Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving Thanks

When Marian & I decided to become farmers, it was with a nod toward self sufficiency. Sure, we wanted to bring our food to market and feed our friends and neighbors, but really, it was to be able to go to the pantry and open a jar of tomatoes, open the freezer and get a bag of frozen peas or corn, or walk into the cheese room and get a wheel of cheese.
Yesterday when the weatherman said there would be polar high pressure directly overhead, we knew it was now or never for the spinach ravioli. Always the final feather in our garden preserving cap, we got to work. And here it is, a list of all the veggies and fruits we put up this season;
1. 27 bags of frozen sweet peas. The peas are shelled, blanched for 90 seconds, drained and 2 cups g0 into each bag. The perfect amount for pasta & peas.
2. blueberries, we freeze about 35 pounds. They are so easy to process. Just put into bags ( no need to wash ), freeze and take out as needed. We love them put frozen in our morning granola.
3.Sweet corn. 37 two cup bags , They are blanched on the cob, then the kernels are removed, and put into 2 cup bags. 2 bags make 1 pot of corn chowder
4. Peaches. Bought by the bushel, canned in a simple syrup, we put up 35 quarts. We break them out in late winter to perk up the granola, it's like having the returning sun in a cereal bowl.
5. Tomatoes. I have already written about how we put them up. This year we canned 45 quarts of whole tomatoes, 10 quarts of puree, and 5 quarts of dried tomatoes.
6. Salsa. We made one batch this year, 18 pints. We use a variety of peppers, all fire roasted.
7. Tomato jam. one batch , 7 pints
8. Tomato sauce frozen in pints for a quick pizza, 11 pints
9. Cross cut pickles. Bread and butter type, 7 quarts
10. Pickled beets 7 pints
11. frozen red peppers, 2 bags regular, and 2 bags of roasted red peppers
12. roasted and dried or frozen hot peppers.
13. Battered eggplant slices , 5 bags frozen. Another perfect quick dinner. Just take them out of the freezer, layer with tomato sauce, and cheese and bake.
14. Chard. 6 bags frozen. Chard is picked, wilted in a pot, rinsed with cold water, chopped, and put into 1 pound bags
15. spinach, frozen like the chard. 13 one pound packages.
16. Onions and shallots, enough to get us through till next summer. They winter in boxes in our cold cellar.
17. Potatoes, also enough to get us through. They also are fine in boxes, and will last until spring.
18. Carrots, preserved by being layered with maple leaves in containers. 3 15 gallon barrels will last through spring , the dogs go through 4 separate boxes (really)
19. Puff ball mushrooms, dried and stored in jars
20. Strawberry & Raspberry Jam
21. And our finale, spinach raviolis, 12 dozen.

So, the garden of 2010 is put to bed. Tomorrow the seed catalogs start arriving, and on it will go. The winter will find us in the barn milking our cows, making cheese and butter, and all things bovine.
A wonderful Thanksgiving to you.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Summer Reflections

It's a rainy, cold November day, and I find myself thinking about the summer, and all the wonders that went along with it. We were not sure how this summer was going to turn out. Marian was scheduled for hip surgery on June 1st, and we, who usually work the garden along with one helper realized we needed more help than usual. But, as luck would have it, everything turned out more wonderful than we ever could have imagined. To begin, our wonderful friend and long time worker, Lauren, came back after 2 years away. She is the kind of help that you might imagine, but could never believe existed. The kind of person who is aware of everything around her, knowing , like us, what needs to be done next, and after that too. I have watched her rototill, picking weeds in the rows as she went. Or, realizing the leeks hadn't been tilled, stop and hill them on her way to something else. Truly, an amazing woman.

Lauren, Marjorie & Marian

Then along came Mary and Kate. I never could have believed that we'd find such wonderful, dedicated workers. They usually worked on different days, but when they did overlap, they chatted away like old friends. We consider ourselves blessed to have worked with such fabulous, hardworking, delightful women, and even though they are new friends, I feel like they will be friends for life.

Kate, Marian, Marjorie & Mary
Zuri & Utani ( our dogs)

In the peppers

We also needed extra help unloading hay this summer, and I know I did a piece on the hay unloading, but here, again, is our wonderful hay crew

Marjorie, Matthew, Elias, Bruce & Dean

So, as it turned out, Marian healed wonderfully, we met wonderful people to work with, enriching our lives is so many ways. And the garden grew and thrived after being showered with so much love.