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Sweet Summer Farm

Growing Mushrooms

Sweet Summer FarmOn one of our trips to the Mother Earth News Fair, Grand bought some shiitake mushroom plugs. Grand took them home and placed them in the fridge, and unfortunately there they stayed for months. But, finally, we decided it was time to see if we have what it takes to be mushroom farmers. (Well, OK, maybe not farmers exactly, but at least see if we could grow some mushrooms.)

We talked to our friend Ron Cabe, a super mushroom farmer. We buy almost all our mushrooms from him at the farmer's market. Being the great person that he is, he agreed to help us do our mushroom plugs. You can read all about the preparing of our mushroom logs in our Learning To Grow Our Own Mushrooms post.

After we finished our logs, they got to relax in a nice shady spot in the woods. When about eight months had passed, our friend Ron "Mushroom Man" Cabe said they were ready to soak — because to actually get the mushrooms to grow, they need to soak in some kind of water. So we headed down to the farm, and the logs got plopped down into a nice deep spot in the creek. The logs soaked for a couple of days. We put them in on Saturday afternoon and left them in the creek until Monday afternoon. Then we took them back home to their shady spot in the woods. Well, in a week we found some mushrooms! To celebrate, we had cheese and mushroom omelets with our new mushrooms and fresh eggs from the farm.

We love mushrooms, so we've been thinking about growing some different types. We're always using mushrooms: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have ever grown any kind of mushrooms, please let us know what kind and how you grew them. We would love to hear from you!

Shiitake mushrooms
Photo by Fotolia/twomeercats

Happy First Birthday, Sweet Summer Farm!

Sweet Summer FarmHello from Sweet Summer Farm,

This month we turn one year old. A year ago this August, we closed on our farm. We had looked for several years at farm after farm, never finding just the right one. If we liked the land, then there was no water; if there was a great creek or pond, the land was too steep to farm. We spent almost every weekend driving around over three different states; most of the time, a drive-by was all that was needed to eliminate each farm. A farm would sound wonderful on paper, but the seller had forgotten to say there was a convenience store next door that was open twenty-four hours. Let's not forget the farm with a "beautiful creek" that was really only about the size of your arm. And of course, the one that was on a five-lane highway was not what we had in mind. The creek was often the property line, so you are sharing the creek with your neighbor, and we once looked at a farm with a barbed wire fence down the middle of the creek so that the neighbor's cows could drink out of it. Maybe a plan for them, but not so good for us.

Then we got the call about this farm. Our agent, Dale Holmes, said we had to come look at it. It was beautiful. We loved it! Could this be the one? The creek ran right through the middle of the farm; there were pasture and woods. The house was in fair shape, and there was a barn and an old corn crib. After much talking and worrying, we decided this was the one: our Sweet Summer Farm.

We have had a lot of changes over this first year. The first thing we needed to do was put in a driveway. We cut down lots of overgrown boxwoods and tons of weed trees — the property had not been well cared for over the years. We plowed and planted a large garden after stopping every few minutes to dig out rocks. We have put in a small orchard; the deer have really enjoyed it, they think it is a salad bar. We have planted blueberries and raspberries, some fig trees, and three pecan trees.

In addition to all of our plants and trees, we have poultry. First, we have our beautiful Silver Lace Wyandottes. The first update on them is that, sadly, one of our hens has passed away. The second update is sad, too: our rooster had to go. Buster was a beautiful rooster, but his behavior was unacceptable. When he went after Grand and left her bleeding, he had to go. So he was given away. Next, we have our littles, aka our bantam chickens. The biggest and most wonderful update of all is our bantams have STARTED LAYING! Our bantams now have layed roughly two dozen eggs. Grand is going to make mini deviled eggs. All of us are very excited to start using tiny eggs.

The last type of animal we have is our wild and crazy ducks. The wonderful update here is that our ducks have started laying beautiful blue eggs. It's really cool to have brown eggs, blue eggs, and tiny eggs.

We are really enjoying our beautiful little farm. There have been a lot of changes in the past year. It has been a lot of work, but mostly it has been great fun and a wonderful experience. We are looking forward to many years in this very special place. We feel very blessed.

Our beautiful old farm houuse
We love this old farmhouse!

Pasture to Garden in just one year
Our large garden!

Our chickens are neighbors
Our chickens are next door neighbors.

Our wild and crazy ducks
Our crazy ducks.

Our sign is finally up
Our sign is finally up and looking good.

Our old barn
Our old barn Love it!

Our favorite place to be after a long day of work, the creek!!!
Our favorite spot! Down at the creek after a hard day. We are so lucky!

Our Wild and Crazy Indian Runner Ducks

Sweet Summer FarmWe wanted to do an update on our Indian Runner ducks. Well, about all we can say is "bless their hearts." We just feel so sorry for them. They are absolutely terrified of everything.

We purchased them to forage for bugs on the farm. We were hoping they would help keep the slugs and the Japanese beetles under control, but so far they are yet to leave their pen. When they see that we have left the door open, they run away from the door loudly quacking bloody murder. They run as far away from the opened door as possible. Making a small, tight, duck wad, they step all over each other, each trying to get closer and closer to the center of the cluster of seven ducks. If we circle around them and try to herd them out the open door, the poor things run from us and toward the open door. Then in an instant, they all at the same time seem to realize, "OMG the door is open!!! The horror of it!!! RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!!!" The ducks' nervous breakdown is now complete. The poor things make a mad dash to the door of their duck room in the barn, where they remain until they think all danger has passed. Just hiding out in the dark until that evil door is once again closed and latched.

Once we decided to catch the ducks and place them out in the orchard, right next to their pen. BAD idea. The poor little soul we caught first ran into the duck pen from the outside over and over trying to get INTO the pen. His misery was so sad. We don't know what we have done to mess up these poor little ducks so badly. It really is a shame; we so wish they could enjoy free-ranging on the farm. But right now we are just hoping for some duck eggs.

If you have Indian Runner ducks and have any ideas that might help, please let us know.

indian runner ducks 
Run away!

indian runner ducks 
Don't open it!

indian runner ducks 
Hurry! Let's hide in here.

indian runner ducks 
Thank goodness, the evil door is latched.

Grands' Greatest Sausage and Cheese Biscuits Recipe

Sausage and Cheese Biscuits on a Plate

Hints from Grand:

You can make "Drop Biscuits" by dropping heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased cookie sheet if you don't want to roll them out.

You can also make the biscuits in a muffin tin by scooping up a 1/4 cup of dough and dropping it into a greased muffin tin.

Grands' Greatest Sausage and Cheese Biscuits Recipe


4 cups of self-rising flour
1/2 stick of butter
2 cups of grated cheese
1 pound of sausage
2 cups of buttermilk


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place sausage in a frying pan with about half a cup of water. Mash sausage with a fork as it cooks because you want to have crumbled sausage. Cook until well done, and set aside.

3. Measure your flour into a large bowl, Mix in butter. You can use a pastry blender or, Grand's trick, you can grate the butter into the flour

4. Stir in the cheese then stir in the buttermilk. Start with the first cup of buttermilk and then add milk until the mixture becomes a soft dough. You may not need the whole second cup

5. Stir in the sausage.

6. Roll out the dough and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown

Biscuits in a pan 

Sausage and Cheese Buiscuits

Our Harvest Has Started

Sweet Summer FarmHere is an update on what is going on at Sweet Summer Farm. We are really enjoying our first spring harvest. We just planted a few rows of potatoes to see how they would do in the hard soil. We didn't buy any potatoes, we just planted some leftover potatoes we got from the farmers market. We are excited to have harvested over 50lbs of potatoes. We've also started harvesting a few onions and that's good because we use lots of onions. Grand puts them in almost everything she cooks. We have also harvested our garlic and came home with a "table full" as you can see from the pictures below.

The tomatoes are doing very well and we hope to get a large harvest. There are many little tomatoes, so we are very hopeful. We are looking forward to some great tomato sandwiches. But it is going to be hard not to pick them green and fry up some green tomatoes. Wouldn't they be good with some homemade pimento cheese? Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!!! Guess we will have to wait and see which one wins out in the end. The truth is I am sure there will be plenty of both. Hopefully, lots of canned tomatoes to enjoy this winter, maybe some homemade ketchup.

The cabbage, however, isn't doing very well. It has some worms and isn't looking very good. Still, we think we will have a few small heads to cook up with the potatoes. We hope to harvest it very soon. Our peaches are also getting bigger and are looking good. Well, they looked a lot better before the deer came by, but we are thinking we might get a peach or two. It would be nice to at least get a bite of fresh peach. Well, if the deer don't mind! The peas are growing fast, plus we have more of them to plant. The peppers look great and lots of baby peppers are enjoying the hot weather here. We have some squash seedlings we will be planting this week, as well as some okra and butter beans.

We're so looking forward to the next couple of months at the farm. We will keep you posted on how everything is going. See pictures of our harvest down below.Love Digging Potatoes

Love digging potatoes


A "table full" of garlic

Love that Garlic!

Love that garlic!

Potatoes & Onions

Potatoes and onions

Baby Tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Green Peppers

Green peppers



Our Biggest Crop, Japanese Beetles

Our biggest crop, Japanese beetles!



The Old Corn Crib

Sweet Summer FarmOn our farm is what we've been told is an old corn crib. It's leaning badly and some of the wood has decayed. It has two lean-tos and a small room in the middle with a door. There is no floor. There are lots of old scrap wood, tools, and some old wooden boxes filled with nails in the building. We even found an old ax head. We don't know when this building was built or if it is original to the farm, we don't believe that it is. We don't know what it was used for in the past, but we had thought about making it a turkey house. This building is very close to our driveway, so we thought we could turn it into a farm stand. There is an odd box nailed to the outer wall that is about six inches deep, eighteen to two feet wide and about six feet off the ground. We have no idea what this is. Grand thinks it could have been a nest box for Guineas. But then we were thinking don't guineas nest on the ground? The building is leaning so severely we think a strong breeze might blow it over. One man that we talked to about repairing it thinks we should use a tractor to pull the building up straight and then put in new supports. Other people think it could be jacked up with house jacks. We have asked quite a few of people how we should fix it and many of them just shrug their shoulders and say tear it down. We hate to just tear it down, once it is gone it is gone forever. We hate to see so many old farm building being lost, there are so many just in our neck of the woods that are falling apart. We go back and fore about what to do with this building it is not going to be an easy fix, many of the supports have rotted away There is no telling what it will cost to repair. We do feel that it adds some charm to the farm, mostly because we love these old buildings. A number of people have stopped by the farm to tell us that they would love to buy the old wood if we tear it down. One day on our way to the farmers market we saw some old barn boards for sale. We would hate for this to happen to this old building. Please if you have ever repaired a building like this let us know. Does anyone else think it is worth saving? Or has its time come and we should tear it down and make way for new and better things at Sweet Summer Farm. If you know any way we could save the corn crib comment below with your suggestions.

Side of the Corn Crib

Corn Crib

Inside of Corn Crib

Chicken and Dumpling Casserole

Sweet Summer FarmWe have enjoyed this recipe for a number of years and it came from a good friend of Grands', Mrs. Betty Hutchinson. Miss Betty is a wonderful cook and has shared many of her recipes with us and we enjoy them all. This is a delicious recipe for a main dish and we like it served with broccoli or English peas.


1 cooked and deboned chicken
6 eggs boiled and chopped
3 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of corn starch
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

1-1/2 cups of self rising flour
1-1/2 cups of buttermilk
1 stick of melted butter


1. Cover chicken with water and simmer chicken for several hours with salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice. This step could be done in a Crock-Pot and the chicken will be done in time for supper. Make sure to cover chicken with enough water so you have 3 cups of chicken broth when you get done.

2. In a saucepan combine 1 cup of chicken broth, corn starch, salt, pepper, and the garlic powder and cook to make a thickened broth and set aside.

3. Make crust by combining the self-rising flour and the buttermilk and slowly whisk in the melted butter. Don't panic, this crust is thin so that you can pour it.

4. De-bone chicken and put meat in a 9 by 13 pan and top with boiled eggs. Then cover the boiled eggs and chicken with your thickened broth.

5. Pour crust over chicken, eggs, and thickened broth. Spread until crust covers the top. Now, I know this sounds strange but, you're going to pour 2 cups of chicken broth over the entire top of the casserole. Yes, on top of the crust that you smoothed nicely over the top you are now going to pour 2 cups of chicken broth. Just pour back and forth, over the entire pan. I know, I know it sounds strange and looks even stranger. You'll probably think "I've ruined this" but you haven't.

6. Put it in the oven at 350 F for 1 hour till bubbly and golden brown on top.

The broth that you put on at the end will sink through the crust and make a delicious sauce over the chicken and eggs and the crust will rise to the top and become golden brown. It's just magic! We hope you enjoy it, please let us know.