Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hell Town...

Our farm is located in Boston Township, also known as Hell Town. And although careful research shows that many of the odd things that are reported started when the federal government started buying up land for the park in 1974 and the place started to feel abandoned with No Trespassing signs everywhere, I have to say that weird and creepy things do happen.
When we were doing research before we applied for the house we went to the local historical society where we read stories of a "mysterious" death in the barn of one of the farms in the program. There was also something about an entire family being killed, although we never did find a collaborating newspaper article on that.

Beyond that my husband, who is NOT into supernatural phenomena and had never even heard the stories at the time was bicycling on a certain "road to no-where" in Peninsula a few years ago. He claims as he went further and further up the road he started to get more and more freaked out. Now, mind you, he is a six foot four guy who at the time was used to mountain biking alone on some pretty hairy trails, pretty isolated in nowhere. So what would freak him out about a paved road in a small town? I don't know, but at one point he swears it got to much and he turned around and rode down that hill as fast as he could. It was a seriously bad vibe. As he went around a curve near the bottom of the hill, he said it was like someone flipped a switch and the feelings went away!

Then this morning on my way into work I was driving through Peninsula, and right near the police station I thought I saw a person standing by the side of the street. I turned my head and no one was there! No one at all...

Do a goggle search your self or check out these links if you doubt what I have said...

Weird USA

Happy Halloween from Hell Town, Ohio...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cold frames in....

We managed to get 40 feet of 32" hoops done today. Combine that with the 24 feet of 30" hoops we already had and we were able to put plastic over about 60 feet of rows, given that we are averaging 4 rows in a bed that is 240 feet protected! Even if it does not work this fall it will be nice to have these in the spring...

We did discover in the garden today that we defiantly had our first frost last night. October 27 was the day for us this year. Our poor eggplant looked great this morning, but by afternoon the damage was obvious! There is still a little growing time left, so we ask our members to stick with us for a little longer!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall Day...

Cool and rainy, dreary and overcast. A day that kept us out of the garden.

This morning we had a chance to visit Crocker Park Farmer's Market and see all the wonderful goodies that the vendors had! Lots of potatoes, and winter greens, a handful of treats like eggplant and broccoli! OH! The broccoli was beautiful, next year a focus for sure. It was so fun to go to market it has been weeks since we have been able to make one!

Then we went to Home Depot to buy some supplies for hoops to keep our still growing plants, lettuce, turnips, beets, pac choi, radishes, arugula, and more protected from the frosts which will soon turn to real Ohio winter. We built a rig for bending tubes, and tomorrow will build a series of 30 inch x 10 foot long tunnels!

It was nice to be in the barn and not outside in the drizzle today, but it was nicer to come inside and have some nice warm fall supper, chicken and dumplings! So much potential still this fall, the latest weather check shows severe weather at least another 10 days out!

Grow, garden! Grow!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blogging basics & not so basics...

So as you have all probably figured out I am new to the whole blogging world. My husband claims I am techno-phobic and I was one of the last people he knew to get a cell phone. But once I get into something I research it! The same goes with my blog.

I have been having trouble keeping up with all the farm and other blogs I love to read, you check them and they may or may not have new posts and it clutters up your favorite list, so what is one to do?

Subscribe to the blogs of course! Blogs usually host a RSS feed (and although I don't really know what that means the blog sites do it for you so I don't have to.) But the long and short of it is it is very easy to subscribe to tons of blogs and have one place compile them for you.

I recommend Bloglines, just because I use them. I actually added a link to them so under the archive on the left side of the screen you will see a little pad of yellow paper, just click on that and you can set up an account and add blogs to your list.

Then you will never miss another post from your favorite blogger! Good luck!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Kale...

Today's pickup will feature green tomatoes, squash, and more Kale!

More Kale?!?! OK, so my last attempt at posting Kale recipes was a flop because I am still new to this blog thing, I have since learned the trick, so try some of these!

Dried Kale Chips and more
Freezing Kale
Kale Pesto
Simpler Kale Pesto
Roasted Kale
Kale Soups

Oh, and one of our members (Thanks Kari and William) sent these recipies to try it too! I tried this first one and very yummy! I used some of our good balsamic vinegar (which we got in Italy) but I'm sure it will be good with whatever you have...

Braised Greens with Balsamic Vinegar

This method works exceptionally well with beets, chard, and similarly-flavored greens, as well as with bitter greens like radicchio and endive. The amounts are entirely variable, but by way of comparison, these are the approximate ratios I use:

mess o’ greens (1 largish bunch)
generous splash of olive oil (4 T. or so)
Garlic (3-4 cloves, though lots more would be just fine)
Onions (1 large)
Balsamic vinegar (2 T.)
Sugar (1 T.)
Crushed red pepper flakes (1/2 t.?)

Wash the greens well to get rid of all that grit. Stack leaves and chiffonade – slice once lengthwise and then roll tightly into a bundle, then slice the bundles cross-wise in ¼ ” strips. Cut stalks in ½” chunks.

Dice onions and crush or mince or sliver the garlic.

Heat oil over medium heat. Toss in the onions, garlic, and pepper flakes until the onions have browned a little, but don’t let the garlic scorch or it will turn the whole affair acrid. Throw in the greens and toss until evenly wilted, then cook until desired degree of doneness, maybe 10-15 minutes or so.

Stir the sugar into the vinegar, and toss with the greens. The liquid in the vinegar will evaporate quickly, but in the process will deglaze some of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from heat and serve. It’s fine as is, but also works well mixed with eggs for a frittata or tossed over pasta. It pairs well with winter squash, and if you want to add cheese, a tangy, salty feta is the way to go. If you want to add meat, something along the crumbled bacon or bits of pancetta line would do nicely. And if you happen to have access to a smoked paprika, it’s really lovely in place of the crushed red pepper flakes.

They also sent this one... William advices "As always, heavy on the garlic, and even heavier on the parmesan make this even better. " I agree, and why not try it with kale instead of spinach?


6 ounces cavatappi or other spiral-shaped pasta1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound)5 cups packed spinach leaves (about 1 bunch)2 garlic cloves1 tablespoon olive oil2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
Fill a 4-quart kettle three fourths full with salted water and bring to a boil for cooking pasta.
Quarter, seed, and peel squash. Cut squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Coarsely chop spinach and mince garlic.
In a large heavy skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté squash with salt to taste, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 7 minutes.
While squash is cooking, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. Add spinach and garlic to skillet with squash and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until any liquid is evaporated. Add pasta and reserved cooking water and bring to a boil. Season pasta with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Remove skillet from heat and toss pasta with Parmesan.

If you have a recipie please send it to me, and I will try to post it...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Honey - learned something new...

We do NOT sell filtered honey, so if your bottle says that I am sorry. We sell raw STRAINED honey, which means we just pass it through a mesh which is not fine enough to remove pollen and since we do not heat it at all it remains a bit cloudy and has tiny air bubbles.

Perfectly clear honey and filtered honey is (usually) dead honey, heated so it flows and can pass through VERY fine filters, is pretty and perfectly clear, but the good and healthy enzymes are dead and none of the native pollen remains with all of it's benefits...
Sorry for the mislabeling, as we do run it through 3 different strainers (ending with a fine bag) I always thought we filtered it... You learn something new every day!

((I will be relabeling our honey this weekend.))

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Last Regular Pickup...

This week is our last week for normal pickups, although we hope to see our members for the next few weeks for the ala' carte Sunday pickups.

In the mean time, this week we have Green Tomatoes or unripe tomatoes. These are a fun little splurge at the end of the season, so why not try them out?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pulling Tomatoes...

This time of year is both happy and sad on the farm. We are sad that the season is coming to an end, but happy that the prospects for next year seem so bright. Today was a perfect example of the dichotomy of this time of the season.

I was pulling tomatoes plants from the garden. We could wait until the frost we are expecting next week, but the plants are basically done, so now is as good a time as any to do it. As I pulled them out of the ground I picked some of the better ripe tomatoes and bigger green ones for this week's pickup. But mainly it is a destructive act, pulling them out by the roots and throwing them in the pile to be added to our compost heaps. Sad, admitting the end of the summer tomatoes and the end of summer.

At the same time Eric was mowing close the new ground (about an another acre) we plan on planting next year. In the next couple weeks it will be plowed, disced, and tilled. Happy and hopeful of what next year will bring.

It is that time of year!

((Oh, and in case you wonder why we pull the tomato plants instead of tilling them under in place, it is part of our Integrated Pest Management practices. By pulling them and any associated diseases, bugs, or fungi they are no longer in the garden to crop their heads up next year. The composting process will kill any pathogens, and we will have the benefit of their biomass in compost next year without the risk of perpetuating any problems.))

Friday, October 19, 2007

Winter is coming...

I never though so much of my time would by spent thinking about weather. About rain, too little or too much? About the temperature, too low or too high? This fall our temperatures have been beautiful, but alas it is not fated to continue. This morning’s weather forecast check showed Saturday Oct 27, low 32 and Sunday Oct 28 a low of 29!

Time to start thinking about our frost protection! As we have discussed with our CSA members this coming week (Oct 21 and 24) will be our last “regular” pickup. After that we will be switching to Sunday only pickup and instead of having bags already packed for our members we will send out an email on Friday where we will indicate what we have available and the cost for each. This will be available for members only. Items will include winter squash, onions, kale, and honey. We also expect to be able to offer lettuce, radishes, turnips, beets, and maybe a few other late season items!
We hope we will have three or four of these pickups until we are done for the year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sun Gods reward solar!

The Indians won again last night and may well guarantee themselves a world series spot on Thursday. The solar gods are rewarding baseball teams with photovoltaic (solar) panels this year.

There are currently 3 teams in major league baseball who currently have solar panels in their facilities, the San Francisco giants, the Colorado Rockies, and the Cleveland Indians. Coincidence? I don't think so! The Red socks to are embracing "green" recently implementing a recycling program, but their solar system is still in the planning phase, the Indians on the other hand already have a small solar system going. Enough power to power every TV in the Jake!

Since the Red Socks don't have their system done yet the Indians are fated to win the series! We may run into trouble with the Rockies though whose own solar system is slightly bigger then our own...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Local Food and Carbon Offsets

I found a reference to this on one of my favorite farm blogs, Sugar Creek .

"If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallons, but barrels. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast." Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral"

That is amazing, absolutely gob smacking! Think about these numbers.

1 barrel of oil makes 20 gallons of gasoline. 1 gallon of gasoline makes 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. So if every person ate just one meal a week of local food that would equal 440,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a week! 22,880,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year!

One passenger car a year getting 21.5mpg and traveling 12,500 miles a year only emit 11,450 pounds of CO2 a year!

We need to think about definitive ways to offset the carbon emitted by people driving to our farm for pickup. Maybe by purchasing compact fluorescent for lower income households?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kale day...

We think we have a pretty nice share for members this week, given how late it is in the season, but alas, our tomatoes are almost done and our summer squash is gone. Soon snow will blow and we will wonder where summer went! (This week's Sunday share below. 1 butternut squash, 1 acorn, a handfull of hot peppers, 3 small sweet banana peppers, 1pound plus a handful of green beans, 8 apples, 8 lemon tomatoes, 3 or 4 small heirloom eggplant. and the kale.)

In the meantime we have LOTS of kale for people. Today we only gave 1-1/2 pounds (which takes up about half a grocery bag, but we will have it available until the end our season in a couple weeks, and lots of it!

I hate it that often my favorite veggies are the most misunderstood, among them Kale. Which is not your mother's greens! It has 100 and one possible uses and to help you find them here are some links to great Kale recipes on line (look in your newsletter for others!),1977,FOOD_9936_30572,00.html,,FOOD_9936_35502,00.html,,FOOD_9936_31266,00.html
Kale wraps!,1801,HGTV_3193_2857148,00.html

or Kale chips!?! -

There! Now everyone should be able to find SOMETHING to do with their kale! Good luck and let us know how your kale experiments went!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Honey Day...

Finally inside! It is 9:30 and we just got done extracting our honey from our bee hives. We did farm chores this morning and by the time we had eaten lunch and gotten out to the bee hives it was already almost 2:00. Today is a Saturday and when you hold full time off farm jobs weekends during the season go away fast!

First step is to pull the "suppers" off the hives. My husband did this while I stood FAR back and watched. When we started beekeeping 4 years ago it was my hobby. That lasted 3 years and about 25 stings, until one day one bee got me in my leg and before I knew it I was blowing up like a balloon and covered in hives (the bumpy red kind not the bee kind!) By the time my husband got me to the ER about 20 minutes later I was starting to cough! Welcome to the world of bee allergies. I have been getting allergy shots to build up an immunity but for now I stand way back and yell at him... "SMOKE THE ENTRANCE!!! THE ENTRANCE!!!"

In any case we pulled all 5 suppers from our 3 hives and brought them back to the sorting shed to start the extracting process.

Note to self. Do not do do this in 55 degree weather. Cold honey does not want to flow, and we cold filter all our honey. Heat destroys enzymes in the honey that helps make it so healthy, so ours never gets heated above room temperature. But a room temperature of 55 was not going to work, so the first step was to heat the room a little. The little propane heater did the trick, no problem.

After we got the room up to temperature the next step was to uncap the frames. When honey is ready for winter storage bees put a little piece of wax over the top of it. So we use a hot knife to cut that off. Then the frames go four at a time into an extractor, which is basically a big tub with a handle on it, so my poor husband gets to spin it round and round really fast until all the honey flys out the sides.

Typically this is pretty easy, but typically the honey is not cold! Cold=thick! It took some time but eventually we got all 50 frames uncapped and spun! I have never seen honey run so slow!

And all this takes place among a few left over bees who are stuck inside with us. Not to mention the yellow jackets and wasps who somehow always find a way in when there are five gallon buckets of honey.

No one got stung, and once we got the room heated up it went well and after all that we have about 12 gallons of honey, about 144 pounds!

I think I may need to order some more bears!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Salsa time!

Time for a confession.

My husband swears that given the opportunity I would eat salsa with a spoon. We go through at least a jar a week, and I am likely to put it on almost anything! But to actually MAKE salsa?

I don't know why canning tomatoes products has always made me a little nervous. I know how to do it, I know it is safe (when you follow the proper procedures), and I know how good it tastes. I never have any problems or concerns when I do jams or jellies or apple sauce or brandied fruit. All of those I feel comfortable with!

I think my salsa and sauce worries go back to when I was a little girl and my mom made a ton of tomatoe sauce one year. She proceeded to give it all away, because she was so scared of it! Alas, I to have a back of my mind fear of water processing tomato products, and I do not have a pressure canner so the option is water bath canning or nothing.

Last weekend I made a single pitiful batch of salsa, (6 jars and 2 are already gone...) Tonight and tomorrow are SALSA days! I hope to have at least 24 pints by the time I am done, I may even try some sauce... And I pledge not to give it all away.

Spoon anyone?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why blog?

So people know what we are doing and why! Not everything in farming goes well.

Deers get into the feild and eat the leafs off all your beets. You get a heat wave in October making your lettuce bolt and turn bitter. Things happen in your non farm life. Bugs decide to multiply for no reason. Plants decide to stop growing. You get a frost or no rain.

But things also go great. And little pleasures happen every day. You put your own beans in a stew and they turn so green it is almost fake. You grow something you never could before. You see an animal or a bug that brings you joy. You know that you are growing something for your future and your family. Something good, something healthy, something wonderful.

I hope to share with those who want to read about them or are considering their own similar adventure, both the joy and the frustration that comes with farming. At least on our little 30 acre piece of the world.

Pickup - 10/10

It was so strange yesterday evening sitting in our pickup shed and waiting for pickups.

Just a couple days ago on Sunday during pickup I actually brought out a fan and set it up because it was 85 degrees in the room, even with all the windows open. The Kale and turnip greens did not look good in the heat!

But yesterday as I was setting up my husband brought out a propane tank. I asked "What's that for?" Then he got a heater for it, and it was SO nice to have the shed nice and toasty, with all the doors and windows shut, we got it to the 70s in there! It was in the mid 40s outside!

A 40 degree drop in just a couple days! Welcome to fall in North east Ohio!

The cool tempuratures made everyone think of the end of the season, especially as farmers markets in our region are starting to close for the year. I had discussions with nearly everyone, about when the season will end.

We are really hoping to be able to go into the first week on November baring a hard freeze. We have frost tolerant veggies in the ground, and will protect them with row covers and small hoops when we need to. Our feild gets foggy almost every night, so that will help a bit as well, and even when all else fails we have a week's supply of storage crops to give everyone!

Frost, frost, stay away! Come again some other month!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Day of the bugs!

I wish I would have had a camera with me in the garden on Sunday when we were picking!

First, my husband called me over to the eggplants he was picking. There staring up at him was a huge beautiful preying mantis. He looked up at us and twisted his head, his huge eyes were amazing. Later my husband found 2 more, probably they were feasting on the flea beetles which are feasting on our egg plants!

A few minutes later back at the peppers I found a couple perfect lady bug sitting on a pepper. Thankfully, no huge bean beetle problem yet!

Over in the tomatoes my husband was having trouble with fruit flys! The October temperatures were at record highs in the high 80s and the overripe fruit which had fallen to the ground were attracting these little buggers!

And then I found a not nice surprise in the kale. A plant COVERED with caterpillars. I am a bad farmer who is horrible at identifying most bugs, but these were defiantly what you would call an in infestation. I had seen a few cabbage loopers elsewhere on the kale, and that is OK, our members are used to a few holes in leaves, that is the price they pay for chemical free food. But these little worms had totally covered 2 or 3 plants and eaten them to lace (in a row that had been checked just 3 days before.) Think tent worms on kale... I looked them up on line and they kind of looked like Cabbage Webworm, but we are not supposed to get those this far north! In any case, I pulled a half bushel of affected plants to dump deep in the woods. Then every plant within a 30 inch radius got harvested. They looked OK (not bugs evident) so we gave our members some extra kale, and we hope we got them all!

Typically we spray a certified organic pesticide (typically Pyganic) a couple times a year on plants that are receiving heavy damage. This year we got such a late start and being on new land it has not been necessary. And now it is so late, I don't want to do anything like that. On evenings nice enough to spray our honey bees and bumble bees are everywhere, and we don't want to impact them! So fingers crossed!

What is a CSA?


Members of CSAs buy a "share" of the season in early spring. The farmer gets money up front, when they have to buy seeds, supplies, and equipment. And the member gets a weekly share of the harvest for the rest of the year. In our region, seasons typically go from mid June to mid October, so as I start this blog our season is nearing it's end.

CSAs are said to have originated from Japan, where city people would hire a farmer to supply their needs. In the 1980s the concept migrated to Europe and in the mid 80s they began popping up in the states. Today there are over 1400 in the United States, each supplying anywhere from a few families to a few hundred.

For us, a CSA is a way to grow our farm, and our business. To become more self sufficient, and someday, hopefully, largely replace our off farm incomes. We enjoy having a relationship with our members and love the ability to provide them with fresh, wholesome, naturally grown foods!