Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Monday, April 30, 2018

ESCALANTE CANYONS ARTS FESTIVAL 2018





For the past 5 years I have attended the Escalante Canyons Arts Festival.  I discovered the festival as I was studying the fascinating story of Everett Ruess.  He was a wanderer and adventurer, exploring the western states alone with only a dog and burro.  He was also a very talented artist and poet who documented his travels through art, letters written to family, and haunting poetry.  Escalante is a small town located in Southern Utah on the edge of the Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument.  Everett, only age 20 (1914-1934) was last seen in this beautiful little town before he disappeared into the vast wilderness of the area. 
It has been such a pleasure to attend the Escalante Canyons Plein Air Festival, the breath-taking scenery, support of the community, and the amazing people who plan and host this event are what makes the Festival one of the best in the country!  I am so honored this year to have been asked to present a demonstration on colorful water color portraits.





By using unexpected colors, squiggles
 and splots, you can create
 a unique painterly portrait.

My presentation will be held Sept. 25th, 
3:00-5:00 p.m. in the 
Escalante Community Center. 
I will also be doing a mosaic demo
Saturday at the art tent.
10:00 -12:00.
I can't wait to see everyone and have the 
honor to associate with so many 
talented people.
  This festival encourages everyone of all 
ages to be an artist and has workshops, 
demos, and hands on art projects to help 
you become the artist you desire to be.
  I have included a link below.


Thanks to all the committee members
 that work so tirelessly every year
 to make this festival 
SO MUCH FUN!!!!

My camp site near Bryce Canyon.


For those of you who know me, 
I have included a few posts from 
my adventures
 in farming and life that you 
might enjoy reading.
























Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Chives


The chives are awakening from their long winter's nap.  I am always so relieved when the tulips and chives begin poking their leaves above the mulch because I know winter is on it's way out and spring is just around the corner.  I dug up several of my chive plants, separating them into bunches of about 20 bulbs and replanted them.  In a couple of days the rhubarb,(check out the rhubarb tag in the right hand column for more info about rhubarb), and perennial onions will be divided.  In the flower beds I have begun dividing the tulips, crocuses, and lilies. 
Chives are a refreshing addition to salads, baked potatoes, and any dish you want to add a subtle oniony flavor.  I pick the just opened chive flowers, tear them apart, and sprinkle the flower heads over scrambled eggs, salads, cottage cheese, potato or macaroni salad.  I also mince the leaves and flowers and add to freshly made goat cheese.
Other spring chores we have been doing around the farm:
burning weeds, 

burning weeds,



oh, did I mention we have been burning weeds?



What are you doing in your garden?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Snow


It has been an unusual winter this year.  Spring temperatures during the typically coldest time of the year.  Quite frankly, I have not missed the -30 degrees below zero and the 50 mile an hour constant wind, but it has been dry and a few weeks ago we finally got some much needed snow.




A roaring fire in the wood stove kept me toasty and warm.  I spent my time curled up on the couch pouring over seed catalogs, painting in my art room, reading from the nature writings of Burroughs and Muir, and sipping hot chocolate.
I love cold days when you have to stay in. Unless..... they linger around for too long.


The evergreen bushes are filled with little birds using their branches as shelter from the cold.


While keeping toasty indoors, I have been working on painting the interior of the house.


I choose a warm rust color for the entrance room.


The room is quite small, about 9x10' so I was a bit concerned about using a dark color, but the double doors to the sun-room allow in enough light.

I made a new table for the kitchen. Using a narrow sofa table, I painted it white and then distressed it.  Then I added boards I have been saving from a recycled water bed project for the top.  It is a long narrow table, just right for our tiny house. It fits 4 chairs when pushed up under the window, but will fit several more when pulled away from the wall.


I found this old paint by number painting at the thrift store and knew it would look perfect hanging on the kitchen wall. 


How have you been spending your cold winter days?



Monday, January 8, 2018

Home-made Bread

My daughter asked me the other day for my bread recipe.  She knows I do not use a recipe and have simply made my bread according to how many loaves I need.  Do I need enough bread to make a ham- roll with onions and cream cheese and another couple of loaves, or am I wanting to make home-made hamburger buns, or just enough loaves for a couple of weeks?  Depending on the amount of bread needed, I use a large sauce pan full of water for several loaves, or a smaller sauce pan of water for just a couple of loaves.  Anyway here I will try to  narrow down my process.

Generally I begin by making a sponge:
In a large sauce pan gently heat cold tap water to around 110 degrees. 
For a large batch of bread use 6 cups of water, I estimate using 1-2 cups of water per loaf of bread wanted: 2 loaves 3-4 cups water etc. (Scalded milk can also be used instead of the water). 
Add yeast to warmed water,  I use the ratio of 1 tbs. of yeast per 1-2 cups of water. Sprinkle just a little sugar into the yeast to feed it.
In a large bowl, place 2-3 cups of flour,(I use half wheat and half un-bleached flour), 1/4 cup honey  and 1/2 cup melted butter or 1/4 cup olive oil.
The olive oil is added to bread I will be using for a more savory bread: toasted sandwiches, grilled cheese or croutons.  Butter is used for bread that  will be used for making toast with jam or honey. 
Usually when I use water I use olive oil.  When I use scalded milk, I use butter.
When the yeast is bubbly pour into the flour mixture and stir well with a wire whisk.
Cover and let sit for an hour.
Now stir down the sponge and begin to add your flour.  If you desire a denser bread add an egg, add a couple for a large batch.
When the dough is still sticky but holding together, take out of the bowl and put it on a floured counter.  Knead the dough adding in enough flour (again I use a half wheat mix) to make a firm, slightly sticky, dough.  Do not add too much flour or your loaves will be dry!
Knead for 10 minutes or more.





Bubbly Sponge


OLIVE OIL/ WATER BREAD is baked on a flat baking sheet covered with oil and corn meal.  I also put oil on the top of the bread along with seasonings of choice.  When I am adding fresh herbs, vegetables, or cheeses to a bread I always use the olive oil bread. Omit the honey for a savory bread.

BUTTER, SCALDED MILK AND EGG BREAD is also good to use for cinnamon rolls,  dinner rolls, or other sweet breads.

Hopefully this has given you some useful information.  I will give you the best tip I have come across in my years of making bread.  The best method I have discovered for kneading bread is to use an extra large (dish or metal) pan to make the bread in.  When you are ready to begin kneading your bread dough, leave it in the large bowl and place a towel on the kitchen floor. Place the bowl on the towel.  Kneel down by the bowl. The kitchen counter is a little high for me and I discovered that by lowering the bowl to the floor, it was so much easier to knead.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

End of the Season


Fall is my favorite time of year.  A few weeks ago I walked around the yard and snapped a few picture of the flowers before their beautiful blossoms will be killed by the coming frost.


The seeds from the black-eyed susan's are a favorite of the many birds that visit my yard during the winter.




The pumpkins are turning bright orange and will make wonderful pies and roasted pumpkins seeds for a healthy winter snack.


I have left enough pole beans to dry on the fence for next years seed.  When they are crispy dry, I gather them in a basket and dry a few additional days indoors before I remove the seeds.  Using an old pillow case, I put the beans in it and then walk over the case crushing the shells, releasing the seeds.  Shaking the pillow case will cause the seeds to drop to the bottom of the case. A small hole is cut in the corner of the pillow case and the beans drop out leaving the shells in the pillow case.  Add the shells to your compost pile or directly to the garden.  The seeds are then allowed to air dry a few more days and then stored in glass jars in the dark cool pantry.


Green tomatoes are picked and placed in cardboard boxes in a single layer.  I put them in the garage and check every few days for those ripening enough to eat. Or, I pull the entire plant and hang them in the shed to ripen the tomatoes on the vine.  Click here for information.




Yes, fall is my favorite time of year.  I am content when the crops are harvested, the storage shelves are full, the winters wood is stacked ready to warm the house, and I am ready for a much needed rest.  As the wind howls and the snow swirls, I sit by the warm fire, knitting socks and hats, reading a good classic book, painting, and dream of spring when I can start the process all over again!  










Thursday, October 12, 2017

A visit with DOC



"How can a man grow old with sage in his garden"
is an ancient proverb

The other day I went to the doctor to get my yearly blood work done.  I have had thyroid disease since I can remember ( at my age I can still remember everything, the recall however is a little slow). 
 He visited with me for a several minutes about my general health.
The conversation went something like this:

Doctor: " Have you been to the Dentist lately? " 
FarmHer Jill: " Actually I have recently visited the Dentist, I try to go about every 6 years."

Doctor:" You are retaining a lot of water in your legs, do you want me to prescribe a water pill?"
FarmHer Jill: " No I don't want to take any medication for that, I will just cut back on putting so much mineral sea salt on my delicious, home grown tomatoes and try to sit down and put my feet up once in a while."  
   (Like THATS going to happen, I thought to myself).
Doctor: " Well I would suggest that you get yourself some compression socks.  There are several different types you can try.  They will help with the circulation in your legs, and also relieve some of the pain from that ruptured veracious vein you have."

Doctor:  "How is your hearing?"
FarmHer Jill: (trying to keep a straight face) " WHAT?"
Doctor: (spoken a little louder) "HOW IS YOUR HEARING?"
FarmHer Jill: "Oh, it has been bad for years." 
Doctor:  " You ought to see about getting a hearing aid."
FarmHer Jill: " A hearing what?"
Doctor: ( no responce, he wasn't going to fall for that one again)

Doctor:  "Have you been to the eye doctor lately?"
FarmHer Jill:  "Nope, I have never been to SEE an eye doctor."
Doctor: "Well, at your age, you had better go in for a visit to make sure you don't have any degeneration or other eye problems, and if you need glasses."

FarmHer Jill: ( thinking to herself......Dental Work,Compression Socks, Glasses, and a Hearing Aid)
"Hey Doc, " I replied, "I just came in to get my blood work done, not for a
 SENIOR CITIZEN FASHION MAKE OVER!"

Doctor:  (laughing..... pulls up his pant leg revealing his compression socks and his comfortable old man shoes)  " I guess at our age, it's all about comfort and getting along the best we can."

Note:  I did make an appointment to go SEE the eye doctor.  He asked me what I did for work and we had a wonderful discussion about organic vegetable farming.  He is interested in gardening and asked me many questions. He was also very impressed with my vision.  I could read the tiniest print on the bottom of the cards.  He said my eyes were in great shape.  No degeneration of any sorts, and 20/20 vision, but I might need a pair of reading glasses. 
"It's got to be all those home grown, organic carrots I eat," I replied.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Cozy Burrow



This pair of hawks have raised their family in the tall sage brush behind the Little Red House for the past several years.  A power pole is their favorite perch early in the mornings as the sun is coming up.  They fly in circles around the farm all day hunting for mice and chiselers to feed to their young.

If you look closely at the picture you will see a ground owl standing on his burrow. (left hand bottom side) He also spends the early morning hours surveying his territory for  small rodents, beetles, or lizards to feed his young.







Sometimes the female comes out of the burrow, 
but most of the time she is busy with the youngins'.



A cozy little home in the ground.

I have always wanted a cozy little home in the ground.

Have you been to Taos, New Mexico?
This is my dream home, nothing big and fancy like so many like to have.

  


Just a little burrow, nestled snugly on 3 sides by mounded earth.


Built with items typically discarded in a land fill.


By catching rain water off  the roof and running it through this large seeve, the  water is then  used for vegetables  grown year round on the sunny side of your cozy burrow.


Sigh, Someday......I hope.




Thursday, July 27, 2017

How to make a Lavender Wand

 Pick Lavender early in the morning when the stems are still supple from the dew.
Choose stems that are about 10 inches long.
Strip the leaves from the stems, save the leaves for sachets or potpourri.
Use an odd number of flowers, I usually use 11 stems.  This makes a nice size wand, but more or less can be used if desired.


Tie the stems together just below the flowers.


Carefully bend the stems back over the flower heads.  


Weave ribbon over and under the stems in an continuous circle. 


If I am using a small bit of lace or ribbon,
 I use it to tie the stems together and then begin to weave.



Any width of ribbon can be used.  The wider the ribbon, the less you have to weave.


Fancy embellishments can be added.  Here I have added a hand-made ribbon rose and bead work from an old wedding dress I purchased from the thrift store.


Place these wands in your dresser drawers, under your pillow to help you get a good nights rest, or anywhere you would apreciate the smell of their fragrance.  Try hanging one from your car's rear view mirror.  


For the green wand I left the stems showing.  I continued with the lace along the entire stem of the white wand.  I tied a knot in the end and secured it with fabric glue.


Made a mess of the kitchen doing this project,
 but it SMELLS DIVINE!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

A Patriotic Farmer


In the beautiful Escalante Valley where I farm, I found a Farmer who was showing his patriotism and gratitude for his freedom and independence by displaying our Nation's Flag proudly.  On the birthday of our Nation, I want to thank all those past and present who have fought and continue to fight for our country's freedom.  I am grateful to be an American!







Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Garden Journal

Every year I record my gardening adventures in a journal.  I have used many different types of journals over the years.  This year I made a stack of journals to use,
 each one serving a specific purpose.  
A calendar, several art journals, a gratitude journal, the yellow flowered journal below will be my Garden Journal for this season.


Bright and cheery colored papers were chosen to reflect a garden, flower, and herb theme.


Extra pieces of papers can be added for making notes or plans.



Several little pockets glued in can hold seed packets or other miscellaneous items.


I added this little "notebook" by stapling along one edge, attaching it onto a page. I used about 10 sheets of lined paper, and punched holes and threaded cotton thread through the holes,  The little flowers are actually buttons.


View an additional journal here:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring is Here!

a photo of geraniums and tomatoes growing by the garden shed in 2015

Spring is in the air! The past couple of days it has been raining instead of snowing.  The big 5 foot high snow piles in the driveway have melted away, creating a small lake in the front yard.  



The kale, chard, onions and garlic are growing happily in the greenhouse.



It won't be long before the rhubarb will be cut and made into delicious crisps,
pies, and my favorite rhubarb compote.


Soon I will be munching on one of my favorite garden snacks,
RADISH PODS.



Hopefully this year I can eat a few strawberries before the deer or racoons get them all.


The annual bunching onions and chives are up in the outside gardens.  

Yes, spring is HERE!
Time to gas up the tiller and get to work.
What are you planting in your garden this year?