Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Friday, December 28, 2012


                                                       Winter squash baking in the oven.
                                           The smell is heavenly as you come in from the cold.

  The large green Hubbard is a beautiful addition to any garden.  Plant seed after the soil has completely warmed.  It needs room to grow, it's vines can grow up to 15 feet in length.  After fruit has set, cut the ends off the runners to promote ripening.  It produces several squash on each runner.    It seems to handle my cold summer nights and short growing season better than other winter squash varieties.  (I can only bring  a crop of banana to maturity about every 5 years, but I harvest Hubbard every year).  It's rind is tough and the orange flesh is about an inch thick.  The seed cavity is large with large seeds.  I have roasted the seed, but they are not palatable. Save the seeds from your largest, fastest maturing squash for next years crop.   The green Hubbard is not as sweet as the buttercup, butternut or banana squash,  for that reason I prefer the Hubbard.

immature fruit growing on the fence

to save space
it can be trellised if you plant the smaller baby varieties
 or support the larger squash as it grows with
a sling

my favorite way to prepare green Hubbard is to skin it  (be careful it is very difficult to do)
cut in half and
remove the seeds
scrape the inside clean
cut into 1 inch cubes
season with olive oil
roast at 350 degrees until soft
add other root crops to the pan if desired
beets, turnips, carrots, and parsnips
stir often to prevent sticking and burning


3 tbs. olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic
1-2 shallots chopped
1 tbs. coriander
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1&1/2 tsp. dried sage
3 medium carrots chopped
5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
I prepare this soup using about 6 cups of the  roasted squash (instructions above)

In a large sauce pan boil broth and carrots until the carrots are cooked, meanwhile in a cast iron skillet saute the garlic, shallots, coriander and fennel seeds.

In a food processor place the cubed, roasted, squash
 pulse to slightly break down the squash.
Remove cooked carrots from the broth and add to the squash.  Add the dried sage. Pour in the hot  broth as you puree the squash and carrots, using enough broth to make a smooth, thick soup.  Add the sauteed garlic and onion mixture. Puree.  Add more broth if needed.
Pour soup into a large sauce pan and slowly heat through.  Add cream. Stir constantly over med. low heat until ready to serve.
Sprinkle the top with fresh chives if available 

To bake
cut in half and remove seeds
place flesh side down on a baking sheet
350 degrees until a fork can pierce the rind and the flesh is soft

Green Hubbard's can grow to a very large size

my shoe helps to show how large this squash can grow

The green Hubbard matures in about 90 to 105 days
it can weigh up to 20 pounds
an excellent keeper
store in a cool dry place

I will be delivering winter squash to the St. George area Jan. 24, 25 &26.  I have spaghetti, turk's turban and green hubbard available
$1.00 a pound delivered
$.75 cents a pound farm pick-up.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Walked out the back door into a beautiful day for tree hunting.
My breath is taken away, not from the cold, but from the beauty that surrounds me.

the tree  bush hunters

cutting off the perfect sagebrush
out to the compost heap to unearth some corn husks to make a tree angel
sage blossoms and sparkly earring post make a beautiful halo

can't find the box with the tree ornaments (it must be up north)
so the large white and blue Christmas light bulbs will do just fine
with bits of colored ribbon draped through the silvery branches
and spicy gingerbread cookies 
 our little tree will be
something magical and wonderful

the branches are covered with silver leaves and capped with frilly blossoms 
This beautiful tree is my favorite Christmas Tradition.
Do you have a unique or special Christmas Tradition?  Please share it with us.



Saturday, December 22, 2012



every year we make and decorate gingerbread cookies to hang as our tree decorations
on Christmas morning
breakfast is a
cookie, a glass of milk
an orange
from the stocking

Jake's rendition of the guiding star
I think it is beautiful

 5, no 4 snowman in a row-----"Hey guys, what happened to number 5?"

Glen's rendition of Mr. and Mrs. Clause
quite frankly I think they
are kinda spooky

These aren't any better
Does he need
an evaluation?

 (double  recipe for enough to decorate a tree)

1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/2 to 1 tsp. ginger

Refrigerate overnight
roll out dough in powdered sugar 1/4 inch thick

BAKE: 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes

My FAVORITE Christmas tradition is our Christmas Tree.

It all started quite by accident.  Years ago we traveled down to the farm to spend the holiday, but the snow was so deep even the 4x4 Burbanator couldn't get us into the mountains to cut a tree.

Well, you can't have Christmas without a tree so what are we going to do.  I thought for a minute and  immediately knew the solution.  Rounding up the guys, we bundled up, grabbed an axe and trudged out the back door.  We didn't have to go far,  just about 20 yards from the back door we found the most beautiful Christmas tree.  It was not your typical green, piney smelling tree, but it did have beautiful grey foliage and smelled wonderful.  The spent blossoms hung delicately from it's branches creating a snowy, ice icicle effect.  With blue lights, gingerbread cookies, and candy canes, it looked BEAUTIFUL. 

Now every year we bundle up, go out the back door and cut our tree.
Yes, our tree is a
6 foot tall, bushy, elegant,

click here to read more

Friday, December 21, 2012

From our HEARTH to yours

At this special time of year I want to send everyone glad tidings and great JOY
from our home to yours'
we wish you
Merry CHRISTmas

For unto us this day is born
 a child
you will find him wrapped
 swaddling clothes
 in a manger
 fill your holiday season.
the Simkins' Family

Thursday, December 13, 2012



My favorite herbal tea for the cold and flu season is a combination of dried elderberries and rose hips.
I gather the hips from the wild dog rose that line the pasture fences or collect them high in the mountains while hiking in the fall.  Rose hips can also be purchased in Health Food Stores.  The  fully ripe elderberries are collected in  late summer.  I have a long row of bushes at the farm, but I have to be quick to harvest them before the birds eat them all.  They are dried and put away until winter.

As soon as the symptoms of the cold and flu are felt a large cup of tea with honey will usually stop it in it's tracks.  Works for us anyway.

                                                 ROSE HIP AND ELDERBERRY TEA

                                                        1/2 cup rose hips
                                                       1/2 cup elderberries
                                                        2 cups water

Bring the water to a boil.  Add hips and berries.  This tea needs to simmer at a low boil for 15 to 20 mins. to extract the healing proprieties from the berries.  Strain and add a large teaspoon of honey.
I reuse the hips and berries to make another cup or two of tea.  Drink 2 cups a day.

We also make a tea of HOREHOUND for a cold with congestion.  It grows as a weed here on the farm, but I have a large bush in the greenhouse in case we need it for a cold during the winter.  STEEP 2 tsp dried or 3 TBS fresh in 1 cup of  boiled water for 10 minutes.  Add honey, this tea is quite bitter.  Sip sparlingly throughout the day.  Large quanities of the herb act as a laxative.

Cough drops can also be made from the horehound.

Here is a recipe for horehound cough drops.  I haven't tried it, I buy my winters supply of drops from my local feed store.


2-3 cups fresh horehound--use the leaves, stems and flowers----- or use 1 cup dried herb
1 quart water
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp butter
1 tsp lemon juice

In a large sauce pan bring the herbs and water to a boil.  Steep for 15 minutes.  Strain through a cheese cloth and put 2 cups of the tea back into the sauce pan.  Add the sugar, corn syrup and cream of tartar.  Cook on a slow boil until 240 degrees and add the butter.  Continue cooking until the hard crack stage 300 degrees.  Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.  Pour into an 8x8 greased pan and score when slightly cooled.

MULLEIN is valued here on the farm.  It  is one of my favorite herbs.  Use the tiny yellow flowers, picked fresh and steeped in olive oil for ear aches.  The leaves are made into a tea for coughs and congestion.  The large soft leaves are good to place in baby diapers to help prevent diaper rash.  A sister of mine jokingly said to me, " I bet you even grow something at your farm to use as toilet paper."   I smiled and replied " YEP!"


MULLEN is a biannual and will self seed easily.  The large stalk is sent up in it's second year.  In the upper right of this photo you can see just the leaves of the mullein.  This plant is in it's first year.  Look closely and you can see the tiny yellow flowers on the tall staff of the mullein in the fore ground.  We just let mullein grow where ever it wants.  It doesn't need much water, but they tend to gravitate to the edges of the outside of the greenhouses.  I also let one or two grow in the greenhouse to allow for longer harvest of the plant.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cover Crops

a cover crop of lambs quarter
yes, it's a weed
Soil that is not refueled with organic matter (humus, compost, green manure) will eventually become lifeless and will not support the growth of plants.
Decomposing matter allows air to plant roots, and enables the soil to absorb and retain moisture.  It produces carbonic acid which help dissolve soil nutrients to be taken up by the plant roots.  Worms will migrate to garden areas with organic matter tilled into the soil and leave their casting to nourish the plants.
An easy and quick method to add organic matter to your soil is to plant cover crops. 
Cover crops can be planted in the fall and tilled into the soil just before frost, or allowed to freeze and be left to cover and hold the soil over the winter.  If you have planted a perennial such as winter rye the growth will begin again in the early spring and the new growth will then be tilled under before you begin planting.
Depending on the part of the country you live in will determine the type of cover crop used.
SPRING:  plant peas, spinach, or lettuce that will sprout early in the season.  Till under when 4 or 5 inches tall.
SUMMER:  buckwheat is the recommended choice.  It grows well in dry, hot, summer weather and the clusters of stems help to shade the ground thus helping to retain moisture
FALL:  winter rye, alfalfa,   plant in late summer and let winter over.  Till in early spring.
Here in the short growing season of the high Western dessert I have found that letting the weeds go to seed in the fall and then tilling them under in the spring after they have grown 3 or 4 inches tall works very well. The weeds sprout and grow earlier than I can plant so after they are tilled under I immediately plant the vegetable seed and hopefully the vegetables will out-grow the weed seed that has been brought to the surface. 
One year I used several old 25 pound bags of pinto beans that needed to be rotated out of my food storage as a cover crop.   I was pleasantly surprised how well they grew.  Planted in long rows 6 inches apart created a lush mat of green.   Legume crops (peas, and beans) fix nitrogen in their leaves and roots releasing it into the soil.  After they grew a foot high I tilled them under. The area was then planted with a vegetable requiring  high levels of nitrogen.  
Here are a few suggestions to plant as cover crops:
hairy vetch 
cow peas 
winter rye
WEEDS, my favorite
Cover crops are a good source of nitrogen, which is essential to plant growth. 
The USDA reports that a good growth of a winter cover crop turned under 3 to 4 weeks before planting corn will produce as much corn as adding 250 to 500 pounds of fertilizer.
If you have room in your garden it is a good practice to rotate the land using cover crops.
The first spring we acquired our farm we planted crested wheat and rye over a small 3 acre parcel of land.  We did not have any equipment to do the planting so we broadcast the seed by hand and then tied an old metal bed-spring behind the pick-up with a long rope, piled the 5 kids on the springs for weight and drove over the field.  They laughed, would stand and try to "surf" the dirt and had to fall off once in a while.  Who says work can't be fun? 
What have you used as cover crops?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The $2,600 stew hen

Ya, you read it right, a two thousand six hundred dollar stew hen.  How might you ask can an old barn yard hen cost almost 3K?  Well you know I do put a big value on the girls and they do produce the very best eggs, but I will admit that I even won't put that much worth on one of my gal's, not even my favorites.  So why did this hen have so much value? she did not lay golden eggs.
  She was just a regular ole back-yard, barn-yard hen.

You see it all began when I got a call asking if I would like a purebred registered Golden Lab.  Her name was Annie.  A beautiful dog and she immediately fit right in with the family.  We then were given a Chocolate Lab male,  had a batch of puppies and not one chocolate among the bunch, a couple of black and a couple of golden.  Well time passed and the puppies were all given away. The chocolate male disappeared.  Annie had full run of the farm and never thought about eating chickens or other livestock until  a few years later, the neighbor's dog began getting through the fence and killing the hens.   Annie being observant then realized that dogs liked to chase, kill and eat chickens.

A few weeks prior to her killing her first hen someone who had gotten a male black lab (now grown) from us just unexpectedly dropped it off back at our house.......bad timing, puppies were inevitable.

So one morning I hear this awful squawking and run out to find Annie with a half dead hen clasped in her jaws.  I pried it out and assessing it, realized that it could not be saved so I did what had to be done and put it in the stew pot.  I had a talk with Annie and told her I could not have a dog on the farm that killed the livestock and that she would be going to a new home. ( I know this sounds heartless, but once they start killing they never stop).   Friends of friends wanted a Golden Lab and didn't care if she was expecting.  So off we sent her to her new home, a place in the country with plenty of room and kids to love her.  Several weeks later we got a call, 15 puppies, 13 chocolate and two golden, well they sold the chocolate puppies for $200.00 dollars each.

 If I would have known that blasted hen was going to cost me $2,600.00 I would have at least made a fancy dessert to add to the meal.