Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Storing Carrots

We actually had so many carrots from the garden this year that we couldn't eat them all in just a few days. Amazing! So after a little online research and a couple of conversations with some hardcore gardeners, I decided to bury our surplus carrots in sand. Supposedly, burying carrots in a bucket of sand will keep the vegetables fresh for "a pretty long time". I'm not sure what "a pretty long time" means. None of my in-person resources really knew how long the carrots would keep in the sand. Their carrots were still crisp and described as "fairly eatable" a couple of months later when they were eaten up. So in the spirit of vitally-important-scientific-research, our family has taken on the challenge of eating a small amount of carrots each month to determine the accuracy of "a pretty long time".

We have a plethora of food grade buckets gathered over the years from different food and non-food projects. And finding the sand wasn't a problem. Everyone has sand in some form or another. But finding sand that was OK to be exposed to my food for an extended period of time was a little challenging. A lady at one of the feed stores (that didn't have the right sand) explained that I needed "natural" sand. Hmmmm. "Natural Sand"? Sand can come in an unnatural state? She went on to describe what I wanted was "sand box sand". Oooh. Sand box sand....of course! I guess my carrots would be OK if they were swimming in sand that might be found in a child's mouth.

#50 of sand box sand. (#50 is a lot. It's the only size sand box sand comes in. Anybody need any sand box sand? It's natural!)

Our carrots are a little, um, mature. I dug them a week or so ago and they have been patiently waiting for me (in yet another bucket) to find the right sand. Note the root formation along the body of the carrot and the small leaves trying to regrow from the stem? Maybe "hairy" is the better adjective. Some folks think hairy carrots are bitter and slightly tough. But we like them just fine! They don't seem bitter to me at all.

Sprinkle a layer of sand on the bottom of the bucket so the carrots won't be exposed to the cold, possibly freezing cement of our garage floor through the bottom of the bucket (our garage has been known to freeze in some winters). Then layer the carrots over the sand and sprinkle sand over the carrots, then more carrots, then more get the idea. Not unlike a big sand and carrot lasagna.

When I was finished, I had 4- five gallon buckets filled with sand and carrots. (Sorry, I don't have a picture of those buckets. You are just going to have to use your imagination.)

I'll keep you posted on the character and the flavor of the carrots as we eat our way through winter into spring. I know that everyone will be on pins and needles until we find out the results of our vitally -important- scientific-research. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This is the first year we've had fair success with carrots. Our soil is mostly hard pan that we've been amending for several seasons. We had been growing carrots and onions and garlic in raised beds because our main garden is so full of clay these root vegetables have a tendency to grow wonky in the tough soil. (Potatoes don't seem to have this problem....thank goodness. I couldn't be without my potatoes!) But I need  the raised beds for veggies that are hard for me to grow out here in the bald naked prairie. The raised beds should be dedicated to special vegetables that are so challenging that I need to baby them and cover them and fret over them (like basil).  Plus, I just flat out need more carrots than our raised beds can supply. 

The crop was a bit small but any success comes with valuable information for next year. 
What we learned: Thinning is important. Thin those babies before they get big enough to attach themselves together. 

Entwined carrots (IE: lazy farmer) 

Water. I'm pretty sure that along with the carrots being too close together, the smallish crop could have been due to low water availability. Usually we don't have to worry about watering in the spring. Often the newly planted seedlings have too much water in the form of rain and the seeds are in jeopardy of rotting. But this year we had a fairly dry spring which produced spotty germination. Carrots take forever to germinate. So a dry seed bed plus otherwise slow germination makes for unpredictable results.


Ok... so now I know! 
I can't wait for next spring! I can feel LOTS of carrots in our future.

 Next post? Storage!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014


Our chickens are molting....hard. It's pretty "normal" for them to loose their feathers this time of year. 

The coop floor looks like someone took a knife to a feather bed. Lots of feathers EVERYWHERE.

They always seem to grow them back just in time for winter. 
But this year the cold weather took one of the hens by surprise.

She's just about naked!

 I don't think she's sick or hurting. Chickens isolated themselves from the flock when they are in trouble and she is happy to be with the other girls. 

 There are new feathers growing out. They are just taking their time making an appearance. 

So in the meantime, I've been increasing the protein in their feed. This will help to keep the hens from depleting all their energy stores by both trying to keep warm and growing feathers at the same time.

We might get a few more eggs out of the deal, too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Side Bar....

On a completely unrelated note.....

My beloved is sick.
He hasn't been sick like this in years.
He went hunting with our boys this weekend and last weekend just as both boys were finishing a nasty bout of URI (upper respiratory infection) type sicknesses. The end of runny noses. Coughs. Sore throats. They weren't successful in the woods as far as providing meat for our already bulging larders. But they weren't in the woods just for meat. They were there to be together. My husband is quietly teaching our boys to be men. He models strength and Godliness through his actions and uncompromising steadfastness to his family, and his own moral compass. Oh and they really just like hanging out together, too. Unfortunately, Tim picked up the last of the potent germs that were lingering around our sons. And now he is puny.

The reason I'm bringing this up is that somehow women have painted men to be weak and sniveling and ineffective, when they don't feel well. We snicker behind our hands and roll our eyes and gripe about how men can be such babies when they are sick. We put on airs about how men are not tough enough to go through labor and delivery as evidenced by their inability to tolerate a bad head cold or other insignificant ailment. I'm not sure where or how this got started. I know many men are annoying to those who care for them during an illness. And I know many women who test the patience of care givers as well. As a nurse, I'm in a particularly interesting place to observe people when they are sick and vulnerable.

So let me state this now: my husband is not a baby, not when he is sick, not ever. My husband is a man in every sense of the word. He exhibits his strength when he shoulders a physically difficult chore such as changing not one but two flat tires in the dark on the side of a mountain with only the light of a cell phone. And he exhibits his strength when he tenderly, patiently, paces the house hour after hour (for the fifth straight night in a row) with a colicky infant.

Do his feet smell? Sometimes.
Do my feet smell? Sometimes.
Does his breath smell like roses in the morning? Never.
Does mine? Not hardly.

But week after week. Month after month. Year after year my husband shows his character by steadfastly, without complaint, leaving our house to work. He works at a job he loves, to take care of us; but he has to be away from us to work, which he hates. And yet~ he does the work.

I love my husband.
I admire my husband.
I feel in many ways I am better because I married a good man...... in sickness or in health.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Brrrr.....It's colddd!

Minus 1 this morning on my front porch. 
While we've been colder, it's not very often we get this cold in November. We've had such a mild fall, I think the cold snap took everyone by surprise, even though we knew it was coming. Just the sheer force of the cold on your body when out doing farm chores is a jolt. 

This is ice formation on the INSIDE of the window in the south facing office!


When I was little, living in Texas, I'd read about the temperatures being such that the windows on your house would have that fuzzy look to the edges and corners.

This looks like condensation, but it's ice :)

Or you'd see a show on TV that depicted a winter view of a house with the windows frosted over.

I have a little different perspective now.
Looks like it's chili for supper!