Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Evansville Farmers Market - 2013!

Evansville Farmers Market

Welcome to the Evansville Farmers Market 2013!!!
"Is it Spring yet?" asks Lola, Shetland Sheep Ewe
from R&B Acres, Oregon, Wis.

Hi All!!

Renée Frank, Co-Manager of the Evansville Farmers Market 2013, here with a preview of what you might find at the Evansville Farmers Market 2013.  We have many special events planned for our markets and look forward to seeing your bright smiling faces every Saturday morning, May 4 - October 26, 2013, from 9 am to 1 pm.

Mid-April in Wisconsin
and still snow on the ground!
Unfortunately, this spring has not been nearly as nice as 2012, thus our produce vendors are struggling to have ripe produce at the market for you.  We hope the asparagus and rhubarb and maybe, baby spinach will be large enough to harvest and be available opening weekend.  If not, there will still be eggs, frozen, locally raised chicken, honey, arts and crafts for the taking.

Empty field waiting for warmth.

Opening weekend, we are hosting a Cinco de Mayo Celebration and have invited area Spanish students and their families to join us to share a bit of their heritage with the community.  If you know of someone who was or is connected with agriculture in the Latino community, PLEASE have them contact us so that we can set aside a space for them to share their knowledge and expand our minds a little!

Creekside Place Community Center
We are located on Church Street, directly adjacent to Creekside Place Community Center, 102 Maple Street, Evansville, Wisconsin.  The entire street is closed to traffic and devoted to the market and our special events.  Our ongoing quest to make this market relevant to the Evansville community means attracting vendors, of all sizes, shapes and colors, as well as provide ongoing education and outreach opportunities for various non-profit organizations in the area.

In our efforts to build community connections, we have teamed up with the Rock Hour Community Time Bank for many of our volunteer needs.  These range from helping with the Kid's Arts and Craft's table, putting up street signs, posting fliers, changing the table tents in area businesses, special event coordinators and more.  If you have a bit of time you would like to devote to the EFM, please sign up here.  Make sure you let your boss know too, as many business will give you credit for community volunteer work!
If I can't have Spring outside,
I will have it inside with variegated cat grass!

If you are interested in becoming a vendor at the EFM 2013, please go to www.evansvillefarmersmarket.com/ to find our vendor application as well as our rules and regulations.

Is it time to plant yet?

You can contact us through info@evansvillefarmersmarket.com if you need further assistance.  Check out our facebook page for up-to-date information, links and special notices related to the Evansville Farmers Market.

Thanks for reading,
(Stop in at the EFM Information Table, sign our guest book mentioning this blog and receive a special gift!)
Bottle Babies! Late April Shetland ram lambs

Renée Frank,
Co-Manager of the Evansville Farmers Market

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

News from The Hen House - March 2013

Adventures in Mushroom Growing

Shiitake Mushrooms
Hi all!

Brad here once again, to bring you the latest in New from the Hen House!  Our wonderful caretaker, Renée, has started another new adventure - MUSHROOM GROWING!

Golden Oyster Mushrooms
She recently attended the Madison Garden Show held at the Alliant Energy Center and met many new and interesting farmers and gardeners.  One of the things she has often wondered about after seeing Golden Oyster Mushrooms at the Dane County Farmers Market back in the summer of 2009, was - Could they be grown on our farm?  Since that summer, she has periodically checked out various websites devoted to growing fungus of all types.  Most of the websites talked about much larger scale farms and a very long turn-around time to the first harvest.   
Inoculated wooden plugs
with directions.

This was a major buzz-kill UNTIL the Garden Expo! While wandering the seemingly endless aisles of garden products or garden ideas, she stumbled upon a Wisconsin fungus grower, Field and Forest Products Inc., Peshtigo, Wis.,  They had smaller packages of plugs or sawdust that had been inoculated with several varieties of mushrooms available for purchase.  After a bit of hemming and hawing, she decided to plunk down $25 and take home two small packages of wooden plugs: one of Golden Oysters and the other of Shiitake!

Pot of boiling water to be poured
on paper towel rolls to discourage
other fungal or bacterial growth
For the fungal-neophyte, apparently the process of growing mushrooms is slow and dependent upon many factors.  As a Rooster, I only care about the fruiting bodies, or the big, puffy parts I can eat but Renée was interested in all steps to the process, from knowing what type of wood logs to track down to how to serve it in a way that her fungus-phobic children would eat.  She learned that Golden Oysters like to grow on logs on freshly felled softwoods and Shitake perfer freshly felled hardwoods.  This led to her dilemma of how to track down the right type of wood, cut at the right time of the year.  We have very few trees on the farm!

Making holes for the
inoculated wooden plugs.
She had a few leads from friends that lived on wooded parcels of land but while chatting with another mushroom lover at a ski race, she learned that these inoculated wooden plugs or even the inoculated sawdust could be encouraged to produce fruiting bodies on things like paper towel rolls and coffee grounds.  

The wait time until harvest was significantly reduced and the mushrooms could be grown indoors, in a controlled environment.  Originally she had been told that her wooden plugs would probably produce fruiting bodies, outside, on logs, maybe summer 2014. Now she is looking at the summer of 2013 if all goes well!
Paper towel rolls stuffed with plugs
and bagged for optimal growing conditions!
I will keep you posted as to her success or failure in future blog posts.  I am hopeful as she discovered mycelium — a network of moist fibers that use powerful enzymes to penetrate wood or other organic matter, on her damp paper towels. YUM! YUM!

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/2004-10-01/Grow-your-own-Mushrooms.aspx#ixzz2OIWqTpQ0

Alpha Rooster
The Hen House
R&B Acres LLC

News from The Hen House - April 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Newspaper Pots?

Hi All!
Brad again with a post on Reneé's latest free time activity. I'm really not sure about this one BUT in the spirit of reduce, reuse and recycle I want to share with you her creative, though not original, idea of making pots out of old newspaper. I mean, she already recycles shredded paper and junk mail by using is as fluffy bedding in my hens nesting boxes as well as a covering on the floor of the coop for those birds who still haven't become "coop-broke" when needing to relieve themselves. I have to say, I really appreciate that white shredded paper in the dark of winter. It just makes the coop so much brighter and we all perk up when she applies a fresh layer.

But I digress - back to newspaper pots. Like I said earlier, this is creative but not original. Apparently, Reneé was on Facebook and noticed that one of the homesteading/gardening pages she "liked" had this idea of recycling newspapers into pots. Unfortunately, all it showed was a picture and no link to directions. She started trolling the Internet for information on just how to do this when WHAM - YouTube had a video showing exactly how it was done!

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!!! She was one happy hen to see how easy it was to make and that it would naturally degrade once planted into the soil. Her only concern was water seepage. She didn't know if the newspaper pots would last long enough to be handled and ultimately planted, given that Spring has yet to arrive in Wisconsin. Even with that concern, she decided to try it.

After watching the video and reading a few other sites on creative recycled pots, Reneé went rummaging through the recycling trash can at home, kinda like the farm dog known as Coby when looking for leftovers, until she found an empty wine bottle that was the right sized diameter for her envisioned pots. Then she set up shop.

On her pool, I mean work, table, she assembled her pile of newspapers, scissors, wine bottle, trays and bags of potting soil. She then laid down the newspaper, sometimes one sheet, sometimes two if it didn't feel heavy enough, folded the edges so it was about 5-6 inches wide and began to wrap the end of the wine bottle. (Did I mention she used her favorite wine, wine bottle from the night before? No? Prairie Fume from Wollersheim Winery, Wisconsin)

Reneé noticed that when she first wrapped it, she didn't have any left over to fold over and become the base. She also didn't know if it would stay together without tape or staples. She went back, checked her notes and discovered that by leaving enough free, at the bottom, to reach at least half way across, and starting with the part that had the outside edge of the newspaper, she could get the pot to hold its own shape, without extra support.

These first pots, when taken off of the bottle, were highly unstable due to the wrinkles on the folds of the bottom of the pot. Once she put soil into them, they flattened out and really held their shapes. Her first batch has gone to the baby heirloom cherry tomato plants that were in need of transplanting.

Granted, it was a bit messy in her basement for a while but the end result has been happy tomato plants waiting for Springtime warmth to kiss Wisconsin once again.

They are currently migrating between the temporary greenhouse and her basement until the soil and air temperatures warm enough so they won't freeze.

I know the girls and I have been really enjoying the delayed Spring as it has meant extra time in Reneé's gardens scratching for grubs, worms and other yummy things we missed all winter. Unfortunately for us, once it truly warms up, Reneé fences us out of the garden until the end of harvest season. I guess she doesn't like the creative designs our beaks leave when we are just sampling the produce.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for updates to Reneé's adventures in 21st Century Homesteading - Including News From The Hen House!


Alpha Rooster -
The Hen House

R&B Acres LLC
Oregon, Wisconsin

Friday, December 14, 2012


Summer 2011
Road Trip to Portland, Oregon
My daughter, Arianna, our friend, Søren, and I.
How did she become so different than me?
I gave birth to thee!

50 percent of her genetics I gave,
though naught but the luminous, copious mane
of rich, deep chocolate brown,
did I make.
With almond eyes, soft and serene,
skin tinted with olive and kissed by the sun,
she is more her father than her mum.

The ornately carved bazier that holds her spirit, deep within,
burns low and slow with the embers of wisdom
that comes from the many lifetimes her spirit has cycled herein.
So unlike me,
hot and ready to flee,
easily startled and quick to flame,
I have the intensity while she has the power to sustain.
I want to win.
She wants to have fun.
I obsess,
    she knows when to let things fall.

This difference is so hard for me to embrace,
her lack of desire to always win the race.
My anger and anxiety builds,
as I see her competitive with only the middle of the field.
I know I need to let it go,
Let her find her own rhythm and flow.
I try to ease my burst of flame,
with the forcing of self to walk away.

And with deep breaths and sighs,
I strive to just be happy with her choices in this life.

She is not me,
I remind myself constantly.

I am not you, Mom,
Her soft gaze says to me silently.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

News from the Hen House - December 2012

Brad - announcing his latest blog post!
Hi all,

Brad here. I know, it has been a long time since I posted any stories about life on the farm but I am turning over a new leaf for 2013 and plan to post a short story every month or so. Life on our farm is always busy and our caretaker, Renée keeps everything running smoothly. She is amazing and we all love her!

I believe it is Winter 2012 but the weather has been unseasonably warm. The laying ladies and I have been able to continue foraging not only in our little yard but also the horse pasture and the neighboring soybean field. 

I LOVE it when the crops are harvested. The machines always leave yummy treats behind with soil that is loosened up and perfect to scratch around in, looking for grubs, worms and other underground insect life.

The composting horse manure pile is a perfect place to start the day. Sometimes we find leftover bits of grain but always lots of yummy earthworms. I especially love to find the little red ones. Sweet, succulent with a hint of earthiness. Ah, Heaven on Earth is a nicely composted manure pile . . . but I digress.

Snoozing with the Laying Ladies
Usually by the time Renée gets out to do chores, around sunrise, I have already escaped out of the noisy coop and started feasting near one compost pile or another. Sometimes she shuts the big window I like to fly out of, what with the nights being rather chilly, and sometimes she just shuts our little door. I hate it when she shuts both at night because that means I have to endure listening to the girls gossip and squawk about other farm residents while they get about the business of laying eggs. The things those girls say! I love them but really, who cares if Max, the head of the sheep flock, got into a head-butting match with Berk, his younger half-brother?

Do NOT be deceived by the
cute-ness of this image!
He is terrifyingly fast and loves fresh chicken.
Well, enough about me, let me tell you a little bit about other exciting events on our farm. Most recently, I was witness to the brutal killing of my good friend, Rusty and two of our laying ladies - while they were in a cage! 

What could have committed such a bloodthirsty crime? A MINK! We tried to tell Renée about him but she didn’t seem to understand until her husband found the mink curled up in a sunny corner of the pigeon coop. Since the pigeon coop has better rodent protection, once he got in, he couldn’t get out unless he slipped out the door when one of the humans opened it. He had done this successfully before, relishing in the fresh water and spilled grain from the fancy pigeons.

Somehow, Renée and Bashir caught the mink in a cat carrier and had a friend come over to help in disposing of this evil menace. All I can say is - good riddance! We haven’t had any random, midnight attacks since and I am hoping his friends or family doesn’t decide to come looking for him.

The next day, after the mink had been taken care of, I wandered into the barn to check for leftover kitty or dog treats and there was Renée, highly focused and carefully skinning the mink. I wonder what she plans to do with his hide? He was good sized but I don’t think he is big enough to make anything with. I’ll keep you posted on what she ends up doing with it.

Hide from a doe, left on our road, mostly
fleshed, salted, tanning oil applied.
Along those lines of skinning animals, a couple of days before the capture and ultimate demise of the mink, Renée and a friend brought home a white tailed deer hide. I overheard them talking about how they came into possession of this messy skin. 

Apparently, people like to dump deer carcuses on our quiet country road and Renée spotted a fresh kill of a large doe on her way home from work. She went about her business and later decided to go back to check it out since it looked like the hide was still intact, meaning no coyotes had found it yet and maybe it was salvageable. 

Renée has made it clear to all of us, on the farm, she loves and values all our contributions toward making her life and her family’s lives healthy, and she doesn’t like to waste any “gift” that we have to offer. She feels that way about wildlife too, even though she is not an active hunter, she believes that if you kill an animal, you should try to use as much of that animals’ gifts as possible. The gift of a “hide” was too hard to pass up so Renée and her friend, in the dark of night, with knives and pickling salt in hand, went out to harvest the hide and prepare it to be tanned.

Late into the night, the two humans worked, sharing stories, listening to music and honoring the beautiful way nature has created us critters. The artist inside of both women, took joy in the divine patterns found on the skin, left by the placement of muscles, tendons and other fibers. The scientist in both women, admired the complex connections of seemingly simple layers of skin, adipose connecting tissue and muscles, as they carefully “fleshed” the hide. The doe was thanked for giving her life to feed the hunter’s family and for the future warmth, her hide would give to Renée.

Buck skin, given to Renée by a neighbor.
Needless to say, Renée’s family, once again, has shook their collective heads and smiled at her latest adventures into pioneer life in the 21st Century. When Renée started working on yet another deer hide the next day, given to her by a conscientious neighbor and friend, her son pointed out that she was one trashed TV set away from becoming a pioneer wife.

Well, he is right about the trashed TV set, as Renée has often been a vocal opponent of the brain drain but I think she has a long way to go before she is truly a pioneer wife.

I hear tell, from Blackie the cat, who hangs out by the back door of the house, that Renée struggles with the canning process and cooking in general. Well, she can’t be perfect in everything she does but at least she tries. 

Curious George
- repurposed as a laprobe.
That’s all for today. Renée has her finished mink hanging in her art corner, next to the warped up loom, waiting to be turned into something useful, the two deer hides are in the garage and in the process of being broken in before becoming usable, one of five sheep skins is almost ready to be gifted to a nephew, with the other four, in various stages of fleshing, salting and tanning. She is a busy girl!

Be well all, and happy scratching,
Handmade dish towel by Renée.

Alpha Rooster
Renée’s Hen House

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Letting Go...

Hi all,
The end of summer, for those of us with kids, ends tonight!  School begins in hours and thus ends the loosey-goosey routine of summer sleep-ins, late bonfires and swimming in the backyard pool. 

While I am glad to be done with the heat of 2011, a new chapter begins for me.  I start teaching German to middle schoolers in one day, with the loosest of guidelines to structure my lesson plans on.  I was hired about two weeks ago and will have 83 students starting September 1, 2011.  My nights have been filled with nightmares of stage fright and cotton-tongue. (If you've never experienced either of these diseases, count yourself lucky!)

I have visions of German zombies chasing me on my horses, cats randomly spouting German phrases from Goethe, Einstein or Nietzsche and chickens laying eggs with little beer mugs in them.  The German in me, is going crazy over the lack of existing structure and outline for this course.  (The Norwegian in me is doing the happy dance over the freedom from structure.)
"Externally, some parts may seem useless because the inner coherence of the animal nature has given them this
form without regard to outer circumstances. Thus...(not) the questoin, what are they for?
BUT rather -
WHERE do they come from?" (Suhrkamp, Goethe)
 I have literally spent 100 hours looking for music, videos and on-line lesson plans in my quest to keep this class relevant AND exciting for the 12-14 year olds of the 21st Century.  Trying to find "school-friendly", modern, catchy music was much more of a challenge than I thought.  Dropping a "*"bomb in a foreign language may be cool on the bus, but over the speakers in the classroom is a bit different.

Last night, as I was sitting at the desk in my bedroom, overlooking my horses milling about in front of the barn while the sun was setting on this late August evening, I looked over at my husband and said "I don't think I can do this.  I don't have enough time.  I want these kids to have fun AND learn German.  UGH!"  His response was to say "Just let go.  Your expectations are college level and these are middle schoolers.  You LOVE middle schoolers.  They love you.  Just let go and run with it."

All day, that phrase "Just let go" has been rattling around in my head as I listened dutifully to the PowerPoints on things important to the school environment, made photo copies of worksheets for the coming days, and attempted to decorate a kitchen as a German classroom without compromising the kitchen space. 

I came home to my family, the farm, the laundry and relaxed to Pizza Hut pizza with the family. I hopped on Facebook to check in with my on-line family, when I stumbled upon this video.

I was completely entranced.  Maybe that was due to the poor quality of sleep lately or maybe it was simply because the video was beautiful to watch and easy to listen to.  It embodied the phrase "Let go..."

As some of you know, I love skiing and am a ski racing coach along with all my equine activities in the summer.  What you may not know, is that I am a closet snowboarder and that I actually will sit to watch skateboarders and snowboarders performing in the halfpipe when I would never sit still to watch a football game. 

I have heard of longboarding but never have tried it.  After watching this video, at the "mature" age of 40, I could actually imagine myself doing some of this.  This video stopped me in my tracks, obsessing over German lesson plans and reminded me that sometimes "letting go" brings an unexpected, dangerous pleasure along with new heights in performance. 

Here's to letting go of summer and riding the slow curve while flipping the switch into fall.
- Inkoze
Inkoze on top of the world in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Summer 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Evansville Farmers Market - May 2011 - WELCOME!!!

Hi All,
Spring has finally sprung and the Evansville Farmers Market, Evansville, Wis. is now open for business!!!  If you like what you see in the image above, come and check us out every Saturday from 9am-1pm through October.  We are located next to Creekside Place on Church and Maple St, downtown Evansville.
This was our third weekend open and the market continues to grow in vendors and in visitors.  Our first weekend was April 30 with family friendly events planned each week ranging from poetry to potting plants to growing herbs to spinning demonstrations.  This past week, on May 20-22, Evansville hosted a Union Civil War Reenactment.  Many of our vendors got into the spirit and dressed in semi-period clothing.  Unfortunately, as hard as we tried, we could not convince our co-manager, Josh Wiser of Wiser Produce, to dress up as a farmer from that time period.  He DID let his beard grow though. :)

May 21, 2011
Evansville Farmers Market vendors
dressed up for the Reenactment.

Last weekend, we had ropes for jumping, both adults and kids alike and the weekend before that, we had flower planting in mini-pots with artificial flowers for Mother's Day gifts.  In the weeks to come, we will have Master Gardener's joining us to talk about visitor's gardening challenges and do demonstrations, florists to talk about flower arrangement and maybe even some cooking demonstrations later in the summer.  We welcome suggestions that will make our market, the Evansville Farmers Market, unique and interesting to all who visit.

Currently, we are giving away sunflower seed packets to children to see who can grow the largest sunflower head.  Be sure to stop by our information booth to get your free packet of seeds, through them in the ground and let them grow!  Fall should be interesting as people bring in their sunflower heads for pictures and measurements.  Prizes have yet to be determined but will probably be in line with our mission to support local vendors at our market. 

Some of the yummy, healthy AND local choices available at the Evansville Farmers Market have included local honey, farm fresh eggs, green onions, spinach, morels, wild asparagus, and rhubarb.  We also have bedding plants for your veggie gardens and flower beds.  We even have some non-edible items such as artisan yarns, custom fishing poles, hand embroidered dish towels, crocheted wash cloths, hand woven place mats, dish towels, and shawls, beeswax candles, body butter (YUM!), goat's milk soap (personally tried it and LOVED IT!) and so much more as our vendors start to harvest their produce from the late start spring gardens. 

We are always looking for more vendors as well as suggestions of vendors to make our market unique to Evansville and bring people in from far and wide to sample what we have to offer in such a beautiful and historic town.  Part of our mission is to include "urban farmers".  An "urban farmer" is a person who lives in a residential area that enjoys growing/raising things to share with others.  If you are one of those people whose gardens are overflowing with flowers, tomatoes, herbs, fruit and more - THIS IS FOR YOU!  Come on down Saturday and talk with Renee Frank or Josh Wiser or Marie Messinger to find out how your "urban farm" might fit into a farmers market.  We also welcome vendors that can "value add" to prepurchased products. 

One example is the embroidery of dish towels.  The towels are not yet a locally made item, but the embroidery is most definitely hand made with love by Marie Messenger of Sweetfield Farm just outside of Evansville, Wis.  Another example might be the creation of beeswax candles or dried flower arrangements.  The products can be purchased by the vendor but assembled in such a way that they have made them more desirable to visitors.

So come out this Saturday, rain or shine, May 28, 2011 to see what you can find and be a guest blogger about it!  Enjoy the sunshine and blue skies!  - Inkoze,                        rlfn12c@gmail.com or evansvillefarmersmarket@gmail.com

To find out more on the rules and regulations for the Evansville Farmers Market, please go to our website www.evansvillefarmersmarket.com for what it takes to be a part of a growing movement supporting locally and sustainably grown food and related items right here in Evansville, Wisconsin.