Category Archives: Gardens

Wicked gorgeous weekend!

Moving the old pig hut
Moving the old pig hut

It really was.  We got a lot of farm work accomplished.  It was exhausting, but that’s the way it goes.  The weather cooperated, and we were hot out there, but luckily there was a nice breeze.

Boys in their new paddock
Boys in their new paddock

We have 4 paddocks separated by cattle panels and two of those areas have not been pressed into service for awhile.  One of them houses our gigantic compost pile, and one is farther back and grassy.  So we needed to move the ‘pig’ hut from the one, to the farthest.  We got the boys and Jingle into that area, and they are having a good time eating up the weeds and the grasses.

Pumpkin mounds going in
Pumpkin mounds going in

On Saturday a friend of ours came down and we were able to get the CDT shots done on the goat babies, plus some foot trimming.  Along with that, we planted our giant pumpkin plants and are crossing our fingers that we can prevent them from being eaten by deer.  And so it goes!  4 more school days until the kids are released and teachers have a few more after that, but not a big deal.

I can taste the summer, it’s close, but tonight we are in the 40’s and it was a day for sweaters and turtlenecks!  June 15th.  Gotta love it!

Knitting, digging in the dirt and roasted veggies

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I have been dreaming of those early days of spring when there is still a serious nip in the air, the breezes are still a little wintery even, it’s not yet mud season but the ground is bare. And you can smell the dirt and the growing things thinking about coming out and reaching for the sun. I know we are getting close, but the sun is teasing us today and I have that spring fever thing starting to rear its noisy head.

It’s school vacation and I have been taking things a little easier than usual, but I have also been on a roll trying to get a few things taken care of as well. It’s still really cold outside (17F today), and no, I can’t dig in the dirt yet out there (can’t even see it for all the feet of that white stuff!), but I have been doing some inside gardening. Little stuff, transplanting and dividing up some of my African violets and Christmas cactus. I am also having a lovely time trying to decide how to plant (and also into what) the 3 baby succulents a friend gave me for my birthday. They are adorable! Even if my hands are not totally covered with dirt, at least I have my fingers in it today. It feels marvelous.

I have also been working hard to get my latest knitting project finished. And finally it is! My second Hitchhiker shawlette. Very colorful and light weight yet warm, I knit it from Schoppel-Wolle’s Crazy Zauberball, colorway Frische Fische. Love it!

More color in the day came from roasted veggies, my favorites, beets!  Chioggias. Yum! I think it’s time for some goat cheese. But wait, the power just went out. Gotta love it! Glad my beets are out of the oven…

Can’t even hear the music

This morning. Flakes as big as dinner plates (Thanks, Pam, for that description!)
This morning. Flakes as big as dinner plates (Thanks, Pam, for that description!)

And the roller-coaster weather continues. Wednesday evening we got all the wet, heavy snow, and yesterday it was a pretty awesomely beautiful day. But this morning we woke to sleet, giant snow flakes that weighed at least 9 pounds each, and then things turned to rain, sleet, back to snow, and now we are just getting pummeled with such hard rain that I can’t hear the music playing on my iPad. Our metal roof and roof windows transfer the sounds very eloquently!

Snow and rain mixed. Yuck.
Snow and rain mixed. Yuck.

I love the sound of rain on the roof, but I have to say that this is a little over the top for February. We are even getting thunder along with it! They predicted some ‘thunder snow,’ but not this relentless rain. Yuck! I can hardly wait to see what the conditions will be out in the paddocks tomorrow morning. I hope it doesn’t get cold enough to make a field of glare ice. Sigh.

The Azalea. Spring in a pot!
The Azalea. Spring in a pot!

The one bright spot in the house right now is the gorgeous azalea plant that my son and his family gave me for my 60th birthday. It’s still sitting on the messy counter, but I love it and it’s bright spot of salmon-pink. I am not sure where it will be planted in the spring, if the spring ever comes! I want it to be someplace where I can enjoy the sight of it from the house, if possible. This winter has been so rough that I have not even been captivated by the seed catalogs. Oh well, the growing bellies on our goatie girls give me great contentment every chore time, mixed with a little sadness that we will not be welcoming any lambs this spring. The first spring in this house that we have not had them. 11 years have slipped by so quickly! Another very big sigh. Change is good, but difficult :*)

Autumn arrives

Late flowers from our friend's garden
Late flowers from our friend’s garden

And the great weather has not deserted us!  Autumn has officially begun and the days are getting shorter, but the sun is still shining brightly and our days have been lovely.  Of course it’s difficult to get out there and enjoy it with school and meetings, etc., but this weekend has been a real blessing.  Dry, with temperatures in the 60s, we had great fun with our grandson outside yesterday afternoon.  Digging and playing with the hay from the floor of the ‘hay’ greenhouse.  And today I had a chance to spend some time with our friend Chris in Brunswick out in their lovely screened porch, knitting and spinning.  Then we spent some time in the garden, where Chris cut us some sunflowers, dahlias and some herbs.  Lovely!

My ankle is growing stronger, but I still cannot get my chore boots on over the swelling.  Soon, I hope.  So I do part of the chores, and my husband does the rest.  It works.  And ever since I began using Arnica gel on the foot, the bruising and swelling has gone down dramatically.  Gotta love those old remedies.  But since I am walking in a stilted manner, my sciatica and hip bursitis has flared.  I am hoping the stationary bike helps with that, now that I can get on it again!  It’s always a challenge.

Shearing lambs, pumpkins and wonderful weather

Lambs waiting for shearing alongside the pumpkin volunteer!

It has been quite the weekend.  Work for most of the day on Friday, Bristol Area Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, and then getting ready for lamb shearing on Sunday afternoon (plus regular shopping and errands).  4 lambs are going to the butcher on Wednesday morning and I have not been dealing with the pelts efficiently, so I prefer to get the fleece.  Our lovely shearer, Emily, came over during a very busy weekend at her farm and sheared our four little darlings.  One ewe lamb and 3 ram lambs.

Emily shearing one of the lambs
Shorn lambs finally get their dinner

They have absolutely fantastically beautiful fleeces.  It was an even bigger pleasure to have Chris come by to help with the shearing activities.  It’s difficult to get the lambs out onto the shearing floor, sweep, skirt the fleeces and get the lamb into the next pen.  We got four beautiful fleeces and some very naked lambs.

During this afternoon, our friends from southern Maine came over to pick up one of our gorgeous ram lambs.  So it felt like a party!

Pumpkin on the compost pile

And our volunteer vine has set some seriously beautiful pumpkins, two of which are really orange.  One is even larger, but still green.  I am going to have to do some research on how to tell when a pumpkin should be harvested!

Volunteer update

Our largest volunteer fruit!

We have been watching our youngest compost pile while the squash vine grows larger and larger.  Our volunteer for the year has put out many fruits, but we were having some trouble trying to figure out what it was going to be.  In the beginning the flowers really looked like zucchini flowers, but really, squash flowers are always big and showy!  Then I thought that the fruits were beginning to look like butternut squashes, but we have finally cottoned on to what they really are:  pumpkins!!!  I am glad that I didn’t take bets on it :*)

Barber’s Bunnies agouti baby

Today was a lovely day, in spite of what I had expected.  We had a good farmer’s market this morning and our friend Anna Barber of Barber’s Bunnies had some of her usual suspects with her, some of her babies.  They are always very cute and gorgeous German Angoras, but the one that caught my eye today is what they call an “agouti.”  It has coloring that harkens back to the wild bunny colors, and this little baby is as cute as they come.  I couldn’t stop admiring the little guy.  Too bad I am allergic to rabbits!

Green and gold days

Lupine’s last fleece drying on the rack

I have been very bad about blogging lately.  It’s been crazy times at work and outside of work I am trying to focus on getting ready for the Fiber Frolic in a week and a half.  Here’s hoping that Memorial Day weekend is a nice one, because I have a lot of work to do!  But at the very least, the trees are greening up nicely and when the sun is out the new leafy greenness is very uplifting.

I would love to get more yarn space-dyed and a few more fleeces washed.  I may card up some of the fleeces into batts as I don’t have much roving around right now.  So to that end I spent most of Sunday washing Lupine’s last fleece from 2010.  It is still a winner, very lustrous with long beautiful locks.  I hand wash my fleeces in small batches in the kitchen sink, drying it out back on a piece of lobster trap wire.  So I hustled all day doing batch after batch, and it’s almost all clean.  I am going to try and wash a black fleece as well so I can card up some contrasting fleece colors.

I also did some potting up of some of the plants that I like to keep in containers.  Sage and thyme, right out the back door for ready to use convenience, and my favorites the geraniums.  I usually plant white alyssum with them but I couldn’t get any last weekend at the nursery.    So the rains are coming and going but we are managing to struggle along between the downpours!

Eating locally

The day after New Year’s our friends at Bridge Farm invited us to a “locavore” potluck.  It was an amazing and fun afternoon.  We got to meet a lot of new people, all of whom are producing some wonderful products.  The challenge of the potluck was, as you can imagine, creating a dish with local ingredients.  I knew that I could have busted out some meat and gone that route, but I really wanted to make some kind of casserole so there would be more than enough to share.  I have plenty of chevre in the freezer, so I thought that I would indulge in a recipe I have been dying to make from the Former Chef’s blog.  It’s her roasted beet, leek and goat cheese tart recipe.  Absolutely delicious!  I got locally grown organic beets which I then roasted.  On top of the partially cooked pie crust you put chopped leeks that have been wilted or sauteed, with the sliced, roasted beets next, then a layer of crumbled goat cheese, and then you pour over the whole thing a mixture of milk (or cream) and eggs.  And baked.  It was fabulous.  When I make it again I am going to slice the beets a little more thinly, but otherwise it was lovely. As were all of the other offerings on the absolutely groaning table!

A sampling of some of our wonderful eggs!

The local parts of that tart were the beets (Goranson’s Farm), leeks (Ruit Farm freezer from a few years ago, so they were a tad freezer-burned), goat cheese (Ruit Farm), milk (Straw’s Farm raw cow’s milk), and Ruit Farm eggs.  Alas, the pie crust stumped me!  I did use Kate’s New England butter and King Arthur flour, but that’s as close as I could get.  All the other potluck dishes were absolutely wonderful and it was a very successful locavore gathering.

Goat cheesy goodness!

We always try to use products that are as local as possible, but having to really think about and plan a meal like that made me appreciate how much we have locally available to us in the midcoast Maine region.  Maybe when we get the Somerset grist mill in the old Skowhegan jail up and running there will be more local flour available here, at least.

For a very enjoyable look at another blog I have just recently found, I recommend the Lovely Locavore Ladies of Boston blog.  They really take the locally eating experience seriously.  (Great pictures as well).  I wish that I had taken a picture of my beet and leek tart before the party.  I never did get a photo and it’s been very happily consumed :*)

Giant pumpkins

The Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest weekend is here.  This past week I drove by Pinkham’s Plantation and their parking lot had turned into a sea of giant sized pumpkins, all shapes, colors and sizes.  (If I were a good blogger, I would carry my camera around with me and take photos, but I am not.  One of these days, perhaps.)  Most of the pumpkins have been sent around to area businesses so that they can carve and paint them and keep them on display.  Cool pumpkin art.  But the biggest draw of the festival will be held tomorrow: the Pumpkin Regatta!  Farmers are working long hours today to finish the building of their pumpkin boats, to be motored on the Damariscotta River tomorrow in a race.  It is a real hoot!

Here at Ruit Farm we have been growing our own pumpkins.

Vine takes over the compost pile!

We bought our pumpkin seedling in the spring just at the right moment, brought it home, and that was it.  For the most part.  I don’t know when we caught up with ourselves, but somewhere around July John decided to just pop it into one of our huge compost piles and see what it would do.  It has almost taken over the driveway where we pull in to feed the animals.  Lots of wonderful pumpkin flowers, but alas, this is our progeny:

Baby pumpkin

one 8″ yellow fruit, not even old enough to be a respectable orange!  Alas, we will not be competing in the Regatta tomorrow.  I am so glad that our friend Patty gave us a pumpkin that we can actually carve and enjoy!

Carve-able squash!


Butchers and a Local Thanksgiving harvest

Wow, it’s Sunday and it’s still sunny and warm. I am reveling in being at home for the day and  am recuperating from the back to back trips to butchers:  Friday night a trip to the butcher in Albion to pick up the fresh pork cuts from our pigs, and a 200+ mile round-trip yesterday to Dover-Foxcroft to pick up our lamb and goat meat from that butcher.  It feels wonderful to have gotten that taken care of before Thanksgiving, but I am bone-tired.  I wish I had taken a photo of the back of my Subaru crammed with boxes covered with blankets, towels and those heavy moving blankety things.  I rode with most of the windows open as it was a really warm day yesterday and was afraid of the 2.5 hour ride.  But between the cardboard and all the coverings, the meat was fine and still frozen solid.  It was great to get this taken care of.  Now all we wait for is the smoked pork cuts like the bacon and the hams.  Yum!  Can’t wait :*)

Gotta love a freezer full of home-grown meat!

I am not so very ready for Thanksgiving however, except that I did order a turkey and while cleaning out one of the freezers, I came across my back-up supply of locally grown cranberries.  Well, grown in Maine cranberries!  That’s two items taken care of.  I want to make Thanksgiving as close to a locavore meal as I can this year.  Coffee, olive oil, sugar and flour can’t count, I guess, as I don’t think I can get that here in Maine yet, although the flour is going to be possible in the near future.  We have our own potatoes, onions, milk, goat cheese, italian sausage for the stuffing, turkey from nearby, cranberries from Maine, eggs from friends (? Hatchtown???), and maybe instead of a pumpkin pie I need to make one with our butternut squashes.  It might work.  Hmmm. I am going to give it a try.