Hey everybody!  Faelyn here and it’s been delightfully rainy here in East Tennessee, and our teens’ gardens have been loving it.  The Food Commanders came out today and were ecstatic about how their plants were sprouting!  They were bragging and telling stories about how one teen’s plants were growing faster than someone elses.  Soon though, the young adults will be encountering some unwanted company.  That’s right, bugs.  Now no one likes bugs, at least when they eat your plants you worked so hard to grow!  We’ve got them covered though with some spinosad that we ordered for them to fend off these terrible critters!

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Also the teens came out today all excited for the wonderful animals they would be able to encounter on the farm!  They first had to get some real work done by helping Farmer Melissa in the garden pulling weeds.  Most of them weren’t very interested, but they persevered with the hopes of being able to milk the cow, see the bunnies, and get their new worms!  Soon after they finished taking care of the pesky weeds they were going to milk the cow!  Sadly, however, the farm day campers got to her first.  When they finished she was a bit antsy so they had to finish her up with the motorized milker (which is really cool by the way!).  They then went over to the bunny barn for a behind the scenes look of our new mothers!   The barn had been blocked off to the day campers and guest of our weekly Thursday dinners due to our newest bunnies entering the world!  I was in there with the group’s Zack, who was helping me count the newborns very carefully!  We had to count them so we can see the difference between the amount born and what survived to tell if the bunny was a good, great, or poor mother, of course depending of the environment.

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Afterwards they ventured on over to the chicken coop office to have snack then they counted out their worms for their compost bins.  Four of them had the really large bins so they got 500 worms!  The size lower than that got 250 worms, and the smallest size got 125 worms for their compost back home.  Everyone had a great time sorting through and trying to get the large clumps of worms for their bins.  Needless to say, there was dirt, paper, and worms everywhere!

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Another excited meeting happened this past Monday at Ms. Debbie’s mother’s house.  She and I took the cooking group, Silent Farmers,  out to help Mrs. Debbie make pickles!  We cleaned and cut and packed like a well oiled machine into the old-fashioned crock.  They learned what were the signs of a bad pickle so as to not ruin the whole batch.  Holes in the pickle near the middle were wormy pickles and had to be tossed, but if there was a hole close to the ends it was okay because it just grew too fast.  Also if a pickle was too yellow that means it was too ripe and could only be eaten as a cucumber, not a pickles so they were set aside to eat later.  After they had cut and packed all the good pickles into the crock we set some salty water to boil on the stove, making sure to only use stainless steel when pickling anything so as to not ruin the food.

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While we waited for the pot to boil we took a fantastic tour of her mother and father’s garden.  They had a large spread of different types of corn, pickles, pumpkins, cantaloupe, and so much more.  They had three different beds for their crops that they canned and pickled when they were ripe.  After the water boiled we poured it into the crock of pickles and pushed the pickles down with a plate and a jar full of water on top so they wouldn’t come above the water line.  We then covered with a towel to keep bugs out and put a rubber band around it to keep it down.  The group will return in a couple of weeks, when Ms. Debbie and her mom are in full pickling mode, to help finish the pickles off and fully understand how to make sweet pickles!

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The teens then relaxed with some homemade tea and some Kahlrabi which is a radish-cabbage vegetable that is very delicious and is very easy to grow.