Friday, January 30, 2009

Random Things

Wow, you guys are great! I rarely ever miss a day of checking in and reading comments but yesterday I never made it to the computer. It was so comforting to find such positive comments waiting for me this morning. And people ask why I like blogging!

Anyway, among the comments Abbie over at Farmer's Daughter tagged me for the 7 facts about yourself doodad. Here's how it works:

Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Alright, here goes...

1. I love 4x4s. Especially diesels. Not very environmentally friendly, I know, but trucks are my weakness. I've had 2 trucks and really want another one. I sold the last one to go back to college and I really miss it (that's the one up above). Our first Christmas together I even had a license plate made for Brian that says "She Thinks My Diesel's Sexy".

2. Lucky for my wallet one of the only things I want more than a truck is to be out of debt. I strongly disagree with people who say, "You'll always have a _____ payment." Unfortunately I don't think farming is very compatible with debt freeness!

3. I went through a 1 month Horseshoeing course. I don't do much shoeing but I do some trimming on the side.

4. I wanted to be a web designer! How I got from there to Veterinary Technology, I'm still not sure. Actually, I've always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom (and still do), but my parents and my husband had this crazy idea that I should plan for a career instead!

5. I'm a VERY picky eater. I don't eat: pizza, tomato sauce, hamburger, soup, ketchup, mayo, mustard, dressing, etc., and I don't drink pop. Ever. It makes my eyes water. I like my food separated in neat little piles. It is very annoying but I can't make myself like those things. I'm worried my kids will be picky eaters if I don't change!

6. I used to drive horse drawn carriages in Frankenmuth, MI. I still fill in occasionally. Maybe I've mentioned that one before.

7. I love to dance. I mean fast dance, or booty dance, or whatever they call it now. If Brian is gone for the weekend anyone stopping by might catch me blaring Kid Rock's "Cowboy" and shaking my ass, making the dog dance with me.
Trust me, she loves to dance! :)

So, I'm tagging:

-Farm Mom at Children In The Corn
-Joyce at tallgrassworship
-Green Resolutions
-Green Ranching Mom
-Abby at Life by Sugar Creek
-Fleecenik Farm

It'll probably be a bit before I get around to mentioning this to all of you so if you see your name here feel free to start sharing! :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Farm Update

No particular topic today, just thought I'd fill in with the latest happenings in our life. I thought this blog would be more of a day to day journal of the farm but it seems like every time I sit down to type I feel the need to find a specific topic. Well, not today.

I considered titling this post "The Downside of Farming" because things haven't been the greatest around here lately. Brian found 7 baby Holstein calves for sale last week and we bought them. They were cheap and we thought it would be nice to have some calves around again since we still don't have a place to bring our bigger cattle home to. Anyway, cheap isn't cheap when they all die on you. Brian's sister took 2 and we kept 5, but we only have 2 left. The other 3 basically died of scours which is a broad diagnosis in calves. I fought hard to save the last one, taking his temp and tube feeding him milk and electrolytes. Didn't work. I am pretty sure now that they probably never received any colostrum which gives them very low chances of survival. They remaining two are doing okay although the one acts like he may have pneumonia. I'm going to call our large animal vet tomorrow and try to get an antibiotic injection for him. I hate using antibiotics but don't much like watching them die either.

I have mentioned before (to Brian) that I would like to eventually start a small herd of cows and raise our own calves that way instead. It is hard to justify that when there is such a surplus of Holstein steers in our area. In any case, we both agreed not to be tempted to bring anymore calves home until we can find an honest, reputable farmer to deal with. It is too hard and too disappointing to lose them, and it isn't helping our financial situation much either!

Our 4 ewes have been doing well. They are full of energy. It is very heartwarming to watch them jump around like babies when it is time for dinner. However, there is bad news there too. One of the ewes we purchased at the MSU sale developed a few wart-like lesions on her face a couple weeks ago. I initially thought it was either a pyoderma (bacterial infection of the skin following mild trauma) or a papilloma virus (causing warts). I'm still not exactly sure what is going on but when I inquired about it to the previous owners they "mentioned" that she had a case of sore mouth as a lamb so it could possibly be that. Sore mouth is a very contagious sheep disease that can spread to humans and can be life threatening for lambs. This is obviously a big concern since all 4 ewes are (hopefully) due to lamb in the spring. I am still not convinced that she has, or every did have, sore mouth. The signs seem more consistent with a papilloma virus. I'll update here when I figure out more.

On a lighter note, the chickens are continuing to lay very well despite this cold weather. We get 5 or 6 eggs a day from 6 hens! I've been sharing the eggs with our friends and family since we have too many for us but not enough to sell.

It is always hard to post about the negative side of farming because A) I don't want people to think badly of us, and B)I don't ever want to come across like I'm asking for sympathy. However, I know that we all make mistakes and face hardships. It has really helped me to follow other farming blogs and see that even when you are uber prepared, animals still get sick and things happen. Check out my sidebar if you'd like to see the obstacles others are facing.

Thanks for reading! :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our Winter in Pictures!

I'm away from home at the Michigan Vet Conference this weekend. I want to get a post up but don't feel like saying a lot so I thought it would be a good time to post some pictures. These are all from the last few months (some are from fall). I'll take advantage of the hotel's wireless and upload these now instead of fighting with my connection at home. Enjoy!

Brian's grader, our grain setup in the background.

Our first batch of Seventh Generation TP, Maci apparently wanted it out of the box!

The TP neatly stacked in the cabinet. We really like it BTW.

Sam doesn't help much when I'm sewing.

Our Christmas tree with all western ornaments this year.

It is hard to see but look close: you can see Maci's paw about to clock Baxter upside the head, and him about to fight back. They box all the time!

He crammed himself behind the printer to recuperate.

And they're friends again...usually not this cozy.

This is from early fall. Brian built this calf shelter in one day. I had mixed feelings about treated lumber and decided it is better for us than replacing/rebuilding every few years. I was so proud of him. :)

My first every meat loaf. I'll post the recipe someday. It was a special request from Brian when I announced that I'd like to start making a meal plan. He said it "tasted like meatloaf" which is what I was going for!

Our new logo, many hours in the making. What do you think?

An interesting pic I thought, it shows how badly we need to insulate around our basement.

Brian's latest project - a new sheep feeder!! We used the plans found here and he made it in just an hour or two. Works great and saves a lot of hay waste.

Rocky & Shady, our two Arabians.

Pistol & Pooh Bear, relaxing in the sun.

They have hay 24/7. That is how they stay warm. They have been doing great even in this extreme weather, with only a couple wind blocks. The four of them can eat a round bale in 2 or 3 days in this kind of weather.

This is a typical Sunday, when we're lucky.

Funny, I have similar pictures in all four seasons now. Don't believe what you hear - chewing is not always a phase!! :)

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse in to our life during the past few months. It can be kind of crazy around here but we (usually) think it is worth it. How do these pictures compare to scenes from your own life? Which pictures do you like and want to know more about/see more of?

I'll have a more substantial post up sometime soon!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Waste Reduction and Chocolate Muffins

I am very excited to be taking on the the Food Waste Reduction Challenge hosted by Crunchy Chicken (see sidebar for link). To start out I tossed any old food that I found in the fridge so that we can start fresh. Most of what I tossed were old dressings and sauces that we never use and brought here with us from the old house. I also threw out some shrimp and cocktail sauce from Christmas and one thing of leftovers from a restaurant. I plan to use my postal scale to weigh anything we throw out in February.

When I got to the freezer I was relieved not to find much that needed to be tossed. I did pitch some leftover cheesy potatoes we had frozen from our wedding. Then I came across the several bags of frozen shredded zucchini from last years garden. I had yet to use any of them. So, what's a non-wasting girl to do with all that zucchini?

Make muffins! Yeah, chocolate muffins to be exact. I pulled together a recipe from a few different ones to come up with the following:

Chocolate Muffins with (Shhh!) Zucchini
2 2/3 cups whole grain pastry flour (or whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 cup shredded zucchini (could also use applesauce!)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or milk)
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped almonds and/or 1/2 cup Andes baking chips

I mixed the wet ingredients together first then added the dry. This was enough to make 24 muffins. I filled 12 muffin cups then mixed about 1/2 cup Andes mint baking chips in to the remainder. After filling the other 12 cups I sprinkled some tops with more chips and others with the almonds. I left some plain as well.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. These are delicious!! Let me know if you try them. I froze 8, took 8 to work, and left 8 for us to eat.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Sunday Stroll

Well, I did my Sunday Stroll but cannot get my pictures to load. I have been having a lot of trouble with our internet connection. Look for a better post later!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Selecting Heritage Breed Chickens

I've been pouring over my new Sand Hill Preservation Center catalog since it arrived. You wouldn't think that a black and white text only book could demand that much attention but it has.

My goal for the poultry sector of the farm is to expand the laying flock and add some broilers this year. We started in the spring with 25 conventional straight-run chicks from the farm store and through a disastrous attack from the dog, housing issues, culling some roosters, and losing one "outsider" last week, we now have 6 hens and a rooster left. The flock consists of: 1 leghorn rooster, 1 leghorn hen, 1 barred rock hen, and 3 rhode island red hens. The Rhodies are by far my favorite. They are friendly and seem to be doing well in the cold winter weather. The barred rock rooster we had was very mean and I don't think the hen is the friendly bird either. The leghorns are flighty and the hen doesn't lay incredibly well.

After researching heritage poultry I have found 3 breeds that I would like to try out in the laying flock. I like the idea of helping to expand some of these old breeds that have very low populations currently. Plus, they seem to have some features that would be beneficial in our environment.

Buckeye: This breed was developed in a neighboring state, Ohio, and seems to be well suited to cold temperatures. They are a dark rich red color and, according to the Sand Hill catalog, have a gentle temperament despite being very active. The Buckeye is also on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste.

: Sand Hill offers the Barred variety of this breed. They are supposed to be smaller than Barred Rocks, quite hardy, and lay nice white eggs. Multiple sources name them as one of the rarest living breeds of American chicken.

Buff Chantecler
: This is a Canadian breed developed in 1918. The other varieties, White & Partridge, have been admitted to the APA standard and seem to be in a bit more demand. I think the buff color is gorgeous and I don't have any intention of showing them anyway. The hens lay pale brown eggs, are supposed to stand harsh cold well, and be calm and gentle.

These three breeds would give us a good supply of brown eggs with some white as well. They are all listed as "Critical" in the ALBC. I have been doing more research before placing my order but hope to send it out soon. The plan is to purchase 25 chicks: 10 Buff Chantecler, 10 Barred Holland, and 5 Buckeyes. I am most excited about the buffs and really hope there are some left, it seems like the hatchery sells out quickly.

The goal would be to have them in an eggmobile during the warmer months with access to pasture during the day, then keep them inside during the colder months.

If you would like more information or are looking for the best breeds for your operation, check out the following sources:

Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Chicken Breed Chart

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Homemade Garlic Shells

Alright, here's the recipe for homemade garlic shells that I've been using. My friend at work gave me the idea and the basic ingredients. I've been experimenting with it and like the results. My husband and I both like the Lipton garlic noodles in the bag but they are expensive and full of preservatives and other junk. I doubt I am saving much because this recipe uses heavy whipping cream, but when all the ingredients are purchased on sale (or if you have a family cow!) it should work out to about the same, plus you know where it was made. The recipe is not real exact but tweak it to your liking and it will turn out fine.

The taste is a little bit sweeter than I was used to at first. However, today Brian made the bagged kind again and they tasted quite bland to me. I guess taste buds adjust pretty quickly!

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 cups milk or water
1 Tbsp butter or margarine
Garlic powder or salt
Parsley for color
Medium sea shells (pasta)

Pour the heavy whipping cream in a medium saucepan. Add 1-2 cups water or milk (or a combination of the two). I add about 1 1/2 cups initially and a little more if the noodles start to stick later. Add the butter and a generous portion of garlic seasoning. We've been using Lawry's garlic salt with parsley in it plus I add a little extra parsley for color.

Bring contents to a boil, then add noodles. I'm sorry I've never measured them, I just eye it. A little less than 1/2 of a 1 lb. box works well for two of us, sometimes with a little left over.

I turn the heat down and just simmer the noodles until tender. This is the point where you may need to add a little more water or milk if the noodles start to stick. Once the noodles are tender turn the heat off and let the sauce thicken for 5 minutes or so. I you find that you've added too much liquid you can always stir in a little cornstarch for thickening before turning the heat off.

Enjoy! These are really good with pork chops or a basic chicken dish. Let me know if you try it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back 2 Basics and Other Challenges

I've decided to start the Back 2 Basics Harvest Keeper Challenge for 2009. Chicken eggs will be the only thing on the list for now but I am excited to see things rack up once spring arrives. This will be very good for me because I kept no records from all of the farming and canning I did last year. Check out my sidebar if you're interested, and go visit Farm Mom for a better example.

Other challenge updates:

We haven't been using our corn burner at all due to it malfunctioning and refusing to keep a fire going. Brian is trying to track down the problem but in the meantime we're blowing our budget with all the fuel oil we're burning. So much for keeping track of the corn we use! We do keep the thermostat set low (58-62 F) and I finally found the controls for our dual heated blanket so we use that every night to take the edge off. I covered most of our windows with the clear plastics kits in the fall and although I don't how much that is helping I do like that I can't feel a breeze when I walk by the windows! I'd like to make some insulated curtains with my new sewing machine. I hope to make them this year because fall is a busy time for us and I'm sure I won't do much sewing over the summer.

1. Plant something: not much of that going on here. Check out the next update for more info.
2. Harvest something: while there is nothing left outside to harvest I got a thrill out of using some of the carrots I stored away in the fall.
3. Preserve something: We reorganized our freezer and Brian filled it with venison from his hunting trip back in December.
4. Prep something: I have been spending all my free time researching poultry breeds and other topics in preparation to order chicks and expand our flock. I'd like to include some day range broilers this year and have enough eggs to sell. Right now we have plenty of extra eggs but not enough to market them.
5. Cook something: I have been trying a lot of new recipes and Brian is grateful, I think. First I made Parmesan Chicken then Buttermilk Baked Chicken, both of which I really like and can't wait to make again. Today I made Beef Stew, plus I've been using that great new bread recipe. I tried to make homemade potato chips too but still have some work to do there.
6. Manage your reserves: Our pantry is overflowing, we are definitely going to need more shelving! I've been making homemade garlic shells a lot with dinner so I scarfed up a 5 or 6 month supply of shells on sale last week. It is going to take a lot of finagling to get those to fit in the pantry. :)
7. Work on local food systems: for those who remember my post about the food co-op presentation I went to, I have an update. I did communicate with Dr. Schilling again and apparently there has been no further interest in a local co-op. I was hoping to hold a planning meeting and am a little disappointed that no contact information was collected at the presentation. I'll continue to seek out interest and may pursue a co-op more in the future. If anyone in the Michigan Tri-Cities or Thumb area is interested in a food co-op (as a producer or consumer) please let me know!

My seeds from Baker Creek have arrived! I also purchased a grow light and two bulbs in preparation for starting seeds. The next step is to check out my old ingredients for soiless potting mix and see if I need to buy fresh for this year. I think of have plenty of peat pots left to use initially but I may get some of a larger size (4" or so) for when the seedlings get bigger. How exciting!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Local Loaf

Today I picked up another order of local flours from Hampshire Farms (see sidebar for link). I got:

25# 100% whole grain bread flour
10# 100% whole grain pastry flour
2# cornmeal
5# sunflower seeds (dehulled)

Randy Hampshire, who filled my order was more than happy to show me around their farm. They have a USDA approved kitchen on site along with the brick oven that Randy built himself. It was very impressive! The farm also boasts a nice warehouse in an old grainery, where all of their flour and wheat is stored.

They also have, meandering around the pastures, a family cow. She is a nice looking Jersey and had a few other cattle keeping her company. I have given a lot of thought to having our own family cow and have thought about it more and more seriously lately. I don't think it is the right time for us, and it would take a lot to convince my husband. He probably has a point - it is a lot easier to find someone to throw in some grain for our animals then to milk twice a day when we want a vacation. In any case, of was jealous of Randy's family and I told him so.

Randy warned that I would want to use a recipe that calls for 100% WHOLE GRAIN flour, not just whole wheat or white flour. A Google search revealed this recipe, and I altered it in to the following for use in my bread maker:

1 Tbsp active dry yeast
3 3/4 cup whole grain flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup honey
3 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 very warm water

This is a big breakthrough for me: I now have the option of making a nearly 100% local loaf of bread for our everyday needs. Although Hampshire Farms is based 1/2 hour away from here the wheat for the bread flour was grown in an organic field only 1 1/2 miles down the road from our home. The honey comes from a local apiary, P.W.R. Beekeeping. I did use a non-local canola oil in today's loaf but only because I'm out of my normal Zoye Soybean Oil, made in Zeeland, MI from a lot of our neighbors' soybeans. Soy Beginnings soybean oil is also available so I have a couple options there. The only non-local ingredients are the yeast, which I buy in bulk, and the salt. We will be switching to sea salt as soon as our last never ending box of conventional salt is gone.

Oh, one more nice thing: I was relieved to see that the 10 & 25# quantities came in a large brown paper bag with no plastic liner. The smaller quantities I got last time came in plastic and since we're trying to reduce how much plastic we use I was a little concerned. No worries!

Here is a pic of the pull out cabinets that came with our ancient farmhouse, a great feature that makes storing all of this flour much easier:

And Maci, she was jealous and wanted to lick the camera:

So, what local products were you surprised to find in your neighborhood? Are you at the point yet were you have entirely local meal options?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My First Sewing Project

Remember how I said I was going to wait until February to start using my new sewing machine? I should have known better I guess because I completed my first project on Friday night.

When we attended the Michigan Sheep Breeders' Association (MSBA) Bred Ewe Sale at MSU in November we purchased two ewe lambs. One of the them had just been sheared and the former owners were nice enough to lend us a Sheep Sox to keep her warm. For those familiar with horses Sheep Sox are similar to slinkies. Basically it is a Lycra tube with leg holes in it. They are mainly used to keep animals clean before showing but also seemed to keep our sheep warm. I tucked a bath towel under her sock for an extra layer.

I left the sock on for a few days when we got home to help her adjust to the temperature. Before I took it off she managed to put a good sized tear in the side. The garment didn't look too hard to make so I bought some Lycra (spandex/nylon). I laid the old sock out and traced the basic outline on to the new fabric. I found cups that matched the leg holes so I was able to trace them as well.

I fumbled a few times, sewing one hole shut on accident and making another seam crooked. I pulled the stitches and redid them. The original had been serged around the leg holes, I did a double zigzag stitch instead. It turned out amazingly well considering I was starting from scratch. My only concern is whether or not the stitching will hold up to a rambunctious animal. The recipients seemed happy with it and are supposed to keep me posted on how it holds up.

I have enough fabric to make another one so I copied the pattern on to a paper bag for future reference and gave back the old and new socks.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

How We Do Bookkeeping (The Basket System)

Although some of my friends find it funny, one of my favorite things about the New Year is that it brings with it a new fiscal year. I am a big Dave Ramsey fan and am definitely the "nerd" in the relationship for those who know what that means. Picture me with a giant pie chart dictating to my husband as though I am the CEO of a giant corporation. Okay, so that hasn't actually happened yet, but I can see it in my future.

Anyway, I thought I would share how we handle bookkeeping here at the farm. It has been a big change for me to go from having my little utility bills and car payment to now having thousands of dollars cross the desk at any given time. It has also been a big change for my husband to shift from his old bookkeeping method: shoving everything in a box and sorting it in to piles at the end of the year. After a couple years of working together we have developed a pretty good system and hope to refine it even more this year.

One key part of keeping track of everything is keeping everything. My husband (and myself) are now both in the habit of keeping all of our receipts. Transactions made with our debit cards are most important but we also save almost all cash receipts except for petty little things, i.e. bought a candy bar at the gas station. All receipts go into the "receipt basket". My husband makes notes on a lot of receipts if they require clarification. For example, 3 IN GAL - Qty 12 on a receipt may mean he bought 12 3" galvanized bolts to repair the sliding door on the shed. I need to know a)what it is and b)what is it for, so he makes notes like "Bolts for shed door" on the top. That helps a lot! Of course if he forgets to note it I can quiz him on it when I find the receipt and he usually remembers.

Along with receipts we also put our deposit slips from the bank in the "receipt basket". Pay stubs go in there too but since they are usually reflected on the deposit slip I don't do much with them besides file them. Now, say Brian goes and puts his check in the bank but also puts in a $300 check from hay our neighbor purchased and $200 cash from a tool he sold. He makes a note on the deposit slip "My check + $300 hay + $200 sold drill". So when I enter the transaction in the computer I can get the amount off his pay stub and then know where the rest came from.

We started out using Quicken and this fall switched to Quickbooks. We paid more by buying it from Greenstone Farm Credit Service but in trade we can get unlimited advice and guidance on how to use it. Quicken was fine but I really want to be able to break down our finances in to classes, or enterprises (ex. calves, poultry, soybeans, corn). That way we can see which areas are making us money and which aren't. Quickbooks will allow us to do that. I have not yet broken our farm down by class but hope to initiate that soon.

So basically I take everything from the receipt basket and enter it in to Quickbooks. I have all of our bank accounts on there. As I said, I run most cash transactions through as well. I usually pull up our online banking at the same time and enter any transactions that I don't have a receipt for. Then I go back through and reconcile each account. I do this every few days or at least once a week.

A word about checks: when we write them, we enter them in our check register. No other transactions get written in the register and we do not balance it on paper. With two people working off one checking account and both of us using our debit cards almost all the time, keeping a written check register was just an extra step for us. If a person wants I suppose you could print your Quickbooks register regularly and keep it in a binder or something. Also, we are using fewer checks all the time as I'm paying more and more bills online. Even if the company isn't online you can pay any bill through your bank's bill pay option.

Speaking of bills, here's how we handle them. As soon as we get them they go in the "bill basket". When we pay them I write the date, amount, check #, and any other applicable information on them and then put them in the "receipt basket". That way they all get entered in to Quickbooks.

When I sit down and enter everything from the receipt basket I mark each paper in ink with "(Check mark) QB" so I know it has been run through. Then it goes to the "to file basket". Once every few months, when it is overflowing, I take the "to file basket" over to the filing cabinet and file everything. Receipts are broken down in to personal (pretty much only food & clothes), farm, and Tractor Supply Company (TSC). We have a LOT of TSC slips, plus most of our purchases there are tax free so it is nice to have them kept seperate. I'll probably make more receipt categories as we go.

In case anyone is curious, the other baskets on my desk are the "mail basket" and the basket we put all of Brian's relatives' mail in. A long line of Beckers have lived in our house and although the flow has finally slowed we still get some stray mail that doesn't belong to us. We try to sort the mail as it comes in but in a rush we can put the bills in their basket and throw the rest in the mail basket to be sorted later.

I hope this helps anyone else struggling with how to manage farm finances. I can only imagine what really big farms do! This system works really well for us. I would think the same type of setup would apply nicely to a regular household, perhaps with Quicken instead of Quickbooks. You could use bowls or metal boxes if baskets aren't your thing. If anyone needs more technical advice I'll do my best to help you! I'm no pro yet but have learned a lot.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Seed Order

I was hoping to recap the varieties of produce I had grown last year but since last years invoice is currently missing I think I'll wait and do that at a later date. I made my list of seeds to order awhile back and decided today was the perfect day so I went ahead and placed my order. First, I sorted through the seeds left from last year.

Here is what I have left from 2008 (all purchased seeds):

Dill - Bouquet: never opened, never did make pickles anyway
Golden Bantam 8-Row Sweet Corn: After sweet talking my hubby in to rototilling the main garden (breaking sod for the first time) I decided not to push it and try for an extra patch for sweet corn. Maybe this year tho!
Connecticut Field Pumpkin: Again, I didn't have a separate patch for them. I think I'm going to plant these at my Mom's house if she'll let me since they're relatively low maintenance and she has lots of room.
Long Purple Eggplant: among my seed starting failures, a lot left
Danvers 126 Half Long carrot: LOTS left!
Marketmore 76 cukes: a few seeds left, not very happy with their performance
Short Stuff sunflowers: never got around to it
Zucchini - Black Beauty: Enough left for 2009 plus a great crop for 2008
Waltham 29 Broccoli: Again, starting indoors failed and I didn't attempt a later crop
Dishcloth or Luffa Angled Gourd: sounds very cool, never took the time to find a good spot for them
Chelsea, Sugar Baby, and Moon & Stars Watermelon: the watermelons didn't fare very well against the puppy who liked to eat them, even the few that survived didn't ripen in time. I'm trying an earlier variety this year.

This year I tried to get a lot of the things we use the most which are peas, green beans, and tomatoes.

Here is my 2009 order, placed today:
- Contender (Buff Valentine) (bush bean) $1.75 x 3 $5.25
- Country Gentleman Sweet Corn $3.00
- Boston Pickling (cukes) $1.50
- Black Diamond (cukes) $2.00
- Ping Tung (eggplant) $2.00
- Baby Doll (flowers, hopefully for Mother's Day) $1.45
- Hungarian Blue Breadseed (poppy seed) $3.00
- Laxton's Progress No. 9 (peas) $2.25 x 3 $6.75
- Tall Telephone Pea $2.25
- Victoria Rhubarb $1.50
- Sugar Ann (peas) $2.50
- Rouge Vif d' Etampes ("Cinderella" pumpkins) $2.75
- Butternut Rogosa Violina Gioia (squash) $2.50
- Green Zebra (tomatoes, a gift for a friend) $2.00
- Amish Paste (tomatoes) $2.00 x 2 $4.00
- Blacktail Mountain Watermelon $2.50

Total Cost w/ $3 S & H: $47.95

I'll have to refer back to my seed-saving book to see what my options are for cutting back on the cost next year. My goal is to narrow it down to one or two varieties that I really like and then begin to save seed. I saved carrots for seed this year for the first time.

Now that the seeds are ordered I'll be working on my seed starting setup. I feel much better prepared now thanks to some great advice from Abbie and Farm Mom and a little online research. I'll keep you posted on that.

So, have you ordered seed yet? What are your favorite varieties? Any new things you're excited to grow for the first time?