Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Photo Review of CSA Shares

2014 CSA Picture Review


Want to see just what our Produce CSA is like? Here is a week by week look at everything our Large Produce Shares received. Our Small Produce shares almost always receive the exact same items, but in half the quantity. Don't think you can handle this much produce? Many of our CSA members can, freeze, or dehydrate throughout the season, that way they can enjoy all this bounty for the entire year, even in the depths of winter. 

Share 1

2 Heads of lettuce, 2 bags of mixed greens, 2 bags of Arugula, 
1 large bunch of Kale, large bunch of Catmint, and 3 stalks of Rhubarb

 Share 2

4 heads of lettuce, 2 bags of lettuce mix, 2 bags of arugula,
large bunch radish and turnips, 2 cucumbers, large bunch lemon basil, 2 bunches of kale, 4 kohlrabi

Share 3 

2 heads of broccoli, 2 heads of lettuce, 4 cucumbers, 4 kohlrabi, 2 bunches of kale, 2 bunches of Swiss chard, 2 bags of lettuce and spinach mix, 2 bags of arugula, italian basil and cilantro. 

 Share 4

2 Kohlrabi, 3 summer squash, 4 cucumbers, 2 broccoli heads, 2 lettuce heads, 2 bags of arugula, 2 bunches kale, large bunch of herbs including parsley, thyme and oregano

 Share 5

2 Large Broccoli heads, 4 small broccoli heads, 6 cucumbers, 8 summer squash, 1 large summer squash, 3.5 lbs of green beans, 1 large bunch turnips, 2 bunches green onions, 2 heads of spinach, 2 heads of lettuce, 2 lbs of green's mix, 2 bunches swiss chard, 2 bunches kale, 2 bunches herbs (catmint, lemon basil, italian basil)
Share 6

1 bunch turnips (full share only), 4 lbs green beans, 4 lemon cucumbers, 2 large zucchini, 8 summer squash, broccoli, snap peas, 2 heads spinach, 2 bunches kale, 2 bunches herbs (Italian basil, lemon basil)
 Share 7


Potatoes, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Cauliflower,  Lemon Cucumbers, Snap Peas, Green Beans, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Kale, Herbs
 Share 8

Onions, Jalapenos, Beets, Eggplant, Swiss Chard, Lettuce Mix, Kohlrabi, Radishes, Arugula, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Lemon Cucumbers, Green Beans, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Kale, Lemon Basil, Parsley, Dill.  

Share 9

Okra, Onion, Broccoli, Cabbage, kale, Green Tomatoes, red tomatoes, Peppers (jalalpeno, ancho, bell), Eggplant, Swiss Chard, Tomatillos, lemon Cucumbers, Green Beans, Summer Squash, parsley, dill, oregano, lemon basil, and Italian basil.

Share 10

Large bundle carrots, ground cherries, large bundle green onions, 2 bags of lettuce mix, 6 spears of okra, broccoli florets, onions, jalapeno, ancho and bell peppers, 4 eggplant, tomatillos, lemon cucumbers, 2 bags of green beans, summer squash, slicing cucumbers, 2 bunches kales, garlic chives, fill, Italian basil, and lemon basil

Share 11

Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Summer Squash, Eggplant, Okra, Peppers (Jalapeno, Ancho, Bell), Ground Cherries, Garden Huckleberries, Kale, Onions, Lemon Basil, Dill, Tarragon, Italian Basil, Parsley
Share 12

Arugula, eggplant, garden huckleberries, okra, kale, melon, onions, peppers, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, catnip, sage, Italian basil, lemon basil.

Share 13

2 acorn squash, 2 delicata squash, 2 bunches of japanese turnips, 2 bunches of kale, 2 bags of ground cherries, 2 bags of garden huckleberries, 6 eggplant, 4 large sunflower heads for sunflower seeds, okra, peppers (ancho, jalapeno, anaheim), tomatillos, Swiss Chard, Tarragon, dill, Italian basil, and lemon basil. 

Share 14


2 watermelon, 2 spaghetti squash, 2 delicata squash, 2 pumpkin pie pumpkins, 2 melons, 2 bunches kale, 2 bags of lettuce mix, 2 bags of arugula, 4 eggplant, 2 kohlrabi, large bundle kale, jalapeno and bell peppers, rosemary, thyme, italian basil, and lemon basil. 
Share 15

2 butternut squash, 2 spaghetti squash, bell peppers, jalapenos, 2 watermelon, 4 eggplant, 2 cayenne, 1 bag of garden huckleberries, 1 bag of ground cherries, 2 bunches kale, 2 bags of greens mix, large bunch green onions, parsley and lemon basil. 
Share 16

2 heads of celery, 2 spaghetti squash, 3 delicata squash, 3 eggplant, 2 cayenne, 2 bunches of kale, beets, carrots, 2 bags of green's mix, 2 bags of arugula, ancho, jalapeno, anaheim, and bell peppers, parsley, Italian basil, and catnip.

Share 17
2 head of celery, 2 bunches of leeks, 2 spaghetti squash, 2 acorn squash, 4 eggplant, 2 bags of ground cherries, 2 bunches of kale, peppers (cayenne, jalapeno, anaheim, bell), 2 kohlrabi, lemon basil, italian basil, and tarragon. 

Share 18
2 Jac-O-Lantern pumpkins, 4 pumpkin pie pumpkins, large bunch of green onions, 2 bunches of kale, 2 bags of green's mix, a large Luffa, large bunch of parsnips, 2 heads of celery, jalapeno and cayenne peppers, eggplant, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.









2014 CSA Share 14

2014 CSA Share 14


More fall favorites and a late summer one this week. We have more squash coming this week; and lots of greens including lettuce, arugula, kale, and kohlrabi.  We also have the long awaited watermelons.  We made a miscalculation and tried just starting these outside this year, but due to the late start to the season in general, they have been behind. They are here now and we brought back the Moon and Stars Watermelon which was our favorite last year.



Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Delicatta Squash, Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin, Watermelon, Eggplant, Green Onions, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce Mix, Arugula, Cantaloupe Melons, Peppers, Kale, and Herbs



Watermelon


NEW THIS WEEK!  Our Watermelon are finally here! We brought back the Moon and Stars watermelon, which has a dark green rind with bright yellow moon and shaped spots on it.  We also have a small standard looking watermelon that is very tasty and perfect for our small shares who don't want to eat watermelon night and day.  




Pie Pumpkin


NEW THIS WEEK! These small pumpkins are ideal for pumpkin pie.  If you'd like to save this for a thanksgiving special, we'd recommend making the pie filling, and then freezing until the big day.  Of course you could always just have a pumpkin pie just because they are delicious!  


 

Spaghetti Squash


NEW THIS WEEK! The Spaghetti Squash is a very unique vegetable, a cross between string cheese and pasta, with a mild flavor.  When you roast the squash in the oven, cut it in half and roast flesh side down for 30-40 minutes at 450 degrees, you can then scrape the squash and it separates into spaghetti like strands of squash.  These can be then eaten with pasta sauce as a delicious meal!



Acorn Squash


These beautiful squashes are as good to eat as they are to use as a fall decoration.  The acorn is a rich squash that is ideal as a side dish along a nice roast chicken as part of a fantastic family dinner.  It can also be used to make a delicious soup.  Or by roasting with maple syrup can be a dessert like dish, which in Farmer Don's book means you get 2 desserts because a vegetable can't count as a dessert.

Acorn Squash Soup




Delicata Squash


The Delicata Squash is a variety of butternut squash.  It is an easily prepared vegetable, no need to peel this squash, with a rich taste that is ideal for Roasting or being caramelized.  The roasted squash recipe below is absolutely delicious and super simple!


Roasted Squash Recipe


 

  Melon


 These are a mix of Cantaloupe, and the small melon with big flavor, the Charentais Melon!  We will have watermelons in the next few weeks so keep looking forward to that! 


 

Kohlrabi


Kohlrabi may be a new vegetable for some of you, but we promise it's one you'll be glad to try! The word Kohlrabi is German for cabbage turnip, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. We usually eat them raw, just peel off the skin and slice them like an apple and sprinkle with a little salt or dip in your favorite dressing and enjoy! They're also great raw on a salad, or roasted, or baked. Popular in Indian food, in dishes like Kohlrabi Curry.


Kohlrabi Curry

Roasted Kohlrabi

Butter-Braised Kohlrabi 


 

Lettuce Mix


This week we have a return of the lettuce mixes!  A combination of  green oakleaf, red oakleaf, green romaine, and red romaine. Enjoy some late fall salads this week, and pray for more sunny days to prolong these fall greens.  




Arugula


Arugula is a pungent, peppery flavored green originating from the Mediterranean. Spice up any salad, sandwich, or pizza with some Arugula! For a pizza topping you can add it just before baking or immediately after. Also eaten raw, coarsely chopped in pasta in Italy. With salad--try it with some mozzarella cheese, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes!


 


Peppers- Jalapeno & Bell


We have Jalapenos and Bell Peppers for everyone this week, as the season gets later we should see some of these peppers start changing colors.  We've heard that it also corresponds to an increase in the heat of the pepper, but not sure if there is any truth to that.  Let us know what you think! 



 

Eggplant


 We have a dark purple variety and a white variety, perfect for ratatouille or eggplant Parmesan. Raw eggplant can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. The flesh is smooth and meaty, capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes and making it a great meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian dishes!



Kale


This green became a favorite for us at the farm Farmer Don certainly came to love it.  There are many great ways to enjoy this super food, which is loaded with vitamins.  You can of course eat it raw, or throw it in a juicer.  We really enjoy throwing it in the cast iron with  butter, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes and sauteing for a few minutes for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips



Fresh Herb Bundle


We've got  bunches of rosemary, thyme, Italian Basil and Lemon Basil this week, enjoy!  

Can't use it all? Here's a simple How-To on drying your own herbs

Monday, January 5, 2015

Winter Farm Update 2014-2015

Winter Farm Update



It's been another unusually mild winter in Michigan, much like the winter we had two years ago. We had a snow storm around Thanksgiving, then it melted and we didn't see snow until New Years! But now we're locked in and in the single digits on the thermometer. 











We were very glad for the mild winter, because it made keeping the pigs longer much easier. The pigs took longer to finish this year, we had 3 males and 1 runty female. Our female, Penny, didn't reach her target weight (250 lbs) until right before Christmas! So we were very glad for the mild winter because it made loading them in the trailer much, much easier on dry ground rather than snow. 






To the left is a picture of our runt Penny, eating breakfast with some of our laying hens. You can see how we fence our hogs, we use plastic step in posts with fi-shock polywire rope and a portable solar energizer. Next year we're planning on having the pigs in the woods more, and we're hoping to find a breed with a shorter snout that doesn't root up the pasture as much. Otherwise it means we have to reseed our pasture every year. 





New this year, we build a run-in shelter! Most of the wood for the siding we got very cheap from an Amish sawmill north of us. We built this with Pippin in mind because even though he's almost a year old, he still can't get enough of his mother's milk! We still have to keep them separated if we want milk from Rosie, so Pippin has his own shelter and about 1/3 of an acre to himself. We milked Rosie this year in the Once-A-Day Milking Style, where you milk once a day and the calf takes care of the other milking. 




This worked wonderfully for us, less work, don't have to be on the farm all the time, and we can get away for a short vacation if we want and Rosie won't stop producing milk. Only one problem. We did it a tad too long. We should have separated them completely and weened him off before he was 9 months old, to help him kick the habit. Instead we kept on with the Once a Day milking and then tried weening him after he was 10 months old. He mooed and bucked and moaned for him mother for a solid week, then quieted down. Farmer Figgins left for a short vacation over the holidays, and we let the cows spend that time together, to see how he'd do, and if he'd drink her milk and keeping her producing while the farmer was away. Turns out, he wasn't done with milk yet. 











In a way it worked out for us, Farmer Figgins was able to take a vacation and Rosie kept producing milk when she got back, but, it means we also have to keep them separated all winter if we want milk for ourselves. Another negative we found to Once-A-Day Milking is that the cow often holds back quite a lot of her cream from us and saves it for the calf, which makes making butter and ice cream much harder. 











In the greenhouse we planted some cool season crops and have been enjoying fresh salads all winter, here it is January 5th and we can still get fresh greens from the greenhouse! We planted arugula, kale, lettuce heads, carrots, spinach, green onions, radishes, kohlrabi, and turnips. The carrots, green onions and kohlrabi are still not harvestable yet, but we've been enjoying the rest for some time now! To give them added protection from cold winter nights we put a row cover of agribon over the crops. 









Meanwhile in the barn, Rosie has a new set up for her stall. Using pallets again, we've built it so that she has a run-in stall from her outside pasture, which is about 1/3 of an acre. 











 We built Rosie a milking stanchion this fall too, Farmer Donnie based it off of a stanchion found online here and we adapted it to work for us. It's been working wonderfully, milking has never been easier! Then again, during the summer Farmer Figgins would milk Rosie in the pasture, not tied up to anything, so most anything is easier than that! 







As you can see, simply lead the cow in, close the boards next to her neck so she can't back up, lock them in place, then start milking! We had her A.I.ed with Swedish Red semen from Northstar Collective last week. We'll see in a few weeks if it took! We were hoping to inseminate her with Dexter semen, but had trouble finding a local source. Luckily, the Swedish Red is a similar dual purpose breed, though not a miniature cow. If it took, she'll be due in September, around when Pippin will be leaving us! We will only be keeping a 1/2 for ourselves, so if your interested in a 1/4 or a 1/2 of grass and milk fed, pasture raised beef, let us know! 





Now some of the older laying hens have been hanging around the barn at milking time to eat any grain Rosie drops. 















Or to steal any milk that the barn cats leave. 















 Last, but not least, we started a new layer flock in October. They are fully feathered out now and taking the cold well. We're trying out some new breeds this go around--Australorp, Buff Orpington, Speckled Sussex, Rhode Island Reds and more Ameraucanas this year! 







We'll be releasing our 2015 CSA information soon, check with us on the blog and facebook! 









Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 CSA Share 18

2014 CSA Share 18


This is our last CSA share for the year for produce and egg shares, we had three frosts the past week that killed off most of the garden. We've had a bountiful year and enjoyed many new crops. Looking back through the shares, we've almost had a new crop in the shares every week! This week we have 3 new crops for everyone, Jack O' Lantern pumpkins, parsnips, and luffa! 


Large Share Pictured: Jac-O-Lantern Pumpkins, Pumpkins pie pumpkins, green onions, kale, green's mix, luffa, eggplant, parsnip, celery, jalapenos, cayenne, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

It's been a rainy and cool but very successful season for us here at The Shire, but all things must come to an end.  Compared to last year, we went 2 extra weeks longer and have had all around larger and more diverse shares this year. We have been very happy with our results and hope you all have been as well.  We certainly had some disappointments, deer repeatedly eating the Swiss Chard, late blight hitting the tomato crop, our fruit trees not setting fruit due to the cold winter and strong storms during blossoming. The cool weather didn't favor melons this year, but was great weather for our greens. Our root crops didn't do that well this year, but as we work to improve the soil--adding compost and organic matter and removing all the rocks--this will improve over the years.  We had great greens for most the year, lots of new fruits and veggies, and better results with our winter squash.  We really enjoyed feeding and sharing recipes with all our CSA members. We'll be sending out an email soon with a questionnaire about your experience this season. 


To our Full Diet Shares, the pigs still need another month or so before they head to the processor. They've been enjoying being raised on pasture and in the woods this year, eating raspberry leaves, red currants, mushrooms, and acorns, but they're not there yet!  


Parsnips


NEW THIS WEEK! This root vegetable is similar to a carrot but they have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. Parsnips can be eaten raw, but more often are cooked. They can be baked, boiled, pureed, roasted, fried, steamed, mashed, used in stews, soups or casseroles. It's long tuberous root is cream-colored skin, and it used to be used as a sweetener before the arrival of cane sugar in Europe.



Luffa


NEW THIS WEEK!  A special request this year, we grew these from donated seed from one of our CSA Members, and had fairly good success in the greenhouse. These are the same luffa that you use in the bath as a body scrub, I bet you didn't realize it's a vegetable though! Loofahs or luffas are made from the dried fruit from the plant, it is also eaten around the world when its green and mature, often fried or in curry. They may require a little more drying time so leave in a well ventilated sunny area that will allow them to dry all the way out before taking it in for bath time. 



Pumpkins-Jack O'Lantern


NEW THIS WEEK! Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins just in time for Halloween carving! 


Pumpkins-Pumpkin Pie Pumpkins


It's that time of year, time for pumpkin pie! Make your pies from scratch this year by following this recipe.

Pumpkin Pie from scratch



Green's Mix


Lettuces, mizuna, baby kale, tatsoi, arugula, and spinach, what a mix of greens for a delicious salad!


Celery


Celery is used around the world for the crisp leaf stalks, though in Europe it is more common to grow it for its bulb. The leaves are strongly flavored and can be used as a flavoring in soups and stews or as a dried herb. Celery can be stored for up to seven weeks in the fridge. Celery, onions, and bell peppers are considered the holy trinity of Cajun cuisine, or, try celery, onions, and carrots for the base of a great soup! 




Green Onions


More green onions this week, goes well in everything from a salad, an Italian dish, Mexican, or a stir-fry. 




Peppers- Jalapeno, Cayenne


Lots of peppers this week! This week we havlots of jalapenos for more jalapeno poppers, and lots of cayenne.  Tie these up in bunches and hang in a dry area of the house, we use the pantry, and let them dry.  Once they've dried out go ahead and throw in a food processor or use a mortar and pestle to create cayenne powder. or red pepper flakes.

 Jalapeno Poppers

Eggplant


We have a dark purple variety and a white variety, perfect for ratatouille or eggplant Parmesan. Raw eggplant can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. The flesh is smooth and meaty, capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes and making it a great meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian dishes!



Kale


This green became a favorite for us at the farm Farmer Don certainly came to love it.  There are many great ways to enjoy this super food, which is loaded with vitamins.  You can of course eat it raw, or throw it in a juicer.  We really enjoy throwing it in the cast iron with  butter, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes and sauteing for a few minutes for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips

Fresh Herb Bundle

We've got  bunches of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme this week, enjoy!  We finally got to have an herb bundle that matches the Simon and Garfunkel song! 

Can't use it all? Here's a simple How-To on drying your own herbs

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 CSA Share 17

2014 CSA Share 17


We've had two light frosts on the farm this week; the leaves are turning colors, falling and blowing about as fall asserts its presence. For now the garden is still going, there is still lettuce, arugula, celery, pumpkins, eggplant, peppers, carrots, parsnips, green onions, and ground cherries to be had, but this week we're seeing the last of the acorn and spaghetti squash. Cure these in a sunny window to preserve them for enjoying in the winter. We also had a barn cat give birth to a litter of 7 kittens earlier this week. We won't be needing that many mousers, so please let us know if you are interested in adopting a kitten! 

Full Share Pictured: Leeks, Celery, Acorn Squash, spaghetti squash, ground cherries,
kale, bell peppers, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, kohlrabi, Anaheim peppers, lemon basil, italian basil, tarragon. 
Our new barn kittens are keeping warm in a fort of hay in the barn.
Let us know if you're interested in adopting one! 

Leeks


NEW THIS WEEK! Leeks are in the same family as onions and garlic, they have a mild onion-like taste. The white base of the leaves and light green parts are the best edible parts, however the dark green portions can be sauteed or added to stock. It's popular for adding flavor to stock, but it is also enjoyed boiled, fried or eaten raw. Try some delicious potato leek soup this week!


Kohlrabi


The word Kohlrabi is German for cabbage turnip, and it can be eaten raw or cooked. We usually eat them raw, just peel off the skin and slice them like an apple and sprinkle with a little salt or dip in your favorite dressing and enjoy! They're also great raw on a salad, or roasted, or baked.

Celery


Celery is used around the world for the crisp leaf stalks, though in Europe it is more common to grow it for its bulb. The leaves are strongly flavored and can be used as a flavoring in soups and stews or as a dried herb. Celery can be stored for up to seven weeks in the fridge. Celery, onions, and bell peppers are considered the holy trinity of Cajun cuisine, or, try celery, onions, and carrots for the base of a great soup! 

Ground Cherries


This has been a surprisingly popular crop.  This interesting garden specialty is from the tomato family, and luckily has so far been unaffected by the blight.  These small paper covered fruits have a super sweetened tomato flavor, which is closer to a strawberry and has the smell of cantaloupe.  They are fantastic added to vanilla ice cream.  

Ground Cherry Pie

Ground Cherry Jam


Acorn Squash


These beautiful squashes are as good to eat as they are to use as a fall decoration.  The acorn is a rich squash that is ideal as a side dish along a nice roast chicken as part of a fantastic family dinner.  It can also be used to make a delicious soup.  Or by roasting with maple syrup, butter, or brown sugar can be a dessert-like dish, which in Farmer Don's book means you get 2 desserts because a vegetable can't count as a dessert. This is the last of the acorn squash for the year, so enjoy!

Baked Acorn Squash

Spaghetti Squash


 The Spaghetti Squash is a very unique vegetable, a cross between string cheese and pasta, with a mild flavor.  When you roast the squash in the oven, cut it in half and roast flesh side down for 30-40 minutes at 450 degrees, you can then scrape the squash flesh with a fork and it separates into spaghetti like strands of squash.  These can be then eaten with pasta sauce as a delicious meal! This is the last of the spaghetti squash for the year, so we recommend preserving them for the winter by curing them! 

How to cure squash for storage


Peppers-Bell, Jalapeno, Cayenne, Ancho and Anaheim


Lots of peppers this week! This week we have bell peppers, lots of jalapenos for more jalapeno poppers, cayenne, and some large stuffing peppers (ancho and anaheim). For those of you who don't like hot peppers, we definitely recommend these. Try making Chile Rellenos, you grill the pepper, let it "sweat" out its heat in a plastic bag, then peel off the skin. This makes the peppers much much less hot and delicious when filled with cheese and fried! 

Chile Rellenos


Eggplant


We have a dark purple variety and a white variety, perfect for ratatouille or eggplant Parmesan. Raw eggplant can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. The flesh is smooth and meaty, capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes and making it a great meat substitute for vegan and vegetarian dishes!


Kale


This green became a favorite for us at the farm Farmer Don certainly came to love it.  There are many great ways to enjoy this super food, which is loaded with vitamins.  You can of course eat it raw, or throw it in a juicer.  We really enjoy throwing it in the cast iron with  butter, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes and sauteing for a few minutes for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips

Fresh Herb Bundle

We've got  bunches of Italian Basil, Lemon Basil and tarragon this week, enjoy!  

Can't use it all? Here's a simple How-To on drying your own herbs