July 14, 2009

CSA News for the Week of July 13th

This Week's Vegetable Share:
  • Green Cabbage
  • Cipollini Onions
  • Fresh Dill
  • Cucumbers (not all cukes from our farm. See Notes from the Farm Kitchen for more info.)
  • Green Onions
  • Gold Beets
  • Tuscan or Green Curly Kale
  • Fresh Basil
  • Zucchini and/or Summer Squash
  • Cauliflower or Green Beans (depending on your pickup site, you will get one of these two items this week, and the other item next week)

This Week's Fruit Share:
  • Blueberries
  • Sour (Pie) Cherries

Farm Journal
Tuesday evening, 7:30 p.m.
As we round the corner, there they are in plain sight. Three full-grown deer are standing in the middle of our lettuce field. I clamp my foot down on the accelerator and head straight for them. My intrepid Ford Windstar goes bucking and flying over the bumps, and the girls in their carseats are whooping it up in the backseat. I lay on the horn for a full 5 seconds as the deer hightail it for the treeline. I fly down the field road and jam on the brakes inches from the thick line of brush. I pause long enough to lay on the horn again. Aah... another not-so-peaceful evening on the farm.
OK, so I would be fibbing if I said that some part of me didn't enjoy the adrenaline rush of our nightly ritual, but I'd trade it in a heartbeat for the security of knowing that our entire mid-summer lettuce crop was not in imminent danger. As it stands, there's really not a whole lot we can do to keep these unwanted creatures from feasting on our lettuce. Hunting is not an option in our densely-populated neighborhood, and fencing them out would be prohibitively expensive.

As organic farmers certified by USDA, we are obliged to follow guidelines that require us to promote and enhance biological diversity and to provide wildlife habitat on our farm. This requirement isn't so onerous when it comes to things like insects, worms, frogs and birds. We are happy to accomodate, for example, birds like kildeers who lay their eggs on the ground right in the rows of beets and carrots. We patiently cultivate around their nests every spring, careful not to upset all the mama kildeers by driving the tractor too close to their precious eggs (see photos below). In addition to birds and insects, we recognize the important ecological roles played by all the small mammals who make their homes here, even those whose presense can be problematic; Opposums and skunks are known to prey on chickens. Coyotes do damage to irrigation lines running too close to their dens. Squirrels chew holes in greenhouse plastic. (These things can certainly be a challenge, yet I wonder how often we stop to consider the list of complaints the animals might have about us humans!) At any rate, worms, insects, birds, frogs, and even coyotes--these are all animals I can appreciate for their own particular contributions to our local ecosystem. It's those darned deer that I have a hard time coexisting with. I suppose I ought to try harder to make my peace with these animals. In the meantime I will continue to secretly enjoy the whooping and hollering at dusk. I'm not ready to give in yet!
Have a good week. --Peg

Notes from the Farm Kitchen

If you are a pie-baker, then these sour cherries are what you’ve been waiting for! If baking pies isn’t your thing, try adding a handful to your favorite muffin or quick-bread recipe. On a different note, don’t forget that tart cherries can be useful in creating savory dishes. Try the glaze recipe below and see what you think. If you aren’t going to use your cherries this week, pit them and pop them in a freezer bag for use later. Remember, sour cherry season is very short. This may be the only week you receive them.
Blueberries are also extremely easy to freeze. Simply wash them and put them into a freezer bag. Once they've been thawed, they're great for pancakes, smoothies, waffle topping, ice cream, crepes and so much more.

Once again, we have two different kinds of cucumbers this week. The long, skinny ones have been grown by our friends Kay Jensen and Paul Ehrhardt of JenEhr Family Farm in Sun Prairie Wisconsin. They are English cucumbers grown on trellises. The others are regular field cucumbers grown on plants that spread out along the ground here at our farm.

Tuscan kale is another one of those vegetables that goes by many different names. Some folks know it as dinosaur kale, others as lacinato kale, and still others know it by its Italian name, cavolo nero. This particular kind of kale is quite attractive to insect pests, which can make it tricky to grow. It is worth the effort, though, because Tuscan kale is considered the kale with the best flavor and texture.

Cipollini onions are Italian varieties that are typically smaller and flatter than storage onions. They have a slightly higher sugar content than most storage onions, and may be used in many different ways.

This Week's Recipes

Next Week's Harvest (our best guess)... carrots, green beans, maybe sweet corn, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, cilantro, apricots, peaches, plums and more.