Since we generally are on the farm and have few reasons to leave, things haven’t changed a lot here with quarantine. It is frustrating and disappointing to not see family, but the most important thing is that we are healthy and the family is healthy and so we are beyond grateful for this. When our state stops going upward in cases, which it has yet to do, I will make a trip to see family and boy do I look forward to it.
Getting Spring supplies, however, was definitely different this year. Even getting seeds and seed potatoes was touch and go. We did in the end get what we needed. This year, now that we will have a root cellar, I will be saving an amount of potatoes for seed potatoes, so that we can supply our own potatoes full circle, from planting to eating to planting again and this will be one more way to rely on ourselves for our food. This year we had some of last year’s to plant but not nearly enough.
Watching the pandemic induced changes has been stunning. We have all seen the empty grocery shelves, the shortages of supplies, the limiting of purchases, and now the meat industry succumbing to the pandemic as well. When it began, people who felt they were food secure found themselves wondering if they really were. People who already felt food insecure felt this compounded. We saw the fragility of our American food system beginning to spiral before our eyes in the early weeks of pandemic panic buying. Panic food buying is simply going to happen when a good portion of the food system is in other hands. If you make your living in a city and even if you are not in a city, sometimes growing your food just can’t fit, and lack of food is scary for anyone.
What Spring brought, secondary to the Pandemic, was surprising increase in direct purchasing from small farms, newbies began raising chickens, people started baking bread, and when yeast was not to be found on the shelves they created sourdough starters. People began to take more hand in their food, even if it was in small ways. Small farms became the safety net for many people who were faced with empty store shelves. I had relatives in downtown Chicago buying flour from small family farms, up our way, who raise their own grain and mill it locally, and a friend who drove up here twice from the city to find farm food that was less available in the stores. We saw more people raising chicks for eggs, planting gardens and frequenting small family farms for porch pick ups of meat and eggs. Additionally, we have never seen such a run on baby chicks, nor have we ever sold so much meat! We’ve already sold one of our Spring pigs and they aren’t even on the farm yet! This has never happened! We sold a side of beef, this Spring, which was new for us because we have only sold retail cuts in the past. It’s been a learning curve for everyone at some level whether it be the consumer finding new avenues for purchasing food, the family that decides to start raising some of their own food, or the small farmers who have done an incredible job of meeting the needs of consumers, in a contact free way, with porch pick ups, drive through pick ups and even deliveries. I even started seeing old War Food Administration posters, like this one, surfacing on Facebook, (shown below) last used during World War II. Hopefully some of the people who sought out the family farms for purchasing food will continue to purchase this way in the future. It’s not just a phrase, “know your farmer, know your food”.
Spring on our farm…
There is so much Spring all around us. We have burned the last fire in the fireplace and now we are look forward to outdoor fires some evenings. The following pictures show all the early signs of Spring here as we progressed from early Spring to late Spring.
Starter plants indoors.
Baby Chicks in the garage. Most definitely a sign of Spring! These 40 roosters are Red Rangers. We have found them to be a great meat bird, with excellent foraging skills. We let them range freely when they get bigger. This is our third year with the Rangers, they go into the freezer at about 5 pounds each and that is a perfect size we think.
Carrots that made it through the Winter, in the tunnel. They are not too pretty but they are crunchy and a welcome site.
Hostas are delicious! These were sautéed with some green garlic.
Thyme, Lemon Balm, Shiitake mushrooms, Rhubarb, Asparagus, and Lambs Quarters.
The Cattle are back on grass after a long Winter on hay.
As we progressed further into Spring the apple blossoms showed so nicely this year. We had a super cold night during their blossom but we got lucky and didn’t lose them.
The Garlic looks great this year!
This Mama deer hid her Spring babies in the tall grass on this hillside, this morning. She took off for a while, but she came back later for her little twins. It gives the babies a chance to rest, and these little twins couldn’t have been more than a couple days old.
We are just waiting for the sliced potatoes to heal enough to plant. Now that we will have a root cellar, for next Winter, we are planting loads of potatoes. It will be great to have true long term storage for them and for carrots, onions, squashes, and cabbages.
The lettuce in the tunnel garden is looking good and the spinach, radishes, beets, dill and some peas that will soon be climbing the trellis are doing well.
Finally after nursing the baby plants inside since mid March, they are outside! The only plants left inside are the squashes, and they will be planted soon, as well as the potatoes. This means no more plant shelves in the kitchen!
At this point in the Spring the little ones are now up in the Big Coop, so no more garage chickens!!
Lastly, of course, I can’t do a post without food pics so here are a few highlights of early Springtime…
Morels and asparagus are one of my favorite Spring dishes!
These amazing looking peppers are actually last Summer’s peppers. They froze so beautifully that when you cook them up you could mistake them for having been fresh ones! Finishing last year’s Fall/Winter veggies is part of Spring.
Lots of eggs are also a part of Spring. This was my first attempt at making egg noodles. I should have used all purpose flour for dusting, not semolina, lesson learned, but they were very good. Next time I will make them one crank thinner on the pasta machine. There’s always room to learn more. The nice part is that once there were done being made I popped them in the dehydrator which left me with this…
…a nice big jar of homemade pasta! I am looking forward to my next batch with less semolina and cranked a bit thinner they should be just right!
Another use for lots of eggs is quiche! This one is headed for the oven and has foraged ramps, and garlic mustard. Once chilled and sliced it makes for an easy breakfast to grab from the fridge and warm up.
Lastly, this pretty dessert, that my daughter made, is a great way to end. It was a really delicious treat!