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.

Our First Snow

February 15th, 2017

A muted sun filters through my bedroom windows, unbroken by shades or blinds.  I blink out the sleep and roll over, outside a blanked of fresh snow covers every surface.  Overnight the first snow as graced our slice of heaven.  I’m a snow guy, I have always been moved by the way a fresh snow storm changes this world.  It hides our blemishes, our unfinished projects.  It creates opportunity for new ways of having fun, break out the skies, the snowshoes, the sleds.  Let us build a snowman, or tunnel through the mounds of snow left after clearing the roads, or lets turn our ravine into a twisting turning luge.  But not today, today is just for walking.  I head outside and trek down
the driveway.  The wind whispers through the conifers lining both sides of Haucke Lane, a background sound not unlike the sound of a distant waterfall.  Snowflakes come small and wet, they tickle my cheek and nose when they alight on my skin.  I have so many fond memories that involve snow, from childhood days on the farm, from my days in Colorado or even from my brief stint at Whitewater where I shoveled sidewalks in the early hours of the morning as a side job.  I can remember bringing the cows in from outside on a cold blustery night, their backs would be covered in snow that would quickly turn into steam as they entered the barn.  Before long the whole barn
would be filled with a dense fog from 60 large bovine.  If it was a cold night that steam would combine with the vapor of the cows breath,  it would envelope the milking area and I would find a nice warm spot by a favorite animal, make a little bed out of the uneaten hay and take a nap under the watchful eye of mother cow.  Later in life as a ski bum, fresh snow meant fresh tracks.  Surfing down a hill, catching a face full of the white stuff as you blasted through a powder covered tree run.  Now snow means the end of a season, it means taking time in the morning to sip coffee and stare out the window.  It means seed catalogs in the mail and dreams of the season to come.

People of the Hills

February 15th, 2017

I have always been draw to the hills, whether ancient geological features such as the Occooh Mountains of Southwest Wisconsin or the Rocky Mountains out west.  I love the twisting roads, the hidden valleys the mystery around the next corner.  There has been times in my life when I have lived in flat country but I found myself missing something.  It wasn’t a clear emotion, more like a back of the mind something isn’t quiet right sort of feeling.  It wasn’t till a little later in life when I feel like I figured it out.  Hill, valleys, topography, this is where I find my heart drawn.  It’s funny because I have talked to people who grew up on the plains and they have the same feeling of
place in flatter areas.  One of the aspects of hilly topography I marvel at is all the different microclimates created by the changes in elevation.  Yesterday we received our first light dusting of snow on the farm but when I drove down into the valley it was all rain.  Just that small amount of elevation was enough.  On Friday evenings I play croquet with a group of friends.  Our court is nessled in a tight valley, if conditions are right you can feel a stream of cold are moving down hill and often at a certain time of day a fog will begin to form below us as the colder air moves over the warmer ground.  When the games are over and I return to my ridgetop perch I often find the air a couple degrees
warmer.  The first and last frosts of the year happen in our valleys before we see anything on the ridge.  The first year I gardened on a professional level I was working for a farm nessled in one of the bigger valleys created by the Kickapoo river.  We often had to pick hundreds of pounds of salad greens in a day by hand.  By the end of the year I was so tired of picking salad greens I rejoiced upon seeing that frost valley as I drove into work.  It was short lived joy though as I learned it wasn’t cold enough to kill or even damage the greens.  It was my first lesson in hardy vegetable production.  Whether it’s a ridge top view or getting lost in a valley I will always find my soul in the hills.

What will you find in your Winter Vegetable box?

February 15th, 2017

This is a short list of items we packed during our 8 week Winter 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

-Turnips

-Rutabaga

-Spinach

-Green Scallions

-Storage Onions

-Carrots

-Dill

-Cilantro

-Parsley

-Kohlrabi

-Dried Beans

-Popcorn

-Winter Squash

-Apples

-Dried Herbs

 

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

What will you find in your Summer Vegetable box?

February 15th, 2017

This is a short list of items we packed during our 8 week Summer share in 2016.  This is by no means everything you will find in your shares but at least it give you a start.  Last year we didn’t have as many berries as we have had in the past due to some weather issues so hopefully we are spared this coming season.

-Salad Mix

-Beets

-Head Lettuce

-Pickling Cucumbers

-Specialty English Cucumbers

-Strawberries

-Tomatoes

-Summer Squash

-Rhubarb

-Zucchini

-Green Scallions

-Sweet Bulb Onions

-Carrots

-Dill

-Cilantro

-Parsley

-Kohlrabi

-Fennel

-Peppers

-Okra

 

 

What will you find in your Spring Vegetable box?

February 15th, 2017

This is a short list of items we packed during our 8 week Spring share in 2016

-Salad Mix

-Spinach

-Radish

-Asparagus

-Rhubarb

-Green Scallions

-Watercress

-Chives

-Cilantro

-Romaine Head Lettuce

-Parsley

-Carrots

-Beets

-Cilantro

-Dill

-Wild Ramps (onions)

-Bok Choy

-Nettles

-Garlic Mustard

-Dried Beans

 

Watercress Soup

April 14th, 2016
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 bunch watercress, large stems removed
  • 1/4 cup whipped heavy cream (optional)
  • 1/2 cup watercress leaves for garnish

 

 

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the potato and onion, stirring to coat with the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to medium, cover and heat for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock and the milk, bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in the watercress and simmer, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until watercress is just cooked.
  3. In small batches, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, season to taste, and ladle into individual bowls. (Note: Place in refrigerator if not serving at this point.)
  4. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired and garnish with watercress leaves.

 

Your Share – Week 1 Spring Share April 14th 2016

April 14th, 2016
  • 1 Bag Spinach
  • 1 Bag Salad Mix
  • 1 bunch Chives
  • 1 bunch Mizuna
  • 1 bag Chippolini Onions
  • 1 bunch Easter Egg Radish
  • 1 bunch Dill
  • 1 bunch Watercress

 

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!