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Agrarian Harvest

Wholesome. Organic. Experience. All about our farm, food, and small farm life.

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Fall

Is Plastic Organic Friendly?

With the farm clean-up being close to finished for the year, it gave us time to think while we were pulling plastic row cover. To understand what we were doing, part of our clean up consist of mowing down the froze plants, pulling up all the plastic row cover and filling dumpsters. As I’ve always thought of myself as an environmentally friendly person, this practice is bothering my conscience. We are just a small farm. If all organic farms are using plastic row cover, I can’t imagine how many tons of plastic row cover is going to the landfill from Organic farms each year.

The USDA Organics programs allows for the use of plastic row cover as a method of weed control, but up until this year didn’t allow the use of biodegradable row cover. This doesn’t make sense to me and I’m having a problem saying it is okay to put down thousands of feet of plastic that is going to wind up in our landfills. I don’t feel we are doing the world justice being Organic farmers if we are going fill up the landfill with plastic just because the Organics program says it is okay.

I know consumers are conscious of how their food is grown and I’m now wondering if it matters to the consumer if their food is grown environmentally-friendly also. As a farmer, I feel it matters, this farm won’t be using plastic next year. At this time, we are looking into getting biodegradable row covering, which is newly approved by the USDA Organics program, and planting rows farther apart to mow the weeds between rows.  Ultimately, we feel it is important for consumers to know their farmers and their practices, not just look for the Organic symbol.

 

December Happenings:

  • The farmer spends this month drooling over the seed catalogs while the kids go through toy catalogs. He writes a list of what he wants to grow and diagrams how and where to plant everything.
  • Then we discuss what or if any changes need to be made for the next year’s growing and marketing season.

“Off-Season” Work

Fall was way too short. It felt like we had a week of Fall and then went straight into Winter. Maybe it’s because the farmers markets are over, we’re exhausted and quickly go into hibernation mode. But, most likely, it’s the weather. It got way too cool too quick for this warm-weather-loving- body. We’d prefer our fall consisting of three months of 70 degree days. Most of our days are now cool and blustery; and it’s snowing while I type this. With all the leaves off the trees, looking bare and cold, it give us a chill  just looking out the window. But out we must go, there is work to do still.

Since the our growing season is over for the year, we will be spending our days in the field doing farm clean up. This consist of mowing the froze plants, pulling up the plastic row cover and tilling the plant debris into the soil. And the chore of pulling hundreds of t-post out of the ground that were used to stake the tomatoes up. Then there are tasks that need to be done before seeds can be planted for next year like replace the plastic on the cold-frame and, possibly, put another cold-frame up.  

There is also planting to do, believe it or not. It is time to plant garlic. It has to overwinter 20160729_224038in the ground to be ready to harvest by July or August next year. So, hopefully, the weather will hold out, meaning no snow . . . . but since that is already happening, maybe the ground won’t freeze hard as a rock just yet. We are trying to brace ourselves for winter, since we keep hearing that this winter is forecast to be worse than last year. We are just not ready for snow and cold and neither is the farm. Really . . . . we could skip winter this year or spend the whole winter on a warm beach.

November Happenings:

  • Besides the farm clean-up, we look forward to Thanksgiving and eating lots of warm, delicious food.
  • We still have winter squash, pie pumpkins, onions, dry beans, honey, eggs, pork by the cut, beef by the cut, whole chickens, and whole ducks for sale.
  • We are taking orders for whole or half pigs. The butcher dates are set and have limited quantity of pigs available.

Feeling the Change

I live by the seasons. Really,  I didn’t give much thought to the seasons before I was a mother. I just lived day to day wanting everyday to be a summer day that I could lay in the sun reading a book. Then I became a mother and discovered the seasons of motherhood; the season of newborn, season of milestones, toddler season. I now feel I’m in school-age season; feel like I’ve been in this season for a long time and now realize I’m about to enter the season of having a teenager. I once had a friend tell me, “It’s just another season of life; it will pass.”

The seasons of the year and motherhood do pass, sometimes all too quickly and sometimes slower than we would like. But then when you look back you wonder where the time or days have gone. How did it go by so fast? Our summer was like that. There was so much work to do and so many markets and deliveries to make, we didn’t know how we’re going to make it through the days. We wondered how we were going to manage until October and not collapse from exhaustion before the first frost and life would slow down again.  And now looking back, I’m wondering where my summer went. How could it be gone already? I’m feeling sad . . . .  I want summer back! Just like I want back the seasons of early motherhood. . . . . it’s just gone too fast.

We are feeling the change from summer to fall. The nights are crisp and cooler, days are cooler too, plant production is slowing down, kids are back to school, the pumpkins are turning, the wheat fields around us have been thrashed, early potatoes have been dug, storage potatoes are being dug and silage corn is being chopped. And the hopes or fears of first frost are in the air. It’s definitely the feel of fall. A welcoming season with the colors of orange, red and yellow, cups full of warm drinks and the smell of pumpkin spice in the air.

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Welcome Fall . . . . .  the slow-down season for us. My new favorite season.

 

September & October Happenings

  • Harvest winter squash & pumpkins
  • Most of the produce will slow its production or stop producing altogether. It will soon be the last of the corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, melons & basil for the year.
  • Our first frost, then the tomatoes & peppers will done for the year also.
  • Farm clean-up: weeds to be mowed & row cover to be picked up

Vacation, Farmer-cation or Field Trip?

We took a vacation to the Oregon Coast. Or maybe it wasn’t really a vacation. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, a vacation is freedom from any activity or a period of rest and freedom from work and study. The kids have informed us it was not a vacation because they had to walk the beach everyday which is work. Our farm boy wanted a simple machine to make the work easier, he got tired of walking in the sand.  Our oldest informed him that it would take more than one simple machine so it would actually be a compound machine. And they had to study. We were reading and learning about all the new marine life we saw, glass blowing, and Oregon’s history. “Do schoolwork? We are suppose to be on vacation,” they said. Then we had to go to a farmers’ market to see all the produce they had available and to support fellow farmers. The kids really complained at this point because we are at farmers’ markets two days of every week of the growing season at home. So it may not of been a vacation if you want to get technical, maybe it was a farmer-cation for the farmer and myself and a field trip for the kids.

Whatever it was, we had a great time exploring the Oregon Coast, seeing sea lions, learning about glass floats, exploring tide-pools and whale watching. We were even lucky enough to meet a wonderful couple who supports Organic farming that told us how to spot whales. We enjoyed our little visit with them. It was one of the highlights of our trip.  Overall, all the sights and sounds were amazing.

Now we have to adjust to being home and getting back into a routine again. A major adjustment for me is getting used to hearing the dog bark at night. I got used to hearing the ocean waves all night and now I have to listen to our Great Pyrenees dog bark all night long. A trait of the Great Pyrenes breed that I have never enjoyed. His bark is great for warding off predators, but makes it  hard to get a good nights sleep. . . .  I wonder if I could get a dog who’s bark sounds like the ocean. . . . . Then there is also the change of scenery. It is awfully nice waking up and seeing the ocean. The view was always breathtaking on the coast.

The farmer and I enjoyed our trip so much that we are wondering if it would be possible for us to spend our winters on the coast. Or what about farming by the coast? We always like to think outside the box and of all the possibilities. And the kids have decided that if this was a field trip, then we need to go on field trips more often!

 

First Frost

We had our first frost last week, signalling the end of the growing season. We had plans of covering all our tomatoes with a cloth cover to protect them and keep them growing later into the fall. But the plants had slowed way down on producing, the wind was blowing (which would of made it extremely had to keep them covered if we could of got the cover on), and we were extremely tired. So we didn’t cover anything, which means no more tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers or zucchini. However, we did pick everything on the plants before they froze. We do have lots of peppers available if you want to freeze any or to freeze stuffed peppers for a quick healthy meal this winter. We also have 6 cases of tomatoes left mostly romas and san marzanos.

In the weeks to come we will still have kale, swiss chard, celery, carrots, small onions, sugar pie pumpkins, winter squash, parsley, oregano, rosemary, sage, eggs, handmade soap, laundry detergent, chicken, pork and beef.

The first frost and fall also means the end of farmers’ market season. The Hailey Farmers’ Market ended with the last market on October 13th. The last Twin Falls Farmers’ Market is on October 29, which will consist of a harvest festival too with lots of fun activities for kids. Although, the markets are ended doesn’t mean we will disappear until Spring. We will still be making regular deliveries to the Wood River Valley and Twin Falls. You can email or call us to put in an order and we will schedule a delivery time with you. You can also have your email added to our mailing list and we will keep you up to date on what is available and when we will be planning delivery dates in your area.

 

 

Falling Back . . . Slowing Down

Are we ready for the fallback time change? No! We like the days of longer light. I honestly cannot believe that summer is over already. It feels like we just celebrated the 4th of July and now it’s September! We are ready for the slow down of the harvest season and that is what fall brings for us, a slow down. The produce is feeling the effect of the shorter hours of daylight and cooler temperatures. The few zucchini plants that are still living and the melons have slowed their production down significantly. The only plants producing abundantly still are the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and kale.

The one thing we hope will increase in production in the fall are the duck eggs. The ducks have started laying and we have  started our daily duck egg search. We have found eggs in the driveway and backyard. Since our ducks are free range and get to roam the farm and yard that gives us large search area so far. So, this fall, we plan to learn about ducks laying habits.

There are things we look forward to in fall that comes with the changing of seasons besides the slow down of work. We look forward to the changing colors of fall, the smell and taste of pumpkin and settling into a school routine again. There is something about the changing of seasons that allows us to look around, breath deep and take everything around us in. Along with seeing the beauty of it all we start to think, talk and plan for next year. What will we plant, how much and what will next year bring for us? The possibilities are endless.

 

 

Produce And New CSA Opportunity Available

Farmers’ Market may be over, but you can still get fresh, local, organic produce all winter long!

AGRARIAN HARVEST has produce, eggs, meat and other products available all year round. At the moment, we have organic eggs, winter squash, pumpkins, kale, swiss chard, garlic, broccoli, turnips, diakon radishes, cabbage, celery, pork, chicken, herbs, soap, laundry detergent, herbs and more. Visit our product pages to get a full list of products and availability. We will have whole, frozen chicken; pork by the cut; whole pigs and eggs all winter long. As for all the produce, it will be available until we sell out of the pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cabbage, turnips, diakon radishes, celery, beets and herbs. The broccoli, kale, swiss chard will be available until it freezes too hard for these plants. Some winters, like last year, we have kale all winter long.  We start growing greens and radishes in our cold frame during the winter so they will be available in early, early spring. So whenever you are in need of fresh produce, check with us first.

Also, we will be offering CSA shares this coming year. There will be two different sizes of produce CSA and a meat CSA with multiple pick-up locations to pick from. If you are interested in buying a CSA and want to the guarantee that you will get a box of fresh, organic, wholesome produce every week, contact us to sign up. Watch for our CSA page later this month for details.

E-mail us at myfood@agrarianharvest.com or call/text us at (208) 308-5332. You can visit us at our farm in Buhl to get product any day of the week or we deliver to Twin Falls on Wednesdays.

Our New Family Favorite

We have not had our first frost yet. It has been cooling down though. We can now feel the coolness in the house every morning, which means that we are now starting a fire every morning to take the chill off. Then I am looking out the window at all the produce we still have growing and start to think of what I can cook  using this wonderful abundance of produce.

So I’m going to share a recipe that I have made repeatedly this year. BaBa Ghanoush (pronounced bah-bah-gah-noosh); this amazing dip has become a household favorite. We use it for meat or veggies; great with tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and celery. It can be spread on crackers, sandwiches or put on a salad. The kids have actually gave up ranch and request this dip instead. And it uses several eggplant that I used to look at and wonder how are we going to use all these eggplant. That is not a problem this year. I now make several batches of this at a time and freeze some so we can enjoy this wonderful dip all winter.

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2 large round eggplant or several of the slender Chinese eggplant (1 pound)

2 TBSP Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic

2 TBSP basil or if you cook like I do, just use a handful

1/2 tsp salt

2-3 TBSP lemon juice (optional) I don’t use the lemon juice; I don’t like the lemon taste and don’t mind the dip turning brown.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Wash the eggplant and use a fork to prick each eggplant all over. Put them on the baking sheet and place in the oven.  Cook for about an hour or until they start to collapse. You will know if they are done if they are soft inside. Let cool, until they are cool enough for you can handle them.

Split the eggplants open and use a spoon to scoop the inside (flesh) out, putting it into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. You will still have some seeds in the mixture. If you don’t want the dip to turn brown, then add 2-3 TBSP lemon juice and mix. Scrape the dip into a bowl and serve.

Farmers’ Market Selling & Spunk

Last week I posted that we were enjoying our Indian summer, well, after posting I did some research and figured out that we actually are not having an Indian summer. An Indian summer is unseasonably warm weather in the fall after a good hard frost. Since we have not had a frost or even a cold spell yet, we are not experiencing an Indian summer. We are a just fortunate to still have warm weather, no frost, and produce still growing and producing.

Thanks to this wonderful weather we still have lots of produce and are still able to participate in our local farmers’ market. This is good in some ways and bad in others. We are happy to still be providing our local community with organic, fresh produce and happy to be eating it ourselves. But we are getting tired and worn out; slowing down just like the produce. We have lost our enthusiasm and spunk for all the harvesting and preparing for the market, but we are still at it.

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Most people don’t realize how much work it takes to sell at a farmers market, unless you have actually participated in one. And how much determination it takes to keep at it the whole season, May through October. It takes most, if not all day, the day before market to harvest, package and prepare all supplies and products. We are usually up into the wee hours of the night getting ready; especially in the middle of the summer when there is a lot to harvest and get ready. Some weeks we don’t make it to bed until 2 am and then we’re up at 5 am to finish the last minute harvesting and load all that produce. This takes some critical thinking. We load all our boxes/crates/coolers of produce/product, tables, canopy, signs and the family into an excursion. There have been several weeks I don’t know how we have gotten everything in the excursion. When we unload at market, we look like a little car of clowns. You know the cartoon image of clowns that just keep piling out of a little tiny car. Well, that’s us at farmers’ market, people, boxes, coolers just keep coming out of the excursion. We get looks of how did you get all of that in there? We have hopes of having a trailer to haul it all in next year.

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Once everything is unloaded, then there is the set up. We set up the canopy and tables. Next come the organizing of several boxes/crates; making the display cute and inviting. There is the rush of getting all this done before the early bird shoppers arrive and before the vendor meeting starts. Then market starts. If we are lucky it is busy and the time goes by fast. But on some days it is slow and time drags by. It may be a very cool day and we bounce around trying to keep warm, it may be a very hot and there is not enough shade for the produce and people or our worst market day was cold and pouring rain. Whatever the day holds, we stand there and sell for four hours of market.

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At the end of market, it is time to take it all down. We like to stay open until all the customers have left the market. Then we start to load all the produce/product that we have left. Lastly, we fold up the tables and canopy. There are usually empty boxes that we break down, so the loading to come home is easier, but can still be tricky to get it all to fit back in the excursion.  We drive home and it is time to unload again. This is probably the hardest part because we are all tired and hungry. Once unloaded, we head for the house and collapse in the living room for a family movie and time to rest.

For most of September and October, I haven’t had the energy to keep up with all my domestic duties and go to market on Saturdays. So I have bowed out of the farmers’ market routine. I’m thankful for the Other Half taking on the Saturday market work and sells on his own. I ran out of spunk several weeks ago for the pre-dawn loading, chilly morning air while setting up for market and the energy to do rest of the market. Instead, I have  put my energy into canning, drying and preserving produce for winter. Another wonderful aspect of farm life; being able to eat your own produce all winter long!

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