A bit of our history…

What a rainy year it has been!  Just when we think spring is ready to bust open, it seems another blast of winter comes storming through, and another week of water gushes from the sky.  I think we can safely say that the drought is over here on the West Coast!  We thankfully enjoy the “sun breaks” and singular days of warmth and sunshine.  The kids were thrilled to finally have the opportunity (with willing adults) to try their hands at fishing in the pond once again!  Our oldest helper won the prize, catching four large mouth bass.

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Grandpa and his helper, tilling the garden under in preparation for this year’s crops.

Other news on the farm: Mr. Hubbard has officially retired!  … At least from one job.  He has quickly filled the void with plenty of other work around the farm, including building this beautiful new pergola for the grapes to climb on, and a new raised bed for the strawberries.  One of our constant challenges is to find a place to plant all of the fruits and veggies we aspire to harvest.  It’s because of this that many of your average garden plants have found their way into our flower beds as well.  Some veggies are downright pretty anyhow, right?

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Our new grape pergola

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A new bed for strawberries

Mr. Hubbard has been reluctant to fill his retirement with an old profession, knowing that his former life as a dairy farmer was anything but restful and relaxing.  A dairy farmer’s life is the very definition of commitment and dedication… twice a day, 365 days a year, regardless of weddings, church, or social ‘obligations.’  At the same time, this extra bit of time has provided just the opportunity to introduce the grand kids to a way of life that we believe teaches responsibility and work ethic.  And so it has occurred that after 20 years, our little farm is now home once again to one singular little Holstein calf, whom we have named Clarabell.  She has been the center of so much excitement and joy as the kids fight over who gets to feed her, and spend much of their free time doting on her and building her already social personality.

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Meet our newest addition: Clarabell!  The kids were excited to bottle feed her.  Fourth generation farmers-in-training

We are now in the works of building our fourth generation on this farm.  Bill and Jo Hubbard first bought the farm in the early 1950’s, and Bill worked multiple jobs while also building his own dairy herd, just to pay for the place we now call home.  As their kids moved through college and into their own careers, Bill and Jo decided they were ready to sell the cows, at which time their youngest son stepped in to take over the herd and farm responsibilities.  He and his wife eventually named the dairy “Billanjo Dairy,” and continued building the dairy into a successful, small, raw milk dairy farm.  As a family, we milked the cows, bottled the milk, delivered it to the stores, and even made cheese which we marketed at local farmers markets under the label, “Easteagle Cheese,” due to our location East of Eagle Point.  It was a busy and demanding life, but good.

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We like to believe that a wheel of cheese is like a bottle of wine, improving with age. This is one of our few remaining wheels of cheese.

However, raw milk was an outgoing ‘fad’ at that time, and began to incur ridicule and censure from a society phobic of bacteria.  In an effort to sterilize the world we live in, Oregon regulations on raw milk began to increase and tighten, tighten and increase.  We fought to meet the new regulations, making our raw milk cleaner than any pasteurized product on the shelf today.  Then, after an e-coli breakout at a Washington Jack-in-the-Box, Center for Disease Control (CDC), local news stations, and even the Dairy Farmers of Oregon began to advise the general populace to avoid drinking raw milk as a precaution to avoid illness, in spite of the strict regulations and testing undergone to ensure cleanliness and purity of our product.  Customers and stores carrying our milk began to fall away, influenced not by their experience, but by the media and popular fear.  Legislation was introduced, and passed, to outlaw raw milk in the state of Oregon.  Our dairy was grandfathered in and allowed to continue until pure economics took their toll.  In 1996, our dairy was one of the last three to close in the state of Oregon, bringing a dramatic change of course for our family life.

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One of the new additional state regulation required that we change our labels to include a warning that our product could potentially carry “disease producing organisms.”

Twenty years later, we’ve traveled the globe and worked lots of other jobs.  Most of the ‘kids’ are now married with their own kids.  Raw milk now sells at approximately $12 a gallon from private parties (we sold ours for $2/gallon when we closed in 1996, as we competed with mainstream milk prices).  These days, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and the public has begun to repulse antibiotics, and in turn embrace probiotics and all things raw!  (We clearly remember the difficulty of trying to educate people that not all bacteria are bad, and some are even necessary for cheese making and gut health.)  As fate would have it, we Hubbards have nearly all come back to settle close to the family farm, which has been leased for the past twenty years to a beef rancher.  We hold fondly our memories and experiences from the farm (most of them, that is), and still share an affinity for little black and white Holstein calves.  That being said, don’t be too surprised when you come by the farm and see a couple of them running around again!  We do not have any current plans to re-open the family dairy, so to speak, but we have high hopes for our newest farm member!

The garden report:  Things are growing, in spite of the cold and rain this year!  We have begun to sell chard, broccoli, and walnuts in our garden shed along with farm fresh eggs.  The other things are in the ground and growing: cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, garlic, onions, beets, kale, cauliflower, berries, melons… All things summer and delicious!

Also, beware of the puncture vine, which are popping out all over the valley, thanks to the recent rains.  Check out our previous post on that (Blackberries & Puncture Vine) so you can identify and remove them from your own property before they permanently invade your lawns and driveways!

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Puncture vine has a distinct leaf pattern, and these ‘cute’ little yellow flowers… which lead to very distinct nasty thorns.

Bless the Beasts and the Children: for the birds… and other creatures

In this later part of spring, the birds have already built their nests and are hatching out their young ones.  It’s rather entertaining, watching the cat sneak up on a robin, only to be driven away by two who are fiercely defending their young.  It does become rather annoying however, when the blackbirds insistently bomb you on the way to the mailbox, or during any other endeavor that takes you outside of your door…  It’s these annoying, non-melodic birds that we resent at this time of the year.  Our little boys have caught on, and now carry their plastic rifles around the farm, looking for birds to shoot!  Meanwhile, their mom has been shooting pictures of another bird who has brought his little lady back to the area this spring.  These bright and beautiful orioles love the red hot pokers (flower), which makes for a striking view from our window!DSCN0533b

There are a few things on this farm that we prefer to NOT be for the birds!  Things like our raspberries, strawberries, and chard.  If you have cherries in your yard, no doubt you are fighting the birds as well!  We’ve gone to putting netting over all three of those things, in addition to fencing around much of our gardens, both to keep the chickens out, the deer out, and sometimes even the “little dears” (the helpers that don’t know when they’re standing on top of a baby corn plant).

Other birds in the news – our rooster, which we suspect was dropped here at the farm by a well meaning city dweller, has since met his demise.  He was a pretty fellow, but as he grew, along with his size, he also developed quite the little man syndrome.  And I don’t just mean that he thought he was all sorts of tough stuff, but he really went after our little boys!  We thought this was an excellent opportunity to train the boys in self-defense and assertiveness and teach that rooster a lesson, so they thus ran around the farm with big sticks for awhile.  But they still came running (stick in hand), screaming, and crying, daunted by the multiple attacks they’d endured already.  Thus, our pretty rooster was shown with finality who was really the big man around here; he met la madame guillotine (French around here for “boot”).  The farm now rests in greater peace, as the children no longer run screaming and his ceaseless crow has … well, ceased!  The hens he left behind continue to lay their eggs in all sorts of inordinate places.  When we note that egg production has dropped substantially, we know to look elsewhere.
Besides birds, we’ve had a few other creepy crawly things emerging on the farm!  With the irrigation water back in the ditches, the boys excitedly take their daily trek out to the “big ditch” to check out the water, and look for crawdads!  We haven’t found any big enough to eat yet, and are still working on building the boys’ courage to pick up the crawdads on their own.  The boys are growing quickly, and learning more and more how to help grandpa on the farm.  I’m not sure there is a quicker way to round up all of the grand kids than to start up the four wheeler!  Pretty soon, they’re bailing out of the house, yelling “Bapa!!!  WAIT!!!”  Of course, they’re all pretty excited to learn how to drive the four wheeler too!  The older of the two boys has gotten to be a real help, driving the four wheeler with the pipe trailer through the field as we load/unload the pipes.  The younger one is learning how to run the rototiller with grandpa.
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After rototilling the squash just yesterday, we found another great creepy crawly – a great big bull snake, about 4 feet long!  These beauties can be easily mistaken for rattlesnakes, but we hope you can restrain your rash outburst of fear long enough to realize the difference, and leave their head attached to the body.  The  most obvious difference:  these guys don’t have rattles!

We actually like these snakes around for pest control!  Our more contemplative boy was skeptical of touching that slithery thing, but our little impulsive one has no fear … of much of anything!  We are thankful for these little boys (the older girl is anxiously anticipating the end of school), and the entertainment they bring.  The farm is great fun, but it’s so much more when experienced through the eyes of a 3/5/9 year old!

Here is what is happening in the garden:  With this crazy hot weather we’ve had this week, the squash has been growing like crazy, the tomatoes setting on the vine, and the corn popping up quick!  While the adage says “knee high by the fourth of July,” our corn made it there by the fourth of June this year.  Mr. Hubbard attests that he saw the first of the tassles already emerging on the first planting of corn.  We have opened the doors of the garden shed, but as of yet, have not been selling much more than rhubarb, walnuts, and eggs.  But keep your eyes out; it will soon be more!  Yesterday, we picked this beautiful bounty of beets!  I enjoyed eating some of the green tops for breakfast, and will no doubt have some more beet variations before the day is done.  We also picked the very first of our zucchini and yellow squash (sunburst/pattypan) this week.  We’re not quite ready to share it, but soon!  The garlic are turning the corner, and will be harvested soon; and the onions won’t be far behind.  The broccoli is going to town also!  So keep your eyes open; we expect that the Garden Shed produce will be much diversified over the course of the next couple of weeks!
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chopped beet greens to stirfry for breakfast

P.S.  I realize that some of you got stuck when I mentioned snakes, and probably  haven’t been able to move on from that thought yet.  If those slithery reptile bodies running right through our garden have you on the edge of your seat, skin crawling, and feeling every little tingle, let me put your mind at ease!  Can you imagine what other creepy crawlies we find in the garden?  Or maybe ‘fuzzy wuzzies’?  How about kittens!!  These cuties were found under a tomato bush.  We’re not sure if this was another dump by some city folks, hoping their kitties could have a better life on the farm; or by a mother who forgot where she placed her kittens (tell me you haven’t been there!).  Either way, they fell into some adoring hands, and did not stay at the farm too long.  And thankfully, they did not have to meet the same demise as the rooster!  Before the day was out, we were able to adopt out these cuddlies to some friends.  But isn’t it fun what animals we run into on the farm?!  The dogs found a skunk the other night too! …)  😉farm pics 2016 012farm pics 2016 013
P.S.S.  I’ve been delayed in posting this, and not surprisingly, the garden has grown!  The onions and garlic are out of the ground and curing.  The first of the zucchini and cucumbers are selling in the garden shed, alongside some beautiful flowers and occasional broccoli.  We are ready to roll!!  Meanwhile, the chickens are getting more creative at hiding their eggs, so we’re a little short on those (that and the skunks are finding them before we are!).  We hope to see you out at the farm soon! 🙂

Spring Is Sprung!

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It’s that time already!  The gardens are being tilled under and the next crops planted!

 

We made a good run of it last year, making it all the way to November before the garden was finally tilled under, into the ground!  Now if you think that means it’s time to take a breather and kick up our feet for awhile, you’re mistaken!  In November, we began receiving loads of leaves from the city which we released from their bags and added to the compost pile.  Thank you for your contributions to our soil!  With the addition of some lovely cow manure (we can say that, on the farm!), and the hard work of a gazillion worms, our pile has been breaking down in preparation for rejuvenating our garden soil.  Not to mention, it has been all sorts of fun for the young boys to climb on and ‘work’ on with their dump trucks!

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Mr. Hubbard started our garden during the cold winter months… indoors of course!  Here are your tomatoes! 🙂

Although it seemed we had just finished with the garden, we were just beginning the next.  By January, Mr. Hubbard was already paging his way through seed catalogs, and placing his orders.  Meanwhile, us girls spent many hours  cuddled up to the wood stove, cracking a fraction of the abundant walnut harvest we had this year!  By February, the garlic was well on it’s way in the garden, and the we began to plant the onions.  In addition to the alums, the first of the other garden seeds were already in the soil… just not outside.  Mr. Hubbard carefully planted tiny little seeds to sprout indoors before being potted up into larger pony packs, and larger pots…  Can you believe how much our garden has grown already?

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Here is our garden in it’s beginning stages! Basil, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, and of course some pretty flowers. 🙂

Another task during those cool winter months has been pruning back the fruit trees and vines.  The little ones love to ‘assist’ Grandpa in this job… it’s a wonder he gets to hold the clippers or have access to the ladder at all!  I also got to try my hand at learning and practicing the different ways of pruning plum trees versus apple trees.

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We love everything apple in the fall… but we also LOVE the pretty pink blossoms in the spring!

A youth recently mourned within my earshot of the brutality of cutting off limbs and branches from perfectly happy fruit trees…  If you happen to be susceptible to this mindset, let me put your mind at ease by pruning any misinformed neural branches:  Pruning is necessary to keep a tree healthy, and to encourage larger fruit.  It requires cutting dead and diseased wood out so that the disease does not spread; and, cutting excess branches that may not be strong enough to hold the fruit or that may prevent sunlight from getting to the center.  It also helps to limit the number of fruit to be invested in so that the fruit we pick is larger, and worth the effort!

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These beautiful blossoms will be our plums come fall.

We won’t reap the benefits from our fruit trees and vines for several more months, but meanwhile, can you believe that we’ve already been harvesting a few things from our garden?!Lettuce was the first of them.

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Our iris are blooming beautifully in front of a fully loaded fig tree! Fig trees only bear fruit on second year wood, so require a different strategy for pruning.

Mr. Hubbard has them potted up against a south facing wall in order to soak up the heat and crank up the early production!  He also got the chard planted early, so that we’ve been able to harvest some of that also.The asparagus comes up on its own year after year, and it was just in time to satiate that early spring craving for something green and extra tasty!  The rhubarb is growing heartily, and will be ready in no time!  The strawberries have yet to flower, but is anyone else thinking of strawberry rhubarb pie yet?

We’ve had one other unexpected garden harvest – Eggs!  I suspect that there were a few of you recently out hunting eggs in your own lawns and gardens as we all celebrated new life through our Savior.  One of the fun things about having our own chickens is that the Easter egg hunt never really ends!  Our renegade chickens rarely lay in the boxes provided for them.  Instead, we are constantly hunting for, or tripping on new clutches of eggs… under the rototiller, in the hay trough, or in the garden cart!  We do have some extra eggs for sale, if you’d like, and they are definitely “cage free” and “free range”!

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Those tricky chickens! They’ve done it again, and managed to lay a whole clutch of eggs outside of our awareness!

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Our perpetual Easter egg hunt paid off!

The work never really stops on the farm – it just changes with the weather and season.  Now that spring has made it’s glorious entrance, we’ve been pruning back bushes, and rototilling some of the gardens to plant.  Things are sprouting and blooming beautifully!  We hope you are all able to enjoy it as well!

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This pretty rooster must have been making too much noise in town for some folks wanting to sleep in. He was dumped at our place, and has now made his home here.  Let us know if you’d like a rooster!

 

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The same sunrise, burning up our sky.

Rhubarb in abundance!

Summer is surely on it’s way!  The light already lingers in the sky till 8:00 at night, and the trees have suddenly exchanged their flowers for leaves.  As I’m typing this, I’m listening to the rhythmic sound of the sprinklers running on the lawn – definitely one of the sounds of summer!  This also means that the irrigation ditch is finally flowing, which will no doubt bring all sorts of fun adventures for the kids too.  And, Mr. Hubbard broke out the big rototiller, tilling under the rest of the gardens in preparation for those summer crops!  Of course, he had help…

Grandpa's little helper (one of them)

Grandpa’s little helper (one of them)

 

Mr. Hubbard broke out the big guns!

Mr. Hubbard breaking out the big guns!

The only part we really eat of rhubarb is the pretty red stems.  Rumor has it that the leaves are actually poisonous, though we really haven't tested that theory.

The only part we really eat of rhubarb is the pretty red stems. Rumor has it that the leaves are actually poisonous, though we really haven’t tested that theory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve started planting some of those favorite summer crops in our greenhouse already, like tomatoes, peppers, and even corn.  But, we’re not waiting to harvest the first of our garden fruits:  We’ve been picking lettuce and chard for awhile, and now the rhubarb is producing in abundance!  This is a unique sort of plant, with an equally unique and wonderful flavor!  Many don’t have a clue what to do with it, but if you do, you might know that it is one of the easiest things to prepare and enjoy.  (Unsure what to do with it?  Check out our recipes!  We’ll try to keep more coming!)  Though our garden shed still has a ways to go before opening its’ doors, please let us know if you have a hankering to try some rhubarb!

 

Spring is Here!

Spring, my most favorite season of all!

I absolutely love spring!  I never really understood why anyone wouldn’t love spring until I lived in West Texas.  There, spring is gusty, dusty, and dry; characterized by high wind warnings and dust storms.  Yuck!!  I remember during that first year taking a picture of a dandelion bloom; I was so excited to see something, anything green, and with a pretty little flower too!  Now that is desperation.  I can’t express how thankful I am to be back in Southern Oregon enjoying something new and beautiful in each day of spring.  Here, watching the first snowdrops and crocus emerge and break winter’s spell is like watching the first rays of light breaking forth from the tomb!  (Ah, resurrection!  And all the hope/assurance of new life that comes with it!)

Together, their colors shout joy and triumph over the death of winter – even the coldest of winters!  With them comes so much hope for warm sunny days ahead, full of beauty and fun!  Every week is new and beautiful in its own way as the flowers progress from stage to stage, daffodils to tulips, cherry trees and iris.  This unusually frigid winter has undoubtedly taken its toll around here, having burned and killed some bushes and trees, not to mention the frozen pipes and the ensuing havoc.  Yet even even a winter as strong and staunch as that must yield to the greater power, relinquish its hold, and make way for life!  And in this season, it appears that all of creation is celebrating this victory with such bright colors and lavish adornments!

All true farmers and gardeners know however, that as miserable as winter can be at times, it is still an essential stage to the process of life.  Before we see the first new growth, changes are occurring beyond what we can see!  We know this well, and Mr. Hubbard has been hard at work aiding some of those processes long before the first flowers of spring emerged.

First of all, our garden has been occupied all winter long by this nitrogen fixing crop of pea grass, helping to revitalize the soil for our next crop of veggies.  Here you can see one of our finest farmers in training evaluating the nitrogen fixing capabilities of a few blades up close.

One of our finest farmers-in-training... Nitrogen testing

One of our finest farmers-in-training… Nitrogen testing!

Meanwhile, Mr. Hubbard has kept his mulch pile decomposing with ample amounts of manure, dutifully collected over the course of the winter, and disseminated over the fields to keep them green, fragrant, and well fertilized!  (We like to think this has helped our neighborly relations over the years…)  Of course, much of this will go to boost the growing capabilities of our gardens as well!

Some of the finest soil to be had!  We thank our Eagle Point residents for the compostable contributions (fall leaves) and our resident bovines for their contribution as well!

Some of the finest soil to be had! We thank our Eagle Point residents for the compostable contributions (fall leaves) and our resident bovines for their contribution as well!

One of the first steps of spring was scraping the corral, and spreading the manure on the fields to fertilize

One of the first steps of spring was scraping the corral, and spreading the manure on the fields to fertilize. Every time grandpa starts the tractor, ears perk and a couple of little boys come running to ‘help’ him work!

And finally, perhaps you aerated your lawn this spring?  Well, we did that too, only on a much larger scale!  This also helps to bust up any ant hills that may have invaded, and works that manure in a little bit more.  But heck with the utility of it, it sure looks pretty!

A beautiful spring day with the fields dragged below, and Mt. McLoughlin overlooking.

A beautiful spring day with the fields dragged below, and Mt. McLoughlin overlooking.

Finally, when time for planting comes, that lush pea grass must be rototilled under to make way for the first cold tolerant crops.  There was a bit of concern that this year’s gardening endeavors might be hindered by some health concerns, but so far, Mr. Hubbard has not let that slow him down yet.  Here’s what that might look like to the neighbors:

This is how one rototills the garden directly following a knee replacement… with a cane in hand, of course!

Still, Mr. Hubbard has had many helping hands to pitch in during his recovery.

Planting onions, one of the first vegetables to be planted this year, along with the garlic.

Planting onions, one of the first vegetables to be planted this year, along with the garlic.

 

All Mr. Hubbard's little helpers out to plant gladiolus!

All Mr. Hubbard’s little helpers out to plant gladiolus!

Meanwhile, Mr. Hubbard has made his choice selections of seeds for this year, and we’ve been busy planting and re-planting them as well.  Before we know it they’ll be graduating from the greenhouse!  Here’s some of what you might find, in addition to peppers, basil, and eggplant:

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New tomatoes, growing and thriving in the greenhouse!

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Broccoli starts, to replace the ones the chickens ate.

Ah yes, spring is in the air, and the pollen is there to prove it!  We’re working hard, right alongside the bees.  Hope you all are able to get out and enjoy it too, but if not, here are some pictures to bring it to you (without the pollen)!  Have a wonderful day!

The bees, busy at their work in the crab apple tree

The bees, busy at their work in the crab apple tree

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We separated and re-planted our strawberries this year. The jury is out on whether we like the spring strawberries, or the ever-bearing strawberries better.

 

Love those stormy days of spring, when the sky turns dark purple while the sun still shines!  Inevitably, there have got to be a few rainbows around too!

Love those stormy days of spring, when the sky turns dark purple while the sun still shines! Inevitably, there have got to be a few rainbows around too!