Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Summertime Sunflowers and Veggies

 Summertime Sunflowers and Veggies
Sunflowers with tomato hoophouse in background

Marie with sunflowers at Silver Creek

This week on the Farm

Bluebird Farm was a happening place this past week. 

In the vegetable field:
                The dry weather is making it difficult to germinate seedlings.  Beets, carrots, and lettuce mix are all struggling to crack through the dry crusty ground.  The good news in the fall garden is the transplants.  Weeds had started to grow in the vegetable field.  But it isn’t very hard to kill them when the sun is beating down.  Just a little disturbance with the tractor and they’re dead.  After preparing the beds we had two big work evenings to plant all the babies (one good thing about earlier evenings is that when we work to dark its only 9 pm instead of 10 pm!).  12 rows of chard, 12 kale, and 4 each of collards and broccoli are now happily growing away. 

Baby kale, Swiss chard, and collards before planting

William and baby kale plants after planting

In the pastures:
                On Sunday it was time to move the sheep.  Normally it’s a short easy move from one paddock to the next.  But this time it was a big move.  They’d been happily grazing on the hillside for the last two months or so.  But they had reached the end of the grass.  So we had to move them back down to the bottom land across from the vegetable field.  Luckily for us we had some out of town friends visiting so we put them to work (they may not have thought themselves so lucky!).  The sheep behaved pretty well on the move.  But they did miss one turn.  They didn’t want to walk into the tall unmowed grass so they ran the entire length of the field down the nicely cut road-they thought it was the best race track ever.  So I had to run all the way around them and get them turned around in the right direction.  Fortunately, after their long run they were too tire to misbehave anymore.

 Big pigs get a summer treat! The ground is very hard, so we let them gallivant around in the lush sheep and chicken grass pasture. 

                Today we opened up some piglets onto our pastures.  The ground is hard from the dry weather so they can’t turn the soil over too much.  We just want them to munch on the grass and other plants growing in the pasture, not rip the whole thing up.  It took the pigs a few minutes to cross their old electric fence (they think its still there and really don’t want to get shocked).    But once they were across into the green grass they had a blast running around and grazing. 

Enjoy the food!

William and Marie

Animals around Bluebird Farm
Cattle in the high pasture.
Hens enjoying the shade in empty veggie field with hoophouse in background

Wheee...baby pigs running!

Baby pigs and hens

Friday, August 24, 2012

Greetings from Bluebird Farm,
See you at the Morganton and Conover Farmers’ Markets tomorrow (Saturday) until noon.

Pastured Pork- My oh my, what tasty pork chops you have!
Have you been dreaming about our pastured pork? Even our personal freezer has been empty, but now we have a full offering of wonderful pork for you.
Mild Country Sausage, Hot Country Sausage, Sweet Italian Sausage, Bratwurst Sausage, Ground Pork, Thick Pork Chops,  Spare Ribs, Boneless Ham Roasts, Shoulder Roasts, Fresh Bacon (uncured.)  
Get the roasts and pork chops while they last.  We should have a good supple of everything else until our next hogs are ready in mid October.

This week’s garden harvest, grown with organic methods, of course

Yard Long Red Noodle Beans- Meaty and sweet.  Chop these very long beans (almost a yard long) into bite sized pieces and sauté. 
Cherry tomatoes- little gems of sunshine. Intense flavors.  Yellow, red, gold, black-purple tomatoes.
Slicing tomatoes- The season is winding down; get them while they’re ripe! There are not as many ripe tomatoes.  Can the tomato glory days really only be 1 month long?
Basil! Oh, the basil. The aroma of summer!  Pesto? I love pesto on pizzas. See pesto recipe below.
Bell peppers, Sweet Bell and Italian Frying Peppers- no synthetic chemicals.  Red and ripe!
So sweet and ripe. Amazing raw or cooked.
Cucumbers- Just a few cukes still coming in from the last plants of the year.  Sweet crisp summer flavor.
Summer Squash and Zucchini-They are all gone! Done for the year.

Pastured Chicken- Free range on grass pastures, fed certified organic grains. Flavorful and tender.
-Packs of 2 leg quarters and 2 wings
-We won’t have more whole chickens until our next flock is ready on October 10th. Stock up at in October; it will be the last flock of the year, and we won’t have any of our chicken in our freezer this winter.  We will take orders for chickens in mid September.

Pastured Free Range Eggs- The hens have new friends! They welcomed 12 small piglets in their pasture.  Little do they know…those piglets will be 250 pounds in no time!  Multi-species grazing is a unique part of our farm.  All our animals are fed certified organic grains.

Pesto version 1
This version is very thick! Great for spreading.

1 big cup of basil leaves
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ tablespoons of roasted pine nuts or walnuts
3 tablespoons of original parmesan cheese
1 ½ medium sized garlic cloves


Carefully wash the basil leaves and pat excess water from them.  Finely puree the garlic in a food processor or mince by hand if you are using a blender.  Add the basil and olive oil and puree for a minute or two. When it starts to look like a paste add the pine nuts,and continue pureeing. After you obtain a nice puree, add the parmesan cheese, season with salt and pepper and continue mixing for another 2-3 minutes.  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- This version is thinner and more sauce-like than version 1.  Great for drizzling over a large sauté of mixed summer vegetables and pasta.

2 cloves garlic
½ cup fresh basil
½ cup olive oil, approx
¼ cup roasted walnuts or pine nuts
Salt to taste
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions same as version 1.  Add Parmesan cheese if desired.

Pesto Tips

Pesto can be made with almost any nut. I have had excellent pistachio pestos as well as roasted almond, pecan, cashew, or walnut 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 store it in an airtight jar or container and cover the top of the pesto with a thin layer of 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.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Greetings from Bluebird Farm,
Saturday Farmers Markets tomorrow.
Conover 7:30 am til noon
Morganton 8 am til noon
We have pork again this week. Country sausage, Italian sausage links, ground Italian sausage

Try a fancy tomato sandwich.  Well, not fancy, just garden fresh.  Toast your bread lightly and spread your favorite savory goat cheese on one or both sides of the bread.  Sprinkle chopped leaves of fresh basil over the goat cheese, layer sliced garden tomatoes, and add a dash of salt and fresh black pepper.  Serve on a plate with salted chopped cucumbers.

This week’s garden harvest

Cherry tomatoes- little gems of sunshine. Intense flavors.  Yellow, red, gold, black-purple tomatoes.
Slicing tomatoes- Wow. The prima donnas of the garden.  Tomatoes can be finicky little garden plants.  But the vine ripened flavor of an organic slicing tomato is worth it!
Basil! Oh, the basil. The aroma of summer!  Try a fancy tomato sandwich.   See the sandwich idea above.
Bell peppers, Sweet Bell- no synthetic chemicals.  Peppers are another item that is on the Dirty Dozen list for conventional produce that is sprayed heavily with pesticides and fungicides. 
Cucumbers- Sweet and crunchy. Get your cucumber fix- the cucumber season is now, not in October-May.
Summer Squash and Zucchini- Flavor!  We’ve got some tasty varieties.  Nutty, firm, with a tender texture.  We’ve got 5 different types of squash and zucchini for you. Choose from, Slik, Goldy, Parthenon, and Zephyr.

Pastured Pork- Country sausage, Italian sausage links, and ground Italian sausage.

Pastured Chicken- Free range on grass pastures, fed certified organic grains. Flavorful and tender.
-Whole chickens
-Packs of 2 leg quarters and 2 wings
Pastured Free Range Eggs- All our animals are fed certified organic grains.  Our hens love the color red.  Red means juicy tomatoes! Any tomatoes with cracks or splits that won’t ripen properly get flung into the hen pasture- and they go wild.

Our forest pigs are enjoying the forest jungle!