Hi everyone!  I hope everyone has been having this warmer weather, compared to the cold, snow, and ice most everyone had just a few weeks ago.  Debbie, Appalachia Cares/AmeriCorps, here at Rural Resources, trying to shuffle through the mounds of work that needs to be caught up.  I have managed to re-arrange my 6 classes that were snowed out, trying to get a sow ready to litter in a weeks time, welcoming new rabbits to the farm, and working on preparing our mobile kitchen to run this spring and summer.  A lot of catchup in a short amount of time!  Spring break week with the teens will be back to back classes each day.  Do I see some grey hairs coming in?!  Awe, it will be fun, exciting, thrilling, EXHAUSTING, but welllllllll worth all the effort and work.  We will be making cheese, yogurt, butter, stocks, soups, gourmet burgers, different types of jerky, and business planning!!!  Keep an eye out for some recipes!  A full week in deed, and all using home-grown items from our farm or a neighbors.  Milk for cheese, butter, and yogurt is coming from the dairy cow living on our farm, Klara!  Her milk is wonderful, I must say.  She will be drying up very soon, as she expecting her own bundle of joy in late June.  We wish her the best of luck!

So, with all these plans in the future, classes canceled during the storm, what happened on the farm????  Well, can you believe it, I was snowed out, but farmer Melissa was snowed in!  Melissa dared to work while others could not, how could she!!!  Because of her devotion to growing food, we have amazing starts in the greenhouse (yes, it was green when we came back from the snow!  My mouth is watering!), animals were fed and watered, and we had a new surprise to help our seeds in the greenhouse thrive!


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As you can tell from the pictures above, Melissa was freezing in all that snow, ice, and cold we had.  Melissa got creative and created our very own seed heat mats.  Following this website:  http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/11658/diy-heat-mat-speeds-seed-starting , Melissa went on a scavenger hunt through the barn to see what we had.  She found all the wood she needed and only spent about $25 on the screws and rope lights.  She did say she could only find 24 foot rope lights, so her mats are slightly bigger than the ones on the website.  She also did not need to buy the clamps, as the rope lights had the clamps with them.  She easily completed this project in a couple of hours, and the seeds have loved them!  She is planning on making a few more to add into the greenhouse.  The website gives great instructions on how to construct one yourself.  The required tools and equipment are:

Plywood – 1″X12″X4′

Two 1″ x 2″ x 8-foot wood furring strips

 Wood screws – it says to have two packs each of #6 x 1-1/2″ and #8 x 3/4″ sizes, but Melissa said she had only used the #6 screws

The website said plastic cable clamps that are 1/2″, but the rope lights came with their own clamps that Melissa used

Hand saw

Tape measure


Rope light – incandescent type (website used an 18′, Melissa used a 24′ – making her mat a bit longer than 4′)

Check out the website for details on how to construct, but it was not that difficult, cutting the furring strips to size, screwing them to the plywood, weaving the rope lights and clamping them down, and away you go!  This will be a plus to anyone’s greenhouse, and Melissa was happy to save money making her own versus buying one.

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See, Melissa kept very happy plants and animals during the bitter snow storm!  Thank you Melissa for the hard work and the marching in snow from your house to the farm each day.  The teens will be excited to come out this weekend, start some seeds of their own, see that the storm didn’t stop us, and enjoy the farm once again!  Hoping that Greene County, East Tennessee does not see anymore snow for a very long time!  SPRING HERE WE COME, BE WARNED!!!