Monday, November 14, 2011

Pickings, November 14th

The fields are silent now, resting for the winter, with a healthy cover crop growing to maintain and enrich the soil. We spent a bit of time this week cleaning up after the storm, burning some brush to add potash back into the soil, taking down a beautiful elm which fell victim to the damned Dutch Elm Disease, planting a handful of extra garlic, mulching here and there, and installing a new water line to the barn. Although the To-Do list is still endless, it  is much shorter now, coinciding with the shorter days of fall and the quieter pace is a welcome relief to the non-stop work of long summer days. Still, we spent several evenings reading by headlamp during the blackout  - seed catalogs, a great little book - The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball, a Harvard-educated, NY professional turned farmer (sound familiar?)  who writes about her life on a CSA in the Adirondacks, and Rachel Carson's first book, Under the Sea Wind which has nothing to do with farming, but is a great read anyway.

On the livestock front, we processed our fall batch of broilers last week. These free-range birds were here a bit longer than we hoped but they're exquisitely tender, utterly delicious and BIG. We have a few dozen still available, ranging from 4 to just about 7 pounds. We roasted  one of the largest on Saturday and it fed us for three nights (with a few chicken sandwich lunches to boot). They are USDA certified, processed right here in New Milford, and available for $5.00 per pound frozen; please email to reserve them as they are selling fast and we won't have more until spring.

Nick, Linda and the girls.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pickings, September 26th

A busy day here today harvesting the winter squash, peppers, popcorn, a handful of pumpkins, and the last tomatoes of the season. We grew three varieties of peppers as shown in the top photo. The green with crinkled skin are HOT, the yellow/orange are slightly peppery and the smooth pointed variety is sweet. Butternut was our best producing winter squash and we'll include several in each basket this week. Acorn squash also did fairly well; the variety we grew this year has smaller fruit which is just right for a single serving. The heirloom Potimarron and Long Island Cheese varieties did not produce as well as we had hoped though and pumpkin harvest was disappointing, to say the least. Last year we harvested a wagon load but this season we only picked a few dozen and those were on the small side. We're saving these for our shareholders with kids and will include them with this week's basket along with popcorn and sunchokes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

After Irene

Irene has left us generally intact. Our chicks all survived low temperature nights without heat lamps and some crops are battered, in particular the popcorn and winter squash, but we are essentially fine. Harvests will be somewhat limited in the next few days and CSA pickups may be later in the day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pickings, August 24

Even thought it's August, fall is in the air and we can feel the end to summer just around the corner. Our morning harvest starts a little later now, and we finish a bit earlier in the evening which means slightly more sleep for me. Plants, too, sense this change and many varieties have stopped growing and are reaching maturity now.  We're harvesting the last of the summer squash, started to dig potatoes and picked our first edamame today. We like it boiled in salt water for five minutes, cooled, sprinkled with sea salt then served cold. In Japan, they were often served as an appetizer at yakitori bars and pair nicely with an Asahi Super-Dry or Sapporo but any ice cold beer will do.

This week, you'll  see garlic in your baskets and lots of tomatoes. You may also have received a bit of fennel, arugula, beets, onions, cabbage or swiss chard. A woodchuck helped himself to the broccoli so quantities of that and greens are scarce at the moment . We did manage to squeeze in a few late sowings of chard, spinach, carrots, rappi, turnips, beets and pak choi, which should be ready before frost.

We also increased our flock of chickens for eggs and will offer USDA-certified free range poultry, both of which will be available in October. These are birds are descended from a French breed which can  survive primarily on forage with limited grain. We'll be taking pre-orders in the near future.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pickings, July 5th

Summer squash has arrived in abundance. We're growing a smaller variety this year and cooking them whole, with blossoms attached, lightly breaded and grilled. One of our members suggested the blossoms stuffed with Chevre. Also ready this week - swiss  chard, broccoli rappi, lots of lettuce, carrots, some arugula, a bit of bok choi, scallions, and herbs.

String Beans are beginning to flower too, which means we may have some next week, and the peppers and tomatoes are coming along nicely. More Chinese Cabbage will be ready next week just in time for the end of the first bok choi crop.

On the production end, we spent much of the weekend seeding cover crops, weeding and tilling - thanks to Dave Pitcher for getting the tiller back in operation. We also planted new rotations of some crops and  find it hard to believe that it is already too late in the season to get certain crops in so they'll be ready before the first frost. Our trusty spring is allowing us to irrigate daily, which has made an enormous difference in the productivity of the garden.

Please let us know if you are away for the week, and if someone else will be picking up for you.

Nick and Linda

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pickings. June 23

When I was a college student, my roommate gave me a copy of Martin Yan's "Yan Can Cook Book" and it was an indispensable aid to a starving bachelor. Here's a spin on one of his basic stir fry recipes using  this week's harvest - you really can use just about anything - but in this case I tossed in carrots, bok choi, beets and beet greens, snow peas, garlic scapes and venison - all harvested within a few feet of the kitchen. Marinate the venison (or beef, lamb or whatever) for an hour or so in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a touch of garlic and cook it over searing heat in olive oil until done (venison really wants to be on the rare side) then set it aside and do the vegetables. Start with the carrots first, gradually adding the others, saving the peas for last -they only need about a minute. A wok is better suited for this, but a cast iron skillet works just fine if that's all you have. This paired well with a cornbread made with locally grown Red Fife flour. Sort of a fusion Asian/cowboy comfort food.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pickings - Week of June 20th

With cooperative weather this week the farm has burst forth and our crops have finally become established after a sluggish, cold and soggy spring. Second and third sowings of lettuce planted in May have actually outgrown and surpassed the initial early spring plantings we made in March, which now seems so long ago.  Our initial massive planting effort of several thousand seedlings is behind us and we are actually calculating the days to first frost and scrambling to get a handful of  longer season  plants in the ground.

This week's selections will include lots of greens including our two heirloom lettuce mixes, pak choi, and arugula. You may also see a few  radishes, rhubarb or the last of the strawberries and garlic scapes. We are just beginning  to harvest baby carrots , which is perhaps my favorite crop to grow, and the first of our baby beets. By next week we should be able to include these in all baskets. We're also trying to include a  bunch of mixed herbs in each basket every week - generally parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, mint and lemon balm, as well as the slower growing sage and rosemary on occasion.

By early next week we should also see the first of the broccoli rappi - try this with your garlic scapes, sauteed quickly in olive oil. And although our early spinach and swiss chard crops were disappointing, to put it mildly, due to a malfunctioning seed plate in our planter and poor germination, we hand-sowed a hundred feet or so for our next crop and are starting to see plants poking up from the earth, which should make it to your baskets in a few more weeks.

Truly a miracle in the making to watch a seed sprout and grow before your eyes.

Feel free to knock on the door when you pick up your baskets and we'll be glad to give you a tour of the fields.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June 13

June has been a busy month at the farm. In the last two weeks we've planted out several thousand seedlings of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, winter and summer squash, musk melon and watermelon. We also started distribution of our shares last Thursday and are busy planting second and third plantings of squash, root crops and greens.

This week we're harvesting strawberries, spinach, salad mix, radishes, baby pak choi, and rhubarb. We also have a few garlic scapes which will be added to each basket - try them in a spinach omelet with a few of our free range eggs for a special morning treat. Call in advance, or email, and we can include eggs with your basket. They are $4.00 per dozen.

We are also shearing the alpacas and sheep this week and will be offering yarn once it's spun.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

spring planting underway

We are in full-swing getting the farm planted. 500 ft of potatoes in today as well as sunchokes and a bit more rhubarb. First spinach and carrot crops have sprouted and peas are up too.

We are also harvesting asparagus and rhubarb in limited quantities which will be available to shareholders. If you haven't yet sent in your confirmation for the 2011 season please do so ASAP - we have several open shares and will start tapping our waiting list this week so if don't want to lose your spot, please let us know soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Spring's a-coming

Despite two feet of snow cover, the long afternoon shadows are a sure sign that spring is just around the corner and it's time to get ready for sugaring. One day we'll awake, the sap will be running, we'll have to scramble to wash and hang buckets, and then we'll  stay up until midnight boiling syrup while drinking wine and talking to our friend Paul in Vermont who is doing the same thing -  comparing boiling points, evaporation rates, and debating the pros and cons of wood for fuel versus propane. He has a new arch this year, and will probably boil in an hour what will take us an afternoon, even if we get our new pan, but our syrup is sweet and rich, and fun to make.

Then, seemingly overnight, the pastures will turn to chartruse and we'll stay awake listening to the spring peepers who remind us to get the fields harrowed and get our early crops in. We're going to try some hot beds this year made out of  storm doors and windows salvaged from our renovation project, and the radiant heat floor in our new office will probably play double duty as a propagating house. Bottom heat and southern exposure should help get a jump on some of those hard to germinate plants.