Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

  • Story_of_a_Seed
  • Daikon and turnips
  • Dynamic duo
  • Foggy and frosty walk
  • Architecture
  • Red choy
  • Claytor Lake Dam
  • Turnips
  • Oyster bar
  • Bait?
  • Prepping peppers for jelly
  • Oak Island
  • Covered in case of frost
  • French Breakfast and Helios radishes
  • It's a trap!
  • Wasp stinging the worm
  • Hot peppers

Latest

Story of a seed

Ever think about the process of providing?

What?

Well, let me rephrase.

Ever ponder the process of putting vitals on your plate?

That’s right…the tremendous tale of how we tantalize our tummies?

Huh?

OK. The path of production – plant a seed, watch it grow, pamper it, and BOOM – you have produce (hopefully)!

Part of the reason I am trying to become a farmer is because I am completely fascinated with the whole process of going from seed to plate.

This info I am about to share with you came from High Mowing Seed’s blog. I thought it was a pretty cool portrayal of a seed’s life.

The title of the poster is “The Story of a Seed – From Pollination to Your Plate.”

Have a look see:

Story_of_a_Seed

From High Mowing Seeds

Daikon

Still peeved that I let the frost damage so much of our gorgeous produce, I was excited to pull our first daikon radishes from the field this morning. I’ve never grown these…or eaten them before. The greens were nipped, but the radishes seemed OK.

Now I can see why these things are planted to loosen compacted soil! Gigantic.

Daikon and turnips

Daikon and turnips

Curious to see what these taste like.

Have any favorite recipes?

Weekend pasture walk

The Wonder Dogs took a stroll with me to stretch our legs and investigate the world around us.

Here is what we found.

Dynamic duo

Dynamic duo

What's this?

What’s this?

A frozen pond! Cool.

A frozen pond! Cool.

Turtle under the ice

Turtle under the ice

Helpers

Helpers

2015 Grower’s Academy

I was pleased to learn that the Grower’s Academy was rescheduled for 2015 in Wytheville, VA. What a great opportunity for beginning farmers to learn about starting an agricultural business and for existing farmers to discover how to expand their existing operation.

The Grower’s Academy class Jordan and I attended in 2012 helped guide our nebulous daydream of farming into a living, breathing reality. What knowledge and confidence that course gave us! As an added benefit, we gained lasting connections to local growers who became mentors, friends, and real-time sources of information.

If you are at all interested in farming or want to see how you can make your existing operation more productive, you should consider this course.

Just had to share it with you all….

2015 Grower's Academy Wytheville VA

2015 Grower’s Academy Wytheville VA

 

Radio silence

Sorry for the long “radio” silence. Awkward and disappointing…my apologies.

It has been a rather hectic end to the market season, and surprisingly, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. (How did that happen?)

The farm “to-do” list hasn’t shortened. Nope. The only thing short around here is time and daylight. How in the world am I to get everything mulched when it is dark by 5:30pm? When will I get these garlic cloves planted if the ground stays frozen? What will our days be like when our pig and heifer move out here?

The other interesting dilemma at the moment is the fact that I still have half of the garden producing…but I am hesitant to market anything. Huh? Well, if I go to harvest anything in the morning, odds are that it will be frozen (despite being under row covers). Solid. If I go to harvest anything in the evening, the same thing could be faced. Wacky.

At any rate, I remain hopeful that this weekend will be very productive…that I will get the lovely garlic cloves in the ground and tucked in for winter. That I will finish cleaning out the dead summer plants from the main garden. That all bare ground will be covered with the new straw that just got delivered over the weekend….and that all the producing items will be lovingly mulched so as to make it possible to even pick them!

Have any weekend plans? Are you bored? Tired of being cooped up inside? It’s actually supposed to be decent on Saturday. Come on out. I am sure we could find something for you to do! :)

 

Frost

This morning was crisp and crystalline…my first farm frost.

Foggy and frosty walk

Foggy and frosty walk

Forgotten sweatshirt

Forgotten sweatshirt

Frost on grass

Frost on grass

Frost on clover

Frost on clover

Unfazed dogs

Unfazed Wonder dogs

Travel

It is always interesting to travel, to see new places and people.

Architecture

Architecture

Cabled suspension bridge in Omaha, Nebraska leading to Iowa.

But…

Take off

Take off – view of Iowa

 

Somewhere over NC

Somewhere over NC

It is always good to be home.

 

Making the mad dash

I am so very grateful for an understanding boss and for friends and family who love and support our farming efforts!

It was a mad mad dash today. Winter arrives…….TONIGHT! The folks came out and pulled all the pepper plants, picking off all hot and bell peppers in order to save them from the impending arctic blast. I left work early to try and get the rest of the productive beds covered with row covers to help decrease chill injury. Ideally, I also would’ve mulched the heck out of all the beds with a comfy, thick layer of straw. Of course, as is typical with my part-time farming adventure, I am usually late enacting what I want to do. No one’s fault. It is just life and how it works out.

At least these beauties are tucked in and have a better shot of withstanding the rain, snow flurries, and blustery winds that are forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. (Wind chill in the 20s? Seriously? Oh boy).

Bok choi

Bok choi

Red choy

Red choy

New River

Just some morning mists on the New River this morning:

Claytor Lake Dam

Claytor Lake Dam

Fall reflections on the New

Fall reflections on the New

Salad turnips

I posted a little blurb on our Facebook site the other day about the fact that this year was a first for me and turnips…specifically salad turnips (Hakurei variety).

Salad turnips

Salad turnips

This WEEK was a first for me in actually eating the darn things. Yep. I know. I grew them in the spring and now for the fall, and not once did I eat any until now.

What was I thinking? These things are fabulous!

It all started with a little weeding and accidentally harvest of a pretty turnip. What the heck, I brushed off the dirt and ate it right there on the spot…then proceed to pick a bunch more for dinner. DELICIOUS.

So later that evening, I found a very simple recipe on Epicurious for sautéed salad turnips. The original recipe called for turnips, water, butter, salt and sugar (I didn’t add the recipe amount and boy was I glad of that. The turnips are sweet enough as is). I made the recipe again last night with a few modifications. Here is what I did:

Turnips

Turnips

I cleaned about 6-8 turnips with cool water, cut off the tops (setting aside) and trimmed off the tiny root. I then quartered the root and put it in a pan. I added sliced onion and enough chicken broth to allow the turnips to boil. A pinch of Kosher salt, some fresh ground pepper. Bring all to a boil and cook until turnips are tender (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Turnip greens

Turnip greens

Then…add the greens and cook until they are wilted. Please don’t throw those beauties away. The greens are a good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins,  vitamins A, C, E & K, and several minerals.

Read More http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2704/2#ixzz3Hf4S4Rg3

We wound up with a nice side for our grilled pork chop covered in pepper jelly and gorgonzola cheese, fresh from the garden green beans, and wild rice.

Dinner!

Dinner!

YUM!!!

 

Celebrating farm to table

We took a break from the beach for a day and took a trip to Kinston, NC. Huh? Where?

Yay, I know. Never heard of it either…until we watched some local TV.

What’s in Kinston? Well, a celebration of eating local, of bringing the farm to the table.

We love PBS. What does that have to do with it? Well, Jordan and I got hooked on a series airing here in NC called “A Chef’s Life.” It features chef Vivian Howard and the restaurant she and her husband run (the restaurant is called Chef & the Farmer) in small town USA – Kinston, NC. Vivian Howard’s focus is to feature local sources of foods – seafoods, vegetables, fruits, beef and so on, serving them up with flair and style all while trying to revitalize her hometown. The show also showed the couple starting up a bar called the boiler room, offering a different take on an oyster bar. The show follows the team’s creation of menus, follows them to the farms and captures their interaction with local farmers and purveyors of proteins, and traces the planning and eventual opening of their new bar.

We were hooked and pleasantly surprised to find a trip to Kinston to check out the actual establishments wouldn’t be all that difficult. So…we went on a PBS inspired culinary adventure to visit the boiler room oyster bar and Chef & the Farmer restaurant.

Oyster bar

Oyster bar

First stop was the bar, the boiler room. Industrial, clean and sleek. Very cool interior. But we were there for the food. A half peck of steamed oysters and a butterbean burger were ordered……and devoured. I don’t eat oysters. They aren’t my go-to choice of seafood, but these monsters were succulent. We had served with the oysters fresh horseradish, cocktail sauce and delicious lemon infused butter as well as some amazing homemade saltines. I was converted. To wash these guys down, we ordered beer from Mother Earth Brewery…the brewery conveniently located across the street. As for the main dish, the butterbean burger (we watched the episode that gave birth to this burger), was absolutely delicious. You’d never know it was a bean based burger. The bartender was kind enough to book us a table across the street, and with time to spare, we decided to check out the neighborhood brewery.

MEB

MEB

Mother Earth Brewing was created by two local guys who started off as home brewers. Here’s a little excerpt from their website and brochure:

“To the entire Mother Earth family, life is an art, and it requires artfully-crafted beverages with which to wash it down. Whatever your passion, make sure you’re doing it with the ones you love. This company’s greatest hope is to have the privilege of simply being invited along.

This is the story of Mother Earth Brewing Company: two guys with roots in a family town set out to make great beer brewed close to nature. And this is their mission:  To help you savor the goodness of Mother Earth.”

The brews all were fresh and delicious. The tap room was super cool.

Tap room

Tap room

The beer garden looked inviting…

Beer garden

Beer garden

We are heading back to Kinston Saturday, on our way back home, to spend a little time at MEB’s 5 year anniversary party. It just sounded like too much fun to ignore.

After hanging out at MEB for a spell, we walked over to Chef & the Farmer restaurant. Mind you, this was Wednesday. Our reservations were at 6:30….and we were glad we had them. The place was HOPPING!!!!

Chef and the Farmer

Chef & the Farmer

Very cool interior. Bar. Open kitchen with a community table running in front along the prep area (prime viewing of all the cooking). Gas/wood fired stove. Incredible vibe and vitality. Place was humming.

We decided to sample each section, sharing between us the kitchen offerings. We started with peach BBQ pork belly kabobs followed by a country ham and kershaw squash risotto (brought both out at same time). I lost my head with the excitement of the place and the anticipation of it all and neglected to photograph the restaurant OR these two dishes. It doesn’t matter though. Both dishes disappeared in seconds. The pork belly – succulent. Could taste the peach in the glaze. The meat literally melted in your mouth. Cilantro sprouts as garnish added a great spice to the tasty meat squares. The risotto was equally as amazing. The country ham was salted but not to the point of making you pucker. The dish was smooth, creamy, and so stinking good.

For our main course, we went with the seared tuna. This restaurant features local sources. We knew the fish was going to be good. What really caught our eye is what it was paired with: black rice and collards, persimmons, and pomegranate. What? Take a look:

Tuna

Tuna

AMAZING!!! The white was kohlrabi strips which added a nice crunch and flavor. The black rice had a little fresh parsley and mint. The persimmon sauce also had a hint of curry. The dish was simply delicious. People, I don’t eat oysters. I don’t eat tuna. That night I did. Part of the fun (and one of the reasons why I love Jordan) is to go outside of your comfort zone. Jordan and I always try to sample the local fare and to pick things we wouldn’t normally get in our neck of the woods. This night, I was way out of my comfort zone and LOVED it. So very worth it.

We finished with some delicious coffee, a muscadine cobbler with goat cheese ice cream (WHAT? It was wicked and cut the cobbler’s sweetness just right) and a mocha something parfait.

 

Life at the beach

I always enjoy time spent at the beach.

Sunset

Sunset

It’s beautiful, it is relaxing…peaceful…calming. Very much so. But it’s also so much more. It is life…it is living. The waves are like breaths, rhythmic and without thought. The water full of beings and movement…very mysterious. There is always something to see and to explore. I am not a sunbather. I am not a surfer. I’d be interested in fishing, but I haven’t tried that yet. Mostly, I am a seeker. Shells. Animals. Cool beach things.

Here are cool encounters we’ve had so far:

Bait?

Bait?

Jelly

Jelly

Flounder

Flounder 

Dolphins

I took seven plus minutes of video (click on the “dolphins” hyperlink above to see a trimmed down version), completely fascinated by these dolphins, at a least three of them, working together (had to be) to get some fishing done. Wild stuff.

Migration

Migration

Then leaving our “camp” on the point (Long Beach) this evening, we noticed some monarchs fluttering around an evergreen. Butterflies have been all over the island, in mid-migration – but we’ve not seen this many at once or in one spot before.

Monarchs

Monarchs

So INCREDIBLY cool!!!

Butterfly bush

Butterfly bush

Hot Pepper Jelly

What to do on a rainy, dreary day?

Why, some canning, of course!

It was a good weekend to get in the kitchen and start preserving some of the remaining summer fruits. Saturday was a day for making hot pepper jelly. Today was devoted to pickling pepperocini peppers. Still in waiting are oodles more jalapeños (more jelly and some pickling), more pepperocinis, some Hungarian hot waxes (thinking of drying these), serranos and habaneros that I will probably dry, too.

Prepping peppers for jelly

Prepping peppers for jelly

Lesson learned...I wear gloves

Lesson learned…I wear gloves

Stirring in the pectin

Stirring in the pectin

The recipe calls for the option of adding food coloring, but the peppers confer a natural, lovely green color to the jelly. Food coloring? Pshaw. Au natural is nicer.

What’s your favorite way to preserve hot peppers?

End of our official market season…so what’s next

It is, indeed, the end of our official market season. I’ve emptied all the market gear out of my truck (Wow! It’s so roomy), put away some of the processing supplies, entered all the sales data.

So…what happens now?

Well, the garden is a living, breathing being, of course, so work will continue to maintain what is actively producing for as long as we can (the hope is through the winter, but that may be a challenge without any tunnels/hoop houses), to clean up what is finished producing, and keep working to prepare the garden for next year. Yep. We always try to think ahead.

Aside from that, there will be a little time to catch our breath and partake of some of this:

Oak Island

Oak Island

Yes…we are eagerly anticipating a beach trip. What a treat to have a little down time, a little personal time. It’s invigorating.

Then, we have to take care of things like this:

Tires

Tires

How often do you come home from work to a stack of new tires waiting for you at your door? Well, this day and age I guess it happens pretty often. Merry Christmas to the farm truck.

Then, there will be a lot more (gonna try anyway) of this:

Pickled Beets

Pickled Beets

Canning, freezing, dehydrating…all that good stuff so that we can keep eating ALL THAT GOOD STUFF!!!!

In the meantime, even though we won’t be trekking here and there, we’ll keep rolling with on farm sales. Need or want anything, just give us a shout. And many sincerest thanks to all the folks who stopped by our stands this season. We appreciate the support and loved the camaraderie!

 

Crisp weather

We had our first “felt like fall” weekend where our overnight temperatures fell into the 30s. Luckily for us, we had no frost and stayed toward the upper end of the temperature range. Still, it was a chilly, crisp weekend. As much as I love the promise and excitement that comes with the first warm days of spring, I find the crystal clear skies and nip of a fall breeze invigorating. We had a busy weekend that mixed business and pleasure (market day and winery tour with friends), but we were able to protect a good many of our crops for that “just in case” possibility of a killing frost. Farming on a ridge with some (usually) stout westerly winds can be a challenge weather-wise.

Covered in case of frost

Covered in case of frost

These covered rows contain lettuce mescluns, mustard mesclun, radishes, turnips, head lettuces and beyond the row of zinnias (just can just see the tops of more row covers) are the greens (bok choy, Chinese lettuce (which is a cabbage), tatsoi, kales, collards, chards, arugulas).

At any rate, with the weather warming up again this week, I have a little more time to deal with what is still growing in our fields. Our average first frost date is October 15th for our area. The clock is ticking! It is time to get busy in the kitchen and do some more preserving of veggies!

Winter prep

Winter prep

As you can see in the back ground (behind the shed) there are just a few covered rows (green beans) surrounded by a lot of nothing. The bare spots have been seeded with a cover crop mix (oat and Australian Winter Pea). After tomorrow’s market, any beans that are harvested will be canned. In the foreground are still very lush rows of carrots and beets. These rows will get mulched and row covered with hopes of over-wintering these crops for continued good eats. To the left of the shed and that bare ground are the peppers and herbs. They are un-protected at the moment (had me holding my breath this weekend). I will start harvesting the hot and bell peppers throughout this and the following weeks and begin drying, freezing and canning. Eventually, that whole side of the garden will be in cover crop (I hope) and the front half will continue in production through the fall/winter.

Finally, our front yard has some contour rows that contain our fall planting of potatoes. They’ll get a nice, thick layer of straw mulch for over-winter protection. We had potatoes all last year, and it was wonderful to just go outside and dig up what we needed when we needed!

As for our market season, we are excited to head to our favorite community venue tomorrow (Oct 7th) – the Pulaski train depot. Our friends at the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce are hosting a Harvest Craft Fair with a ton of vendors (including PTHF). There will be music, food and fun from 4 – 8. This event will mark our final official setup for the season, though we welcome anyone out to the farm if there is something you crave. I will keep posting under our Current Harvest Tab and on Facebook what we have growing. We also hope to keep up some deliveries to Annie Kay’s in Blacksburg.

So – that is what’s happening in the garden at the moment. Many thanks to our volunteers who came out yesterday to help with some of the cleanup (of finished summer crops) and weeding. Always amazing how much gets done when there are a couple of extra pairs of hands around. Hope everyone was able to enjoy the beautiful weekend and the lovely display of fall colors happening to our trees.

Radishes!

The fall crop of radishes – nearly all – are ready!

French Breakfast and Helios radishes

French Breakfast and Helios radishes

Some of these went to Annie Kay’s (Blacksburg) to woo them over for the future. What is available at AK’s are some bell peppers, French Fingerling potatoes, and arugula! Yum!

Simple Sunday on the Farm

Here are some random gratuitous photos from our simple Sunday on the farm. Hope you had an enjoyable day, too.

It's a trap!

It’s a trap!

Ripe (delicious) persimmon

Ripe (delicious) persimmon

Anyone have suggestions of what to do with these? We have 3 trees. The fruits are pretty perishable.

Jack o lantern starting to turn orange

Jack o lantern starting to turn orange

Splash of color

Splash of color

Relaxing on the hammock

Relaxing on the hammock

Close up

Close up

 Keeping watch

Keeping watch

Smoke signals

Smoke signals

Predation

While at market yesterday, a worm emerged from one of the squashes (hey, we follow organic growing practices…bugs come with the territory), and I got to watch my own version of National Geographic Explorer on my very table as predation in all its aggressive goriness happened before my very eyes…out of NO WHERE came a wasp (yellow jacket). He immediately found the worm. No delay. The worm was done for…

Wasp stinging the worm

Wasp stinging the worm

Wasp sucking the life juices

Wasp sucking the life juices

The wasp came and went a few times.

Worm is now headless

Worm is now headless

Worm is  chewed up

Worm is chewed up

The wasp and worm had to be flicked off my table so I could finish packing up. The worm flew into two pieces. The wasp seemed sluggish, no doubt satieted…but he found the pieces on the ground and kept at it. Wild Kingdom. Roar.

Tonight’s dinner feature – the poblano pepper

I wonder now why I didn’t take a picture. Too busy I suppose, but it would be nice to show you what tonight’s dinner feature – the poblano pepper – looked like.

Until tonight, I had never eaten a poblano pepper before, so don’t ask me why I chose to grow them this year. I’ve been curious to know what they were like and finally got around to taking action.

The poblano is a pretty pepper…dark forest green, shiny and firm. From what I have read, this Mexican lovely has half the heat of a jalapeño though the intensity can vary. Apparently, the pepper ripens to a deep, near black red. When ripe, the heat is the most intense. A dried poblano takes the term ancho (wide) because the pepper flattens out (widely) and is heart shaped. My next foray will be in preservation. From what I have read, poblanos freeze well. As mentioned above, they commonly are dried. Finally, these peppers can be canned. I hope to try all 3 methods of preserving these beauties.

Now, for tonight’s dinner…I found a recipe online (acouplecooks.com/2010/09/stuffed-poblano-peppers/) for stuffed poblano peppers to which I made some modifications (in parenthesis and italics). Jordan declared it a success. Here are the details:

Stuffed Poblano Peppers
acouplecooks.com/2010/09/stuffed-poblano-peppers/

 Ingredients

  • 4 poblano peppers (I used 6, 2 large and 4 smaller sized peppers)
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (or 4 cups of any cooked grain) (my favorite grain is short grain brown rice that I get from Annie Kay’s; I cook the rice in chicken broth in a rice cooker)
  • I browned some ground beef and ground pork (not in original recipe)
  • 1½ cups salsa (didn’t measure; salsa was medium heat)
  • 1 15 oz. can of black bean (didn’t drain)
  • 1½ cups frozen or canned corn kernels (small can of whole kernel corn; drained)
  • 3 green onions (optional) (chopped one red onion)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (didn’t measure)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (did’t have)
  • Cayenne to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Shredded cheese (we used a Mexican blend)
  • Chopped cilantro for serving (optional)
 Directions
  1. Combine 1 cup uncooked rice with 2 cups water (2 cups rice and chicken broth – enough to cover – in rice cooker). Bring to a boil, then simmer according to package instructions. (Or, prepare the rice or grain ahead of time.)
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the peppers: slice them in half and remove the seeds and ribs. Make sure to wear gloves!
  3. Place the peppers in a baking dish skin side up. Broil about 7 minutes, then flip the peppers and broil 7 minutes more.
  4. Chop the 3 green onions (of course the onion should be included and not option, just my opinion, again I used one red onion chopped), and drain (did not drain) and rinse the black beans.
  5. Brown the ground beef and pork; drain.
  6. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine (instead, to skillet with browned meat I added): beans, onions, 1½ cups salsa, 1½ cups corn, a bit of the shredded cheese, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder (nope), a couple dashes of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste. When the rice is finished, combine with the filling (in the skillet it went)
  7. Place the pepper halves skin side down in a baking dish, and spoon the filing into each half. Top with shredded cheese and broil until the cheese is melted, for about 1½ to 2 minutes.
  8. If desired (it was, I had a little cilantro that had not gone to seed and you betcha I picked it), garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with sour cream.
 Notes
Alternative oven method: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Follow Steps 2, 4 and 5 above to prepare the peppers and filling. Then bake until the peppers are tender and browned, around 25 to 30 minutes.

Market Updates

Well, it certainly feels like fall, doesn’t it? In accordance with this official change of seasons, many of the summer crops have been removed and the ground has been readied for (hopefully) a lush growth of cover crops.

Though things like cucumbers, tomatoes and summer squashes have come and gone, we do have some cool season crops starting to kick in. Ready to harvest are lettuce mesclun, mustard mesclun, arugula, Swiss chards in addition to our usual carrots, beets, peppers, cherry tomatoes and potatoes.

Hot peppers

Hot peppers

So, to update our market schedule, here is so info:

  • Today is our last market at Warm Hearth Village. We truly have enjoyed our time there and are grateful to the resident and staff support shown to us. We look forward to coming back in the spring!!!

 

  • Saturday, I will be at the South Main Street Blacksburg Community Farmer’s Market. I’ll be there the following Saturday, too. October 4th will mark our last market there for this fall.

 

  • Tuesday, October 7th from 4-8 we will be at the Pulaski Harvest Craft Fair event at the old train depot, our final formal market appearance!

As always, you can give us a call or come out to the farm. Hope to see you soon!

craftedincarhartt

a blog about women who do amazing things

Jillaroo Jess

Memoirs of a country bumpkin..

Fresh Ingredients

“You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients.” ― Julia Child

FrugalFeeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

Sustainable Market Farming

Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres

sethsnap

Photographs from my world.

Sandyfoot Farm

Growing a market garden in the Piedmont of Virginia

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman | Ree Drummond

Natural, farm fresh produce. Grown with love.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 219 other followers

%d bloggers like this: