Yellow Flower – Be Careful with this One!

This time of year we have a lot of this yellow flower. It is wild parsnip. In the ground is a root that we could harvest in the fall and eat. It might be smaller than domesticated parsnip, but it is still parsnip. And the yellow flower is pretty, sort of resembling a white Queen Anne’s lace.

The part to be careful of is the sap. When the square stem is broken, it lets out a sap that will burn or blister the skin when exposed to sunlight. The skin gets clear fluid blisters that are itchy. The fluid from the blisters doesn’t spread the blisters. And repeat exposure year after year doesn’t increase the blistering, like it does with poison ivy. To treat the blisters, we find it best to avoid itching them and to dry them with witch hazel.

We commonly get the blisters on our feet and ankles. Why? Well, we are mostly always in our bare feet. After wild parsnip patches are mowed or weed wacked, the sap is still wet. When we walk through these areas, we get the blisters on our feet. It takes a while for the blisters to heal. After the skin is healed there is still a discoloration left behind that takes several months to go away. If we were to break and weed these with our bare hands, then we would have the blisters on our hands. That would be really painful!

Several years ago I was talking to a native friend who remembered harvesting these in her teen years with her aunt. When they harvested them, one of the instructions was to be careful of the stems and the sap from the stems. My friend didn’t remember any other explanation – Just be careful!

Wild parsnip patch in the middle of the pic along the fence row

Views from the Farm – June

Here are some recent views from the farm:

The bees are going in and out of the hive, supporting their colony and making honey that we will harvest.

The Bros recently reclaimed a junkie area:

Remember the serviceberry bush? The fruit came and it was delicious! The berries are blueberry size, cherry consistency, with a serviceberry flavor, obviously! It is sort of apricot-ish. We had enough for us and the birds to all have a taste.

Here are other plants growing in the garden:

Making Hay while the Sun Shines

Cutting Hay

The Bros have been doing this recently. What does that literally look like? First, you look for a 3-4 day stretch of dry, warm, sunny, windy weather.

  • Dry – the less rain you have falling the better your hay will cure.  You can have some rain at certain points in the process and still get decent hay.  No rain is best. 
  • The warmer the weather is the faster the hay will dry. 
  • Sun helps the hay to dry. 
  • Wind helps to pull the moisture out and to dry the hay.

Next, fresh grasses (orchardgrass, timothy) and legumes (alfalfa, clover) of the hay field are cut usually with a sicklebar mower or a disk or haybine after the dew has dried.  We use a sicklebar mower attached to an Allis Chalmers B. The grass is laid out and can dry. [A disk or haybine would put it more in a row. It might also have a crimper on it. Crimping cracks the stems so that they can dry faster. After a day, it would be tedded, which is spreading and fluffing it, to help it dry out. We don’t have a crimper or a tedder, so it can take longer for our hay to dry out.]

After a day or two of drying, we use a rake attached to the John Deere Model M to turn the grasses so that the underside gets dry.  We usually turn it after the dew has dried on the top.  Then we rake the hay into rows so that the hay is all together for the baler to bale.

The baler, driven this year by a farmer friend/neighbor, comes through, picks up the hay, cuts it and packs it into slabs, strings them, and throws the resulting bale out the back into the hay wagon.  Finally we pull the wagon into the barn and stack the hay from the wagon onto pallets.

A load of hay for the barn

Summer Plans

We’ve planned our gardens and ordered our seeds. We watch the weather and the warmth of the ground and have planted the cold weather crops – potatoes, garlic, onions, pac choi, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, ….and have started the plants we want to transplant – eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. We have watched the pastures and moved chickens, cows, and pigs out of the barn and into the fresh air and sunshine. Everything is growing as it can given the cold spring.

How can you get our items?

We use a weekly system in June – October.

  • You subscribe to our Currently Available email list and receive a weekly email about what we have available that week.
  • You let me know what you would like to purchase that week from veggies and/or meats.
  • You let me know where you want to pick them up
    • Fayetteville Farmers market (June-October),
    • Westcott Community Center (July-October),
    • the farm (all the time).
  • If you are reluctant to be around the markets, we can do curbside pick up at all locations.
  • You pay for what you want in the quantity that you would like, based on what we have available.

So make us part of your summer plans! Sign up now!

Serviceberry Shrub

The Serviceberry Shrub (also called the Juneberry) bloomed around May 3 this year. Folklore has it that once it blooms the ground is warm enough for the cold weather crops – potatoes, peas, cabbage, broccoli, Swiss chard, tatsoi, pac choi, winter lettuces, beets, carrots – those sorts of things. Once it stops blooming the ground is warm enough for the warm weather crops – beans, basil, squash, corn. Here we see it in April, not blooming, and then in May blooming. This is late, but we work with what we have. Happy planting!

May’s Baby

This mama gave us a doeling. She has wattles and is white with a light brown background.

Mama and baby are doing well!

Little Projects

One of my little projects is adding perennials to my flower bed, specifically perennials that have a name similar to children. So far we have Black-eyed Susans, Sedum Autumn Joy, Elijah Fescue, Timothy grass, and Joe Pye-weed. Something to tend, something to smile at, something to enjoy.

Rendering Beef Suet

Recently I processed some beef suet to make a useable fat. I took this chunk of fat, …

…let it thaw for about an hour, then chunked it up into small pieces. I did this with 2 pieces of fat…

…filling my 5-6 qt. crockpot about 3/4 full. I put a little bit of water in the bottom, covered it and set it to high heat for 2 hours. Once it was bubbling, I turned it to low and let it cook for 18 hours, stirring occasionally.

After 12-18 hours it cooked down. I turned it off and let it cool for about 30 minutes. Then I put a metal colander in a big bowl…

…and poured it all in, separating the cracklings…

…from the fat.

I carefully poured the hot fat into jars, put a lid on the jar, tightening it down, and let it cool.

Once the fat cooled, I took the rings off and stored it in the pantry.

After the cracklings cooled, we nibbled at them. I set them aside in a separate container that we could nibble from.

Notes: This is a very hot fat. BE CAREFUL!

Everything ends up with a layer of fat – the crockpot, the colander, the bowl, the spoons. To save the sink and pipes, wipe all the items off with a paper towel while still warm and throw the paper towels away. Otherwise you could end up with a clogged drain from the congealed fat.

Uses – you can use this in a fry pan OR to saute veggies, eggs, or meat OR to deep fry food. It is a fat that can be used in place of other fats. Suet will have a beefy taste. Lard will have a pork flavor.

The process would be similar for rendering lard. The unrendered pork lard bags are larger and so will probably result in more jars of fat.

This can be done in the oven on low heat. Put in a pan, cover, bake at 350 for 30 min to get it boiling, then reduce heat to 225-250, cooking for 12 hours, stirring occasionally.

Again, this is very hot. BE CAREFUL!