Box 4: Smiling rain gods

All week I thought I was going to be writing a newsletter about the drought. I was ready with all kinds of facts and metaphors to frame the impact the lack of rain was having on us here. But finally, after an endless purgatory of teasing rainclouds, browning grasses, and dusty ground, the rain gods smiled upon us!

And not just any rain – I’d say it was a perfect one-two precipitation punch. On Sunday, just over an inch fell to deeply wet the parched soil. On Monday morning we sprang into action! We’d been waiting for weeks to cover the bare ground among the rows – but needed some real rain first, so there would be some moisture to conserve. So we tore apart the remaining bales of spoiled hay and laid down a thick barrier wherever the soil was bare – this not only helps avoid dry ground and erosion, but also smothers weeds and, when it eventually breaks down, adds precious organic matter to the soil for future years.

Overnight, we had a pleasant surprise deluge – a second round of soaking rain, over an inch again! It was done before we woke up to harvest, having done its magical work of soaking the new hay layer completely. (And it was just right – not too little, but also not too much; just southeast of us, our friends were being swamped and washed out by over 8 inches of rain during the same two storms!)

The delay waiting for the rain to come was nerve-wracking at times , but really, it turned out to be wonderful. The remarkably dry conditions stunted weed growth, while the plants – aided by weeding and drip irrigation – got well established. The field looked downright joyful this morning, and so did Farmer Kristin.

Inside Box 4

  • Micro-Greenseither red cabbage, cilantro, or curly blue kale – if you are able to return the boxes, we’d be happy to wash and reuse them!
  • Spring Onion Transitioning into Summer Onions
  • Radish Pods – zippy, crunchy, and unusual! We planted a specific type of radish just to let it go to seed, producing these for you in abundance. Here are some good ideas if you’re wondering.
  • Butter Crunch Lettuce Heads
WWOOFer Charley packing lettuce
  • Kohlrabi – two large or three small per box! We made some into slaw yesterday, using our Julienne Slicer (or, a grater would work … great)
  • Rainbow Swiss Chard – best when cooked, the gorgeous stems are the main event!
Squad! Marty, Brandon & Keegan

Box 3: Watching Rain Go By

This week we spent plenty of time watching red radar blobs on our phones and dark rainclouds in the skies, as they came tantalizingly close to the farm, but never quite arrived. Always provides more opportunities to practice our “what will be, will be”-ing, as well as ample gratitude-grounds; drought conditions make us grateful for the quiet new generator and fresh solar battery bank, which make irrigating the field much simpler!

Speaking of gratitude, Thank You!!! to Shareholders Al & Dan (The Goat People) for the giant wagon of hay mulch, and to Neighbors Marquardt for both the ice fishing shack we have turned into a laundry room, and the second chicken-security gate!

The week we have often enjoyed the routine tasks of the season; weeding, squishing potato beetles, staking pepper plants, pruning tomatoes, harvesting for market, cleaning the hen house, and joining forces with the chickens to transform food waste and buckets of spent brewery grains into rich soil.

It’s a good life.

Inside Box 3

Kohlrabi and Bok Choy with Fried Garlic – Maybe try a recipe like this that uses multiple items? It’s always fun to see what you can find by typing in a few ingredients you have on hand + “recipe” into Google, and seeing what comes up!

  • Super Salad SackGreen lettuce, Pea tips, Red Lettuce, Arugula
    The Salad Days of Spring are starting to wind down, so you get a huge bag of mix this week!
  • Kohlrabi – this strange looking vegetable looks like a root vegetable (but isn’t) and tastes like broccoli stems (yum!). Maybe you could make it into a slaw with your Bok Choi!
  • Bok Choi – we’ve been loving ours as salads with Sesame Dressing lately. There are two main types grown,  traditional and Shanghai – this is the latter. (Traditional bok choy has dark, crinkly leaves and crisp, white stems; Shanghai bok choy has spoon-shaped leaves and jade green stems.) Here’s a pretty decent overview of the many ways you might cut up and enjoy this versatile vegetable.
  • Broccoli – the first harvest of the year! Enjoy the flower buds as well as the stalks, which are delicious when sliced up.
  • Sugar Snap Peas – vegetable candy.
  • Spring Onions – can you have too many? No. The correct answer is no.
WWOOFer Keegan, Onion Model
  • French Breakfast Radishes – last week of these beauties! Shareholder Tara shared a recipe for making a delicious soup with the greens:
    • Note: there aren’t enough radish greens in this week’s box to do this recipe on their own, but don’t worry – any additional greens (bok choi, salad greens) will work great.
    • Tara says: SO YUM. I modified the recipe above as follows: heated the ginger, onion, and garlic in coconut vinegar instead of sauteing, used spring onions instead of shallot (from the box of course) and used a can of full fat coconut milk. It’s a very liquid soup, so for a meal best served with something¬†else too, but seriously SO YUM! Oh and I didn’t try buttering the radishes, but what isn’t good with butter on it?! “
  • Micro-GreensRadish, Blue Curly Kale, Basil, or Cabbage – can you figure out which kind you got? Some are more obvious than others …
  • Garlic scapes – a local organic farm had extra garlic flower buds, so Kristin went over and harvested some for you yesterday.
  • It makes great pesto, but you might want to grill/roast them a bit first, to mellow out the sharp garlic bite (from experience … we all smell like garlic today still, from last night’s raw-scape pesto pasta).
  • Here are several ideas for ways to use scapes in your meals!
  • And here’s several photos of things peripherally related to your meals, seen this week:

Box 2: A Week of Weeding

Although we still did plenty of transplanting and mulching this week, as well as pruning and beetle squishing, the main thrust of our labors have been the pulling, hoeing, whacking, and torching of weeds. It’s been ridiculously dry here, but our local weeds are a hardy lot; they don’t much mind the lack of rain. Fortunately, we’ve invested in a new inverter generator – it can run our drip irrigation for hours, using barely any gas and at a volume not much louder than a conversation.

greenhouse nearly emptied of seedlings

This has also made it possible to add a modern-style washing machine to our new “laundromat” – a free ice fishing shack we’ve turned into our dedicated laundry room. (Thanks CSA Members Dave & Marcia for the ice fishing shack – and thanks CSA Members Willy & Linda for the washing machine!) We still have our old wringer washer as well, but now our WWOOFers can skip the learning curve on that and use something a little less intimidating and hands-on. Still using our clothes lines as our dryer though!

And hey, while we’re talking about upgrades and gratitude, this week we we also used a dog kennel that Willy & Linda donated – to build a new tall fence around the processing area, so our chickens can continue to range freely … but no longer try to hang around where we wash and pack vegetables!

Speaking of which …

in Box 2

  • Salad Mix (Red & Green lettuce, Arugula, Beet Greens, Mizuna) – the Salad Days are here! This bag will make a lovely Chop Salad, or a wonderful Chomp Salad if you like big greens like we do. Or make little lettuce wraps with the larger leaves? Hmm.
  • Sugar Snap Peas – the first of the season! Just enjoy these ones raw, they’ll never be so tender again! Plenty more should be coming for stir fries and such in future weeks.
  • Pea Tips(bagged with the peas) whenever a deer gets into the field, they nearly always home in on these; the tender new growth of the sugar snap peas. They’re onto something! Liven up a salad or sandwich with a handful of these.
  • Bok Choi – would taste great with a sesame dressing like this, along with some of your green onions.
  • Radishes & Greens – shareholder Melissa shared this top-notch recipe for making pesto with radish greens; she says it’s the only way to go!
thanks for the rad(ish) recipe Shareholder Melissa!!
  • Green Onions – we find these so useful and so versatile; we plan to give you onions to use pretty much every week, so let us know if you want any ideas or recipes for them. Basically, put some into most everything!
  • Micro-Greens – a zippy blend of radish, kale, red cabbage, and amaranth. As I like to say about your farmer Kristin, “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” – like these radish microgreens!

Hope you all have a lovely week, and to see you all in person sooner than later!

Thank you!!!

Box 1: Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

Oh man, there’s been a whole lot going on since we last spoke a few months ago. Global pandemic, quarantines, and protests have erupted and redefined our society and our existences. It’s sure an interesting time to be alive, and regardless of anything else, I’m grateful for that.

Of course, for us here on the farm, the last few months have been hardly different from this same time of any other year. We rarely leave the land, have few visitors, and strive to make trips to the store as rare as possible.

Roots had be put down again, literally and everyway else. Seedlings were planted in tiny soil blocks, transferred to larger soil blocks, kept alive through many subfreezing nights, hardened to the sun’s shine and the wind’s battering.

Rips in the aging greenhouse plastic were mended, trellises constructed, gophers, removed, visits made by raven and coyote, whippoorwill and bear. The field was plowed with Kristin’s dad’s (and dad’s dad’s) old tractor. Putrid semi-liquified waste carp was fed to the soil ahead of hungry corn seeds. (yes this was a hilariously gross episode.) Weeds were pulled and scraped and torched and buried. Thousands of little plants were moved out into the field, suddenly transforming the blank canvas into a full garden, ready to fill out into abundance.

And we grew. Especially Otis, of course, in most every way. He’s a child of the land here, and it’s so damn exciting to see it happen.

Of course, it’s also exciting to see the first boxes of our food disperse out\ into the world. Most of you are old hands with us now, but we do have a few totally new folks on board this year. We’ll try to give useful info while not being too repetitious … but really, that’s the cyclical nature of farming.

Around and around we grow!

Gabe, Otis & Kristin as drawn by WWOOFer B (aka Bear's Dad)

In the Box: Week One

  • Micro-greens
    They’re like food confetti! Enjoy the Restaurant Experience at home by garnishing up some fancy meals … and just enjoy munching them in sandwiches or salads or plain …
    There are two containers: one is all Radish (zippy.) , the other is a Mix of red cabbage, two types of kale (red russian & curly blue), and amaranth.
  • Spinach

You can use it in a pasta dish, or a quiche, or eat it uncooked perhaps! (But really, at this time of year, it will likely taste best cooked.)

  • Pea Tips

Put them on just about everything! A fresh garnish atop something that would be wonderful beneath them? You can’t go wrong.

  • Bekana

A loose-headed Asian green – sort of a Napa Cabbage that never forms a head. Use in a similar manner. Not pictured, but not because we don’t love it..

  • French Breakfast Radishes

We have a LOT of radishes on our plates on the farm lately. They’re actually quite versatile, as it turns out, giving them some heat (pan-frying, oven roasting, etc) takes away the powerful trademark radish bite. Depending on where you go from there, they can be many kinds of delicious. Try them roasted in butter or maybe olive oil, or whatever you’re into! Also great sliced into stir-fries. Oh yeah you can totally cook and eat their greens as well! The roots will store best if cut off from the greens

I want to try them sliced lengthwise into thin slabs and put in a sandwich, but that hasn’t been tested yet
  • Green Onions
I think this says it all for green onions really
  • Chive Flowers

Pick the petals off with your finger tips – and sprinkle them on a salad perhaps. They provide a little bit of chive flavoring, in addition to the obvious visual appeal. Or you can infuse vinegar with them!

Would ya look at em?
  • Dandelion Jelly

When you want to forage and make preserves this early in the year, you get to work with some pretty awesome seasonal bounties.

PS – there is a search function on our website; if you want more info about a vegetable, try a search to see if it’s been discussed in years past.

snowbirds’ spring (2020 begins!)

Ten weeks in the south flowed by with liquid speed, leaving no time to feel homesick. But it still feels wonderful being home, re-rooting.

We got home yesterday afternoon, pleased to find the snow melted down to manageable depths, and our systems and structures mostly intact. Exceptions were minor; one woodpile partially toppled, a young apple tree critter-girdled, a snowmelt flood into the ice fishing shack/cabin, and invasive rodents busy all over.

But we didn’t need to clear the driveways or chop doors free from ice, the batteries that power us had successfully been kept from freezing, the generator and old Subaru started right up, before we’d left we’d been able to tame the chaos more than usual, and Otis was delighted to rediscover those toys we’d left behind.

The clouds have just darkened across the land here, but it’s still toasty down in Kristin’s greenhouses, and the wood stove up in here feels like kindness itself, with Otis napping happily in warmth from trees that lived their lives on this land alongside us.

… just like all the vegetables that we’ll be bringing to life for you to eat!

I just got back inside after repairing a break in the greenhouse water line; and now as I type this, Kristin is watering our first seeds of the season for their first time!

Welcome to another year of the Que Sehra Farm CSA’ we’re grateful for all of you that are eating with us this season!

We’re excited to grow for – and with – you this year.

what will be will be