Tuesday, August 30, 2011

CSA for August 30, 2011

Aunt Ruby's German Green Tomato
The end of August - the last long weekend of Summer, hard to believe!  The field tomatoes are coming on beautifully, and everyone is getting a variety this week.  Everyone is getting an heirloom: either green Aunt Ruby's or pink Brandywine.  Aunt Ruby's German Green is a neat tomato that stays green, but has all the juiciness of a slicing tomato, and an interesting sweet/tart flavor.  Brandywine is probably the best known of the heirlooms; meaty but juicy with great flavor.  Both heirlooms are never the classic, perfect round tomato - they have 'character'.  Everyone is also getting some slicers: a mix of Celebrity, Manitoba and Stupice.  The Full Shares also have a small bag of Black Plum, a heirloom that's a cross between a grape and a Roma type, with dark colouring and a smoky, tart flavor.  One of our favorite summer salads is Italian, here's a recipe for  tomato and bocconcini salad (but we also like a dash or two of balsamic vinegar with  extra virgin olive oil).  Bocconcini is a soft, mild white cheese related to mozzarella and is available in the specialty cheese sections of Sobeys and Safeway, I know.  You could substitute any cheese you like: Farmers White, mozzarella, white Brick would all work well.  Everyone is getting fresh basil, to complete the salad.

With the abundance of potatoes coming your way, here's a great Facebook post from 'Sharing Recipes' (well worth following for canning/cooking info) for homemade potato chips.  These are the classic fried chips, all you need is a big stock pot, potatoes, vegetable oil and salt.  If you're cutting down on frying, here's a recipe for baked potato chips, which is also excellent for winter squash chips, as well.  And you will get winter squash, yes you will!  We've picked a very special potato for everybody today: Pink Fir Apple.  These is a rather rare potato, in the fingerling family, with a waxy, smooth texture and great flavor.  It gets its name because of its habit of growing little apple-like 'knobs' off larger potatoes.  Very tasty, even if it's not that pretty!

Amanda and Ed kicked in today with the gorgeous onions for everybody, the corn for all the shares and a lovely pick of cauliflower - but just enough for the Full Shares today!  Their stuff is looking sooo good!  Many thanks to Amanda and Ed!

So, for the FULL SHARES:  3 lbs. Pink Fir Apple potato, 2 lbs. Roko Red potatoes, 1 lb. of either Brandywine or Aunt Ruby's tomato, 1 lb. slicer tomato, 1 lb. Black Plum tomato, 3 bags of beans, white and red onions, cauliflower, zucchini, Italian Largo and papaya pear summer squash, cucumbers, Hungarian Hot peppers, corn, carrots, beets, Swiss chard and basil.

For the PART SHARES:  2 lbs. Pink Fir Apple potato, 1 lb. either Brandywine or Aunt Ruby's heirloom tomato, 1 lb. slicer tomato, white and red onions, ground cherries, zucchini and papaya pear summer squash, corn, Hungarian Hot peppers, carrots, chard, 2 bags of beans, cucumbers, beets and basil.

Don't forget: the 'help yourself' bin of zucchini is still available today!  Do help yourself if you can make use of more!  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

That Was Then...

Yes, things are always changing, always growing at Aagaard Farms, in the summer season.  What was a chick in the hand two months ago is now a big, healthy Ameraucana hen.  The one classically golden chick in our flock of forty has grown up to be a healthy, rather large all-white Ameraucana hen!  These Ameraucanas are quite impressive birds but I fear the only white is getting picked on, or shall I say pecked on, because she really stands out from the crowd of black, gray and beige birds.  When we consider the growth in just two months, it really is tremendous!  On a day-to-day basis we're not really aware of the change; it's not until we look at some photos from the beginning of June that we realize just how quickly they grow up!

The hoop house, too, is a cause for wonder.  From a sparse planting in June of well-spaced tomatoes and peppers to the jungle we have today, it is quite astounding!  The hoop house is proving to be very productive and we hope it will extend our season for at least a few weeks, if not a month!  Pretty soon we'll need a machete to work our way in to harvest!  The sweet potatoes, planted between tomatoes, are doing very well, but that's another blog post!  How are things growing in your area?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Harvesting and Curing Garlic

Fresh From the Field!

Almost Finished Cleaning and Trimming!
Although it's a lot of work, this is one of my favorite harvests!  We love, love, love garlic here at Aagaard Farms; our home-grown garlic is soooo superior to what's in the store!  It's a winner at our Farmers Markets, too - anyone who likes garlic and has tried it comes back for more!  Farmer Man has dug a row of our reliable, hardneck garlic called Music.  We've been taking little bits the last few weeks, for CSA and to sell by the head.  Now comes the time to harvest and cure for winter storage.  The huge pile, fresh from the field, has been reduced to a a partial table of heads.  We've cut the foliage off, then we trim the 'tassel' of roots, hand rub any dirt and any dry layers of the papery covering.  Then the heads will be left to sun dry for a few days, then we'll move it to a fresh, clean table while hand rubbing any more dry, papery husks and dirt.  A few more days in the sun and it should be ready to bag, to sell in larger quantities.  The curing is very important to ensure long-term storage.  The heads of garlic can contain soil-born bacteria and fungi that can cause rot in less-than-perfect storage conditions.  Sun drying or even just air drying (which takes longer) kills off any such pathogens, so the garlic will store all winter - if it lasts that long!  The forecasted weather conditions are perfect for curing for the next five days so off we go!  Are you growing garlic?  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

CSA for August 23, 2011

It's time for all things fresh and vegetable!  Some of our favorite meals in the heat of summer involves the BBQ, of course.  We use our BBQ all year round, but the hot days of summer is when we most appreciate not having the stove or oven on in the house.  We love our veggies in tin foil packages and then onto the BBQ.  Last night, we did Blue Mac potatoes, patty pan squash, Hungarian hot peppers, onions and garlic.  We wanted to do the potatoes whole, so we did appropriate, large sizes of the summer squash, to match.  Farmer Man just dabbed quite a lot of butter on, added generous herbs, wrapped in foil and onto the grill at 375 degrees for about forty five minutes.  We had a large portion, because we wanted potatoes left over for hash browns in the morning.  If you do smaller personal packages, the time could probably be reduced, and if your pieces are smaller the time would also be less.  Since it's veggie season, here's a great link to everything you need to know, I mean step-by-step instructions, for marinated veggie kebabs!  From soaking bamboo skewers to a few different marinade recipes, this link has it all!  Sounds yummy!  More summer squash than you can use fresh?  Want to take advantage of our 'help yourself' bin?  Here's a piece from one of my favorite food/farm blogs called FarmGirlFare for freezing summer squash for use all winter!  Yes, you could be grilling Papaya Pear in the dead of winter.

Our growing partners have contributed hugely this week!  Linda Boys has brought some gorgeous celery for everybody!  Let me assure you, this is a hard crop to grow!  Her celery is beautiful and awesomely tasty: she was kind enough to send a little extra and we had snacks for lunch with fresh celery sticks with cheese smashed into the groove!  Divine!  And Amanda and Ed Wiebe are responsible for the lovely Super Sweet corn this week, as well as the herb packs and some of the cucumbers.  One of the herb packs is Summer Savory, one of my favs!  Our seeding, most unfortunately, keeled over in the greenhouse - damping off disease, I guess, but Amanda's crop is looking awesome.  Summer Savory is just perfect for vegetables - try it in your tin foil packs or chopped on cooked potatoes.  Absolutely perfect for a soup or stew, also.  The other pack is flat leaf parsley - a great taste!

Everyone is getting Blue Mac potatoes, a blue skinned, white fleshed potato which is somewhere between the smooth flesh of a red and the fluffy meat of a white.  Nice little potato.  You're also getting French Fingerling - one of my personal favs.  The fingerlings are all kind of waxy smooth - perfect for the tin foil packs, as well as roasting, soups and stews.  Won't get mushy like a red and will be smooth, unlike a white.  Enjoy!  Also, in everybody's box is an assortment of tomatoes.  If you have one big monster, that's a Brandywine, a rather famous heirloom that is meaty and juicy and tasty!  If you've got a smaller round tomato collection, that's largely First Lady or Celebrity, great slicers!  There's a few long ovals in the bunch - that's a Roma type, meaty and not as juicy.  There's also a few small grape-type: an heirloom called Black Plum which should have that dark shade.  If any one is interested or has a problem with the acid in tomatoes, we've got a couple of bags of yellow, low-acid tomatoes on the Farmers Market table.  Any questions, just ask us!

So, far the FULL SHARES:  3 lbs. Blue Mac potatoes, 3 lbs, French Fingerling potatoes, head of celery, 1 zucchini, 1 papaya pear summer squash, 4 heads garlic, 5 cobs corn, pack herb Summer Savory, pack herb flat leaf parsley, bag of purple beans, bag of yellow beans, bag of Dragon's Tongue beans, a cucumber, 2 lbs. assorted tomatoes, Swiss chard, bundle of carrots.

For the PART SHARES:  2 lbs. Blue Mac potatoes, 2 lbs. Danish fingerling potatoes, a head of celery, a zucchini, 1 Papaya pear summer squash, 2 heads garlic, 3 cobs corn, pack of herb Summer savory, pack of herb flat leaf parsley, bag of Dragons Tongue beans, cucumber, 1 lb. tomatoes, Swiss chard, carrots.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pickle Mania!

Things are always changing at Aagaard Farms - and not just the seasons!  We progress through different things throughout the growing season.  Recently it was raspberry mania; people looking to come U-pick, people looking to have us pick for them, picking for the Farmers Markets, picking for jam.  Lots of people phoning, people coming and going....but that's done now.  Currently, it is pickle mania.  Everyone who wants to make some pickles for the winter is in search of cucumbers and dill.  We custom pick for people, with orders of anywhere from a couple of pounds to seventy five pounds!  The poor cucumbers just can't produce fast enough - and almost everybody would love to get it done before school goes back in!  We were finding this weekend that there seems to be a shortage of dill around; for many people it self-seeds from year to year, but in this odd flood year many people don't have any.  I must have had twelve or fifteen people ask at the Friday Night Farmers Market and another eight or ten at Saturday's Farmers Market at Riverbank Discovery Centre!  Cucumbers are late this year, too.  Like everything, for almost everybody, they got planted late as we waited for the soil to dry up and warm up.

Most of our customers are looking for little cucumbers, no bigger than about four inches long, with a number smaller for stuffing the top of the jar.  Very few people around Brandon seem to be making the big sliced dills anymore, perhaps it seems like more work to cut up the bigger cucumbers.  After picking Thursday and getting small sizes for two customers, I was left with about ten pounds of, well, the perfect size for bread-and-butter pickles, one of my favorites!  So, a quick check of the pantry, had the ingredients and so a batch was made.  It wasn't until I was filling the jars that I realized I was using jelly/jam jars, as it is all that I have around!  Most people would put pickles in a slightly bigger jar but this will be the perfect size for a household that doesn't eat a whole lot of pickles!  Are you making any pickles this year? 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chick Sitting!

Going on vacation and don't know what to do with your _________ (insert your livestock/pet here).  We can probably help you, here at Aagaard Farms.  A few goats to play with ours?  A donkey or horse would fit in.  We could do a few cows, if you can get them here!  We do babysit friends' dogs, we can handle a cat or two.  We've gone down and looked after our neighbors' chickens so they could get away.  First time, though, anybody asked us to babysit their chickens.  Our former employee Jami gave her first shot at chicks this Spring and wasn't sure what to do with them when a chance at summer vacation came along.  Doesn't sound like anybody close to the family's land was up for going over to let them out in the morning and going back at night to tuck them in.  So she contacted us about bringing them here.  Sure, why not, what's five more? we said.  Just have to be careful about how you do it.  Chickens will fight; we've been careful about keeping our older Hens and Rocky separate from The Chicks.  Yes, they all mingle a bit in the pasture now, but Rocky might have beaten up on a couple of the young roosters had we tried to integrate the flocks earlier.

Jami's five little Browns are just a week or two younger than our Chicks.  What we did is set Jami's Chicks up in the barn, half way between the chicken coop with The Hens and the greenhouse with The Chicks.    We kept them contained in the barn the first two days so that they would understand that that was their space.  We used a large dog kennel to protect them from the barn cats at night, just in case.  We pushed some large sticks through the wire of the kennel for roosts.  Second night, at bedtime for the goats, we ushered them toward the dog kennel and they went right in!  Today, we took away the barrier at the barn door so they could get out and about.  They're timid, and not straying far from the barn door, but they're getting some natural peckin'-and-scratchin' in and a little bit of this lovely sunshine!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CSA for August 16, 2011

Patty Pan Squash

Ground Cherries, aka Cape Gooseberry
It's hard to believe we're half way through August.  Perhaps because we got such a late, slow start to the season that it doesn't feel like we've really been at it for very long.  Yet, the first Friday Night Farmers Market at Shoppers Mall was a full two months ago!  We're hoping the rain forecast for this morning holds off so we can get a good harvest, but we could really use a good rain on the gardens.  What was forecast for last night never happened (again), 90% chance of rain - sure, sure.....

Summer squash is on big time!  Everyone is getting a couple of zucchini in their boxes.  We will have a whole crate of extras for you all to take as much as you'd like.  Here's a recipe for a zucchini pancake we're excited to try!  We've done something similar with spaghetti squash and it was very yummy.  This pancake can be done sweet with syrup, savory with salsa or as a side dish with just some sour cream or Greek yogurt.  Very simple.  Everyone is also getting a couple of Patty Pan or Scallopini, one of our favorite summer squashes.  The Patty Pan's are firmer and denser than zucchini.  When larger, they are awesome for stuffing, then you can serve out a 'slice'.  Here's a southern recipe for a stuffed Patty Pan with rice and spinach.  Or how about a bacon and cheese stuff Patty Pan?  You simply slice the bottom a bit so that the flying saucer-shaped squash sits nice.  Cut out the top, scoop out the inside seed cavity and some meat but leave a good wall.  Farmer Man's favorite stuffing is a can of crab meat and a small block of cream cheese, with a little minced garlic and dill!  Just bake or BBQ until the skin is soft enough to pierce with a fork.  Here's also a great link to sauteed Patty Pan's - some great flavor combinations!  Grated summer squash also can be frozen for the winter.  Many people grate it, squeeze out extra moisture (not really necessary with the Moroccan types, Patty Pans or Papaya Pears) and freeze it in the measured quantity for a recipe like zucchini muffins or zucchini chocolate cake.  If you are canning, how about Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish?  Even if you don't can, you could make this recipe in a small batch and keep it refrigerated for at least a few days to 'marry' the flavors before using.

Everyone is getting a bag of beans: a variety of Dragon's Tongue, purple or green.  There wasn't enough of any one kind to give everyone, but if you got green and would rather purple, you can probably trade out at the Farmers Market table.  There was a tiny pick of peas, but if you want to trade for those you had better get there early!

Everyone is getting 'All Red' potatoes today.  This is a rarer variety where the flesh is pink; yes, the inside is pink like the skin.  This is a great dense, meaty potato - excellent mashed potatoes (they're pink, don't forget), excellent for baking or doing in foil packages on the BBQ.  Farmer Man loves doing scalloped potatoes with a layer of the 'All Red', just for fun!  There will be some white and some fingerling on the Farmers Market table, but you really should experience the 'All Red' potato.

First little pick on the ground cherries or Cape gooseberry.  This is an interesting little fruit related to tomatoes, but more closely related to tomatillos.  Inside the papery little husk is a little berry:  pineapple-like when golden, more of a lime kick when the berry is greener.  Just enough for a taste for the Full Shares today, but they are coming along nicely!

So, for the FULL SHARES:  'All Red' potatoes in a 3 lb. bag, two zucchini, two large Patty Pan summer squash, cucumber, tomatoes, bag of beans, garlic, small bag of ground cherries, large bundle of chard, bundle of carrots.

For the PART SHARES:  'All Red' potatoes in a 2 lb bag, two zucchini, two Patty Pan summer squash, cucumber, tomatoes, garlic, beans, small bundle of chard, carrots.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's That? Corn, You Say?

The Chicks check it out!

Rocky and The Hens know what to do!
All our animals get food off the farm.  Teddy Bear, the little doggie, loves to sneak baby potatoes.  We've discovered the goats love zucchini and garlic scapes.  The garlic scapes thing was an accidental discovery, when they got out one day.  Wouldn't have thought garlic and goats, but hey!  Today, we had some cooked corn on the cob, left over from a party.  Chickens and goats get corn in their grain ration, but in a dried form.  All the chickens and the goats got a little corn on the cob to try today.  The Hens and Rocky, went for it in a shot.  They may have had some last year, I don't recall.  The goats found it an interesting challenge.  In case you don't know, goats only have teeth on the bottom jaw, the top jaw is a smooth palate - more about grabbing and mashing twigs and leaves.  The poor goatlings just couldn't get a grip on the corn.  It turned into a bit of a frenzy, as they decided they liked the taste but just couldn't control the cob.  Then they got their hooves in to the action and things went well!  And The Chicks?  Well, The Chicks just didn't know what to do.  We forget, as they have grown quickly, that they are not quite three months old, and so much is new.  They were a little scared of the cobs I gently tossed out.  A full fifteen minutes of walking up to, looking and then walking on ensued.  Finally, some bold chicken took a peck - and liked it!  As soon as one was pecking, the rest tried it and the cobs were soon clean!  A little treat for everyone!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Love My Ameraucana Chickens!

A mix, one of the roosters top left, the pure white Ameraucana
is partially hidden bottom left.

The lacey gray top, one of the Ameraucana roosters on the
bottom; the other two are Black Sex Links.
As The Hens are getting older (an aged three years old), egg production is going down and will only continue to decrease.  We've got way more demand for our eggs than we can supply.  We decided it was time to get new chicks this Spring.  We wanted to try some different breeds and were looking for a hardy, brown egg layer.  From the Berg's Hatchery catalogue we chose Black Sex Links hens, a handsome black bird with rusty brown marking around the neck.  I have also been craving the blue egg laying Ameraucana and we order ten, which would come unsexed meaning we could possibly get all roosters.  Not sure why the Ameraucana's can't be sexed at birth, but what the heck!

From the beginning, early in June, the Ameraucana's were a mixed bunch.  There was one golden chick, a couple of dark beige, a couple of dark grey.  The Black Sex Links were almost identical black.  As the chicks have grown, the Blacks are all similar, with small differences in the amount of rusty brown on their necks.  The Ameraucanas are all completely and absolutely different!  They're quite gorgeous, too.  There's a gray lacy one, a cream with rust and black accents, a black with rust accents.  The little golden chick has turned out pure white!  Those that seem to be roosters, with a more pronounced comb (thanks to Linda Boys, my chicken mentor, for info on identifying the roosters), seem to be very fluffy around their heads and necks.  We're pretty sure we have four, maybe five, roosters; the amount of roosters is a bit of a disappointment, but we'll still get some pretty blue eggs!

The Chicks are getting out-and-about now; they are sort of on pasture around the greenhouse, which became their home as they got bigger.  We've been very careful to keep them separate from the other chickens (to avoid fights) and the barn cats and our doggies, until they were big enough to fend for themselves.  Farmer Man has just this week removed the fence between the two flocks, so they now are slowly mixing and becoming accustomed to each other.  The new Chicks will start laying at the end of September or early October and I am so looking forward to my first blue egg!  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CSA for August 9, 2011

A beautiful day to be harvesting for all our CSA families!  Not too hot, not too windy and we're getting quite a few chuckles as our young Ameraucana rooster learns to crow!  It's a day of 'firsts' and 'lasts:  the first pick on our field tomatoes and the first good haul of peppers from the hoop house!  As well, probably the last time our families will get raspberries as the crop is waning and it becomes less viable for us to spend the time to search out the berries in the midst of all the new growth.

As always on CSA day, a little tricky figuring out how to split the harvest.  There's enough tomatoes to get a pound for the Full Shares, and there will be a few extra bags on the Farmers Market table to purchase or trade.  The Full Shares are getting our first little pick of purple and yellow sweet bell peppers and everyone is getting some Hungarian Hot peppers.  The little, pointy yellow guys have some kick: unless you like hot don't just grab one and munch! (Norma!)  Hungarians are not as hot as jalapenos, without the seeds they are very mild.  Great for pizza with the seeds!  We also harvested two lovely Anaheims, perfect for stuffing, with a little heat.  They'll be on the Farmers Market table if you love Chile Relleno!

Summer squash season is hitting hard now; some of are new families will find there is much more than zucchini in the summer squash family!  Unfortunately, in this weird growing year, a few of our favorites failed to germinate, so there will be no Crookneck and a smaller supply of Patty Pans (or Scallopinis).  As always, we're looking for interesting things to do with zucchini, here's an interesting blog post about a dessert cobbler made with zucchini instead of fruit!  If you've got any great recipes for zucchini, please add them to the comments after this blog post. Of course, zucchini chocolate cake is always a winner, this one is quite 'fudgy'!  Summer squash is the early, tender squash which has edible skin (as opposed to an acorn or butternut winter squash which has hard skin).  All of them are great raw, in stir fries or sautees.  How about coating in bread crumbs or Panko and frying?  The yellow, long squash in some boxes is the golden zucchini, a tender and buttery form of zucchini.  The yellow ovalish squash in your boxes is Papaya Pear, an awesome, dense summer squash that is the best for barbecuing!  We tend to cut it into slices, soak it at least twenty minutes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and then on to the grill!  The netted green squash is Moroccan or Cousa, also a little firmer than zucchini and excellent stuffed!  It's also a fav of some people for zucchini muffins or cake because there isn't as much water content.   The ribbed, dark green squash is Italian Largo, a tender Italian squash with a mild herbal flavor!  It's a little more 'watery' like zucchini, so careful in stir fries!

Our growing partners Amanda and Ed stepped in this week with some gorgeous carrots.  Ours our taking their time and are still quite small.  We made sure there were some for everyone, so the bundles are small but it's time for some lovely, young carrots!  We've dug one of our favorite potatoes for everyone today.  It's a fingerling type called 'Linzer Delicatise'.  It's a beautiful, waxy potato, great on the barbecue because it will cook up smooth as butter but not get mush/crumbly like the reds.  Also fabulous in roasts, and of course, steamed up on its own.  Great flavor.  They're too young to be completely showing their fingerling characteristic of a long, skinny shape.

So, for the FULL SHARES:  3 lbs. fingerling potato, 2 lbs. dragons tongue bean, 1 lb. yellow beans. bell and Hungarian Hot peppers, bag of assorted tomatoes, carrots, zucchini,  Moroccan or Italian Largo summer squash, papaya pear summer squash, 2 pints raspberries, Long English cucumber, head of garlic.

For the PART SHARES:  2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, 2 lbs. Dragon Tongue beans, 1 lb. mixed beans, Hungarian Hot peppers, bundle of carrots, zucchini, Moroccan or Italian Largo summer squash, papaya pear summer squash, Long English cucumber, 2 pints raspberries, head of garlic.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Problem With Gooseberries

It was probably our second year on the farm, maybe our third, that we discovered we had a small patch of gooseberries.  They were back against the south shelter belt in a naturalized area, mixed with native dogwood, self-seeded maples and assorted weeds and native flowers.  Gooseberry is not a berry I know much about, although I read in cookbooks and on blogs about 'divine' gooseberry jam or chutney.  The next few years the deer got to them before we did, last year I just completely forgot about them until it was too late!  This year they were absolutely in my sights.  In my reading, I learned that younger, green berries will make a nice tart jam but it's well worth the wait to have some ripen to pink.  The jam will be prettier and a little sweeter.  So, I've been watching and waiting and decided today was the day!

As a newbie gooseberry picker, I soon discovered the problem with gooseberries.  They are low, sprawling, brambles covered in big thorns.  Big nasty thorns!  Really tricky to get to those berries!  I have been poked, prodded, my jeans have been caught and my hands scratched!  To make things even more interesting, I discovered a bit of stinging nettle has grown up among the branches.  Good thing it has been a cool morning and I had long sleeves on.  It is not a berry for commercial picking: they do not ripen all at once, like raspberries.  There were little hard green ones, big plump green berries and some big plump pink ones, all mixed all over the branches.  It wasn't a great harvest, only about a quarter of an ice cream pail.  I'm going to use this recipe here from the blog 'thekitchen' because it is proportional, so I don't have to worry about dividing a recipe, weighing etc.  Fingers crossed I'll get at least two pints of jam! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Teaching New Tricks, or Losing Control?

Farmer Man thought the goatlings seemed a little restless this morning, so he decided to take them out for a walk.  A little ramble would do them good.  He was gone for a while, probably up to the big back field, let the Girls browse naturally on some of the willow trees that bisect our property.  He decided, apparently, to bring them by the house as the company was just getting up and may enjoying saying 'good morning' to the cute little goaties.  Well, a little pandemonium ensued as the Girls got a little frisky.  Jumping up on tables, kicking up their heels, into the garage, tearing at some Swiss Chard, going through the compost pail, knocking over buckets!  Our Goat Whisperer got them back under control and quickly herded them back to their pasture.  Now a little cleaning and disinfecting will have to go on, something that was not on the agenda for our 'day off'!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nanking Cherry Jelly Time!

It's good to have extra hands.  So much is ready, all at once, in this odd growing year.  We're still picking and trying to jam raspberries, and the nanking cherries were soooo ready for picking.  So, put the Sisters to work on a lovely summer evening!  Niece Meg was interested in seeing the process of making jam or jelly so the sisters picked and Meg and I dripped the juice and discussed the process.  Too busy with tonights' Friday Night Farmers Market to actually make jelly, so the lovely red juice got frozen for now!  Next, the Evans sour cherries are just about ready for picking and yes, the raspberries are still going!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

CSA for August 2, 2011

Putting the sisters and nieces to work!
A mix of weather, from cool to steamy hot, this week!  Things are growing quite well!  First good pick on zucchini; some for everybody!  Also, the first harvest of our hardneck garlic, and it is zingy!  Really flavorful: proceed with caution.  If you like garlic and you've only ever had the (to our taste buds) rather 'drab' stuff from the supermarket, you're going to love this!

Linda Boys kicked in some lovely edible pod Snow Peas for the Part Shares.  She also brought peas, which we combined with our first pick.  The interesting thing, always, is deciding on how to divide up the harvest because the quantity of the pick is never for certain.  We get back up to the work station, weigh the item and then decide if it divides nicely into twenty seven families or just enough for the Full Shares, or a good pick for the Part Shares.  Always, we're trying to remember who got what previously, so that each share gets a good shot at some of the 'rarer' items, like snow peas.

It's summer, so that means:  company!  This week, for us, that means the free labor of sisters and nieces!  This year I'm getting rare 'double dip' of both my sisters, and each one brought a daughter!  Keltie and her daughter Meg from Edmonton, and sister Cathy and her daughter Laura from Red Deer arrived last night for a weeks' stay.  They were all heavily involved in CSA today, picking beans, cutting lettuce, cleaning, weighing and packaging.

In every body's box this week is the herb Greek oregano.  This is closely related to the marjoram that everyone had a few weeks ago but.....the Greek oregano has quite a spicy kick!  Try a leaf!  Initially tastes rather like the marjoram, but after two or three seconds...you'll get a little surprise.  This herb is awesome, obviously, with Greek food.  If you're doing kebabs or any kind of marinade it is an excellent addition.  If you like a little spice, it will be very good chopped fine and added to your salad mix.  If you really think it may not be for you, trade it at the Farmers Market table!

So for the FULL SHARES:  4 lbs. Aladin red potatoes (a neat little potato with a delicate double skin, jut needs a scrub), garlic, small bag of peas, zucchini, mixed onions, 4 pints raspberries, 2 bags of lettuce mix, 'Dragon Tongue' beans, green beans, bunch of Greek oregano.

For the PART SHARES:  2 lbs. 'Aladin' red potatoes, garlic, small bag peas, snow peas, zucchini, mixed onions, 2 pints raspberries, lettuce mix, 'Dragon Tonuge' beans, green beans, bunch of Greek oregano.

At the time of posting, there existed a possibility that Menno and Evelyn Isaac may arrive at the CSA pick up with a little 'something-something' (hint: red and round), but probably only enough for the Full Shares.  But, everyone will get 'something-something' soon!