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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Plan your summer

Sugar snap peas growing and growing!

Sugar snap pea vines growing and growing! Much to look forward to this spring!

This week on the farm seemed to bring more of the same good stuff we’ve been seeing all spring: good work weeding, planting, sowing. Warm sunny days punctuated by little squalls and drizzles. Growth all around.

Perhaps you’d like to come and see some of this goodness firsthand? Our CSA Potato Planting Party is next week! We’ve decided that it would helpful for us to know how many people to expect for this event, so Please RSVP if you are coming! To make RSVP’ing easy, I’ll have an RSVP sign-up sheet at pick-up the next two weeks that you can just write your name and number of people on. The planting will happen Friday, May 1. We’ll gather at 3 pm to plant and then eat a potluck meal at 5 pm (or earlier if the planting goes quickly enough! We’ve already been planting some of the seed, so this will be the last of it!).

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to the Dayton exit. Drive straight through Dayton and keep heading south on Wallace Rd/HWY-221. In about seven miles, turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After the bridge, turn RIGHT onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is immediately on your LEFT. Please park somewhere on the right side of the driveway or in the back by the white pole barn. We will be out in the field to the south, past our greenhouses and house (ours is the 2-story wood house on the back right of the driveway). If you get lost or have questions, you can call me: 503-474-7661. Remember to let us know to expect you! Thank you!

Can’t make it this time? No problem! This is mostly just for the fun of it — the potatoes will get planted either way, but we love including you in the farm. We’ll have two more CSA farm events this season as well:

  • Saturday, August 15, 5 pm — CSA dinner (with farm tours before)
  • Sunday, October 25, 2-4 pm — CSA pumpkin patch open house

The pumpkin patch event is always super fun — we have a tradition of having live music at the event, and we often even get good weather! More details on those events to come as we get closer. We’re curious what your thoughts might be for the dinner. Would people be willing to pay to come to a catered event? We did that once upon a time, and it was exhausting but amazing (that time we didn’t charge, but realistically we’d need to!). Or we could just do a friendly potluck! If you have thoughts on that, share them with us! We hope you can join us for one event this year! We love being able to share this beautiful place with our community of eaters.

And, while you’re planning for summer, we’ve been asked to share our thoughts for home gardeners. Yes, many of our CSA member also keep a garden! What things would be good to plant this year to complement your CSA options?

As usual, we are planting a wide range of items — loads of annual vegetables, of course. You can expect to see regular supplies of all the veggies we consider staples: greens, roots, summer fruits (zucchini, beans, etc.), onion-y things, etc. All year-long we’ll have a diverse range of offerings available, just as we do now (what’s available will just shift with the seasons). We’ll also have seasonal fruits available: strawberries, cherries, raspberries, melons, plums, apples, pears, etc. For those of you who like to can and freeze, we aim to have extra quantities of the classic “putting up” foods available for you to purchase (tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, beans, berries, etc.). We’re also growing flowers and will have bouquets for sale at pick-up during the summer!

So, where does that leave you? I say, grow what you love to grow! And certainly grow staples that your family just loves. There are also a few small fruited items that we either aren’t growing at all this year (such as cherry tomatoes) or that people just seem to want more than we can ever seem to grow or pick (peas! broccoli!). So I always recommend those for home gardens too. If there’s something specific you’re wondering about, feel free to ask us at pick-up. Hopefully that helps you get started!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Salad turnips — Smooth, sweet flavor for crunchy snacks or salad toppings! I always make sure to save the greens too. I love adding them to other cooked greens dishes. They cook super fast, so I generally add them toward the end.
  • Fennel bulb — This is probably the #1 confusing vegetable for people. I think we get the most questions about how to use it of anything. Makes sense, because it doesn’t obviously fit into any clear cooking category — it’s not clearly a root or a green. It’s a vegetable! Generally speaking, I just add the fennel bulb to whatever cooked greens we’re eating. I trim the butt and chop it fine up through the stalks and add to the butter with my onions/leeks/garlic. Let me tell you, folks — that smell is going to knock your socks off. For me, the smell of fennel sautéing is a powerful trigger for physical memories of past seasons. I.Love.It. The fennel addition will change the flavor of your whole dish — fennel pairs well with tomatoes, fish, white wine, pepper, lemon (you don’t need to do all of those at once! I just want to help you “place” it “culinarily”). The leafy fronds are the part that looks more familiar to many people. We enjoy these too, but they have a strong flavor (they are more akin to the herb fennel), so I recommend using them sparingly in salad dressings or on meat or mixed into cooked greens. Adjust your volume to your taste preference.
  • Chard
  • Stinging nettles
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Carrots
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks — Here on the farm, we’ve all been experimenting with “full leek usage.” Jasper, Casey, and I all agree — leeks greens are delicious! Yep! How awesome to discover that the entire leek can be used in a meal. Here’s how: first, I clean and chop the base of the leek like normal (split and chop into half moons). Then I carefully clean and finely chop the greens (removing any yellowed bits) and put them in with the other leeks to cook. In the final resulting food, the leek greens have a texture like any other cooked green, but they impart more of that delicious leek flavor to it all! (Meanwhile, the base of your leek will likely have all but disappeared into your food — they are so good at cooking away their texture!)
  • Garlic
  • Corn flour — Wanted to try our corn flour but haven’t had a chance yet? Here’s your opportunity! We love this stuff. We grew it on our farm (of course), from organic non-GMO seed stock. We grind it ourselves too. Our favorite applications for eating is to make pancakes, but it’s useful in any kind of “quick bread” recipe (muffins, etc.).
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! Especially for eggs!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Fermented garlic paste! — Back again, by popular demand! This is some potent stuff. Spread it on a slice of fresh baguette. Put it in salad dressing. Each it by the spoonful. So amazing. $9 / half pint (it will already be in jars).
  • Eggs — $4 dozen
  • Pork cuts — We’ve got chops, ground pork, pork belly, and lots of roasts! Prices vary.
  • Pork fat & skin — $3 lb
  • Lamb — We’ve got one lamb shoulder and one deboned leg of lamb left (and organs! Lamb organs are the best!). We’ll take some more lambs to the butcher soon, but for now the lamb lovers better act fast!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Kids of all kinds

Sowing sunflowers before daybreak.

Sowing sunflowers before daybreak.

This morning brought fun activity on the farm. First of all, a slightly sick Dottie awoke for the day at 5 am (too early!), so — ever the creative farm father that he is — Casey suggested that she help him sow some sunflowers. Before breakfast. And, so it happened!

Kid!

Kid!

At breakfast itself, we found ourselves all staring out the window to watch our goats. All but one had come out of their shed to graze, and given that two does were due today we wondered if that meant the last one was inside with babies. Eventually we confirmed that hunch through binoculars, and later in person. Our first kids born on the farm! (Besides our own, that is!)

Um, by the way, goat kids are seriously cute. Like, ridiculously floppy, adorable, over-the-top CUTE.

So, now we’ve got two kids on the farm (besides our own!) and a doe in milk, with more on the way.

Which begs the question of why we have goats. I mean the answer is obvious: goats are awesome, and goat milk is amazing. Yes, really — I’m sorry for you if you’ve never had good goat milk, but trust me that good goat milk exists, and it is divine — just hard to come by. Our family is totally hooked on goat milk everything — yogurt, cheese, milk (in coffee — heaven).

When we purchased these goats last fall, the idea was to transition from being an “exempt” raw cow milk dairy to a licensed raw goat milk dairy. We had lots of really fun conversations with our local ODA inspector about how to make this dream a reality, including continuing our favored practice of milking on fresh pasture every day (very clean!). Amazingly enough, the ODA was game and was willing to work through tricky logistics with us. Between all of us, we had some pretty good plans in place.

In the meantime, we dried off our cows and goats (who we’d been milking just for our own family at that point) — and for the first time in two and a half years, we had no active dairy component to our farm. No daily milking. No big routine of cleaning all the milking equipment. No employees on the farm seven days a week.

I’ll tell you what: it has felt really good to take a break. And, in that time, the farm has really turned a (very positive!) corner in our profitability. The years that we operated our dairy and our prior “Full Diet” CSA program (an older manifestation of what we’re doing at the storefront now) were pretty lean years around here in every sense. We always felt pinched for time and money. Thankfully we had many years of farming before those years to know that our farm does not have to feel that way!

So, we made some big and little changes, and today we are so glad. Our days have more breathing room in every sense. Smiles come easier. This precocious spring has certainly helped too (have you looked at the forecast for the coming week? Wowza, it’s going to be awesome here in the Willamette Valley).

One of the lessons for us from recent years is that we really can’t do everything out here. We can do a lot, but adding additional enterprises can often add stress without adding much profitability. Given that our family depends on the farm for our full livelihood (and have done so since the first year! Hoorah!), basic profitability is not negotiable!

Which brings us back to goat milk. Goats are awesome. Goat milk is awesome. But, but, but — with a farm that’s grooving along happily this spring, we question whether re-adding a micro dairy component to our already very diverse offerings would re-add more stress to our days and budgets. Dairying is hard. We have deep and profound respect for the farmers who make their livelihood this way, committed to their animals and dairies for decades. It’s a type of farming with little to no built-in rest. We bow to you dairy men and women.

Tomorrow Casey plans to go out to milk Belle. Our family will enjoy her milk. But the plan beyond that is still up in the air. Sell milk under the exempt raw milk laws here on the farm? Maybe? Or just keep these goats for the farm — possibly. The next few days and weeks may help clarify.

Dottie checking the growth of our plums.

Dottie checking the growth of our plums.

It’s clear though that we want to sustain what we have gained out here with some of 2015’s changes — all that breathing room is just too wonderful to give up (and of course the main summer growing season itself will take up some of it!). What does that breathing room give us? It means that today — the middle of our busy work week — Casey got to host a tour for a class of Chemeketa students, helping explain to them how and why we grow our food organically. It means that even though Casey works seven days a week right now (because of animal chores on the weekend), we get very quiet weekend afternoons to hang out, work on house projects and inoculate mushroom logs. It means that I can focus more of my days on being with our kids, helping them to grow and learn through the methods we enjoy best (such as taking walks around the field to harvest and building stick tipis on a sunny afternoon!).

Stick tipi! Pruned branches from our orchard can be fun we learned!

Stick tipi! Pruned branches from our orchard can be fun we learned!

I definitely don’t want to suggest that our days are all carefree idyllic sunshine around here. We still work plenty hard! Oh boy! But there is a sense of space around all that work that brings great pleasure into to our daily purpose. At the end of 2012, Casey and I both had some close scrapes with our health, and it gave a renewed sense of urgency to live now. To not defer enjoyment, because tomorrow may just not be. And, we love this work. When we have the space to enjoy it, it brings great, deep joy to our days.

So, we’re pondering still. For the most part, we understand and love the shape of our farm and where it is headed this year and beyond. But then there are these goats and their milk. Something to ponder.

But you know what we don’t doubt? At all? The awesomeness of vegetables. This time of year is traditionally the leanest for annual vegetables — as the storage and over-wintered crops begin to run out but the spring planted crops aren’t quite ready yet. We keep bracing for what we call “the pinch point,” but then the list of CSA items flows from Casey’s pen like magic. We call it “alchemy,” because honestly it is hard to see the abundance this time of year (except in the greenhouses!). But even though the volume of hay and stored veggies are reduced from their full fall glory, they are still here. The over-wintered crops are still pumping out new leaves. The fields are providing. Living so intimately with these miracles is a heady thing, my friends. An overwhelmingly amazing and awesome experience. Alchemy.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Head lettuce — Thank you to our greenhouses for this extra special treat!
  • Salad/chicory mix — This salad mix features all kinds of greens from our fields, including chicories (relatives of radicchio), rapini, kale and parsley. We recommend chopping this fine and dressing it with a mild or sweet dressing.
  • Chard
  • Kale & mustards — These are mixed bunches of greenhouse kale and mustard greens. They can be cooked together with delicious results. The mustards will taste slightly spicy when raw (although these are relatively mild), but the spice mellows out with cooking.
  • Stinging nettles
  • Celery leaf
  • ParsleyThis week’s share offers two very unique opportunities for making pesto. First, you can use garlic and walnuts from this week’s share for either preparation, but then you have to choose your green: nettles or parsley? Both are amazing, but they have very distinct flavors. Process your chosen green with olive oil, walnuts and garlic (salting to taste). Eat on everything!
  • Kohlrabi
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Green garlic
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Walnuts — If you haven’t tried our walnuts yet, here’s a great opportunity! These are English walnuts and they have a great sweet flavor. They also have a fun special feature — you can open [most of them] with just your fingers! They twist open! This makes them extra fun treats to eat with kids. Ask us to demonstrate at pick-up.
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! Especially for eggs!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Sauerkraut — More traditional cabbage sauerkraut. $5 / pint or $3 / half pint (our jars are $1 each, but you can bring your own).
  • Eggs — $4 dozen
  • Pork cuts — We’ve got chops, ground pork, pork belly, and lots of roasts! Prices vary.
  • Pork fat & skin — $3 lb
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We’ve got all kinds of delicious roasts! If you want a special treat to feed a crowd, try buying one of our deboned legs of lambs.
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package

 

Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

Seasonal notes

A curious sight: rain clouds passing by while sprinklers run (simply because they are connected to the line running to our greenhouse).

A curious spring sight: rain clouds passing by while sprinklers run (they are connected to the line running to our greenhouse).

We had a cozy lunch today. Just before Casey came in to join us at the table, a dark storm front rolled in, bringing with it pounding rain and eventually a few claps of thunder too. The weather outside the window just made our little meal feel warmer inside.

These spring storms have been blowing through a lot lately. We can see them coming from the west before they arrive — dark walls that march toward us with swirling wind and rain.

It's just not that big of a woodstove! Or that big of a house! Or that cold! But, thanks kids!

It’s just not that big of a woodstove! Or that big of a house! Or that cold! But, thanks kids!

After such a warm and dry winter, early spring, it has been a lovely break to have all this wet weather. We had to build fires in the woodstove again this week for the first time in many weeks. Apparently the act of building a fire to heat our house is now a fun novelty, and the kids have really gotten into bringing in fire wood. Quite a bit more than we need in fact, since our two fires were really just needed to cut the chill in the air. Alas, we now have a giant pile of fire wood by the stove that will likely sit there unused again until October! (Ok, I’ll probably eventually move it outside again.)

I’ve begun thinking about finishing up last year’s food in the freezer as well. This time of year it’s always interesting to see what we have left — some items are left simply because we put up so much of them, but we also find ourselves sometimes with things that just weren’t as useful or desirable as we anticipated. This year both Casey and I feel pretty “done” with tomatoes, which is a big surprise! We both wish we’d frozen more tomatillos (which add such a nice complex flavor to cooked meat), so next year we’ll put up more of those! We’re happy to remember that we’d frozen quite a lot of strawberries and raspberries and are trying to make use of these now since the next berry season is really not that far off. We’ve been making berry “pancakes” every week, and I’ve shared the recipe with you here (it’s actually an egg recipe!).

In contrast to what we expect from this season, we are thick in the middle of weeding already. Normally we’d just be beginning the planting process, so this is a surprise! Honestly, it’s hard to really know what we should be doing some days out here, with so much already in the ground and yet so much that still needs to be sown and planted.

As to be expected, however, leaves are showing up on more and more trees. Our Linden is leafing out, and the kids are excited for buds to appear (although we still have more time before that happens). The Linden flowers make our favorite tea (with nettles in a close second). We recently checked out a Northwest foraging book from the library and are looking forward to trying new treats this spring. Our landscape is full of more food than we imagined! Nettles, Linden blossoms, yet so much more too! This weekend’s experiment with wild foods will be the inner bark from a cottonwood tree (I will report back whether it is as sweet and delicious as the book promises). Alas, we have no Camas on our property. Oh, how amazing this valley must have been when it was rich with Camas fields!

Busy active kids can eat a lot of food! Rusty enjoys the slackline Casey set up on our porch. A great spring activity.

Busy active kids can eat a lot of food! Rusty enjoys the slackline Casey set up on our porch. A great spring activity.

But, food abounds. As our kids get older and eat more food, we are appreciating new benefits of being farmers. That whole “another mouth to feed” line is not just verbiage. These kids can now eat a lot of food! Just tonight, they each ate two relatively large pork chops each (along with a whole lot of sweet corn from our freezer stash). How wonderful to have a ready supply of so many good quality foods to share with these growing kids. We are grateful for our farm home as much as ever for so many reasons these days!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Reminder: Potato Planting & Potluck on May 1! Now that we’re in April, I wanted to remind folks that our first on-farm CSA event is coming up in just a few weeks. Join us on May 1 to help plant potatoes and then enjoy a potluck meal together. We’ll gather at 3 pm to plant (and you can come out earlier if you like, but please let us know to expect you). Then we’ll potluck at 5 pm. Come when you can! I’ll post more details, reminders, and directions as we get closer to the event.

~ ~ ~

The berry pancake that’s NOT a pancake (an egg recipe): We’ve formed a new Thursday morning snack tradition around here. We make what we call a “berry pancake.” We got the basic recipe from a cookbook and have quickly memorized it because it is so simple. It is, at its essence, a soufflé, but if I say that you will get scared and I want you to try this, because it is SO good! The results are fluffy and delicious, just like a pancake, but it’s all eggs! I love this because the kids happily eat it up (and we do too).

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Begin by putting a handful or two of berries into a 10″ (or so) saute pan. More or less berries doesn’t really matter — it will just affect how many berries end up on your “pancake” when you flip it out of the pan after baking. We have a freezer full of strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries — the strawberries are the kids’ favorite for this recipe. I like to rinse the berries first with hot water to melt off any freezer ice (so the pan doesn’t get too watery). Then add a liberal amount of butter to the pan and let the berries simmer a bit. I let Rusty be in charge of stirring them.

Meanwhile separate five eggs. Ok, if you’ve never done this (which I hadn’t until a few years ago), it’s NOT HARD when using our eggs! I really thought this was some kind of special chef trick, but when you use a good farm egg, the yolk and white separate SO easily. Crack your egg in half and then hold the egg contents in one half of the shell. The yolk will stay in as they white slips out. Pass the yolk back and forth between your two eggshell halves a few times and all the white will come out. Put the yolks in another bowl.

Next, add some cinnamon and vanilla extract to your yolks and whip that up. This is a good job for Dottie in our house. When all of that is done and the berries are looking nicely cooked (again, how cooked is a matter of preference), it’s time to address your egg whites. You need to whisk them until they are stiff with peaks. Again, language that I used to dismiss as being “advanced” cooking or baking, but with the right equipment, this is just so easy. We have a Kitchenaid mixer with a whisk attachment. I use that to whisk the eggs, and it is easy peasy. Apparently it helps to use eggs that are room temperature (we don’t refrigerate our eggs, so that’s easy too!). I read that it works best to start with a low speed and move up to high speed, but I just turn the mixer onto high and watch. Eventually the eggs turn opaque white (rather than transparent) and start to form stiff peaks. This is when I stop. Beaten egg whites need to be used quickly!

Carefully fold the yolk mixture into the whites quickly but without losing too much volume of the whites. Then spread the combined egg mixture (which will be big and fluffy) onto the pan with the berries. Continue cooking on medium heat for two more minutes, then transfer the pan into the preheated oven and cook for an additional ten or twelve minutes.

When the pancake is slightly golden, pull out your pan. Depending on the timing of it all, you may have a nice fluffy pancake. Or it may have risen in the oven and fallen again. Don’t worry! It will still taste delicious!

Next, CAREFULLY place a plate on top of the pan and flip your pancake out. Two notes here: First, remember that your pan handle is hot and use a towel or mitt. (Unfortunately, I made this mistake a couple of weeks ago. Um, serious ouchies.) Second, you may need to use a paring knife to loosen the edges of your pancake from your pan. No big deal, but do all of this carefully since that pan is hot!

I usually find that my lovely cooked berries stay in the pan, so I scrape them out and spread them across the pancake. Slice it into wedges and serve! The kids love maple syrup on theirs, but Casey and I enjoy it with just the vanilla and berries for sweetening. So good!

And, by the way, in just a few months we’ll have berries again — enough that you will be able to buy extra to freeze for your pancakes next spring! But if you don’t happen to have berries in your freezer right now, you could do the same recipe without the berries. You could thinly slice apple and saute that in butter, or just use butter and then put jam on top after cooking. Endless variations would work here!

~ ~ ~

Think you don’t like lamb? Read this! Ok, so we’ve got some really delicious lamb cuts in the freezer at the storefront right now. But, I keep hearing similar refrains: “Oh, I don’t like lamb” or “Oh, my wife really doesn’t like lamb.” Let me tell you, folks — I understand. Because I too do not enjoy the flavor of wool lamb (which is the bulk of what is available in the world). Wool sheep have lanolin in their coat, the flavor of which gets into the meat. Some people love that lamb flavor, but others (like myself) find it to be unpleasant (other people would have even stronger words to describe the experience).

We, however, raise Katahdins, which are a breed of hair sheep (we also have a few Dorpers in the mix too, which are also a hair sheep). Instead of lanolin-containing wool, they have hair coats (which shed each spring on their own, by the way). They differ from wool sheep in other ways as well — they have a slightly different body shape and size — but the texture and flavor of the meat is the most profound difference for us eaters. People who have tried this meat consistently report back that it is “the best meat” they have ever tasted. The flavor is closer to beef than to wool sheep. The roasts are especially delicious prepared in the slow cooker and then cut up and added to vegetable stews.

So, if you think you don’t like lamb and are up for a new experience, we recommend trying our lamb meat. It is different! And delightful!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Mixed vegetable bouquets — Here’s a beautiful treat. Casey and Jasper put together these bunches of mixed vegetables — it’s like a meal in a bunch! (If you can bring yourself to cook these beautiful things, that is.) The bunches contain: fennel, kale, baby beets, radishes, and rutabaga. All parts of these bunches are edible — roots, shoots, leaves and all.
  • Salad mix — We’ve been enjoying salads so much this spring. With a little extra effort a green salad can become a whole meal. This week Casey made a chicken/egg salad (with homemade mayonnaise) that we put on top of a green salad. Delightfully light and tasty (and yet filling) meal!
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Stinging nettles — Remember, folks! Do not touch these! See all my warnings and cooking suggestions in last week’s newsletter here.
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Green garlic
  • Garlic
  • Apples
  • Eggs — Try making a pancake that’s not this week! (See recipe above.)

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! Especially for eggs!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Sauerkraut — More traditional cabbage sauerkraut. We sold out last week and had to make another batch! $5 / pint or $3 / half pint (our jars are $1 each, but you can bring your own).
  • Eggs — $4 dozen
  • Pork cuts — We are picking up more pork from the butcher tomorrow! We’ll have chops, ground pork, and lots of roasts. Prices vary.
  • Pork fat & skin — $3 lb
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We’ve got chops, ground lamb and all kinds of delicious roasts! If you want a special treat to feed a crowd, try buying one of our deboned legs of lambs.
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Surfing spring

Part of the fun of farming is always looking a bit ahead while savoring the present moment. And, of course the next thing is SUMMER! The tomatoes in the greenhouse are already big enough to trellis!

Tomatoes growing …

Part of the fun of farming is always looking a bit ahead while savoring the present moment. And, of course the next thing is SUMMER! The tomatoes in the greenhouse are already big enough to trellis!

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves of course. We’re still at the very start of spring, in spite of us thinking of the next steps to get to summer. And, how very fleeting and wonderful spring is. Did I mention fleeting?

Certainly, we are fortunate here in the Pacific Northwest to enjoy relatively long springs (apparently in parts of the world, they can go from ice to mud to hot in about two weeks). Nonetheless, so much of what is wonderful about spring is defined by its transitory nature. Blossoms open and just as they reach their peak bloom, they are done, so quickly shriveling and falling. Blustery spring storms roll through the valley, bringing with them hail and spinning wind — only to blow on by several minutes later. And the nettles and other spring treats that we love so much have such relatively short seasons. We may eat potatoes most weeks of the year, but now is the time to appreciate the wonder of nettle pesto and green garlic sauteed in butter.

And so, even though summer is always beguiling — especially after months of potatoes! — it is useful and good to pause and appreciate every passing moment of spring. To wonder at how the forsythia buds are already done and falling and then turn to our lilac which is just opening its first enormous blossoms. Everything is in motion in spring — moving toward that eventual peak of summer, when we go from growth to maturity. But right now, we are in the midst of all that growth, the migrations, the blooming, the reaching up up up of every green thing.

Spring always stirs me with wonder, with excitement, with a feeling that must be somewhat like what it feels in the Maple trees when the sap rises. With every minute added to every new day, the year is building like a wave. What a joy it is to ride it once again.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

About STINGING nettles: Hands down, nettles are one of our absolute favorite spring foods. Seriously. As you may know, nettles grow wild here in Oregon and come up this time of year. We pick these from the edges of our fields, in the wild hedgerows. Before you learn anything else, please note: THESE WILL STING YOUR FINGERS IF YOU TOUCH THEM RAW WITH YOUR BARE HANDS! So, how to eat? Here are some of our favorite ways:

  • Make tea — Nettle tea is our favorite. To prepare, it’s best to dry the nettles (which incidentally also removes the sting!). We carefully use tongs to put nettles on trays in our food dehydrator and let them dry overnight. Then steep as you would any herbal tea (hot water and all that jazz — pour through a strainer into your cup). Very nourishing tea!
  • Make pesto — When we went to Thistle for my special birthday dinner, I had gnocchi with nettle pesto. So. Good. Also, pureeing nettles takes out the sting too! So, to make pesto, we use tongs to carefully load the nettles into our food processor a little bit at a time. Then we process them with olive oil and garlic to make a delicious paste/sauce. It’s good on everything.
  • Nettle apple pancakes — We got this idea from a friend — it’s a spring favorite for all of us. Begin by carefully removing nettle leaves from stems (I use two sets of tongs to do this, because remember: stinging nettles sting!!!). Add the leaves to a food processor and then pulse until the leaves are chopped up quite fine. I like to fill the food processor with leaves twice (the volume of a full bowl of leaves will be reduced dramatically upon chopping!!!). Chopping fine removes the sting. Leave the nettles in place and add a chopped apple and pulse again until the apple is chopped fine. Then add five or six eggs and pulse so that they are blended. Add a bit of salt. If you want to make your pancakes sweeter, you could add some honey too. Then, we added almond flour a bit at a time and pulsed it until the batter looked like pancake batter consistency (thick liquid; not runny). We prefer grain-free “flours,” but I’m sure you could make this recipe with standard all-purpose flour too. But if you do, you will want to move the liquid contents to a different bowl and carefully fold in the flour so that the gluten doesn’t become “gummy.” Then, cook your pancakes as would any pancakes! We prefer using lots of butter for frying, and we usually make small pancakes for easy flipping (especially with the almond flour). We like to eat these with dinner, especially with a yummy tangy soft cheese spread on top of each (chevre is perfect!).
  • Experiment! The nettle pancake idea launched a thousand meals in our home. We’ve since used the same basic idea to make nettle muffins (I also added a tiny bit of baking soda to these too, but with that many eggs, I’m not sure it’s necessary!). We’ve also taken the chopped nettle idea and used it to make meatloaf. Yes, nettle meatloaf (loaded with eggs and a bit of ketchup) — it was yummy indeed. For the record, even though all the resulting foods were green, our kids ate them all up. Have fun!!!

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Dyed brown eggs are beautiful! Are you looking for extra special eggs to dye for Easter weekend? Don’t be turned off by brown eggs! We’ve dyed them before (including just today) and love the results. They are definitely toned down, but I think they look classy and they are still very cheerful (and oh so delicious!). Remember that I posted some tips about hard-boiling fresh eggs in this newsletter a few weeks back (scroll down to find the cooking suggestions).

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Meat chickens coming soon! I posted a photo of some cute chicks last week. Those birds are already double in size. This is our first of three small batches of meat birds that we are growing this year. We still have a few birds unclaimed from this first round, which will be available in early June. If you’d like to reserve some birds, you can do so via our meat order form here. It also has pricing info. Let us know if you have any questions!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Stinging nettles — Read my above descriptions on how to cook with nettles. Please note that STINGING NETTLES STING! Handle carefully!
  • Salad turnips & radishes — Weren’t those bunches so beautiful last week? And so delicious too!
  • Field greens — This is a mix of chicories (relatives of radicchio) and various mustards and kales. You could chop it fine and dress it for a crunchy salad or use it as a braising mix. We do a bit of each in our house.
  • Rainbow Chard
  • Kale
  • Cabbage rapini
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green garlic — What is green garlic? Garlic plants before they’ve bulbed or begun to dry down! The flavor is tremendous, and — once again — one of the special parts of spring eating for us. You can use these the way you would a leek or green onion — wash up, trim off the roots and then slice in half and chop into half moons. Use in place of onions or garlic in any meal. We generally saute them in butter and then add other things. The smell of green garlic cooking in butter is divine. Do it just for the smell.
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! Especially for eggs!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Sauerkraut — That’s right! Sauerkraut — made from cabbages! What a novel idea! Made with our same awesome good salt and fermented in a crock. Yum yum. $5 / pint or $3 / half pint (our jars are $1 each, but you can bring your own).
  • Eggs — $4 dozen
  • Pork fat & skin — $3 lb (More pork coming next week! We took it to the butcher on Monday but it won’t be processed in time for this week’s pick-up).
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We’ve got chops, ground lamb and other cuts!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment

Spring odds and ends

Late afternoon on a spring day — cherry tree in our hedge in bloom!

Late afternoon on a spring day. Cherries on the island are blooming now, including this feral tree in our hedge. The most glorious sight though is our neighbor’s orchard to the south. It looks like the trees have been snowed on.

Happy spring everyone! We welcomed the new season out here on the farm with smiles. Of course, it has felt like spring for weeks (possible even months) already, but nonetheless the season continues to change and bring us new treats.

This week, I have some odds and ends of news, links and photos to share with you. Let’s begin!

First, important news from the farm:

Egg sale! Has anyone noticed that we are in the abundant season of eggs? Consequently, we are dropping our price significantly and will keep it there through spring and summer. Eggs are now $4 / dozen. Yes, sir. Enjoy your spring frittatas, souffles, custards, and so much more. Yum.

Lamb chops! We restocked the storefront freezer this week with lamb. This time we had the butcher do a different range of cuts to try out, so we have ground lamb, lamb chops, roasts and other cuts. Prices vary depending on the cut!

Potato planting! We’ve scheduled our first on-farm event for the CSA — on May 1, the biodynamic planting calendar says we’ll have the perfect cosmic conditions to plant potatoes! Potato planting is seriously fun and relatively easy work, and we invite you and your kids to join us! (No dogs though, please! Thank you!) Come on out at 3:00 pm (if you’re available to come out earlier, you can! We’ll be planting all day!). We’ll plant for two hours and then sit down for a potluck meal. Last year this was a highlight of the season for all of us, and our potato planting was one of our best ever! So make a note on your calendar now — we hope you can join us! I’ll provide more details (directions, etc.) as we get closer to the date.

Now, onto the links. A few interesting things have been sent my way of late that I thought folks out there might enjoy reading/watching:

New MacDonald — This well produced video presents some startling images of agriculture today — and its potential. The context is a school play, but the topics dealt with are much deeper and more profound! The ending gave me chills!

Diets do not work — I found this Slate article to be quite thought provoking. It’s not explicitly about farming, but food is a big, complex topic worth examining on multiple levels. I found that this article broadened my understanding of the complexity of things and it also seems like it could provide hope to a lot of people who are healthy, in spite of their BMI number. Something to “chew” on anyway!

Elite Meat — Back to farming, this New Yorker article looks at a farm in California that is growing sustainable meats. Their operation differs from ours in many ways (scale, structure, financing sources, etc.), but the goals are the same — to produce extremely high quality food from humanely raised animals. I love the quote: “Ex-vegetarians are our target market.” That is so true of many of our customers as well (and, to some extent, Casey and me as well!).

6 Vegetables To Try When You’re Sick of Kale — I had to post this link because it features one of my dear longtime friends (and NYC nutritionist) Aynsley Kirshenbaum. She provides lots of great, simple advice here. We here at this farm are not sick of kale (never in a million years), but we love all of these vegetables and grow all of them for the CSA. You’ll see more of some of them as we go deeper into spring!

And, now, some spring farm photos!

Nothing says spring quite like a batch of new chicks. These cuties arrived on my birthday two weeks ago, and they are growing quickly! These are meat birds, and they are not quite all reserved yet! If you're interested, let us know!

Nothing says spring quite like a batch of new chicks. These cuties arrived on my birthday two weeks ago, and they are growing quickly! These are meat birds, and they are not quite all reserved yet! If you’re interested, let us know!

Blossoms everywhere! In addition to cherries, our plums are blooming. Look closer in these blossoms and you'll find ...

Blossoms everywhere! In addition to cherries, our plums are blooming. Look closer in these blossoms and you’ll find …

... these busy workers! It's always heartening to see pollinators hard at work when trees are in bloom.

… these busy workers! It’s always heartening to see pollinators hard at work when trees are in bloom.

Look who else likes to eat cherry blossoms! (Fortunately these are not cherry trees we need to harvest from; these are behind my mom's studio space and she took the photo.)

Look who else likes to eat cherry blossoms! (Fortunately these are not cherry trees we need to harvest from; these are behind my mom’s studio space, and she took the photo.)

That gorgeous spring green pasture is being thoroughly enjoyed by the goats. They ran away when I went out to take their photo, naturally. I should have brought a treat.

That gorgeous spring green pasture is being thoroughly enjoyed by the goats. They ran away when I went out to take their photo, naturally. I should have brought a treat.

Spring food for us human eaters! Yum kale! Like I said above, WE are not sick of kale! Quite the opposite: our gratitude for kale runs deep (and for this new greenhouse too, which has made so many greens possible this year!).

Spring food for us human eaters! Yum kale! Like I said above, WE are not sick of kale! Quite the opposite: our gratitude for kale runs deep (and for this new greenhouse too, which has made so many greens possible this year!). No kale for the CSA this week though — there were lots of other things to pick, and we want to let these plants regrow! And grow they will!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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A last payment reminder: Hey all! I know a few of you still owe your CSA payment! Here’s another friendly reminder to bring it with you to pick-up tomorrow! Thank you!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Turnips & radishesCasey took extra time today to make some of the most beautiful bunched vegetables ever to leave our farm. These bunches are a mix of two spring crops: radishes and “salad” turnips. Most of you probably know about radishes, which make a great salad topping (sliced thin is best!). Salad turnips work well for this too! The flavor of a salad turnip is smooth and sweet with just a hint of heat. We just slice and eat these as a snack — just rinse and slice (no peeling necessary!). The greens of both can also be chopped fine and added to salads or cooked. They’ll cook down a lot, so we usually cook them with other greens.
  • Salad — Because you need something to put your radishes on, of course!
  • Chard — If you’re sick of kale, try chard. Or, so we’ve heard!
  • Rapini — This week’s rapini comes from our over-wintered cabbage and collard plants.
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Green onions
  • Apples
  • Garlic
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • FERMENTED FOODS ARE ON SPRING BREAK! That’s right — many of you are away recreating, and we decided to take that opportunity to pause in our crock filling. More to come next week: traditional sauerkraut!
  • Eggs$4 dozen To celebrate our new lower price, I’ve got another fun link for you: 7 Reasons You Should Eat Eggs For Breakfast.
  • Pork fat & skin — We may have a few random cuts of pork left, but for the most part we are sold out until next week. However, we do have loads of pork fat and skin. These are for rendering for lard. This is Good Stuff folks — our hogs are continually on pasture, which means the lard will be loaded with Omega-3 fats. Rendering lard is a simple process (click here to learn How To Render Lard In A Crock Pot). The pork skin can be fried like uncured bacon or rendered as well. Prices are $3 lb for fat and skin.
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We’ve got chops, ground lamb and other cuts!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Kids at work

Rusty helps harvest greens for our dinner

Rusty helps harvest greens for our dinner

Rusty turned five last December, and it has been fascinating to watch him grow out of his preschool self and into a boy (kindergarten age this fall). This winter, we’ve had some challenges, because — well — parenting and childhood are both rough at times. I think it’s also rough to be the oldest child and always have your activities at home being toned down to accommodate a smaller sibling. Eventually, Casey and I realized that at least some of what was wanting for Rusty was work. Real, meaningful work. Because, wow, the boy has become capable of doing things.

It feels phenomenally different to have a child living in our house and our farm who can work. At five years old, when Rusty decides to pitch in on a task, it flies by. In contrast, a few years back his “help” often made a task go at least twice as long … or perhaps not get done at all! But, with inspiration from both Waldorf and Montessori pedagogies, we’ve felt compelled to — as much as we can — always let him help at tasks in the house and on the farm. Allowing him access to our work required us to truly slow down and let go of expectations for that particular work session. Sometimes these things aren’t possible, but we’ve tried, and now we are seeing the fruits of those previous labors, because as Rusty’s body and mind catch up with his will to work and engage, he can slowly begin to really do things.

Last spring when he was four, we gave Rusty his own set of garden pruners — real ones that I bought in the garden section. They are smaller — probably for women’s hands — but they are sharp and capable of cutting through a thick twig. I looked for pruners with a locking mechanism that I thought he could manage on his own and found one that has a lock that slides easily. We’ve kept his pruners (which he calls his “cloppers”) with ours in a special drawer in the kitchen so that it’s clear they are a tool rather than a toy to lose in the yard. We get them out when we have a project to work on or want to clear a trail or something else intentionally.

He doesn’t know it yet (so don’t ruin the surprise!), but this Friday, on the spring equinox, Rusty will get his own pocket knife. He’s been using Casey’s safely for months and months, and recently he also started using a real paring knife to help chop food for dinner (which helps me so much!). At this point, Casey and I feel so comfortable with Rusty handling real tools that it’s hard to remember that such things would have felt impossible to me just a few years ago.

Our society has so separated children from the real world — they have their own lives in “child proofed” spaces away from daily work (schools, daycares, etc.). I certainly grew up in this system — so thoroughly immersed in the world of academics and kid-focused activities — and I found myself having to stretch in new ways when I finally began reaching out into the world of adults. When I got my first job at 16 (working retail at an equestrian-themed interior design store of all places!), I was so, so, so very “green.” I had a million and one basic work-related skills to learn, and of course I kept learning them over subsequent years, especially as I encountered more diverse working situations. I especially had to grow into physical work, which was more or less completely foreign to me as a suburban kid.

After college, I worked in a commercial kitchen, which was a wonderful eye opener — I felt like I learned a whole new way of being in the world, where my body and hands could affect physical substance and make things (feed 300 people a meal in fact!). Even though I’d played sports in school and then majored in art (which by the way, is a very physical major compared to most!), my body and its abilities felt like a newly found power. In that year of cooking and subsequent years of farming, I grew more into this part of my being — learning so much about pacing and focus and full engagement of brain and body. I also learned about working in a team of people, meeting deadlines, managing lists of tasks, and more.

Reflecting back, of course, I value every experience I have had — the scholastic and the later work experiences. But I do question why they have to come into our lives in such segregated chunks of time? Working for pay in high school felt fairly normal when I did it, but I understand that it is becoming less and less common. And of course, even then, my work experiences were fairly limited because my time was quite full with other pursuits (school and such). Casey worked quite a bit more than I did in high school, and he graduated from high school with a diploma and an amazing work ethic. No dawdling on tasks for that young man — he had worked as a lifeguard, in a bike shop, in commercial kitchens, and on construction sites. He knew how to work!

As parents and farmers, Casey and I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the next generations. We think about our children and their future lives, but we also think about all the young people out there looking for jobs — many of which come our way. We have the privilege to meet and employ quite a lot of young people who are at the beginning or early stages of their own working lives. It is striking to us how even a little work experience early on in life can go a long way toward helping a young person grow into responsibility and capability. Other folks are more like I was — green and needing to grow into their work life in a lot of ways.

Each of us is on our own journey, of course. Some will be later bloomers when it comes to understanding (or wanting) responsibility. And, some people never want it at all! Certainly, I admire the free spirits of the world and believe that they play a role in keeping all of us balanced! However, I also appreciate all the hard working people who grow food, manage businesses, treat patients, educate children, drive buses, build houses, write books, and so much more.

As I get serious about preparing for Rusty’s upcoming kindergarten year, my observations of his own growing capabilities help me realize that this is a big part of why we’ve chosen to homeschool. As farmers, we have a unique opportunity to offer our children immersion in a work environment — a work environment that they can grow into at their own pace, learning all those valuable skills along the way. Farming is uniquely well suited to teaching about cause and effect (and offers immensely satisfying results for a job well done!). I look forward to teaching him to read and write (my other degree was in English after all!), but I appreciate thinking about him as a whole person, who will be growing in mind, spirit and body.

And, you know, kids are kids. Just because Rusty is growing in his capabilities and interests doesn’t mean he doesn’t still balk at feeding the cats. But he can also do things like plant out a whole flat of peas, peel and chop potatoes to roast, pick nettles, and harvest greens for lunch. And, he may not grow to be a farmer, but I hope he will grow to feel capable in mind and body, able to learn the tasks he needs for his own journey and purpose in life.

In fact, we think that farming tasks are so empowering that someday we hope to be able to offer those experiences to a wider audience of young people — maybe through a formal internship program for those young folks like my old self. I certainly feel grateful for all the employers and mentors who took me on in those days! For now our nurturing energy is best served staying close to home with the farm itself and our little ones — both of which are ever inspiring and ever humbling — but we always dream, and someday we will be in another phase of life!

So, Friday morning Rusty will wake to find a new pocket knife waiting for him downstairs. And in a few more years, Dottie will get one too. And Casey and I will do our best to help them learn all the responsibility and power that comes with tools — some of the best lessons we have to teach!

May you too discern what you have to offer your families and the world — something unique and valuable, to be sure! (If you don’t know what you have to offer yet, you might enjoy reading Ken Robinson’s book, The Element: how finding your passion changes everything. It was a great book to read as a homeschooling parent, but it’s not necessarily aimed in that direction at all!)

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. Yes, there is other farm news too … always lots going on around here. This week in particular, we had some trouble with our cooler, which led to a much needed anyway reorganization of winter storage items. And, of course, there was that surprisingly powerful wind storm on Sunday! We spent two nights at the beach and then returned on Sunday to find ourselves being blasted by the wind! Casey checked on the animals several times to make sure all our electric fencing was in place. It was startling to drive around the county the next day and see so many trees down! Hope you fared well!

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CSA payment due this week! Just a reminder that the next CSA payment is due tomorrow! You can bring a check/cash to pick-up, or mail it to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. If you have any questions about what you owe, you can email me or ask at pick-up! Thank you!

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Cooking the perfect roast: Once upon a time, Casey and I didn’t know how to cook meat. We chose not to eat meat for many years, because at the time we didn’t have any sources of local, grass-raised meat. We still ate meat when served to us by friends or family. My mom, in particular, would cook the most amazing roasts and stews, and when we would visit we would marvel at the tenderness of the meat. It seemed like some kind of miracle to us, since we had no idea how she did it. Surely, it must be Very Hard Work to Cook Such Good Food.

When we moved to Yamhill County, our situation changed — we met farmers raising meat in sustainable ways right here in the county, and we decided we wanted to eat some of that meat. But we were suddenly faced with choosing cuts of meat. And then cooking them somehow. Surely, it must be Very Hard Work and Complicated to Do Well. Or, so we thought. As you can guess, we stretched ourselves and learned a thing or two about cuts of meat and how to cook them. We’ve learned that there are essentially two ways to cook meat — long cooked at low temperatures (roasts, stew meats) or quick cooked at high temperatures (chops, steaks, ground meats). The quick cooking meat does take a bit of skill, simply because you have to know your tools — know your oven or BBQ and your pans — and then you have to watch the meat carefully to avoid over-cooking. You also have to discern your own preference — Rare? Well done? Medium-rare?

But, roasts? Roasts are easy. Especially since we discovered an extra amazing trick. You can cook a roast in the oven, but we’ve taken to using our slow cooker. What’s the trick there? you ask. The trick is that we don’t add liquid. We put the meat in the slow cooker dry. We don’t “brown” the meat beforehand (a step that is often cited as necessary — I’m just going to shrug here and say that it doesn’t seem necessary to us!), we just pop it in the slow cooker (and maybe add some salt). The size of the roast will determine how long we let it go, but for most medium or large roasts we can start it at breakfast on “low,” and it will be perfectly cooked by dinner. And, by perfectly cooked, I mean: juicy, tender, falling apart. We can attest that meat from our farm cooked this way is phenomenally flavorful and delicious. You can serve it on its own or add it to stews or other dishes (we often chop our roasts and incorporate them into veggie-rich stews). And, all those juices and fat that are left in the pan? So perfect for using to cook greens! This method works for all types of roasts: lamb, pork, or beef.

One more awesome roast tip: I have one last tip for folks who might appreciate it. This is something that I think is super important, but I’ve noticed that it’s not widely known. When you slice or chop a roast, cut it against the grain of the meat. Just doing this can make a less-than-tender roast more delicious (but you won’t have that problem if you’ve used your slow cooker). Unfortunately, cutting meat with the grain can also make a tender piece of meat taste less tender (or at least a whole lot chewier). So, it is important! If you are having a hard time visualizing what this means, here’s a really informative and funny blog post I found on the topic of cutting meat against the grain (it even has useful photos!).

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Meet this week’s vegetables: Don’t get stuck in a rut! Try new veggies this week! Ask for preparation ideas if you need them!

  • Turnip rapini
  • Kale rapini
  • Greenhouse kale & chard — So tender! This stuff knocks our socks off. We are kale lovers, and I am amazed at how different of an eating experience it is in different seasons. This spring greenhouse-grown kale is the ultimate in mild flavor and tender leaves.
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Potatoes — We’ll have two kinds available this week! If you’re a potato connoisseur, try taking home both and doing a side-by-side taste test! (We did a potato tasting a few years back at a CSA open house, and it was delightful to experience the differences like that!)
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Apples — As a head’s up, the number of apples is going up this week! So check the sign to make sure you get enough for your “item”!
  • Eggs

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Scallion pickles ~ Here’s a fun new fermented food: green onions! We think this will definitely be a garnish, but who knows! Try it out!
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — Prices vary. Lots of delicious pork shoulder roasts in the freezer! This cut is perfect for making pulled pork. See my “perfect roast” recipe for how to cook. Once cooked, pull the meat off and mix with your favorite BBQ sauce. So good.
  • Lamb — Prices vary. We just took more lambs to the butcher and will have a broader range of cut options again next week (including chops and ground lamb). This week we invite you to try our “trim” meat — this is delicious lamb meat that isn’t necessarily a roast or a chop. It’s perfect for putting in a slow cooker for making stew. And, it’s also our lowest cost meat item at the storefront ($5/lb), making it a great place to start if you want to try the lamb! We also still have roasts left!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 4 Comments

Gifts

Another beautiful week on the farm, and THIS is the only photo I have to show for it? Yes, but it represents something exciting. Read on ...

Another beautiful week on the farm, and THIS is the only photo I have to show for it? Yes, but it represents something exciting. Read on …

I apologize to have missed so many wonderful photo opportunities this week. For realz — the kids out planting peas with Casey? Too cute and beautiful. But, alas, I was busy, sequestered upstairs in my office, working on the final details of our organic certification forms. The weird photo above is actually part of our certification paperwork — a photo of an input label. Not too exciting in of itself, but very exciting in the context of certification!

Long-time CSA members will know that our farm was certified for its first six years. Then we took some time off, because honestly in 2012 something had to give (that was the year we expanded our acreage, added animals, and had a second baby — oh my!). We’ve been thinking it was “time” to get certified again for about a year, but it takes time to get back into the groove of it. Nothing has changed in how we grow; the process is mostly about documenting it for others. On our very diverse farm, just making sure all those moving parts get noted in an official way takes extra work!

My birthday is tomorrow (yay!), and I decided last week that the gift I wanted most was to have this certification process done. So Casey and I put in some extra hours compiling everything (which, by the way, is also complicated by the fact that this work requires both of us, and yet often when both of us are together there are two other very cute — but VERY loud and distracting — people present as well!), and I sent off the forms yesterday! Hoorah! A wonderful birthday gift to myself. (If you’re wondering, the process will take a few more weeks/months as our certifier looks everything over and then inspects us!)

And, tonight we celebrated my birthday in a more traditional way, by going out to dinner at Thistle (with the kids and my parents). What a gift to sit in a beautiful space with my loved ones while savoring exquisite preparations of our vegetables. I think we grow great vegetables when we eat them at home, but WOW they can transcend their everyday greatness in the hand of masters! Thank you to Thistle for a wonderful meal!

The week contained many other gifts as well — more sunshine, rain!, visits with friends, trees brilliant with cherry blossoms, healthy lambs, wild mushrooms, and more. My birthday has me reflecting on these and so many gifts — especially those I’ve received over the years. When I look back over our years as a farm and earlier, some significant gifts stand out. And, I have always felt unsure of how to express my gratitude for some of the most significant — those gifts that outstrip my ability to ever directly repay the generosity. I am thinking here mostly of those gifts given by older generations to younger ones — mentorships, hospitality, forgiveness of youth’s hubris. How many times have I felt floored by the generosity of someone, left so grateful that I cannot even begin to properly say thank you. At times, I wasn’t even able to offer the most simple forms of “thank you” as I wondered how to offer thanks in a way fitting to the gift — it just wasn’t possible and on a few occasions thanks went unsaid for too long, because the gift was just overwhelming.

I remember when I was pregnant with Rusty, due at the end of our 2009 CSA season. The final weeks of our CSA felt like a continuous baby shower as CSA members brought us cards and gifts every week. I was so unprepared for this demonstration of support that I didn’t think to keep careful notes of who brought what, and I found myself so overwhelmed with the transition as a whole that very few thank you notes made their way out — even as my gratitude over-flowed. I worried about this for a long time, until I watched other new moms go through the same transition. Not all of them dropped balls like I did, but even if they had, I would have understood. That is the gift of time and age — that ability to step into new shoes and gain new experiences that create more and more connections between people. Generosity in spirit is a great good in this world. And, oh, how people have been generous in this way to me and Casey as we’ve learned to be adults.

And, now I am about to turn 34. Not a very auspicious age — no milestones here — in fact, I keep forgetting exactly what age I’m approaching. But it does startle me to think that it was nine years ago this month that Casey and I first started this farming adventure — I was just turning 25!

Looking ahead, I am excited about the future gifts of this life. Some of the most treasured gifts of recent years have been some of the hardest to handle (because challenge can be so fruitful). I know the years ahead hold more “growth opportunities,” along with sweet joys and generosities (and sunshine and rain and flowers and hugs from little arms …). But, today, on the eve of my birthday, I feel that I owe the world (and so many wonderful people in it) a BIG thank you. Thank you to everyone who has overwhelmed me with gratitude (which is most of you).

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

CSA payment due soon! I emailed CSA statements to folks this weekend. I think I managed to email everyone who is making payments over the season. The next payment is due by March 19 — you can bring a check/cash to pick-up, or mail it to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128. If you have any questions about what you owe, you can email me or ask at pick-up! Thank you!

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A note about plastic bags: As you have seen, we use plastic bags at pick-up. We try to avoid plastic bag use, which is why we have our fun divided boxes for things like beets and potatoes (so that we can portion things out without bags). However, we find that certain products simply do much better when offered in a bag rather than loose (greens, for one). The bags we use are high quality and can be used over and over again once they are in your home. We encourage you to get a lot of use out of them before recycling them! However, you also don’t need to take the bags at all, if you don’t want to! If you would prefer to use your own bags or containers, you can simply transfer the contents of one of our bags to your own and then leave the bag behind (or, if Casey is available, he can fill your bag directly — but sometimes he gets busy with restocking).

Also, vegetables store best in the fridge in a bag (or some kind of sealed container). The air in a fridge will quickly dry out veggies if they are just placed on the shelf. Roots like beets and parsnips can be stored in a bag that is sealed tight, but be sure to give your greens some space and air. They do not want to be crushed — that’s a sure way to have them go bad quickly! Give them plenty of air, and greens will last in the fridge well past the next CSA pick-up (if you need them to, but hopefully you will just gobble them up quickly!).

~ ~ ~

Two fun recipe ideas from Casey: Casey’s been making some fun stuff in our kitchen lately. Here are two of his recent “inventions” using farm fresh seasonal foods. You’ll have to forgive the lack of specificity in method/amounts — that’s not really how he rolls. But perhaps these descriptions can get you inspired to try some new combinations in your own cooking:

  • Seasonal salad featuring: chopped raw kale, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, green onions, roasted beets, and apples. And nuts. Dressed with kind of a cole-slaw/egg salad-y thing. A nice filling cold food for eating at lunch (can be prepared in advance). Super yummy!
  • Vegetable pancake/fritter for breakfast: Grated beets, carrots and parsnips mixed with egg, a little green onion, some kind of flour (we used almond meal) with a dash of baking soda and salt. Cook up like pancakes. Delicious treat!

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Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Red Russian kale — Casey picked these bunches from our new greenhouse (the one we built last fall!). Yay! Kale is so hot these days; it’s hard to remember that when we started the CSA people didn’t even know what it is. Kale is so hot right now that the cover story on the recent issue of a farming magazine we get addressed a kale seed shortage! Apparently demand for kale has outpaced the supply for the seed (which takes two years to grow because the plant is a biennial). We didn’t personally experience that shortage because we buy from regional producers, but wow! We love kale and are so glad that it is becoming more popular at large — we feel like our bodies crave kale. Does yours?
  • Chard — In our experience, chard has also grown in popularity (although it started out more popular than kale). But there is no chard seed shortage yet!
  • Parsley
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Eggs — Having eggs in the line-up was so popular last week that we’re doing it again! Need more ideas for farm fresh eggs? The kids and I enjoyed making a simple souffle at snack time this week (topped with cooked strawberries from our freezer!). That sounds way fancier than it was, but it was delicious!

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Beet pickles! — $5 pint; $3 half pint
  • Parsnip pickles! — $5 pint; $3 half pint
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — Prices vary; lots of ground pork still available too!
  • Lamb roasts — Prices vary
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 2 Comments

Glorious

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It’s a good winter to be farmers. Jasper enjoys harvesting on a glorious afternoon.

Friends, I have no words. That’s a lie; I will, of course, have plenty of words by the time I am done writing this newsletter. But, seriously — this weather. It speaks for itself. It does not need me to explain to those of you have who have been living here too. We have all experienced the glory of it all together.

“Unseasonable” weather seems like an understatement for the extended, continued warm dry spell we’ve experienced this February through early March. I keep wanting to comment on “this spring,” only to remember that we are still two weeks out from the actual start of that season. With so many acres of ground already worked up, it is so easy to forget the actual date.

And our neighbor farmer made it official today — he told us that this is the most beautiful, earliest spring he’s experienced in 30 years. A truly remarkable farming year so far.

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One big sickie and one little sickie rest outside under the healing sun this weekend. Aw. They were sweet.

We are grateful for the ease of this weather, as a series of little annoying interruptions have visited the farm in the last few weeks — first the milk fever incidents with the cows (which was more than annoying as it brought life and death drama to our day), then sicknesses of our own that took each of us out of commission for more than a day and left us dragging for longer. Alas, these things happen, and oddly this same beautiful winter seems to have brought more than its share of illness to many in our community. Or, perhaps we’re just at that stage of life when those minor illnesses come to visit more often (young kids being snot magnets and all that).

Nonetheless, as we find ourselves extra tired and feeling like we haven’t had a break, we can still find relief in this glorious sunshine. It is truly rejuvenating, especially at the end of the winter.

And some farm sweetness. Dottie with a lamb (who has been adopted by my mom -- his own mother wasn't feeding him).

And some farm sweetness. Dottie with a lamb (who has been adopted by my mom — his own mother wasn’t feeding him).

The first of our seedlings were planted out into an open field this week (as opposed to a greenhouse) — spring-sown fava beans! More transplants will soon follow. And the beginning of the blooming season has begun — plums are blooming and before too long we will find ourselves in the midst of all spring’s splendor.

We hope that you are staying well and able to go out to soak up all this good warming sunshine as well. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Want some beef? We have another beef animal ready to butcher. Would anybody like to buy a quarter, half or whole? You would receive a wide range of cuts: steaks, roasts, ground meat, bones, — all wrapped and ready for your freezer. The price is $5.50/lb hanging weight (the weight of carcass before cutting), and that price includes processing costs. This animals has spent his entire life on good quality pasture, making the fat rich in healthy Omega-3s. Good stuff. If you are interested, email us: farm (at) oakhillorganics (dot) com

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How to hard-boil fresh farm eggs! We’re in our spring egg flush now — hoorah! This is the season when our own family revels in egg abundance. Hard boiled eggs are a favorite for all of us. The kids eat them for snacks, and Casey and I love them as a salad topping (add eggs and nuts to turn a salad into a meal!). But, fresh eggs can be super hard to peel. Have you ever had that experience? Ugh. So unsatisfying, especially for young kids trying to peel their own eggs. Fortunately we have learned the secret to easy peeling eggs (even when super fresh! we’ve done this with eggs laid the same day!).

Start by boiling some water (enough to fit all your eggs). When it reaches a rolling boil, carefully drop your eggs into the water (you can lower them in with a slotted spoon to keep from splashing boiling water). Some may crack — that’s ok. Set a timer for 12 minutes and let them continue cooking at a steady boil. After 12 minutes, put the lid on your pot and carefully drain out the boiling water and refill your pot with cold water from the tap. Drain out that water and then put your eggs in a basin of cold running water and let them chill fully (ice can aid this process if you have an easy way to get it). “Shocking” them like this separates the shell membrane from the egg and makes for a super easy peel. You can, of course, save cooked eggs in the fridge for several days to eat at later occasions!

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Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Eggs — “What? Eggs aren’t vegetables!” No, you are right! However, we are in the midst of our spring flush and we want to share eggs with those of you who may never thought to try them yet. So you’ll see some eggs in the line-up this week, alongside all our usual good veggies and fruit. If you want eggs, bring a carton! (1/2 dozen is an item; limit one item of eggs per share!)
  • Seasonal salad mix — This is our popular seasonal salad mix — a big hit with local restaurants and selling well now at Harvest Fresh as well. We call it “seasonal” because it … changes with the seasons, always reflecting the tastiest tender bits of our fields. In summer that will mean more lettuce, but right now it offers a huge rainbow of texture and flavor variety. Just a few of the items in the mix this week: arugula, beet greens, kale, cabbage rapini, cabbage, and fennel!
  • Greenhouse chard & kale — So tender and good, they will knock your socks off!
  • Cabbage rapini — More of our favorite late winter rapini offerings. For those of you who are new to “rapini,” I’ll introduce it again: when biennial cole crops (like cabbage, kale, etc.) overwinter, they put on new growth in the spring, including tender and delicious flower buds. We learned many years ago that these flower buds are so very awesome to eat. You can treat them as you would any cooking green (and all the leaves are great too!), but the sweet tender stalks also make them suitable for cooking applications that you might apply to asparagus, such as roasting in a pan. Roasted rapini is one of our favorite March treats. In fact, if there is any cabbage rapini leftover after pick-up tomorrow, we will probably make roasted rapini for dinner!
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green onions
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Next week we’re going to try something new … any requests???? (Those parsnip pickles were pretty awesome; if you want to see more of them, let Casey know!)
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — Prices vary. This is awesome stuff. I think we even have one package of pork chops left!
  • Lamb roasts — This week, we recommend trying our rack of lamb or loin roasts. These are less familiar cuts of lamb, because in most butcher shops this cut would be broken down into separate chops. In the larger cuts, they are all still lined up together, and you can cook the whole rack together and then slice that tender meat apart for serving. Delicious. (Or, as Casey said, “Whoa, they’re good.”)
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package ~ Why is our ground beef so good? For one, we are having whole animals ground, which means that every delicious tender and flavorful cut is going into the grind, giving it extra good flavor and texture (and juice!). Also, it is aged seven days before grinding! We think this is the best ground beef we have ever eaten.
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 3 Comments

Breaking ground

Freshly worked ground makes a fun new landscape for exploration!

Freshly worked ground makes a fun new landscape for exploration!

Oh, what a February this has been! This week brought more excitement — notably, a second calf born on Friday. Followed by another round of milk fever for the mom the next morning. Thankfully, we were much better prepared (in terms of supplies and experience), and the treatment process went smoothly and without drama. Both moms and calves are doing great today. Hoorah!

But the other exciting part of the week was the continued dry weather. I suppose dry calm weather really shouldn’t be called “exciting,” since it’s quite the opposite — so easy to work in on almost any kind of project. Yesterday Casey did the animal chores in record time, and when he was trying to figure out why it went so fast, I reminded him that the weather was perfect for beast and man alike. These things help.

And, dry weather allowed Casey and Jasper to get on the tractor in a major way. They disked and then harrowed three acres of ground in total over the week With another three just disked, that’s six acres total in some state of worked up-ness. In our ten seasons of farming in Oregon, we have never had so much ground worked up so early. Casey began with just an acre here on the home farm, then he kept going as the days stretched on. We are by no means ready to plant, but early working up means that the ground will be ready when we are ready. This is in contrast to some past seasons, when the starts in the greenhouse pile up and outgrow their trays as we wait and wait and wait for the ground to dry. We’ll still need to do a bit more tillage before planting, but in the meantime all our cover crops and pastures will be breaking down and turning into happy fertility and organic matter for our crops to eat on all season long. Good things.

We also had what we’re pretty sure was a record restaurant harvest this Tuesday — between the orders from five local restaurants, Casey was scrambling quickly to get the harvest done and delivered in some kind of normal time frame (he ended up being a bit late, but he got it done!). Selling to restaurants has been an unexpectedly awesome part of our farm business — way back when in 2006, restaurants weren’t particularly on our radar (we were too busy preparing for market and CSA sales), but that year two approached us. Over the years others have as well, and at times we actually tried to dissuade potential chefs from working with us (this was in the olden days when we weren’t as good at communication — getting internet access on the farm in 2009 helped change that a lot!). But the chefs have persisted, and we’ve stepped up to the fun challenge of providing exceptionally high quality produce, custom harvested, for 52 weeks of the year. I think we’re seeing the fruits of all that labor now in loyal relationships. We are so grateful for these folks! This week’s orders represented our most consistent long-term restaurant clients: The Blue Goat (in Amity), Thistle, Nick’s, Community Plate, and Valley Commissary. Not surprisingly, given their dedication to good ingredients, these are also the restaurants where our family likes to eat (when we get the opportunity to go out, which is slowly starting to happen again as the kids get older).

In less exciting, but very satisfying, news, I also finished our farm taxes and have the mental and desk space to be diving into this year’s next big paperwork project: organic certification! Hoorah!

I think that’s most of the farm news for this week. Rain is on the horizon, so the dry weather trend will end. I think most of Oregonians will feel comforted by the return to some kind of normal, although long-term forecasts suggest that the mild and dry weather may be coming back again. We’ll see. We hesitate to make any predictions about the year, since farming involves so many variables. But, we feel good about the work that has happened and is happening now. That’s something to rejoice in!

Checking on the kale in the high tunnel!

Checking on the kale in the high tunnel!

Also rejoice worthy: the continued growth of green things in the field (and our high tunnels). This week’s share includes the very first of the season’s rapini (the tasty edible florets of over-wintered brassicas), with much more to come soon. Hoorah again! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Want to buy something at our storefront but not in the CSA? Come on down! We are happy to sell any of our extra items (eggs, meat, grains, ferments, etc.) to folks who walk in. And supply allowing, we can sell veggies too! (Although if you plan to come regularly to buy veggies, we’d ask you to just buy a share! But don’t be daunted — our share sizes are totally customizable to fit even the smallest appetite household!) We’re in the storefront every Thursday, 2 – 7 pm. Stop on by!

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Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Kale rapini / greenhouse mustards / collards — Casey bunched various greens to get us started in our late winter / early spring greens mode. Things are still just coming on, but it looks tasty out there.
  • Celery leaf
  • Parsley
  • Field greens — More of those tasty greens that are suitable for salads or cooking!
  • Kohlrabi
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips — A CSA member shared this totally unexpected parsnip recipe with me: Rigatoni with beef and parsnip stracatto. It looks delicious and offers a very novel way to eat parsnips — in a red sauce with pasta! The recipe calls for beef, but I imagine this would be delicious with some of our farm lamb instead.
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Just one delicious ferment this week, but we have lots of it!
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Eggs — $6 dozen
  • Pork, roasts & more — There is still lots of pork in the freezer! Prices vary.
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Ground beef — $7 for 1 lb package ~ Ground beef is back! Hoorah!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Birth on the farm

Annie welcomes her brand-new calf, Wissouri (a Jersey-Hereford cross).

Annie welcomes her brand-new calf, Wissouri (a Jersey-Hereford cross).

When I think of nature’s power, many images from my life come to mind: a strong gust blowing through tall trees, ocean waves crashing on the shore, a forest fire burning through the night. But, this weekend, I was reminded of another: the power of the uterus. Notably, the bovine uterus.

Last Friday morning our (favorite) cow Annie showed signs of impending labor, three weeks before what we believed to be her due date (calculated based on when we first introduced her to a handsome bull named “Lighthouse Hardcopy” last summer). But, as with so much this spring winter, life was ready to come — ahead of our schedules and expectations.

The whole family went over at the end of the work day to check on her, and I had the foresight to pack a snack and warm clothes. Good thing, because we arrived at the barn to find her having active contractions. Within a minute, we saw hooves show. We pulled out the almonds for the kids and found a good spot to watch in the event we were needed to assist.

No assistance was necessary. After a few more powerful contractions, Annie got serious and laid down to do the rest of the work. We watched as her massive square body tensed with the work of her uterus, and slowly we saw those hooves reappear, followed soon by a nose (hoorah!). Then more powerful work by those bovine muscles, and the whole head was out. As the body slid out, Annie stood up, her instincts telling her that gravity could be her friend for the last bit. And, then the calf was out! Annie went to work immediately with her large cow tongue, licking and licking and licking the calf, drying the wet slimy hide and welcoming her to the world.

We all basked in the glow of this successful birth and headed home after we’d seen the calf get up and nurse. The miracle of birth and new life never grows old, and we felt in awe once again of the powers of nature.

And, so, it was quite distressing the next morning to find that very same force of nature laid flat on the ground. Annie was down, completely down, with what we quickly realized was our farm’s first case of “milk fever.” This is a very common emergency created by a quick and massive depletion of a cow’s calcium reserves after birth (as all that calcium gets pulled to the milk glands). It causes quick, sudden and severe shutting down of a cow’s muscles, ending in death if not treated immediately.

Since this is a common situation, we had materials on hand to treat it. However, we learned quickly that we didn’t have quite the exact right materials (what we had were products intended to prevent milk fever, not to treat it after the fact — but we did not realize that when we bought it!). With my retired anesthesiologist father’s help, we got some calcium products into Annie subcutaneously, and I rushed to town to buy the exact right products as we also waited for the vet to arrive.

The vet, the retired anesthesiologist, and the farmer keep watch over Annie as she gets her IV of calcium gluconate.

The vet, the retired anesthesiologist, and the farmer keep watch over Annie as she gets her IV of calcium gluconate.

Casey rubbed and talked to Annie the whole time I was gone, keeping her breathing. When I arrived back at the farm, Casey and my father got an IV into Annie and we slowly began the appropriate treatment. Too much calcium too fast, and we could have risked sending her into cardiac arrest. So, we sat by her, watching the drip drip drip of the slow IV and hoping.

Eventually, we started seeing hopeful signs: Annie burped — a sign that her digestive system was kicking back into gear (cows have giant stomachs). Then we saw some muscles quiver and shake. Soon after, the vet showed up and brought us some more supplies, and we all watched a medical miracle take place: a cow who had been at death’s door, stood up and began eating again. Not just eating, but gently shoving around her cow friends to get to her food (which, if you know Annie, you know this is 100% her personality).

Back up, just a couple of hours after her milk fever!

Back up, just a couple of hours after her milk fever!

Several days later, Annie and “Wissouri” (Rusty named the calf) are still doing great. And, I have no idea if extra warm weather could stimulate an early birth, but the early birth feels like part of a bigger pattern here on the farm right now. As you all know, we have been experiencing unseasonably warm and dry weather here in western Oregon (at the same time that the rest of the country has been experiencing the opposite apparently!). We’ve been picking daffodils from our yard, and today we noticed that the raspberries by our house are already leafing out. All of this in February! Between the unexpected calf and the early signs of spring, we are having a hard time keeping our heads on straight about what month it actually is. Casey and I both have been “feeling” as though it is late March rather than mid February.

As people who must plan ahead, we can’t help but wonder all this wonderful warmth suggests for the rest of the year. “Drought” has been on the minds of many as we look at snow-less mountains and experience these dry February days.

Rusty sows pea seeds on our front porch in the sun this weekend.

Rusty sows pea seeds on our front porch in the sun this weekend.

But we don’t really know what is to come, and this week the warm weather has felt mostly like a little blessing (because, let’s face it, late winter can be just plain hard). We’re tending our greenhouses and sowing and looking forward to the beginning of the spring flush of work. We’re also waiting for one more calf to be born, who may come soon or may wait those extra weeks. We’re keeping on eye on that mama cow as we do all this winter spring work. Many more miracles to come! Calves! Blossoms! Greens! Grass! The world shouts with abundance and growth already! (And, yes, it is Ash Wednesday today too, the beginning of Lent. Hard to believe it amidst all the splendor already, but Easter will arrive amidst even greater displays of spring, I am sure.)

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla~ ~ ~Looking for more greens? Exciting news this week — Harvest Fresh Grocery in downtown McMinnville has begun stocking our seasonal greens in their produce department!

Awesome greens, available 7 days/week at Harvest Fresh!

Awesome greens, available 7 days/week at Harvest Fresh!

Meet this week’s vegetables: Remember to check our recent newsletters for more servings suggestions and cooking ideas!

  • Chicory mix“Chicories” are a unique family of greens related to lettuce. The most famous chicory is radicchio, that pretty red and white leaf that graces many salad mixes. In Italy, however, chicories are a diverse and beloved category of greens to be cherished and highlighted on their own. They offer a wide range of colors, shapes and flavors, all featuring the more robust flavor and texture of a chicory. Over recent years, some of those diverse chicories have made their way to the states via dedicated foodies, farmers, and chefs. We love chicories because they offer the opportunity of salads grown outdoors in the winter (they are hardy enough to not even need a greenhouse in Oregon!). Chicories can also be braised (delicious with pork, winter roots, garlic, and green onions — oh my!). We have grown many chicories over the years and have settled on a few varieties that we especially love — they range in color from buttery yellow to bright green to pink to deep red and white. This particular mix features escarole and treviso. The easiest way to eat chicories is as a salad. To reduce any bitter flavor in the chicories, we’ve heard it recommended to soak them in ice water before chopping. We’ve never taken this step ourselves, however! We like to chop them into small strips (again, “chiffonade”) and dress liberally with a creamy dressing before our meal. Because chicories have much more body than lettuces, they stand up well to being fully dressed and even letting wilt a bit. Bacon is a classic accompaniment to chicories (chop it and mix it in), as well as nuts and dried fruit of all kinds. Or, of course, you could top with crumbled cheese.
  • Chard — Another green that does well in our Willamette Valley winters! We’ve chosen to grow some especially hardy chard varieties for our winter fields, and we love picking them this time of year. It is so satisfying to make bunches of greens in February. If you’re new to chard, as a cooking green it is remarkably similar to spinach (although it doesn’t wilt quite as fast or as completely), so you can substitute in most recipes that call for cooking spinach. We love to braise/sauté it in a cast iron skillet and then poor in beaten eggs for making a frittata (cook it at first on the stovetop and then when the eggs begin to pull away from the sides finish the top under the broiler).
  • Field greens — The same mix of greens we’ve offered the last two weeks, suitable for salads or cooking!
  • Celery leaf
  • Kohlrabi
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Apples
  • Green onions — In the winter, what can be more enervating than green onions? They are onions, and yet they are a green! We love the color these add to all kinds of foods — salads, frittatas, and more. We recommend chopping them fine and using them everywhere. And please use the whole thing. These onions are tender and flavorful all the way up.
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: Remember to bring containers when appropriate! We will have some jars for sale for fermented items and such at pick-up, but we know you’ve got loads of empty jars in your pantry already!

  • Corn flour  — $5 lb
  • Oat flour — $5 lb
  • Walnuts — $5 lb
  • Kohlrabi “sauerkraut” — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Another batch of last week’s yummy kohlrabi sauerkraut. This was a hit! We think it is notably sweet, and the texture of the kohlrabi is so delightful when fermented.
  • Beet pickles — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Fermented beets … just sliced beets, good quality salt and water!
  • Parsnips pickles — $5 pint; $3 half pint ~ Fermented parsnips … just sliced parsnips, good quality salt, and water!
  • #2 Apples — 4lb bag for $6
  • Hens (and a rooster!) on pasture. Good stuff.

    Hens (and a rooster!) on pasture. Good stuff.

    Eggs — $6 dozen ~ Our supply is up! The hens have noticed (and appreciated) all this warm weather too, I think. So, if you’ve wondered whether we have enough eggs for you to buy what you want, the answer is now yes. And, if you haven’t tried our eggs yet, we encourage you to do so! Farm-fresh eggs are a revelation. Our hens are on pasture all day every day, resulting in deep orange/yellow yolks that are loaded with heart-healthy Omega-3 fats. We feed our hens grains (and pasture!) that we grow and grind ourselves and supplement their feed with fish meal for extra protein and oyster shell lime for extra calcium (ocean derived nutrients for us all!).

  • Pork, roasts & chops — We’ve got more pork in the freezer! Lots in fact! Chops, roasts, and more. Last time, the chops went fast, so if you want pork chops, this is your week to get some!
  • Lamb roasts — We still have many different cuts available, at varying prices (ranging from $5 – 14 lb). Ask Katie at pick-up to walk you through what’s in the freezer!
  • Ground beef — We are temporarily out. More coming next week!
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