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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

June 25, 2009

What a fabulous strawberry season we have had here on Mulberry Lane Farm! Stupendous harvest---the best of 15 years! Thank you for coming out and supporting local, farm fresh, chemical-free produce right here in Loda, IL!

What a harvest! The best in 15 years!

Today was our last day of picking strawberries. Customers continue to come out, despite the removal of our strawberry signs. This morning I was able to provide some strawberries to some who have not had any yet this year.

God really blessed our strawberry patch this year, in answer to our prayers. We are well on our way to raising the funds we need to take our much-anticipated trip to NH for a family reunion with my husband's family.

Yum! Yum! Homemade waffles with home-grown strawberries!

A young strawberry picker in her cute little handmade strawberry patterned dress.

The Lord blessed us this year with three teenage helpers from CA. What a tremendous help they were to us. Joey, a great photographer, took many photos around the farm. Watch for them as I will be posting them from time to time.

To celebrate the end of strawberry season today, I made a delicious dessert for the family for lunch. I called it "Strawberry Surprise" since I made up the recipe myself. I made one large package of strawberry jello, put it in a 9 x 13 pan, and put it in the freezer. Meanwhile I sliced up about 4 cups of strawberries and put them in the fridge. After the jello set for about 1 hour, I took it out and beat it to make it smooth. I then gently folded in two 8 oz. containers of Cool Whip, and last of all added the sliced strawberries. I was in a hurry (when am I not?) so I put it back into the 13 x 9 pan and stuck it in the freezer. We had this for dessert along with a batch of Mrs. Field's Chocolate Chip cookies I quickly whipped up. Yum---double yum!

Now that the strawberries are done, we must get to getting the patch ready for next year. We are taking out one 3-year-old bed---mowing it off and tilling it under. Then the strawberry patch must be heavily manured and then kept weeded (groan) and watered until the snow comes. We are making our plans for next year as we consider the season just past, putting notes into our garden organizer (Lotus Organizer). Things like "order more wooden boxes for pickers" and "make sure you have plenty of desserts (cookies) in the freezer to have on hand for the strawberry season pickers" and "make jam with any leftover berries; the strawberry jam is a great seller at the vegetable stand".

Despite the hectic strawberry season, Beka and Rachel tried their hands at making mulberry jelly. They scoured the local mulberry trees and came home with a bucket full of mulberries. No recipe exists for mulberry jelly so we made up our own. The end result was simply fantastic. What do you think about that! Mulberry Lane Farm now sells Mulberry Jelly! Caleb, our resident taste-tester, said this after tasting the jelly: "Mom, this is worth $1,000 a jar!". If you go to the "Today We Have Link" on the left, you will see that you are getting a real deal on the jelly, at least according to Caleb!

The sign says it all---draining the mulberries to make the mulberry juice.

Our jelly bag hanging to dry on the line.

So what is coming up next in the garden, you ask? My zucchini plants are looking fabulous. They were planted on our old manure pile and they appear to love it there. The first blossoms are peaking out now, so nice, tender, squeaky-fresh zuchinni should be available for sale in a few days or so. The green beans are getting ready to flower, so they are coming in about 2 weeks or so. The early sweet corn is tasseling and I can taste their golden buttery kernels already! It should be ready in about 2 weeks as well. Lots to look forward to!

My zuchinni and cucumber bed.

We picked up a four-day-old calf two days ago and Beka is bottle feeding it several times a day now. Man, those newborn calves are stubborn sometimes! Poor thing---it goes against nature for it to figure out how to suck on that nipple. We would like to sell the meat from this calf to the first takers. This will be prime, organic (no hormones, shots, antibiotics, etc.) veal and will become available in early December. It will be done up by a professional butcher according to your specifications. Let me know if you are interested. The taste of homegrown beef is hard to explain if you have never had it before. It is lean and full of flavour---and all of it good for you.

Our resident vet in training, Matthew, cleaning up the calf.

May 24, 2009

The girls and I went for an early morning walk Sunday, up to the Loda Pine Ridge Cemetery. It was a gorgeous, warm spring morning. The flags were all out on the graves of those who have served our country.

It was an inspiring sight!

For years we have walked by an interesting grave up at the cemetery. This grave always gets a special red flag with a star on it. I have always said to the children that we should find out who this person is. This year I did and shared it with my family for Memorial Day.

Brigadier General Israel Newton Stiles

Israel Newton Stiles was born July 16, 1833, in Suffield, Connecticut. He attended common schools and moved to Lafayette, Indiana in 1852. Stiles studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1854. He served as prosecuting attorney of Tippecanoe County from 1856 to 1858 and in the Indiana House of Representatives in 1859.

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, he was selected as adjutant of the 20th Indiana Infantry. At Chicamacomico, Stiles and the 20th suffered the capture of the Fanny, the first aircraft carrier. After being engaged at Hatteras Island, the 20th participated in and were witnesses to one of the most momentous events in Civil War history, the Hampton Roads Naval Action.

The events of March 1862 began with action between the Confederate’s iron-clad ram, the Merrimac, and the Congress and Cumberland of the Union Navy. It culminated into the Battle of the Iron-Clads when the Monitor faced the Merrimac March 9, 1862. Stiles participated in the siege of Yorktown and the battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks). At the Battles of the Seven Days, he was taken prisoner after riding into the Confederate forces of the 14th South Carolina and demanding to know what unit they belonged to. He was taken to the Guy Street Prison and later transferred to Libby Prison before being returned to his regiment in August as part of a prisoner exchange.

Following participation in the battle of the Second Manassas, Stiles was promoted to major of the 63rd Indiana Infantry. He joined the Atlanta campaign under Sherman, was part of the campaign after Confederate John B. Hood, and served along the Atlantic coast and in North Carolina. He rose to the rank of colonel while with the 63rd and was brevetted brigadier general January 31, 1865.

Following the Civil War, Stiles settled in Illinois, where he was a noted lawyer in Chicago and served as city attorney for four years. He died January 17, 1895, in Chicago and was buried in Pine Ridge Cemetery in Loda, Illinois.

Today we honor those who made our great land free!

We shall never forget you!

See you again soon!

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