And the seed packages keep rolling in.
There is something quite nice about sitting in front of a wood fire, watching the snow come down, reading seed packages and dreaming about Spring planting.
Soon enough, the heat of Summer, the bugs, the long work hours and the sunburns will be a reality, and this Mid-Winter romantic idea of Spring and Summer will be a memory.
But today, on this 19 degree snowy morning, those sunny, warm weather seasons sound awfully good.
I can't wait to eat one of the Black Krim Tomatoes. We grew them last year and they were a big hit.
Don't think you're going to get that classic "round and pretty" tomato with a Black Krim. You're going to get a dark, sometimes scared, tomato that will look a little odd if you only expect your tomatoes to be red balls. The Fedco Seeds people describe them as, " strikingly iridescent purple on the outside, usually with dark green-black shoulders and noticeable catfacing. Interiors are part black, too, with an unusual juicy yet meaty taste and texture, described as having …a smoky flavor like a good single malt scotch.”
These tomatoes knock it out of the ballpark when it comes to flavor and are my favorite tomato out of all the varieties we grow.
I'm also excited about the Cardinale Batavian lettuce. This is a small head lettuce with "shiny red leaves on the outside, green in the center, crisp and juicy with some heft."
Fresh lettuce and juicy dark purple tomatoes. Bring it on Summer. I am ready for you.
Welcome February. You look lovely this morning, covered in your white blanket of snow.
But you can't fool us. We know that while its still Winter, we had better start thinking Spring.
We spent January poring over seed catalogs, deciding which varieties of vegetables to plant for the CSA this year.
All that time spent with the catalogs is starting to pay off as slowly, one by one, the seed orders are starting to arrive.
The Seed Savers Exchange order was the first to arrive. You'd think it was Christmas morning and Santa brought me everything I ever wanted -- that's how excited I was to open the box. (Go ahead and call me a nerd; you won't be the first to do so!)
We're going to give the Watermelon Radish a try this year. The catalog says it has a stunning dark pink and white interior. I say if it says stunning, it's a no-brainer. You've got to try it.
We can't wait to plant the Detroit Dark Red Beet again this year. It's an heirloom variety that I love roasted.
Also back from last year is the Royalty Purple Pod Bean. We grew it last year for its unusal purple color, but its back this year because it tasted so darn good. A mix of this purple bean with a green bean in a salad is a thing of beauty. Who knew eating healthy could look so pretty.
We'll keep you updated as the seeds continue to arrive. We're itching to get into the garden, but I think we have to wait at least a month or so.
Interested in growing your own seeds but are unsure how to go about it? Take a class with us. We'll get you started on the path to a summer of fresh veggies.
My dog is more popular than I am.
Don't get me wrong. He's a lovely dog. In fact, he's a wonderful dog.
But is he mail worthy?
Apparently so, because recently he received his own letter via the U.S. Postal Service.
He's like Madonna -- no last name necessary. Just Moose.
Who writes to a dog you ask? The answer is, we don't know. We don't have a clue.
Moose has a secret admirer. We do suspect his admirer is a human because of the fine penmanship, but as of now, his or her identity is unknown to us . . . and to Moose.
The contents of Moose's letter were even more mysterious.
He received a dog tag. Engraved.
Makes perfect sense. He's a dog. Dogs wear dog tags. Moose is a dog that can carry off a bit of bling.
But who its from remains a mystery.
I will say the bouncing, jingling tag has added a big of swagger to Moose's walk. Or maybe the swagger comes from knowing he's got a secret friend.
So to Moose's stalker secret crush, we say thank you. He will wear his new tag with pride.
On the same day Moose's gift arrived in the mail, a friend gave me the most unusual book. A book published in 1961. A book that absolutely fascinates me and is keeping me up at nights with it's intriguing subject matter.
This the the Brooklyn Botanical Garden's handbook of dye plants and of dyeing. My friend Smittie's mother had it in her collection.
As far as I know, Smittie's mother never dyed a thing in her life with plant material so we have no idea why she would have this book in her collection, but I am oh so happy to have it in mine.
There are subjects you just don't see in today's natural dyeing books. Subjects like Family Dyeing in Colonial New England.
I'm pretty sure the title refers to a family's dyeing of fabrics for their use, and not families dyeing each other, but the title is ambiguous.
This might be my favorite chapter.
I am a collector of odd bits of information and this chapter certainly falls into that category.
Now the question arises of how do I, at the next cocktail party I attend, work into casual conversation the topic of the color of Monk's robes. I also have the added problem of attending very few cocktail parties so the chance to show off my knowledge is dwindling by the second.
But on a serious note, this book is a history lesson in natural dyeing. It makes my fingers itch to get out in the garden to plant something.
Seeing how it is only late January, I am afraid I must wait a few months before I can start planting some of the native plants listed in the book.
Between the mystery mail and the gifted book, it has been an interesting few days around here. Who knows what may show up tomorrow. I know this, life at That'll Do Farm is never boring!
we'll be back on schedule next week.
Drumroll please: After much delay while the humans around here tried to figure out the computer system, we are happy to announce this year's Alpaca Yarn CSA!
What, you ask, is an alpaca yarn CSA?
It's a chance to "own" your own alpaca without doing any of the work. In other words, for many of you knitters, it's also known as a dream come true.
When you purchase a share in our alpaca yarn Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), you are investing in the harvest of a specific animal's fiber. That animal's blanket fleece becomes yours for the season and we will process it into yarn following your specifications.
Like worsted weight yarn? We can do that. A fan of bulky yarn? We can do that. You pick the weight of the yarn and we'll have it spun up for you.
Want more details? Check out our Alpaca Yarn CSA page.
I will warn you that you'd better hurry. We list only seven animals in our CSA and two sold yesterday when we announced the CSA on the farm's facebook page.
The rug hookers arrived on Wednesday night, armed with hooks and frames and ready to work.
Well, that might not be entirely true. They also came armed with pastry, chocolate and potato chips, so just as much junk food eating was going on as rug hooking. Not sure which one I prefered!
I do know I like this:
This little rug is now mine, a gift from rug hooker Lauren.
She was working on it the last time she was at the farm and I commented that I liked the colors and it would really look nice at my house. Voila! Here it is, all finished and now belonging to me. Who knew that's all it took to get a rug!
This is the latest project Lauren is working on:
Let's see if this works. "Lauren -- I love this rug. The colors would go really well in my house. It's perfect for me." I'll let you know how this works out for me! If it does, I may try it on other things, like cars, houses and clothes.
Melissa worked at putting the binding on her rug.
I know you are mature readers and will not snicker at all when I say she is one fast hooker. One day, I too will be fast, but right now, I just keep plodding on, slowly hooking the same rug.
I am fighting with a crochet edge for my chicken rug. But once I win that battle (have I ever mentioned that I might be a tad bit stubborn), I will post pictures. No chicken rug is going to get the best of me!
If you've spent more than 30 seconds reading this blog, you know I'm all about local, local, local.
Those words will most likely be etched on my tombstone.
When I travel anywhere, be it around the beautiful state of Ohio or to distant states . . . like Indiana, I like to buy their local products.
On a recent road trip to Bloomington, Indiana to deposit one college-aged daughter, I did a bit of driving around on the backroads to discover the local food, wine and fiber scene.
First stop, Hunter's Honey Farm for some of their buckwheat honey.
And, no, I did not buy a half-empty jar. The jar was perfectly full and stayed that way for all of 10 minutes upon entering my home. But once inside, it mysteriously achieved this half-empty state and I am going on record to say that I was not the guilty party. I will not point my finger at other family members, but just know it was not me!
Buckwheat honey is not a honey we produce. It is a single source honey from the buckwheat plant with a dark, earthy flavor that reminds me of molasses. Some people call it black honey because of its rich, black color.
While I am not a fan it its taste, there are those in this household that love it, so it was the perfect souvenir. Honey, like wine, will taste different from different locations so I enjoy trying it from various locations around the country.
And speaking of wine, after the honey farm, I rambled over to Oliver Winery.
This past Summer, one of our CSA members, and a Bloomington native, introuduced us to Oliver Winery's hard cider.
We welcomed the introduction.
I had never tried hard cider before, but I must say I am now a fan.
The taste is delicious and the bottles are so darn cute they hade to come home with me.
And while I was at the winery, I thought it best to bring home some of their dessert wine.
I've never tried a blackberry wine before, but the winery people said to pair it with chocolate. Sold. How could it possibly be bad. I will keep you updated.
And last but not least, I ended my mini road-trip with a stop at Sheep Street Fibers.
They raise Shetland Sheep and are into hand spinning so it was worth the stop.
I picked up a skein of this rough and rustic, handspun Shetland yarn for which I have no plans.
But that's not unusual.
I love to buy yarn unique yarn when I travel.
Like the honey and the wine, I think it has a sense of place. It will always remind me of hilly, southern Indiana and the nice folks I met there.
What local things do you like to pick up when you travel?
We'll be open on Wednesday, January 9th Dom 10 am to 8 pm
Alpacas: A domesticated mammal (Lama pacos) especially of Peru that is probably descended from the guanaco and is in the camel family. Domesticated several thousand years ago by the Indians of the Andes Mountains, alpacas have slender bodies, long necks and legs, a small head, a short tail and large pointed ears.
While accurate, that is a dictionary description that can suck the joy out of raising alpacas faster than you can say Jack Robinson.
It says not one word about one of the main reasons to raise alpacas and that is their luxury fiber.
Dense, soft, smooth and crimpy, alpaca fiber is a knitters dream. And, unlike sheep wool, it doesn't have lanolin, making it hypoallergenic. It is also about three times warmer than sheep's wool.
Plus, alpaca fiber comes in a number of natural colors -- 22 to be exact. And that doesn't include the beautiful colors you can get with dyed alpaca fiber.
Alpaca fiber drapes well and those knitters who are knitting with 100 percent alpaca fiber may wish to go down a needle size when making a garment. Another option is to choose a pattern with a lot of built in "memory," such as ribbing or cabeling.
Alpaca fiber has a reputation as difficult to spin. That is because it lacks the "barbs" or scales that wool has, making it less likely to "hook together". However, I have not found this to be the case, and trust me, I am not the world's best spinner. In fact, I'm not anywhere near being in the running for that prize.
I like the long staple length of alpaca fiber. I find it spins up beautifully and smoothly. However, if you are afraid to try spinning, 100 percent alpaca, try spinning an art batt, which is alpaca mixed with some combed Merino top.
Have questions about alpacas in general or their fiber in particular? Drop us an e-mail (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) or give us a call at 440-829-3644. We'd be happy to talk fiber with you any day of the week!
Happy New Year Everyone.
Hope you're all recovering from your pork and sauerkraut, black eyed peas or whatever you eat in your neck of the woods to ensure good luck in the new year.
We're taking a one day extemsion on the holiday and won't have store hours at the farm today. We'll be back in full swing on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.