Hello!! First off! We had tried the dandelion greens before last week and they were bitter as they are supposed to be but we tried them again this week and they were a lot more bitter. Please, excuse this as a rookie mistake. We shouldn't have put them in the CSA last week as they were too bitter with all this heat. Our sincere apologies and we will be more mindful in the future about these things! Live and learn. We'll make sure this week is extra amazing to make up for that faux pas!
Hope you have all been well. We are doing pretty good around here but have had a crazy time with the sheep! On Saturday we came home to a sheep stuff in the fence. It was fine but had wiggled the fence open and they had gotten into the new paddock and there were even 3 in the tomato patch eating the weeds. On Sunday evening we found another sheep stuck in the fence along with a couple who jumped out and munched on our too old lettuce heads! It was fine too. But clearly the fence wasn't hot enough or something. We went ahead and went to sleep deciding to deal with the fencing. BAD IDEA!
The first words I hear on Monday morning at 5:45am are, "Well, all the sheep are in the garden." Oh shit. I thought. Jesse ran out there in only shorts. I put on pants, shoes, grabbed some scissors. Jesse had managed to herd them towards a corner by the time I got which I promptly opened and we herded them in. I followed some lamb cries immediately after and found two quite wound up in the fence. I had to hold them still since they would struggle and get themselves more tangled. I held them still and Jesse ran over and found me there. "Grab the scissors out of my back pocket." He retrieved them and extracted the poor lambs. They were fine but it's still scary! The hard part was not getting them back in it was dealing with the aftermath of their rampage in our garden! The first couple of times it was kid of funny. I even got photos. But the havoc they wreaked in the garden was too much. The sunflowers and cosmos were munched down, the bulbing onions trampled, a few other random bites out of other plants. But the worst were the peppers: 75% of the pepper tops were gone, munched away exposing all the little baby peppers to the sun.
You may be saying to yourselves, "So what! They didn't destroy them." This is true. But the first 4-5 peppers will be toast. We're hoping, praying, manifesting the return of the top leaves and quickly (last night's rain surely helped). Let explain why peppers are so precious to us. We start the pepper seeds in early March in little trays in our green house. We water them once a day and check on them for any bugs or things they might need. about 3-4 weeks later we bump them up into a larger growing container so they can get big enough for transplant about 4 more weeks later. Then one evening in late April/early May when the stars align and we get the perfect set up for a good rain, we transplant. It must be night so the plants don't get too exposed to the heat. First we water them in well, then we take them out of the bump up tables and put them in trays. We pile them on the gator and drive them to the field where we have dug trenches with the tractor then put compost by hand every 18 inches over the 750ft of future pepper plants. Then we plant over 500 plants by hand. This usually results in everyone breaking out their headlamps. Finally, one of us volunteers to water them in. This person usually gets to bed after 11pm, too late an hour for a farmer. Once in the ground and doing well we hoe these plants every 2-4 weeks in the heat for several hours to keep weeds down. We care for these plants like this till we get peppers which are a profitable crop for a small farmer. Finally, our peppers are your peppers and you may not be getting some of the sweet peppers as soon as we anticipated. Oh well! We tried! So that is why this is devastating.
You may also be saying to yourselves, "Why in the world didn't you take care of this problem on Saturday afternoon?" Well, we should have. But to be honest we get so little time off, time to ourselves, even time together that's not farm related. After market we're exhausted. Sundays are our only sort of days off and we still do several chores. So we didn't do it. And of course everything unexpected happens on the weekend.
Otherwise, we have been pretty well. Our farmers market has been amazing at Richland Park in West Nashville from 9-12:30pm on Saturdays. If you haven't been you must! It's fantastic and we'd love to see you. We celebrated Winnie's 11th birthday after harvesting garlic with homemade raw milk strawberry ice creek and friends and a beautiful pastured chicken from Peaceful Pastures roasted then smoked by Carlos, our resident chef (he's a chef at the well-known Husk in Nashville) and planted our second round of peppers (and now you know how we do that!). First tomatoes came in! Not enough to sell. But enough for us to have a few. Onions and potatoes will be ready soon! and okra! Eating amazingly as usual. We also have a new WWOOFer called Monica and she is sweet and a very quick learner! Even though we've all been working our butts off in the heat, her positive attitudes have really helped us get through some challenging hot days. Adam, a new WWOOFer will arrive on Saturday! We can use the help!! And we're so grateful for these great helpers!
So without further ado, here is the CSA!
SUMMER SQUASH AND FENNEL
I recommend making compound butters, cream cheeses, or ricottas with marigolds. We sold a lot to 51st kitchen last year and this is what they did with it and it was fantastic.
They make a beautiful addition to a salad or work nicely as a garnish. Chop it or pull out petals. It's got a bitter but floral flavor.
I like to infuse vodka with them and then make cocktails. Put the flowers in a pint jar full of vodka and let sit for a week or two. Make a cocktail with it! One concoction I made had wild blackberries, marigold infused vodka, mottled cucumber, honey, lime and basil! It was amazing! Another had marigold vodka with tonic, a lime and a handful of smushed up raspberries.
The only recipe for squash blossoms is stuff them with some sort of cheese and fry em up.
Here's a good one:
Thanks everyone! As you know we will happily send you more recipes if you like!
Love your farmers,
Lizzie, Jesse, Tony, Devan, Nico, Carlos, Monica, Winnie (77 years old!), Stormy (late night company for whoever waters in the peppers), ducks, sheeps, cows.