A note from Jo –
Look, up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the sun!!!

One of the nice things about running a small and very diverse farm, is that when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it’s easier to be nimble and change strategies, especially when working with plants that have a short turn around. While the weather, being cool and damp, has delayed the tomatoes and peppers by a month compared to last year’s schedule, it’s been absolutely wonderful for the greens. The radishes, carrots and beets are looking pretty happy too!

Lots been goin’ on out here as they say. New livestock, moving birds here and there, quite a vigorous crop of dog fennel coming on (which isn’t so good a thing – “Bad dog fennel, bad!”). At least it breaks down rapidly on the compost pile.

The chickens have been giving me fits for the past couple of weeks. Egg production has been dropping steadily over this time with an all time low of only 5 eggs for 36 laying hens. That’s just wrong. I believe I have the situation remidied, but because of the drop, eggs will be rationed this week. By next weekend’s deliveries all should be back to normal. The only people who’s egg orders will be reduced are those who order multiple dozen eggs, so if you only receive 1/2 or one dozen eggs in your delivery, not to worry. More about that in the Weekly Livestock Report.

Some crops are up, some went in the ground last week and some will go in next week. Looks like things are starting to pick up. Finally!

Joanne Rigutto

The Little Homestead Farm



In this issue –

So, What’s Available This Week?

Weekly planting and seedling report

Weekly Livestock Report

Projected Activity For Next Week

Upcoming Projects and Events

Recipies – What’s for chow?


So, what’s available this week?

Yes, more salad greens! I’ve been eating these as well, and some of the leaf lettuces or endives have gotten a bit tough. I’ll keep monitoring those and if they get too tough, I’ll swap ’em out for other greens.

There will be garlic scapes and wild green garlic this delivery. This will be the last of the garlic scapes, although the ones this week will be quite a bit bigger than last week.

The green onions will be red onion this week. A nice big bundle of them.

As I noted in the intro, egg are being rationed this week. If you normally receive 1 dozen or 1/2 dozen you’ll still get your full amount. Only people receiving multiple dozen eggs will be rationed.

The share this week will be $4.00 plus eggs at $3/dozen. Example, if you normally receive one dozen eggs your share would be $7.00.


Weekly Planting and Seedling Report

As noted, the cool weather has delayed planting of some crops such as the tomatoes and peppers by about 1 month. Last year at this time, all of the tomatoes were in the ground and the peppers were being planted as well. Last year I picked my first tomatoes in the second week of July (yellow currant tomatoes). This year I expect to be picking the first of the tomatoes sometime in early August, but if the weather actually warms like it should, we should still have a good crop as I have a lot of tomato and pepper plants to get in the ground (a total of close to 600) as the weather permits. I was able to get 70 tomato plants in over at the Canby location on Tuesday, June 1st. These were San Marzano roma, Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, and Yellow Pear tomatoes. I also noted that the carrots, beets and radishes were up, as well as the edamame and various beans, both dry and green/yellow.

All of the pepper plants have been potted up. I’ve put 50 or so out in the rows with the tomatoes that haven’t been planted and there are around 350 in the greenhouse. I hesitate to move them out untill the weather warms a bit more, although the ones that are out already are looking good. I think my favorite pepper plant, just for shear looks is Pretty Purple, a hot pepper. This plant would be nice just for decoration as the foliage is dark purple with dark green in the center of the leaves. Looks king of like a coleus pretending to be a pepper plant.

I was able to seed 19 more trays (50 count trays for a total of 950 cells). These were seeded for more greens – Strawberry Popcorn, Collards, Kales (Toscano, Lacinato, Dwarf Blue Curled, Dwarf Siberian, dwarf ornamental varieties), Pac Choi, Asian Greens, Misome (Komatsuna/Tatsoi cross), Oka Hijiki also known as Seaweed Mustard, two types of edible chrysanthemum greens, Tatsoi – Red Velvet, and Sheep’s Sorrel. As soon as I see the seedlings poke their heads up above the plug mix, those trays will be moved out and new trays will be seeded.

I’ve hesitated to start flower seed at this time due to restricted space in the green house. I feel it’s more important to keep producing food crops as opposed to ornamentals, even if some of those ornamentals are intended to drive off pests.

I’m particularly looking foreward to trying out the popcorn, which is being grown for corn shoots as opposed to mature grain. I’ve been told that of all the corn varieties, Strawberry Popcorn is supposed to produce the tasiest shoots with good corn flavor. If all goes well, they should be ready for harvest in 2-3 weeks.

Something that we’ll be enjoying next week is Mizuna. A chinese mustard, you’ve already been enjoying it in your salad mix. What you should receive next week (if the chickens don’t find it) is a bag of mizuna, which you can either add to your salad mix, or use in stir fries, as a steamed green, etc. Mizuna has a sweet, mildly mustard flavor when eaten by itself.


Weekly Livestock Report

The chicken situation has been problematic to say the least. As I’ve said, production (or rather the eggs that I’ve been able to collect) has been going down steadily over the past two weeks, with an all time low of 5 eggs collected for 36 laying hens on Thursday, June 3rd. I had an idea that the hens hadn’t just up and quit laying. Given the fact that the number of eggs layed in known nests had gone way down suddenly, my suspicion was that the hens had new nests, which I have not, at the time, been able to locate. I had also found some that the hens had broken open and eaten as well as a few that rats had gotten to. I also saw an opposum traipsing out of the barn the other day. ‘Possums love eggs as do the rats. My solution was to identify the hens who were probably eating eggs, which I did and those hens were subsequently sold. My other strategy has been to restrict the hens to the coop until late enough in the afternoon that I know most of the eggs have been layed in the barn nest boxes. I’m happy to report that I was able to collect 30 eggs yesterday (the first day of the new routine). That’s acceptable for the number of hens we have her who are active layers. I have one or two who are very old and I don’t expect them to lay much if at all.

So, the new routine will be in effect for the next month. The hens are restricted to the coop until 5:00pm, at which time they are turned out to range, forage and hob nob with the new pullets, who are turned out in the morning. Given that the laying hens will still have 4 hours/day to forage, the quality of the eggs should stay about the same as you’ve all been used to. However, if you happen to notice a change, and decide you no longer want eggs, just let me know. The hens still get their regular ration of scratch grains (cracked corn and whole wheat) as well as their usual free choice layer pellets. I hate to do this to them, but this is what needs to be done to get them back into the routine of laying in the barn as opposed to everywhere on the farm. After a month, I’ll see how they do back on a complete free range schedule.

Whisker’s two kids are doing well. They’re real characters. The doeling I’m keeping to add to the breeding herd, and while I had intended to have the buckling slaughtered for my own family’s use, another goat breeder swung by and bought him to use as a breeding buck. I’m sad that I won’t have any goat meat in the freezer, but happy that the little guy will be going to a good home.

I’ve also aquired a new milking doe. Taffy is half toggenburg and half alpine, two dairy breeds. She has a LOT of milk, even though one side has been dried off, more or less. Milk production is up to a bit over 1 gallon/day, which gives me enough milk for the lamb and for storage both. While I’m sad that I won’t be accumulating new small pails, I ain’t that sad. And, I think the raw goat milk is no doubt healthier for the lamb as well.

With the addition of Taffy, the breeding herd is up to 7 currently breeding does, 3 young doelings who will be bred next year, and one breeding buck, with his son to be bred next year. Red goat, who appears to be sterile, will continue with her job of fostering/companion to the new lambs which should start coming in February/March 2011. Red is very good with the babies, and she can often be seen playing with or just hanging out with them. She did an outstanding job with the lamb this year.


Projected Activity For Next Week

Given that it should be warmer during the week, the trays that I seeded should have seedlings making an appearance early, which means that they’ll be moved out that much sooner and new trays can be seeded. If I am able to move the peppers out, I’ll be seeding 45 new trays next week. As the weather continues to warm, I should be starting a new batch of trays every 2 weeks. Half of the trays will be greens and herbs, half will be flowers. I intend to get the basils, and other herbs seeded in trays by the end of the week. I’m experimenting with a new basil that I bought as plants last week – a small leaf green basil. I also bought some of the live basil at Fred Meyer in the produce section. I’ve been wanting to experiment with hydroponically grown basil, so when I saw this, I bought a bag, broke the oasis cubes it was grown in appart and planted them in large pots. I see the plants are going through transplant shock, but I hope they make it. If they do, we might have some basil here in a month or so. The plants I start from seed won’t be ready for harvest for a couple months, just in time for the tomatoes (I hope).

I planted 70 tomato plants over at the Canby location last Tuesday, June 1st, and I’ve 70 or so more to go in over there. I’ll also be planting half of the peppers at Canby, I’ll probably take them over there if the weather holds. I won’t be planting them, but I’d like to get them over there to acclimate them to the microclimate. It’ll also keep them from being walked on by chickens.

As long as the relatively dry weather holds, and the ground dries enough, I’ll be planting the first of the sweet corn and field corns this week, as well as the beans. Next week’s gonna be a busy one! I also would like to get more beets and peas in the ground. Between the cool weather and the predation by the chickens (who like peas and pea greens as much as we all do), out of all the peas I’ve planted I only have one very short row (about 6 feet) that actually got big enough to produce flowers.

Yet another project I’ll be doing is setting up the scaffold frame for the hanging tomatoes. Harold has been wanting to grow upside down tomatoes, and I have the currant tomatoes that need to go into hanging containers. Last year I grew the currant tomatoes and they were a big hit. Currant tomatoes are incredibly prolific, but unfortunately, the plants only get about 20″ or so high, which makes picking them a great pain in the back, litterally. This year, the plan is to grow them in hanging containers, either on swivels, or on hooks. What I’d ideally do is have a work bench set up with a lazy susan on it, so that I can put the container on it and just spin the plant around to pick. I’ll also try them out on swivels, sort of the same idea, I just won’t have to pack the plants over to the harvest table.


Upcoming Projects and Events

Work over at dad’s garden on Sunday from 1:00pm – 3:00pm. Pick up for CSA shares will be during those times. Last week we got weeding done, lawnmowing, Pete got strings up for the beans to climb and Jenny planted some basil and strawberries. Same for this week, and hopefully we’ll get some tomatoes in the ground over there as well. The tomato plants I delivered 3-4 weeks ago have been in the little greenhouse over there are doing very well and I think it’s time they went in the ground.

Recipies – What’s for chow?

This week I’m sharing my recipe for a sweet vinegarette that is wonderful on the salad greens we’re all eating right now. I like to work with a back sweetened cider vinegar, but this works well with a seasoned rice vinegar as well. It’s super easy to make and much less expensive than the packaged vinegarette mix you can find at the store. All measurements are approximate and you should season to taste.

Jo’s sweet vinegarette

3/4 cup sweet vinegar (either a back sweetened cider vinegar or seasoned rice vinegar)

1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 T sweet mustard (honey mustard or sweet coarse ground mustard)

2 t ground garlic (garlic granules or coarse garlic powder – don’t use garlic salt)

2 t dried onion flakes

2 t dried Italian herbs

1 t fresh coarse ground pepper

Option – 1 t berry syrup or honey (I like to use Torrani Huckleberry Syrup, but this would be good with a blackberry or raspberry syrup too)

Add the vinegar, garlic, onion and herbs to a cruette or other container and shake well. Add the mustard and shake well. Add the syrup if you’re using it, shake well and taste. Adjust seasonings as needed to your preference. Add the oil and shake well.

Use to dress salads and steamed vegetables. This dressing also works well over fresh tomato salad. I’ll have a recipe for that when the Princes of Summer arrive…..


See y’all Saturday and Sunday!