Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent Calendar Sans CANDY??!!

Well, not quite.  But for the past couple years, I've been looking for a reusable Advent calendar that I could fill with whatever I wanted, be it candy or redeemable coupons for kid-size salads at dinnertime, seasonable veggies, etc.  You know, because I'm a fun mom like that.

So last year I got an unnatural urge to hit a post-Christmas sale and came out of it with this:

Pretty cool, I think, and so do the kids.  This will be our first year using it, and as I was racking my muddled brain for WHAT to fill it with, a friend of mine suggested using scripture...specifically, Biblical prophecy of the birth of Christ.  Of course, that led to a Google search, and I found a site called  It's a couple years old, but the webpage on advent calendars can be found here, and if you scroll down, she has two links to Advent verse chain links for a 23-day Advent.  (You can fill the extra days with candy.  Or redeemable coupons for plain yogurt).  I'm thinking of printing these out on some red and green paper and making the actual chain link so we can add a bit of Christmas cheer to these plain, white, to-be-painted-someday walls.  And I'm excited that the kids will get to see the amazing accuracy with which the Old Testament prophets told of our coming Savior!

And the redeemable coupons for healthy food?  I'm kidding...I think.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Green Acres Weekend Update

What a whirlwind break this has been for the homeschoolers and the public schooler!  Here's a rundown of all the sustainable (or not) things we did this week.  And Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday: Breadmaking "class" for my sister-in-law, Dawn, and a friend, Katey.  They came over for the morning and in between guiding them through making two loaves of sandwich bread, a hearth loaf, and a batch of dinner rolls, we policed seven kids and made several runs out to the back fence row to make sure my niece, Ellie, wasn't snacking on any of the foliage.  The day was beautiful, fun, and the bread turned out well!  And I hope it was a good learning experience for Katey and refresher course for Dawn.

Tuesday: School, milk run, ballet, Byron almost shot a deer but it ran into the woods.  We ate some killer venison pun; I'll have to post the recipe for the marinade.  Akea came down with a nasty cold.

Wednesday: Byron's break from school began with a mad dash to Other House (almost a two-hour drive) to retrieve Christmas stuff and other stuff and to rake leaves.  Nice chat with our neighbors, Doug and Jenn.  We miss them.  And Lord, all I want for Christmas is a CONTRACT and a CLOSING DATE!!!

Thursday: Thanksgiving at my parents' house.  Very relaxed...we ate, Byron snoozed on the couch, my parents played with the kids, and I worked on some online Christmas gifts.  I think there was a football game on. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for a relaxing time!

Friday: Click here to see what we did on Black Friday!

Saturday: I put up the Christmas tree, retrieved the cat from stalking the new chickens, retrieved the cat from stalking the Christmas tree, Byron spent all day building a movable chicken house, and I used my (no so) mad geometry skills.  That's right, put that architecture degree to work, girl!  But Byron came up with all the really good ideas.  Lots of photos to come!

And today (Sunday):  We'll see, but we really need to work on that "day of rest" thing...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Gets a Whole New Meaning...

Well.  I did some shopping today, sort of.  When I got up, I ordered some Christmas gifts online, including a couple audio CDs from Greathall Productions, a company owned by children's storyteller Jim Weiss.  Check it out if you like classic tales re-told by one of the most talented storytellers of our time.  Anyway, later in the morning we all packed into the car...but we weren't exactly headed to the mall, thank God.

This past summer, Byron and I contacted a farmer in the area who raises pastured poultry, and we somehow ended up as part of a chicken-butchering assembly line.  Said farmer, Jeff Adams of Walnut Hill Farm, called Byron a few days ago to see if we'd like to come help butcher chickens on Black Friday.  Oh, how apropos!  This time, however, he wasn't going to only butcher meat birds (chickens raised only for meat); he also had eighteen "spent" egg-laying hens whose time was up, too.

Egg-laying hens, such as the Barred Rock variety that Jeff has, produce well for about two years, though they can live up to six years.  They're hardy and rather gentle, but when they're too old to lay eggs anymore, farmers have to decide whether they're going to become pets or profits.  Jeff - as would any farmer - chose profits, and graciously offered them to us for $3/bird.  Not per pound, per bird.  And the reason they're less expensive than younger chickens raised for meat is because they're a bit less versatile in the kitchen and have to be slow-cooked in a crock pot (we've heard they're delicious, too).  But that's not why we went; we value the education we get at Walnut Hill Farm, grisly though it is.

On this visit, I took some non-grisly photos of the butchering process, but if you have a weak stomach, you can click here to read my post on how to have a very cheap Disney Princess party.  Or, if you have no cause to throw a Disney Princess party for yourself or anyone else anytime soon, you can click here to see what was hiding under our dining room for almost 150 years.

Still with me?  Great.  This is how pastured poultry is humanely butchered, minus the act itself.

Byron holds a Barred Rock hen before placing her in a "killing cone."  It was truly a Black Friday for 59 chickens: 18 "spent" Barred Rock hens and 41 Rhode Island Red "meat" birds.

The "killing cones."  A chicken is placed in a cone, its head removed (some farmers sever arteries in the neck without removing the head), and then the next bird is loaded. 

Chickens go from the killing cones into the scalder, which is set up on an automatic timer.  This process loosens the feathers.

No more old-fashioned plucking!  Jeff places a chicken from the scalder into the plucker.

The plucker spins as water washes the loosened feathers away.

Seconds later, the chickens look more like something you'd eat!

The eviscerating table, like all the processing equipment, is made of stainless steel.  You can see the chill tank in the background.

Yup, that's me.  I'm the eviscerating girl.  After going through the plucker, the feet, oil gland on the tail, and the "insides" of the chickens have to be removed.  The chicken is then placed in the chill tank.
I should mention here that Jeff's equipment is top-of-the-line stuff that for his scale, is necessary.  He sells his chickens and a variety of other meats at farmers markets and even has a store at his farm that he opens on weekends.  For the small family farm, however, all the equipment isn't really necessary.  When we raise our own chickens for meat, we'll look into building our own small-scale equipment or possibly renting Jeff's for a day.  And of course, I'll post plenty of information on anything we build!

Wait!  Is this a LIVING Barred Rock hen???  Why yes, it is, and it's in our backyard, along with four of its closest friends!  Stay tuned to hear more about our Black Friday...
Update: Want info on Walnut Hill Farm?  If you know me personally, you can leave a comment and I'll e-mail you.  If you're visiting my site, I am thrilled you're here and am working on setting up contact information!  Thanks for being patient!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Got a Blog? Get FREE Holiday Cards from Shutterfly!

Thanks to Varunner at Two Bears Farm and the Three Cubs for giving me a heads up on this one!  Shutterfly is offering 50 free Christmas cards to anyone who blogs about this fantastic offer!  So if you have a blog, consider jumping on this deal and getting a head start on the holiday craziness.  I had planned on just mailing out store-bought cards this time around, but I'm thinking those are going to collect dust for another year.  All you have to pay is shipping and handling, and signing up takes like two minutes.  Interested yet?  Good!  Click here to sign up.

In the past, I've banded together with my three sisters-in-law to make wall calendars for the grandparents through Shutterfly, and we've always been beyond pleased with the product.  This year, they have new desktop calendars, which you can check out here.  And at the moment they're 30% off!  (Attention Grandparents: I know you want one this year, too!)

Anyway, I've always thought about doing photo Christmas cards and am excited that I'll actually be sending some out this year.  Any friends who have been following this blog don't really need a Christmas letter anyway.  As for designs, choosing one will be the hardest part because there are 803 of them!  I like this one for a photo collage.  This card would look great with a single black and white photo, this one would look great with a sepia tone photo to set off the blue, and I love the simplicity of this card.  Choosing from these designs may be the toughest decision I have to make for Christmas purchases this year!

P.S.: These cards are sustainably forested, and I like that!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Green Acres Weekend Update

I really can't remember what we did this week.  I know it was the last week our chapter of Classical Conversations met until January, when we'll be up for another 12 weeks of making our children memorize things like the pronoun order, the associative law in math, and the various leaders of World War II.  To songs, of course.  Or if there is no song, I get to make up things like cheerleading chants to grammar facts, which is okay because I teach all girls, but a little ironic since I'm the anti-cheerleader.  Wait, wait, wait!  I have nothing against cheerleaders; my best friend was a cheerleader!  I'm just so dreadfully not into things like football and doing cartwheels in front of people (mainly because I'm comically horrid at it) that I can't believe I came up with the idea in the first place.  But the girls love it.

Okay, let's see.  Last Sunday, we joined the church we've been attending since moving back to this area, and I went to a caregroup meeting later that week.  We really love the people there because they love God and genuinely care for one another.  Like if I had a new baby next week (which would be physically impossible...bear with me and no, I'm not pregnant), they'd bring meals.  I know several of them have been agreeing with us in prayer that Other House would sell soon.  And almost two years ago, when my dad had to have emergency open-heart surgery, the pastor came to the hospital to pray with and encourage us.  And I think that's pretty cool.

I've also been thinking about this blog, and what I need to be writing about as we head into winter sans garden (for obvious reasons) and sans animals.  One friend suggested I do some product reviews of grain mills and things of that nature that may be of interest to the home cook/baker.  I've touched on this a little bit here, but like the idea of giving it more attention.  I also want to write about the little things we do to conserve water and energy around the house.  For instance, did you know there's such a thing as "phantom electricity?"  That means when you leave something plugged in, it still uses a bit of electricity, even if it's not running.  So we unplug small appliances in the kitchen, specifically, and things like CD players when we're not using them.

To everyone's relief, Byron has stayed away from saws and pear trees this week, but I will be writing about pruning fruit trees in a coming post.

Oh!  I took some fall photos of the kids, and will post those soon.  We do this every year and use them as Christmas gifts for the family because I never did like studio shots very much.  In fact, I have a few ideas for fun, homemade or locally made Christmas gifts.  Update: click here for inexpensive gift ideas!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pumkin Chocolate Chip Cookies Are the Best Cookies Ever!

I don’t know what it is about pumpkin and chocolate. The combination is possibly one of my favorites in all of cookie-dom, that imaginary kingdom that reigns over the holidays. And pumpkin and chocolate are the Romeo and Juliet of ingredients...they love each other irrevocably and after you taste these, you'll understand that they just can't survive without each other.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use applesauce; see my notes)
1 egg
2 cups flour (freshly milled works fine!)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (see notes)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (see notes)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm (see notes). Makes two dozen.

1.I've always used applesauce in this recipe to cut down on fat content, and it works beautifully.  My friend, Jenn, tried making them both ways, and said that when made with oil, they're a bit more crispy, and when made with applesauce, they're more cake-like.
2. I love chocolate, but have never used two cups' worth.  I usually use about a cup.
3. I had more success baking these for 10-12 minutes at 365 degrees.  Odd number, I know, but so far it's worked in two stoves. 
4.  I like to add a pinch of nutmeg and cloves
5.  Since this recipe only makes a measely two dozen, I recommend doubling it.  Or tripling it.  Two dozen last about twenty-four hours around here.
6. You can store these in the fridge, if you wish.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Green Acres Weekend Update

Okay, so I sort of like this weekend update thing.  Again, not sure how consistent I'll be yet (it is Monday morning, after all), and I still am going to write some more detailed posts, but it gives a bit of structure to the blog.  And it's nice to have some structure these days!

The most important event of the week was this:

All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth!

I also spent my evenings mudding the drywall in the parlor instead of folding the four+ loads of laundry I did last Monday.  I actually sort of enjoyed applying the joint compound, but I can honestly say I HATE sanding it down...and I've always had a hard time with detail work, which probably partially accounts for my love of set design because the audience simply can't see any tiny imperfections!  And despite wearing a mask and goggles, the dust somehow still sneaks into your digestive system! 

I applied three coats to the walls, but a seam on the ceiling required four because the old drywall and new didn't match perfectly.  I also found that it's important to apply thin layers as opposed to thick, because the joint compound tends to crack otherwise.  This Youtube video was helpful (I told you I went to Youtube University)!

Aunt Dottie, this is the best picture Byron got of me.  I promise!

We also worked on pruning the pear tree, which hasn't been touched in about twenty years.  I'll do a longer post on this process, but you can see from the photo that the upper portion of the tree (which is about 40' high) still needs some work.  And just imagine the lower part as "hairy" as the rest of it.

I did most of the pruning, and Byron helped me saw off a dead branch that I couldn't reach.  It was braided with two others and a little tricky to remove, as proved by this:
A very handy and very nasty saw!  Byron probably should have gotten a stitch or two on one of the puncture-like wounds, but he likes to be his own doctor.  Did I mention he's a history teacher???
I also squeezed in a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!  Byron and Charlie went down to Other House on Thursday to rake leaves and make sure everything was in order, so I wanted to make a treat for them for sacrificing their day.  Update: the recipe is posted here!
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are The Best Cookies Ever!

And click here for homemade granola!

Homemade Granola

One of the ways we've cut costs recently is to eliminate breakfast cereal.  Instead, I make a big batch of pancakes or muffins that will last anywhere from 2-4 days.  However, sometimes it's nice to have a bowl of something with milk while you're sitting at breakfast.

An easy homemade cereal to make is granola...and it can be varied to your heart's content.  This recipe is adapted from the Hallelujah Acres Cookbook.  Where I've substituted flax seeds, they had called for shredded coconut, which I never have on hand because I don't care for it.  My whole family loves this!

4 cups rolled oats (you can use whole or quick)
1 cup crushed almonds
1/2 cup whole grain flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ or wheat bran
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup honey, molasses or maple syrup (I use honey)
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Combine all dry ingredients, grinding the pumpkin and sunflower seeds to a finer texture beforehand if you wish (I don't).  Mix in the honey and vanilla and stir until the dry ingredients have been moistened.  Some will clump together, which is fine. 

It's easy to recruit help for this one!
Ready to spread onto trays.

Spread evenly on non-stick cookie sheets and bake for 40-60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.  How thinly you spread the granola and the oven itself will both affect baking time.  The granola should be browned slightly when done.  Cool on cookie sheets and store in an airtight container.  It should keep for several days, if it lasts that long!

Spread evenly and bake.  I have to use two racks, placed as close to the center of the oven as possible, to fit all three sheets.  I also rotate the sheets when it's time to stir.

Note: You can also dehydrate this if you have a dehydrator.  In addition, feel free to experiment with ingredients.  The nuts and seeds can be varied to suit your taste or whatever you have on hand.  For instance, pecans or walnuts would be fine substitutes for almonds...or if you're simply short on these, either increase the amount of oats or decrease the amount of honey.  You can also mix in some raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit for a bit more sweetness.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The (Wanna-Be) Farmers Must Be Crazy: Foraging Hay

This past summer the local newspaper did an article on us since they found it somewhat newsworthy that we bought this house and land back into the family and are trying to live more sustainably.  Of course, they wanted some quotes for the article, so they called a couple farmers we know in the area.  We suspected as much, but apparently the talk amongst the old-timers down at the corner store goes something like: "[Byron's] crazy for fooling with the farm now...They don't want  no cow!  They don't want no chickens!"  That's according to Mr. Woodward, a long-time farmer in the area who was friends with the Greens and is excited to see what we're doing here...he's even offered to help us choose a milk cow when the time comes.  I don't think Mr. Woodward thinks we're nuts, but I have a feeling he's been fielding some opinions from others in the area.  So with that reputation in mind, a few weeks ago Byron decided to forage hay.

We actually don't live in a dusty little corner of the county; we're a way back from the road but are still visible to passers-by.  So when Mr. Woodward's grandson cut the field by our house for hay, there were piles of the stuff still out there even after he baled it.  Well, when Byron saw that, he got about as excited about the loose hay as I did about the Autumn Berries.  He chose to make this a pre-dinner family adventure, which of course is right around the time when everyone else in the area is driving home from work.  The four of us were out there conspicuously raking hay into piles, and then Byron got a hold of Melvin's trailer.  Since we don't have the right hitch on our van, we pushed it around by hand to collect the hay.  Then we pushed it all the way back to the barn.  Twice.  I felt like I'd been zapped back to the 1930s.  All we were missing was an emaciated cow on a picket line.

There were waves.  There were honks.  And I bet there was much gossip up at the corner store.  But to Byron's credit, I think we got about one round bale's worth of hay out of it.  And those things aren't cheap.

See those little lumps?  That's the hay we raked.

Byron piled the hay onto a tarp...

...gathered it up...

...and hauled it into the loft.  Did I mention he hates ladders?

Charlie got to catch the tarp, and he promptly buried himself under it.  A father and son tug-of-war ensued.

Byron and his harvest of loose hay.
Behind this mound of hay are the twenty-some neat, easy-to-handle bales that Melvin gave us for helping him.  But I suppose to a cow (and in the end, to us), it's all good.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Green Acres Weekend Update

Though I'm really enjoying using this blog as a creative outlet and as a forum for some dialogue on sustainable living and other topics, I sometimes get overwhelmed with all my post ideas.  When I first started it, I was afraid I wouldn't have enough to write about, and the opposite is true.  For someone who's a social introvert, I can't seem to shut up in writing.

So Byron suggested I do one post that briefly covers some of the goings-on during the week.  I don't know yet if this will be a weekly sort of post since I have problems with consistency and organization in general, but here is the first Green Acres Weekend Update.  And by the way, how do you like the SNL shout-out in the title?  I actually haven't watched the show since the early to mid-1990s, so I'm not sure what triggered the memory.  Party on, Wayne.  Party on, Garth.

I wrote recently about planting our berry rows.  This week Byron got all the cedar posts installed; we're using cedar because several trees on the property had been knocked down before we moved in, and they're rot-resistant.  In fact, we've heard that setting them in concrete can actually promote rot in cedar because the concrete absorbs water and lets it sit there, whereas water will eventually evaporate or drain from the ground.  We have yet to assemble the cross-pieces or wire, but I don't exactly expect the berries to undergo any sort of growth spurt in the coming months.
Byron dug holes over 2 1/2' deep.  Charlie was the self-imposed yardstick.

The old timers around here say that when you take dirt out of a hole, you have to put it all back.  In order to do that, you shovel in a little bit of dirt, then compress it.  Repeat.  Again.  And again.  Etc.

Byron is using a digging bar our friend Melvin gave him to compress the dirt.

This is the blackberry row.  We had some blueberry bushes we transplanted from Other House, so we planted them at the ends of the rows in hopes that they will finally do well here.  We haven't had much luck with blueberries, but we're hoping the more acidic soil here keeps them happy.
Another thing Byron did this week was provide us with venison!  He hasn't hunted in years; in fact, prior to this the last deer he "got" was with our van.  Byron used to be an avid hunter and he's still a great shot.  That being said, we're thankful for this provision.  It's always a little disconcerting to be this close to your food, as I mentioned a while back with our chicken slaughter experience.  And I had the honors of cutting up the meat: tenderloin steaks and ground burger.  We added a couple pounds of bacon to the burger since venison is so lean and will fall apart if you try to cook it in any sort of patty.  Byron read that the rule of thumb is about one pound of bacon to nine pounds of venison, though I think we ended up with a slightly bigger ratio than that.
Is there some sort of unwritten rule that hunters don't smile???
This is so random, but I was excited enough about my little discovery to take a photo: my Kitchenaid Pro handled kneading four loaves' worth of whole wheat bread dough...which is 12 cups of flour!  It didn't overheat!  It didn't chew up the dough and spit it back at me!  Maybe I should write a review on Amazon to show all those HATERS what a Kitchenaid Pro can do!

Happy Kichenaid Pro = happy home baker.
Finally, Byron has almost completed re-installing the heart pine flooring in the parlor!  We will still have to sand it down and Waterlox (a tung oil wood sealer) it since we prefer a natural finish to a dark stain, but it is so nice to say goodbye to at least some of the plywood!  (And yes, I still have to mud the drywall.  Sigh.)

So that's out Green Acres Weekend Update.  Oh, and I'm surviving tin whistle, but only because my sister-in-law, Dawn the Music Doctor, helped me - the Music Moron - out the other week.  She also poked her head into my classroom this week and gave me some pointers as I was attempting to teach six little girls to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in unison.  Sorry, no MP3 downloads available right now.  I know you're disappointed.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk

Recently I decided to start buying milk from a local farm that gets its milk from a small creamery.  The decision was made after I drank a glass of (organic) milk we'd been getting from the grocery store.  Like most milk, it's bottled in plastic, which I could taste when I drank it.  All I could think about was that whatever was leeching into the milk from the plastic was going into my children's bodies.  So even though the milk from the farm is a bit more expensive, I decided to make the switch.

The milk we've been getting is bottled in glass, for which you have to pay a deposit, and I get the non-homogenized milk.  There are several advantages here.  First, the glass is re-used.  Even though we were recycling the plastic jugs, I would think there's less processing involved in just sterilizing a glass bottle versus putting a plastic jug through the entire recycling process.

Second, the milk I get is not homogenized.  That means there's good old fashioned cream on the top, which I scoop out and substitute for oil in baking.  Homogenization began as an attempt to make all milk the SAME for each consumer, but there's more to it than meets the eye...or the gut.  There are studies that show that homogenization can lead to leaky gut syndrome, and though I've been drinking homogenized milk for most of my life, it's always nice to cut out another health risk.

Finally, I'm supporting a local farm.  Granted, they get their milk from a separate creamery, but I'm still putting money directly back into my community and the milk isn't getting shipped from across the country.  And less fuel = happier environment.

All that being said, we seem to be having problems getting this milk into our stomachs.  Last week, the kids spilled entire glasses of milk three times, and I admit, I got frustrated...especially by accident #3.  But this morning beat all.

Byron gets up shortly before I do to get ready for work, and Charlie - the true early bird of the family - usually follows.  By the time I got up this morning, Byron was almost ready to walk out the door.  Then I opened the fridge.

Sometime between then and the time Byron had gotten himself breakfast, an entire, full bottle of milk had burst in the fridge due to mysterious overcooling.  That particular bottle had been placed right next to the cooling vent, which for some reason decided the refrigerator compartment was the freezer.  Milk was splattered on each tray, over the sides, into the drawers, and onto all the food in the fridge, including the venison that was cooling (happily, it was covered).  Byron gently reminded me not to panic before he had to leave, as little blue eyes were watching me. 

During the hour it took me to clean out the fridge and dispose of the shattered glass, I thought a lot about how I react to difficult situations.  Lately, it hasn't been so pretty.  But as there was nothing I could do to reverse the situation, I tried thinking of the bright side (not something that comes naturally to me).  This hadn't happened at night, for one.  The fridge had gotten colder, which is much better than it shutting down completely and all our food spoiling.  And only one bottle had burst, not the other two that had been sitting right next to it.

I'm still not sure what's wrong with the fridge, but I'm at least going to give the coils a good cleaning today to see if that helps (it hasn't shut off at all this morning, despite turning the temperature down).  It may need a new thermostat.  It may be on its way out.  But I'm going to try to remember the good in this relatively little episode of spilt milk.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Berry Rows

This fall we transplanted some raspberry plants from Other House (hey, we still own it, and we left plenty for Mystery Buyer), some black raspberry plants growing wild at my in-laws' place, and some wild blackberry plants from our property here.  All three are very hardy and simple to transplant and ours seem very happy in their new homes.  Our hope is that the cultivated blackberries will be sweeter than they are in the wild, too. We tilled two rows that are about 40' long and about 8' apart (wide enough to cut the grass in between), with the idea that next spring we'll expand them to run all the way to the edge of our property.  We have over 150' feet more to go, on each row, and plan on planting a row of grapes as well.  Yeah, we dream big.  And I guess we're pretty serious about this sustainable living thing.

Byron tilled the rows and we promptly raked in mounds of well-composted horse manure Byron got from a colleague at work.  Note that cow manure is usually the excrement of choice for gardening, since cows have those handy double stomachs that help break down weed seeds, but horse manure composted as well as this stuff was will work, too.

Byron used a rotor tiller to dig the rows while Charlie contemplated the cosmos.

The beginnings of our berry rows.
When transplanting the berries, pick a plant that still has leaves on it; you don't want a spent cane that bore fruit and looks dead.  Dig a circle around the plant, at least a foot around the main cane.  Now, I have to admit that I had a tough time with this one.  Since the blackberries I dug up were in the wild, they were surrounded by weeds and wirery vines that gyred and gimbled in the wabe (forgine me, but every time I work in the soil I think of "Jabberwocky" and I have no idea why), so I had to do my best to get all the small, hairy roots that extended out from the main root.  Berry roots are typically pretty shallow (about 6"), so happily I didn't have to dig too deeply.  Once a plant was dug out I placed it, with as much of the dirt it had been growing in as possible, in a pot.
Transplanted blackberry, before I cut it down.
After digging out the plants, I trimmed the canes down to about 6"-8".  They may not bear fruit next summer, but this will help them grow stronger in the long term.

The transplants will look like sticks when you trim them, but that's normal!  I did this with the raspberries, too.

Not all transplants will have one neat root...this one had three runners!
The blackberries I transplanted about 6' apart; the raspberries and black raspberries, 3'-4'.

To transplant: dig hole.  Place plant & its dirt in hole.  Cover.  Water.
To provide insulation from the impending frost, I mulched around each transplant with pine needles from the woods, leaving a bit of space around the cane.  Byron is also in the process of making a trellising system for them by making posts from fallen cedars (surely as a result of last winter's Snowpacolypse).  He cut posts about 8' tall and dug holes about 2' deep, leaving 6' of the post exposed.  These were placed at either end of the rows, making them about 40' apart.  We'll see how that works; it may be that we need to add another post in between.  He'll also add a cross brace on each post and run wire above the rows to trellis the canes.
The berry rows.