Pea Shoots

We keep our cravings for fresh greens satisfied with pea shoots, while we wait for the warmer temperatures of spring and can again harvest fresh veggies from the garden.  What are pea shoots you ask? 2015-03-23 08.53.03They are very young pea plants. Shoots are started the same way as sprouts, but instead of eating them right away, we put the sprouted peas into some medium(seed starting mix, peat moss, or coconut coir) and allow them to grow until they are 3-4 inches tall.  Sam would declare them his favorite snack, well maybe second to carrots.

Here is what you need to grow your own pea shoots:

  • dried peas or pea seeds
  • quart mason jar
  • water/spray bottle
  • seed starting mix, peat moss, or coconut coir
  • seed starting flat or other water tight container
  • a  sunny window

I think the hardest part is sourcing the dried peas.  If you are lucky your grocery store will carry them, just make sure they are whole dry peas, split peas will not germinate.  I found some online and ordered 10 pounds from a bulk food site. You can also order from a seed company but I think the price is higher.2015-03-23 10.34.52 2015-03-23 10.36.47For my 21″x 10 1/2″ black plastic seed starting tray, I use 1 cup dried peas.  Place the dried peas in the quart mason jar and fill with water until one inch for top.  Allow the pea seeds to soak for 12 hours. During that time the peas will soak up most of the water.2015-02-16 08.44.40After the peas have soaked, strain off the water and return them to the jar.  I then rinse the peas twice a day until they sprout, it usually takes two to three days. You will see the root emerging from the seed,  they are now ready for the tray.2015-02-17 15.33.52Fill the tray with 1/2 to 1 inch of medium, you don’t need much just enough to cover the bottom of the tray.  Then evenly spread the pea seeds on top in a single layer.  If you wish you can cover the seeds with more growing medium.  The top covering will just help keep the seeds from drying out.2015-02-17 15.22.27Place the tray in a sunny window and don’t allow them to dry out.  But remember the container does not have any drainage so the peas don’t what to be flooded or they might mold.  I use a spray bottle to mist them.  After a week or two when the shoots are about 3 inches tall, we use scissors to cut our shoots for salads, stir fry’s, and snacks. When you are harvesting leave a leaf or two on the plant and you can get a second harvest.  After the second harvest we feed what is left to our chickens.2015-03-23 08.54.302015-03-23 08.54.39I hope you give pea shoots a try, they taste like fresh sugar snap peas from the garden.  Enjoy!

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It smells like fall….

It has been busy around here, the end of summer chores are in full swing.  With heat indexes hitting 100+ and three days later having a low of 33 my garden doesn’t know what to do.  But these past cold mornings remind me that winter will soon be at our doorstep and we need to be ready.  So we our canning tomatoes, freezing peppers, drying apples, cooking apple butter, making apple cider vinegar, and planting the fall garden again (a critter only left us the peas and ate everything else).

2014-08-25 17.36.54I have canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, ketchup, tomatoes with okra and dried tomatoes.  I still have tomatoes on my plants after sharing with family and friends and I am running out of ideas for how to preserve them.  I will probably dry some more.  Any suggestions?
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This is the first year that I was able to beat the bugs and harvest winter squash and pumpkins.  I was doing a happy dance in the garden the day we  picked these.

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The boys and I planted the fall garden several weeks ago and everything germinated beautifully despite the high heat and lack of rain. Then about a week later we woke up to find that something had dinned on all the spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, carrots, and radishes, it left us only the peas.  The boys were not as sad as I was as the only thing they prefer to eat are the peas. So replanting the garden is still on my to-do list.

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Usually due too late freezing weather in the spring, we are not blessed with fruit every year.  But this year has given us a bumper crop of cherries and apples.  Hopefully pears will follow soon.  The boys took the 4-wheeler and trailer down to our neighbors and had too much fun picking apples. They filled the trailer to overflowing.  So we have been drying apples, canning them, making apple butter, apple cider vinegar, baking pies and apple crisps.  I am still working on emptying this trailer after sharing these apples with neighbors, friends, family and the cows.  The cows love being fed apples.

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Finally, What we have been waiting all summer for….

As the Dog Days of Summer become a distance memory and the return of school lessons is replacing time once spent in the garden, Honey finally delivered her long awaited calf.  We have been expecting this calf since the beginning of June.  Obviously, the official cow calender keeper got the dates written down wrong, since June 1 and August 27 are not close together.

2014-08-27 08.35.18Honey came in the barn this morning for milking acting completely fine showing no signs of what was to come.  After getting her morning treat and a good rub down headed back out to the pasture.  Thirty minutes later from the kitchen window we spy two little hoofs making their first appearance and not ten minutes after that she was cleaning off her calf.  Don’t we all wish giving birth was that easy.  After another 20 minutes the little bull calf was up and nursing.  With this wonderful surprise this morning, we will be short on milk in the Wash House, while we get this little guy off to a good start and his new home.2014-08-27 08.35.08-2 2014-08-27 08.32.08

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Gathering the eggs every evening has become the boys chore, which they usually enjoy doing.  But number one hurt his ankle playing at Grandma’s house and number two is not quite old enough to carry the egg basket with out dropping it (it is heavy when full of eggs).  I was still cooking dinner so I asked dear hubby if he would gather them and thankfully I did.  2014-03-01 15.38.59

Most of our chickens live happily in their moveable coop safely behind electric poultry netting.  But I have a few adventrous hens that escape the netting everyday to roam the farm.  This rebel gang of hens has left a path of destruction around the farm eating all the lettuce in the garden and laying their eggs where ever they feel like.  It is an Easter egg hunt everyday.  We have found eggs in the barn, goat shed, greenhouse, and just laying in the yard.
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Now to get back to why I am thankful not to have collected the eggs. So hubby was is the barn looking for eggs. There are two doors in the floor of the hayloft to drop hay down to the cows below.  Just below the doors is a rock ledge at the top of the wall that collects a little hay.  This is the hens favorite place to lay eggs.  The eggs can be reached by blindly sticking your hand in the nest from below or from above through the doors in the hayloft. I always choose to gather eggs from above and hubby usually chooses below.   This time was the exception for him and as he reach down into the nest he saw a black rat snake with a large lump in him.  So he went to remove the snake (which is something I would never do) from the nest and the snake started to slither away.  In the snakes hast he pushed the egg back out of his body and mouth.  The egg looking completing fine without a crack was brought into the house and hubby attempted to give it to me.  Thanks, but no thanks was my response and a very thankful feeling that I was not the one to collect rat snakeFarm Fresh Eggs

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I am always trying to plan and schedule things here on the farm or in life. From starting seeds inside to transplant out on a certain date, to planning how much of each crop to plant, trying to breed the cows and goats during a certain month so the following spring we will have babies when the grass is green, or deciding how many chicks to get this year so we will have enough eggs to sell for next year.  It seems the planning and scheduling is never ending.  Then I have a week that reminds me I’m not in charge and it is a good thing.  Things will happen when they are ready whether it is on my calender or not. This weeks surprise was Lily’s bull calf. Scheduled to arrive mid-June he made his grand entrance on May 21st.
IMG_1032And of course Honey who we were planning on calving has yet to have her calf.  So with this mix up of plans we will be out of milk for a few days while we get this guy off to a good start and a new home.IMG_1029IMG_1033IMG_1037

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More cute kids…

We just keep finding ourselves up in the corral playing with the kids.

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King of the cow…

Spring is offically here and we caught the kids playing a game of King of the Cow.

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Spring is finally here…

and so are the kids. Goat kids that is.  After selling most of our goat herd last fall we are down to three does.  But now we have four adorable kids running around to add to the herd. Two bucklings and two doelings.  Lets just say it is hard getting any work done when all the boys and I want to do is play with the goat kids.2014-03-03 07.43.15 2014-03-03 08.23.41 2014-03-03 08.24.26

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Changing of the Seasons?

We have had a cold, snowy winter, but if you look closely the signs of spring are starting.  Now I have to be careful and remind myself that it is still mid-February and I can’t start planting my tomatoes outside tomorrow, even if the temps are in the 60’s. I do have lots of seedling started in the basement to help me with my spring fever.

Back to those signs of spring. The snow dunes are finally melting!
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The birds were singing so loudly during chore time I’m sure they were celebrating the warmer weather.

IMGP0019Isaac doesn’t have to wear 10 layers of clothes when hauling hay down to the cows.  He likes to count off all the layers and see how many he can put on and still move.


Hanging clothes on the clothesline is not so much of a chore, but a great excuse to go outside.

2014-02-05 09.17.16And the chickens are starting to lay eggs again.  Hip Hip Hooray!!!


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White Christmas

The boys were both worried that we would not have a white Christmas this year.  I think this translated into, we have not gone sledding yet.  Well, they both got their wish eight inches of the white stuff fell on Saturday night and we are getting more today.

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Merry Christmas!

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