Kathy is one of the wonderful folks I have meet on the chow and chatter facebook page. I always enjoy her comments and conversation. Through these chats I learnt that Kathy lives on a farm, that is pretty much sustainable and I simply couldn't resist asking her to share life on her farm.
So I will hand you over to Kathy:
I have been gardening on my own since I was first married but helped out as a child with my families garden. As back then gardening was a sustaining necessity.
I raised a garden and preserved everything I could to have for the winter months. I was married young and my husband had seasonal work so we bought a small farm and 10 cows, that was 40 yrs ago. We had two children in the next 4 yrs. I hand milked several cows for milk to drink and cook with, I used the cream from the milk to make butter and cheese.
We raised our alfalfa hay to feed the cows in the winter. We also raised many acres of tobacco to sell in late winter. I grew 5 acres of bell peppers in the summer months to sale commercially . VERY HARD WORK !
I would raise baby calves that I would buy from other dairy farms, on milk bottles until old enough to eat feed.
All of this was a way of life for us, he finally got through his apprenticeship at work and got more work in the 1980's. By then the kids where in school and I had to go to work off the farm to pay for private education. I continued to work the farm and on my construction job. My husband was gone for months at a time with his job . He was generally home in those days from April until September, so he helped on the farm. About 16 yrs. ago I bought this farm we live on now. It is 85 acres. We leased another 45 acres on both sides of our farm . We now raise cattle, alfalfa hay and corn. We have 36 cows and calves. I also have 40 chickens , I sell fresh eggs weekly.
We garden heavily because I can and preserve for both our adult children and grandchildren. We no longer HAVE TO ... It's just became what we like to do, I raise many many flowers, that's my hobby so to speak.
My husband has retired now and I no longer work public work but we are very active on the farm. We have fruit trees... Cherries , plums, peaches and apples. I have blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. Also grow grapes.
We also have a donkey that we keep with the cows , he is very good at keeping the coyotes from killing our young calves when they are small. He's like a guard dog. His name is Pete.
Donkey's by nature do not like any canines. They will kick and bite them to keep them out of our fields. I see him chasing the coyotes when they come out to feed. Yes the coyotes run in packs and the young ones stay single until old enough to have his own pack . These young rogues are the worse, they come to the barn and kill my chickens when my dogs are not watching . We have hundreds of them living in the woods around our farm.
We have 4 chickens that lays green eggs. The chickens are a breed of Amerucana
We do not use chemicals on our plants. We use fertilizer and agriculture lime as a needed mineral in helping the growth as our soil here is not so rich. In my garden it is all organic. I use chicken manure and wood chips to build up the nutrients in the soil, we also compost leaves, grass clippings, fish carcasses ( we catch a lot of fresh fish ) fish is a very good source of fertilizer and is good for the soil.
We only feed our chickens feed we grow on the farm . I even grow mill worms to feed them for protein in the winter when the ground is frozen and they can't find earth worms or insect for protein. I feed them pumpkin seeds from our pumpkins we raise as a natural wormer for my chickens, no medication ever. I never really tried to be organic it just came naturally, we used what we had instead of buying commercial products, that's how it was done when we were children, we learned the old way and continue to do so ....
If you will look back into the days of the native Indians in America you will find they often buried fish carcasses and used bird and bats manure as fertilizer. They also kept piles of bones for bone meal which is good for blooming plants. I also plant my field crops and garden plants and seeds by the moon sign ... It's a must for me. I truly believe in this method. You can get a farmers almanac in January and it will give you all the info on planting at the right time , the exact dates . I pretty much know how to read the moon signs by now but I use the almanac as a backup or quick reference . You can google the farmers almanac and download it then choose gardening by the moon and dates ... All the info will be right there.
Kathy also has Bee's and here's why-
Bees are a necessities to farming. You must have pollination. Bees pollinate our alfalfa and clover hayfield while feeding on the blooms they get the pollen on their bodies then fly around to all the plants and this gives a better pollination thus a bigger crop yield. Same for the garden plants. Honey bees are the busiest bees they feed during the daylight hrs. After they feed from the nectar they carry it back to therir hives and make honey. In early fall we will remove what honey we need and leave the rest for the bees to feed on through the winter. They don't come out if the hives after the weather gets really cold. They eat the honey and the comb to survive the winter then when spring comes they start the whole process again.
I've come a long way . From a two room shack on the river bank to a 18 room beautiful house on a beautiful farm. I have been blessed. Hard work pays off.
Finally Kathy share's how to make Chow Chow -
Chow chow is all the veggies you have out of the garden before the first freeze or frost. I don't measure and you really dont have to, I hand chopped everything because you want it a little crunchy. I used a lot of cabbage, chopped red and green bell peppers , onions, Serrano peppers, crushed garlic, a couple diced apples and a couple turnips . To this I add salt , enough to make it salty tasting but that's ok because after it sits for about 5 hrs. all mixed together you wash the salt off and drain off the juices . Place in a heavy pan on the stove on medium high heat and add a mixture of vinegar , sugar ( or honey ) , dry mustard, celery salt and turmeric . Also a little black pepper. The liquid does not have to come over the veggies just enough to mix well.
Taste the vinegar mixture and adjust spices to your taste . Let simmer for 10 minutes after it comes to a soft boil , turn stove down to a slow simmer . Prepare your jars and boil your jar lids in a pan of water on low heat. After the 10 minute cooking time fill jars and then use a wooden spoon handle to run down into jars to release any trapped air . Place ring and lid on jars and place in a pan of warm water and water bathe them on medium heat for 10 more minutes . Remove from water and place on towel on counter . Cover over with towel until you hear them ping . Meaning they have sealed . Leave on counter without moving for 24 hrs.
This is good as a relish with bean soup or on a roasted hot dog or on a chicken sandwich .
I hope you have enjoyed meeting Kathy and the wonderful tour of her farm and gained some wonderful farming, gardening tips from a pro and one of the sweetest folks you could meet.