Welcome!

Welcome to our farm’s blog and website! Oakhill Organics is a family-run farm located on Grand Island. We grow everything we sell right here on our 100+ acres, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! You can find out more information about what and how we grow by following the links above; or, scroll down to read our latest farm newsletter on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla & the whole Oakhill family

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As August ends

Hogs feeding on oats at the edge of our cherry orchard.

Hogs feeding on oats at the edge of our cherry orchard.

This week has been a whirlwind of somewhat exhausting activity — some of it planned, some of it very much unplanned. In the category of planned activity, we welcomed some very dear old friends for a two night visit. They came from big cities (Brooklyn and Seattle) to enjoy all the sights, sounds, and tastes of the farm! We picked and ate plums straight from the trees, swam in the river, got licked by curious cows, and dug holes (there was a three year-old involved). We also sat up late talking, and so — some tiredness is setting in tonight!

Smokey farm!

Smokey farm!

But, the unplanned things were also interesting (if a bit crazy making in their own ways). First, this weekend brought some dramatic “weather” to the region. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about — the influx of dense smoke from wildfires throughout the region. We went to the beach on Saturday to visit Casey’s parents, and we hoped for a reprieve from the smoke, but alas that was not to be found. Truly the whole region joined in the summer’s hard fire season for those days of smoke. I felt like we were living in a post-apocalyptic farmscape, and we literally breathed with relief when the winds shifted Monday morning bringing us fresh air again. Our hearts go out to those of you living with such poor air quality for weeks and months on end! It hurts the eyes, lungs, and soul.

In addition to fresh air and friends, Monday brought another unexpected adventure of sorts. Jasper drove down to our favorite butcher in Brownsville to pick up a fresh batch of ground beef and lamb (yay!). On his way to the butcher from I-5, the box truck stopped working! All the fans seized up, and it quickly overheated, causing him to pull over and figure it out. Thankfully, he was in a safe place for that. Double-thankfully, he was on his way to the butcher, so he didn’t have a load of meat in the truck. And, thankfully, it turns out he was within slow easy driving distance of a recommended fleet mechanic. He crawled there, and Casey drove down to pick him (and the meat) up. That fleet shop looked at the truck the next morning, diagnosed an easy and affordable fix (yay again!) and had it fixed by this afternoon. So, our truck is already running again and parked back in our driveway. And, we’ve got several boxes of ground beef and lamb in the freezer too. Oh, hoorah!

Enjoying what is likely to be one of our last "river days" of this summer.

Enjoying what is likely to be one of our last “river days” of this summer.

And, finally, this week brought a surprisingly abrupt end to some of our summer routines. Just in the last week, we found ourselves suddenly at the end of a lot of summer rhythms — several people who have worked and helped out here on the farm are moving on, which shifts the feel of our work a lot. And, after a few more days of fun social time and a mini vacation to the beach, our family will be jumping into the beginning of new fall rhythms. Notably, we’re starting our school routine next Wednesday! It’s a bit ahead of public schools, but we homeschoolers can do such things! Dottie will be in preschool, and Rusty will be in kindergarten. We are very excited, even if the arrival of this shift seemed to take us by surprise!

To add to the fall “vibe,” the weather forecast for the weekend calls for several days of “rain possible.” In spite of plans to go camping this weekend, we eagerly anticipate some wet weather. Oh, how all of the west coast could use it!!!!! Even though it is fairly certain now that fire has passed by Holden Village’s infrastructure, so much land is still ablaze in that region and beyond. Many people are still living in exile from their homes (or taking the risk of sticking around to help). These people are on our minds and hearts daily. So, rain. Yes, please!

We hope you are savoring these final days of your summer routine — playing outside while you can! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: 

  • Asian pears — We were surprised to learn last week that Asian pears are a new fruit for many people! We apologize for not taking time to introduce them to you, although I imagine many of you made your own happy acquaintance this week without my help (yummy, yes?). For those of you who would still like more information about this fruit, Pyrus pyrifolia is a pear type native to Asia (ok, no surprise there). However, it differs fairly significantly from European varieties — so much so that I consider it a unique fruit type. Unlike European pears, Asian pears ripen on the tree. They also do not soften when ripe — the flesh remains crisp, often even crisper than a crisp apple. So when you touch an Asian pear, it will be very firm in your hands (like an apple). But, trust us that we have only picked Asian pears that are ripe, sweet, and very much ready to eat. The flavor is sweet without being syrupy, and they are very juicy. To me, eating a cold Asian pear on a late summer day is the ultimate in refreshment.
  • Grapes — More delicious Concord grapes! Remember that these have seeds in them! I plan to make some juice later this week. It’s easy with a steamer (available usually at Bi-Mart or Wilco). We find the resulting juice to be more concentrated than we really want to drink, but it’s great cut with soda water. Or, I also use it to make jello — I just add gelatin, no extra sugar needed at all with this sweet stuff!
  • Prune plums — Time for the next season of plums! These are European style plums — firmer flesh, freestone, and perfect for drying into prunes. For plum lovers, these are often the best of the best. I do love them so! We will dry some prunes sometime soon as well! It’s easy to do in a food dehydrator. We just cut these in half, pop out the pit, then put them on the tray! For larger plums, it helps to somewhat flip the plum halves “inside out,” to expose more of the wet inner flesh for drying.
  • Red plums — These plums are still around too! Enjoy them while they last!
  • Lettuce mix — We enjoyed eating more salads again this week. I keep making my favorite mayo-style dressing, and it’s a hit with guests to our house.
  • Basil
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomatillos
  • Hot peppers
  • Green beans — The next (and final) batch of green beans are on!
  • Cucumbers
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini & summer squash
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ One of this week’s guests is a vegetarian, and we adapted our usual farm fare for him. We left out the meat and then fried an egg for him to eat with whatever vegetables we served. Of course he marveled at the color of the yolk. Because farm fresh eggs are amazing!
  • Pork chops — We still have lots of thick, perfect pork chops! We’ve tried a few different butchers this year, and these chops come from one of our two favorites. They do a superb job — clean cuts. They are beautiful. $12/lb
  • Lamb — We just picked up a new batch of lamb, so we have everything in stock: chops, roasts, shanks, and lots and lots of ground lamb! Prices vary depending on the cut.
  • Ground beef — IT’S BACK! We are so glad! Since we picked it up on Monday, we have eaten hamburgers every day. It’s just so good that we can’t get enough and we missed it. $7/lb in 1 lb packages.
  • Bratwursts & ham — Coming next week!
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August happenings

Threshing, winnowing, slackline -- oh my! A lot happened on our porch this afternoon. Read more below!

Threshing, winnowing, slackline — oh my! A lot happened on our porch this afternoon. Read more below!

It’s been another full week here on the farm. We hosted our summer potluck on Saturday and were delighted when several brand new CSA members joined us! It was so lovely to get to you better as we dined on delicious food on a truly perfect summer evening.

Since then, the heat has returned again. Each time another heat wave hits the west coast, I find myself more and more ready for fall. At this point, the heat itself doesn’t bother me so much, but it is having disastrous consequences all up and down the west. While we were grateful to have Holden Village’s buildings spared by the Wolverine Fire, our relief is tempered by the loss of dozens of homes in Chelan, the loss of three firefighter lives in Okanogan County, and continued evacuations for hundreds of people all over. If you are the praying type, this is a season to pray for the safety of people near to these fires.

More plums that will be ready to pick very soon!

More plums that will be ready to pick very soon!

Meanwhile, it’s hot here too! Heat is normal for August, of course. But, in keeping with the year’s trend, I still find myself confused about exactly the time of the year, because many parts of the farm continue to feel weeks ahead of schedule. The drought stress in the trees reminds me of September, and this week we jumped head first into the big late summer fruit harvests. Jasper spent several days just picking — plums, Asian pears, and apples! You’ll get to taste many of these this week … all delicious and certified organic! Ooh la la! Exciting stuff!

Casey has also begun the work of harvesting some of our saved seed from the fields. He pulled a bunch of items from the fields just before that brief rain shower we had last week (hard to remember already!). The dry plants have been hanging out waiting for further processing. When the temperatures got hot this afternoon, he, Jasper and the kids retreated to our porch to do some threshing (i.e. stomping on dry fava bean pods) and winnowing (to clean the seed from the chaff). This will be an ongoing process over the next few months, to be fit in here and there as time permits. It definitely reminds us that we’re approaching the end of this season — we’re past the season of leaf production and into the season of fruits and seeds. Time to dig deep and harvest from this time of abundance.

As we go into this next season, I have a few things on my mind that I want to put on your mind so that you don’t miss out:

U-pick tomatoes coming! — Folks have asked! And we have them! If you’d like to pick tomatoes, check in with us at pick-up this week or next. The sauce tomato patch will be ready by the weekend of Friday, August 29. For this u-pick, we’re just planning to charge by the lbs, but we’d still like to sign people up ahead of time so that we know who to expect (and we can communicate the necessary info to you).

Fall Pumpkin Patch Open House MUSIC? — Two notes on this one. First, get the open house date on your calendar! This year’s event will be Sunday, October 25, 2-4 pm. Second, we’re still looking for a fun live musical act to perform. This is a neat tradition of ours, and so far everyone who has performed has had some relationship to the farm. In past years, we’ve had a rockin’ high school bluegrass band, a DJ spinning records, and an acoustic folk trio. We’re still looking for the perfect act for this year and thought we would ask and see if there is someone in our community who has a little band or would otherwise be interested in performing! Let us know!

Taking new CSA members for Fall — Also, we still have room in the CSA for folks to join! If you have a friend who might be interested, send them our way! Have them include your name when they sign up, and we’ll give you a $20 credit to use in the storefront or apply toward your remaining CSA balance! Thanks in advance for a referral!

Fall meat opportunities — We are still taking orders for our fall batches of stewing hens. The price is $3.50/lb (average about two lbs each bird). We will also do another pork sale as we approach the end of the season, so be thinking of whether you might want to join on! I know folks probably have pretty full freezers already, but maybe you can find room for half a hog this fall!

I think that’s it for news this week! May you all stay safe and cool as we continue through a wild August. Enjoy this week’s vegetables — and abundant fruits too!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: How many good things can be harvested in one week? SO MANY! If you want to take home more than your normal share amount, we always bring extra and you are welcome to buy a few more items while you are at pick-up!

  • Lettuce mix! — Yay! Salad is back! Just in time for more easy dinners of Big Green Salads while the heat lingers. The temperature is going back up to the 90s this weekend!
  • Sweet corn — More corn!
  • Concord grapes — These are from a very old planting of grapes on my parents’ property. Rumor has it that the original stock came with early pioneers on the Oregon Trail. These are the grapes that have the classic grape flavor. They also have seeds!
  • Asian pears — Prepare yourself for juice running down your chin and onto your hands. Eat outside or over a napkin.
  • Plums
  • Chehalis apples
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Tomatillos
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini — More modest zucchini quantities this week! But they are all perfect small-medium fruits.
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ We’ve got next year’s layers growing in our barn brooder right now! They are still so little, but we’re excited to start getting eggs from them come January. We’ve been keeping chickens on some scale for nine years now, and we are so totally hooked forever on farm fresh eggs.
  • Fermented hot pepper sauce — Watch out! This should be some good stuff. We’ll have some jars ($1/ea), or you can bring your own. $9/half pint
  • Pork chops — We have lots of pork chops! They are thick and beautiful. $12/lb More pork coming soon in the form of Bratwursts and hams!
  • Lamb — We still have lots of lamb roasts! The new batch of lamb will come next week. Note the new price for roasts — now $8/lb!
  • Ground beef — … Sorry to report that it will be next week for the beef. Our awesome butcher had a bunch of people out for vacations and sickness. It happens! The meat will be ready well before next week, and we look forward to restocking the freezer!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

A good news day

A pretty picture from the garden — matches our glowing mood today!

A pretty picture from the garden — matches our glowing mood today!

Thank you to everyone for your loving words and your prayers this week in response to last week’s newsletter about the wildfire threatening Holden Village. Many folks checked in mid-week to see how things were faring. I can tell you, it has been a long-feeling vigil for all of us far-flung Holdenites. The fire moved up the Railroad Creek Valley at an average rate of half-a-mile per day. Thanks to the amazing wonders of social media and online maps, we were able to both watch the progression closely and continually converse about it with other concerned parties on Facebook. I admit to having been on the computer more this week than my normal average, but I am glad to feel so connected.

Last night we all went to bed with more active prayers even than before, as those online fire maps showed the fire finally circling the village infrastructure on three sides. It felt that we were finally at the point when we would learn the answer to our question — would the village itself burn? What would the next 24 hours bring?

We awoke with prayers on our hearts, and Facebook was filled with the most amazing heartfelt meditations and shared memories, dreams, and hopes this morning. And, this morning’s incident report brought good news today:

Structure protection around Holden Village was successful yesterday. Crews focused on a hand-ignited burnout around the community, combined with heavy sprinkler work and intensive monitoring for embers through the night. Due to heavy smoke in Railroad Creek yesterday, no aerial ignition occurred. Overnight, the main fire slowly backed down the ridge toward Holden and met the burnout around the Village as planned by fire management. Crews today will finalize burn operations and begin to secure the burnout on the south side of the drainage and monitor for spot fires.” (My emphasis added!)

See that first sentence? That’s pretty much all we needed to hear to feel some relief.

This is far from over. The firefighters on site have done a lot of work preparing the village for the fire’s arrival, including do burn backs, which is where they carefully burn areas near the site so that when the fire itself arrives, it meets a dead-end for fuel. From what we read in the incident reports, it sounds like that was what happened in the last 24 hours — at least at some locations around the village. The firefighters have much more work to do before declaring the “all clear” — we are still in that critical moment for keeping the village safe from the fire.

And, the fire will probably likely continue its slow progression up the valley even after if it circles around the village itself. There’s no question the Railroad Creek Valley is going to be forever changed by this summer. But now we have hope that we (and many others) will get to return and stay in that magical place again, to learn and grow from those changes (and from each other, now changed people).

Again, thank you to all of you who have thought about and cared about this distant place. I can promise you that it is a place worth the heart space, and perhaps someday you may visit there too!

The first open sunflower in our garden!

The first open sunflower in our garden!

And … here on the home front, there’s other exciting news too: our crops are certified organic again!!!!!! It’s official! We received our new certificate from via email late yesterday! It took longer than we expected, but it’s summer and everyone involved is busy. All’s well that ends well, and we are so excited about the change in our status. Looking back, we still feel good about taking a break from the process, but we’re glad to be back for so many reasons.

I think that’s enough big news for one newsletter! We hope you will join us on this beautiful organic farm for our upcoming CSA open house (details below). And, enjoy this week’s organic vegetables!

Your organic farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

CSA Open House this weekend!
Saturday, August 15
5 pm farm tour •
6 pm potluck dinner

Join us on the farm this Saturday for our second farm event of the year! Arrive at 5 pm for a farm tour with Farmer Casey. Then we’ll gather by our house at 6 pm for a potluck dinner. If you can remember, please bring plates and utensils for your family (we have some, but not enough for quite everyone!). We hope you can join us!

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to the Dayton exit. Drive straight through Dayton and stay on Wallace Rd/HWY-221 for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After the bridge, turn RIGHT at the first 4-way intersection, onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is immediately on your LEFT (we have a red pole barn at the road). Our house is the 2-story brown one toward the back-right of the driveway. Find a parking spot and join us there! If you have questions, you can email or call me: 503-474-7661.

~ ~ ~

Stewing hens coming! Place orders now! We’ll have three batches available this fall at $4/lb (hens will average 2-3 lbs each). What are stewing hens? These are hens we are culling from our laying flock. They are all pasture-raised and provided only organic feed. They are “stewers” because they will not be the tender kind of young chicken you would want to roast. Instead, these are chickens that you put in a pot or a slower cooker and simmer in water with a bouquet garni (a bundle of aromatic herbs!) all day. The results are amazing — tender, flavorful meat that falls off the bone and the most satisfying chicken broth you will ever eat. Stewing hens are a favorite winter food around our house. We make a lot of chicken soup (strain the broth, pick the meat, then throw them back together to simmer a bit with some vegetables), but we also enjoy using the cooked meat for other applications too — it’s great in things like enchiladas and casseroles. No fall freezer is complete with at least a few of these in it for the making of deeply satisfying winter dishes. We’ll take batches in Sept, Oct, and Nov. Please order via email or at pick-up. (And, yes, anyone can order! This is not just limited to current CSA members!)

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: This week we have quite the summer bounty!

  • Sweet corn!!!! — So, here is how you eat sweet corn … I’m just kidding! You know how to do this one! Enjoy!
  • Apples — Our next variety of apples is ready — these are Chehalis apples, one of most productive and reliable varieties. It’s a newer variety that we had the good fortune to learn about when we were planting our trees. We love it so much that we have Chehalis trees in each of our three orchards. It is a reliable fruit setter and disease and pest resistant. Plus, it tastes good! These are definitely sweeter than the Lodis we had earlier and have a delightful crisp texture. We’ve been eating them a lot as part of a classic kid snack: apple slices and peanut butter.
  • Plums — The red plums continue to ripen, and OH are they good! And prolific! Be prepared for lots of plums again tomorrow!
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes — So, it turns out that we planted all our slicing tomato varieties in our greenhouse this year. In prior years, our greenhouse tomatoes have rocked, but this year they’re not as awesome for several reasons (gophers, lots of heat, etc.). So we have some slicer types but not as much as we’d hope. Meanwhile, our sauce tomatoes in the field are looking awesome, so we will have plenty of those in a few weeks! (Including extras to sell for putting up, if you are interested in that!)
  • Peppers
  • Basil
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Beets — We eat roasted beets at least once a week around here. This year, I’ve tweaked my cooking method a little bit, and I love the results. I am now roasting them at 375° (slightly lower than before), and I’m making the chunks bigger. Depending on the size of the beet, I may chop it in half or quarters (so bigger than bite-sized). I add plenty of butter to the pan (of course) and then roast them until they are crispy outside and tender inside. This takes a while, as beets are much denser than other roots. I generally allow at least an hour of cooking time and check them periodically for doneness and to stir. I like the bigger beet pieces because I can get the outsides really crispy without burning them. If you’re wondering, I scrub the beets but I don’t peel them before cooking. I find that I don’t even notice the skin on a well roasted beet.
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic — The first of this year’s garlic harvest! If you haven’t made squash-a-ganouj yet, try it this week! (The recipe can be found in this recent newsletter.) We made some tonight and ate it with lemon cucumbers from the garden (we planted enough there to practically supply the whole CSA! Oops!).

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ I’m the best egg scrambler in our house. My secret? A really clean cast iron pan loaded with butter and not too many eggs. I scramble two or three at a time (usually for kiddos) and in our smaller pan, this is enough egg to just fill the pan. I let it cook on medium-low heat until it’s cooked enough to flip. When I flip it, I try to keep it more or less as one sheet of egg. I usually turn the burner off and let it finish on the other side. While it is finishing up, I chop it into pieces with my metal flipper. The result is something closer to an omelet than a traditional scrambled up egg. I prefer the smoother texture of an egg that has been cooked in a single sheet like that, and I’ve noticed that the kids enjoy them more too. It’s a very simple, yet very satisfying, food.
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Pork chops & spare ribs — We picked up a fresh batch of pork today — we have lots of pork chops and spare ribs for sale this week! The rest of the meat stayed at the butcher for further processing into our popular nitrate-free Bratwursts and hams!
  • Lamb — We still have lots of lamb roasts, with more lamb on the way next week (including lots of ground lamb). We’re reducing our prices on the lamb roasts — now $8/lb!
  • Ground beef — back next week! It’s hanging at the butcher to age now!
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Mountains on our mind

A photo from the archives today — this is us in 2003, before we were farmers, at Holden Pass. It was on hikes such as these that our farm dreams were born.

A photo from the archives today — this is us in 2003, before we were farmers, at Holden Pass. It was on hikes such as these that our farm dreams were born.

I’m working on the newsletter early in the day this week, because tonight we’re doing some rather unprecedented for us — we’re heading up to Portland this evening. We rarely go that direction, let alone mid-week! But Things Are Happening that are pulling us toward certain people for comfort and connection right now.

Namely — The Big Thing that has us compulsively checking the internet for updates is the Wolverine Fire, a wildfire burning at Lake Chelan, just miles away from our former home and community at Holden Village. Holden Village is a remote Lutheran retreat center, housed in a former mining town in the midst of the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. Casey and I spent lots of time working there, including a whole year after we graduated from college. The place and its people had a profound effect on shaping who we are as adults today — instilling in us wonder for nature, appreciation for community, love of singing, and more.

In fact, after a long hiatus spent starting up the farm and our family, we are planning to return to Holden this winter. Now that we are in the midst of our tenth year of farming, we feel the need for renewal and perspective. And, that is exactly what Holden strives to do for people — to provide a place apart (far apart) where people can come when needing rest, recreation, discernment, and inspiration. Our plans right now are to head that way for a few weeks in January, during which time we will help share our skills and gifts with the village. Casey especially has lots to offer to a community that is constantly remodeling old buildings — when we lived there before, he was the Village Plumber, and he knows the systems there intimately.

Those are our plans, but today we are in waiting mode, holding a perpetual vigil in our hearts as we watch the Wolverine Fire and its movements. We are not alone in this. Thanks to the internet, we have joined hundreds and thousands of Holdenites across the country who are waiting. Included in this group are the hundreds of people who were — until last week — living at Holden. They were all swiftly evacuated and are now waiting to return home.

The Big Question, of course, is what the fire will do. Will it continue up the Railroad Creek Valley to the village itself? That is its trajectory so far, spreading west to the village, south to Chelan, and north toward Stehekin.

The village has been preparing for this possibility for years. When we lived at Holden, the Operators Managers used to say, “It’s not a question if ‘if’ but ‘when’ the valley will burn.” So, old shingle roofs have been upgraded with metal ones; there are fire breaks in place; and sprinklers are running in the village. And, firefighters are on location doing further work to create fire breaks. So, we wait. If you want to see the latest news, here is a link to the latest incident updates.

Again, the fire is not a surprise. Holden is located in a region where The Forests Burn. Just as here on the island, The River Floods. Anyone who has lived at Holden for an extended period learns to respect the power of nature. And to understand the inevitability of that power. Because the village is so remote, the people who live in that place (folks like Casey and me) have to be prepared for emergencies, whether those be medical situations or natural disasters like avalanches and fires.

When we lived at Holden, a fall rainstorm brought Railroad Creek to flood levels, damaging two bridges and breaking off a large bank of the river that contained a significant and important chunk of roadway. Within hours, our landscape had changed forever — routes that were part of everyday traffic had to be reworked. Before we knew how much damage would occur that night, some of us stood on a bridge over the raging creek (river now) and pointed flashlights at the water. As we watched whole trees float beneath us, we felt the bridge shuddering. And then we quickly retreated to indoor safety while the rain continued to fall.

Fires, floods (and even earthquakes!) — these are nature at its most extreme. While these events can be terrifying and damaging, they can also remind us that we are alive. I think part of the appeal of living at Holden is this sense that we are living right up against all sides of nature, both the subtle wonder of a butterfly in flight and the terrible power of avalanches. I have heard people who love living in Alaska express the same sentiment. They love it because they know they could walk outside and die. I used to find such statements rather puzzling, but I think that is part of the magic of any rugged and remote place. Perhaps just living so closely to these elements, one has to let go of anxiety and embrace each moment of life.

Of course, when we are talking about reality, not every story has a happy ending. Not every person lost in the wilderness is found (most are). Casey and I have stories about such things, stories that have shaped who we are (and are stories for another time). But part of being in those remote places is knowing that their existence is not a certain thing. The forces are so strong. Yet, even knowing that the village is in the midst of a region where The Forest Burns, the thought of it burning is still profoundly tragic. So many people have poured their hearts into the preservation of that village so that others could fill it with endless songs and prayers and gatherings. The Forest Burns, and yet we hope that Holden itself Will Not.

So, here we are on our farm, here we are in the midst of high summer, thinking about another place. I find myself lying awake at night, mentally walking through the spaces I once knew so well at Holden. I mentally revisit each place with all my senses, remembering the particular smell in the basement of the Hotel, the warm sunlight on the walk to Ten Mile Falls, the sound of snow shifting off of roofs. I find myself wondering if I will ever experience that place in those ways again. Which of course I won’t — no place is static and unchanging — but I hope I can revisit them in some new sense again, hopefully in January.

Holden is where I first fell in love with the idea of a Place — of knowing one place and Loving It over years and through many seasons. The farm today is a direct result of that love. Because we have been here almost continuously for so many years, I find it hard to stir up any of those same intense feelings of nostalgia. And, why should I? Here I am, looking at the same, yet ever-changing, view out the window that I have looked at for years and years. But my eyes feel different today, as I caress this view with love and appreciation in my heart for this place where we put our roots down so many years ago.

I may even find it hard to leave tonight just to drive to Portland. But it will be good to pull ourselves away to join others to sing Holden Evening Prayer, the sung liturgy composed by Marty Haugen at Holden in 1986. This same service has been sung weekly at Holden ever since, and is used in Lutheran churches across the country. I look forward to connecting with others who are also walking through their days with Holden on their minds and hearts.

I know others are waiting this summer too. Waiting for the rain for so many reasons. Wildfires are affecting populations up and down the west. It will come, but perhaps not soon enough for everything. At times like this, it’s hard to know what to pray for. Personally, I am not fond of praying against the forces of nature. But I am fond of praying for the strength of people, for their safety and good use of their skills. For their ability to be successful stewards of the places they love and inhabit. May we be good and loving stewards always of this farm of ours.

And may you appreciate your own place(s) this week. Even backyards can be made sacred through attention and love. Here in Oregon, nature can visit us everywhere — the sun and the butterflies reaching all places. Pause and appreciate these wonders.

Hopefully by next week I’ll have some good news. In the meantime, we wait and persevere and harvest and sing. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. We made it to Portland and back before I had time to get this up on the internet. It was lots of driving, but oh such good singing!

~ ~ ~

CSA Open House coming up!
Saturday, August 15
5 pm farm tour •
6 pm potluck dinner

Join us on the farm next week for our second farm event of the year! Arrive at 5 pm for a farm tour with Farmer Casey. Then we’ll gather by our house at 6 pm for a potluck dinner. If you can remember, please bring plates and utensils for your family (we have some, but not enough for quite everyone!). We hope you can join us!

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to the Dayton exit. Drive straight through Dayton and stay on Wallace Rd/HWY-221 for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After the bridge, turn RIGHT at the first 4-way intersection, onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is immediately on your LEFT (we have a red pole barn at the road). Our house is the 2-story brown one toward the back-right of the driveway. Find a parking spot and join us there! If you have questions, you can email or call me: 503-474-7661.

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Plums
  • Tomatillos
  • Peppers
  • Chard
  • Dino kale
  • Basil — In the last few years, I have expanded my basil repertoire to incorporate it into more of our summer meals. Now we often use it as an additional cooking green, not one suitable for using on its own, but delicious when cooked with greens like chard or kale. To me, the combination of greens, summer squash, tomatoes, and basil is the taste of summer!
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Summer squash & zucchini
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ The best eggs! Yumy!
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Lamb — We’ve got lots of fun cuts of lamb in the freezer still! Roasts and chops! Prices vary.
  • More meat coming soon! Pork and more ground beef will be on their way soon!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

In the dry season

Cherry tree in the orchard. The yellow grass is actually helping new fresh green grass to come up from below (the shade of the tall grass helps the young grass stay alive without going dormant in all this heat), providing fresh forage for some of our hogs.

Cherry tree in the orchard. The yellow grass is actually helping new fresh green grass to come up from below (the shade of the tall grass helps the young grass stay alive without going dormant in all this heat), providing fresh forage for some of our hogs.

Hey! Did you see that rain this Sunday? Did you revel in it? Did you go out naked, running and dancing? Ok, Casey and I didn’t do that last thing, but the kids did. Because, WOW, a few drenching showers on a quiet Sunday felt like the Best Thing Ever. The dust cleared; the ground got wet; we relaxed into it and even pulled out some card games after dinner. It felt like quite the Sabbath day gift.

Gathering entries for the fair.

Gathering entries for the fair.

Now, we’re back to Summer-As-Normal — day one into another Willamette Valley heat wave. True to form, this one arrived with blustery Northeast winds yesterday, which blew the kids and me around a bit as we prepared Rusty’s entries to the county fair. This is his first year entering, and we went out in the morning (before the heat) to harvest what we could from the garden. We got the kids’ garden in a little later this year, so no melons yet (alas, much to Rusty’s chagrin), but there were dry fava beans, basil, tomatoes, kale, cabbages, and lots of flowers to pick. He also made a bouquet to enter. Dottie didn’t want to be left out, of course, in spite of being three years younger than the age we waited with Rusty. So she made a bouquet as well, which the fair folks happily accepted into the running. We await our visit to the fair with great anticipation of potential ribbons and prizes (but really it’s just fun to get the kids involved in the wider agricultural community this way!).

In the fields, irrigation continues to be a mainstay. The day always begins with pipe moving, and sometimes ends that way too. If you’ve wondered, irrigating so much is expensive. Our well pump bills get pricey this time of year. More so in a year without June rain, of course. We’ve been irrigating since … April? It feels that way. Perhaps a bit then, and certainly in a solid, sustained way since May.

The landscape of the farm is changing a lot these days, as we simultaneously take care of this year’s crops and begin the ground work for next year’s. Casey has already worked in many of our spring plantings, and we are continuing to irrigate that ground in order to spur on weed seed germination. This process is called a “summer bare fallow.” It’s a useful way to work through the weed seed “bank” that resides in the soil. Just think, in every square foot of soil, many weed seeds can lie dormant, just waiting for their opportunity to germinate and grow up. Some of these seeds can lie dormant for many, many years; and, naturally, a field that has been let to go to weeds in the past will have more seeds in it than one that has been carefully weeded. Weeds happen on our farm. Some years, a lot of weeds happen. And, we’re on Grand Island, where — as one of our neighbor farmer friends likes to say — everything grows well … especially the weeds.

So, we do what we can. We’re hoping to catch up a bit better with the weed part of organic farming in future years, and these sorts of bare fallows are a great start. Once we get a nice flush of germinated weeds in our fields, we can work up the ground again, and those potential future weeds will be gone at least. We’re also ordering some large tarps to try a method called “occultation” — in this scenario, freshly worked, moist ground is covered with a large opaque tarp. The warmth under the tarp (plus the moisture) germinates seeds, and then the absence of light kills those weeds. It’s an expensive method, since large tarps cost a lot of money, but it’s also passive (i.e. doesn’t require as much hands-on work or diesel-fueled tillage to be effective). We’re excited to try some new things and hopefully see good results in future years.

We’re also fully in harvest mode out here now. Most of the summer-specific fruits are “on,” keeping us busy with picking. We loaded up eight bins of cucumbers from the fields yesterday, and that was just one crop! And we will keep picking these plants for weeks to come! This year can be so magical — these “pick and come again” crops seemingly pouring out food, week after week. This is it — the peak of the wave of food. Before too long, we’ll even begin harvest our storage crops. Hard to believe, but fall is just around the corner — in shortening daylength if not in rainfall or cool temperatures yet. This Saturday (August 1) is Lammas, the Celtic harvest celebration that marks the halfway point in our summer season.

I think even we people are feeling that shift now. Even though most of us have at least a month left before school starts again, everyone is suddenly talking of their end-of-summer plans. We continue to visit the river weekly, and yet it feels as though we should now savor each date. A bit premature, really, given how many hot and swimmable days are still to come, but the stirring to harvest and fall storage energy is upon us. It is imminent.

Meanwhile, we continue to dwell in this again dusty and dry valley, carved out of this place by that same flowing river over millennia. The landscape, and the island especially, have been so shaped by this force of water that seems almost wholly absent this time of year. I have to admit that growing up in the Northwest, I was mostly out-of-tune with this place and its seasons. I was not aware until adulthood that we experience seasonal droughts in this region. When this phenomenon was described to me, I can’t say that I met it with pre-existing awareness. To be more fair to my young self, perhaps I was like the fish who doesn’t realize he is wet, because water is all he knows. I must have understood about summer droughts on a deep level, because I still marvel at the notion that in other places, rain falls in the summer. Regularly! So much so that some farms don’t even own irrigation equipment, let alone spend a good portion of every day thinking and working on irrigation projects. How amazing!

Dottie samples some of the first of our next variety of red plum. Not quite juicy enough yet to drip down her chin, but it will happen soon.

Dottie samples some of the first of our next variety of red plum. Not quite juicy enough yet to drip down her chin, but it will happen soon.

And, yet here we are, facing extreme fire warnings as the humidity drops to 10% and the daytime high temperatures rise to above 100° — no rain anywhere on the forecast for who knows how long. It will come. It will. We will welcome it, but for now we relish the unique beauties of this season: the golden sunlight before dusk (made even more so as it shines through all that dust); the deep baking dry heat that can actually feel good — like it is reaching to the bones and drying out any last remnant of moisture or mildew from Oregon winters; and, the fruit — the juicy, mouth-watering endless parade of fresh fruit. Plums. Blackberries. Apples.

I will close with a poem that always resonates this time of year:

The Arrival — Wendell Berry

Like a tide it comes in,
wave after wave of foliage and fruit,
the nurtured and the wild,
out of the light to this shore.
In its extravagance we shape
the strenuous outline of enough.

Perhaps we will see some of you at the fair. Perhaps you will be swimming instead. Stay cool and safe this week. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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CSA payment due! One last reminder that our second-to-last CSA payment is due tomorrow at pick-up! You can bring cash or check! I emailed statements last week, but if you have any questions about your account, please email me! farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Red plums — Prepare yourself this week — the plum volume is down from our extravagant amounts in prior weeks. This is because we’re moving onto a new variety that is just coming on (the plums Dottie is sampling in the photo above). We want to give the trees time to ripen more of the fruit, so we just picked enough for each household to get a pint this week. Even though these resemble the Methleys from the outside (red plum), the interior flesh is quite different. Much meatier, which makes sense given that this is a later plum (if you’ve never noticed this trend, later varieties of any fruit tend to have more structure and more complex flavor profiles than earlier bearing varieties which are often more watery and just sweet — it takes time to develop those more complex textures and flavors!). Anyhow, enjoy your sneak peek and prepare yourself for more of these to come.
  • Tomatillos — We gave these out last week without putting them on the list ahead of time (we weren’t sure if we’d have enough and hadn’t harvested them yet). Tomatillos have become one of our favorite summer fruits, and we love freezing them for use all winter. The flavor is somewhat like a mixture of tomato and lime. It’s more piquant than tomato and not quite as sweet (at least not until they are ripe and yellow). Tomatillos cook down readily into a sauce (hence “salsa verde,” which is traditionally made with this fruit rather than tomatoes). When we have tomatillos around the house, I often start a meal by chopping them and sauteeing in butter until they are saucy. Then I start adding other veggies (or just use this sauce to season meat).
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers — There will be a mix of hot and green bell peppers again this week. I found out that hard way last week that some of our hot peppers are already plenty hot! I neglected to wear gloves when cutting them and ended up with burning hands (and then burning face when I touched it). It turns out that it’s very hard to remove capsaicin from skin — the agent that gives heat to the peppers is an oil and therefore not water-soluble. To some degree it can be removed by rubbing with another oil and then washing, but really just be careful and wear gloves when handling hot peppers. They’re yummy though!
  • Beans (green & yellow)
  • Chard
  • Collards — To us, collard greens are the ultimate summer cooking green. Something about their growth habits of genetics make them better suited to these warmest parts of the year (whereas kale can often become a flea beetle and aphid magnet in the high summer season). Collards can be prepared in the same manner as kale, but they usually take a little longer to cook to reach the same level of softness. Traditionally, in the south, they would boil collards in water for up to an hour. We don’t take it that far, preferring to braise in butter and stock in a pan on the stovetop. But, we do cook until they are fully tender, often eating them at breakfast with eggs.
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini & squash
  • Potatoes
  • Eggs!

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ Too hot to cook! Make an omelet for dinner!
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Lamb — We’ve got lots of fun cuts of lamb in the freezer still! Roasts and chops! Prices vary.
  • Beef bones — We still have a few beef bones left! $4/lb
  • Ground beef — Or, stay out of the kitchen entirely, and grill hamburgers on the BBQ outside this weekend! $7 for 1/lb packages
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Acts of hope

Farming and gardening is perhaps ALWAYS an act of hope. We weeded our family garden this weekend.

Farming and gardening is perhaps ALWAYS an act of hope. We weeded our family garden this weekend.

This weekend, we acted in hope. We transplanted 33 blueberry plants in the middle of summer, on what was expected to be a very hot day. Perhaps not a recommended time of year for transplanting perennials, but where we had originally planted the blueberries just wasn’t working. They weren’t near enough other perennials to tend or water properly. Before Casey dug them up on Saturday morning, they were in the midst of a field more or less by themselves, meaning that to water them would be less simple than in other spots. And, so, we moved them, planting them at the edge of our home orchard, where we hope that proximity to our house will allow us to give them the attention they need to flourish.

We gave our transplnated blueberries plenty of water. So far they are still alive!

We gave our transplanted blueberries plenty of water. So far they are still alive!

You see, this is our third attempt at blueberries. They are, as a farmer friend has put it, especially sensitive plants. Other crops can survive minor blips in tending in a year or two — blueberries, not so much. Our first large blueberry planting succumbed to our lack of care in 2012, our year of “everything-happening-all-at-once” (the year we expanded our acreage, started milking cows, had a second baby, and dealt with a cancer diagnosis and surgery … !). We planted another, smaller, planting the next year, but as I explained above, the location turned out to not be ideal. And, so, we move them in mid-summer — taking care to prepare each hole with love — and we hope.

It felt like a fitting exercise in hope after a week of experiencing a higher than normal level of general anxiety here in the Northwest. That earthquake article I mentioned in last week’s newsletter has “shaken” up a lot of folks living in our fine region. The language choices and descriptions were fairly extreme and represented quite a doomsday scenario. Some respond by sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring it completely; others can feel shut down by fear. Perhaps neither is especially useful.

I find probability predictions based on historical instances to be problematic, and here’s why: if we look at history, whether it be ancient geologic or more recent political history, it is full of devastation. And much of the devastation seems to come in cycles — empires rise; empires fall. Plagues wipe out whole generations. The last century brought plenty more devastation in these cycles: world wars, terrorism, deadly hurricanes, and more.

History teaches us this: bad stuff happens. All kinds of bad stuff. And, yes, it will happen again. We can be sure of that, unfortunately. Realistically, much of it will be hard to predict too. And even the predictable things (such as hurricanes) will still find many people unprepared for survival. Alas. And sadly.

Perhaps, more to the point — we will all die. We will! In the year 2015, I think this still surprises us with its reality. We hope that we can die a timely, easy death; but death itself is unavoidable. As is the death of our dearest loved ones. Again, oh, how we long for timeliness in all of those passings. The more we love, the more we hope. But we will die — in an earthquake, from cancer, in a car accident, from old age. We will.

So, how then do we live? Do we let this knowledge crumple us with its huge weight? Do we spend all our energy trying to make life as safe as possible — perhaps to the risk of missing out on great joys and pleasures?

I thought about these Big Question as we planted blueberries because it reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” I love the deep sense of hope that is implicit in this statement, because of course planting an apple tree is not just an investment in the next day, or the next weeks — it is an investment in future years and decades.

If you think about it, spring itself embodies this hope. Just as each human will die, each year the earth itself goes through a cycle of death. And, yet, spring comes again. The apples blossom and set fruit, even though fall will come. Martin Luther was buoyed by his Christian faith, which told him that we are called to be “light” in the world — to be life. Can light and life exist without hope? Martin Luther would say no, that to him faith and hope were one. I find the same message in spring, in these plants that grow, flower, set fruit, and make seeds, year in and year out.

Casey rigged up a solar charged from our electric fencing with an inverter so we can use it to power small things like a radio, cell phone charger, etc. A good start on the preparation project!

Casey rigged up a solar charger from our electric fencing with an inverter so we can use it to power small things like a radio, cell phone charger, etc. A good start on the preparation project!

I should add that a few more items got added to our ‘to do’ lists this week as well. In addition to taking care of our usual summer farm work (and transplanting blueberry plants), Casey and I are also brainstorming what realistic measures our farm and family should take for surviving any kind of unexpected disaster that might come our way. We’re putting together bags of supplies to keep in our vehicles and pondering water supplies for animals should the grid go down for weeks or months at a time. I am sure that Martin Luther would agree that being practical is also part of being alive in this world. As one seismic expert said in a forum I was reading: “Be prepared, but don’t be paranoid.”

Many different faith and philosophical traditions address similar question of course. How to live is of course The Big Question of Humanity. I love hearing how different voices answer the question. Many years ago in a wonderful high school course, a teacher introduced me to this Buddhist parable, which I come back to regularly:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

As always, these are questions worth grappling over a lifetime — philosophers have been pondering them for centuries, so I certainly can’t find an answer during one blueberry planting session. But I feel thankful that I can listen to these people, many of whom had seen many more trials than I, and hear hope expressed. Hope for the moment at hand, for love, for a richness of experience now, regardless of what awaits us tomorrow or the next day.

I have also observed in these wise writers and in people in my own immediate life that those I admire most often have also weathered the most trials. The people in whom I see a depth of sympathy, patience, understanding and love have earned those traits through very hard work indeed — intentional work of growing through pain rather than shutting down. These people remind me of the world around us, where growth happens even in the darkest parts of the year, where the cold stimulates the seeds for next season.

I hope I haven’t at all sugar-coated trials or devastation. Because, oh, I acknowledge the challenges and of course want so badly to avoid them in my own lifetime. Don’t we all? But I work very hard personally to not let fear or the future (or possible regrets from the past) bog me down. I work on this every. single. day. I work to appreciate these children of ours in this sweet vibrant moment, knowing that they will never be this age or this person again. I work to appreciate the farm we do have rather than pining for the one that has only ever existed in our imaginations. And, when reading dire predictions of future earthquakes, I work to enjoy these calm moments now — to enjoy the ease of a hot shower and electricity. These are luxuries that I want to be appreciative of either way.

I do encourage all our readers who may be feeling fear now to join me in working to embrace this life we are living today. I think this is hard and valuable work worth doing. I also simultaneously encourage others to prepare for disasters in simple ways. At the very least, you can buy premade emergency bags to keep in your car (here’s an example of one). It’s a simple investment that could bring some peace of mind.

Now, let’s hope that our gentle attention will help our blueberries take to their new home! Because future blueberries outside my door certainly gives me hope! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. This weekend, Casey also pulled out his latent science super powers and spent a few hours reading the original research articles cited in The New Yorker earthquake article. According to his reading, the situation is much less dire than the headlines suggest. The return interval for the Big Earthquakes in our region is 550 years rather than 300 years. So. There you go. It won’t stop us from preparing, but perhaps we can still enjoy yurt camping at the beach.

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Two reminders:

  • The next CSA payment is due by next Thursday, July 30. I emailed CSA statements this Monday to folks who still have a balance due. Please let me know if you have any questions about our records of your account activity. You can mail us checks: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128; or you can bring them to pick-up. Thank you!
  • Our next CSA event is coming in a few weeks — we’ll host a farm potluck out here on Saturday, August 15. More details in coming newsletters!

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Still taking pork orders! Well, those four hogs we slaughtered last week were claimed very quickly at our summer sale price! We continued receiving orders, so we are going to schedule another round of hogs for slaughter. If you’d like to get in on the low summer price, let us know by the end of this week! For this sale, we’re charging $3.90 lb for hanging weight — price includes processing costs. Whole hogs are averaging 80-90 lbs hanging weight. We can take payments (with full price being paid by October 1).

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Meet this week’s vegetables: So much to choose from this week! Yay, summer!

  • Apples — These are more of the Lodi apples — our first apple of the season. It’s tart and perfect for cooking. We’ve been making a very simple baked apple dish with these lately — just chop up the apples (peels still on) and stir up with good things like cinnamon, butter, honey, and maybe some flour (wheat or almond). Bake until soft and yummy! It’s especially delicious with cream over the top.
  • Plums — So many plums! I’m amazed at how much we are still enjoying these plums. The kids eat plums for a snack at least once/day.
  • Tomatoes
  • Green & yellow beans
  • Peppers — We’ll have both green and hot peppers. In case you forget which is which, the green peppers will be … green. No surprise there! The hot peppers will be purple and small. These are a variety we love called “Czech Black.” When they are ripe, they turn red and get nicely hot. When purple they are mildly hot.
  • Cucumbers
  • Chard
  • Cabbage — We’ve been eating ever so much cabbage lately — sometimes as slaw (so simple and satisfying when it is hot out!) and sometimes cooked up with other summer veggies like beans, squash and tomatoes. I made a yummy curry dish earlier this week with all those vegetables, plus lots of tumeric, butter, coconut oil and raisins. It was so filling (and delicious topped with goat cheese!).
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • New potatoes — Home fries continue to be the kids’ favorite way to eat potatoes. Which is great, because it’s so easy and quick to do! I just peel and chop into smaller chunks. Then I pan fry with liberal amounts of butter (a single layer works best) until crispy on the outside and soft inside.
  • Summer squash & zucchini
  • Eggs!

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ So many eggs! We have so many, wonderful delicious eggs!
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Lamb — We’ve got lots of fun cuts of lamb in the freezer. Prices vary.
  • Goat — However, we are almost out of goat! Prices for remaining cuts vary.
  • Pork — Ditto for the pork — almost out! Get it while it lasts!
  • Beef bones — Ditto for the bones — almost out! Get them while they last!
  • Bratwurst — And, ditto again for the Brats! We’ll be taking more animals to slaughter soon to restock, but let’s clean out what we’ve got left!
  • Ground beef — Meanwhile, we still have plenty of ground beef. Yum yum! $7 for 1/lb packages
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Home sweet home

Golden hour on the farm — always a beautiful moment at end of the day.

Golden hour on the farm — always a beautiful moment at end of the day.

For the past three years, our family has taken a weekend off from the farm in July to head to the beach and enjoy a temporary break from summer in the valley. By this point in the season, we’ve finished planting and weeding the main plantings of the year, but we’re not yet in the thick of the fall work. Even though summer feels like it’s moving along at full speed (which it is), mid-July is a surprisingly good moment to step away for a breather. So we do.

If you don’t know, Casey grew up in Lincoln City within walking distance of the beach. Beach is home to him in every sense, and it has often felt like home to me too. I hear this from so many people here in Oregon — that when we go to the beach, something stirs inside us as we watch the waves and feel the cool, clean air on our face and the wet sand beneath our feet. Many people feel pulled to that, coming again and again to drink deep of the ocean’s well of peace and beauty. And many people probably also share our reluctance at times to return to our real current home, here in the valley. Especially in summer, when the valley can be such an exhausting, hot and dusty place at times!

Joy is a child running full-tilt on the beach. So much fun.

Joy is a child running on the beach. So much fun.

Our final morning at Otter Rock was especially gorgeous — blue skies and warm sunshine (actually somewhat rare at the Oregon coast in summer!). Yet, we came home, feeling the temperature rise as we drove down out of Grande Ronde, watching the green turn to brown alongside the road. Yes, the valley is very dry. Oh my! But, then we pulled onto the island and to our little oasis of a farm, and returned to the little house that we built with our own hands. And we ate a farm lunch of fresh things from the fields. And listened to the Swainson’s Thrush singing here just as readily as at the beach. And sighed to be home, here, in this place.

(Upon arriving home, I also happened upon the recent New Yorker article about earthquakes in our region, which offered a sobering — if perhaps sensationalized — perspective on life at the beach!)

Casey I have always lived in the northwest, and always in truly beautiful places. As an adult who has lived near the sea, in the mountains, and in river valleys, I can sometimes feel as though my heart is split in every direction. In fact, right now Casey and I are making plans to revisit some of those old beloved places soon — notably a return to Holden Village hopefully this winter for a few weeks(!). That’s the retreat center in the North Cascades that we worked at oh so long ago.

How lucky are we in the northwest to have such relative easy access to these breathtakingly beautiful and distinct places. I really cannot imagine living anywhere else and feel as though we are raising our children in the richest of places. Just within two hours of our home on the farm, we can be at the beach exploring tidepools to our west or in the mountains hunting for mushrooms to the east. Or, we can stay home at pick carrots or collect agates at the river! Most often we choose the last option, relishing the richness of experience we can have just here, outside our door. Joys like golden hour over our home farm field (see photo above!). Or, watching a Cedar Waxwing build a nest in our walnut tree and then watching the fledgelings learn to fly (which we did upon arriving home yesterday). I am always amazed at how the same place can be different every day, thanks to the passage of time and seasons. Always growing.

May you too savor all that summer has to offer in this glorious place we call home. May you savor the bits close to your home (your yard!) and those parts we can visit on vacation (which I know many of your doing right now!). We are a lucky lot (earthquake predictions and all). Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Re: that big quake article? A farmer friend of ours shared a link to this site with more precise and less sensational information intended to help us Northwesterners actually prepare in useful ways (and perhaps be a little less freaked). I’m going to spend some quality time reading through this link.

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Summer pork sale! 35% off for half/whole hogs! We have a lot of hogs that are ready to slaughter, so we’re doing a mid-summer sale on pork. We have four hogs that will be slaughtered tomorrow, and we are going to sell them by the half or whole for $3.90/lb hanging weight, including processing costs. This is 35% off of our normal price for half/whole hogs (and an even bigger discount off retail sales of cuts at the storefront). The hanging weight of a whole hog averages 88 lbs, and a half hog averages 44 lbs. (Hanging weight is the weight of the carcass before cutting, so it’s usually slightly higher than the actual take-home cuts.) If you don’t have the funds to pay for all of yours now, we can make you an invoice and take payments over the next two months. Stock up now!!!! Interested? You can email us or ask more questions tomorrow at CSA pick-up!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Head lettuce — Lettuce! Yay! As a “head’s up” about these heads, they are in limited supply this week (just based on which planting is ready right now), so we will limit the number available per share.
  • Broccoli — Broccoli! This picking of broccoli will also be limited to a certain amount per share.
  • Tomatoes — The first tomatoes! Hoorah! Because they are the first, these too will be limited for a certain amount per share.
  • Plums — In contrast, we have so many plums. One item will be six pints per share. As we did last week, we’ll ask you to transfer these to a bag so we can keep reusing the containers.
  • Cucumbers — Peeled and sliced cucumbers are our favorite veggie for dipping in “squash-a-ganjou” (see recipe below!).
  • Basil
  • Cabbage
  • Green & yellow beans
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Zucchini & Summer squash — Looking for a new way to eat these summer staples? We suggest you try making “squash-a-nouj.” What’s that? Casey made it up last year. We have always loved the flavor combination of baba ganouj: roasted eggplant + tahini + garlic = yes, please! But our eggplant season is often fairly brief (depends on the year, but compared to other staple crops, it is always much shorter!), so we would have to wait until late summer to get our baba ganouj fix. But then, Casey tried making baba ganouj with zucchini instead of the eggplant. He roasted it and then prepared everything else using (more-or-less) basic baba ganouj proportions. In other words, he stuck some roasted zucchini in a food processor with tahini, olive oil/butter, lots of garlic, and salt … if we’d had some lemon that would have been awesome too, but we didn’t, so Casey added some red wine vinegar, and it was still awesome. We’ve been totally hooked ever since. The texture and flavor is super close to the eggplant version (perhaps a bit milder? But not much!). Highly recommended!!!!

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~When Casey or I have an occasion when we are out and about and can’t quite get in a decent satisfying dinner, we always have a reliable back-up plan for when arrive at home. We fry one or two eggs in butter and eat them. It’s amazing how such simple food can fill that missing hole in our day’s meals just perfectly. Eggs are amazing!
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Bratwursts!!! — Brats are back! Last time, we sold out of these the first week we put them in the freezer. They were sooooo good. So we had more made. Our favorite way to eat Bratwurst is to cook it in a skillet (add a bit of water at first and put on the lid for a few minutes, then let the water boil off and brown the Brat in the pan), then we slice it thin on the bias and serve it beside a big green salad.
  • Pork — Cuts and prices vary! Let’s look in the freezer together!
  • Lamb — Ditto!
  • Goat — Ditto again!
  • Ground beef —  For dinner tonight, I made a simple and satisfying meal. I browned some ground beef in a skillet, then added chopped zucchini (lots of it!), some butter, and basil leaves (and a bit of salt) and sauteed on high heat until the zucchini were cooked through and starting to brown. $7 for 1/lb packages
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Always planning

The field for 2016's vegetables, prep work already in progress.

The field for 2016’s vegetables, prep work already in progress.

As an almost year-round CSA farm, we find ourselves pretty much always planning mode. We have to think well in advance around here so that we have veggies ready for winter and next spring. And, then in winter and spring, we’re deep in summer planning. And, so the cycle goes round and round.

Already we have many crops in the ground that we will be eating late next spring. This week’s new potatoes are the first of what will likely be a large potato harvest, culminating in a many tons for winter storage. But there are other things growing now too: celery root, leeks, and parsnips. We’ve begun the garlic harvest, and soon we will be sowing and planting the last of our over-wintering crops.

Casey also worked up the east field on our home farm this week, beginning the prep work for next year’s vegetables. It has spent several recent years in pasture, so he first chisel plowed it deeply and is now irrigating it to speed the pasture grasses breakdown. Much more work will happen out there in this season — more ground prep, soil amendment, and cover cropping. Then we’ll work it up again in the spring for the actual work of planting.

When we’re in the midst of these summer heat waves and long intense days of work, it’s a bit strange to also be thinking ahead to totally different seasons. Planning ahead like this also requires us to make decisions about future seasons while still very much smack in the midst of this one! That important decision making work can feel daunting and bewildering this time of year, but we try our best.

Over the years, our decision making process has led to many farm adventures. While the core of our farm has remained our organic vegetable CSA, we’ve done many other things too. We’ve sold at a farmers market, planted orchards, grown organic vegetable seed for catalogs, milked cows, and made hay for our own animals. We’ve farmed on one acre; we’ve farmed on 100 acres. We love seeing which pieces of the different adventures become part of our farm’s core enterprises and which ones slide into the background. I imagine we’ll revisit many of our past experiences again in the future, as we continue to evolve as a farm (someday the kids will even have more of a say, and then who knows what we’ll be up to out here!). The journey continues …

At risk of sounding repetitive again, this year in particular continues to feel accelerated in so many ways. We may in fact be doing some of our late summer reflecting and planning a bit early, because — well — everything is ahead of schedule. Guess what we have in this week’s share? Apples. Yes, really! They are an early variety, but still … apples! In early July!

Everything out here feels like August. We even ate our first ripe blackberries yesterday. And we’re finishing up weeding the last of our big summer plantings. We’re turning the corner in our work from planting/tending to tending/harvesting. Leaf growth season is turning to maturation and fruiting season. And we are turning from planning for this season to pondering the next.

But even as we’ve become practiced at the art of imagining what’s coming next, I’ll tell you what I can’t imagine right now. September. With all this early everything (including low river levels, drought, and fire risks), I truly don’t understand what our landscape will look and feel like at late summer. What comes after this that we are experiencing now? Generally, this moment of dryness is followed soon after by fall rains. But to have this particular feel in the air in early July leaves brings many unknowns. I suppose in a few months, we’ll know what this year’s late summer reality will feel like — what we’ll be harvesting and doing. For now, we’ll keep on with the work that presents itself, including those early steps of preparing for next year.

May you enjoy the respite in heat that the second half of this week is bringing us. And, enjoy this week’s plethora of vegetable options! Oh, my summer!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Want any beef? We have two beef quarters (or one half!) available for purchase soon. Is anyone interested in buying beef for your freezer? Buying a quarter of an animal will provide you with a diverse range of cuts: roasts, steaks, and grind. The price is $5.50/lb hanging weight (that includes processing costs, which we pay). Let us know!

~ ~ ~

Upcoming dates: Here are a few important dates for you all to keep track of in coming weeks/months …

  • July 30 — Your next CSA payment is due. I will send you email statements soon!
  • August 15 — Dinner here at the farm! Potluck + farm tours! More details in coming newsletters!
  • October 1 — The final CSA payment is due.
  • October 25 — Our pumpkin patch open house!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Apples! — Sorry to sound like a broken record, but seriously — apples?!?!?! So early! And, yes, these are an early apple. The variety is called Lodi, and it’s somewhat similar to a Yellow Transparent or Gravenstein type. It’s not super sweet, but it makes great sauce or other apple dishes in general. You can also just eat them of course too. Apples! In early July!
  • Plums — We’ve have both the purple (Methley) and yellow (“Shiro” type) plums again this week. They will both be even sweeter than last week. Please check the sign at pick-up.
  • Salad mix
  • Cucumbers! — One thing I love about cooking in the summer is that I can so easily stretch a meal through dribs and drabs. If I’m cooking a big pot of stew, I can quickly tack on a simple green salad and/or a raw vegetable for dipping in a dressing. Cucumbers are a favorite “tack on” type of veggie — Rusty enjoys peeling and chopping them, and we all love munching on them with our meal!
  • Beans, green & yellow — How are you eating your beans? We’ve been roasting ours a lot, because — well — I love roasting vegetables! Roasted beans are a summer favorite. With a good amount of butter and salt, they can get so deliciously crispy.
  • Cabbage — We made a big batch of cole slaw this weekend and ate it over several days. It holds up so well in the fridge and makes mealtime easy.
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • New potatoes — We’re upping the volume of new potatoes per item now! I’ve been making the kids “home fries” a lot lately, and it’s a dish that elicits great excitement for them. I peel the potatoes and chop them into thin slices, which I pan fry in butter in our cast iron pan. I try to only have enough potatoes for one layer in the pan, and I put the lid on while they cook so that they will cook through. I stir occasionally and serve them when they are soft on the inside and crispy outside.
  • Zucchini & summer squash

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen ~ Eggs and back in a major way. Egg salad is a great way to stretch a salad dinner (and it’s not too hot either!). Want to have easy-to-peel fresh hardboiled eggs? Here’s how we do it: boil water. Carefully add eggs into the boiling water and boil them gently for 12 minutes. Then empty the eggs immediately into very cold water to “shock” them. We usually do this in the small basin of our sink and we add more cold water as necessary to cool them off as fast as possible.
  • Pickled beans — Last week’s beans got rave reviews, so we made more! These are fermented crock-style “pickles.” $3 half pint; $5 pint.
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Pork — Ground pork ($8/lb) and a few other cuts too!
  • Lamb — Cuts and prices vary! Roasts, chops, and grind!
  • Goat — Cuts and prices vary! Roasts, chops, and grind!
  • Ground beef —  I’m still making our favorite chard meatloaf almost weekly around here. What are you doing with your ground beef? $7 for 1/lb packages
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Summer evening walk

Join us for a summer evening walk!

Join us for a summer evening walk!

Hey y’all! It’s hot out there, have you noticed? Our outdoor thermometer broke a few months ago, but the internet tells me that right now (at 8:30 pm) it is 93° at the McMinnville airport. And it got up to 98° there earlier. Which isn’t over 100°, but it’s plenty hot for most of us.

The kids spent most of the day in and out of the water, swimming at the river and in our little wading pool at home. Casey made it through the day by getting very sweaty in his clothes and wearing a big hat — effective heat strategies for the farmer.

But beauty abounds amidst the heat. Thrives, in fact. So, for this week’s newsletter, I invite you to come with us on the summer evening walk we took earlier today. We’ll see some of the fields here at the home farm:

First we'll stop by our short rows of sweet peas, which we planted because we love flowers ever so much even if we don't always get around to picking them for any commercial purpose. I think all of us in the fields enjoy the color they bring, and they invite plenty of diverse insects (usually beneficial ones) to come visit too. For that purpose, we especially love both phacelia and calendula in the fields.

First we’ll stop by our short rows of sweet peas, which we planted because we love flowers ever so much even if we don’t always get around to picking them for any commercial purpose. I think all of us in the fields enjoy the color they bring, and they invite plenty of diverse insects (usually beneficial ones) to come visit too. For that purpose, we especially love both phacelia and calendula in the fields.

But, come closer, because sweet peas are especially prized for their amazing fragrance. Oh, you can't smell it? Perhaps we'll have to bring some to CSA pick-up tomorrow then.

But, come closer, because sweet peas are especially prized for their amazing fragrance. Oh, you can’t smell it? Perhaps we’ll have to bring some to CSA pick-up tomorrow then.

And, just next to the sweet peas we'll find the new high tunnel Casey built last fall. This house has served us well already this year, growing all kinds of great kale and other yummies. But it was time to prepare for another round of vegetables, so this week it got harrowed and now it's a clean slate again. What shall we plant here next? Perhaps some strawberries for early picking next year!

And, just next to the sweet peas we’ll find the new high tunnel Casey built last fall. This house has served us well already this year, growing all kinds of great kale and other yummies. But it was time to prepare for another round of vegetables, so this week it got harrowed and now it’s a clean slate again. What shall we plant here next? Perhaps some strawberries for early picking next year!

Another big project for the week — hoeing a very large summer planting containing (among other things) tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and lots and lots of winter squash (oh, how we love winter squash!). It took us one and a half full days of work to get it done, with everyone on the farm chipping in (and I mean EVERYONE!). But we got it done!

Another big project for the week — hoeing a very large summer planting containing (among other things) tomatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, and lots and lots of winter squash (oh, how we love winter squash!). It took us one and a half full days of work to get it done, with everyone on the farm chipping in (and I mean EVERYONE!). But we got it done!

And it's a good thing we hoed out those weeds when we did, because these squash plants are starting to "run" now, sending their vines in every direction. Very soon all the (now bare) soil around the squash plants will disappear under a vigorous cover of green. Have I mentioned how much we love growing squash?

And it’s a good thing we hoed out those weeds when we did, because these squash plants are starting to “run” now, sending their vines in every direction. Very soon all the (now bare) soil around the squash plants will disappear under a vigorous cover of green. Have I mentioned how much we love growing squash?

And, turn around again and you find our early summer brassica plantings, featuring the beautiful cabbage heads we're providing as an option in this week's CSA share. While we ate a ton of cabbage last winter, we've been without for a few months now and out household is so happy to welcome it back! Summer cabbage is such a treat!

And, turn around again and you find our early summer brassica plantings, featuring the beautiful cabbage heads we’re providing as an option in this week’s CSA share. While we ate a ton of cabbage last winter, we’ve been without for a few months now and out household is so happy to welcome it back! Summer cabbage is such a treat!

"Mama! Mama! Take a picture of me! ... Make a video of me! ... Can I see the picture! ... Mama! Mama! Carry me!"

“Mama! Mama! What are you doing? … What are you taking pictures of? … Mama! Mama! Take a picture of me! … Make a video of me! … Can I see the picture? … Mama! Mama! Carry me! … The grass is too tall! Carry me!”

While we were out there, Casey moved pipe, to keep the fields being watered through all this heat. Grow plants, grow!

While we were out there, Casey moved pipe, to keep the fields being watered through all this heat. Grow plants, grow!

Just past all those recently weeded crops are some of our potatoes, now in full bloom and quite bushy. Another satisfying crop to grow.

Just past all those recently weeded crops are some of our potatoes, now in full bloom and quite bushy. Another satisfying crop to grow.

One last destination: the tomatoes in the field. Green rows of future sauce and so much deliciousness. Now time for the boy and farmer Papa to walk to the plums while I carry the girl back up through the tall grass for some quiet reading time on the couch ...

One last destination: the tomatoes in the field. Green rows of future sauce and so much deliciousness. Now time for the boy and farmer Papa to walk to the plums while I carry the girl back up through the tall grass for some quiet reading time on the couch …

Thanks for coming on our walk with us! Hope you are keeping cool in your own ways. Enjoying all the local swimming holes perhaps? Or escaping to the beach? Have a safe and fun Fourth of July this weekend! And, enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Raspberries — How much have you loved these raspberries? Sooooo much? We sure have. Our favorite simple summer treat right now is raspberries in cream. The kids like their cream whipped, but I like just plain liquid cream poured into a bowl with my raspberries. That flavor of brilliant raspberry goodness with cream will always be the taste of high summer to me.
  • Plums — The first of this year’s plums! We’ve got two kinds this week: Methleys, which are a red early “Asian” type, and an unnamed yellow Asian plum from my parents’ yard (a giant tree!). Both are cling-stone, and both are loaded with sweet delicious juice that will drip down your chin and onto your shirt (if you’re not careful!). Summer is on! (Also, at the risk of sounding so repetitive this summer, these are very, very, very early for us. In our memory, we usually eat the first of the Methleys when a friend is in town for IPNC — typically the end of July!)
  • Salad — Too hot to cook? Eat a salad instead.
  • Carrots — We ate some of these as carrot sticks with dinner. Man, oh man, farm carrots are the best. Every year, I am continually blown away by how good our carrots are! They never fail to amaze me!
  • Green beans — The first of the summer beans! A chef taught us many years ago that a fresh bean will stick to your shirt. We like to “test” our beans every year, just for the fun of it, even though we know of course how very fresh they are. But, hey, it’s cool to stick a bean to your shirt sometimes.
  • Cabbage — Hoorah for summer cabbage! It’s a tradition for us to offer cabbage and potatoes at the Fourth of July so that folks can make some good classic American picnic food: cole slaw and potato salad. Get your mayonnaise out, folks, because it is time! (Buy some fresh farm eggs today, and you can make a mayo-salad trifecta of cole slaw, potato salad, and egg salad!)
  • Beets — Also, BEETS! With greens attached! Oh hoorah for summer foods! We’ve been enjoying the earliest of these in our own house the last two weeks. We’ve been roasting them, and they get gobbled up quickly.
  • Kale — Hey, cooked greens lovers! Don’t you worry — summer doesn’t mean the end of these staples. We’ve got your back.
  • Chard
  • Zucchini
  • New potatoes — For your potato salad, of course!

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — They’re on for sure now! And so delicious! $6/dozen
  • Pickled beans & basil — A special summer ferment for you to try. $3/half pint and $5/pint. Bring your own jar! Or, $1 if you use one of our jars!
  • Walnuts — $5/lb
  • Pork — Ground pork, pork ribs, and porkchops! Porkchops are on sale for $6/lb!
  • Lamb — Cuts and prices vary! Roasts, chops, and grind!
  • Goat — Cuts and prices vary! Roasts, chops, and grind!
  • Pork fat & skin — $3 lb
  • Ground beef — For your BBQ on these hot days! Burgers to go with your cole slaw, potato salad, and egg salad! $7 for 1/lb packages
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

A family farm

Dottie helped Casey harvest salad mix for the restaurants on Tuesday.

Dottie helped Casey harvest salad mix for the restaurants on Tuesday. (Those very wilted looking plants beside her are big weeds that were just pulled from our beet planting!)

Those parents in the crowd (or folks who have participated in childcare of siblings, nieces, nephews, etc.) will know that babies are pretty all consuming. When we started our “family farm” back in 2006, I’m not totally sure how we envisioned kids working into the mix. I doubt we pondered those specifics way back then, but by the time we actually had Rusty at the end of our fourth season, we knew enough to realize that we probably wouldn’t try strapping him on our backs and getting on with business “as usual.” We’d watched our friends bounce babies on their hips and pace back and forth for hours comforting fussy babies. We knew that it could be hard.

Big bin, little girl!

Big bin, little girl!

We also knew that we wanted to be present in our lives. Present when on the farm. Present when with our babies. For us, this meant that I stepped back from active farm work a lot. I really wanted time and space to sit in our living room holding a sleeping baby for hours on my lap — as maddening as that could be, it was also a sweet and fleeting moment in our lives! Looking back, I am so glad we made that choice for me to focus on being a mom (who also runs the business side of the farm on the side). We’ve known other farmers who have kept both partners more actively involved in the farm. There was an article in our favorite farming journal just this month from a couple about their experience with the transition. They’ve done a bit of both tactics — farming with baby in the fields when possible but also hiring childcare and/or help with harvest when needed. It’s a dance.

But of course, part of the whole point of this farming gig was to be here as a family too. I’ve written before about how important and valuable it is to be raising our children in this context. Already we see the fruits of that experience — our children seem so at ease in the out-of-doors and could out compete most adults in a game of bird or plant identification. This is their natural context, their first language, their home. Regardless of what profession they choose, what skills they hone, we know that growing up here will provide them with an awesome base of understanding of what it means to work — what it means to set your mind on a task, do it, and see results from your efforts. These are invaluable experiences.

So, it seems natural that as they get older, we bring them into the fields with us more now. Even though Casey and I weren’t up for bouncing babies while trying to hoe, now that the kids are getting older, being in the fields feels less like a stretch for all of us — especially in small doses. Getting out there with them has always happened on occasion, but now that they’re five and almost-three, it feels like it can become a more regular thing.

And, so it has been with great joy that I too have gotten to farm in a hands-on way again in the last couple of weeks — picking raspberries and then liberating some green beans and parsnips by pulling some mega weeds. What did the kids do? Play. Wander. Graze. Eat snacks. Look at books. Help a bit here and there. Certainly, there were still some necessary interruptions (my favorite is the classic cry: “Mama! I need to go poo-poo!” That always gets my full and immediate attention!). And I’m not going to try putting in anywhere close to a full day’s work, nor do I want to. The kids have other things to do, and I am happy to have the farm be a really significant foundation of their life, but we will also read books and visit with friends and learn about other parts of the world.

Also hard at work in our fields — bees! This blossom is a phacelia flower, one of our favorite flowers to plant to attract beneficial insects to our fields. Bees LOVE it.

Also hard at work in our fields — bees! This blossom is a phacelia flower, one of our favorite flowers to plant to attract beneficial insects to our fields. Bees LOVE it.

This week, the weed pulling especially felt like a family affair, because as our kids were running up and down the rows (helping Casey harvest for the restaurants), Jasper’s mother was also present, working alongside him to pull out mega weeds from our beets. After years of hearing about our farm (and seeing it on visits), she wanted to pitch in too and experience what her son has been doing all this time. The weeding we were doing was hard work, and so I think she got quite the introduction to what we do out here! But we were glad to have her, and we love any activity that brings family members closer together, whether it be weeding together in our fields or eating a meal together when the work is done (such as our fun Monday farm meals, which include our whole farm crew plus my parents!).

May this week provide you with an opportunity to do good work or be with your loved ones or enjoy a meal with your chosen favorite people (because sometimes our friends are our family too!). We hear some major heat is heading our way, so get your wading pools filled and plan salad for dinner! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

P.S. Just a little note to our members doing raspberry u-pick right now — we request that you drive on the dirt/gravel road into our farm as slow as possible! The road is covered with a layer of very fine dust that picks up easily and can blow toward our fields! We find that if we drive about 5 mph, this is minimized! Thank you!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Raspberries — The planting is on! We always forget how amazing these are at their peak — easy to pick, large, and oh so flavorful! Enjoy!
  • Cherries — Depending on how the upcoming heat wave affects this, this may be the last picking of cherries for this year!
  • Lettuce — Hot weather coming … time to have a Big Green Salad for dinner!
  • Zucchini & summer squash — And it’s on! Our field planted zucchini has begun, and we hope this begins the summer’s long run of zucchini and squash. These first squash range in size from big to very big, because we haven’t quite gotten into our summer routine of picking it every few days (the bigger squash were some of the very first). These would be great for eating or for making the first batches of zucchini bread for the year! I’ll share the many ways we love eating this vegetable as the summer goes along. It’s become an important staple in our summer diet. Perhaps one of the easiest (and one of our favorite) ways to eat it is simply roasted! We chop it into bite-sized pieces and roast them on a pan on high heat (425°) with butter and plenty of salt. It’s really important to not overcrowd the pan with zucchini because it contains a lot of moisture and can end up steaming rather than roasting. Either way, it won’t get as crisp as other vegetables, but we can usually get a nice browned edge and then the rest of the zucchini gets succulent and soft. With the butter and salt, we find it to be extremely satisfying. It’s also pretty quick to cook, taking much less time than denser veggies to roast. Often a quick summer meal for us will be a salad, plus roasted zucchini and some kind of meat.
  • Beet greens — More delicious baby beet greens! Suitable for dressing up your salads or for quick cooking! Very similar to spinach.
  • Fennel — I love the flavor combination of fennel and zucchini/squash. When I want something very satisfying and comforting, I’ll slowly braise these two veggies together in butter until they are soft and the flavors have melded. When tomatoes come into season, those are a great addition as well (coming soon in fact! Casey picked some of the first ripe tomatoes in the greenhouse today!).
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • “New” potatoes — Potatoes from this year’s planting are ready to harvest already! They’ll continue to size up in the ground, so we only harvested a sample amount, but oh new potatoes are such a special treat!!!! These are fun different colors, and we think you’ll enjoy them! They won’t take as much time to cook.
  • PotatoesAnd, since we still have these Very Good potatoes in cold storage, we’ll give some of these out too in larger quantities — because we know these have become staples for many of you! (Us too!)

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Eggs!!!!! — Eggs are back! Woo hoo! It was hard to believe that we really would have a large volume of eggs since the drop was somewhat mysterious too, but they have returned. So has our $6/dozen price. We realized when the egg production dropped that our $4 price was unrealistic. It takes a lot to keep these hens producing good eggs (even if it happens in spurts apparently). Plus, we’re buying certified organic feed, which costs 110% more per bag. But we love eating good quality eggs and know that some of our customers think the higher price is worth the quality (and the organic feed!).
  • Goat — A range of cuts available — chops, roasts, grind! Prices vary. The flavor in the roasts is pretty amazing — somewhere between the flavor of beef and of lamb. We’ve been enjoying it in our house a lot this week.
  • Lamb — A range of cuts available — chops, roasts, grind! Prices vary.
  • Pork chops — $12/lb
  • Ground pork — $8/lb
  • Beef bones — We still have some beef bones left! Get them while they last! $4/lb
  • Fresh pork belly — $8 lb — Delicious in the crock pot!
  • Pork fat & skin — $3 lb
  • Ground beef — And, everyone’s favorite staple meat … $7 for 1/lb packages
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment