Category Archives: Mother Earth

Penguin Peppers

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You know it has been a long season, when your plants start producing magical, yet comical fruits.  They must be saying to us, sit down and have a laugh, it’s almost over.

Not only are there penguin peppers, but peppers with funny noses:

These peppers are doing their job, showing us that plants can have a sense of humor too!

 

 

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More, More, More

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More HEAT, means less harvest and more canning!  The ladies kept up their kitchen wrangling and canned more peppers.  This time we used what gloves we had, which were latex, and that was our fatal mistake!  Note dear reader, that when you can any type of hot pepper, you must MUST wear gloves!  But not just any type of glove I learned.  As we started to chop, we all got the tingles in our fingers, then the tingles turned to a burning sensation.  I said “Gloves OFF!” and we went to the store to buy some blue nitrile gloves, but the damage had been done.  I whipped out my handy iPod touch gadget and looked up pepper chopping and glove choice.  Apparently the molecules of capsaicin are small enough to transfer through the pores of latex gloves, so says the internet, and my burning hands.  So, keep that in mind if you choose to participate in the fun that is canning hot peppers.  Nitrile gloves, or rubber kitchen gloves!

Our method was to de-seed MOST of the peppers, so that there would be some heat in the jar, but that they wouldn’t be so hot that you can’t taste anything for a week.  They turned out pretty good if I do say so myself.  What’s that?  You want to know the method?  Alrighty, I too had to look it up and found an ever so useful blog, where the writer said that she has not worn gloves and been fine, but when her kids want to help, she does wear gloves.  Do yourself a favor and wear gloves.  We canned in half-pint jars, so adjust your recipe accordingly if you decide to go bigger.

For half-pint jars, pack the jar full of peppers, leave a head space.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of canning salt and fill with a mixture that is half white vinegar and half water.  So for a full pint, put in a full teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons if you are canning a quart.  You process in the hot water bath for ten minutes.  It’s the simplest thing I’ve ever canned, no cooking involved!  The prep is what will get you!  So remember the NITRILE gloves.

It seems like all I’ve done is take pictures of people working, but don’t be fooled.  I was in there, educating, chopping, and…taking pictures!

I recommend that you give pickling peppers a try, it’s so easy, and they turned out really tasty!

Ozark Alternatives

Small world

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Today we had some volunteers come out from the great state of Missouri.  Jeff, Rachel and Jessica are their names and the adventures of growing food and life in general is their game.  Funny thing about this group, Rachel works at the food co-op in Ava Missouri…yeah, I’ve never heard of it either.  Ava, is where Patrick and Jake are from.  In fact, they went to highschool with Rachel and Jessica and just happened to go into the food co-op in Ava the last time they left to go and see their folks.  They talked about the farm and one thing led to another and about a month later these peeps are eating breakfast this morning in my kitchen.  Jeff, who is the husband of Rachel among other things found my blog some how through the interactions between Missouri brethren and read the whole thing.  He said he started from the beginning…and read the WHOLE THING!  Thank you Jeff, I’m humbled by your tenacity to read my blog, in its entirety…that’s 289 posts people!  Good on you Jeff.  Thanks for your participation today.  It was really nice to meet you. Orion also came today.  He’s a student at the University of Arkansas and found us through their volunteer list serve.  So if you’re reading this right now, University of Arkansas student, and you need volunteer time…we’re here, for you.

It was so DRY!!! How dry was IT?

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My goodness gracious.  It has been so hot and DRY lately, things are dying all around us.  Lawns are brown, trees are loosing their leaves, the people are wilting themselves.  Team WWOOF is so bored, I can tell.  They spend a lot of time, all day usually, watering.  You see with the CSA, we can’t let things die on us.  Our customers are depending on a crop.  Let me rephrase that.  We could totally let it ALL die and the customer would have to understand, because they signed a piece of paper, and something like drought is part of the liability.  But we’re too nice, and since we have a lot of help and it’s too hot to do much else, we put a hose in their hand.  It’s funny, because as I type this out, it is currently raining.  The rain, which has only been going on for about 20 minutes or so has prompted me to write about the dryness, because I’ve been needing to.  One of our CSA members asked me the other day how things were growing.  I let him know how tough it’s been and how some things are just wilting away.  He totally understood if the bags were empty for the next few weeks.  He shared the story of his garden with me.  He said he and his wife had been gone for three weeks.  Even though they had someone watering it for them, they returned and their garden was dust.  This “heat wave” that the weather man has talked about has lasted for two months now.  It’s more like a heat tsunami!  This wave won’t leave.  I guess my message to you dear reader is respect the fact that there is produce at your grocery store, and there are many, MANY factors that go into its survival.  Uh oh, the rain knew I was talking about it, it just stopped : (

Buzzy Day Today

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Up with the sun, and we got more accomplished before 9:30am than most.  Early this morning, Paul went up to Lowell Arkansas with a new farm friend Butch Wilson, to pick up a bee hive.  Butch and his wife came to the Slow Foods potluck held here about a month ago and noticed that there was a hive at the back of the farm.  Since he and his wife grow a garden, he said that he couldn’t support what we were doing in that way, but would like to help out in another way.  So, Butch and his wife purchased a bee hive for us, to help pollinate the crops.  Thank you Butch, and your wife, I feel bad that I don’t know her name, for your generous contribution!  Also, a few representatives from the CO-OP, Ozark Natural Foods came by to take our picture to go up on the wall in the produce section of the store, and interview us for their newsletter, or possibly their blog?  I’m not sure, I was in and out of the conversation, but we were interviewed about the operation.  Lastly, about 20 highschool/college engineering students came out for a tour of the farm.  Paul and Jonathan took them around, and with their enthusiasm, I’m sure these folks were wowed.  Then it was lunch time.

 

Life is a funny thing

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So the tomato tasting “contest” was more of a tomato tasting “event”, held Sunday at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks.  The Ozark Slow Foods Movement is the group that hosted the event, and they purchased Peron, Chocolate Stripe, Mexico Midget, and Grape Cherry varieties from our farm to put into the tasting.  There were 60 varieties for the public to choose from.  Paul says there were well over 200 people who waltzed through the hall.  I say “waltzed” but they had to put in their time in line, which went out into the parking lot.  Paul and Oliver walked over to the Botanical Gardens, whilst Isaac and I wo-manned the farm stand.  There was a woman who walked by and said: “The Mexico Midgets were delicious!”  I thanked her for the compliment and we talked tomatoes for a bit.  She must have talked to Paul inside the venue because they were not marked as “Ozark Alternatives”.  This woman told me of the ones she was excited to taste and was sorely disappointed, and the ones that surprised her like the Brandywine variety.  It was $5 to enter this event to participate in the tasting.  I wish I could have seen the crowd and the line, I don’t know if I would pay the $5 to taste, I don’t enjoy tomatoes enough to want to taste all of them…shhhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.  I mean don’t get me wrong, tomatoes are awesome, I like them on a sandwich, I feel no need to explain myself any further.  If you come by my Farmer’s Market stall though, I’ll tell you how good they are!

The same day at the Farmer’s Market, we sold out of all that we brought.  It was a good feeling, I must say.  We had pints of Blackberries, several bunches of flowers, several quarts of tomatoes and a few of Okra.  All of it gone.  The crowd was all jazzed up about the tomato tasting so they were in the mood to buy.

I wore my bonnet at the market that day and at least ten people complimented me on it.  I couldn’t believe it.  Usually I get a “that’s nice”, but really they’re thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Mother Goose.  This day was otherworldly!

I was recognized at a busy restaurant today at lunch, by a complete stranger.  He said: “You look familiar.”  There we were, for what seemed like minutes, me saying nothing.  “Where do I know you from?”

“I don’t know”.  Is my reply.

“But I’ve seen you before”.

I’m shaking my head, I have no idea who this is, not even the slightest inkling.  I’m usually great with remembering faces.  “Do you go to the farmer’s market?” I ask.

“YES!  Yesterday.  You sold me blackberries!”  He says and points at me.  I look down at his little boy, I remembered his face.

“Aaaahh!  Yes.  I did sell you blackberries!”  Ha ha, and I walk away.  It was a very surreal and awkward experience, but flattering at the same time.

Lastly, Paul gets an email from someone who says that he spoke to brothers in a natural foods store in Missouri.  They tell him all about the farm and their experience on the farm.  He’s intrigued, and apparently he has spent time at both Dripping Springs and Foundation Farm.  Hmmmm….I wonder who those brothers could have been.  I don’t know anyone from Ava MO.  Life is sure funny sometimes.

Come one come all!

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Up at 5:30 am this morning.  It never gets any easier, I don’t care what anyone else says.  Today is Sunday, so that means it’s time once again to load up the truck and head down to the farmer’s market.  The Slow Foods Movement is holding a tomato tasting contest and are buying five different varieties of tomatoes from us for the contest.  I’m not sure how it’s judged or awarded, or if there are awards.  I just finished picking okra.  Since we were not here for 24 hours, the okra was long and not edible.  I think I might have picked enough the right size for us to eat for dinner.  I invite all of you locals to come down to the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks today for the contest.  Should be lots of yummy local tomatoes for your tasting pleasure.