Channeling Abundance

Trying to lay the foundation for abundance at Apricot Lane Farms is most definitely a full-time job.  In each area: orchard, pasture, garden – our decisions are based upon building things smart & strong to eventually enable farm-wide fertility and responsible production.  At the 3 year mark, we’d like our farmer’s market operation to be in place and building.  Therefore, lots of what we’re doing right now is practice, practice, practice.  We’re learning how to put things to good use, in order for the good ideas that bubble up to become things like product lines for the farmer’s markets or food for our animals.  Closing the loops, so waste is minimized; learning from our mistakes and getting smarter through experience.

For example, here’s how we channeled this week’s abundance:


GRASS – The Dorper sheep are here!  And finally, the 19-acres of fenced & irrigated food (known to the homeowner’s of the world as grass) is being put to good use!  Not only is the grass providing feed for the sheep, but the sheep’s manure is being composted to add fertility back to the land.  These ladies and 1 gentleman mow through this grass with amazing efficiency.  The herd makes large paintbrush-like strokes through a pasture with quite methodical eating patterns.  They are just SO cool.  Check out the Apricot Lane Facebook Page for some entertaining videos.


CARROTS
-Yes… they are a little bit homely.  But, they taste great!  I believe I didn’t thin them out quite enough, and we’re also fighting an uphill battle with our current irrigation and use of horse manure.  We’ll be making those changes for next season.  Having an abundance of carrots is a very good thing.  I give their tops to the chickens and store the rest in a bag in the fridge, which lasts for at least three-weeks.  I ended up with a bucket of carrots so far, and I used most of them in fresh-squeezed carrot juice.  I’m currently doing THIS 3-week cleanse, so the extra juice was very helpful.


TOMATOES
– The amount of tomatoes in our garden has exceeded my attention span for counting.  Other than lots of tomato salads, we’ve been making tomato puree for the winter months.  First, we fill a large pot with roughly chopped tomatoes over medium heat.  Once the tomatoes have softened, we run them through a foodmill.  Rinse the original pot and return the puree to the pot over medium-low heat for about 8 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally.  I like to cover the pot with a splatter screen as it simmers away.  The juice will thicken to a puree.  Then, we can in a hot-water bath.  How do you do it?  We’re thinking about making sauce soon, too.  What do you do with your abundance of tomatoes?

FIGS – The most important tip about picking figs is – first thing in the morning.  If you wait any later, the bees and Figeater beetle will “beatle” you to the punch.  Our current fig trees are older, and therefore, the flavor is OK, not great.  We’ve found the best way to utilize them is drying.  I have the Excalibur 9-Tray food dehydrator, and we simply rinse, snip off the tough stem with a paring knife and place them whole or halved into the dehydrator, set at 125˚.  Whole figs take about 1.5-2 days.  Halved figs take about 1 day.  If they are close to done and you need to go to bed, turn them down to 95˚ to control how fast they finish.  I store them in the fridge or vacuum seal them for a longer shelf life.


DRIED BEANS
– There’s gotta be a better way than what we’re doing!  I tried picking them, laying them on a tray to dry, then shelling them by hand.  It takes forever for a little bag of beans.  I enjoy the rhythm of it all, but we’ll bring in about $5/month at that rate!  We’ve allowed the rest dry on the vine.  I hear that once they’re fully dry, we can put them on a sheet, beat them with a shovel and lift away the hulls & stems.  Any thoughts? Also, HERE‘s how I cook dried beans.


WATERMELON
– I tried!  And, I sure was excited about it.  But, it wasn’t ripe. HA! We’ll have to hold our watermelon ideas for another couple weeks.

May the remainder of your summer’s bounty, store-bought, porch grown or garden, be delicious.

xo

Organic Spark

Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in the Sowing Millions Project by Real Food Media on behalf of Seeds of Change. I received product and exclusive content to facilitate my post. However, my thoughts and opinions are my own and not of those of Real Food Media or Seeds of Change.

14 comments


  • I want to come live with you. :) Everything looks beautiful!

    September 11, 2011
  • Mom

    I suspect I agree completely with your reader Amandam. I think since all the animals have arrived ALF is a whole ‘nother place. I’m in awe. Utterly.

    September 11, 2011
  • Julie Smith

    The beauty of self-sufficiency…Brilliant

    September 11, 2011
  • Kristen Papac

    Have you visited Fairview Gardens in Goleta? They are a teaching farm and we used to get beans from them in their CSA so I am sure they wouldn’t mind teaching you… wonderful wonderful farm.

    Keep up the good work. I want to move in too! :)

    September 12, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Awesome! Thanks for the tip Kristen!

      September 14, 2011
  • I have a soft spot for sheep and yours look amazing! I love the black face — they must be a very special breed. Will you be getting milk from them? I wish your farm was close to my house! I live on Long Island…

    September 12, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Thanks Jill! They are Dorper Sheep, and we will probably do cheese in small batches for friends/family, but not an operation. Just meat…

      September 14, 2011
  • Molly, perhaps you can answer what has been, for me, a burning question: What kind of yield do you get from growing dried beans?! I really want to try it, but what if I plant a huge space and then end up with just a few handfuls? Surely you understand. :)

    September 12, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      Hmmm… I don’t know yet b/c we’re letting those beans dry on the vine, and this is my first year of ever growing dried beans. However, we have about 30 plants, and it’s looking like we will have at least 5-6 cups of beans. That could be way off though! I would guess more, if it isn’t right. I’ll try to remember to share once I figure it out!

      September 14, 2011
  • Hi Molly!!

    Truly enjoy reading about your learning experiences on your new farm! Have a question that I’ve always been curious about. With regard to the goats, does the grass grow back after they have grazed? My only experience with goats was to hire a goat herder to bring his goats to graze some vacant land (for fire retardant purposes). Are goats any harder on vegetation than cows?
    You can definitely tell I am a “city girl” huh???

    September 13, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      This is the first goat we’ve ever had! So, I will have to let you know. However, from my limited work with them so far, it appears you just have to keep them moving through the pastures. They don’t seem to work as evenly as sheep do, however, we haven’t yet had her ruin a pasture or anything. The new goat’s name is Guppy, btw, and her baby is Beavis. Don’t know if they are harder than cows, as we don’t yet have cows! Thanks for asking! No city girl questions are too naive for me, as we’re just learning, too!

      September 14, 2011
  • Such an uplifting post. Watching you juggle the abundance of your farm is a blast!

    September 13, 2011
  • Lynn D

    Ooh! the sheep, the sheep , so neat to see them.
    What does their fleece feel like? Do you have guard dog? We had a melon volunteer in our front where rid the lawn and it tasted So good.
    Be Well
    Lynn D

    September 14, 2011
    • Molly Chester

      They don’t have any! They got shaved before we got them, but also, they are a hairless breed. Which means they do get a coat, but they lose it naturally. And yes, we did get two Great Pyrs puppies that we’re raising with the sheep.

      September 14, 2011

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