Hibernation

February 3rd, 2015

It is January, the depth of winter.  Our days our cold and gray, often punctuated with a dusting of snow.  This is the month for dreaming, for reading , for catching up on sleep.  It is also the month for planning.  I pine away my days huddled in my cozy little office with a view of the outside world going over seed catalogs, filing 2014 papers, organizing and catching up on all the things we skip over when the season is in full swing.  This year I have spent more time honing the art of meal prep.  It has taken me years of bumbling around in the kitchen, full of raw energy and desire but not much else.  This year has been different.  I am beginning to feel a comfort that has been lacking.  A familiarity with ingredient and technique.  Like gardening I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me and yet I have had those moments when I’ve put together a meal that is both appealing to the eye and to the mouth.

This art of cookery brings me back to gardening and gardening back to kitchen.  While preparing meals I dream of these ingredients  collected at peak ripeness, of walking the garden picking items that soon will join our feast.  The real trick is finding the time to both grow and eat these culinary delights.  It is my hope I will find this possible with the addition of our hoop houses that I continue to work on when weather allows.

This January I finally took a winter vacation.  It had always been my goal or plan to hit the open road in January to places unknown but like the kitchen I always seemed to find other things that kept me away.  Not this year, for two weeks this month I escaped to beautiful Montana, joining my good friend from the Colorado days for a wonderful time skiing and soaking in hot springs.  I took my daughters with me the first week and was able to share with them my love of skiing and the mountains.  What a strange feeling to be both excited that your child is learning and seeming to enjoy something that has played such a big part of my life (skiing) and down right fearful they are going to run directly into a tree and get hurt.  Emotions moves from weeee to wooo and back again with surprising speed.

 

I’ve Become a Birder

February 3rd, 2015

Sometime over the last year I have taken up the hobby of birding.  It seems like a coming of age pastime.  At some point in all of our lives we begin to take interest in these winged creatures that fill our day with song and color.  My sister began a few years before me, when visiting her and her husband we would sit at their little breakfast table and watch the birds gathering, jostling around the feeder positioned under the closest pine tree.  I was always amazed, perhaps even a little jealous how knowledgeable she is about her birds.  Then several years back while visiting an Amish farmer I work with I was entertained as I sipped coffee at their kitchen table by the frequent winged visitors at a feeder they had constructed so that it sat right at the window.  This was the inspiration I needed to come up with a similar feeder that now graces my kitchen window.  What joy to sit eating breakfast joined by Juncos, Chickadees, Cardinals, nuthatch, Sparrows and  other more rare winter visitors.  So far my favorite bird sighting though has to be the Ruby Crowned Kinglet.  I’m not sure why this little fellow holds place as my favorite, the way it flitters about, its tiny stature, cute little ruby crown visible only while in flight or its here and gone nature but it tops my birding list.  What about You?

 

The Results Are In

December 15th, 2014

Good afternoon my friends.  It has been an unusually warm and rather wet last couple of days.  As of an hour ago the dense fog that has surrounded us has lifted and I see there is still a world beyond our boarders.

Well its December and its time for me to start thinking about the coming season.  Honestly I haven’t stopped thinking about it but its time to share my thoughts.  First I would like to thank all who responded to our end of the year survey, this year we received 40 responses, up from 24 the year before.  What fun it was to read what you all had to say.  I would like to share with you the results.

Overall 60% of you rated our CSA program as excellent, 35% where satisfied and 5% said we need to make improvements.  This results echoes what I heard all season long from those of you that communicated with me.  At the end of our 2013 season about 17% of the folks response that we need to make improvements.  I feel one of the biggest improvements we made was this newsletter, communication goes a long ways, so again thanks for the reminder.

Recipes, newsletters, eggs and fruit are the things most folks really liked.  Less cabbage, less exotic potatoes and overripe smushed  tomatoes where definitely an issue this year.  Greens, fruit of all kinds, carrots, fingerling potatoes,  culinary herbs and summer squash came up time and time again as people favorite foods.

Doing a survey at the end of the season has been so helpful for me.  Not to mention any feedback we get during the season.  CSA’s are a challenge to run and are a commitment on your end.  One of the biggest challenges I see for our CSA is in pleasing everyone, the fact is we just can’t do it.  One person says we send to many greens, another can’t get enough.  Someone hates beets (my father) another person want them every week.  These are the main challenges we all face when choose to eat locally.  How blessed are we!  I accept your challenge and in the article below I will show you how we are stepping up our game.  Now let me put a challenge out to you.  I challenge you to continue to change the way you think about food.  Think about how lucky you are to live in this time of plenty.  Find ways to celebrate what is in season.  Commit to your farm and push us to improve.  Together we will redefine what it means to eat locally.

 

Greenhouse Construction

December 15th, 2014

What happens when you put together winter down time with farmer and rented bulldozer?  Well you get some major earth moving projects, that’s what!  Construction has finally begun on 4 30’x60’ hoop houses that will be ready for production in late winter early spring of 2015.  For those of you that sign up for our 2015 season I guarantee you will see the results.  I won’t go into detail regarding what might be in these new house but you can be rest assured you will see in increased diversity in the type of product that will show up during the start of our season.  Items you many not normally see until later in the season.  Stay tuned!

 

Farming Through The Winter

November 26th, 2014

Although the air is freezing and our fields lay dormant a farmers work is never done.  This time of year you will find me mostly in my office.  I take this time to clean out my files, review last years growing plans, preparing for the changes we will make for the next season and go  over the financial records.  Then there are all the meet and greets with customers and trade shows to attend.  Of course I will certainly squeeze in a few escapes to a ski hill.  Last season I didn’t ski a single day and when I tell my old ski buddies that their responses are rip with disgust.  How can I live with myself?  Its the motivation I need to right that wrong.  Although it feels strange to say it now, soon enough the seeds will begin to arrive and the season will start again.  By as early as February 1st we will start our planting season, this next year early then ever to fill our  new hoop houses.

 

I’ve Got 4 Letters For You C-O-L-D

November 26th, 2014

Well it is certainly a different scene out hear on the farm then just a couple weeks ago.  Snow and cold have appeared with a vengeance and honestly I’m still adjusting.  I will get the hang of it soon enough and when that temperature gauge climbs back into the thirties or even into the twenties it will feel like a heat wave.  Despite the cold weather though our pack shed is warm, we have a nice fire going as I type.  In the relative comfort of our shed we wash and pack bounty collected from the fields before the cold weather hit.  These items, if treated right, will last for months , earning their reputation as storage crops.  Once you receive your share just place all the root crops in your crisper and keep them in a plastic bag for maximum length of storage.  If they are not encased in plastic they due tend to dry out.  The squash and potatoes can just go into a cooler spot in the kitchen or pantry where they should last for several months.  Unless or course you eat them!

 

Breaking Bread

August 27th, 2014

Oh what a wonderful day we had today on the farm.  After a week or so of hot-ish weather we are back into our grove of 70’s  for temps.  It makes life much more bearable when trying to complete ones tasks.

I don’t like writing about the bad or hard things when it comes to this job but yesterday was a tough day.  Not only was the staff and I beaten down by the 90 plus degree heat but I have some bad news to report when it comes to our meat chickens.  Friday was the day we had our chickens butchered and I was so pleased with the results.  I was excited to get them to those that ordered the birds after all the hard work and money that went into raising them.  Well yesterday I went to the freezer to pull one out for our dinner only to find the freezer hadn’t done its job.  How sick I felt seeing all the spoiled birds, sick and sad.  I took a long walk to collect my thoughts, when things like this happen it makes me really question the sanity of what we are doing.  Such a loss!  Today I have  regained my vigor for the work ahead, I am sorry to those of you who have ordered birds you will have to wait a bit longer because of this incident but I have learned a valuable lesson.  Sometimes I wish lessons could be learned without such loss and I suppose they are, but it seems like that is the way the universe works.

On a lighter note this year we have been coming together as a staff on Thursdays and sharing a lunch.  This is something I have wanted to do since I started Keewaydin but this is the first year we have been able to make it happen.  What fun it is to come together and share a meal using  ingredients we have planted and picked fresh from the fields.  I feel like it helps us understand the things we grow and gives us a personal connection.  Last week Alejandra taught us how to make Tamales using chard leaves.  It was truly a festive meal but as I reflect on all the meals we have shared this year they have all been a treat and that is the way it should be whether with friends family or staff. food is meant to be a festival.

 

Rainbows

July 23rd, 2014

This has been the year of the rainbow.  With our ridge top view and full arch of sky we are blessed to witness many a phenomenon of the heavens.  Approaching from the west are the thunderstorms, squalls, minute showers and full force blasts of weather which bring forth a whole wave of emotions; joy, fascination, panic, relief.  In many instances I have observed these storms move through mid afternoon or early evening, the perfect opportunity to spot a rainbow.

Rainbows are truly amazing, who can forget the video tape of the guy running outside exclaiming “Double Rainbow” at the top of his lungs, it’s a funny video and in many ways I can relate.  I know I’ve had my share of double rainbow moments, especially this year.  Scientifically speaking a rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that is caused by both reflection and refraction of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky.  The rainbow is not located at a specific distance, but comes from an optical illusion caused by any water droplets viewed from a certain angle relative to a light source. Thus, a rainbow is not an object and cannot be physically approached (maybe..). Indeed, it is impossible for an observer to see a rainbow from water droplets at any angle other than 42 degrees from the direction opposite the light source. Even if an observer sees another observer who seems “under” or “at the end of” a rainbow, the second observer will see a different rainbow—farther off—at the same angle as seen by the first observer.  So every rainbow you see is yours to enjoy.

 

 

Winter Share Sign-ups Still Open

July 23rd, 2014

I know, I know it’s too early.  Well sorry, but days are starting to get shorter again and at Keewaydin we have shifted gears. We are beginning our fall planting season so for us looking ahead,  winter doesn’t seem so far out.  Just because it cools off though doesn’t mean your vegetable fix has to come from California.  Not only are we planting a ton of storage crops to take us through the second half of the year, we are also about to embark on our plan of building multiple hoop houses for cool, hardy greens like Spinach, Kale, and Chard.  It should make for an exciting Winter CSA option.  If you like what you have gotten so far why not pick up a Winter Share.  It’s a one time delivery that could last through those cold days ahead.

 

Some Farm History

February 20th, 2014

The history of a place is something I always love learning about.  Any time I pass a historical marker on a newly traveled road I stop to read it.  I love thinking about the lives that came before me.  The same holds true for the history of this farm that we now call Keewaydin.  This locale has been a major part of my life and I could easily imagine being the only person to have lived here.  Thankfully this farms history have been recorded by past owner like Lyford Looker.  The Looker family lived here from April 2nd 1949 until they sold the farm to my parents and moved to their new home on October 30th 1976.  Through those years so many changes happened and reading the journal entries are a real trip back in time that tells the story of how agriculture changed.  When this farm was first settled by the Drake family it was sheep and wheat that ruled the freshly tamed landscape.  Eventually after disease, soil depletion and market changes the state moved to dairy farming, this land we call Keewaydin was no different.  Today though this farm as entered a third faze of its existence, vegetable production.  Again some of these changes are market, some are the calling of the owner and some are environmental.  Stay tuned as we look back at these past lives, and this farm’s history.