Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On The Farm and CSA Week 5

Last week ended up not exactly going as anticipated, so the blog post just didn't happen.

Enjoying a bit of lettuce
I knew it was going to be a wonderful week, but didn't predict everything else. It was Mollie's graduation from Grade 8 and she was valedictorian. How could I be prouder? I really couldn't be, and she did a marvellous job of it. The less pleasant things came along though, but hopefully we're getting through them too.
 We were coping with a cat who got into a dispute with another I suspect, and Percy, my big orange tabby, was not doing well. This boy, who during my tomato sale, was schmoozing with absolutely everyone nearly begging to have his picture taken, was hiding out in the garage trying to remain out of site. There were no visible marks on him, but he wasn't well. A visit to my vet confirmed that. With a high fever, lack of appetite and a great degree of sensitivity around his abdomen he began a course of antibiotics an hour before the big graduation ceremony.

fresh garlic
My collie Ellie is struggling as well. She has so many of the symptoms of Lyme disease and is on her second round of antibiotics to see if that can help. She limps, she is having problems with her bladder  and  she's lethargic.
The ticks this year are unbelievable. When I walk my dogs everyday, it is very unusual not to have a tick jump onto one of us. It's a worry and tick checks are necessary constantly.
I didn't think when I began farming for a living that ticks spreading Lyme disease or mosquitoes spreading West Nile would be a concern. But they are. Things have changed.
The weather this season so far is just ideal for both these pests. The early drought, changed quickly into a wet and fairly cool season so far. It's been a lot of rain, and although most things are doing well, some things are struggling a bit. The spinach and peas bit the dust and some of the beets are finding it a bit much.

Golden Purslane-truly not a weed 
If we get a bit of a break from it now,  I'll be very happy. The weather does look good for the rest of the week so here's hoping.
The baskets have lots of greens in them...the greens are loving it. Lettuces, chards, kale, beets, fresh garlic, golden purslane, basil and likely a bit more too.

I've been using the chard up like mad. I'll direct you to one of a few recipes I made this week that were very tasty.
This is a  Martha Stewart recipe-Whole Wheat Penne with Sausage, Chard and Artichoke Hearts
I changed a few things-the sausage I used was vegan, and I couldn't find frozen artichoke hearts, so used the marinated ones. It turned out really well and the girls loved it. We'll do it again.

These are all Mollie's pictures**

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Life on the Farm and CSA Week 3

It's been sort of an up and down week.
As my crew here gets a bit older, we have periods of sadness when someone passes on and our family becomes a bit smaller.
I knew one of my elderly chickens was struggling, and yesterday I had to bury her as she passed in the night.
It never gets any easier. They all are special and have such interesting personalities, just like we all do. And they are all missed and remembered.
Today as I tried to get the baskets together for my deliveries, I encountered difficulties with the ultimate chicken personality, Ruby.

She is indeed a special girl.
Because of the huge amount of rain coming down, I washed the produce in the kitchen instead of outdoors, and assembled the baskets in the garage.
Percy, our big orange tabby likes to come and go as he pleases. So he fashioned a hole in the screen door, that his pleasingly plump shape can fit through.

It took Ruby no time at all to pick up on this, and she became quite adept quite quickly at barging in the garage unannounced and generally uninvited.
If you don't know chickens well, then you may not know they will eat anything. You may have visions of them pecking daintily on grains or grass. But cat food? Oh yes. Cat food holds great appeal...for Ruby anyways. And trying to deter her while I fixed up the baskets and then got them into the car was a challenge. She is not deterred easily, and has a dogged determination to carry on with her mission, regardless of the number of times I had to place her back outside. Quite admirable really. I wish I had her tenacity for certain chores.
The baskets made it out to my car and were delivered full of spring veggies, fresh and intact with no chicken damage whatsoever.

Between harvesting in the pouring rain and dodging Ruby, I'm feeling like those veggies are mighty valuable indeed.
I have been working hard here, but the rain has made a few things impossible.
It does seem late to still be planting, but it isn't too late yet. I would prefer to have everything in, but I don't. I've got lots more beans to plant, but the rain has been unrelenting. The clay will take a while to dry up, so that's how it is. You just can't work with wet clay. So we wait.
It's okay...lots of weeds to work on now. It will all happen.
I don't think I could have fit anything else at all into today's baskets. Lettuces (lots), swiss chard, kale,  garlic scapes, chives, radishes and lambs quarters all should help to give you a big dose of vitamins this week. And good eating too.
I love lambs quarters. You say weed, I say fabulous veggie, high in nutrients and good taste. I prefer it to spinach, and am happy to see it sprouting up, not only because I like to eat it, but it's presence indicates a loose, nutrient rich soil. I'm glad to see it showing up more and more farmers markets. It should. It's good eating.
Let's do maybe something a bit different with the radishes. You could just crunch on them raw, but they are excellent sautéed too. This recipe is from the new" Organic Life " magazine...I've adapted it a bit to fit your basket ingredients.

Sauteed Radishes with Garlic and Radish Greens

Radishes with greens (1 1/2 lbs)
3 TBSP butter or vegan alternative
3 garlic scapes, chopped
Pinch sugar and salt and pepper to taste

Remove greens from radishes, remove all but 1/2 inch of the stem.
With a mallet, smash the larger radishes, or slice.
Melt butter in saute pan, add radishes and cook till softened, 5 minutes or so.
Add all other ingredients, including the radish greens. Cook till they are wilted-1 minute more.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

On the Farm-Week 2 CSA

Ruby is a tremendous help
Today was week 2 of my CSA season, week 1 being a good month ago when the greenhouse was filled with hot and spicy mustard greens at the end of the winter season.
It could have been a nicer day to do a harvest, but one does what one must. A lot of the lettuce was harvested yesterday, but that was rather wet too.
We needed the rain.
I have been planting for the last month, wondering about how everything would spring forth with such dry conditions. The pond was down low and I was watering several times a day.
As I wandered around the garden tonight, I saw the difference a good rain makes. Things have jumped-the weeds included. That's okay. There are loads of lambs quarters and I just love them. Every bit as good as spinach and easy to grow. In fact it took me no time...or effort at all.
The rain will slow me down a bit in terms of planting now, as my clay soil will need time to dry out before I can back on it again.
I've got a hundred or so tomatoes to still get in, lots more beans including soy, more carrots, more beets and always more lettuce, which I need to seed every week. The demand for lettuce seems huge this year and I'll do my very best to keep up.
The baskets today were spring, spring, spring.

With a little fall thrown in for good measure and a bit of homegrown protein in the form of dried beans.

What says spring better than radishes? Wow- I can't believe how many I planted this year.
The baskets also contained chard, kale, onions, green garlic, sorrel, mint, a bit of basil.

It's really nice to be out in the garden and seeing the season begin. Here's to a great year!