How green my garden grows

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I can water my garden from the water hose all summer long, but my garden never looks so green and happy than after a nice rain.  Rain droplets must pick up micronutrients from the atmosphere as they plummet to the earth–I can think of no other reason why a good soaking rain makes my garden so much happier than a good soak from the hose.

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Miss Rhodie–she’s at least 7 years old but she still lays eggs!

The chickens are also loving the yard and the garden.  Surprisingly, they have left most of my veggies alone and so I have not bothered to cover most of my boxes with bird netting.  The other day I harvested some spinach and all of a sudden it was like they discovered the spinach for the first time.  One by one, chickens hopped up into the boxes and began nibbling on spinach leaves.  I didn’t mind–I have so much spinach in the garden I’m willing to share some with the girls if it makes them happy.

I’ve got a terrific idea for using up gobs of rhubarb (and old bread)–I’ve made 2 batches of rhubarb bread pudding this week and it is soooooo good!  I should post a video this weekend.  The only problem is I don’t actually have a recipe with exact amounts and such.  I just throw things in a bowl and it turns out delicious.  I know, that’s not fair if you want to try to make it for yourself.  So I’ll try to come up with some guidance before I make a video.

Summer field work has begun so things will be fairly quiet around this blog for a while.  I’ll post when I can but it will be sporadic at best.  I’m doing lots of stuff, I just don’t have time to write it down!  Be patient with me.  Maybe photos will have to do the bulk of the talking this summer.  So, maybe I’ll do just that to show you what I’ve been up to lately and why I haven’t been posting more videos and recipes!  The reason is both for work and play but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.  That’s when I know I’m doing something right.  Right?!  Click on a photo and the caption will pop up.  ‘Til next time…

 

Busy, busy in my absence

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I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog for several weeks now, so a quick update as to what I’ve been doing.  Some of it is quite exciting, other aspects, well…not so much.

First, the exciting:  I’m working on my cottage food license.  This is a big deal because it will allow me to prepare certain low-risk foods (jams, jellies, spice rubs, cookies, etc.) and sell them directly to consumers.  This means I can sell these food items at the CSA pick up this summer, at the farmer’s market, or out of my front door.  This is a new law in Montana–it has only been in effect for a couple of years.  I attended a workshop last month that answered a lot of questions I had.  Next week I’m meeting with the county sanitarian (who will review my application) to go over more questions and get some clarification before I complete my application.  The biggest pain for all of this is I have to convert all of the ingredients from volume into weight.  This is to make sure if you are preparing something like a jam or jelly that the recipe meets a certain percentage of sugar in order to be considered safe for a consumer.  It’s a pain, but there are resources available to help with the conversions.  Once this process is complete, should I want to take my products retail or wholesale, then most of the legwork will be completed.

Now for the now-so-exciting:  A couple of weeks ago I had to travel for work (that could be considered exciting) but in the process I came down with a nasty bug.  I always get sick when I fly, and this one knocked me flat for several days.  Was it the flu?  I’m not sure.  I had a fever and full body aches.  I never had a sore throat (thank goodness–I hate having a sore throat!).  It’s been two weeks since I got sick and this little bugger is still clinging for dear life.  Honestly, I’m still not exactly sure how I navigated my way through a 4 hour layover in the Denver airport with all of my belongings while being doped up on Nyquil and all–I don’t really remember much about my trip.  I’m just glad I made it home.  In the first 36 hours of being home, I spent 33 of them sleeping.  I was so tired I could barely move.  It was awful.  And when I could drag myself out of bed, it was all I could do to sit upright on the couch for 30 minutes before falling over from exhaustion and falling back asleep.  Once I felt well enough to stay out of bed for over an hour at a time, I did a lot of coloring.  A LOT of coloring.  I use watercolor pencils to sketch in my color, then I take a small paintbrush dipped in water and go back over the pencil marks to mix them like watercolors.

It’s quite fun and soothing, actually.  But there is only so much coloring I can do before cabin fever and a general antsiness overtakes me and I just want to do something.  Anything but sit around the house feeling miserable.  This week I finally returned to teaching barre at the gym, but with the clinging congestion and my diminished lung capacity it has been challenging.  It feels so good to be working out again and hopefully working the last of the sickness out of my system.

So that’s been my February.  I have not watched any of the Olympics.  I have slept and colored most of the month away.  And on those days when I have felt less cognitively challenged, I have worked on my cottage food license preparation.  In a way I’m ready for a new month to begin.  A fresh start.  Maybe March will be better.  Maybe March will be warmer.  It has been a very cold and snowy winter so far.  Monday morning when I took MaeBelle for a walk it was -16 degrees F.  I like the winter and I like the snow.  Really, I do.  But I don’t particularly care for it when I’m sick.  It’s supposed to warm up a little by the weekend.  And that means this coming weekend I ski.  It helps keep the winter blahs at bay.  Hooray!

 

One step closer…

img_1578Yesterday I got my Urban Farmgal labels in the mail that I will use to identify my hats, bags, scarves, neck gaiters…all the things that I create and sell.  I really like the look of them.  I don’t have a logo yet, so I went with a generic daisy, but I like it, I really like it!  This means I am one step closer to being a “real” business, right?  Like this label will make me legitimate?  Something like that.

The first thing I did when I tore open the package was grab a needle and matching green thread and sew a label into my knitted bag that I made years ago.  It was the prototype for all the bags I have made since then that I have given away as wedding gifts, birthday gifts, and Christmas gifts.  I just wanted to put my little label on something and this seemed like an appropriate christening, if you will.

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And yeah, maybe bright green sort of doesn’t really go all that well with a red and black knit bag, but I don’t care.  I love my little labels.  They add a bit of formality and identity to my bag.  Next I put one on my hat that I made this summer, the one that inspired my gift to the CSA member whom I wrote about in my last blog post:

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And green DOES go with purple…

I’ve decided to put my labels in places that aren’t all that conspicuous, like inside the bag on the liner, or along the back seam of a hat.  It seems less in-your-face there, and as much as I love my little labels (have I mentioned that?), I don’t want them to be too noticeable or pretentious.  I just want them to be there so if someone asks “Where did you get that hat/bag/neck gaiter?” the tag will do some of the talking.

Curious where you get tags like these?  A Google search led me to The Dutch Label Shop, located in Philadelphia, PA.  And the company isn’t just headquartered in Pennsylvania, they also produce their labels there.  I found a few companies that are based in the U.S. but outsource the actual production oversees.  Finding a company that made these labels in the U.S. was something that was important to me.  In designing the tags, they have a boatload of colors for the background and text, lots of pictures if you want, or you can upload your own picture/logo.  The price was incredibly reasonable, the production time was reasonable, and the quality is fantastic.  I could not be happier with my labels!

Now I just gotta get busy and sew these into the bags I’ve got waiting to sell.  One step at a time brings me one step closer…

The Launch of ‘Urban Farmgal’

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally happening: I’m launching my Urban Farmgal business.  I’ve been thinking and hoping and dreaming about this day for years, and the time is right.  I’ve been busy this fall and winter knitting bags to sell, I’m preparing my garden for next summer’s bounty, and I’m exploring my options for my cottage food license so I can prepare value-added items to sell at the CSA.  These are exciting times and with the dawn of a new year just around the corner, I thought there is no better time than right now to make it official.  Let the adventure begin!