Every week continues to be filled up with events here at Orchard Hill Farm. On Wednesday, July 17th we had a Ecological Farmers of Ontario Field Day to demonstrate how Draft Horses can be successfully used for a small vegetable operation. It was an interesting day for participants despite the intense heat! Bill raked the wheat straw at the same time and we were able to get it into the barn the next day without any rain on it! The apprentices enjoyed throwing around straw after the heavier hay of the week before.
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
- Place 2 tablespoons of butter in a pot over medium heat.
- Once butter has melted, place leeks, onion, bay leaves and thyme in pot, stir until onions are translucent.
- Add white wine and reduce liquid by 2/3.
- Add celeriac and potato, stir.
- Add vegetable stock, bring up to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook until celeriac is tender, approximately 35-40 minutes.
- Transfer mixture into a food processor, puree until smooth.
- Stir in cream and remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- 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.
It’s time to start planting our early transplants for the CSA garden in the new greenhouse! Michelle Jory was down for a visit earlier this week and helped get the seed trays ready in between playing with Caesar and the cats, Mosquito and Courgette. Wednesday morning our daughter, Ellen, was here visiting from Oregon and she and I popped in the first seeds of the season. That meant we had to get busy and install the wood stove and the new fan to blow the hot air down into our rock storage on sunny days. Ken will be spending a lot of time monitoring the temperature of the rocks! We’ll keep you posted on how much less wood we use this year over last season when the new greenhouse was under construction and we had to use one of our hoop houses to start the plants…
Ken is itching to get back to felling the remaining trees on his list and skidding them out with his Suffolk Punch horses. He is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his new saw mill. It is sad to cut down so many walnut trees, but the lumber will be very beautiful.
Ken is the President of Elgin National Farmers Union for this year. The NFU is hosting a screening of a new farm film, To Make a Farm in Aylmer, Monday, March 12 at 7:30 at the Old Town Hall (above the library), 38 John Street South. It is about some young farmers in Grey County, Ontario with urban backgrounds, who have bought farms and started farming. Some of them have come through the CRAFT apprentice network that we are part of. Scroll down to see previews:
I also include an animated video about genetically modified alfalfa:
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Well, our season seems to be rapidly drawing to a close! Overall it has turned out to be a wonderful year for many of the crops that we grow. I’m thinking back especially to strawberries and melons, as well as bumper yields of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and fall raspberries. We grew the CSA to just over 200 shares this season. It feels like a manageable size and are happy to not get any bigger. Our apprentices and working shares have been wonderful in helping us harvest the bounty of produce that has come forth during the season. The response to our fall CSA has been very positive and we are looking forward to the challenge of extending our season to the beginning of December for a smaller group of CSA members on a bi-weekly basis – only on Saturday. The reason that we have been increasing our CSA and have expanded into the fall has been to generate more income to purchase additional land, which we have been renting from my mother. This has been made possible by the support of my mother and siblings, who want the land to stay in the family and be owned by the farmers who farm it and by all of our CSA members who have given us an income to afford to purchase the land. I was very close to my grandmother and father, who loved this farm and used teams of horses to farm it. It is with a keen sense of stewardship and responsibility that we take on the care of the land which we love and into which my roots run deep.
We have finally had time to start on the greenhouse construction again. The walls for the foundation are made out of dry laid cement block. They will have cement poured into the core and be plastered on the outsides for reinforcement. It is a building method Ken has read about and is interested to try. It ends up being like a poured cement wall, but doesn’t require cement forms. The basement of the north room will be filled with rocks to act as a heat sink for the heat that is generated when the sun shines.
Our green house construction is currently on hold for black walnut tree cutting. We have lost three horses to colic within the last year and Ken has been mulling it over in his brain and trying to sort out why. The end result is a strong suspicion that it is black walnut that is the culprit. As I write, he is cutting down the trees along the south edge of the winter paddock area. There are different symptoms of poisoning from juglone, which is in the black walnut bark, leaves, nuts and pollen. They include skin irritation, hair loss, colic, respiratory problems all of which we have seen to greater or lesser extent in our horses. The problem is that laminitis is one the main symptoms often sited and we didn’t really see that, so it threw us off. Apparently, horses that are exposed for years can sometimes develop a problem all of a sudden. It seems crazy. We have lots of walnuts bordering our pasture fields. I expect this winter we will be cutting a lot of walnut trees! Some of them are on the fence row with our neighbors, so we will have to speak to them and apply for permits to cut trees as well. Ken is now wondering if Jethro’s dropped soles, our first stallion, were related to walnuts – not over feeding… He is a disappointed with our vets, because in all the years they have been coming here they haven’t pointed out any potential problem. Sam had severe skin irritation this spring. He also grabbed a branch of walnut as he was walking by a tree when we were digging potatoes. I ripped the branch out of his mouth in the morning and that evening he had a gas attack. He recovered that time, but not the next time two weeks later. Chester was in fields near the house with walnuts in both… His condition deteriorated for unknown reasons. When he really got sick we had just put him out in the area to the south of the quonset and thinking back it was probably walnut pollen time and there are a lot of walnuts in the trees right there… apparently even small amounts of pollen can sometimes cause big reactions. Both Gena and Gewn have suffered from strange unexplained respiratory problems. If it is the problem and we can remove black walnut from the pastures and paddock areas we hope to see a positive jump in overall herd health. Here’s hoping.
We have a new replacement nine year old gelding. “Mater” has been retired from the horse pulling circuit. We suspect that he has some Suffolk blood although he isn’t registered. He probably came east as a young foal from one of the PMU farms in western Canada where they had some Suffolk horses.
The cool nights and the end of melons and sweetcorn–produce which particularly earmarks the height of summer–has reminded me that the advent of autumn is nearly upon us. In many ways this is my favorite time of year, when the mornings are cold enough to keep a hoodie on, and the heat of the day feels pleasant rather than overwhelming. The bounty of crops continues. Our melon season ends, and we are grateful for all of those stifling hot summer days which allowed for the abundance of ripe and sweet melons. After our last sweet corn harvest on Tuesday morning, we took down the raccoon fence which had so carefully protected our crop, and Ken bushhogged the tall and empty stalks. We now have fall bearing raspberries to enjoy, which are producing enough to be open for pick-your-own on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11-7, during CSA pick-up hours only, please. The bright red and green zebra tomatoes in the hoophouse continue to grow and ripen, and the paste, heirloom, and sun-gold cherry tomatoes of the field each have a unique sweetness and flavor–as long as we can harvest them before the multifarious pests who also want their share. We hope you are enjoying making up your own boxes of tomatoes so that you can sample the many varieties our fields have to offer. Other delicacies of fall–winter squash, leeks, and potatoes–will soon be coming.
A few days of warm and dry weather allowed for us to bring in the last of the second-cut hay early this week. The barn is full almost to the ceiling, and we feel confident that the horses will have enough feed to last through the winter. Getting in the last of the hay and catching up on work in the garden now allows us enough extra time to begin construction on the new greenhouse. Today is the third day in a row where the OHF crew has been faithfully and mostly-joyfully sifting through the pile of dirty rocks to wash off pebbles and mud. We need enough rocks to fill in the space below the floor of the greenhouse 3-feet high. The rocks will provide mass to store heat, however we need them to be clean to allow for air to circulate between and around rocks. Dance music and stimulating conversation has helped us to keep our energy high during this somewhat arduous task. Plus, we are all thrilled to be able to be a part of this building project–both to learn about greenhouse design and to help Ken and Martha complete construction before the cold of winter hits.
Please note that the last CSA pick-up days for the season are Tuesday October 4th, and Saturday, October 8th. If you are a working share and have not yet participated in your 5-hours of work for the season, please sign-up on the calendar in the pick-up room. We have many slots open and always look forward to your help harvesting and washing vegetables.
All season I have asked for recipes and they are now rolling in. Here are two more recipes contributed by CSA members.
Today’s pick-up had all the ingredients for one of my favourite salads ever, so I thought I would share the recipe. Bread salad may sound strange but it is so good!
1 baguette, a dense artisan style loaf works best
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, halved (seeded if necessary) and cut into bite sized pieces.
3 cups tomato, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped.
Whisk oil, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper together in a large salad bowl.
Add onion to dressing and let sit while you prepare the rest of the salad. … it softens the bite of onion and adds a nice taste to the dressing.
Slice baguette lengthwise into quarters (you should have 4 long pieces), brush with oil an grill until toasted on all sides. Remove, cool, cut into bite-sized chunks.
Add tomato, cucumber, basil and bread. Toss and serve.
* We usually serve with grilled boneless skinless chicken breast that have marinated for about 2 hours in …. 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 white wine, 2 Tbsp each fresh rosemary and thyme, 1 minced clove of garlic, 2 tsp mustard, 2 tsp sugar.
Hi Ken and Martha;
1 cup unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste.
Blend until consistency of yogourt. Massage onto kale leaves. It should be covered like a light salad dressing. Bake at 175 degrees for approx 3 hours, until crispy.
When cool, keep in an airtight container for up to a few days.
The paste recipe is easily doubled, and can keep in the fridge for a few days. It also freezes well. It is a great idea to double the batch and freeze the leftovers so that the next time you have kale, you have the paste easily available – just defrost and spread. 🙂
Give it a try! I will attempt to bring some for you next time I come down to the farm (in a few weeks).
We have received two recipes from CSA members to be shared. The first is from Vicci Coughlin:
BBQ Corn with Herb Butter
1/3 cup Orchard Hill Farm fresh basil, rosemary, chives & oregano, chop finely
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon himalayan salt or table salt
8 ears of Orchard Hill Farm fresh corn on the cob
– Mix the herbs, butter & salt by hand or in a food processor
– Take the ears of corn, remove a couple outside layers of husks on each cob, fold back the remaining husks and remove the corn silk
– Spread the butter mixture over the corn kernels and rewrap the husks around the cob
– To BBQ – put on med heat, grill till husks are a bit charred and the kernels are tender, turn often for about 15-20 min
The summer is flying by! We are grateful for the rain last night – it will save us another round of irrigation. The hot weather is bringing on our heat loving crops like eggplant, tomatoes and sweet corn. Unfortunately, the raccoons have been making a mess in the corn patch, despite the electric fence barrier. Ken put up our heavy duty fencer last night and we hope that will discourage them! We harvested our garlic this week and it is hanging up to cure. Yesterday Ken took off our early planted oats – the horses will be happy about that throughout the year. Our two foals Eli and Wendell are doing well. Their mothers went back to work this week so that we could have two teams of three horses working to plow the 2012 garden area. Lisa was employed foal sitting in a little improvised outdoor stall – the ‘playpen’ – near the field so the mothers could nurse the foals without having to come all the way up to the barn. It would take a full time photographer to keep up with all the photographs we could take every day. Let alone getting it together to share them with everyone! We’re a small farm, but a busy one that feeds many.
We continue to appreciate the efforts of our apprentices. Ryan Brennen has finished his sojourn here at Orchard Hill and Tara Smedbol will be joining us later this week for the remainder of the season. We have just had a visit from Ava Richardson, who was an apprentice here in 2003. She was visiting with her husband from Japan. Ava has been working in Japan teaching for the past three years and is hoping to return to Canada with her husband and take up farming again. We received a letter this week from Anna McFaul, who was an apprentice here in 2008 and 2009. Anna is travelling for a year and is in New Zealand enjoying all the fruit that they grow there. We regularly receive emails from past apprentices who are fondly remembering their time here, a high number of whom are now farming themselves. It’s curious to have so many fledglings fly out of our ‘nest’ here on the farm. When we see them years later, I want to know if they’re eating properly, looking healthy, found a good mate…we have a vibrant family of past apprentices.
Our daughter, Ellen, is visiting from Portland, Oregon until the end of August and we are extremely happy to have her home for a longer visit than usual. Her husband will be joining her for a week on Saturday. They are thinking of possibly moving to Ontario next year. Ellen has been busy in the kitchen doing preserving and helping to feed the crowd that gathers around our table for meals. It’s also great to have her experienced hand in the field…she and I started the CSA on our farm in 1997 to help fund her university education!