Friday, October 21, 2016

Success and Slow Food

Market List;
                 Last week for Salsa-Really
Probably - Last week for Tomatoes,
                Super Food Salad Mix,
                    Lamb Stew Meat and
     Sale on Lamb Bones-2.00-3.00 a pack.
           Cleaning out the Freezer folks.
    Processing next on 10/31

It's been an eventful family crisis packed summer. I haven't blogged as much as I usually do about Slow Food but that doesn't mean that things have not been Slowly happening. Two years ago, our Slow Food Grant was on Heirloom fruit. The focus was on Quince. As many of you who follow this blog know, through a Slow Food Grant, we purchased some Black Republican and Black Tartarian Cherries, a Russian Quince and after a long involved search and a 10 month wait, the rarest of all quince, the Meech's Prolific Quince arrived. 

When the whips arrived they looked like this;
                                                        But after a season in the high tunnel, this is what the 5 looked like.

This year I wrote a grant for raising Citrus in the High Tunnel.  Only part of the money needed was available for what is going to be a pretty involved project. Eventually we want to heat the high tunnel by Radiant or Infrared Floor heating powered by Solar. I ordered 5 Meyer Lemons and a Dancy Tangerine. They came in great shape and have bloomed several times and set fruit 3 times. They are still in pots so they aren't able to support much fruit production yet but we intend on taking the next step and putting them in ground soon. I am encouraged by how many times they have blossomed already. The trees that have fruit on them are also blooming simultaneously while the fruit is growing. Truly, it's pretty amazing.

Speaking on the High Tunnel, the tunnel was built using mostly recycled materials. When we first started, it was made from corrugated clear roofing on a lathe arbor. Slowly over the years and after our first Slow Food Grant, Bill has expanded and slowly replaced all that with  double wall Thermoclear and recycled glass doors, windows, tarps Etc.
       Last week, Bill and worker (Bill also) replaced another long wall with yes...doors.

Already this Fall we are lambing again. Some of you know that we are breeding for size and color. We have mostly white females with a couple of black and white. We bred 2 years ago with a Hamp lamb for bulk in size, St. Croix Sheep-thanks to our 3rd Slow Food Grant for increased multiple births as well as a lower bone to meat ratio. Last year an almost entirely black, large bodied ram was born. We called him Indigo and are using him for a sire this year hoping for some distinction in color to make it easier to tell them apart at a glance. The lambs at the top and these are some examples of this gene pool.

We have had a few black and white sheep but they are almost always males. This is our first brown and white spotted and she's a female so we get to keep her.  
It must be mentioned that part of our grant for St. Croix sheep included fencing that allowed us to enclose the back part of our property which bordered by all the other fences that we have put up, makes it safe for our sheep to graze on an extra 10 acres of grass.
This has lead to a healthier all around flock which gains weight faster.

Finally I'll mention our favorite grant, my Cayuga ducks which supply the market with eggs and a couple of times meat. I love my ducks. The Cayuga's are a breed of duck named after Lake Cayuga in New York. They are thought to be descendants of the Wild Black duck and Mallards. At one time they were the favored duck for meat until the Pekin duck became readily available in the US. a white duck of course being easier to clean. There are only a few breeding flocks in the country but my assertion, everyone should have a few Cayuga ducks. They are funny, fairly quiet ducks which do not fly. Their eggs are delicious for plain eating and will give your baked goods a lift you won't believe. They lay well and as fierce mothers as well as good brooders. They eat bugs and grass and are hard for a predator to spot because of their color.
This is them making a picture of my farm look like a painting.

That's it for now, the update on Slow Food on Sunflower Savannah. We'll see you Saturday. Stop and get the last of the season's Heirloom tomatoes which was another part of the subject of our first Slow Food Grant.  

God's Blessings on you and yours


Sam, Bill and Jubilee who is doing a great job.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Back in the Garden

                                                                         Market List

Some Grass Fed Lamb-
We are a bit low for another week or so and then we will have some again. Just about out of Bratwurst too. Will be having a sale though on Bones; Dog, Marrow or Soup, 2.00 per bag.
Just trying to clean out my freezer folks.
Tomatoes -
Rainbow Cherry and some for slicing.
Lemon and Apple Cucumbers
Probably the last of these as cucumbers don't like these cool nights.
Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans
Same as above.

I bet some of you are wondering if we made it to Tybee Island last week and the answer is no, thank God. We did have a few days off of just relaxation and are back to work again.
We're running out of weeks on Famous Salsa. The tomatoes are having their last hurrah and you know when they go, so does this addictive nosh. Next week we will have a blog on how the Slow Food Citrus Grant is doing with High Tunnel improvement photos. Until then-
We'll see ya Saturday.


God's Blessings on you and yours,

Sam and Bill

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fall of Jubilee

Jubilee at the Tractor
Market List; Grass Fed Lamb Cuts and Bratwurst, Rainbow Cherry Tomato Mix, Lemon and Apple Cucumbers and Red Burgundy Okra.

So Jubilee really is fitting in well. She is most likely not full Pyrenees but she certainly knows the job. At almost 6 months, she will round the sheep up if she feels they are being threatened and

brings them to the barn.
She stands there until she is sure she has their full attention and then sits down. It's pretty cool. She doesn't want to be petted but she is happy following me around in hopes of a treat and runs straight into the barn at night for her food, which she defends from the sheep. Minus the parentage issue, she's pretty much perfect. Bumblebee however keeps trying to go back to the pasture...jumping over the gate and running around to jump back in. Crazy Bumblebee.

Well it certainly cooled down this week. I haven't given up on the swimming, but I didn't manage it today for sure. Socks and long sleeves nearly the whole day. Tomatoes have slowed down but we will still have some this week and salsa too. Better grab some this week, because all things being equal, we are taking off next weekend. First time in Seven years. It being October, there's no telling how long we have until frost. Salsa time is running out.
I did manage to get some Smoked Tomatillo Salsa made this week.
Billy will be at the market with me Saturday. Stop and say Hi and Happy Birthday to him.
Wear a jacket- high of 72.

God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam, Billy and Jubilee

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week after Week

Market List- Lamb; Steaks and Stew Meat, Bratwurst for a short time only.
Rainbow Cherry Mix Tomatoes, Slicing Tomatoes, Egyptian Walking Onions,
Basil, Lemon and Apple Cucumbers.

The new pup has warmed up quite well and has not looked at any of the fowl which is very unusual especially for a youngster. We finally came up with her name - Jubilee.

We'll see you Saturday. Looks like a warm one, the last one for awhile. In the 70's next week. No more Swimming...sigh.


God's Blessings on you and yours

Sam, Bill and Jubilee  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dog Days of Savannah

Lamb; Brats and Cuts. Tomatoes, Basil, Cilantro, Salsa and Pickles.

As if we didn't have enough going on, we have been playing musical dogs lately.
Bumblebee, a great perimeter dog but will not stay with the sheep and Paris while a great yard guardian was bored from being alone most the time. Some of you may remember that we got Paris from the Mexico Auction yard where she had the run of the place and at least 3 kids around all the time, sometimes more. She loves us but you could just tell when kids came around, she just soaked up the attention. When Rayven and her family left here on Labor day, they took her with them. I had told them they could have her but when the time came, I was really kinda anxious not having a dog in the main yard. While I knew it was the right thing, 
I sort of hoped they would call and tell me that it wasn't working out.
Instead, this is the communication that I got.

So, Fat chance right.? We wanted to move Bumble bee to the yard and get a new Guardian for the sheep, a dog like Rosa. Every time Bumblebee was loose in the field, she jumped over the fence and came back up to lay in the drive, unless of course she could hear the neighbors, then she would go over to their house and they would bring her home. 
 Finally someone came up with a dog and we ran down to farm in Troy to pick up this beauty from a field full of sheep.

My instructions and intentions were to keep her up for several days with some sheep and let her get used to the fact that I am where her food comes from as she was raised with sheep not people. She was just friendly enough with her owner, for him to walk up to her and grab her but not for her to stand there and be petted. After being carried through the field and put into this cage, then driven 100 miles, she was totally disoriented. We put her into a pen with 7 sheep and moved Bumblebee to the front yard but... the next morning she was gone. A few hours later I spotted her in a field across the road and she was still here the next morning. I spent 3 days dribbling canned dogfood up and down the fence line and trying to head her off from going any further. Finally yesterday after loosening the fence at an adjoining section, she showed up in the pasture. A couple of failed attempts, last night and today, she finally gave up and let me catch her,

                                                                                  We don't have a name for her yet.
We are considering, Meadow, Prairie, Shelter, Solace and others. We're open for suggestion.

So that's a part of what went on this week. Come to our booth and find out about the rest while you sip some lemonade and pick up some Salsa. The tomatoes are doing a bit better and after stopping in at Schlafly on Wednesday, it seems like it's the same for everyone else. A small resurgence before fall.

We'll see you Saturday.

God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam and Bill and....

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bonding and Bugs

Market List; Lamb Bratwurst- 3 Varieties; Garlic Butter, Rosemary and Thyme and Regular.
Lamb Chops, Steaks and Kabob Meat.
         Green Apple, Pickling and Lemon Cucumbers, Rainbow Cherry Mix Tomatoes,
             Egyptian Walking Onions. Red Burgundy Heirloom Okra and Tomatillos.

So Rayven's second stay is drawing to a close. This week she has spent a lot of time top dressing tomatoes and peppers with aged compost from the barn. Here in this photo she is planting Red Russian and Dinosaur kale, pulling out weeds and spent plants from some greenhouse beds.

We have been having trouble in the High Tunnel with Thrips this summer and if I am honest, part of last summer. They suck the life out of certain plants, especially cucumbers and leave little yellow spots on tomatoes. Plus when you are working in the cucumbers, the little devils crawl down your shirt. As you all know, Sunflower Savannah is committed to higher than the Organic standard of growing. Being Certified Naturally Grown, we never use any chemicals, either for growing or Pest Control. Most of our insect monitoring is done by hand picking or sometimes Biological controls and/or Beneficial Insects. This particular beneficial insect; Ambylseius Cucumeris which came airmail from California this morning is a Thrip eating monster or should I say "Mite". At sunset today, we went out and distributed these predatory mites in the 3 areas that we are growing cucumbers. This is mainly what they are attacking. As fast as they begin producing, the Thrips move in and literally the vines shrivel up to nothing. Fifty thousand mites are supposedly in this canister. However, it's a bit like the "Emperor's Clothes". I mean, in this case and in the case of some nematodes that I once ordered, you can't see the bugs at all. These were in some granules that you shake out. The nemotodes were in a sponge that you wet and wrung out into a bucket of water which you then dispersed into the soil. Hopefully they will get busy eating and save the cucumbers which are seriously suffering.
So this weekend is Labor Day. We have plenty of lamb for your grill. Pick up some Salsa or pickles or some cucumbers to make your own. We have been making them with those Green Apple cucumbers and they are A- MAZING.
Markedly cooler this weekend but no chance of rain for a change. Come and stock up for your BBQ or party.

God's blessings on you and yours,


Sam and Bill and Rayven who's flying out again,

Friday, August 26, 2016

Too Fast to Write About

Barn Cats?

Market List: Grass Fed Lamb Cuts and Brats, SuperFood Salad Mix, Green Apple Cucumbers, Lemon Cucumbers
and Tomatoes

Busy, Flyby week. Still lots of family stuff going on and canning, canning, Smoked Tomatillo Salsa, other salsa and Pickles. The moths have been busy laying eggs in our tomatillos and tomatoes which has put a definite crimp in our crop.  More rain in the forecast for Saturday as per usual. Looks like we might get lucky again and have it blow by. We will be there either way of course. Make us part of your market tradition.


Sam, and Bill who did not get whisked away by the tornados in Kokomo and Rayven.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Finally Pictures

Sheep over the Lake

Market List- Lemon, Apple and Pickling cucumbers, SuperFood Salad Mix, Rainbow Cherry Tomato Mix, Basil, Cilantro AND Grass Fed Lamb cuts; Steaks, Chops organ meat and 3 kinds of Bratwurst-Garlic Butter, Rosemary and Thyme and Regular. We will have some salad and slicing tomatoes but not as many as last week. We are not running out, just in a lull between the rain and the bugs. We have a new crop coming on and new varieties too.
The ducks have stopped laying pretty much. We didn't even really get a hatching season this year, it was so weird. But we have a chicken that went broody so we stuck the last 4 eggs that we got underneath her. We'll see what happens.

 I finally figured out the photo editor on my new laptop so finally a picture or two. We worked hard all week in the garden and Rayven got another lesson in Pickle Making.

We finally are getting some of our specialty cucumbers. I planted almost 2 oz. of  Lemon cucumber seed but everyone I know had trouble with lemon cukes this year. They vined out but the vines were spindly and virus ridden even with the pickling and English cucumbers doing fine right next to them. I planted Apple Cucumbers too and they took a long time to start setting fruit but they finally are. They are really cool looking. Kinda like the lemon ones in shape and texture but a beautiful striped apple green. I am getting a few lemon ones along with them in a different spot outside and the National Picklers are doing well too. Last week I talked about how we are putting in cool weather crops. Today I planted Giant Red Mustard and Earlier in the week we cleaned out the High Tunnel of weeds and old Greens and we planted Pepper Cress. We have some celery in the raised beds and hoped to get parsnips in again for Spring.

It's been Sultry all week and rain at night. Saturday of course they are calling for Rain AGAIN but we will be there Rain OR shine. Personally, I am hoping for shine.


Sam, Bill and Rayven


Thursday, August 11, 2016

On the Other Side

You guys don't think about it, but before the season starts, we Farmers are counting the days until the season is over, before we even get the first plants in that are waiting until the last frost to happens. Mid Season, we are thinking, June, July, 30, 60, 90 days left, yep- I still have time to plant X or no I don't have time to plant -Y. We're on the other side already. I can't believe it. It seems like last week that I was saying "I can't believe that it's time for the summer market already and here we are only about 65 days from the first average frost date. No more left to plant hot weather crops, its all cool from here. In many ways of course, it's a good thing. I'm kinda tired. It's that time of year when I'm not only weeding, picking and planting but now the canning is coming on hot and heavy-like the humidity around her. Putting up Pickles and Charred Tomatillo Salsa, tomato juice and other items for winter. Still right now it's still Summer, and we'll see you Saturday for Grass Fed Lamb, Tomatoes and Concord Grapes.
God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam, Bill and Rayven who learned how to make pickles this week.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Going Fast

Market List: Grass Fed Lamb cuts and Brats, SuperFood Salad Mix, Purslane and some tomatoes. Not as many as last week but a few for slicing and Rainbow Cherry Mix. 
There just aren't as many pretty ones this week with all the rain and insects that came along with it.
Non GMO fed Chicken and Slow Food Cayuga Duck eggs.

Finally I have had the opportunity to make some Smoked Tomatillo Salsa. Next week Charred.

It's been a busy time here keeping up with the weeds and as we are weeding, I am replacing the space they are taking up with Fall crops.
Bill's 3 weeks home are already drawing to a close. It seems like 3 days and we did not get the
To DO list done. We didn't even go fishing. Still, many people would do much to have our lives and so we will see you at the Farmers Market on Saturday.

God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam and Bill- Rayven flying in soon.

Friday, July 29, 2016

SO Many Tomatoes

Market List: Tomatoes, we have like 20 varieties this week of slicing and salad tomatoes, Rainbow Cherry Mix, SuperFood Mix, Purslane, Sunflower Bouquets,
Grass Fed Lamb; Bratwurst- 3 kinds.
Shoulder Steak, Chump Steak, Leg Steak and 2 types of Lamb Chops

Some of you may have noticed that there was no blog last week. Bill has been home for 12 days and it always seems like we should have more time but there are all these projects that we are trying to get done and things just get away from us. We have been picking tomatoes, tying up tomatoes, fencing tomatoes, running cucumbers, weeding, weeding, weeding tomatoes, making salsa, eating tomatoes...well you get the picture. Next week, I will be making Tomatillo Salsa FINALLY. The tomatillos are coming on beautifully. Just the right amount of rain this season. I know we were a little dry in June but then this nice shift of over 85 degree days with a nice steady shower every week. It's made everything easier except for the weeds. They of course love it too. We spend 2 hours every morning weeding and have yet to conquer them. I really tried hard to get to the tomatillo salsa this week but the collection is slow when you are tying them up and staking them also. SO many things to do and in so many differing directions. We managed to get the breeding area in for the ducks so they are safe, while nesting from predators. Other than that, many of the things on our list were not gotten to yet. We have another 9 days to get the list done. I want to put a big laugh here.
Many of you were on vacation this week and we did miss you. We'll be glad to see you back Saturday.
Off to weed, sorry there are no pics today.

God's Blessings  on you and yours,


Sam and Bill

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Visitors and Visitors

Market List; Grass Fed Lamb Cuts, Lamb Brats, Purslane, Superfood Salad Mix,
Some Black Plum Tomatoes
It has been a summer for visitors on the Farm-
Rayven was here for 5 weeks and then Wwoofer Colleen here with William who is from Shanghai, China. Bill is teaching them how to plant fruit trees.
A long time friend Karen has been hanging out this week with her granddaughter, Dad has been in my office for the last month and in 2 weeks Rayven will be back again.
Bill has vacation coming up and this is what our
TO DO list looks like;
Work on Duck Blind for breeding area
Finish putting up tomato fences
Weed, Weed, Weed the growing spaces
Clear Orchard Paths
Plant Strawberries between Orchard Trees
Plant Raspberries and JostaBerries
Trim Sheep Hooves
Fix Porch Steps
Cut down Extraneous Scrub trees and bushes

Blah, Blah, Blah

We're finally getting enough tomatoes to eat and for Salsa, this is the first week we will have some Black Plum and Juliet to sell. We had a huge Cherokee Green today and I have to say I like it better than the Cherokee Purples, a nicer acid balance and firmer fleshed. Thanks to Mike Brabo who donated the seed. We also picked some Black from Tula that had cracked and Sweet Carneros as well as a couple of Mortgage Lifters. The best time of year is when you have enough tomatoes to eat.
We may have some tomatillos this week and cucumbers are coming hot and heavy...but we are almost out of Pickles again.

Cortney and I will see you Saturday,

God's Blessings on you and yours


Sam and Bill

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wwoofer Week

So the Rayven flew away and a Wwoofer by the name of Colleen landed on Tuesday.
For those of you who don't remember, Wwoof is a program for people who want to learn about farming without buying a farm or taking a class. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is what the acronym means. Colleen is going to school in St. Louis and volunteers for Campus Kitchen, a program that teaches kids and others how to cook creatively by using food that might be donated or go by the wayside otherwise. She is very interested in food, hence the interest in farming and also eager to help. Tuesday we spent the day tying up tomatoes and weeding-okay, mostly weeding, but we tied them as we went down the rows. After we worked on that for a few hours, I took her to the lake and she realized why she really came to our farm.

Today we pulled garlic. Almost all of the garlic came from Slow Foods Garlic giveaway as a opportunity not to let Heirloom varieties fade out. We planted them in raised beds using our barn compost. From this picture, you can see how great the dirt is and how helpful Colleen. As we cleaned the beds of weeds and garlic, I planted celery and lettuce in the now mostly bare beds.

Here is another example of how great the soil is here.
No, that is not another snake, that's what we in the country call a nightcrawler. We decided this was just too good of a photo op to pass up. The garlic was not as great as I expected, a long wet period this Spring followed by the punishing heat caused early maturation. It was hard to tell if the garlic was ready or that the stalks were just drying out from the early dry summer. We did get a good amount of German Extra Hardy Round and the Russian Giant had amazingly large heads. One  varieties fell apart in the rain and cold nights that we had last week. Still usable and plant-able but not perfect.

Because of the cold and wet weekend, it's even more important to get the garlic dry before it molds.
This morning, we bundled it and hung it on racks to dry with a fan on it. From the picture below, you can see how wet and dirty it is.
It's important that you don't wash the dirt off as it will remove the protective skin. Instead, hang it to air dry and then brush the dirt off.

So Wwoofer William (Yuanhang Lu) from China is arriving on Friday as Colleen is finishing up. While we are at Market he and Billy will be working on more projects and she will be with us for a bit on Saturday. Rayven will be back at the beginning of August. So much always to do and extra hands are a real blessing.
We'll see you on Saturday. Ninety degrees so come and see us for the best deal at the Market; St. Louis' Best Lemonade for only 2.00 a cup. We haven't raised our prices in 10 years because we so love being a part of your market tradition. Don't forget our Organic Green Tea with Jasmine and Robin's local honey.

God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam, Bill and Colleen

Friday, July 1, 2016

A Cooler Fourth of July Market

Market List- Grass Fed Lamb for your grill! Lamb Chops, 3 kinds of Steak, Kabob meat, Shanks and 3 varieties of Bratwurst- Garlic Butter, Jalapeno and Plain.
Salsa, Pickles and Garlicky Chili Sauce Bouquets will brighten up any meal.

Finally some relief. Forecasts are a lot cooler this weekend. Of course now that we are all ready to have a big summer party, temperatures predicted in the low mid 70's.
The Farm's Rayven will be flying away too. Rayven's parents want her to come home for a bit. It's going to be pretty lonesome without her around. I still haven't trained her to sarcasm but other than that, she's pretty good company and handy too. We had a Wwoofer volunteer for the day last week from China. William came and worked on the tomato fences and the duck blind that we are building to protect the ducks while they are in their brooding stage. We lose so many ducklings every year to predators. Ants in the nest when the ducklings are hatching out, Coons and snakes clean out the nest while the mother is eating, crows run the ducks off the nest. So that's the project for July. Next weekend we will have Wwoofer Collen S and William will be back again as she is leaving.

So brave the rain and come out to Tower Grove Farmers market anyway.

God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam, Bill and Rayven for  bit longer

Friday, June 24, 2016

Reasons We are Short on Eggs and...Patience

Market List; Garlic Scapes, SuperFood Salad Mix, Purslane,
 Grass Fed Lamb; Chops Steaks, 3 varieties of Bratwurst, Ribs, Shanks and Stir Fry cuts
Non GMO fed Chicken and Slow Food Cayuga duck eggs.
Sunflower Bouquets with Red Hot Pokers

Still pretty hot here at Sunflower Savannah. So hot in fact that we put shade cloth up over about a third of the garden. This is some of the shade cloth here behind Rayven. It's used to shield the crops from non stop sun and of course it helps us out by giving us some relief too while we work, weeding and planting. It will keep the tomatoes from blistering on the vine and reduce water usage. We haven't had to use it for several years. It is unusual for it to be this continually hot this early in June.
Still we have lots of tomatoes coming on and cucumbers for pickles. No lemon cucumbers as of yet, they are a lot slower than the pickling cucumbers. On Sunday the first Sunflowers bloomed out.

Lately we have been coming up short on eggs on several occasions without any apparent reason. At first we thought it was the heat but it was hotter on several days than on the times we got less eggs. Last night we went out to feed the chickens and I heard Bill yell. I ran back, "what's the matter?" he came out of the barn muttering and looking for something. I was afraid that something had happened to one of our animals. He didn't answer me so I asked him again, louder WHAT"S WRONG?" he yelled there's a snake! So I ran in to look. This is curled up in the egg box.
It didn't move even though I stuck my hand in the box trying to get a picture of the whole thing several times. I am assuming this is because it was digesting the eggs. If you look closely, you can see the bumps where the eggs are. I ran into the house and got my phone and called Rayven to see it. We hauled it out of the box with a fork and away it slithered...Back under the barn. When it stretched out, I would guess it was over 5 ft. long. As you see in the pic, I never did get a shot of all of it even though I tried over and over again.
That's my week in a nutshell.

97 degrees tomorrow. See you at the booth for some Lemonade or Tea.

God's Blessings on you and yours,


Sam, Bill Rayven and a very full snake.