Cricket Song Farm

Cricket Song Farm

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Over-wintering Geraniums

During the long, cold, dark days of winter, there is nothing I enjoy more than Geraniums happily blooming in a sunny window.
Now is the time to dig up the plants and place them in pots and move into the house.

Select a pot that has a hole for drainage, place a milk or coffee filter over the drainage hole in the bottom to keep the dirt from leaching out, or fill 2'' of gravel, rock, or broken clay pot pieces in a galvanized bucket or other pot of choice if it does not have a drainage hole.

Trim back the geraniums, but not to much.  

Remove the plants from the ground keeping as much soil around the roots as possible.  I mix equal parts of farm dirt with organic potting soil and then add a little compost or aged manure to the mix.  I have found that the purchased organic potting soil  does not sustain healthy plants so I always mix in my farm dirt and compost.  The soil can be a little on the heavy side.  This keeps the plants from drying out to fast.

Bring in plants of other perennial flowers and herbs, to enjoy over the winter.  Place in a sunny south-facing window for best results.  Trim often to prevent legginess.

Try herbs plants of oregano, rosemary, lavender, chives, sage, tarragon and other woody stemmed plants.  I have also successfully grown dill from seed in a windowsill.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Radish Pods

I purposely let some of my radishes go to seed so I can collect the seed pods to eat.  Most radishes are just a little to spicy for me (other than the french breakfast) so I prefer to eat the pods.  They are milder and sweeter than the radishes.  However, you will want to keep a close eye on them and pick before they turn pithy and the seeds have fully formed and matured.

Flowers and pods from White Icicle Radishes. (my personal preference for the pods) 
 You may let the pods dry on the stem and then harvest the seed for next year's crop.

I plant cherry belle, french breakfast, easter egg, watermelon, and winter radishes for eating. I set aside a spot for the white Icicle to set seed.  They can grow up to 4 feet tall and are beautiful when in flower.
The leaves of the radish are also editable, not intended solely  for the chickens or the compost pile.

Radishes mature in the early spring and late fall so this soup recipe is a good way to use the greens.


6 TBS.  Butter
12c. radish greens coarsely chopped
1/2 LB. scallions diced
41/2c. water (or chicken stock for more flavor)
freshly ground salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauce pan melt 3tbs. butter over med heat.  Add radish greens and wilt down for about 4 minutes.  Add the water and boil until greens are cooked and tender, about 10 minutes.  Let cool slightly.  Puree in batches for 2 minutes or until smooth.  Add freshly ground salt and pepper to taste.  Gently reheat soup, adding remaining 3 tbs. butter.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and diced  fresh herb of choice
 (sage, chive, parsley or oregano)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Breaded Zucchini

This makes a quick breakfast or supper.

Simply slice Zucchini into 1/4 inch slices.

Dip into beaten eggs.

Coat both sided with crumb mixture. 
 I use rye flour and seasoned bread crumbs.
  Also I like rye flour and cornmeal. 
 Use equal parts of each.

Fry in butter on a cast iron griddle.

Cook until golden brown.  Add butter to skillet as needed.

This is a breakfast I like to fix for myself when I come in from working in the gardens. I just pick a fresh squash on my way down the lane.   I use 2 beaten eggs to dip the Zucchini in and then pour the remaining eggs into the skillet after cooking the squash.  Scrambled eggs with breaded zucchini and a fresh cucumber is one of my favorite meals.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Well, what do you do when you rent out "the little red house"?   You move Gypsy Rose,  my little vintage camp trailer, into a secluded spot on the farm  and set up camp.  Only one problem, she is not self contained.   I have always wanted an outdoor bath, and have been collecting items for it for years.  I had  big plans of a quirky building to house the facilities, and an attached sun room to draw in the heat with hoses or pipe in the roof to collect  hot water.  But when necessity calls you put something up quick.  So it was off to the lumber pile and a few hours of work and this is my dream come true........well, maybe not quite what I had in mind, but it will work dandy.

moved GYPSY ROSE into the trees
(see an earlier post--Gypsy Rose gets a face lift--- of her recent remodel)

made a table out of an old slat door

an old dining hutch filled with dishes, utensils and bowls
and an umbrella make a fine kitchen

Rounded up what lumber we could find,
big grow boxes placed next to each other formed the foundation,
and the port-a-potty used 17 years ago when we first lived on the farm.... in a tent,
thick gold draperies from the thrift store
a window
a wooden shelf
and hauled the claw foot tub I have kept for just such an occasion.

Gathered up the old glass decanters I have found over the years.
I'll make some beautifully colored bath salts, bubble bath, and bath oils
to fill them with.

Yes, necessity is sometimes the best reason

this will certainly do

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lots' a RAIN

We have had unseasonably warm weather accompanied by rain.  Lots' and lots' of rain (almost daily for the past 3 weeks).  Standing water everywhere.  I haven't had to water my gardens  at all.   The plants look beautiful and the weeds are as tall as trees.

One day I threw a coat over my head and went for a walk in the gardens.  Didn't get far before slipping in the slick mud and crashing to the ground.  I saved the camera and didn't drop it in a puddle, however by not using my hands to stop the fall, this ole lady has a few bruises.

The hens gladly came out for their food, however no amount of coaxing with fresh hay, could get the goats to poke theirs noses' out from under the shed.

All the plants are producing well and if I squeak by without a frost I may even get a cantaloupe to ripen on the vine.  I try every year but the end of August frost usually gets me.  With all this constant cloud cover it has stayed wonderfully warm.  The Armenian Cucumbers (pictured above)  have especially appreciated the moisture.

Now that I don't have to spend my days watering, I guess I can sit in my chair and watch the weeds grow. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013


Kale is a member of the Brassica family.  It is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, the B-vitamin folic acid, and beta carotene.  It is also exceptionally high in carotenoids, including zeaxanthin and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants.  It is a great source of calcium and magnesium and other trace minerals.
Kale is a wonderful fall crop,  it is sweetened by a frost or two.  It is quite hardy and will last well into the winter.
This year we have grown several varieties of kale here on the farm, the Dwarf Blue,  an Italian heirloom 'Lacinato', and Red Russian.

As the harvest increases with the cooler weather you might try a few of these recipes.

cut kale into 2 inch squares
toss with olive oil and salt
place on a baking sheet
crisp in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes
(try using broccoli or cabbage leaves also)

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion diced
1 bunch of kale leaves, stripped from stems
1 small cabbage chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2c. chopped parsley
1 cup cooked navy beans (plus 1 cup cooking fluid)
Cook beans until tender.  I usually do this the night before.  Chop all vegetables.  In a large skillet, heat oil, add the onions and cook until soft. Add the kale, cabbage, garlic, parsley and salt to taste.  Cover and cook over low heat until vegetables are reduced, about 30 minutes.  Add the beans and 1 cup of cooking liquid.  Simmer until the beans are heated through and the greens are completely tender.  Serve over or alongside garlic toast. 


A Danish dish to serve with pork
(this recipe is not for the faint of heart)

2 pounds of KALE
4 Tbs. butter
4 Tbs. flour
1c. milk
1c. light cream
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

Cut off the tough stalks and cut the kale into bite sized pieces.  Wash and drain.  Put the kale in a sauce-pan and cover with water.  Sprinkle with salt and cook about 15-20 minutes or until tender. Remove from pan and drain.  Make the sauce by melting butter in a large cast iron skillet.  Add flour and stir until well blended.  Add milk and cream.  Stir constantly until thick and smooth.  Add the kale.  Salt and Pepper to taste.

steam or blanch in boiling water
plunge into ice water to halt the cooking process
place in a colander to drain, bag and freeze
use in place of recipes calling for frozen spinach
cut into 2 inch pieces
place on drying rack
dry until brittle
I crumble up the leaves and store in a glass jar
add to soups and vegetable dips

What's your favorite to serve KALE?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

JILLY, where have you BEAN?

Awe-shucks, I was afraid you were going to ask.  I haven't posted much lately because...... Well as you know by now I spell out the words that I don't like to say out loud so .......I have been......
Not just once, but TWICE!
The people renting the mobile home left in the middle of August, and my sister and her adorable family (who live in MN) were here in the valley visiting family.  I happened to mention that the people were moving from the mobile home at the farm and knowing they wanted to come back this way, I said I would be willing to rent it to them.  They mulled it over for a day and decided that yes they would move in.  Then I mulled it over for a day and decided to let them rent the Little Red House instead.  You see I am needing to rent it eventually and I would rather have my sis and her cute bunch of kids (6), and her kind husband than anyone else in my Little Red House so........the middle of August I moved out  of the Little Red House moving everything (15 years of accumulation) into the mobile home...... and then I will be moving out of the mobile home in a few days for new renters.  I live out in the middle of nowhere, so to have a yard sale is not an option (we usually sell almost everything we have before moving).   So,  I have been packing and hauling boxes filled with stuff (junk)
 for the past few weeks.
As I load yet another load of belongings in the small 8 foot trailer to drag 50 miles to a storage unit, I am reminded of THOREAU'S writings about our worldly possessions. 
"What man but a philosopher would not be ashamed to see his furniture packed in a cart and going up county exposed to the light of heaven and the eyes of men, a beggarly account of empty boxes!  I could never tell from inspecting such a load whether it belonged to a so-called rich man or a poor one; the owner always seemed poverty-stricken.  Indeed, the more you have of such things the poorer you are.  Each load looks as if it contained the contents of a dozen shanties; and if one shanty is poor, this is a dozen times as poor.  Pray for what do we move ever but to get rid of our furniture, our exuviae; at last to go from this world to another newly furnished............"
and he goes on to say
"When I have met (a man) tottering under a bundle which contained his all-- looking like an enormous wen which had grown out of the nape of his neck-- I have pitied him, not because that was his all, but because he had all THAT to carry."
Henry David Thoreau
from his book, WALDEN
Poor, poor, pitiful me.
I have way to much stuff
it makes moving really ruff.
I should just pile it high
strike a match
 and watch the flames reach the sky.
But no,
we hang onto our things
thinking they will fulfill our dreams
we drag them here
we drag them there.
Only to be burdened down
with possessions that own us
as we move from town to town.
Maybe we should re-evaluate our needs
and only carry upon our backs
a hoe, a shovel and a packet of seeds.
A smile on our face,
 and a pocket full of integrity.
Showing kindness to all we meet
as we move from place to place. 
With nothing but our treasures
stashed within our heart and mind
moving wouldn't be so bad
I'm sure we'd surely find.