A Milestone and Proud Accomplishment

So here is what we’ve done on the JAZFarm for 2016. As of our harvest today we will be able to provide almost every major ingredient for every meal for about the whole next year.
Breakfast: Eggs, Sausage or Bacon, Potatoes and Onions.
Lunch: Salad and whatever is left over. For the next couple of months, BLTs, tomato everything, cucumbers.
Dinner: Pork, Chicken, Beans, Salad, Hispanic – particularly Black Beans, Pintos and Kidneys. Three different types of squash at least weekly. Chili, chicken soup, split pea soup, black bean soup, Pizza and pasta with our own flour. If I’m ambitious we can grind our own corn for tortillas.
Snacks: canned peaches, chips with home made salsa. Dehydrated Beet chips. Jerky.
Seasonings for all the recipes: Thyme, Chives, Sage, Marjoram, Tarragon, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary. Our own Cayenne pepper, Garlic powder, Onion Powder, Chili powder.
Various Peppers. Carrots.
It’s not 100% but it’s quite a dent. We are being very proud.



Harvest Time!





Green Beanscanned-green-beans-2016

Giant Mater



Harvested Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoesgreen-beans-2016


The growth in the Greenhousegreenhouse-growth-2016


Tomato Saucemater-sauce-2016


The first of the onionsonions-2016


The first of the tomato harvest partial-mater-harvest-2016


Canned Habanero Salsasalsa-2016


Tomatillo Salsatomatillo-salsa-2016

Its been awhile since I posted anything.  I am happy to announce that the dog is healthy again.  I’m doing much better, my son is back to school, real work is back on the front burner and all of the produce is coming in all at the same time!  Needless to say we have been very busy!

There are several projects going on in addition to all of the food processing.  We figured out how to handle the grasshoppers.  The biggest deterrent is making sure all of the weeds and grass around the garden are cut short so they have no where to hide.  The second is to use an insecticide around the perimeter of the garden.  This will help keep them down but also won’t be sprayed anywhere near the produce.  The weeds themselves, particularly Goatheads, Round Up resistant Amaranth, and Kochia need to be cut back significantly.  We are going to have a bumper crop harvest but the weeds are crazy making and we need to find a way to keep them kept down or this will quickly become not fun.

We lost the hard bean crop to the grasshoppers.  Not only did they like to eat the leaves, they also took a fondness to the flowers.  No flowers, no beans.  They also tried to take the squash and melon beds but we prevailed and the melons have been awesome.  We also have had an amazing crop of Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti squash.

The carrots and beets lost their minds this year.  We canned 70 pints of carrots, have made beet chips and canned pickled beets.  There are still hundreds more of each.  I recently bought new sand to put in our storage bins to keep them through the end of the year.  Zina juiced about 3 gallons of carrot juice and is in our freezer.

We were getting to the end of our green beans from last year.  Not a problem anymore.  We had a huge green bean harvest and were able to put up a couple of dozen quarts of them in the pantry.

Last year’s tomato crop sucked.  Totally sucked.  We had freezes, made some mistakes, had hail, etc., etc. etc.  This year no worries.  In the last picking I have canned a dozen pints of tomato sauce, 10 pints of habanero tomato salsa, and 12 pints of canned fresh vegetable salsa.  There are dozens more tomatoes in the greenhouse.  We’ve had so many cherry tomatoes we have been canning them too!

The pepper harvest has been insane.  We have had the best pepper plants ever this year and have picked bushels of them.  They have been canned, eaten, given away and dehydrated. Its amazing how many peppers one plant can produce.

The blueberries are getting established as well as the Blackberries.  The Blackberries produced a pint or two and are super tasty!

The Tomatillo plants have done well too.  The grasshoppers got into them but didn’t seem to eat them.  I think they just liked the cover.  Because of all the hoppers we had a 4 foot Bull Snake take up residence and help keep the population down some.  We have had a very nice harvest of the Tomatillos and have made one of our favorite Green Salsas in quantity.

We did an experiment to see which way to plant onions – seeds or sets – produced the best.  Answer:  If you have lots of compost rich in Nitrogen, seeds hands down.  Our onions are incredible this year.  Its a bit more work to plant seeds, but totally worth it!

As the year winds down there are many projects to contend with.  The biggest project is putting the beds to bed for the winter.  As we harvest and close them down we will be weeding – both physically and flame – to get the seeds out of there.  We will broad fork them to loosen up the soil, put down straw for mulch and then cover them with black plastic.  This past spring was a weeding nightmare.  A little prevention will go a long long way.

The chickens are making lots of eggs.  We raised and processed 30 broilers for the freezer and the two big pigs weighed in at 550 lbs each thus filling our freezers to the brim.  We have been canning meat and eating pork and chicken to make room in the freezers as we have 2 more pigs going to freezer camp the first week of November.

So other than injuries the summer has again proven fruitful.  We have a very small grocery bill as a result and the activity is much more fun than going to the gym.  I hope that all of you have had a wonderful summer and are looking forward to the coolness of the fall.



Greenhouse Update

So the dog and the husband are into their physical therapy.  Basil had her second back (right) knee reconstructed.  She is doing fine but because she thinks she is all  better we need to keep her on a leash so she doesn’t go tear-assing after bunnies and blow out her new joint.  Dad has been in physical therapy for the past couple of months trying to get his sacroiliac joint to unfreeze and to get he muscles to quit trying go clamp down and render him crippled.  It’s getting better but it is oh so painful.

In addition, we are working on getting our house in the shitty ready for sale.  We have a bathroom that needs to be re-done and they start on Monday.  This project costs more than the entire greenhouse setup.  Me thinks contractors are shysters.  Oh well, once we get this done, Zina is going apartment hunting for a place for us to hole up in the city for work.  Having the burden of two places to upkeep while both of us work and a son who is in college is just too much.  It will be a welcome relief.

Here is a video update of the greenhouse.  Considering that we are dealing with a plague of grasshoppers this year, it looks like we will still have a harvest worthy of Colorado homesteaders.  Our freezers are completely filled with meat because of the chickens and pigs we’ve processed, so all of our produce must either be eaten, canned or dehydrated.  Usually this time of year we make a trip to Munson Farm in Boulder to get a bunch of sweet corn to freeze and use for the year… this year we simply don’t have room so it looks like when we need corn we will use what we have left or go to Whole Foods to buy organic.

So all is going well.   The dog is healing up, my hip is doing much better though not perfect.  My most recent mental melt down is being treated and it appears that all will right itself with work (I was convinced it wouldn’t).  So whatever you do, whatever you fill your time with, enjoy the adventure.  After all…. what else is there?

It’s Always An Adventure!

So the month of July again has proven to be very busy.  Between work and homesteading, a kid who was brought down at work with heat stroke, and a dog that just had her other back knee operated on, its a wonder any of us sleep!  Basil is doing well.   We finally had to have her knee fixed because she was yelping when she put pressure on it.  She is my wonderful companion, but like anything in life she is also a money pit. Aaron had to stop his summer construction job this week because he was about to stroke out from the 100 degree desert heat.  Maybe next year he’ll get off of his butt and find something a little less demanding to do for the summer.  This job is pretty grueling.  He was down in foundation pits waterproofing concrete.

The garden has once again thrown us some curve balls.  The cucumbers are producing but they look like they are on the edge of death.  They have some kind of bacterial wilt and they literally went from beautiful green to dry and crispy over night.  The tomatoes and peppers are going to town along with the Tomatillos.  Our Blueberry and Blackberry bush experiments look like they are doing well too.

The problem this year has been a biblical plague of grasshoppers!!  They are destroying our beans and have eaten lots of holes in the potato plants.  They are leaving the tomatoes alone but are having a free for all with the herbs.  We tried a solution I researched that has you put all purpose flour on the plants.  The grasshoppers eat it, it turns to library paste in their mouths and they starve and die.  It appears to have had some effect but the garden is just too large to be able to do it on that scale.  Tomorrow is the battle of the grasshopper battalions.  Going to be weed whipping, spraying insecticide and all manner of combat tactics!  I have been injured for a couple of months and haven’t had the energy or desire to get out on a daily basis.  Now that I’m feeling more human, the garden warrior has awakened!

The two issues we face out here on the grasslands are weeds that grow while you are watching them, and this year, the hoppers from hell.  Zina and I have decided that we will need to find some other remedies than hours and hours on our hands and knees weeding.  For that we are going to start loading in piles of straw to make ground cover to help suppress the weeds.  I will also look in to somehow getting a semi load of wood chips brought in.

What we did notice this morning while out weeding is that the hoppers seem to live in the tall weeds during the day and come out and feast at night.  The entire perimeter of the garden is tall weeds:  Kochia, Lamb’s Quarter, Goat Head, and Amaranth.  We are going to spray (organically – an herbicide called Avenger) to kill these back to hopefully deprive the little demons from hiding places.  From there we will likely use something like BT to kill the insects.  If we have to we may have to resort to using some glyphosate around the perimeter but that would be as a very last resort.

However!  We have carrots, onions, beets, melons and squash all doing great!  Gardening has so many variables that each year is a different adventure.  It is, though, hard to not think you failed, when a crop or two goes south.  We just keep reminding ourselves that we are just feeding ourselves.  When you’ve tried this on a large scale you gain a tremendous amount of respect for those who try to do this for a living.

We successfully got our two huge pigs off to the processor this month as well.  Zina did a fantastic job getting them trained to get their treats from the trailer.  On loading day she just put the bucket on the trailer and on they went.  The biggest, Ruby, weighed in at 550 lbs.  We haven’t heard yet on the second but she will be close to that as well.  The freezers will be full again as we processed all of our meat chickens two weeks ago.  There will be pretty close to 700 lbs of meat in the basement.  Reason yet again why we added battery back up to the solar system.

So here are pictures of the melons and squash.  I also attached a video showing just how much we aren’t kidding about these damned hoppers!  Hard to believe its almost August!

Squash and Melons 1Squash and Melons 2Squash and Melons 3Squash and Melons 4Squash and Melons 5

Happy 4th of July!!

The relatives have come and gone.  The house is quiet again.  We had great fun with the Olsen family and hope they return again to play with the critters.  The chickens got fed and held, the pigs got extra treats and ear rubs, and the garden, of course, got weeded again. They heard coyotes yipping for the first time, saw birds, goats, cows, heard Meadowlark song, saw some fireworks, and even encountered a small bull snake while out for a walk.  The coyotes must have been in pretty close last night because out by the corral fence lay a not so “lively” rabbit.  It looked like it had not been dead for very long either. It is always such fun to show farm life to people who really haven’t been exposed to it.  It makes answering the questions all that much more fun.  I think that if niece Jessica could have smuggled one of the teenage chicks into her suitcase we would be minus one birdie right now!

Zina shot two videos of the garden progress; one of the big storage garden and one of the greenhouse.  She did forget that it is ok to speak but the footage speaks for itself!  The cucumbers are looking a little droopy but that’s because she did the video at 3:30 in the afternoon in 95 degree heat.  We even have cucumbers ready to be picked!

Next weekend is freezer camp time for the broiler chickens.  For some strange reason we couldn’t get the niece and her folks to stick around for that…. weird.

Happy 4th of July everyone!


The Greenhouse is Flourishing.

Today my sister-in-law, her husband and my niece came to visit.  It is so gratifying to have relatives come and see what we have been up to.  They got to make friends with the pigs, gather eggs, see the meat birds, hold the new layer babies, and tour the gardens.  They are on their way to a church retreat in Colorado Springs and stopped by after a very early flight from Detroit.

We toured the greenhouse and the cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers are all fruiting!  Even the Tomatillos.  We are going to have boat loads of cherry tomatoes and it appears that the big slicing tomatoes are well on their way!


My Father’s Day Gift

My son took the Phantom drone with the GoPro and did a 2016 early summer update of the farm.  The garden is in and the endless battle with the weeds has commenced.  We are staying ahead of it and the rains have stopped so we may get the upper hand.  I have had numerous requests for flyovers on You Tube so Aaron was nice enough to take the helm and then edit it together (something I know nothing about).

You will see that the farmer across the road came over and began plowing up the back 30 acres.  The green patch on the right is a drainage area that turns into quite a swamp and mosquito nursery when it rains.  It’s not really fit for canoeing (haha!).  It is fun though when it does flood because the toads out here that go dormant until it gets wet, come out and start chirping like a huge choir.

The outdoor garden is planted with 2 kinds of melons, 3 kinds of winter squash, carrots, onions, red onions, beets, 2 kinds of potatoes, black beans, white beans, string beans, sweet potatoes, and asparagus.  The greenhouse has 7 kinds of peppers, 5 kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, basil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, marjoram,  tarragon, tomatillos, and chives.  We added blueberry and blackberry plants outside of the greenhouse this year as well.

I have been laid up with a couple of issues after having shoveled some 6 tons of compost onto the garden you will see in the clip below.  The muscle relaxers have helped but they make me feel pretty loopy.

In any case, I hope you enjoy the video.  JAZ Farm is now in maintenance mode.  It was great to see my mom and sister the last couple of weeks.  Now we look forward to the arrival of Zina’s sister, brother-in-law and niece over the 4th of July weekend.

Thanks for all of your interest and thanks for following along!