Today made me think about how busy you get when you begin to combine activities. We all have those things we do, have experience doing, and, consequently, are good at. For me, this is growing produce. We’ve been doing this a while-9 seasons-and, granted, we get a lot of things wrong every season, but we got it down for the most part.

This season, of course, we just had to challenge ourselves (as if having a third child wasn’t enough) by branching out into raising chickens. Today was one of those days when I had to layer this new enterprise on top of my usual routine, which makes for a busy day.

Usually I can get outside and start harvesting produce on Fridays before 7 am, but, today, I didn’t get out into the field until nearly 9 am because the chickens had a date at the processors in Ashby at 7 am (this is one of the few USDA-inspected poultry processors people like I can bring poultry to in the nation–even growers from central WI cart birds up there). So, instead of hunting for melons this morning, I was on the road at 5:30 with a 20-foot trailer and 90 chickens in the back, cruising down the interstate. This is actually a really nice way to start the day, having that first cup of coffee with the rest of the world asleep. Once at the processors, it’s time to catch and move birds two by two into crates to go into the plant. This isn’t as pleasant an activity, but it needs to get done. They cooperated for the most part and I only had one escape and hide under the trailer on me. I kept thinking the people of Ashby must come down to watch some of this entertainment of people unloading and chasing chickens around.

Anyway, we have another load going down to the processors in two weeks and can start making arrangements to deliver the broilers people ordered in the spring. Although this morning chore set us back a bit today, that’s just what’s needed sometimes as we juggle all the different chores that comes with being a diversified farm (livestock, crops, pasture, garden).

In the box:
Melons: everyone got a cantaloupe and either a watermelon or yellow Spanish melon
Red Tomatoes: standard Celebrity variety
Juliet Roma tomatoes
Beets: These are pretty small and pathetic, I know, but I figured some beets are better than no beets at all
Arugula: oakleaf-shaped greens in a bunch
Daikon Radish: Don’t be afraid of this one, check out the recipe below.
A few peppers: Red ones are Italia Peppers and green are Biscayne
Yukon Gold Potatoes

Daikon Radish and Carrot Salad
From The St. Paul Farmers Market Cookbook
1 4-inch piece of daikon radish, peeled
2 tsp. salt
2 med. carrots, peeled
2 c. ice water
3 T. dressing

1 T. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil

Use a vegetable peeler to peel down the radish lengthwise, making long thin shreds. Put shreds in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Cut carrots in half lengthwise. Use a vegetable peeler to peel down the carrot half, lengthwise, making long thin shreds. In a large bowl, combine ice water, remaining 1 tsp.. salt and the carrot and radish shreds. Wix well, cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Make the dressing. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Rinse radish and carrot to remove salt. Drain. Toss with dressing and chill.

CSA Week 10: High Season Harvest

Well, we’re over halfway through the season. High season is coming in and those tomatoes are ripening up big time. It’s that time of year when it’s tough to keep up on all the harvesting that needs to take place. In some respects this is a tough time of year, but it’s also really exciting…really what we’ve been waiting for for the last 3-4 months. Nothing get me going like going out and finding ripened melons, jumping around from one to another, knocking them, lifting them, checking out the tendrils to make sure they are ripe (even after all that, they can still be a dud).
Enjoy the heat.

In the box:
Bi-color Seneca Dancer corn
or some Silver Queen white corn
Japanese Eggplant or Some Calliope Eggplant
Cherry Tomato mix
Beans (tri-color mix)
Syrian Pink Tomatoes (Yes, they are ripe when pink)
Cherokee Purple Tomatoes
A Red Tomato
Specialty Carrot Mix (purple haze, atomic red, satin white)
Kale or Collard Greens
Fresh Thyme
A melon or two (some got a canteloupe, others watermelon)

The People Behind the Farm: Cosmo

OK I realize that Cosmo is a dog, not a person, but he’s definately a personality around Lida Farm and one who certainly has a role to play.
Cosmo’s been with us now six years and knows his place in the operation. He makes an effort to greet most everybody who stops by the farmstand (whether they like dogs or not…I’m still waiting for him to scratch up somebody’s car, since he’s that friendly). Probably his most important job, however, is fighting rodents and other predators who would do the plants or animals harm. I think he survives mainly on a diet of voles, moles, and gophers in the summer. Also he keeps the airspace clear of any roving birds who may want to eat a chicken and guards the sweet corn from the racoons (although he’s not perfect since parts of the sweet corn patch have obviously been ransacked by those thieves of the night). He’s also good company too!
My big observation of the week is that farming moves really fast sometimes as evidenced by our losing 33 broilers this week in a matter of hours. On one of our recent scorching days, Maree went down to fill up their water and feeders only to find a bunch of chickens all laying on the ground, some literally belly up, with their tongues hanging out. Some were already dead and we tried for a couple hours to shoot water into those who were hanging on, although we lost some of them too. It was not a good day! And this all happened in the 4 hours we had last watered them. We have lots of insight about where we went wrong, but it just goes to show that you always need to stay on your toes. Reflecting on it, I think we often view farms as idyllic places where ma and pa just plod along doing their chores and not much ever happns, but, in reality, you’d be surprised at the pace…things can move just as fast here as the New York stock exchange.
In the box:
Bodacious Yellow Sweetcorn (maybe some white corn mixed in).
Yukon Gold Potatoes
Green Onions aka Scallions
A small head Romaine (summer lettuce isn’t ever pretty).
Yellow Sun Carrots
Some Tomatoes (the dark purple one is called Cherokee Purple…great flavored, so eat fresh, not cooked).
A couple Cucumbers
Quinoa and Fresh Corn with Scallions
From “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”
3 ears of corn
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
Salt and Pepper
1 T. butter or canola oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, including some greens
1/3 cup crumbled feta or grated cheddar
Shuck the corn, slice off the kernels, and set them aside. Reverse your knife and scrape the cobs to get the milk. Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan; add the quinoa, corn scrapings, and 1/2 t. salt. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Melt the butter in a small skillet, add the scallions and corn kernels, and cook over med-high heat until scallions are bright green, about 3 minutes. Toss them with the quinoa. Season with pepper and serve, garnished with crumbled cheese. Can be used as a side dish or a filling for tomatoes or zucchini.

The People Behind the Farm Series: Jane

Although I am pretty much the chief cook and bottle-washer around here, there are many others that play a significant part at Lida Farm that you may not be visible to you. I’m going take some time over the next few weeks to feature each, so you get to know “The People Behind the Farm.”

Our first snapshot is of Jane Solie, our volunteer “apprentice” of the season. Jane has a real interest in sustainable agriculture and came to us this early summer requesting to help out to learn the craft of vegetable production. Jane has been living in Montana the last few years, but is from Detroit Lakes and is in the area for the season. Jane helps us with general production on the farm, aka “weeding” and helps each Friday harvesting, packing boxes, and some deliveries. She will be working on an 0rganic dairy goat farm this fall and winter-in Hawaii of all places! Sounds good to me.
It’s very common for CSA operations like our own to take on apprentices each season. This is how I learned the ropes and it’s also how current growers are training the next generation. I know that without Jane it would be much harder for us to produce a quality box each week.
In the box:
A smattering of bi-color corn
Summer Squash
Alisa Craig Sweet Onions
A Couple Green Peppers
Bok Choi
Cherry Tomato Mix
Yellow Taxi Tomatoes
Alcosa Cabbage
Specialty Red Japanese Radish