Tag Archives: garden

Book A FarmStay!!

12 Stones Farm Guest House

As promised, more information is coming your way about my amazing friends and their outreach to better the lives of others.

First up, are my friends, Eric & Hope Bright, who owned and operated a profitable dairy on their farm with lovely Jersey cows grazing and gracing the green hills of north Missouri.

Enjoy following along families, children, duck, chicken, and cow adventures on Instagram or Facebook.


Alas, once their children, who were homeschooled like ours, flew the coop, they moved to warmer clime in south Missouri, just a 30 minute easy drive to Branson. We miss them being our neighbors. 😦

12 Stones Farm Guest House is a unique farm stay with children enjoying bottle feeding dairy calves, rounding up the ducks into their pen each evening, feeding the chickens, collecting eggs (then fixing those fresh eggs for your own brekkie!), milking gentle Jersey cows (and enjoying the milk!), playing with the cats, watching the dog guard the fowl from aerial predators (he takes his job seriously!), helping with the garden if you like, or launching a kayak in the Swan Creek just outside your cabin door.

If active farm stay is not your cup of tea, enjoy the peace and tranquility of a rural setting as you relax into your private hot tub just off the master bedroom with sounds of a tom turkey gobbling occasionally and the splash and gurgle of nearby Swan Creek. Then you might be off to take in the sights and sounds of the ever popular shows and attractions in Branson, MO. Each evening, build an outdoor fire, roast marshmallows and enjoy brilliantly starlit skies.

Enjoy eggs and milk fresh from the farm during your stay and extend the memories and enjoyment by purchasing extras at the 12 Stones Mercantile located on the farm.

As the weather warms, availability may become an issue as families and couples seek to get away from the city and breathe fresh air and relish peacefulness. Start your enquiry at 12 Stones Farm Guest House (sleeps 5) on AirBnB, VRBO, Flipkey, through Eric and Hope’s website, or just give them a ring!. You won’t meet nicer hosts! Also, if you need a really private getaway, take a look at their 2 person cabin on the same property but just a bit away. Available through AirBnB. Eric and Hope have 5.0 star reviews and are Superhosts!

The master bedroom accommodates a queen size bed and a twin size bed.
French doors adorned with quilted window dressings lead to your private outdoor hot tub!
Forgive my terrible photo, but i include it anyway to give you an idea of the spaciousness of the open areas of the 5 person cabin. Behind the DeKalb sign is the loft with 2 twin beds for low ceiling sleeping. Cabins are fitted with all the comforts of home. Quick snapshot in between packing water to Eric who was laying tile in the fabulously upgraded yet still retaining its rustic feel shower and bathroom. Yup, i was helping!

Don’t even hesitate to book this 2 person cabin on the same property and enjoy the same amenities as the 5 person cabin. This trip was the first time i have seen it finished (it was in the infant stages when i visited before) and, as expected, Eric, with his amazing carpentry skills, and Hope with her eye to artistry and detail, have created another oasis.

Plan Far Ahead!

Last year, i ordered my garden seeds at regular time and then the plandemic took over with seeds arriving very late relegating my planting selections to whatever i had on hand – which was plenty – no complaints. A bit short on lettuce which is a favorite at our household.

My seed order finally arrived too late to plant, so those will be planted this year along with those i ordered about a month ago which just arrived today (11FEB21).

I like ordering from Seed Savers Exchange located in Decorah, Iowa. They seem to be serious about banking heirloom seeds. They are way behind filling orders now, so if you plan to order, do it now!

Frosty Chooks

The frost settled in heavy a few mornings back though thankfully warmed up nicely in the afternoon. My young Welsummer pullets (and five roosters) seemed to be in awe or shock at their surroundings. Or maybe they are just frozen! Naw, it wasn’t really that cold.

Having the chickens stay in the garden for the winter is a win-win-win. They have lots to scratch in, i can throw all kitchen scraps out there and they bury it or eat it, plus they poop a lot adding tons of manure nutrients to the soil. However, to prepare the ground for winter grazing, about mid-summer i allow grasses to grow unencumbered so they are mature and lay over by the end of the growing season.

Cato on “Laying Out and Stocking the Farm”

The continuing saga of Cato’s Farm Management book published by Forgotten Books.

Cato suggested the following ‘disposition’ of your estate. First assuming a spread of 100 jugera (about 66 acres).

  1. a vineyard
  2. irrigated garden
  3. an osier bed (a bed of willow trees)
  4. an olive yard
  5. a meadow
  6. a corn field
  7. a wood lot
  8. a cultivated orchard
  9. a mast grove ( grove of nut/acorn producing trees)

“In his youth, the farmer ought, diligently to plant his land, but he should ponder before he builds. Planting does not require reflection, but demands action. It is time enough to build when you have reached your thirty-sixth year, if you have farmed your land well meanwhile. When you do build, let your buildings be proportioned to your estate, and your estate to your buildings. It is fitting that the farm buildings should be well constructed, that you should have ample oil cellars and wine vats, and a good supply of casks, so that you can wait for high prices, something which will redound to your honour, your profit and your self-respect.”

** sure i’d like to paraphrase Cato’s words and writings, but he is very much succinct and to the point – quite certain i cannot improve. I will press his point above as to buildings be proportioned to your estate. Too many people today (and apparently in Cato’s day) overbuild! For example, a ranch does not need barns! Yet, most farms and ranches today are covered up with outbuilding and barns which only cost money in initial build, depreciation, and maintenance. The farmer who surrounds himself deliberately with stuff and work, has little regard for family time.

What about your dwelling house? Cato admonishes to “Build your dwelling house in accordance with your means. If you build well in a good situation and on a good property, and furnish the house suitably for country life, you will come there more often and more willingly. The farm will then be better, fewer mistakes will be made, and you will get larger crops. The face of the master is good for the land.

(as an interesting aside, Pliny quotes Cato as advising to buy what others have built rather than build oneself, and thus, as he says, enjoy the fruits of another’s folly. Cacoethes edificandi is a familiar disease among country gentlemen.)

My take on cacoethes edficandi is a given in human nature and if you have the opportunity to take advantage, go for it. However, a couple of drawbacks to that are 1) often the estate being sold is priced to include an overbuild, so it can’t be afforded anyway – a lot of ranch and farm land falls in that category now with only the very, very wealthy able to afford such properties which are impossible to run at a profit for cropping or livestock. 2) in our area, anyway, there are next to no nice homes, so building is a must to have something safe and worthwhile in which to live – yet the admonishing is twice listed here – a) build within your means, and b) avoid folly.

More layout tips:

Plant elm trees along the roads and fence rows, so that you may have the leaves to feed the sheep and cattle, and the timber will be available if you need it. If any where there are banks of streams or wet places, there plant reeds, and surround them with willows that the osiers may serve to tie the vines.

My commentary on the above is that we would never plant trees (and not elm – they are highly diseased in our area now) in a fence row – as the trees grow, they’ll knock over the fence, branches will fall out and smash the fence, and eventually grow around the barbed wire which will make the tree unsafe for use in a sawmill (wire in a log is a dangerous situation for the sawyer. Note Cato does not recommend trees along stream banks or wet places. Many people think trees stop erosion in these areas, but this is entirely untrue. Deep rooted reeds and grasses will hold the banks against fast moving water much better. Livestock can also ‘walk down’ any steep banks allowing these deep roots to take hold. Stream banks with wider more gentle slopes encourage water to slow down and not allow erosion. Trees simply fall over as water erodes the soil out from under them, then logs and branches become unusable and tend to clog up ditches allowing deep wallows and stagnant pools.

Cato goes on:

Set out the land nearest the house as an orchard, whence fire wood and faggots may be sold and the supply of the master obtained. In this enclosure should be planted everything fitting to the land and vines should be married to the trees.

Near the house lay out also a garden with garland flowers and vegetables of all kinds, set it about with myrtle hedges, both white and black, as well as Delphic and Cyprian laurel.


As an example, Cato sets forth an “olive farm of two hundred and forty jugera (160 acres) ought to be stocked as follows: an overseer, a house keeper, five laborers, three ox drivers, one swineherd, one ass driver, one shepherd; in all thirteen hands: three pair of oxen, three asses with pack saddles, to haul out the manure, one other ass, and one hundred sheep.”

Comments included are that as labor becomes more expensive, the slow, but steady oxen should be replaced with faster working, yet more costly, teams of horses. And in more modern times, we now use tractors which don’t even require drivers because labor cost is becoming more and more prohibitive.

Well, i hope you are enjoying the wisdom of Cato’s thoughts on farming, homesteading, ranching. Although he lived 2000 years ago, the concepts, precepts, and business acumen he shares is still spot on. I plan to share more of this clever book in upcoming blog entries. Check out the numerous classic reprints from Forgotten Books.


Pruning Zucchini?!

Had never heard of pruning zucchini until i searched online for a way to keep my plants producing.  So, i tried it – on all of them – it’ll work or kill them, but it’s okay either way, i have plenty frozen up for winter use now anyway.

I used some hand pruners since these stalks are very easy to cut, yet i was afraid if i tried ripping them off, i would damage the main stalk.  The video i watched said to cut off the leaf stalks up to the first flowers.

Pruned zucchini

Pruned zucchini




Corned Beef & Corn on the Cob

Tough to top this delicious lunch for today!


Corned Beef

Sandra Best from her days of preparing food for the sheep shearing crew in Longreach, Queensland, Australia


  • 5 lb rolled rump roast
  • 4 1/2 quarts of water
  • 2 lbs coarse salt


Heat water to dissolve salt then let cool completely. Stab thawed roast about 60 times with a long-tined meat fork. Pour salt water into a #2 ceramic crock and submerge roast into it. Weight down the roast with a brick or whatever. Place crock in a cool place and cover with kitchen towel. Let sit for 9 days. (I found some recipes, which called for turning the roast everyday, but we forgot to do that and it worked fine).

To cook:

Rinse roast, then place in a stockpot filled with enough water to cover roast 1 inch. Bring to slow boil, then pour off water, rinse out pot and refill with enough water to cover roast 1 inch. While water is heating add 2 tablespoons brown sugar, two bay leaves, 1 onion, quartered, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, and 1/4-cup vinegar. Cover and bring to slow boil, then simmer until meat falls off of a fork or skewer. (about 3 hours).

Serve with mashed potatoes or for an easy potluck, break up the meat and stir into potatoes and serve in a crock pot. Or let cool and slice off for sandwiches to take to work.