Garden: Prep Work

The weather this weekend was BEAUTIFUL! Finally. We have been waiting a long time for it to warm up some and it looks like the warm weather was just a teaser with the possibility of snow on Thursday. Regardless of what the weatherman is forecasting  I wanted to get out and start some prep work on my garden.

When we bought our house there was already a garden in the back yard. It was overgrown and full of weeds; this will be the 3rd year we will have a garden at our house and it has taken of bit of work to get it going.

The first year our garden did not produce well, so farmer husband and I decided to do a soil test. We took our soil sample after harvest that fall and sent it off to the test lab. Results indicated our soil type was high in clay, which we figured, and low in nitrogen.

The next spring we were able to get soil off of peat ground. This soil has a lot of organic material and is a light soil type; we determined this would help the soil mixture in our garden and provide a better seed bed and growing condition for our crops. In addition to the peat ground, my husband also brought home some rabbit manure from the farm for fertilizer. If I would have said yes, my husband would have brought home liquid hog manure to fertilize the garden with but I was more then happy with the rabbit manure. Our harvest that year was much better then the prior year and we got the weeds under control using corn gluten meal.

Garden Pre Tillage

Garden Pre Tillage

This year we are repeating our fertilizer plan and applied a 5 gallon pail of manure to the garden and worked it in. I’ve bought all my seeds and purchased tomato and pepper plants. I tried starting my tomato plants from seed the first two years and it just didn’t work out well so I pay a bit extra to get plants that have been started so I know they will produce.

The garden is only 11.5′ x 14′ so its not tremendously large but it is adequate for Kyle and I.

Garden Post Tillage

Garden Post Tillage

This year we plan on planting:

  • 4 tomato plants
  • 2 green pepper plants
  • 2 jalapeno plants
  • carrots
  • green beans, bush
  • beets
  • spinach
  • Mesclun salad mix
  • 1 mound of zucchini
  • potatoes, above ground

Additionally, we have raspberries planted in the garden and a small patch of rhubarb in the corner of our yard.

Yes, this is a fair amount of stuff to plant in our small garden  but it works out quite well. The distance between rows is minimal but it cuts down on weeding, one of my least favorite jobs. Hopefully it will warm up soon so I can plant my garden!

The best part is eating the produce year round, we freeze a lot of carrots and beans and can salsa and tomatoes for year round feasting.  Another great part of having my garden is being able to share produce with others. The neighbor lady has a daycare and I am affectionately know as “Garden Lady” to some of the daycare kids, they enjoy coming over to see what I’m doing and even eat some of the veggies!

Do you have a garden, what are you planting this year and what is your favorite part of having a garden?

Snow Stories

Well there is snow flying again. I know everyone is sick of winter and sick of hearing everyone talk about the snow and cold but as I’m sitting here watching everything turn white, I got to thinking about some great stories that involve snow:

I vividly remember one day in high school where it had snowed a couple of inches and that day I drove my neighbor, Renae, home from school for some reason. We lived just ¼ mile from each other just a couple miles outside of town on a gravel road. We were talking up a storm and before I realized it we were almost to her house. With about 30 yards before the driveway I started to brake only to realize I was not going to make the turn into the driveway. Next thing I know, I locked the brakes up and the car is skidding and sliding, for those who have done this you know there is no turning one direction or the other at this point. We are skidding and sliding and headed for the ditch and front yard, we miss the mailbox by inches on one side of the car and somehow missed a tree on the other side. We came to a halt. We starred at each other. There was dead silence for about 10 seconds follow by hysterical laughing for 5 minutes. Renae got out of the car and walked to the front door which was 10 feet away, and I drove through the front yard back to the drive way and headed home. From the terrifying ride through the ditch and the hysterical laughing its amazing that I didn’t pee my pants!

For those who know my husband  you know that he is an avid hunter. For those who don’t know him, I’m a harvest widow and immediately after harvest I become a hunting widow until mid December. If it flies, it dies and if its brown, its down. The first winter that my husband and I were married was VERY snowy, especially in December, and we didn’t have a snow blower. Every time Kyle was gone hunting it snowed. Did I mention that we did NOT have a snow blower?! The one weekend he was gone it snowed about 12″ of HEAVY, wet, heart attack type snow. Don’t forget, no snow blower. Now my little car was going nowhere without someone cleaning out the driveway. Dreading the task ahead of me I headed out with shovel in hand. I got about halfway done and was pretty proud of myself but I was tired. I wanted to take break but I knew if I did I would not finish shoveling the driveway so I kept at it. Finally, after what felt like 2 hours of shoveling I was DONE! About the time I turned around and got back to the garage I heard the most horrible noise. The SNOWPLOW coming down the street. I wanted to run to the end of the driveway and boycott the snowplow but he probably wouldn’t have stopped for a young lady shaking a shovel at him and I probably would have been covered head to toe in snow and slush. The plow went by and left a thigh high drift at the end of the driveway; now I’m about 6’0″ so this pile was a good 2.75′ off the ground. I think at this point tears were streaming  down face and freezing to my cheeks. I was exhausted and now I had more snow to shovel. I was devastated. Once again I told myself, “Self, you CAN do this. You MUST do this.”  and I did. Now the next morning my alarm clock is going off on my bed side table and I tried to go through the motions of turning the blasted thing off, only to find out that my arms would not move. I could not physically lift them up to shut off the alarm! Now picture this, I literally had to roll out of bed and stand up so that my hands were at the right level to pick up my phone and shut off the alarm! That is a Minnesota upper body work out!

The one weekend it snowed the my husband was home and we got a snowblower

The one weekend it snowed that my husband was home and we got a snow blower

Although the snow is no longer welcome by most Minnesotan’s, especially the farmers who are anxiously awaiting planting, we are glad to have the moisture that was so desperately needed for a good growing season this year. Saturday’s high is 72°, only in Minnesota.

Enjoy the weather. The first person who complains about it being “too hot” better remember how much they wanted the heat not that long ago.

Easy Beef Enchiladas

So its been a while since my last post. I guess that is what happens when you have one computer and you sever the power cord in the recliner…talk about sparks!

Speaking of sparks, we could use a spark to get spring going. April 11, 2013 and we had 8+ inches of snow. Since it was cold outside, I wanted something warm and a little spicy for dinner and it needed to be quick and easy.

A family friend, Lori, gave me this recipe for Beef Enchiladas and it is ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Farmer tested and approved.

  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 1 can refried beans, optional
  • onions and peppers as desired, thinly sliced
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 pkg tortilla shells
  • 2 cups shredded cheese

Brown the hamburger until cooked thoroughly. Stir in the next 4 ingredients and heat until bubbly and hot.

Enchiladas

In a separate sauce pot whisk together the enchilada sauce and tomato soup and heat until hot, this could also be microwaved until warm.

Place and equal amount of meat and vegetable mixture into each tortilla and roll up.

Enchiladas

Place in a 9×13″ pan (will hold 8-10 tortillas). Pour enchilada sauce and soup mixture over the top of all of the tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese.

Enchiladas

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350°, until hot and bubbly and cheese has melted.

Enchiladas

We top this with sour cream, lettuce, and jalapeno pepper jelly!

Enchiladas

ENJOY!!

13 Questions

I’m pretty new to blogging and just getting into the swing of things but I’ve been following quite a few blogs for a while now and this week as I was catching up on some reading I happened upon 13 Thursday-My Answers from Megan over at The Beef Jar and then I came upon Jenny’s post 13 Questions from a Butcher’s Daughter. Both of these posts stem from Ian’s (An Irish Male in America) call to farmers/ranchers/ag people to answer 13 questions. Well I work off-farm but my hubby works for his family on the farm so I thought he could answer these questions. Mind you, my hubby wasn’t all that excited about me blogging so I had to be sneaky. I got through the first 4 questions before he caught on and then we were too far along to quit!

Answers from my crop and pig raising hubby:

1: What is the worst time of year for you? Fall is the busiest time of year with harvest, field work, manure hauling on top of the  normal day to day work the days are extra long, sometimes working 16-18 hours a day. Winter can also be a bad time of year here in Minnesota because of the weather. Days where it is snowing, blowing, and extremely cold are dangerous not only for the people but also for the animals. So we spend time blowing snow so we can get to the barns and making sure the barns are sealed up tight so the heat stays in and the cold stays out.  Those cold days are when things are most likely not going to work properly, so we make sure the heaters and make sure the generator is working, just in case.
2: What is your favorite farm job? One of my favorite farm jobs is hauling manure. Ya, its smelly but I get to utilize all the up-to-date technology; GPS, AutoSteer, flow meters and its an important job that needs to be done. Bonus: I use my head set and spend a bunch of time catching up with my farming friends who are also out doing some sort of field work. On the livestock side, I really enjoy working in the farrowing barn (with the sows giving birth) because its a challenge and its where everything starts.
3: What is your least favorite farm job? Power washing the barns because its a dirty, wet, and tedious job. Euthanizing animals is another job that I don’t enjoy but if the choice is between euthanasia or to let the animal suffer then it needs to be euthanized.
4: What type of truck do you drive (on the job) and why did you choose it? (this one is a must know, not only do I find American trucks awesome to look at, but with all the truck companies trying to advertise themselves as the “biggest toughest” truck out there, I think it’s about time we round out the truth from the people that put them to use!) I drive all sorts of trucks for my job; Ford/Dodge 4WD running around the farm, Freightliner feed truck, Ford diesel trucks for hauling pigs, International Semi for hauling grain in the fall. I went through the process of getting my CDL this past fall so I can drive just about anything!
5: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learned in your line of work? There are some things you just cannot control, and no matter how much you want to you can’t. Moving pigs (they’ll always want to do it their way), disease challenges, weather; Murphy’s law: what can go wrong, will go wrong.
6: What do you think is the most valuable tool you have, the one you probably couldn’t live without? Environment controlled barns. In Minnesota, the temperature variations are so great that having humidistats and cool cells (think evaporative cooling) and heaters provide a more stable environment that induces less stress on the animals.
7: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your business/what you do? The biggest misconception is that we do not care about the animals and only do what is best for our pocketbook/bottom line. Actually, it’s quite the opposite, we are very concerned about treating our animals well; treating them well helps them performs better which is better for our bottom line.
8: If you could invest in a new piece of farm equipment tomorrow, what would it be?(and I mean it, just one!  let’s not get greedy!) 475 horsepower quad track tractor. (I asked my hubby why he wanted this and his response was “Why not, beings we’re dreaming. Have you seen what I drive?”) 
9: What was the most serious injury you ever suffered in the line of work? Well so far I’ve been pretty lucky but I did have an incident last spring…I tripped out of the skid loader and fell face first into the ground with one leg catching the loader bucket. At any rate, I had the biggest goose egg on my shin for 3 months and it hurt so bad I thought I had broken it at first.
10: Least favorite animal to deal with? Cats and horses…I just don’t like them. (note these are my FAVORITE animals)
11: (excluding all of the above) What’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked? No such thing as a dumb question, please ask away!
12: Favorite beer? (come on, out with it!)(I’ve seen people take their beer pretty seriously, and it’s time to know what a real working persons beer of choice is!) Coors Light, especially after a long day at work. 
13: Thing you’d most like the public to know about what you do! (I admit you do this every day on your blogs no doubt, but was looking for something addressing maybe a misconception you hear the most about your business!)
So what do you say folks, who wants to take that challenge? That farmers work really hard to produce a safe, quality product for you to eat and that we care about our animals. Please ask me questions about farming!

And then read the answers from these wonderful Ag folks: