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Archive for the ‘My Life on the Farm’ Category

Quilt blocks for my Farm Life quilt, quilt block #2 is one of the blocks I designed to use in the quilt. Quilt block #4 was also used I just flipped it over for every other one.

 

quilt block2

Quilt Block 2

 

quilt block 4

Quilt Block 4

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Dear Friends and Family

I’m excited to share with you a new fabric collection I designed! The name of the new collection is titled, “Farm Life,” which is the life I so happily live. I have been eagerly waiting to show you the designs but I wanted to get the quilts I designed to go with the collection completed first.

I would also like to share with you is the new way Spoonflower has created for you to order fabric! It is called Fill-A-Yard. I used Fill-A-Yard to help design my Farm Life quilt. With Fill-A-Yard you simply select a collection of fabric on Spoonflower then you select from 5 different Fill-A-Yard options and finally you select the type of fabric you would like to have the designs to be printed on. For my quilts, I used Vertical Split Yard and Horizontal Split Yard on Kona Cotton. This may sound complicated but I promise it is super simple.

farmlife quilt 1 photo 2

You can see how I used Fill-A-Yard on this quilt

farmlife quilt 2 photo 34

twin Quilt Pattern

The layout I chose to use with Fill-A-Yard

 

Like every summer this one has been a busy one. As you know my family lives on a small farm and the old proverb always applies each summer, you have to make hay while the sun shines. In addition, to literally making hay, there are lawns to mow, sometimes four hours to get it all done! Weeds, weeds and more weeds to pull. Berries to pick

quilt 3

I designed this quilt using up left over fabric from the original quilt

and freeze so that as soon as the weather cools I can get jam done before it is time to pick and can pears and apples. This year we didn’t have a garden as my hubby and I were busy finishing his sister’s new house that he built for her. (That is a tease about my other design collection, I will be releasing soon.)

Farm Life is busy and hard work but I wouldn’t trade it for any other life. The awe it inspires when the tiny little things you planted and tended bear fruit. Your grandson wants to know if there is anything left to pick. It is true that home grown things taste so much better than store bought. When you have canned more than 40 pints of home grown and canned jam and your son gets bummed out because you run out of jam!

Other than family and farm life, I love to create surface designs and have Spoonflower print my designs into fabric. Then I can create quilts or maybe make clothes for my daughters, and once in a while I squeeze clothes in for myself. Sometimes I get to share them with you!

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with me.

Here is a link to my Farm Life Collection:
https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/lana_gordon_rast_/collections?filter=designed

Here is a link to my Spoonflower page:
https://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/lana_gordon_rast_

Here is a link to Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Yard:
https://www.spoonflower.com/fill-a-yard

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My family with the exception of our son loves Lima beans. Even our grandson loves them! They are great for you so I am happy that they do love them. I have to confess I am still trying to compete with my mother-in-law. She raised a garden in Tennessee. When they moved to Arizona she took a ton of canned goods from her garden with them. They lived on that until my father-in-law got work. They had four small children at the time and my father-in-law was sick with asthma. So all the canned goods were a blessing.
I had a good crop of Lima beans this year not the best, just pretty good. We planted later then usualDSC03738.JPGDSC03745.JPG so I was surprised we got as many beans as we did. This is the second picking and not too bad. Sometimes the weather just not want to cooperate with the planting schedule! I like to blanch the beans then freeze them so we can have them all year long. I am still terrified to use a pressure cooker for canning.

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Well the weather is heating up . I think summer has really arrived now. We had a really wet spring and some cold snaps. So getting our garden in has been a haphazard affair. We were never able to get everything planted that we usually do. We did plant lots of potatoes, lima and pinto beans. Our usual tomatoes and green peppers.

We are trying Big Bertha green peppers this time. Our neighbor planted some last year and had huge green peppers. We did get our eggplants in but, only planted 6 plants this year. Last year we planted 12 and we got 350 eggplants. I know because I counted them every time we picked them and marked them down. No I didn’t have anything better to do! I cooked and froze countless eggplant parmesan meals. I put as many as I could in our freezer, then started giving them to our daughters family and our neighbor. We gave eggplants away and made some new friends from it.

My husband Gene has become quite the gardener, he started the tomatoes and green peppers from seed. I am so happy he enjoys gardening. He is awful proud of the potatoes too. We have been working up the soil in our raised beds. When we dug up the potatoes we realized the soil in that bed still needs a lot of work. We like to add grass clippings or hay to the soil and let it compost. Our soil was so bad in the first place we have added sand and of course cow manure. We have some raised beds and regular garden space. We have managed to get some of the soil worked up so good, I think of it as black gold. It is such a pleasure to work with.

wheelbarrow of potatoes

wheelbarrow of potatoes

DSC01653 DSC01657

We have picked a ton of Strawberries and about 6 quarts of blueberries we have about 8 blueberry bushes but the oldest two are only about 3 years old. The blue berry bushes are not as pretty as they usually are so I am not sure what is going on with them. If we get all 8 bushes looking good and producing I will have to come up with some good recipes. I dried some of them I thought I would give them a try this winter in pancakes or snacks. I think I over dried some of them , I don’t think they should really be crispy, oh well.

Our blackberries should start being ready in about 3 weeks.

We have been getting our hay put up for the cows this winter so far we have baled about 700 square bales. Still another field to bale. Then we can sit pretty until fall and hopefully get another cutting that we can sell.Tractor repairs, fuel, fertilizer, string and seed can get expensive after awhile. We are not going to get rich raising cows. However we do have a good life and it is wonderful to get to see our grandson growing up enjoying having room to grow. Yesterday we were out in the field picking up bales of hay. Our son-in-law Justin and our son Charlie were helping. We look up and see our daughter Sara walking through the field and beside her is our grandson driving his battery operated truck out to the field. I tell you it was priceless to see him drive around the bales of hay like it was an obstacle course. When he would get stuck on a berm he would get out and muscle his truck around until he could drive again. He is 5 ½ years old and I could just visualize the teen years to come.

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Hollyhocks & Golden Privets
 

Brunswick Blueberries

It is hot, hot, hot…..where did winter go? I have to admit I DO NOT like the heat. During the coldest part of winter, I think well maybe the summer isn’t so bad…but it really is. The nice part of summer is what grows in our garden all the possibilities. What will miraculously grow from a tiny little seed planted when the weather was cooler. I mention that, as that is what keeps me energized to pull weeds when the sweat is rolling down my face. The promise of garden produce that will make it’s way into family meals. The plans you make in the winter when summer is far away and the seed catalogs look so inviting. The thought of the hot summer and pulling weeds tries to creep into my consciousness but I stubbornly push the thoughts out. All I can think about then is what smiles might be on my families face when they taste something home grown. The tons of blackberry/strawberry jam I can every year and is somehow gone by the time the first blackberry is ripe come Fourth of July. My grandnephew Landon asking his grandma if he can have some of the special jam Aunt Lana sent. For that I had to send him his own stash of jam.

Some of the Irish potatoes

Then there was this morning when our grandson Cole (who now is all of 3 ½ years old and of course the smartest 3 ½ year old in the world) comes over and asks for his red basket so we can go pick blackberries. We picked a basket full of blackberries then he ate a bowl of them. He has helped us pick strawberries and last week he has helped us pick potatoes. Cole filled his basket with baby potatoes as he calls them. He took them home for his Mom & Dad to cook. For the past month or so fried potatoes have been his favorite food so frying some from the garden for him is a treat.

I wonder if he will remember the times we spend in the garden when he grows up, I hope so. I remember when I was young. All the wonderful things my grandparents grew in their garden in Michigan and then later in Arizona. In Michigan they grew rows of blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries, fruit trees and a large vegetable garden. They raised goats and chickens, I remember Grandpa teaching us how to milk the goat, we were raised on goats milk since my oldest sister couldn’t drink cows milk. I can still remember helping Grandma pluck the feathers from the chickens for chicken and dumplings. I remember the big day when my Grandparents got running water in the kitchen, it was a hand pump but before that we only had the pump outside. That was a celebration. What made me the happiest was when she got a wash machine, before that we would help her wash on one of the old hand held wash boards. That was hard on the knuckles, I was always scraping them. Of course what I remember as “helping” my Grandparents was probably more trouble for them then actual help, they never said that though.

We got quite a bit of potatoes that we grew in a raised bed this year. That worked better then the regular garden spot. It might have been because they were in a spot I could see more and realize when the aphids etc, were getting to them. We tried the Russian fingerling potatoes and Irish potatoes, I think the Irish potatoes had more flavor.

We have been trying to keep the garden mulched with hay and grass clippings. We don’t have just straw but we have lots of hay that we baled ourselves this year. Of course the hay has some weed seed so we put the grass clippings on too to try and keep new weeds growing from the hay. It seems like a vicious circle but once the hay and grass decompose it makes for some great garden soil. Also I learned from my grandparents waste not want not, you use what you have.

It is really amazing that I have had any time for art work at all. Still I have managed to squeeze it in. I even managed to get some sewing done that I have put off for ever so long. I am still finishing a quilt for my daughter Sara that I started about 5 years ago for her birthday. I like the hand quilting part better than piecing the quilt as I always struggle with being exact. I have a lot more fun designing fabric for quilts now.

I was talking to a fabric company but that has come to naught, so back to the drawing board. Still I am dreaming of the day my designs will be asked for by name. I am going to post some pictures of some art I have worked on soon. Today though I will post some pictures of the garden and flowers.

 

another view of the garden weeds and all

 

Hollyhocks and our daughter Rebecca's house in the distance

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I feel compelled to write about what a beautiful spring day we are having today.

Today is just gorgeous !! We are so fortunate to have such a fine day and so lucky not to have any damages from storms other then minor problems, that in the scheme of things are not important at all.

There have been many storms, earthquakes and tornadoes that have had major impact on communities throughout our world. Loss of life and homes, terrible losses that are only truly understood by the people that have suffered such loss. My heart goes out to them. When I say we are fortunate I really mean that we are.

A beautiful day like to day, I see little leaves emerge from the soil that will before long turn into beautiful blooms. Even the weeds that always seem to be the first ones up and have the most vigorous of growth seem magical. It restores your faith that even amongst tragedy hope springs anew.

I have planted seeds for hollyhocks, zinnias, foxglove, cosmos, delphinium, sweet william and purple coneflower. Last year I had the prettiest zinnias and hollyhocks. That was the first time I planted zinnias from seed and they were very gracious to bloom and bloom. I am posting some pictures from last year of my zinnias.

The garden has potato plants, peas, carrots and spinach coming up. Lots of work to get the rest of the garden ready for other vegetables.

It is also an inspiring time for working on my art. I have had fun working on designs for fabric. I have submitted some designs to a fabric company and gotten good response so, fingers crossed I may have some good news to share soon.

I wish everyone a beautiful spring day.

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Well it has been quite a while since I have posted anything. I had been working feverishly on Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. So much to learn and so much fun! I think the hardest part is not getting carried away with too many projects at once. That is how it seems to go. Not one idea in your creative brain. You force yourself to start something, anything! Then all at once you’re on overload; the ideas are coming so fast that you can’t jot them down fast enough! That is the biggest high an artist can have, except of course a great sale.

I remember when I first started doing Art Festivals. A great show was when you went home with money in your pocket. This of course was the perfect excuse to keep doing what you loved doing. The excitement over a great show could keep you going forever or at least until the next show!!

Lest anyone think the life of an artist is all laid back fun, it is also a lot, a lot of work. I once heard to be an artist it takes 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. I do believe that about sums it up.

Sometimes the hardest part of being an artist, I think, is there is not enough time to do everything you want to do. The summers get so hectic with gardening and farming. We, my husband Gene and I, live on 40 acres with 10 cows, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. Our daughter Sara and her husband Justin, with their two sons, Michael and Cole live 3 acres over, our youngest daughter Rebecca lives next door and our son Charlie lives here also. We are very blessed.

As I said we are lucky enough to live on a farm, a dream we worked towards for years. This year has been busy and full of fun even though we have put in a lot of hard work, which seems to be a theme doesn’t it? Summer was so impatient to get here we hardly had a spring. During the winter you plan all the things you want to grow, so you can have a bountiful harvest of canned, frozen, dried and baked goods for the next winter. Then the weeds bring you back to reality and you have fond memories of being snowed in for the winter!!

The strawberries were great this year; I froze at least ten gallons! We picked the last strawberry in time to start picking blackberries. I lost count on how many blackberries we picked but they came in the first of July and are still going as of the 24th of July. We didn’t get many blueberries this year as we had transplanted them to another location. We have a few blueberry bushes that only got about 18 inches high in our flower bed. Our 2 ½ year old grandson Cole loves to pick them but unfortunately he likes the green ones best! I have frozen green beans, carrots, asparagus, berries, dried squash, and made 40 pints of blackberry jam. Gene helped with canning relish and made his own dill pickles. Gene proudly stands guard over his grapes which will be abundant this year if he can keep the pests away.

About a month ago we cut our own hay for the first time. When I say “we” I mean half the farmers around here helped or offered to help. We can’t say enough good things about the farmers around here always willing to offer a hand when you need it. We have to thank our son Charlie for getting out and meeting so many wonderful neighbors. Our son-in-law Justin was raised on a farm so he enjoys haying and couldn’t wait to help with the hay. Our daughter Rebecca probably could have waited but got sucked in. In the end we bailed about 400 square bales. The cows are now set for the winter.

Our haying equipment needs to be replaced as Gene spent more time working on that then haying. We were discussing the cost and if it was worth the expense. Gene said something that really summed it up. “It is not just about cost it is a lifestyle.” So it is and it really made me think about so many things. When I get frustrated because I don’t have enough time to work on my art I have to realize that everything around here inspires me. Our kids and grandchildren thrive out here on our little piece of heaven. If I never get my art business going like I want to I still have so many things to be grateful for. In thinking of these things, I decided that I would start sharing some of that with you on my blog.

I want to put in a mention here. We lost a great friend and mentor this past month, Charlie Rainwater passed away and we will miss him greatly.

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