September Eighteenth

There is a fight for food freedom going on in Wisconsin right now.  Maybe you’ve heard about the raw-milk bill that is in the Wisconsin Senate.  Their seems to be a growing number of people who wish for the right to know where their food is coming from, wish for it to be unaltered, or more simply wish for the freedom to buy something a simple as a gallon of milk from whoever they wish to buy it from.pigsThis little Piggy went to the Market...

I’ll just come right out and say it, I’m a raw cow milk drinker.  I was not born or raised on a farm.  I was raised in a clean, inner-city home that used anti-bacterial soap and ate canned vegetables and super-market meat.  As my interest in where my food came from grew and my access to fresh, local and organic ingredients widened, I began drinking raw cow milk not only because I liked the way it tasted, but because I began to see it for what it was, a wholesome, perfect food, filled with live enzymes and good bacteria that strengthened my intestinal flora.  My sheltered city-girl immunity somehow managed to digest this farm-fresh product without a single tummy ache to report. 

My relationship with food became much more intimate as I began working on farms.  I began to see that food was much more than just an object on a shelf with a sticker or a barcode as I had previously believed.  Food was not just a price, it was a face.  Food became a story and a place to me.  As I began milking the goats and feeding the chickens that were feeding me, I never looked at food as something that someone else could decide for me if I could eat it or not. 

I understand that there are people out there that live in cities that could become sick from drinking milk from a farm with poor herd maintenance.  I understand the argument completely.  But what’s on the table now is our ability to make our own choices, to make this decision for ourselves.  If buying and selling raw cow milk becomes legal, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it or even that you have to drink it.  It just means that you have a choice given back to you.  It would represent one more of our food freedoms given back to us all. 

I wasn’t able to make it to the hearing on Monday in La Crosse because I was picking tomatoes all afternoon, watching over my daughter and binning up squash for our CSA deliveries.  And while I do my best to remain as politically neutral with our CSA newsletters, I couldn’t quite help myself on the subject of food freedom.  I’m guessing that most of you were also at your day jobs and were not able to make it to the hearing.  But I did call my representatives to let them know how I feel and I encourage you to do the same.  And while you’re at it you could also tell them that you are thankful for the freedom to be buying your vegetables directly from a farmer who you know and trust. 

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Green Cabbage-  Really nice heads of fresh, green cabbage this week that grew nice and big thanks to drip-line irrigation!  

Sweet Dumpling Squash-  These are the round-ish hard winter squash at the bottom of the box.  They keep best in a dry place.   Your kitchen counter works great.  Cut them in half, scoop the seeds out, and bake them face down with a little water at the bottom of the pan for about 1 hour at 350.  

Tomatoes-  Two big bags of tomatoes this week totaling a hefty 9-10lbs per member.  Tomatoes prefer to ripen at room temperature.  Do not put them in the refrigeration unless they are fully ripen and you just need them to last a bit longer.  Think about dehydrating, freezing or canning your tomatoes to preserve this bounty if you're not able to use them all up.  Check out the "Really, Really Good" Roasted Tomato Soup recipe below;)  boxes181 CSA boxes stacked in the cooler and ready for loading the vans the following morning. Ahhh, our work is done for the day.

White Onion-  One more white onion for your everyday use.  

Sweet Pepper Mix-  A generous 7-8 peppers per member.  We have a stunny array of yellow, orange, and red sweet peppers of several different varieites to share.  Check out our Stuffed Peppers recipe below!

Eggplant-  Eggplant production is really down now.  Don't worry, they're on their way out.  Maybe one more giving if we're lucky.  

Jalapeno Pepper-  Another spicy peppino to give a little spice to your life.  

Fennel-  Fennel has a nice anise or licorice flavor when used raw and its flavor melows significantly when it is cooked.  Use the frawns for garnishing.  

Kohlrabi-  Kohlrabi loves the cool weather.  Thanks to our irrigation system, these buggers survived the drought and look amazing right now.  More kohlrabis coming next week.  

Lemon Balm-  An annual herb for making tea or for putting into soups.  


Stuffed Peppers (Tried and True from yours truly)

Really, Really Good Roasted Tomato-Basil Soup (Thank's Andrea and Aaron!)

Roasted Eggplant Recipe with Seasoned Potatoes (Thanks Cathy!)

Eggplant Curry (Thanks Natalie!)

July Second

Farming is really mothering.  It is a short-term life cycle of germination, birth, and infancy.  You nurture your little family along by watering them and feeding them and protecting them from the harsh realities of the big bad word until they are ready to be transplanted into a field wide open to the impressions of the sky.  Eventually you set them free at 12 or 18 inch spacing and you wish them the best.  You check in on them from time to time and help pull some of the weeds out of their way, but really they’re their leaves and branches are spreading wide and they’re competing for sunlight and water and nutrients amidst the rest of the patch.  They’re now preparing to make seed and propagate. bikersOver 115 Bikers biked to our barn on the first Annual Bike the Barns West event held last Sunday.

It is really amazing that all in one year, one season, one month even, all of this can happen with a plant.  It feels so fast.  It feels a little frightening to me as a mother of a human to watch this passing of time with plants and to use it as perspective with our daughter.  Even as new parents, we know that a lot can be learned about parenting from farming.  We aren’t allowed to forget to close the chickens in or else something will eat them.  We aren’t allowed to forget to water the greenhouse or else the plants will shrivel and wilt.  We aren’t allowed to skip a harvest day because we have people who need food.  We aren’t allowed to forget to put our child to bed. 

The comparative is in the discipline it takes to raise something.  In order to do it well, you must be attentive and sensitive and present.  We aren’t allowed as parents or as farmers to drop the ball or let it roll out of our court.  Both are hard to do.

I understand now why a growing percentage of women are drawn to farming.  We are all farmers at heart.  We are the motherly, nurturing and compassionate.  We are drawn to it, but are we meant for it?  I am one of the non-traditional, fiercely independent, and foolishly strong willed women in society who have chosen to go against the grain and to do something that women in the history of farming as an occupation have not done.  I have chosen to be a mother and a farmer.  I sometimes question now if I can do them both well. 

Can there be a season for family and friends in my life as there is a season for work?  My hope is that with the help of my husband and my mother and sister and my friends-they will help me be good at both.  They will help me to be a good mother and to be a good farmer.  To be both is terrifically challenging.  For now I will hope that one day, when I have perspective on this subject, I will find that it was a good path to take and that my children turned out to be good people with a wholesome childhood.  I hope that every CSA box will have been filled to the top with gorgeous looking vegetables.  

Sooo, What's in the Box????

Kohlrabi-  We had some white kohlrabi and some purple kohlrabi.  They're all the same white flesh on the inside, just peel them and enjoy like apples!  Remember that you can cook with the leaves and use them just like kale if you are wishing for more greens!

Snap Peas-  We had a very peasful expereince picking these lovely peas at standing height this week.  Many hands made light work and we were able to give our largest giving of peas ever, a whopping .41lbs per member.  Yummy!  

Broccoli-  A little nicer giving of broccoli this week with a little larger heads.  The greens are edible on these and are actually more nutritious than the broccoli itself.  Yum!

Garlic Scapes-  Chop these up and use them just like you would use garlic.  Typically you would only use the round, lower part of the garlic scape that is below the light green nodule.  So much fun to use in the kitchen!

Green Onions-  What a nice treat to hold us over until the bulbing onions begin to mature.  We plan to give bunching onions the next few weeks while we wait for the bulbing oinion to bulb out.  The greens on these look so nice you can use them all the way to the tops!

Lacinato Kale-  Stunningly gorgeous bunches of lacinato kale!  Very little insect damage on these leaves and they are very tender and a good size too.  We were able to give generous bunches of lacinato this week.  The most favorite variety of kale of all!  This is actually an heriloom variety that is most popular at market.  Strip the leaves from the chewy stems and prepare in your favorite way.  lettuce_harvestTodd and Joe are troopers. They're holding onto a truck fulla lettuce that is only half of our lettuce harvest this morning.

Head Lettuce x 3!!!-  Another redicu-lettuce share of lettuce.  We're not sure if we just planted too much, or if everything is doing so we well this summer that we aren't loosing the percentages of lettuce that we normally loose.  One member says he likes to make lettuce smoothies mixed with apple juice.  Maybe something to try?!?!  Salads for every meal!

Fennel-  Even more beautiful bulbs of fennel this week.  Use it like you would cook with celery.  You can also shave it thinly onto a green salad, a pasta salad, or just a raw fennel salad with your favorite dressing.  

Summer Squash and/or Zucchini Squash-  Let the games begin.  The flood gates are opening up and the sqash is pouring forth.  Our first giving of squash and we were able to give on average of 2 per member.  Get our your favorite squash recipes because we're all about to get squashed.  The plants are looking so tall and beautiful and healthy and like the really want to show us what they're made of.  

Cilantro-  The cilantro wasn't looking as perfect as it did a couple weeks ago, but we love cilantro so much that we still like to eat it even when it's getting a little overmature.  


Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage and Fennel

Italian Kale Soup-Zuppa Tuscano

Kale and Red Beans with Cilantro and Feta Cheese

September Eleventh

I believe I have forgotten to mention one of the hardest workers on the farm.  She’s been here as long as we’ve had the farm and has helped us through the muddiest, the heaviest, and the dirtiest of jobs.  She pulls her weight one hundred times over each day we set to work, and she gas never missed a day of work.  We call her Ol Bessie.  She’s the finest 1995 Ford F150, inline 6 that ever came off the production line.  She starts every time we turn the key, and with a little fresh gas and routine oil changes, she has shown unwavering loyalty. 

Each morning when the crew shows up we all pile into Ol Bessie as she creaks “Good Morning”.  She carries all of our knives, water bottles, harvest bins, bodies and rubber bands to wherever we steer her to go.  She starts up just as strong and solid every time that we move the truck forward down the rows, down to the packing shed to drop off a load of veggies, back up to the field for more loads of veggies, back down to the cooler to drop off more veggies, back up to the other field to begin a new harvest. Ol_Bessie
Ol Bessie providing shade for our harvest.

Ol Bessie has been with us since the very beginning of our days on the farm.  She’s nothing fancy to look at but she’s as loyal as a dog, waiting patiently for us each day we set to work.  The sound of her engine running has become a form of communicating with other folks on the farm.  When we hear the truck coming or going we know that someone is coming in from the fields or going out the fields.  She communicates transition. 

More than one farm worker has learned how to drive a stick shift with Ol Bessie.  She has been patient and tolerant when we entrust her with inexperienced drivers.  And when she is not being driven correctly or is incapable of what we’re asking of her, she just quits for a moment like a fainting goat.  After a moment’s rest she’s back at it with as much strength and forgiveness as a team of mish horses and horsemen.

I am not a particularly superstitious person, but I do believe that Ol Bessie is an important element to our farm.  She has seen us through years of learning and often bears the brunt of the decisions we make on the farm.  One year she drove us out to the pigs every morning and evening carrying our chore buckets for us when we foolishly decided to raise our pigs on the farthest corner of the farm.  She’s our ATV, she’s our harvest wagon, she’s part of the crew, and she’s our friend.  Ol Bessie deserves as much recognition as the rest of us.  Here’s to Ol Bessie!

Sooo, What's in the Box???

Buttercup Squash-  Buttercups are my favorite hard winter squash.  They are on the difficult side to grow, but we had a great year with them this season.  Their flesh is very thick and a bit on the dry side, so be sure to add lotts of butter to whatever you're making with it;)  These are a bit dirty as we did not have the time to get these cleaned up before we shipped them.  Maybe give your squash a wash before you use it.  

Yukon Gold Potatoes-  These potatoes did not size up quite like we had hoped they would.  With the drought this summer, our poatoes are one crop that did not get irrigated in time to save them.  We're expecting a less than bountiful potato harvest this fall, but there will still be plenty to go around.  Yukon Golds are a soft, creamy flesh that is great for mashing or baked potatoes.  

Mixed Tomato Bags-  Another hefty 8.5lb bag of tomatoes this week!  We tried to give you a mix of each variety in the bags with romas, yellows, heirloom mixes and the standard red slicers.  Remember to leave your tomatoes outside the fridge on the counter to ripen.  The unripe tomatoes will not ripen in refrigeration.  We're expecting a couple more weeks of tomatoes.  We will likely be shipping bags of tomatoes until frost hits.  Some of the varieties are just getting going now while others are on their way out.  

Eggplant-  Plenty of eggplant to feed a royal family.  What to do with it all?  I've even heard of folks seasoning and dehydrating slices of eggplant for either snacks or for re-hydrating later to cook with.  It's time to get creative folks.  If you have an eggplant recipe you love, send it to me so I can share with everyone!  We also like it on pizza!

Sweet Pepper Mix-  A generous 6 sweet peppers per member.  We had a nice mix of the red, orange, yellow and red ruffled (the smaller ones with the ruffly edges).  No matter which variety you got, they're all sweet and a real treat!

Yellow Beans/Dragon Tongue Bean Mix-  A nice mix of the yellow and dragon tongue beans.  We predominately picked Dragon tongues.  tomato_handsHard working, tomato-picking hands.

Green Curly Kale-  Nice bunches for sauteing or making chips.  We're amazed at how the kale is growing this summer with no rain.  Once the cooler weather sets in the kale becomes sweet from the frost.  It's so nice that kale will carry us the end of the season with fresh greens.  

Curly Green Parsley-  Wonderful for making Tabouli (see recipe below) or just adding to your fried new potatoes!  You can also dehydrate parsley in your dehydrator or on trays in the oven and crumble it down and store it in a mason jar for the winter.  Parsley drys very nicely!

Head Lettuce-  Very tiny heads of lettuce.  This is an example of what our crops would look like without any rain.  We think these heads of lettuce grew off of the water they received at transplant alone.  They were planted on the far corner of the farm where we do not have drip lines reaching too.  At least you have a few leaves for your BLT sandwich.  

Jalapeno Pepper-  A hot and spicy pepper to spice up your life.  

White Onion-  Another onion for your everyday cooking.  


Quinoa Taboli Recipe


Cheddar Green Bean Casserole

July Tenth

Summer on the farm is busy.  From the insects to the birds to the people, the farm is bustling.  The farm is vibrating with a low hummmmmm.   The lightening bugs, moths and crickets keep the night sky active and the bees and birds keep the day sky alive and moving along.  The activity is high and the farm feels like a fast moving train chugging along at high speed. Week_6_2013

We have momentum now to keep us going.  The zucchini plants are so inspiring they way they keep on spewing forth zucchini after zucchini after zucchini when I think they probably would be sick and tired of birthing so many of them from just one plant.  There are flowers on everything from the potatoes to the peppers to the melons.  Everything is setting fruit while the onions are just now beginning to bulb and swell.  If not for all of the work, anticipation and promise put into this whole project, we might be tempted to just lay down and take a nap in the afternoons. 

You’ve heard the old adage “you make hay when the sun shines”.  My father used to tell me that when I was growing up.  I never really knew what it meant until I learned about the process of making hay, but now I know.  This is our time to shine.  The days move by fast and the ground moves quickly beneath our feet.  Harvesting deadlines, workers coming and going, babies taking naps, zucchini harvest, dinner, laundry, lawn mowing, sleep, zucchini harvest, trellising tomatoes, seeding late broccoli planting, cup of coffee, zucchini harvest.  We are highly productive.  We are producing produce.       

So many changes in us this time of year.  We are moving so quickly and thinking so much about our lists of things to do, if we are not careful we can forget to manage some of the most important things in our lives that ride on autopilot.  The relationships with our friends, our spouse, our children, and ourselves change.  We ask the people we love to simply love us and to know that we love them while we survive the season. 

The manageable stresses of the season turn into the rewarding and exhilarating feeling we get at the end of the season when the work is done.  If not for the heat, we would not love the cool wind in the fall.  If not for the dry, we would not appreciate the wet.  If not for the busy, we would not value and cherish the still and calm. 

Sooo, What's in the Box????

Cabbage-  Absolutely gorgeous green cabbages.  These guys are perfect in every way.  We left a few of the outer green wrappers on to impress you with their stunning beauty;)  More cabbage coming in a couple weeks, use it up!
Kohlrabi x 2- We harvested enough to give everyone two this week. There may have been a smaller one and a bigger one, or a purple one and a white one.  Remember that kohlrabi greens are good for cooking with and can be used like kale.  Peel your kohlrabi and enjoy raw!

Snap Peas-  A whopping .92lbs of peas for everyone.  That's almost a pound!  This is the largest pea giving we've ever given.  We tried a new variety of peas this year called Super Sugar Spring and we are very happy with it.  We planted a few more than usual and refined our technique a little in planting and it all paid off in high yields!  More where these guys came from next week.  

Garlic Scapes- Generous bunches of garlic scapes this week as we went through and snapped them all off the plants.  Use garlic scapes like you would use chives or fresh garlic.  We use up to the light green nodule.  Will keep best in a plastic bag in the fridge.   Enjoy!

Green Onions-  These beauties are sizing up nicely now.  Use the green oinons all the way up to the tips of the greens.  They're still tender and tasty and looking sharp!

Swiss Chard-  Another bunch of cooking greens for your cooking-green peasure.  When time gets short, I will just sautee chard in a little coconut oil with onions and drizzle with a little tamari, toasted sesame oil and add a few nuts or sesame seeds and I have a great side dish.  Or just use it like you would use spinach for cooking.

Lettuce-  Slightly smaller givings of lettuce this week.  We see plenty of lettuce coming up for next week!  Our tender buttercruch and oakaleaf lettuce varieties are out of sseason now for a while.  You will mostly just be seeing red leaf, green leaf and romaine for awahile as these varieties are the most heat tolearant.  

Fennel (or an extra lettuce)-  Still some amazing looking fennels out there, but we came up a bit short in being able to give everyone another one.  We supplemented with an extra head of lettuce if you didn't get fennel.  Adrianne likes to caramelize her fennel in butter when cooking with it!

Zucchini, Yellow Summer Squash and Yellow Patty Pans-  We've been squashed!  We were able to give everyone at least 6 squash this week, you may have received a combination of any of the three.  Imagine the time we're spending in the squash patch!  If it's a little too much for you, you can just cube or grate your squash and freeze it.  There is not need to blanche it first.  I always find myself missing squash once it is finally out of season, it's that funny?

Broccoli-  More of those gorgeous heads of broccoli.  The broccoli isn't loving the heat out there, but it is hanging in there for us.  We're keeping it iced down very well to keep it nice for you.  Remember the leaves of the broccoli plant are more nutritious than the flower.  Eat those up!

Cauliflower-  We treid to give everyone a cauliflower and a broccoli, or else you may have received two broccolis.  We keep the outer wrappers on the cauliflower at harvest because the soft, white cauliflower will easily bruise and turn brown if bumped too many times.  The wrappers are left on for protection.  You can eat the leaves on the cauliflower as well.  


Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (or Cauliflower)

Garlic Scape Pesto