Friday, December 17, 2010
SW Wisconsin is becoming a hotbed of sustainable agriculture!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Here I am jackhammering (I found this and a lot of other photos on Bill's camera), taken in July. Working on that barn makes me happy!
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Big agribusiness has supported S.510 since its inception. (Illinois Senator Durbin authored S.510; sigh...) I believe that this bill will further consolidate large agribusiness and make it even more difficult (really? is that possible?) for small producers to compete in the market place. Once the Senate agreed to include the amendment to the bill - large agribusiness came out swinging. During these few days between the agreement on the amendment and the final vote, you can bet that the agribusiness lobbyists are working hard to pull or further dilute the amendment.
Best case scenario, in my opinion, would be no passage of this bill; but obviously that is not going to happen because agri-money talks. As a future small producer and proponent for small farms, the best we can hope for is that the amendment is included - not pulled from the bill.
Grist.org has a good debate on the bill here.
When cleaning off some stone, Bill found initials in a stone
Lally Column in the middle of the feedlot door - half of this door is going to be covered by the new buttress
Interior, along the back wall. This will be framed and concrete poured between the framing and the old stone.
Friday, November 19, 2010
In other news we finished construction on and rented our vacant apartment (in Chicago)! What a relief both work-wise and financially. Our new tenant moves in at the end of November which is exactly one year after the previous tenants moved out. This was a huge time and money-suck this year but it increased the value of the building and will cut down on the number of 'fix-it calls' that Bill was fielding from that apartment. We ended up doing an almost-gut rehab so everything is new. It looks beautiful and I rented it to the 2nd person I showed it to.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
And we have another pet to bury at the farm. Our cat Gracie was put to rest last week. This is our 4th pet euthansia in four years. For the record, it does NOT get easier. However, it was time and we wanted her to go while she still had some of her dignity. She was always Bill's cat as they had a special bond, and was named after the Gracie family of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fame. He adopted her 2 weeks after we met. She was the end of an era. The last of our original pets.
Monday, November 8, 2010
I have a large patch of them at the Church-yard. Every fall I dig them up and we feast on sunchokes for weeks. Typically we eat them raw but last week I tried a soup; compliments of one of my heros, Deborah Madison.
From Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors
1 small onion
3 small red potatoes (I substituted 1 large sweet potato)
1 celery rib (I omitted)
2 T sunflower seed oil (highly recommend Smude Oil for those in the midwest - thanks to Brett for mentioned them in his posts)
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 C vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 bay leaves
Milk or cream for thinning
½ C croutons, crisped in the oven
Roasted hazelnut or pumpkin seed oil (I omitted this and topped with a dollop of plain yogurt)
1. Wash all the veggies, then chop into ½ inch chunks. Don’t bother to peel the sunchokes.
2. Heat the oil in a soup pot, add the veggies and sauté over high heating, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 mins. Add the garlic during the last few minutes. Pour in the stock. Add 1 ½ t salt and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 25 mins.
3. Cool briefly, then puree until perfectly smooth (love those stick blenders!). Return the soup to the stove and add enough milk or cream to think it to the desired consistency. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve with a few croutons in each bowl and the oil drizzled in a thin stream over the top.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Francis is an organic dairy farmer, holds a Ph.D. in agronomy with a soil science specialty, and is an educator. He ran a positive campaign and believes in local foods, land stewardship, CAFO reform, revitalization of rural economies and alternative energy.
Bill Northey is backed by Monsanto's money.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I've been asking Bill to built me a coldframe for a couple of years - every since I read Eliot Coleman's Four Season Harvest (*El's recommendation - see footnote for more about El). It took a while but it was well worth the wait. I should note that this is in our Chicago backyard.
The wall frames are constructed with scraps from a ReAdapted project from Black Locust which was sustainably harvested from Western IL near Galena. Black Locust is one of the hardest (and heaviest!) woods to work with. It is similar to Osage Orange and can last 100 years as fenceposts without treatment. The coldframe walls come apart with screws and wingnuts to allow it to be disassembled easily. The glass tops are made from old windows from my friend Mimi's house. She gave us the windows a couple of years ago and we left them outside in the weather on top of a sheet of plastic to allow the weather to do the majority of the paint removal (amazing what rain, sun and freeze thaw can do for you if you are patient). These are old windows and had years of paint (yes, lead paint). The paint flecked off onto the plastic so we were able to safely dispose of the paint chips. Bill then removed the glass from the frames, further removed any remaining paint, sealed them with an environmental soy-based sealer, reworked the frame, and then reinstalled the glass. He sanded down the low side of the window frame to allow water to run off. There are two eyehooks on the backside which, using the chain from the old windows (these are old double-hung windows), can hook on to the eyehooks to keep the frames propped open.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Big tree behind the house is gone!
Note the stump - it feels so open now
Some of the Black Walnut logs - future ReAdapted projects?
Additionally, we met with a local electrical contractor who is going to take down all of our overhead electrical lines and bury them. The timing works well since soon (hopefully) next week, the excavator is coming to excavate around the house, excavate the new home site, berm up areas to direct watershed from the back hill and install another culvert to direct water away from the homesite. Although we don’t envision starting construction for another two years, we need to know and understand how this watershed re-direction is going to work before we build a new house.
Bury those overhead lines - some of them are bare wire
We also got a pallet full of framing materials delivered for the barn while we were there. We are moving ahead full-steam to try to frame and pour concrete footings and reinforcements before it gets too cold this fall. Bill built about ½ of the frames needed for the buttresses and the back wall framing.
Pile of the frames
We hope to go back either the 1st or 2nd week of Nov for an extended period. The clock is ticking on the weather and our concrete pour window is getting smaller every day.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Brown the garlic in oil for 3 minutes
Filling the jars
Into the canner
Waiting for the ping. See the cauliflower, carrots and garlic?
Additionally, we roasted 3 tin foil trays of green tomatoes that I brought home from our Wisc garden last weekend and made 12 more pints of roasted green salsa. Roasting green tomatoes on a hot grill brings out the sugars and makes them sweet and juicy.
I forgot to take a photo of the finished product.
I think we are set for spicy food in jars for this winter!