Category Archives: CSA

Week 16: Phoenix Rising

You may remember a post a couple of weeks back about a hen named “Rabbi Gargoyle,” who was missing and presumed consumed for several days – before showing back up unharmed one fine day.

Well, she’s back in the news again.

Last Tuesday night, we heard her being murdered in the woods. A horrific chicken cacophony, crashing sounds through the brush down the hill toward the coop – where all the other birds were locked up safe – but where the Gargoyle had been sleeping on her eggs, unprotected in the woods.

I threw on a robe as I ran down the hill screaming “ANIMAL! GET OFF!” or something similarly ridiculous. But by the time I got there, her squawking had gone silent, and the nest still held eggs, but no Gargoyle.

scene of the crime

A few feathers were all I could find when I searched the surrounding woods, clucking and calling to no response. Sadly, I gathered up the remaining eggs – I knew the blue ones were her own, so I placed them under other broody hens in the coop, and told Kristin and Marty that the Gargoyle was dead.

But! In the morning she showed up for breakfast, clucking and clearly upset that her nest had been emptied. My best guess is that a deer came through and almost stepped on her, or perhaps a possum came nosing around – and the crazy racket had been her on the attack, chasing something away through the dark undergrowth. So I put her eggs back, showed them to her, and left her to settle down.

The next day I went to check on her – and found two fluffy baby chicks peeping and stumbling around her! Figuring there would be more hatching still, I left her in peace for one last night in the woods, before I’d move the brood down into the truck topper nursery coop.

Or so I thought. When I went to check on them the next day, I was horrified to discover an empty nest. Even the eggs were gone … some eggshells, and one dead chick flattened in the nest. No sign of the Gargoyle, or any chicks. I searched the surrounding woods, the chicken yard, all over. Nothing.

So I brought the bad news back to the crew – it was heartbreaking to lose the whole group, after the scare we’d just had, knowing that I could have moved them to safety sooner, that I had cost a family of our birds their lives by waiting for one more night and believing that “what will be will be” would be a happy ending.

Late in the afternoon, I had a sudden urge to go down and check on the flock, feeling edgy about the presumed predator lurking nearby.

In the chicken yard, inside the fencing we use to segregate the babies from the adults, waiting outside the door to the nursery coop, sat Rabbi Gargoyle, surrounded by six peeping fluffballs.

For the third time, she had shown up happy and healthy after having been written off as certainly dead. And thus the hen with two names gained another, becoming Rabbi Gargoyle Phoenix – the bird who rises up from death’s ashes.

Otherwise, it was a busy, pleasant week. My Dad and his wife visited, we harvested lots of things, salvaging from yet another frost.

Oh! And our two most recent WWOOFers left – and provided us a lovely array of farm photos from their visit, taken by Charlie the Photojournalist Student. I think they really capture what life here has been for us lately, so you might want to check them out here.

Inside Box 16

  • Salad Mix – green ruffled lettuce, red & green tatsoi, arugula, and mizuna
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Bok Choi
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Acorn Squash – Jester & Thelma Sanders varieties
  • Microgreensradish, kale, or kohlrabi
  • HerbsMexican tarragon & Thyme
Mexican Tarragon
Mexican Tarragon

Week 15: Frosts & Fiancees

Our friend Steffan has been regularly helping us with farmwork for several years now, and we were honored that he asked us to hold his wedding on the farm. Of course, we had no idea Covid was coming, but it worked out well anyway, as it had always been the plan to hold it outdoors, in the social-distance-friendly, unplanted west side of our field. So vows were once again exchanged on our land – but this time with three times as many people, and out in the field instead of the woods.

The whole thing went off incredibly – including some tasty farm food that Groom Steffan catered himself! We even surprised the newlyweds by transforming the new semi trailer into a honeymoon suite, using the huge pallets it came filled with as wall partitions, window blinds, and of course, the bed platform.

In other news, we’re back deep into acorn bombing season, with a nearly-constant bombardment raining down upon every available acoustically-active surface … steel roofs, 55 gallon drums, cars, and buckets. It’s funny how used to it one gets, and how quickly – even though the sudden cracks and bangs are utterly unpredictable.

If this and the changing leaves were not clear enough signs of imending autumn, Ma Nature made things very clear with two frosty nights early in the week – and more forecasted for next week …

Inside Box 15

Potato leek soup with parsley or dill on the agenda.

  • Potatoes
  • Leeks – the bottoms are the best part, but tender green tops can be sliced thin and used similarly to green onions.
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Green Tomatoes – yes, Fried Green Tomatoes are the classic way to use these lovely emerald orbs , which we decided to salvage before the next round of frosty doom descended upon the farm. But there are plenty of other options too – perhaps try one of these!?
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Swiss Chard

Week 14: Gopher & Gargoyle

Today was a happy day – first, after a month of chasing the gophers that are murdering our carrot patch, I finally managed to catch one of the little monsters! This clan has super deep tunnels, and they backfill their exposed entrances with an impressive tenacity.

Widget is always excited to get the dead gopher to go bury elsewhere. Minus the tail, which we keep for the $3 bounty.

But now I’ve got their number – and this morning I got my arms caked in dirt past the elbows to set three more traps, for the presumed survivors still roaming beneath the carrots.

traps set a;most 2 feet down

In other farm news – a missing hen named Gargoyle was spotted today, days after we wrote her off as a predator loss … she was hiding in the woods on a big pile of eggs. … it’s kind of late for new chicks, but it’s hard to just take them away … we’ll see what happens.

Rabbi Gargoyle 2 years ago, doing her gargoyle thing

She’s our only blue-egg layer, and she’s really odd-looking (Neighbor Marcia calls her The Rabbi, we dubbed her Gargoyle) – so it would be nifty to add some of her genetics to our flock’s future.

the hot season stuff is fading – but the fall salad mix is coming in!

And, of course – it’s gone from simmering heat and humidity to lows in the 40s and 30s and even a threat of frost tomorrow night! Ack. I know it’ll warm up again, but this cold snap is going to leave a mark on the remnants of the hot-weather crops. We will be deploying row covers and making strange sacrifices to the old green gods of gardening, and limbering up the ol’ “que sera, sera” muscles.

Inside Box 14

You could make a mean bowl of Pho this week. And it’s perfect weather for it! Lots of summer crops are making their final appearances this week, cherish them in this fleeting moment.

Most of you have been members during past years when the eggplants were incredibly abundant … well, not this year! These were the final scraggly little eggplants. Not sure why they didn’t produce this year, but regardless, there are NO eggplants in the box. :)
  • Garlic -a fellow SCF market vendor had way too many small garlic heads so they gifted these to us – and since the vole’s destructive tunneling made us opt out of planting our own this year, we figured we should share the bounty with y’all.
  • Bok Choi – would be pretty dang good chopped up and sauteed with your garlic. Or in a soup? It’s soup season.
  • Beets – Borscht? SOUP SEASON.
  • Zucchini – the final zukes of the season!
  • Cucumbers – and the last of the cukes of 2020!
  • Onions
  • Sweet Peppers – another Final Installment for the year
  • Shishito Peppers – these aren’t usually spicy, but for whatever reason, most of these are. Sear ’til blistered and eat as usual, if you like spicy. If not, use them as a component in another dish to spread that spice around.
  • Tomatoes – the last of the season! Aaaaaagh too soon
a last hurrah
  • Cherry Tomatoes – oh my it might even be the final cherry tomatoes. What a week of transition!
  • Thai Basil – salvaged before the murderous cold descends.
  • Micro-Greens (Radish, Kale, Red Cabbage, or Amaranth)

Week 13: No Wild Grapes

Another week of beauty, seven nights with the whippoorwills back from wherever they’ve been and the cricketsong and the rustling commotions of the flying squirrels, seven days of morphing clouds or sunshine and blue skies.

at least 12 feet tall

We did a bunch more preservation and canning of the seasonal abundances du jour – wood-smoking tomatoes, tomatilloes, and peppers for salsas, crafting and sealing away jars of sauces, and using the sun to dehydrate the massive Hen of the Woods mushroom gifted to us by Neighbor Marcia.

Hens of the Woods & Neighbor Marcias are known to be found in proximity to big white oaks

We foraged fruitlessly for wild grapes – they are apparently taking a year off, after busting it out so hard last year. (Works out well anyway since we still have a backlog of blackberries and dewberries to transmute.)

The corn stalks dried up, flocks of geese headed south, bear hunters roved the barrens behind their baying dog packs, and no one went swimming in the river. The humidity followed the geese south and good riddance to it. We slept well and spent as much time as possible outside.

Inside Box 13

garlic chives
  • Carrots – an assortment of orange and purples. I still haven’t caught the gopher, despite my repeated efforts, but carrots still exist.
  • either Okra or Tomatilloes – depending on your dharma. We like pan-searing the okra pods (whole, unbroken). For tomatillos, there are soup recipes worth exploring (we mostly make ours into salsa).
tomatilloes being washed for salsa
  • ripe Sweet Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Spaghetti Squash – prepare it like winter squash; carve in half, scoop out the seeds, bake cut side-down until soft – use a fork to pull apart the strands into pseudo-spaghetti. Would be good with butter, garlic, and fresh basil … hey we have basil and garlic chives in this box!
Marty harvesting soaghetti squash for the CSA boxes
  • Zucchini
  • Tomatoes
Torch Tomatoes – would be good in the sauce recipe we linked to last week
  • Cherry Tomatoes – 2020’s can’t stop won’t stop crop
  • Onions
Saint Croix Falls farmer’s market

Week 11: Pico & Corn Relish Season

It was a week of lots of eating lots of fresh pico de gallo, canning corn relish, helping our friend Steffan prepare for his outdoor wedding here next month, and finally completing the new velociraptor cage all around the processing area, to keep the chickens from strolling in and hanging out.

maybe we should electrify it. and put in sprinkler auto turrets.

It was also a week of strange and amusing critter happenings.

First something was screaming horribly in the woods in the late evening and early morning hours. Like, loud terrible repeated shrieks of utmost dismay … which turned out to be a hunter using an app that plays sounds designed to draw in predators, like the coyotes he was hunting.

Then there was the creature that haunted the Fish House – the repurposed ice fishing shed that WWOOFer Jenny has been staying in. Something was inside the wood stove in the middle of the night, scratching and scrambling and being terrifying. When we came to investigate, there was nothing to be found … well, nothing alive. There was however, a flat, mummified, long-dead flying squirrel preserved in the ashes.

We told her not to worry, it was just the ghost of the squirrel and he couldn’t hurt her. Of course, the sound came back a couple hours later, and she spent the night in her car. Then next night, it returned, so she opened the woodstove … and a quite- alive flying squirrel came ambling out into her cabin.

Eventually, it went out the door, and eventually, she got back to sleep.

Inside Box 11

  • Hot & Sweet Peppers – hot peppers are either cayenne or jalepeno. Sweet peppers are a mix of other peppers – all larger than the hots.
  • Sweet Corn
  • a Melon! – a magical blend of fate and free has brought you either a watermelon, Crenshaw melon, or Musk melon.
“Your baby is the size of a watermelon”
  • Tomatoes – they are definitely slowing down lately, and getting less perfect as the season slides down further from summer;s pinnacle, starting the descent into autumn. We have many more ugly ones now for saucing and salsas … and fresh pico on everything.
tomato & basil: as classic as peanut butter & jelly
  • Basil: (either full-size or micro-greens) – “Don’t put them in the fridge,” he repeated, again.
  • Cucumbers – maybe slowing down
  • Zucchini – not slowing down
  • Cherry Tomatoes – hitting their stride in the field!
  • Sweet Onions
  • Shallots
  • Micro-Greens (either radish, kale, or amaranth)
packing up today’s boxes