Signs of Spring
There is so much newness in Spring. The baby chicks are growing before our eyes, lettuce is coming up in the tunnel, and the Spinach that made it all year is thriving and has the biggest leaves I have ever seen! My starter plants are doing well and the pond has come up considerably, in part because of some of the work we have done (we hope) and also because this is a wet time of year and so the inflow is heavy. Either way it looks so nice to see it filling. Also in the Spring we occasionally sell a Highland or two. This young bull shown in the picture will hopefully be sold this Spring. Oddly when I advertised him on the local page, people mostly were romanced by his nice hair, they wanted to hug him and pet him etc. Eye roll, hugging a Highland, ha, ha! Clearly I advertised in the wrong place, time to hit the more serious sale venues! All that said, Spring is a busy time, after the quieter months of Winter.
Another incremental step:
Each year I try to learn a new thing to make us more sustainable here. Last year I began learning to identify the many wild plants on the farm and their uses, both edible and the historically medicinal. While I continue to explore and learn more about this, I decided that this year I would learn to start my plants, but the more important flip side of this is that I will, at the end of the season, learn to save seed for the next year. That will be another important step. I have the Summer to learn this. So far my little plants are doing quite well, and I can’t lie, I am super excited about it!
I wanted, before Spring got too busy, to catch up on my freezers. It is about this time that I figure out if I used things too fast or too slow over the Winter. I did some rearranging in the freezer, and there it all was, the fruit my family picked and froze for me, so I wouldn’t miss it while Mom was so sick last Summer. There were strawberries, cherries, blueberries, high bush cranberries, peaches and rhubarb. My daughter was kind enough to come and help me make them all into various jams. We decided it to be a tradition now, we will make jam, not when it is super hot out in August but in the cool Winter or Early Spring. Also we ended up with 77 jars of jams and peach butter, and decided that from now on we will do the Jam thing every other year! It is exciting to have so many beautiful jars of jam, for gift giving, and of course eating.
More sign of Spring:
Foraging is back! I have been reading over the Winter and learning more names of plants and uses, and am becoming a bit more confident this year. This dish (above) includes our Shiitakes, dried foraged Morels and garlic scapes gathered one year ago in the Spring, and fresh Day Lily shoots, and Chives from this Spring. I love combining the seasons into one dish.
This has been a favorite all year… I froze so much tomato puree last Summer that we still haven’t used it all up. I discovered a quick trick for the easiest Tomato Basil Soup ever! After I run the tomatoes through my tomato press, I freeze it in containers. Then when I want to make the soup I run the top of the frozen tomato block under hot water to melt of the icy layer at the top. This removes a lot of water leaving a much richer tomato puree. This saves hours of “cooking it down” in hot Summer weather! The next picture shows what it looks like after melting off the top…
I just heat the tomato block, in a pot, and add last year’s dried basil, a bit of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Less then 10 minutes for Summery tasting Tomato Basil Soup all Winter! I love not having to cook it down in the Summer anymore! It won’t quite keep us in Tomato Basil soup till our tomatoes come in, in July, but it did get us clear through the Fall and Winter and part of this Spring. Next year I will puree even more, to last the whole year!
These colorful veggies are still getting us through till this Summer’s produce comes in, and they still taste garden fresh. These beans are still plentiful in the freezer and definitely will last us until we start picking beans at the end of June/early July. It’s nice to see the rhythm, of what we are doing, working so well.
Next on the agenda is inoculating the Shiitake logs. Checking things off the Spring list!