Debbie Morrison

Top Five Lessons in Making Apple Cider

The best part about making apple cider is that it is so easy and fun to make. Granted, there is some equipment that is required such as an apple grinder, press, and a vat to hold all of the cider. But the basic process is simple: get a group of friends together, spend a beautiful autumn day picking apples, turn on the tunes while sorting and thoroughly washing the apples, grind them into mush, let the press squeeze out all the juice, give the apple pulp to the neighbors for their dairy cows, then drink the fresh squeezed cider to your hearts delight.


Read more »

The Inspiring Honeybee Comeback Story

Last May, I shared with you my heartbreaking story about losing 12 out of 13 honeybee colonies over the long harsh Minnesota winter. Since that time, I also lost my sole surviving hive as well. After building up my apiary over the past six years, I was forced to start over. 

Over the past few months, I have had many inquiries about how my new colonies are doing so far this year. And I am so very pleased to report that my newly established apiary is thriving beyond my wildest dreams! 

Read more »

Heartbroken Yet Hopeful: One Beekeeper's Advice for Starting Your Own Colony

I’m heartbroken. Last fall, I meticulously prepared 13 healthy honeybee colonies for the harsh Minnesota winter ahead. Sadly, only one hive survived. The cause of their demise is complicated. The poor little honeybee -- on whom we depend for one-third of our food supply every day -- is greatly challenged in so many ways. Numerous diseases, nasty and unavoidable Varroa destructor mites, starvation, condensation, and the ever-expanding problem of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) plague these amazing creatures, and saving them continues to be a herculean task.

Read more »

Making Maple Syrup: Creative Ingenuity at its Best

It’s springtime, and the maple trees are dripping with sweet, pristine, beautiful sap. Sugarhouses across North America have billowing plumes of steam rising from their rooftops as maple sap is converted into maple syrup. Maple syrup is such a unique specialty product -- it’s only made in Canada and the Northern United States, and it is a crop that is only harvested for a few short weeks in the spring. The niche industry is made up of small entrepreneurs and hobbyists who eagerly look forward to this time of year, when the season transitions from cold to warm.

Read more »

Magical, Mysterious, Wonderful Dirt

I have always had a happy relationship with dirt. As a kid, I took pride in being perpetually filthy, and felt a strong kinship with the Peanuts character Pig Pen. Once I became a farmer, I discovered that dirt – or using grown-up farmers’ terminology, soil – is so much more than just the fun stuff that makes kids dirty. Soil is absolutely an essential ingredient in the food system, and it’s something that most of us just don’t spend a lot of time thinking about.

Read more »

How I Became a Minnesota Pineapple Farmer

Ten years ago, my husband and I escaped the January cold and spent a week in Costa Rica. We stayed at a beautiful but rustic lodge on the edge of the jungle, where the kitchen staff spoiled us with scrumptious meals made from the many local foods. Every meal was served with large chunks of fresh, juicy pineapple, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Perhaps it was the surrounding rainforest, or the sounds of birds, animals, and ocean waves on the beach that accentuated my pineapple-eating experience, but whatever the reason, I fell in love with fresh Costa Rican pineapples.

But all vacations must come to an end, and we were soon home in snowy Minnesota. Still in that post-vacation glow when I headed to town to stock up on staples, I was delighted to see that our local grocery store had pineapples on special. I bought four and looked forward to once again having fresh pineapple with every meal.

Read more »

Turning Our Bumper Crop of Eggs Into Delicious, Custardy Egg Nog

This time of year, the only crop we continue to produce on the farm is fresh eggs. This is the first year we've had laying hens, so we really didn’t know what to expect, especially going into winter. The little bit we learned about laying-hen activity in the winter was through books we read, online research, and other friends who have had experience with chickens. All of these resources combined suggested that as the temperatures cooled off, the hens would slow down -- or possibly even stop -- their egg production through the winter, and they’ll start up again in the spring as the temperatures warm up.

Read more »

Winter Offers a Welcome Change of Pace on the Farm

Wintertime in Minnesota: that wonderful time of year when we Minnesotans proudly brag about our frigid climate, huge piles of snow, and the short, dark days we endure throughout this season. I'm one of those crazy Minnesotans who loves winter. To my surprise, since we moved to the farm I have grown to appreciate it even more.

On the farm, the dormancy of winter gives us much-needed time to rejuvenate. During the spring, summer, and fall, we make many decisions each day based on what we think Mother Nature will require (should we tap the trees? Plant the tomatoes? Water the apple trees? Split the bee hives?). But during the winter, Mother Nature is free to express herself as she desires. All we have to do is clean up the snow occasionally, when she dumps on us.

Read more »

Ring-Necked Pheasant Season and My Good Friend Barb

It’s November in Minnesota, so the growing season -- for most of us -- is over. All of the garden crops have been gathered, and we're now focused on finding local protein. In our small town, hunting season is a time of celebration and camouflage is back in fashion, especially when it's accessorized with blaze orange vests and hats. Conversations in diners, grocery stores, barber shops, and street corners turn to the number of pheasants in the fields, grouse in the forests, and -- importantly -- where the big bucks are lurking.

Read more »

Sticky Fun Yields Honey to Die For (At Least if You're a Bee)

The sugar house is stacked high with honey super boxes full of ripe frames of honey. The hardest step in harvesting honey is behind me, so now the sticky fun begins.

Each frame of honey is comprised of an intricate network of honeycomb with each individual cell is filled with honey and the entire frame is sealed with a wax coating. So how does the beautiful block of wax-covered honey get into a jar?

Read more »
Syndicate content