Finally, we are in the time of year when the pace slows down just a bit – and we can at least take a breath between tasks. With the cooler weather the last few days too, we have all been able to work a little easier and keep our spirits up. The melons however aren’t quite as happy about the cool evenings – they love the hot days and hot nights we have been having - as evidenced by the bumper crop of watermelons and honeydews, cantaloupes and Asian melons. We’ve tried quite a few new varieties of melons this year in our search to find more box-packing user friendly sized melons. The last couple of years, we’ve had some mongo sized watermelons, which while great to eat, make packing and carrying your boxes a weight-lifting exercise.
The eggplants too are wonderful this year – not sure exactly why, but every variety we have is producing in abundance. We are really excited about the hot pink Dancer and Orient Charm as well as the Thai green. And of course the purples are always so beautiful. If you don’t already love to cook and eat eggplant, this is the year to find some great recipes and get on board.
Over the weekend, we set new lines of drip irrigation along our new seedings and on Tuesday, set lines along some of the row crops. Though we got a little rain today – about a quarter inch, the ground is really dry – and you can see it in all the crops – even though we are on a rotation of drip irrigation on most of our crops – though unfortunately not the late sweet corn. We are really hoping for more rain soon before it begins making ears.
The pig waterer is finally fixed – the float back in place – and the horde is happy with a constant water source. We are hoping that the fix lasts for at least a while if not the rest of the summer and that the pigs don’t root so much in the dirt that they fill it all back up with sand. They are surely growing fast now – most of us are a little intimidated about getting into the pen with them – 15 happy and friendly 100+ pounders who want to taste you and rub themselves against you – and incidentally maybe knock you over.
We separated our ewes (female sheep) from our ram in preparation for the upcoming breeding season. Jed – the ram – in not very happy about his new bachelor state. We had moved him to a farther away pen, and while we were going about our other chores, Gigi noticed him in our back yard. Unfortunately a fence panel was open and he quickly made his way back toward his ladies. We managed to contain him in the back yard, catching him in a dead end by the Narragansett turkey’s pen. So we decided to put him in the goat pen and move the goats into a new temporary pen by the Narragansetts. Everyone seems happy or at least resigned – thought the goats did immediately taste and rip off the tar paper that Nolan and Maria just put on the chicken house in preparation for siding that building. We quickly removed the rest of the paper from that side, salvaging it and rolling it up to put back on when the goats move back home.
We’ve begun flushing the ewes – feeding a bit of grain so they are gaining weight when we are ready to breed – about October 10. If the ewes are gaining weight – they drop more ova and we get more twin lambs. They ewes don’t know this is what we are doing, they just know they are back on the feeding schedule and they like it.
Nolan began cutting down the stalks of the harvested sweet corn today. We will be feeding the stalks to Apple and Rhubarb. The cows will eat every bit of the leaves and small ears of corn left, leaving only the toughest of the stalk.
It is definitely looking like fall here at the farm – even the dry beans (black turtle and Jacob’s cattle) are already drying off and will soon be ready to pick. Every field is looking not just crisp from dryness but from just being done for fall. We have lots of ripe pumpkins and the squash is all maturing. It does seem a bit early – I don’t know – maybe this means an early frost??? We hope not. Maybe it just means a longer fall with more days to enjoy these fall fruits.
Until next week….
The Bread Box
Your bread this week again is Homestead Pain Au Levain. Made with our ‘Madre’ firm white starter, it has Whole wheat, Rye and Unbleached white flours. Shaped and baked in a batard shape, it is a bit heartier than our Rustic White bread but it is just as great spread with pesto or honey or butter or made into a pannini sandwich as I did this week. I spread the bread with pesto, layered chicken, sliced tomato, red pepper rings, onion rings, and goat cheese and fried on both sided. Wonderful!
What’s in your Share
Spaghetti Squash – Small Wonder
(cook by poking a few holes in the shell, place on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour or until a fork pokes in easily. Cut in half, remove seeds and with a fork scrape the flesh into spaghetti like strands. Top with your favorite spaghetti sauce.)
Summer Squash – Lita, Elite, Pattypans, Zephyr, Horn of Plenty
Onions – Walla Walla
Potatoes – Norkotah Russet
Eggplant – Galine (large purple) Dancer (med pink) Orient Express (small thin purple) Orient Charm (small thin pink), Thai green
Peppers – Sweet – Jimmy Nardello (look hot – curled green or red 6” x 1”) [Jimmy Nardello is an sweet Italian frying pepper]
Peppers – Hot – Serrano del Sol – green 3” x ½ “ – very hot
Basil – Ararat (Thai purple), Genovese green
Watermelon or Honeydew or Asian Melon or Cantaloupe
Watermelons: Blacktail Mountain (small round dark green –red flesh) Sweet Beauty (small oval striped – red) Sunshine (round striped – yellow) Sweet Siberian (oval striped – orange) New Queen (round striped – orange)
Honeydews: Diplomat or Passport (round lightly netted green to yellow with green flesh)
Asian Melon – Sun Jewel (oval striped yellow and cream with sweet tropical tasting white flesh)
Cantaloupe – Pulsar, Superstar, Eclipse, Burpee Hybrid – all heavy netting with deep sutures
Kale – Red Russian
[Hint – at the farm we keep a big container of melons – red, yellow and orange watermelons, cantaloupe, honeydew and Asian melon all cut up (slice into wedges – mark off into chunks, then cut along the rind to make chunks) and mixed together. We serve this at every meal and don’t seem to ever get tired of it.]
[Hint – serve your favorite chicken salad in a half of a cantaloupe. I make a curried salad with craisins and cashews and serve it over cubes of cantaloupe instead of the half melon.]
[Hint – try making a watermelon or cantaloupe salsa – substitute melon instead of tomatoes or add some of each. Experiment with colors combinations for interesting salsas.]