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
Blend of the Month
Brrrr...... its cold out there! What is the weather like where you all are? Up on our mountain side its been in the high 20's and 30's when we wake up in the morning.
The wood stove has been keeping us nice and toasty but we sure are going through the wood this year. Its always nice to have that first wood burning fire and something to cozy up to. I don't know about you but those little wall heaters or forced air vents just aren't the same cozy as a wood stove.
Along with keeping warm by the fire we have been drinking our share of tea on the farm. Another great way to warm up in the wet, dark, foggy Oregon days. We have been enjoying so many of our new blends! The Farmer's new favorite is our La Pine Licorice Spice. Its a rather sweet tea and he has a sweet tooth.
I wanted to introduce you all to our tea of the month for our tea club! Welcome Aronia Plum Berry!
Containing that lovely fragrant bunch of warming spices that is so prevalent in many of our winter time teas, this beauty also features Oregon grown aronia berries, plums and cornflowers.
Its full of sweetness because it too also has licorice root in it along with almond extract and some of our very precious vanilla (that stuff is up to over $400 a pound now!).
If this sounds like a tea that you would love, hop on over and check out our Monthly Tea Club! Every month we are blending a new tea for our tea club members. We started out with Apple Pie Chai in October and moved on to Pumpkin HazelNOT coffee in November and I've got something up my sleeve for January I think you will all love.
Along with the tea of the month, the tea club also comes with a sample of tea which is already in our farm store, a local treat (We have done chocolate & cherries, local raw honey and this month all natural soap from our favorite soap maker), VIP access to our private sipping group and a recipe to go with your tea of the month (or use your tea of the month in!).
Grab the details here! We also have a couple of members gifting memberships for Christmas which is a fabulous idea .... so fabulous that I too am gifting memberships to friends and family this year.
Thanks for stopping by the farm!
It started about this time of year. It was cold. It was wet. It was very much Oregon outside. It gets so dark and dreary here in Oregon with the clouds and the rain that it is really a motivator to spend the days camped out close to the wood stove with a hot cup of tea.
Our family is busy keeping Advent here on the farm. Our little preparation for Christmas time and one of those days involves a visit from St. Nicholas. Not the fat jolly man that eats lots of cookies but the slim, kind, bishop of Myra.
On December 6th this saintly man visits our home in spirit leaving the children candy, nuts and other small treats in their Dutch wooden clogs. We read the story of this great miracle working Saint, enjoy traditional songs about his miracles and good works and think about how we can be more like this saintly man.
One tradition on this day is to drink something similar to mulled wine. Also known as Gluhwein. As my health motivates many things (or lack of health) that happen here on the farm this was yet another of them. I'm highly allergic to alcohol along with sugar and so you see mulled wine is really a bad idea for me. But I loved the tradition and spirit of the thing so we came up with an alternative.
This is how Coastal Cranberry Spice was born! And because we are all about local we had to feature local Oregon cranberries. If you would like to read on, the Aroma Culture Magazine recently interviewed us about our process and our teas.
READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE and scroll WAY down to the bottom, they saved us for last :)
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.