Your asking, I know. What in the world do chicken's have to do with tea? Isn't this a tea company? Don't you blend tea? Drink tea? Have tea time? With tea treats? That whole pinkies up thing, you know?
The answer is, yes, well except for the pinkies up thing. We only do that for fun, mostly! You see, chickens hold an important role here down on the farm. While they might seem worlds away from having anything to do with tea, they are actually one of the first steps in making our tea.
Our teas feature locally grown ingredients. Such as our Cherry City Chai, with it's heirloom Royal Ann cherries, grown here in the capital of Salem. Or the beautiful lavender in our Rose City Repose tea, grown in Eagle Creek, Oregon by Eagle Creek Lavender. Some of the local ingredients in our teas come right from our farm. Herbs, flowers and berry leaves, are just a few of the things we grow.
While our farm is not certified Organic we make an effort to keep all chemicals out of our farming. Growing in this way can really get time consuming unless some other tactics are applied. One of those tactics we use is putting our chickens to work for us.
You see there are 24 of them and only 6 of us. They are also some mighty bug eating machine's, with claws that till (while looking for worms) and a LARGE appetite for all the things in the greenhouse that we needed to weed. They also fertilize the soil in the process. The agricultural method that takes the problem of say a hungry chicken to solve the problem of a garden that needs weeded is called Permaculture. Where multiple cultures (chickens and gardens) work together to solve a problem.
Normally I would have these cute little people help me pull the weeds and get the greenhouse ready. They were glad to find out that the chickens were going to do that work for them, we just had a few things to get ready before we let the feathered crew in to take care of the mess.
Check out our latest YouTube video to see how it went. The before and after of the greenhouse is amazing.
If you enjoyed watching that video and all the work those feathery friends can do for you, you might be interested in our free download on 8 Tips for Keeping Chickens. As a BOUNUS there are two printables for keeping track of chicken expenses and how many eggs are laid daily. Thanks for joining us on the farm and we will see you next time!
It was a Wednesday, like it usually is when I'm out running errands. This day was no different than any other. I was making my weekly run to Roth's Fresh Markets to grab my grass fed ground beef. I love shopping at Roth's because its a small local grocery store chain focused on customer service and providing the locally community with local foods. The stores are just beautiful, typical farmer's market rustic.
This particular day, though, there was a table set up near the front door with samples. While not totally uncommon this product was one I had not seen before. This was the firs time I had the privilege of trying Epiphany Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar. The flavor was bold and impressive and it went good on ice cream... I'm adventurous some what when it comes to food and vinegar on ice cream was something I couldn't turn down. It was also fabulous on strawberries.... those were my favorite.
Not only was the product great, but I was happy to find another dedicated food entrepreneur with a fabulous product. I knew that this would be great on so many tea time recipes that I had to grab a bottle for myself. That takes us today and our interview with Epiphany Pantry. I enjoyed their story and I think you will too!
Tell us a little bit about Crate Expectations Epiphany Pantry
Thanks for giving us this interview, CeAnne. We still enjoy telling people about Epiphany Pantry’s Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar. I am also very excited about Herb Infused Grape Seed Oils, which are just now out. Yes, Epiphany is small, but that allows us to pay attention to every detail. We make, distribute and sell our products ourselves. Our batches are never made in anything over a 40 gallon pot. We never take our eyes off of it.
Tell us a little about your personal life
Our entire family, my wife Rosalie, my son Zack and I are involved in the business. Rosalie comes from a large Maltese family, so she loves food and is a skilled cook. She has spent over 18 years as advisor for several cult boutique wineries. I was a Landscape Designer much of my carrier. Now I enjoy writing, photography and computer graphics. I’ve had fun doing all of that for Epiphany. Zack is a senior at West Salem High School. He will be studying Environmental Engineering next year. He has been accepted at OSU. He had a positive interview with MIT. Fingers are crossed while we wait to hear. Zack’s Robotics team made it to the semifinals at the State Finals of the VEX Robotics Competition last year. He is competing again this year and we are devoting a lot of our free time to it. Outside of that, we like to meet and be with people by travel, exploring, discovery. Generally adventures off the beaten path.
What was it that got you started creating a caramelized balsamic vinegar?
We were actually introduced to it. We had a pack and ship store called Crate Expectations in a railcar in Calistoga, California. On one bright, but agonizingly slow day a dark and mysterious woman walked in backwards and continued to walk backwards up to the counter. She spun around and held tiny sampling spoons right before Rosalie and I's faces. They held a mere few drops of dark brown liquid. She said, “Taste this.” Being adventurous, we did.
We turned to each other, our eyes widened. We both exclaimed, “We’re going to sell
this!" at exactly the same. We then at the same time turned back to the woman, and again simultaneously asked, "What is it?” The whole thing happened as if it was choreographed.
The vinegar was being imported from Australia one barrel at a time by a retired
gentleman. I don’t think he imported more than two barrels. It was an expensive
venture. Our business failed, and we lost contact with him. A few years later I took a job at a guest ranch. I had about an inch of Caramelized Balsamic in our last bottle. I had the chef there, Miguel Islas, try it; really for no reason other than “Isn’t this tasty?” Miguel offered to figure it out and he recreated it. He is an amazing cook and an awesome friend! We’re it not for him… well, I must say I am grateful and lucky to know him.
What did you do prior to owning Crate Expectations?
Rosalie has spent over 18 years as advisor for several cult boutique wineries, and of
course we had our store. I was a Landscape Contractor and Designer much of my carrier. I’ve built a couple of homes. I was also a Worm Wrangler and a Federal Agent among other things. Okay, I was a Federal Purchasing Agent, but it’s fun to leave that out.
Why balsamic vinegar over other vinegars?
Well, because it’s tasty! No really, it’s all about the versatility gained by a lot of boiling, and the additional ingredients adding more flavor layers than a simple reduction. Epiphany Caramelized Balsamic vinegar goes on almost any food! All produce. All dairy items. Fish. Most baked goods. In fact, the only food item I’ve ever not liked it on was ginger snaps.
Buyers should beware. Most “reductions” and “glazes” are in fact not reduced at all!
Look at the label. Gum, corn starch, or even worse thickeners are a sure sign they are
just thickening it, not cooking it. They remain bitter without the volatiles boiled out.
They lack in uses.
We buy Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy. Modena is renowned for Balsamic Vinegar. We boil the Balsamic hard, in fact burning it a little bit. This requires paying attention! The fumes will burn your lungs if you don’t have powerful ventilation. Don’t try this at home, kids! This reduces the balsamic and caramelizes it. We take the now reduced Balsamic and add citrus juice, a little dark brown cane sugar, a few spices. These ingredients add additional layers of flavor. We again reduce the entire batch, once more caramelizing it.
We reduce the balsamic vinegar alone, first to drive the most volatile part of the vinegar out of it. These volatiles are not only the bitterest part of the vinegar, but the part that smells “vinegary”. So, if you as you bring a spoonful of a Caramelized Balsamic Sundae, for instance, you’re not smelling a smell that makes you think of a salad. All foods remain approachable.
What are your favorite recipes for using your Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar?
That’s a moving target. It’s good with so many things and can be used somewhere in
almost any recipe. You can cook with it anywhere you would use a traditional balsamic, but it’s range is far broader than that. I like to keep it simple. Think of it as
a condiment. I’m not fond of that word (condiment) because it sounds common, but really you get the most of it by sprinkling it sparingly on food after you prepare it.
Here’s what I suggest. Take any given dish, and I mean any. Pull a little off to the side
and give it a little sprinkle of Epiphany Caramelized on it. Taste it. If you like it, put it on the rest of your dish. Take it easy and just add a little. It packs a lot of flavor. Them
you can add more to suit your individual taste.
CeAnne here, I just wanted to add to Bill's wonderful recipe suggestions that we tried it on top of pancakes or Dutch Baby's (a.k.a. German pancakes). We have a great recipe on the blog here for Caramelized Balsamic Skillet Cake that we topped with Epiphany's Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar. Ok, Bill you can have the reigns back.
Do you have any new product lines coming out? Tell us about those.
We just introduced Epiphany Rosemary Infused Grape Seed Oil. It is fantastic with our
caramelized balsamic. Garlic will be introduced next week. Basil will be next. Oregano, perhaps Habanero. We’re not sure where we will stop.
Grape Seed Oil doesn’t compete with other flavors, yet oddly enough it enhances them. It has a high smoke point of 420 degrees, which is nice for stir frying or pan brazing. Grape Seed Oil has no synthetic ingredients, has Zero Trans Fat and is Non-
hydrogenated and polyunsaturated. It contains a high level of Omega-6s, Especially Linoleic Acids. It’s also high in vitamin E.
Where can our readers find your products?
Epiphany Caramelized Balsamic Vinegar is available at 62 retail locations in Oregon, Washington and California. We are adding more stores all the time, so it is good to look at our list online.
Having just come out just 4 days ago, Epiphany Rosemary Infused Grape Seed Oil is available locally only at Honeywood Winery. Check our locations online for up and coming Epiphany Garlic Infused Grape Seed Oil.
Our products are also available with free shipping in the lower 48 states via our online store.
Our herbal medicine journey has been a long time in the making, but it really started to take off in about 2012. It started with some random online learning here and there, then an online course.
I ordered my first seeds to plant in my first garden. Seeds of Change had a close out deal with a bunch of random seeds for $5, including shipping. Can't lose there right? In that bunch of seeds were some calendula flowers. Little did I know that those bright yellow flowers would create a business that we now run full time as a family.
~*~ This post may contain affiliate links. What does that mean? Some of the products we use and recommended have links that will take you to an affiliate page. That means IF you decide to purchase those items we get a little kick back. There is no additional cost to you. It helps keep our family here on the farm, working and learning together. We only recommend products that use use and trust. Thank you for any purchases you make through our site. ~*
The very first salve I ever made was with these golden beauties. Today we are going to use them as part of an herbal oil infusion. Along with some local lavender buds and organic comfrey. Our Lavender Lemongrass Salve is popular starting in the spring, as gardeners are released from their cold, wet/snowy winter, into the soil they have been planning for all winter. The seeds come out, but so do the dry, cracked, and sore hard working hands.
You could just buy our garden salves here but why not make your own? And we are going to share with you the recipe.... the very recipe that we use to make ours down on the farm! Because after all.... give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a life time.
While we are sharing the QUICKEST method of infusing an oil with herbs, please do plan ahead as it takes 2- 5 hours of simmering on the stove. We suggest a great cup of tea, maybe our latest favorite, La Pine Licorice, and a good book while you wait.
I just learned this new fabulous way to strain oil infusions! It worked so fantastic! I don't know why I didn't think of it before. Normally I would use an unbleached cheese cloth, wait for it to strain and then squeeze it good. A French press works so much better! I highly recommend it. The oil cleans off from it just fine and its much more sustainable. It also save's money to boot! We recommend this French press here if your in the market for one. Without further ado, the recipe for infusing garden salve oil - which you will need to make the rest of the garden salve recipe.
Garden Salve Infused Oil
Makes approx. 1 cup
1 cup Organic Olive Oil 1/4 cup dried Organic Calendula flowers
1/8 cup dried Organic Lavender Buds 1/8 cup dried Organic Comfrey
1.) Add olive oil, dried organic calendula flowers, dried lavender buds, dried organic comfrey oil to a double boiler.
2.) Infuse on stove top 2-5 hours.
3.) Strain using an unbleached cheese cloth or French press.
SEE The Recipe
Now that you have your garden salve oil infused we are ready to roll the salve making process. I start by getting my work area cleaned up, washed down and then covered with some dry paper that can be tossed when I'm done. If wax is spilled on here its easily cleaned up and makes a great fire starter. Make sure to dust out those tins too... some times they get little things that settle in them while in storage.
Once you are set grab your pour pot, we use this one and hope to add this one soon. Add your newly infused oil (measurements below in recipe), bees wax, coconut oil and cocoa or shea butter.
It's time to heat the mixture up on the double boiler. Heat until your oils and bees wax have melted. Give it a good stir to incorporate it. Next add your essential oils. You want to add these at the VERY end so that the heat doesn't evaporate them out of your salve before you pour it. If something comes up and you need to step aside. Leave the oils simmering on the stove and place the essential oils in the mixture when you get back. A little extra cook time won't hurt your oil and bees wax. After your essential oils are added give it a good stir with a wooden skewer or some other non-metal utensils reserved for working with bees wax. Pour your salve into it's new containers and let cool. After they cooled place the lid on top and make sure to label with the ingredients as well as the intent of use and any precautions.
Lavender Lemongrass Garden Salve
Makes approx. 6.5 oz (6- 1 oz tins, 3 -2 oz tins)
1/2 Cup Infused Olive Oil 1.25 oz (1/4 c. pellets) Bees Wax
1.1 oz (1/8 c.) Organic Coconut Oil .20 oz (3/4 tsp.) Cocoa Butter
10 drops Lavender Essential Oil 5 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
1.) Add infused oil, coconut oil, bees wax and coco butter to double boiler, reserving essential oils for later.
2.) Melt on medium high heat until all the oils and wax are throughly melted. Time will vary according to how thick the bees wax is (ex. bricks of bees wax vs. pellets).
3.) Prepare and set out containers salve will be poured into. Metal tins or heat resistant glass are best. Some ideas might be: small canning jars, metal tins, other containers designed for beauty care products.
4.) Once oils and wax are throughly melted, stir well with wooden skewer or some other non metal utensil reserved for bees wax projects.
5.)Add lavender and lemongrass essential oils. Stir essential oils in well.
6.) Pour carefully into selected salve containers. Let cool. Place lids on cooled salve and label with ingredients and intended salve use.
"If it Never rains then we will never grow."
It's true for people and its true for plants too. If it never rains then nothing will grow. I think here in Western Oregon we have had plenty of rain to make lots of things grow! While most of the country has inches and feet of snow we haven't seen one snow flake this year. In some ways its really nice not to have the snow. In Oregon we see so little snow that it really causes problems with traffic and getting to and from places. Though at times it would be really nice to have that snow white blanket covering the mud that is all over the farm.... and it would be a little cleaner for the farm children to play in.
In the Greenhouse
I avoided photos of the greenhouse last week in our Around the Farm post. This week I decided I'd show you the ugly mess that it is in January.... at least this year since we didn't plant anything over the winter. The grape vine is missing its leaves, the grass is over grown, the bean plants are dead and moldy. It really just isn't what it should be. But life happens and gives us a chance to reflect on our choices. This year we made choices that involved putting our time in places other than the green house.
My sad attempt at throwing some spinach seed in the green house turned into a gnarly mess. While there are a few leaves that could be salvaged its really only enough for maybe one salad.
The slugs seem to be enjoying bits of it and mold the rest of it. The spinach also looks like it spent more time trying to go to seed than to make leafs.
Carrots! These have been in the ground a little long, the only plus to that is that I don't have to figure out where to store them. They will be coming out Thursday when we start the greenhouse clean up.
The Swiss chard looks like its coming back to life but could also use its share of clean up. There are plenty of moldy leaves to get rid of.
Even with the shade cloth on the greenhouse things are warming up and these arugula plants think its time to go to seed. I guess at least we can plant arugula again soon without buying new seed.
Broccoli flowers are showing up. We had so many bugs on these plants that the chickens should have a fun time cleaning them up when we send them in on their greenhouse project.
That's our broccoli harvest. Yep like two little buds of broccoli. Later this year we will be planting it outside to help with the bug pressure and growing temperature.
Our hazelnuts are mostly doing their job in the greenhouse. Back in August or so we laid down hazelnut mulch in the greenhouse pathways to try and keep the grass down. In hind site plastic might have been a good option to put under nether them. We have a little weeding to do but the mud was kept at bay and it still looks decent in the pathways.
These leeks were planted last spring and it looks like they are almost harvest size. At least these three!
A side shot of the greenhouse. See how well that hazelnut mulch is keeping down the grass! Usually there would be a carpet of grass down the aisle trying to get away from us.
ARound the Farm
We grew pounds and pounds of squash last year and it was stored on our front porch since our root cellar wasn't done yet. Sadly between the freezing temps and the alternating warm weather a bunch of it started to wrought. Nothing goes to waste on the farm though, the chickens were more than happy to put that butternut to use.
Not much grass left in the pasture and a WHOLE LOT OF WATER. January is always ruff on the animals and the grass but God is good and will send warmer weather soon! And with it more grass!
Little Bitty says "hi"! She has been rather lonely lately. Our two little lambs, Hey Ewe and Dodge, were re-homed and Roscoe, the goat, doesn't care for the rain. He doesn't have a woolly coat like Little Bitty and so he hides in the barn most of the time.
I thought she was being friendly and wanted petted then she proceeded to try and ram me. Guess she had me fooled!
The weeds are growing! HAPPY DANCE! Yes I know, I'm crazy. But you know what that means, if the weeds grow that means seeds can grow. And if seeds can grow that means its time to plant spring crops in the greenhouse!
The garlic we planted in the fall seems to be pretty happy! This is our first year planting garlic and we are excited to see how it does. We use our share of garlic in the farm kitchen. It would be nice to have a locally grown source.
The borage is making a come back... that bee attacking plant! It doesn't look like I will have to replant it which will be nice. At this rate is should also be big and tall and flowering by spring helping to bring those pollinators into the garden sooner.
Wet and sloppy. This water is running all over the the farm. Thankfully its keeping to the areas it is suppose to stay in but the farm is still wet and muddy.
More water, something I got to jump over as I cam down from the hill. Its always a slippery slope back behind the house and I've slid down the hill a few times. Thankfully I kept that white on my skirt white and made it down ok .... this time.
The Mary Garden isn't very pretty at the moment. Those calendula sorely need to be cut back. The new calendula are sprouting up and taking off already. These are the most hardy flowers I have ever encountered. Almost like a weed, but not. They are very wanted right in this spot!
A calendula trying to sprout in January! Pretty amazing isn't it?! The things have only been out of bloom for about a month and they are ready to take off again. We love these little flowers so much! They are what got us started on our herbal journey and tea making!
Those clouds! They are great, dark and mysterious! But.... in their own way beautiful to boot.
Tea Studio Progress
Taping and texturing continue on the addition/tea studio. This is the dining room extension, the entry way the foyer. We aren't sure what to call it yet or what it's function will be but its getting closer to finished!
Last week we picked out our flooring for the stairway and the tea studio. Fake, but looks like real, wood vinyl plank flooring. We are hoping this will look fantastic and rustic.
In the Farm Kitchen
Kombucha! This poor scoby hasn't been fed in probably two months. I'm afraid instead of kombucha we probably have some serious vinegar going on in here. Its on my to-do list to freshen this tea up and do something with the vinegar. Are you a kombucha drinker? What is your favorite flavor?
Two loaves every other day. Our sourdough bread baking is still going strong. Thankfully through my illness the Farmer learned to make sour dough bread and has done a pretty good job at it! Light and fluffy and not too sour, just the way we like it.
In the Farm Store
Today we infused some garden salve oil so we could make Lavender Lemongrass Garden Salve and shoot a video while doing it. That video should be up tomorrow so that you can make your very own at home! Made with Oregon grown lavender, some of those calendula we mentioned above and comfrey. Its just what the hands need after a hard day in the garden and drying soil.
The bee's wax we use in our salve come from a local bee keeper in 2 pound blocks. Those two pound blocks are really hard to measure up so we always melt our wax down into something smaller and more manageable. Someday I'll have an official mold that says 100% bee's wax and molds the wax in bricks. For now I had this Christmas tree mold and it seems to work ok. Anything is better than trying to chisel off the right amount of wax for the recipe!
Royal Ann's Roses is the newest edition to our farm tea collection. This royal beauty is headed to our Tea Club members come February 6th! Paired with some locally made chocolate, a great recipe and more. If you would like to try this rooibos based tea out make sure you check out our Tea Club for more details!
Locally grown Royal Ann cherries and pink bachelor buttons are sprinkled in this coming months tea. As always we have to include a little local flare in our teas. Thanks for stopping by the farm this week and we will see you tomorrow with a video and blog on how to make herbal infused salve!
Oregon is known for its fruits especially berries. Strawberries. Marionberries. Haskaps. Aronias. Raspberries, Blackberries. Salmon Berries. This berry and that berry. It's not uncommon to find jams and jellies in abundance in Oregon.What is uncommon is to find a fruit spread that has half the sugar of most with twice the flavor. Its uncommon to find a young family taking on a multi-generational family farm with new farming adventures. Its uncommon to find the dedication and hard work that the Ellis family has put into their family farm. With as much love as they have for their children and extended family you will find an equal amount of love in every jar of fruit spread they sell.
We had the privilege of meeting the owners of Mt. Hope Farms, The Ellis Family, at the Salem Saturday Market a couple of years ago now. With our daughters named Faith and Charity, I had to find out what this Mt. HOPE Farms was all about. We were blessed with not only beautiful farm and working relationship but also a friendship. We are also proud to include their aronia berries in our Oregon Harvest Berry Tea.
Today we are sharing with you all, as part of our local farm/business features, Mt. Hope Farms and their beautiful fruit spreads. They were so gracious as to allow us to interview them and today we share that with you. We hope you enjoy!
Tell Us a little about Mt. Hope Farms.
We are a small, diversified farm in Molalla, Oregon and we grow unique fruits and berries that we sell fresh and use to make preserved foods. We have created a line of fruit spreads that are made with high quality and local ingredients and very low amounts of sugar. If we can’t grow all of our ingredients for our specialty foods, then we source it from other farmers that we know and trust (always organic if possible).
What did you do prior to farming?
Mike grew up on the farm and has worked with his parents and grandfather for most of his life. Mike and I both attended Eastern Oregon University in La Grande where we met. He studied crop and soil sciences and I studied history. Mike worked a manual labor job after college until returning back to Molalla to farm in 2012. I (Laura) worked as the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator in Union County prior to farming. We loved La Grande, but we knew it was time for a change when we found out we were expecting our son, Samuel.
What was the motivation behind starting your farm and fruit spreads?
Mike and I have always wanted to farm and raise our family in a rural area. That was a big motivation for moving back to where Mike grew up. The timing was right for us to come back and work alongside Mike’s parents on the farm, but we knew that we had to do something different in order to make a living farming smaller acreage and to keep up with the changing markets. As a family, we want to grow crops that have great flavor, are highly nutritious and are less common than many already found in the Willamette Valley. So, we decided to grow higher value crops, such as table grapes, aronia berries and haskap berries that we could sell to the fresh market.
We also wanted to sell our fruits and berries for a longer stretch of time and to create a product that brought in a more consistent income. We needed something that people could feel good about purchasing and consuming- a product that we felt good about feeding to our kids. I have always loved creating and cooking in the kitchen, so I began to come up with recipes for jam using our produce and berries. But, the jam had so much sugar! So, I began experimenting and came up with recipes that cut the amount of sugar by more than half….and that’s how our line of fruit spreads came to be! From there, I came up with recipes that not only had our farm ingredients, but local spices and spirits. Mike and I made it a goal to try and support other small business and farms through our business.
Our fruit spreads became popular with friends and family, then with farmers’ market customers and then they began to win awards. In 2016 and 2017, we received a Good Food Award for our Spiced Marionberry and Raspberry Marionberry Fruit Spreads and we just found out that we are finalists for three of our products in 2018!
Could you share a general day in the life of the farm with us?
Mike and his dad do all of the main farming work and are responsible for all of our crop production. He is normally out the door early in the morning where he works alongside his dad. They work until it is dark outside, which can be a long day, depending on the season. In the summers, they are busy harvesting whatever crops are ready to go- haskap berries in the spring, seed crops and berries in the summers, grapes and apples in the fall. In the fall and winter, they are constantly preparing for planting, growing, and harvest of the crops: repairing/modifying/building equipment, pruning grapes and the orchard crops, and getting seed and supplies on hand. As soon as the weather is right we go right back to work planting, growing and harvesting our crops. No day EVER looks the same!
I stay at home with our two young children, Samuel and Mason, during the day. I also do all of the paperwork, sales, marketing and recipe development for our value added products and fresh fruit sales. I often deliver our products to stores with kids in tow and work on social media and paperwork after bedtime. A day for me is full of wearing lots of different hats and trying to grow our business.
The burning question: What is a fruit spread?
To comply with FDA labeling regulations, each batch of our fruit spreads and preserves is measured with a Brix Meter. This tool tests the soluable solids (which is an indicator of sugar level) in our products and indicates what number they are on the brix scale (which goes from 1-100). To be legally defined as a jam or jelly it must have a brix reading of 65 or above. Often, these traditional products have very high amounts of added sugars and sweeteners that contribute to this reading. Because we use very low amounts of Organic cane sugar and no artificial sweeteners, many of our products are fruit spreads and are below 65 on the Brix scale. Because of our low sugar levels we cannot legally be labeled as a jam or jelly.
How do you go about deciding which fruit spreads make it to market?
Mike and I do a lot of test recipes…. A LOT. Many of them don’t make the cut. We let friends and family try them first. If they like them, then we often make micro batches and see how farmers’ market customers like them. If they prove popular, gain good feedback and sell well, then we consider them as a product we will offer for wholesale. It takes a long stretch of time to go through this whole process!
What makes your fruit spreads different from other jams and jellies?
The fact that we know exactly what goes into the jar and we know that they are the best ingredients that we can source and grow makes our fruit spreads different. We spend time making sure our berries and fruits are grown to the highest standards. Our product quality is higher, our ingredients are Organic whenever possible, our ingredients are fresher (we don’t include any artificial flavors or preservatives), our recipes are original to our farm and this is our sole living. When you purchase from us, you are directly supporting our family and other small businesses in the community that supply some of our ingredients.
Do you have a favorite fruit spread and how do you use it?
My favorite is Autumn Apple. I love using it on pork chops and on waffles. It is made from the apples in our family orchard, local rum (4 Spirits Distillery) and Oregon sea salt (Jacobsen’s Sea Salt) - seriously amazing! Mike’s favorite is the Spiced Marionberry. He puts this on his toast, on bagels and cream cheese and mixes it into yogurt.
Where can our readers find your fruit spreads?
You can order them on our farm website and we now have free shipping on all orders! You can also find us at many cheese counters at Oregon grocers and specialty shops which are found here on our "About Us" page. For recipes using our fruit spread check out our Farm Fresh Blog.
Thank you for joining us for this weeks Farm/Business feature. If you missed the first one in our series make sure you check out The Engineer and School Teacher that Quit to Farm Lavender.
Where did the last 4 weeks go? Between the holidays and fighting colds and bronchitis down on the farm it feels like we have been missing in action around here on the farm blog. I say we are long over due for a little Down on the Farm update!
This lovely cheese platter pictured above was a practice round for a little special project we are working on. We took this platter to our family Christmas Eve party along with some tea. It was super yummy and the last treat we enjoyed down on the farm before coming down with a round of colds.
Around the Farm
Yes, the shade cloth is still on the greenhouse in December and January. No. We don't really need it on the green house this time of year. Summer got crazy busy and then lead into a crazy busy holiday shopping seasons. And, well there sits the shade cloth. It is getting time to get that thing off of there, get the greenhouse cleaned up and start planting! After trying so many different things in the greenhouse we decided its really best for greens of any kind (kale, lettuce, chard etc.) and starting seeds. So this year the tomatoes, cold weather crops like broccoli, cabbage and such will be going in the outside garden. And no more stringing green beans. They make lots of beautiful leaves but not much fruit. What garden plans do you have brewing?
A couple of the girls hoping to get treats. Here in Oregon we don't get much snow, just lots of WET! So the pasture is wet and mucky and the grass isn't growing. The rest of the yard is similar and these ladies are starting to look bored with their surroundings. Another month and the grass should start growing again and we can rotate them around the farm once more, putting them to work, which they love.
Most of the ladies also went through a molt about a month ago. This one is one of the last to go through the process. The poor things loose all their feathers so that they can grow new ones. They don't look very healthy during the process but its completely normal. When chickens molt they also don't lay eggs because their bodies are busy making new feathers and trying to stay warm. For a few weeks there we had a chicken protest and were only getting a couple eggs a day. I'm glad to announce that most of them are back with it and we are getting 10 or so eggs a day now. Its never fun to buy eggs at the store because we just don't know how the chickens were treated. If they got to be outside eating bugs or if they are some of those strange "vegetarian" chickens that never get a worm or bug. Just incase you didn't know, chickens are not vegetarians. They love their grubs and meat too if that is what you feed them! They can even out beat a cat at catching mice!
Here sits the lonely mobile pastured poultry set up. With so much rain and no grass growing the girls only turn their work space into a mud hole. So during the winter they get a bit more freedom in the pasture where they are not as likely to scratch it up too bad. In the mean time we continue to pile compost and manure from the barn on the garden space to add nutrients to the soil. When spring comes we will move the chickens through that pile so they can scratch it up and fertilize the garden some more before we mulch and start planting in the nutrient rich soil.
We do have a few things growing. This was our first year to plant a winter garden. I'm thinking that I didn't get the starts in the ground soon enough. These are some turnips that are coming up ok but slugs and bugs seem to be getting them because it is so wet. I have hopes they will grow more when spring comes around but I'm not sure if the bugs and slugs will get to them first. One never knows how it will go unless they try!
These tiny turnips are at least the right color but they didn't grow very much. We enjoyed them in some warm soup. They taste just like potatoes when cooked that way!
Earlier in 2017 we planted a test row of zinnia's, some herbs, borage and chamomile. Our goal was to see how well they grew but also which ones would over winter and come back. It looks like some of the borage either survived the frost or started growing back. This picture is of the tarragon that made it through the frost. Quite a hardly herb and a win in our book. The flowers of course succumbed to the frost but we will see in the spring if they reseeded themselves.
This picture doesn't do it justice but there between the brambles and the tree is the entrance to the children's favorite place known as the "Whisker Store". Its a little hole among the brush that they made a fort out of. Its not near as hidden as it usually is the rest of the year.
Some of the plants around the farm seem to think that since it isn't in the low teens temp wise that its now spring. The rhododendrons are starting to bud and the hazelnut trees are sending out tassels, and all the fruit trees and such show signs of budding. Hopefully they don't get a shock by another cold spell. I'd like to think maybe spring will just come early!
Usually I'm on the ball when it comes time to plant. There isn't any where I love to be more than in the garden or greenhouse getting my hands in the soil and watching one of the miracles that God allows us to participate in - growing plants. With such a busy holiday season and then fighting bronchitis for 3 weeks it really wasn't even on my mind. Other than to get that greenhouse cleaned up. The Farmer has been after me to order seeds though and get a move on it early. The Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog came the other day and I'm excited to start dreaming and ordering seeds. Planting always gives us a hope for the future!
Tea Stuido Progress
With not much to do outside this time of year the tea studio is seeing more and more progress as we near the end of its completion. A big change came right before Christmas when the wall in our dining room that separated the old house from the new came down.
The wall mostly out and the view from the dining room to the new foyer, or at least that is what we are calling it for now. The door goes to our new garage and to the left are the stairs to the tea studio.
The Farmer hard at work taping and mudding the stairwell to the tea studio. Around and around the building we go, when it ends... no one really knows. But in the mean time the Farmer works as hard as he can to get it done, one more coat and one more round. Some day it will be a beautiful workspace for blending and sipping tea.
Even with the drywall up and not finished it really gives shape to our new tea blending workspace. This area will have counters for shipping and packing along with a big island in the middle for blending tea and creating other herbal conceptions.
Just to the right of our packing and blending area we will have a desk or two and between the two window's closest together, a table for sipping tea and talking about all things herbal and business.
Turning to the right again is our kitchen area that will be set up with commercial sinks for washing and drying dishes.
And last but not least one of the views from the many windows in the tea studio. This one is one of my favorite with the view of our outdoor gardens and the chickens. Also the beautiful mountain side across the way that you can't really see in this photo. Some day a table will sit here with chairs to sip tea and take in the view.
Below the tea studio is our garage and down the road, as our business grows, our shipping department. The Farmer has been hard at work dry walling the area and finishing it off. Its such a nice big dry space!
There is our commercial sink that will be going up in the tea studio and also the door way to our future root cellar. No more storing the harvest on the front porch and under the house! YAY!
In the Farm kitchen
The Farmer has really been doing most of the cooking and so the only Farm Kitchen photos this time around are from Christmas. The last day or two that I didn't come down with a cold and could still cook. Cheesecake is our Christmas Eve tradition for dessert. We have a special meal every Christmas Eve, meatless and usually featuring salmon. Its a combination of a Russian, Polish and Bulgarian tradition where they celebrate the most Holy Night, Christmas Eve, with a large meatless meal. This meal features 12 dishes and many of ours are Russian and Bulgarian since that is where 3 of our 4 children were adopted from. The cheesecake is probably the most Polish item on our table. This one was made gluten and sugar free (aside from the toping which I had to scrape off because of my sugar allergy.
Usually we stay home this evening but this year was special and we visited family earlier. Everyone else indulged in treats and so they weren't as hungry as most years when normally we are fasting before our 12 course meal. (This year Christmas Eve was on Sunday so we didn't have to fast). We ended up keeping the meal more simple and not having all 12 dishes. Salmon with capers and lemon butter sauce, broccoli, garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom soup, olives (green and black), pickled herring and of course cheesecake dotted the menu. I guess we were not too far away from 12 items! We commence our meal with special prayers for Christmas Eve and the reading of the story of the birth of Christ.
Farm & Family Traditions
For the last several years we have had the tradition of getting our Christmas tree just a few days before Christmas. As we keep Advent from the start of December-ish to the 24th of December we prepare for Christ's birth with prayers, fasting and reading of the four thousand years those in the Old Testament waited for their Savior to be born. Our Christmas season on the farm starts on Christmas and lasts until February 2nd, the Feast of the Purification. So we naturally want our tree to last for that time! Since we live in Oregon, Christmas tree country, its not as hard to find a tree as other areas in the country but it can still be a challenge. So many of our trees are shipped out of the state to other states that many of the tree farms here are closed down the week before Christmas.
Thankfully we have some dear friends that happened to be clearing one of their tree fields and gave us this lovely tree for free. It had a couple of places where branches had not grown. So the Farmer took a trick from my paternal grandfather's book and drilled a couple of holes to stick branches in. Worked perfect if you ask me! Nothing like an old time Depression Era hack to make things work just perfectly!
Christmas morning probably looks like most around here. Having prayed our midnight mass, I woke the children up for presents. Yep... me, mom, wakes the children up. I still win the prize for being up first on Christmas morning! I know my brothers are probably cringing right now because of all those years I woke them up so excited. What I can I say, I was born a Christmas baby! A few years ago I started wrapping the children's gifts in brown packing paper and then instead of tags I print out pictures of them from the year past in black and white. I tape them to the packages and they have to find their picture. They each get three gifts - representing the Three Wise Men. Santa also doesn't bring the gifts but they are given by the parents and the Christ Child is the one who sends them. We do our 'stockings' during St. Nicholas day on December 6th brought by the saintly bishop himself.
While they were all mostly sick they still had plenty of excitement for the morning. They are all getting so big!
Moving on into January we were excited to get to celebrate my maternal grandparents 60th wedding anniversary. Lives that have spent so long together, going through many trials deserve to be celebrated with love, friends and family.
Their love is multiplied in their children and grandchildren and may they have many more wonderful years together continuing to help each other along.
In the Farm Store
The farm store has continued to be very busy the last few weeks. We sent out our VIP limited edition blend to our tea club members here in January featuring this earthy yet robust Golden Turmeric Spice tea featuring marigolds grown in our own garden.
Such a beautiful tea and so nourishing to the body as well. The benefits of ginger and turmeric are well known and make it a great blend for this time of year when colds and the flu are rampant. Perfect with some local raw honey and blended into some Golden Milk.
Remember that cheese platter at the beginning of the post? That was practice for this and while I can't totally spill the beans yet let me tell you that tea pairs excellently with cheese. That whole wine and cheese thing? Yah. That. Let me say that tea and cheese has you beat. Though I know wine drinkers love their wine so this might be an alternative for a quite evening, for those who can't drink wine (me! me!) or those who want that third flavor that hot tea brings out in cheese... something wine just can't do.
While we say farewell to this last month at the farm, we leave you with a sneak peek at what our new lip balms will be looking like! A new batch of Vanilla Chai, fresh from the farm kitchen! They bring some fresh new bold lids to match. Keep your eyes peeled as we start to switch over. There will also be many new products coming to the farm store in the next couple of months as spring comes our way. Thanks for stopping by the farm and we hope that your family is well and healthy!
We're excited to share with you this review of one of our newer blends Mountain HazelNOT Coffee! And not just because of our tea but because of this lovely homesteading youtube channel and their beautiful family! Check it out :) And grab your Mountain HazelNOTcoffee here.
Hidden away in every small town are little treasures. Families and businesses plugging away at a love they have to make a living. Little hobby shops of crafters with talent. Small food producers with flavorful products. Farms with beautiful abundance. We are excited to introduce a series featuring these makers, crafters, farmers. Every week we will bring to you a new small business/product/family!
A little peek into their lives and their work. First on our interview list is Eagle Creek Lavender Farm. This beautiful farm is situated on 20 acres of beautiful country in Eagle Creek, Oregon. Bill and Mary Jabs are the owners of this beautiful farm. I first came to meet Bill and Mary through another lavender farm during our search for local lavender.
Loving to support local it just seemed wrong that our lavender in our teas was coming from France. France is a lovely place, don't get me wrong, but it certainly doesn't support our local economy and there is something to be said for quality as well. Lavender that comes from that kind of a distance just can't be as fresh as the lovely lavender we have been getting from Bill and Mary's farm in Eagle Creek, Oregon!
We have enjoyed getting to know Bill and Mary so much ourselves that we decided to share about them and their hidden treasure of a farm with you all. We interviwed them both so we could share with you.
Could you tell our readers a little bit about your farm and antique cars?
Bill’s passion for antique cars goes back to his teenage years, although he didn’t pursue it much until the past 15 years. The collection now consists of about 30 cars of many makes and models, with Model A Fords and Packard’s the most prevalent. Bill restores cars year around, and is constantly looking for that next gem.
What did you do prior to farming lavender? Mary was a high school teacher specializing in health sciences and Bill was a civil engineer.
What got your started in farming lavender? Bill wanted to be a farmer all is life, and Mary has a passion for landscaping and flowers, so we came together on the decision to grow lavender.
Share the process from planting to harvest, cleaning and the products you make. Lavender plants have a life span of 15 years, and take about 3 years to mature. All of our plants are on drip irrigation, so we are able to get optimal growth. If the plant is harvested for oil, it is hand harvested, put into a steel container and steam distilled to produce essential oil and lavender water, also known as hydrosol. Both are marketable products. Our Buena Vista variety yields two cuttings per year if irrigated, normally cut in July and September. Lavender cut for culinary and other dried product uses, is hand harvested in 1” bundles, hung upside down to dry for about one week, debudded and then cleaned. We have a unique debudding machine that came from Canada, and an old fashion seed cleaning machine which has been adapted for use in cleaning lavender. Cleaning consists of removing stems and leaves from the lavender buds. Future plans include developing a lavender harvesting machine to reduce dependency on labor, which is becoming more difficult to obtain.
Could you tell a us a little about what a day in the life of a lavender farmer looks like? Lavender farming is like any other farming, intensive in the spring and summer and less intensive in the late fall and winter. As soon as weather permits in the spring, we are preparing the ground for new plantings. Lavender starts usually arrive in April and are immediately planted. Once planted, we try to get the rows mulched with wood waste products and plant grass in between the rows. Weeding and mowing become extensive activities throughout the growing season. In our case, we have a lavender festival in late June, so we have lots of preparation to do to prepare our farm for guests. In 2017, we had about 1000 attendees in two days. Then in July and September, we harvest, distill, dry and process the lavender. We also have a winter open house and do some events away from the farm, so are constantly preparing product and filling orders. Farming also continues in the fall, with ground preparation and planting of a cover crop where lavender is to be planted the following spring.
How do you tell the different varieties of lavender apart? How many varieties do you plant? Are there different uses for different varieties? We have 12 varieties and some are easily distinguished by stem length and color, but we mark all rows to make sure we don’t get the varieties mixed up. Some varieties only produce one cutting, while others can produce up to three times per year. We have several blue and purple varieties, along with white and pink. Certain varieties are best for oil, dried bouquets, and/or culinary purposes. Our intent is to keep a balance, depending on what our clientele are looking for.
What type of growing conditions does lavender prefer? Lavender is a fairly hardy plant and can grow in varied conditions. It likes sunshine, free draining soil and needs to have the soil pH neutral or slightly basic. We use lots of lime to our soil to keep it “sweet”. Lavender also needs to be cut back each fall, or the plants will get “woody” and “floppy”. We trim each plant in the fall.
What type of products do you sell and where are they available? Eagle Creek Lavender has about 30 products, ranging from essential oil, to a line of bath and body products, dried lavender sachets and bundles, culinary lavender buds, neck and eye pillows and other products using our raw lavender products. We also sell honey from bees housed on our property. We sell both wholesale and retail during our festival, farm tour, holiday open house, various local market events and by individual appointments. We just opened our first retail outlet at Birch and Crow Vintage Market in Battleground, Washington, and are in the planning stages of online sales.
Thank you Bill and Mary! We enjoyed chatting and sharing a bit about Eagle Creek Lavender! We are so excited to have found such a lovely farm dedicated to high quality lavender. We were impressed with the fresh fragrance, the very very clean product and the flavor surpasses any other lavender that we have experienced.
To get more of Eagle Creek Lavender Farm and meet Bill and Mary make sure you hop on over to their website Eagle Creek Lavender or check out their lavender shoppe located at 27525 SE Starr Rd, Eagle Creek, Oregon 97022.
Want to snag some of our tea with this lovely lavender? Check out our Rose City Repose tea and Cascade Earl Grey blends.
Until next week, keep steeping it local!
Gut shots and kraut pounders. A couple of words I didn't think would probably ever enter my vocabulary until a few years ago. Doesn't sauerkraut just come in a jar? Isn't that, that stinky stuff that goes on roast beef sandwiches? Cabbage? Bleck! I wasn't a fan of sauerkraut in the least, at least the stuff that I saw at Costco being piled on hot dogs and the yellowish stuff out of a jar for on top of St. Patrick's day corned beef. And if your wondering what a gut shot is.... its kraut juice in a shot glass (just had to put that out there.) I'm here to tell you that REAL fermented sauerkraut doesn't taste like that stuff at all. Its actually good!
About 5-6 years ago I encountered traditional cooking. A way of cooking that uses traditional preparation methods for things like grains, vegetables and meats. Some of these methods might not seem so strange like dehydrating meat for jerky. Fermenting bread dough and vegetables was a new thing to me though.
The fermentation process, whether it be bread our sauerkraut adds nutrition to the foods, helps to pre-digest some things our bodies are not so great at digesting and helps with our overall health. Live fermented vegetables add probiotics to our gut which helps us have healthy digestion. It is said that health starts in the gut!
These forms of food preservation were used until the Industrial Revolution making them quite normal in every day life. Over time that changed and these methods were lost and set aside. With so many gut related health issues in the news (think Chrons, IBS, ulcerative colitis) its no wonder that these traditional methods are coming back.
So its time to throw out that jar of store bought kraut and meet the real stuff!
Plain sauerkraut Recipe
2 medium to large green cabbages (purple cabbage works too, a bit spicier!)
9 tablespoons of good quality sea salt
1.) Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage to insure cleanness.
2.) Shred cabbage with a food processor shredding blade, knife, or traditional cabbage shredder.
3.) Add sea salt to shredded cabbage. Blend in well.
4.) Pound the cabbage to help speed the release of the the cabbage juices. When cabbage is juicy pack into a jar that kraut will fill to the top. You don't want any extra space in the top of your jar.
5.) Place a fermenting weight on the top and a lid. Let fermented at room temperature for 3-7 days until you see bubbles and have a sour taste. Time frame will vary depending on the temperature in your house.
If you love spicy and hot things than kimchi is going to be the kraut for you! Ours is a little more low key than the traditional Korean stuff but a great place to start if you are not sure about kimchi .... or if your just not ready for that hot bright red stuff!
Our low key kimchi
2 heads of green cabbage
9-12 tablespoons of good quality sea salt
1-2 daikon radishes
2-3 garlic cloves
Approx. 4 inches horseradish or to taste
2-3 tablespoons red pepper flakes
1.) Remove the outer leaves of your cabbage to insure cleanness.
2.) Shred cabbage, carrots, daikon radish, horseradish, and garlic with a food processor shredding blade, knife, or traditional cabbage shredder.
3.) Add sea salt to shredded cabbage & veggies. Blend in well.
4.) Pound the cabbage & veggies to help speed the release of the the cabbage juices. When cabbage is juicy pack into a jar that kraut will fill to the top. You don't want any extra space in the top of your jar.
We hope that you enjoy these simple sauerkrauts as much as we do! Feel free to try different veggies in either of these recipes. Caraway seed and dill might be great in the basic recipe and remind you a bit of dill pickles. Spice up the kimchi more or less according to your taste! Add some green onion or what ever suits your mood.
If you would like to watch how we make sauerkraut we did a little video here with our 3 year old helping us out, complete with an end of fall farm update! See you next time.
CeAnne & Paul
How to Make sauerkraut
Oh my, its been a while since we have done a Down on the Farm post! That's about to change though, starting today! We have plans for this to become a weekly feature on Mondays so look for it in your inbox weekly or visit the blog on Mondays!!!
Soooo much has gone on since we last did our farm update post. To catch up were just going to cover November and the start of December of 2017. We hope you enjoy our little photo tour of the farm and happenings here. If you would like more detailed updates make sure you check out our Youtube channel. We have several videos there of various recipes, gardening tools and tactics along with updates on the farm.
Around the Farm
During growing season this section of photos is A LOT bigger and more defined than 'around the farm' but with the cold, cold, cold winter weather and nothing growing I'm afraid it's going to be shorter than our usual.
Kittens, lots of them and several are headed for new homes! Between them and the chickens there isn't a live mouse to be seen on the farm.
The chickens have been moved into the main pasture with the other animals. All the rain and cool weather has really soaked our garden area where we usually rotate them through. Not only does moving them to the main pasture keep the chickens out of the mud and the muck and let our garden area grow a cover crop, but the chickens also clean up after the other animals. While its gross, the chickens like to pick through the other animals droppings for bugs. They get food and it helps keep the parasite issue down in the main pasture.
Our egg count is WAY down on the farm with this super cold weather! (19 degrees this morning!). With our 24 chickens we are getting 5-7 eggs a day. Pretty sad but the chickens need their rest and half of them are molting. Time to grow new feathers for these chicks and get a break from egg laying.
Hey Ewe wanted to make sure she got her face in the camera. This ewe lamb is getting close to breeding age, probably this spring. She is 1 of 3 in our lamb breeding crew which is our means of raising our own pastured grass fed lamb on our farm. A great way to fill our freezer on our 2 acre micro farm.
This one I guess doesn't have a name. "The bravest one," is what Farm Boy says, the one that eats the snakes. She looks like a chicken you wouldn't want to mess with!
The chickens are not the only animals on rotation. When the sun is out and its not too cold the sheep and goat get to free range around the yard outside of the pasture. This helps us mow the grass down while getting them some fresh grass. They also browse on blackberries and other weeds. Win! Win!
Little Bitty, who isn't so little any more, browsing and making sure I'm not going to ride her or something. She is always a little sheepish ;)
The views from our tea studio are always the best. Its a great way to get a perspective of the whole farm over all and a great way to keep track of the farm children. This is our little barn where the animals keep warm and stay dry.
I think the shade cloth is long over due to come off of the greenhouse. While we usually grow enough greens in our greenhouse during the winter for fresh salads every day through February, we didn't manage to plant this year. So much of the greenhouse needs cleaned out and it will be happening very soon!
Tea Studio Progress
The Farmer has been going full steam ahead on our tea studio when he isn't busy helping the Farm Boys with their math (oh algebra! ugh!) or packing tea for our orders and events. Late November the insulation went into the studio.
Lots and lots of insulation! Its amazing how this stuff makes the studio quieter and warmer and really turns this into a room rather than just a square with wood walls.
November brought doors to the addition/tea studio. Its nice to have it all sealed up and it makes it formally part of the house.
From the exterior the addition looks done. All the siding and trim was finished up, the garage doors on and everything sealed up! The Farmer did such a great job staining our rough cut siding and getting it looking nice!
Hello December! No it didn't snow in the tea studio but dry wall is going up! Its looking real now! All this lovely space to organize and pack tea for all of our tea loving customers!
That wall there by the door is going to be shelves to store our huge herbal apothecary! With plenty of windows around to let light in and give us a nice view.
The Farmer hard at work dry walling the stair well.... I"ll be glad when he is done working in this awkward space! Up high and down low....
Daily Life on the Farm
Sundays are days for family, God and my new hobby. Working, teaching school and living at home 24/7 makes it really hard not to be antsy on Sundays. We always take Sundays off, its our day of rest. But what does a farmer, entrepreneur and work at home mom do to rest? Well if I'm not reading, or napping, I'm learning to crochet. I'm glad to say that I think I"ve finally got the washcloth thing down. Time to move on to something a little more challenging. What handi-craft do you like to do?
December 6th brings us to St. Nicholas' Feast Day. We don't do Santa here on the farm. But every December St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, visits our home. The children put out their wooden dutch clogs the night before and they get filled with treats and gifts! Our celebration is about the virtues and miracles of this great saint who loved children. St. Nicholas being the patron of Russia, Bulgaria and orphan children makes his story perfect for our family as we adopted from both Russia and Bulgaria.
Golden coins are a tradition on this day as St. Nicholas is known for providing the dowry for three maidens to keep them from life on the street and find them good husbands. Every year chocolate gold coins are part of the treats.
Normally I purchase cookies for this day that are of German origin but this year I decided to make a healthier cookie and keep the German tradition by making Speculoos. Our tea club members this month will recognize this recipe that came with their Aronia Plum Berry tea!
And... oh my ... WHO is that?! St. Nicholas made an appearance at our farm this year courtesy of my brother-in-law and his beautiful traditional St. Nicholas outfit that he curated himself. The children were SO excited!
Picture time with good St. Nicholas! In Germany they have St. Nicholas festivals on December 6th.
We don't celebrate Christmas ........ not until December 25th. Instead the weeks prior to Christmas are kept preparing for the arrival of our New Born Lord. We call these four weeks Advent. During Advent we refrain from singing Christmas carols, our nativity is waiting for Baby Jesus, our tree not put up until Christmas Eve, no cookies (other than St. Nicholas day) are baked and we spend our time in prayer and contemplation of the Savior to come.
Every Sunday we light one candle on the Advent wreath. Four candles for the four weeks. The third Sunday is joyful, and so it is a pink candle, the third Sunday is more about the upcoming joy and a little more excitement! Christmas is almost here!
Angles wait around an empty crib as a reminder that Jesus is not yet born yet. But He is coming! Its a great way to teach our children about the preparation for Christmas. It also helps them understand that Christmas' is Christ's birthday rather than just a day for gifts.
Joseph and Mary headed to Bethlehem .... part of the four weeks of waiting.
The angel guarding the Nativity crib waiting for its Guest. Baby Jesus gets placed in the crib on Christmas Eve along with the gifts under the tree from the Farmer and myself. Sometimes the children get to put the Infant Jesus in His bed. Its very special and they look forward to it every year! Christmas on the farm lasts 40 days starting with December 25th until February 2nd!
in the farm store
Late November and early December was busy month outside of the farm with events in various places. This is the famous Deepwood Estates house in Salem, Oregon where we were glad to be part of their holiday shopping event. This home was built in the late 1800's and is restored and maintained by the city of Salem.
Our display in this late 1800's Victorian home's sitting room. So many tea lovers at this event!
We introduced Oregon Mulling Spices to the farm store in the last month. A great way to spice up some apple cider or a good red wine. Also makes for a great air freshener!
In November we were super excited to introduce our teas to Great Harvest Bread in West Salem! Bread, tea and jam.... they just go together!
We have been making a lot of Winter Balm this year! Made with frankincense & cinnamon this salve sells like Christmas! Its a great way to moisturize the hands, cinnamon is also warming for cold winter hands and both are helpful in assisting with dry cracked skin. This salve is also featured in our tea and herbal care gift set.
Gift Sets! Gift Sets... are flying off the farm! We introduced our Winter Tea Collection, Oregon Tea Collection and our Tea and Herbal Care Gift Set! Already wrapped and ready to give these have been our most popular item this season! FREE SHIPPING on these going on NOW until December 19th 2017.
Our last and busiest event of the year, the Salem Etsy Team Holiday Market! We were excited to have our event sponsored by Etsy for the second year in a row allowing us to have more marketing funds this year. This event is always a great way to kick off the holiday shopping season.
We stocked up big! Lots of popular gift sets and some new teas. Tea was flying off the shelf and keeping us on our toes at this event. Its always fun to help customers find that perfect gift for the tea lover in their life.
New tea tins! Gift Sets! Lots of tea to check out and sniff in their little smelling jars.
aAnd last but not least our December tea club member's blend, Aronia Plum Berry featuring Oregon grown Aronia berries from Mt. Hope Farms paired with locally grown Italian plums... there may not be sugar plum fairies dancing around but this sweet fruity tea comes with a variety of flavors the more or less it is steeped. There is a week left to grab yours! Check out our Tea Club here.
Thanks for hanging out with us down on the farm! We hope you enjoyed a little peek into our farm happenings. Let us know what handi-work you love to do, a farming project your working on or a tea you wish to see!
Until next week,
CeAnne & Paul
Welcome to our Family Tea Farm!
Howdy from our farm to your home! It is said that the, "farm is the nursery of the family," and that "the family is the nursery of the nation." We hope you enjoy your visit to our blog as we share with you the happenings on our little "nursery". Thank you for following us on our journey and watching us GROW! Read more about our farm HERE.
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