Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shaaban – Ramadan 1438

Before planting this year, we tested our soil for ph and other nutrients. We have soil with a ph between 6.5 – 7.5, so we don’t have to amend it for acidity or alkalinity, but simply continue enriching it with organic matter, alhamdulillah.

Mid-May was the last frost date for our area, and we were busy preparing our garden area. We used our enclosed 8’x8’ area that had been buried in the straw and bedding from cleaning out the chicken coop and the rabbit cages for over a year to plant our broccoli and cabbage starts. We removed about half of the composted material for use around the garden and then planted in the rich soil, mulching with sawdust.

Last year, we tilled and deep mulched rows, a crazy loop, and some different shapes and squiggly lines. This year, we came up with a plan to protect the plants from the wind, create a micro climate for each plant, and make use of old tires. We lay tires all over the mulched crazy loop, dug a small hole in the center of each, and dumped in some rabbit poo. Then we ensured that all were adequately mulched, using sawdust where the straw was lacking. Once we had done all 125 tires, we did a few around the rectangle we designated to be our melon patch. From the third week of May, we started planting out our tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, straightneck squash, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, pumpkins, melons, and corn. It was a process that took a couple of weeks. We stacked tires two high for the larger tomato plants, providing support for them and eliminating the need for staking. We also planted our first batch of peanuts, started growing potatoes in large trash cans in sawdust, and planted green beans, beets, turnips, and carrots in large tubs along with pepper and strawberry transplants. The peanuts are, by far, the cutest plants we are growing. We are propagating new strawberry plants from selected runners in new tubs, ready for next year.
 
For the most part, we watered each morning unless it rained, throughout the hottest part of the summer – the last two weeks of June and first two weeks of July. After that, monsoon season kicked in with a vengeance and since then we have just watched the garden grow, by the Power, Will, and Mercy of Allah Alone. We fertilized the plants regularly with whey and soured milk (the tomatoes and peanuts love it!), rabbit poo water, and a simple fertilizer made from putting weeds, grass clippings, and some raw composting scraps into a 5 gallon bucket with water and letting it ferment for a few days. We call it the stinky bucket, LOL.

The garden is thriving and we are gradually harvesting increasing amounts each day, masha’Allah.  We have a bumper crop of cabbages, hot peppers, and hundreds of tomatoes from cherry and roma to heirloom black streaked Vernissage, setting fruit. Battered squash flowers have become our new snack of choice, we pick a cabbage and pull a carrot when we want to make egg rolls, put together a mélange of snow peas, zucchini, broccoli, and greens for a stir fry, and enjoy a handful of sweet, red strawberries on a regular basis, alhamdulIllah. We chose everbearing strawberries so we could enjoy them for a much longer growing season.




















Cool weather sowing has been done for a few root vegetables, crucifers, and greens. As for our indoor growing, while we breathed a huge sigh of relief to have hundreds of plants finally transplanted outside, we still have flourishing hanging baskets with strawberries gracing our home. We also have a variety of herbs, hot peppers, greens, and beautiful ginger and turmeric plants.
As for what grows naturally:

- a wide variety of grasses including oat and wheat grass. We harvested a few oat and wheat grains last year, but for the most part let them reseed. We now have large areas of wheat grass, masha’Allah. 
- thousands of sunflowers. If someone were to look, they would think we had planted them in specific places for landscaping, but Allah is our landscaper!

- millions of wildflowers. Without planting a single seed, we have a wide range and a stunning array of colors from over 50 different wildflower species. Favorites include Scarlet Gaura, Blue Flax, Lacy Germander, Sweet White Clover, Dakota Vervain, James Penstemon, and Scarlet Globemallow. Scarlet Globemallow makes a rare and delicious honey that rivals some of the best honeys we have ever tried, so we are especially blessed to have so much of it.


 

Every day is a continuous stream of wonder and gratitude to Allah, Ar-Razzaaq, for all He blesses us with. Stay tuned for a separate post on other big events in our lives, inshaa Allah.

The County Fair

Every year we get the booklet for the Harding County Fair. This is the first year that we were settled enough to think about participating. Ahlaam had virtually memorized the whole book and was planning what she would enter. Then a little confusion got in the mix. Shariyf came home telling us that the entries had to be in by 11 a.m. Friday. Ahlaam said the booklet stated all entries should be in by noon on Thursday. Only on Thursday morning, after fajr prayer, did we look at everything and realize that it was the pie contest that was on Friday, and that our entries needed to be in by noon that Thursday.

Needless to say, our morning was madness. The girls rushed to finish milking and feeding the chickens and came back to try to prepare anything to enter into the fair. Ahlaam made a lime buttermilk pound cake and wholewheat buttermilk dinner rolls. Khulood made brownies. Mama Mai made wholewheat bread and chocolate peanut butter cookies. The problem was having enough time to bake it all. In addition, Khulood sat down with an old sandal, drew it, and stuck it in a frame. Mai and Ahlaam grabbed a cabbage, strawberries, cayenne and jalapeno peppers, parsley, and oregano from the garden. This was not all they could find, but simply the nice-looking things that came quickly into sight.

The baking was precarious; Mai dropped Khulood’s brownies while taking them out of the oven. The bread was still too warm to seal up in a plastic bag, and with just 20 minutes to go before the noon deadline, Ahlaam’s cake was not finished. They piled into the car, leaving the cake in the oven and forgetting the oregano, to just make the deadline for entries. Although not expecting much with such a haphazard collection of entries, it was more about being a part of the event and having some fun.

Judging was from noon-7 p.m. and we figured we’d find out what happened on Saturday when we went to pick up our entries. However, Shariyf went after the judging to take pictures for the County website, and called to tell us the results for our entries. To our amazement, Khulood won a first-place ribbon for her drawing and second place for her fallen brownies. Ahlaam won first place for both her strawberries and dinner rolls. Mai won first place for her cookies, parsley, and cabbage, with the cabbage taking the big purple grand champion ribbon! The bread took second place, the peppers fourth and sixth place, masha’Allah. We realized afterwards that we mistakenly chose peppers that were smaller with beautiful form, but the larger ones were the ones that won. Point noted for next year. We already have ideas of a much wider variety of entries for next year, and hope to plan in advance for it.




The fair is probably the one yearly event that involves all the people who ranch, homestead, farm, and are avid homemakers. It was a huge confidence booster and motivator for our children.  We are, as always, grateful to Allah for the bright, cheerful blessing He brought into our lives through it. Allahu Akbar wa l’Illah il hamd! 



We are family

Ramadan started with a week of activity, with Shariyf flying to Pennsylvania to help load up two moving trucks.  June 3rd he set out in one of the two trucks, his sister Monica driving the other, to move his mother, aunt, sister, and nephew (Tagshier)  to Roy. They arrived on June 5th, and after two years living on our farm, Allah has blessed us with all Shariyf’s immediate family living within 5 miles of us, al hamdulillah! Each family member owns their own land or property in the village of Roy. His mother bought 5 lots for $5000 and placed a 4-bedroom mobile home on them.


His sister bought 4 lots with a 2-bedroom mobile home on them for $5000. For $600, his nephew bought two lots, to develop at a later time. 


His aunt bought a lovely 1-bedroom house on 3 lots for $10,000.


The ensuing two months have been busy getting everyone unpacked and settled into their respective homes. Monica and Tagshier have both started working in Roy School. We have company, support, and people to help us use all the milk and eggs, al hamdulillah!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

How do you name your animals?

People often ask us, "how do you name your animals?" Well, here's our secret... for the bulls and steer, we call them what they will be in the future or their slaughter month (Barbecue & November), we us flowers for our dairy cows, cute cuddly names for our ewes (female sheep), variations of the word ram for our rams, and the chickens are a toss up! Our livestock guardian dogs are named Snow and Ice. They are pure white Great Pyrenees.

Presently, we have Youngbul, Barbecue, November. On the dairy end we have Daisy and Azalea (the youngest). The sheep's names are Honey, Honeycup, Sweetie Pie, Honeydew, and Rambunctious.

The chickens are: Amak (rooster), Huffy, Smallie, Truck, Uduf-wuduf, Wanlinda, Daty-Daty, and many more.