Friday, December 31, 2010

Bring on the New Year!

The last year has been a whirlwind, and I am looking forward to the 2011 roller coaster ride. Today was just a little sign I am sure of what the New Year holds. I started the day off with a few sprout trials...yes sprouts are coming back from Moonstruck, but give us a little while to figure out the details. Then I dove into chicken thigh wrangling...deboning chicken thighs, grinding for ground chicken and the finale being Spicy Chicken Sausage Patties....if I had know how good it was I would have taken pictures of the sandwiches, but I didn't...we were too busy enjoying!! Sourdough, chicken sausage patty, Dijon mustard and lettuce!!! It was a winner!!
I then reminded the girls that all chores had to be complete before they take off for their appointed destinations...yes for the first time in 19 years Michael and I have no kids on New Years, well at least until 10 or so when Amber rolls in from work. In the meantime everyone kept asking what is that much for the low water bill...the chicken line had busted at the wall of the house and was flooding livestock central...ugh!! I ran to the water meter, and the nice local water agency had put on a new cover...and I could not get it off!!! I yelled for Mike to grab something to pry it off with and we got it turned off. The girls were delayed at their departure, but a few minutes later there was at least a temporary fix on the line so we have water! I then went and posted my Availability for the week, boy was that sad...everything froze outside again last night, and my polyethylene is on back order so no additional crop until outside is covered, but I am finding out what varieties do well and return!! Well I am off to a fine dinner being offered at church...somebody is cooking for me...can't think of a better way to start the New Year safe...Moonstruck signing off.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Storm to gorgeous day!!

I love living on my land it is so beautiful when the storms blow in and the clouds roll down the foothills I always find myself just standing there for a short while just taking it takes my breath away. Of course the next day when it is absolutely gorgeous at 45 degrees and no wind I am in heaven even more so. This is my time of year, perfect working conditions today...I can pace myself for 7-8 hours easily without the heat knocking the dickens out of me. And the ground....oh my moves!!! I can dig and dig to my heart's content!! I built more onion beds, and an asparagus and rhubarb bed, and did some weeding!!! I planted 300 or more onions, transplanted Tango lettuce, Mizuna mustard, more celery and 150 Lacinato, Black or Dinosaur Kale...whichever name you is a great sweet kale and it transports beautifully and it does not care about freezing temps!! Wow, what a great feeling to be outside all day...I am so blessed. Moonstruck signing out for now...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It was just too beautiful of day (at the beginning) to stay inside Christmas or not. The girls were busy with their new Christmas presents and I wanted to get some more onions in the ground before the next storm hit. I managed to get about 400 more into the ground and the remainder of a row built to put in a few hundred more. I transplanted some Arugula in between and some Tango lettuce, which are both pretty hardy. I have never grown Arugula before and I have noticed that it does not like the broadcast seeding that I can usually get away with the other lettuces so I transplanted and placed a few inches between plants...them seem to like that better. I also transplanted some celery plants from a nursery bed in the greenhouse. The celery outside is at a standstill but has not been freezing so this will enable me to get a head start on the Spring harvest and they will just take off when they deem it is time. Bok choy is another promising crop; doing just beautiful in the greenhouse and alive though stagnant in the outdoor field, but alive...good sign of a sturdy crop. As soon as the onions are done the rest of the shallots and garlic will go in. I have several crops started in the greenhouse as nursery beds also...just a broadcast of the seed in a single row area and then great.
As you can see Michael was busy working on part of a new retaining wall system that is being put in in the side yard bordering the back yard. The side yard has all the fruit trees and the backyard has all the herbs. We had our weight room flood again for the second time so it was time to do something about the backyard to stop the standing water that keeps developing near the house and leaking into the basement. The retaining wall is on the East side of the yard and the patio (that will stop the water) will be poured next to it with a planter in between. The multiple tiers have provided another opportunity for planting! I am thinking Boxwood for cut flower arrangements along with another bush that has cut flowers....hmmm...more lavender, Sweet Broom maybe!!
The girls made dinner (with a little guidance) and a beautiful beef roast, twice baked potatoes, homemade rolls and green bean casserole along with a fine bottle of red wine are beckoning my name...Merry Christmas Everyone!! Moonstruck Signing out!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rain, rain, rain....

Wow, did the markets choose a good time to take a break...rain, rain, rain and because the sun has not shined in five days things are barely growing. Unfortunately a lot of things are delayed around here and that includes the greenhouse. By the time we had time off to go and get the polyethylene they were sold out and it is backordered for three weeks. Well, one thing as you know that I have learned is not only patience, but to look for the reason for the this case finding a better way to close off the ends. I am been just a little wishy-washy about how to finish the ends. The truth be told I have been going back and forth for weeks. Ask Tim at Conleys I have been driving him nuts! When I realized that we were going to have time to work on the ends I decided to research further and I realized I really needed a door on either end, but the Conleys professional roll ups are just out of our price range so I researched further and found a heavy duty clear vinyl curtain sold by Farm Tek . It is hemmed and ready to go, we just have to build a pulley mechanism...yes!!!! This will vent the greenhouse on both ends, be easy and inexpensive to install and roll completely up out of the way in the event of high winds. Hopefully this new model will work well and the future greenhouses can just duplicate this model and take a lot less time. The bok choy above was grown in the current small (20 x 40) greenhouse and boy is it doing beautifully!! A little bug-bitten, but not bad considering nothing was sprayed on it, not even my usual soap spray!! I am still having problems keeping track of the varieties I am growing and will have to resort to spreadsheets written out...something keeps taking my garden markers!!! There is a pack rat somewhere with the Taj Mahal of Popsicle stick houses out in my yard!! Just as well that I do a better job with my paperwork with the new greenhouse completed I will be required to complete a study for them for the next three years on how things are doing in regards to the greenhouse providing erosion control, wind protection etc. Hope you are all keeping dry and warm at home and not evacuated, and ready to enjoy a very Merry Christmas!! Moonstruck signing off!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Cipollini!!

Wow the weather has been fantastic! 600 onions are planted, new row is built for another 600 and it looks like I probably have a total of 3,000 thanks to the supplier being very generous in the bundles! Rain is coming too, yahoo!! I had to spend a little time on some ornamentals today...pruning my roses for the winter. They provide me with so much joy by adding beauty to my dinner table each year. They were huge and luckily I invested in a nice set of loppers...cut the time in half at least!! I am sure it would have taken me at least 5 hours and it only took two. Of course I decided to take them to the dump...the thorns are huge now that the roses are almost 7 years old...and they were just too dangerous to put in the compost pile!! Speaking of compost, wish me luck...Sam gave me a mulcher to borrow to see if it will pulverize the manure and speed up the compost time around here. With turkey, chicken, beef and pork orders going up there is bound to be plenty of manure...just need to get the "cooking time" down as much as possible. I am supplementing with an organic compost I am purchasing for now, but I really prefer the farm to be self-sustainable.... and looking forward to making this work again now that we have grown so much. My husband brought home one ton of the organic compost and it only covered about 150 sf at 2 maybe 3 inches at goal is to amend with 4-6 inches every three years. Thank goodness the new field was amended in the Spring with compost materials from the Bashaw Farm....though I am sure it could have used a few more inches...I think we only hit 4 inches. Onions are going there for now since it is outside...and the plans are to grade it next year for the new 16 x 100 greenhouse. The pig pen is being move in the next few weeks to what is going to become the permanent location for our livestock...Northeast corner of the property, but the old pig pen area is going to make a great location for pumpkins this next year!! We are moving the livestock area because the Southeast corner of the property is the most flat, and so future greenhouses will be slated for that area. 72 Lacinato plants are going in the ground this week...I would have done it a few months ago if I had known how hardy they are. Most greens will overwinter through freezes, but the Lacinato developed a beautiful frost on them, and then defrosted like nothing happened. Wow!! Of course everything is practically at a standstill now, but once the solstice hits on the 22nd everything will being to take off... including me with longer hours of daylight available! Moonstruck signing out!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Chicken Sausage

Thinking towards the future and how to make the meat end of the CSA grow (aka Bashaws Premium Meats) we have been thinking about what to do with some of the extra dark meat. Hmmmm....dark meat chicken makes great sausage!!! We are going to do some of our experimentation and see if we want to go into more of a processed product...would take some certification etc., but hmmmm farm fresh apple/cranberry chicken sausage or spicy chicken sausage in links or by the pound for patties for chicken sausage sandwiches...yum!! With Arugula on the sandwich!! What a pairing that would be!! Waiting for the plastic to come in for the greenhouse has given me time to search some recipes we will be trying and so in between hauling compost and starting new seed trays I think I will delve into my other!! In the meantime the seed trays include broccoli raab, brocollini (aka sprouting broccoli), Lacinato, Camden Kale, Winterbor Kale, Swiss Chard (Barese Swiss for the Moonstruck Salad Mix) and as soon as the greenhouse is covered radishes, carrots (full size this year) and turnips will go in. Don't forget Snow Peas after the first of the year! The onion order came in today consisting of 1,740 baby onion plants including Texas Supersweet, Candy and Yellow Granex for the Yellow, Southern Belle Red (slow bolting, wish me luck) and my chef daughter Meghan's special request of Red Marble Cippolini!! To say the least this weekend is onion planting along with the rest of the garlic! These will all go outside, and the kale, swiss, carrots etc will go under cover of the new greenhouse. The old greenhouse has been replanted with the Moonstruck Salad Mix lettuces and germinating beautifully even through the some of the coldest and shortest days of the year. Better get some rest those onions are going to give me a work out!! Moonstruck Signing Off!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Beef boxes are done!!

Market in Phelan on Thursday, market in Wrightwood on Friday, a little time at home to throw a load of laundry in, do a little check on watering and the animals, off to the grocery store and then off to the Bashaws to do beef boxes. I brought my loyal companion, my youngest Meghan with me, and she and Danny Bashaw made Turkey and Dumplings for everyone while the rest of went through well over 600 pounds of meat cuts and sorted them into boxes for delivery. Looking at the filet mignons I could swear I could smell a dinner liked pictured here along with one of my spinach salads with red onion, bacon and mushrooms drizzled with homemade French dressing....but maybe I was hallucinating...I was really tired after all!! Email me if you want the box descriptions..we weighed everything so that your farm share of beef will be calculated on the total weight of each package since they do differ a little even though they all contain the same cuts. I asked Eddie of Barstow Butchering (who is going to vacuum packaging soon!!!) to throw some different cuts in this time so we have London Broils, all beef chorizo and stew meat for the Winter Season. Even with my busy schedule I still manage to learn something new each week..this week it was about sour oranges!! Did you know that we can grow sour oranges the greenhouse I believe at Brian Ranch...kind of like a lemon, but a tad sweeter!! Great for marmalade! Come and see Brian Ranch and ask Felice all about them!! Moonstruck signing out!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turkey Day....days I mean!

Okay, this was not my turkey, but it looked just as nice...I just forgot to take a picture!! After practically living at the Bashaws for three days and then Thanksgiving at church I was so happy just to sit down and eat my turkey taking a picture was the last thing on my mind!! Next year Ann I am just bringing a sleeping will be easier!! The week started on Sunday with the first processing and the plucker misfunctioning right away...boy were we skinned turkey later and a few hand pluckings and things were running smoothly I love that Featherman plucker! After eating a bowl of Chicken Corn was great (have to add the recipe to the website)... phone calls began...come and get your turkey! Then after running back and forth from the house to the processing unit at 7 pm we finished for the day. Back up the next day and processed the second batch...nice smooth morning and another round of phone calls and a ton more deliveries. Did I mention that the deliveries were the best part...some customers were dressed up for the holidays and a joy to see, lots of kids to show baby chicks and piglets to, some interested in "how we did it" and so a tour of the equipment and grounds was done...and so many thank yous!! Wednesday finished up a few final deliveries and off I went to start preparing for church and my family's Thanksgiving. I was so tired, but it was the best kind after such fulfilling fun-filled days. The Bashaws are so great to work with it felt just like a fun day on the farm and the customers were so fantastic I can't thank you enough for your support!! As you know there is no true rest on the farm so keep your eyes open for beef CSA boxes to be advertised soon....boxing is going to be done on lamb left and pork is on its way at the Bashaws. Here things are not moving as fast...but patience is a virtue...right? The greenhouse frame is leveled and braced thanks to my husband working in 30 degree plus wind chill weather....I found it warmer closer to the ground digging out the holes of loose dirt :) We could not pour on Sunday...way too cold, but maybe this weekend and then the cover goes on ....on the first nonwindy morning. Old greenhouse (which I was planning to give a break, but not now) is planted. String lines are run for the next two greenhouses too and the livestock area here is cleared....okay can I just have 48 hours in a day now...I am having too much fun to go to sleep either...but my body has other ideas so talk to you all soon. Moonstruck Signing Off.