Friday, April 27, 2012

OK ... Ground Rules!!!!

Wow! What a day!!  It is 10:30 and I already want a beer!!!

It is cold, cloudy and windy out.  I need to be planting but I think I will hold off for a moment.

So -- today was chick day!!

I had ordered 5 each of Easter eggers, Welsummers, Cuckoo Marans and Speckled Sussex pullets.  Then I had decided that I wanted some Silkies.

Josephine, Napoleon and Cruella DeVille

We had lost Napoleon and Cruella DeVille in the past to predators.  But poor Josephine wanted babies.  And like all good Silkies .... she went broody.  Over and Over again.

Now a broody mama would have loved to have some new chicks.... so I was patiently waiting until my ordered Silkies arrived to give Josephine the babies she always wanted.

Last week, when locking up the girls at night ..... we didn't realize that Josephine was sitting on a nest she had created in the run.  It was not the night to be out.  Come morning .... all that was left of Josephine, was a little pile of feathers.

So today .... the chicks arrived.  Twenty full sized pullets and .............................. one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine ............. Silkies.  Wait.  There is suppose to be 15.  Oh ... two deceased.  But we were still missing the 5 buff Silkies.

I got every one settled in the brooder..... plug in the light!  And poof!  The heat bulb was out!  So on to the farm store for another bulb!

They are now warm .... sweetly peeping in the brooder.  So far ... so good.  They are such tiny things.

In other news .... WOW!!!!! It is going to be a busy year on the farm!!!  My email and Facebook pages have been filled with booking events!  I love that!!!!

Please call and talk to me before booking your event on the farm.  We have weddings, showers, parties booked already.  Unfortunately ... this is a one woman show and the farm takes a lot of time.  This is also my home and laundry, baking, housekeeping is also on the schedule. So I can only book so many events in one week.  Normally ... I don't want more than two in the same week.

We do charge for large groups coming to the farm ..... so please look at the Field Trip tab for further details.

I have just started planting.... so I am totally unsure about flower availability at this time.  I don't know what to think!!!  The purple bouquet dianthus has started to bloom ... the lilies look like they should in June and the peonies have huge buds.

But the annuals are just starting to go in ..... and try as I might ..... they do not grow over night!!!

My best guess at the moment ... we will see snapdragons, larkspur and dianthus approximately June 1st.

Like always.

I so need a new crystal ball!!!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Slow Flowers

It is one thirty in the morning.

My back aches.  My hands cramp.  And my hips are sore.

I am tired.  But my mind is racing.  I am thinking about what needs to be pulled, planted or paid.  There is the class description to write, the recipes to sends, the bills to submit.  Where do I put the chicks that are coming in a couple of hours?  Will the lisianthus fill the row?  Is this a better site than the row I planted last year?

Kind of odd to be talking about slow flowers ... when it is such a busy time of year.

And I am not talking about the Fed Ex delay of today ..... though that threw everything for a loop!!  Normally, Fed Ex has the plugs here by noon - one pm.  And by 2 ... I was getting nervous.  I knew they had shipped ... but where were they? 

And what happened to ... when you absolutely positively have to have it???

I started tracking the shipment ... out for delivery. 

By four ... I was calling.  And finally, at 5:30 ...... the very last boxes in the truck .... they were here.  I was grateful for moderate temps but frustrated at a day lost.  But 500 lizzies are planted, watered, tagged and supported.  I will finish the rest later today.

But that not the slow flowers I'm talking about.

For years ... Slow Foods has brought the concept of local foods, regional tastes and heritage cooking out of the kitchen and into the news.  And now ..... its time for Slow Flowers.

Slow Flowers is the movement for locally sustainable flowers.  Not flowers that are shipped in from the Netherlands, Kenya or Columbia.  Not roses that have been dipped, sprayed and shaped into the scentless horticultural products found in floral cases at our local grocery stores.  No banned substances sprayed on them to extend their shelf life.

Slow Flowers are real. They aren't perfect because they are field grown without the use of pesticides.  We won't have lilacs in August.  Heck!  After this crazy spring weather, we won't have lilacs in May!  Slow Flowers is about the seasonality of flowers .... something that has been lost because of greenhouse forcing.  Their stems may have a beautiful curve ....their foliage a missing piece.  But they are beautiful blooms that are safe for you .... your family ... and your home.

Its what Miss Eff's has been giving you for 11 seasons now.  Local.  Fresh. Sustainable flowers grown without pesticides or herbicides.  Grown in rich Iowa soil.

So I impatiently wait for the first of June when the first snapdragon blooms ...... remind me that Slow Flowers are good things. 

And good things are worth waiting for. 

But Fed Ex could get here a little faster!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Can you hear me now????

Sorry to have suddenly dropped into a hole ..... my computer was visited by the "blue screen of death".  

Similar to the ghost of Christmas' past ..... the computer crashes and burns and I was left shaking under the covers!  Where will my pictures go???  How will I talk to anyone??   All my Facebook friends will think I had abandon them?  If I had played Farmville .... my crops would have died.

Fortunately, I have enough real crops of my own to tend .... I have to admit that they look much better with the extra attention they have gotten the last few days!  It has been so quiet on the farm ... no one saying, You've got mail!  

But I do have Pinterest withdrawal. 

So now that that is out of the way ....... wanna see what is new?????

I am totally in love with my new sign!!!!   Jen .... as usual .... worked her magic with the paint brush.

We do have a itsy bitsy problem ... I have to find a post worthy of this beautiful sign!!  It is not going on a standard old steel fence post!!!!   We do have an old newel post hanging out ...... I think we can do something with that.  Details will follow!!!

Ok -- in other news -- the fabulous Zan Asha is heading back to Miss Eff's this weekend!  So in celebration of her arrival ... we are having a party!!  Well -- its really a class -- but trust me, you will think you have been to a party!!!!

On Sunday ... April 29th ... 1 to 3 or 4 .... we are hosting an eggs-travaganza!!!  First of all .... we will make a souffle and then a rich and creamy cheesecake.  Both that we will devour with a nice green salad .... call it brunch.  Maybe some asparagus.  And while everything is baking .... Zan will be teaching some egg decorating.

$25 per person will get you in on the merriment.  We do have a few places at the table and would love to have you here.  There will definitely be more than enough cheesecake for all of us!!!!  Drop me a note...... cmlafrenz (at) netins (dot) net.

Garden planting begins in earnest today.  Black-eyed susans and lisianthus will go into today ... if the shipment comes before the rain does!!!  And tomorrow .... I will hear the peep peep peep of little chicken feet.

So Spring has truly come to Miss Eff's ..... won't be long before you will want to see it too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cannin', Craftin' and Classin'

First of all .... this is a post without photos.

Evidently, I decided that there would be no dirty photos at Miss Eff's ........... and gave that camera a hot water wash, extra rinse, 1200 rpm spin cycle. 


Let me give you a hint ..... its not a good thing.

In my defense, I grew up in a household that never checked pockets before laundering.  Dad was a large animal vet ..... you never knew what you might find.  So I grew up with sparkling clean dollar bills, shiny quarters and clothesline-fresh pocket knives.

I'd say ... I've learned my lesson.  Yes ... I have!  That extended warranty thing is fantastic!!!! Sooooo worth it.

But I digress.

So ... the other night I taught a jam making class. I had not made jam all winter ..... and suddenly as the fresh strawberries hit the gel point .... I had mojo!!!  Wow!  Stand back from the stove.... I am jammin'!

Saturday was a cold damp day .... and the canner was cookin'.

I made strawberry jam .....and strawberry-rhubarb jam ..... and strawberry daiquiri jam ..... and kiwi daiquiri jam and finally, apricot brandy jam.

Seriously .... a lot of boozy jam going on!!  So the Summer Kitchen is getting stocked up. Next on the agenda is Sunshine Jam, apple pie jam and maybe something herby. 

If you haven't picked up on it yet ..... I carry a knitting project wherever I go.  Always.  So when I'm at the stoplight ... I'm knitting.  If Honey is driving ... I am knitting.  If I am waiting .... I am knitting.

Most of the time .... its a dishcloth, tea cozy or bath mitt.  Mindless stuff.  But now I have a new plan ...

Source: via Sascha on Pinterest

I want to yarn bomb my bicycle .....

Lord knows, I have planted the basket full of flowers every year ... with so-so success.  So why not fill it full of knitted and crocheted flowers???

Well --- other than the fact that I don't crochet much!

So right now .... I am knitting i-cord streamers to weave through the spokes.  I'll knit a seat cover for the seat.  Something stripy and fun ...

This may take a while.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


There are moments in your life that you are grateful that you can pay someone back.

Today held one of those moments.

Carol called me and asked if I would help make cheese with a  4-H group.  YES!!  I would love to!  So for a little over an hour ... I spent time with some great 4-H'ers and got to make cheese.  Yea ... it was a win-win for me!!!

After we were done ... Carol said "I owe you one."

No .... I owe 4-H.

I owe 4-H for the best friends a woman could ever have.

I owe 4-H for the ability to see broccoli, olives, eggs and pasta in the fridge ... and know that supper will be just fine.

I owe 4-H for teaching me how to sew on a button, hand-pick the top stitching on a jacket, make a thumb in a pair of mittens and bake a loaf of bread. (I did not learn the proper way to hold a needle, though!!!!)

I owe 4-H for showing me how to do a proper demonstration.

I owe 4-H for the courage to walk up to a podium in a room full of strangers .... and  give a speech without fear.

I owe 4-H for inspiring me to reach outside my comfort zone to learn and try something new.

I owe 4-H for letting my wings grow .... and  giving me the knowledge that falling down is just part of getting up.

I owe 4-H for the dreams of a flower farmer.

I know 4-H has changed.  It may not be the same organization that I knew.  But if a young girl learns even the tiniest bit that I did .... she will do just fine.

And for that ... I say thank you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Waiting ............

You know that other shoe???

The one that I'm waiting for??

Yep .... it seems to be dropping.

Currently, it is 27 degrees on the east coast of Iowa.  No frost ... which is good.  But cold, nevertheless.

I'm in this state of limbo.

I have been ..... OK, I'll say it!!!! .... stressed about not planting.  We have had beautiful warm delightful weather .... and I have been biting my dirty nails!  I sooooo wanted to call the wholesalers and say .... Ship those plants ASAP!!!!

And I know better.

I've been there .... I've done that.... I've suffered the consequences.

This year, I pushed all my orders back a week. Instead of receiving my first order on 4/15 or so..... my first order should arrive around the 25th.

Why did I do that???

Well, the last several years ... I have been fighting the elements.  A warm early April seems to give in to a cold damp May ......... and my plants struggled.  They didn't die ... but they didn't grow.  So -- I finally got it through my head to wait.

And at this very moment ... I am glad I did.

Sort of...........

But I can not control the consequences of Mother Nature.  I have buds on the peonies.  Lilies have pushed up through the warm soil ... thinking it was spring.

My chives have fat purple buds ... waiting to break into bloom.  Traditionally, its time to plant zinnias when the chives are in bloom.

But not now.

Tonight's forecast is for 27 degrees.  It will be a hard freeze.  We might make it through it with the wind that is blowing.  But I have heard rumors of even colder temperatures for next week. Last week's frost, damaged some foliage .... nipped a few lilies in a lower bed.

So I'm asking for prayers, warm thoughts, and some good luck.

Cuz that shoe is that is dropping is more like a snow boot!!!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kill the Beast!

Honey and I try to live a peaceful .. calm .. existence. 

Especially when it comes to our sleeping habits.

No television in the bedroom.  No noisy furnace.  No window air conditioner blowing its icy cold breeze on us.

Just the gentle glow of my electric mattress pad and the quiet voice of the radio.

Until Monday morning!!!

Unfortunately, our nice reliable 10 year old clock-radio decided to abandon its alarm feature.  Fortunately, my husband's bio-rhythms are just like clock work and he wakes up at 5:30 ... alarm or not.

However .... living on the edge like that .... may not be a wise thing to do in the business world!!!   For some reasons, bosses would like you to be at work on time.  And my roosters start to crow at 3 am. so you can't count on them to be punctuational!!!

It was time to purchase a cheap alarm clock to fill the gap.  Most people look at the features ... the looks ... the snooze control.  Me .... I looked at price!

$10 ... that will work!!

So we were off to plug it in!  Wow!  Won't miss those numbers, Honey said.  You will see them without your glasses!

Three inch tall numbers!!!!  REALLY!!!  Notice the bright red glow.

That bright red glow can be seen from the outside.  REALLY!!!!

And we are fairly close to the Mount Joy airport.  Will we be mistaken for a landing strip???  Is this a fog light on the Mississippi???  Have we suddenly become a light house????

OK --enough of that!  We rub ourselves down with sunscreen SPX 30 ... to prevent burning, don our sunglasses and go to bed.

Somewhere ... in the middle of my dream where I am dating George Clooney .... 5:30 am arrives.


Patches ... our cat.. flies a foot into the air and runs immediately under the covers!!

We rush to the window to see if  anything has crashed in our yard!!

We turn on the radio ... we are certain we will hear ... This is not a test!

But all is calm in the world .... so we hit snooze.


And all I can say is ..... Kill the Beast!

Slowly ... we are getting used to the glow in the night.  But the alarm??????

Now ..... how do I work the snooze??????

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hanging it up ...............

You thought I meant the farm???????

I was going to retire and hang up my trowel?????

Oh, no!!!  Its my laundry.

This is what I had ....................




And at Miss Eff's .... we try very hard not to do Ho-hum.

I've been called a lot of things ... but Ho-hum is not one of them!!!!

This was my inspiration ......................

Yep ... right from Pinterest.  As Honey says .... He now has pictures for his Honey-Do list!

So all winter long ... I waited and drooled over this picture posted on the fridge.

I searched out the perfect pieces to make the perfect clothesline.

A turned post ... a mortised cross-piece ... beautiful custom made Victorian brackets.   

And my darling Honey created the perfect clothesline.

Now ... having the perfect clothesline isn't the most important thing in my life.

But it sure makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

There are no atheist farmers.............

Sunday ... at church ... we had an amazing service on prayer.

For an hour ... we prayed.  We prayed prayers of confession and prayers of joy.  We sang songs of praise and songs of worship.  We prayed for friends, family and those that are hurting.

It was beautiful.

Recently ... there have been too many days of sadness.  Too many memories of old times that will never be reminisced.  Too many friends lost.

As I was in the garden ... working with my fingers deep in the soil..... the robins surrounded me with song.   The frogs in the pond were wooing potential mates.  The hens cackled with delight as I tossed fat grubs to them along with the freshly-pulled weeds.

The sun was hot on my back and the chives filled the air with their peppery scent as I brushed against them.

And it is in the garden .... that I can truly escape in prayer.

It is there ... I can feel the power and glory of God's goodness and salvation.  It is there ... I can confess my sins and sing his praise.

It is in the garden ... that I feel whole.

Yet ... sometimes .... I feel amiss as a Christian as I feel closer to God in that garden ... than in any church.

I was feeling the "disconnect"  yesterday ..... when I opened a wonderful letter.... with a delightful picture.... and this poem that can say it much better than  my words ever will.

 Thank you, my dear friend.  Love and joy to you always.

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird--
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be 
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lean finely textured beef .......

We have seen it on the news. 

We have seen it online. 

That cotton-candy pink meat filler that has been processed by exposing meat trimmings to ammonia gas.

And now, Iowa Governor Branstad and USDA Secretary Vilsack want to assure us that it is safe.  They seemed to imply that we consumers and the media are acting hysterically to a product that is safe and healthy. 

That "hysteria" has cost 200 jobs in Iowa at BPI.

And this is my take on it.....

I am going to assume that "pink slime" is safe.  After all, Governor Branstad has been eating it for 30 years and he is just fine. (I really didn't just say that, did I?????)

But this is what is pissing me off ............. I have the right to know what is in the food I eat and how it is processed!

Bottom line. 

Now -- I have to admit -- the majority of beef that I eaten in my life has been processed at small lockers.  The steer that goes to the locker is the beef that goes into my freezer.  I may pay a little more for hamburger but I am guaranteed that there is no "pink slime" in it.  And I know I pay far less for that prime rib that I am eating!

But if I have a hamburger emergency and have to buy some supermarket burger (I said if!) I want it to be beef .... not beef processed by exposure to ammonia gas.  And if it is .... I want to know about it!!!

Personally .. we may say it is safe.  But BPA lined veggie cans were "safe".  Cigarettes were "safe". 
DES for pregnant women was declared "safe".  And later .... we discovered that we were wrong.

One in eight babies is born premature.  One in 110 children is diagnosed with autism. Food allergies abound.
And why is that???

Has technology exposed us to manufacturing practices, chemicals and preservatives that may not "hurt" us ..... but they sure aren't helping us????

There is a quote in Joy of Cooking .... I couldn't find it but it goes somewhat like this ....

Processed cheese is technology over conscious.

Give us the facts.  Give us the information..... we can make our minds up for ourselves.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A day in paradise .... Simply Iowa.


Who am I to turn down an invitation to a garden party????

So when Barb from Simply Iowa in Fairfax, issued her invitation .... I told Honey it was time to empty the truck and hit the road!

Friday ... Honey and I took off and stopped and had a fabulous breakfast at my favorite cafe.  After fueling up in anticipation of a  hard morning of antiquing, we were off to Fairfax.

First of all .... I am just putting it out there .... If I ever ever win the lottery, Barb has to come to my house and decorate!  I just love her style.  She has this amazing shop filled with previously loved items ..... and the love shows through!!  Pieces of stained glass in a chipped bowl, well-read books, torn pieces of handmade lace.  I love it all!!!!

We had just pulled up to park .... and right behind us were two of my very very favorite people!!  Tamara and Cynthia came with Tamara's big truck!  At this point ... it is jump, jump, jump! hug, hug, hug! giggle, giggle, giggle!

 Ahhhhhh.......... if I go toooooo crazy, there might be a way to get stuff home!!!  Fortunately, Honey and I can stack the truck like the Beverly Hillbillies and feel no shame!!!!

A truly drool-worthy vignette ... Norwegian style spinning wheel ... a tied crazy quilt and a sponged yellow ware bowl.  Honey had to pull me away.

It was a good thing that I showed some restraint, cuz Tamara filled her truck with these fabulous windows!!!!  And you can't see the wonderful arched topped windows that go with them!!  What a wonderful buy!! Her creativity and vision will put them to good use!!!


It was a great day .....

We had a wonderful time, just cruising through the very green Iowa countryside. 

Cuz after all .... it may not be heaven but it is Iowa.