Sunday, November 18, 2012

Irrigation ponds

This year we experienced severe drought.  It was so dry that our irrigation pond by the mobile high tunnel went dry.  Our well was sucking air.  So we hired a heavy equipment operator to dig the dry pond deeper...

 and set up another pond by the garden so we would not have to use well water.

With the last rain the ponds held water.  What a beautiful sight!

Garden in Fall

Ken and Loyal have been planning, getting beds ready for planting, planting, setting hoopettes in place, planting in the medium tunnel, and soon will plant in the mobile high tunnel - there has been no water to transplant.

So first they add compost to the beds and rake them out.  Then Ken tills and they plant and set up hoopettes.

With rain, the seedlings are starting.

And now the garden looks like this.

Corn crib project

Years ago Ken bought a corn crib at an auction.  He dismantled it, brought it home, and carefully stacked the parts.

This year during the drought our irrigation pond by the mobile high tunnel dried up.  We decided to have a heavy equipment operator in and deepen that pond and set up another for the garden area.

As he dug, rocks appeared.  Ken and Loyal have been vigilant about moving and sorting rocks before they were reburied.  They decided where they want the corn crib and set up a transit and strings and placed rocks as a base.  Then sand was added and soon they can put it up.

Hurrah! The cat is back!

Our outdoor, working cat has been missing most of the time since Loyal and his animals appeared at the end of September.  

This has had me worried.  I not only miss the cat, I have seen more rodents - near the house, in the house, in the greenhouses.  

But a couple days ago Ken spotted him!  And he has been around the past couple days.  Maybe he needed to work it out with the new dog or new animals.  I am just glad our working cat is back!

At the Gallery

Ken is one of two featured artists at artZ gallery in Amery, Wisconsin this month.  He brought in pottery and set up his exhibit.  

He was asked to set up the front window with pottery.  He thought about what he wanted to do and brought some of his larger sculptural pieces people often  place in gardens or entry ways. 

 He went to the gravel pit and got some pea gravel to set up tiles at a more effective angle.  These were remaining from a beautiful commission installation he did at the medical clinic in Barron, Wisconsin.

Then he was asked to bring vegetables the night of the opening reception.  He harvested and my friend Tom and I cleaned and priced vegetables for a table in the middle of the installation.  Tom hauled everything in and Ken set up the table.

People admired and purchased both pottery and vegetables as soon as installation was complete, so pots and vegetables were shifted, and the installation kept changing.

Ken's vegetables were at the gallery for a week, but the pottery will be there for the month of November.  Ken will continue to have pottery at artZ after the show as well as at Dancing Bird studio in Cumberland, Wisconsin.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CSA Newsletter

Greetings from the Garden!  This box has lettuce, salad and braising greens, mizuna, cabbage,  potatoes. the last of the sweet potatoes and turnips, pie pumpkins, leeks or onions, rutabagas, carrots, and sage.

Field Notes.  We left Sunday afternoon for a funeral in Wadena, Minnesota.  We left fall, and entered winter.  Many vegetables were under plastic or fiber, but not all.  After two very cold nights we will see how they fared.  We are racing to harvest and root cellar before consistent cold temperatures damage what remains in garden and field.

Bed prep in garden
Ken and Loyal are leaving for the Biodynamic conference in Madison on Thursday.  I will be home tending animals and catching up on many tasks.  The conference is usually held on either coast, and the Midwest location this year makes it possible to attend.  This is the direction our farm has been heading, and the additional information from the conference will help us move further ahead in the process. 

Ken and Loyal continue to prepare garden and field for winter with additional plantings of spring crops and green manures.  They also have some soil amendments to add. 

The irrigation pond work was completed before this last rain, and we were all delighted to see it holding water!  This was where we invested a chunk of our savings so we will have water during future dry periods.

pie pumpkins
From the Kitchen.  This is the "Thanksgiving" box so it has a pie pumpkin and sage and other holiday essentials.  Ken has been making squash pies right along with any blemished squash.  Pie pumpkins make an equally delicious pie, or are great in cakes and cookies.  I cut a cap like a jack o 'lantern, scoop out the seeds, replace cap and bake, or cut into chunks and steam.  Either works - it just depends on whether I am lighting the oven or if it is already full.

sage in garden
I know most people do mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving.  So today's box has a good mashing variety.

Sage is a delicious herb best used in a way that seals it in - stuffing, biscuits, egg dishes, for example.

Thank you to all of who who attended the opening reception at artZ gallery last week.  And thank you for your vegetable purchases.  Everyone seemed to have a fun evening and the questions directed to Ken were great.

Happy Thanksgiving.  We count you among our blessings.  Thank you all for your support.
Next box December 12th.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CSA Newsletter

the humble rutabaga
Greetings from the Garden!  This box has potatoes, sweet potatoes and /or squash, lettuce, daikon radish, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, and leeks.

Field Notes.  Our pigs went to the meat locker this week.  Ken is pulling fence and picking rock where they were last.  Now our animal population is thinned for winter.  Animals are a crucial part of any farm.  Pigs clear and till, chickens eat insects, ticks and weed seeds, geese mow the lawn.  And their bedding is one component of the compost used in the garden.  This is one of our main nitrogen sources.

Men and compost
Ken has been planting and planning for the season ahead.  There are greenhouses and hoopettes to plant.  Some space will be left open for early season crops next year, too.  

The irrigation areas expansion project progresses.  Those big pieces of machinery can do a lot in a short time.  And we all feel better about having places to hold water as it seems we are getting either too much or none.  We did get some rain and flurries on Monday and with the short dreary grey days of November the push is on to prioritize and complete outdoor tasks.

Ken and Loyal are attending the Biodynamic conference in Madison next week.  Ken leaves on his 60th birthday.  The schedule and speakers look really promising.  I will be here feeding remaining animals, root cellaring, catching up on book keeping, computer work, and getting our seeds inventoried, so I can hit the seed catalogs and order early.  Delay means several varieties could be sold out or back ordered past intended plant date.

From the Kitchen.  I have been sick.  Ken has been making his own interesting meals.  One was a cabbage, potato and leek soup.  I got some as I felt better before it was all gone.  He used goose stock - very rich in flavor.  I came back to the living through a brown rice gruel - brown rice cooked in soup stock to the very soft stage.  I added miso just before serving to boost my probiotics.

We have also been eating organ meats as we butcher.  Ground gizzards in tomato sauce with onion, garlic and pepper sauce is great with eggs in the morning.  Or with pasta at night.  Liver pate.

But back to vegetables!  Ken makes a sweet and white potato scalloped potatoes using a standard recipe - it is great.  And Squash soup with spicy sausage is tasty.  Rutabagas are delicious au gratin with potatoes - or mashed with potatoes.

'Til Next Week!

Pigs will be going Soon

This week the pigs will be heading to the meat locker and on to people's freezers.  Although they start out as cute little things, sometime about Labor Day they become hogs.  We care for them and give them lots of garden trimmings like lower cabbage leaves, corn stalks, etc.  About the end of October we are filling the root cellar and the supply of garden items dwindles.  And it is time for them to go.

It is tough, but right.  They have had organic grain, sprouted grain, produce trimmings from our farm.  They have had land to dig, have been outside in the woods with a shelter.  It has been a good life and they have done their job of converting food we don't eat into clean, healthy meat.  They have dug areas and lifted the rocks for Ken and Loyal to pick.

We are grateful.

Loyal's Pigs

Loyal has joined forces with us.  He brought his pigs with him.  They are an Austrian breed that grow more slowly and have firm, red meat that is sought after for chacuterie - prosciutto, bacon, etc.

He has a boar, Bob

And a pregnant sow

And some adult pigs ready to ship

And some baby piglets that look like they are part sheep.  They will be ready early next fall.