Blog Post About our Hydroponics Webisodes

Ryan Ehst graciously hosted us one afternoon at his hydroponics farm www.buttervalleyharvest.com and we left with so much footage and information, we had to break the episode into two parts!

Be sure to return for Part Two of our first two-part webisode!

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Blog Post About our Goats Webisode

Every time I reach for my Pumice with Goat’s Milk soap I bought at Donna Howard’s Spotted Hill Farm, I marvel at the fact that the “special ingredient” came directly from her Mini-Nubians right in her own backyard!

She’s right–the soap has a creamy quality that you just can’t get in store-brand bars!

Be sure to watch our Goats webisode – and if you’d like more information about goats milk and soapmaking, go to www.spottedhillfarm.com

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Lettuce and Hydroponics – Webisode 1

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Meet Purslane

I didn’t always know Purslane, mind you. We met after I married.

David was away on a flight assignment with the National Guard (mid-July, as I recall) and I was left tending our veggie garden for a few days. This was my first summer doing this– I was on maternity leave from flying and halfway through my pregnancy.

I thought it’d be great to show David, upon his return, how I tidied up the garden…and proceeded to weed every row. The work was tedious (as weeding usually is) and my protruding belly and the hot summer weather made for an uncomfortable experience. I pushed through, though, and ended up with mounds and mounds of this succulent “weed” which, to my great surprise was very easy to pull, thanks to a recent rain. It was really productive work—it almost looked as though I’d taken a vacuum cleaner between the rows and cleaned the paths!

David was amazed at my handiwork and surprised me with an early birthday dinner at a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin known for serving only local and seasonal fare (a rarity 11 years ago). Imagine my surprise when the salad course came and there, alone on the little china plate, was a heaping helping of….purslane. I remember looking up at him, quizzically, and saying “Are they kidding??” Nope. Not kidding.

Our Pennsylvania neighbors always ask for a bowl of purslane from the garden. They’ve been eating it for years. I’m always happy to oblige; the supply is endless. Me? I’m happy to stick with the mesclun mix we plant. But I recall that trip to the Wisconsin restaurant every year about this time—when it’s time to “tidy up” the rows.

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Kimberton Whole Foods

My dear friend, Lisa, has lived in London for many, many years and returns to the area four times a year to visit her father. I don’t have to ask anymore, enroute from the Philadelphia International Airport, if she’d like to stop for groceries for her dad—it’s just routine now. Our pit stop? Kimberton Whole Foods.

I first heard about KWF a few years ago, after we’d moved to the area. An actress-colleague of mine came to work and told me she’d discovered this wondrous grocery. I stopped in and found the selection and quality unbelievable; exclusively organic produce (local, when possible), a variety of natural and organic groceries, and an amazing selection of body care. I’m not the only one moved by KWF; the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture acknowledges their vision as well. See www.pasafarming.org

Lisa loves KWF and I love stopping to shop there! Established in 1986, KWF has grown to become the largest independent natural foods retailer in eastern Pennsylvania.

Please visit their website www.kimbertonwholefoods.com and be sure to subscribe to their newsletter!

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Goats Webisode

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Red Norlands

Red potatoes were ready to dig today!  David gently forked the ground until it coughed up this variety of early/new potato, the Red Norland, which we planted about 100 days ago (days to maturity are always listed on your seed packet so that you may plan accordingly).

It’s hard to explain the feeling of loosening the dirt and letting it fall through the fork only to reveal these red beauties left rolling around on the tines…it makes me pause every time. It’s a family favorite–so delicate and tender–and the skin gives way easily as you take bites.

Usually, we can keep the bushels through the winter in the basement. Last year, we didn’t run the furnace at all (which is in the basement) because we used both wood stoves. Aside from keeping the family cool–remember the record snowfalls in the northeast?–it kept the potatoes and squash perfectly.

David is great about planting an abundance of Red Norlands and we’re always excited to see that first bushel basket he’s pulled from the earth.

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The Snakeskin

I know what you’re thinking: you can’t see the numbers on the yardstick, right? Well, I can barely make them out as well. I don’t even think the thing is a yardstick—how can it be? It measures up to 42 inches – last time I checked, a yard measured 36 inches.

Skin of a Blacksnake

Suffice to say, the snakeskin next to it is in excess of 5 feet. It was quite the find—and recent too—eyeholes and tail intact. He (or she) certainly wasn’t in a hurry to get out of it.

My husband found it in a quiet corner of the barn we call “the shop.” Now, years ago, I would’ve been anything but proud to show it off. Yet since moving to a farm, there are some critters I just can’t manage on my own…and those are rodents. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll ever be proud to say “we have rodents!!.” So, I’ll let the black snakes alone because they’re good things to have around – Great Circle of Life and all. And I’m kind of proud of that snakeskin too.

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Blog Post About Our Bees Webisode

It takes a special person to raise bees…by the millions.

After watching our Bees  segment I think you’ll agree, Eugene Taylor is just that person!

If you’re in our area after Labor Day you will be able to visit his display and perhaps meet the man in person at the Oley Valley Community Fair in Oley, Pa. on September 16 – 17 – 18, 2010. Check out the Fair at www.oleyfair.org

Eugene Taylor’s honey can usually be found on  local grocery store shelves….to that, I say “Sweet!”

I have to tell you, if I could spend endless hours enveloped in a zen-like hum, harvesting fresh honeycomb at the end of the summer each year in a “honey room” off the house where I processed the golden liquid and was engulfed by the sweet aroma of honey every time I stepped inside, I’d take my chances with all those stingers too! 

Check back with me in a few years—I have a feeling we won’t be able to stop at just one hive.

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Blog Post About Our Strawberries Webisode

Jillian Prout and her husband, Ben, have the nicest pick-your-own berry patch!  Visit  www.proutsjollyviewfarm.com

When they first started, they planted more than 6,000 plants BY HAND!  To hear her tell it, it was just another day on the farm. They had quite the system (using a bucket loader to hold the many plants and containers of water at the ready).

They manage to keep everyone in the area pretty satisfied around strawberry-pickin’ time….thank goodness for their handiwork!

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