Our Food Year

September is when we start to really see the winter food coming together. Food growing season actually runs throughout the year, but in very different ways.

January is when the seed catalogs arrive, with their colorful covers and beautiful pictures of vegetables and fruit varieties. I save looking at them for the quiet that comes after the holiday season and this year I will sit by our, soon to be, beautiful new fireplace to look at them. Choosing new varieties and comparing garden notes is always fun. I am getting better at taking garden notes, thanks to a farmer friend who enlightened me. It’s also the time that I look at the chick catalogs and make choices for our meat birds and new layers. January also, brings a bit longer days and the Spinach that is in the mini high tunnel begins to wake up and grow a little faster, by March it is looking beautiful, given that the climate inside there is entirely different than outside the tunnel. February and March is tree tapping season. Although I do it on a very small scale, our syrup needs are not frequent, so it is all we need. Mid-March is seed starting in preparation for the summer garden. I start more plants than I need, in part to be sure I have enough of what I want to have, but also to sell some plants so that I can cover the seed costs. March and April are busy with tending to the seeds, re-potting them into their next size up pots, as they grow, and also enjoying the last of our cool weather, grey skies and cozy time. April is also when our meat birds arrive. This requires lots of attention. The more attention they get, the lower the chick losses. Over the last 7 years, I have only lost a couple! Their temperature must be properly regulated and they get fresh water intermittently all day. This is easier to do when you only have 40 birds. If I had a couple of 100 birds it would be much harder to tend to, especially their sensitive issue at 3-6 days old, which requires getting very personal with their care and cleaning! Mid May is time to clean up the garden and prep for planting. When May comes to an end the garden plants are in, and the chicks (our meat birds), have moved to their big outdoor coop and have left the confines of our garage. This is always a big YAY moment, to regain the use of the garage. May is also Morel mushroom foraging time, often we find pheasant back mushrooms and wild ramps as well (these taste a bit like garlic and onion put together). If there is abundance of these, I dry them for later use. June is generally a quiet time, and it is the last quiet time till October! August is time to plant winter spinach, radishes and carrots in the mini high tunnel, which we cover in plastic in October. August is also the time when we process our meat birds, here on the farm. This year for the first and hopefully the last we took them to a processor because of the building project we are involved in, there just wasn’t time to process them here. July through early October is gardening, canning, dehydrating, freezing, fermenting and of course lots and lots of delicious cooking with fresh vegetables! This year, if it is ready in time we will also add root cellaring to our storage methods. December brings to an end, the pig raising year, and at any given time during the year we process 1-2 highland cattle based on their readiness.

October until February is the reward, in my mind, for a long gardening and food preservation season, allowing more time to read about new gardening, preserving and cooking methods. Now that I have learned pressure canning, I use this time, also, for stocking the shelves with soups and broths, and stews. Canning really heats the kitchen up, so this is the perfect time to do this. Also, finally reading a bit of fiction. I love this time of year. This year it will include a fireplace and so I am looking forward to it even more!

These onions finally dried enough, and with the help of my daughter, they are strung and will be hung tonight in the basement and moved to the root cellar when it is completed.

These potatoes have been stored carefully in boxes and will have to be looked at weekly to be sure one hasn’t spoiled. I guess it’s like the old phrase, “one bad apples spoils the bunch”.

These beans are now frozen in 2 cup portions for serving this winter.

My outdoor refrigerator is filled with vinegar pickles, pickled peppers and some fermented pickles. They last a surprisingly long time in the fridge!

The corn is also frozen in 2 cup units.

Some of the tomatoes were monstrously large this year!

Tomato puree in jars for the shelves. This will get used in soups, stews, pasta sauce, and possibly for making more BBQ sauce this winter.

Fermented tomatoes with garlic and basil. This is a new technique, so the jury is out yet. The recipe says to take the tomatoes and the garlic out of the brine and puree them for a fresh sauce. Fingers crossed this works!

I think I have finally found a good, thick salsa recipe. It could have been a bit spicier but I can amend that when I open them, with a bit of cayenne.

We have been eating tomato salads nightly! They are so good. Tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, herbs and a bit of Italian dressing.

Veggies, veggies and more veggies!

This is a progress shot. We actually have a roof and shingles on it now. It is great to see a roof on, and things are drier now, but I have to say that the beautiful trusses look prettier without a roof!

Breakfast for dinner is always good! Everything on this plate is from the farm. Even the dried sprinkled pepper powder and foraged Lamb’s quarters is from the farm. I never get tired of taking stock of my plate and thinking about the food year that went into it.

Fall will be here officially just days from now, however, when I see an orange pumpkin it’s as good as here to me.