Is your Garden awake?

In my part of the country, the last frost date has past and I am anxiously waiting to get my seedlings and seeds into the ground.  Rain continues to come at regular intervals so the ground is too wet to work and my plants continue to sit in the greenhouse.  I came across this article in Houzz and thought it might be of use to those more fortunate than me.

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I can’t wait to get into the ground and reconnect with the earth.  It is great therapy and whether you plant vegetables or flowers, they nurture the body and soul in the same way.

Enjoy this simple pleasure:  Happy Gardening!

 

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I Can’t Stop Touching my Alpaca Fiber hats and ear warmers!

newalpacas

I have raised alpacas for 3 going on 4 years now.  Different than any other farm animal I have experienced, and wonderful in their own distinct fashion.  I had the raw fiber processed into yarn for the first time this past summer and recently began knitting hats and ear warmers for family Christmas gifts.

Not much of a knitter or crocheter, even though I know the basics, I decided a knitting loom might be a good way to get started.  I love the knitting looms: round, sox, and straight.  You can produce a professional looking item in a short period of time and for some reason, I find I can read the patterns with confidence.  Still trying to find patterns for loomed items beyond just basic hats, but I am having a good time putting my yarn to good use.

Every time I have something on made from alpaca yarn, I cannot stop touching it!  It is amazing to the touch and so warm; Non-allergenic as a bonus. You have to feel it to believe the difference from other yarns, including merino wool.  I have both suri and huacaya alpacas and its not hard to tell the difference between the two.  Suri is much finer fibers and consequently finer yarn.  Huacaya has more bulk and goes further in a pattern.  So far with the knitting loom, I have found using 4 strands of yarn, a combination of both, types makes the perfect weight.  In the hat below, I used two strands of contrasting color yarn.  It is lacy and light.     The rest of the items were made with 4 strands of yarn producing a much denser weave.

Alpaca loom knitted hat with ribbon trim

Alpaca loom knitted hat with ribbon trim

I absolutely love these items!  I gave them all away except for the first hat and the brown turban neck warmer.  My family love the items and I think they would welcome  any other things I get inspired to make!

If you have a little bit of time, consider buying some alpaca yarn and a knitting loom.  Find an easy pattern and revel in the wonderful experience of making something to keep you warm and feels luxurious!       This simple pleasure is so rewarding I can’t encourage you enough to give it a try.  If you need any alpaca yarn, just let me know.  I have about 25 pounds of yarn in cream, taupe, and shades of brown.

ear warmers / neck warmer

ear warmers / neck warmer

4-strand yarn in shades of brown.  E-wrapped knitted on a round knitting loom.

4-strand yarn in shades of brown. E-wrapped knitted on a round knitting loom.

A combination of items: all 100% alpaca fiber yarn in mixed shades.

A combination of items: all 100% alpaca fiber yarn in mixed shades.

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Wreath Idea for any season

I’ve always thought wreaths were a great door accessory and over the years I have made quite a few.  This wreath caught my eye because I love the combination of rosemary and olive leaves with bittersweet.  My Mom loved bittersweet and each fall we would search our farm in Northern Indiana to find the treasure.  Mom dressed it up with all kinds of greenery or just placed it in a vase all by itself.  No matter how it was displayed it always brought an emotional element to the room and the viewer.  If you are looking for an easy craft to complete give this wreath a try!  There is nothing better than enjoying a simple pleasure and making it yourself.  You never know, you may have just found the perfect gift for someone on your holiday list.

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I Love Fall!

Pink glow sunset

Pink glow sunset

It’s been a while since I posted because I have a great job as an Extension Educator, which means I spend a lot of time on the job.  But fall is my favorite time of year and as the leaves fall from the trees here in Indiana, this video I found on houzz.com, provides a way to extend the season.  Please take time to view this 2 minute video and enjoy Life’s Simple Pleasures.

 

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Blackberries A Plenty!

Quarter Amish Seedless Blackberry Jam.  Ingredients: Blackberries and Sugar

Quarter Amish Seedless Blackberry Jam. Ingredients: Blackberries and Sugar

The blackberries are ready to be picked.  We had another harsh winter and I was afraid the berries would be damaged this year, but once again the high tunnel did it’s job and salvaged a crop for us.  It is such a pleasure to walk out my back door and pick those precious beauties straight from the vine.  Nice too, to be able to taste summer all winter long with preserves made with TLC!  Life offers many simple pleasures if we just take the time to look for them!

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Raspberries are Ready for the Picking!

Red Raspberries are beautiful and ready to be picked!  Due to the  extreme heat, picking is available mornings until 12 Noon only this week.  Berries are $4 per pound U-Pick.

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Red Raspberries are beginning to ripen

June is here, but it feels like summer.  The temperatures have risen and red raspberries are beginning to ripen.  The plants are loaded and looking great!  Please call for picking conditions beginning on Friday June 19th.  812-623-2803.  Looks like a great season.

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What’s New at Quarteramish

In November I accepted the position as 4-H Youth Development Educator in Dearborn County Indiana.  4-H is a program offered through Purdue University’s Extension Service.  It’s great to join the Purdue family as an educator, especially since Purdue is one of my alma maters.  I love the job and I love the people.  4-H in Dearborn County offers 98 projects that help youth explore and develop life skills including STEM projects such as Robotics.  I am teaching.  Life is good.  Since I am employed off the farm now, look for Russell this summer when you visit Quarteramish farm to pick berries or purchase vegetables.  I will be available when I can.  Please contact me to schedule educational events.

newalpacas

Some of our new girls. Isn’t their fiber gorgeous? We fence our alpacas with electric fence to keep out predators because they never test a fence.

 

This winter, we decided we needed additional alpacas in order to have enough fiber to process annually.  We purchased 5 beautiful females and 1 beautiful grey male.  I am excited to announce we will have our first crop of fiber available for sale in June.  We will offer sport weight yarn, rug yarn, and felt pads.   Last fall we experienced our first cria (the term for alpaca baby) birth and are proud to introduce Sophie.

sophie

Introducing Sophie! She was born August 26 last year. Her mother was black and her father chestnut. Cria births are exciting because you never know what color to expect!

The high tunnels have seen improvement too.  Russell completed trellising the raspberries because their vigorous growth made it difficult to walk in the isle-ways.  There is also a new coat of mulch inside and out.  Mulch is used to help preserve moisture, reduce weeds and eventually enrich the soil with organic material.  The “Cadillac of Picking“, as one customer calls us, now offers customers an upgraded experience.  Our kids helped get the project started, and Russell finished the task over a 10 day period, one wheel barrow load at a time.  The second cold winter in a row caused winter damage to this years fruiting canes, especially one particular variety.  This will reduce our Blackberry crop this year, but we will have blackberries for sale.  The season is a bit behind last year due to the cold spring conditions so check out the blog for updates on when berry picking will begin for the red raspberries and thornless blackberries.

Inside the high tunnel.  The vigorous canes on the right are raspberries.  The winter did not effect them near as much as the blackberries because they can tolerate colder temperatures.

Inside the high tunnel. The vigorous canes on the right are raspberries. The winter did not effect them near as much as the blackberries because they can tolerate colder temperatures.

The outside planting took a hit again this winter due to the 14 degree below 0 temps we experienced.  Most fruiting canes outside died, but the plants are coming back vigorous and healthy.  We will look to next year to harvest a good crop outside.

The outside planting took a hit again this winter due to the 14 degree below 0 temps we experienced. Most fruiting canes outside died, but the plants are coming back vigorous and healthy. We will look to next year to harvest a good crop outside.

One more thing:  We purchased chicks this spring: Americana, Black Australorp and Black Sex link pullets.  Australorp and Black Sex birds lay shades of brown and the Americana’s lay colored eggs; blue to shades of green.    By late fall we will have fresh eggs once again.

Like our new updates?  Please let us know!

As Summer approaches remember to Simplify, Simplify, Simplify! and take advantage of Life’s Simple Pleasure’s each and every day!!

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Orchids; Easier than you think!

Aunt Ginny's gift to me; this plant is at least 40 years old and still thriving!

Aunt Ginny’s gift to me; this plant is at least 40 years old and still thriving!

I love this orchid!  I have treasured her for nearly 40 years through all my life passages.  When my Aunt Ginny passed away while I was still a teen, I was given this plant which she and her son David bred.  This plant has weathered moving during a blizzard, being neglected during my child rearing years, and being ravaged by grazing house cats!  This year she offered 8 beautiful blooms to grace my home.  She sits in a south window and near an air vent.  I water once a week and keep the pot suspended on a bed of rocks.  The rocks come from our farm and others as part of our family tradition of bringing back rocks from vacation spots. I feed about once a month with an orchid fertilizer diluted in water.  I give her a bath occasionally in the kitchen sink to wash the leaves. I repot when the roots reach out and the potting soil is broken down.  A trick I learned was to put gravel or rocks over a section of the surface of the potting soil and this is where I water; does not disturb the potting material nor the roots when I water.

While this treasured lady has sentimental value to me, the grace and beauty she brings my home is value enough to recommend orchid growing to everyone.  I’ve included an orchid growing segment from the houzz website to help you get started on this rewarding life’s simple pleasure.

 

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Blackberry Season at a Close

The berries are finished for the season.  A big “Thank You” from Quarter Amish to all who made this year a success. Thank you for stopping by and we hope to see you again next season.  We sold many pounds of berries, goat milk soap, lotion bars, berry jam & syrup, and produce.  If you have requests for future offerings please let me know.  We also value constructive criticism.  If you have suggestions for improvements we would love to hear those too.

Next year I will contact everyone who asked to be notified when red raspberries are ready; and I’ll send another notice when the blackberry season begins.  If you did not get a chance to leave your contact information feel free to contact me through the comments.  I will be happy to add you to the list without sharing your information publicly.

Thanks again!!

 

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