A Warm Morning Breakfast

When it’s cold outside, occasionally I make an easy and warm morning breakfast to get everyone started for the day.  I’m not exactly sure where the recipe came from; however, it’s delicious! And, it’s a great way to use some of those frozen blueberries hanging around from summer.

Fruited Barley Oatmeal
(or Porridge as we like to call it!)

1/2 Cup Pearled Barley
1/2 Cup Steel Cut Oats
1/4 – 1/2 Cup chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries or dried fruit of your choice
1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
4 1/2 Cups Water

Spray the inside of your slow cooker (crock-pot) with cooking spray.  Add barley, oats, dried fruit, sugar, salt & water.  Stir gently to mix.  Turn cooker on LOW, cover, and go to bed!

In the morning, just before serving, stir the porridge to incorporate any thick oatmeal on the sides and bottom of cooker.  Then, stir in the following ingredients

1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
a pinch of ground Cardamom (if you have it)
Top with blueberries and splash of milk

I like to use frozen blueberries straight from the freezer, super easy and this helps to cool the porridge down for little ones too.  If you have Cardamom great, a little bit goes a long way, but if you don’t it’s just as good.  Enjoy!

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Fruited Barley Oatmeal
with Blueberries
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Categories: Recipes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Firstfruits & ThanksGiving

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it seems fitting that we take this opportunity to share something special that happened on our farm this year and how Thankful we are.  If you’ve been following our farm, you probably know that we began planning and preparing our berry farm 5 years ago (2010) and planted our first acre of blueberries in August of 2012. After three years and two seasons of plucking blueberry blossoms and one year after planting an acre of blackberries, were were able to open for picking for the first time in June.

Three years of waiting, working and learning had crept by and at the same time, gone in the blink of an eye.  We wanted to honor our Creator and celebrate the journey and milestone with a Firstfruits Celebration.  In the Bible the Israelites celebrated Firstfruits each year at harvest time, bringing the best and first fruits of their harvest as an offering to the Lord.

On Sunday, June 28, 2015 we celebrated our Firstfruits with a shrimp boil! Many of our friends and family who were part of that blessed planting day 3 years prior along with some other special friends came and celebrated the bounty we had waited for.  It was only by God’s grace that we were able to celebrate that day, because just an hour before party time we were all huddled at home in our basements with serious threats of tornados in the area.  Our farm slid right through the storm and by the time the party started, we enjoyed a beautiful evening.

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The shrimp boil was perfect, and hands-down the best way to celebrate  We had so much fun!

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And, after sharing a meal and filling our bellies we enjoyed a summer evening of picking blueberries and blackberries under clear skies.

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So as we celebrate this Thanksgiving, we are thankful for an amazing first year of harvest.  We are thankful for the gift of the right number of pickers for the right amount of fruit each and every week.  We are thankful for the families who came to share and enjoy our farm, and perhaps enjoy some respite from life. We are thankful for little bare feet that traipsed down the rows with squeals of enjoyment. We are thankful for recipes, stories, hugs and patience (as we learn the art of u-pick) shared with us and our family throughout our first season. We are thankful for each and every person who spread the word about our little farm.  This Thanksgiving, we will be thankful for a blueberry, basil, goat cheese pie that will grace our Thanksgiving table.  But, most of all we are thankful for you. Blessings to you and your family in this season!

Categories: Fruit of the Spirit, Getting Started, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Drought and Flood

While driving the other day, a funny thought came to mind and it made me chuckle about the sense of humor my God has sometimes.

We bought our house 10 years ago (almost to the day), and 5 years ago we began creating Danamay Farm.  It started with two years of planning and preparation before even planting our blueberries in August of 2012.  That summer of 2012 was a record-breaking and memorable drought.  At planting, we planned to pluck flowers for 2 years in order to allow the plants to grow, focusing on a good root system before allowing them to bear a crop.  Well, it’s time and this spring we anxiously and excitedly watched them bloom and the bees work their magic.  We watched as green baby berries began to form.  We anticipated being able to open our u-pick berry farm!

Well, the humorous thought that I’ve had is that God provided a drought for us to learn in as we prepared to plant this farm.  And now as we begin to harvest our first crop, three years latter, we are learning amongst a plethora of rain.  We planted in a drought and we will harvest this year in a flood.

Picking in rain and ankle deep water!

Picking in rain and ankle deep water!

I’m not gonna sugar coat it.  It’s a LOT of work.  The realities of having a berry farm are felt all around me; from the dirty clothes, floors, and dishes to the kitchen table covered in buckets, berries, containers, and a scale to the sore muscles and early mornings before Gabe and I head off to work our “normal” jobs.

We desperately want to open the farm to pickers. BUT… It’s wet, people will get stuck.  We don’t have gallons upon gallons for people to pick!  What if we run out and don’t have enough for our new customers?  What if we open and no one shows up?  What if… What if…. But…. But… But….  This is where we are learning right now.  We’ve planted 6 varieties (I’m so glad we did!) The ripening is so spaced out!

As Gabe and I ate our breakfast and watched out the window this morning as the wind and rain whipped the trees, we sat there knowing that the gallons of ripe blueberries we didn’t get picked yesterday would be blown to the ground.  This morning when I walked into church and I couldn’t hold it in.  I shed some tears and became surrounded in prayer.  It had been a roller coaster of a week.  Between the rain, birds and blight our faith in the mission we felt called to do had dropped to the lowest it had been.  I’ve learned that the bits of confirmation we’ve received along the way would carry us through more than just that moment we received them.

For the past 5 years, we have plugged away step by step and lesson by lesson.  We have been surrounded with loving friends and family ready to lend a hand and help.  For that, we are SO grateful!  Just yesterday we celebrated a successful first Fulton Farmers’ Market!  We sold out in just 20 minutes!  This week we picked our first gallon of blackberries!              (Like I said, it’s been a roller coaster!)

Our first blackberry!

Our first blackberry!

I want to grow in my faith.  I want to be a vigorous student, willing and ready to learn and share.  I want our farm to be a blessing to others and our family! Lord, give us the strength, courage and wisdom to do what you have set before us.  Thank you for surrounding us with others who can love on us and encourage us.  You are our strength!  (and at times our humor!)

And those prayers that surrounded us earlier today, well we went out this afternoon and picked all the fruit off of the plants!  (not the ground)  It was nothing short of answered prayer!  What a trip.  And to think that we are just getting started!

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5 Important Things

So we’ve been official berry farm owners for a whole 1 year and 9 months. There has been a huge learning curve, but I feel as though we are settling in and getting closer to having an opening day.  (It will happen, at some point. Right?!)  When friends and family ask what our favorite blueberry variety is, I could not answer with confidence even 1+ years into the game.  However, I can now.  So this got me thinking….If someone approached us about growing blueberries, what would be the 5 most important things I would impart to them that we did not learn going to blueberry school?

1) Favorite variety?  This is going to be different for everyone because there are so many variables, so please keep that in mind.  And, I am not an expert!  That being said, for us the hands down favorite at our farm is Blue Ray.  This one withstood a challenging summer followed by a hard winter, grows well and seems to flower well too.  I’m not sure about fruit yet, because we’ve purposefully picking lots of blooms.  But blooms = fruit.

2) Advil.  You must have a bottle of Advil or your favorite pain reliever.  After 10 hours of mulching, you need it.

3) Fertilize.  We’re learning that blueberries grow fast and have a fairly short window in which to do so.  Some say that you don’t need to fertilize that first year.  I disagree.  Figure out what your soil and plants need, and give it to them.

4) Mulch.  A good layer of mulch does everyone one good.  It keeps the weeds down and provides organic matter as it decomposes.  Do not use saw dust. Mulching is incredibly labor intensive, so have grace with yourself and others.

5) Equipment.  Use every bit of useful equipment available to you.  Our Dad’s skid loader, tractors and implements, a 4-wheeler with tank sprayer have made this project manageable.  There is a lot of labor involved in caring for a berry farm, take care of your body along the way.

I’m sure there will be other lessons to share along the way, but this is a start.  It’s been a busy spring and we have a lot to do yet. The blueberries are looking good, and we even added 640+ thornless blackberries a few weeks ago! 

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Blueberries, weeded and mulched!
This variety is Elliot, I would not plant this one again at our location. The mulch spruces it up though!

 

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Planting time! (and farm update!)

Well, it’s spring and we are in full steam ahead mode here at Danamay Farm!  Actually we are teetering on the brink of being a tad bit overwhelmed.  But in a good way!  After a long and restful winter we’re ready to see how the blueberries faired the stressful summer and fall followed by a sever winter.  We have been nervously watching the plants for signs of life, and today I was encouraged!  I’m certain that we lost a number of blueberry bushes; however, there are also a lot of bushes that I thought were dead that are sprouting!  So, we’ll wait it out some more and see where we end up. The learning curve continues as we see which varieties are looking better than others.

We have our newest soil and water test results in and I will be putting my chemistry cap on this weekend and figuring out some nutrient issues for the berries.  I think we’ve narrowed the problems we were experiencing last year to a rare case of zinc deficiency.  It’s a micro nutrient and deficiencies have not been well documented in blueberries, but that is what the puzzle pieces are pointing to and making sense in my horticultural brain.  It will be an intense couple of months as we become vigilant over the crop looking for leaf color changes and growth.  I’m trusting that these plants will flourish!  But until then, we will continue to pick flower buds again this year in hopes of bigger plants next year!

Gabe sets to trenching the new line for our first blackberry planting!

Gabe sets to trenching the new line for our first blackberry planting!

Now for the fun stuff!  We are in the final stages of preparation before planting our first field of blackberries next weekend!  Yes, they will have big berries and YES they are thornless!  There will by just under 700 in this planting and we hope to have a small amount of berries from them next year! It’s exciting to see that this project 4-5 years in the making is really coming together!

We are also ready for the new culvert pipes to be installed along the road!  One pipe will allow for a semi-truck to bring loads of mulch and smaller pipe will create a new drive for visitors to the farm!  I’m sad that the smaller one will take a swath out of our prairie, but it will be minimal and necessary.

Another little project we’ve been working on is a raised bed made from logs we harvested out of the woods on some family land.  This started as an act of love on behalf of my husband, he was a bit leery at first. But, it turned out kind of neat and I think he’s ready to make a couple more!  We still have a little work to do on this one yet, but it’s ready for green and growing things!

Raised garden beds!  Ready for planting!

Raised garden beds! Ready for planting!

 

 

Our bees didn’t fair through the winter so well, we lost about two thirds of our hives both the Hardesty family co-op and the Danamay Farm hives.  The one surviving hive for Danamay Farm is the one captured last year as a wild swarm!  We’ll be on the look out for more of those!

So, there is a lot going on!  We’re excited and making the most the longer days!

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Oh, Buddy!

What a great weekend!  The weather is warming after a long, and much needed, winter.  Today the kids rolled in the mud and played in the gravel while Gabe and I worked outside after church; it feels so good to be back on track!   Honestly, I needed the long winter after last summer.  It allowed time for me to rest and just be.  It’s probably time for me to put away the winter projects and break out the bottle of sunscreen because we have a lot to do!  

Today, Gabe got the chicken house complete enough to move our one laying hen into her new home and out of my greenhouse!  Thanks, Gabe!  It’s hard to start seedlings with a resident chicken, so it’s game on now!  The kids are taking on this chicken project and got some new chicks over the weekend.  The chicks are hunkered down in the brooder box and bringing fun and sweet chirps to Gabe’s shop.  

We got an estimated 100+ linear feet of potatoes in the ground today too!  I’m so excited!  Hopefully they grow well in the lovely soil of their raised bed.  I can just taste the green beans with new potatoes now!  Yum!

After planting potatoes we took a spin through the blueberry patch and decided it was time to really focus on the de-budding process.  Honestly, it’s a little overwhelming and I’m praying this will be the last year we’ll have to do this for this field of plants.  There are over 860 plants and I’m estimating 100-200 buds per plant that all need to be picked off.  Wow.  They are not all ready to pluck off at the same time, but warm weather could change that quickly.  We’re picking the fruiting buds off so that the focus is on growing a healthy plant before allowing them to crop.  It’s hard to wait, but the long range reward should be worth the wait!  Our challenging summer last year and harsh winter have taken a slight toll on the plants, but so far they are looking fine.   

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Fruiting buds are starting to swell!

We are also planning to get our thornless blackberries in the ground towards the end of the month!  We have nearly 700 plants ordered and will be completing the final preparations soon!  Danamay Farm is making progress!

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Merry Christmas from the Craighead’s!

Volume 8 : December 2013

Quick family photo next to the church at Westminster!

Our quick family photo next to the church at Westminster!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing your faith develops perseverance.”  James 1:2-3

Every year, I get to re-read our previous family newsletter before starting a new one.  It’s fun to see just how much our children have changed.  This year, it was fitting that we start the newsletter the same though.  We have faced many trials this year.  We are also full of joy!  Gabe and I have been commenting that our life today looks so much different than it did just one year ago.  We are blessed.  We are RICH!     Rich in love, family, relationships and grace.

Alexandra : 4 years old

Alexandra :        4 years old

In January, Alexandra turned 4 and started planning for #5.  She’s our party girl.  She continues to be our spicy and fun loving Alex.  She started preschool at Kingdom Christian Academy (KCA) this fall and loves going to school!  It took a little while to warm up to the idea once she started, but made new friends quickly.  Learning letters, numbers and writing is coming rapidly to her .

Alexandra : almost 5

Alexandra : almost 5

This fall Alex started ballet lessons and loves to dance and sing around the house.  Playing with her dolls and dressing up are top priority.  This fall, Grandma Pat discovered a flower girl dress from our wedding 11 years ago.  It fit perfectly and is now worn on a weekly basis and enjoyed.

Our currently long-haired hippie child, Isiah, turned 7 in April and proceeded to lose more teeth through the summer!  He completed the first grade and is looking forward to third so that Alex will be in school with him.

Isiah : 7.5 years

Isiah : 7.5 years

Honestly, I think he just doesn’t want her to have any fun at home without him.  He played pitching machine baseball this year and had a great time.  He’s learned to ride a bike w/o training wheels and swim!  This fall we started swim practice and will be playing basketball this winter.  He wants to play football in the fall….hmmm.

Isiah : 7 years

Isiah : 7 years

After a rough start to 2nd grade, he’s doing great and one of the top readers in his class.  It’s fun to watch him grow and mature.  He’s also a wonderful big brother!

A new life together!

Gabe & Amy

Gabe & Amy

It’s amazing to look back on a year.  It’s feels like a whole new life!  This time last year Gabe was getting his start with a new career, and now it feels like it’s always been.  Prayer was answered when Gabe was hired on with Farmer’s Mutual of Callaway County in March.  This allows for a little more stability.  He gets to work from home and have a flexible schedule.  Gabe still maintains a job with Mutual of Omaha.  Time for farming, hunting and family has woven in nicely.

Cardinals game in the spring!

Cardinals game in the spring!

I’m still doing landscaping, though in a scaled down version.  I have but a  few clients of great quality.  Joined into my work mix is a part-time job with my friends at 1Canoe2.  I truly love being with the ladies and gentleman and being a part of such a fun loving group and rapidly growing company.  It makes me smile!  My ladies bible study group continues to be a Joy and I absolutely LOVE them.  This fall was a tremendous time of spiritual growth, and I look forward to what comes next!

The part of 2013 that stands out the most though is the summer, it was a rough 3 months.  The hardest part  was loosing all three of my Grandmothers  over the course of five weeks.  It started with my Grandma in Florida the end of June followed with Great Grandmother John (104!) the end of July and a week later Grandmother Irene.  My heart still aches for them.  However, I am comforted to know that they each have newness with Jesus.  We are so grateful to those who supported, prayed over and loved on us this summer.

Danamay Farm Update

Newly captured swarm

Newly captured swarm

This spring our family honey co-op added new bee hives and so did Danamay Farm!  We started with one and then caught a wild swarm.  It wasn’t a productive year for honey, but looking forward to more next year!  We are very careful around the hives now after a scary experience with Gabe getting stung multiple times.  Now, we all have some form of bee gear and I continue to manically remind  him to “Put It On!”

First blueberries

First blueberries

The blueberries started off great.  We pruned and plucked flower buds until We finally gave up, not the plants!  We had a few berries to enjoy and learned to be patient and let them get blue before eating.  It was a rough summer on the plants though.  We learned a lot and are planning to put into practice some of those lessons this coming year.  It’s a slow and testing process this blueberry growing is!  We’re hopeful 2015 will be our first picking season.

Our native meadow is coming along and  enjoyed our first blooms!

First blooms of coreopsis in our meadow!

First blooms of coreopsis in our meadow!

Gabe also got our mounds ready to plant thornless blackberry in the spring!  These should be easier to grow.  Planting party anyone?!

Our family’s blessings are bountiful, and we count you as one of them.

with LOVE,

Amy, Gabe, Isiah & Alexandra

Categories: Family Christmas Letters, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where to begin…

It’s been a restful weekend here at home.  What a blessing!  In the past few days, I’ve spent some time reflecting over the last 4 months.  And from the looks of this blog (because there isn’t much here), we’ve been doing things other than the farm!

This summer was one of the hardest seasons of life.  However, I am joyful to have gone through it and grateful for those who have wrapped their loving arms around us in prayer and hugs of comfort.  Our family is surrounded by an immense network of extended family, church family and friends.  They have loved on us with meals, prayers, moments of laughter and willingness to witness tears.

Here’s a little tribute to all three of my Grandmothers, whom I love and cherish.  Thank you for passing along your wisdom and love to others.  You each continue to touch lives in so many ways.

Grandmothers CollageAnd Grandma (Wanda), this blog post is for you!  Happy Birthday (this week)!  XXXOOO

So, we’re moving forward and regaining energy for the next phase of the journey. More on the next phase later…

Part of my “therapy” this summer was walking our little trail through the wildflower meadow.  Our neighbors probably thought I had lost my mind walking back and forth through what appears to be weeds. However, I was surrounded by hundreds of little baby plants sprouting up!  And, I am pleased to say that we have some nice collections of seed to sow yet this fall!  Here’s a look at the Cardinal flower, started in spring of 2012 and planted the fall of 2012.  I enjoyed our red beauties immensely.

First Cardinal Flowers bloom!

First Cardinal Flowers bloom!

The echinacea bloomed and we had one little asclepias and one little sage bloom too!  All planted last fall.  I have a couple of flats from gathered “babies” to plant in the ground this fall.  This meadow project is something that requires patience.  But when you come across a little gem of a plant, it’s SO worth it.

I look forward to getting back into the swing of things with the farm.  Thanks for listening (reading) and letting me share part of our life with you!

Categories: Fruit of the Spirit, Uncategorized, Wildflower Meadow | Leave a comment

Feelin’ the Love

There have been a few ripe blueberries!  Enough to get a few nibbles and send a couple to Grandad Ruben and Grandmother Irene.  They haven’t lasted long enough to get a photo!  So, I’ve protected the latest ripe ones long enough for this…

A hand full of happiness

A hand full of happiness

And then today, we were blessed with a beautiful pie from our friend Carrie!  It looks Amazing, and we can’t wait to try this Blueberry, Goat Cheese & Basil pie!  YUM!  Feelin’ the Love for sure!

Scrumptious!

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It’s a girl!

Our two cows have both given birth and we have one bull calf and one heifer calf!

The bull is now a couple weeks old and has been teaching us about caring for a calf with a hurt shoulder.  He’s doing much better and now experiencing the freedom of the pasture!  It’s wonderful to see him up and acting like a calf!  Still has a limp, but he’s doing great.

The newest addition is a girl, born this past Thursday the 13th.  She’s a spunky one!  A beauty, and weighing in at over 90 lbs. with a long bone structure to hopefully make a good momma in the future.  It was fun to watch her getting an evening bath from her mom yesterday…cows can teach us so much about intimacy.  However, Isiah was glad I didn’t bath him like this when he was a babe.

Our new heifer gets her evening cleaning after being tagged earlier.

Our new heifer gets her evening cleaning after being tagged earlier.

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