Archive for farms

The Ultimate Goal Of Farming

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops,

but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

― Masanobu FukuokaThe One-Straw Revolution

Planning, organizing, geometry and trigonometry

Lay out the tree field carefully  prior to planting

 

Precision equipment, exactitude and care

Planting Trees 6

 

Prepared soil accepting seedlings

Planting Trees 4

 

Anticipation of a future forest

On My Walk Around The farm Today 023

 

From sapling to tannenbaum

007

 

Through shearing and care

Trees spruce 2013

 

Through drought and monsoon

IMG_5471

 

The farmer’s  job isn’t complete, and vacations are rare

IMG_5477

 

Until a decade into the future, when with humankind we may share

IMG_5503

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.

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Light and Flaky Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Breakfast Dish

Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Bake

Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Bake

This version of the Greek cheese and spinach pastry called spanakopita adds three cheeses and fresh dill to the traditional recipe.  Store-bought phyllo pastry makes this recipe easy and the do-ahead preparation makes this dish ideal for bed & breakfasts or entertaining.

ingredients:

10-20 Phyllo pastry sheets, defrosted (quantity according to desired flakiness of the crust)

4 Tablespoons melted butter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Onion finely chopped

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, with the moisture squeezed out

1 Cup ricotta cheese

4 ounces feta cheese crumbled

4 ounces grated jack cheese

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1/8 Teaspoon coarse salt

1/8 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan and saute onions until softened.  Place in a large mixing bowl.

Three Cheese Mixture; Feta, Ricotta and Jack

Three Cheese Mixture; Feta, Ricotta and Jack

Add spinach, ricotta, crumbled feta, jack cheese, eggs, dill, salt and pepper and stir well.

Fresh Dill

Fresh Dill

Spread mixture over the bottom of the baking dish.  Top with Phyllo pastry, layered one by one, brushing lightly with melted butter on every other phyllo sheet.

Bake approximately 30 minutes until phyllo pastry is golden brown.  Use a sharp knife to cut through the pastry, in to squares and serve hot.

Light and Flaky Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Breakfast Dish

Light and Flaky Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Breakfast Dish

This dish may be prepared the night before if it is covered tightly.

Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Bake

Greek Phyllo Spinach and Cheese Bake

 

 

 

 

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Greek Flat Bread Pizza

 

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

*Italian herb flat bread

*Cherry or Grape tomatoes

*Quartered Artichoke hearts

*Pitted Kalamata olives

*Feta cheese

*Fresh Rosemary

*Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

 

I like to use Sun Gold tomatoes, a sweet and pretty variety of cherry tomato, to make this dish.

Sun Gold Tomatoes

Sun Gold Tomatoes

 

Any good cherry or grape tomatoes, or a chopped large tomato, will work too.

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes and Grape Tomatoes

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes and Grape Tomatoes

Slice tomatoes and place them on an Italian herb Flat Bread.

Tomatoes sliced on Italian Herb Flat Bread

Tomatoes sliced on Italian Herb Flat Bread

Add quartered artichoke hearts.

Artichokes and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Artichokes and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Add sliced pitted Kalamata olives.

Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Kalamata Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes on Flat Bread

Chop fresh Rosemary or another of  your other favorite herbs.

Fresh Rosemary snipped from the garden

Fresh Rosemary snipped from the garden

Sprinkle fresh Rosemary over the flat bread.

Fresh Rosemary sprinkled on the flat bread

Fresh Rosemary sprinkled on the flat bread

 

Crumble Feta cheese over the top.

Crumbled Feta cheese over the top

Crumbled Feta cheese over the top

And a pinch of kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper.

A pinch of kosher salt

A pinch of kosher salt

Place the pizza in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.

Baked pizza ready to cut and serve

Baked pizza ready to cut and serve

Serve with your favorite red wine ~ magnificent!

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

Greek Flat Bread Pizza

 

 

 

 

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Bed and Breakfast on the Farm

A double garage with a space above was a likely spot for a Guest House.

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast

The front (lake side) of the guest house.

The guest house is licensed as a Bed and Breakfast.

Front picture windows at the guest house.

Front picture windows at the guest house with shade sail sun protection.

Guests park behind the garage and stroll a wood plank path, past espaliered apple trees and a perennial garden, to the entrance stairs.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

Wood plank walkway entrance.

The guest house offers a private entrance,

The private entrance.

The private entrance.

living room,

Living room

Living room

dinette,

Dinette

Dinette

kitchenette,

Kitchenette

Kitchenette with a stocked refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.

and then on the way to a queen size bedroom.

Bedroom entrance

Bedroom entrance

Queen size bedroom

Queen size bedroom

and a full bathroom.

Full bathroom

Full bathroom

The guest house views overlook the lake.

View from the guest house

View from the guest house

And breakfast is served in the screen porch overlooking the lake.

Breakfast served on the screened porch

Breakfast served on the screened porch

We’d love to host your stay at the Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast!

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Espalier Apple Tree Fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Mature espalier apple tree fence

Espalier is the art of training trees, very often fruit trees, to grow on a flat plane. This technique not only creates an interesting plant structure – a ‘living sculpture’, but also is useful as a space saver for small space gardens.   Trees trained in the espalier technique are trained against a flat wall, building, or against a free-standing structure.

I’ve long been fascinated by lovely photographs of espaliered trees in beautiful garden settings, which prompted me to do some reading and sit in on a seminar where I took copious notes.  It is from this research that I gather my information to share with you.

I’ve chosen an espalier project in an effort to create a ‘living fence’ for along a wood plank sidewalk which leads up to the entrance of my bed and breakfast/guest house.  The walkway was wide open to the driveway, yard, and the harsh winter winds, so it was in want of being a bit cozier.

Plank sidewalk with post structure

Plank sidewalk with post structure

I’ll need to build a structure to support my trees rather than utilizing a wall for support, but for blogging purposes, the technique of espalier is the same no matter the structure you select.  I chose apple trees as my plant material for the benefits of spring flowers, summer foliage and fall fruit that will dangle from the structure like ornaments, beckoning my guests to help themselves! During the winter months I’ll utilize the structure for stringing white mini lights.

Apple trees lend themselves well to many espalier forms.  The pattern I’ve chosen is a horizontal tiered cordon method, therefore the structure I’ve built is specific to the horizontal pattern as seen in figure a.

When planting the trees, orient the branching along the cables where they will be secured during the pruning process.

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

Lower cordon of the espalier apple trees

The art of espalier is based upon the complex relationship between auxin and cytokinins, two growth hormones in plants.  Auxins have a cardinal role in coordination of many growth processes and are essential for plant body development.  Cytokinins promote cell division in plant roots and shoots.  Pruning changes the relationship between auxin and cytokinin. When a leader branch is growing straight up, auxin levels are at a higher rate and growth is more vertical.  The more you angle a branch, the greater you are changing the relationship of auxin to cytokinin, and there becomes less vertical growth, but more horizontal branching and more fruiting.  This is the reason for pinching back perennials and annuals, and is witnessed when you bend a rose bush on a hoop as a result there are more prolific blooms.

My young trees were supple and with good lateral branching, therefore I capitalized on that attribute and merely secured the lower branches to my first tier wire cable, using soft vinyl stretch tie.  I pruned subsequent buds and branching from the trunk moving up to the next set of branches at the second tier of cable structure, securing the supple branches in a similar manner.  Had the branches been woodier, I would have slowly moved the branching down to position, creating a temporary structure to ease the branches down in to place at the cable wire.

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

Espalier tree with two horizontal cordon tiers

As you’re training your apple tree, keep the small shoots along the cordon trimmed back to 4” to 5” long.  Your tree will continue to grow and mature, and every flower will become a fruiting bud.  Eventually your fruit tree will become its own support structure.  In general, espaliered trees’ fruit will be larger and sweeter, because their fruit is exposed to more sunlight and the trees have been pruned regularly to keep their shape.

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

Three espalier apple trees after one month growth

The three espalier apple trees have been growing for about one month.  They are all healthy and filling in nicely with leaves and new growth.  I have pruned off any new budding branches that have sprouted from the main stem, in order to keep all of the growth directed on the two lower lateral cordons that I’ve secured to the horizontal cables.

I had selected two buds to become the third cordons which will become next year’s growth along the third cable on the structure.  These young branches are growing out nicely.   Depending upon the rate of growth, I may secure these branches to the third cable later this summer.  You can see the upper new branching in the photo below.

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

Selecting new growth for the next cordon

An espalier tree is never ‘finished’.  They require pruning at least three times each season in order to maintain the beautiful structured shape; I recommend June 1, July 1 and August 1.  This particular walk way enclosure will require two more years of growth to reach the uppermost, fourth horizontal cable.  Then after wards, it will just be ‘maintenance’ pruning.

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Rum Cake Recipe

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast Rum Cakes

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast's popular rum cake

Our Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast rum cake recipe is our most requested recipe of all.  It’s been our tradition since we opened our doors in 2009, to serve a personal size rum cake with every meal!  And since I’ve gained a few pounds over the past year, I feel that now I’m legitimately able to share the recipe.

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast's kitchen sign

Dutch Lake Guest House Bed and Breakfast's kitchen sign

So here we go.  The recipe first came to us from my sister-in-law Nikki, so, among family, we call these treats “Nikki’s Rum Cakes”.  Thank you Nikki!!

Ingredients:

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

1/2 cup cold water

11/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup dark rum, divided

Glaze:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour 10 mini cake pans.  Set aside.

Butter and flour 10 mini cake pans

Butter and flour 10 mini cake pans

To make cake, in large mixing bowl combine cake mix, instant pudding, eggs, 1/2 cup cold water, oil, and 1/2 cup of the rum.  Beat at high-speed for 3 minutes.

Fill the 10 mini cake pans half full with the batter.  The cake batter will rise as it bakes.  Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Remove cakes from oven and let them cool for 15 minutes.

To make glaze:

In sauce pan over medium heat, melt butter.  Stir in the 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar; bring to a boil.  Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove pan from heat and stir in remaining 1/2 cup rum.

Glazing the rum cakes

Glazing the rum cakes

To complete cake:

Invert cake on to foil or wax paper.  Prick all over with toothpick.  Use pastry brush to brush gaze all over warm cake.  Allow cake to absorb glaze for 5 minutes.  Repeat brushing on glaze and letting cake absorb glaze until all glaze has been brushed on to cake.  Cakes may be frozen.

Prepare to fall in love!

Prepare to fall in love!

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USDA unveils new Plant Hardiness Zone Map

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a new version of its Plant Hardiness Zone Map (PHZM), the first update since 1990.

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

For the first time, the new map offers a Geographic Information System (GIS)-based interactive format and is specifically designed to be Internet-friendly. The map website also incorporates a “find your zone by ZIP code” function.  The map is available at  www.planthardiness.ars.usda.gov .

Our farm has changed from zone 4A to zone 4B.  Click on the link above, enter your zip code and see if your zone has changed.

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