Meet this week’s vegetables: (Newberg veggies may differ)
- Summer squash & broccoli
- Fava beans — As Rusty would say: “oh MY!” These are some big fava beans. In our culinary trials this week, we found that they’re really better suited for shucking (and possibly peeling) and then cooking — they’re just a little too big for roasting at this point. The beans themselves are still in the tender green stage, but they are big and definitely worth the effort to get out. Another quick preparation to try: after peeling, gently sauté until tender and then puree and spread on fresh bread.
- Arugula, spinach, and/or beet greens — Oh, how beautiful are the greens right now? So beautiful! The combination of the mild weather and growing crops on our new (so far) less weedy ground has given us what feels like true gifts — rows upon rows of beautiful, almost completely weed free, pest free, tender greens. The crew is picking a little of everything with the idea that you can mix and match to make your own perfect salad mix this week.
- Dinosaur kale & collard greens
- Garlic scapes
Casey and I are not born machine lovers. When we first started the farm back in 2006, our initial impulse was to avoid buying a traditional tractor at all. We schemed about ways to make do with other, seemingly more approachable, solutions. We were intimidated and unsure of exactly how various technologies (especially BIG ones) would fit into our dreams of a small-scale veggie farm.
It only took us a few weeks to realize exactly why we needed a tractor. To be clear, we already owned one, but it was a small restored cultivating tractor from the ‘40s — perfect for weeding, but not intended for much else. But before we could weed, we desperately needed to mow thigh high grass and then somehow do primary tillage on our ground (which had been left in a sod for several years).
So, we bought a tractor. The wrong one at first. We underestimated how much horsepower and heft we needed. When we put our new (small) disk on the incredibly small Massey Ferguson we bought, it could barely lift it off the ground without tipping backwards! But we fixed that mistake quickly, thanks to an accommodating and understanding tractor vendor, and sized “up” to a slightly larger all around (still very small!) tractor that was suitable for pulling a mower or a disk.
We recognized a need for an appropriate technology, bought it, and learned how to use it. This is a seemingly simple formula that has become a trademark of our working style here on the farm. Again, I wouldn’t say that we’re machine lovers — we don’t drool over catalogs of shiny implements and we definitely don’t buy tools before we perceive a present or future need. But we have come to love these machines for what they can do on our farm. (We even own a much bigger tractor now.)
It is breathtaking to watch the right tool at work and consider all the hours and hours of frustrating labor that is being saved. The borrowing of our neighbor’s hay tedder (as told in last week’s newsletter) was a great example — a task that was literally impossible to achieve with our existing tools was made into a quick afternoon project. Hoorah!
This last week was marked by the arrival of several new exciting machines on our farm — all of which immediately open new doors of possibility for our future ventures. First, we got our “new” refurbished bucket milker up and running and immediately brought our milking time down from 30-40 minutes to 1-2 minutes. Willa the cow is happy about the change too, because frequently milking sessions were cut short by her lack of patience rather than her lack of milk. She has more than enough patience for the new milking routine.
(As a fun aside, Annie calved this week too! So, we’ve begun working her into the milking routine too!)
We also received our new hammermill — a beautiful and powerful piece of machinery that was custom built for us in Ohio. It is a red cast iron beast that can process corn or greens (or pretty much anything) in no time. Since we have been making our own animal food, this is another huge time saver. Prior to the mill’s arrival, we were taking turns making our daily rounds of chick, hog and cow feed in a makeshift “kitchen” set up on our porch, using kitchen appliances (a countertop homegrade burr mill, a food processor, a knife and cutting board). It worked and was a good way to learn about what foods seemed to be working for the different animals, but ultimately our time was the limiting factor.
Now we can make more food in less time, and we are looking forward to experimenting over the season with the many crops we have planted specifically for animal feed. The forage radishes will soon be ready and we are scything down some mature hull-less oats and putting them through the mill stalk and all.
Yes, we are scything. (If you can’t immediately picture a scythe, it is the classic farm implement carried by the grim reaper figure.) What a stark contrast to some of the other tools of our farm — amidst the growing collection of very loved and useful engine-powered tools, we still have two quiet, man-powered scythes that get lots of use. We have found that this ancient simple technology is still appropriate — it is gentle on the body and effective (especially when sharpened). So, we scythed around trees in the orchard this spring, and we scythe down strips of pasture before setting up new lines of electric fencing.
Even though we still love simple non-mechanical tools like scythes and harvest knives, we have certainly come to embrace the place for other appropriate technologies too. We are still constantly learning how to best use these tools (and maintain and fix them), but in our seventh year of farming we’re getting increasingly competent at tinkering and problem solving. There’s always the issue of safety, something we take very seriously when using powered equipment, but we’ve realized the key to safety is staying aware, moving intentionally, and making good choices at every step. I hope this safety trend continues!
Having some new machines to play with this week was a fun activity during what was often a quite rainy period again. Summer arrived last week with two days of sunny weather, but otherwise it has continued to feel like another “June-uary.”
Nevertheless, summer is here — school is out; our neighbors to the south are harvesting their cherries; and the fields are truly starting to look abundant (albeit still mostly with spring green crops). It’s possible that some of our corn might even be “knee high” by the Fourth of July. We’ll have to wait and see.
Either way, Casey, Rusty and I have our first beach trip planned for this weekend. With a baby due to arrive at the end of August, we’re going to try to fit in as much summer as we can in the next two months! We hope you too are enjoying the season and its pleasures!
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
… and the rest of the farm crew!
P.S. Big thanks to the many people who made it out to the new land for our open house last weekend! It was so fun to see all of you, some of whom I was meeting for the first time (since I haven’t been at pick-up regularly since Rusty was little).
Our next farm gathering will be a series of presentations/Q&A sessions in Mac and Newberg in July to talk about how the CSA is going to evolve in 2012. We’ll try to have details by next week.
Then our next gathering will probably be the fall pumpkin patch open house — typically we have an event in August, but we might pass on that one this year because of the timing of baby #2’s arrival!
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Next week’s veggies (probably!):
Beets • Broccoli • Lettuce • Spinach • Mizuna/tatsoi • Kale • Chard • Fava beans • Summer squash • Green onions