Welcome to the FarmMade blog!

A bridge back to a simpler time and a step toward a better future

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Farmhouse Vintage for That Farm-y Feel

The farmhouse and its contents can be just as important to a farmer as their barns, gardens, farm animals, and fields of crops. It provides a place to rest after a hard day’s work or a front porch to entertain,while sipping on a tall glass of fresh strawberry lemonade. The way it looks and feels depends on the farmer’s “farmhouse style” and reflects many years of wear and tear, mending and fixing, inside and out. Once upon a time, things were made to last. If something was broken, torn, or stained, it was fixed, mended, or scrubbed. Farmers know how to do for themselves and so they rarely just throw something away. Instead, they “make do” and breathe new life into anything, large or small. Most objects around a farmhouse are functional, and have a purpose or special meaning. They have seen many years of birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries come and go, while being handled with special care. Many pieces are passed down through generations and treasured as a piece of history. They are considered heirlooms that add memories, culture, and conversation to any kitchen, bedroom, or living area.

You don’t have to actually live in a farmhouse or be the lucky recipient of farm-y things in order to get the farmhouse feel. Vintage and antique items can be found in all sorts of places like yard sales, flea markets, antique malls, thrift stores, auctions, bazaars, estate sales, and even off the side of a rural country road. We gathered some of our very own farmhouse vintage items to share with you.

Farmhouse Items

Vintage crocheted dollies come in all sorts of sizes, shapes and colors. They are commonly used to set things on and decorate with. You can even stitch them together to make a table runner.

SONY DSCThe traditional art of embroidery uses simple to intricate stitches to put a finishing touch on many things such as pillow cases, kitchen towels, and table runners.

SONY DSCThese hand-crocheted wash cloths were made from a pattern that was taught and handed down through three generations of farmers. The turquoise one is our favorite.

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CorningWare and Pyrex bowls, introduced in the 1950’s, were very popular for their glass-ceramic innovation, which allowed for both oven and stove top use.

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Decorative pitchers used to put milk, lemonade, or orange juice in for serving are a farmhouse tradition.

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A big farmhouse strainer washes fruits and vegetables from the garden. We love ours so much that we mended its broken leg.

Enamelware dates all the way back to the 1800’s and was invented to take the metallic taste and rust out of cooking from iron pots.

Old ladles with worn out handles are a nice addition to any farmhouse kitchen.

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Well-used rolling pins made out of cherry, maple, and walnut hardwoods conjure up sweet memories for many of us. Our mothers, their mothers and great-grandmothers rolled out the dough for an old-fashioned berry or cream pie in no time.

Crocks come in various sizes and can be used to ferment just about anything, such as sauerkraut, dill pickles, or wine.

And our vintage ovenware, bakeware, and cast iron pot have cooked up some mighty tasty muffins, breads, and casseroles when put to proper use.

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Cookie jars originated in 18th century England as “biscuit jars” and made their way to America around the turn of the century. They reached peak popularity during the 1940s-1970s. Our homemade “farmgirl” cookies only last for a day or two when put in one.

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Have you ever ladled soup from an old fashioned ceramic chicken? It could entice any kid to eat bean or garden vegetable soup (never their favorite).

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This butter dish is very old and has been used to keep butter fresh and spreadable, without refrigeration, for many years.

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Tins were originally made in the early 1800’s as a sanitary packaging solution for food such as coffee, peanut butter, oysters, spices, and cookies. Branding became important and companies started coming up with all sorts of clever advertising. Some of these are highly collectible.

Old baskets are always a handy farmhouse item to have around. We use ours to collect eggs and store sewing materials in.

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The apron became an everyday household item in the 1930’s. It has been worn by many farmers to carry eggs, kindling for the fire, or fruits and vegetables. It is practical, but can also be frilly and floral.

Why not put on a pair of vintage boots and a necklace to snazzy up your daily household routine? Guaranteed to make it more fun!

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Farmhouse Styles

“Farmhouse” has become a trendy, popular decorating style that has evolved to define and capture many identifiable looks over the years. Decorating in this way gives any room a warm, comfortable and cozy feeling. Add some old, vintage pieces and you have instant nostalgia for “simpler times gone by.” Which style speaks to you?

  • Classic farmhouse
  • Country farmhouse
  • French farmhouse
  • Rustic farmhouse
  • Primitive farmhouse
  • Farmhouse chic
  • Industrial farmhouse
  • Cottage farmhouse

What Qualifies As Vintage?

The word “vintage” was most commonly used to qualify “the year or place in which a wine was bottled.” It then became an effective way to refer to the make, model, and year of an old car. For example, “farmer John owns a Cadillac car of 1948 vintage.” “Vintage” eventually went mainstream and is now used to describe something that is old. At least twenty years old, that is. Naming an object, as you would a variety of wine or make of car, and then dating it, is the appropriate way to use the word “vintage.” It is used in very loose terms presently, so be careful whenever purchasing something described as “vintage.” Looking to see where it was made is the quickest indicator of how old something might be. Anything made in the USA or Europe will likely be twenty years plus old and considered “vintage.”

What pieces have been passed down in your family through the generations? Have you picked up any farmhouse vintage “one of kind” finds lately? Please share your stories.

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Have You Ever Met a Wild Dandelion?

Friend or Foe? A proper introduction to the dandelion just might find you in a life-long friendship with one of the most nutritional plants on the planet. It turns out that the whole plant is edible. Their sunny, yellow flowers are most commonly used in making dandelion wine and jellies. Dip the flowers in batter to make dandelion fritters or place them whole right into any sandwich. Dandelion greens can be eaten either raw or cooked. Harvest the greens from a younger plant before the flowers open, and they will be a tender addition to any salad or smoothie . They taste bitter and a little tough with age, but are just fine for braising, steaming, or sautéing.  Surprisingly, the roots can be laid out to dry, roasted, and ground to make a fabulous coffee substitute. This friendly plant is not only delicious, but promotes digestion and detoxification along with housing very high levels of iron, copper, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Spring and fall are the best times of the year to forage for dandelions in North America. With over 250 varieties available to choose from, there is no shortage. They are super hardy and have a survivor’s ability to adapt to any landscape. Whether you plant a domesticated version in your garden or search for them in the wild, be careful not to choose dandelions that might be roadside contaminated or sprayed with herbicides.

Making Dandelion Wine

After finding out that dandelion wine takes four to six months to ferment before it’s ready, we figured it would make the perfect Christmas gift and got started. First, we found a lovely field of dandelions that needed picking and got a big enough basket to collect them in. We doubled the recipe (shown below) and had to come up with 16 cups of dandelion flowers. So we started picking.

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After gathering enough dandelion blossoms to amount to 16 cups, we placed them in a strainer for a good bath. There’s little critters that just love to nestle in for an early morning snack of nectar or midday nap.

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We cut the green stems off. This ensures a sweeter wine. It’s okay to leave some of the green stems behind, it becomes extra food for the yeast.

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We ended up with a nice pot of mostly yellow blossoms. Gorgeous.

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Next, we boiled two gallons of water (remember we doubled the recipe below) and poured it over the pot of dandelion flowers. Letting this steep for 48 hours is long enough to extract a decent flavor. Some recipes call for 2-4 days. Pick your intensity of flavor.

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We then cut up two Meyer lemons and four sweet tangelos to juice. The juice was set to the side for later.

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After placing all the rinds in the brewed pot of dandelion flowers, a robust boil for 30 minutes helped fuse the dandelion brew and citrus together.

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We ended up with a relatively clear brownish liquid after straining.  All the liquid should be pressed out of the remaining mix. This is where we added 12 cups of sugar. That’s a lot of sugar, but the yeast will eat it up and turn it into alcohol. While the liquid was cooling, we took a little ‘walk about’ to the compost pile. A mesh of dandelion flowers, with some lemon and orange rinds mixed in, sure looks pretty on top of a dull pile of compost dirt. We then headed back to our wine and added our yeast which had dissolved in a 1/2 cup of warm water.

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After giving it all a good mix, we used a measuring cup to pour every last sugary drop into three bottles of various sizes.

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The fun part was adding ginger and cloves. We used 16 cloves and two one-inch pieces of ginger cut into small pieces.

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We also added four cups of raisins. All of these ingredients were evenly distributed. We try and use as many organic and/or natural ingredients as possible.

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We placed a balloon (after poking small holes into it) or a cheesecloth over the top of each bottle. The initial fermentation process will take up to 6-10 days and is best done in a cool, dark place. We put ours in the pantry.

When it was done bubbling we strained the liquid through a double layer of cheesecloth to remove any unwanted sediment.

Using a funnel to pour the liquid into some used wine bottles, we placed them back into a cool, dark place to continue fermenting for up to 3-6 weeks. How long to let it brew? Feel free to cork at any time. Enjoy in four to six months.

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Old Dandelion Wine Recipe

We hope you enjoy making our traditional, old fashioned dandelion wine recipe. It was handed down through three generations of German farmers to one of our founders. Cheers to sunny sips of dandelion wine this coming winter!

Ingredients

8 cups whole dandelion flowers

1 gallon boiling water

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 2 oranges

Peel of one lemon

Peel of two oranges

1 packet of active dry yeast (dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water)

6 cups sugar

2 cups raisins

8 cloves

1-inch piece of ginger root

The original recipe has been modified to include cloves and and ginger root. We thought it might add some interesting flavors. You can also use ingredients like cinnamon sticks, instead of cloves, or cut up figs and dates, instead of raisins. Honey can replace sugar. There are also a variety of yeasts that claim their own unique effects on wine. Pick one that works best for you. There are many ways to make this wine. Feel free to get creative and add ingredients to suit your taste.

What To Do With Dandelion Wine?

  • Have a “Dandelion Wine Taste Testing” party come Winter Solstice. Your friends will love you for it.
  • A bottle of homemade dandelion wine makes a perfect Christmas, birthday or hostess gift.
  • Use it in all recipes that call for a sweet dessert wine.
  • Drink it, and with every sip, feel very proud you have made it yourself.

Have you ever tried making dandelion wine before? Maybe, you have an old dandelion wine recipe tucked away in a drawer, that you would like to share. Post it in our comments section. We would love to try it.

 

 

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Starts To a Great Harvest

Get ready, get set, get started planting those seeds that have been carefully hand-selected from a seed catalog, over the long winter months, or meticulously saved from last year’s harvest. All farmers—urban, suburban, and rural—are in high gear this time of year, taking stock of seed supplies, prepping soils, and planting in hopes for a successful harvest. Maximizing a spring, summer, or fall harvest always starts with high-quality seeds. The seed and initial planting processes help determine the health of plants and their yields. Will they survive the devastating affects that harsh weather and disease can have on a plant? Start by purchasing hardy heritage and/or organic seeds, if possible, and pay close attention to the planting instructions on the back of a seed packet.

All seeds sprout and grow at different rates, so timing is very important. Your last spring frost date determines how many weeks before planting you should sow. Some seeds can be directly sown right into the ground, such as carrots, radishes, beets, and beans. Others, like tomatoes, melons, and squash are sown indoors first to get a head start and then transplanted. Growing plants from seed is not only less expensive, but gives anyone the great satisfaction of being a part of something miraculous, much like a first time parent seeing their baby grow tall, strong, and healthy.

How Do Our Babies Grow?

Living in the Pacific Northwest makes for a shorter growing season. This means we take advantage of hoop houses, greenhouses and indoor south facing windows to jump start our seeds.  Always consider your climate and growing cycles when planting and never be afraid to experiment and try something new. We are trying eggplant this year, which is typically a southern climate crop. According to the OSU Master Gardener Program, you should not expect more than 65 to 80 percent of seeds to germinate. Our success rates fell into this estimation. Take a look for yourself.

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Our cantaloupe and watermelon (above) are off to a great start. Along with our Kentucky pole beans we saved from seed last year.

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If this chicken was real, our baby bok choy would be eaten in an instant.

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There’s something truly beautiful about this lone ranger of an onion.

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And our leaf lettuce has been growing tall, thanks to Farmer Robert, who loves watering our starts almost as much as his legos!

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Planting

There are four essential elements that affect a germinating seed: water, oxygen, light, and heat. A steady supply of water is needed to ensure germination. It’s important to keep the soil moist at all times, but not too wet so as to prevent rotting. Using a soil-less medium to plant your seed, that is loose and aerated, allows the proper oxygen flow. Most seeds need 14-16 hours of light daily. This can be provided and controlled under grow lights or a nice, sunny south-facing window. Without adequate light they will become tall and leggy. Temperature is another important factor in germination. Generally, 65-75 degrees is best for most plants. A good rule of thumb is to plant your seed two-three times its width under the soil, so all essential elements can have their proper effects.

Feeding

It is time to start feeding your seedlings once they develop their second set of true leaves. Fertilizing is critical to a successful growth rate. If you use synthetic fertilizer, use half the fertilizer called for a regular plant. You do not want to run the risk of over-fertilizing and burning them. A mix of fish emulsion and kelp is a gentle and organic way to go.

Transplanting

You might need to thin your seedlings out or transplant them into larger pots. Transplanting can keep them from the elements a bit longer and ensure their strength. Tomato and pepper plants are great candidates and love being babied a bit longer. It’s best to gradually get your plants used to an unsheltered life outdoors. Exposing them several hours a day, for 7-10 days before planting, allows them time to get hardened off.

Using Fun Containers to Plant Your Seedlings

Always remember to poke holes at the bottom of any container that you use to provide proper drainage.

What seeds are you starting this spring? Are you inspired to plant your spring seeds this year? Leave us a comment below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

We wish you all the best and hope your harvests are grand!