Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sitting on a log in the middle of the woods I was suddenly reminded of the fact that I haven't posted on either blog in days. Crap.

Well, I'm currently foraging for wild berries, so that's a bit of an good excuse! Found a sea of wild blackberries this morning, as well as several large wild gooseberry shrubs. Yay!

This is the haul so far!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Produce Boxes - What's Available July 26, 2011

It's finally time to get into the swing of summer harvesting! This week I have lots available, and lots more on the way! This is the first time I have posted about produce boxes publicly (rather than just to friends) so if you have any questions I have posted all sorts of information at the bottom of this entry.
Comment here or contact me directly to order a fresh produce box!

Just a reminder that all of our produce is grown from heirloom seeds. Our farm is not certified organic, but we grow using only organic practices and we use sustainable methods when possible. This means: your watermelons will have seeds but they'll be worth it; your beans may be curvy but they'll have flavor; your pears will have spots but they'll be richly flavored and sweet... You get the idea. I wouldn't grow these things if I didn't think the end produce was utterly worth it.

Currently harvesting:
  • traditional zucchini
  • heirloom light green zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • slicing cucumbers
  • purple string beans
  • yellow string beans
  • green string beans
  • leaf lettuce (green leaf, red leaf, forellenschluss)
  • Baby spinach
  • Basil
  • Cilantro (nearing it's end!)
  • Snap peas
  • sunflowers
  • cut flowers
  • borage
  • nettles
  • purslane
  • lambsquarters
  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • raspberries (limited)
  • duck eggs
  • mini sweet onions
Coming soon:
  • Heirloom tomatoes! All colors, shapes and sizes - cherry, oxheart and paste!
  • Heirloom and rare french charentais and cantaloupe melons (10 varieties!)
  • Homegrown garlic (heads are small and flavorful this year!)
  • Indian cucumbers
  • Sugar baby watermelons
  • Golden Midget watermelons
  • Butternut squash
  • Ground cherries
  • Carrots
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Elderberries 
  • Delicata Squash
  • Lady Godiva Squash
  • Additional winter squash and pumkins
  • Mixed fingerling potatoes
  • Organic pears (yes they'll have spots, but they're delicious!)
  • Organic apples (yes they'll have spots, but they're delicious)

How do produce boxes work? They're just like a pay-as-you-go CSA (and all proceeds go toward next year's produce operation). You may order a small or large produce box and I will fill them with whatever is available. If you have specific requests, I'll do my best to honor them. Boxes will be filled with diverse produce and will represent our fruits and vegetables at their best.

Here is an example of each size box and what they might contain:

Small produce box - $15
  • 1-2 lb heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 pt heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 mixed summer squash
  • 1 bunch lettuce or mixed greens
  • 1 bunch basil or other herb
  • 1-2 heads garlic
  • 1 bunch foraged greens
Large produce box - $25
  • 1-2 lb heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 pt heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 mixed summer squash
  • 2 bunch lettuce or mixed greens
  • 1 bunch basil or other herb
  • 1-2 heads garlic
  • 2 bunch foraged greens
  • 2-3 cucumbers
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 delicata squash
  • 1 bunch mixed cut flowers
  • 1-2 charentais melons
Examples of other extras you may find in your box, depending on how my season goes are:
  • jellys, jams, preserves
  • pickles
  • fresh oyster mushrooms
  • tomato sauce
  • fresh baked goods
  • easy-prep pizza crusts (i'll include recipes)
  • perennial plants (if desired)
  • granola

Also available, beginning today: Purebred Khaki Campbell Ducklings

Our ducklings are finally 4 weeks old and ready to go to new homes. They are purebred, upright, excellent foragers and great at mosquito control. They are also the most efficient laying heirloom duck breed, and make fast-growing meat birds as well. With a little work, you can even acclimate them to handling and coming when called.
Our birds have been great about not getting broody when you pull eggs every day or two, but if you wish them to brood and hatch simply leave them their eggs and they'll set until hatching. They make great mothers as well.

Khaki Campbell Ducklings - $8 each or 3 ducklings for $20

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Nearly time to go home!

    I have so much to share with you and no real Internet connection! Ugh!

    My brother has had an encounter with the mink and I have stories to share (though I'm hoping Ben will share them himself as a guest blogger!)

    No worries, though... I'm home tomorrow and I'll have two weeks off of camp so it'll be back to blogging and gardening asap.

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    A Tart and Tangy Tedious Task

    On Saturday I managed to convince my very own Jeremy to go gooseberry picking with me. If you've never picked gooseberries, you might be under the impression it's a simple and relaxing endeavor. However, if you have I'm sure you're no huge fan of the overwhelming evil thorns that guard the jewel-like translucent berries. Where blackberry canes prickle at you in a sort of offensive "I'm gonna get you" way, but gooseberries are sly coming at you from below and gripping as if their lives depend on it. They seem to slap your hand away from their almost phosphorescent fruits. Despite these defenses, we managed to pick 5 pounds of gooseberries and we escaped with our lives. My arms, however, are covered in war wounds (whereas Jeremy's are not) because I tend to dive in any time I see a good lookin' berry, regardless of it's defenses. Ouch! Jeremy's the more tactical, careful type.

    Thus, most of yesterday and this morning were spent tediously plucking stems and blossoms from each and every gooseberry (this is called "tailing"). Every time I work with gooseberries I regret it as soon as I start tailing them.

    Then, almost as if by magic, as soon as I begin baking or canning with them my regret turns to utter appreciation as I smell their unique almost citrusy-bright juices. They may be the most tedious berry I've ever worked with, but it's totally worth it. Yum.
    Are there any fruits that drive you bonkers to work with? Is it worth it in the end?

    Sunday, July 17, 2011

    The Cutest little Menace


    We have had our defenses breached by a sly, devious menace. He slips in and out leaving no trace of his presence but the thick destruction of poultry. Mr Mink is a bastard. He first killed on Thursday night, making quick work of every single quail in the pen. He killed every bird, then lined them up and proceeded to decapitate one of them. Was he sending me a warning?

    I couldn't help but think GEEZ what a jerk.

    So I've been diligently trying to trap the little assassin for the past few nights. Last night he struck again, taking two buckeye chicks. He had the audacity to drag one off, right in front of my face!

    I'm pretty irritated about the whole thing. I could handle a raccoon, or a opossum, or maybe even a fox just by beefing up security a bit... but this little guy can get through any defenses. They're small enough to squeeze through spaces that are less than 1" in diameter. How am I supposed to compete with that?! Ah well. Such is life on the farm. Mr. Mink probably has a family to provide for, and I respect that, but there are lots of critters he could bring home without decimating my poultry...

    Have you ever had to deal with a devious predator? Did you ever trap/kill it, or does it still terrorize your barnyard?

    Update July 16th: Alas, the mink struck again and took out two of our buckeye chicks. It's like he's systematically going one by one from rarest breed/species to least rare. Ugh.

    Update July 17th: One of our chicks is a serious badass! After an entire 24 hours hiding god-knows-where, one of the chicks presumed dead actually turned up in the barn yard unscathed! I'm so happy to have her back, I just hope the mink doesn't strike again any time soon...

    Update July 18th: This morning I first checked on the chicks at midnight, then again at three. When I went out at three one of the traps was moved like something had gotten caught but then dragged itself out of the trap. It gave me a flicker of hope...

    I went out again after getting up around 8 AM to check on everybody. The mink has been mostly striking an hour after dawn or an hour before dusk so it seemed like a good time to check. Well, there wasn't a mink in any of my traps, but of the eight traps I set (I'm desperate, folks) I could only find seven of them! One of them was missing, and as all chickens are unharmed and accounted for I'm assuming it was some other critter that got caught. I'm hoping that the mink has dragged itself and the trap off to an undisclosed location to die, but at the same time it's almost worse now knowing whether it's alive or not than it is knowing I have to watch out for it.

    Ah well... hopefully that's the last we've seen of him for a while. I'm a little bummed I can't taxidermy him for a little warning plaque to go on the barn wall... (or, as my brother suggested, a fancy Victorian-style hat!) Mwahaha.

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    The Waxing of Summer

     Like the slow phases of the moon, the summer harvest season seems to creep into existence every year. Spring harvest always feels like a little miniature firework, with peas, salad greens and other cool spring crops all exploding into readiness with amazing speed, giving way to a torrent of each, but Summer?

    Summer harvest is more like the distant approach of a thunderstorm. You can see it on the horizon, and hear soft rumbling as it echos across the land, heralding the onslaught of overabundance. You know that you planted your tomatoes to close together again, or your cucumber trellises will never stand up to the size the plants have gotten. You know that you're going to have more than enough produce, and yet there's always this uncertainty. As the storm comes ever closer and closer, you might be plagued by cucumber beetles, or a sudden drought (or both, thank you very much, 2011!) and your confidence waivers until at last *KAPOW!*

    It's here!

    Tanglewood Farm is currently harvesting:
    • Lemon Boy Tomatoes
    • Baby Cucumbers
    • Lettuce, Lettuce, Lettuce
    • Spinach
    • Shelling Peas
    • Snap Peas
    • String Beans
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Raspberries
    • Late Strawberries
    • Black Raspberries
    • Radishes
    • Swiss Chard
    • New Potatoes
    • Quail Eggs
    • Duck Eggs
    Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My! This is just the beginning, but with the crack and crumble of the breaking of the flood gates (Gertrude Stein?), summer harvest has begun and it won't let up until frost!

    Are you ready for your summer harvest? What are you currently harvesting, and what are you looking forward to in the next few weeks?

    Just a reminder, we sell our produce locally from our farm. Not all of the things I listed above are available in great abundance yet, and I tend to covet our berry harvests for preserves, but if you are looking for a local resource of no-spray, heirloom vegetables let me know and I'll be happy to hook you up!

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Friday Favorites: Ducklings

    This week's Friday Favorite (FF) is definitely ducklings! They're less messy than grown ducks, unfathomably soft, adorably clumsy, hilariously independent and they can provide literally hours of entertainment for anyone who cares to sit still and watch them.

    You may remember when I posted (on twitter and facebook, I believe) that I was letting the lady-ducks set on their nest a few weeks ago. We had hoped to get at least few ducks. I personally had my fingers crossed for at least three since last year only one duckling made it after the cold snap (and unfortunately he turned out to be male).


    Last week the eggs began to hatch, and out popped eleven glassy eyed, confused little puff balls! Yes, eleven. I had no idea there were going to be so many ducklings. It's honestly more than I had wanted to care for, but since the mom's do most of the work I'm not too worried about it. I just have to muck their coop more often and fill their water a few times a day, really. Obviously it's worth it to see a little flood of ducklings trailing around after their mothers like wake after a boat. The first few days they stayed inside mostly. The mothers were (and still are) incredibly protective so I have very few photographs. 

     Finally after the babies were old enough to venture out, the mothers started taking them out into the world. I've never heard of poultry raising their young together, and I'm pretty sure Fleur and Tonks are unique in that they work together to care for their little fuzzballs.

    After a few days of outdoor acclimation, I was able to get close enough to the ducklings to snatch a few and check for health. They're all bright eyed and feisty (perhaps a little much so) and I couldn't help but snuggle a couple against my cheek as they peep-peep-peeped to their mothers. 

    All of our ducks are named after members of The Order of the Phoenix, from Harry Potter. Actually, that's kind of a stretch. We named last year's duckling "Neville" since he was always getting picked on and I know Neville wasn't technically a member of the order, but he was a member of the D.A., so I figured he totally deserved to have a duck named after him. The other ducks are Fleur, Bill, Tonks and Remus. We'll be looking for other female Order names in a few weeks when we're able to tell which ducklings are male and female. Unless there are a plethora of female ducklings, we'll be keeping them all and finding homes for the males (or else they hit freezer camp in a few months).

    For now the moms are taking excellent care of the ducklings. They take trips to the low water pan that I have out for them, and whenever the ducklings get tired the moms tuck them into a little bundle and sit either on or beside them, never sleeping. Sometimes they hide in the tall grass, especially after a close call. I saw a perfect example of this earlier this morning; I ran out after hearing a commotion and found the mother ducks scolding an over-zealous bluejay who apparently had tried to make off with a duckling. It's got to be a tough life, but they know what they're doing.

    Do you have a favorite baby farm animal? Have you been able to resist the temptation to pick it up and rub it against your cheek? :)

    Today is Friday, so I'll be blogging over at Not Dabbling in Normal in just a little while here. Be sure to check out today's post on my recent introduction to sour cherries and cherry jam!

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    Dreaming of Summer Harvests

    Last night I had a fantastic dream:

    Jeremy and I had just made some new friends and we were going to their house for the first time. When we got there, I noticed they had a fantastic pear tree in their yard and it was covered in itty bitty ripe pears. I asked them about the tree and they said it was a rare variety that begins to ripen early in July. They said they'd always wanted to do something with the pears but had never really known what to try. Naturally I suggested picking them and canning them in light syrup!

    The next part of my dream was an amazing 80's style montage of us canning sliced and whole pears to Tears for Fears' "Head Over Heels". Their kitchen was fantastically retro and we were wearing aprons. The very end of the dream (just before Gertrude woke me) I remember asking them to let me take grafts from their tree and then having to explain a graft to them. Explaining grafting to a "new friend" in a dream is pretty difficult, so I'm glad I got out of that one when I did!

    Anyway, this was my first canning dream, and I can't imagine I'll have a lot of them. Still, I find myself daily thinking about all of the pears we'll have late this summer. Seckle pears are by far my favorite and it may seem silly but I sit here amidst harvests of snap peas, black raspberries, red raspberries and more, having just woken from a dream of pears, and all I can do is day dream about them now that I'm awake!

    Is there anything you look forward to harvesting so much that it invades your dreams?

    Monday, July 4, 2011

    Summer is here (and I'm out there!)

    Well folks, you may have noticed my posting has become drastically reduced since the summer hit. Things have gotten too busy to bear around here, and unfortunately that means that blogging has taken a bit of a shove to the back burners.

    I will still be posting as often as I can find time to - no worries there! I just wanted to post quickly to let you know that when I'm not in here posting I am probably outside: pulling weeds, dragging hoses, building new poultry runs, picking raspberries, training horses... or maybe I've found time to sit quietly in the mosquito-netting-ed shade with a glass of elderflower spritzer and a book.

    What is keeping you outside these days?