Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside

It has been a while since I posted about farm happenings. The throes of final CSA harvests, apple harvests, family activities, fall canning and projects took hold and the weeks went by. Here are some tidbits from the last month and an update on what has been going on.

Fall carrots were dug with the last CSA boxes and they were big, beautiful and tasty. We put away carrots and parsnips in our pantry, layered in slightly damp sand, to feed us fresh into winter. It is our second year giving this preserving technique a go - hopefully it will be more successful than last year. Hey, dedicating yourself to local, more healthy eating is a learning curve, right?! We learn new tips and strategies each and every year, and we are still figuring out the best storage situations in our basement.

We packed up the last of the CSA boxes mid-October with a delicious diversity of fall veggies. Finalizing the season is always a bittersweet time. We have enjoyed a different pace and other work in the past few weeks.
Week #18 CSA box.
We wrapped up CSA and then we continued to wrap up the apple season with our late fall varieties - Jonathan, Prairie Spy and Regent. The following two photos are the final harvest of the season - we make the most of our "farm trucks."

We harvested over 3,000 lbs of table apples (first quality) this season. You can more than double that weight with our baking apples (second quality)! The pigs enjoyed the spoils of our final harvest as well!

Field season ended with tillage, final harvests of brassicas (broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts), parsnips and carrots; removal of fencing; and the planting of garlic. Garlic planting was very exciting this year as we planted our own homegrown seed.  This is important, because our garlic will continue to be selected year after year and acclimate to our site, improving our stock, as well as saving us money.

Above: preparing for planting by "popping" the garlic - separating individual cloves from 33 lbs of garlic. Below: garlic and shallot spacing marked with our homemade dibbler, garlic laid out for planting. A nice layer of straw tucked these alliums in for the winter. Strawberries are also mulched over winter.

The end of CSA and our major harvest work gave us time to catch up on a little canning, which we were unable to do during the season this year. Homemade spaghetti sauce with local organic ground beef, foraged morel mushrooms and ARF veggies; apple butter; salsas and apple pie filling topped the list. What did you put up this year?

Attention turned quickly to our handful of important fall projects: winter shelter and pasture for the pigs; greenhouse; insulating the chicken coop. Below you can see the footings being put in for the 12'x16' pig barn, which is being built at the high school by a class.

The fencing was completed as the snow moved in and we spent a couple very cold days finishing it up! I am so very excited about this addition to our farm - it is a very important part of our pasture system. This allows for much improved winter and spring conditions (spring is so sloppy wet), separate farrowing areas and a small paddock that may be closed off if conditions require.

Market has continued at the New Ulm Community Market with the last of our apples and it was a great place to feed the need to connect with our community members :) They are still working on building their membership and furthering progress towards opening their doors full-time; I hear they will be having a Christmas Open House event of some type.

Brooke on apple delivery!
What lies in front of us now? Finalizing the planning details for the greenhouse, looking back at the year and planning for next, fall cleaning (my version of spring cleaning) and inside projects. Tweaking and tinkering for next season. Musing on new ideas. Reading, yes, more reading!

Winter shall bring you more animal photos and some updates on what I do during the "off season." As I do my winter work I am super excited to look out the window from my desk and be able to see the occasional pig on pasture :)

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