Chickens, Farming, Greenhouse, Maple Syrup, Meat Animals, Meningioma Tumor/Healing, Rhubarb

More Changes at the Farm

I’m telling you, this has been some crazy kind of year for the Lee’s!

Recently our septic system failed, so a new summer project came up as well as changes for the farm. We only have an acre of land and apparently our old septic system was severely undersized for the number of bedrooms we have. This means that we can’t just dig up the old system and put down new pipes and fill etc. We have to actually move the entire septic system to a new location on the property. The only space that is available is the one at the bottom of our hill, which is where the laying hens were and the gardens. This means that we have to cut down several trees in the area and we got rid of the chickens. We were planning to have these chickens until fall then put them in the freezer and build a new coop before we got any more chickens, however, we had to get rid of the chickens before we could get a septic design so, the chickens are in the freezer a little sooner then anticipated.

We were planning to have meat birds again this year. We changed our mind and decided not to do them as we have this big project on our hands now. Our friends at Mahalo Farm right down the road will have two pigs for us and that is the extent of our animals at the moment. They would also be happy to sell pork to you in the fall.

I am only planting in our greenhouse and at our away field (about a half mile down the road). Our away field will be squashes and pumpkins in the entire field. We grew potatoes there last year, and squash is pretty low maintenance, once it gets large enough.

In the greenhouse we will have, tomatoes, peppers, basil, green beans and possibly some lettuce, but I might put the lettuce in pots on the porch instead, we will see how that pans out.

Overall it is a big change for the farm. This is both a relief and sad for us. We were trying to simplify after my surgery and this is a forced simplification.

We are still planning to ramp up our syrup production in the spring of 2020.

Meningioma update: I had my first follow up MRI and it looked great, the doctor had no concerns and this will be my new baseline MRI. Hopefully there won’t be any growth detected ever or at least for many, many years. This is wonderful news and we are very grateful!

One thing that came about since my surgery is that one of my knees really started hurting. I had fallen down the stairs while holding #3 when he was just a couple weeks old (about 4 years ago) and twisted my knee. This seemed to have repaired itself and had not caused me pain for sometime, until one of my children rammed into me a couple of years ago and my leg twisted again. I had some pain and a constant uncomfortableness, but it was not unbearable nor did it impede my motion or walking etc. About a month after my surgery, when I was done with any drugs and not taking even advil daily and began moving around more, my knee became so painful I couldn’t walk for a few days and had trouble sleeping. Apparently my head had been hurting so badly that I didn’t realize that my knee was badly injured. I had torn some cartilage and meniscus in my knee. Hoping to avoid another surgery, I am now doing physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding muscles and it is working very nicely.

Since my surgery I have come to find out that I was really, really lucky not to have any life altering problems after my surgery. I still have trouble when there is a lot of overwhelming noise and commotion sometimes and I have trouble remembering words on occasion (ok, sometimes several times a day if I am tired – but that could just be because I am getting older right???), but this is so minor compared to other complications. It could have been so much worse. River knows of someone who was diagnosed after me and had surgery and it is like she had a stroke since her surgery, she has a droop to one side of her face and has trouble with one side of her body working sometimes. I feel that we were remarkably lucky that I did not have any complications with the surgery and recovery. Amazing.

I will be selling seedlings at the bottom of the driveway beginning next Saturday. I will have, tomatoes, pepper seedlings as well as rhubarb plants that need to be divided so if you need any rhubarb plants for your yard come on over! We also have maple syrup still available.

Enjoy the week, hopefully it will warm up soon!

Greenhouse, Vegetables

Saving Spinach Seed

I am trying to save as many seeds this year as I can. I have saved spinach seeds, some seeds from mescluen mixes and I will save some leaf lettuce seeds too.

After drying…

To save the spinach seeds, I let them get a little dry in the garden, then hung them on the porch. When they were dry, I took all the seeds (they are the nodules on the stem) off over a pan. When I planted my garden this year I had two kinds of spinach and I didn’t plan to save seeds so my seeds are a mix of what worked in the garden this year.

Greenhouse, Recipes, Vegetables, What’s for Breakfast

Dinner Tonight Italian Sausage with Sweet Potatoes and Swiss Chard

Since we are out of all our root veggies except a few beets (not my favorite thing to prepare obviously, or they would be gone too) when we were at our local store Bath Natural Market this afternoon and they had a couple sweet potatoes on sale, I grabbed them.

Dinner became a stir fry with Firehouse Farm Italian Sausage, and from the greenhouse a leek, Swiss chard and fresh garlic ( Not even sure how this managed to get planted in the greenhouse, compost perhaps, would that even happen?)

Goodies from the greenhouse, I broke the leek pulling it up, when will I learn to just start with the shovel before it breaks?….

I began by sautéing the sausage, adding the chopped leek and sweet potato at the same time. While they cooked I added some hot pepper flakes (from last summers peppers) salt and pepper. I added the garlic and Swiss chard when everything was almost done, wilting the Swiss chard.

Swiss chard in the greenhouse, ready to be picked…

Serving this with rice tonight, hopefully the kids aren’t too disappointed when breakfast is basically the same thing substitute Italian Sausage for Breakfast Sausage and no rice. Wish me luck…



Farming, Greenhouse

Voles vs LA

I am at war with the voles that have been eating everything growing in our greenhouse.

I tried to deter them with castor oil pellets, a lot of them, to no avail. I finally (several months late) made some vole traps Elliot Coleman style. See this link for a photo of his traps.

After waiting a few months for River to make the traps, (not like he was busy making syrup or anything!) The little boys and I finally made 3 on Sunday using scrap wood. We had managed to dispose of a couple voles without traps (don’t ask, you don’t want to know what happened) we knew that they had been eating really well and were quite chubby, so I decided to get some rat traps similar to what Elliot uses. I also got two of the mouse traps he used on the off chance they would work.

I did not put bottoms on my traps, so I put them directly over some of the entrance holes in the greenhouse. I got two in the first 24 hours with no bait in the same rat trap, over what looked like a well used entrance.

The trap that had the mouse traps in it was missing a trap, completely gone. I looked around the greenhouse and did not find it anywhere. I had accidentally made the doors on this one a little larger then I meant to, so the vole must have pulled the trap out through the hole when it was stuck on its little foot or something and managed to get into a hole with it.


LA 2

Voles 1 (and all the greens and bean seeds in the greenhouse)

Yesterday I rearranged the traps and added some apple and orange bait to change it up a bit and success! One more Vole down!


LA 3

Voles 1 (and all the greens we should be eating right now except the kale, apparently they don’t like kale)

I have been reading This Organic Life Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow, she brings up the point that even if we are vegetarian, it does not mean that no death is involved in growing the plants we eat. She talks about the true cost of the food we eat.

“Whatever you choose to eat, and wherever you get it, the true cost of your food will, almost inevitably, include death.”

This Organic Life Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader page 161 Joan Dye Gussow

I tried alternatives to no avail. Unfortunately in this situation, to successfully grow food to eat I have to get rid of these little creatures.

Farming, Greenhouse

The Greenhouse

20180202_124453I love our greenhouse! Our 1 acre is on a hill. Our house is up high and our growing space is down below where is has a tendency to get very wet in the spring or during a thaw. Because of this we had to raise our greenhouse up a couple feet to make sure it would not be full of water in the spring. This is not so good for insulation in the winter, but it does keep it from floating!

We were inspired by Eliot Coleman and his book Four Season Harvest to put in a greenhouse and two winters ago we had greens almost all winter except for the coldest couple of weeks. I have found that when I use the greenhouse for tomatoes I don’t get greens planted early enough for a winter harvest in here.

We use the double coverage method in the greenhouse to keep the soil warmer.


We used an old movable garage shed for the frame and bought greenhouse plastic to cover it for longevity.

The greenhouse is 12 x 20 with a vent on one end on top and a window and door that open on the other end. The vent and window have automatic openers for when it is hot. It is a very basic greenhouse because we did not put in a fan.

We have drip irrigation, although I would like to rework it to be more efficient. I have grown our tomatoes there for the last several years and this year I am going to give it a break and plant more greens in it as crop rotation is important.

I was able to can as much tomato sauce as we will need this year from those tomatoes as well as lots of salsa. We may fall short on salsa before tomatoes are ripe again this year and this is a year I need to make Ketchup so I will need a lot of tomatoes, I hope our garden is up for the challenge!

I also grew peppers here and was able to freeze several pints to be used in stirfrys etc.

Last year I wintered over leeks in here and they were delicious, we just don’t have storage for them so I would dig them out when it was warm enough and we needed them.

I had some leeks planted in here and some small onions, however some critter (a gopher I think) has been munching the tops. I have been researching ways to get rid of gophers. I haven’t found anything I love, but they have got to go!