Dry Stretch Provides Opportunity

Dry Stretch Provides Opportunity

Last week we were able to accomplish a good deal of clean-up. The last few weeks have provided quite a variety of different weather conditions to work outside. We are grateful to have accomplished what we have.

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Yes, we did receive a few inches of snow on October 14. Way to early!

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Once the snow had melted and the fields looked dry enough, a variety of steps were taken to close out the fields. First, we harvested the seeds from the flowers that help to bring in good insects to eat the bad insects. First up were the Marigolds. The cool thing about Marigolds – I love harvesting their seeds from the dried up flower heads that are filled with a ton of long skinny seeds. Place in dry paper bag in a dry place and next year plant the seeds.

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4 O’clock plants flowers dry up and produce a seed not a group of seeds like Marigolds. But you can still harvest the small black seeds and store in a dry place until next year.

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After all the seeds were harvested, we mulched the plants with the mower.

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Tilled the gardens.

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The ground was wet from the snow and the rain over previous weeks which caused the tiller to plug with mud. So getting it unplugged employed a variety of techniques.

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Once tilling was completed, we seeded the fields with rye grass for a cover crop. Thank you to our neighbors for the use of the seeder to speed up this job! See he’s going so fast my pic is blurry:) Yes, we do work past sunset at times and have been blessed with beautiful evenings.

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We rolled the ground to get good seed to soil contact. The plants will begin to grow and will start re-growing just like your lawn in the spring.

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We also worked on the popcorn harvest.

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The boys used their Great, Great Grandpa’s corn sheller to harvest the popcorn seeds. The next step is shaking out the extra corn silks and corn “wings” to have seed that is free of natural corn “debris.”

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In addition to all the garden work, we also have to work on rebuilding chicken pens, gates etc. Building skills together one job at a time.

A busy off season

A busy off season

It has been a busy past few months, and the growing season is already upon us. Seeds have been ordered, and some have being started. Hard to believe that April is just around the corner.

Here is an update on a few projects that happened over the past few months. Thank you again for your interest in Harner Brothers CSA.

Faribault K thank you

We were happy to share some gourds and pumpkins with a first grade class to use in their store.

Sam with Ms Baker

We were able to share pumpkins with Sam’s class for their Fall party.

Project talk Keith

The boys both gave 4-H project talks at a club meeting with one focusing on the swine project.

Popping into the Holidays

Popping into the Holidays

From fall to winter, where have the last few months gone? In October, we were busy with garden clean-up and November with organizing  year-end and making sure the popcorn was drying down. Great news – the popcorn is dried and packaged for delivery. Look for the popcorn soon. Just in time to enjoy for the holidays.

If you are interested in being a shareholder next year, please let us know. An updated contract can be found here.

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

What’s Growing On?

Thankfully, we had a nice day to harvest popcorn. It is interesting to see how different the varities of popcorn are from the stalk size and strength to the ear size to the size of the kernels.

Thankfully, we had a nice day to harvest popcorn. It is interesting to see how different the varieties of popcorn are from the stalk size and strength to the ear size to the size of the kernels.

The popcorn ears were beautiful. The strawberry popcorn  had the smallest ears and the blue popcorn had the largest ears. We saw cross pollination of the white and blue varities.

The popcorn ears were beautiful. The strawberry popcorn had the smallest ears, and the blue popcorn had the largest ears. We saw cross-pollination of the white and blue varieties. The boys thought these ears looked like U of M Gopher colors.

Using Steve's Grandparents corn sheller we shelled the corn after they had dried for about two months.

Using Steve’s Grandparents corn sheller, we shelled the corn after it had dried for about two months. If it had too much moisture in the kernels, it would not store well, but instead would become moldy during storage and have no shelf life.

After the boys had shelled the popcorn, the jars were carefully filled by our helpers.

After the boys had shelled the popcorn, the jars were carefully filled by our helpers. It was interesting to see how much each variety yielded (produced) and lead to good math application of how much more of each variety should be planted next year to make the yield we would like. We plan on growing a lot more strawberry popcorn as it is a shareholder favorite and since the ears are smaller twice as much needs to be planted in order to yield the same as the blue and white varieties.

Here is the Red, White, and Blue Popcorn that you will receive. We have found that an air popper works great to pop these kernels. Enjoy!

Here is the Red, White, and Blue Popcorn that you will receive. We have found that an air popper works great to pop these kernels. Enjoy!

Garden Science

The weekends were  busy cleaning up the garden. We shredded many of the plants so that the plants would break down during the winter months. This provides us with a great opportunity to discuss safety with our kids to wear eye and ear protection.

The weekends were busy cleaning up the garden. We shredded many of the plants so that the plants would break down during the winter months. This provides us with a great opportunity to discuss safety with our kids to wear eye and ear protection.

The boys cut down the sunflowers. This sunflower was a nemesis to Sam because the stalk was so big. He had to get a spade to get the stalk out.

The boys cut down the sunflowers. This sunflower was a nemesis to Sam because the stalk was so big. He had to get a spade to get the stalk out.

As we cleaned up the sunflowers, it was fun to see the different stages that the sunflower was in, from blossom to seed to and almost empty head due to the birds enjoying the sunflower seeds.

As we cleaned up the sunflowers, it was fun to see the different stages that the sunflower was in, from blossom to seed to and almost empty heads due to the birds enjoying the sunflower seeds.

By the end of September the majority of the garden was cleaned out. We told the boys if we worked hard that weekend, that the following weekend we could do something fun as a family.

By the end of September, the majority of the garden was cleaned out. We told the boys if we worked hard that weekend, that the following weekend we could do something fun as a family. So we did, we went camping.

We also are attempting to grow garlic. You asked for it. We are trying it and planted some this fall.

We also built and planted a garlic garden. You asked for it. We are trying it and planted some this fall.

In the Kitchen

We juiced some of our tomatoes using the juicer from Steve's grandparents. We use this juice to make spaghetti and pizza sauce throughout the year and my  parents enjoy the tomato juice.

We juiced some of our tomatoes using the juicer from Steve’s grandparents. We use this juice to make spaghetti and pizza sauce throughout the year and my parents enjoy the tomato juice.

We also made the tomatoes, peppers and onions into homemade salsa.

We also made the tomatoes, peppers and onions into homemade salsa.

Sam enjoyed using one of my favorite garden tools to chop peppers.

Sam enjoyed using one of my favorite garden tools to chop peppers for the salsa.

Our chickens are still producing eggs during the cold winter.  Let us know if you are interested in purchasing any for $3 per dozen. On another note, the boys are interested to know if you like brown, white or the blueish/green colored eggs the best - what do you prefer?

Our chickens are still producing eggs during the cold winter. Let us know if you are interested in purchasing any for $3 per dozen. On another note, the boys are interested to know if you like brown, white or the blueish/green colored eggs the best – what do you prefer? We are preparing to get more chickens next spring and are considering the different breeds that would work best with our goals and consumer preferences.

Pop into the New Year

Pop into the New Year

Thank you for everyone's patience as we waited for the popcorn to dry down. As we reflect on 2013, the spring planting was late and the fall conditions were not conducive for additional drying to occur in the field. The blue popcorn was actually planted a month later than the strawberry and white popcorn varieties and matured quite quickly.  But drying down for the right moisture content so the kernels would actually pop is another story. Thus the delay.

Thank you for everyone’s patience as we waited for the popcorn to dry down. As we reflect on 2013, the spring planting was late and the fall conditions were not conducive for additional drying to occur in the field.  The last of the popcorn was harvested October 21. The blue popcorn was actually planted a month later than the strawberry and white popcorn varieties and matured quite quickly. But drying down for the right moisture content so the kernels would actually pop is another story. Thus the delay.

Well, we shelled some of the strawberry, blue and white popcorn. Every variety needed to dry some more especially the blue and the white. There was simply to much moisture in the kernels. They wouldn't even pop. You could tell they were planted later than the strawberry variety. So we had a fan blowing on the ears to dry down the kernels.

In late October, we shelled some of the strawberry, blue and white popcorn. We wanted to see how they would pop. Every variety needed to dry some more especially the blue and the white. There was simply too much moisture in the kernels. They wouldn’t even pop. They would simply burn. You could tell the white and blue popcorn was planted later than the strawberry variety simply because of the moisture content in the kernels. So we set up our own make shift corn dryer and had a fan blowing on the ears to dry down the kernels.

Here is a look at the varieties. They are really beautiful kernels. You will see in the white kernels that there was some cross-pollination that occurred on the ears. You can tell this by noticing the few blue kernels amongst the white kernels. The Popcorn Board is a great source of information to learn all you wanted to know about popcorn and more.

The popcorn is shelled using Steve's Grandpa Gifford's corn sheller.  An ear at a time is placed in the top this is a view as the ear goes into the sheller. We are so blessed to be able to use all of there cool garden and canning gadgets. So thankful they shared them with us to share with the next generation of the family.

The popcorn is shelled using Steve’s Grandpa Gifford’s corn sheller. An ear at a time is placed in the top. This is a view as the ear goes into the sheller. We are so blessed to be able to use all of Steve’s grandparent’s cool garden and canning gadgets. So thankful they shared them with us to share with the next generation of the family.

This is a view of how the kernels are stripped off the cob as we crank it through.

This is a view of how the kernels are stripped off the cob as we crank it through. The pointy parts are for taking the corn off the cob so no hand shelling needs to occur.  Needless to say this is a miniature corn combine for us.

The ear comes out the bottom of the sheller with the kernels separated from the cob.

The ear comes out the bottom of the sheller with the kernels separated from the cob. The kernels fall into the box. The cob is given to our chickens and/or added to our compost pile.

After the kernels dried down, we tried to separate the kernels, chaf and the silks. We tried a variety of methods including shaking method which reminded me of how we separated weed seed from the kernels when I worked in the seed house at South Dakota State University.

After the kernels dried down, we tried to separate the kernels, the chaff and the silks. We tried a variety of methods including the shaking method which reminded me of how we separated weed seed from the seed kernels when I worked in the seed house at South Dakota State University. The method wasn’t perfect. I attribute the additional chaff and silks with the kernels to how wet the ears were when we removed the husks to prevent molding of the kernels and the moisture in the kernels and cobs this year.

In the end, we hope that you enjoy the popcorn. I know we enjoyed growing it for all of you, and it was certainly fun to watch your families get excited about the possibilities.

In the end, we hope that you enjoy the popcorn. I know we enjoyed growing it for all of you, and it was certainly fun to watch your families get excited about the possibilities.

Recipes

Here are a few more links for recipe ideas from Simply Recipes and Taste of Home.

Some of you may be wondering how do I pop this popcorn? I have always bought microwave popcorn. Great news...simply put some popcorn in a Pyrex bowl and cover with a plate and pop for about 3 minutes or about the length you usually pop microwave popcorn in your microwave (seems every microwave varies a little). Once you hear the kernels stop popping - its done. Another option is to use a brown lunch bag, fold over the top about 3 times and place in microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Remove when you hear the kernels stop popping.

Some of you may be wondering how do I pop this popcorn? Maybe your families have only used microwave popcorn. Great news…simply put some popcorn in a Pyrex bowl and cover with a plate and pop for about 3 minutes or about the length you usually pop your microwave popcorn in your microwave (seems every microwave varies a little). Once you hear the kernels stop popping – its done. Another option is to use a brown lunch bag, add some popcorn, fold the top down about 3 times and place in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes. Remove when you hear the kernels stop popping.

I melted about 1 Tablespoon of butter and a little bit of salt. The result a happy boy. We also enjoy "treasure hunt" popcorn which is simply a few M&Ms sprinkled in to the popcorn. This is a family favorite for movie night or watching football games.

I melted about 1 Tablespoon of butter and added a little bit of salt. The result was a happy boy. We also enjoy “treasure hunt” popcorn which is simply a few M&Ms and/or chocolate chips sprinkled in to the popcorn. This is a family favorite for movie night or watching football games.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We hope you enjoy this taste from the garden during these cold Minnesota winter days. From our home to yours, wishing you all a Happy New Year!

We hope you enjoy this taste from the garden during these cold Minnesota winter days. From our home to yours, wishing you all a Happy New Year!