Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Some pics from around the farm for fun.

A nice cut flower arrangement Kim made for the county fair.

Dry Land Acorn squash in the new Tire Garden

Various C. Pepo Winter Squash (and a few True Gold Crookneck)

The Tire Garden (AKA Enoch's Garden, more coming soon)

Bush Butternut in the tire garden.

Two Saucerful Of Secrets Sunflowers Kim picked as specimens for the fair.

Quite possibly the ugliest (but scrapiest) bantam I've bred yet. A cochin x polish cross.

Amanda Palmer first place at the fair. (Peck of Shelled Corn)

Luna, one of our two new potbellied pigs (and coincidentally a "pot bellied" me in the background)

Batman and his duck Harem.

Kiva turkey poults.

Pallet based hog shelter!

The newest sustainable building experiment to hit the ground here at Bishop's Homegrown is a hog shed made nearly 100% of pallets! We have been talking about adding a smaller type homestead hog to the homestead for quite some time now and put a ton of thought into the phenotypic traits we would be looking for within the genetics of our line but hadn't put much thought into available materials with which to build a hog shed proper. Then it occured to me....

Pallets! I'm all the time scavenging these things for various other building projects including but not limited to gates, fences, and blackberry/raspberry trellis systems. I had recently come accross some nice eight foot long pieces and some brand new standard four foot by four foot ones as well as various other sizes via two local businesses that just pile them by their trash bin for disposal.

I started by cutting some posts from Sasafrass on the Northern fence border of the farm (got covered in poison ivy doing it, which I've never had a reaction from until now) and I salvaged a couple of posts from the neighbors throw away pile as well (and a couple "old bones" my reference to dead cedar posts I cut while gathering wood for winter). The dimensions came out to eight foot by twelve foot and required a total of 11 short posts. The roof is made of two eight foot long by four foot wide pallets nailed to the inside of the posts and then nailed accross and to each other via the 2 x 4 support board of the pallets. The sides are two standard sized pallets nailed to the posts and the roof and then covered with heavy duty plywood scavenged from shipping boxes and fastened to the existing structure. The back wall is cobled together by some short three foot by three foot pallets and covered with whatever scavenged lumber I could find from pallets that weren't in great shape in their whole form.



Side (covered with plywood from shipping crate)

I don't yet have any pictures of the fence which will encompass the yard (this is just a night time shelter, during the day the pigs will be pastured) but the fence is also made up of pallets of various sizes. The fence pallets are recessed into the ground about 6 inches to dissuade the hogs from burrowing out of the enclosure and are reinforced by nailing scab wood between pieces to tighten the joints as well as by using some old greenhouse frame (bent) driven into the ground and woven through the pallets. Since we are dealing with small hogs they will not have the brute physical strength to push their way through the fence and once they bump their nose on the hard surface this should dissuade them from even trying.

Along the fence I will build a feed trough out of two pieces of rough cut two by six nailed together in a V shape and a automatic waterer will be provided in the form of a 50 gallon plastic drum (salvaged from a food processing plant) with a screw in antique pig fountain. The roof will be covered with an old piece of bilboard tarp (verizon wireless side down so as not to give any free advertising to passenger planes above) though you could go old school and simply create a hay stack or thatced type roof which would shed rain water and snow while providing insulation just the same.

More pictures as I finish up the project. We are also converting a small chicken coop, which was once a hog shed on Kim's fathers farm into a secondary hog shed for overflow. More on that soon too!

White Blackberry updates.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately guys, but working on saving seeds, building some hog sheds, cutting wood, harvesting produce and helping start a new market has taken up a ton of my time. Anyhow, here are some long promised pictures and updates detailing the growth and taste of the two white blackberries; Snowbank and Nettletons.




Both the Snowbank and Nettletons proved to be vigorous and excellent producers which flowered within one or two days of each other lending credence to my thought that they are likely related with Nettletons likely having originally been the long lost "Iceberg" Burbank released prior to Snowbank, transplanted of course by the homesteader who's farm the Nettleton brothers later found the plants. The Nettletons began to ripen just after the fourth of July and are still now ripening a few berries as of July 31'st. The Snobank was a bit less productive and took a while longer to ripen and seemed to drop quite a few berries (possibly weather related). Phenotypically the nettletons produced a larger more oblate berry than the snowbank which tended to produce a longer more Hymilaian type berry.

In regards to tast, the Nettletons is particularly hard to pick in a "prime" state. There is a bit of a tendency towards an acidic to very acidic taste, particularly if picked even just a tad underripe. The best ripeness indicator I could find was when the berries actually turn quite a bit noticably translucent in color and even then the berries still maintain and amount of acidity. They will I do believe (and I have every intention of doing so with the frozen fruit in my freezer) make a nice Jelly or Jam and I'm thinking with the addition of a champagne type wine yeast make a wonderful dry "sparkling wine". Definitely one to relegate mostly to the world of further preparation.

The Snowbank on the other hand had the full on flavor of a wild type blackberry and actually stayed more creamy white than the Nettletons. Excellent for fresh eating but a little underproductive, it also tended to fruit a bit lower on the plant allowing easy access to our flock of turkeys, ducks, chicken, and guineas who did find and eat them with great relish.

The two types were planted right next to one another in anticipation of many crosses which could improve the germplasm, we also made many controlled crosses between the two as well as local wild blackberries. Seed of all of the above will be available via Face Of The Earth Seed this coming fall, so too should rootlets be available for both types.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dear Un-Sustainable Department Of Agriculture.....

Why would you struggle so hard to cover up the truth, it just makes people like me want to blast it out there on my blog, on homegrown goodness, on my facebook, and in e-mail

Would those of you in the interest of knowledge and food safety like to know what I'm talking about? Prepare yourselfs to become very angry. Here it is

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A little late, but still relevant!

Wow, been incredibly busy here on the farm and away as well. Engaged in finishing up the last of the plant breeding for quite some time and setting all the wheels to spin for the winter 2011 season as well as the 2012 season as a whole (lots to come on this later including pictures!)along with helping to create a new farmers and artisans market in my hometown (Pekin Indiana).

Anyhow, though the Oak Park Controversy is now seemingly settled with the charges having been droped it brings to light many issues that need to be addressed, particularly issues dealing with self sufficiency, personal beauty aesthetics, and control grid society.

By now I'm sure you've heard and read all about it, but for those who haven't, apparently Oak Park resident Julie Bass was facing charges (including 93 days in jail) for simply planting a vegetable garden in her front yard.

Yeah, I know right? Fucking asinine to say the least!

First of all were dealing here with property rights, if I own it, it's mine, I'll do what I want how I want as long as it's not in violation of city laws and since the laws there only vaguely refer to "living plant material" a garden fits right in. Take it and shove it! Of course "rights" in today's world is an objective term.....

That said, let us point out all the reasons everyone should be ripping out their lawns to replace them with thriving gardens.

-The economy and the U.S. Dollar is gone. Food inflation isn't coming, it's here, and it isn't going to get any better any time soon.
-Oil production (regardless of weather your a "peak oil" believer or not) isn't going to go up or get any less expensive due to regulations and price manipulation coupled with the devaluing of the dollar, it isn't going to be long before gas powered machinery is a luxury (and that includes you too my farming friends with tractors!)
-Natural disasters; 2011 is a case in point, things politically and climatically globally are far more unstable than they have been in quite some time.

Since we know this isn't the first or the last time that someone has tried to make it illegal for the cultivator to put the earth to good use and we know there are far more ignorant town managers, mayers, and neighborhood improvement ass hats out there we can pretty much be assured this will happen again, particularly as (the wrong) people in power (and nosy neighbors with nothing to share or offer) become more agitated by the world and circumstances surrounding their pitifully empty lives. When everything they know is gone they look for a reason to act absurd, when they don't find one they make one up. So to them I offer this promise...........

Your cities and comfortable lives will fail, maybe not today, tomorrow, or next year, but the world you know has forever unalterably been set on a different and uncharted course. Everything that you know that brings you comfort through "suburban and urban normality" will soon be a long lost memory, I know that makes you feel vulnerable and lost and your pitiful mind longs for reason and understanding (or, more likely thrives on the chaos you inflict on others)but you can pretty much forego any comprehension skills you might have once had because they no longer mean shit.

When it comes right down to it were going to need all those front yard, side walk, median, abandoned house/property gardens. Were gonna need to rip the useless landscape plants out of the pretty little cul de sac your overpriced, cheaply built, no equity home sits in front of and were gonna need to replant it to things that matter. Life sustaining food and medicine, domestic animals, fungi, and so much more, and your going to have to learn to deal with it, weather you like it our not, your life may depend on it.

Until then I encourage everyone in every town, city, state, municipality, county, country, everywhere; globally to take to "green grafiti" as we have discussed here on the blog before. Start making seed balls full of life sustaining seed and pelting empty spots in landscape beds, traffic medians, empty lots, ditches, and particularly in overpriced subdivisions for the sake of long term sustainability! We can all produce far more seed than we will ever need, why not put it to good use.

Oh, and just think about the possibilities when it comes to seed of that "illegal" plant..............the most traveled seeds in the world (riding in 1 out of 3 cars) being sent flying out the window at 60 miles an hour (Fukuoka Revamped!) into ditches and public property everywhere. Police that!

Social experiments prior to total economic colapse (get your shit ready, this ain't the real deal but it's coming!)

"blah, blah, blah, im on the left and I say the right is wrong." "Blah, Blah, Blah, i'm on the right and I say the left is wrong." "Wait whos the third guy behind the cutrain tuging on those ropes?" "Who me, oh, nevermind me, pay attention they ain't gonna send out the social security checks!" Yeah and Micki Mouse craps rasins too. It's all part of a social experiment to see just how absolutely bat shit insane they can drive the populus before we really get pushed off the edge. Just how much resistance will we put up. Not to mention it keeps us distracted from the real wolf in sheeps clothing, the Federal Reserve and their manipulation of the monetary supply as well as that illegal war in Libya and those other two continuing illegal wars (what countries were involved in those again? why are we there? Seriously, there are teenagers now that have no clue, growing up believing "that's what we do")

Oh and pay no mind to what's happening in Quartsite Arizona either.....that's just another one of those "social experiments" which will be coming soon to a town near you.

Are you growing food now? Are you saving seed? Are you finding non purchased alternatives for fertilizer and pesticides?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kimi’s Redneck School for the Domestically Challenged

So, Alan has been telling me for a while that I need to start posting to the blog, as he talks about me, and what we do on the farm, and yet no one has seen or heard from me since we started the blog, thusly that makes me make believe. However, here I sit. I had an epiphany this past weekend while doing some canning of my own on the farm and helping my Daddy do some canning here at home, and now born of this epiphany is Kimi’s Redneck School for the Domestically Challenged. This will be hopefully a weekly, maybe bimonthly installment on the blog. The idea being that I will to the best of my ability break down ‘domestic’ tasks for today’s young women and men in a bare bones simplistic way with little tips and tricks that I pick up as I learn these things. Let me clarify, domestic tasks do not include “this is how your run the sweeper” or “this is how you wash the dishes”. The domestic tasks I speak of are things that our grandparents, great grandparents, and great Aunts and Uncles did to survive when times were tough. They made their own clothes and blankets, they made their own soap, they grew and preserved their own food. Most of the time with out the assistance of the luxuries we have today such as chemical fertilizer, and commercial preservatives, or industrial machines, and most definitely with out the aid of the local department store. Trips to the department store were a once in a great while thing when times were tough, Seeing as how ecomonic times are what they are now, and things are getting tough again, I believe its time to revisit these tried and tested practices with the younger generation. This is by no means a ‘how to…’ this is just a tool to get you started. You will be learning as I learn, and hopefully you’ll gain the confidence to seek out those in your life who can really teach you how to do these things.

Adventures in Canning

What better way to start off than with Canning, as I said it is what inspired me to start this article for the blog. My family has been canning for as long as I can remember. When my Mommy went into labor with my sister she was canning green beans, and caring for my little brother who was just starting to break out with the chicken poxs. My great Aunt Jean who baby sat us as children, can’s everything she can, green beans, corn, pickles, beats, etc. I remember standing over the stove with Daddy on a chair stirring the blackberry juice making jelly at around the age of 7 or 8. These are all great memories, but until the couple of years I’ve not really actively pursued participating in canning as an adult. But these times as they are its become a necessity.

Last year my Aunt Jean taught my sister and I how to make her famous dill pickles. Aunt Jean makes other pickles, but dill is our favorite. This year I attempted it by myself, and I have to say it was a success. First thing is first when pickling anything, when you’re learning, it’s okay to use a mix…You can try actual pickling recipes once you’ve got the method down.

We use Mrs. Wage’s Kosher Dill Pickle Mix as our brine. You will also need powdered Alum, vinegar, and water. A table spoon of Alum to your brine will help to keep your pickles crisp. You’ll also need jars, I recommend pint jars for hamburger chips and quart jars for spears, and lids and rings for your jars. Though its not required, I highly recommend a jar clamp for aiding in the moving around of hot jars, and a lid and ring magnet, and a jar funnel. You will also want three kettles, one to heat your brine in, the second with a rack of some form in the bottom to hot water bath your jars to insure proper ‘pickling’ and sealing, and a third to sanitize your lids and rings in. Finally, you’ll need cucumbers, the recipe calls for between 9 and 11 lbs of cucumber.

Preparing your work area is probably the single most important thing to do before you start canning. You want your work area to be clean, sanitary, and uncluttered. You need room to work as you’re going to be dealing with scalding hot jars and liquids. After your work area is prepared its time to prepare your jars and lids, it’s always best to boil your clean jars for about 5 minutes as it will help to kill any remaining germs, the same applies to lids and rings.

Lay a towel out on the counter top in the area in which you plan to work.. Set your jars in place. Clean and cut your cucumbers and pack them into the jars. Packing a jar is a special skill that is only acquired through time and practice. This is one where the older folks in your family can show you how it should be done. Back during the depression they packed their jars tight so as to use less material and resources but to preserve as much food as possible at the same time.

Mix your brine according to the package directions. Again, start with a mix, just to get your feet wet. Add the table spoon of Alum to your brine, and heat till dissolved. While your brine is heating, turn on your kettle with the rack in the bottom with enough water in it to come about halfway up your filled jars. You want this water to be brought up to a gentle boil.

Once your brine is ready, using a jar funnel fill the packed jars up to the bottom lip on the rim of the jar. Once your jars are filled using a clean moistened paper towel, wipe off the rim of the jars, and using the lid magnet place lids and rings on the jars and tighten. Do be very careful not to touch the seal or the bottom side of the lid. If you do, you can compromise both your seal, and the integrity of the product in the jar, as though you are being as careful as possible, you never know what you may have accidentally laid your hands in during the course of this process.

Once your jars are lidded, place only as many as what will fit with out clanking together onto the rack of of the hot water the bath. The rack is necessary as it keeps the water bubbles from getting trapped under the jars.. Cover and let boil gently for the time allotted on your mix package. For the mix that we use, its five minutes for pints and ten minutes for quarts.

When the boil is complete using your jar clamp, gently and carefully remove the hot jars from the bath and set on the towel to cool. Then repeat until all jars have been through the hot water bath. DO NOT bang the jars together as they could explode. DO NOT touch the button on the tops of the lids either, this could create a false seal that will fail and your product will go rancid on you.
Finally…Listen for the pops. As each jar seals it makes a popping sound. I count the number of pops. Sometimes sealing can take several hours, so don’t freak out should not all your jars seal with in a few hours. Any that doesn’t move to the refrigerator and eat them first.

So as you can see there really is nothing to canning pickles. Pickling is an easy and quick way to get your feet wet in the wide world of canning and preserving your own foods. Next time we’ll discuss canning green beans, and likely after that we’ll delve into adventures in jelly making.

Happy Canning y’all!