Planting Garlic
Elizabeth and Suffolks – Gena and Gwen Covering up the Garlic
Bridal Veil Falls
Picking up Vegetables for Fall CSA
Celeriac Just Harvested

Ken, Bill and I have spent the last three days getting ready for the first Fall CSA pick-up! Today we were realizing that we are picking a two week share, which means double the volume that we usually prepare for our main season pick-ups, with half the people. However, things are well in hand for tomorrow and  we are looking forward to the first Fall pick-up. I am pleased to be able to use the new greenhouse as our pick-up room.  We are missing Amanda, Elizabeth and Michelle as we move forward with the season, but wish them well as they carry on with their own pursuits. We managed to get the garlic planted while everyone was here and enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal to finish off the season with an amazing sweet potato pie topped with home made sweet potato ice cream with a carmel sauce made from Mabel’s cream!

Ken and I left after Thanksgiving for a holiday on Manitoulin Island, while Bill held for fort here. We saw the salmon spawning at Bridal Veil Falls and did some hiking. It’s good to go away for some perspective, but we were happy to be home again upon our return.

I have a couple of recipes to share:



  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks, green top removed, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 celeriac, peeled, roughly diced
  • 1 potato, peeled, roughly diced
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup 35% cream
  • pinch fresh nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds for garnish
  • salt and pepper


  1. Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Once butter has melted, place leeks, onion, bay leaves and thyme in pot, stir until onions are translucent.
  3. Add white wine and reduce liquid by 2/3.
  4. Add celeriac and potato, stir.
  5. Add vegetable stock, bring up to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
  6. Cook until celeriac is tender, approximately 35-40 minutes.
  7. Transfer mixture into a food processor, puree until smooth.
  8. Stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter.
  9. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  10. To serve, garnish with sour cream and black sesame seeds.
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons onions thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium beets, cooked and quartered or (sliced in 2 inch pieces for Cylindra)
  • 6 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled


Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the vinegar, onions, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.

Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with goat cheese, and serve.



Leaving the barn yard with straw to mulch the strawberries.

When we come round to mulching strawberries for the CSA it really feels like we have come full circle in the farm year. We were discussing today whether it was the last job of the previous season or the first job of the new season. I guess that this year it is the first job of the new season since it is January 3rd. It’s hard to believe that three days ago we were planting garlic! The weather is so changeable. However, I am happy for the draft horses to have the snow to exercise in.  What a mess the winter has been so far with all the mud!

Driving to the field.

We hitched up two of our Suffolk Punch horses, Sassy and Gwen and loaded up the straw to take down to the field to mulch the strawberries with. We were waiting for the ground to freeze before we did this job, but we weren’t expecting to have so much snow over night. It was hard to see where the strawberry rows were! Caesar enjoyed coming along especially if he got to ride on the sleigh.

Caesar enjoying the ride.
Mulching the Strawberries

On another note we have been picking fresh kale from the garden, it just gets sweeter with the frost and tastes so good as a green vegetable. Kale chips are good too.  The following recipe was given to me by two different CSA members and it is very tasty.

Kale Chips with Cashews

KALE CHIPS with Cashews

Blend together in food processor:

1  Red Pepper (I use frozen ones from the summer).

1  Cup Cashews

2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Tamari Sauce (you can use soy sauce)

2  Cloves Garlic (crushed first)

1  Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast (optional)

1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

6  Cups of firmly packed Kale (tare bit size pieces of kale off  of the center stem and discard stem).

Massage the above mixture onto the kale.

Spread on a 2 cookie sheets and dry in a slow oven until crisp. You can even turn the oven off after it has warmed up and then turn it on again every hour just enough to warm up. You don’t want to cook the kale, just dehydrate it. I use my dehydrator, but not everyone has one.





Ken, Bill and Grayden harnessing up Gwen, our Suffolk horse

We have finished up a good year here at Orchard Hill Farm and are anticipating a good season in 2012. Our apprentice positions for the 2012 season are filled. We interviewed for our last apprentice position this week with and on farm visit.  Another 2012 apprentice,  Bill van Zanten, came to drive horses for the morning on Wednesday.

Planting Garlic into our Oat Cover Crop

We spent today planting more garlic just for insurance for next year. The weather has been so mild and we had some extra garlic left over so we decided to pop it in.

Ken finishing the west side of the Greenhouse

The greenhouse construction is continuing and we finished putting the poly carbonate on the west wall today. We are waiting for the ground to freeze up so we can mulch the strawberries…I getting ready to order seeds and map out the gardens for the coming season. Already I am noticing the days starting to lengthen out bit by bit and am excited as I anticipate a new greenhouse to start our seedlings in.

Tamworth Pigs with their beautiful red hair

Our composting pigs are tamworth, a rare breed, and their winter coats are beautiful red hair that glistens gold in the sunlight. I couldn’t help wanting to take a picture to share.


Beautiful Cauliflower
Last Saturday we had our first Fall CSA pick-up at the farm. Ken and I had a taste of harvesting in the rain without our apprentices to help. We did have some help from CSA friends and were very pleased to have a good showing of produce. We moved into the bunkhouse in anticipation of colder weather before the final pick-up in early December. Also our summer pick-up area doubles as our woodshed in the winter and we have it full of firewood to keep us warm this winter.
Tomatoes from the Hoophouse
The fall Cauliflower stole the show for the pick-up, but all the tomatoes from the hoop house were a close second.
Pumpkins on the Couch
We had to use the bunkhouse couch for the pumpkins. Ken wanted to put the potatoes there so we could give “couch potatoes”, but I thought they were a bit too dirty.

Martha Putting up Insulation
Now that the pick-up is over we have been able to go back to work on the greenhouse. We have used cut outs from patio doors. They have insulation between layers of aluminum and we screw nailed them to the outside of the foundation wall. Now Ken is busy back filling around the outside and then we can put the rocks inside for a heat sink. It is going to keep us busy getting it all done hopefully before the snow flies.

We finished up our main CSA season with a great group of apprentices.  We tackled a number of jobs during the apprentices’ last week to complete the season. The garlic for 2012 was planted with our Suffolk horses, the potting soil for winter started transplants mixed up and stored away, the corn ground and this year’s garlic ground was worked up and seeded to rye. We also managed to work on the foundation for the greenhouse.  Our garden area for next year was worked up and seeded down to rye and oats using our draft horses and the grain is coming up nicely.

2012 farm team: Tara, Graham, Ken, Martha, Lisa and Andy
Next Year's CSA Garden with Rye Cover Crop
Greenhouse Foundation Cement Work Finished
Andy and Suffolk Horses Seeding Rye

Transplants Waiting to be Planted

We are into our second week of our CSA pick-ups.  It is always a big push to get set up for the season.  Now we are changing the rhythm of our work week to include harvest and pick-ups twice a week.  Working Shares are signing up to come out and help with the harvest and we are getting to know new members and renewing our ties with others.  It has been a challenging spring with the cold and wet weather.  We continue to plant and transplant between rains and are now waiting for the ground to dry out yet again, before we can plant the peppers, melons, eggplant and tomatoes transplants in the main garden.

Last week the resident stallion, Chester, died due to some sort of internal problem that the vet couldn’t cure or clearly identify.  We are sad  and reminded again how fragile life can be.  We shared ownership of Chester with another Suffolk breeder and who just had a filly foal sired by Chester.  Two of our mares are due to foal in June and July so Chester will live on through his offspring.

Rhubarb Patch

Rhubarb is a main stay of our early CSA pick-ups. Go to (Ellen’s blog) from “Links We Like” in the side bar for a recipe for Rhubarb Compote with Wee Almond Cakes to accompany it. I guess almonds go with rhubarb because CSA member Bonnie Wietzel has also sent her husband’s gluten free Rhubarb/ Almond recipe:

Jason’s Delicious Dessert – Organic Rhubarb Honey Almond Crunch

Dessert base ingredients:

5 cups              Chopped organic rhubarb

1/3 cup            Liquid honey

1 tbsp               Bob’s Red Mill (Gluten Free) Almond Meal

1 tsp                  Organic cinnamon

1/2 tsp             Ground ginger

Topping ingredients:

1 1/2 cup        Sliced raw almond, crumbled by hand

1/4 cup           Coco Natura Organic coconut sweetener

1/4 cup           Liquid honey

1/4 cup           Unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp                 Cinnamon

1/4 cup          Nature’s Cargo fine Himalayan salt

In a mixing bowl, stir together rhubarb, honey, almond meal, cinnamon and ginger until well mixed.  Spoon into greased 8 cup baking dish.

Add topping:

In same mixing bowl that you just emptied out, stir together all topping ingredients.  Then sprinkle topping ingredients over the rhubarb mixture.

Bake in 375 degree fahrenheit oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and your topping is brown.

Should serve 4 to 6 people.