Garden Party…

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As the seasons turn to fall, its time to let the clean up crew into the garden to tidy up for winter.  This year, they have to be supervised, however, because we still have pumpkins growing on the vine as well as our delicate little fruit bushes, grapes and raspberries.  So I decided to take Evee, our Australian Shepherd, in with me for a little garden party.

For the most part, the critters behaved.  Until they caught wind of the pumpkins!  The goats were the naughty ones, of course.  Evee did a VERY good job of protecting the gourds!  Once she realized they were important, she really stepped up to the plate.  In the end, one of them was broken into and so I gave it to the hogs as a treat.  (I wasn’t about to reward those that damaged it!)

I also harvested all the big sunflower heads to dry and store for the winter, for the chickens.   Something for them to do to prevent boredom.  Picking at the heads, one or two at a time, will give them an activity as well as some extra protein to help keep the cold at bay.

Speaking of cold…  whooeee!   Chores this morning were VERY brisk.  I was thinking that gloves might have been in order, my hands got very cold.  Being the first of October, I guess we are heading into that time now.  Cold!!!   Jess helped me remove the air conditioner from my bedroom window…  the night before, it felt like I had left the window open with all the cold air coming in the vents.  Now it’s nice and tidy in there, so I’m not as worried.

I’m really looking forward to the winter this year.  With all the insulation work that was done last year and our new furnace, we should have the first cozy winter ever here at the ranch.  I like the winter, when you can come in from the cold and have a warm place to craft and write and just be away from the cold.   But the last four years have been difficult and miserable with our various heating issues.  Here’s to year five being finally under control!!!

Stay tuned for more posts…  promise to be a little more active.  Sometimes, I’m just not sure what to write about, and then life gets in the way!   But I miss writing and I figure if I’m boring you, you will just not read.

Sorry for the comments being closed.  If you want to reach me, just send me an email…

sherri   at    Or you can visit us on Facebook…    just search for WindhavenFarmOhio.

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Fun with Dehydration!


Yes!  It’s fall!  It’s apple season!  Harvest goodies!   Everyone is happy when it’s harvest time!

We went to our favorite local apple orchard over the weekend and picked up 20 gallons of fallen apples for a big $10.  Yup.  And if you are picky, you can get nearly all beautiful windfall apples!   We take our time and really try to make sure all are good.   We sort them out, give most to our animals and then get at least a pail worth for us each time.  And of course, a gallon of their wonderful apple cider and a donut or two!

Maggie was feeling under the weather after some dental surgery, so just Jess and I went.  It was easy and the weather is so beautiful right now.  It only took us about a half hour.  We will go back a few more times and as soon as it’s a little colder, we will be able to store some of the apples for the animals into the fall!


Maggie did help me peel and slice apples!   We tried it two ways, both peeled and then thinly sliced with the peels on.  I think I like them peeled better, to be honest.  Some people like them either way.

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I’ve been wanting a dehydrator for several years now.  And then, low and behold, I found one at a garage sale for only $2!!!   Can you believe it?  It’s a pretty nice one.  I has four nice sized trays and is pretty quick.  It was in such perfect condition, it hardly looks used!

We placed the cut apples into the thing, sprinkled a wee dust of cinnamon on them and started it up.  We were not sure how long it would take, we had no manual and I could not find one online.  So we just gave it a try and watched as it worked through the process.  From reading other people’s blogs and websites, I knew it would be six to ten hours at least.  Our first batch took longer because the apples were thicker.  It took about 14 hours to really get crisp and dry, like apple chips.   We could have probably stopped about 12 hours, because they were dry, but a little well, rubbery.  Perhaps just a wee bit of moisture still present.  That is not good if you want to store these for long periods of time.  Moisture is your foe in dehydration preservation. 


Couple things we learned…  rotating the trays every few hours made for even dehydration on our model.  And the thinner you can get your fruit or veggies, the better.  Thick is just not good.  We are going to try some onions, garlic, carrots and other veggies!   I did a few raspberries and they were, well, not really good.  I don’t think they are really meant for dehydration.  I do want to try strawberries and grapes!   And I think it would be fun to give canned pineapple and peaches a try!   Just for fun.


I’m not totally sure that this is going to be my dream preservation plan.  It does take a good while to do and our dehydrator is kind of small.  I could only get 4 apples worth in a load at a time.  That would mean many many days of dehydration to really get any sort of stock put up.  But, it is neat and it does have some fun uses.   I thought it would be neat to try and dry our own onion and garlic powders.  And to make some dried small veggie mix that would be tasty to add to cooking rice or even like ramen noodles or other simple foods.  Just make them a little more homemade when you’re in a hurry.

For $2 and some time, it is totally worth the learning curve and we love the crisp apple chips made at home!  Yum!

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Windhaven Squash Harvest…


We are having a great year for squash and pumpkins!  Our best year ever!  Not sure why, but I wonder if the very wet spring and then the mild summer just gave them a chance to really grown well.  I love the pumpkin in the above picture!  It’s growing into the fence!  It’s kind of funny how it’s nestled in between the fence and the post.  Weird if you ask me!


We have at least a dozen nice looking pumpkins out there.  I wish I had planted more!  Next year I will.  For sure!


I picked all the butternut squash that were ready to go and there were quite a few of them!  I gave the really odd or small ones to the pigs and boy, were they pleased.  I ended up with a dozen for us and friends.  It’s going to be interesting, because I will admit, we are not big squash eaters… I really planted them for the livestock!  I wanted something that grew nicely, big and would store well.  Squash and pumpkins sure fit the bill.


I have been super pleased with my tomato harvest as well, and it’s odd because I really did not baby them or tie them up and all this year.  Just let them do their own thing.  We have had lots of super yummy grape and cherry tomatoes as well as Amish paste and nice big Brandywines, Mortgage Lifters and a Purple Cherokee, which did not do as well as the others, but I’ve gotten a few nice ones and the flavor is delicious!


I think that a home grown tomato is just a beauty to behold!   So good.   I would like to grow the Amish paste again next year, they did very well.  I will probably work on building some better cages for them.  I have seen a great design that uses cattle panels for support.  In a sort of circle cage with a post to support it all.  I think that would be wonderful.


I was very surprised to find a single little watermelon in among the squash.  Just one.   I planted a variety called Minnesota Midget, which was supposed to mature quickly and in colder climates.  But the butternut just went nuts and I really didn’t think any of the melons would make it.  This one was hiding in the grass!  I was so happy.

Unfortunately, it was not really that good.  It was okay.  I think I need to do some more research on growing conditions and watermelon.  I have never had good luck.  I must be doing something wrong.  I remember melons and cantaloupes being so flavorful and just sweet but now, they all seem really bland and just kind of mealy.  Very disappointing.  If I can’t figure out what works for us, I will probably just stop growing them.  They take up a lot of space and so often, there is little to no return.  I’d rather just plant something that flourishes and buy a few melons from the farmer’s market.

Over all, this has been perhaps my best year here in our homestead garden.  But it’s not nearly at the potential it can be.  I think my best year at the mobile home has been far better than my best year here and I have about ten times the space!  I guess, maybe with the smaller plot, perhaps I was more diligent and careful about care and the types of veggies that I grew.  This space is still wild in many aspects and a challenge.  The flood this spring really did me in!  I lost all my strawberries, many cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli plants as well as beans and peas!  Very disappointing.  I know now, that anything in the west of my garden has got to be in raised beds, nearly a foot over the ground level.  I plan on building some new beds in the low areas this fall.

My grapes did well, so did the raspberries and the blueberries.  I didn’t see any fruit this year, but I didn’t expect to.  I hope that they winter over nicely and in the spring just burst forward and do a great established plant grow!  That will be so good!  I hope to buy a couple apple and peach trees in the next couple weeks and plant them.  They just came back on sale now, for fall planting.

Now that the weather is a little more agreeable for me, to work outside, I plan on spending the next couple months really working on my garden.  Instead of waiting until spring, I want to try and get a jump on some infrastructure work now.  I want to work on laying down a lot of cardboard and straw to kill off the grass in the areas that I really don’t want grass!  And I hope to build a few raised beds and maybe even getting some spend hay and bedding in there before winter.  I also want to plant a nice group of garlic, see how that overwinters.

I have so many plans!   It’s hard, sometimes, to just realize that it’s all a work in progress.  If everything was all done and tidy, it would be a little boring.  Now I just plot and plan and try and work on as much as I can.  It keeps me off the streets!  It’s a good thing.

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