Sunday, November 30, 2008

Finally Eggs!

It has been a while since we have had our own eggs. And pretty strange to have to actually BUY eggs! But since around July we have started getting no more then one or two eggs a day. Then around September they dried up completely! NO EGGS AT ALL! Our old chickens are apparently getting too old to lay and our young hens were no quite ready yet.

We expected to have to make due with other farmer's eggs until spring. Then on Thanksgiving we found one pullet egg! (Pullet eggs are the first eggs a hen lays and are half as big (or less) then a "normal" egg.)

Today when I went in to give them food I found five more pullet eggs! We should be getting 10 dozen eggs or so a week from our hens when they get up and going, but that is still months off, for now, I am happy that we are at least getting our own eggs again, although it probably takes three of these mini things to make one normal egg...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Why confess...

I thought I would post my Thanksgiving diary because there is an important point to be made. While many ingredients we used were not local, at least they were bought and used with awarness of where they came from. When given a choice in the grocery store we picked Pennsylvania potatoes over those from Idaho and Michigan beet sugar over cane from South America. We did have some items where we did not know where things came from, a couple of them important, but for the most part we know what we ate for our Thanksgiving meal. And that at least is a step.

As I was going through our meal I realized it was a little more local then I had thought, but we are coming into a time of year when eating locally becomes a challenge. So take this challenge this winter, even if you cannot eat from within 100 miles of your home, eat with awareness of that distance. Every year we can get a little more local, with each other's help.

Know the map of your food.

Kind of Local Thanksgiving... Part 1

OK! I thought I would come clean on the origins of my Thanksgiving dinner. I would love to be able to tell you how we enjoyed a totally local meal only stepping outside for the rare item covered by the "Marco Polo Rule" for things like ginger and cloves. But that would be lieing, so instead I will give you the whole truth!

The first truth was that Thanksgiving this year was not planned. Yeah, we knew we were having it, but we really did not think about it much until the day before! It was only going to be five people and we did not expect to go through much food, so we were refusing to stress. (Maybe a little more preplanning would have been good!)

We woke up Thanksgiving morning and hubby said "You don't have to get up yet, I am just going to do the chickens." *make sure their food and water are good*

But I looked at the clock and it was 7:30 and I figured I should start the pies. Now, I GOOD Farmer wife would have done the pie the day before or the weekend before, or AT LEAST made the crust the night before, or AT LEAST picked the recipe...

So I go down stairs, grab the "New Best Recipe Cookbook" which is our standby cookbook and look at the pumpkin pie recipe... Quick math - make crust - refrigerate - blind bake - make filling - bake.... 11:00... SHIT!!! How long was that turkey supposed to bake? OK - dinner is at 2:30 instead of 1:30!

So I start the crust... Anyone who has tried to eat all local for any time has come up against FLOUR! This most ubiquitous and yet most difficult to find locally product. Well, not totally, we do have locally grown and milled spelt flour from the co-op we belong to, but I wanted a TRADITIONAL pie and was not about to try something crazy like a spelt crust for Thanksgiving... WHAT IF THE PIE DID NOT TURN OUT!?! So I improvised...

  • King Aurthur Organic All Purpose Flour

  • Butter - Amish Roll butter - I have no clue if this is really local

  • Lard - Purchased from Duma Meats - local

  • Sugar - Michigan Beet sugar - not organic

The filling was more embarrassing for a localvore farmer! You would think I would have thought of this meal in the spring and planted for it! But our squash did very badly this year. At least I could have thought of it at the farmers market and bought a squash to use... Yeah --- No... So the filling went...

  • Libby canned pumpkin - BPA and all - who knows where it comes from!

  • Brown Sugar - regular Domino from who knows where?

  • Spices - Marco Polo Rule - always

  • Eggs - Local and free range - but frustratingly not our own

  • Milk - Hartzler's - Local and pretty natural

  • Cream - Conventional and not local

Eventually the pies went in! They took a while to cook, I think I used a deeper then normal pie pan, but they came out great!

Kind of Local Thanksgiving... Part 2

So now we come to the star of the show! Mr. Turkey... I would love to say to you "I fist meet Mr. Turkey in April at a local farm where he was just a little poult! As the summer went along he wandered fields and enjoyed being outside, as his heritage breed should be." But alas, I cannot. A couple years ago we did have a heritage bird and it was fantastic, but for the crowd we were cooking for it was just not worth it, and the cost not justifiable for the little turkey people would be eating.

Every year my Sister in Law's company gives every one a turkey, so that is the one we used. A 11 pound conventional bird from...? We stuck it in our Romertopf clay roaster and did not touch it for the next two hours!

Then comes my favorite part of thanksgiving - THE STUFFING... Yum! We did a bit better on this although we could not find dried "stuffing" bread at the three local bakeries we tried so we started with...
  • Stuffing mix - again not local, not organic, just peppridge farms from Giant Eagle

  • Bread from Great Lakes Baking Company - but the flour... ?

  • lots of butter - again the Amish roll type

  • Onions - our garden's only contribution to this meal

  • Celery - we picked up at the farmer's market

  • Spices - Marco Polo rule again

The mashed potatoes were about the same, and while I would love to say we used all our own potatoes, the few we kept for this meal did not store well for us. I would love to say that we bought some other local farmers potatoes, but that would require thinking ahead! So we went to the Kreigers and did our best with...

  • Potatoes - from somewhere in Pennsylvania

  • lots of butter - again the Amish roll type

  • Cream - again conventional and not local

The cranberry sauce was equally embarrassing to someone trying to eat local...

  • Cranberries - from Maine (some day I hope to have our own!)

  • Sugar - Michigan Beet

  • Oranges - Florida

The corn came from a can with a Green Giant on the front. And we had no other veggies. Why spoil an otherwise perfectly unhealthy meal with green stuff?

The biscuits --- Lets not talk to much about them except to say they came more from a big yellow box than from anywhere else!

And that was my Thanksgiving meal...

I feel like I'm at an AA Meeting -

Hello my name is CSA Farmer Girl and I am not a locavore.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


On this Thanksgiving day we should all take a minute from our turkey induced coma to be truly thankful.

Thankful for those who are with us here to share new memories.
Thankful for the memories of those who are no longer with us.

As we face challenges in our lives and our families we need to be mindful of all of the blessings both large and small which we all have.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So much to learn...

The life of a farmer is one of never ending movement.

In the spring it starts with starting and planting. The summer sees weeding and harvesting. The fall sees field clean up and more harvesting. But the fall does not see the end of movement.

In the winter is the time to move our ideas. Once planting begins in the spring the plans have been laid the goals set forth and you move in as close to a straight line as possible.

But in the winter we can zig zag, go in a circle, or do anything else we want, IDEAS can fly!

An catalogues come and field layouts start the energy is as frenzied as the spring, just in a more cerebral way. The goal is always that the plan is set come March and we can make the best use of our resources (among which time is the most precious.) Not that it will happen, but we can try!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dedication to Local Food...

You can tell that the Local Food Movement has come a long way when people are willing to walk a quarter mile, uphill both ways, in 20 degree weather and ice to buy a couple heavy bags of produce which they then carry back to their cars!

And really it was uphill both ways to the market this morning because the path between the Happy Days visitor's center and the parking lot crosses under the road, so you go down and then come back up!

Many of the vendors too suffered for the food, pulling some of what was brought today up from under inches of snow in 20-30 degree temperatures.

All that being said we just about sold out! All our storage onions, pasnips, leeks, and butternut squash went. We had brought 4 bushels of onions, leaving the last one home because last week we only sold about a bushel of onions. Around 10 this morning we looked down and only had half a bushel of the yellow's left! So farmer hubby ran home (it pays to live close to market) and brought the last bushel of onions. We sold every last one of the storage onions !

We did come home with a bushel of red onions, which sold better last week, but that was all...

The customers came and bought! I think everyone had a good day at market!

Our leeks still in the ground froze solid in the 17 degree night last week so this market officially marked the last day of our 2008 season! Deep breath...

The seed catalogues for 2009 have started to come and we are planning big things for next year! Stay tuned for news...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Picking in the snow...

Tonight when I get home we are going to spend an hour or two picking for market on Saturday. We have Leeks and Parsnips to pull... Problem is, NOT ONLY is it cold, but there is 3 inches of snow left... But if we wait until tomorrow that total may be up to a foot! I may go out then and bank some of the leeks in tight snow, assuming they are OK!

It got pretty cold Tuesday night... it was 17 degrees when I woke up! Thankfully there was snow which acts a protective barrier against extreme cold. My very considerate husband bought me a set of insulated, rubber surfaced gloves... Hopefully next year we will be picking in the snow more often!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving next week!

Can you believe it! It is next week already!

Please visit us at the Peninsula Holiday Market next week...

If you mention this blog post I will give you a special deal if you buy 10 or more onions. Remember you'll need enough to last you until the next market the week before Christmas!

If you need more onions than that let us know, and we can make a special deal for you. Our yellow onions should store well into Janurary or Feburary... How many onions do you use in that time?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Holiday Market - One

Just home from market. It was a pretty good day, although we did not sell nearly as many onions or leeks as we expected. That being said, we sold A TON of parsnips. We didn't have honey, which was our savior last year at the fall market, there was very little honey this year, a testament to the problem with bees.

Maybe next week people will be more likely to buy squash and onions for storage, and people want butternut squashes for the holidays. This week it was kind of dreary and rainy which might of have kept some people away. Hopefully those people will come next week.

We only sold a bushel of onions, we brought 4... But we'll see, I still have hopes next week will see us selling bushels of onions.
We only had 20 bunches of carrots, they sold out (except for 1 bunch) within the first 40 minutes - that last bunch sat on the table until 11ish... One of anything always looks sad... I am sorry we did not plant a couple hundred more feet this fall, but it is on our list for next year.

All and all an OK day at market in sales, and it is always fun to be at market and talk with people... I am looking forward to next week, hopefully it will be even MORE successful, and who knows I may even find time to make honey caramels.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Distributed generation...

What would it mean to the national security and our environmental footprint if we had a network of distributed non-carbon based electrical generation? Small hydo on every watercourse, windmills on every hilltop, and solar on every roof...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day & Blizzard story

Everyone, take a moment to remember Veteran's day today. It is a holiday we so often forget, especially those of us who work in the private sector, where national holiday's are just the day the banks are closed and there is no mail service. Especially as the holiday is not conveniently held on a Monday each year, but tied to an important date, today November 11th, once Armistice Day, now Veteran's Day.

Take a moment today to thank a veteran, so many brave men and women over the years have put their safety and lives in the way of our freedom and liberty. And when they come home so often their sacrifice is forgotten. Let's show them today that we have not forgotten their sacrifice.

And on a lighter note a story for you about a blizzard on Veteran's Day. I found this story on Beginning Farmer's Blog, and it is worth the read.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Snow and Coming Out

My old car recently died. Well, not recently, at the beginning of the summer, but we spent most of the summer carpooling as we tried to decide what to get... Smart Car, Prious, Yaris

The Smart Car had a 12 month plus waiting list!
The Prius is more then I wanted to spend.
The Yaris is a nice car but as with all of them, do I want a payment? And will having a car payment effect farm decisions later?

Eventually I decided that what I wanted was a small diesel which are not available yet, maybe in 2010... So I needed a "till then car." Eventually we found a Saturn Vue which I really liked, a 2005 manual transmission. The car gets between 26 & 29 mpg and is still big enough to haul bags of feed. I am very happy with this car, and it's performance is not that bad...

Today I found the first thing I don't like with the car. (OK, SUV)

The antenna gets in the way of scraping the windshield, this has not been a problem with frosts so far, but today I had to scrape ice, LOTS of ice. The windshield is high and the antenna gets in the way!

I know, I know! That is what I get for buying an SUV! But I don't feel THAT bad, the mileage is good for a bigger vehicle, and we really do have the need for it. We will be getting a second vehicle which is a lot more efficient at some point, but for now, I love my car, except for the windshield thing!

(Now I've come out as a SUV owner, I feel better not being in the closet any longer!)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Holiday Farmers Market

Next weekend (WOW is it next weekend already!?!) we will be participiting in the first Holiday Market of the year, held by the countryside conservancy at the Happy Days Vistors Center in Peninsula.

We will have honey carmels, kale, onions, leeks, butternut squash, and a few other treats all of which will keep for weeks!

We plan on also being at the market on November 22nd.

We hope to see you there!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recipie request...

If you are ever looking for a good recipie check out

Yummy fall foods...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My dream for our president...

We are facing a crisis in this country. A crisis of culture, of drive, of motivation.

To many of our young people are not motivated towards excellence. This is particularly true of under served minority areas, of our vast inner cities.

Education is not seen as the key it is; the key to a better life. So often the schools are a place for kids to be kept during the day, warehoused.

Some of this is the fault of under preforming schools and under preforming teachers. But often these schools are not the lowest funded, often their per student expenditure is higher then better preforming adjacent communities...

When we have a school system where not a third of students who enter 9th grade leave with a diploma, we have a huge problem. For these children it is not true that YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, if they are fortunate they will get a job with benefits, and that after struggling to earn that GED.

My dream for this president is that he hooks into the passion that won him the White House, that he says (probably unpopular) things that start to drive a change in the culture of our inner city schools and children. That the suburbanites who rallied to his cause rally to this one with tutoring services and other help as needed. That the change towards a culture of excellence starts in the next 4 years.

Perhaps a Presidential Academic Excellence Award to take its place next to the Presidential Physical Fitness Test so many of us took. But it will take a change in culture and it will not be easy, but perhaps, no one is better suited then a president who understands the unique issues of the community and whose own children go to an exceptional school.

It will take an exceptional amount of effort and an exceptional amount of commitment from our new president elect, but it could happen. It will take a change in the way communities function, and probably a strengthening of families to focus more on education. And what a difference would that make in the economy if for all these children who are now left behind came to a place where anything really was possible...

2009 Plans begin...

2009 catelougs are starting to come in and plans are swirling in our heads!

It is so overwhelming to look back over our season and forward to next year...
For an example, last year we planted 2 cases of onions/leeks (about 3600 plants.) Next year we are considering an onion/leek order of 6 cases! Add that in with some onions/green onions/leeks started from seed and we are planning about a 1/4 acre onion plot. (Are we crazy?)
If only our soil looked like the soil in this onion feild!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Leek and poatoe soup...

This is the best fall comfort food! I almost always double the recipe, it is so good.

3 T butter
  • melted in a 4 quart sauce pan (larger if doubling recipie)
  • add

2 large leeks (the white area cut into thin slices - about 2 cups)

  • cook slowly until transparent, stirring often
  • add

1 large garlic clove, crushed

  • cook for an additional 5 minutes on low stirring offten, not allowing onions to brown
  • in the mean time peel

1 pound potatoes

  • cut into 3/4" cubes
  • add to leeks with

2 - 13 oz cans of chicken broth

  • bring to boil and add

1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
pinch of celery seeds

  • cook until potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes)

    Either serve as is


    Use a stick blender to puree until smooth (this is how I serve it)


Monday, November 3, 2008

Election in the heartland...

I am sorry. I am ready for the election to be done.

Maybe if you don't live in Ohio or another "battle ground" state you do not fully understand, but it seems to be all anyone is talking about, caring about, seeing anything about. It is 24/7 and it makes me want to vote for either Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, or Garfield (the annual stand-by in my high school elections.) Third Party Candidates.

Did you see Simpson's last night? Check this out... Hubby laughed out loud, which if you knew him you would realize is rare.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween tradition...

Two pumpkins... to bad we did not grow them... maybe next year.

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