Waffling on Beef…

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The gardens are in and this is what they looked like a couple of weeks ago. Now I am able to pick a few collard leaves here and there and the Lettuces and Arugala have been great. I have also been buying at local farmer’s markets and supporting small local farms. The rhythm of Spring has gone like this… box elder syrup season followed by radishes, rhubarb (rhubarb to freeze, rhubarb sauce to freeze for ice cream topping), and finally…

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Rhubarb Chutney which we love with Pork, of which we anticipate eating a lot of …

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Then we began to binge on Asparagus. Even with eating them almost daily I was still able to freeze about 14 dinners worth of Asparagus for midwinter treats. I freeze all the veggies in what I consider to be a 2 person serving which is just enough for dinner for us.  I also made…

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Pickled Asparagus which we really loved last year. Although I went pickle crazy last year pickling everything but hubby, I decided this year to pickle only our favorites.

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The Shiitakes are coming in beautifully and we are eating them and drying what we can’t eat. We have been enjoying delicious vegetable dishes using these mushrooms. Below is a salad with warm Shiitakes and Asparagus on it.

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Absolutely delicious.

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In addition to the beautiful mushrooms the garlic scapes were ready to be cut and so we are having them in most everything.

One of the biggest treats has been STRAWBERRIES! I feel if I eat many more I may turn red and grow little seeds. They are so sweet and so amazingly good.

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I’ve frozen about 6 quarts of berries so far. I want to freeze as much fruit as possible this year. I will be eating these yummy berries with homemade yogurt throughout the year. I can’t wait to find out how this yogurt tastes compared to store bought yogurt, of which we quite honestly have one of the best local yogurts here, so I probably should just support them. They do a great job, but then I saw this very inexpensive yogurt maker on Craigslist and well you know what happened. I wish I had the bravery to make the yogurt the other way, you know, on the counter for days or something like that.

farm updates:

We are faced with 26 chickens that are getting ridiculously big in front of our eyes. We don’t think that they will fit in their current coop much longer and the yard is getting pretty run down, so hubby is right now putting together a new portable run so we can split up this group of 26…of these 26 there will be 18 going to the freezer the last week of July. We only have to have this extra housing for a about a month and then it can to in storage in the barn. Hubby, you are the solution finder and the driving force behind the infrastructure that makes our small farm possible.

We are also faced with something else, and that is the reality that our Steer that is to go in to the locker on July 10 is possibly just not ready for butchering. Although Highlands are small we feel like this guy is on the smaller side of small. Hubby is fencing like crazy to get them moved out to the woods where they will eat all the things we don’t want and they will love doing it, and they will have endless food for quite a while, but for now, pastures have not been robust and we think we should finish him in the Fall. We have a farmer friend who may come out and give us an opinion. This is disappointing for our food plan because we were really looking forward to having beef this summer, and with no pork till Fall and the chickens not heading to the freezer till almost August, it seems like Fall will be full of variety but for Summer we will be eating more Veggie meals, and fish if we catch. We may go also out to a Grassfed Beef Farm and make a bulk purchase, it would be a good way to sneak in a tour of someone else’s Grassfed Cattle Operation at the same time!

Then hens are doing well in their chicken tractor. It has worked out super well, just another of hubby’s solutions to a problem. They are even settling back into laying after the…. hen pecking (solved), the broodiness (solved), and the move to a new coop (finally they are settling in) and beginning to lay again, which is awesome. Unfortunately they probably are going to go through their molt soon and will stop laying yet again though. So much reading and learning, I read last year when we got the chicks that at about 18 months they would molt, look funny and lose their feathers. Since the protein they eat either goes to making eggs or feathers they don’t lay eggs while they acquire their new feathers after the molt. Hopefully we can still get eggs till October when these girls will be stew birds. That will bring our freezer bird count to 22 birds which is awesome and way better than last year’s 6 birds!

The pigs are growing quickly and I’ve now weaned them off their morning feeding, which urges them to get out on pasture and forage for more food. Then I feed them a big serving in the afternoon, and by evening they are out on pasture again. It’s working well. They are loving strawberry tops and bruised berries, as well as lettuce scraps and mushroom stems. I have also been bringing giant handfuls of particular weeds they like. I bring these goodies mid-morning, as a snack, and I find that if I throw the treats out in the pasture they tend to stick around and graze afterward.

So all that said, all animals and gardens are growing and thriving and right on target, even with the torrential rains, the garden has hung in their like a champ. Craziest thing? A potato plant was growing in the garden randomly from last year. I pulled it out and it was perfect. How did a potato make it through that freezing cold 6 month winter? That tenacious little potato will be enjoyed tomorrow as a side to Saturday morning eggs, anything surviving that Winter should be celebrated!

What kind of busy? The good kind…Spring Busy!

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I remember taking this picture last year too. These are a colorful and welcome site! We actually had a salad yesterday! Heavy on the Asparagus and Radishes, and a bit light on the lettuce and Spinach but it tasted great! Looking forward to salad season!

It’s been a new experience going into this year. What is new is that it is officially not my first year anymore. I have a tiny bit of experience under my belt and am well aware of what we need more of, less of, what I planted at the wrong times, and what I didn’t plant that I should have. All that said, I am still a newbie in many ways to all this and so I am learning (and sometimes failing) everyday. At this point I am two gardens behind, although the last two are smaller gardens. The grapes need work, and I still want to put together some chicken tunnels so I can range the chickens in the grass rows between the garden rows. Hubby and I have been meaning to finish inoculating the logs for Shiitakes as well, so oodles to do. Along with all this, my business is hitting a busy time and getting ready for the arrival of a new variety of really granola which means that shelves will need stock on both varieties, which means you guessed it, more baking!  Additionally, food preservation season which creeps in slowly at first, is definitely starting, I have already frozen Asparagus, and Rhubarb and have Asparagus ready to pickle.

planting at night

Speaking of planting, this fair weather farmer planted at night with a headlamp on, the last few days were way too hot to do otherwise.

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The chicks are out of the coop now and here they are coming out for the first time. It took a while for them to venture all the way out, they would come out look around and run back in, and then finally they…

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…started down the plank to explore.

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We kept the piglets in their smaller pen for a couple days to get to know us in smaller surroundings where they didn’t have the choice to run off and be standoffish.

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Today they went out on pasture and were a bit timid in this first picture but they are sold on the idea now.

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The end of a long day, which resulted in an spectacular finish!

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