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

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