Red Wing Roots Music Festival 2015

RedWingLogo3The kids and I had an amazing time at Red Wing Roots Music Festival this weekend. It got off to a rather rocky start but improved dramatically once we were finally settled in at our campsite.

The morning of our planned departure I received no fewer than 14 yellow jacket stings. At 6:45 am. It was awful. One of our Old-Time Scotch Collies, Kep, alerted me to something near the sheep/chicken pen, so I put on my boots and went with him to check it out. I never got my eyes on anything when suddenly I felt as though I’d been shocked by the electric netting around the sheep/chickens. It seemed like a plausible explanation because I was standing only a foot or so away in very dewey grass. I concluded that my fence was in perfect working order when, instead of finding relief by walking away, I continued to receive sting after sting. I have no idea where they came from, but they got me and Kep multiple times. Apparently, the only downside of Bogs Boots is that they trap bees. And while farming in a skirt offers great climate control {and is super cute}, the rollover waistband of the particular skirt I was wearing that morning trapped a bee inside which stung me on my hip. Ouch. Oh, and one got caught in my bra. Not awesome. I took some Advil and Zyrtec and felt “better.”

Sweet Kaya Girl

Sweet Kaya Girl

Unfortunately, the day did not improve. We had an appointment for our 13-year-old Golden Retriever, Kaya, for 8:30am for some routine-ish blood work. She had been a little “off” for a day or two, and we thought we’d take a quick peek to see if anything stood out. The veterinarian did a full physical on her, and of course the technician weighed her. The tech said she was 70 lbs. Since I had spent 1-2 hours brushing her just two days before and noticed how bony she was, I was instantly concerned. My girl has had her bouts with….fluffiness…but this was different. Farmer Tripp reminded me to ask for a urinalysis to go along with the bloodwork, and when the doctor returned to the room with the ultrasound machine in-hand, I knew something was wrong. On the screen was a 5-6 centimeter mass on my girl’s spleen. You can’t tell much else from the U/S, so he recommended going to Roanoke for a more in-depth U/S, an aspirate {where they suck up a little bit of the icky tissue to see what kind of mass it is} and radiographs. Our quick morning visit had already stretched to over an hour, but we hopped in the car and headed south. We got to the VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine Roanoke Referral Clinic around 11 am and dropped her off for an hour or so. The doctor there was in constant communication with me and with Farmer Tripp {a veterinarian as well}, and before we finished lunch our worst fears were confirmed. Kaya had cancer in her spleen, her liver, and her lungs. Suffice it to say the prognosis for a 13-yo Golden Retriever with cancer in three organs is nil. We left hoping we would have “days to weeks” with our girl. I was in shock. I was terrified. I was heartbroken. And, to make things 10 times more awkward, I had 2 full-weekend passes and a 3-day camping pass to the Red Wing Roots Music Festival. Not going meant giving up over $300 in ticket costs, not to mention letting the kids down. I thought about just staying home, but knowing we’d only be about an hour away, Farmer Tripp encouraged me to take the kids, and said he’d let me know if anything changed.

So we went. We came home and packed the truck and headed out. We were, of course, about 5 hours later than I’d hoped to be, but I figured it would be easier to get there in the dark than get the kids motivated early enough in the morning to get there before the music started at 1pm. Turns out I was right, but still….

The directions on the festival’s website were incorrect, so I lost about 30 minutes backtracking around the beautiful countryside before arriving at the gate at 9:00pm. The lovely gate attendant told me that they had stopped checking people in at 8pm. I told her I figured there would be a cutoff but since I found nothing about a cutoff on the website, had forged ahead anyway. She apologized for the “confusion” and said we could camp in the parking lot. Um, sorry, hun, but I have my two kids in this truck and we’re going to camp in the spot we paid for. “Let me see what I can do…” Fortunately, the powers that be finally decided to shine a little light down on us and we were granted entry to the park.

Setting up went about as well as setting up a tent in the pitch black with no one to help you can be, but I managed. We finally got in bed around 11pm.

We woke up bright and early and after breakfast and a few campground neighborhood introductions, made our way to the festival. For the next 3 days we enjoyed music and food and made lots of friends – even some from our hometown. The festival takes place at Natural Chimneys Park in Mt. Solon, Virginia, and aside from the amazing beauty of said natural chimneys, there’s a bold, beautiful river running through the campground that the kids {and I} got to enjoy. It was crazy, crazy hot and humid the entire time, and it rained a lot, especially overnight Friday. I didn’t think I’d mind the rain, but since I broke the tent while setting up Thursday {d’oh!}, there was a big section of not-quite-taut tent wall that collected rainwater and the floor {and sleeping bags, and pillows, and clothes} inside were soaked in the morning. I was surprised to find I was okay with that – after hanging my sleeping bag to dry under our EZ-Up shade – and kept rolling. The kids complained of the heat, and complained of being bored. In fact, I thought I would have to send them home Saturday. They wished for more toys/activities/games/whatever. Thankfully, they made some friends and ended up having a blast. They even cried when it was time to come home Sunday evening {in the rain, of course}.

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Our first show of the weekend…Mandolin Orange ❤

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The best way to beat the heat at Red Wing

Two kids having a sweet drink on a hot day. <3

Two kids having a sweet drink on a hot day. ❤

Some kind of super hero...

Some kind of super hero…

My little fashionista...

My little fashionista…

Hula Girl

Hula Girl

ENO Hammocks saved our weekend....

ENO Hammocks saved our weekend….

Momma, O, Sara, Sarah, Aoife

Momma, O, Sara, Aoife, Sarah

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“You mean I can keep it??” 🙂

My favorite performances: Mandolin Orange, Sara, Sarah & Aiofe, Punch Brothers, and The Wood Brothers.

We met folks who drove from Wisconsin {17+ hours}, Canada {14+ hours}, and Chattanooga, TN {7+ hours} for the weekend. And we met folks who lived in the town of Mt. Solon and got to go home every night to a clean bed and a shower…

Having been to only one other music festival previously, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Red Wing. There were some things that definitely bugged me {bad directions, camping in a farmer’s corn field full of thistle and poison ivy, super-tight performance schedule, no musician’s workshops} and some things I really appreciated {lots and lots of families, amazing line-up, fantastic food vendors}. I heard the “premium” camping sold out in 10 minutes, so I’ll definitely try to get a site next year, but will probably settle for Z-Lot again, and see how the 2nd time goes. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for a pickup truck camper, travel trailer, pop-up or camper van so we can stay a little drier…maybe.

{OvO}

 

In the Garden :: May 30

In the Garden 2015 May 30

Things are growing pretty well…for the most part. The onions are still completely choked with weeds, but the garlic is looking really good. I pulled a few garlic hoping to give the remaining plants more space, so we’ll see…

I harvested the teeniest little carrot the other day, while I was working with the tomatoes. These were actually seeds I planted in the fall, hoping for a “winter garden,” but nothing {no-thing} grew. I was very surprised to find these little guys growing when the weather warmed, and even more excited when I harvested a full-size, grocery-store-looking carrot this week! We haven’t eaten it yet because it’s just too awesome. I’ve been “growing” carrots since we started gardening in…2010?, and I’ve never {ever} harvested a dinner-worthy carrot. Accident or not, it’ll be good eats.

The asparagus didn’t look harvest-able for as long as I was hoping. We got maybe 8 pounds? We ate what we harvested and had asparagus every few nights for about 2 weeks. That’s probably normal but still a little disappointing. I was especially concerned when it didn’t seem like any more would grow – so we wouldn’t have anything to leave through the fall to do its thing. Fortunately, there’s a pretty decent stand of asparagus morphing into tiny trees out there now, so hopefully our patch isn’t doomed…

The raspberries should be ready to harvest soon. Lots of fruit growing. I’m concerned about the nasty fruit flies we had last year… I’m also disappointed that even though we worked and worked to tame the canes last fall, there is so much new growth you can barely even see the mature canes, better yet harvest from them without drawing blood. I’ve found a fair number of wineberry canes around the farm, so if we can harvest a good amount from them I may not keep the raspberries. {If it’s even possible to get rid of raspberries – they put out runners 6+ feet away!}

Some of our tomato starts are actually still alive. Most didn’t make it, but a top dressing of chicken house shavings seemed to help a lot. The starts we got from the farmer’s market are way more full and already setting fruit.

My Sugar Snap Peas didn’t germinate very well. Only 50% even though I’m pretty sure I put two seeds per hole… The four plants that are growing look really great, and starting to set some pods. We’ve actually never grown this tasty snack, so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed for something edible.

I planted black beans again for drying. I had good luck with the plants in 2012 but didn’t plant enough to actually eat any. Practically speaking, I think I would need to plant hundreds of row-feet to grow enough to eat for the year. If these produce we’ll save some for planting next year and enjoy one special beans-from-the-garden meal sometime this winter. I’m still not sure if planting in the ground will be an option for us here – there are SO many rocks! My pasture management plan is focused on #1) producing healthy animals and #2) building up organic matter. {More on that later.}

That dag-on Winter Rye is still persisting! It even put out seed this month! The kids and I hacked it back and I gave it all to the sheep, hoping we wouldn’t have any accidentally seeding itself in the garden. I think I’ll cover the last remaining bed with cardboard and compost and let it sit for a while. Ugh.

I started my first potatoes this month! I’ve never grown potatoes but I had a rather large bag of spuds sprouting in the pantry to I went ahead and put them in the ground. I had very little hope for anything, but they are all {ALL} growing green leaves and looking really good! I honestly can’t believe it. I *think* they are New Potatoes, but I’m not sure if that just means young potatoes, so who knows what we’ll end up with.

How’s your garden growing?

Recipe :: Mayonnaise

I tried making homemade mayo a few years ago and was relatively pleased with the results. I got a creamy, kinda yummy, soupy spread that sort of resembled mayo. Plus, it was only recommended to keep for a few days, and we just couldn’t eat it fast enough.

This spring, I discovered a recipe for mayonnaise in Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions that seemed easy enough. {I’m telling ya – that book is so full of recipes I am convinced I will never have time to prepare them all! But, if you’re curious, here is a link to a blog devoted to doing just that:  The Nourishing Cook} And, since I’ve been making yogurt at home, I finally have a reliable source of non-flavored whey. I’ve made this recipe at least 4 times since February, and I’ve been very happy with the consistency, the flavor and the shelf life. Adding the whey extends the expiration date from two weeks to several months and makes the mayo thicker.

mtMyFjcqV79EaQGn_zj1NNQBecause I don’t care for the flavor of olive oil mayo, I usually prepare this recipe with half olive oil and half sunflower oil. Also, I use my immersion blender in the cup that it came with, and when finished, it fits perfectly in one of those Bonne Maman jam jars!

Ingredients:
1 whole egg, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tsp. Dijon-type  mustard
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. whey (optional)
3/4 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil or expeller-expressed sunflower oil or a combination
generous pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. In the cup of an immersion blender, combine all ingredients except oil. Process until well blended, about 30 seconds.
  2. With the blender running, slowly pour in the oil.
  3. Taste and check seasoning. You may want to add more salt or lemon juice.
  4. If you have added whey, let the mayonnaise sit at room temperature, well covered, for 7 hours before refrigerating.

Enjoy! {OvO}

In the Garden :: April 27

2015 Apr 27 In the Garden

Things are coming along pretty nicely these days.

Our number one biggest success has been the garlic! I planted it in October and basically crossed my fingers. I was surprised not to find any scapes this spring, but the leaves seem pretty tall and full. Out of curiosity I went ahead and pulled “one,” but I actually had 3 little scallions. How did three grow instead of one?

The garlic!

The garlic!

The asparagus seemed to take forever to start growing but we harvested our first handful this week! A friend suggested uncovering the bed, that the straw might be keeping the ground too cool. I am so paranoid about weeds that I just couldn’t imagine taking it off, so in its own perfect timing, the asparagus came up anyway.

Asparagus grows at Owl Moon Farm!

Asparagus grows at Owl Moon Farm!

And now for our biggest failure in the garden. At least, so far. I know using a cover crop is a critical part of creating organic matter in the garden. I searched and read and decided to use Winter Rye; it seemed to be highly recommended. Problem is, what they don’t tell you, is that getting rid of Winter Rye in the spring is next to impossible, at least without mechanical assistance. It just doesn’t die. I’ve spoken with a friend, and found on a few “how to get rid of winter rye” discussion boards, that Winter-killed Oats would have been a better choice, sooooooo… At least I know what I’m going to do next year.

To get rid of the grass in my raised beds I tried cutting it back. I cut the beds with loppers. A few times. Turns out, Winter Rye is crazy resilient and grew back. With gusto.

After being cut. Twice.

After being cut. Twice.

I tried to cut it super short but only had really “dead-looking” grass after I left a heap of it on the bed. It seemed to kill the grass below it pretty effectively.

After being cut back and left to rot.

After being cut back and left to rot.

Dead spot.

Dead spot.

So a friend recommended digging and turning the soil to kill the roots of the grass. It was annoying, but not terrible. Here’s the bed above after being turned:

After turning today.

After turning today.

And here’s a different bed that was turned last week:

Turned a week ago.

Turned a week ago.

Takeaway: DON’T use Winter Rye in a raised bed, especially if you’re hoping to grow something early in the season without using mechanical tillage. I’ll be using oats next fall and will keep you posted.

Farm History :: Part 2

Recently, the kids and I (and my cousin and her family) visited the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton, Virginia. The FCM is a living history museum, with exhibits that showcase the lives pre-Americans were living in Africa, Germany, England and Ireland. You can visit an African village made of clay, an English smallholding complete with a small herd of Cotswald sheep, an Irish village with a forge, linen loom and pigs, and finally, a rather large German estate with Red Devon cattle. Then, through the magic of modern technology, you are transported to a village made up of early American settlements, including one representing the Eastern Woodland Indians (not a specific tribe). I am eager to explore the 1740’s American settlement more as it is likely similar to what was built on our land when Rockbridge County was first settled in the mid-1700’s.

1740's Frontier Farmhouse

1740’s Frontier Farmhouse

I started my search for the history of the farm at the county’s government website and found this:

Rockbridge County was formed in 1778 and named after the Natural Bridge of Virginia, a natural historic wonder located in the southern part of the County. Two-thirds of the County’s 607 square miles came from Botetourt County to the south and the remainder from Augusta County to the north.

The inducement to settle the Rockbridge/Augusta area was provided in 1736, when Benjamin Borden received a Crown Grant of 100,000 acres with the stipulation that he would settle a hundred families [here]. Scotch-Irish [sic] and German pioneers soon migrated south along the Indian Road from Pennsylvania to settle in the area. Read more…

I did some more digging and was excited to learn the Logan family was a part of the initial Borden Grant filing. Unfortunately, the land {John} Logan settled in 1752 was a bit north of here, in the Walker’s Creek area. And while it appears his brother, David Logan, was already here as early as 1740, I have not found a map or any details showing that land. I have found evidence that his son, future General Benjamin Logan sold “800 acres on Kerr Creek” at some point. Our farm is not far from Kerrs Creek, but 800 acres…? If it was sold, then who bought it?

There is a large homestead between ours and Kerrs Creek which I believe to be the site of the Kerrs Creek Massacres, during which a Jane “Jennie” {Logan} McKee was killed, but I haven’t been able to connect her to either John or David Logan. Jane was born in 1713. John in 1703, David in 1706, and their third brother William was born in 1710. That would make her a cousin {?} but so far I have not been able to trace her family tree.

The previous owner of this home was able to trace the deed records back to 1825, so my hope is that between those records, the history of the county moving forward from 1740, and a conversation with a Logan still living nearby, I can figure out who and when this land was settled. Stay tuned! {OvO}

Scotch Collie History

Many of you already know our dogs, Kep and Finn, are Old Time Scotch Collies. However, it doesn’t seem I’ve shared what makes them so special to us.

We were extremely deliberate in choosing the farm dogs for Owl Moon Farm, and came across this breed in August, just after we moved to the farm. The wife of a colleague of Tripp’s has a breeding pair of these dogs, and is committed to reviving the breed. Old Time Scotch Collies {or, Scotch Collies, or Farm Collies, or Farm Shepherds} were once a dime a dozen. They are featured in agricultural works from 19th Century Europe:

Sheep Gathering in Glen Spean - Richard Ansdell 1872

Sheep Gathering in Glen Spean – Richard Ansdell 1872

Collies circa 1890

Collies circa 1890

And many, many photographs (and films!) from the early twentieth century in the US and the UK:

Collie helping with the sugaring - 1940

Collie helping with the sugaring – 1940

Beatrix Potter and her companion, Kep

Beatrix Potter and her companion, Kep

Known for their loyalty, biddability, and teachability, Old Time Collies were relied on for every job on the farm. They helped protect the livestock and children; they hunted rabbits, mice and other varmint; and of course, they helped the shepherd move his stock from place to place. They performed those duties in the Old Country, and the Scotch-Irish settlers brought them to the New World when they immigrated in the mid- to late-1800’s.

But, as the family farm started to decline, so did this once precious breed, and these well-rounded, dependable dogs were nearly lost. Luckily, there were a few breeders remaining in the late 1900’s that decided to rescue and revive the breed. There is a lot of history involved, so if you’d like to read more, I encourage you to visit Old-Time Farm Shepherd.

Our breeder was one of those folks that remembered having collie dogs around on a grandfather or uncle’s farm and committed to resurrecting the breed. Our pups are a result of that effort and we couldn’t be more pleased. Knowing that we are working side by side with a breed of dog that can likely be traced back to my own Scottish Highland ancestors…. Well, I get goosebumps every time I think about it.

 

Herding Instinct Test

Here’s a link to the video my son made during our Herding Instinct Test yesterday. I was so nervous leading up to it, but both boys really were phenomenal. Turn the volume up if you want to hear the trainer’s comments, or down if too much barking gets to you…

We tested at Keepstone Farm in Berryville, VA with all breed trainer, Susan Rhoades. We plan to do some more training with both boys and would love to take them to an AHBA trial or two this year. Stay tuned!