Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last Nibble of Green

 Although the warm weather is a little disconcerting for late December, it is a thrill to walk through the gardens, harvest knife in hand, to see what I can find.  Nibbles of green.  Flavor.  Nibbles of life even in this darkest time of year.  The bit of cilantro, celery, parsley, mustard green, and kale I find taste so vibrant after being pulled from a crust of snow.  I wonder, are the sheep equally content and wondrous with their mid-winter nibbles of pasture grasses and clovers?  As soon as the snow covers the pasture, it will be dry hay for them.  Out in the pasture, we find peace and an airy, but strong, sunlight unique to the solstice time.  Perhaps it is the longer nights that, in contrast, make this sun so special?  Perhaps it is the snow and cold earth that make the greens taste so wonderful...

 Around the farmstead peace does not last long.  We finished the harvest;  leeks and parsnips now join the rest of the winter crops, clean and snug in the root cellar.  Ruth has fallen in love with the root crop washer.  When she hears it starting up, she drops everything, throws on her rain gear, and heads outside to help.  Even with man-sized waterproof gloves covering her little hands, she is a great help.  After the work is done, Jeff lets her embark on a little fun, crawling around in the root washer while it turns!
We processed a couple of our pigs on the farm, just for us and a friend.  Following was a wave of cutting, curing, and smoking the meat in our home-made smoker.  Jeff has been all over the phone, email, and roads bringing the rest of our animals to be processed and coordinating distributing the meat to our meat CSA members. 

The phone and email also bring us a steady flow of messages from young people who want to apprentice on our farm this coming season.  While it is heartening to us how many young folks want to learn about diversified farming (integrating animals and plants into an ecosystem) and farming with draft horses, the number of applications we have to wade through is at times a bit overwhelming.  We wish we could welcome the majority of these wonderful folks into our farm family, but we currently only have the housing for one or two more. 

Friday and Saturday are busy days for us year-round, as we prepare for and head to Brunswick for farmers' market.  A couple Saturdays ago, we added the Portland Winter Market to the mix.  Jeff and Rich rise early, pack the coolers with meat, bins with winter veggies, eggs, salsa, yarn and lambskins, and pile it all into the truck.  Jeff drops Rich with half the goods in Brunswick, then heads to Portland with his half to sell.  I join Rich with the girls later, after dropping my sister off at her basketball practice.  It is busy, but oh those markets are so fun and delicious!  I highly recommend both: Portland Winter Market and Brunswick Winter Market

The rest of our days bring a bit of rhythm with the daily chores of feeding horses hay, moving the sheep fence to new pasture, feeding and watering chickens and collecting eggs.  As a family we join in the seasonal rhythm of celebration, lighting the Hanukkah candles nightly, stringing lights on our Christmas tree, making new wool felted ornaments with Nonnie (because, well, where DID that box of ornaments go?!), and joining Ruth's school in song at the Alna Meeting House to welcome the solstice.
In the kitchen I have been following my intuition a bit more than the recipes.  Nutmeg made its way into baked stuffed acorn squash along with rice, ground beef, parsnips, onions, garlic...  Not too bad for acorn squash!  Squash soup always starts off with caramelizing the onions and baking the squash with un-peeled garlic in the cavity.  One day I threw in sesame oil and coriander, along with the onions, garlic, and squash, made it silky-smooth in the Cuisinart, then added tender green cabbage, sliced thin and sauteed in sesame oil and a little salt.  Of course, Hanukkah is the time to make potato latkes, you can find the recipe in my Dec, 7, 210 post.  Also in an old post is a recipe for Turnips Anna, one of our favorite turnip recipes.  You can mix turnips and potatoes for this recipe, to try to win over non-turnip lovers!  And the kale from the last CSA share would be perfect for kale chips, as most of the leaves are small so you would only have to wash and dry them, no chopping/ripping; recipe found here in this old post (scroll just over half-way down.)

Happy Feasting, Nibbling, Light and Merriment Making!

Your Farmers,
Jeff, Amy, Ruth and Leah

December 6 CSA Share
Sweet potatoes
Winter squash
Savoy cabbage
Burdock root
Daikon radish

December 20 CSA Share
Acorn squash
German Butterball potatoes
Apple Sauce
Kale mix
 Watermelon radish

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