I thought that this morning I would bring you out to Bluebird farm. Don’t worry, you can leave before the hot, hot afternoon!
Out the door. I’m still loosening up my shoulders, neck, and fingers. Every morning those three places are the sorest. Walking to feed the cats and up the hill to the chickens is usually enough to warm up my legs.
Cats are fed. Now comes the hardest part of the morning. I haven’t developed a system of writing down the things I noticed I needed for the next morning’s chores. So I am left to scratch my sleepy head for a moment remembering who needs food and water. I love it when I remember that we are fully stocked.
This is the part of the walk I usually remember that I forgot something. Today, nothing! I hate turning around.
Open, move, feed, and water meat birds and layer hens. Stroll past the pigs on my way back down for breakfast. Marie has taken care of the baby chickens and started the eggs. Mmmm, by this time I am hungry and sweaty already.
Now is when the day really starts. We head over to Silver Creek farm to work in the vegetable garden before it is unbearable hot. These days there is usually something to harvest every day. Most of the greens we harvest in the spring can hold in the field until we need to pick them for market or CSA. The summer crops on the other hand just keep ripening. Squash, beans, peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes all need to be picked every other day or we will find baseball bat squashes, tough beans, and rotten peppers and tomatoes.
After the vegetables are in the shade we move on, usually to weeding. While we weed we are constantly scouting for potential problems so that we can address them as soon as possible. These days we are on the lookout for a wide variety of insect “friends.” While the spring rampage of Colorado Potato Beetles has dissipated summer pests are out in force. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borer beetles, stink bugs, bean beetles, tomato horn worms, and a variety of unknown worms are all causing us difficulties. Our primary line of defense against insects is old fashioned hand picking. When we fall behind neem oil and Bassilus Thuringiensus (Bt) help keep the insects at bay.
The neem oil, essential oil from the Indian neem tree, also acts as a fungicide. Hot, humid weather provides ideal conditions for many funguses including blossom end rot on tomatoes and a black fuzzy mold on our squashes. To apply oil, Bt and anything else we may need to spray on plant foliage we put on our “ghost buster” backpacks. They hold 4 gallons of liquid and use a hand pump and spray nozzle to pressurize and apply liquids to plant. They are a great tool for precession application of fertilizers, insecticides, and fungicides (all organic of course).
By now it is almost too hot to function in the field. We are hungry, hot, tired, and usually a little grumpy. This is not a good time to come visit. Homeward bound to lunch and a nap. Rejuvenated we will catch up on inside work during the heat of the day before heading back out to move sheep, seed, more weeding, put up crow
Some summer recipes
Leeks are a non-bulbing onion with a mild flavor. The white part of the leek is the sweetest. The greens are perfectly edible. The higher up you use the stronger the onion flavor. How much green to use is a matter of personal preference.
To prepare leeks Remove roots. Then slice half way through the leek along the length. Hold the leek upside down and rinse well. The growth habit of leeks means they tend to fill up with dirt as they grow so they need a good wash.
To cook either
Dice and sauté in butter to serve with just about anything.
Cutting the leeks into three inch lengths and sauté in butter. Then place the leeks on a piece of good bread, cover with a tomato slice, then top with gruyere or mozzarella cheese. Broil just long enough to melt the cheese.
Pesto version 1
1 big cup of basil leaves
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ tablespoons of pine nuts
3 tablespoons of original parmesan cheese
1 ½ medium sized garlic cloves
Crush the basil leaves using a mortar and pestle after washing the leaves carefully (they should not break before you start crushing them. Otherwise they might lose flavor).
Add the olive oil and mix it very well. When it starts to look like a paste add the garlic and the pine nuts and continue mixing all the ingredients.
After you obtain a nice puree season with salt and pepper and continue mixing for another 2-3 minutes. Now, add the parmesan cheese and again: mix it well.
Let the pesto rest before you use it, so the flavor will unfold. 10 minutes should be enough. Use it with your favorite pasta dish or try another dish, such as pesto chicken.
Pesto version 2
½ cup fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup walnuts or pine nuts
½ cup olive oil, approx.
Salt to taste
Directions same as version 1
Pesto can be made with almost any nut. I have had excellent pistachio pestos as well as roasted almond pesto.
A homemade pesto sauce should be kept in the fridge if you don’t use everything in the same day. You can store homemade pesto for about 1 week, if you cover it with olive oil.
To freeze pesto leave out the parmesan cheese. You can add the cheese after thawing. Divide pesto into meal size portions. Freeze in freezer bags.