Friday, July 18, 2014

CSA Week 5

2014 CSA Share 5


You wouldn't know it from the weather but it is the heart of summer, and were coming in to more of our summer crops in week 5.  Farmer Figgins is almost through her first weeding of the garden and things are looking great for the next few shares. This week we have green beans making their first appearance, and summer squash beginning to ripen in bulk.  We also are seeing some crops come back including our cut lettuce mix, and green onions.  The crops eaten by the deer and then reseeded are finally harvestable, so enjoy those spinach heads and bunches of swiss chard! Some tomatoes are starting to ripen in the greenhouse so they will begin appearing in shares soon.    Unfortunately some of the first planting of spring crops are waning so we may see a lull in some crops such as Kohlrabi, arugula, and lettuce heads, until the next planting catches up.

Full Share: 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)





Green Beans



New this week!  We have the first harvest of the Green Beans.  We are growing a mix of varieties this year so you will be seeing a mix of Green, Purple, and Yellow Green Beans throughout the season.  This summertime favorite is loved by almost everyone. Raw they are very tasty but there are all sorts of ways to prepare this veggie.  Last night we fried them up in a little butter with pepper and garlic.  Steam them, bake them, bread and fry them.   You can also pickle these along with a few cucumbers!    
 

 

  Turnips


This week we have something unusual for you all--Hakurei Turnips! Hakurei Turnips are not your run-of-the-mill average turnip. These turnips are great raw – sweet and mild, or cooked lightly in stir-fries and soups. They are not spicy and bitter like the standard purple top turnips. In fact, Kids love Hakurei Turnips raw on a salad plate! The greens are also very much edible, just wash, chop and steam or stir fry. In Japan they are often pickled, you can make a quick pickle by adding a teaspoon of vinegar (rice or white wine) and several pinches of salt to a bowl of sliced turnips.


 Green Onions


  Back this week are more green onions. Dice and enjoy with a salad or stir fry!  You can also add these tasty onions to a salsa. 

 

Summer Squash


Another summer favorite that is easy to use in a lot of different recipes.  We will have a mix of Zucchini,an heirloom variety,  costata romanesco zucchini and Yellow Crook Neck squash for everyone this week.  These will be a little small for zucchini bread, but are great to add to any saute or stir fry.  You can also grill them, bake them or if you're feeling a little crazy eat them raw. 


Spaghetti Carbonera with Summer Squash

 

Cucumbers


We have more cucumbers this week! This is a slicing variety called "Excelsior" specifically bred for greenhouse growing.  Hopefully the lemon cucumbers will be coming soon, and pickling cucumbers are unfortunately a bit behind where we wanted them to be.  The variety this week is perfect for a cool cucumber salad. 


Broccoli 

More Broccoli this week. Enough for full shares to have 2 large heads and 4 small side heads.  This veggie can be used so many ways it almost seems silly to try and give suggestions for use.  You can eat it raw in a salad, put it in a quiche, cook it in a stir-fry, throw it in a soup, steam it and have it as a side to any meal.  Let us know your favorite way to eat this super nutritious green!


Lettuce Heads


This week the heads ready are a mix of green oakleaf, bibb lettuce, and green romaine. These can form the heart of a great salad along with the other mix of veggies this week.  We have several different varieties of lettuce growing on the farm so keep your eyes open for the different heads that will make their way to you throughout the year.  We have put some extra planning into planting our lettuces this year so that we can extend the greens through more of the summer so everyone should have lots of opportunities to enjoy lettuce in their salads.



Salad Mix


This week we have a mega-green mix and lots of it! Enjoy this combination of the farm's greens--our two salad mixes including mustard, mizuna, tatsoi, kale, arugula, spinach, green oakleaf, read oakleaf, green romaine, and red romaine. Half Shares get a full pound of greens and full shares get 2 pounds! We probably won't have lettuce for another two weeks, so enjoy!
 

Kale


This green became a favorite for us at the farm Farmer Don certainly came to love it, despite thinking it was a food fad originally. There are many great ways to enjoy this super food, which is loaded with vitamins.  You can of course you can 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


Swiss Chard



Enjoy these multicolored Swiss Chard leaves this week! Swiss Chard is high in minerals and fiber, and looks a bit like a giant beet leaf.  Swiss chard with red ribs is often a little sweeter, with less bitter undertone than Swiss chard with white ribs. All the varieties of chard can be prepared the same way, but they can have a different flavor. Some people prefer the ribs, some prefer the leaves, so experiment and enjoy this summer! Try some of these easy recipes to start out.

5 Ways to Prepare and Cook Swiss Chard


Spinach

 

Popeye's favorite.  This week everyone is getting a head of spinach.  This is one of the so called super-foods because it is so filled with vitamins and minerals that are good for us.  This is also a favorite of juicers.  Along with Kale, Swiss Chard and some fruit you can make a very healthy delicious smoothie.  We love to add it fresh to any salad, or sandwich.  It's also great sauteed.  One of Farmer Figgins' favorite sandwiches is sauteed spinach and mushrooms with feta cheese on sourdough, yum! If you're feeling adventurous feel free to add it to a pizza!   



Fresh Herb Bundle

 

 


We've got  bunches of Catmint,  Genovese Basil, and lemon basil this week, enjoy!  

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

Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 CSA Share 4

2014 CSA Share 4


It's week four of this years CSA and things in the garden have been going well.   As some of you may have heard it's been a rough couple weeks outside of the garden though.  Farmer Don had a motorcycle accident, a deer jumped in front of the bike, and broke his leg.  Now the farm truck, Roland, has broken down, and we're waiting to get the diagnosis from the auto shop.  Not to be deterred, we are still planing on regular delivery of shares this Friday and on farm pick up on Saturday.


Large Share: 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


 

Summer Squash



New this week! Another summer favorite that is easy to use in a lot of different recipes.  We will have a mix of Zucchini, heirloom costata romanesco zucchini and Yellow Crook Neck squash for everyone this week.  These will be a little small for zucchini bread, but are great to add to any saute or stir fry.  You can also grill them, bake them or if you're feeling a little crazy eat them raw. 


Spaghetti Carbonera with Summer Squash



 

 

Broccoli



More Broccoli this week.  This is one of our favorite veggies here on the farm, and very happy to see it included again in this weeks share.  This veggie can be used so many ways it almost seems silly to try and give suggestions for use.  You can eat it raw in a salad, cook it in a stir-fry, throw it in a soup, steam it and have it as a side to any meal.  Let us know your favorite way to eat this super nutritious green!




Cucumbers


We have more cucumbers this week! This is a slicing variety called "Excelsior" specifically bred for greenhouse growing.  Despite this fact, they seem to take a lot of water to grow. Farmer Figgins waters the greenhouse daily, and has noticed that some will have areas inside the fruit that the flesh hasn't developed fully in leaving small holes.  This doesn't effect the edibility of the fruit but has lead Farmer Figgins to declare that we will be using a different variety next year.  



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. A few shareholders have tried frying it in butter with onions, and loved it that way. As one share holder said this week "you can make them a different way every time and every time it's like a different food that is delicious!" This is the last kohlrabi of this planting, but we'll be seeing more later this year!


Roasted Kohlrabi

Butter-Braised Kohlrabi 



Lettuce Heads


Half shares will be receiving one head of lettuce this week, Full Shares will be getting two. This week the heads ready are a mix of green oakleaf, bibb lettuce, and green romaine. These can form the heart of a great salad along with the other mix of veggies this week.  We have several different varieties of lettuce growing on the farm so keep your eyes open for the different heads that will make their way to you throughout the year.  We have put some extra planning into planting our lettuces this year so that we can extend the greens through more of the summer so everyone should have lots of opportunities to enjoy lettuce in their salads.


Our Lettuce mix needed another week to regrow, but fear not, we'll be seeing more delicious lettuce mix again! 


Kale


This green became a favorite for a lot of us last year, 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, for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips




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! 





Fresh Herb Bundle


We've got  bunches of Parsley, Oregano and Thyme this week, enjoy!  

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

2014 CSA Share 3

2014 CSA Share 3


Happy 4th of July Shareholders!  We have lots of goodies for your weekend plans this week.  Also those Full Diet Shareholders will be receiving their batch of Chickens on Sunday night or Monday by arrangement.  





Broccolli



New this week!  This is one of our favorite veggies here on the farm, and one we had a lot of disappointment with last year.  So were very happy to see it included in this weeks share.  This veggie can be used so many ways it almost seems silly to try and give suggestions for use.  You can eat it raw in a salad, cook it in a stir-fry, throw it in a soup, steam it and have it as a side to any meal.  Let us know your favorite way to eat this super nutritious green!

Green Onions


New also this week are the first of the green onions. Dice and enjoy with a salad or stir fry! 
 

Cucumbers


We have more cucumbers this week! This is a slicing variety called "Excelsior" specifically bred for greenhouse growing, enjoy the first cool cucumbers of the year!



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 Heads


Half shares will be receiving one head of lettuce this week, Full Shares will be getting two. This week the heads ready are a mix of green oakleaf, bibb lettuce, and green romaine. These can form the heart of a great salad along with the other mix of veggies this week.  We have several different varieties of lettuce growing on the farm so keep your eyes open for the different heads that will make their way to you throughout the year.  We have put some extra planning into planting our lettuces this year so that we can extend the greens through more of the summer so everyone should have lots of opportunities to enjoy lettuce in their salads.



Kale


This green became a favorite for a lot of us last year, 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, for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips



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! 


Lettuce and Spinach Mix


This week we have a mega-green mix, a combination of our two salad mixes including mustard, mizuna, tatsoi, kale, arugula, green oakleaf, read oakleaf, green romaine, and red romaine. Enjoy! 

Swiss Chard



Enjoy these multicolored Swiss Chard leaves this week! Swiss Chard is high in minerals and fiber, and looks a bit like a giant beet leaf.  Swiss chard with red ribs is often a little sweeter, with less bitter undertone than Swiss chard with white ribs. All the varieties of chard can be prepared the same way, but they can have a different flavor. Some people prefer the ribs, some prefer the leaves, so experiment and enjoy this summer! Try some of these easy recipes to start out, we've got more coming that we seeded after the deer ate half the crop.

5 Ways to Prepare and Cook Swiss Chard
 

Fresh Herb Bundle


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

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 CSA Share 2

2014 CSA Share 2


Full Share pictured: 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

Cucumbers


New this week, the first of our cucumbers from the greenhouse! This is a slicing variety called "Excelsior" specifically bred for greenhouse growing, enjoy the first cool cucumber of the year!


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 Heads


Half shares will be receiving two of lettuce this week, Full Shares will be getting four. This week the heads ready are green oakleaf, bibb lettuce, and green romaine. These can form the heart of a great salad along with the other mix of veggies this week.  We have several different varieties of lettuce growing on the farm so keep your eyes open for the different heads that will make their way to you throughout the year.  We have put some extra planning into planting our lettuces this year so that we can extend the greens through more of the summer so everyone should have lots of opportunities to enjoy lettuce in their salads.


Kale


This green became a favorite for a lot of us last year, 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, for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips


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! 


Turnips


This week we have something unusual for you all--Hakurei Turnips! Hakurei Turnips are not your run-of-the-mill average turnip. These turnips are great raw – sweet and mild, or cooked lightly in stir-fries and soups. They are not spicy and bitter like the standard purple top turnips. In fact, Kids love Hakurei Turnips raw on a salad plate! The greens are also very much edible, just wash, chop and steam or stir fry. In Japan they are often pickled, you can make a quick pickle by adding a teaspoon of vinegar (rice or white wine) and several pinches of salt to a bowl of sliced turnips.

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! 

Lettuce Mix


This week we have a mega-green mix, a combination of our two salad mixes including mustard, mizuna, tatsoi, kale, arugula, green oakleaf, read oakleaf, green romaine, and red romaine. Enjoy! 

Lemon Basil


We've got more and larger bunches or Lemon Basil this week. Lemon Basil is a basil variety from northeastern Africa and southern Asia. It goes really well with seafood dishes, but also with pasta and chicken dishes. Finely chop this basil and add it to some shredded or julienne vegetables and pasta, topping it with olive oil for a fresh and healthy meal.

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Farm Update 6/24/14

Lots of tomato blossoms in the greenhouse!





Summer Farm Update 6/26/14 











In the Greenhouse...



Half of the greenhouse is all but empty of seed flats and plants to go out to the field, while in the other half the plants have taken off! The cucumbers and tomatoes are being trained up a single string up to the roof of the greenhouse, and are now about waist high. The cucumber's are full of fruit and flowers, and our shareholder's will be seeing the first slicing cucumbers in their shares this week! The peppers and eggplant have been growing well, though, as usual, the eggplant has been the target of multiple insect species' hunger. The tomatoes are full of flowers and are setting fruit, can't wait to see how soon we'll be enjoying fresh tomatoes again! 



In the Garden...






It's been a rainy spring here Michigan. Luckily we're not seeing the 100-year flood level of rain we saw last year and that many other places are experiencing around the country, but we've been getting our fair share. We finally got the pasture cut yesterday, it was at chin height, the alfalfa in full bloom. You need about three days without rain for the grass to dry before it can be bailed without ruining the hay with mold. While the rain was holding back the hay-cutting until now , the garden has been soaking it in and loving it. We're fortunate that our farm has excellent drainage. It used to be a gravel pit after all. We've got sandy soil and we basically live on the side of rolling hills, so we don't have any problems with standing water. In the garden the crops and weeds have been flourishing with the balmy 70+ degrees and everyday rain showers. It's been too wet to plant the last of the cool season plantings, so we've been catching up on the weeding.



There's always plenty of that to do! The weeding has been going quite well this year. We changed up the garden design so all the crops are in long straight rows, one after another. We also planned for enough space between the rows for our Mantis garden tiller to take care of weeds growing in the isles. Last year we tried more to maximize our space with square foot gardening in wider beds, but it made weeding a bigger chore. 

As for planting, we've kept mostly on schedule until this rain has pushed back our last summer cool season planting. This is going to go in a nice partly shaded area nearest to the hedgerow. We're excited for this section of the garden, where the soil is nice and dark from years of composting leaves from the trees on the hedgerow. It gets hours of afternoon shade, which we help will keep our lettuce and other cool season crops from bolting as we head into the heat of summer. We've had some trouble with bugs in the garden, but no devastating squash vine borers that we had to surgically remove like last year. A few bugs on the tomatillos and ground cherries, a handful of squash bugs, but mostly an infestation of cucumber beetles that have been snacking on the cucumber and squash plants and that we've been keeping back with Neem Oil. And flea beetles of course, always flea beetles. 


As for the deer and rabbit situation, while we've spied a few deer prints in the garden, most of the plants have been left untouched, except for some leek plants that got topped. We've had a hawk move into Mirkwood, and he seems to be taking care of the local rabbit population for us, hopefully that will sate him until we process the chickens in two weeks! 



In the Pasture...




The chickens are growing big and fast, as usual with the Cornish X breed. We've moved the chicken tractor and electric fence every week for the chickens, fertilizing our orchard and lawn and pasture.


 We have had some problems with lameness again this year, but we think this may be the result of having a straight run (getting both females and males) rather than them outgrowing their legs' ability to carry them. (This can happen folks, these chickens are genetically bred to grow grow grow, so it you don't watch their feed and take it away at nights, they can grow faster than their legs ability to lift them). 



Their legs seem much stronger this year, probably because they're getting more exercise inside the electric fenced pasture. Rather, we've noticed problems with the roosters getting aggressive with each other and the females, causing some injuries. So, next year we'll either get a batch of roosters or of hens, but not of both together. Other than that they've been very happy and healthy, running around mowing the grass and munching on insects. We'll be processing them on-farm, Sunday July 6th, to be picked up on-farm that day after 5 pm or on Monday after 5 pm.  





Rosie and Pippin are doing well, we set up a pasture rotation for them on their hill, but now that Arya is gone we have them in her pasture mowing down the tall grass there.





We have found that Rosie may be a bit too maternal for Once-A-Day Milking, she tends to hold back milk and cream from us for Pippin, but the convenience of the set up still outweighs the lack of cream. This could be her personality or her breed, she's a Jersey, a dairy cow; whereas dual-purpose breeds are reputed to be less maternal. 




Pippin is still a bit skittish, but he's haltered trained. If you can get the halter on him that is. His coat has developed a brown undercoat lately, maybe from all the sun's he's been getting. He's a cutie though! 








In the Pig Pen...




Saturday, June 21st, was our gilt Arya's last day on the farm, on Sunday we took her to Pinckney Hill Meat processor in Saranac, MI.

Arya has been a great pig, super friendly to everyone (human and animal),and we were very hopeful that she'd make a good sow. She survived the Long Night and the Polar Vortex this winter, and never got a sunburn on even the hottest of days. And she had fourteen nipples. Fourteen!






 But a 400+ lb pig does not a pet make. And if she's not making babies, then that is what she's become, a big pet. Despite our multiple efforts to breed her to a boar and through a.i., she refused the boar and has failed to conceive. But we're glad that we kept her and tried to breed her, that she got to have a happy life in the sun with her nose in the grass, surrounded by other pigs, cows, and chickens. Living a life to the piggiest, in full pigness. We'll miss you Arya, but, we are also out of sausage links and brawts, and you did eat a lot. You were, after all, a pig. 



The piglets on the other hand are growing! After Rosie mows down Arya's old pasture we'll be letting them into this area as well, we can tell they're getting restless in their current pen. We finally decided on names for them: Sheldon, Leonerd, Wolowitz and Penny. Because they all look so alike, except for Penny the smallest almost all black one, we mostly tell them apart by the length of their tails. Their tail length corresponds to the character's height they are named after.






The piglets have been rototilling parts of their pen with their noses
The farm that we got them from raised them in farrowing crates, a small metal caged area on concrete. Piglets tend to get bored being confined to a small area 24/7, and in their boredom will start to bite and chew at each other. Often they will bite each other's tails off, which is why some farmers who raise their pigs in confinement indoors simply cut off their tails when they do castration and clip the tusks.

 The way we raise our pigs, problems like tail biting are not an issue because they have plenty of space and things to do. But, because Arya failed to conceive, we were glad to get piglets from a farmer we know and trust. 




Hugelkulturs...





We've got three hugelkulturs set up and planted now. Two of them are a mix of rhubarb, strawberries, herbs, and flowers, and a new one that is mostly herbs, both perennial and annual. We didn't have enough compost for the fourth, so we are taking donations of compost! Bring us your dirt piles, your towers of mulched old trees, your kitchen scraps! We'll take it all! 





In the Coop...



The chickens have been loving free ranging, and we've been loving it too because they clean up after Rosie and Pippin pretty well, eating the fly larvae out of their cow patties and spreading the manure for us so we don't have to go around picking up after the cows. With that said, we have seen a significant drop in their egg production. We've found eggs in the barn, but we think most of them are being laid up on the hill that Arya was pastured in. Likely she was also snacking on them as well, because there aren't many to be found. After the meat birds are done in July we may be moving their electric fencing back to the egg layers. That, or following the chickens around when we hear the tell-tale squawking of an egg being laid and finding their secret stashes.  




Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Shire Farm CSA Share 1

2014 CSA Share 1


It's been a long hard winter, and a real short spring this year, but what we all have been waiting for has finally arrived, the first harvest of the year!  This is a very "green" share this week, full of a good mix for salads, smoothies or juicing, as well as the beginnings of one of our favorite pies.   Next week we're looking forward to the first cucumbers of the season, possibly summer squash, turnips, and some new greens mixes! 


Full Share Pictured: 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



Kale


This green became a favorite for a lot of us last year, 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, for a great side to any meal.  It is also a great healthy snack when you bake them into Kale Chips.  

Kale Chips

Lettuce Heads


Everyone will be receiving a head of lettuce this week, which can form the heart of a great salad along with the other mix of veggies this week.  We have several different varieties of lettuce growing on the farm so keep your eyes open for the different heads that will make their way to you throughout the year.  We have put some extra planning into planting our lettuces this year so that we can extend the greens through more of the summer so everyone should have lots of opportunities to enjoy lettuce in their salads. 

Mixed Greens


We have for everyone a mix of various other greens which serve to add a great deal of flavor to your salads, or a lot of nutrients for you juicers.  We have a mix of Swiss Chard,  baby Kale, and what Spinach the deer left us in this bag of greens.   If you are not a salad fan these greens can all be sauteed for a great dinner side as well.  We like them best sauteed in butter with diced garlic, some salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper. 

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! 

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 real ambitious you can even pickle rhubarb.  

Pickled Rhubarb
Strawberry Rhubarb Turnover Pie
Cinnamon-Rhubarb Muffins

Catmint

This week we have an unusual herb for everyone, Catmint--related to Catnip and similar to mint and pennyroyal. In France the leaves and young shoots are used for seasoning, and are regularly grown in kitchen gardens for this purpose. In England and France it has an old reputation for its value as a medicinal herb. Catmint Tea is drunk for colds, headaches, to induce sleep and alleviate fever. You can also use it as a substitute for mint in the kitchen. To make an infusion with fresh catmint, pour boiling water over 1/4 cup of fresh plant material, let stand 5 minutes, strain and then drink. Can be sweetened with honey and a dash of fresh lemon juice to enhance the taste. 

Catmint Infusion

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spring farm Update 2014

 Farm Update: Spring 2014


In the Greenhouse: 


After a long and extremely cold winter we're glad that spring has finally arrived. The pastures are green again, and we're not milking in sub-zero temperatures! We're on-target with planting in the garden so we finally have some time to write a blog post and tell everyone what's been going on in the farm.

In the greenhouse we've started all sorts of crops: the first planting of cold-season crops like Broccoli, cabbage, kale, swiss chard, leeks, arugula, spinach, lettuce, kohlrabi, green onions, and cauliflower, as well as warm season crops like summer squash, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and herbs. Having the greenhouse this year has been great, no more electric lights, no more cramming flats upon flats in a room in the barn that is susceptible to freezing temperatures. But one thing that you have to be aware with greenhouses, it gets HOT! Big surprise, I know. Unless you have the temperature and environment controlled by some expensive machinery, regulating the temperature is all on you. For our greenhouse, we've found that if the air temperature is over 50 F and the sun is out, time to roll up the greenhouse sides.  We lost the first of our cold season seedlings to a warm sunny weekend in April that got cooked our onions, celery, shallots,broccoli, and kale down to nothing.



Lesson learned: There is no such thing as a day off on the farm. With the animals, they still need food, water, some attention and fresh pasture, plants still need water in the field and the greenhouse, and temperature has to be monitored in the greenhouse.


In the Garden: 


As the CSA Garden goes, we are on-track and have the first two plantings of cold-season crops planted and transplanted.  Our first warm season crops are out--lots of green beans (purple, yellow and green), summer squash, and cucumbers. In the greenhouse we have tomatoes, cucumbers, Luffa gourds, eggplant, herbs, and peppers growing in the ground. The tomatoes, cucumbers, and Luffa will be trellised, and we're already starting to see the first tomato flowers forming! Looking forward to some early tomatoes with all the greens in the early part of the season. Of course, once you transplant those fragile little seedlings out into the big wide world (er, a greenhouse or field) you give up a lot of control over its environment and open it up to a lot of environmental and pest-related stress. The day after transplanting the cucumbers and squash we found cucumber beetles had moved in and started feasting. Deer had snarfed down most of the spinach and cabbage. Flea beetles are at it again with the Eggplant. But that is farming, c'est la vie.

So we turn to our faithful tools of last year: Neem Oil and Plant Skydd. Neem Oil is an organic broad spectrum fungicide and pesticide found in seeds of Neem trees that hinders insect's ability to feed and repels insects. Plant Skydd is an organic rabbit and deer repellent made mostly from blood (eew) but pretty effective. Next up we'll be transplanting herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, garden huckleberries, tomatilloes, and ground cherries out in the garden and seeding corn, sunflowers, and okra. Then we'll be putting out more summer squash, cucumbers,  and green beans (the pests last year taught us to stagger these crops). Then melons, winter squash, and watermelons, and finally a last planting of cool season crops that will be growing in a partially shady spot next to the hedge row. We're hoping this shady spot will allow us to grow greens longer into the season. 

New Permaculture Area!


We'll be talking about this more in another post, but we've added a new area of cultivation to the farm! We've put in 4 Hugelkulturs on the south-east side of the property, next to Mirkwood. These are essentially raised beds filled with wood, large trunks in the bottom and middle, twigs and branches on the outside. On top of this you put soil, compost and topsoil, and plant into this! We've divided our rhubarb, planted these and perennial herbs, flowers and strawberries in these raised beds. As well we're doing potatoes in towers of tires. As the potatoes grow, rather than piling up soil around the potato sprout as it grows to make more root space, we're adding more tires and soil around the plants as they grow. Hoping for some great potato harvests this year!

In the Coop: 


Our egg laying hens had a cold winter, mostly stuck in their coop because of the mounds of snow in their fenced area. We purchased a 3 gallon heated waterer for them this year, you can kind of see it in the picture below on the right hand side. Though the waterer took forever to get here, we were pretty happy with it. Our one complaint was that the top handle is a pretty flimsy piece of plastic that is bound to break. And it was difficult to transport the waterer if it was full any decent distance, the bottom portion was too easily opened by the swishing of movement and hitting against your pants, resulting in wet carharts. No fun. So, essentially, you have to fill it up at the coop rather than at your water source. But it beats having to deal with icy waterers during a Polar Vortex. 
We opened up the entire coop for the chickens to stretch their legs during the winter, often giving them some left-over skim milk from cheese making to supplement their diet. Now that Spring is here, we've decided to let the chickens free range across the entire farm, and use their electric poultry fence for the meat chickens instead. Things we've noticed since switching to completely free range: Egg production has dropped by about a quarter, likely because their laying somewhere else that I have not found yet. They also scratch the cow's manure piles, eating bits of grain and fly larvae, which has helped some with the fly population on the farm. And finally, we don't have to feed them as much because they are getting so much of their diet by foraging around the farm, in cow pies in and the compost heap. We feed them in the morning and a little in the late evening to encourage them to come inside the coop at sunset. 


Now totally free-range eggs!

In the Pasture: 

daw

This year we started the meat chicks in the turkey hut of last year, and we've seen great results. We only lost one chick in the first few days, trampled by the looks of it.  We were concerned last year that they were outgrowing their leg's ability to hold them up, (not unusual for Cornish Cross chickens, they are bred to grow grow grow). So this year we started taking away their food at night earlier in their lives to prevent them from outgrowing their legs.

They're just past three weeks old now and we've moved them outside. We've kept the chicken tractor pretty much the same as last year, but have expanded their foraging range by allowing them to enter and exit it into a larger fenced area. We thought about cutting a door into the side of the chicken tractor, but decided instead to keep it simple, and prop it up with cinder blocks to let the chickens walk under one side of the tractor.








Meanwhile, Rosie is glad to be back outside and on fresh pasture. Pippin is still drinking most of her milk for us, at 4 months, and is growing fast. We've set up the pastures to allow us to rotate the cow's pasture, to let some areas rest and regrow. We've also set up temporary pastures around the farm, grassy areas along the road we might have let go to seed or mow down, we're instead letting the cows take care of these areas for us.

In the Pig Pen:


Arya, our 400+ lb gilt, does not appear to be pregnant, from either interacting with a boar over two heat cycles, or from A.I. She wouldn't let the boar anywhere near her and fought and tried to escape most of the time she was on vacation at another farm. We were hopeful after the A.I., even saw her puking one morning, but she came back into heat. At this point, we can keep trying, or we can accept that she is not easily going to get pregnant, and may be getting too old soon to get pregnant easily, and therefore wouldn't make a good sow. 

This means, that we'll be getting a lot more sausage and bratwurst sooner than we thought. As much as we've enjoyed having Arya on the farm, she is a great hog--able to survive cold winters, friendly and non-aggressive, fine with heat and doesn't sunburn in the sun, and 14 nipples on her!--she won't conceive nor tolerate a boar, and that's a big big problem. So for this year we've bought 4 Hampshire piglets from a local farmer we know, and probably won't keep one as a sow for the next year. We'd like to keep a sow and breed our own piglets, but it doesn't look like it's a possibility this year.  

Penny and Leonard cuddling



We've got 3 boys and 1 girl, haven't decided on names yet, but Farmer Figgins has been calling them Sheldon, Wolowitz, Leonard and Penny after the Big Bang Theory. 











Arya is pastured on the hill right now, we'll be keeping her for another month to make doubly sure she isn't pregnant, then she'll be off on one last vacation. Though we've loved having her on the farm (she's certainly Farmer Figgins' favorite part of the farm) it didn't work out this year, and we'll remember her with every delicious bite of brawtwurst.