Monday, August 24, 2009


Summer is in swing... the old haying equipment: mower, tedder, and loose hay loader are whirring in the fields behind a steady team of horses, followed by the quiet pitchforks of a hard-working crew and the constant chatter of Ruth as she leaps into the piles. Included in the photo above is Paul, a retired train engineer who, lucky for us, has a fascination with old horse equipment. He has spent many afternoons this summer pouring over our horse books and tinkering with the mower in preparation for these long-awaited sunny days. Much work has been done since this photo; the pole barn is now about half-full of hay.

The crops continue to thrive, and we are thrilled to finally offer a bit more diversity in the CSA share as well as on our kitchen table. However, we're all still feeling the inpact of the rains, as we should also have cucumbers, beans, and cabbage for you this time of the season. We planted the cucumbers and beans at The Morris Farm, usually a great spot for mid-summer crops. But not this year! Our first two plantings of beans rotted in the ground, as did the first cukes. These soils are simply too heavy for a rainy season. A friend of ours and fellow CSA farmer came for a visit and a little advice this past week. He also leases a farm, and the majority of the soils on that farm are the same as The Morris Farm's. After this season, he is considering moving to find lighter soils elsewhere. At least we are not alone in the frustrations of this season! Another frustration we are not alone in is the disaster of late blight descending on the northeast. The stories of farmers loosing their entire potato and tomato crops have been all over the news. We thought for awhile that we had avoided the devastation, but now it seems like our plants, too, are being brought down by it, and we may not be able to glean any tomatoes for the CSA shares. We are so sad... what is summer without tomatoes? Last season our CSA members were enjoying (or becoming overwhelmed with) 4 lbs. of tomatoes a week, our canning pots were bubbling into the night preserving tomato sauce and salsa, and our winter CSA freezer was brimming with bags of frozen paste tomatoes. The only farmers we know that are harvesting any tomatoes have the plants in hoop houses where they are regularly spraying copper. Farmers with plants out in the fields are not having any luck fighting the disease. We will do what we can to coax our plants along, and will keep you posted. Without efficient, but expensive, power spray equipment, we have not been willing to spend the excessive hours spraying copper, which is toxic to humans and many critters, with a hand pump backpack sprayer. Jeff tried homeopathy, a modality that has worked with our family and livestock, spraying the remedy Alium Cepa one time as recommended by a book he purchased. It was probably too little to late and has shown no positive response. At some point you have to let the past go and focus positive energy on the future. Jeff and Kate are doing a great job keeping the crops weeded, and they just planted the last seedlings from the greenhouse into the field: chard, arugula, and spinach. They also seeded spinach, lettuce mix, mustard greens, radishes, and salad turnips for cold weather fall harvests.

Also in the good news department is the simple celebration of our seventh wedding anniversary, which happened to be on the last CSA pick-up - Aug. 18th. Our unborn baby is growing rapidly and kicking like a farmer itching to plow on a snowy spring day. Our new house is growing rapidly, too. What amazing carpenters we've found (Emerald Builders of Bowdoinham)! Since these photos were taken, they have boarded in the house and framed the upstairs interior walls. I wanted to share these photos with you so you could see the beauty and structure of the timber frame.

Your Farmers,
Jeff & Amy

August 18 CSA share:

  • new potatoes
  • summer onions
  • summer squash
  • head lettuce
  • basil
  • romaine leaf lettuce
  • carrots
  • radishes
  • kale (see recipe for Kale Chips below if your bunch of kale still sits idle in your fridge)
  • cilantro
August 11 CSA share:
  • head lettuce
  • carrots
  • new potatoes
  • chard
  • green peppers
  • summer squash
  • summer onions
The below recipe has a special place in my heart, because it is the one my mother, my aunt Sheryl, and our long-time friend Mary baked for our wedding. The cake was delicious as well as beautiful, bedecked with fresh flowers from our garden. On the top layer stood an elderly farm couple carved of wood, a gift from Jeff’s sister. The couple now sits on our mantle, serenely smirking at all of the crazy work we do.
Lovin’ Carrot Cake
From Amy's Aunt Sheryl and Mother Thyle ~ Makes two 9 inch layers
1 1/2 cup sugar
7/8 cup canola or sunflower oil
4 small/medium eggs (room temperature)
2 cups flour (all-purpose white)
1 2/3 tsp. baking soda
1 T cinnamon
13 1/3 oz. carrots (about 3 1/3 cups)
5 1/3 oz. chopped nuts (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 325.
2. Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs for about 2 minutes on medium speed
3. Mix the flour, baking soda and cinnamon in a separate bowl
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat for about 1 minute
5. Beat in the carrots and optional nuts
6. Pour batter into 2 greased 9 inch round cake pans
7. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes

Frosting: you can find my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe on the inside of an Organic Vally Cream Cheese package.
Baked Kale Chips
* 1 bunch kale
* 1 tablespoon olive oil (or more; enough to coat all leaves)
* 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Wash and thoroughly dry kale and rip or cut into large bite size pieces (the pieces will shrink during baking.) Drizzle kale with olive oil (toss in bowl to coat leaves) and sprinkle with seasoning salt (and other spices/seasonings if desired).
3. Spread kale out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss once mid-way through baking to brown and crisp both sides.

Monday, August 10, 2009


The past couple of weeks have felt like a real turn-around on the farm. We are making progress instead of mud! We cultivated all the gardens at Old Stone Farm (pictured above). Now the plants have sunshine, warmth, air in the soil (instead of water) and no weeds competing with them for those cherished resources. We moved our new flock of laying hens out to pasture, as they are now starting to lay eggs and the ground is dry enough for them. The cows have finished grazing at Old Stone Farm, and have started in on the pastures at The Morris Farm. This week we will be moving the sheep over to Old Stone Farm to rotationally graze there.
The sunny skies of last week inspired Jeff to mow some hay. Unfortunately for us, the rain did fall, and the crop could not be put up. But, the area he mowed was small, and we picked up the hay anyway and gave it to the piglets. They had a great time munching on it, making beds in it, and of course playing in it! Jeff mowed again this weekend, and last night finished forking the loose sweet hay into the pole barn. He will probably mow again this week; we may need a little help getting the hay in, so please email or call if you would like to stop by to lend a hand. It is a great way to see the horses in action.

As I mentioned in the last post, two of our apprentices had become ill with Lyme's Disease. They took a couple weeks off to recover, but returned to the farm still exhausted and a little sick. We all decided that the farm life was not working out for their recovery, so they have left the farm to rest and to live closer to a doctor that their insurance will accept. We have had quite a bit of experience with Lyme's on this farm, and do not take the disease lightly. So, Kate (pictured to the right disking with the horses) and Jeff are working long hours on the farm, and we are looking for a new apprentice or two. Ruth is helping out on the farm a lot and accompanying me to the house site as we figure out how to be the contractor for our home construction project. Another challenge of being short-handed while we run a farm and oversee the construction of our house is attempting to keep relative order and cleanliness in our house, especially with the arrival of a new baby just around the corner (due Sept. 18th)! My mother has been up for the weekend helping me to get the house ready for baby. What farm family could survive without the help of family?

July 28 CSA Share:
  • scallions
  • fennel bulb
  • chard
  • dill
  • new potatoes
  • beets
  • carrots
August 4 CSA Share:
  • Red Gold potatoes
  • kohlrabi
  • kale
  • basil
  • radicchio
  • scallions
  • Purple Haze carrots
  • beets (3 different varieties & colors)
A note on radicchio: you have probably eaten readicchio before in salad mixes; it is the dark purple/maroon leaves chopped up. Raw in salads it adds a bitter bite, but cooked it looses some of its bitter and is delicious with a sweet topping. Jeff braised some radicchio wedges last week in a pan with bacon grease and maple syrup that were delicious (but still too bitter for Ruth). Below is the recipe I had out at CSA pick-up:

Roasted Radicchio with Gorgonzola and Balsamic Vinegar
Farmer John's Cookbook ~ Serves 4
"Roasting brings out a concentrated, natural sweetness in radicchio. This dish is unusual, elegant, simple - and delicious. Served on a bed of risotto, it makes an attractive meal. If you're not a Gorgonzola fan, this is equally delicious with Brie, Swiss, aged Cheddar, or smoked Gouda. You can substitute lemon juice for the balsamic vinegar."

1 medium head radicchio, cut into 2-inch wedges
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground black pepper
balsamic vinegar
1-6 ounces Gorgonzola (or other cheese), sliced

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a 2-quart baking dish.
2. Using a pastry brush, brush the radicchio generously with olive oil and place in a single layer in the baking dish. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake the radicchio for 20 minutes, turning wedges over once midway through cooking. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with cheese. Return to the oven until cheese is melted, about 5 minutes.