Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Independence Days Update (#??)

Some of our boxes as they looked last weekend. Growth has just exploded in the past two weeks for everything!

I'm more than a little behind in my updates, so this one will attempt to cover everything we've done since the last update in one big mess...

1. Plant something - Pretty much our entire garden is planted and awaiting mid-July for the fall items to go in. We still have some starts in the greenhouse to transplant (mellons and a couple of tomato plants) but everything else is happily growing already. We've got multiple types of tomatoes, peas, greens, beans, melons, squash, cukes, onions, carrots, parsnips, beets, brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, etc), strawberries, potatoes, lettuce and corn in the ground and sprouting. We've also got herbs, sunflowers, marigolds and things to chase away bugs, help the bees and beautify the place.

2. Harvest something – herbs, green onions, kale, green apples, spinach, garlic scapes, strawberries, eggs and milk.

Strawberries (Hood variety) from a local farm stand that I pass on my way home everyday.

3. Preserve something – Canned milk for the first time last weekend. We haven't opened one to try it yet, but it looks good. I've heard it'll taste a bit sweet and slightly cooked. Hopefully it'll be good for making oatmeal or cooking if not for drinking. We've got so much milk that we are considering buying another small fridge for it. We are making cheese every spare minute we've got, so hopefully we'll be able to keep up. We are also selling it to a few friends and giving it to our neighbors.

4. Reduce waste – I have been saving my dish water (I hand wash the milking equipment because we can't run the dishwashe that often) to use for watering plants. We also have started saving the whey from cheese and yogurt making to feed to the chickens. We've heard that too much into the septic system will cause trouble, so we are trying to avoid it. Our yardsale pile is growing and we really, really need to get organized enough to hold one.

5. Preparation and Storage - Dehydrated strawberries and canned strawberry jam along with the milk I mentioned above. We are making plans to expand our rain barrel system to include the goat shed and the new wood shed that my H built. This weekend, I'll be dehydrating kale as it is taking over the garden right now. I'm also going to try my hand at extracting pectin from the green apples. We've thinned quite a few from a few trees to feed to the goats, but there are TONS more that need to come down. I've done some reading and will try making pectin this coming weekend for the late summer jam season.

6. Build Community Food Systems - We have been sharing eggs and milk with our neighbors and they in turn have given us tons of delicious strawberries to devour. We have also made arrangements to trade a day's worth of physical labor for all the wood we can haul for our woodstsove next winter. Yay!

7. Eat the Food - We are doing lots of this! My H made a delicious goats milk ricotta last week and then turned it into a fabulous lasagna using ground beef from our CSA. It'll be even better when we can make it using our own tomatoes and basil later this summer! I also made a spinach and cheese strata for the second time but I made a few of my own modifications. I used our garden spinach (8 cups worth!) , 9 eggs from our girls, 3 cups of fresh goats milk, fresh organic french bread from the local market (yes, I could have made the bread but I only have so much time) and pork sausage from our CSA. It turned out delicious! Tomorrow I'll be making a stir fry with some kale, some garlic scapes, some green onions and some mustard greens - all from our garden. Oh, and I'm a BIG fan of goats milk yogurt, strained so it's a bit thicker, with a tablespoon of my fresh strawberry jam. The jam is a tad sweet on it's own but it is just perfect with the tang of the yogurt. I've been snacking on this every day this week! Eating the things we produce is definitely my favorite part of this whole farming thing we've got going on here. ;-)

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