Friday, May 27, 2011

Don't postpone Choy!

Don’t Postpone Choi !This great vegetable loves the cool and grows so well in our mountains. Last year we had some major Choi and we are having a similar time now. Our intern Joe from last season liked to play with words and made up the "Don't postpone Choi" from a local shop whose slogan is "Don't postpone Joy!". They liked his ideas so much they made it into a T- shirt! At market , folks are sometimes afraid of veggies they don't recognize. Bok Choi is so versatile, so don't be intimidated. Here is an idea of how to prepare it.
Bok choy has been cultivated in China for centuries and is now more common in the U.S. It is a member of the cabbage family .
Choi is like two vegetables- the leaves are like spinach and the stems more like celery or asparagus.
Common uses: Stems and leaves can be cooked separately. Add stems first as they take longer to cook than the leaves. Chop off end and rinse thoroughly as dirt likes to hide between the stalks.
Choi can be used raw in salads, steam and toss with sesame oil, butter, salt or a vinaigrette or add to stir fries- add stems first then leaves.
Choi with Gingery butter
2 medium choi sliced into inch strips
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic (or use garlic scapes)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1. Bring pot of water to boil and add choi. Cook until tender but still crisp. Drain and rinse under cool water.
2. Melt butter , add soy, ginger, garlic and choi.
3. Cook, remove and stir in cilantro and salt/pep to taste.
- Great over rice and served with chicken. Add sausage as a treat too!

Harvest week dos!!!

Ahhhhh the sun.Suddenly things are growing at an incredible clip.Hard to remember last week, feeling like a cold wet fish.Things are growing so fast,I'm wondering what the hell I put in the soil.Maybe it's just farmer paranoia , but I sometimes seem to hear the veggies sniggering behind my back.There are times when nobody else is out in the field, the morning mist dissapating from the nascent sunlight,the greens, purples and reds of early summer croppage make me have to sit and watch as another appalachian day dawns.That is my favorite time,the animals getting their grazing in before the heat and the flies drive them under the cover of the russian olive trees.All the summer crops that we planted out have begun their greening process and the beans planted not five days ago have emerged for another round of Bean Belly.Taters need hilling , their foliage is thick and bright healthy green,as they suck off the cover crop we incorporated this spring.We had a surprise lamb this week.Cocoa,one of our oldest ewes we had held back from breeding seemed quite fat when I went to shear her, but then I forgot all about it.Well,two days ago, she gave birth to a jumpy white male(are'nt all white males a little jumpy?).Eustace as the girls christened him.The sheep have been great this year,no lamb losses.Shearing went great, the last being Sonny our 300 lb. ram.Always somewhat magical to slowly peel his incredible fleeceoff,the grass waving all around,he somewhat perplexed at being hog tied on the ground.
Things are shaping up nicely, you should be looking for broccoli,fennel,beets ,peas and other goodies in the weeks to come.Here's a list of goodies for this week.
head lettuce
green onions
garlic 'scapes
Now is the time to get Asian in the kitchen, some Choi,thinly sliced turnip,garlic scapes ,ginger,soy,fish sauce(or not)chili pepper and a touch of citrus.Rice noodle or rice.Also kale loves the same treatment.Go all out.Eat well!!!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Harvest week uno.......brrrrrrrr!

Hey Everyone!
You would never know it was May 16 outside.My hands are just regaining their dexterity after feeling like two useless lumps on the end of my arm.I do'nt think the mornings temperature rose much above forty five.Not to mention it rained and I was'nt wearing any raingear.Apparently I need to suffer in order to feel fully alive.Who would have thought us post modern farmers had such a masochistic streak!It has been an interesting spring,the polar opposite of last spring , when swims in the river started in early April and did'nt stop until nearly halloween.With the weather being so much more wet and colder, things veggie wise have grown slower,yet, with our silica rich sandy riverbottom,we have managed not to fall behind .It is truely amazing to see the rate of growth from our sandy lower fields, to our heavier soiled upland fields.Things germinate and grow much quicker in the sandier soils, yet the heavier soils hold moisture and grow crops with more vibrant color.Always a balance,kind of like our kids,whose personalities seem at times irreconcilable.
Last week and this week we have managed to plant out all the hot weather crops.Unfortunately they are sitting in the cold rain,like tropical refugees,waiting for the good ole sun.As am I ,I might add.The tomatoes in the hoop house are powering forward and the summer squash we planted out in April is fruiting oh so marginally.Our pastures are awash in lush grass,Gerda our milk cow and our flock of sheep are barely visible at times,rejoicing in the green succulence.In the last few days, hundreds of mushrooms have sprouted underneath our crops,confirming our wish to have highly living microbially active soils.I of course never satisfied wish they were Morels.I hope everyone is as excited as we are,launching out into the unknown,or quasi known.To be a farmer requires almost endless reserves of positivity balanced with a healthy dose of pragmatic cynism.Humor is key as well, keeping manic depression (not Jimi's version)away.For those who are eating with us for real , here is your first hit list. For the others, read it and weep!!!
spring onions
head lettuce
bunched kale/chard/collards
green garlic
A good start, so enjoy.Happy eating!
peace gaelan

Sunday, May 15, 2011

the ins and outs of a farm girl (Asha and Carmella)

The In’s and Out’s of being a farm girl- by Asha Corozine DelCogliano
age 11
Growing up on a farm is fun! My day starts like this- I wake up at 8 a.m , if my mom and dad are not here, I feed the dogs, the cats, the pigs and last but not least, feed the chickens. I might go down to the field to help my mom and dad.
The hard thing about being a farm girl is that sometimes you feel other kids are lucky because they get to go on trips more often. We have so many animals to tend that going away is difficult.
My job at the farm is to help with my little sister. In the evening I get our cow Gerda from the field and bring her to the barn. Then I give my horse Star sweet feed and hay and give our injured sheep hay and water.
There are many advantages to living on a farm. I get to eat food from our own farm. I have organic and healthy food to eat every day. I also have awesome animals. My dad is also teaching me to drive the tractor by myself which is really fun.
I like living on a farm because you have tons of fun and you get to swim in the nice cool river on a hot summer day.
That’s the in’s and out’s of being a farm girl.
Farm girl by Carmella Corozine DelCogliano age 6
My life of being a farm girl is fun. I like visiting with Dawn , our injured sheep and visiting with the lambs all the time. I like the friendly pigs- they nibble on your boots all the time. I help my dad herding our cow Gerda . Sometimes I am scared when I am behind her because she is so big! Sometimes I help wash the vegetables. I really like to spin the salad in the spinner. When I got hay with my dad and sister, we saw a big black snake in the middle of the road. I helped plant the tomatoes. I really like to ride in the bucket of the tractor. I also help my dad drive the truck home. I like all my animals very much.

Monday, May 2, 2011

loony lambs

We have finally got all our animals out on grass . We pushed ourselves through the eye of the needle so to speak last week. All the ewes are sheared and mamas and babies out of the barn. Usually it goes quite smoothly when we lead them out of the barn to grass. This year however, well....
We got some grain to lead the mamas. They  came out easily . The babies however did not follow. The ewes took off after Gaelan up the road while the lambs ran wildly around baaing and looking confused!
Usually they do not want to leave the mom.
So we had to lead the ewes back to the barn and get the lambs back inside. We loaded the lambs into the truck and Gaelan led the ewes on foot, the truck following kind of herding them from behind.
Once at the field the ewes went into the pasture pretty well. 
The lambs however got wild. Unfortunately with the girls trying to help, Carmella  lost John and he ran off. Then a couple of white lambs jumped out of the back of the truck. I managed to recapture them twice and put them in the pasture, but they were so freaked they just ran back out through the wire which was unelectrifiied!! It all ended up with Gaelan and Asha chasing one through the woods, me diving numerous times after one white one and then when we thought we had them all, we realized one more was missing.
We heard a distant baaing and realized one was up by the cabin. Gaelan and I sprinted up there and chased it all about all the while cussing and wishing we were real shepherds with a crook . Now I remember why they are so handy! You can get to within an arm' s length and think you have the lamb, but then it books off. If only we had a crook!!
It was a little crazy but all ended well.  I certainly was sore the next day. I use my body a lot for farming, but sprinting uphill is rarely one of my activities!