january in review

wow…i am so on top of it! its the last day of january and i am remembering to do a recap. let’s hope i keep up this pace all day of being on top of things. my day just got busier so…here we go!

we had a great time with friends and family here on new year’s eve which lasted until the ball dropped and we even topped it off with a toast of champagne and sparkling white grape juice. all the kids made it but one! there were seven of them ๐Ÿ™‚

geoffrey was still recovering from his “table saw meets index finger” accident and dealing with pain and sensitivity. thankfully now the stitches are out and it looks and feel much better! it seemed like a long road to get there and i am so thankful its doing well and not causing him so much pain! he still isn’t allowed to run the table saw until he purchases what ever mechanism woodcraft makes to cover the blade. or maybe he should just get the saw that shuts off when it senses human skin apporaching. yes, they really do make one if you were not in the know like i was!ย 

the kids are back in school…they told me yesterday they really didn’t really like mondays! really? at age 5 and 7 they already don’t like mondays? oh boy. prior to winter/christmas break seamus was getting lots of ” yellow marks” on his daily conduct card. they were forย talking!!ย thankfully since he’s been back this month he has only gotten one. (a yellow mark means his teacher had to speak to him about it more than a few times ๐Ÿ™‚ ) the school seems to be pushing the kindergartener’s a lot. i’ve been a little surprised at the homework he is brining home. he is doing ok with it. take he and i awhile to complete and i am learning the best way to handle him and his homework. he is such a stinker! when he wants to and when he isn’t distracted he can actually pull off some pretty good handwriting skills ๐Ÿ™‚ i love him so much! his favorite “subject” at school is PE!

lay is doing great! she enjoys school. she has a project due sometime soon about a famous person and she chose amelia earhart. i’m currently teaching a 5-week course in her class room on “our community” through its a junior achievement ciricculm. i enjoy being in her class each week!

we are busy with the farm…as usual! but its good. this month we were contacted by a chef whom geoffrey met with. he wants us to supply him eggs (when we can), chicken and quail. he is also interested in some pork. geoffrey made a first delivery of eggs last week! we are excited about this partnership and we’ll share more as it unravels!

we did have a big loss this month at the barry farm this month. one saturday when geoffrey was working, of course, the kids and i went to do farm chores only to find we had lost a pig. thankfully it wasn’t promised to customers but, that of course was the intention! so, down a pig but thankfully we have more and enough to cover our current CSA orders.

we still, and always will, find ourselves a bit stuck. we really need our own place. our own land to continue to grow the barry farm. there has been lots of planning, researching, brainstorming, praying… we are excited to see where we will end up but until then, we keep doing all we can do where we are! geoffrey is doing an excellent job at maximizing the 1 & 1/2 acres we continue to lease. next up – 80 meat bird chicks that arrive on thursday! we are starting february off with bang.

last thing…this month i started doing a work share at all we need farm.we met farmer stacy, at an event the barry farm was part of a few months ago. i go every friday morning and work with her from 9ish-noonish. i help her harvest, clean, weigh and pack for other CSA orders and well as the market. in return she pays me with delicious, beautiful, better-than-organic produce. i bring that home and feed it to my family who has been enjoying it! geoffrey, layla and i have fallen in love with turnips! creamed turnips done farmer stacy style ๐Ÿ™‚ i made a salad with her lettuce greens and seamus just loved it! he told me while we were eating to tell ms. stacy that he really liked it! although it makes my fridays pretty busy i enjoy it! after leaving all we need farm i head to the barry farm (which is 30 minutes from there) and do chores before heading home.

our life is busy. our life is full. our life is wonderful and rewarding! thankful and honored to be on this journey with most precious family. thank you to all of you who journey with us in different ways!

what to do with round steaks

this post is for our barry farm grass fed beef customers. or…anyone else who happens about this blog and would like a suggestion on how to use up your typically tough round steaks!

i was talking with a few people about how to use the round steaks and decided to try a few things for our family so i could share the results. yesterday i put a package of thawed round steaks in the crock-pot in the morning. i added sea salt, coarse ground pepper, a onion cut in wedges (so they coul removed form my darling seamus’ helping and little water. i put it on low and let it go all day. oh, and garlic..i thinly sliced a few good cloves of garlic too. love the garlic!

i decided given my day that soft tacos would be easy to pull together for supper, especially if the meat would be done and ready for me! so, i decided to add my taco seasoning to the crock-pot as well. i have been using this taco seasoning mix. (i don’t use the onion powder or garlic powder…i just add fresh as i cook the meat.) the result was delicious, lean, tender taco flavored meat ready for tacos! i would do it again!ย 

i am also going to crock-pot some more round steaks and use them instead of stew meat (which i don’t have) for this delicious stroganoff recipe! my “renovation” of the recipe is below. two friends made it before me and told me some things they did different as well. so, take your pick ๐Ÿ™‚

ย 

Crock-pot Beef Stroganoff

2ish pounds of round steak ( whatever is in the package ๐Ÿ™‚ )
28 ounces of beef broth (mine was from soup bones)
1/2 cups water
2-4 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, sliced to your liking)
fresh mushrooms, the more the merrier i say!
light sour cream (i probably used a little over a 1/2 cup)
1/3 less fat cream cheese (i used half but next time i’ll use less)

in the slow cooker stir in all the ingredients, except the meat AND the cream cheese/sour cream, together. once combined add the meat and mix together.

cook on low for 8 hours. cut up the cream cheese into cubes just before serving and turn crockpot on high. stir the cream cheese and sour cream in until all combined. it took awhile for me it get it all stirred and reach a smooth consistency. you might have to put the lid back on and leave for 10 minutes. i thought about thickening up the broth a bit but it was so good we left it alone! you could. if desired, thicken it up like you would gravy.ย 

Serve over egg noodles.ย (or someone suggested mashed potatoes? i don’t know about that.)

QR code for the barry farm

check it out…just got a QR code for the barry farm – take a look with me…make sure it works! (hahaaha!) ย i’ll be working on integrating this code into the barry farm. but, now i must to take care of a few ducks, 10 turkeys, 57 chickens and prepare for another 60 chickens that i’ll go pick up tomorrow!

scan me with your QR reader to find
our more about THE BARRY FARM

thanks to MY MOM for this is idea! you’re the best mom ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

friends at the farm

yesterday we met our friends at the land. it was their first visit.

rosie came with esther, rachel and baby joel. they go to immergent (church) with us every saturday night!

rosie is great at photography and is working on building a portfolio as she starts her own business so, i asked her if she wanted to come shoot pictures at the barry farm. we are now the first farm in houston she has come to photograph! we think its pretty cool and more she shares some of the many pics she took we think its WAY cool! check out this one…

 

* Nice to LOOK at, nice to SHARE but please do not crop or edit, please, if you'll take a care*

this is one of our red wattle pigs loving the mud! its rather HOT here in texas and with the little rain we are getting we pour a bucket or two of water everyday in their area and make a wallow for them! now when i start walking by them with buckets they follow me…they know what’s coming! ๐Ÿ™‚

anyway…back to rosie and pictures. you should have seen her taking pictures…she was loving it! loving being outside. loving being with animals. loving being ‘on the farm’. the kids did well and of course helped gather eggs!! they didn’t break one…but i did! whoops…

you can check out rosie’s photography page on Facebook – she’s under “rosemary elizabeth photography”.

new farmer’s workshop

yesterday geoffrey and drove to austin for a new farmer’s workshop put on by the texas organic farmer and gardener association (TOFGA). it was held a boggy creek farm which sits on about 5 acres of land inside austin city limits. we had ย such a great time and it was great experience! great speakers and resources. larry and carol ann, the owners of boggy creek farm were very helpful and friendly and we both enjoyed talking to them! they have on site market days twice a week where about anywhere from 90-200+ attend one of those days.

the panel of speakers spoke on soil, selling produce to local restaurants, selling produce to whole foods markets in the austin/houston areas, CSAs, holistic crop management and a few other topics.

i meant to count but i think there were about 20-30 people. some people seemed to be couples while some were individuals. some of us were farming now, some where wanting to but looking for guidance, help, resources. of course geoffrey’s wheels were just a turning all day regarding our continued journey with the barry farm! it was a great day to share him!

we sat under the big shady trees on the farm’s front lawn. by the afternoon it was 98 degrees but it wasn’t too bad sitting in the shade. when i was talking with larry and telling him a bit of our story i told him i was born and raised in vermont. he said, ‘VERmont?! why would you ever leave there?’ of course i laughed and proceeded to tell him how i was so thrilled to be moving the city and would never in a million think my husband would want to farm in houston, texas!! we agreed that milking anything was out of the question and agreed to let me call him if geoffrey started talking about milking anything! ๐Ÿ™‚

here are a few pictures i snapped with my trusty iphone seeing i didn’t have our camera.

 

 

larry talking with the group before the workshop started.

carol ann giving a tour of some of the farm.

one panel of speakers.

larry spraying down the trees behind us in the afternoon..it really did provide a bit of relief. such a smart old man!

 

a grant

boy, its been a while since i last posted. i’ve been busy. busy farming, trying to keep up with the garden, school, doctor appointments, church…and the list goes on. its a good busy, a different busy.

so, a bit ago had a call on my cell from a number i didn’t recognize and i rarely answer… especially when my kids are at home and i know it’s not a call from school. but, i decided to answer seeing it was quiet and it was a nice gentlemen from the texas department of agriculture. i knew right away what he was calling about it!

last week geoffrey and i last minute filled out and mailed off applications for the 2011 texas department of agriculture – young farmers grant! geoffrey started filling it out and quickly realized that if i applied i would ‘score’ better. you get different points for things like (but not limited to) education level, ag experience, and what things are you raising/producing. well, seeing i have A LOT of ag experience i scored better than my well educated husband! hahaha!

so, we decided i should fill out the application and see if we could get some help for the barry farm. then we decided we should both fill it out! there wasn’t any rules about married couples and filling out the forms so we both sent them off. a kind gentleman called to talk over the forms and suggest that we just file my application seeing it scored better. he could tell from our applications that i did most of the most, that i had way more ag experience and that we both really were doing this together. i agreed and kindly thanked him for calling and helping us out!

so, we shall see. its a matching grant and i believe the way it works if we say…purchase a dexter steer for $X we submit that and they reimburse us that same $X. god has been so good and we have paid cash for everything we have needed to purchase for the barry farm out of pocket! and its been a lot…let’s just say it hasn’t been like $200. so, we are very thankful and blessed that when we have needed it, there has been extra money in the budget. so, this grant would help us do even more things!

the grant application came with a list of surplus and deficit commodities in the state of texas. things like beef, pecans, grapefruit, cotton, mustard and collard greens were in the list of 14 surplus commodities. the deficit commodities were 69 other items and guess what was in the top 5?

eggs and pork! that helped out score on the application. honey is also listed farther down the list on the deficit side which helped as well!

geoffrey has alway been adamant that we aren’t going to raise or produce anything thing unless we have a customer for it. in case you’re wondering about how we decided to do certain things, that’s the idea behind them. geoffrey wanted to farm. he found people who wanted fresh local pastured eggs. we now have 59 of them laying eggs every day that we deliver once a week to those people. we wanted meat. we decided pigs were easy enough to raise and we found a whole bunch of friends who wanted pork too. now we are raising 4 red wattle pigs we purchased from nonesuch farm that will feed about 10 families!

so, that’s what’s going on in our world this evening. you know when you fill out paperwork and take the time to answer everything the best you know how then you send it off and think…i wonder if anyone will actually read this. will anyone actually care. will they understand. will they get enough of the picture of who and what we are about? well, the gentleman i talked to this evening seemed to have a good grasp on what was up with us and he could only know from reading both of applications well. so, we are thankful. we are praying we get this grant. (for those of you who know me well…i am smiling and laughing as i write this blog about a young farmers grant through the state of texas! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

by the way…for supper we had a fresh cucumber from the garden and beef stroganoff that i made with a chuck roast given to us by the wonderful parkers of the nonesuch farm on the day we picked up the 4 pigs! melissa and don..again, i thank you for the delicious meat you sent home with us and the way you have helped geoffrey and the barry farm. you shall never be forgotten!

Weekend review

Whew…what a weekend!

(geoffrey is talking to my mom. I like hearing them talk..)

I can’t remember all what happened friday…i think geoffrey & i did stuff around the house then we went to the barry farm to feed chickens. He had to go to work at 5pm. Oh, and i finished up the planting! i’ll blog about the planting soon.

saturday we all got up and geoffrey headed off to a bee seminar. i did a bunch of stuff around the inside of the house. did you know we are getting a few beehives? we are and geoffrey has been doing lots of research and been going to bee keepers association meeting and this seminar on saturday. the president of the harris county bee keepers association called him this evening to check up on him and see if he had any questions. i haven’t bought white sugar in probably over a month. we use a lot of honey! i’m so excited for the day to use our own unfiltered raw honey! ๐Ÿ™‚

today we left the house by 9:15am to head to sienna family fellowship to say good bye to some dear friends who are moving away. from there we headed to the farm to get some work done. we were there from 12:30 – 5:30pm. we got stuff done!! we like working together as a family. the kids did really good! we put them to work and they did great together. they explored and had fun.

while geoffrey constructed nest boxes and kept the brush fire going i cleaned up trash. man, it was hot! i took many breaks…i need to get back to doing ok in this heat. it was in the 80’s today. the sun wasn’t out all the time so that was good. over the past many, many years trash was allowed to be dumped on this land that we lease and so the land owners have been helping us clean it up. they did a bunch of work with the tractor hauling out trash and such but lots of glass and broken tiles were left. geoffrey wanted to sow seeds (that are in route) but the ground is SO hard…rock hard! we aren’t so sure that the seeds will take. he’s going to try to figure out what to do about it.

so, that’s a quick recap of our weekend. hope ya’ll had a great one!

what a day its gonna be!

oh boy…

such a glorious day! pretty sure its one for the books…and its not even noon yet!

this morning i’ve been running errands gathering plants and supplies for spring planting. home depot for some leaf/lawn bags and pair of good gloves for me. and a trip to buchanan’s for tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants. i also picked up some parsley, oregano and mint transplants. a quick stop at georgia’s for a local fresh chicken, some tea and some super seaweed.

geoffrey is off getting a generator from a friend then heading to the land to hopefully build chicken coops for the barry farms chickens we want to pick up next week! ๐Ÿ™‚ this is been a long time coming and the fact that we are actually going to be farming is pretty cool! i never in a million years thought we would move to HOUSTON TEXAS and FARM! do you know how many times i have said or typed this word (farm) in the past few weeks? i am so proud of geoffrey and his fighting for this dream. often times dreams don’t come easy. they take work, effort, time, resources, research…its been a long road but a great one! looking forward to see all that becomes of the barry farm!

tonight we are going to the rodeo! we scored some sweet seats…well, at least i am pretty sure row A seats 8-9 are pertty sweet! we shall soon find out. we are going to with geoff’s dad and a good friend. our good friend rolly who just said goodbye to his parents and sister as they head back to philippines. geoffrey and i love the rodeo and its been a few years since we’ve gone. you will NEVER guess who we are going to see…never…

when you score good seats you score good seats not only for the concert that follows but also for the rodeo itself. boy i hope we are near the bull chutes! no matter, thanks LJS!!

so…its janet jackson! yup, a janet jackson concert follows the rodeo. should be interesting! we are going with good company and it’ll be something else we can add to the list of things we did in houston. went to the houston livestock show and rodeo and saw janet jackson! ๐Ÿ™‚

enough about that…the best part of the day is we got our tax refund and i just put a check in the mail to payoff our car loan! hallelujah! we are so happy to be done it. so happy! we had the car for less maybe 15 months. love writing big fat checks and sending them to put toward auto loans! now that means the $205 car payment we used to make gets added onto the truck payment…so exciting! can’t wait for the day we pay that off! thank you dave ramsey and mark pickle at storehouse financial solutions.

now, i must get some things done around…its been pretty busy and i’m behind.

 

eggs, eggs and more eggs

so, the compost bucket was full and i asked seamus to take it out this morning. he whined a bit about it and geoffrey said he would help him. the next thing i know geoffrey asked me to come join them. in the corner of the yard near the compost bin was a big pile of eggs!!

go ahead…take a guess how many eggs are in there.

are you guessing?

geoffrey thought there was dozen.

nope.

there was more!

there were 19 eggs in that nice little pile!

19.

do you know what we could have done with those 19 eggs?? sigh…

when we were having that cold snap…that freezing cold snap, we weren’t getting many eggs. we thought it had to do with the weather. but, we also rearranged the coop and nesting box. they say if you fool around with the nesting box it’ll mess with the chickens and their egg production. it sure did. they just found another place to lay. because of the freezing cold temperatures we had the water lines wrapped good and they laid this pile right behind there! nice and hidden.

geoffrey and i cooked up the 19 eggs and fed it to them. they sure weren’t going to waste and i wasn’t eating them. who knows how long they have been there. we’ve had quite the temperature change in the past few weeks so i wasn’t about to eat eggs that were froze, then warmed up, then froze…its been in the mid 70’s the past few days. i didn’t even bother to test them in a bowl of water. (if they float they are bad.)

still on the subject of eggs…we are starting a farm! those of you who know us know we’ve been working on this and it’s officially gonna happen! we are starting houston’s first egg CSA – the barry farm. it wouldn’t be possible without those that have signed up for weekly eggs delivery. their support is making it happen. if you’d like to know all about it check out our blog here! you can follow us on Facebook and twitter if you’d like. you’ll see the link on the blog to follow . we are excited…i think…ha!

geoffrey is going to work on sprucing up the land tomorrow and will have pictures to post on the barry farm blog. we are looking forward to raising hens and delivering their eggs weekly to our CSA members!

A new blog

Stay tuned…geoffrey is working on starting a blog! I’ll keep u posted.

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