never been so proud of myself to kill something

30 04 2010

After weeks of trying, I finally caught/killed my first gopher. I didn’t check the traps from a couple days while it was raining. Low and behold when I finally pulled the cover off one of my traps it felt like death. Life loves death, and gopher was completely decimated by maggots, and there was a peculiar white fuzz growing in the hole. This made it hard to clean the trap, but immediately after it was cleaned it was reset and placed in another hole.
The next day there was a dead gopher just laying belly up in the middle of my field. I don’t know what killed it, but I like the trend.
Everything it being planted, weeded, and fertilized on a pretty consistent basis right now. The CSA starts in about 3ish weeks and will be ready. Plants are alive, and now wash sinks need to be set up, and we will be ready to rock.


Planting sticks

5 04 2010

Sadie helped plant about 200 Zinfandel cuttings today. These will be potted up next year after they root in the sandy soil. Then two years from now they might make their way into a vineyard like setting of a mixed use small farm. I want to get another 200 Tempranillo cuttings as well.
Round 2 of carrots were sown today. Three varieties were planted: Baltimore, Parano, and Scarlett Nantes. So far everything that has been direct seeded has germinated rather quickly. Root crops are well on their way for the beginning of CSA.
The cover crop of Oats and Peas are knee high. The pea tendrils on the regular field peas are delicious; so sweet.
The lettuce transplants in the greenhouse are about two weeks out till harvest for lettuce mix.

But the challenges of gopher trapping and weed eliminating are proving difficult.  All part of the fun I suppose.

Lastly, there is the dreadful job of plucking off all the strawberry flowers.  Over the past 2 weeks I have picking the flowers off in order to promote root growth on all the strawberries that were transplanted.  There will be strawberries eventually.

In the Tub

Soup Dinner

13 02 2009

We were not able to concern ourselves with seed starting today. It is true what they say, there is always tomorrow.
A friend told me today that it is going to be a long season. He too has noticed that has already been significantly warmer; sooner this year. He was gearing up.
This means that we need to get our shit together.
We need checks to arrive, and seeds need to be started.
While we procrastinate, we eat.
We had a meal this evening that adequately represent how well we eat.
Simple, and without waste.

Sweet Potato Soup
3 large Sweet Potatoes, whole roasted
5 Carrots. med. dice
3 yellow onions, med dice
1/4 bulb fennel, I just actually used one thick stalk, small dice
1 head garlic, chopped
1-10# fresh ham
1.5 c. long grain white rice
2 c. veg stock
1 magnum chardonnay
1 c of tomato sauce.
1-16 oz can unsweetended coconut milk
3. bay leaf
6 Tbl Mustard Seed
2 Cinnamon Sticks
10 Cloves
Black Peppercorns
1/2 c brown sugar
3 Tbl Ginger Juice

1 Tbl tumeric
1 tsp nutmeg.

This may seem like a lot. It is. It took about a 4 days.
1. Toast  5 tbl Mustard, the Cinnamon, Clove, and bay leaf.
2. I forget the total amount of liquid. The total amount of liquid will be enough to completely submerge the 10# fresh ham. I used a 1 cup to 1 gallon ratio to make brining solution. Pour brining solution over toasting spice. Add Brown sugar and bring to boil to dissolve salt completely. Cool. Add ham.
2. I brined it for 2 days. I read somewhere that you could do it up for three days. Brine the ham at least overnight.
3. Remove the ham from the brining solution and drain. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
4. Pan sear entire ham. Place in braising dish.
5. Deglaze pan with some of the white wine. Add liquid to braising dish with ham. Hard Sautee about half onions and carrots.  Quickly sweat about 5 cloves of garlic in the same pan and deglaze with the rest of the wine. Add this to the braising dish with pork in it.Adding water, bring the liquid to covering the pork by 2/3s.  Add bay leaf.  Cover and placeS in the oven overnight.
6. Remove pork. Toss it to scoundrels. Take braising liquid, bring it to simmer, and skim off crud.
7. Meanwhile make rice with the veg stock and the tomato sauce in a pilaf style.
8. Take the last of the onions, carrots, and the fennel. Sautee until very tender. Sweat garlic, then add the last of the mustard seed, the nutmeg, and tumeric.  Cover with ham jus.  Add Ginger juice.  Simmer together for a while.

9.  Scoop roasted sweet potatoes out of their skin and add to soup.  Add coconut milk.  Use and immersion blender to make soup more or less homogeneous.  Then add cooked rice.   Add water to adjust thickness.  Cook together for 5 minutes.

It is even better the next day.  It is good to share with Sadie too.  Could it be our inspiration to get our asses in gear and start planting?

The ham, carrots, onions, garlic, and tomato sauce were obtained directly from the producer.  The ham local to southern Oregon and USDA cerifitied.  Finding USDA certified meat around here is hard because there are no local processing facalities.  The pork has to be shipped as live wieght to a government approved facility few hours away, and then has to be shipped back to be sold in local marketplaces.  The prices this ham, and products like it are reflected in its cost.  The bureaucratic hoops that have to be jumped through are many.  And the overhead cost are sustaintial.  Too large for smalls producers to own, run, or operate, or cooperate.  It is undermining local production of meats here in Southern Oregon.  Non-USDA meat cannot be sold to the general public by way of stores or restaurants.  Therefore, the market for non-USDA meats has to be out of public view.

Lets put it like this.  Consumers are taught to go to the store to get stuff.  If that stuff is food related items, especially meats, it has to go through USDA inspection and regulation.   The overhead costs of having USDA inspected meats are most affordable to larger meat produtions.  This also goes for restaurants.  High costs make it difficult for small producers to get food on market shelves.  People shop at markets and eat out at restaurants.  Local food is not featured, and people have no other choice but to buy non-local.  Here is a disconnect between producer and consumer that is an issue affecting small meat producers.

We got this ham locally from Willow Witt Rance in Ashland.  It did good.

In Sadie’s sandy soil, she sows seeds

2 02 2009

Well most of the seeds will be sown in the greenhouse as transplants because that allows us more planting accuracy.
In theory seed saving is a great idea. However, we as a farm have not quite figured out the logistics of seed saving enough for the coming year. Ben saved some of the tomato seeds that we enjoyed last year for both flavor and productivity. Tomatoes are easy to seed save because they don’t cross pollinate. In the mean time we buy almost all our seeds.
This year we had a combination of leftover seeds, and lots of gifted seeds. This slightly reduced the amount of total seeds we had to buy. We bought all or our seeds from 4 catalogs. It just became way too mind numbing to comparison shop through more than 4 catalogs. The catalogs that we used were Bakers Creek heirloom Seeds, Johnny’s Seeds, Seeds of Change, and Territorial. These gave us enough diversity in seed types to be able to choose seeds that would best fit our operations. Characteristics that we were looking for in seeds were unit size, uniqueness, flavor quality, and most importantly how well the plant would handle in our ecosystem. Spending about 300 dollars on seeds this year in this order is in line with our projected cost.
Yet this doesn’t include the cost of seed potatoes, cover crops, garlic, and starter onions. The cost is then increased if we consider plants purchases, such as trees, shrubs, herbs, and other perennials. We are projecting the cost for all new plant life on the farm to be about 1000 dollars.

We actually went to look at some fruit trees today.  Gabe saw some she liked.  The trees from this nusery in Murphy were pretty large, and the price reflected their size.  The bigger the trees thes sooner we get some fruit.  2 years instead of 5 years.