welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DIY mixer repair

That's my KitchenAid mixer. Scary looking, isn't it? Don't be frightened though, it's not as bad as it might seem. Although I will admit that at first I thought this puppy was a goner. You see, my sweetie tried to use my mixer with the food grinder attachment to grind ginger root. (For future reference and to save all of your mixers from a similar fate, this was not a plan. Ginger root should be grated by hand.) In the midst of grinding, the part that holds attachments and spins around suddenly stopped spinning. The motor ran just fine, but no more mixing, grinding, or anything else was going to happen any time soon. So I googled it and found out that it was probably a relatively simple and cheap fix. There is a sacrificial plastic gear inside the mixer so that if the going gets too tough, it fails in order to save the motor. Pretty cool, right? You can find directions here for doing this repair yourself.

Now that it's all apart and the new gear and food-grade replacement grease is ordered, it will be a matter of seeing if I can remember how to get it all back together again. Could be interesting.

By the way - the head of the mixer is packed with grease. What I found was that the grease had degraded pretty significantly, so it might be a good idea to take it all apart every several years and remove and repack the grease. One of those "can't hurt, might help" kinds of things.

But I'll tell you, it feels kind of good to have a quality piece of equipment that can actually be repaired (by me, no less) rather than having to throw it away like so many things today. I like that. Hopefully with good maintenance and no more ginger grinding, this mixer will last me for the rest of my life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

and the day came

"And the day came when the risk to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Anais Nin

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

a wonderful little book

I just finished reading The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. And while it has absolutely nothing at all to do with farming, I feel the need to share it with you. A gem of a book, it has many little pearls of wisdom in it that are quite thought provoking. At least for me. Have you read it? What did you think?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

and now applesauce

This week my friend wanted to make and can applesauce. This time I seriously put my foot down and said I'm not helping and you need to use your own kitchen to do it.

Two minutes later I gave permission to use my kitchen as long as he cleaned up afterwards. But I held firm on not helping.

An hour after he started with the apples on day one, I insisted on not helping, but would keep him company.

By the end of the day, I was helping. I made him do all the cleanup though.

On day two, I helped from the beginning and at the end of the day also helped clean up.

There are now nearly a hundred quarts of applesauce residing on my kitchen table.

Today, he overheard me telling someone I like pickled red beets...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

auction items

Today I went to an auction at a greenhouse/farm market that went out of business. Sad to see them go as I've enjoyed shopping there for many years. But at the same time, they had a lot of good stuff for anyone involved in greenhouses, market gardening, farm stores, and the like. I spent what is to me, quite a lot of money, but it was all for things I'd planned on buying anyway. This way I spent about half of what I would have if purchased new.

I bought what I hope to be all the 4.5" pots I'll need for next year, some shade fabric, a hoophouse, some produce tubs, and two seedling carts. All told I spent nearly $900, and the biggest ticket item was, surprisingly, the carts at $300 each. The hoophouse I got for very nearly nothing since the only truly useable part of it is the rafters. Even so, I paid a small fraction of what I otherwise would have.

I am now exhausted, but it was a very, very good day.

morning song

I awoke this morning to the sound of a fox calling, a screech owl trilling, and a bullfrog croaking. A most beautiful chorus that I never tire of.

Friday, September 3, 2010

canning continues


We put up 100 quarts.

Three bushels, when I specifically asked to do just (?) two.

At least there were four of us this time. My sister and her husband helped and we did it at their house.

Still took all day.

Now there's talk of applesauce.

God help us all.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

a battalion of soup

Do you know how much soup three bushels of tomatoes makes? Ninety two quarts. Yup, 92. Nearly a hundred. I know this from recent, first-hand experience. And it will take me a long time to recover mentally, emotionally, and physically. If I ever do, that is. 

How did this happen, you ask? I'm still wondering the same thing. Just the week before, a friend and I bought, prepared, and froze twenty dozen ears of sweet corn. You'd think I'd learn from that, but apparently that's not the case. So when he calls and says he knows where we can get all the roma tomatoes we want, free for the picking, and do I want to help make tomato soup, my good sense deserted me and I said yes. The field of tomatoes at the bottom of my road was being mechanically harvested and so mister gregarious that he is, he stops and asks if they'd mind us picking up what the harvester left behind. They happily agreed, and so in less than an hour, we collected our three bushels. That, my friends was the easy part. We then spent the better part of two days making and canning his mother's tomato soup recipe. By the end of the second day, I was alternating between whining, being snippy, and begging to please just throw the rest away. So then when he went out at eight o'clock at night to get "just a few more" canning lids, I officially quit. Cracked open a beer and a bag of tortilla chips and sat down with a book to read. That's how he found me when he got back and that's where I stayed until he was done. It was either that, or hurt him. Bad.

Oh yes, the soup is good. Outstanding, in fact. And everyone we know is getting tomato soup for Christmas. Just saying.

Now somehow, against my strenuous protests, I find myself going along with plans to can peaches tomorrow. I seem to have lost my capacity to say no and mean it.