Bunkhouse Construction ~ Seeds Ordered ~ Farm Dinners ~
It finally feels like winter here on the farm. It’s been nice to have some snow stick around for a few days and give us a break from the never-ending mud! I’ve been enjoying seeing familiar names roll in for the CSA, and a few new ones – there is still room to sign up if you haven’t.
We are keeping busier than normal this winter with the slow and steady construction on the bunkhouse (Martha’s been wondering if we should call it something different, but Ken’s happy to keep calling it the bunkhouse). We have installed the rest of the second floor, which involved cutting down trees in the woodlot and sawing them, making them into beams and installing them in the timberframe already standing, and then laying the floorboards. The floorboards were dried in the woodkiln that you CSA members last year may remembered being constructed in August. Now we have electricians running the wire to install the electricity, and when that is finished, we are going to get busy with insulation, vapor barrier, drywall, taping, mudding and painting! Martha and Ken are hoping to have an operational kitchen and bathroom by April, when the interns arrive.
In January, we mulched the strawberries – it’s always one of the last outdoor jobs of the season – we got to it a little bit late this year, but they’re pretty forgiving. We use our own organic straw for the mulching, which is nice because sometimes it’s hard to find organic straw to buy for that sort of thing. The straw is from the oats, wheat, spelt or rye that we use on the farm to feed to the animals, and for Seth’s bread at La Houlette de Vie. The strawberries like to be protected from the wind and from the freeze/thaw cycles that often accompany the warm up in the spring. When it warms and the plants start to grow again in the spring, we rake the straw from the top of the rows into the aisles and it helps to insulate the soil, prevent erosion, keep the strawberries clean and provides a nice soft place for us to kneel while we pick the berries in June.
We have hired three new interns for this season – a couple with quite a bit of farming experience in Quebec and Germany, and a fellow from Guelph with a culinary background. It’s always interesting to get to know a new crew of people and see what they have to bring to the table. They will arrive April 2nd and stay until October.
I’ve been planning the garden – what will go where, what seeds we have, what we need to order. I ordered seeds this year from Tourne Sol, which is a co-operative organic farm in Quebec, founded by one of our past apprentices. Here are some of the new things that I’ve ordered this year – fava and edamame beans, ground cherries, flint corn – a relatively rare variety called Roy Calais – that has both red and yellow kernels and a really lovely corn-y flavor to the cornmeal…the dry corn is a test and you’ll probably only get a small portion of cornmeal, but it will be fun to try and may show up in some farm dinners in the future. We also have poblano peppers (when they’re red and dried we call them ‘ancho’ peppers – same pepper though) in the order, and some ‘snow leopard’ melons that are white with green markings on the outside, with a fragrant orange flesh. I also went a little nuts with the flower order – as long as I can get them to grow into plants, you should expect a new and different variety of flowers in the garden for picking this year! I love architectural plants and so I’ve ordered some that I will use the foliage or seeds as décor, and some more flowers suitable for drying. I love love love having flowers in the pick up room and in the house in the summer. It’s got to be one of my top 10 favorite things about living on the farm, which I think is a little silly sometimes, but the heart wants what the wants!
The other thing in the works is some loose planning of the farm dinners for 2017! I’ve got a 50 seat dinners planned for Saturdays June 17th, July 8th and September 23rd. I expect tickets will go fast, and CSA members will get first dibs. Stayed tuned for more details!
What have you been cooking this winter? A few members have said that they’re just working through the last of their squash, or root vegetables. We have been eating well here on the farm, with a lot of vegetables in the root cellar and cooler. Last week I made root vegetable latkes – like potato pancakes, but with potato, celeriac, rutabaga and onion, bound with egg and cornstarch. We have been eating corn and peas from the freezer and just unearthed a motherlode of strawberries, so we’ve been making smoothies and ‘strawberry shakes’ – a staple of my childhood – growing up on a strawberry farm had its perks! We have also been enjoying the ‘fruits’ of our preserving labor – tomato soup made from tomato sauce that we canned, jams and jellies and juices, that eggplant pickle that I wouldn’t shut up about in August – so delicious! I also find a lot more time to ferment in the winter – seems like the wrong season, but we still have so many root vegetables that are perfect for fermenting into pickles and krauts.
Take care and stay warm.