Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stateline Farm Beginnings Farmer Training Program

We've graduated!

Honestly, this was one of the best experiences of my adult life. I certainly learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about running a small business. I was and continue to be challenged by an extraordinary group of passionate folks. I feel lucky to be a small part of this agricultural renaissance.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Barn Progress

Gotta save this old barn

We have ramped up our efforts on saving the barn. The angle of this photo doesn't show the "sway" that is in the ridgeline of the barn, however, it does show how this barn is built into the hillside. By walking up the trail to the left, up behind the left side of this photo, you can enter the top (haymow) of the barn. There are two entrances to the lower portion: through the milk house (the little white portion at the front of the building) or via a sliding large door in the feedlot (on the right).

The interior - taken while standing in the milkhouse

The barn swayback problem is two-fold. First, the back (built into the wall side) is limestone and it is deteriorating. Secondly, many of the large supports are resting on spans that have rotted and are being propped up with a collection of old car jacks and cinder blocks. Before we can repair the back wall, we need to restabilize the support of the barn. To that end, we are breaking open portions of the barn floor to pour new footings for new supports to allow us to jack up the barn, straighten it, and then repair the back wall. Instead of trying to repair the old limestone, we are going to build a form and pour concrete over the stone. Oh, and we need a new roof too. Yikes.

See photos of the some of the framing stabilization (and the state of the limestone) that we did earlier this year here.

So we are in this project for real now.

Bill is scoring with the concrete saw

After scoring, we have an 18" square to jackhammer out.

Bill recently purchased a jackhammer. (I know....) It has proven to be invaluable for this project and small enough (less than 75 lbs) so I am able to also use it.

Bill is jackhammering inside one of the holes to break up stone inside the hole.

This is only about 20" - we need to continue to 42".

I purchased a new pair of gloves in July from my friends Ann and Liz at Green Heron Tools, which sells farming and work gear for women. This is the type of project that involves digging by hand - literally pulling out the gravel and stone by hand. All of this stone work has worn out the fingertips so I've got to get a new pair. I love the message on these gloves - Strong Women Building A Gentle World. When I am frustrated and tired it is very inspirational to me.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pressure canning

I finally overcame my awe and fear of my new pressure canner and fired it up. After this, I think I can retire my water bath canner. El has posted often that she uses her pressure canner for all canning needs and now I can see why. It seems to be more energy efficient - heating 1.5 inches of water to boiling takes much less energy than a entire waterbath kettle full of water, and it puts off less heat as the canner is covered. It is a bit intimidating as it seems like it might/could explode, but we certainly bought a really safe one that is made in Wisconsin (El's recommendation).

I made a roasted tomato soup and I was able to get 5 quarts canned. Next time, I will do a lot more, although I had run out of tomatoes. I used a combination of red, yellow and even a couple of Green Zebras and it really was a lovely orange color.

Straining the soup

Hot outta the canner
Come January, this will be a welcome hot meal.

It's a big canner for sure, can fit two layers of jars