Farm Newsletter ** Week 7
Greetings All! I hope your summer is going well. We've got lots of fun veggies for you this week and I can't wait to tell you about the most exciting part of our week... WE GOT RAIN!!! It was glorious.
As many of you know we've been very dry. I guess I should explain what that means first because it's record breaking and very noteworthy in my opinion... I'll spare you the graphics and percentages from the website but we're in a level D3 drought where our farm is, here in Oak Park. That's the highest drought level and if you look at the database only 1.49% of the state is in this D3 category. That's us! (And there aren't any higher levels on record).
If you care to look into it more, click the link below and you'll see there are 3 isolated pockets where it's a D3 and we're in there. 1.49 % of the state...
The weather models haven't been accurate around here all week so we've been watching storms blow in with promising chances of rain and then they break up and go around us. We have a lot of family around us here within 15-20 minutes in any direction basically and everyone was getting rain. Just 10 miles from us they got an inch one afternoon and we never even saw any rain clouds. 15 miles north and there was flash flooding, again, we didn't get any rain. At one point I had several relatives call me asking if we got rain because they didn't want to call Ben anymore; they didn't want to be the ones to tell him that the farm got missed again.
THURSDAY NIGHT, WE GOT RAIN!!! We got an inch and a half of rain and it only took about 2 hours to come down, so it was heavy rain! ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS.
Our neighbor came over to chat and found Ben on the porch literally sitting in the rain. He never really even made mention of it either Ben said, haha! He knew. Ben needed to be watered too, I guess. That's how excited Ben was to get this rain.
**Fun fact- this season we have run over 100,000 FEET OF DRIPLINE. That's every single row on the whole farm. Even down on our potatoes in Elk River and our corn at our neighbor's house.
This pic above here is the potato patch but it was thin enough earlier this summer you could actually see the drip line. You can see every single row of potatoes has a dripline under them, which hooks up to a bigger 1 inch water line with enough pressure to water part of the patch at one time. Depending on how long the rows are, sometimes we can have anywhere between 10-20 rows hooked up to a single run.
Here is the fall broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower crop. It never ceases to amaze me that it all starts out so small! (Just think back to what you saw in your CSA last week). I should also mention some of the plants are not green, they start out a darker color, almost purple. So these trays look kind of funny because they're all together, but the different varieties are right next to each other. They're all doing good!
We finally got our sage planted! We have been looking at our little seedling trays for a couple weeks now hoping we'd be able to get those in the ground. With how hot and dry it's been, we haven't been able to sacrifice any water for the herbs. Not to mention that when they're freshly planted, they need constant moisture, and we just didn't have enough water to share with them. Tomatoes and melons come first, that's for sure! They're in the ground finally, so we'll have those later this summer. A few weeks past 'schedule' but I'm thankful we'll be able to share those soon!
On a personal note-
I wanted to mention that over the years I've been trying to share more and more about our day to day and how the season is going. Letting my expectations of a perfect season go and understanding that sometimes things work and sometimes they don't. And I have to show you both sides. That's part of a CSA, you're taking it in strides with us.
When I explain how much extra time and money went into this drought over the past few weeks, I feel like a whiner! I'm trying to battle that mindset and hope that you know- I don't even like sharing the bad stuff. You know how easy it is to write posts and share pictures of all the pretty things?! It is an uphill battle for me to sit here and type out all of these negatives. It's exhausting and everything I write I just want to delete and start over.
But here we are. You have all the information. I'm not trying to be dramatic. I don't enjoy this post, rather, I actually loathe being the bearer of this information. I really hope that next week all I have is sunshine and rainbows for you- because we could all use a dose of that around here, too.
One thing I like to remind myself is that there are plenty of other farms out there who can't even share this information because they're set up differently and work with wholesale accounts and not selling to the public. The majority of farmers don't have "customers" they sell their products to companies and co-ops.
These farmers are selling cattle to help offset feed costs because they'll be paying twice as much for hay or more. We have friends north of Mora who have already sold cattle because they didn't have the money to keep buying hay and their pastures are all dead grass. If you can't feed a cow, what do you do with it? Sell half the herd to feed the other half?
I'm not the Lorax. I don't speak for the farmers. I really am still learning a lot myself and couldn't ever fully understand what struggles come with other avenues of farming outside of produce and pigs. All I know is that it's a struggle talking about the negatives of farming when we love the positives so much.
THIS WEEK IN YOUR CSA YOU CAN EXPECT:
Jumbo & Family Shares: Cauliflower, Cabbage, Carrots, Kale, Pickles & Onions!
Single Shares: Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrots, Kale & Slicing Cucumbers!
I have gotten some questions about when we'll have sweet corn for you again and I really do wish we had room for it this week! The problem is, there are varieties that are very sensitive to when they're getting harvested. So for the cauliflower and broccoli for example, when it's ready, it needs to be harvested. The broccoli goes from a wonderful crown to an overgrown bouquet of little yellow flowers within a week, cauliflower will turn brown and get spots within a week. We NEEDED to fit carrots in this week because we haven't yet gotten any to you yet this season!
The good news is that we'll have sweet corn for months. You'll see it in your CSAs at least 4 or 5 more times this season and it's always harvested fresh so it'll always be good! We have multiple plantings too, so it's not like the end of the season corn is overripe. Next week
100% I can guarantee we'll have corn in your CSA (for week 8).
Farm fresh carrots are one of those treats that don't have a comparable grocery store alternative. It's hard to find carrots with their tops still on them in the grocery store. The majority of carrots are pre-bagged, pre-peeled, pre-sliced, etc.
Let's talk about using out-of-the-garden raw carrots!
Sometimes our carrots come with the greens intact, for example in the beginning of the season or when they’re smaller. We like to include the greens because they are edible and contain a great amount of nutrients. They can be used in smoothies, salads, soups, and even in sautés. Save the tops to use for a pesto or seasoning (store those in a bag in the fridge). Or put them in a plastic Ziplock in your freezer and use them to make DIY vegetable or chicken stock.
In the latter portion of the season, the carrots usually don’t come with tops in-tact. It depends on the season; but if the tops are beat up by the weather, sunlight, animals etc. we won’t include them with the carrots because they don’t serve a purpose to provide.
To store: To avoid “floppy carrots,” you need to remove the green tops as soon as you can, leaving about an inch of stems. If you can only do one thing to prep your veggies for storage this week, this should be it.
Refrigerate these carrots in a plastic bag. You can also store them in a bin of water to keep them crisp, changing out the water every few days. My Mom always had a specific Tupperware container for carrots and celery when we were growing up.
To use: Garden carrots don’t need to be peeled but can be if that’s your preference. Boil 2-inch cubed carrots in rapidly boiling salt water, uncovered, for 7-10 minutes. Eat carrot spears plain or dipped in hummus, peanut butter, or creamy dressing. Combine carrots with other root vegetables for a roasted vegetable platter.
Roasting: (Lightly coat in oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees until veggies start to brown all over about 30 minutes).
You can use your greens too! There are a ton of great carrot greens pesto recipe, I'd say that's the most popular way to use carrot greens. However, I've got a chimichurri recipe for the blog this week, let me know if you try it!!
Pickles and Slicers-
Have you made creamy cucumber salad yet this summer or any refrigerator pickles? If not- now is a good time to try it! I will literally eat just cucumber salad for lunch because I love it so much. Add some red onions and thinly sliced bell peppers and it's a homerun recipe. This is a variety you've seen quite a few times over the past few weeks so maybe it's a good idea to try something new! One thing about CSAs that's important to know is that this is really what it means to eat seasonally! Every week, varieties are coming and going. Remember when I said lettuces go quick and then bam, it was just over? They bolted (went to seed) and that was a wrap on the lettuce crop for the whole year.
We've got another patch of later cukes for this fall but coming up soon here these patches will die down and not produce enough for our CSAs! Please enjoy them while they're here :) I used to freeze cukes on a baking sheet and put them in a plastic bag in the freezer and then use them as ice cubes because there is nothing more refreshing than ice cold cucumber water on a hot day!
If you have ordered honey- you should have received an email from me! We're expecting to send the honey with you this coming week starting Monday morning!! It took a little longer than we expected to get our honey order back but that's because we bought them out of a lot of products and they had to go literally cut more honeycomb and spin extra honey for us.
I love that we're all supporting our beekeepers. They're collecting honey on the farm, helping pollinate our crops, and we're helping fund their endeavors and overall keeping more bees around us!! We're all winning in this equation. They are earning a livelihood doing what they love, we've got crops to share in our CSAs, and you're getting local fresh honey straight from the source! Life is good!!
There is never a dull moment on the farm, I swear! haha!
Here is Karli, our middle child, with a broken foot. Compliments of dodgeball, stepping on a ball sideways and bending where she shouldn't have bent, eeek! It doesn't need a full cast but she'll be out of the water for a while this summer which will be difficult for this one. She's half mermaid, I swear.
We had a little breather last week with a few evenings we were able to spend at home and even had time to visit with family who came in from out of state.
Now that we got rain we can all breathe a little easier here on the farm!!
Eat Good & Be Well,
~The Farmer's Wife