The Beekman Boys Explain How Goats Transformed their Lives

“Life gives you goats you make goat milk soap,

goat milk cheese and goat milk,

whatever you can make.”

If you’ve been on my Facebook page, you may have noticed some of the fun challenges we’ve been doing with people like Lisa Steele of Fresh Eggs Daily, Justin and Amy of The Chubby Vegetarians, Georgia Pellegrini, and the Beekman Boys. It’s a way for us to all work together on projects which have been really fun.

Most recently, the Beekman Boys stopped by the farm. If you don’t know their story Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge were two Manhattanites who moved from the big city to a farm in upstate New York. While at the farm we did some filming, cooking, a little turkey wrangling, and then threw a summer bash out under the Big Sister oak. It was a blast!

Big Sister Oak at Moss Mountain Farm

After dinner we held a panel discussion about local food, heirloom vegetables and heritage livestock breeds. The evening ended with a Q&A session.

Here are a few of the questions Josh and Brent answered.

How long have you guys had your farm?

Josh: Well we bought our farm in 2007. And we call ourselves accidental farmers because we were Manhattanites, obnoxious Manhattanites, who would drive up to upstate New York and bother all the locals and buy their apples on the weekends. And we found this farm and we fell in love with it and purchased it thinking it would be a nice weekend place. And then we got a letter in our mailbox from a man named Farmer John who was losing his farm and he said, “I’ve got 80 goats and can I come put them on your farm?” And we thought, still obnoxious Manhattanites at that time, we thought “Oh great! We’ve got a petting zoo.” So he came in with his goats. So that was 2007. In 2008 us obnoxious Manhattanites lost our fancy-pants Manhattan jobs; both within 30 days of each other. And when life hands you lemons you make lemonade. Life gives you goats you make goat milk soap, goat milk cheese and goat milk whatever you can make. That’s how we became accidental farmers.

You guys are doing a great job getting the message out about local farming and buying local. What’s that like? Do you ever feel pressure about the message you have to deliver?

Josh: One of the things we realized in moving to a small community was everyone has their own unique gift to offer. They really do. And when we first moved there we were like, we’re going to have a goat farm and we’re going to make the soap, and then we’re going to make jam and we’re going to sell all this stuff and then we realized we weren’t really good farmers at heart. When the goats would shy away from us every time we’d try to go milk we’d be, “You know, that’s Farmer John’s strength.” And so we had this community of all these great people who were doing great things and it took us a long time to realize that the reason we were there was we had come from a marketing background. Brent worked for Martha Stewart. I worked in advertising. The thing that we could give to them was we knew how to take their talents and bring them out to the world. That was the only thing we could do.

Tell us about the new cookbook.

Josh:Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook So the cookbook that just came out is the Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook. We’ve done three cookbooks – the original Heirloom Cookbook, the Heirloom Dessert Cookbook and the Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook. And we’re like you with the heritage breeds… there is so much history in farming and gardening that’s been lost in the last 50 years. And to bring back not just the heirloom varieties of plants but heritage breeds. And it’s not just a quaint fad. It’s not just a trend. It’s something that’s really vital for us to continue our food supply. Having more than three commercial tomato varieties available is vital. Because just like human beings, animals and plants, they need to have genetic diversity.

Allen: That’s the whole reason that we have the heirloom vegetables that we are growing in our vegetable garden here. We save the seeds, the Heritage Poultry Conservancy is all about preserving genetics of these brave old breeds. They are out of work! And the way to put them back to work is to put them on your plate.

Josh: If you look at a garden catalogue from the turn of the century there used to be over 100 different varieties of garden peas that you could choose from. There are now only eight commercial varieties of peas. So if there was a disease that came along and wiped out those peas, we’d have no more peas on the planet. So in order to save these different old heirloom varieties, it’s just genetic diversity. It’s just nature.

Allen: And everyone can participate in this movement just by supporting local producers. I think it’s so important to connect the producer to the consumer and the more that we can do that the more this movement will grow.

I’d like to hear about your experience on The Amazing Race.

Brent: The Amazing Race experience. It is was the worst three weeks of our lives. Except for that very last moment when we won. That was the best. For those of you don’t know, in addition to our life on the farm, two years ago we were on this TV show called The Amazing Race. The premise of The Amazing Race is that teams of two people race around the world and the team that is last one standing wins a million dollars. And so we won. And we always talk about our life and opening yourself up to the universe and taking opportunities when they are in front of you. So many times there are opportunities in front of you and they are knocking but you aren’t answering the door. For us we always are opening the door. People often ask, “Why did you decide to run The Amazing Race?” We, that was not a life goal, we had certainly seen the show.

When our first cookbook came out we were in Santa Monica, at the Santa Monica library doing a book signing. And this little old lady came up. She was like 80 years old. She had her oxygen tank that she was carrying with her. We were signing her book and she was like, “Oh I just love your TV show The Fabulous Beekman Boys and every week my next door neighbor comes over and we watch your show together. And that’s our bonding time.” We were like “Well that’s so nice.” And she’s like, “And she’s the president of CBS reality TV.” And honestly I did not believe her. So really flippantly I asked, “If she’s such a big fan, why aren’t we on The Amazing Race?” And she’s like, “I’m going to tell her.” And honestly we didn’t think another thing of it. Two days later we were at home and the phone rang. I picked it up and someone said, “Hi, we’re calling from The Amazing Race. We heard you want to run. And that’s how we got on the show. And for those who have watched our story unfold on The Fabulous Beekman Boys; that show really chronicled our attempts to start the farm and start a business that was successful enough that Josh could be there full time. And you know, I’m sure there are entrepreneurs in this group, any time you’re starting your own business you are overly optimistic. You think I’ll be successful in a few months. So we said. Josh ended up getting another job in the city which was helping cover the mortgage and we said, “Oh it will just be a year of sacrifice. We’ll live apart for a year.” Well, that turned into five years of sacrifice because if you are trying to grow a business there are always things that you don’t anticipate that you are going to have to do. It wasn’t until we ran The Amazing Race and won it that we could pay off our mortgage on the farm and he could move to the farm full time. And so as of last February he’s been at the farm full time.

P. Allen Smith with Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

You got us started on the Marshall Strawberry Project and it’s going very strongly on our farm in Fayetteville. I want you to tell everyone because it’s the most amazing thing ever. So would you explain?

Josh: Sure, actually Allen you should be doing this too. The Marshall Strawberry Project. There’s a strawberry called the Marshall strawberry that James Beard declared the best tasting strawberry in the world. This was probably in the 1950s when he would have said this. And it fell out of production completely. It was not a commercially viable strawberry. So you know those terrible strawberries you get at the supermarket today? When those took over the world the Marshall disappeared except for one plant that was at the University of Oregon as a saved specimen. This woman got the university to loan it to her so she could grow out a runner and start another Marshall and now she is sending Marshalls all over the country to have different farms grow them out. I tell you, we planted them last year. This was the first year we had fruit and they are the best strawberries I’ve ever had. So look it up If anybody loves to good strawberry, the Marshall Strawberry Project.

P. Allen Smith, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge

Tell us the story about how the three of you met.

Allen: I had been invited to participate in an event at Sotheby’s called the Art of Farming that Brent was very involved in and I guess you were too Josh. It was really exciting. It was a black tie event at Sotheby’s to raise awareness about local food and to benefit the schools in the inner city to teach children where food comes from. I only participated in that I provided some art and we sold some fowl. We actually shipped the birds to the winner bidders. And all I have to tell you is that I wish I could sell chickens every day for the price we sold them at Sotheby’s!

Brent: That project, it was the first time that Sotheby’s had ever auctioned off vegetables and probably live chickens. It was actually a really amazing evening and we ended up raising about half a million dollars. Allen gave one of his paintings. It was really amazing.

Brent Ridge, P. Allen Smith and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

I’m just wondering if there will be another Beekman television program.

Brent: Yes, so the question is whether we are going to do another show and we are always working on new ideas. So you never know. Maybe we’ll do a show with Allen? You never know. Maybe we’ll take over his farm and he’ll come up and take over our farm. You never know.

What an enchanting night with the Beekman Boys. It was a beautiful blissfully cool evening.

Our next farm to table dinner will be on October 15, 2014. That’s a Wednesday night. It will be with Regina Charboneau from Natchez Mississippi. She’ll be cooking up some recipes from her latest book Mississippi Current. And our special guest will be Rebecca Darwin from Garden and Gun magazine. So I hope you can join us. Find out more about the event and purchase tickets.

Back to School Tote Giveaway

United Solutions Hands-Free ToteIt’s back to school time! Do you have someone in your life who is headed back to school? Help them take a load off with this hands free tote from United Solutions. Whether it be for a move, school books or to carry laundry from the laundry mat, this tote will give them a hand. I use it around the house and it’s been incredibly helpful!

I like it so much that I’ve partnered with United Solutions after testing it out and we’re giving away one hands-free tote each month until the end of the year. If you’d like to enter to win one, tell me what you need to tote to make back to school easier in the comments section!

100,000 Fan Giveaway

#meetmeinLR

Yahoo! We’re rolling up on 100,000 fans on my Facebook page! As a way to say thank you I’m going to select one of you to visit my hometown Little Rock, Arkansas, tour Moss Mountain Farm and tape a segment with me for my show!

To throw your hat in the ring all you need to do is post a video my Facebook wall (www.Facebook.com/GardenHomeRetreat) describing what project or recipe you’d like to share and what you’d like to see while you are in Little Rock.. The person with the winning video will be flown to Little Rock for a weekend stay and opportunity to co-host a segment with me for my half hour show.

Here are the deets:

  • Post a short (90 secs or less) video on my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/GardenHomeRetreat) describing what project or recipe you’d like to share and what you’d like to see while you are in Little Rock.
  • You can post your video anytime between July 25, 2014 and 11:59 a.m. CST August 29, 2014.
  • The giveaway prize includes airfare (one ticket) for the winner to come to Little Rock and two tickets to an open house tour at Moss Mountain Farm. Accommodations for two at an area hotel, a $250 gift card for meals and admission to select Little Rock attractions.

OFFICIAL RULES

By entering and participating in the “100,000 Fans Giveaway”, you agree to the Official Rules of the contest and the posting etiquette guidelines. You also understand that your entry, image and all personal information provided by you may be shared with the sponsor(s) of this contest.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

CONTEST SCHEDULE
Contest Submission Period:
Friday, July 25, 2014, 8:00 a.m. CST Site Open
Friday, August 29, 2014, 11:59 a.m. CST Site Closed
Friday, September 05, 2014, 10:30 a.m. CST Winner Announced

How to Enter: Beginning 8:00 a.m., Central Standard Time (“CST”) on Friday, July 25, 2014 until 11:59 a.m. CST on Friday, August 29, 2014 (“Contest Submission Period”), you may submit a video to Allen’s Facebook wall (http://www.facebook.com/gardenhomeretreat) for a chance to win a trip to Little Rock to see the sights, tour the farm and tape a segment with Allen. Video must include a project or recipe idea and why you want to visit Little Rock. Please no obscene or offensive content. Submissions must be an original work product of the Entrant. All entries must meet contest criteria and will be approved before posting to the contest website.

Eligibility: This contest is open to legal U.S. (void in Puerto Rico) 18 years of age or older by August 29, 2014. Employees, officers and contractors (including immediate family members and members of the same household) of the Sponsors, their affiliated companies, subsidiaries, distributors, dealers, retailers, vendors, advertising and promotion agencies, and any and all other companies associated with this contest are not eligible to participate. Contest void where restricted or prohibited by law.

By participating in this contest you hereby agree that you have been granted permission to use the image and likeness of the garden or outdoor space you are submitting. Furthermore you agree that photos not copyrighted and they have not been previously published.

Date of award & Prize package:
The winner of the “100,000 Fan Giveaway” will be announced on Friday, September 05, 2014. The trip to Little Rock, Arkansas will be scheduled for fall 2014 at the discretion of the Sponsors

Prize package includes:
Airfare (one ticket) for the winner to come to Little Rock and provide two tickets to an open house tour at Moss Mountain Farm. Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (LRCVB) will pay for accommodations for two at an LRCVB selected hotel, as well as provide the winner with a $250 gift card for meals and provide admission to select Little Rock attractions.

Notification: Winners will be selected by merit of entry. The winner will be notified by Facebook message.

Potential Winners will be required to sign a Release of Liability and, unless prohibited by law, a Contest Participant Release Form and return same, fully-executed, within ten (10) days of date of issuance of prize notification. If Sponsor is unable to contact the potential Winner, if the potential Winner fails to return all forms fully-executed by the specified date or if potential Winner fails to comply with these Official Rules, or if any prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, such potential Winner will be disqualified and, at Sponsor’s discretion, an alternate Winner shall be selected. By accepting the prize, Winner consents to the use by Sponsor and its designees of his/her name, screen name, city and state of residence, in any and all media now or hereafter known, including online announcements, throughout the world in perpetuity, without additional compensation, notification or permission, except where prohibited by law.

Conditions: Illegible/incomplete entries will be discarded. Entries void if defective, altered, forged, or if submitted/obtained outside authorized channels. This contest is subject to all applicable federal, state, municipal, and local laws and regulations. This offer is void where prohibited and/or restricted by law. Entries that are out of focus, blurred, unclear or unreadable images or postings that are illegible, late, miss-posted or corrupt will not be posted and considered void. All rulings by the judges are final.

Sponsors:
Hortus Ltd.
P. O. Box 164870
Little Rock, AR 72216
www.PAllenSmith.com

Little Rock Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
101 S. Spring Street
Little Rock, AR 72203
www.littlerock.com

Destination Northwest Arkansas

I know I know… You’re headed up to Bentonville, Arkansas to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. And you’re going to love it because it’s one of the most amazing places in Arkansas. But did you know the whole northwest portion of the state is filled with exciting things to do as well as some of the best food the region has to offer? In fact four Bentonville restaurant chefs where invited to cook at the James Beard Foundation in New York because, well, they’re just that good!

Boston Mountains in Northwest Arkansas

To help you get the most out of the trip I’ve created a Northwest Arkansas itinerary for you, which includes art, gardens, and of course food!

  1. Pig Trail Scenic Byway – If it’s on your route be sure to take the short cut between Ozark and Fayetteville lovingly referred to as the Pig Trail. This winding two-lane highway through the Ozark Mountains offers spectacular views, especially in spring and fall. Jump on Highway 23 just past Ozark and enjoy 19 miles of beautiful scenery. To get to Fayetteville take a left on Highway 16 at Brashears.
  2. Coffee Break – The first stop on your way to Crystal Bridges is Fayetteville. It’s a university town with lots of charm. I always like to take a coffee break on my road trips so I can stretch my legs. At Mama Carmen’s Café I can do some good while I’m at it. Mama Carmen’s was born out of a partnership with the namesake who runs an orphanage in Guatemala City. The café purchases the beans grown on Mama Carmen’s farm as well as donating 10% of the profits to the orphanage. And the coffee is good to boot. www.mamacarmen.com
  3. Garden Tour – While in Fayetteville be sure to visit the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. There are 12 gardens to discover plus a butterfly house. www.bgozarks.org
  4. Lunch – The next town you’ll pass through on your way to Bentonville is Rogers. The historic downtown area is delightful with brick roads and classic storefronts. There are a number of wonderful restaurants, but I suggest Heirloom Food + Wine. Everything is made from scratch using only fresh, local ingredients – they even make the bread and condiments! Every day they create a soup, salad and sandwich based on what’s in season. www.heirloomfoodandwine.com
  5. Garden Tour and Crystal Bridges – From Rogers it’s just a 15 minute drive to Bentonville home of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Either before or after visiting the museum take a stroll along the woodland trail at Compton Gardens. This public park is open from dawn to dusk and is a wonderful place to pick up ideas for using native plants. www.peelcompton.org  crystalbridges.org
  6. Dinner – At this point you’re probably looking to sit back, relax with a good meal. Petit Bistro is a French Mediterranean restaurant that is sure to please. Delicious 5 star recipes that is the perfect way to end a great day in northwest Arkansas. petitbistro.biz

Whew, that’s one very big day. If you decide to make it a weekend trip, I suggest the 21c Museum Hotel. It’s within walking distance of the museum and located right on the town square. Remember, there are so many more things to do here and all over Arkansas. The best way to find them is to visit Arkansas.com.

Lakeside Leisure Hands-Free Tote Giveaway

Win a Hands-Free Tote!

As a child, one of my favorite summer treats was heading to the lake. My mom would announce that we could go, that she’d drive us out for a day, and it would send us kids into a tizzy of excitement. We’d crowd into the car, sometimes with a neighborhood friend who was allowed to come along, and piled between us, on top of us and crammed into every space available, we’d have all our stuff— a cooler filled with ice, snacks, towels, folding chairs and toys. My siblings and I would swim, run around and nap on the lake’s beach. At twilight, we’d wedge all our gear back in the car and climb back in, sandy and sweaty, dozing off on the ride home. I’m so grateful for those times.

Going to the lake is still something I inherently associate with the heat of deep summer—with fireworks, food and friendship and grilling, sunburn and sand. One thing that can be said of the south is that it’s peppered with swimming holes, rivers, creeks, “secret” fishing spots and plenty of lakes, warm enough to swim in. We’ve no shortage of water here, and I try to make it out to the lake at least once every summer.
United Solutions Hands-Free Tote
Now as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found I have no fewer things to tote for a day at the lake. I’m still bringing the towels, the chairs and the food. When I was younger, we’d stack our towels in big baskets and drag them out to the beach or carry all the items separately. These days I’m using a hands-free tote from United Solutions. It’s pretty handy while being lightweight yet sturdy and I’ve found it tremendously helpful! I don’t have to drag it along the ground to get the shore line.

I like it so much that I’ve partnered with United Solutions after testing it out and we’re giving away one hands-free tote each month until the end of the year. If you’d like to enter to win one, tell me what you’ll tote this summer in the comments section! Happy lake days to all of you!

The winner for August in the Life Needs a Tote Giveaway is Jeanne Link! Thank you to everyone for entering! We’re giving one tote away each month until the end of the year. Click here to enter again.

Laguna Pond Makeover Revealed

Who doesn’t want that perfect sanctuary or getaway? And what if you could get it for free? That’s how we ended up in Bakersfield, California in Kelly Ashe’s backyard. Kelly entered our Laguna Ponds water garden giveaway last May.

P. Allen Smith and Laguna Ponds designed a water garden for Kelly Ashe.

It only took five hours for the Laguna team to install the pond in Kelly’s backyard. Then I stepped in with help from Monji garden center and to surround the water featured with beautiful plants.

Watch the transformation.

Create your own water feature with a terra cotta pot.

Materials:
20-inch terra cotta pot
4-inch terra cotta pot
Plumber’s epoxy
small pump with fountain attachment
water

Step 1: Plug the hole in the bottom of the of the container with plumber’s putty. Apply the putty on both the inside and the outside of the container.

Step 2: Place the 4-inch terra cotta pot upside down in the container. This will give the water pump height.

Step 3: Place the pump on the 4-inch terra cotta pot.

Step 4: Fill the container with water until the water line reaches just below the top of the fountain head.

Step 5: Add water plants if you are so inclined.

How to make a water fountain with a terra cotta pot.

Proven Winners® WaterWise™ Watering Kit

The thing that I love most about gardening is getting my hands in the soil, well almost. Actually I do love abundant beauty that flowers produce, but you know it’s that in between stuff that often gets in the way for a lot of us. Watering for instance. Keeping the soil consistently moist in containers is the key to success, which is why a use a drip irrigation kit. The one I like to use is from Proven Winners and it is so easy to assemble. It takes the work out of watering. With a single kit I can water up to ten potted plants.

Here is how easy it is to set up the Proven Winners WaterWise Container Irrigation Kit.

Attach the backflow prevent valve to your outdoor water faucet. Screw the faucet adapter onto the end of the valve.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Fauce Adpater and Nozzle

Push the end of the ¼-inch tubing onto the nozzle of the faucet adapter. This will go on easier if you wet the nozzle first.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Tubing Attached to the Backflow Valve and Nozzle

Run the tubing from the spigot to the base of your first container.

Cut the tubing and insert a barbed-tee, which is a little t-shaped piece. Insert the tubing onto the branch of the barbed-tee the points upward. Run the tubing up into the middle of the container and cut to size. Cap off the end of the tubing with a dripper.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Dripper Plugs into the End of Tubing

Next insert the tubing onto the horizontal branch of the barbed-tee and extend it over to your next container. Repeat the process until you have all of your containers outfitted with drippers.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Barded-Tee Splits the Line So You Can Water Multiple Pots

10 – 12-inch container = 1 dripper
14 – 20-inch container = 2 drippers
24-inch containers and larger = 3 drippers

The tubing is a neutral tan color that disappears among the plants, but you can further camouflage it by inserting it through the drain hole of an empty container before adding soil.

You Can Insert the Tubing Through the Drainage Hole

Depending on the weather and the size of the container you will probably water for one hour each day. Is it is really hot and dry or the container is extra larger you will need to increase the amount of time you water.

You can take all the work out of watering by purchasing a battery-operated water timer to add to the faucet. Now you won’t even have to think about watering.

Purchase a water timer to take all the work out of watering.

Click here to Purchase a Proven Winners WaterWise Container Watering Kit

Each Proven Winners WaterWise kit contains:

  • A 30-foot coil of high-quality tan-colored vinyl tubing
  • Ten 1/2 GPH pressure compensating drippers
  • Ten Barbed Tees (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Three Barbed Crosses (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Ten Nail Clamps (for positioning and holding vinyl tubing in place on wood decks or other wooden applications)
  • One Faucet Adapter
  • One Back Flow Prevention Valve
  • Ten Support Stakes (to attach and hold drippers or to train the tubing in place in landscape beds)

Pet Chickens? You bet.

About this time last year I sent my friend Mary Beth home with 2 dozen hatching eggs and one of the roosters from the group made into Cooking Light’s Fun issue and not as an entrée! And if you are considering a backyard flock, but haven’t taken the plunge yet pick up a copy of this Cooking Light and read Mary Beth’s article. You can get a sneak peek here.

The top dog at Moss Mountain Farm is not a dog at all but a rooster named Amos. Amos is a Buff Orpington you’ll find strutting around the front lawn with his entourage. I like to think of them as the welcoming committee.

Amos is one of my favorite characters at the farm. I would even go so far as to say he’s a pet, which will not come as a surprise to those who have raised chickens. Their plucky personalities can be very endearing. In fact, some folks treat their poultry with as much love and devotion as the family dog.

Thanks to products like chicken diapers birds can live indoors and special leashes allow Foghorn Leghorn to join his person on a stroll around the neighborhood. I even hear tell of chickens wearing sweaters and scarves to protect them from the cold.

Now, I adore the poultry at the farm, but I think we are all better off not being roommates. And Amos probably prefers life in the buff to wearing anything that would cover his beautiful feathers.

What about you? How do you pamper your chickens?

A Treat Toy for Chickens

The girls love this treat ball from Manna Pro.

How do you pamper your pet chickens? The Chicken Chat community weighs in.

I asked members of the Chicken Chat community to share pictures of their beloved roos and hens. Click on an image to enlarge and read about the chickens.