Posted by: Skymint hollow | January 5, 2015

End of one dream and begining a new one?

It has been a very long 2014.  I last posted back in March of 2014- just after that we found that my husband’s chemo treatments were no longer working so they switched him to a new treatment that also stopped working a couple of months later. This went on until October 2.  The doctors then told us that there were no more options and that they had done all they could do and they left the option up to him. try more chemo variations and hope they work but be sick and miserable all the time or opt for quality of life with the time left. As there was not any combo they hadn’t tried already he opted for quality, John passed away October 26, 2014 after a 7 year battle with colon cancer.

My daughter and I discussed things over the last couple of months agree we are set up for farming right now so we will continue with that maybe on an even smaller scale until we can make some concrete plans for later. As for me I am going back to school to get a second degree in Biology to go with my first in Health Science. I will be going back into the classroom when I am thru as well as continuing to farm but because of the changes in policies towards small family farms I feel that I need a first line of stability for myself and my daughter hence going back into teaching until we can really come up with what we are going to do next. (she wants cows so my guess is it will always be farming.) So the end of one dream is the beginning of the next one…. and it is very hard to let the other go as well as the man who shared it with me.

We will be renaming the farm and doing a few things differently as my area was growing and the animals while John was the head mechanic, gadget fixer and jerry-rigger and I am not so good at those things yet so what began as a very green farm is going to have to cheat a little until I learn more of those skills to keep us on the sustainable path.



Posted by: Skymint hollow | March 19, 2014

Plants and Pork.

IMG_20140316_175703 IMG_20140316_175733


Once again we are in the midst of starting this summers plants so far so good however I have a feeling this summer is going to be dry and hot.  Meanwhile we are dealing with greenhouses and seeds and soil mixes.  we found a box ready greenhouse at the farm supply store that was an 8×10 for a really great price so we have started with that  however we are in the process of making our own; not out of old windows like we had planned- those are now cold frames- the greenhouse is out of cow panels 3 at $20 each a pallet base and greenhouse grade plastic we snapped at a hardware store that was going out of business. The storm door and screen door we will get at Habitat for Humanity’s Restore- which is an awesome place to get building supplies and help out a great organization. You may have to frame out the doors so that can be an added expense but really not much.  Here is my pathetic drawing from which my husband will make a terrific greenhouse mostly bc he “gets” the idea and was the first to suggest the building method when we realized that the old window version of said greenhouse is not budget friendly at all.



It will take a while to build as his energy is limited right now and our time is really limited but It will be ready to move stuff to over winter in by fall.

In other news we are enjoying the pigs that have been sent to freezer camp this past month and are making fresh sausages, curing all sorts of stuff and getting ready to start smoking some bacon.  Fresh home grown pork is awesome the taste is totally unlike what you buy in the store! We are hooked.

Breakfast sausage recipe (sausage patties)

I used the herbs we dried from the garden last year. I also make our own pepper flakes and cayenne (I don’t use cayenne often at breakfast too early for that!)

1 lb ground pork

handful sage at least 2 tablespoons minimum

pinch of rosemary

2 tablespoons of thyme leaves

red pepper flakes




1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (extra spicy)

1 tablespoon light brown sugar (sweet and spicy)

In a medium size bowl or pan mix all ingredients together well- using a fork or your hands.  Make small balls of about a tablespoon of the mix and then place them in your frying pan and flatten them out with a fork. Fry over medium heat until they no longer have any “give” in the middle and are not showing any pink inside.

I’ll be making sausage lengths later this weekend with some of the other ground pork we have from this years pork harvest. Probably garlic sausage and maybe some Italian sausage. It will be a very tasty weekend!



Posted by: Skymint hollow | March 11, 2014

SO it has been a long while since my last post..

It has been a longgggg time since I last posted. We have had some changes but nothing very major.  We are however concentrating on livestock now because of the poor growing conditions we had last year.  Pigs can live anywhere! (we are concentrating on Kunekunes for the pigs) Below is Esmerelda and  Arthur…


We are definitely raising heritage animals and looking at adding a few more and well an alpaca or 2 because I need to feed my fiber habit plus I am teaching my daughter to weave and that is a fiber rich project, let me tell you.

We are still doing as many sustainable living/farming techniques as we can. However we are limited right now in doing new things because my husband’s cancer has started to become aggressive again so we are inching along but steadily inching.

This year’s goal however is to complete the new rainwater collection system and start to grow all of the animals feed here on the farm- so far the feed growing is doing well.

Sorry to write and run after being away for so long, however, life had to come first and now that it is settling down I will be posting more often.

Posted by: Skymint hollow | August 8, 2013

Still on the down slide for the summer but fall is looking good..



The hens finally started laying beautiful brown eggs and the ameraurcanas blue-green eggs-  unfortunately the neighbor’s dogs ate the ameracaunas  after digging THRU the chicken tractor of all things. So we are now just getting the nice brown eggs and a few white eggs. Either way we have new baby chicks and some new little kunekune/guinea hogg cross piglets named Hamlet and the other porkchop.  I will post pictures later.  This is new for us as we have never raised pigs before so it should be a definite learning experience.  Other than that we are building, and planting.  We are not however harvesting much as the excessive rain this year has literally washed the farm out- beautiful blooms on the veggies but no veggies, it is very frustrating.  We will be going for a full fall planting so hoping that will turn out well.

Hoping to post more later this weekend or next week, I just wanted to share the pretty egg picture 🙂

Posted by: Skymint hollow | July 5, 2013

Ark in progress, duck are ecstatic.

Believe it or not it is still raining, we are over our average annual rainfall by 22 inches already and its July!! Needless to say its been a tough growing season but things are growing fairly well. Beans, peppers and squash are happy the tomatoes not so much. The chickens are a bit soggy but they are also ok and fairly happy, which is good as we are about to add 30 new chickens tomorrow.  The ducks on the other hand are over the moon they are so happy with the weather.

Other than that we are considering building an Ark as we are under another flood watch, we have literally been under a flood watch since December! 

As the weather hasn’t really cooperated we have been doing “crafts” to decorate the herb gardens and the front porch which has been fun and it is a distraction from not being able to get the farm work completely done instead of half done.  One is a tea party in the garden:


nothing major just a bit of fun, the plants in the cups are succulents so they like the moist, not so well-drained soil.

We have a few projects getting ready to take off so when we have them started or ready to start I will post more, meanwhile stay dry!



Posted by: Skymint hollow | June 13, 2013

Rain, rain, more rain and did I mention it was raining?



The rain has been out of control this spring- we lost the potato crop, the peas and the shallots- have not been able to plant the onions, wheat, corn , sorghum. Too wet. We were able to get several rows of beans in and a bunch of different types of summer squash plus the herb garden.  It is supposed to be dry enough next week to be able to plant the other stuff and hopefully get the next few successive planting in without have to worry if they are going to rot in the ground first. It has been an odd spring to say the least!!!

Needless to say if has been almost impossible to get stuff done on our farm so we have been trying to get the other one in shape for the animals and a few small crops in so we have some type of yield for this season. We figured that we would get a very small return from the farm in the way of produce but not that it would be a total wash. (pun intended) The animals may be our only product this year. However just to be on the cautious side, we may just start building an ark just in case so the animals at least would be safe.

The irony to all this is that it has been nigh impossible to get the rainwater system up at the new farm because we need a dry enough time period to get the gutters up.

Just wanted to check in with folks to say we are still here, still working but very busy.

Posted by: Skymint hollow | May 12, 2013



It has been an odd April/May the fields flooded twice due to all the rain – our specific area of TN is 18 inches above normal for spring.  However we managed to get potatoes, shallots and peas in before the big flood we are still unable to get to most parts of the farm because of the water not being able to drain as it was sooooo soggy from the last deluge of rain.  We are hoping that it does not cause the taters to rot although we are sure the peas were washed away into the treeline or down the river lucky for us we have a super long growing season.

We should be able to get back onto the farm by Wednesday so it has been a 2 week flood. We were lucky however because we had only planted the potatoes and not much else we have had neighboring farms that have lost their complete crops with little to no money to replant. We were waiting until mid May to plant most of it because it has been such a cold and rainy spring and our instincts were correct we have freeze warnings for tonight!

Meanwhile we have moved onto a second farm that belongs to my family so we are going to work on it while waiting to deal with ours. It is older and hasn’t been worked in ages so we are putting it together so that it is viable again also we will be planting some of the vegetables over here as well- it is only 5 miles from our place. First off though we are putting in gutters and a rain collection system as we are blessed with overly abundant rain now but in July and August we will be wishing for rain. Oh and flowers lots of flowers over here to go into the ground.

So that is what we are doing right now working on both places to make sure they are sustainable and productive and waiting for the flood water to totally drain so we can continue working on the farm.

Rain water system consists of  gutters, plastic food grade barrels with the gutter spouts running into the top pf the barrel (we cut out a spot to fit the spout into the barrel), hose and submerge-able pump (like a pool pump) and holding tanks- we use 275 gal tanks.  Once the barrels are full we pump the water into the storage tanks and these have nozzles fitted to   the bottom for attaching the hose for watering the garden.  We do not use it for drinking water only for the plants. All of the parts can be bought or found on swap lists or freecycle locally.  We tend to have about 1000+ gallons on hand during the rain free season of the year, We use all of it every year.



Posted by: Skymint hollow | April 19, 2013

Using a little medieval know- how…

It has been very busy this month… more baby animals and fence construction and more plowing.  This is Sumo a 2 week old new zealand/ lionhead bunny.


The best bunny snuggler we have ever had.

We are in the process of fencing in the gardens to keep out the dogs, the chickens, the ducks…we gave up on keeping out the goat.  She just wants to eat the privet however.  As for the fence itself we are out of money for stuff like that so we are using the age old wattle fence.



In building this type of fence you take “posts” made of sticks or in our case river cane and pound them into the ground about 6  to 10 inches apart depending on how tight you want the weave of the fence.  Next you use canes, vines, long sticks to weave in between the posts as you can see in the picture almost like children do in kindergarten art class to make place mats with paper; you continue doing this until it is the height you would like it to be.  This fence will be just about waist high when it is finished. I will post pictures f it when I am finished.  This particular fence is around the herb garden, we will be placing one around the strawberry patch, asparagus patch and the large field- maybe. That particular garden depends on whether we have plenty of cane to do it with or if we have to wait for next years growth. We have been very careful that we don’t take all of it so that more will grow.

We have been doing a lot of our planning based on Cato’s treatise on farming from ancient Rome.  The original organic farming manual. To say that it has saved us some money and has a few ideas and plans that fit our size farm is an understatement, it has been a great resource.  We do supplement it with more recent research and practice but it all seems to say the same thing he did.  It is worth looking into it you haven’t.


Posted by: Skymint hollow | April 9, 2013

All sorts of building and planting going on!

It has been non-stop and never-ending this month on the farm- plowing, planting, baby animals everywhere, building and more planting.

Here is the current state of my husband’s blacksmith building (the smithy):


We are using the pallet building style for all the out buildings it has turned out to be incredibly sturdy. All that is left here is the roof and he may put sheeting on the outside but probably not until fall bc it will be a very hot place to work even without the sheeting.

I also have new pallet grow tables for the kitchen garden stuff I want close to the house rather than out in the larger garden.  Just a few herbs and some edible flowers that all I need is a handful here and there for cooking.



and a very small but fully adequate tool shed next to the huge “garden”  (3 acres).



we did put a heavy duty tarp over the top and sides to help keep things dry but this is all we need right now for tools.  Later we will build a tractor shed and a larger tool shed.

That’s the update for this week too much really going on to sit for long.

Back to baby animals and planting 🙂


Posted by: Skymint hollow | April 1, 2013

Spring sprung and winter kicked back….

After some beautiful spring weather winter returned with a vengeance wrecking havoc with a few of my greenhouse plants that are less cold tolerant than others so a bit of replanting is on the horizon for this month.  Hopefully no more snow. Snow in East  Tennessee for Easter. Really.

Anyhow- even thru that stuff we have been busy and ducks are now teenagers including the back chatter and attitude.



They are now outside and are about 2 pounds each- they sleep inside the bunny barn at night because it is so warm.

I also was able to take some of the leftover PVC pipe that is always lying around and put it to good use so here is my latest garden art addition:



I used this idea before in my other gardens and it has worked quite well because they are stored next to the garden this way and what isn’t needed on a daily basis goes in the shed.  Right now we are using everything.  In the last week and a half we have planted 100 strawberry plants, 32 asparagus plants, broccoli  cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, quince, elderberry, plum, roses and the list goes on.  Once the big garden is plowed (3 acres) we will be planting lots more.

We also started the building of the outbuildings because it has been too wet to move the house parts onto the farm to the home site. I don’t really want a tractor-trailer type vehicle stuck up to its axles in my yard! So the first part of the smithy went up the other day and then it started to rain so that will get finished end of the week or beginning of next, garden shed gets finished today and then the stable starts to go up and a new bunny barn for the rabbits.  Eventually we will add a smokehouse and a greenhouse but neither of those are needed until the end of the summer so they can wait a bit until we have all the materials we need for them.  The style of building we are using is pallet building mostly because it’s very stable and can also be built rapidly and inexpensively.  You still need to do some framing and to buy screws and the rest of the hardware but pallets are free or cheap and plentiful.  As soon as I can get pictures I will upload them.

Current plans are: pallet buildings: shed, stable, smithy, duck house, pig pen and a new bunny barn.  Plant another 100 strawberry plants, 32 more asparagus, root veggies like beets, carrots radishes and other cool weather veggies while the warm weather veggies stay in the greenhouse a little longer.  Various flower gardens and herb gardens and small fruit areas are being thought of and planted as well.

Now to make sure everything grows well so we can at least feed the families and sell the extra…. so now to look for farmers liability insurance. I guess a trip to the farm bureau is in order.

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