Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Pick-up!

A reminder to our CSA members:
Please pick up your shares today, Monday!
Our last pick-up day will be Monday, the 26th!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gene Logsdon's Blog

Gene Logsdon's books have been our leisure reading, winter reading, even bathroom reading.
Currently: "All Flesh is Grass" refresher for our move to more pasture this Fall!
Thrilled to be tacked up on his blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Beneath the outspread arms of our two maple trees we packed this week's CSA shares. The combination of the sweet breeze, palming fat potatoes smelling of good clean dirt, and the new litter of kittens nearby pawing at the air and crawling about made for contented work.

Savoy cabbage is, in my humble opinion, one of the most handsome vegetables to grow from God's green earth...we nestled reams of tomatoes amongst their crinkly leaves, building little nests for September's bounty of red orbs...destined for tomato pies and sandwiches we hope.

Every week harvest and packing day seems to inspire new heights of imagination in our girls...our work topping and bagging up yellow storage onions was halted for Reasons of Security and Urgent Matters of Exploration, as the girls convinced us that we must accompany them to the edge of our fenceline and investigate the probable troll (and his cave) beneath the gargantuan branches of an old Pine in the neighbor's yard. E. Nesbit has remarked in her book "Wings and the Child" that children's play is practice at adult I listened to Una's narrative about the baby troll whose hand she held, and whose breath smelled like doopy...and as I watched her brandish a small (but obviously important) stick as she related how she singlehandedly vanquished a large evil troll as well as a fire-breathing dragon in one battle, I was struck with how the inspiration for her tale seemed to be the mountain of potatoes we were demolishing as we piled them into crates for storage, and the 50 pound sack of onions that we had heaved up onto the table and began to top and bag to pack in the shares...

Certainly every week's harvest is a monumental task...a hill made steeper as we near the end of our 18 week growing season, and tired limbs seek fireside chairs and couches, comforters, and mugs of hot apple cider. I find myself often referring the passing weeks as years. "Oh yes! Last year's share was quite nice..." or "Last year we harvested the Yukon golds..." so much occurs on the farm in a mere 7 days it is hard to tell what century we are in sometimes, let alone which week or month...

There is a timelessness to this work, which is why I find that usually after a month's break in Winter time, I crave it again. To lose oneself in a row of tomatoes, picking at little red and golden balls of fruit and kerplunking them into a bucket...with nothing but the sound of the bumblebee or the started grasshopper to serenade you...this is the stuff of ageless & timeless task...the reward of this work is the simple fact that the time is spent without malice, without distraction...with simple centeredness in the moment, the reaching for this cherry tomato, and that brandywine. The digging of this potato...and then that one....the pawing at the earth for yet one more. These days spread before us with a strange kind of leisure...though we are well aware of the shortening of the daylight and the cool temperatures creeping is as if we and the earth have made a smiling pact. We shall both enjoy the last moments of the growing season with contented delight. With the kind of uninterrupted unharried peace that comes with being satisfied with where you are, and what you are doing...mindful that it is coming to a steady end.

And each our field exausts itself with harvest after it sits spent in weeds and seedpods and fewer and fewer rows of crops...I am amazed at the continual bounty, I am knee-deep in gratitude for yet another week's share of fodder for feasting.

Tomato Glut

This is what you do to celebrate September tomato deluge:

Make yourself (and lucky loved ones) a tomato pie:

spread a quilt on the grass and sit down in the sunshine to enjoy the flaky buttery crust as it compliments all the tartness, sweetness, & tangy explosion of the layered tomato filling in your mouth!

Tomato Pie

*1 and 1/2 cups flour
*7 TBSP butter
Cut together until crumbly.

*1/3 C shredded Cheddar cheese

*1/2 tsp salt

*3-4 TBSP water

Add and mix until dough comes together. Turn onto a floured surface and quickly bring together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 min.

Roll dough out into a 15 inch round and carefully life onto a greased baking sheet.

*1 egg yolk

*3 TBSP dried bread crumbs

*2 lbs fresh tomatoes, sliced

Brush most of the yolk onto the pastry. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Arrange tomato slices overlapping in a circle, leaving a wide border.

Sprinkle with 4 oz fresh chevre or feta. Fold the edges of the pastry over the filling and brush w/ remaining yolk. Bake at 350 for 30 min. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and fresh basil before DEVOURING!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


There is such a kinship between children and apples...both are possessed of that roundish quality...rosy cheeked bairns with upturned and newly scrubbed faces call to mind apples in September...smiling from their branches, shoulders beginning to blush pink.

Apples tuck so nicely into backpacks and baskets, apron pocket's, and fists. There is such a solid feeling of contentment when your palm meets the full curve of an apple...not to mention the sound of that first crunch into crispness...

A half bushel bag full of Paula Reds sat in our entry way for a few days...and every time we'd walk out or in visions of apple pies and apple cider and apple crisps would dance in our heads...

Finally I couldn't take it anymore. I pulled the sack inside and the girls and I made a royal mess in the kitchen peeling every last one and boiling it down for applesauce. They seem to take especial charge of processing an apple it for cider, sauce, or baked good...

The perfect ratio of water to apple for sauce is 1 Cup water to every 4 apples. Simply cook down till the apples are soft...add whatever sugar you so desire....and for a smoother finish blend it in a blender before filling your quart jars and boiling in hot water for 20 minutes.

I'm sure I need not remind you to lick the spoon!!

"Surely the apple is the noblest of fruits"

-Henry David Thoreau-

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Butchering Time

Last night's sky aglow with pink bands of dying light was stretched over a cavernous hole in the farm. We had just returned from dropping our 5 hogs and nearly half our flock of sheep off at the local butchers. In the evenings it had been the piggies' custom to enjoy playful romps about the farmyard...cavorting about in little races and pestering the laying hens that were scratching in their spilled grain. Pigs, love em or leave em, are the heart of the farm. They singlehandedly make true the saying that "nothing goes to waste on the farm..." I already miss the luxury of the pig bucket...into the bucket goes melon rinds, apple cores, bits of stale bread, that last little scoop of soup or pasta or stir fry that no one can manage, tops of veggies, old milk, you name it: it can be turned into bacon. Marvelous thought. And then there's the sound of their contented grunting and rummaging about...its a kind of music on the you don't realize that you depend on in a sort of strange way, until it's gone. It is the sound of industry, as they plow up their pasture, and prepare the ground for a Fall sowing...and of efficiency as they turn those table scraps, grass, and grain into delicious meat. They are the poster child for the domesticated farm animal, that gives you good company in those fence leaning moments after the morning or evening chores are complete...and continues to supply your needs long after they've made their final act of kindness towards you in their noble deaths.
There's an old adage about not naming what will eventually end up on your table...but we've found that giving our meat names has brought a greater sense of gratitude to us. When you look down at your plate and remember the face and character of the animal who gave its life for you, you immediately have something to thank, and you weigh its value accurately.

We raise animals to follow us with the grain or slop bucket...and so, in their final moments, boarding the trailer, they are as docile and as cooperative as ever. This makes the day bittersweet. There is definitely no air of jollity as we fill out our butcher orders, and leave a part of our farm behind in the waiting is a solemn day replete with all the emotions of relief, anxiety, excitement, and sadness rolled into one.

We have been talking lately about studying up on our home butchery so that we can get proficient enough at it to do all of the slaughter and meat cutting for our members as well as for ourselves. Loading up animals who have been pastured all their lives, and have never left the farm, so that they can share holding pens on cement with other animals who have been kept in confinement is incongruous with our philosophy of farming. When we butchered our own two pigs I was amazed at the map the muscles made for the cutting...and after a little practice it became second nature.

Culling is such an important task on the farm. It calls upon the steel nerves of a husbandman.

If emotion is allowed to hold the day when it comes to those cute lambs, or that darling sheep with the beautiful fleece and the completely flighty nature...than the herd can suffer exponentially for years to come, as the undesirable traits are passed down through the generations. Yesterday we had to cull all our white sheep...and just like that our flock was reduced from 15 to 9. I am struck by how this deliberate act of termination carries with it the ghost of regeneration, as the farmer's entire intention and mind lays in the land of future contingency and next generations, new seasons, new flocks...the end of any year necessarily carries with it the seed of the coming season. All the finality of these last harvests are seasoned with rebirth.

Lamb and Pork will be ready next Friday.

Monday, September 5, 2011


There is definitely a nip in the air.

That crisp cool snap signalling fall bonfire, apple cider, and walks down lanes lit with changing leaves...

It is my most favorite time of year. I usually launch into a bread baking to celebrate.

The butternut squashes seem to be impervious to the squash beetle population that has taken over the field...and I look forward to turning them into creamy soups to succor us in these last few weeks of the growing season.

We will be sheering the sheep soon...and turning out efforts to carding their fleeces...and other domestic magic.

Recently we were so caught up in packing for our coming move, harvesting the last crops of vegetables, and making plans for the Fall butchering...I found that I was hurrying the days by without a thought to their value...I was tizzying on to the next important thing...until our little Una fractured her skull, and we landed in the hospital for 4 days. The ICU does wonders for one's sense of gratitude and acceptance. Suddenly the moments became precious...the present became monumental...and time stood still...

As our little one recovers, she daily confronts the frustration of not having the same balance and motor skills she has just one week ago...but the rituals and rhythms of old fashioned kitchen work has her quite content for hours on end...I am grateful for the work to do with her, mixing the dough for baguettes...and using tried and true stretch and fold techniques...

there is a kind of therapy in salting cheeses, and making yogurt...

The gift of work: waking up in the morning to tasks with which to busy your hands, tasks that directly add to and supply your daily is a poverty indeed which has us paying our way out of kneading our own dough, simmering our own broth, coagulating our own milk, and chopping wood for our own heat...what pleasures we seal ourselves off from with our conveniences and ready cash!

Last night, after the children were snug in their beds, I tiptoed out into the dark and brought in from the cooler this week's batch of goat cheeses. Caring for cheese is something of an intimate thing after all...

It is well known that Nubians are the drama queens of the dairy goat world...their plaintive cries are pathetic and human-like as they let all the world know that they are a. ready to be milked, or b. cold and wet, or c. desirous of treats, or d. not euphoric....

I am well aware that Lupe and Zita are softies...but I spoil them anyway because they give us the creamiest milk! It is the height of decadence to be able to reach into the fridge and pull out chevre to stash in omelets, or sprinkle liberally over salads...goat's can thrive on poor pastures...provided with woods...and their milk can be digested in 30 minutes- versus the 3 hours it takes our bodies to digest cow's milk. A most excellent animal, even if prone to very vocal complaining and too dashedly clever for their own good!