Saturday, December 31, 2011

To A Healthy 2012~

Happy New Year....from Sage Hill Herb Farm....

Let's talk herbs and better health in 2012~


With Gratitude,

Bea Rigsby-Kunz

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sipper For The Season~

A Holiday Special for Non Coffee Takers~

This delicious tea can serve as dessert, or with dessert instead of coffee.

(Hot Spiced Tea Punch)

12 whole cardamom pods, or substitute allspice
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 stick of good cinnamon
4 Tbsp Darjeeling tea leaves
1 bottle of hearty Burgundy (about one quart )
1/4 cup honey
Cinnamon sticks to garnish

Bring to boil in a large saucepan...1 quart plus 1 cup water and the spices
Remove from heat-add tea leaves and stir-cover and steep 5 minutes
Strain tea and return to saucepan

Over low heat, add wine and honey-warm gently-stirring occasionally-5 to 10 minutes
( do not boil )

Pour into a punch bowl or ladle into mugs and garnish

Makes 2 quarts

Enjoy~Tis The Season~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Thursday morning...the 29th day of December-2011...the 6th day of the beautiful Christmas season....A very special song for me is the "Twelve Days Of Christmas,"  some say ( historians-both secular and Theologians ) that the song was a code to allow Christians to communicate their faith during the bitter times between Christians and the Catholic church...there seems to be no real proof...except the timing and the easy understanding of the relationship of the words to the facts of the day.  For me, it really doesn't matter, much of history is based on ones interpretation of the time.

The 6 geese a-laying translated to the "6 days of creation...." a fact among believers.

( the now ) While I didn't see 6 geese a-laying,  I did see 6 geese flying south this early am. I do believe...both in the creation, and in history-without one or both...nothing else comes together in my spirit for me.

So...whatever you believe and practice...may it bring you closer to the real "truth." Ask, and you shall receive...the truth~

Merry Christmas~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Treats And Sweets~

From Bea's Kitchen~

(Cashews and Coconut Chews)

2/3 cups unsweetened coconut
6 ounces pineapple juice
1 Tbsp sesame tahini
2 Tbsp maple syrup ( optional )
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp powdered stevia extract
1/2 cup coarsely ground raw cashews
Scant 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Preheat oven to 350*
Oil a cookie sheet

Soak the coconut in the pineapple juice

Cream together the tahini, syrup, vanilla, and Stevia in a mixing bowl
Stir in the soaked coconut and ground cashews
Mix in the flour

Drop the batter by spoonfuls onto an oiled cookie sheet
Leave the drops dome shaped

Bake for 25 minutes

Cool and enjoy~

Yields 16 cookies about 1 and one half " in size.
117 calories per cookie

Tis The Season~

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 5th Day and All Is Well~

On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me...5 gold rings...

Ahhh...1 pair of earrings and 3 gold bangles...that counts, yes?

Our holiday season is progressing I trust yours is also.

Cold, rain, and some frosty far, no snow :) But, I'm not giving up hope !

The Christmas pumpkin is holding up very well--these are the most amazing pumpkins for keeping long term, beautiful and sturdy.

This recipe I will be using on the New Years menu....

Dill and Potato Cakes~

makes about 10 to 12 cakes

2 cups self rising flour ( unbleached if possible )
3 Tbsp real butter ( organic ) softened
pinch of Sea salt
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill ( or 1 teaspoon dried )
1 cup mashed potatoes-freshly made
2-3 Tbsp milk-(organic)

Preheat the oven to 450*

Stir the flour into a bowl, and add the butter, salt, and dill.
Mix in the mashed potatoes and enough milk to make a soft, pliable dough.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is fairly thin.
Cut into neat rounds with a 3" cutter.

Grease a baking sheet, place cakes on it and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

These are delicious served with most any meal, especially breakfast or brunch.

Enjoy and celebrate each day of Christmas through the 4th of January.

Bea---from the Sage Hill Farms kitchen~

The dill is fresh and so good !

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Season, The Reason, The Gift~

Merry Christmas from the 'Sage Hill Farms' family~

December is the month of many joyful reunions, family and friends who see each other on a daily basis, and those who travel far to make the connection at this special time of year.

There is magic in the air !  The twinkling of the lights seem to say...awake,  go forth, and celebrate.
The falling of frosty snowflakes and cold windy gust...all seems to be a little less harsh during December.
Perhaps it is because we know there is a warm and ready fire awaiting us inside, hot frothy chocolate or simmering cider on the stove.
Or, perhaps it is the spirit that comes to celebrate the most important birthday of the year.....our Lord Jesus Christ.

We hear much about the commercialization of this amazing this I say...tune out the hustle and bustle if it bothers you, but do not allow the  actions of others to discolor your reason for the season.
Gifting is part of the celebration, that which comes from the heart is perfect for this display of love and inclusion.

May you, your family, and all those you include...have the most blessed Christmas ever.

A Recipe to Tempt Your Taste-buds~

( Cranberry and Port Sauce with Lemon Thyme~)

Makes about 1 pint-can easily be doubled

4 Tbsp port
4 Tbsp orange juice
4 oz brown sugar
8 oz fresh cranberries
1 Tbsp finely grated orange rind
1 Tbsp finely chopped lemon thyme

Pour the port and orange juice into a saucepan and add the sugar.
Place over low heat and stir with a metal spoon until the sugar dissolves.

Transfer the mixture to a larger pan, increase the heat a little and add the cranberries.
bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the berries are just tender and the skins begin to burst.

Remove pan from heat and mix in the orange rind and thyme.

Leave to can then pour into jars and seal for later use or for gifts...or place in a container for use on your holiday's delicious on turkey, chicken, duck, or ham...

Enjoy !

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When we think 'pumpkin' what color comes to mind...for most I suspect it is the traditional orange.

All pumpkins start out green, then gradually grow into whatever color they become.

The Australian Blue ( or light grey ) is a smaller and flatter pumpkin , but adds beauty and charm to any collection.

There is a red pumpkin " Rouge D'Etant" and one called Cinderella.

The tan pumpkin is what all commercial processors use. I have cooked a tan  and find it much less stringy than all the others, milder in flavor also.

All pumpkins are the same color fruit inside.
All are packed with vitamin A and potassium and high in fiber.

All the odd shaped fruits such as the Monk's Turbin, Goose neck, and many, many other varieties are not really pumpkins...instead they are either from the squash or gourd family.

( Bea's Pumpkin Pound Cake )
Serves 10/12

1 8oz pkg cream cheese-softened
1/2 cup ( real butter ) softened
2 cups of Raw sugar
4 large eggs
2-1/2 cups pumpkin ( canned will work )
3 cups All-Purpose flour ( unbleached )
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon or nutmeg
1 tsp pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*

Beat cheese and butter at med. speed until creamy
Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy
Add eggs-one at a time -beat just until yellow is blended
Add pumpkin and beat well

Stir together -flour, soda, baking powder cinnamon/nutmeg, and salt
Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture-beating at low speed until blended
Add vanilla

Spoon batter into a greased and floured 10 or 12" Tube pan

Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean

Cool on wire rack for until cake turns lose and comes out easily.

TIP-you can bake in 2 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 " loaf pans if desired

If you want a topping on the cake...Praline is good-

This will add extra sugar/calories to your servings :)

Praline Topping

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup real butter
1 cup powdered sugar-sifted
1 tsp vanilla

Bring sugar, whipping cream and butter to a boil in a 1 quart pan over med heat
Boil-stirring often for one minute
Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla-whisking until smooth

Use immediately..

Happy and blessed Thanksgiving season~

Bea Kunz and the Sage Hill Farms family~

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Certainty Of Uncertainty~

Many who have followed our farm project over the years will recall this tree in other colors. Every year, we get something different. Last year it was a bright golden yellow, other years it has been orange, bright red, and a combination of all those together. This year we have the most awesome burnt red/orange ever, it just keeps getting darker as the days pass. With the sun shining through it...I just had to share.

In fact, all the fall foliage has a lot of red this year.

Today I have had a combination of feelings about Veterans Day...
Joyful and grateful that my son is home and safe.

Anxious for those who are still waiting for their loved one to return...

Sad for those whom we know will not be coming home.

This beautiful place I have the pleasure of calling home, helps to ground me during times of  uncertainty and insecurities. It also reminds me of how quickly everything can change....cherish whatever good is in your life, foster that and make it your  focus .

Fear knocked, Faith answered , no one was there~

To the season~

Monday, November 07, 2011

Share The Joy That Is.....

The Season~

Many people I know combine the Thanksgiving holiday and month of November with the Christmas holiday...nothing wrong with that, it is- after all, the season of giving, counting , and sharing our blessings.

However, I often feel that the 'tree', the lights, sparkle, and gifting over-shadow the reality of  'Thanksgiving.' And if not at your house...good for you, if you think maybe yes...make this month really more about Thanksgiving...real thanks-giving.

This is the holiday we,  at Sage Hill, choose to connect with the earth, the land, and the foods that spring from her bounty to grace our table.

We've moved forward in a mighty way since the first Thanksgiving feast-which was truly about being grateful, for survival, food for a meal, and friendly neighbors to help with both processes.

The saying is " you can't go back " and to a great degree this is so...but, we can remember, reenact, and adopt the basic concept of real  " thanksgiving."

For a stress free holiday...keep it simple-simple foods, simple list of activities, simple our maker and this awesome universe he created for our survival...'thank you'  from the heart covers it all.

Holiday Tip~

To free up kitchen stress and oven space...cook your turkey on the grill, it is wonderful, slow cooked and hassle free ~yummy!

Visit the Sage Hill Farms website for all your herb and spice needs...after all, if you use big box store seasonings on  fresh foods...not a good idea ~

We thank you-and Happy Holiday's~

Bea and the Sage Hill Farms family~and friends :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Death In The Herb Gardens~

Middle Tennessee is experiencing 30's temps at night with heavy frost...alas...the beautiful and delicious Basil...has instantly died...the death was quick and total :) But...all is not lost. I had a couple of pots left from the last plant sale and had combined those into one large potting, so there is a yummy pot of Genovese basil in my basement to get me through the withdrawal period.

Try basil leaves on sandwiches in place of or an addition to lettuce.

When you have the munchies...instead of chips or cookies or as an appetizer's for your guest...your choice of thinly sliced meat...
( I use organic turkey )
a thin layer of pepper jelly and spreadable Goat cheese on the meat-and a couple of basil leaves atop the jelly...roll up and hold with party stickers ( aka-toothpicks ) Talk about good ! ( you'll get a healthy dose of vitamins and protein without the empty calorie count )

And of course, dried basil is a must in your favorite soups, chowders, and red sauce.....and, you are in luck...the perfect place to get it is....

Need through the past months of this blog or the recipe archive on the website.

Happy and deliciously good...fall season.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Old Timey Lavender Cookies

1 1/2 cups real butter, softened

2/3 cup pure cane sugar

1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1/2 cup Arrowroot ( or ) cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt


1.In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, mint and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt; mix into the batter until well blended.

Divide dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to about 1inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1hour.

2.Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F 
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Cookie stamps will work well on these too. Place on cookie sheets.

3.Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
My Favorite Lavender Cookie~
1 tablespoon dried lavender blossoms

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon raw turbinado sugar (you can also use pure cane sugar)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 eggs, beaten (for egg wash)
extra sugar for sprinkling on top

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Set aside.

In a small spice grinder-1 tablespoon lavender and 1 tablespoon sugar. Grind it up! You could also use a mortar and pestle to grind the sugar and lavender together.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment add butter, ground lavender mixture, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Cream on medium speed until slightly more pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. There will still be raw sugar bits floating around. That’s fine. Stop the mixer, add the flour. Mix on low speed until dough comes together. The dough will be crumbly, then begin to form when it continues to mix. Dump dough mixture out onto a clean surface and form into a ball with your hands. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Divide refrigerated dough into quarters. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut cookies, or use a pizza cutter to slice cookies into squares. Use a fork to prick cookies. Brush very lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Refrigerate cookies while oven preheats.

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. When oven is preheated, bake cookies for 8 to 11 minutes, until just browned around the edges. Remove from oven. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies last, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to 4 days.

Tip...when using Lavender , always make certain it has not been sprayed with any chemicals. Dried lavender is much better for culinary use than fresh. The difference being the essential oil content is more potent in fresh, and will sometimes impart a heavier taste than you might want.
Never use more of Lavender than a recipe calls for....with this herb, less is more :)

Happy munching !

Recipe For Autumn Kick-Off~

Grains-Greens-And Salmon

Enough greens for 2 servings ( washed and drained ) turnip, collard, or kale
Enough grains for 2 servings ( grits or quinoe )
1 small sweet onion sliced thin
2 small Salmon fillets-sprinkle with Sage Hill Farms Cajun seasoning and allow to sit for 10 minutes

Cook grains to package instructions and season with Cajun blend
Saute' onion and greens until just tender with a shake of your best white wine
Broil Salmon just until flaky

If not using Sage Hill Farms Cajun blend seasoning...sea salt, freshground black peppercorns, a pinch fresh garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper will do.

Layer greens onto a dinner plate, top with your grain of choice and lay salmon atop the grains...lightly squeeze fresh lemon over the entire dish...

Yummy and your better self will thank you:)

For the Sage Hill Farms Cajun seasoning and other selections please visit our website...we thank you~

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Holiday Menus-A Perfect Time To Tweak~

Have you ever made this statement...I'll change my eating habits after the holiday's.....big boo-boo :)
The perfect time to tweak your diet is now...prior to the onslaught of rich and tempting main course foods, sugar laden desserts, and snacks on every counter.

Now, before you label me a party-pooper-rest easily that begin the 'season' of food with a plan, and stick to it-you will enjoy the feasting just as much and walk into the new year with no extra pounds to haunt you until next October :)

Many make the mistake of depending on the next party or gathering to eat-when we do this we are left with options out of our control to fill our needs.
Make simple and healthy meals at home-eat before you go out...then you can pick and choose from the offerings in a manner that doesn't fill you with unwanted or needed calories and carbs.

Concentrate on the guest, join in on good conversations ( start one ) and through it all...keep a glass of water ( after one glass of your favorite sipping tonic ) in hand...water with lemon, lime, or any fruit/berry that is available is a good choice. This will keep your appetite in check, fill the need for something in your hands, and your body will thank you for the hydration.

Tip...if one does not have the willpower to do this...ask yourself...why..and work on that....if you feel the need to do so.

Happy Holiday Season

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Joyful Moments-in the garden

One of the most joyful ways to enjoy your garden is to simply let it be. Allow some areas to grow within their own boundaries, to spread, mix, and go wild :)

One place I allow this is just outside my drying barn...small beds on each side of the doors are never 'planted'...I use the space to sweep seed and cuttings from the barn floor-whatever germinates and grows is what we enjoy.

This year we have zinnias, parsley, fennel, and a grapevine, all happily living and growing together.

Take your joy where you find it....we often can't control the events or the outcome of a day, week, or year...but we can make or find one joyful moment in each and every day- and embrace it for good.

Have a joyful season~
Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

All your holiday herbs, seasonings, tisanes , and teas are available at the Sage Hill website...fresh dried and flavorful...and as always-chemical free~

Saturday, October 01, 2011

October-A Time To Balance

Balance is about knowing and understanding both sides of any issue. Then finding a line that you can walk without compromising your comfort level.

One of those balancing acts for me is Halloween-as we know it is one of many celebrations that dates back to  pagan practices. I've heard much about the dark side of this holiday-my personal thinking is the dark side of any subject lies within the person/persons who would seek the dark side...and not in the concept of a celebration .

If one does not approve, then one simply does not join the crowd.
This is finding and walking your comfort line.

When I think of witches...I don't think of Halloween, pagan rituals or evil beings...I think of all the innocent lives that were taken during the period of burning witches at the stake....closed minds and pre-formed ideas about any issue can often times lead to unspeakable deeds.

My balance for October is taking the good from the mix of all that was so, to bring us to this place in time.

Do you know...Sage ( probably White sage ) was used in rituals during the pagan times...does this mean I won't be using sage in my holiday  cooking...I think not :)  and I'm growing White sage for a customer in my gardens ( a medicinal variety )

Embrace October, the changing of the seasons, the color, texture, and scents that seem to beckon us into the realm of a time like no other...the Holiday Season~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
here you will find fresh dried sage for your holiday needs, a fabulous special for the season, and hopefully something that will help your balancing act too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Winds Of Change Are Blowing~

The Season Is Changing-Time To Change/Tweak Our Diet~

The longest journey begins with that first short step.

The healthiest table begins with that first realization that “ I” must take the interest and the action to make it so.

Our food sources of today, and actually for the last forty years have been slowly contaminated to the degree that they are basically void of nutrition by the time they reach our dining table . The average meal travels no less than 1500 miles before it reaches a destination. This means it is harvested green, sprayed/treated to slow the process of maturation, sprayed again to keep insects away while in transit, sprayed again when it reaches its destination…to restart a process that allows the ‘color’ to finalize. Remember, the process of nutritional growth is halted at harvesting and does not begin again.

This is one of the best reasons for re-educating ourselves on how we choose what we eat.

Understood-everyone in this country cannot be a farmer or even have a garden…what everyone can do; is look at all the options, either pick from or develop one, and set a new goal, a goal to grow or purchase from a local grower, or from sources that allow you to feel safe in the foods you serve at your table.

Many across the country are turning their lawns into urban gardens. You can grow in over-sized containers, on porches and patio’s, in small hobby greenhouse’s. Gardening makes a wonderful family project while supplying healthy and tasty foods.

One very easy way to healthatize your meals is through the use of herbs.

Fresh or fresh dried…( fresh dried is Not from the local super-market )

Oils, fats, sodium ( salt ) artificial coloring, white sugar, and additives are the biggest culprits in today’s diet, within the seasoning range.

Stevia is a naturally sweet herb that can be used to replace sugar.

TIP: Anything that ends in ‘ose’ is a sugar, and many times one that has been chemically made from a natural source, once it is processed chemically it is no longer a natural product.

The links above will supply you with the information you need to understand the benefits of these products as a substitute to sugar…plus recipes and other interesting stuff.

You will always be able to find resource articles, recipes, and good to know facts on the Sage Hill Farms website also.

I’m a click away if you have questions .

Enjoy the season that is Autumn~

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

From Garden To Dining Room-A Personal Project~

Gardening~A Personal Project

September always has been the time of reinvention, learn something new, and refurbish the old to new...for me. Shuffling the papers, sharpening the pencils, and dragging out the loads of books that hold idea after idea...this is my September.

Of course, most of my ideas and projects revolve around the gardening concept. I have discovered ( long ago actually ) that one idea/interest will always lead me to another.

For instances, I've had a bare dining room wall for years...could not zero in on what would be the perfect display, both for myself and for others to enjoy.

After an interest peaking ah-ha moment in the extremely talented man ( Ray Harm ) the perfect display is now taking shape. ' Botanical' drawings....the intricate thought and energy that had to go into the many forms of this mans work boggles the mind. One silent moment of studying a perfect specimen of the 'coneflower' in my garden led me to research that reminded me of an older interest...the Botanical here I am...a new September, a new ( old ) interest, and a new project.

September is looking an awful lot like ' A Journey.'

Make your September a learning project to share~

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September's Garden Thoughts~

September, fall, autumn...a changing of the season from hot and humid to a comfortable coolness that takes some time for the mind as well as in the body.

September brings stark and vivid color to many trees and shrubs.

If, when planning your garden beds-thinking ahead a bit will allow for careful placement of small trees and shrubs that will grace your landscape with color you can be grateful for. ( as will those who enter )

Black Gum, Sweet Gum, Sassafras, and Sumac are all perfect plants for autumn color.  The gums and sassafras are trees that will eventually be large and spreading-however, they are slow growing and you can prune them to be smaller if least for many years.
They are heat and cold tolerant, not fussy about the soil they are planted in, and will thrive in sunny or part shade locations.

Most Stone Crop plants will deliver awesome color and they are perennial-which means they may die back to a degree in the cold months, but will come back with a mighty show in the spring.

Don't forget the vegetables for adding color to your autumn landscape...pumpkins, gourds, squash, eggplant, artichoke, sunflowers, and garlic chives will brighten up the garden and the dinner table.

Pumpkins are for more than Jack-o-lanterns...more about that in October....

It's hot tea time and Sage Hill Farms has the most delicious blends and tisanes-blended and made just for the discriminating taste.

Visit the website and make your choices while they are fresh from the fields.

Happy September~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz~

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Change Is In The Air-and Other Places~

We are not in our previous zone anymore...climate change--regardless as to the why and how, is a fact that has established itself in the gardening arena all around the world. From milder winters, to longer and hotter summers, more unpredicted weather patterns and a renegade growth pattern that will keep the gardener up at night...all of these have been a steady show for the last few years.

One major change we are seeing is the early maturation of all fruits, vegetables and even herbs, highly productive but a shorter production time.
Sage Hill has kept a careful record of planting times, time span  between planting and beginning of production, length of time between start and final has gradually over a period of three years moved us a full zone from our previous one.

I am strongly seeing the need for more and more alternative ways of growing the foods we love and depend on for good health and survival.

High Tunnels and Green House growing I think will become a much needed and sought after alternative.

We must get serious about alternative methods of watering our gardens...both large and small. Rain barrels for the collection of rain water is a great choice for smaller needs. Larger farms will need to consider drilling wells to take water from deeper in the earth and natural springs over using water from the domestic sources that most use now. ( this is a good option regardless...especially if one is growing without chemicals....using water from the same source as your household needs is releasing a steady dose of chemicals on your gardens each time you water. ( don't overlook the use of a filtration system on the household water supply. )

In a 2009 report titled " Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, the U.S. Global Change Research Program documents changes that have already occurred and provides predictions  for the future. Average temps in the United States have risen more than 2*F in the past 50 years, for example, and are expected to increase an additional 4* to 11* F by 2100.

These changes will effect different parts of the country in different ways. 
Hotter and drier conditions could decrease productive in the Southeast.
Severe storms along with longer droughts could increase the possibility of crop destruction in the Great plains.
But some changes will be an overall, country wide issue--extreme weather happenings. accelerated weed growth, higher and stronger pollen counts.

We are truly living in a time of great change.....the gardens are a much bigger part of that change than many might consider.

I have a sticker on the back window of my Jeep that reads  'No Farms-No Food.'   My prayers are for the ability to adapt to the change in ways that will bring a new and hopefully better era of farming.

Your thoughts are always welcome.

My information in part comes from the Organic Gardening magazine.
A source of must know information ~

Enjoy September...a time of change in most welcomed ways at Sage Hill:)

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Herbal Summer Tips~

Summer can mean too much sun and exposure to itchy things and bug bites :)

A few simple and inexpensive ways to keep your skin in healthy condition and calm the itch of bug bites...when they itch, one tends to scratch...which leads to more itching, more scratching...and eventually infection.
Lemon balm and Lemongrass makes an excellent wash....boil a small pot of water, add a handful of Lemon balm or Lemongrass, turn heat to a very low setting and steep for about 10 minutes...add to a bath or soak a bath cloth and gently wash the skin. You can then add a touch of Tea Tree oil to the areas needing attention. You can do this as often as needed.
Aloe Vera plant is an awesome herb for sunburn or just to cool and treat hot skin and itchy bites....if you don't have a plant invest in a good gel or cream from a natural/organic source.
Big Tip....If you refrain from using chemicals on your lawn and gardens, in a short time you will discover you have no pesky bugs to be concerned about.

Bad bugs thrive in bad soil and plants....with healthy, chemical free lawns/gardens you will have an abundance of good bugs...which eat any bad bugs who come creeping's a win-win~

Wishing you a very safe and bad-bug free summer~
This is the awesome Praying Mantis...a very good bug in the garden.

Please do not kill them.

Posted by BeaK. at 8:46 AM

Monday, July 25, 2011

Collection & Conservation~of Water

It is the time of season when a lot of water is in demand.

Those of us who have small farms or home gardens can and should practice the options given by nature to conserve and use water in the wisest ways possible.

Collecting rain water is one of the most simple methods of water management we have.

The market offers many different styles of rain barrels for this purpose-or, one can simply use large outdoor containers or cisterns to catch and store rainwater.

Place these containers under the downspouts of your buildings and wait for the rain to come :)
You may want to treat the stored water for bacteria and to avoid the breeding of mosquitoes. Keep a screen covering over the containers to keep debris and animals out.

Other ways to keep water usage at a savings level is the soaker -hose or installed irrigation system. ( for larger projects.)

Water in the early morning, never the hottest part of the day ( evaporation will be the highest ) or too late in the day ( your plants will be too damp over night and will be a temptation to pest looking for moisture.)

Each time you water test the soil at least 4 to 6 " deep for moisture-don't water again until the soil is dry at that same depth.

**Never water lightly or sprinkle the tops of your plants/garden-shallow watering encourages the roots to come to the surface for the moisture, causing shallow rooted plants, this will result in breakage and/or pest infestation.**

A 2 to 3 " of organic mulch around the base of your plants, ( not too close to the crown ) will help to retain moisture. ( shields the soil from the sun.

If you have individual plants that are scattered around your yard that needs even watering...such as fruit trees, shrubs, etc., I have found this to be a perfect solution. ( using gallon plastic jugs-punch tiny holes in the bottom, fill with water, set close to the base of the plants...just refill the jugs as needed....really does save water and time.

Happy gardening and respect and control your water is the source of life.

Happy Gardening and a lovely summer~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz

Monday, July 11, 2011

July's Herb~

July's herb/Summer's herb...has to be Basil~

Basil has a long history of use; the herbalist john Parkinson in 1629 said of it, " The ordinary Basil is in a manner wholly spent to make sweete or washing waters among other sweete herbs..." and also "the smell thereof is so excellent that it is fit for a king's house."

Basil is one of those herbs that grows best in the hottest of climates, or in a greenhouse/conservatory. With the first hint of frost it is gone until the next year.

Basil is equally at it's best in the culinary arena or in the medicinal one.

There are many varieties of Basil and each one has it's own special attributes.

Genovese...compact and highly aromatic...used in Italian cooking along with simple dishes such as sliced tomatoes and Mozzarella cheese....

Purple exotically dark with clove like very small and grows well in pots, excellent in salads or teas.

Crispum...has curly leaves with the ability to outgrow all others.

Parts that can be used...leaves and the essential oil from all of the varieties.

Basil essential should not be used during pregnancy without the guidance of your health care person.

Want to know more about this delightful herb...just ask...

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Friday, June 17, 2011

June-June Bugs-June Apples~

The month of June thus far has been filled with out of the norm happenings.  The herb gardens are already trying to bolt and wither...much too early. My vegetable gardens are; some things ahead and some too late, although everything is bearing and seems to be healthy.

We had a swarm of cicada's who came in late may and just beginning to die off. These are flying bugs that are akin to locust, although not damaging to crops as locust are. They do however suck the sap from trees and they make the most annoying sound...a sound that was very hard to escape, even inside the house they could still be heard.

Storms, very destructive ones, too much rain and now too high temps too soon...

Oh...but there are good things in the June gardens...beautiful 'June bugs'...these are a beetle about the size of a large dried bean, with a hard shell back and many, many shades of color, depending on how the light/sun hits them will depend on the color you see. They are not a pest either~

June apples are another 'good thing'....the tree has plenty and they are pretty and right on schedule. We will use them for drying ( snacking ) and for preserves.

Echinacea is abundantly offering up the loveliest of blooms-
Basil is fat and aromatic-
Leeks are filling in on time-
Oregano, thyme and sage more than plentiful.

The White Sage which I've been playing with for a couple of years finally blessed the garden with stable plants:) I'm happy !

Sunflowers are almost ready to bloom-zinnias are in full bloom, as are all the yearly flowering shrubs and plants.

Lots of cutting, drying, and packing on a daily basis....this is life at Sage Hill Farms.

Two lovely visits coming our long time and special friend...Anne Schrock, from Woodstock, Ga., will be here for a day on the 23rd...we are so excited.

Felicia Slattery from Oswego, IL., will be stopping over around the 4th.

We love meeting and sharing our home and gardens with our online friends, it is yet another blessing.

You...have a marvelous June and make it herbal as much as possible.

A delicious way to enjoy green tea this summer.

Pour into ice cube trays with small sprigs of lemon balm in each cube.
Freeze and then add the cubes to other teas or to plain water for a bit of jazz~yummy.

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Happy Fathers Day to all the wonderful men in our lives~You are loved and appreciated~

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Springs Enticing Menu

Thoughts of food and food for thought...spring brings them both to the front and center of our mind...and our table.

My food for thought this spring is "action."  Regardless what areas of our life need attention, until we act, nothing will change.

I don't know many families who are not dealing with major issues of weight, illness, disease, and emotional stressors that leave them exhausted and overwhelmed at the end of the day.

A very real truth is; All of these issues can, and many do, come from foods that we have come to depend on for our daily nutrition.
But, alas....the standard fare in the average supermarket today is far from fact, it is tainted with chemicals, genetically modified ingredients, and high powered artificial sweeteners that keep our systems constantly out of balance and in a state of slow deterioration.

Action and application. Know from whence your food comes and how it is processed. Read and understand labels.
Research your favorite companies to learn how they close attention to what they 'don't ' say.

More and more companies are on board with healthy and safe foods.

If you need or want links to my favorite companies...just ask.
Now...on to one of my favorite ingredients...Gingerroot~

Ginger, when fresh, has a much different taste than the powdered version. This beige, knobby root has a bite, a sweetness and woodsy aroma all its own.
Gingerroot has a tan skin with white to creamy yellow flesh.

When purchasing gingerroot, look for withered skin or softness to the feel...both are indications of 'age.' Firm, unpeeled gingerroot will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Peel only the amount you plan to use, wrap the remainder in foil and place in a storage bag in the bottom crisper of the frig.

Slice the peeled root into 'coin' shapes and mince....ready to toss into your favorite stir-fry.

One of my favorites:

(Stir-Fry Chicken & Cashews)

Chicken broth-12 to 14 oz
1 tsp each; arrowroot and Sesame oil
2 tbsp terriyaki sauce ( optional ) I use molasses instead
4 cloves garlic-minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger-minced ( or to taste )
1 lb organic chicken -cut into strips
4 green onions-chopped
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce

Combine 1/2 cup broth, arrowroot, and terriyaki-set aside
In a large wok ( or skillet ) heat oil over medium/high heat
Add garlic and ginger and and stir fry for 10 seconds
Add chicken and stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes ( just til done )

Push chicken to side of wok-stir sauce and add to center of wok

Cook and stir until thickened
Combine with chicken, add green onions, cashews and hot pepper sauce.

Serve hot over a mixture of green salad greens.


Summer is here...have fun, be safe, and hope you are gardening~


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Feeling Good and Looking Good From The Inside Out~

I've written a lot on the benefits of herbs and natural ingredients and the goodness they supply to our inner being.

As few as 40 years ago, many women looked to plants for much of their skin care regiments.

Those options and ingredients have more recently been incorporated more and more into many mainline products.

All natural ( really natural ) organic and chemical free is always the "best" way to go...but, if and when that is not an option or a choice, one can still find products that are less harmful by considering the ingredients.


Marine Ingredients...Undersea elements such as seaweed and algae are great hydrators, and they are rich in trace elements...very good for the skin. With minerals such as zinc, magnesium, vitamins A,C,and E-all will work to hydrate your outer skin.

Antioxidants...plays the starring role in the anti aging process by inhibiting the free radicals that cause collagen breakdown. Vitamin C, coffee berry, and argan oil are three of the most sought of these 3 ingredients should be at the top or very near the ingredient list to be effective.

Caramides...lipids that are found in the skins surface that function like mortar to hold cells together, prevent water loss and keeping the skin plump and hydrated.

Peptides...these are amino acid chains that penetrate the skin's uppermost layers and have the ability to tell cells to behave in a certain way...produce more collagen for instances.

Calming Agents...last but certainly not the least of the best. These are found in plant products...such as , chamomile, cucumber, and aloe...all have calming agents that reduce inflammation and redness brought on from rosacea or chapped and sensitive skin.

These are agents that should be found in the ingredient label of your foundation, lip gloss, eye care products, etc., as well as the most important part of your skin care routine...which is the cleansing, toning and moisturizing routine.

And don't overlook the is, as we have come to know, truly from the inside out...when we don't nourish our body's need for proper fuel, it will compensate by taking from us...our healthy, bright, plump and beautiful outer skin.

EatWell-BeWell...Look Well~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Thyme In The Garden~

When I made the decision to return to my roots of farming, little did I know about the time factor and how it would change my life. Well, actually I did know, I grew up on a farm, I really did know....I had just become accustomed to doing things on my self imposed schedule inside the world I had made for myself.  That all changed, overnight, literally.

I've learned to do a lot with a little-compared to adjustments one can make in most jobs, 'farming' sets the schedule, the farmer follows .

So, I have been busy, come follow me through the gardens of spring, smell the heady Lavender, pinch the Lemon thyme, and the Heirloom roses are more beautiful than ever before.

Lavender, I think could be called the Gilded has such history, through-out history...from royalty to the trenches of war, lavender has served to please, heal, and entice.

The famous "Bonny Doon" Farms have been growing lavender and producing lavender products for decades, I have learned a lot from reading about the people and the place.

The lavender of Sage Hill Farms is just beginning to reveal itself in bloom.  It will be harvested, dried, and ready for your enjoyment by mark your calendar and treat yourself and a friend to the 'Bliss' that is Lavender~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day-For A Better World~

Earth Day was first celebrated 35 years ago. Much attention is given to this "one" day by many.
My plea is that the many, make the thought and the actions a daily practice. Be the change we wish to see all around us and all across the world. Each activity we put into motion, each action we take, impacts a much broader space than we think about.

Statistics prove that fewer and fewer children spend less and less time outdoors. This would be the one action to take  as an ongoing project that can only bring wonderful rewards. The children are the future, there are many environmental issues to be aware of and involved in that creates learning bases and fuels ideas and actions for the good of that future.

Sage Hill Farms has chosen to plant earth friendly grasses and shrubs that are native to our place of more trees....the reason friendly and native grasses/shrubs/and grass-like plants tend to be the top carbon dioxide users and oxygen producers.

Grasses require little water and they help tremendously in soil erosion and filtering pollutants from rainwater runoff.

Books, video's, games...whatever means is at your disposal...utilize them to  teach children about the benefits and the pay-off of being aware of their earth surroundings, why, it is a good thing .

Parks, playgrounds, hiking areas, and nature reserves...all offer varied ways of education that is fun, healthy, and character building...who doesn't want that for those we love...

Happy and Eventful Earth Day from the Sage Hill Farms family~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chives Everywhere~

Garlic Chives are among the prettiest plants in an herb garden. They bring rich tones of green and the striking difference of a shimmering white head ...compared to the lavender heads on Onion Chives which tend to blend in and become common place in the bed.

Garlic chives can be used for flavor, color, texture, and they are always a medicinal addition to any dish.

The blossom ( head ) can be tossed into salads, baked into Mac/Cheese, yellow squash, mashed potatoes and biscuits- for a special treat at breakfast. Chive biscuits served with scrambled eggs and small chicken tenders-topped with your favorite cream sauce, make a fabulous brunch for 2 or 20.  ( cream sauce is not a choice for eating often, and can substitute yogurt, water/white wine, or skim milk instead of heavy fact my favorite is the water and white wine .

Chive and potato pancakes are to get excited over...
Stir-Fried  Chicken and Pea Pods...
Salmon with Chive  Cream Sauce and Asparagus...

All these recipes will be posted on the Sage Hill Farms website  within the next few days.

TIP: Remember when growing chive, onion or garlic...cut the flower heads prior to them setting seed...otherwise you will have clumps of chive in places you may not want them.

Chive are easy to dig up and seperate the clumps to share with friends and neighbors.

Oh...and they grow beautifully in pots and the flower heads add charm to a tablescape.

Happy gardening~

Bea Rigsby-Kunz

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Garden To with Lavender~

The name Lavender comes from the Latin name "lavare" which means to wash. It was used  extensively by the Romans as a dressing on their wounds during wars.  There is  references to Lavender in the Bible using the name "Spikenard." In fact, there was a reference to Mary Magdalene using Spikenard to wash Jesus' feet .

So, the first record of remedial properties back in A.D. 77, it was considered a cure all for things like menstrual problems, upset stomach, kidney disorders and jaundice.  In the middle ages, Monks and Nuns were known for using the herb to make medicine, in fact, it was found in King Tut's tomb in nineteen twenty two,  it had been sealed for all those centuries and it still smelled like Lavender when the tomb was opened.

Today Lavender is used for quite a few things, just like it was in ancient times.

One difference between ancient times and today is the use of lavender in culinary ways.

Lavender is used in cookies, sorbets, cake decorations, and makes a delicious Lemonade.
I believe the recipe for cookies and the lemonade can be found in the archives of recipes on the Sage Hill Farms website...if not, just ask and I'll find it for you on this blog.

PS: there are a lot of recipes in the previous blog postings here...just search through the different months and you'll find some yummy offerings.

Announcement....Sage Hill Farms will be offering Lavender bundles for sale this year.

Times of availability will be posted on the website

We will keep you posted and with more details as the spring/summer evolves.

Happy Gardening

Bea Rigsby-Kunz

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Herb Garden Basics~

The Basic Herb Garden~

Annuals (bloom one season and die) -- anise, basil, chervil, coriander, dill, summer savory.

Biennials (live two seasons, blooming second season only) -- caraway, parsley

Perennials (overwinter; bloom each season once established) -- chives, fennel, marjoram, mint, tarragon, thyme, winter savory and oregano.

Unless one is growing on a commercial basis, a kitchen garden can supply a home kitchen easily, with plenty to share. An area 20 by 4 feet with individual 12- by 18-inch plots within the area should be adequate for separate herbs. The more colorful and frequently used herbs, such as parsley and purple basil make perfect border plants for the kitchen garden. It is a good idea to keep annual and perennial herbs separate. A diagram of the area and labels for the plants also will help.

Drainage is the most important element in your herb garden. Herbs simply will not grow in soggy soil.

Preparing of the soil prior to planting is a must. Raised bed methods will expand the chances of perfect drainage, building the soil from compost and a good grade of garden soil, plus an addition of peat will clinch the chances of a near trouble free herb garden. When your soil is healthy it means less insect problems and fewer to no weed problems.

Nearly all herbs can be grown from seed, started in small flats in a greenhouse or a warm shelter at least 6 to 8 weeks before planting time in the garden.

A few herbs should be planted directly in the garden as they do not transplant well. Basil and Dill come to mind. Although with some care seed growing of both can be perfected.

Whatever your choices to grow, do your research prior to planting as to each ones special needs.

Once you have good size transplants and very warm weather ( both a must ) Transfer your seedlings from the flats to the garden and do not over-water. Herbs need far less water than other garden plants.

Once a week watering is usually plenty until well into the hottest days of summer.

Once herbs are growing and ready to harvest, pinch the leaves from the bottom up on a regular basis to keep the production up and to keep the plant from bolting. ( flowering ) once this happens the flavor changes and often times brings a bitter taste and renders the plant useless for the cook.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Companions For The Gardens-chickens love gardens.

Sage Hill is adding chickens to our list of spring projects....I'm excited, hubby is groaning...he is not 100% in love with chickens, doesn't eat eggs, and mostly hates the idea of building yet another structure:) That's just life on the farm....he will be just fine once he gets involved !

Anyway...on to the good you know that all domestic chickens can be genetically traced to Gallus Gallus....the red jungle fowl, a bird that still runs wild in Southeast Asia.

Chickens were domesticated over 8,000 years ago and they are the closest living relative to's that for a gene badge !

I've been turned on to "Welsummers" by another Tennessee farm family...

The Welsummer is named after the village of Welsum in Holland although the breed was originally developed in the area along the river Ysel to the north of Deventer, Holland at about the same time as the Barnevelders (1900-1913). The Dutch bred it from the partridge Cochin, partridge Wyandotte and partridge Leghorn, the Barnevelder and Rhode Island Red. It was first imported into this country in 1928 for its large brown egg. The Welsummer is a large, upright, active bird with a broad back, full breast and large full tail. They head has a single comb, medium wattles, almond shaped ear lobes and a strong, short beak. They have yellow legs which fade to pale yellow in summer and reddish bay eyes.


Welsummers lay lovely large eggs and the dark brown pigment can actually be rubbed off as it is added at the end of the egg laying sequence. They do go broody but not usually until late Spring but are not particularly good mothers. Chicks are strong and are easily sexed as females have much darker head and back markings than males. They lay fewer eggs during the winter. They are friendly, easily handled birds which love to free range and forage for food but can also be kept in runs quite happily. They are productive for 3 years of their 9 year lifespan.

Sage Hill does not plan to breed, so no problem with setting hens and baby chicks.

Hens do not need roosters to produce eggs......

I'm looking at other breeds also, maybe a collection of a few different breeds that are compatiable.

Chickens provide fresh eggs which provide good nutrition to our diet, a natural insect guard for the gardens, and a natural fertilize to help process the compost to a richer and healthier growing medium.

What's not to love ???

What's happening in your spring season .....
Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Friday, March 25, 2011

Charm And Romance In The Garden~

Some would say a 'garden is a garden'....but I would say....each garden has its own special signature.  Whether formal or cottage style, there are many touches that can transform the simplest to splendor and the formal to ease and comfort.

Cottage gardens began in England and were more for growing food than for simple pleasure.
As more and more food became available in markets the cottage garden became more ornamental.

My first thought when Cottage gardening comes to mind is "overcrowded." However, overcrowded can be beautiful if a little thought goes into the placement of the bulk of planting.
Fencing and hedges, paths and garden art can define areas of interest, leaving the rest for casual viewing and not so much close-up inspection.

If one is lucky enough to have plants from previous generations of family or friends...this can bring an element of  meaning to be cherished and passed on to other family and friends who garden.

A Memory garden inside a garden is a special way to honor those who have gone from our lives.

Sage Hill Farms is named in memory of my mother....who thought she could not cook anything worthy of eating without Sage. 

Don't forget the critter garden when remembrance spots are planned.....children especially have a hard time adjusting to losing a pet, understanding why baby birds get tossed from their nest and die...butterflies with broken wings that render them helpless....knowing they are in a safe place that can be cared for makes these rough moments a bit easier to accept.

Whatever plans you have for your spring garden...make it you own, name it, treat it with the same love and attention that you expect for yourself....the rewards will be more than you can imagine.

Oh...and don't forget to add herbs anywhere and everywhere. Garlic grows well among and is beneficial to roses. Basil is a lifeline for tomatoes.

Above all else, let your own personality guide you~

Saturday, February 26, 2011

March In The Garden~

February ending until mid March is time in limbo if we are talking gardening, at least in my area...the Southeast.

Some things we can do that will help the transition from waiting to digging are really very important, although they don't compare to what's coming !

Be cautious about cleanup around your plants right now...too much disturbance and you will weaken the protection they need from the last cold spell that is sure to come.

Today I pulled early Vetch from around the base of the greenhouse, got all the potting material set up in the potting shed and greenhouse, and picked up/removed dead branches that were not attached to anything from all the beds.

Put potted plants outside for a day of sun and watering...back in the Gh or basement tonight.

The coming week will find me pruning roses, Crape Myrtle, and Butterfly shrubs...these are hardy to pruning now....remember, when you prune your roses, make the cut an inch or so above a bud nodule, on an angle , facing toward the direction the bud is growing. After you cut the stem, drop a bit of wood glue into the little hole...this keeps water. snow, and insects from getting down into the stem and causing damage.

Remember that butterfly bushes only bloom on new wood, so be sure to cut all the dead branches from last year, they will grow and fill in quickly.

Crepe Myrtle is also one that just needs the dead wood trimmed, kinda depends on how you have allowed them to grow and shape...mine are trees, so not much pruning needed. If you have more shrub shape then a bit more clipping may be in order.

Also...if you are sowing seed to plant out later that can be done now...most things need 6 to 8 weeks to grow before planting out. ( transferring from seedlings to larger pots or the ground.
If you plant now you need a greenhouse or some form of protection with light and heat to help the germination and growth process.

See you in the Potting Shed soon~

Bea Kunz

PS: I have a request if you would kindly allow me...

Go to this link and vote for my niece ( Lindsay ) vote only once and the voting ends on the 1st of March.

Thank you from my heart~

Friday, February 18, 2011

Planting Your Gardens By The Moon Phases~

The concept of planting by the moon is not a new one. It has been practiced since ancient times, dating back to the Babylonian era. Some of this thinking is embedded in astrology. Astrology is a science that believes the moon influences many areas of our lives. In our gardening example, there are some scientific roots. The gravitational pull of the moon influences tides and ocean levels. Water is also pulled upw

ard in the soil by the same gravitational forces. This in turn, brings moisture to newly planted seeds.

~Using the concept of Planting by Phases of the Moon:

Plant above ground crops during the "Waxing" or rising moon. This is a period of increasing light from the new moon to the full moon.

Plant root crops during the "Waning" or declining moon. This is from the full moon to the new moon when the moonlight is declining.

Does It Really Work~

Scientific studies have shown this gardening concept has merit. I am a 4th generation farmer who totally believes and practices the concept.

There are variations of any set practice, so do your research, try it in your own gardening project and decide for yourself.

The link here is the best informational/explanation I have found.
Sage Hill has begun the process of spring layout and planting...let us know if we may help you in your plan. The photo is a garden at Sage Hill...planted in the full moon cycle last year.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms