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Agrarian Harvest

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March Longings

March is here along with thoughts and longings for Spring and greens. March feels like a breath of fresh air after spending our winter months hibernating in the house. Like a bear coming out of hibernation,  we are really craving fresh food, specifically greens. I feel I could eat a large plate piled high with greens at every meal like a cow at the feed bunk eating her greens twice a day. Yes, I referred to myself as a cow. The farmer has compared me to a cull Hereford cow for years due to complications with pregnancy, childbirth and low milk production. And whenever a needle comes out to draw blood, the farmer will compare it and the needle size to bleeding sheep. Growing up on a farm and then becoming a farm wife, I’ve grown accustom to being compared to an animal. Everything is compared to what we are familiar with, which are animals and plants.

For all of us green hungry people, the farmer has planted a couple of beds of greens: lettuce, spinach, and arugula. Although, they are barely starting to emerge from the ground, I’m very eager for those first greens of Spring. They are planted in one of our cold-frames so there is no heat, just what the sun provides. We are at the mercy of mother nature. This past month it was too cold. We are looking forward to March warming up so our cold frames will too. Our farming son, who has the itch to grow plants just like his daddy, has planted lettuce and radishes in pots in the house. He is trying to beat his dad at getting the first greens of the Spring.  

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Radish Seedlings

And the plastic has been put on our smaller cold frame so it is ready to start seeds. We start all our plants from seed right here on the farm. We will be starting seedlings this month too. Our growing season is officially underway!

May Produce & Planting

May is the month of planting for us. The busyness of planting has already started and will only get crazier as the month goes on. Since the weather delayed our ability to plant all of our cool weather vegetables earlier in the spring, we are now in a rush to get every plant and seed of all our produce in the ground.

On the bright side, our first greens of the year are ready. Part of our kale has overwintered and we have been picking it.  We will do the first cutting of the early planted kale, spinach and lettuce at the end of the week! Last month, we had our first meal of the year that included our homegrown, wholesome kale. We sauted the kale with garlic, grilled steak kabobs with onions and bell peppers. It was delicious!! The first kale of the season is exciting to us, it is always our first greens of the season. In early spring, we are starved for greens, especially ones we harvest ourselves. And it is very exciting to think of our first cutting of lettuce and spinach too!! The first greens of the season always taste the best.

We tend to get caught up in all the work that needs to be done, so I have to remind myself and the farmer to enjoy the season and don’t stress, no matter how much there is to do. Do a little bit at a time and it will all eventually get done.  I’m a doer, a hard worker, and a pusher when it comes to getting through a to-do list, it’s not a race, although I feel I need to race through the tasks. I have to take a deep breath, lifting my face to the sun and smiling . . . . . . because the sun is shining and it is warm . . . . .  finally! So I will enjoy planting. And not think of all the weeding that will need to be done before long.

May Happenings & Plans

  • Plant, plant and more planting
  • Twin Falls Farmers Market starts Saturday May 13th, 9 am – 1 pm at Breckenridge Endowment Farm on North College Road.
  • CSA (full season) deadline is May 15th, this deadline does not include the partial season shares. You can continue to sign up for partial season shares throughout the spring and summer.         csa2017
  • Full season and Spring partial season CSA begins this month! We will email or call you with the exact date.
  • Meat bundles still available        Beef              Pork

 

 

Green . . . Life Springs Forth

Green! I can see green growing again. It is so nice to see green . . .  plants growing again: grass and even weeds, lots of weeds. At this point, I’m happy to see weeds growing. Some will be tilled under when we roto-till the ground and others will just be a nuisance to deal with all summer. But after the long, snowing winter we had . . . . . . .  I’m welcoming the growth of weeds.

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Of course, I’m excited for the growth of vegetables too!! The greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula and swiss chard) have all been planted and the low tunnels are up. Thousand of seeds have been started in the cold frame and are up and grgarlic sproutsowing. The garlic is growing too. It’s a beautiful sight to look out the window to admire the rows of green sprigs of garlic starting to grow. And, the crazy farmers we happen to be, are trying something new this year; we planted peas. Yes, we
plant and grow peas every year, but never have we planted peas this early in the Spring. We’ll see how it works. If it works out, we’ll have peas available at the beginning of farmers market season.

Along with plant life beginning, Spring also brings on the joy of babies being born. Animals all over the farm are having babies; there are kittens, calves, chicks and piglets.  Although, at our farm pig farrow at all times of the year. Since we farrow all year round, we also have pork available during all the seasons instead of just one time a year. We have several pigs that are ready to be butchered and also have weaned piglets available. If you are interested in buying a pig contact us, we have several that are ready to go. We are also working on putting together bundles of pork and beef at various price ranges.           Pork         Beef

March Happenings & Plans

  • Start more seeds
  • Till the fields
  • CSA shares are still available to purchase through the month     csa2017

Summer Heat: Thrive or Hide?

The summer heat has arrived and has been good and bad for the farm and the farmers. The lettuce has just about stopped growing. It’s  like it is saying, “This heat is just too much for me.” The same thing that the farmer says when he goes in search of shade. On the other hand, the corn, tomatoes,  eggplant, and melons are thriving. I image them saying the same thing that I say when the summer heat has finally arrived, “Aaawww, now I’m comfortable, let’s get to work!” So the corn has jumped in height and is making ears, the tomatoes are ripening, the eggplant are getting ready to produce, and the melons are spreading and growing large beautiful melons. The cucumbers are doing well in the heat too. They are covered in blooms and starting to make little cucumbers. This is the part of summer that this farmer’s wife loves: the heat, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, peppers, eggplants and melons. All my favorite things of summer!

In other farm news, the green beans are ready to be picked. The picking begins this week. The peppers were producing well, but were getting sun burnt. So we covered them with a shade cloth and will be able to offer higher quality peppers rest of the summer.

We also have a little experiment going on. The broccoli was so infested with aphids it was either mow it all the way to the ground, till it in and prepare the ground to plant something for fall or mow the tops of the plants off to try to get rid of the aphids and get the broccoli to grow more heads. We decided to mow the tops and wait a week or two to see what happens. So if mowing the tops of the plants off doesn’t take care of our aphid problem or if the broccoli doesn’t grow anymore heads, then we will be mowing it off to prepare the bed for a fall planting.  Either way it’s a win/win situation for us.

As we harvest the garlic, onions and radishes and end their growing season, we are preparing the beds for fall planting. We plan to plant a fall crop of greens, broccoli, cabbage and any other cool season plants we can and cover with them low tunnels to extend our growing season ( or maybe I should  say to extend our working season). We hope to offer produce as long into the fall and possible winter as we can.

I don’t want to think of the cold yet though, the heat just arrived! So the farmer is planning for fall and I’m headed back out into the summer sun!

 

Recipes . . . . Collard Greens

As a farmer’s wife, it is thrilling for me to be able cook meals with ingredients that come directly from our farm. And I love doing it on a daily basis, however, with farming life tends to get really busy when the produce is abundant. We get consumed by task that need to be done on the farm and don’t make time to cook meals from scratch some days. On busy days we come in the house late and everyone is really hungry and tired, we tend to fall back on eggs for our quick and easy go to supper. There are so many ways to cook eggs and it is quick, then we can fall into bed to get some rest.

 

I’m always willing to try new recipes or ways to prepare things and like to experiment with my cooking. The farmer teases me from time to time that our kitchen is more like a lab.  So when I have successful new recipes or favorites I want to share it with you. I may even let you know about some of my failures. I’m wanting to spread my joy of cooking farm fresh food. I’m hoping to share on a regular basis some of our recipes that we use for preparing our produce and meat. We always eat what is in-season and readily available on our farm.

 

So at this time my focus is going to be on collard greens. I’m actually new to growing and eating this leafy green. We have been told it is a southern food. So I turned to our aunt and uncle that lives in Alabama for advice on how to cook these greens.  Tcollard greens 2hey gave me some ways to cook collard greens and I came up with some of my own ideas after search the website for recipes. Then, of course, I didn’t follow any reci
pe exactly. I do my own thing, always do!

 

Here is how we have prepared and ate collard greens so far:

  • Saute in a frying pan with bacon grease, salt, pepper, and chopped green onions and green garlic. Cook them this way on a grill and they will taste even better!
  • Throw them in a soup!  I made my version of Italian Wedding Soup, which involves just cooking sausage (not making meatballs . . . .  that takes too much time) and throwing everything in the pot to simmer. So I used collard green in the soup instead of kale. It was delicious!
  • I  boiled a ham hock with water and chicken broth. Then added sauteed onion, green garlic, salt and pepper. The ham hock simmered for several hours, then about 45 minutes before we wanted to eat I put the collard greens in the pot to simmer. This turned out like a soup, I had lots of broth in the pot. It was very good, the kids even loved it!
  • Cook the collard greens  in a pot with a little chicken broth and onions, season with paprika, salt and pepper; then drop in cornmeal dumplings on top. Put the lid on and steam the dumplings until done. This one is a favorite of our aunt and uncle from Alabama. I have yet to make this but plan to be cooking it up this week, except I plan to add chopped fried bacon to the greens. Yummm!  I will most likely post on our facebook page how it turns out.
  • Substitute them in any recipe you would use kale or cabbage.  They can be tough when ate raw, but I think they make an excellent Cole Slaw salad.

 

I am loving collard greens now! They are so versatile and don’t cook to mush, unless, of course you cook them waaaayyyy too long. Then they can turn to mush.

Harmful or Helpful?

At planting time last year, we were amazed at all the earthworms and had to do a little research on them. We still a lot of earthworms; large, medium, and many babies. This Spring we have been seeing Armadillidida or commonly known as roly polys or pill bugs everywhere on our farm and lots of them. These “bugs” (they really aren’t bugs; keep reading and I’ll go further in-depth on that) have always been fun to find for the kids. They love seeing roly polys roll up when touched, which is a defense mechanism, then wait for them to unroll so they can touch them again and sometimes roll them around the palm of their hand.

 

We are seeing a whole lot more roly polys than we have in the past. So, of course, this lead to a little research project. Part because we love learning and part because we were wondering if they were beneficial or are they going to be pest. We were quite happy to learn that they are beneficial and help with the decomposing process. They eat decaying plant and animal material. We provided the organic matter and now they have moved in to help with the breaking down of the organic matter, to increase our soil fertility. Hurrah! We read that they could feed on seedlings and plant roots, but tend to eat decaying material when it is available. We have a lot of decaying plant material available and have not had any problems with them feeding on plant roots or seedlings. There are thousands in the cold frame where we have greens growing and started all of our seedlings. They haven’t kill any seedlings.

 

It was also quite interesting to learn that they are actually not a bug, they are a land crustacean and are related to shrimp. They like dark moist places and have gill-like structures used to breath, but can’t live underwater. They don’t urinate, but instead release an ammonia gas through their exoskeleton. And they shed their exoskeleton as they grow. The back half sheds first, then the front half. The females carry their eggs and newly hatched babies in a special pouch before they start crawling out to walk on their own. Huh. . . . the things we learn through hand-on activities and work with curious minds questioning everything! This little organic piece of Earth we live on just amazes us! 

The Anticipated Season is Upon Us

It feels like all we do this time of year is plant, plant, plant . . . . .  and there is still more to plant. We are nowhere near done planting. This week has thrown other events into our schedule and has interrupted our planting rhythm. We are entering into our market season. So our weekly schedule and rhythm will be changing from a spring planting routine to our summer plant, weed, harvest, market routine. It may sound like a lot and, honestly, some days it feels like a lot. And then other days there is not enough to do, but that has not been the case this week. 

 

It has been a very busy week or at least it feels busy compared to our spring planting routine. We had our organic inspection, which started a day before it was scheduled and lasted into the next day. That was a ridiculously long and drawn out process for the small acres and production that we do. In the middle of our inspection, we had our broiler chicks and ducklings arrive a day early. And now we are getting ready for the first Twin Falls Farmers’ market on Saturday, and then there is more planting. Please nobody call and tell us the market is going to be on Friday instead of Saturday. Everything has been happening a day early this week and it feels a bit like a nightmare. As long as today is actually Friday and not Saturday, then we are pretty excited about this first farmers’ market. We planned better this year and have more produce ready for the market. We will have a lot of kale, lettuce, spinach, arugula, along with rhubarb, green garlic, green onions, radishes, herbs, eggs, salad dressings,  handmade soap, and laundry detergent.

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In the previous paragraph, I mentioned ducklings. Yes, we now have ducklings! Ducks are our experiment for this year. We are going to try to raise khaki cambell ducks, they are suppose to be good layers. We are all very happy and excited, especially me. Beside the fact that they are the cutest little poultry critters ever! They don’t scratch like chickens (yes!!!) and are excellent foragers. I think the ducks are going to go over very well with the family and become a permanent part of our farm. I will keep you updated on the ducks throughout the summer.  I’m confident this duck project will be much more successful than our garlic and sweet potato projects were last year.  

Spring Greens

The salad greens are thriving in the cold frame. We are very excited to be eating salad on a regular basis again! (Pictured is a mix of spring mix lettuce, arugula, and spinach.)

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The curly kale overwintered in the field and is growing. I love putting this kale in our smoothies. The kids even drink the smoothies. These green smoothies are becoming our go-to afternoon snack once again. We absolutely love this time of year when everything is greening up and starting to grow! We’ve even been going out into the yard and harvesting dandelion leaves to eat and for tea. It is simply that time of year when all greens are appealing!

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We sell all greens individual,  request a mix or buy a CSA share or half share and you won’t miss out on any of our produce.

Produce                                                                       Produce CSA

 

It’s a Good Friday!

It’s a Good Friday! Our eggs are dyed and ready for Easter! If you haven’t got your eggs yet, it’s not too late. We still have eggs available. Look at the wonderful colors that brown eggs turn when dyed. Okay, so I have been told that my eggs are ugly. To defend myself, I’m just trying to keep a family tradition. I have a tradition on my side of the family to try to dye an egg black. So every year I use my patience and persistence, sitting at the table long after the kids have finished their eggs, trying to turn at least one egg black. Or as dark and ugly as I can get it. And it is so much fun for me!DSCN7294

This year the kids and Grandpa drew faces and names on some of the eggs, so they each have a special egg to hunt for on Easter. This might be the start of a new tradition.

It is a very happy Easter weekend at our farm. The eggs are colored, greens are ready, daffodils are blooming, the lawn and wheat field are green. It’s a weekend of miracles, faith, and happy times. We had arugula to eat and sell this past week and will have spinach and lettuce this week. It feels like Spring has truly sprung and it is time to be warm and full of smiles when I get to eat a homegrown green salad. And the time is here and now. Have a Good Friday and Happy Easter!

Check out our produce page for prices of greens and all of our other product pages!

Produce            Eggs              Produce CSA           Chicken        Pork             Hand-Made Soaps

 

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