June Sixteenth

Adam and Drew weeding Potatoes                           Julie Harvesting Swiss Chard


This week I thought of writing a little more about us, your farmers, how all this rain is putting a big "damper" on our progress in cultivation, and how the rest of the crops are progressing along.  But the truth is, I have two big things on my mind these days, woodchucks that are invading our lettuce patch and my dog that has taken a serious propensity to biting visitors to the farm.  Both are rattling my brain and the brains of the rest of the farmers who live on your lovely Small Family CSA Farm.

We know it's a woodchuck, or rather a family of woodchucks, because we've seen more than one on several occasions.  These big, brown, bushy varments seems to prefer the green leaf lettuce and the romaine over the red leaf and the oakleaf lettuce.  We know these guttsy buggers comes out in the middle of the day rather than waiting until the farmers have all gone to bed to invade in an uninterrupted nocternal feast.  No, they're bold and bodacious enough to come out in broad daylight, taunting us.  They seem to be able to need the sunlight to differentiate the buttercrunch from the red leaf lettuce, maybe.  Three full beds of lettuce, aside from the red leaf, have been carefuly manicured, munched and pruned down to a three inch diameter.  We have two live traps set so we can catch them now.  However, I think they've wisened up to the traps by now for some reason.  We've tried baiting the traps with apples, egg rolls, peanut butter, spaghetti, toast, and even strawberries, but to no avail.  Today, Adam has a large, juicy head of romaine and buttercrunch tied to the back of the cages, hoping for the glowing green heads to lure him in irresistably.  But, another day has passed in a week long quest, and the woodchucks munch on!  Soon, we will trap him (them) and move 'em safely to a new home, closer to the Kickapoo!

We've been lucky enough for the most part (knock on wood), to have never had a large problem with deer, rabbits, or even woodchucks.  I have listened to other farmers stand and talk to one another about what a huge problem deer are in their vegetable fields, and deer are a HUGE problem.  We guess that we have been immune to them so far because we live so high up on the ridge top, and are surroundedy by either roads or cultivated farmland, while the deer regress back down into the valleys where they are insulated by woods and rivers that more suit their likings.  We've been seeing more rabbits these days, but with Charlie back on the prowl, the rabbits won't be around for long.

My dog, Charlie, is the other obsession of the week.  Charlie is a one-and-a-half year old border collie/terrier mix.  He's a real piece of work, this dog.  About 9 weeks ago Charlie returned home with a gash in his back about 8 inches long and 2 inches deep.  He was loosing blood quickly and if we could save him, by golly we were going to try.  So, in an after-hours emergency vet call, we were able to get him drugged down and stitched up so he could return home to us two days later.  We still don't know what happened to him out there.  Nine weeks of cleaning out his wound twice a day, $600 bucks and several nips in the hand, calf and arm later, we're on a mission to cure this dog of his post-traumatic stress disorder.  Dis-orderly it is!

Lucky for us, we have a wonderfuly friendly, eagar and educated CSA member, Clay Riness, who happens to be a dog trainer as well as a renound bluegrass musician.  Clay came to the farm on Sunday to spend a soild two hours talking with us and observing Charlie's behavior.  Clay has established for us a new plan of action or regimen for our challenged Charlie.  Naturally, Charlie is my dog, and I happen to be the busiest person on the farm with the least time for training a distressed dog.  I know that Charlie will teach me as much about myself as I will teach him about himself and how to behave around others. We are dog lovers around here and learning the psychological pack-manner of dogs is fascinating to me.


Sooo, What's in the Box?

Strawberries-  This is the second, last and most imporant thing that we actually buy for our members. These perennials don't produce quite so abundantly on our farm.  Strawberries don't keep well, so eat them up quickly!

Early White or Purple Vianna Kohlrabi- I love how crunchy, succulent and crisp these are!  They remind me of my father who always loved to eat these when I was a child as I watched him with a look of 'eeeeeeeww' on my face.  Now I say,  Yummmm!  The greens are edible also, just like Kale and in the same family of plants.  Peel and eat raw like an apple!

Garlic Scapes-  Believe it or not, these came from the garlic plant.  Each garlic plant produces one scape!  What they actually are is the shoot that comes out of the center of the garlic plant in it's effort to form a seed pod.  We snap these off in early June so the plants don't put all of their energy into making seeds, and rather put it's energy into making a larger garlic bulb.  They can be used anywhere that you would use garlic.  Use the round part, up until the little light greeish/yellow nodule where it starts to get pointed.  The round part will chop up quite nicely.

Cherry Bell Radish-  This is our last giving of radishes for the spring!  See Mama Jane's yummy radish recipe this week if you're running out of ideas on how to use them up.  The cherry bells looked so beautiful this week, I had to take some pictures of them.

Swiss Chard- Hopefuly, by the end of the season, you will learn the difference between Kale and Chard.  They are commonly mis-taken for eachother.  Swiss Chard, given this week is in the same family as beets and spinach.  You can use swiss chard like you would spinach; make a chard frittata, spinach chard lasagna, or wilted asian chard.  It is really a beautiful, highly nutritious and versatile cooking green if you can learn to love it.  It's been a gradually learned love for me as well, but I am head over heals and crazy for chard now!

Dill Weed- Dill can be used fresh and is a very cleansing and cooling food.  Your bunch can also be hung to dry in your kitchen in a well ventilated, dry place.

Cilantro-  More of this yummy stuff while it lasts!  Cilantro is a total hit amungst CSA members.  Check out our Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing recipe.

Head Lettuce-  More lettuce to come as long as we can keep the mean woodchuck at bay!  You've got to love how crisp and crunch this spring lettuce is, especially with all of this nice rain.

Next Week: Our projections for next week are only a guess. The maturity of the crops depends entirely on the weather conditions. We do not promise that this is what you next weeks box will look like, but this is close to our best guess.

Kohlrabi, Fennel, Collard Greens, Broccoli, Peas, Lettuce, Garlic Scapes, Lettuce(?)


Radish Dip with Dill, Cream Cheese and Garlic Scapes

Swiss Chard Gnocchi in Tomato Cream Sauce