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The Final CSA Newsletter 2022

Well, it sure has been an interesting year, again. The most memorable part was probably the Battle for the Crops with the local deer army, I’d say. It was also our first year farming with two kids – and the combination of an infant and a boy was certainly quite a challenge.

We planned for it, as much as we could – tried to make things as low maintenance as possible … which really doesn’t equate to much ease, with a farm our size, without pesticides and herbicides and employees and tractors.

Although we had hardly any WWOOFers to help compared to previous years, we were kept sane by the steadfast, incredible support of family – Kristin’s mom and dad came out to the Farm for nearly every harvest day and market to spend time with the boys, freeing up Kristin and I to get things done .. as well as helped with innumerable projects, meals, and loads of laundry.

It would not have been possible without them, and I cannot adequately express how grateful I am that they are in our lives – not only because it makes the pragmatic aspects of farming possible, but because philosophically, deeply, we believe in the importance and value of living as an inter-generational family – the way our modern American society has degraded and broken this type of connection and support is, I believe, one of the reasons it is so sickened.

In 2013, I married Kristin, changed my name to Sehr, left behind my city life and moved onto this old Sehr family land, embarking on an adventure that has led me into a depth and variety of experiences that I’d never really dared to hope for. I live and work alongside my family, raising two new humans intimately connected to the cycles of the seasons and rhythms of life on this earth. It is all I want from life; I feel no lack, no need for more, no yearning for different … how lucky I am, to have found this life, this land, this experience of Being.

So thank you, Deb and Jim for your support over this last decade, and thank you, CSA Shareholders, for supporting us with your dollars and interest and collaboration, for another year. It’s been another enriching turn around the Sun; farming the Barrens, greening the wasteland, finding joy and bringing forth life and love from such an unlikely little scrap of land on the outskirts, within the borderland between civilization and the forces of nature that inexorably and patiently work to reclaim it.

This is Life. We are Living. Thanks, again, for being fellow members of our symbiotic network, it’s been wonderful to be supported by you, to get to know you, and get to feed you.

inside the final box

  • Tetsukabuto Squash – You should wait for 5 weeks before eating these – the flavor will be concentrated in the flesh, if you can wait. Tetsukabuto squash has a relatively low moisture content and when cooked retains a firm texture with a pleasant starchy quality. The flesh is not quite as sweet as a butternut, but when roasted, its earthy flavor develops rich notes of hazelnut and browned butter. Will store for 4-6 months in a cool dark place. Here’s a good overview, or you can search for a recipe that looks yummy …
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Shallots
  • Dried Beans – 1 cup dried should yield 3 cups cooked. Expect these to cook faster and don’t store them in a sealed container (paper bag is fine) as they are fresh dried beans, and have a higher moisture content.
Calypso & Cranberry Beans
  • (Calypso, Cranberry, or Tiger Eye variety)This year we experimented with several rows of beans that we let dry out on the plants in the field. We’ve done this at smaller scales for ourselves in the past, but needed to come up with a way to shell and winnow (remove the dead husks and plant matter) a much larger quantity, in order to share with you. Our old wringer washer was the secret to joining the industrial age … we ran all the plants through the rollers a couple of times to pop out the beans, and then dumped the output from bucket to bucket in front of a fan which blew away the chaff.
laundry machine turned sheller
winnowing
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Ground Cherries
… if we get some canned goods made that we are actually willing to let go of, we will let you know before the holidays…

the Week 17 CSA Newsletter

On the day of the party, it drizzled into the morning, ending a few hours before things kicked off, and then it came back a few hours after the last party guests went home. And that was just how perfect the whole thing went. The fall colors were vibrant and varied, the sunshine and clouds in an idealized aesthetic balance. My camera was plugged into the music and so I took no photos but that let me just soak in the beauty, and be recharged, reawakened to how much we love growing for the network of humans that we do, and reminded of how much we love our existence embedded in this land, within this network, this local ecosystem of sky and sand and animals and plants and each other and you.

So that was nice.

We have freezing nights in the coming week. The season is not over, but the end has been set into motion. Our seasonal life here cycles while shooting forward, spiraling into the unknown. It’s the ride we bought our tickets for, and I have yet to feel buyer’s remorse … 10/10 would live again

inside Box 17

(Jolene’s pic)

Potatoes – reds and whites or maybe just reds but either way good for roasting, putting in soup or making into potato salad.Onions – a staple.

Butternut Squash – a moist squash good for pumpkin pie and other baked goods, or puréing into soup.

Radishes 

Salad Turnips – last of!

Tomatoes 

Green Tomatoes – not the kind that are ripe when green but the kind that one would make fried green tomatoes with or perhaps a Green Tomato and Gruyère Tart, or even something sweet like green tomato cake.

Brussels Sprouts – 100% not sprayed with any chemicals, not even organic approved ones. Hopefully through our careful picking this isn’t too evident. 

Sage & Thyme – seasonally appropriate herbs. Hang them to dry you want to use later. 

Radish Microgreens

Next week is the last week of the 2022 CSA!

(Jolene’s pic)

Week 16 CSA Newsletter

TLDR; the deer, the cold, the party.

The harvest today took a long time, even though Kristin had done a ton of stuff yesterday to prepare. I knew Winter Was Coming, I’ve been blabbing about it since early August or so, but somehow, I still am not ready for this transition. The wood stove heat sure is nice though. Anyway, winter was the reason we were so long afield today, because we expect a hard frost tonight, and the sprawling squash is far too widespread to protectively cover … so we had to harvest it all to squirrel away in the greenhouse. And there was a lot of squirreling to be done! (ahh, abundance problems … somehow just as stressful as scarcity problems, despite the edible and obvious silver linings of having too much of the good things.)

Anyway we compromised and only hauled a dozen or so wheelbarrow loads of various squashes, focusing on the ones laying on the row covers, exposed to the open air and freezing vacuum of space we call the “sky.” The vines had traveled for an absurd distance, leaving fruits hidden through the lush weeds that surround the dried beans on the western edge of the field – those, we left in place for now, hoping the tall, thick weed cover would, in a spirit of co-operation, shield them from the worst of the night’s cold, holding the ground heat slightly in place.

It’s a good theory anyway, I’d like to report back next week and tell you that it worked wonderfully. We’ll see. Anyway we were out of time and he surfaces in the little greenhouse was filling up.

Of course, any squash that we leave in the field will become desirable wild critter fuel, and we really don’t need to provide them with anymore go power. We have labored for many hours this season to carefully grow a smorgasbord of delicacies for the local mammalians. We are trying to make it a little less appealing to the deer still this week. When the nights were still warm, we already had hundreds of feet of row cover fabric draped across the field – not as a defense against frost, but as a barrier for the midnight raiders. That’s the quiet part. We also set a motion sensor alert up in one of the more popular rows in the deer buffet – and so one to three times a night, I spring from the bed when that bell chimes, throwing on a bathrobe and a shotgun to stalk to the field and terrify the audibly-munching monsters into running away into the woods … for an hour or sometimes more. These things do not spook easily – the AM radio-listening mannequins and the previous jack in the box shotgun scare seem to have made them jaded, and insouciant. They’ve been warned now at least a dozen times, and none will blame us for wishing them to change their names from “deer” to “venison.” And toot sweet.

Well I had a lot more in mind to ramble on about but Widget heard a car and flipped out, waking up Jasper who had just fallen asleep – he was inconsolable until I took him on a walk to the greenhouse to close it up, preserving some of the sun’s warmth for tonight’s big chill n kill. We harvested some tomatoes that were just starting to ripen, to hide away in the root cellar where they might finish their ripening snug from the cold and safe from the voles.

Anyway, the farm party is this Sunday, and we hope to see you there. Enjoy your veggies, and stay warm and cozy tonight.

Inside Box 16

Zucchini

Sweet Peppers

Jalapeño 

Onions

Eggplant

Cherry tomatoes 

Tomatoes – at least one good ripe one, and nice firm one that will ripen over the course of the week.

Tomatillos – These are sometimes confusing for us northern folks to use, but don’t fret. You can make salsa verde, or roast them to make soup or enchilada sauce, and you’ll likely be glad that you did.

Winter squash – This week, a buttercup. If you want to stock up on more squash, consider buying some from us at the party? I have a feeling we will have a good supply available.

Bok choi – After losing the entire rainbow chard crop to involuntary wildlife tithing, we fought hard to keep this row undevoured – row cover saved the day.

Salad Turnips – edible greens and sweet, juicy roots.

Radishes – throw these greens in with your turnip greens. Note – don’t let the root veggies languish around the fridge with the leaves attached; this desiccates and rubberizes them in short order. Cut em off while you’re still thinking about it? The roots, fresh or roasted, are what scientists call ‘good.’

Week 15 CSA Newsletter

I like to use this newsletter as an opportunity to re focus on the beautiful and wonderful aspects of our life on the farm. Sometimes that is simple, but on days like today it don’t come easy. I guess it should; at the top of my head there are easily a dozen major aspects of our existence that fill me with excitement for the future, and love of the present.

But dammit, I am just so irritated at the damages the deer are inflicting upon us during their midnight raids of the garden. We’ve had deer that learned to leap the fence before – most years, really, one or two will figure it out as summer shifts to autumn. But this year is different. The deer are absolutely voracious, and they don’t arrive until long after dusk. It seems clear that they are working in coordination with the cunning colonial voles, timing surgical strikes without ever being seen or heard … leaving behind nothing but hoofprints and the truncated stumps of our fall brassica crops.

Harvesting the cherry tomatoes from the row next door this morning, I walked past hundreds of feet of chewed up stems and stumps. And I did not see the beauty, and I said some very foul things, and being a conscious living being seemed downright unpleasant for awhile. I mean, it wasn’t a full on meltdown, but ugggh there was a distinct absence of happy thoughts. The “what will be will be” of last week’s perspective felt far away, and probably pollyannaish.

Well. The deer aren’t really eating everything. Just seems like it when my focus is specifically on the damages … and when undamaged plants happen to catch my eye, they bring only deepening darkness since they are just future casualties waiting to disappear down a bottomless white-tailed gullet. I can scare them away with some mid-night patrols, we can more aggressively seek a hunter to transmute the garden gobbler into venison seasoned by sweet sweet revenge. Or we could just … say “whatever” and let nature take its course. From here, that’s tempting. And I have a feeling that everything will be just fine, however we decide.

And hey, at least one of our CSA members actually hates the entire brassica family (and may in fact be in league with the deer and vole alliance striving to avoid kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts entirely, hmmm)

Anyway, I’m bored with deer, what else? The baby is threatening to start walking, the winter squash is looking great, winter plans are starting to come into focus, and we live and grow surrounded by wild critters and weeds and we love it even when we must struggle to create abundance for ourselves and our fellow humans. Ack I’m back on the depredations of the local mammalian population again … let’s just see what’s …

Inside the Box

  • Zucchini & Summer Squash – one of each
  • Potatoes – purple & red or purple & white
  • OnionsRedwing & Patterson varieties
  • Hakuri Salad Turnips
  • French Breakfast Radishes
  • Cherry tomato mix – watch out for the little red ones – they love to split after they’ve been harvested and packed.
  • Tomatoes – a variety of types including Striped German, Pink Berkley Tie-dye, Damsel, Cherokee Green, Kellogg’s Breakfast, and several others we can’t even hope to remember just now, all ripe or very nearly ripe (even the green ones).
  • Peppers – assortment of ripe sweet peppers, including Glow, Carmen, Ace, Islander varieties
  • Cucumbers – there are about 5 surviving plants inside the high tunnel, although the main row in the field is completely done for the season.
  • Arugula Microgreens – peppery goodness

if you’ve made it this far, you’re definitely on the list for this:

CSA Week 14 Newsletter

This week felt … very que sera, sera. Beautiful summer days and cool smooth sleeping nights. The various challenges in the field … well, they are what they are. Let the rodents munch, the weeds seed, the deer graze .. we are getting our time’s worth back in the abundant harvests for our meals, our every market and CSA distribution. The tomatoes are finally behaving somewhat – or at least enough of them.

The flawed and the ugly maters are looking like delicious pre-salsa, alongside the similarly damaged heaps of peppers. And we’re even plotting to use the vigorous lambs quarter weeds … we scored an antique seed separator machine last fall, and we’re going to use it to collect and winnow the abundant but tiny edible weed seeds! If we’re going to irrigate and trellis them like a crop, we may as well harvest and eat them like one too!

Our traditional serendipitous luck with all things trailer held up as well, as we worked on how exactly we might manage to head South during the most brutal months of the northern Wisconsin winter. After digging into various types of motorhomes and hitting only walls, we started looking into used pop-up camper trailers, which seemed about perfect for our family’s needs.

Fortunately we didn’t go ahead and buy one, and mentioned our thoughts to Kristin’s folks … and Jim replied “you might want to open up the one down by the field.”

What one?! Oooooh yeah .. about five years ago, Jim had scored a free pop-up camper off of Craigslist. We hadn’t needed it then, so after he sealed up a leak on the exterior of the roof, we parked it, never even opened it, and then forgot it even existed. Well, we figured out how the 1989 vintage camper opened up and took a peek … and it’s perfect! With some canvas patching and waterproofing, it’ll; be ready to roll on our snowbird flight.

Inside Box 14

Spaghetti squash – Halve it, scoop out the seeds, roast in the oven like any winter squash (or microwave it). Scrape out the strandy innards with a fork to use however you like … we like it with a light sauce like butter, parmesean, and herbs. Maybe some chopped and drained tomatoes; a lot of people try spaghetti sauce, but it kinda just turns it to a pile of mush. You could also make fritters – combine the cooked flesh with an egg, salt, pepper, maybe herbs, and a little flour. Fry little patties of the results in a pan.

Onions

Garlic chive flowers – stir fry, pesto, salad dressing … most often used as a pretty garnish for salads and crudite platters but can be added to soups, sauces, and potato and egg dishes. Chive blossoms are also an ideal ingredient to flavor vinegar.

Thai basil – One website says there is no substitute for Thai basil, another website says to use any basil you have. So it goes on the internet. There are recipes for Thai basil pesto too. If you don’t have enough Thai basil for a full pesto recipe, you could make half or add in other mild greens like the microgreen mix.

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-thai-basil

https://hot-thai-kitchen.com/thai-basil-sauce/#recipe

Zucchini – you might be familiar

Cucumbers – ayuh

Peppers – fajitas, stuffed peppers, stuffed pepper casserole, chili, roasted pepper sauce, slice them dice them freeze them (no blanching needed!) …

Cherry tomatoes – have you tried roasting them? Have I linked to a recipe for this before? It’s a good thing.

Tomatoes – finally getting some decent quantities of big slicer worthy beasts! Use the ripest first, and save the firmer ones for a little later.

Ground cherries – magical husk fruit from Peru! The riper they get, the more golden they look – but when slightly under ripe theyre still good, just a bit tart. We usually just snack on ours. 

Micro mix – the cool nights have really made the microgreens happy it seems. This week’s mix includes sunflower, radish, red cabbage, kale, amaranth, pea shoots, and broccoli.