December is here. Has this year flown by for you guys too?! We have been busy preparing the farm for Winter. We still have a lot to do though the pace is most certainly slowing. That we are really thankful for. The warm seasons gifted us with so much bounty that we need time and freedom to process into useable food products for our family. Interestingly this is a good time for us to pursue new projects as well. Come along and let us tell you all about it.
Peppers In OVERABUNDANCE!
If you have watched us on any of our social media outlets then you know just how many peppers we have been harvesting this Fall from our high tunnel. Last year we learned that the Fall yields of peppers are the largest and most blemish free. This year though it went to a whole other level! Our last big harvest was well over 15lbs of hot peppers – in the middle of Fall! The most surprising for us was our field Jalapenos. From 6 plants we harvested 7lbs! That is crazy! Now I love Jalapenos and immediately begin to plan out how to process & store these for the Winter. I decided to make Cowboy Candy again. I say again because we made a batch of this earlier in the season but used Serrano peppers as they we heavily producing at that time. Serrano Cowboy Candy is way too hot for me to enjoy on food although it does make a good marinade for meats prior to grilling. So I was really happy to have this chance to try this recipe again. Being that there were so many I decided to use my food processor. I didn’t realize the attachment on it would yield me relish instead of slices. I have to say that I am kind of excited about it though. I like the consistency and because the pieces are smaller I was able to use fewer canning jars which is always a blessing! So instead of Cowboy Candy I am adjusting the name to CowGIRL Relish! I did two batches which resulted in a total of nine pints! One and a half of those pints had more brine than peppers so we are reserving those for marinades. We have used this relish on hamburgers, hotdogs, and breakfast burritos thus far! I cannot wait to use it in chicken salad, tuna salad, and potato salad. The applications are endless! I hope we have enough to last the year!
Prior to working on our Jalapenos we began several ferments: Carolina Reaper, Red Habanero, and Orange Habanero. These are fermenting slower than they would have in the warmer months since we do not run the heater much in the Winter months. We are keeping an eye on these and hope by the end of this month they will be at a good pH to begin using as the base of our canned hot sauces. We may record a video of that and post to our YouTube channel. Speaking of ferments, you have seen us do several different types by now. I really enjoy fermenting. Some people ferment for flavor and some for health. We find ourselves somewhere in the middle of that. For instance with our peppers, fermenting is definitely for flavor. We will have to heat these up to can so our good bacteria will die. However in the case of the honey fermented garlic and elderberry that is not necessary and we are able to benefit from those. We are still experimenting with fermenting recipes and techniques. Once we feel comfortable we will begin sharing these in more detail here on our website under our Grow Preserve Eat tab.
The remaining peppers were either frozen or dehydrated. Those that are frozen will be pulled out on these Winter days that are too frigid to do any outdoor activities and will be converted into more hot sauces. I’m looking forward to mixing with various fruits and experimenting a bit. Just call me the MAD PEPPER SCIENTIST!
Herbs In Abundance
Not only have our peppers been killing this growing season but also certain herbs too specifically lemon balm, lemongrass, and basil. Its okay, we know just what to do with them – spice blends and tea! This has also been very enjoyable! I have learned so much about what herbs can be used for different ailments and also how to use them in tea blends! Just recently we made our first tea bags from 100% Bain Home Gardens Certified Naturally Grown herbs and produce! These have been Bain Family tested and approved! It was such a long time coming but wow are we excited to have finally done this. We are happy to say that as of today you can purchase these from our listings page. As of today we have two varieties available but are working on a third and hope to have it ready before the end of the week. Keep a look out on our Facebook and Instagram pages for that announcement. If you want to see how we processed our Lemongrass for tea click here.
Creating My Own Rabbit Herd
Some adventures are planned out in detail while others are completely spontaneous. In the case of starting my own rabbit herd I have to say the later is the best description! As a teen I had rabbits. I enjoyed it. So when our daughter expressed interest I was very excited for her. She has had her share of ups and downs since beginning her own herd. Overall though the feeling is that of joy to learn and love these furry creatures. The added benefit is of course their manure is great for the produce! Watching Thai love on her herd reinvigorated a flame in my heart so when the opportunity came to start my own flock I jumped on it!
We acquired Simba which will be the buck of the herd. He is a Lionhead Angora mix. His previous owner our new friends over at Little Halawakee Farm needed to thin their herd due to having more males than needed. See male rabbits although cute as a button will fight sometimes to the death. It is a territory thing and since no one wants to see that measures have to be taken. We were happy to help. This little guy has stolen my heart! He has his own duplex set up beside Thai’s herd.
A little less than a week after adding Simba to our family someone else that I had reached out to earlier in the month got back with me saying they too had kits ready for adoption. These are Holland Lop New Zealand mixes. They had females which is what this herd needs. We got two. One to be added to Thai’s herd and the other would be added to mine. These are calico rabbits and they are the fluffiest cuteness you have ever seen! We didn’t realize how young they were when we agreed to adoption but they are getting the care they need to become healthy members of their perspective herds.
Every animal we have on the farm has a purpose. Our rabbits are no different. They fill an emotional need but also they fill the need for fertilizer! Their manure is great for composting and great for the garden! Seriously they are more than worth their weight in gold! As we get a handle on harvesting and storing the manure we will be making it available in small quantities to you guys. Stay tuned!
We have been very excited to see some frost on the ground and greens. We have yet to have a sustained frost but somehow we hope to get a few. While it was frosty Tuesday morning, temps will get into the 70’s this week – the first week of December! This is a throwback to almost 22 years ago when Terry and I got married. My dress was beautiful with long sleeves – A MISTAKE! It was 70 degrees and so humid! Alabama weather sure is a rollercoaster!
The frost has the added benefit of making the greens so tender and sweet! Aside from that its just beautiful! Check out our November frosty farm tour.
This Week’s Listings
This week we are happy to share our collards, curly kale, and purple stemmed mustards with you. Our Spice Shop is stocked with spices and Shena’s Baked Creations will open for orders 12/13/21 – 12/18/21. We hope that you guys take advantage of this home grown goodness while supplies last!
Apologies for the slower uploading over the last month. Our last month has been all wrapped up in Fall planting and putting other parts of the farm to sleep till Spring. We are now back on track! Have you viewed our latest videos?
This month we will be showing you how we put our garden beds and or high tunnel rows to sleep for the season. We also hope to do a how to rehydrate video as well. Please do like, subscribe, and share these videos! It means a lot that you have joined our homesteading journey! We appreciate the support!