Category Archives: CSA

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.

Week 13 CSA Newsletter

Words …

Have we talked about Oak Wilt on our land? Large patches of red oaks are losing their leaves and bark, becoming sculptural sentinels. This bothered me at first. I love the oaks, and it felt like I was losing something. But the changing landscape has grown on me, both as it is and as it may become. .

And the sunlight loves the change. Patches of bright blue open skies above are mirrored below with sun dappled eager young leaves and grasses, as the formerly rather intractable shadowy buggy brambly woods reveal their curves and their intentions.

Plus, it’s making paths and openings without mechanical and human intervention … perhaps we will chose a spot on which to build? Regardless, it’s lovely to see the sunlight pour through the once-dark woods, illuminating the oaken bones and backlighting the emerald understory, bursting forth into the sudden sunlight.

what will be, being

The landscape grows and changes as do all things, and we … we are Here For It.

Inside the box

  • Sweet Peppers  – Kristin says peppers are her favorite crop today.
  • Jalapeños – if they have that “checking” on the skin, they’re extra spicy. Remove the seeds to tone them down.
  • Zucchini – you won’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
  • Cabbage – we didn’t get enough of the large boxes back to use them this week (ahem ahem ahem) so these beasts challenged some laws of space.
  • Onions – two of ’em
  • Carrots – more genuine babies. Agricultural Mad Scientists have discovered that you can magically stunt carrots growth through an intensive canopy of vigorous weeds. Weeding baby carrot plants is … something. They share the bag with:
  • Broccoli Side Shoots aka Baby Broccoli FER CUTE 
  • Cherry tomatoes  – a quart of em
  • Salad Turnips – just eat one like an apple; amaze your friends.
  • Tomatoes – These were very difficult to Tetris into safe nestlings within the boxes. Eat the ripest ones fist – regardless of color, you can feel a ripe tomato’s slight overall give in the skin when cupped.
  • Italian Basil – it loves tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Corn – still sweet, still juicy – but less tender. I continue to relish it raw, but this is also good in dishes in which you slice it off the cob and use … like the corn chowder Kristin made last night. (sans any potatoes)
  • Pea microgreens
I love noodle bowl

Week 12 CSA Newsletter

Otis grinds pears into goo for “butter”

This week marked the beginning of tomato preservation season – when the tomatoes with cracks and bruises and bites are salvaged to be smoked and sauced and salsaed. The Frankensmoker was disassembled from the “temporary test” location where it sat for several years, and rebuilt in a more convenient location, new and improved.

In other news, our former WWOOFer friend Madball hit the road after two weeks on the farm – but not before helping us forage plenty of mushrooms, set up for two markets, and knock out the final roofing of the processing area, at last. Now we can pack veggies protected from the rain and sun for the first time! How civilized we feel.

The deer are on an absolute rampage in the brassica row overnights … destroying fall broccoli and cauliflower and brussels sprouts like some kind of demonic plague. I might be biased. But no, I think that these deer are objectively evil, and I’m hopeful that this week our exorcist friend with the deer rifle will banish at least one from this realm because this carnage hurts our souls to see.

on the Twelfth Week Season my farmer gave to me:

OK I’m not actually going to do all the lyrics and make a song of it, my fingers have written a silly check that my brain cannot cash. But here’s what you’ve gotten:

  • a melon – most likely a watermelon, although two lovely cantaloupes went out as well. Kristin picks the ones she deems most likely to be delicious, based on the arcane witchery of divinitory melon dowsing. (If you are saddened because you really wanted a watermelon, but got a different variety, let us know and we will try to hook you up next week if possible.)
  • Sunflower Shoots – the most popular microgreen
  • Brussels Sprouts Plant Tips with Broccoli Bonus Bag – use the tender topped plants like kale! We cut these off to stimulate the plants to grow the desirable sprouts later in the season.
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Salad Turnips
  • 1/2 Dozen Ears of Sweet Corn – I never loved sweet corn until I ate it fresh from the field. Oh my. Yours was harvested this morning … go!
  • Zukes – the workhorses of CSA cooking
we are the Zukes Gone Wild
  • Onions
  • Cukes – these make great teethers, if you or an infant you know has teeth coming in. Also, they are food.
  • Two Tomatoes – one less pretty than the other. The best available from our beleaguered plants. They are looking a bit better though … hopefully the warmth lasts and they continue.
  • Cherry Tomatoes – I’d take these out and make sure none have split; they were all intact at harvest this morning, but some were ripe enough that they split their skin afterward.