photo of what the large bucket looks like when you lift out the liner.
Bag-o-berries

Let the summer activities begin!

Feasting on fresh Blueberries and Blackberries is a part of summer fun and picking them yourself makes them the freshest berries possible. Our blueberries are ripening slightly ahead of the blackberries, but both will be ready Thursday, June 1st. This “May rain” will insure they are plump and juicy and ready for you.

We grow our berries with organic practices on grassy terraces, so they have no pesticides and are easy to pick.  The blueberry bushes are a little taller than last year, but are still easy for all sizes to reach. We suspect some of you are taller too!  We look forward to seeing you. Our blackberries are also thornless so they are easier to pick than wild ones.

Parking is plentiful – shade is readily available as well as restroom facilities.  Plan ahead for FATHER’S DAY (Sunday, June 18th) – Berry picking makes a great “kid-led” activity.

Doggie Bunk Beds

LilBit and Diesel's new doggie bunk bedsWhat do you do with multiple dogs and limited floor space?  You build doggie bunk beds!  Great Danes require rather large beds and fortunately, we have a foyer that is just the right size for this.

The bed is very sturdy and the whole thing is easily removable. We can take it down, sweep, and put it back together in no time.  It is built with ledgers on both sides and has sturdy slats just like a regular bed, then has 3/4 inch plywood on top of that.  For the padding we have 1 inch padded exercise flooring cut to size.  It is gray in the photo.

You may remember LilBit, our Great Dane, who has mega esophagus. (You can read more about her HERE.) She is three years old now, doing fine, and that is her in the top bunk. Diesel is her brother in the bottom bunk, and they are both loving this new setup.  We had a step so she could more easily hop up to the top.  It doubled as their food storage container, but she doesn’t use the step.

So far, so good with this idea.  As long as they don’t fight over who gets the top bunk, I think it will all be fine.

 

Chickens Came First

Chickens Came FirstWe have proudly inherited nine Rhode Island Red Hens, all yearlings beginning to lay eggs… so the chickens came first, then eggs (later that day).  Every farm needs chickens.  They are producers, recyclers, fertilizers and tillers of soil.  Chickens eat bugs and veggie scraps and produce eggs, meat and provide entertainment.

We did not get a rooster.  Hens lay eggs regardless if there is a rooster around. So, our eggs are unfertilized, which means they can’t be incubated and hatched into chicks, but they are normal eggs and taste great.  We can always get a rooster later and after about 30 days all the eggs will be fertilized.

Habitat

Nesting BoxChickens love to forage, but we don’t leave our chickens run loose 24/7 because of predators.  We built a secure coop and fenced chicken yard for them to be in at night.  In the coop are roosts for the chickens to perch on.  A roost looks like a horizontal tree limb and the chickens sleep while perched on the roost.  They also like to lay eggs in a nesting box which is approximately 1ft x 1ft x 1ft. They like it to have hay, be kind of dark and quiet with an egg already there – after all, it is a nest.  We don’t leave a real egg there, but use a plastic Easter egg that has been filled with beans and super glued shut.  This nest box has five compartments and the lid opens to the outside of the pen so it is easy to gather eggs. The lid is open for the photo, but when closed the nest is dark and cozy.

Feeding

ChickweedBesides plenty of clean water, we feed the chickens every day in addition to letting them out to forage in the evening.  On days, when we can’t let them out, we pick some green plants and feed it to them.  Not surprisingly, a favorite is “chickweed”.

Bucket SproutingSomething new that we are trying is sprouts, which is in addition to their regular feed and laying mash.  These are seeds such as oats or wheat that are soaked and sprouted for a few days before we feed them to the chickens.  A sprouted seed is easier to digest and has 5 times the nutrients, of a regular seed, and those nutrients are readily available once consumed.

For the chickens we have a bucket system and each day we start another batch, and each day we feed the ones that are finished sprouting to the chickens.  This photo only shows three of the five buckets but you can get the idea.  The blue buckets have slits in the bottom so that the rinsed seeds can drain.  There is also enough space in the bottom of each bucket for the seed when they are stacked.  The orange bucket is where day one seed is soaked.  The chickens like the wheat sprouts better than the corn sprouts. They like sprouted corn better than dry regular corn.

How to Sprout

You’ve probably heard of bean sprouts for people to eat, but humans can eat a variety of other sprouted seeds as well.  You can easily sprout them yourself.  The way you go about doing this, is to soak the seed (be careful not to use seed that is coated for planting) first in warm water for 8 to 24 hours in the dark.  Then you have to rinse and drain them at least every day.  (Some sources say three times a day.)

Wheat Day One

Wheat Day 1

Wheat Day Two

Second Day

Wheat Day Three

Third Day

Wheat Day Four

Fourth Day

Here is some wheat I’m sprouting in a glass jar to show you. The first photo is day one, warm water soak in dark place for 9 hours. This photo is taken on the counter top, but I put the jar in a cupboard to be dark. Second day rinse the seed well and drain. I put them back in the jar in the dark.  Third day rinse the seed well and drain.  I put the seed back in the jar but left it on the counter top this time.  Fourth day rinse the seed well and drain.  I put them back in the jar, but we also ate some.  They were terrific.

Eggs

EggsOur Rhode Island Red chickens lay brown eggs.  As a general rule white chickens lay white eggs and brown chickens lay brown eggs.  Some breeds actually lay eggs with a bluish shell.  All breeds of chicken will produce quality eggs if you feed and care for them properly.

egg yolksDid you know that an egg from a chicken that is able to forage and is fed and watered properly will have an orange yolk?  Not yellow like a store bought egg, but truly orange and will taste richer too.

Eggs got a bad rap in the late 1900’s, but like so many dietary recommendations, it’s since been totally reversed.  Eggs are, again, good for you.  They are very nutritious with vitamins and Omega 3-fatty acids. We eat a lot of eggs and I will share with you a hard-boiled egg method that is foolproof.  Hard boiled eggs should NEVER have a green edge around the yolk. No wonder so many people don’t like them.

Perfect Hard Boiled Egg Recipe

You will need: eggs, pot with lid, water, bowl, slotted spoon, stove

In a pot with a lid, bring about a half inch of water to a boil.  (Yes, the eggs will not be submerged)  Once the water is at a full rolling boil, carefully but quickly put the eggs in the pot in single layer.  Put the lid on the pot and set a timer for eight minutes.  (The stove should be at medium to medium-high) You may want to adjust the time to nine minutes later if you like the yolk a little dryer, but try eight minutes first.  So, while the eggs are in the pot for the eight minutes, get a bowl of cold water ready.

When the eight minutes is up, turn off the heat and immediately spoon out the eggs into the bowl of cold water.  Leave them in the cold water for a few minutes until they are cool enough to handle easily.  You can run more cold water in the bowl if needed.  Then crack the shell all over the egg. The entire egg should have cracks all through the shell.  Then pinch the larger rounded end to begin to peel.  Often, the rounded end will have a little air gap that gets the peeling process started easily.  Then peel, rinse and eat.

Chicken bookHens begin to lay eggs once they are about a year old and will continue to lay eggs for several years.  Their most productive years are the first two or three. If you are considering raising chickens for meat, eggs or both, here is a good book for reference.  It is packed with specific information on how to get started and how to keep producing.

Coloring Blueberries

Blueberries Close UpSummertime

How many colors in the crayon box would you need to depict a blueberry bush accurately throughout an entire year? Surprisingly, you would use the whole box in coloring blueberries.  When you think of this plant, you probably envision it in summertime with green leaves and blue berries. The berries, for which you would obviously use a blue crayon, actually start out a light green, then turn pink, then to reddish purple, and finally a rich bluish/black.

Blueberry JuiceThe juice when you squeeze blueberries is actually magenta.  Here is a photo of some blueberry juice, from which I made some mead.  The color is actually more of a brilliant fushia-red. Who would think blueberry juice was red?  When the juice is on your fingers or your face, its purple.  When you get blueberry juice on a white shirt it will be pink until you wash it with regular soap, then the stain will be a blue gray.  Its weird, but true.

Fall

Fall blueberry plantHave you ever looked at a blueberry plant in the fall?  Their leaves turn from green to a beautiful gradation of yellow to orange and red.  This photo was taken December 2, so this was really late fall. Not all of the varieties kept their leaves on but the ones that did really put on a show.  Not every year is a great year for color either, but 2016 was terrific.  I think of December as being winter, but really, in Georgia, its more like late fall.

Winter

A look at the blueberry plants in January doesn’t look like much, only brown. Its hard to distinguish them from the pine straw, which is kind of gray and brown at the same time. Last year, we mulched in February, but this year, we had to bump that up as a January task because it got so warm. We had several days that were near 80 degrees. Some nights the temperature stayed around 60 degrees!  That’s pretty warm for January. It is imperative that we get the mulch down before the plants bloom, and the buds were already starting to swell in the warm temperatures of January. So, I’m using the term “Winter” loosely.

Spring

Blueberry BlossomsSo, here it is February 9th and earlier this month, Punxsutawney Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog said we would have “six more weeks of Winter”. Well, maybe up north, but not so far in Georgia. The mulching is done now, and yesterday, February 8th, I took this photo of a blueberry plant just about ready to bloom.  The blossoms are a delicate white and pink. Shown here, the buds are ready to open. Thankfully, only two plants are this close to blooming so early.  Early blooms can easily be ruined by frost. Frost is also white, but the only white I want to see on my plants is the bloom.  Keep your fingers crossed, and hope Punxsutawney Phil is only predicting Pennsylvania weather.