Saturday, August 31, 2013

Comfort Food for Your Feet

It started decades ago, without me consciously realizing it, this love of creating beauty, and it certainly was not something I spent time contemplating. Especially a favorite was taking something that was intended for one thing and using it for another. I firmly believe my mother instilled this in me by example: she could, and still does today, create something out of practically nothing - in home decor and food.

The creative side of me was not born, it was developed; cultivated, coerced, bribed, and given an ultimatum: Create or be "normal." This flower of ingenuity did not begin to bloom until the year 2007 and has not stopped since. Oh, sure, there have been quiet spells, busy spells and "normal" spells - but there is always this need to create something.

farmhousewife rag-rugs of yester-year
One summer, about five years ago, my mom came to visit and stayed for a couple weeks. She taught me how to make a crocheted rag-rug.

The Three Original Rugs that Mom and I made.

Vivid in my memory bank is the red crocheted rag-rug she had for many years. Easily washed, re-shaped and laid flat - it was ready for duty of any kind. Kitchen duty, bath duty, or "let the kitten play underneath and peek through the holes" duty.

Most Recent: currently in a lovely little shop called LaLa & Co in Troy, NC

We made three rugs and a basket that visit, and I kept all three of them. Most of the ones I've made since then have been bartered, sold or given away as gifts. They're time consuming - mostly the prep work - yet very satisfying to create with endless color combination possibilities.

"Prairie Pink" completed sweet!
Easy to care for, these rugs can be washed on gentle cycle, line dried and re-shaped to enjoy over and over again. They can be used as a bed-side rug, accent, baby's room, basket-liner, RV door mat, and more. Durable, soft, and oh-so-cute they are sure to serve as comfort food for your feet. Each one a farmhousewife original, made from up-cycled sheets, pillow-cases and various other materials, they put good use to these items that might have otherwise been discarded. The materials are laundered and line-dried before the creativity begins

If you're looking for something handmade, unique, no-two-alike for yourself or a loved one - let me know how I can create something for you. Have a look at my in-stock rugs in my Etsy store and tell me what you think! As always, let me know if I can answer any questions. Ordering is easy, secure and, also, I'm happy to deliver if you are local to Montgomery and Stanly Counties in North Carolina.

Happy Creating, y'all!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Cha-Cha of Success

"Even though you are going completely backwards, you're still making progress."

Watch this:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Early Morning in August

Crickets. Frogs and toads. Birdsong. Hens 'talking' to one another. The hum of the ceiling fan. The gurgling of the last bit of water through the coffee pot.

These are the sounds of the early morning here at Hope Farms. Coupled with a temperature of just 60* Fahrenheit this fine sixteenth day of August makes the day ahead feel like a picnic even though there is much to be done.

Rain is coming in the forecast today, and about a month ago I would have shrugged my shoulders and shook my head, but this time it's welcome. The band on the radar shows a pretty heavy rainfall - even if it doesn't amount to much in inches - it looks like many short downpours are headed our way here at the foot of the Uwharrie Mountains.

There are seeds in the raised beds coming up - the germination rate is so very quick in this warm weather as compared to February or March - and I'm so looking forward to this next round of growing.

Renewed. Refreshed. Energized. That's how it feels to have the very welcome break in the heat this week.

The last six weeks have been difficult to say the least. At the farmers' market yesterday I was talking with a woman who has been coming to the market faithfully, just about every single week for the entire three seasons we've been there, and she was telling me that everyone she knows that had a garden this year did pitifully.

Tomatoes are hard to come by. Okra is offered by the handful instead of the bushel. Squash? HAHA! When usually one is sneaking on to neighbors porches with zucchini in 20+ pound packages, there is nary a one to be found right now. Well, maybe one. Like the one lone yellow crookneck squash I took to the market yesterday and gave to a fellow vendor when she came over to get some Swiss chard (what's left of it after the army worms destroyed 1/2 of the crop) and an eggplant (which are doing fairly well considering their latest attack by aphids).

Today, I'm going to plant more seeds than necessary. I'm going out on a limb - so to speak - because that's where the fruit is. The fall garden here at Hope Farms is going to ROCK! And as ever, with NO SYNTHETIC CHEMICALS. Ever.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Backward & Forward - Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Whilst some folks are just now seeing the fruits of their labor in the garden, it is not the case here at Hope Farms. What some might see here are weeds, some failed crops, and some crops that haven't not only been transplanted yet, but some that haven't even been seeded yet.

The conclusion is painful, but must be admitted: Hope Farms, on opening day of the Stanly County Farmers' Market, was the only farm present with actual fresh produce being offered. There was kale, collards, Swiss chard, lettuces, radishes, carrots, onions, freshly-cut herbs and more. I don't even recall all that I had on the table, but it was a pivotal moment. To have had all of that by just April 13 after the coldest March on record in who-knows-how-long? But I digress.

That in itself is not the painful part.

The punch-in-the-stomach is this: there isn't enough being produced, right now, to support the busiest and largest market that we attend.

Chalk it up to inexperience. Rain. Bugs. Voles. Rain. Oh, and did I mention rain? How about wind? Yeah, all of the above. Maybe throw in some poor planning. But that would suffice within inexperience, yes?

Here's what it comes down to:

I cannot come to the market on Saturdays anymore until my fall crops begin to come in. 

The goal is to be back to Saturdays at the Stanly County market by the beginning of September.

Meanwhile, we will continue to attend Mondays market at Stanly Commons from 10 am to 2 pm as well as Thursdays market in downtown Troy from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

A great deal has been learned this year, folks, and one of the biggest and most important things I've come to know as priority is honesty.

So there it is. In all of its painful glorious honesty. Our small-timey farm is not big-time. And that's okay.

Those of you who cannot make it to those markets and would like to stop by the farm - please do not hesitate to call or e-mail (see tab above that says, "Contact Us.") We're more than happy to let you know what we've got available and make arrangements for you to pick it up.

There are many thanks to all of those who have supported us, no matter which market, through this season so far. We're very grateful for you!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Gains and Losses = Hope

Yes, it's another one of those posts.

Having a green thumb isn't all it's cracked up to be. Being dependent on weather and the health of the soil from which the garden grows is a large portion of success, or luck, however you look at it. It has always amazed me immensely to look at a seed and contemplate how this tiny speck of hope uses soil, water, oxygen and ultimately becomes nourishment in the form of food or beauty. Either way, the ability to raise plants is a gift. Sometimes it comes in a not-so-pretty package.

Wind-ravaged and rain-soaked, the plants in the garden are each telling their own stories. Some sweet pepper plants have turned yellow and have wilted from all of the water. The tomato plants in the greenhouse are suffering, probably, from some form of humidity-induced fungal issue. Heat and sun-loving okra plants are stunted, yet with stubborn determination flowering and even producing a few pods of little okra babies. My Swiss chard has mushrooms languishing at their feet and the cucumber vines have had holes punched delicately in their leaves by a voracious cucumber beetle and their numerous family members. Squash plants are forlorn soldiers, laying on their sides, awaiting final death from the vine borers and damage from the squash bugs.

Even so. Hope. It's what keeps us all going. Even in the rainiest season in decades. Or akin to the summer of 2007, the driest of seasons in decades. This cyclical change in the weather has been happening for hundreds of years - those that have been recorded that is. It is the reason that the farm is named so.

More often than not we have a tendency to complain, "why me?" when things aren't going the way we'd like. The point, here, isn't to dwell on all of the things that can and do go wrong, but to realize the gift of learning that is within the failure. If I hadn't jumped into a market garden with both feet this year I never would have known what it is like to test the limits of my knowledge and also to have come to the realization that using synthetic herbicides and pesticides are never sustainable!

Having a purpose can go a long way in getting us through the doldrums that too much spring and summer rain can induce.

Sometimes that purpose is difficult to locate in the weedy patch of life. Our gardens can reflect us. Crazy, I know. Hither-thither, vines going astray, weeds filling in the gaps of a once clean palate. Right this very minute, I can relate to that reflection. The weeds have taken over. I'm a bit disorganized (especially inside the house!) and I'm not as vibrant and productive as I was two months ago.

There is a reason for the changing of the seasons. I'm ready for the season of FALL!

How is YOUR garden growing? Is it a reflection of you?