Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Monday, October 28, 2013

Jerusalem Artichokes

This native American plant is a member of the sunflower family.  It grows from a edible, underground tuber to a height of 6-9 feet.  It flowers late in the summer, and produces multiple underground tubers late summer through the fall.  Harvest the tubers after a killing frost.

The flower looks similar to a native sunflower. It flowers late in the season.  I didn't get a picture of the blooming flower head before I was hit by a frost.

just before blooming in the late summer
the stocks are covered with large leaves
and can grow up to 7 or 8 feet tall

Now is the time to cut down the stocks, dig the tubers for replanting next years crop,
and cover roots you want to eat with a thick mulch, (hay or stray bales laid over the tubers work well) before the ground freezes.
To harvest, simply roll back the bales of hay or straw and dig out the tubers.  Leave in a few for next years crop if you did not replant in another area.
I can harvest this tuber until  December and then the ground freezes too solid.
If your winters are mild you can harvest tubers from the ground all winter.  

cut down the stocks after frost and use as mulch for the next years crop

The Jerusalem Artichoke will rapidly multiply to provide you with an abundance of  nutty tasting, delicious tubers.  Eat this vegetable raw ( slice and quickly drop in a vinegar/lemon/water bath to keep them from darkening) as a crunchy finger food, grated or cut into salads.  Use in place of water chestnuts in recipes.  Steamed, or sauteed in stir-fry dishes.  The skin is thin and does not need to be peeled, just wash thoroughly to remove all dirt.

to harvest, lift the tubers from the soil with a shovel
if you have loamy soil the tubers can be lifted out by pulling up the stalks

To replant, cut large tubers into smaller pieces making sure each piece has an "eye".  Plant smaller tubers whole.  Place about 4-6 inches underground.   Add wood ashes for potassium.  It is needed to to form the carbohydrate-rich root.  However don't use to much nitrogen to avoid lush top growth and small root growth.  Cover with a mulch for the winter.  

After digging, store in a bag in the refridgerator.  They will only last about 3 weeks before going soft.

NOTE:  if the gophers are eating most of my tubers over the winter, I have had success  going to the grocery store (in the early spring) and purchasing "sunchokes" and planting them.  

BOILING: Boil quickly since overcooking toughens them.  Serve with a white sauce or butter.  Chives and parsley are good herbs to accompany the chokes.

BAKING:  Cut away the small nodules and par-boil for 10 minutes.  Peel and use as you would potatoes in a stew or place in a baking dish and add dots of butter, salt and pepper.

FRYING:  Cut into strips and fry in a shallow pan of oil until golden brown.  Cut into thin slices and fry for a home-made potato chip

Friday, October 25, 2013


I have raised a family of five kids growing most everything we eat.  I did not feed them sweets or candy, sometimes a home-made cookie if it was full of oatmeal, whole wheat flour, raisins, nuts, and zucchini, pumpkin or carrots.  I NEVER/EVER fed them cold cereal for breakfast.  It was always a hardy homemade meal, eggs from our hens, biscuits, muffins, with bacon from our own raised and butchered hogs, or hash browns made from our potatoes and other veges from the garden.  Sometimes it was left over home-made cream of broccoli or chicken noodle soup reheated with a thick slice of cheese bread fresh from the oven .  It was always a feat to get them up and fed and on the bus by 6:30 in the morning, but I was adamant that I loved my kids too much to feed them cold cereal.  Well, do ya wana see what I fed my youngest for breakfast before sending him off to school at 6:15 a.m?  I am so see, I haven't been back to Roosevelt for 6 months so there is nothing in the cupboards and we had all  been down to the farm for the UEA weekend so there wasn't any left-overs in the fridge when we returned.  We didn't get back until 10:30 p.m. from the farm---it's a 7 hour one way drive----so we bought something for supper and a snack along the road.

                                         This is what I fed my little feller this morning........
(left-over from the road trip)

Peanut m&m's
 I apologized to him for feeding him junk.  He just munched away happily, didn't say a word, but
this is what he thought about his breakfast.

Well, I guess
 at least it WASN'T


Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Remove the seeds from the pumpkin
(I leave the pumpkin flesh on the seeds I like the flavor)
add salt or seasoning of choice
stir to coat evenly
place on a baking sheet and cook 
200 degrees until dry
(about 2 hours or so)
stir often

There are many recipes out there that say to cook at 350 degrees

These seeds are a fall harvest ritual around our house. 
 We snack on them all winter long.  They are full of fiber.
I usually just flavor with salt and bake
however this year I wanted to try something sweet

after roasting for 45 mins. by the above method,
 I put the warm seeds into a bowl
and stirred in some brown sugar and agave nectar
coated the seeds well and put back on the baking sheet and into the oven
this is very sticky
stir it often
I baked another hour and let set until cool
the coating hardens as it cools
then I simply broke apart the seeds
hopped in my old truck and drove back to the pumpkin patch for more pumpkins!

I have also roasted other winter squash seed,
 but I prefer the seeds from pumpkins

I am going to experiment with other flavors

Here is what I'm thinking about.....
Wash seeds. 
 Pour 2 tbs. melted butter,
1/2 to 1 tb. of spice (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg etc.)
and 1/8 to 1/4 cup of sugar
stir until seeds are well coated 
bake in a low, 200 degree oven until dry

pumpkins grown by my neighbor's kids

isn't this beautiful,
 pumpkin poetry

cut pumpkin into large sections and bake until soft
when cool put in freezer bags
I put in 2 cups
 (the amount I use for a pie)
I place a pie plate full of water underneath to steam the pumpkins
this keeps the inside edges from getting to dry
scoop out all the flesh and freeze.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A day away from the farm

Been back and forth between the farm and the home away from home.  The vegetables are all harvested from the fields, the last CSA delivery for the season has been made.  I have a day for relaxing............ and recovering from several days of being drug around the farm behind the rear tined hand tiller.

so I sat down in my old 50's bright orange couch

put my feet up
on my vintage drop-leaf chopped-off table....... 
but I can't sit for more than a minute 
I needed something to do
so I
gathered up some small prints of my paintings
and the pile of fridge magnets I have been saving
 they come attached to the new phone books
that are delivered in the mail 

glued the prints to the tops of the magnets
set a pile of books on them until the glue was dry
cut out the individual tiny works of art
and placed them on the fridge

try this with your favorite photos, cards, inspirational or funny quotes, etc.


I grabbed the keys to the my ole 53' Ford and

drove to the local pumpkin patch and purchased 4 large pumpkins
(no, I don't grow my own at the farm in season is to short)
spent the rest of the day cleaning out the pumpkins and making


I made several flavors
and ate way toooooo many.

Kicked off my boots late in the evening was a perfect day of relaxing

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

middle of nowhere

       Often I am asked, "Why do you live out in the middle of nowhere?".......far from the comforts of civilization and t.v. ................unless you pay for it.......which I don't  so I don't know all the tragic things happening, or the current trends, or who or what is the latest fashionable thing to do, to wear, or to copy.  I drop by the local library to post on my blog, and never take time to check the news or the weather.  I figure if I step outside and get wet it must be raining, my aching legs tell me 5 days ahead of a storm anyway.  Or if I smell frost in the air.......really I can....... I cover the tomatoes and turn on heat lamps and make sure the greenhouses are closed tight.   No, living out in the middle of nowhere is not an inconvenience unless you run to town 50 miles away and come home having forgotten to pick up what you went to town for in the first place........Yes I have done that more than once..........
       Years ago I discovered that if I sit down on the ground and look all around me, I cannot see any of the neighbors, they are hidden from my view by the stands of native sage brush and grasses. I am the only person in the world.........  I live in solitude, peace, and self reliance.  I farm the soil that grows my food, kings can do no more, but the best reason for living out in the middle of nowhere, second only to the kazillion stars that are overhead every night is the preclusion to their fiery, nightly show;  the sunsets that grace the sky every evening.  Sometimes I am too busy and forget to look up, there is just so much to get done before darkness sets in, but  generally I stop and breath in the beauty that surrounds me.  I watch the ending of a perfect day, the colors brilliant across the sky and then slowly fading into the muted tones of rest and rejuvenation.  The stars peaking out one by one until the sky is filled with dancing specks of light guiding my footsteps along beaten paths through the garden.  The plants close their leaves around them to keep warm through the chilly night.  The lizards that run around my feet during the day are lying quiet waiting for the sun to warm them as the morning breaks.  I hear the owls begin their nightly flight, the whoosh of wings as they hunt the creatures of the dark.  They roost in the trees above me, their hoo- hoo-- hooooo lulls me to sleep. The night hawks that hover close to the ground and the bats that find their way through the crops with their high pitched calls of direction accompany me through the gardens.

Why do I live out in the middle of nowhere?  To explain it....I can't, it is impossible to find the right words, they don't exist.   It is a feeling, a sense of total awareness, I am one with the wind, the moon, the stars, the seasons, the cycle of life and death,  I live out where I can truly believe, I can be true to myself, and..... I can watch the
                                                           sun set.........

I snapped this photo at the junction just as I was getting home from making a CSA delivery to town last Wednesday evening

Saturday, October 12, 2013


I quite often hear people comment that they don't like turnips.  I wonder to myself if they have tried them or just assume they are not tasty to eat.  Several years ago at my husbands' family traditional 24th of July celebration, I took a platter of veges from the garden.  I brought carrots, radishes, young beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and had peeled turnips, julienned  into thin pencil strips.   I had made a tasty radish and cream cheese  dip to accompany the vegetables.
.   Everyone was enjoying them (the turnips) until someone asked what the thin white things were.  Well, the minute I said "turnip",  everyone said "Ewwwww,  I don't like turnips", and quit eating them

Did you know the tradition of pumpkin carving was originally turnips that were carved?

On all-hallows eve hundreds of years ago the Celtic people of Ireland would carve out turnips, adding a face and filling with glowing embers.  They would be placed on doorsteps to keep away the evil spirits that wandered around on that night.  When the Irish came to America and discovered the native pumpkin (something they did not have in Ireland)  the use of turnips was replaced with the larger, easier to carve pumpkin.

Turnips have been in the CSA deliveries the past couple of weeks.

I enjoy turnips, peeled and eaten raw,
 or try roasting with small new potatoes, carrots, beets and parsnips.


mix root vegetables of similar sizes together
add onions and peppers
season well with olive oil, Italian seasoning, and ground sea salt
roast in a hot oven 400-425 degrees until vegetables are soft

try adding raw, peeled, and grated turnips to your favorite cabbage coleslaw recipe

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Drying SAGE

Harvested sage today.  I usually harvest twice during the growing season.  The first harvest is in the spring just before the flowers bloom and then again after the summer growth in the fall.  Harvest in the morning after the dew has dried and before the sun brings out the volatile oils.  Rinse well, shake off additional moisture and dry thoroughly  in a dish towel.

Place sturdy rubber bands (instead of sting or twine) around the stems.   As the sage dries the bands will tighten around the stems, preventing them from falling out of the bundle.

hang bundles up to dry in a warm place 
you can also cover with a paper bag to prevent dust from the air getting onto the leaves
I like to hang a bundle right by my stove so I can add it easily while I am cooking

after sage leaves have dried, store whole leaves
(they last longer if you do not crumble them)
in a container that is dark and air tight 
I will store the dried sage in plastic bags in one of my copper containers 

Try using fresh sage in bread, cornbread, and biscuits
(look for recipes using sage in the recipe section of my blog)

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Brassicas Family

Brassicas----this family of vegetables takes it's botanical name  BRASSICACEAE from the genus-Brassica.  This family group contains Annuals, Biennials, and Perennials.  All produce the same characteristic flower, with the four petals arranged in a cross (another name for this family is Cruciferae).  They are grown for their leaves, buds, roots, stems or shoots.  They thrive in cool, moist climates.

Members of this family include:
Asian mustard
Bok Choy
Brussels sprouts
Chinese cabbage
Minza greens
Upland cress

Brassicas prefer a moist, firm soil (they do exceptionally well in my clay soil, and cool weather).  They are heavy feeders so plant in an area precluded by a crop of peas or beans that have fixed nitrogen in the soil.  Brassicas make up a large portion of your garden so it is important to keep track of plantings and rotations to avoid diseases.

Here is a picture of the Brassicas family that lives on my beautiful, sustainable farm.

the CABBAGE family

papa cabbage

mama cabbage

and little junior

Friday, October 4, 2013

WHO or WHAT? a description of myself

People have been a bit curious about FarmHer JILL and so in this post I will try to tell you a little about myself.  If I were to use words (which are highly inadequate), I would say ODD, ECLECTIC, UNIQUE, ECCENTRIC, ADVENTUROUS,  maybe even a bit STRANGE,  off my rocker, missed the bus, a wacky sense of humor.  A long, long, long, time ago I came up with just one word to describe myself..............


interpret that as you may, it is the best way I know how to describe myself, much to the embarrassment of my children.....hey," what are parents for?" I ask them.

Well, let me see if I can describe myself in words........
my eyes are blue
my hair is long, wavy brown with sparkly silver streaks
I always wear a hat
my hands are square
and strong
my face is round
and usually sunburned
I'm not tall or short
not thin or thick
my teeth..... chatter
my knees..... knock
my feet...... smell
my nose...... runs
my ears...... ring
I have charlie horses in my calves
and goose bumps on my arms
hum...... really makes ya wonder about me doesn't it

going for a ride in my 63 Red Freddy Ford

me and my handsome man team roping

Read this post for more information about

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Crusin' in my 53 Ford flatbed pick-up

First thing I did when I got up north (zipped up for a couple of days) was back my ole 53 FORD truck out of the garage and crused to the local thrift store.

I had left the farm early, about 4:00 a.m....... I am always up by that time so I might as well be driving. After about one and a half hours drive up the road I saw some tail lights ahead on the freeway that looked like my old Ford truck's tail lights.  Sure enough, as I slowly caught up to the vehicle I could tell it was an old 53 Ford pick-up.  I was amazed that he could travel freeway speed (75 mph) in that ole truck.  "I've got to stop and ask what kind of engine they put in it" I told myself.  If I go faster than 50 mph in my truck I am afraid it will rattle to pieces, leaving bits and pieces all over the road for miles.  It has the original motor in it, an old flat head V-8.
 The Beaver exit was just a few miles ahead, and if they take the exit I will follow them in and ask.  Well, they just cruised on by the exit (next exit was an hour up the road) so I followed along a while and then with places to go and a long trip yet, I passed and continued on my way.  An OLD FARMER was a drivin' that pick-up truck.  It was just getting light enough to see him through the window. He was a drivin' down the freeway in his OLD 53 green Ford Pick-up, wearing his bib-overalls and hat,  probably reminiscing of the days when he was a much younger fellow, a drivin' his NEW 53 Ford truck down the two lane road that has now been replaced by the freeway.  I wish I could  have stopped to hear his stories.

an old vintage belt buckle I use as a key ring

I'm back to the farm and today is CSA delivery day to St. George.  The fall gardens and greenhouses are producing nicely.  
Today I will have:

Butternut Squash
6-8 Acorn Squash
2 Honey Dew Melon
2 Cassaba Melon
2 Crenshaw Melon
 5 lbs.Yukon Potatoes
3 lbs.Tomatoes
Pomegranates from my sister Shelly's orchard