Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Westminster Market

Saturday was opening day at the Downtown Westminster Farmers' Market, as well as the debut of our market stand. First times tend to be memorable occasions, and this was certainly the case for us. We spent the day before market picking and washing produce, putting together trays of potted plants, and generally preparing for the big day ahead. That night we went to sleep feeling relaxed and ready.
The next morning we awoke to a find that our truck would not start. We tried every last trick we could think of to get it running, but to no avail. And so, with a bed full of plants and produce and a market about to start, we did the only think that we could think of: we gather up all of the cars on the property, filled them up as full as we could with our goods, and caravanned to market. We arrived just in time, and in high style no less - thanks to the grandparents, our convoy included a Chrysler 300, (a luxury sedan once endorsed by gangsta rapper Snoop Dog), and a Lincoln LS (another luxury sedan).
Despite the rough start to the day, it all worked out. There was a good turnout at the market, we saw lots of old friends and made many new ones as well. And, to top it all off, we sold out of all of the produce that we brought! A big thank you to everyone who stopped by our stand, as well as to everyone at the farm who helped us to get to market!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Bees Get A Second Story

Our good friend Mark came down to the farm this weekend for a visit and to check in on his bees. With rain clouds brewing above us, we managed to get in a quick inspection of the hive and were pleased to find that our ladies have been very busy drawing out comb, making honey, and generally keeping their home in good working order. We were also pleased to find that plenty of eggs had been laid, which means that the queen remains healthy and industrious. For their good work, we rewarded the bees with a second story on the hive and ten brand new frames to fill.

The absentee slum lord and his super inspect the hive

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Broccoli, Beet Greens, and Turnip Pizza

The garden has been doing great and in the past couple weeks we have been enjoying some of the delicious fruits of our labor. We have been eating lettuce for almost a month, asparagus (fruits of Linda's labor :) ) for almost two months, broccoli, beet greens, and various other fun spring yummies. Our favorite recipes are simple - roasted asparagus with a little olive oil and sea salt, steamed broccoli and beet greens, raw turnips sliced thin with a little balsamic vinegar, sauteed kale with garlic and olive oil...the list goes on. Here are a few things we have made recently.
First: Broccoli and beet green pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese. We grabbed some broccoli from the garden,

and some of those delicious beet greens from when we thinned all the beets,
and got some pasta boiling on the stove. When the pasta had about 5 minutes left, we threw in the veggies to cook along with the pasta. Strain, serve with a little butter and some fresh cheese.

Next: Pizza
Shawn LOVES to make pizza, and he is really good at it. This weekend we had Mark (bee partner and great friend) down for a visit to come to the fair and hang out with the bees! For dinner Mark (also a proficient pizza maker) and Shawn decide to make two delicious pizzas. The first was a traditional pizza with crisp crust, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil from the garden. It was unbelievable.

We had also picked some young turnips to sell at the fair, and Mark came up with a really cool idea for the second pizza.
After Shawn worked his magic on the crust, Mark drizzled an olive oil, garlic mixture over the crust, then added paper thin slices of turnips, some turnip greens, Parmesan cheese, coarse sea salt and a little more olive oil mixture. Into the 500 degree oven, and out came this:
It was SO good; the turnips crisped up like chips, the greens seared from the heat, the salt and garlic olive oil flavored the crispy crust...heaven! It's amazing how well (and how cheaply) you can eat with a little creativity.
Stay tuned for some more delicious eats....:)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Visitor and Tons of Strawberries!

This past week, Shawn's Tibetan cousin Chungdhak came by the farm for a visit and to lend us a hand. Between picking salad greens, mulching rows of beans, and thinning the beets, she shared with us her own extraordinary story, including her brave escape from Chinese occupied Tibet at the age of 11. Her account of the current state of affairs in Tibet and the oppressive polices imposed by the Chinese were shocking. We urge everyone to read up about this situation and learn what you can do to help change it - more information can be found here.

During her visit, we received a group order from the Maret School for salad mixes, kale, potted plants, and eggs. It was a lot to pick, so we were lucky to have an extra set of hands.

Harvesting salad greens

Bags of freshly picked and washed greens

We also checked in on the bees and found them to be in good shape. The queen is laying plenty of eggs, which in turn are becoming strong little bees. They have also filled up the first ten frames of their hive and so it will soon be time to add a second story!

After a solid week of work on the farm, we went down the road to Baugher's to pick strawberries. (Proof that we love what we do - our idea of taking a break from picking on our farm involves going to pick on someone else's farm).

Some of the fifty pounds of strawberries that we ended up picking!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Everything is growing!

Normally we would put these pictures into the What's Growing photo gallery - and maybe we still will - but it is just so exciting to see everything getting so big. We haven't forgotten the long snowy winter and are really appreciating the colorful new life in the garden!
Peas planted March 21st

Broccoli transplanted March 21st

Chioggia, Bull's Blood, and Detroit Dark Red beets planted March 21st

We thinned the beets today, some of them are starting to flesh out their roots! We ate these for lunch and they were soooo good.

Kale Mix and Onions planted March 25th

Chard planted April 2nd

We have also been busy at work in the high tunnel making sure everything is growing well. We strung up the tomatoes and cucumbers and stopped watering the peppers which were starting to look a little yellow. We are finally potting up some of the flowers we will be bringing to the Sustainable Living Fair on May 22nd.
The tomatoes are clipped to the strings and the trays of transplants are sitting between the tomato rows.

They are getting so big!

These are some celosia plants we just potted up, they are really colorful. You can also see how full the hanging baskets in the back have gotten. Growing, growing, growing - yay spring!!

Weeding, weeding, weeding.

On a beautiful couple of days before all of this rain, we spent hours and hours weeding the gardens. We started up in the upper garden with the lettuce, onions, and carrots and then moved to the lower garden to save the beets, cabbage, and kale. Linda came out to help for a few hours and Jaxxy hung out for a while too!

We filled this cart (7 cubic feet) several times - with weeds! At least its good for the compost.

It is amazing how much bigger and healthier everything is when it's not competing with all of those weeds. Between weeding and all the rain, some things appear to have doubled in size within a few days. It's unbelievable!

Rabbit Update

Apparently rabbits grow fast. Really fast. Faster than we can make decisions - but we did finally make one. The rabbits in the original nest in the upper garden are now much bigger and have their eyes open. Our final decision is to wait until they are old enough to potentially fend for themselves and then relocate them. A few days ago, we headed down to the main garden to relocate the second batch that were already big enough.
Well - they were already gone. We found one dead in one of the garden rows (Not sure why - maybe sick) but the rest have vanished. We destroyed the nest in hopes of spooking them should they decide to visit home. The rabbits in the upper garden are almost big enough, and hopefully we will be able to catch them in time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Guess What We Found....

We spent most of the day weeding yesterday...and when I say most, I mean all. We spent ALL of the day weeding yesterday - but more about that later. Guess what we found in the bed of broccoli. Yep. Another rabbit nest:
There are five in this nest as well, but these are older. Their eyes are open and the white spot on the top of their head is almost gone. When I picked one up, it let out a horrible squeal and the other four went running! It must have been a warning sound. I found one of the others in the grass and took them up the hill to show Mia, my niece.
She loved them, of course! They are so cute...

Shawn did some research and found out a few things about baby rabbits:
1.) The mom will not abandon the babies after you've handled them.
2.) The mom comes once at dawn and twice at dusk to feed them, she sits over the nest while they nurse.
3.) Once their eyes are open, their ears pop up, and the white spot on the top of their head disappears, they will be on their own.
4.) Rabbits are territorial and will try to stay near where they are born for the rest of their lives.

The last point is a scary one. We don't need 10 rabbits trying to live in our vegetable gardens. So far we are leaning towards two options. Either wait until they are old enough to fend for themselves and relocate them, or call the Humane Society and bring them in. We have to do something soon or they will eat all of our hard work! Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One of the harder parts of least we think so.

We got a lot done today: Dave and Shawn tilled up the lot across the street and I weeded the carrots, thinned and weeded the turnips, and thinned the Romaine lettuce. (Which, by the way, looks great - we are going to eat what I thinned - delicious!!)
The Romaine

Anyway, we have noticed that a rabbit has been hopping in and out of the electric fence. It has to be getting shocked because the holes aren't very big, here is a picture of the fence:
It has been coming in and out of one of these holes on the far side of the garden...right by the turnips:
But the turnips haven't been nibbled and the other veggies look great too. What a mystery! The turnips are thick and green, the leaves are almost untouched with the exception of a few holes from some munching bugs:
The carrots (right next to the turnips) also look good! Their tender little leaves are all perfect:
So WHAT could this rabbit be doing in here? I had forgotten about the rabbit and was enjoying the sunshine as I sat between the turnips and carrots weeding and thinning. I got about a quarter of the way down the rows and sat down at a particularly thick turnip patch to start pulling the smallest in the crowd when I heard a weird clicking noise. I couldn't figure out where it was coming from, it sounded like it was under my legs - but this was all I saw under my legs:
Just the hay we used to mulch between the rows. But I distinctly heard the sound from right I did a little digging. Hmmm:
Underneath the silky-soft ball of fur there were five warm furry creatures tucked away in a small hole. I wasn't sure what I was looking at - rats? moles? mice? had I squished them when I sat down? I was nervous about the last question, so I poked at them with one of the turnips i had just pulled. Sure enough they were perfect little baby rabbits:
When I realized this, of course i had to pick them up! They are SO cute! They haven't opened their eyes yet, but I am guessing they will soon since they are actually pretty big.

Here is the hard part: what do we do with them? We can't leave them because as they get bigger they, and their mom, will eat all our crops! Plus we really can't encourage them to keep getting past the fence. But if we move them, their mom may not find them or may decide to abandon them. For now they will stay nestled beside the turnips, but we will have to do something with them soon....