corn - plum tomatoes - cherry tomatoes - garlic - watermelon - candy stripe pepper -
eggplant - hot pepper - carrots - ZINNIAS!
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Heading into Labor Day weekend with lots of laboring on our minds… so this week I’m drawing from Pooh Sprague’s latest blog post. Also, for those that don’t know, Pooh you should get to know him. He and Anne started this farm back in 1974 and as a result, he is a wealth of knowledge. Unfortunately he is hard to peg down- we’ve often thought about installing a gps tracking device in his arm as he is one to ride tractor all day, with his phone left behind on the kitchen table- it’s unclear if this move is actually an “oh whoops” moment or not. Regardless, if you have farming on the brain or have questions about growing techniques or soil health- Talk to Pooh. For more insight on our farm from Pooh’s perspective check out the blog -Pooh's Corner- up on our website.
August 6th, 2018… he refers to lots of photos, see actual blog post for actual photos
Occasionally while racing around the farm I have to pull up and stop and stare at a vista. I refer to this phenomena as a “whoa” moment, primarily because I get temporarily disoriented as to where I am chronologically in the seasons. This photo of the tomatoes is an example, because I took a picture of them last week and they were less than a foot high and we hadn’t staked them. “It seemed like only yesterday”, the old saying goes. But of course, it was not. Here we are in August, and we are now harvesting cherry tomatoes and the plums for canning are ripening up.
The summer goes like that. This one seemingly more so. Alternately dragging on through the drought of the earlier part, we are faced with the struggle of balancing the harvest with the tail end of a planting season that goes on into early September. Although the sun is back heading south in the sky, the work days are at their longest as we deal with picking fruit and vegetables and trying to find a home for them. This year we are shorthanded as 5 individuals who approached us for summer and fall employment and we hired, decided in the eleventh hour not to show up for the first day. That has put serious demands on the remaining crew and Ray’s ability to manage what takes place in the daily field activities. That said, we have a pretty good crew that seems to be working well and efficiently together, and they seem pretty happy. It would be nice to have the weeds under control and to be doing things in a timely fashion, but I will take a good working atmosphere any day.
Just want to take a minute to recognize one of our long term employees. This relationship is so long because I first met him as a 5 year old in 1956. He had come to my Dad’s farm to work as a herdsman for the 40-50 cows that we were milking in Hillsboro. His name is George Cilley, he resides and in the house he grew up in in Bradford, NH. George commutes back and forth daily during the spring and summer and is our go-to guy for tractor and mowing work. He is one of those people for whom a good day of work and having something accomplished defines who he is. Although he is 87, he is patient, sharp, a self starter (if he breaks something, you don’t hear about it unless he can not fix it himself) and can still plow a cleaner, straighter furrow than Ray, myself or Mike. He can also fix old chairs, leaky faucets and happy to run to the Pioneer Valley for plants or parts if need be. He has as much pride in the good works and efforts as Anne, Sarah, Jenny, Mike or Ray has he does in his own. We had another retiree much like him. Eugene “Pep “ Chabot showed up the day he retired from the Hanover road crew at 66. Put in another 26 years picking vegetables and berries for us, and it was a sad day when he said he had to quit because his eyesight was failing him. Where are these guys? What is the attraction about golf courses and the concept of formal retirement that they resist? Maybe we have just been ultra fortunate to have had the help and wisdom of these highly motivated oldsters.
In other news, The new storage and pack barn is so near completion that we are already occupying it. When the crew from Ag Structures showed up on March 1st, I had serious doubts that we would be in it by the first of July, especially when winter dragged on for extra innings. But Jake and Jason made it happen and we are grateful. It has been a large project for us and at times a distraction from the demands of the seasonal work. When we first started on this farm in 1974, it was more about taking down collapsing sheds and buildings. It was strictly chainsaw carpentry: a couple of guys with some old telephone poles, rough pine and no real carpentry skills When I see how much space we have occupied in the new expanse I am amazed how we were ever able to function in the other smaller barn. All this was driven by food safety mandates and the need to protect fall root crops and store them. But the efficiencies and improvement in ergonomics has definitely improved everyone's disposition. And even the little people are enjoying it as well …there are small Radio Flyers in there and you can refer to the lower photo of Admiral Hobbs, the U Boat commander, who seems to be enjoying his new ride. So far, all good….
So as we spin towards fall, we are just trying to stay in the groove. Hopefully the weather (which has been a rollercoaster of late) will not deal us any lethal blows and we can get the fall crops up and out of the field. There is some ancient machinery that needs to function to make that happen, and maybe with the help of a few extra bodies that may yet arrive, perhaps we can slide into Thanksgiving without getting spiked. I am sure to awaken to a few more “Whoa” moments about the farm when I am caught off guard by the flight of time. At those times I often reminded of the words to a Talking Heads song……” same as it ever was, same as it ever was..”
TIPS - TRICKS - RECIPES:
Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi's Plenty(Chronicle Books, 2011)
Yall, i think i hook you up with this recipe year after year because i am continually shocked by the power of corn here. It really and truly breaks down into a delicious polenta and on top of everything else, it’s just so damn easy to make and as a result, you feel like a super-hero for making an Ottolenghi dish.
⅔ cup vegetable oil 1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 teaspoons tomato paste ¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned) 6 1/2tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
Heat up the oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely brown. Drain off as much oil as you can and discard it -- the safest way to do this is to scoop out the eggplant to a plate using a slotted spoon, then pour off the oil into a bowl before adding the eggplant back in. You can save the oil to fry lamb chops or eggs in tomorrow.
Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir with the eggplant. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside; warm it up when needed.
6 ears of corn 2 ¼ cups water
3 tablespoons butter, diced 7 ounces feta, crumbled
¼ teaspoon salt 1 pinch Black pepper
Remove the leaves and "silk" from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels -- either stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels. You want to have 1 1/4 pounds kernels.
Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.
Process them for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.
Now return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. (Be aware that if you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take a while to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter. Consider holding back some or all of the liquid. Alternately, if you like the consistency after processing, you can skip to step 5.)
Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and some pepper and optionally cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.