My new hat

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Liz’s Beet Chocolate Cake

Cake on the farm! We can do that, because it had our beets in it! So it was farm-grown cake, right?

Liz volunteers on the farm but she works in her kitchen. She has a cake business called Another Slice of Cake. She brought an incredible chocolate beet cake to the farm today to celebrate Phil and Ron’s birthdays. The balance of beet and chocolate was lovely; you could see the red tint from the beet and taste the sweet fruitiness that it added to the chocolate. (This one happened to be gluten-free, as well.) Thanks, Liz, it was so delicious and beautiful! Really, you need to check out her website at some of the incredible decorated cakes she makes. Like the Bassett Hound cake that is on the front of her website. The woman makes sculptures out of cake and icing.

And since I know you will be asking, here is the recipe. She replaced the flour with gluten-free oat flour and coconut flour to make it gluten-free.

Happy birthday, Phil and Ron! (We’re still celebrating their September birthdays.)

Thanks, Liz!

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Sweet sweet potato dig day

 

 

It was a beautiful day for a sweet potato dig! The loose cool soil felt so good in between my fingers as a gathered the sweets. Thanks to all who participated in the dig today! We really appreciate your help and positive energy. Together we collected 2500 pounds of sweet potatoes today! More to go, too. It was fun to have my family at the dig–both my brothers, my nephew and my folks. Our sweets will be for sale at The Common Market this month through Thanksgiving. Maybe as soon as this weekend.

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Sweet Potato Dig on Sunday

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House in the Woods Farm invites you to our
Sweet Potato Dig!
Sunday October 5, 1pm-5pm
2225 Park Mills Rd, Adamstown, MD

We’ll be digging in the dirt, collecting the sweet potato treasures that our potato plow will loosen up out of the soil for us. This is a good event for the whole family.

Bring a snack to share. If we have enough helpers, we can put some people on cooking up some sweet potatoes, garden-side! But we’ll need a good size crew for that, so invite friends.
Bring water bottle, hat, and work gloves if you want.
Please RSVP if you are planning to come so we have an idea of event size.

Here’s a post about how the sweet potatoes were planted http://blog.houseinthewoods.com/2014/06/26/sweet-potato-and-slip/

Here’s Ilene’s Fred News Post article about sweet potatoes

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Interns, old and new

Celebrating our interns, old and new, this week! Here on the left are Neda and Alexa, University of Maryland student interns this summer. Neda just graduated and is heading to Arizona for a masters program in Sustainability. Alexa continues her undergraduate studies in the fall. On the right is Sarah, our University of Maryland intern from 2002! Yes, visiting us 12 years later. Sarah is entering her third year of vet school at Virginia Tech. It was great to get them together on Thursday and get their hands in the dirt together.

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Sweet Potato and Slip

Sweet Potato and Slip

Sweet Potato Slips 

Thank you to all who came out and helped plant the sweet potato patch. We really appreciate your efforts! I wish I took more pictures of people helping, but we were so busy, it slipped (pun intended). Share yours if you took some! The sweet potato slips were planted in record smooth time—mainly two days, plus a little. The slips don’t keep well for extended time in storage, so it’s good to move quickly. The plants look great!

Here are a few of the younger set that helped out:

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How are sweet potatoes grown?

You start with what is called a sweet potato slip. A high quality, disease-free seed potato is planted and shoots sprout out from it. These shoots are called slips, for some reason—they are a stem and leaf. That is what you plant. Each slip will grow a big armful of sweet potatoes by August or September.

We used to think the slips go through a droopy transition until they adjust to the transplanting, but we have recently discovered the cure. We set up sprinklers and keep them misted after they are planted. They love it! The plants stay perky and don’t droop so much. Sometimes a spot doesn’t get enough misting, and it gets droopy, but those slips perk up in the next day and still do great.

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Sweet Potato, the cow

On Monday, as the last few empty holes were filled with slips, we discovered we had a newborn calf in the field. The telltale sign is lots of low mooing by the herd, especially the new mom. They carry on and we check out what’s going on. Sure enough, our youngest cow had a calf with her. Appropriately enough, this cow’s name is Sweet Potato. We laughed about her giving birth to celebrate the planting of the sweet potato slips. Right away, the kids decided the calf would be named Slip.

Sweet Potato Slip, the calf

So, I’d like you to meet Sweet Potato and her baby girl, Slip:

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Farm Chi season

Nappa Cabbage is a cool weather crop, best in the spring and fall, and its my favorite base for Farm Chi. So it’s Farm Chi season! Farm Chi includes whatever is harvesting at the farm, so this batch features:

Garlic scapes, ginger (from a friend’s farm in the fall, I store it in the freezer), nappa cabbage, scallions, bok choi, kohlrabi, carrots (not from the farm this time), turnips, kale. I also added Korean red pepper and sesame seeds.

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For more about fermented vegetables, Kim Chi, Farm Chi and how Farm Chi got its name, check out my blog at Mother Earth News:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/sarahs-kim-chi-zbcz1312.aspx

 

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Goat Midwifery

Goat Midwifery

When my goat was in labor, it reminded me of my own natural childbirth experiences. This story is a recollection of my goat Avi’s first birth on our farm, four years ago. No kids this year, but hopefully next year!

My goat Avi is in labor. I sit in the goat shed with her, just being present to calm her, and letting her know that she has calm company. I am reminded of birthing and babies and birth assistants. I am a goat midwife. I watch Avi’s body ripple with another contraction and remember the flow of sensation as those muscle contractions take over the body and pull the baby downward.

Her contractions are far apart at the beginning, causing a slight arch of her back down to her tailbone. She paws at the ground, making a nest—paw here, over there, sit, stand, fidget uncomfortably. The nesting activity is a sign of labor with my goats. It reminds me of pregnant women vacuuming energetically before labor. For me, it was baking lasagna. For Avi, it is hay in just the right nest shape. We all have something.

Read the rest of this post and see photos: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/goat-midwifery-zbcz1405.aspx#ixzz33J1I9BRL

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A journal entry, the farm in April-May

The tables in the hoop are full are tomato seedlings and other plants for sale or for planting into our rows. The trays overflow onto the ground, before they are planted out into the field. Now the hoophouse ground is full of tomato seedlings growing fast and strong for an early tomato harvest.

We are busy planting out so many different crops–lettuce (four varieties!), fennel, radishes, beans, to name a few from this week. We’re watching the progress on crops planted earlier–turnips, bok choi, scallions, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi and other early crops for first CSA week’s harvest in a couple weeks. CSA shares still available!

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Here are some young lettuce seedlings before they were planted out in the field.

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We hosted two large group events in April–students from Poolesville High School’s Global Ecology magnet program came out to the farm for a tour and work day. We have enjoyed working with these students over the past 9 years. But it still takes my breath to see 40 students march down the farm lane toward me on field trip day! 40 students for two mornings, 80 total. I give a little talk about our farm and organic practices. Then they divide into groups doing different tasks on the fields, some planting seedlings, some making soil mix and filling pots, some prepping the fields for cultivation. We are very organized with jobs so that we can put everyone to work quickly.

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They enjoy visiting with the farm animals, especially the goats. Our sons, Noah and Jonah, are in charge of taking them on tours of the goats and chickens. They do a great job leading animal tours.

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April also brought the annual Crop Mob, hosted by The Common Market. 30-40 people converge on the farm to get a lot of work done in a festive group day on the farm.

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April was full of extreme weather conditions. A couple weeks ago we had a few days of unusually cold weather. Phil and I worked in the sleet to protect the last of the crops that we wanted covered from the frost. Here is the lower part of Phil after that hour. His upper part was equally wet and sloppy after mucking in the field to save some tender crops. It worked, they survived!

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House in the Woods Plant Sale

House in the Woods Farm

Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale

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The House in the Woods Seedling Sale is approaching! Organic heirloom tomato plants for your garden. We feature beautiful heirloom tomato plants. Other plants for sale as well–jalapeno peppers, eggplant, basil, herbs and some spring greens. Variety details here

Sale Hours —At House in the Woods Farm

Friday May 2, 2014 10am-7pm
Saturday May 3, 2014 10am-5pm

***USE OUR FARM LANE ON SALE DAY, on PARK MILLS ROAD***

House in the Woods Farm: 2225 Park Mills Rd, Adamstown, MD. (For GPS purposes, but there is no mailbox there. Watch for the House in the Woods Farm sign)

Contact: ilene@houseinthewoods.com or 301-461-6575.

Our tomato plants are also available at The Common Market (www.commonmarket.com). You can get a lot of other great plants there too!

CSA shares are still available for the 2014 season. Pickups at the farm, or at The Common Market or downtown Frederick. Support our farm directly and receive our fresh organic produce weekly for twenty weeks. Its a great way to connect with your farmer and your food source, and get involved. Eat this well all season! Split a share with a friend. Supplement your garden’s bounty with our variety of crops. More information at houseinthewoods.com

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See http://blog.houseinthewoods.com for photos of our plants and heirloom tomatoes. You can get the same links on Facebook at House in the Woods Farm.

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