welcome, and thank you for joining me on my tiny little farm in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Polka Dots and Daisies

Last summer I planted several flowers in front of my porch with the goal of attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, and beneficial pollinators. One of the things in the mix was a milkweed. Happily, it re-seeded itself and this year there are many growing and blooming in the bed. It was enough to attract monarchs along with yellow, black, and zebra swallowtails, skippers, and others. Suddenly it seemed there were over a dozen monarch caterpillars munching away on the milkweed, and then just as suddenly, they were gone. Or so it seemed until I noticed the first chrysalis hanging from the arm of a chair, then another and another until I found a total of seven of them. Today they began to emerge...
Monarch chrysalis, green with gold lame'

See the wings? This one emerged just a few hours later.

 Brand new.

 Polka dots and daisies!

Can you imagine wearing such an outfit? The girl's got style.
I was able to get her to climb on my hand while she finished figuring out her wings, then she floated away to the tops of the trees.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2015 summer internships available

I am now accepting internship applications for the 2015 growing season. If you know anyone who might be interested, please pass it along. Thanks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

my new hero

Favorite quote: "I don't do anything I don't want to do unless I have to... and I don't have to. So there we are."

From her father: "Ruth it's good to think for yourself, but just once in a long time couldn't you think like other people?" Her response: "Like who?" He changed the subject.

"What I feel I know for sure is, do what you want to do and don't tell other people how to behave."

Monday, October 31, 2011


The new batch of silky peeps arrived a little over a week ago and are now ensconced in a pen in a corner of the greenhouse, a heat lamp keeping them warm. If all goes well, they ought to be old enough to start laying eggs in March or April. In the meantime, they're awfully cute!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


the merry band of crazy ducks

The ducks are eight weeks old, but I'd be surprised if their brains were bigger than a pea. Crazy is what they are - nuts. The more I'm into farming and raising animals, the more I realize there are very good reasons for many common terms. In this instance, ducks are daffy. Living cartoons. Looney-tunes, as a matter of fact.

On the upside, they are maturing rapidly and in another two to three months should start laying eggs for market. Duck eggs are excellent for baking and custard-making. And since (like my chickens) these girls will be living on pasture, they're more nutritious than any you could ever find in a store. Not that you're likely to ever see duck eggs in a store, but that's not the point. The point is, they're good for you. And just plain good. Rich and thick, with deep orange yolks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

soon there will be more

Today I placed an order for twenty-five blue silky peeps.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

once again, I couldn't have said it better...

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life...Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life...Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."  - Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I've just returned from a two week vacation at a little cabin in the Adirondack mountains. One of my favorite places for many reasons; peace, tranquility, and seclusion not being the least of them. It is a place of great beauty and lends itself to an appreciation of nature that for me, at least, approaches a gentle awe. While the ocean is nice, I am a person of woodlands, valleys, streams, and mountain lakes. Sun-dappled clearings, mossy rocks, and the calls of belligerent crows all unclench my chest, soothe my soul, and bring peace to my spirit.

The cabin has no electricity, and so no television, radio, or electronic white noise to bombard the ear - allowing for a quiet that few of us seldom, if ever, have the chance to experience. Coupled with the location, it is a perfect situation for relaxation and reflection.

There were walks with the dogs, good books, visits to charming shops and galleries, discovery of local farmers markets, and wonderful food at little cafes. I enjoyed the freedom of standing in the sunshine halfway up a mountain and singing out loud knowing no one could hear. I also spent a not inconsiderable time simply staring into space. Reflecting on where I am, where I want to be, and how I want to live my life. There are times I feel the need to remind myself that I only get one. Life, that is. And to not allow it to slip by without noticing.

I renewed my commitment to not live according to other's expectations. To live joyously. To spend more time creating art. To remember to find peace in the cool of the day. To enjoy the simple things: a hot cup of coffee outside at dawn, a walk without a destination, good conversations about nothing in particular, and quiet dinners with old friends.

Driving home, leaving the high peaks, brought tears to my eyes. It almost felt like a good-bye. I hope not. I hope to go back.

Monday, August 22, 2011

song of the blackbird

"song of the blackbird"

Monday, August 15, 2011

abigail pictured herself as quite the performer

"Abigail Pictured Herself as Quite the Performer"

Monday, August 8, 2011


CityFolk gallery in Lancaster, PA wanted to spell out their name in 3D letters for their front window display, and so asked eight artists to each decorate one. Receiving the "k", I painted it as a landscape and then added the scene at the top. 
Why doesn't the bird just fly up to the nest? And why does she seem daunted by the prospect of climbing the ladder? Perhaps because sometimes we forget to use our God-given skills and so what could be simple becomes harder than necessary. 
These letters will all be auctioned off to support the social mission partners of CityFolk. Find out more by contacting CityFolk.

Monday, August 1, 2011

sing a song of sixpence

"sing a song of sixpence"

Monday, July 25, 2011

over achiever

"over achiever"

Monday, July 18, 2011



Monday, July 11, 2011

empty nest

"empty nest"

Monday, July 4, 2011

happy 4th of July!

"the blackbird's flag"

Thursday, May 26, 2011

pea shoots, crisped pancetta, and mint vinagrette

I have to try this one. I have the pea shoots, the mesclun, and the mint. All I need to do is get some pancetta from market tomorrow.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

my week

It's been quite awhile since my last post. First, allow me to begin by saying, absolutely, that I am not complaining! However, I've been a little, shall we say, stretched lately...

Monday: Left for Tractor's Supply at 6:45 a.m. to get there when they opened. I desperately needed tetanus anti-toxin so the tails of the newest lambs could be banded. The meat chickens also needed food as did a freshly hatched bunch of silky peeps. Also made a stop at the bank. Arriving home, all the animals had to be fed and watered and then I needed to return a tractor borrowed from my sister who lives two miles away. Next, I planted 120 seed potatoes before harvesting for Tuesday's market. The workday ended at 8:20 p.m.

Tuesday: Loaded up the truck and headed off to market at 6:15 a.m. Left there at 3:00 and went to Home Depot for materials to make a hanging basket display at market. When I got home, I checked the soil and found it still a little too wet, but with more rain on the way, decided to roto-till anyway. Quit when it became too dark to see, about 9:00.

Wednesday: Planted an additional 240 seed potatoes along with 60 feet of sunflowers and put in 180 lettuce, 1,000 onion, and 200 swiss chard transplants. Quit about 8:00.

Thursday: Trellised and suckered a row of tomatoes and began pulling up a used-up bed of baby lettuce mix in the greenhouse in preparation for planting cucumbers. Harvested for Friday and Saturday's markets. Got back in the house early, around 6:00.

Friday: Left for market at 5:45. Market ended at 4:00, but I hung around to put up the hanging basket display until 5:00 when the market was holding a party. Stayed until 6:30, then came home and spent an hour harvesting some additional items for the next day.

Saturday: Left for market at 6:00 and stayed until 2:00. Back to Home Depot for more display materials. Came home, took care of the animals, poked around a little bit and then crashed until 7:00, when my sister called to see if I wanted to go out for ice cream with their family. Yes, please. Got back home and went to bed.

Today: I still have an awful lot to get accomplished, but believe I'll just ignore most, if not all of it until tomorrow morning, when it will all start again. *

*I really should get my asparagus patch put in since more rain is expected for the next three days. And those cucumbers are still calling my name - they need to be planted too. But first, I need to tighten the belt on the tiller. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ready to garden yet?

I finally sat down and updated the 2011 plant offering! Seedlings will be available at the Landis Valley Herb Faire, May 6-7. If you can't make it to the fair but would like some seedlings, you can contact me to make arrangements to pick them up here at the farm or at Central Market in Lancaster.

Friday, March 25, 2011

farm city

Okay, I just finished reading this book and must say that it was wonderful! If you love small-time farming, urban farming, or farm animals (especially raising them), then I think you'll love it too. It's nearly enough to make me want to move to the city to start farming there. Nearly, but not really. I love the countryside too much for that, but if for some reason I found myself in the city, I also might find myself following a similar path.

Check it out...

Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I lost my bees this winter. My first hive. From the looks of things, it seems to me they might have starved. There was maybe a cup of honey left at the very top. There also weren't many bees there. It's a mystery. This was in the top bar hive that I built last year. Perhaps they didn't store enough honey, perhaps the queen died and they lost their purpose? Who knows. All I know is I'll wait at least until next year to try again. I have to get my nerve back up. I'm still and probably always will be a recovering be-phobe. But a bee-phobe who is looking for all the pollination help she can get and who wants to eat her own honey. So give me a year and we'll have another go at it.

Now, about the top bar hive...
The idea is to allow the bees to build their own comb, hoping that they don't attach it to the sides, so the bars with comb attached can be lifted out. This is supposedly healthier for the bees. BUT - when I checked on the hive and found everybody dead, I took all the comb out and the girls had attached it everywhere. Had I wanted to harvest any honey while the hive was active, it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible. So in addition to getting my nerve back up, I also have to re-think the hive situation and come up with a plan.

Friday, March 4, 2011

lamb stew

Can I just say that I am over the moon about this dish? Every January for years I'd go to the annual PA Farm Show and buy a container of lamb stew. I'd wait all year to be able to have a taste of this rich, hearty, and mildly spicy stew. Finally this year I decided to try to recreate the experience, and if I must say so myself, it's a success! Ah, joy, now I can have it any time I want. And I sure do want. So let's share the love, shall we?

Lamb Stew
  • Take one onion and three ribs of celery and chop them into small bite-sized pieces. In a heavy stock pot, saute them in a bit of olive oil just until soft, remove from pan and set them aside.
  • Now add a bit more olive oil and one pound ground lamb to the pot and saute until cooked.
  • Add two cloves of garlic that's been minced to the lamb and saute briefly.
  • Next add three tablespoons of flour and stir it around for a minute.
  • Add four cups of beef broth, one quart diced canned tomatoes, and some salt and pepper to the lamb mixture. Give it a nice stir, then cover and simmer on low for an hour.
  • Now you'll want to add your pre-cooked onions and celery, one pound of potatoes that have been cubed into large bite-sized pieces, two carrots that have been sliced, two bay leaves, two teaspoons of rosemary, one half teaspoon of sage, one half teaspoon oregano, and a half teaspoon thyme. Mix this deliciousness all together, cover once again and simmer on low for another hour (if you can wait that long). 

That's it! A one pot meal that is to die for. Thick, rich, hearty, and best of all, seriously tastey.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Monday, February 28, 2011

farm products

From time to time, I'll be posting about Tulip Tree Hill farm products that are available direct from me (the farmer) to you. This time it's lamb. The next time it might be machine-washable lambskins, wool roving for hand spinning, yarn, eggs (chicken or goose), live animals, or an assortment of fresh produce. For now it will need to be picked up here at the farm. Once I'm at market, we can make arrangements for pick-up there (except for live animals, never them there, if you know what I mean).

At any rate, I now have grass-fed lamb available for your freezer or dinner plate. Raised naturally on mother's milk, pasture, hay, free-choice sheep minerals, water, and sunshine. Weaned in their own time. That's it, no extra feed additives, hormones, grains, etc. If you buy an entire lamb (as burger, chops, and foreshanks), the cost is $8.66 per pound. If you'd like to buy individual cuts, the ground lamb burger is $8.00/pound and chops (shoulder, loin, and leg) are $12.00/pound. Processing was done at a USDA certified butcher shop and all meat is shrink-wrapped and quick-frozen for maximum freshness.

Now, I must say, here is something I wasn't anticipating...

That's right.


I was told they're a delicacy.


I think I'll pass, thank you very much.

Now you just let me know if you'd like some nice grass-fed southern Lancaster County, PA lamb.

You can even have the boy bits if that would make you happy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

to market, to market... and a farm update

Good news - this week I was given the nod of approval from the Board of Directors of Lancaster's Central Market, and barring any unforeseen incidents will be a standholder starting April first! I feel both excitement and trepidation. Excitement because I love going to market with beautiful produce, talking with customers, and all that it entails. Trepidation, because this is a big commitment. Market is open three days a week (all year around) which allows just four days to do all the growing and harvesting. I anticipate that during the height of the season I'll be working seven days a week. Hopefully that will be offset by a much lower workload during the winter when growing slows down and it is mostly about harvesting what was sown in the fall.

What's been started so far...
Planting for the spring season started in late January with a couple of flats of lettuce. Not too much to start with since I still didn't know if or when I'd be able to start at market. Now that a decision has been made, it's full steam ahead!

In the first week of February, rosemary, lavender, and alpine strawberries were started, some to be sold as seedlings, some to be planted here on the farm. Greenhouse tomatoes and peppers were also started in soil blocks - seven varieties of sweet peppers, four of hot peppers, and three types of tomatoes. The tomatoes are growing like gangbusters and will probably need to be moved from my kitchen to be planted in the greenhouse within the next two weeks. If they grow like last year, they should hit the market stand at the end of May!

In the second week of February additional lettuce was started. This year, I'm growing eight varieties - a red and green type each of butterhead, leaf, summercrisp, and romaine, which makes for a very pretty display and an even more delicious salad!

This week, bee balm, thyme, oregano, hanging basket tomatoes, and rhubarb (all mostly for seedling sales) was started in soil blocks, as was more lettuce. Beets, turnips, swiss chard, mustard greens, pak choi, tatsoi, and spinach, was seeded directly into the greenhouse beds to be grown for market.

Seedling sales...
We will once again be attending the Landis Valley Herb Faire May 6-7 as vendors. We'll have over 25 species of herbs, including lemon grass and stevia along with many culinary favorites; luscious alpine strawberries; rhubarb; celery; artichokes; red roselle; cotton; 6 varieties of eggplants; 12 varieties of sweet peppers; 6 varieties of hot peppers; 16 varieties of tomatoes; 11 varieties of melons; 3 varieties of cucumbers; 4 varieties of summer squash; and hanging baskets of tumbling tom tomatoes and everbearing strawberries. With the exception of the hanging baskets, all of the seedlings are heirloom open pollinated varieties which offer superior flavor, promote genetic diversity, and allow for home seed saving.

Other news...
The silky bantam peeps that hatched on new years are doing great. They, along with the adults have been moved out of the greenhouse and back into the barn since the greenhouse is now back in production. Hopefully with the lengthening of days, the adult hens will start laying again - their eggs have surely been missed around here.

Speaking of eggs, the geese have started nesting and Griselda has laid her first egg of the year.

The sheep are also doing well, eating their fair share of hay and growing wool like nobody's business. I need to make an appointment for the shearer to come pretty soon. The remainder of last year's lambs finally went to "freezer camp". Certainly it was a tough decision, but a necessary one. On the plus side, this means that we have lamb for sale, both chops and burger; and in a couple weeks, lambskins - nothing goes to waste.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"Before the seed 
there comes the thought 
of bloom."
E. B. White

Today I am placing this year's seed order. There has been much thought of bloom and growth for the past week in preparation.

Monday, January 3, 2011

new arrivals for the new year...

peeps in the winter greenhouse
The silky hen did her job and hatched ten of the twelve eggs she was sitting on. She's now showing them the ways of the world, escorting them around the greenhouse, looking for bugs and other tender morsels. Another hen has decided she would like to start her own family, and after giving her a few eggs she immediately settled down into that oddly determined, glassy-eyed, nearly hypnotic state they get when brooding. Good times.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

why, hello there

Once again it's been awhile since my last post, but here we go...

New spinach beds, protected by row cover and plastic. At the far end will be the hoophouse.

Winter is officially here and I am. not. ready. Shocking, right? The used hoophouse purchased in September is still not up. Good grief. I don't think I know anyone who can procrastinate like me. However, on Saturday my brother-in-law and my sweetie will be here to help and we intend to get that puppy up. I'm hoping my fall-planted spinach survives until then. It's been cold.

Happy silkies in the greenhouse.
broody hen
The greenhouse still needs to have the last of the summer plants cleaned out. Hard to imagine, but I was still harvesting tomatoes last week - in an unheated greenhouse! This recent onset of cold weather however, has done them in. A couple of weeks ago I moved the silky chickens out there until I got around to planting for early spring production. As a side bonus to procrastination, they have had a blast pecking around, finding weed seeds and bugs to eat while scratching up the dirt. They will be able to have free run of the place while I get the beds ready for planting, but once seeds start going in they'll have their own pen - still in the greenhouse, but contained so they don't kill the new seedlings. They love the sun and the warmth, and I love hearing their contented clucking while I work. One of the hens has decided she'd like to sit on eggs and so I gave her a dozen to take care of. They should hatch right before New Years and be ready to start laying by June. The chicken's pen in the barn has been converted to accommodate the geese. Their food and water bucket are in there and a corner has been set aside, ready for next year's brood of goslings.

The great wall of leaves.
In other news, sweetie has been collecting bags of leaves for me. I'll use them next year as mulch around garden transplants. The battle against weeds starts now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DIY mixer repair

That's my KitchenAid mixer. Scary looking, isn't it? Don't be frightened though, it's not as bad as it might seem. Although I will admit that at first I thought this puppy was a goner. You see, my sweetie tried to use my mixer with the food grinder attachment to grind ginger root. (For future reference and to save all of your mixers from a similar fate, this was not a plan. Ginger root should be grated by hand.) In the midst of grinding, the part that holds attachments and spins around suddenly stopped spinning. The motor ran just fine, but no more mixing, grinding, or anything else was going to happen any time soon. So I googled it and found out that it was probably a relatively simple and cheap fix. There is a sacrificial plastic gear inside the mixer so that if the going gets too tough, it fails in order to save the motor. Pretty cool, right? You can find directions here for doing this repair yourself.

Now that it's all apart and the new gear and food-grade replacement grease is ordered, it will be a matter of seeing if I can remember how to get it all back together again. Could be interesting.

By the way - the head of the mixer is packed with grease. What I found was that the grease had degraded pretty significantly, so it might be a good idea to take it all apart every several years and remove and repack the grease. One of those "can't hurt, might help" kinds of things.

But I'll tell you, it feels kind of good to have a quality piece of equipment that can actually be repaired (by me, no less) rather than having to throw it away like so many things today. I like that. Hopefully with good maintenance and no more ginger grinding, this mixer will last me for the rest of my life.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

and the day came

"And the day came when the risk to remain in a tight bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Anais Nin