Thursday, June 23, 2016

CSA Week #3

The first delivery of summer! Officially, anyways, as it's felt like summer for a bit. New this week are butterhead lettuce, kale, radishes, mint and snow peas! One of the highlights of the day was new piglets however! Suzy and Elsa farrowed in the morning, before delivery - it was a great day altogether. Now off to pull weeds and enjoy the sunshine!

CSA News Week #3: featuring garlic scape pesto, radish butter, wilted greens with parmesan (great for swiss chard, kale, beet greens and more). 

In the Box: Butterhead and romaine lettuce, kale bunch, apple butter, big bunch garlic scapes, quart snow peas, bunch radishes, green shallots and mint.

The pick up site recipe of the week was Dinosaur Kale Salad!

A third week of lettuce showcases our Pirat butterhead - tender and beautiful.

Mint is a great refreshing herb with beneficial properties for digestion. Throw it in a cucumber salad, a pitcher of water, a mojito or brew a fresh tea. There are many ways to use this herb.

Boxes packed and ready to head out for delivery!

Monday, June 20, 2016

CSA Week #2

CSA Week #2 came and went on Wednesday, June 15th. Strawberries continued to come in strong, while the excessive heat was hard on the lettuce. Garlic scapes are new to the boxes - a delightful spring treat.

Packing up pints of strawberries.
 Week #2 CSA Newsletter 
featuring strawberry tips & tidbits, Tarragon-Shallot Vinaigrette, farm news, crop forecast.

In the Box: Salad Booster Bag (kale, chard, dandelion greens), rhubarb (Half Shares), garlic scapes (curly Qs), strawberries (2 pints for Full Shares), apple butter, green shallots, two heads of romaine lettuce, tarragon.

The field is becoming full and lush! A couple folks came out for the member meeting in May, then again more recently and couldn't believe how much it had changed. It happens fast at this early stretch of the season.

Monday, June 13, 2016

CSA Week #1

Whoops! Getting back into the routine folks, I forgot to post our photos and newsletter from Week #1 of CSA delivery on June 8th. Spring CSA boxes start our smaller and lightly, dominated by spring greens. Strawberries and lettuce are the stars.

In the Box: Salad Booster Bag (kale, chard, dandelion greens), stinging nettles, apple butter, 2 heads heirloom lettuce, 3/4 lb rhubarb, pint strawberries, green shallots, bunch oregano and veggie seasonality and storage guides.

First week boxes usually contain spinach and radishes as well. Spinach is a crop failure this year and radishes are far behind due to rain delay. Plenty of other goodies to enjoy!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Paint the Farm!

We are ever so grateful to our CSA members that came out to the farm over the weekend to help us beautify the farm! Having a crew of fun folks to do the painting with really makes a difference - great progress was made and what is left seems so much more manageable now. Thank you!

Thank you Brady for letting us borrow the paint sprayer - what a difference that makes! Here is Nate, Yvonne & Lee standing in front of the pack shed, which is now 90% painted!!

A view of the pack shed before painting - what a difference!

Pat and Penny tackled the greenhouse, which just looks simply amazing! Thank you ladies and gents for your time and support.

Looks like a whole different building, right?!

The crew even got a little start on the pig barn. We feel very blessed - what an amazing community we have here. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Orchard/Farm Photo Update 4.27.16

Planting began the earliest it ever has this year! On April 17th we began our planting. We have heard the same from our conventional farming neighbors as well. Many annual vegetables, as well as perennials fruits have gone in the ground. That good inch of rain was a day of sun would be great!

New orchard trees.
For the first time we bought in some larger trees for the orchard. These trees will come into productions in a couple years, while we are still waiting for our younger grafted trees to mature. Rejoice apple lovers - we added 12 Honeycrisp, as well as 6 Smokehouse, 7 Pristine, 7 Ashmead's Kernel and 5 Blue Pearmain. A special thank you goes out to our Sponsor-A-Tree members whose investment in our orchard supported this purchase!

Brooke with a bare-root Honeycrisp tree.
Over the last week buds have been swelling at the orchard going from "full pink" and now many are in "full bloom." Two hundred newly grafted apple trees were also planted in a nursery bed for this season. This brings the total number of trees on our home farm close to 400.

Flower buds on an apple tree.
Our new greenhouse has been an amazing asset! Plants have been moving out of the basement into real sunlight and benefiting from that. It is unheated, so the temps varies with the conditions of the day this year there will be a lot of focus on simply learning how the greenhouse behaves and how we utilize that best. Here's a little glimpse into the greenhouse.

Plants growing happy in the greenhouse!
Lettuce was the first item to be transplanted into the field. These are the best looking lettuce plants we have grown. Growing them in soil blocks, instead of open flats, and real sun in the greenhouse have been positive. In the field we have also seeded more lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, kohlrabi, peas and potatoes. When we can get into the (damp) field next the parsnips, radishes and beans will be seeded and onions, leeks, shallots, kale and cabbage will be transplanted

Lettuce transplants headed to the field.
Of course growing in the field already are shallots and garlic, planted in October, as well as our perennials - asparagus, rhubarb and strawberries.

Shallots and garlic.
I have seen kohlrabi and beets germinate and I expect to see the peas pop up any day, as I dug down and found those little green orbs germinating. Soil temps warmed up quicker this year, which should benefit us with faster germination and a greater percentage of the seeds germinating.

Pea seed germinating.
This is the earliest we have ever planted potatoes! Generally our tubers go in the ground May 1st, but what you want is 60° soil temps and we had it. Another key indicator is when the dandelions start blooming well. It was perfect timing to get an inch of rain following planting.

Farmer John planting potatoes.
This week a big round of soil blocking will happen in the indoor greenhouse. I'm heading down toe seed cucumbers, basil and more. We finished blocking up (moving 3/4" soil blocks onto 2" blocks) all of the tomatoes, but the peppers, broccoli, and swiss chard need the TLC now. Perfect for rain days!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sausage Making 101

Earlier this month we made our first sausage!! Our first on farm butcher experience gave us the opportunity to learn this new skill and make our own nitrate-free ground sausage and patties. (This "101" is not necessarily a tutorial on sausage making, but rather our 101 in making it!) In total we put close to 40 pounds of sausage in the freezer.

First, the meat needed to be ground with the right ratio of fat/lard.  Then we used a mixer to blend some of the ground pork with an Italian seasoning, some with a breakfast seasoning and we left some plain (seasonings are listed at the end). We were able to use herbs we dehydrated last summer, as well as some dehydrated onions. A huge thank you to Jason Moody for lending us the great equipment and showing us the ropes.

Ground pork, ready for seasoning.
Some pork was wrapped in full pound, and half pound, portions, the remainder was formed into patties. We used a regular canning ring to shape them. Another thank you goes out to Larry helping! It really was fun to share the experience with friends and family, plus it made relatively short work of the project. Thank you to the boys - John, Jason and Larry - for doing the work with the meat, I was happy to work on the packaging and labeling instead.  ;)

Sausage patties formed with a regular canning ring.
After forming the patties they were frozen on large baking sheets. They needed to be completely frozen before we packaged them in vacuum sealed bags. Patties were packaged in bags of 4 or 6.

Mmmm. So far we have enjoyed some delicious breakfast sausages, pasta with Italian sausage and zuppa tuscana (potato-sausage-kale) soup! It really is such a treat to put so much ground pork in the freezer, we always run out. I think a sausage quiche may be in order this weekend!

Italian Mix

per 2 lbs of meat
•2 tsp parsley
•2 tsp Italian seasoning
•1 T garlic
•1 tsp onion
•1/2 tsp fennel
•1-1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1 tsp red pepper
•2 tsp salt

Breakfast Mix

per 5 lbs of meat
•2 T salt
•1-1/2 tsp sage
•1-1/2 tsp thyme
•1/2 tsp ginger
•3/4 tsp nutmeg
•1/2 tsp white pepper
•1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
•1/2 cup water

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Medicine Cabinet :: Bruises

So, Suzy stepped on my toe the other day - the weight of her front foot felt fully on my pinkie toe. Somehow just one toe. Here it is after a full day and nice rainbow of purple, blue and red.

I thought this would be a great chance to take a peak into our natural medicine cabinet.

350 lb pig - 1, my toe 0
Of course ice is a good call, but the other items in my medicine cabinet I grabbed for include arnica and lavender essential oil.

I always keep on hand a tube of arnica ointment to rub on bruises, bumps and strains. Arnica is also in my homeopathic medicines kit, which I will take internally to aid in healing. Lavender essential oil (EO) is a must have for your EO line up, I will apply it with or without the arnica rub.

Lavender is great for reducing inflammation and speeding up the healing process. (Plus, it smells great.)

Arnica is considered one of the best bruise remedies.

I have also decided to put this comfrey salve on my to-do list for this summer, for use for the humans and animals living here.

Other items you may consider include rosemary EO, aloe and comfrey.