A Cold Winter Night

February 15th, 2017

The cold has returned to our land for a short spell.   A crisp northern air which bites at your nose and makes your cheeks tingle.  In the stillness of the night when all the creatures of the day have returned to their nests I don my cross country skies and venture out.  My path is laminated by the half moon hanging high above, it grows brighter and bigger each night as it wanes toward the full Wolf Moon, when the haunting call of the Wolf reminds us of the pressing hunger our wild neighbors endure in the deep of winter.   In places where a thick layer of ice coats the top of the snow the moon reflects off it as if casting light upon the open waters of some ancient sea.  I ski down Haucke Lane under the branches of the conifers lining the northern border of our driveway.  At the end of the lane I veer south
and dip into the valley, into the darkness of a lonely woods.  I’m engulfed by the trees, these sentient beings who tell their stories not with words but with creeks and groans, whispers of wind through bare branches.  Snaps and claps as the cold bores deep into their flesh making them brittle, rigid.  This is the part of the journey I long for, but in some ways, fear the most.  I feel vulnerable amoungst these giants, sounds have a strange way of bouncing, behind me I hear a swishing.  I am being followed by something I cease all movement to get a better listen, but whatever is behind me stops as well and so I move on, and so returns the noise.  Again I stop and so to the sound.  Only after doing this several more times does it dawn on my ice encrusted
brain where the whoosh comes from, me of course, or maybe my shadow.  It is my other self, the scared child looking over his shoulder for that hungry wolf.  So I pause here a moment longer, laugh inside at my silly self and then resume my journey, now back out of the forest to the top of the ridge down a long field road which follows the crest of the hill back towards the warmth of the old farmhouse.  As I approach home the cold light of the moon is supplanted by the warm electric glow of civilization streaming through a frosted window.  I smell the sweet aroma of cherry wood smoke from the stove and am greeted by the tender faithful love of a fat and happy dog.  The fragrance of a hearty dinner and the allure of a good book under deep covers await as I settle in on a cold Wisconsin winter night.

What will you find in your Fall Vegetable box?

February 15th, 2017

This is a short list of items we packed during our 8 week Fall share in 2016.  This is by no means everything you will find in your shares but at least it give you a start.

-Salad Mix

-Beets

-Head Lettuce

-Pickling Cucumbers

-Specialty English Cucumbers

-Ground Cherries

-Tomatoes

-Summer Squash

-Apples

-Zucchini

-Green Scallions

-Sweet Bulb Onions

-Carrots

-Dill

-Cilantro

-Parsley

-Kohlrabi

-Fennel

-Peppers

-Winter Squash

-Spinach

-Potatoes

-Winter Radish

-Broccoli

-Cauliflower

Welcome to Local, Seasonal Food

April 14th, 2016

When I was a novice gardener I figured the growing season began and ended with our average frost dates. After my first year of actually growing I came to realize frost doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the garden. I was even more surprised to learn that in fact cold weather sometimes has the affect of improving the flavor profile of some crops. Spinach is a classic example, on a cold morning with a heavy frost or even a freeze you will find this plant frozen solid. Now return to that same plant a couple hours later when the day has warmed and you will find a vigorous healthy, green plant ready for eating. Amazing as spinach is with regards to how it can survive cold weather the more amazing part is the flavor. Crisp, sweet, crunchy and full of flavor. Compare your winter spinach with the same crop coming out of California and you will begin to discover the true benefits of eating local.

Now that I’m not exactly a novice gardener I have come to realize our growing season is so much longer then we think. I have learned to combine the right crops with the right environmental modifying techniques to begin to think about our local vegetable season as a year round endeavor. This year with the help of several unheated greenhouses I was able to start planting in the ground around mid February. Since this is my first time trying this I had a few nerve wracking nights as temperatures outside dipped into the single digits, but in the morning after the sun had returned the plants looked beautiful.

I hope you enjoy this spring share as much as I have been enjoying growing the greens. This late winter/early spring has been a constant reminder of why I love gardening. There is always something to learn, new techniques, experiments waiting to be tried. This work is a lifetime of discovery, of wonder, and delight. At the end of the day what I delight in most is all this hard work and discover leads to one thing. A belly full of the most scrumptious food a guy could imagine!

 

2016 CSA Sign Up

January 17th, 2016

Looking for our 2016 Sign-up form?  Well here it is!  Welcome to a new year of delicious health food.

2016 CSA brochure

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 online casino 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!