Friday, October 22, 2010

3rd Annual North Florida & South Georgia Farm Tour

Tomorrow Jami and I are going to the 3rd Annual North Florida & South Georgia Farm Tour!  I can't believe we've never heard of this until now and to be honest, I can't even remember how I found out about it.  I'm extremely excited!

The farm tour is being hosted by the New Leaf Market, a cooperatively owned grocery store in Tallahassee, FL.  I've only been there once, about a year ago, as it's a good 2 hour drive from my home.  It's a wonderful place, chock full of organic and natural grocery items, bulk goods, and herbal supplements.  I wish there was a place like this near home!  The Farm Tour consists of 36 local farms opening their doors, sharing their knowledge and offering their goods for sale.  This is an ultra exciting opportunity to see how these farms work and to pick the brains of those who run them!  There are also several workshops you can attend for free or a small price (the highest I've seen was a whopping $5!).

Our main focus on this trip is to visit O'Tooles Organic Herb Farm in Madison, FL.  There we will enjoy their vegetable, butterfly and secret gardens, have the opportunity to purchase fall plants, organic gardening supplies and herbal products, and most excitingly visit their two greenhouses and a shade house!!!  The greenhouses will be showing the entire process of propagation from plating seeds and making cuttings to mature plants ready to go!  There is also a labyrinth the owner built in memory of her husband.  How sweet is that?!?  It is said to "bring peace and harmony to all who walk its healing path."  Oh yea, I'll be walking it a few times!

Time permitting, we'd also like to visit a few other farms in the area....
Deep Roots Meats in Greenville, Fl is an all grass fed, antibiotic/grain/hormone-free angus beef farm.  They will be selling their beef products.
Kurtz & Sons Dairy, LLC in Live Oak, Fl is "an all pasture family dairy farm that harvests fresh Florida sunshine as fresh milk, meat and eggs."  I love the way these people think.   "In cooperation with Mother Nature” is the most healthful, safe and rewarding way to grow any crop, whether it is livestock, wildlife or children. We always believe that the way we produce food makes a difference in us, our livestock, our soil and our environment. Here we celebrate each season of the year as each brings its own changes to our practices and our products. With our farm tours we intend to share these ideas and give our visitors an experience that cannot be found at the theme parks and zoos."

If you are in the area, know someone who is, or just want to check out all the different farms, check it out go here!

I plan on soaking up lots of yummy information, taking lots of pictures, and hopefully I'll be able to video some of the grounds and lectures.  If I can talk a sweet friend into uploading them for me I'll share next week!  Either way I'm sure I'll have lots to tell  :)

Are there any exciting things going on in your area this weekend? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Trying my hand at garlic

Late last fall I came across an article on growing garlic that really peaked my interest.  When I started looking for bulbs it was late October and everyone was sold out!  The Northern folks probably already had their garlic in the ground for weeks before I even though about ordering.  Generally speaking, garlic grows better in cooler areas as the bulbs should be planted in the Fall when soil temperature is at least down to 60*.  The bulbs need plenty of chilling hours before Spring to be able to form. We don't have a whole lot of cold weather and that makes me a little worried!  I have found several local farmers who are growing garlic with great success, though, so I do have hope!

This year I was a little more prepared and started looking through seed catalogs.  The garlic you get from the grocery store is usually sprayed with an anti-sprouting chemical and is probably grown with nasty pesticides!!   My first choice was to order from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange because I was planning on getting other seeds along with the garlic bulbs.  I decided to to nix the seeds to be able to focus more on the garlic and began searching for individuals offering bulbs for sale.  I hopped on one of my favorite websites, Local Harvest and found Bobbette's Naturally Grown Produce, a certified naturally grown small farm out of Liberty, KY.   I purchased  a softneck artichoke variety called Inchelium Red and Heirloom Cherokee, a hardneck variety.  I'm looking forward to seeing which will do the best for me!

For the bed I tilled up a 6 1/2' x 6 1/2' bed in a sunny spot and used old fence posts for the edges.  I added in top soil and mushroom compost, then tilled again to incorporate the different soils together.  Our soil is pretty sandy and drains well, but I wanted to add more organic matter.   My garlic has already made it in (I ordered on Tuesday and got it on Friday!!) but I am waiting for cooler weather to put it in the ground... it's been in the mid 80's all week.  After planting I will add a heavy coat of mulch to keep the weeds at bay and then fish emulsion for fertilizer in the Spring.  Wish me luck!!!  :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New addition to the Family!

Some of you may remember our sweet girl Maia
Maia, taken March 8, 2009   1 year 9 months old

She's been with us for a little over 3 years now! Our neighbors (the in-laws) had a little Wire Haired Dachshund named Lucky. He and Maia were the best, most unlikely friends ever. The mornings usually had Maia over at Lucky's house, then mid-day they would each go back to their own house for a nap. Lucky would come visit our side of the pond in the evenings. Then suddenly the visiting stopped. Lucky was missing. To this day no one has any idea what happened or where he ventured off to. He was an old soul. Not too terribly old for a typical Dachshund (we guessed somewhere around 8), but for a little outdoors man who'd been bit by a snake twice in his life, it probably was about his time to go. Jami and I used to (and still do) joke about his voice if he could talk- Clint Eastwood from Grand Torino! If you've seen the movie you should totally understand him! In the weeks to follow Maia moped around not really wanting to play, just mourn the loss of her beloved best friend.

Jami and I had casually talked about getting another dog so that Maia wouldn't be alone all day, but hadn't agreed on it yet. I was checking out Craigs List one afternoon and came across an add for a seven month old pure bred husky. For free. The awesome part is that she had already been fixed! It only took four hours of me begging Jami to agree for me to call and check it out. I figured that she would be gone for sure. Nope! The owners still had her and were ecstatic to know we had another husky. It was a young couple with a 4 year old daughter. The mom is a paramedic and the dad a firefighter, each working 24 hour shifts making no true time for puppy love. Bless their hearts... they were heart broken to have to give her up, but knew it was for the best. We picked her up two days later.... and man is she a big dog!!
Looney Tunes
Luna, take September 17, two months after she came home

We changed her name from Shasta to Luna, never calling her by her "old home" name. We didn't particularly like 'Shasta' and since she was brand new to us and our world she transitioned to her new name wonderfully.

It took Maia a little while to get used to having another dog actually living at her home and getting lovin' from her humans. Now they play, fight and share like sisters!
Maia and Luna
Maia (3) and Luna (10 months).  Taken the same day as the above photo.  Luna is already taller than Maia! Hopefully I'll have a better comparison picture, but with my limited uploading ability, this is all I've got for now!

Huskies are wonderful creatures for those who have the time and space for them. They are incredibly intelligent and loving. They're not, however, good for a guard dog unless you count the fear people get just from their wolf-like looks! The biggest reaction you'll probably get out of them is a little head roll or a request for a petting. You'll hardly ever hear one of them barking either. They do howl on occasion, but for my pups, that's almost as rare as the barking. That's good for me! If you hear one of them, you know something is going on!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I haven't shampoo'd my hair in 2 months...

And it feels pretty good! Let me go ahead and say that yes, I am actually washing my hair. I just haven't used a drop of your typical shampoo or conditioner. About a year ago I became interested in going "no 'poo" for a number of reasons. My hair is down to the top of my butt and I would breeze through a bottle of shampoo/conditioner in no time. Getting to a place that will recycle the bottles is next to impossible since my small county doesn't have a plastics bin, though they do make up for it with other things! The county next door where you go for all your other needs requires you to pay $100/year for a dumping permit that includes access to the recycle yard. Rediculous, huh? We're also on septic and well water systems so we try to be even more concious of what we're pouring down the drain. Then there was the dandruff. Terrible, itchy dandruff. It's been a battle I've been loosing since sometime in my teens, but this year it seems to have gotten even worse. I could wash my hair and within 30 minutes, scalp still wet, the itching would start. I've tried the high dollar, super powerful stuff but even that wouldn't get rid of it! So one day I finally broke down and started the process of returning my hair back to its natural state, forgoing all of the "wonder" products for the straight basics- baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

My timing for this journey probably wasn't the best in the world; smack dab in the middle of the hot, humid Southern Summer. But as long as I had been toying with the idea and had just used the last of my shampoo, it seemed like the perfect place to start. I already had everything I needed in the house to get started.

My hair had been washed with shampoo and conditioner for over 25 years, my natural oils were never left to do the job they're supposed to do. Every morning I washed away my hair's sebum only to replace it with heavy, fake crap. I'd done a good bit of reading on the matter and had some information printed out in my bathroom. I started with the general suggestion: 1 TBSP baking soda to 1 cup of water and the same with the apple cider vinegar. I did double my batches since I have such long hair. The first few weeks weren't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. Your hair has to go through a "detox" period where it can become pretty greasy looking. Mine lasted a couple of weeks and was only bad enough for me to put my hair in a ponytail on the second and third days after, washing twice a week.

I noticed when I applied the apple cider vinegar it felt a little heavy on my hair, but was sure that everything would be fine after the wash. I have pretty heavy water, too, so I chalked up the film feeling to that. Two weeks ago as I was doing more research I noticed that some were using plain old white vinegar so I decided to give it a try. Wow! I could tell a difference as soon as I poured the mixture on my hair! My hair is now softer than ever and combing wet hair is much easier than it was with the ACV.

My hair still seems to be in the trasition stage somewhat, but it's getting better every time I wash it! I still only was every 2-3 days depending on what I've got going on (if I want to wear a ponytail or not) and haven't seen the first bit of dandruff on my head or my shoulders (pun kinda intended). If your brave enough to forgo the "normal" hair washing routine, I'd definitely so go for it!! I'll be updating on my experiences :)

My hair is board straight and pretty thin, although there's a whole lot of it! I'd like to hear from someone with a different hair type who's using this method and how their experience is/was!