Meet this week’s vegetables*
- Pink Passion chard OR kohlrabi
- Braising Greens
- Fava beans — We’d been hearing great reports of people roasting or grilling fava beans whole (unshelled or peeled), so we tried it. I roasted whole fava beans (in chicken drippings, but oil would have worked) at 450° for about 20-25 minutes (turned once). So good! Rusty ate them all up. If you don’t want to use all your fava beans this way, try the small ones that might not have fully developed beans in profusion yet.
- Head lettuce
- Garlic scapes — What is this alien thing? Garlic scapes are the “bolts” that grow out of the top of certain garlic varieties in the spring before the bulbs cure down below. Removing them helps send more energy into bulb production, but they also taste great! It is a tender shoot with a nice garlic flavor — chop the whole thing (except the tougher bud at the end) and add to any kind of dish. We usually use in place of garlic or onions when cooking, but they’re also great minced and added to dressing or roasted whole!
* This list is what will be available at the Mac pick-up this week and will most likely be at Newberg too — but we may vary the selection slightly for Newberg as new items come on in the fields over the week. Check with Jesse about what might vary at pick-up!
Even though we are in our seventh season with this crazy farming thing, I am still continually amazed by the process of building and growing a farm — how it is truly a “one step at a time” endeavor. We start with dreams and vision, developing them over time into something more concrete (lists, plans, drawings), and then slowly but surely start implementing one piece, then the next, then the next, and then … there’s something entirely new and real and awesome in our life.
We’ve done this several times in the last six years, from starting the farm the first time, to building everything on our current land (including our house!), to now expanding on to more land and developing even more new infrastructure and systems. I feel like my brain has grown fundamentally new ways of seeing — I can now hold a picture in my head, long before it is real, and break it into minute pieces, and then persist and be (mostly) patient as we work toward those goals. I know that Casey too feels the shift in his being. It is maddening at times when we are in the midst of it all, but we both have such a better understanding of what it means to pursue big long-term goals.
This weekend was again very full with spring activity — Casey was “on” for animals chores; we did a thorough clean-out and reorganization of our pole building and greenhouse area (what a sanity maker this was!); and Casey worked on more final touches on the new big chicken wagon (future home of the growing chicks in our brooder room). But we did have a moment on Sunday morning for walking to visit all these projects (and more) to check in and reflect on all that has happened this spring.
Wow. Can I just say: WOW! There have been so many moments over the last couple of months when we have been on the edge of feeling way over-whelmed by the long list of minute details, and it takes these moments of reflection in order to see exactly how much has been accomplished. Don’t get me wrong — our ‘to do’ lists aren’t going to get shorter any time soon (that’s how long-term projects, including just the usual seasonal stuff, works), but we can begin to see how all the work is fitting together into a cohesive, thriving, vibrant farmscape.
Perhaps most exciting was visiting the animals on the land next door. I hadn’t been over there for a few days, during which time Casey and the crew had been practicing and implementing the vision we’d had early this spring for moving the animals around on our land. We have fondly called it during the plan stage our “animal train,” and it was so exciting to see it actually in motion and working!
The theory is that all animals are more efficient when moved relatively quickly through smaller blocks of pasture, and no one species of animal is perfectly efficient at using pasture. We’ve already seen this in practice — when we put the cows in a large area, they nibble on all the best stuff first and leave plenty of good edible stuff that is maybe not their favorite or less convenient to eat from their high positions.
So, now we have the animals moving across our cover crop turned pasture pretty quickly (in a week, they’ve already covered 43,500 sq ft). The first electric net paddock holds the cows; the next holds the 17 sheep; and the last one (for now) holds our seven wiener pigs (yes, we added some hogs to the mix last Friday, thanks again to my mom’s next door breeding program! How convenient!). Eventually, we may follow with our chickens, but we might also put them in a separate area completely to get more areas grazed this year. Each animal species delights in what is left behind the others in front, and by the time they are all through the pasture looks very well used (but definitely not “spent” — we can already see it regrowing behind them!).
There is also the added convenience of having all our animals in one place for easy watering, checking on, etc. While tending to the cows last week, Kimmie noticed a ewe limping and realized it was time to trim hooves — which she then did during the next day’s animal chore session. Oh, and of course, the quick moving through the field is almost miraculous for animal health and general cleanliness (organic dairy farmers have nicknamed pasture “Dr. Green.”) — no manure builds up before the animals are on clean ground again (and the same will be true for mud in the winter, another consistent challenge with livestock management).
Getting this “animal train” launched and moving has taken some logistical planning; much of it in early spring when we were ordering our fencing (choosing fencing that would work for all species), but also in learning how to implement the process in reality (mowing strips for the fencing to prevent shorting out).
I know that there will be kinks in the system, and we will certainly continue to refine the process over the upcoming season — but it is so wonderful to see it in motion after all these months of planning and scheming!
There were other such happy moments of reflection during our Sunday walk — walking through the newest orchard and realizing that we have had time to tend it already (mowing, pruning and thinning fruit); seeing the new organization in the pole barn and the spaces we created for new enterprises (the mini-creamery area for milk handling; the corner where we will install the feed mill we have on order); the water pipes running from our functioning well next door, ready to irrigate the acres and acres of vegetables in our new ground … things are moving along.
We have plenty of work to do now to tend to it all, but it is taking shape. The goals we set in motion a year and a half ago (when we decided to buy and rent more land) are becoming concrete entities that we can interact with. We feel continually humbled by how much we have to learn through all of this (sometimes even through mistakes), but it is inspiring to look out over 1,000 newly planted strawberry plants and picture the joy of the first big harvest next year. This work is hard, but it is ever so wonderful.
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
… and the rest of the farm crew!
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CSA open house!
Sunday, June 24, 3-5 pm ~ Please RSVP!
The first open house of the year is looking to be an exciting one. Here’s the plan: we’re going to direct you to our new land so that you can see all that we have going on there. You can gather anytime between 3 and 5 pm, but Farmer Casey is going to give a guided farm tour starting at 3:30 pm — try to make it for this, because there is lots to see and share!
The rest of the time can be spent hobnobbing and enjoying freshly made strawberry ice cream and other seasonal refreshments. So we know approximately how much ice cream to make, we ask that you RSVP at pick-up (just put your name on the list you’ll find there over the next few weeks).
Directions to the new land: Take the Dayton exit from HWY-18. Drive straight through Dayton and stay heading south (toward Salem) on HWY-221/Wallace Rd for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. Go across the big bridge onto the island and then drive straight through the 4-way intersection and go across another very small bridge. Immediately after the small bridge, turn RIGHT onto an unmarked gravel road (we will put out a sign or marker). Drive to the very end of the gravel road until you see parking on the left. Welcome!
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Next week’s veggies (probably!):
Strawberries • Fava beans • Chard • Kale • Head lettuce • Salad mix • Sweet onions • Garlic scapes