Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Morning Amusement

This commercial made me smile:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Quote for the Day

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."
~Aldo Leopold

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Farm Update

Friday got away from me so I didn't do a "Farm Friday." I spent the morning and part of the afternoon making deliveries. When I got home, I had a late lunch and then, unfortunately, got ready to go to the funeral of an acquaintance. So here's a quick rundown of random event and thoughts from the past week:

It's morel mushroom season here and Bill and I have risked tick bites in our quest to find them. We searched one of our pastures a few times and went into the woods near our chicken house. No luck so far. We've never found morels and are determined to find some of those illusive mushrooms this year. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, this is what morels look like:
Morchella conica 1 beentree.jpg
I finished reading Dirty Chick:  Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy. Although she has somewhat of a potty mouth, which can be off putting at times, she had me at the first sentence in the book:  "As I watched my goat eat her placenta, I was mostly impressed." I knew she was someone who was really living the life.

We got our potatoes planted, although had to miss hearing Joshua DuBois, author of The President's Devotional: The Daily Readings That Inspired President Obama, speak in order to get everything in the ground before the rain came. The rain ended up washing away some of our work - but not all.

We finally got the place where we get our GMO-free animal feed to deliver to our farm. We combined orders with two other nearby farms in order to meet the minimum order. It sure beats driving 2 1/2 hours each way plus having to worry about slowing traffic, a truck breakdown, and weather issues.

We're encouraged by the number of small sustainable farms that are springing up in our community. Unfortunately, we are a threat to some of more powerful interests and they're doing all they can to expand industrial farming and quash the local ones (the vertical integrated poultry processing facility and associated poultry houses that they're pushing in our community is one example). I read with interest David Korten's analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that could make it illegal for governments (national and local) to support local agriculture and other local businesses. Did we not learn from NAFTA that these agreements are bad? They move jobs to other countries where the workers there are essentially slaves, destroy local agriculture as the farmers cannot compete with the cheap imported food, and they turn our natural resources into commodities. I envision it as a giant monster truck, with no rear view mirrors, that has a Pacman-type apparatus on the front, barreling along eating everything in its path. Is this what we want for our world?

I've been working around the farm house, weeding the flower beds and planting some gladiola bulbs. I finally got two azalea bushes in the ground - they had been neglected in pots forever - and one is blooming! I'm going to plant some annuals around the flower beds, as well. My sage died so I bought a couple of new plants to get a jump on the season. I'm also growing some from seed, along with a few other herbs and flowers. We're going to install two more raised beds at the farm house that will be used as a demonstration at our open house next Saturday

The asparagus is coming up and our customers are so excited that we sold out the first week. Chilly, rainy weather slowed the growth but it has started picking up again today now that the weather is nice.

I've been experimenting with my iced tea, trying to make it healthier. In the past I combined a little green tea with the black tea. This week I combined 1/3 green tea, 1/3 black tea, and 1/3 rooibos (all fair trade, of course) for a delicious and more healthy beverage. Soon I'll be working on hot tea combinations since I now have a number of dried herbs to work with.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Taste of Tuesday

I has been a while since I've done a "Taste of Tuesday" post, but one of my readers asked about my bread recipes so I thought I'd share them. I make two kinds of bread - a nice crusty one and a standard sandwich-type bread. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Once upon a time ago, I was afraid of bread - yeast bread, that is. Years ago I had attempted it and ended up with a brick, so I stuck with quick breads. But then I got brave and purchased a used bread machine at a thrift shop. I was excited when I turned out my first loaf. However, it still wasn't exactly what I wanted. Then I started reading about an easy-to-make crusty bread (I believe Mark Bittman started it). I read that anyone could make this kind of bread. I thought that I fell into the anyone category so I gave it a try. I was so excited when it turned out the way it was supposed to that I took a photo of it

Then I decided to try a different, more traditional kind of bread, the kind that works best in the summer for tomato sandwiches. I've been so happy with the results that I have only bought about 2 loaves of bread in the last year (or maybe longer). I'm far from an expert on bread, though. I'm not sure of the science behind it. I do know that different kinds of flour require different amounts of water. My bread never seems to come out the same each time; but no matter the result, I find it far superior in taste to anything you can get at the grocery store - and much cheaper. Below are my two favorite recipes right now.

My first loaf of rustic bread
Rustic Artisan Bread (No Knead)

3 cups flour (you can experiment with different types)
¼ teaspoon yeast
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ¾ - 2  cups water (enough to make dough shaggy)

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover, and set aside for about 15 hours. Knead it briefly, cover, and let sit another 1 to 2 hours. Heat a covered baking dish (either a Pyrex-style or enameled cast iron pan with a lid and large enough to hold the dough) in a 450° F oven for 30 minutes. Carefully remove hot pan from oven, remove lid, sprinkle some flour in the bottom, add dough, cover, and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes, then turn bread onto cooling rack.
My first loaf of sandwich-style bread
One Hour Homemade Bread

5 1/4 cups white bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 rounded tablespoons instant yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
2 cups warm water (somewhere between 100 and 115° F)

Mix dry ingredients.  Add oil and water.  Mix for 1 minute and then check the consistency of the dough.  The dough should be very sticky.  If it is too dry, add more water. Mix for 5 minutes.  (Do not add any more flour after the dough has finished mixing.) Lightly oil kneading surface and turn dough out onto surface.  Briefly knead dough until it is smooth. Divide dough into two pieces and place in greased loaf pans.  Cover with a large dish towel, place in warm spot, and let rise for 25 minutes. Just before loaves finish rising, preheat oven to 350° F. Bake loaves for 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

Bon appetit!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Morning Amusement

Fortunately, I missed a few of these fads:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Quote for the Day

"The gross national product [now GDP] includes air pollution and for cigarettes and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors, and jails for the people who break them....It does not allow for the health of our families, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play."
~Robert Kennedy

Friday, April 10, 2015

Farm Friday

Walking with Ginny after a thunderstorm
Some highlights from the week:

  • Attended a farmers' market vendor training session; was encouraged by the number of farmers in the area who are interested in "organic" farming
  • Got to use my new clothesline - fewer loads in the dryer!
  • Heard Ellen Gustafson speak - very inspirational to me both as a farmer and as someone who was involved in the nonprofit sector; she believes local food can feed the world and that nonprofits need to solve the problem they're focused on and then have an exit strategy
  • Continued my work on a couple of writing projects
  • Started preparations for our open house
  • Took more steps to move us closer to opening our farm stay
  • Prepped for a craft show
  • Found a few shiitake mushrooms on our logs
  • Asparagus is starting to come in and I made an asparagus/wild onion pizza with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses
  • Coordinated feed orders with two other farms so now we can get our GMO-free feed delivered directly to our farm every month. Saves time and money for all of us.
Have a great week!