Week 5 CSA News

THE WEEKLY NEWS

In this week’s chicken news, Slick Junior escaped the tyranny of Slick Senior’s reign, and went to live with his own private hen harem on our friends’ rural property, and Grey Ghost the hen, having set up a broody base in our secure secondary coop, successfully hatched out 7 new chicks. So our annual “what will we do with the chickens this winter!?” conundrum has been appropriately complexified with a larger flock.

Complexity this cute just has to be worth it, though.

The weeds continued their assault on our sanity, growing nearly tall enough to block all light from Planet Earth.

Jeff & Maddie on Weedwhacker Patrol
Jeff & Maddie on Weedwhacker Patrol

But we made headway as well, carving out open channels with weed whackers and lawn mowers, and burying the fallen evildoers under thick blankets of hay mulch.

The potato beetles rallied impressively, defoliating our spud plants’ leaves mercilessly  – I took an unplanned break from today’s harvest to squish every dang one I could find in the 600 row feet of infestation.  I wanted to get a picture of my gore covered hands to show the woman at the farmer’s market last week who refused to believe that we really grew things without chemical pesticides and herbicides since we weren’t certified by The Man’s inadequate and unnecessary stamp of approval – but my fingertips were too slimy to work my phone, so you’re spared the horror.

Let’s see, what else … the mosquitoes are still pretty dang bad, especially when cloudy and windless like this morning. And the rodents continue to wage war on us – rats in the chicken yard, gophers gobbling up our broccoli, voles destroying pepper plants, munching random veggies, and expanding their tunnel network of terror.

another broccoli plant slain by the Gopher Monsters
another broccoli plant slain by the Gopher Monsters

Fortunately, their abundance seems to have summoned the bull snakes – and what they don’t devour, Neighbor Dave has been helping us slay, with his array of traps.

And through it all, Otis continues to grow, unhampered by weeds, aphids, rodents, or the state of the nation. If you look into his eyes and speak to him, he will almost always respond with his huge open-mouth toothless grin (which some refined languages likely have a single word for). He learned how to purse his lips and make raspberries back at us, he loves the people and live music at the farmer’s market, and is learning how to pet dogs and other babies.

BOX 5 –

Basil – The best way to store is putting the stems in water on the counter. Basil is very cold sensitive and may blacken in the fridge. If you want to make pesto that stays bright green you can put the basil in a strainer and pour boiling water over it and then quickly dunk it on ice cold water.
Beans – The peas are fading and the beans are ramping up. Good sautéed, roasted, or put in a basket on the grill and seasoned with garlic, lemon, parmesan, and herbs. (The bean harvest is why the boxes were later today, the editor inserted in a carefully-neutral tone)
Onions – Hopefully onions every week is a good thing.
Zucchini/summer squash –  this ain’t your first CSA rodeo, you know what to do with this. And this:
Cucumber
Broccoli – After a day of feeling somewhat discouraged about the state of the garden I walked over to check out the gopher damage in the broccoli and discovered that what was left was looking good. I hope this broccoli brightens your day like it did mine.
Napa Cabbage – Some plants formed giant heads while others remained small and loose leafed. With the hot weather in the forecast, we thought it best to divvy up the heads. This recipe looks simple and good with room for additions like sesame seeds or crushed peanuts.
harvesting the one and only cherry of 2018
harvesting the one and only cherry of 2018
Baby Okra
Baby Okra
the fall brassica crop training for The Field
the fall brassica crop training for The Field
foraging in the Barrens
foraging in the Barrens

Week 4 CSA – Doubly-Epic Harvest

During this morning’s harvest, I was quite certain that I knew what the focus of the newsletter would have to be. But then a harvest that had been epic in one way, changed course and became epic in another, and now you get convoluted sentences like this instead of a straight and simple tale of terror at the proboscises of incredible swarms of mosquitoes.

So yeah, first came the epic mosquitoes. A couple of days ago, an insane hatch of mosquitoes emerged, and suddenly the mildly buggy season became the worst plague of bloodsuckers that anyone around has seen in many years.

And harvest morning was mosquito heaven – darkly cloudy, damp, and still. Even those who never wear bug spray, did … but found it entirely ineffective.  They swarmed us coming out the door, swarmed us walking through the woods, swarmed us in the field and even worse in the processing area.

"SAY MOSQUITO!"
“SAY MOSQUITO!”

We each retreated soon enough to put on pants, sleeves, and even head netting. I wondered how many got into the bags as I packed up salad mix and they devoured my hands.

I think some folks must have prayed for relief or something, and some kind of gods took pity on us. But maybe too much pity, or perhaps there was some kind of multiplier effect due to multiple requests and varied compassionate deities working in accidental synergy.

Because when the breeze we wished for to keep the skeeters down came, it was, well,  a bit of overkill.

we are right in the middle of it (where the nostril would be in Wisconsin's nose)
we are right in the middle of it (where the nostril would be in Wisconsin’s nose)

And the Epic Mosquito Harvest became the Epic Wind Harvest – a couple hours of strong, steady wind punctuated regularly by gusts that staggered you when they hit you square, shattered sunflower stalks, scattered any loose objects about, attempted to murder the rain canopy, brought down a limb the size of a tree next to the processing area … and completely removed the mosquitoes from the rest of our harvest!

It was awesome; not just the sudden absence of hangry bugs, but the incomparable, refreshing excitement that comes with a wind storm.

Box 4: May Contain Mosquitoes.

new-helper-Maddie & Steffan holding down the fort
new-helper-Maddie & Steffan holding down the fort

Salad Mix – (Red & Green Lettuce, Arugula, Mizuna, Pea tips)  It’s probably the last salad mix of the spring crop! Officially summertime now …

French Breakfast Radishes – You know these. Don’t forget to eat yer leaves! And cut them off before storing them if you won’t eat them soon. They’re pretty over this summer weather and might be a bit hollow inside, hopefully not though.

Radish Pods – those weird bubbly nugget things in with your radishes are edible immature seed pods from radishes that we let bolt. Don’t eat the tough stems. The pods are juicy, crunchy, with a mellow flavor. You can snack on them, put them into salads, or come up with something I can’t even imagine.

Sugar Snap Peas – and lots of them! These sell out every week at the farmer’s market. They sell themselves if you give out a sample …

Snow Peas – these too! Great snacking while stuff grills at a cook out. This week, they share a bag with the:

Broccoli –  Enjoying the side shoots of Broccolini while awaiting the harvest of the full size heads … next week perhaps?

Spring Onions (aka “Table Onions”) –  Slice them in half and grill them for the 4th of July! Maybe with some oil and salt n pepa.

moments after the tree in the background broke (CRACC!CCK!KK! "um, look out.") and keeled over.
moments after the tree in the background broke (CRACC!CCK!KK! “um, look out.”) and keeled over.

 

Deb and Jim hauling stuff "upstairs" before the Saturday market

Deb and Jim hauling stuff “upstairs” before the Saturday market

 

 

Week 3 CSA News

The week’s work included tomato pruning and trellising, plenty of weeding (they’re getting to be tree-sized out there!), hunting and killing potato beetles. Then more weeding.

We had family visiting for most of the week from all around the country, getting to know the newest addition to the family, so we weren’t able to kick as much weed butt as we’d have liked, but it was still great to connect with our tribe a bit.

In other news, we have a rat! It’s living beneath our chicken coop compost bin, and has evaded all attempts at capture. Neighbor Dave is not going to give up easily though … the battle is on!

Produce-wise, the bean plants are flowering, the high tunnel tomatoes are flowering, setting fruit, and shooting upward quickly, making us question the adequacy of even the new and improved taller trellising. Overall, things seem to be doing pretty well – crops and weeds alike!

Box Three

Today was a rainy harvest – we set up canopies over the processing area, and donned raincoats for our forays into the field. Rainy days are actually pretty ideal harvest days – the crops stay cool and nothing is getting desiccated byheat or sunshine. (You might think the crops would also be nicely pre-washed from the field, but nope – they get splashed with sand & soil and require more rinsing than usual.)

Kohlrabi – They’re beautiful this spring! The greens are edible as well, similar to kale – perhaps chop & sautee them up together?

Steffan hauling in a load of kohlrabi from the field this morning
Steffan hauling in a load of kohlrabi from the field this morning

Kale –  A mix of dinosaur, red Russian, Vates, and scarlet varieties.

Salad MixRed & Green lettuce, arugula, pea tips, mizuna

Sugar Snap Peas – EAT THEM BEFORE SOMEONE ELSE DOES

Snow Peas – A classic for stir fries, but also delicious raw or sliced up in a salad.

Sage – there are many creative uses for fresh sage, what will you get up to this week? Perhaps when the temps get back up above 90 this weekend, you could make a nice sage iced tea!

 

Green Onions –  the annual link to this song comes … now:

a bit of broccoli – tucked in with your snow peas … waiting for the brocollini to get rolling!

 

CSA Week 2

We got more rain this week, but it seems that the weeds rejoiced harder than we did. To be honest, it’s tricky not to be disheartened, walking through the field and seeing how beastly the weeds are, how little the crops are, and how behind things are in contrast to last year’s field – when we had more help, no baby, and several additional weeks of springtime to work with.

But hey, it’s another great opportunity to practice our “que sera, sera” perspectives,  be reminded that the struggle IS the blessing, that our stresses take place within a context of amazing luck … and hey, it’s kind of fun to conceive of our harvests from the overgrown garden as more akin to foraging than farming. Silver linings abound!

We got the potato rows weeded and started making potato beetle genocide patrols. Got our first tow hay mulched – the brassicas and edge of the adjacent bean row. We transplanted out flowers, ground cherries, garden huckleberries, and filled in gaps in the potato rows with the sprouting taters still lurking in the back of the root cellar.

Late season crops were seeded – fall broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc got started  – and we’ve now started summer squash in trays as well to transplant out – we’d direct seeded it into the field twice but both times almost literally the entire crop was mysteriously destroyed (voles definitely had a hand in some of the losses, but they can’t explain it all) – so, there will be a delay of our zucchini game this year.

We attended our first farmers’ market of the year – and Otis experienced the first farmers’ market of his life! It went well – although we didn’t have a ton of variety of fresh produce to sell, we had lots of canned goods from last fall to offer. And it was WWOOFer Amelia’s last week on the farm – so next week we’ll be even less-handed. Should be interesting!

CSA Box 2

A little of this, a little of that

corn we grew, dried, shucked, ground, and sifted for this week's box
corn we grew, dried, shucked, ground, and sifted for this week’s box

Cornmeal – Last autumn’s corn, field-dried, and stone-ground fresh yesterday for your baking enjoyment.

When we were in Mississippi I came across a locally produced cornmeal that promoted itself saying it ground corn “no older than a year.” Isn’t it remarkable that less than a year is considered notably fresh? Corn has such a fascinating history, and has changed so much in our lifetime alone. Ok, here is a good recipe that I’ve used to make satisfying cornbread:

https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2015/11/southern-unsweetened-cornbread-recipe.html

And it has a good link to read too if you are as interested in corn as I (apparently) am.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/08/why-southern-cornbread-shouldnt-have-sugar.html

You could also try making cornmeal pancakes or johnny cakes.

a Dozen Eggs – A mix from our motley crew of hens. Smaller eggs were likely laid by our newest flock members that hatched last fall.

WWOOFer Amelia pursued by hens after gathering eggs
WWOOFer Amelia pursued by hens after gathering eggs

(Hens lay bigger eggs as they age. Something you don’t realize until you have chickens.)

RadishesFrench Breakfast & Crimson Giant varieties – The cute, little spring radishes that precede the intimidatingly large fall radishes.

Green onions – Sometimes called spring onions or table onions. They’re mild enough to eat fresh but good cooked up too!

Garlic scapes – nomnomnom

– bundled with the green onions, the sproingy looking things are the flowers of our garlic crop.

Salad mix – another bag of delicious assorted leaves … red and green lettuce, mizuna, pea tips, arugula.

Peas – First pea harvest of the season! Most of ya got sugar snaps, but 3 boxes received equally-delicious snow peas.

Bok Choi – bagged with the ….

Broccoli – A sprouting variety known as “Broccolini,” we cut off the heads early in order to induce side sprouts of little broccolinis for the rest of the season. The main crop of broccoli is still coming …

CSA 2018 Begins!

Well, we got off to a slow start this year … but start we did. As predicted, a newborn put some brakes to our processes – Otis usually requires someone’s undivided attention, and on top of it, our powerhouse Kristin had to take things easy while recovering from the unplanned c-section surgery at the 43-week  mark.

But we knew, more or less, that this kind of thing might be an issue with a new human’s entrance into our family  -which is why we did a limited membership this year.

What was less expected was the predictably unpredictable beast – the weather. First, winter refused to release its hold on the farm – we had snow cover on the ground well into April.

snowy chicken yard on April 15th
snowy chicken yard on April 15th

Once it finally melted, things quickly heated up to summerlike levels. Not only did we miss out on Spring temperatures, we missed out on spring rains. Week after week, rainstorms slide past us to the south, the north, the east and west … never hitting our field.

It was Memorial Day before we finally had a measurable rainfall, and we rejoiced. We weren’t the only ones, however – the weeds had been waiting too. And with a little but of rain, they sprang into action, threatening to swallow up the struggling seedlings throughout the field. A battle for the future of our food crops ensued – one that I didn’t feel confident we were going to come out of alive until recently … but now, things are looking up!

I want to write more, but Otis is super upset in the back seat right now and I can’t think – so enjoy the pictures and Kristin’s write up of the week’s veggies below!

 

 

Box #1!

 

Rhubarb preserves

A tart spread made with rhubarb from our neighbors patch, organic cane sugar, and homemade pectin made from apples.

One batch has grated red beet in it as an experiment in natural food coloring. It didn’t work!

Salad mix

Or unique mix of greens (and reds) includes lettuce, peppery arugula, two kinds of pea tips, zippy red & green mizuna, and tat soi.

 

Chop it up if you like reasonable forkfuls.

Flowering Chives

The flowers make fun salad confetti. You could also infuse white wine vinegar with them

The flower stems might be tough though so stick to the chive leaves for eating. Eggs, baked potatoes, sour cream dip, pretty much any savory dish would be good with chives.

Radishes

Little but intense. A nice salad topper. Cut the greens off and cook them, too!

 

Carrots

Harvested late in the fall, carefully packed and stored in the root cellar we built last year, and still looking pretty good! We’re impressed and thought you’d enjoy them too.

I’ve been peeling them to make them look pretty. I like stir frying them and roasting them, quartered the long way, with coconut oil, honey, thyme, and salt.

 

Beets

These spent the winter with the carrots, and they would be good roasted the same way.

Choi

Do we harvest it now, kind of small or hope it doesn’t bolt and maybe harvested it bigger next week? Seems like we have a tendency to let things go too long so we’re going to pick it small instead!

More flavorful! More tender! Cuter!

 

That’s it for this week, hope you enjoy it – let us know if you make anything awesome with it!

 

what will be will be