Tuesday, July 7, 2015

2015 CSA Share 6

2015 CSA Share 6

We have good news: Rosie is pregnant! She is at least 4 months along, with a Jersey-Swedish Red cross on the way! We will be expecting her to calve late fall or in winter, probably after Pippin leaves us. This means that next year we should be able to use to milk to help raise our next years piglets! 

Which brings us to another topic...we have have Pasture-Raised Beef available for this fall! Pippin has been raised almost exclusively on hay and fresh pasture and Jersey milk, (with some grain when we are moving pastures and he is being a Fool of a Took). He has had no antibiotics or medication, and is a Simmental-Jersey cross. They say Jersey is the best beef you will ever taste! Email us at ShireFarmMI@gmail.com if you are interested in a quarter or half cow.

In other news, it is getting close to Chicken Processing Day. Certainly not our favorite day here on the farm, but it is part of the farm life. For those of you that have purchased a Chicken Share, Chicken Processing Day is going to be Saturday, July 25th, pick up will be on-farm that night at 7:00 pm. Mark it on your calendars! 

We will have extra lettuce mix ($1.50/.5 lb), summer squash (2/$1), and cucumbers (2/$1) available at pick-up in Ionia, Tuesday from 6-6:30. 

Large Share Pictured: Two bunches Mustard, 2 bags snap peas, 2 bunches radishes, 4 summer squash, 2 bags lettuce mix, 2 slicing cucumbers, 2 lemon cucumbers, 2 bunches green onions, 2 bunches herbs


Green Onions

New this week are green onions. We prefer these in salad or fried rice, for a dash of onion taste you can't go wrong! 

Snap Peas

Better late than never, we finally have some snap peas! 

Cucumber-Slicer and Lemon

New this week are the first of our lemon cucumbers! Everyone will get to try the slicer cucumbers from the greenhouse and a lemon cucumber. We like to just eat the lemon cucumbers raw, like an apple, but they can be pickled or used in salad or cucumber salad just like any regular cucumber. 


Summer Squash


Lots more summer squash this week! We like to use the large zucchinis for zucchini bread, the large yellow squash for grilling, and the smaller sized squashes sautéed or in spaghetti carbonara. 

Bacon and Summer Squash Spaghetti Carbonara

Lettuce Mix


Our favorite lettuce mix variety from Johnny Seeds, this is a mix of green oak leaf, red oak leaf, green romaine, red romaine, lollo rossa, and red leaf lettuces that always gets rave reviews from our customers.  

Radishes

This week we have more radishes to add some flavor to your salad. For a change, try them thinly sliced on buttered sourdough toast, you won't regret it! 


Mustard Leaves


Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely related Brassica oleracea greens (kalecabbagecollard greens, et cetera), and is frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of "mixed greens", which may include wild greens such as dandelion. As with other greens in soul food cooking, mustard greens are generally flavored by being cooked for a long period with ham hocks or other smoked pork products. Mustard greens are high in vitamin A and vitamin K.


Herbs

For herbs this week we have the first Italian basil from the greenhouse, and some catnip for tea or your kittens.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2015 CSA Share 5

2015 CSA Share 5


Large Share pictured: 2 summer squash, 2 cucumbers, 2 bags of Mizzuna/spinach mix, 2 bags of lettuce mix, 2 heads of lettuce, 2 bunches kale, 2 bunches swiss chard, 2 bunches radishes, 2 bunches herbs.


Cucumber

New this week are the first of our cucumbers! Everyone will get to try the slicer cucumbers from the greenhouse, and by next week we should start seeing lemon cucumbers too! 


Summer Squash



New this week are the first of our summer squash! This year we are trying two varieties called zephyr and dunja. We like to use the large zucchinis for zucchini bread, the large yellow squash for grilling, and the smaller sized squashes sautéed or in spaghetti carbonara. 

Spaghetti Carbonera with Summer Squash


Mizzuna and Spinach Mix


It is getting too hot for our spinach and they are going to seed or failing to germinate, so this will be the last we see until fall. Enjoy this peppery mix by itself or mix with the lettuce mix. 

Lettuce Mix


Our favorite lettuce mix variety from Johnny Seeds, this is a mix of green oak leaf, red oak leaf, green romaine, red romaine, lollo rossa, and red leaf lettuces that always gets rave reviews from our customers.  This week we've also added some mizzuna to it. 

Lettuce Heads

This week we have more lettuce heads, we have butter crunch, black seeded simpson, or romaine to choose from. Small shares get one head, large shares get 2 heads. 


Swiss Chard



Chard is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. The leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade. The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color, the stalk can be red, white, yellow, orange or pink. Chard has highly nutritious leaves.  Fresh young chard like today's are great used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed, their bitterness fading with cooking. Try the swiss chard as a side dish, with this easy Savory Swiss Chard recipe. Our favorite way to enjoy these greens is by tearing the leaves into strips and sauteing them in olive oil and garlic with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. 



Radishes

This week we have more radishes to add some heat to your salad. For a change, try them thinly sliced on buttered sourdough toast, you won't regret it! 


Kale

This week we have the first kale of the season, enjoy these young leaves as kale chips or sautéed in olive oil, garlic and a little cayenne, or add them to a soup, or a frittata, or a quiche, you can't go wrong with kale. 

Kale Chips


Herbs

This week we have greek oregano, italian oregano and catnip.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

2015 CSA Share 4

2015 CSA Share 4


Large Share: 2 bunches Swiss chard, 2 bunches kale, 2 bunches mustard leaves, 2 lettuce heads,
2 bags of lettuce mix, 2 bags of spinach, 2 bunches radishes, 2 bunches herbs. 

Mustard Leaves


New this week is Mustard greens. Brassica juncea is more pungent than the closely related Brassica oleracea greens (kalecabbagecollard greens, et cetera), and is frequently mixed with these milder greens in a dish of "mixed greens", which may include wild greens such as dandelion. As with other greens in soul food cooking, mustard greens are generally flavored by being cooked for a long period with ham hocks or other smoked pork products. Mustard greens are high in vitamin A and vitamin K.


Lettuce Mix


Our favorite lettuce mix variety from Johnny Seeds, this is a mix of green oak leaf, red oak leaf, green romaine, red romaine, lollo rossa, and red leaf lettuces that always gets rave reviews from our customers.  This week we've also added some mizzuna to it. 

Lettuce Heads

This week we have more lettuce heads, we have butter crunch, black seeded simpson, or romaine to choose from. Small shares get one head, large shares get 2 heads. 


Swiss Chard



Chard is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. The leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade. The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color, the stalk can be red, white, yellow, orange or pink. Chard has highly nutritious leaves.  Fresh young chard like today's are great used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed, their bitterness fading with cooking. Try the swiss chard as a side dish, with this easy Savory Swiss Chard recipe. Our favorite way to enjoy these greens is by tearing the leaves into strips and sauteing them in olive oil and garlic with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. 



Spinach


We have some more Spinach leaves for everyone this week, fresh from the greenhouse. Farmer Figgins's favorite dish with spinach is sautéed mushroom and spinach sandwich with feta cheese. We've also been enjoying making spinach artichoke dip with the spinach we grew over the winter. This recipe can be done with the amount of spinach a large share receives, for small shares, we recommend halving the recipe. 


Radishes

This week we have more radishes to add some heat to your salad. For a change, try them thinly sliced on buttered sourdough toast, you won't regret it! 


Kale

This week we have the first kale of the season, enjoy these young leaves as kale chips or sautéed in olive oil, garlic and a little cayenne, or add them to a soup, or a frittata, or a quiche, you can't go wrong with kale. 

Kale Chips


Herbs

This week we have tarragon, greek oregano, italian oregano and garlic chives. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2015 CSA Share 3

2015 CSA Share 3


Large Share Pictured: 2 bags of lettuce mix, 2 bags of spinach, 2 bunches kale, 2 bunches swiss chard, 2 lettuce heads, 8 stalks rhubarb, 2 bunches radishes, tarragon, italian oregano and greek oregano. 


We finally got the long-awaited for rain, buckets and buckets of it over three days. Looks like we have a week of sunshine and summer heat ahead of us though. Hopefully the rain will hold off until this weekend to let our newly cut grass dry for winter hay. In the garden, the weeds are doing well, as are most of the crops, summer squash are starting to just flower, same with the cucumbers and tomatoes in the greenhouse. We have just winter squash, pumpkins and luffa left to plant in the garden, then plenty of weeds to deal with and rocks to haul out. 



We recently had two new additions to the farm: two Suffolk ewes named Simone and Judy!  These will be the breed stock of our future wool/meat flock, we'll be seeing lambs and wool next spring, until then they will earn they keep as water-powered fluffy lawnmowers. This week we have lots of greens for everyone! Spinach, lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and another chance for strawberry rhubarb pie. For the sweetest strawberries around, try the Amish road side farm stand west of Carson City. We will have extra lettuce mix (.5 lb for $2.00), spinach (.5 lb for $3), and radish (bunch for $1.50) available at pickup and the roadside stand. 

Lettuce Mix


Our favorite lettuce mix variety from Johnny Seeds, this is a mix of green oak leaf, red oak leaf, green romaine, red romaine, lollo rossa, and red leaf lettuces that always gets rave reviews from our customers.  This week we've also added some mizzuna to it. 

Rhubarb


This spring favorite can be eaten many different ways.  Our favorite is with lots of sugar and baked into a strawberry rhubarb pie!  There are also many great muffin and scone recipes which you can use rhubarb in. Others will eat the stocks with some salt raw.  If you are feeling really ambitious you can even pickle rhubarb.  


Pickled Rhubarb

Strawberry Rhubarb Turnover Pie
Cinnamon-Rhubarb Muffins

Lettuce Heads

This week we have more lettuce heads, we have butter crunch, black seeded simpson, or romaine to choose from. Small shares get one head, large shares get 2 heads. 


Swiss Chard



Chard is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. The leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade. The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color, the stalk can be red, white, yellow, orange or pink. Chard has highly nutritious leaves.  Fresh young chard like today's are great used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed, their bitterness fading with cooking. Try the swiss chard as a side dish, with this easy Savory Swiss Chard recipe. Our favorite way to enjoy these greens is by tearing the leaves into strips and sauteing them in olive oil and garlic with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. 



Spinach


We have some more beautiful large Spinach leaves for everyone this week, fresh from the greenhouse. Farmer Figgins's favorite dish with spinach is sautéed mushroom and spinach sandwich with feta cheese. We've also been enjoying making spinach artichoke dip with the spinach we grew over the winter. This recipe can be done with the amount of spinach a large share receives, for small shares, we recommend halving the recipe. 


Radishes

This week we have more radishes to add some heat to your salad. For a change, try them thinly sliced on buttered sourdough toast, you won't regret it! 


Kale

This week we have the first kale of the season, enjoy these young leaves as kale chips or sautéed in olive oil, garlic and a little cayenne, or add them to a soup, or a frittata, or a quiche, you can't go wrong with kale. 

Kale Chips


Herbs

This week we have tarragon, greek oregano and italian oregano. Last week we had italian oregano, this week we are giving everyone both, try seeing if you can taste the difference! Greek Oregano is usually hotter and spicier.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 CSA Share 2

2015 CSA Share 2

More greens and roots and herbs this week! The greenhouse is bursting and the greens and roots are just starting to be harvestable size out in the field. Unfortunately, we haven't seen rain in over two weeks here at the farm, so that's put a lot of plant growth out in the field on hold. Here's hoping for rain! 

Large Share: 2 bunches radish, 2 bunches turnips, 2 bunches swiss chard, 4 heads of lettuce,
2 bags of spinach, 2 bags of mixed greens, and 2 herbs bundles of catnip, oregano, and thyme. 


Lettuce Heads

This week we have the first of our lettuce heads, we have butter crunch, black seeded simpson, or romaine to choose from. Small shares get two heads, large shares get 4 heads. We have a few extra we will be bringing to market, they will be going for $1 per head. 


Swiss Chard



Chard is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. The leaf stalks are large and are often prepared separately from the leaf blade. The leaf blade can be green or reddish in color, the stalk can be red, white, yellow, orange or pink. Chard has highly nutritious leaves.  Fresh young chard like today's are great used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked or sautéed, their bitterness fading with cooking. Try the swiss chard as a side dish, with this easy Savory Swiss Chard recipe. Our favorite way to enjoy these greens is by tearing the leaves into strips and sauteing them in olive oil and garlic with some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. 



Spinach


We have some more beautiful large Spinach leaves for everyone this week, fresh from the greenhouse. Farmer Figgins's favorite dish with spinach is sautéed mushroom and spinach sandwich with feta cheese. We've also been enjoying making spinach artichoke dip with the spinach we grew over the winter. This recipe can be done with the amount of spinach a large share receives, for small shares, we recommend halving the recipe. 


Radishes

This week we have more radishes to add some heat to your salad. For a change, try them thinly sliced on buttered sourdough toast, you won't regret it! 


Mixed Greens

This week we have more mixed greens for a spicier salad mix or sandwich addition: Mizzuna, Arugula, mustard and young kale leaves. 


Japanese Turnips


Perfect raw for your salad, or try them roasted or sautéed or pickled. These Japanese turnips have soft flesh and a mild crisp taste! 


Herbs

This week for herbs we have more catnip, oregano and thyme. Catnip can be given to cats, it contains a feline attractant nepetalactone. Bruise the leaf and let the cat sniff and eat the leaf, the cat will start rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and eating it. Consuming it results in drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring, some may growl, some may purr or meow or scratch or bite the hand holding it. The main response lasts from 5-15 minutes. Humans can also use it, drinking a herbal tea. Soak 1/4 cup of fresh leaves in hot water for 5 minutes, then sweeten with honey or sugar. The herb can also be made into a juice, tincture, infusion or poultice. 



Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2015 CSA Share 1


2015 CSA Share 1


It's our first share of the season and we're glad to see the return of salad greens after a long winter going without! We have our favorite lettuce mix from previous years, also a mix of various greens like arugula, mizzuna, tatsoi, and Swiss Chard. We also have some big spinach leaves from the greenhouse, radishes, rhubarb for something sweet, and herbs like catnip, tarragon, and garlic chives. We will have extra lettuce mix and greens mix and eggs available at our farm stand and pickup, see you all there! 


Large Share: 2 bags lettuce mix, 2 bags spinach, 2 bags mixed greens, 8 stalks rhubarb, 2 bunches radishes, 2 bunches of herbs (catnip, tarragon, garlic chives)



Mixed Greens-Tatsoi, Mizzuna, Arugula, Swiss Chard


We have a mix of some of our more unusual greens this year. Young Swiss Chard leaves, mizzuna and arugula, both more peppery leaves. We also tried out some tats this year, included in this greens mix, which is a asian variety of greens, a dark green spoon-shaped leaf, often called spinach mustard. 

Spinach


We have some beautiful Spinach for everyone this week, fresh from the greenhouse. Farmer Figgins's favorite dish with spinach is sautéed mushroom and spinach sandwich with feta cheese. We've also been enjoying making spinach artichoke dip with the spinach we grew over the winter. 


Radishes

This week we have the first of the radishes to add some heat to your salad. For a change, try them thinly sliced on buttered toast, you won't regret it! 



Lettuce Mix


Our favorite lettuce mix variety from Johnny Seeds, this is a mix of green oak leaf, red oak leaf, green romaine, red romain, lollo rossa, and red leaf lettuces that always gets rave reviews from our customers.  

Rhubarb


This spring favorite can be eaten many different ways.  Our favorite is with lots of sugar and baked into a strawberry rhubarb pie!  There are also many great muffin and scone recipes which you can use rhubarb in. Others will eat the stocks with some salt raw.  If you are feeling really ambitious you can even pickle rhubarb.  


Pickled Rhubarb

Strawberry Rhubarb Turnover Pie
Cinnamon-Rhubarb Muffins

Herbs

This week we have three herbs for everyone, catnip, tarragon, and garlic chives. Catnip can be given to cats, it contains a feline attractant nepetalactone. Bruise the leaf and let the cat sniff and eat the leaf, the cat will start rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and eating it. Consuming it results in drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring, some may growl, some may purr or meow or scratch or bite the hand holding it. The main response lasts from 5-15 minutes. Humans can also use it, drinking a herbal tea. Soak 1/4 cup of fresh leaves in hot water for 5 minutes, then sweeten with honey or sugar. The herb can also be made into a juice, tincture, infusion or poultice. 

Tarragon is used best with chicken, fish or egg dishes. Garlic chives can be used in a similar way to chives, scallions or garlic and are used as a stir fry ingredient, they also do well with egg, shrimp and pork. 





Monday, May 11, 2015

Farm Update: Spring 2015




It seemed like winter would never end, but Spring is finally here! With it, we finally have a string of wet, rainy days that gives us a break and some down time to write a Spring update for you all to see what we've been up to!






In the Garden

Farmer Figgins has been busy starting seeds in the greenhouse this Spring. We've started tomatoes, tomatillos, ground cherries, peppers, sunberries, herbs, kale, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, celery, cucumbers, summer squash, melons and watermelons. We've dedicated a bed in the greenhouse to our first cool season planting, with lettuce heads, cut lettuce mixes, arugula, swiss chard, turnips, radishes, and some new greens tatsoi and mizzuna. Soon we'll be transplanting tomato, pepper, and cucumber seedlings into the greenhouse. 

Outside in the garden, we've been busy planting a new perennial area. We've transplanted wild red raspberries and black raspberries and red currant bush from our wooded area, as well as a new berry we're trying called Jostaberry. We will be growing them in permaculture guilds along with onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, kale, and more early season greens and root crops. As soon as the soil dries we'll be adding herbs, strawberry and asparagus plants to this perennial area. 

We've also seeded our second planting of cool season roots and greens. We're glad to say that with this most recent rain we are finally seeing our peas sprouting! We had a string of 70-80 degree days last week that kept the soil dry and the seeds below the soil. Next up for planting will be green beans, cucumbers and summer squash! 

Apple tree in bloom
Elsewhere on the farm, Farmer Figgins has been putting in more perennial plants. We purchased a few new trees from Gurney's, two Mulberry trees, a Pecan tree, and a hardy Almond tree. From the Ionia Conservation District tree sale we picked up a bunch of highbush cranberries and hazelnut trees (super cheap! check them out!). These we've planted to fill in gaps in our hedge by the road, and to start a hedge along the west side of the farm on top of the hill, as well along the steep downhill of our pasture to capture and hold some of the water that runs downhill. We should see our first harvest in 3-5 years! In total this year we've planted around 25 trees and 40 berry bushes! So far, Pippin has only eaten one of them. 


In the orchard, our apple, pear, and cherry trees are all in bloom. Last year a series of heavy rain storms knocked off most of the blossoms, giving us no fruit. We're hopeful the weather will hold this year and we'll see fruit again this summer. There's nothing better than homemade, homegrown apple pie and apple sauce! 





In the Field 



Reunited and it feels so good!


Out in the field, our pastures are now grown over 6" so we've set up our electric fencing for the cows and pigs. The cows are glad to be back on fresh pasture, and are gaining back any lost winter weight quickly. Pippin will likely be with us until the end of this fall, at which point he will be ready for the freezer and the grill! We've set up their pastures to make rotating them quick and easy, if only the deer would stop running into the fences and breaking the wire! We're going to try stringing another wire along the outside of the pastures with CD disks attached to them, to catch the light and alert the deer to the fence. 


We have 7 piglets this year, of Berkshire and old spot breed, from Eden Farm in Greenville. 5/7 are female, the other 2 are male. We're running out of shows/books that have so many female characters, so we've named this batch of piglets after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We'll likely be keeping a female out of this bunch as a sow so we can raise our own piglets in the future. If anyone out there has a Duroc boar or knows of one, please let us know! That would be our preferred breed mix because the Duroc are very winter hardy and don't get sunburns like most other breeds.  



Our woodland pasture area


Right now we have the piglets started in Pippin's winter pasture area. They are rooting and mixing up the soil and the accumulation of 6 months cow manure, straw, and hay. We'll move them off this area in a few weeks to the woods after the morrell season is over, and then we'll reseed the area they kindly turned over for us with pasture seed. Thanks pigs! 





Our new flock of laying hens are laying quite nicely, and our old flock of hens are still quite reliable, giving us over a dozen eggs each day. Not bad for 20 2 1/2 year old chickens! We've moved them into a mobile coop (made from our old livestock trailer). This way we can move their coop around the farm and concentrate their activity. We've had them clean up the hugelkulturs and the berry patch, and now we have them in a compost area, eating the grass and turning the compost for us!

The mobile coop for our old hen's retirement



Our meat chicks are now 3 weeks old, they are feathering out nicely and growing well. We did loose some to the cold weather and snow that occurred on their first day on the farm, thankfully our hatchery sent us free replacements the next week. We're trying a different breed for our meat chicks this year in hopes that we have more healthy growth, and so far we're pleased. They will be going out on pasture in probably a week or two, until then they've been enjoying sampling dandelions and clover in their run-in area. 



New Additions to the Farm

We've had a new addition this year to the farm, a livestock guardian dog! She is only a young puppy now, but we have high hopes that she'll keep deer out of the garden, and varmint out of the compost piles and away from the animals. She is a Great Pyrenees, and likely to grow quite bigger than our guard dog Ender, probably around 120 lbs when she's fully grown! We named her Korra, after the tv show character in Legend of Korra. She's already comfortable and friendly with all of the other animals; she was bred and raised by a CSA member of the farm who keeps farm animals too, so she grew up around them. She is also very friendly with kids and people, and very calm compared to our hyper guard dog Ender. We've been working on training her and mostly trying to stop her digging habit! 



We also had a large batch of kittens in late winter, we have 7 kittens that are a few weeks away from an adoptable age, so if anyone is interested in a kitten for their home or the barn for rodent control, please let us know! They are free, we'd just like to find them a good home.