Monday, October 17, 2016

Oct 18th and 21st

Summer's End

After what seemed like the hottest, driest, longest summer we have ever had, it has come to a close. Although this week's temps look unusually high (today is going to be 70!), several cold nights in the 30's and one in the 20's has put an abrupt stop to most of my plants. Cleaning out the fields has been an interesting task this fall.  Yes, the plants look tired but they are still LOADED with fruit!  It was the same in the peppers and eggplants. We gleaned off all the mature fruit and we were still left with several tiny fruits everywhere.  Too small to mature if we harvested, they were pulled from the field and will become compost for a future crop.  I felt sort of bad for the plants, apologizing to them that they landed in cold Maine instead of warm California.

I think we may have tomatoes at Thanksgiving!

Last week we "popped" the garlic.  This is the process of separating each individual clove from the bulb.  Since the size of the clove you plant directly correlates with the size of the bulb you'll harvest, we pick the largest, most perfect looking bulbs to pop.  I think because of the dry, most of my heads were pretty small this year, unlike my usual yields of ginormous bulbs.  Hopefully next year we will be back on track.  We planted 2-200' beds, each clove 8" apart in rows of 4, then covered it all with straw.  The straw keeps the cloves from heaving out of the ground over the winter and suppresses weeds as the plants emerge in the spring and continue to grow most of the summer.  Garlic cloves need the winter cold to indicate it's time to start sprouting.  I like to think of them cozy under the straw all winter and then rallying together to be the first plants to emerge in the spring.  Grow garlic! Grow!

Although there are still thousands of pounds of crops to harvest and several tasks to do before the snow flies, I find myself already planning for next spring.  It's a good feeling, knowing that I am excited to start all over again even after a hard growing season.  The work can be challenging/discouraging, but the rewards are usually high.  I know we ate well this summer and our freezer and canning shelves are full of goodness waiting for winter consumption...I hope you have enjoyed this summer's bounty as well and will continue to do so into the next several months. Cheers and THANK YOU for loving Little Ridge Farm!

This Week's Bounty: lettuce mix, pac choi, chinese cabbage, spinach, fennel, chard, leeks, onions, pepper, tomato, carrot, potato, hakurei turnip, kohl rabi and winter squash

Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 11th and 14th

For the Love of Food and Music

or should I say...

I had a rare moment off the farm and met Zach in New Orleans for a few days after a conference he had.  So much fun!!  One of the best places we ate was a "Dat Dog" hot dog place.  The perfect fix for a late night craving!

Crab and corn bisque, Rabbit and Chicken liver pate with pickled watermelon rinds, apple compote, blueberry compote and mustards at "Luke's".  Delectable!

Compliments of the chef at Luke's after we had a long discussion about the wonders of food...a classic New Orleans dessert, Bread Pudding with rum and home made ice cream.

Beignets and Chicory coffee from the 1862 french Cafe du Monde

Fried chicken from the famous Willie Mae's.  Oh my!

Breakfast at "The Ruby Slipper".  Zach's bloody Mary was infused with bacon and topped with dilly beans.  I had two of their signature Benedicts:
SHRIMP BOOGALOO BENEDICT Gulf shrimp sautéed with pork tasso, served over fried green tomatoes & a buttermilk biscuit, topped with poached eggs, finished with Coubion sauce 
EGGS COCHON Slow-cooked, apple-braised pork debris served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, finished with hollandaise

Lunch at "Coop's"... a little Shrimp Gumbo and Special Jambalaya.  SO. SO. GOOD!

T' Canaille at the Tropical Isle on Bourbon St.  Zydeco!

Street Fun!

Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Cha's playing at the Rock n' Bowl.  Yes they are hip down there!!!  They are making Mainers look pretty boring : )

We danced, we ate, we walked, we fully enjoyed ourselves.  Now we are dancing zydeco in the kitchen and eating home made etoufee  : )

This Week's Bounty: lettuce, onion, carrot, beet, pepper, tomato, fennel, celery, hakurei turnip with greens, lots of greens: pac choi, tat soi, kale, spinach and winter squash.

Delicata Squash -- sweet and creamy.  just wash, cut and need to peel!!  They are awesome roasted or on pizza.

Acorn Squash -- a light flavor these are yummy, stuffed, baked or in soups.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

October 4th and 7th

Autumn Harvest

We built the barn with this hoist in mind, but are now just (9 years later!) getting around to rigging it up.  The upstairs of the barn is used for storage most of the year, but when fall arrives, it's a great spot for curing our onions.  After harvest, the onions need time in a dry airy place for their skins to dry so they will last in storage all the way to May.  

We used to walk up the back stairs to the loft, one crate at a time.  It was a long and tiring task.  Now we are using a pulley to hoist 2 crates up at a time.  Much faster and much easier on the body. Although Jean did all the hoisting and she never complains so maybe she was not telling me the truth.

I stood at the top and pulled the crates into the barn and then stacked them in their respective places according to variety.  My job felt pretty long as I didn't fall out of the barn. (which is why I had Jean hoist and me pull....not because I was being lazy!)

There was certainly some behind the scenes help with getting this system going.  My Dad did all the leg work for the materials and attached the rail to the beam.  We then borrowed an old Verizon truck from a friend and Zach hoisted the new beam into the barn.  (We had the replace the beam we originally put in 9 years ago as it was rotten.)  We are still perfecting our little system, but already it made the task much less daunting.   

Carrot harvest has begun!  With a little help from our friends.  

Fall's harvest is always heavy.  Even on this small farm, we work in tons at a time.  One summer pick up week averages 1500 lbs.  We have already pulled in over 6000 lbs of storage taters, sweet potatoes, onions and winter squash.  This truck load of carrots, which will be sold to the good Shepard Food Bank, is almost 1000 lbs and we have at least 2500 lbs more to go.  There's still cabbage, beets, parsnips and turnips to haul in.  It's pretty amazing to realize how much food is produced out of tiny seeds and this small space.  And although we do have a few male work shares, it's mostly done by women : )

The cows dining on the leftover corn stalks.  I've tasted them, they are sweet like sugar cane, no wonder why they like them ; )

This Week's Bounty: lettuce, Famosa Savoy cabbage, cauliflower/romanesco, potatoes, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, hakurei turnip with greens, edemame, spinach and parsley