Friday, February 20, 2015

Winter Vegetable Farming in Michigan

This is both an exciting and scary venture we are on. Having a 48 week CSA means even in winter we have to harvest, wash, pack, and deliver our produce. We have two unheated hoop houses that we grow vegetables in all year. In winter we can grow things like Collard Greens, Kale, Salad Mix, Swiss Chard, Carrots, Turnips, Beets, Mustard Greens, Onions, and a few more things. We like to have lots of storage veggies as well (although even that is risky!) like Squash and Potatoes.

I really like grading in winter, it's like a mini getaway into the 75 degree hoop house on a 15 degree snowy winter day. And having your own produce ALL WINTER LONG! It's amazing!! So the way it works... everything we plant for winter has pretty amazing cell structure. It can freeze and thaw and not change. The cells just expand as the water expands in it. Anyway....

One good thing about the CSA model is the members know when they sign up that there is a risk. That if a crop fails (for a number of reasons) they might loose out. By taking a risk with the farmers the members are like "part of the farm". You know without having to do all the work. But, just because the members know they are taking a risk doesn't mean we want to take advantage of that.

Last year we had a horrible cold winter, we lost a lot of crops and we learned a lot. Ooops, looks like we didn't learn enough. This year we had to take an extended break from harvesting. We didn't loose as many crops as we did last year (Because we planted things that would take the colder temps better.) But we also didn't plant enough of them! Every time we hit a wall is just a new way to learn more. This year we have so many plans to make next winter AMAZING!! Not only is Mike working from home and farming full time... but we are expanding our winter planting space (twice as much space to fill with green vegetables for the winter!?! Sounds amazing to me!)

Here are a few pictures of the things holding on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Down On The Farm

Being that it has been years since I have blogged regularly I have a lot of updates to give. One big thing is we are in our THIRD year of our organic veggie CSA. What is a CSA you ask? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. has a lot of great information about the CSA model of farming. 

Back in January of 2012 our family decided we wanted to start a farm to supply some locally grown organic produce to our home town. We have been eating such delicious food out of the hoop house all year round for 3 years and thought we should start a year-round CSA. So, our 3 households started expanding our garden spaces and planing our new vegetable adventure. 

Since then we have expended from vegetables and are venturing out to Chickens, Ducks, Geese, Turkeys, and just last fall Sheep! I always feel like maybe I shouldn't write about the animals that we raise for meat. I am always worried about what someone "might say" or think. But then I think about it... Most of the people that would feel bad about the fact that I am raising my own animals to eat get meat from the grocery store. How are the animals they eat raised? How are they treated? What do they eat? I am very passionate about eating GOOD FOOD and even more so what my kids eat! If you would have asked me ten years ago (even five years) if I could have even seen myself raising animals to eat I would have told you NO WAY! But look, now I am doing just that. 

A new baby lamb! It's a boy! He is so cute and I can't wait to watch him playing and running in the field this spring. 

This guy worried us a few months ago. He got sick and it was so cold outside that we brought him into the house to warm up by the fire. He is doing fine now!

 Turkeys and Chickens roaming around the yard, eating bugs and grass just like they should.

A quick peek into our hoop house getting ready for the winter. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Just a little remodel (in the middle of winter)

When we bought our house the deal was in 5 years we could redo the kitchen. It is small and I have always wanted a nice big kitchen (to be honest I didn't like the house because of the kitchen.) 

Well, the time has come! We are ripping out the old and building an all new fancy kitchen. 
You heard me right ripping it all out. Starting from the foundation up. In the middle of winter!!

On top of getting the kitchen of my dreams, we now have a new roof, new windows, and an extra three inches of insulation on the house. It will have all new wood siding and eventually a new chimney to the wood stove in the basement (no chimney to our "back up heat source" has made for a few very cold days and frozen pipes. But, we are making it!) 

Mike thankfully realized that he in no way has the time to do this massive project himself so we have hired an Amish neighbor of ours to do the work. He does such awesome work! 

We also have hired a friend to help with the "little jobs" you know like ripping the house apart. I keep hearing that "soon" I will have to deal without a stove and a sink (or even outside walls!!) It will all be worth it in the end!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Funny things you hear at Jr. Pro basketball

Gabriel just started basketball for his second year. He loves it! Jr. Pro is grades K-3 and SO CUTE to watch. It is such a great program, the varsity guys coach the little guys. (They look up to the big guys SO much!!) So here are a few hilarious things I over heard today during practice.

1. This is not football. (These little guys can get pretty rough when going down the court.)

2. We will let you run and shoot when you are in varsity but for now, you have to learn to pass the ball. (Some of the little guys seem to have popped out at birth playing ball! They are good!)

3. Now pass it... Oh, next time pass it to your team member. (Well coach, you should have been more specific.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Back to it!!!

I know... I said this last year (around this time) and I know you might not believe me when I say it this time. I am going to blog again!! One big reason that I haven't blogged in a LONG time is because I am SO busy. And if I am so busy, I sure should have something to write about!

Another reason that I think I don't blog anymore is Facebook... why do I need to write a page full of things and post pictures if it is all on facebook anyway? Well, I will tell you why (bullet style): 

  • Facebook's one line status updates might be just fine every once-in-awhile but sometimes you just need to write! 
  • Turning your blog into a book is way better than turning FB posts into a book for Christmas gifts.
  • It can inspire others. If I blog about some yummy food I grew maybe someone else will plant a garden.
  • It will lead to healthier habits. Blogging requires time, devotion and commitment.
  • It helps me think about and reflect on the things that happened that day... or week (not month anymore!! I am GOING to blog at least one time a week!)
So, here it is my first (again) post. Look for updates soon on The Family, The Farm, and The Fun!!

Mia is now 15 and in 10th grade. She starts driver's training next month and STILL loves to read. She is in 3 clubs at school and is a great help around the house and "loves" to help weed. Hahaaa! (Ok, she doesn't love it but she will do it when I ask.)

Gabriel is 7 and is in 1st grade! He is FULL of energy and keeps busy with basketball, baseball (t-ball last year), and soccer. He just started Trail Life and loves to help Grandma and Papa with the food pantry at church.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gabriel's Kiwi Crate

Gabriel is not a crafty kind of kid, he is AWESOME at a lot of things, but being crafty is not something he loves. If I want to color with him or cut or write he is good for about 5 minutes. This also means the fine motor skills is what he needs to work on. SO.... I signed him up for Kiwi Crate!! It is a box he will get once a month in the mail FULL of hands on crafts, science experiments, and games. Who wouldn't love to get a box full of fun things in the mail?

The first Crate came in the mail today! When Gabriel saw it he was SO EXCITED!! It comes with absolutely everything (even the glue) you need to do 2 activities and a magazine with even more fun ideas. My favorite part... it has a list of books that go along with the activities! 

Sorry... the wine didn't come with the kit, it was extra!!!

I love the messiness rating! And that is tells what skills it works with.

We sure have a lot of snowflakes we can discover!


Working on the "Snow Ball Toss"!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 2011 Flashback Series: Wine-a-versary

Oct 7th 2011:

In October 2006 my friends and I took our moms up to Traverse City for a girl's weekend to celebrate my up coming wedding. In October 2011 my friends and I took our moms up to Traverse City for a girl's weekend to celebrate the 5th anniversary of that girl's weekend.
The weather was perfect, the food was delicious and it was great to get away with my favorite girls.


We found a great cabin to stay at on It was on a quite little lake and the colors were gorgeous. Nickie, Kathy, my mom and her friend Carol got there in time to go downtown for dinner. We ate at the North Peak Brewing Company and walked around town a little.

Saturday afternoon we headed up Old Mission Peninsula in search of food and wine. On the way up just by looking at the website and reading about their farm to table concept we decided to eat at the Boathouse Restaurant. The food was amazing! After lunch we stopped at a few wineries but decided standing in the lines and paying $5 a stop for 4 tastes was not worth it. We stopped at a little grocery store, grabbed stuff to make pizzas for dinner and each picked a bottle of wine. We had a fun night!

Sunday was the last day for most everyone (Nickie and I stayed an extra day). We spent the morning on the lake, the afternoon walking and riding bikes and just relaxing. After everyone left Nickie and I headed out to find an adventure (and food of course). We luckily ended up in Glen Arbor at Blu. We sat next to a couple who are regulars there and had wonderful conversation with our fabulous food. After a bottle of wine, salads, and our dinners we looked at the desert menu and talked about how full we were when out came THREE deserts that the couple we sat next to ordered for us. They said "we could not let you leave without trying these". I could not move after that!