Volume 4: Issue 1 – 3/23/12
In this issue:
Jams, Jellies and Honey
On the Home Front
Question of the Month: What do you ask a CSA Farmer?
I’m not even going to lay out an excuse for how long it’s been since I’ve postd a newsblog. Well, on the other hand, between this crazy weather, general farm life ups and downs, and switching the entire website to a new server, time totally got away from me.
But it’s spring, officially as well as behaviorally, so I have incentive now to keep at it!
If you’ve sent an order for garden share, eggs, poultry, or anything else and have not received an e-mail from me saying your order arrived, please contact me ASAP. I have sent out confirmation e-mails to everyone I have order forms from.
We opened shares to previous members in February and then to the general public in March, admittedly without much fanfare, and within a week of opening shares we were nearly sold out. A couple days later we were doing math to see if we could squeeze a couple more couple shares into the mix. We’re now maxed out on summer shares for this year but still have room for a few winter garden shares. Since we plant those seeds now, too, though, we need orders as soon as possible. As always, if we have room closer to harvest time, winter garden shares will remain available.
For those of you who are interested in such things, we have 19 Garden Shareholders this year spread out between three pick-up locations (here at the farm, Owensboro, and Newburgh)! That’s an increase over last year’s 4. (For those of you interested in numbers, we have 10 full-share equivalents.)
We already have thousands (literally) of seeds started and have a very cute greenhouse up at last. We’re already anticipating the tomatoes that will come off some of those plants! Yum! Since the weather has been so delightfully dry and unseasonably warm (can anyone spell summer?), we already have potatoes, onions, carrots, and some greens in the ground. We’re hopeful that the weather will cooperate and we’ll have an excellent and varied harvest all season this year. One thing about farming, you have to be optimistic. I’ll try to get the complete crop list posted soon, especially as we are growing a couple new and (for us) unusual items this year.
We’ll still be planting seeds in sets for quite a while and will be planting more directly into the ground, as well, so if you want to spend an hour or two helping out, please give us a call. Take note – this *is* a farm and there are loads of bugs creeping, crawling, and flying around as well as what looks like the beginnings of a bumper crop of poison ivy in various places.
As always, I need to remind you that we practice sustainable farming and use as many organic practices as possible but we are not certified organic. We use pesticide and herbicide only as a last resort/rescue and our fertilizer is organic.
Please e-mail us or call us with any questions, concerns, comments, etc that you have. As I have time, I’m going through old newsblogs to glean the best of the information and will be posting them as I can. Those of you who’ve been around for any amount of time know that we’re more than happy to discuss all things farming pretty much any time. We have been described as “chatty” – we won’t deny it! We love discussing and sharing the things about which we are passionate!
Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum it could actually be done.
Egg Update: Egg production is going well and we have (most of) our hens laying where we can reliably find their eggs, so that’s a great thing. We have room for a couple more egg shares, especially as some of our young pullets are nearing laying age. Hopefully by summer season, we’ll be in full egg production.
Chicken (to eat): We’ve had a series of problems with getting our meat birds raised. We’re plugging away at it but between one thing and another, it’s been slow going. Those who have been patient enough to wait, though, have appreciated the birds.
This is as good a time as any for a little reminder about what we do and don’t raise. We primarily raise heritage breed Dark Cornish chickens for our meat with a few dual purpose heritage birds like Dominique and Rhode Island Red for good measure. The Dark Cornish is not the same bird as the Cornish X Cross raised for grocery stores. Additionally, like all our livestock, our meat birds are free to roam and eat what they feel naturally compelled to eat which, we think, makes a fine tasting and healthy bird. We will also remind everyone that, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t the breed of bird that makes up how tender/firm the meat is as much as it is how it is raised. Our birds will have firmer meat (and be tastier, honestly) because they run around eating bugs and grass.
Here’s my moment to remind you: please thoroughly cook your meat and eggs! In our opinion, people get sick because they don’t properly prepare their food much more often than they do because of what did or didn’t happen at the farm.
Turkey: Our turkey hens are laying like crazy and we have several eggs in the incubator. In addition, we have a few poults (baby turkeys) coming from the hatchery in a couple weeks to infuse some new blood into the flock. As a reminder, the earlier you get your holiday turkey ordered, the more likely you are to actually get one. Last year, we ran out and had to eat old birds, ourselves.
Waterfowl: Sadly, over the winter, predators made away with the remainder of our duck flock. We have Cayuga ducklings coming from the hatchery and, depending on how many little boy ducks we end up with (because we only need one) we may have some duckling available next fall. Cayuga is the best tasting duck out there. Just ask us!
We’ve also had some real issues with our goose population and are switching the breed we raise to the Pilgrim goose and have goslings coming at the same time as the ducklings. Since geese mate for life, we can’t promise limitless goose next fall. It will all depend on how many of what we end up with and what they look like. If you’re interested in either duck or goose, get your order in as soon as you absolutely can. We’re sure to have at least a couple of each.
Keep your fingers crossed! There’s nothing so good as a Cayuga duckling on the table and we hear Pilgrim goose is a great holiday treat!
We have lots of pork. And I do mean lots. Most of it is happily running around out there rooting in the dirt or mud, chomping down grass and small trees, and generally enjoying life while simultaneously growing into fine meals. Mulefoot pork is becoming more and more readily noticed on the meat market as an exceptional pork product and we are proud to be able to offer that meat to folks in the Tristate.
If you’re interested in a sampler, give us a call. If you just want to see these amazing hogs, drop by the farm and we’ll be happy to introduce you (give us a call first, please). If you want to order a whole or half or quarter hog, check out the appropriate page(s) on the website and send in your order form. We can usually have one butchered to order fairly quickly as long as our butcher doesn’t have something else going on. (For instance, deer season is a bad time to expect a quick turn around.)
Maggie, our daughter for those of you who don’t know her, will be showing a Mulefoot market gilt at our county 4H fair this summer. Since they’re not a breed recognized as worthy of the fair, she’ll expect a red ribbon, but it’s a great way to get Mulefoots out there. If you’re in the area, come cheer her on! (It’ll be in later June.)
Jams, Jellies and Honey
Bee Buzz: The honeybees are just loving all this warm weather and blooming flowers and trees! They’re already making the honey they need for their colonies and it’s possible we may be able to harvest honey early this year.
Jelly Jive: As long as we don’t have a cold snap now, we should have a pretty good fruit crop. Most things are at least beginning to blossom and bloom out so a cold snap now would really hurt all the fruit in the area. And, of course, our jelly and jam production will depend completely on what kind of fruit harvest we have this year. So stay posted!
On the Home Front
So much has happened here since the last time I posted an update! Maggie’s working hard on her 4H projects (come cheer her on at the Spencer County Fair this June) as well as on getting ready to bridge from Brownies to Junior Girl Scouts at the end of April. Her involvement in the Kentucky Youth Chorale has been a delight for us all.
The population of our farm animal community has made some shifts, too many to note by name – lots of piglets, cows and calves have come and gone, chicks have arrived in a variety of ways, and so forth. Life on a farm is always in motion.
Recipe(s) of the Month:
Here are three awesome springtime recipes. The first is for Rhubarb Crunch – it won’t be long! The other two are for what to do with all those hard boiled eggs many will have April 8th.
1 C. rolled oats (uncooked)
1 C. flour
1 C. packed brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 C. chopped nuts
3 C. rhubarb (cut, uncooked)
Cut the rhubarb into bite sized pieces and put in a deep baking dish. Mix together oats, flour and sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in nuts. Sprinkle over rhubarb.
Bake at 350º F for 45-60 minutes.
Serves 6-8 (very yummy hot with vanilla ice cream!)
Best Hard-Boiled Eggs
Place eggs in pot, cover with cold water. Add a sploosh of vinegar (the vinegar will help with the peeling). Bring to a rolling boil, lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, covered. Remove from heat, leave covered, and let stand 15 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water. To cool faster, replace water when warm. When cool, crack and peel the eggs.
Stuffed Eggs (AKA Deviled Eggs)
1 dozen eggs
3 heaping T. mayonaise / salad dressing
2 t. sugar
2 dashes each salt & pepper
2 t. vinegar
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 t. mustard
Hard boil the eggs (see recipe above for best hard-boiled eggs), let cool, then peel. Cut eggs in half, length-wise. Remove yolk; mash yolk and combine with other ingredients. Beat until smooth. Refill egg whites with yolk mixture. Garnish with paprika, chives, or other herbs or seasonings as desired.
Random Question of the Month:
This month’s Random Question is actually a series of questions posted on LocalHarvest.org for people interested in starting with a CSA. Even though we’re full-up, many CSAs aren’t and you may be still in the market. And we thought our shareholders might want the answers to these questions!
Questions You Might Ask your CSA
Nothing beats a personal conversation with the farmer. Here are some questions you might ask.
How long have you been farming? Glenn has been farming and gardening all his life (that’s more than 5 decades), and Maggie can say the same thing (one decade for her!). Gail was forced to weed as a kid and teen (didn’t like it so much) and eat fresh veggies (this part was awesome).
How long have you been doing a CSA? We started our CSA in Ohio in 2009 and moved to SW Indiana after the 2010 season. So this is our 4th year as a CSA, but only our second in the Tristate.
Are there items in your box grown by other farms, and if so, which farms? Only occasionally. We will sometimes include items from other farms we don’t grow (like apples), or when we’ve had a crop failure (last year and sweet corn). We will always tell you where other items came from and, as much as we know, what their farming practices are.
How did last season go? Surprisingly well considering it was our first season here, we were sustainably farming land that had been conventionally farmed for several decades, and the weather patterns weren’t ideal. We base our success rate partly on the fact that we retained all but one of our shareholders from last year and that one is doing their own garden this year, so we don’t really consider that a fail.
I'd like to talk with a couple of your members before I commit. Could you give me contact info for a couple of "references"? We do post testimonials on this website when we have them, but we’re also happy to refer you to someone else. We have also given sample shares from time to time (as produce allows).
If you haven’t found your CSA yet, these are a few great questions to ask. There are lots of others. Here are some other tips: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/tips.jsp ; http://www.localharvest.org/newsletter/20100223/choosing-a-csa.html
Check out our FAQ pages, too!
Drop me a line any time or give a call to share your stories, recipes, questions, concerns, or just chit chat! We really do want to focus on that “C” in CSA.
Thanks for eating locally!