When the weather is fine (or, at least, not rainy), we make a habit of taking a weekend field walk. It’s a lovely time to be out together as a family (at this point, both kids “ride” on us — Rusty on Casey’s back and Dottie on my chest), but it’s also a great low pressure time for Casey and me to check out what’s happening on the farm when things are quiet and we’re not in the midst of another task. Casey takes field walks at other times too, but sometimes there are parts of the farm that I don’t regularly see from one field walk to the next (especially during periods of winter weather).
This weekend was of course stunning. So, field walks were a must! We took two on Saturday. The first one was when it was brilliantly clear and gorgeous, and I forgot the camera (as is common). I think I actually enjoy these walk more when I’m without my camera, because it frees me up to just soak in the experience with every sense. And, I did. The warmth of the sun on my skin. The joyful sound of birds in the trees. The mild clean smells of a winter farm. And, of course the beautiful sights: happy animals, growing vegetables …
At first I thought, “well, I’ll just have to write about what I saw,” but it turns out that we went for a second walk later that day to show the farm to a visiting old friend. And, this time I brought my camera too. Would you like to see the farm on a beautiful winter day? Here are you go:
First stop — the cows! All the animals in our farm life seemed to relish in the sunny weather, the cows included. They actually don’t seem to mind the colder or wet weather much (thanks to their Jersey winter coats) — Casey always says that when he leans in close to the cows on rainy days, their bodies create a different mini-climate and he stays warm and dry. But, regardless, they like to bask in the sun with the rest of us.
Next, gathering eggs! Most of the hens in our laying flock are full grown now, and we were on the path to getting lots and lots of eggs before the cold snap hit last month. Then, their production dropped way down. We’ve been hearing reports of the same across the county, so we’re hopeful for warmer weather and more eggs. But, in the meantime, we are still getting eggs, and the chickens make happy noises when we visit them (although sometimes 300 hens making happy noises all at once can be pretty ominous sounding!).
It’s hard to see in this photo, but we’re moving our chickens through our newest fruit orchard, so there are actually dormant trees all around. The chickens do a superb job of cleaning out around each tree and fertilizing as they go! We’re excited to very soon see these trees come alive again and grow.
And, we’ve got veggies in the fields too! Mostly back on the home farm right now. Casey and folks spent a lovely day last week row covering many of our greens to help them grow more vigorously. We now have several of these caterpillar like tunnels in our fields. Grow greens, grow!
We did not cover our chicories, however, because row cover invites voles and voles love chicory roots. The same is true of chard, so those are left uncovered as well.
We also didn’t cover the purple sprouting broccoli, because the plants are just too big!
… So many tasty things await in the fields right now. On our walk, we saw many plants that are just poised, ready for the big growth spurts of spring. Saturday was also Groundhog Day (or “Imbolc”), marking the halfway point of winter. We’re already feeling the difference of longer days. More photosynthetic potential and more energy for us humans and animals! I have to remind myself to not get too excited, because we still have many weeks of winter and potentially some nasty weather still ahead. But those hints of spring are blissful.
Enjoy this week’s vegetables!
Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
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A great vegetable cookbook!
I’m always on the lookout for great cookbooks for our own use and to recommend to CSA members. My personal preference is for recipes that are simple and use real ingredients that I’m likely to already have in my kitchen. I’m sure that fancy spices make food taste real yummy, but I’m just unlikely to go seek them out since we live in a rural area and can’t just “stop by” the store easily.
Vegetables Every Day meets all of these criteria and then some. I think it may be my new CSA cookbook. The book is organized by vegetable type, and each section opens with a description of the vegetable and basic tips for cooking, when it is in season, storage information, etc. Then it follows with a handful of recipes (more for popular veggies, fewer for rare veggies) that look extremely good and simple to prepare. One of the negative reviews on Amazon criticized the recipes for “not really being recipes” because they are so simple, but I think the author, Jack Bishop, is following the in the tradition of the classic Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon, which is very similar in this way. The recipes are not fancy concoctions; instead they are preparation suggestions. They give you an idea, in print, of the food’s capabilities. So, Yes, “Broccoli with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and Garlic” has literally only those three ingredients. But if you are new to cooking vegetables, or are tired and in need of some really simple ideas for dinner tonight, it’s a winner of a suggestion. It’s a cookbook for people who love to eat real food but live real lives.
Also, these deceptively simple (but oh so delicious) preparation methods are often some of the most classic ways to prepare these veggies, especially in Italian cooking. For example, “Risotto with Radicchio, Pancetta, and Onion.” Perfect pairings, very traditional, super simple, but perhaps not something the average home cook would immediately imagine when looking at a head of radicchio.
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Meet this week’s vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
- Celery root
- Butternut squash