Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Note After the Rain

This morning we woke to clear skies! The rain had become almost unbearable, to everyone except for Ruth, that is. She and her friend, Eben, took advantage of the wet to make a slip and slide in the front lawn. Did you know you can also lay down and do "snow angles" in the mud? Oh yes...

The crops are definitely suffering; Jeff will write later to fill you in on the gory details. Last Sunday we attended a fellow farmer friend's birthday party in Bowdoinham. The tent (yes, it was raining) was filled with other farmers and thus filled with complaints and commiserating. Those of us with lighter soils were faring OK, and those with heavier soils could only throw up our hands and hope for the best. To get an idea of how the rains have affected the state's farmers overall, take a look at this Bangor Daily News article: www.bangordailynews.com/detail/109803.html

The weather has done nothing to slow the pace of the farm work this time of year. Last Sunday the rain held off just long enough for Jeff, Ruth, and I to plunk some transplants (eggplant, peppers, and tomatillos) in the lighter soils of Old Stone Farm, pictured above. Monday night our last lambs of the season were born. We had spent all day bringing the sheep in out of the rain to deal with a "fly strike" problem in a few of the lambs. (For those of you can handle the gory details: Fly strike is when flies lay their their eggs in an animals wound, leading to maggots.) We checked the whole flock over thoroughly, treated those infected, and set up a new area for them in the barn and hoophouse. Everyone is doing great now, and most of the flock is out grazing today in the sunshine. Just as we were finishing setting up their fencing, our oldest sheep, Wanda, went into labor. Jeff had left to bring our last load of wood to the sawmill for our house frame, so apprentices Kate and Stephanie helped Ruth and I to make a pen for the laboring ewe. The first lamb was born while Ruth and I were in the kitchen pulling together dinner. We ate down in the barn to watch for signs of the second lamb's birth. Ruth fell asleep on my lap around 9:00 p.m., before the lamb's arrival (the life of a farm girl often necessitates a flexible bedtime). Luckily, Jeff returned to the farm in time to assist with the labor, as the last lamb decided to present itself backwards with only one hoof forward and one back. This is a potentially fatal position for a lamb. Jeff had to quickly pull the lamb out, then swing it a few times to clear its air passages of any fluids. I had to watch from my perch on the hay bale, pregnancy and a sleeping child on my lap preventing me from assisting. Jeff did a great job. Both lambs and their momma are doing great. We finally crawled into bed around midnight.

I must admit, I have been a little distracted from the farm recently, as I try to pull together our house-building project. This past week we were finally able to have our concrete foundation poured, taking advantage of another rare break in the weather. The most exciting parts of it for YOU are the greenhouse on the south side (to the right in the photo) and the three different root crop storage rooms on the north side. The house is designed to to easily and efficiently blend family and farm work life, to keep the mud in the basement and mud room, and to grow and store healthy food for our local community: you! We will invite you over for a tour of the site once there is a little more there to see.

CSA members:
Last Tuesday in your share you received:
  • head lettuce
  • tatsoi and/or mizuna
  • lettuce mix
  • dill
  • cilantro
  • garlic scapes
  • beet greens
  • radishes
  • chard
  • mustard greens
If you haven't already, the tatsoi and mizuna can be thrown in with your lettuce salad mix, or sautéed with other greens. Mustard greens have become one of may favorites this season; I love to sauté them in a little oil, maybe with onion or garlic scapes, but definitely with a little maple syrup or sweet vinegar! The beet greens are great steamed (beets and all) also with a dash of vinegar or, of course, butter. Below is a scrumptious recipe for greens, especially Asian greens:
Greens With Gingery Butter
Adapted from Judy Gorman's Vegetable Cookbook

6 T butter
2 T soy sauce or tamari
1 T grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed (about 1/2 tsp.)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the greens and cook until tender, 2 - 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately run under cold water. Drain well.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and greens; cook, stirring constantly, until the greens are well coated and heated through.

I hope you are having a wonderful Independence Day weekend, and we thank you for joining us in making food independence more of a reality in Maine!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rainy Farm Adventures

During a recent conversation with our daughter, Ruth (3 1/2 years old), I used the word "bored". "Bored?" she asked, what is that? It took a bit to explain the concept from our frame of reference! Last Saturday the cows, all 10 of them, decided to duck under their fence and go exploring. I had just come back from farmers' market, and Jeff was at a farm in Arrowsic shearing sheep. Luckily, Ross was around to help. Keep in mind these are beef cows, not accustomed to the daily interactions with people that dairy cows are accustomed to, and therefore hard to catch. We don't have cell phones (much to the frustration of Ross), so I drove down to Arrowsic to fetch Jeff, while Ross headed off into the woods to find the cows. By the time I returned with Jeff, Ross had chased the herd through the woods from Old Stone Farm (where they were grazing) to the fenced pastures of The Morris Farm (phew!). One of our biggest fears is our cows getting out and into the road! But, in order to graze the pastures effectively, we had to move the cows back over to Old Stone Farm, which required hiring someone with a truck and trailer. The sheep have also been ensuring that no one around here gets bored. After my last blog post, thirteen lambs have been born. If you get a chance, you are welcome to visit them. We will be grazing the lambs relatively close tot he farm house at The Morris Farm until everyone is done lambing. Most of the lambs are old enough now that they are venturing from their mother's side to frolic and bounce together (witness the white lamb mid-leap in the photo!), a sight that makes you laugh out loud, no matter how dreary the weather Ah, the weather, you knew I had to mention it at some point. We'll keep you posted as to how the crops are faring with this lack of sun. The impact will likely be down the road a month or so as certain successional plantings of greens could not be put in and plantings of beans and sweet corn rotted in the saturated soil. So far everything growing in the ground right now, aside from a lettuce mix planting that washed away, seems to be faring well. Unless some unseen plant disease, many of which enjoy warm moist conditions, is lurking. The most dramatic impact so far was the flooding of the sheep's pasture last Friday. We had to move them to higher ground mid-afternoon, as the culvert under Rte. 27 proved too small and the pasture turned to pond, with only about a foot of our fencing visible above the water in some areas. Oftentimes, planning out your day's work as a farmer proves to be a totally futile exercise as the day's events keep boredom away!

CSA members, in you share last week you received:
  • Spring-dug parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Head lettuce
  • Endive
  • Lettuce mix
  • Arugula
  • Baby Spinach
  • Mustard Greens
  • Cilantro
Today you will receive:
  • Head lettuce
  • Lettuce mix
  • Beet greens
  • Pac Choi
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Fennel leaf or Dill
  • Garlic scapes (the flower of the garlic plant)
  • Cilantro
Last week a member asked how I washed my greens. Great question to be asking as a member of a "no-wash" CSA! I soak them twice in cold water, for maybe 2-3 minutes each soak. Soaking them for a bit allows the dirt to loosen and fall to the bottom of the bowl, but soaking them for too long may water-log and damage more tender crops, such as lettuce greens. Between soaks I pull the greens out with my hands (instead of pouring out) and place in a strainer while I rinse the dirt out of the soaking bowl. For crops that have a lot of dirt (say, if it has been raining a lot and the soil splashed up on the leaves) a third soak may be in order. To have the greens keep well, they should be sufficiently dry before storing in a plastic bag in the fridge. I would highly recommend a salad spinner, if you do not already have one. I purchased mine at the cooking store in Bath, I think the store is called "Now You're Cooking". The spinner also works great to dry fresh herbs after washing.
I was also asked at CSA pick-up what to do with parsnips. Parsnips are great cut into strips for stir-fries or to bake at a high temp. in the oven tossed in olive oil and salt as oven fries, or cut into rounds for soups and stews and to steam plain or saute with a little butter and lemon juice. Below is one of my favorite parsnip recipes that I have published in previous CSA newsletters.
Parsnip Pancakes
allrecipes.com; submitted by: Lois Frazee; Serves 6
* 2 pounds parsnips, peeled
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* 1 tablespoon minced chives (or garlic scapes)

1. Place parsnips in a large saucepan and cover with water; add salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and place parsnips in a large bowl; mash. Stir in the onion, flour, egg and chives.
2. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a well-greased hot griddle. Flatten with a spatula. Fry until golden brown; turn and cook until second side is lightly browned. Drain on paper towels.
These are great topped with a little sour cream. You can try adding a herb (like parsley, cilantro, dill) instead of or in addition to the chives or a little curry powder for a different zip...

And a greens recipe for you; this one is popular with kids!

Cheesy Spinch
From Asparagus to Zucchini:
A Guide to Farm-Fresh, Seasonal Produce

Mix: 3 eggs, 1 1/2 t lemon juice, 1 C brown rice, cooked, 1 1/2 t dried parsley (I used chopped fresh cilantro instead), 2 T grated parmesan cheese (optional), salt & pepper to taste.

Mix Seperately: 1 large bunch of spinach (or other cooking greens), chopped and steamed, 1 C cottage cheese, 1 C grated cheddar cheese, 4 eggs, Salt & pepper to taste, a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Spread the ingredients
from the first mixture in the bottom of a greased casserole. Spread the spinach mixture over the rice. Bake at 350 degrees, until firm, 45-60 minutes. Makes 10-12 servings. (This recipe would make 10-12 servings if you were just feeding toddlers; Jeff, Ruth, and I ate the whole dish in one meal.)

Your Farmers,
Jeff & Amy

Friday, June 12, 2009


Welcome to the beginning of our farm blog! When we started our CSA, we created a CSA newsletter to keep members involved with farm happenings. We loved sharing our farm and family stories, news, photos, and recipes in this newsletter. However, the format was limiting, not everyone could open it on their email, and sometimes the emailed newsletter would bounce back. This blog is a space you can visit anytime, from any computer with an internet connection, and we can share it with family and friends as well! We will post farm photos and happenings here at least weekly, but not necessarily on CSA pick-up day. Often all hands are needed in the field Tuesday mornings to ensure you receive an ample supply of fresh vegetables in your share, leaving little time for sitting at the computer. This season promises to be an exciting one, with our new baby due in mid-September, our new house construction just beginning, crops thriving in the field, and livestock heartily grazing the lush early summer pastures. This year, we decided to take better advantage of the pastures by lambing on pasture, instead of lambing early spring in the barn. Yesterday, after a long wait, we finally had our first lamb! She is loving frolicking in the grass; it is so nice to see a lamb begin its life out in the field, instead of in a pen in the barn. Her momma ewe is doing a great job looking after her; they are never far apart.