Changing habits

Steve revamped the hen house; the occupants were taking on habits most atrocious!

  • Problem #1. Eggs getting cracked and eaten – YUCK!  Response – separate nest boxes for peace and tranquility.
  • Problem #2. Chicken poop – I mean really – everywhere?   Response – peaked roofs over the nest boxes and additional roosting poles.
  • Problem #3. Cracked eggs due to landing on bare boards due to hens scratching out all the bedding. Response – Adding a higher wooden ledge so the ‘mattress’ stays in place. (Imagine sleeping on bedsprings)

The challenge now is that we have EGGS for sale! Whoo whoo! The newbies, pullet eggs, are half price. I would love to have weekly egg deliveries with fresh eggs, still warm from the journey- haha. Any takers?

The doula hen sings out her song when one of her ‘sisters’ is concentrating on the eggstra task at hand. Most interesting. Music would have made a difference for me rather than only concentrating on breathing between bursts of pain. Hmmm.

We are into winter farm shares; the final four of 2014! And yep, there are some new things to consider, hopefully without problems and no need for a doula hen melody as a reminder. Farm shares this week should include several handfuls of candy carrots and leeks, potatoes, onions, winter squash (zeppelin/acorn), maybe some spinach? and a choice of a quart of pickles (dill, chunk, hamburger dill, bread and butter, carrots, or turnips).

Leeks can be cleaned, sliced and frozen for later use if you are not able to keep up with them. This will most likely be leeks last stand for 2014.

Check the updated CSA Farm Share 2015 registration form:

http://jubilee.mtlake.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2015-CSA-registration.pdf

I goofed on the first ones; please recycle them so there is no confusion. I have a limited supply of Minnesota Cooks 2015 calendars for folks who register for a 2015 farm share. These calendars from the Minnesota Farmers Union highlight “twelve respected Minnesota family farmers and twelve premier Minnesota chefs and restaurants who work tirelessly to bring the highest quality of farm-fresh foods to you.” That’s a LOT of Minnesota for ya!

 

Back-scratching

My grandfather loved to have his back scratched by friend, grandchild or gizmo. I think I have inherited his itch right between my “chicken wings” or shoulder blades as they are more commonly known.

Hoo Hoo! When I visit the hens, they sidle up and wait in line for their backs to be scratched! No, they are not pets and do not have names. Egg laying has begun to pick up so, goodness, I keep up my end of the bargain – feed, water, exercise equipment, back scratches and the extra fruit and vegetable tidbits.

Are we still harvesting? The answer is YES! It is most amazing, spinach and kale can survive -5°F and look just fine. They are in the hibernating mode but we hope to pick some kale so you don’t lose sight of the color green. It is tricky removing the two coverings off the 6 beds to water the plants or to provide fresh air.

The final fall market baskets should be filled with: a large blue winter squash perfect for a center piece and later for soup, salad, curry, bread, pancakes, muffins, empanadas, lasagna and you get the idea…large! Also, beets, carrots, leeks, onions, potatoes, radishes and a few kale leaves to emphasize the fact we can all survive the deep freeze.

We have the 2015 CSA registrations ready to go live and be posted. There are 4 more ‘Minnesota Cooks’ calendars for anyone who signs up for a season. Prices have remained the same but we have changed the time frames to fit the actual seasons of the year. I am dreaming happy thoughts about the new farm market we will have in 2015! Y’all come visit now.

 

 

A radish by any other name would taste as sweet

Introducing the new radish – a “Watermelon Radish”, one of many within the cultivated radish genus: Raphanus sativus, well anyway. It is also known as “Roseheart Radish” or “Red Meat Radish”….. I like watermelon better. Radishes were domesticated from their wild cousins in pre-Roman times and have become as varied a family as the colors in the rainbow; some grow to huge proportions – Sakurajima radish. There is a special Noche de Rabanos (night of the radishes) in Oaxaca, Mexico when fabulous carved radish creations are made the night of December 23!

I think the watermelon radish is the sweetest cousin and makes for oohs and aahs since it is such a surprise to see the red interior. It is wonderful in a salad with a vinaigrette dressing which highlights its flavor, or it can be cooked in a soup, stir-fried or roasted. Choose the recipe wisely; we don’t have many to share with you this season.

Our chickens are soon to roost indoors in their new abode that Steve is making for them. There will be a chicken-sized door cut out of the barn for their outdoor winter promenades in the asparagus patch. Farmer Lynn saved the life of Ugly Chickling, the crowing Brahma, by taking him to her farm to entertain her children and all the hens….

Our hens are laying about 3 eggs a day, which means we have eggs for sale!  These chickens have been playing hide-and-seek in a covercrop of oats, which has been munched down and made into fertilizer. They love all kinds of Chinese cabbage, any insect that has not frozen and high bush cranberries. Their eggs should have lots of anti-oxidants and other good things from the eclectic diet they have enjoyed.

Farm shares should include: Tops – a choice of green cabbage or Pac choi and Brussels sprouts, 2 head lettuces and Napa cabbage. Bottoms – radishes, potatoes and rutabagas. Fruit of the vine – winter squash. Oh, and then onions – bulbs, I guess. Spinach, leeks and carrots will be for sale. I plan to bake butternut bread for us to enjoy on the morrow.

A crowing hen

One of our hens has decided to crow! At first there was a feeble doodle-do from inside the coop so we couldn’t tell who was changing the tune. Lately, the cockly-doodly-doos have been out in the open and ‘ugly chickling’ will be the main ingredient in our next chicken soup. That’s a sorry note, but roosters are not welcome here.

Today was the first day to find a duck egg, a brown egg and a white egg. Eggs will soon be for sale at that rate! Steve is constructing a chicken guesthouse in the barn in hopes that the hens will be indoors before the first glorious snow flake wends its way earthward. The ducks? They are delightful but enjoy playing in water and dampness in the coop is problematic. So….roast duck sounds good to me.

I made a delicious meal of fried potatoes with Farmer Lynn’s hamburger and then at the last minute added 2 heads of mizuna that had been chopped into 1/2″ pieces, parsley, onions, salt and a good dash of smoked paprika. Oh my! I was surprised that the mizuna had a milder flavor. If your mizuna is still in the back of your refrigerator – trim off the top of the droopy leaves and use the rest. Cut off the base, hold all the stems together as if you were going to put them in a vase and gently wash off the soil. Chop chop and the meal is done.

All the various winter squashes/pumpkins can be interchanged in recipes EXCEPT the acorn squash and maybe the zeppelin delicata, which can be eaten as individual servings. They can all be stored until March EXCEPT for the acorn squash, which tastes best within the next month or so.

We hope to harvest the Chinese cabbage, as was mentioned last week but was postponed. There should also be 2 kinds of head lettuce, kale, pac choi, the daikon and nero tondo radishes, onions, potatoes, winter squash and a salad mix with lettuces and spinach.

You may feel greened out but unbeknownst to you, the antioxidants and other nutrients packed in all the produce from your farm share have kept to healthy, wealthy and wise – don’t you know?

 

 

 

The sky is falling

Those that have been in the midst of building a house or other large structure, know about the calamities that can befall the best plans. The foundation folks had one set of plans for our new market and greenhouse and the builders another – not the best start for a project! I hope we can resolve the problem without too many greenbacks falling out of our bank.

Our chicken little, henny pennies and ducky luckies have a story to recite to a foxy loxy about all the objects falling on their tails. At first, each leaf would startle them, but now they are into that routine.  What they are not doing is laying eggs! Chicken soup may be around the corner for them. I plan to leave a window open in the coop so the sunrise can greet them before my arrival. Short days shorts eggs I’m told.

We will be harvesting some great Chinese cabbage, which resembles Napa cabbage, if you are more familiar with that name. It can be used as a wrap, stir-fried, soups, or in a salad. It is often used as a sign of prosperity in China – imagine that! Nero tondo, a black radish, is another newcomer for the feasting.  There will also be Pac choi, Mizuna, a head lettuce, onions, potatoes and a winter squash for you to enjoy this week or later with family and friends.