Saturday, July 20, 2013

Eggs in a nest recipe

We have braising mix this week, and we thought we would share a different recipe for those who are wondering what else they can do with these nutritious greens!

This recipe comes from "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.

Eggs in a Nest
(serves 4)

2 cups uncooked brown rice
Cook the rice with 4 cups of water in a covered pot while the other ingredients are being prepped.

Saute 1 chopped onion and garlic to taste in a wide skillet with a few tblsp of olive oil

Add 1/2 cup dried tomatoes and any other veggies you want to throw in (chopped carrots, potatoes, etc) in with the saute, adding a few tblsp of water to rehydrate your tomatoes (or use fresh).

1 bunch of braising greens - mix in with the other veggies and cover the pan for a few minutes. Uncover and stir well, then use the back side of a spoon to depress the cooked leaves, circling the pan to make your nest.

Add 8 eggs, breaking the eggs into the depressions in your nest, keeping the yolks whole. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to poach, about 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and serve over your rice.

This is delicious for breakfast, lunch or dinner and is packed with vitamins and protein.

We hope everyone enjoys their share this week!

Friday, July 19, 2013

It's too hot, and everyone is cranky

It is 90 something here, and supposedly feels like over 100. How do we cool down? Ice pops, frozen seltzer slushies and lots of water. This heat means that we're checking on all the animals every couple of hours and changing hot water for cool. Extremes in weather are tough on the livestock.
This morning, one of our chickens came to the front porch looking for some shade. She hung out for a few minutes with the cat looking on, too hot to even notice really.
All in all it's just miserable out. We did as much prep as we could this morning for the CSA before it got above 85, but we will be picking the majority of the veggies in the pre dawn hours tomorrow morning. Hopefully the heat will break over the next day or so. Hope everyone is staying cool!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The State of the Summer

So we're in the thick of it now. It's all about keeping the race on until we see the weather start to shift into the glory that is autumn. I'm sorry, summer lovers, and I promise I'm not wishing away the warm weather. It's just that it really won't be long until the mud smeared hands and knees will fade away into mittens and lined coveralls.

But for now, it's about keeping the weeds at bay (or trying to) and figuring out what else we can plant to ensure full bellies. The growing season is simultaneously so short and so long here. Long days full of working hours, but only for a few months. We've been hitting the fields early this week, and then retreating inside during the afternoon bake. It's one thing to work up a thick sweat and let the sun hit your skin- it's another to play with fire. So we work, then we break, then we work again.

The field is coming, a bit slower then we'd like, but the sun should get things dried out a bit and we're catching up with weeding/on constant pest patrol. We're marked up by some especially voracious crew of mosquitos. The meat chicken season has proven to be more challenging then the last one. The price of feed is a constant worry, and though we do use less with a pastured system, grain is still important and it's nearly prohibitive to keep the flocks fed. Between that and weather that froze the first batches and is live roasting the current groups, it's been a very management intensive operation.

In contrast, the field pens for the rabbits have been a real pleasure. Litters co-mingle in wooden and hardware cloth pens, lazing in the shade and munching fresh grass. It seems to work well, and has allowed us to up production quite a bit. We spent afternoons packing ice packs for all of the rabbits, who do not love the weather like this-- with their fur and quick hearts.

There are 40 turkey chicks resting in our garage at the moment in a temporary brooder set up for them there. Two lambs are going to the butcher on Friday, and the goats have a one way ticket up to the field to hang with our permanent sheep residents- leaving their barn space open for the turkey chicks. There is a door to the outside in that barn pen and when the turkeys start to strut with full feathers they will be allowed to march around. Once the pigs go to the butcher in 6 weeks (yikes!), we can then move the turkeys out to the field. The dance of summer: production, management, and shifting gears constantly. With a finite amount of pasture currently- we have to rotate all of the animals and keep on top of our grazing space.

Right now I like the feel of heavy water buckets, and the sound of grumbling pigs as I approach with a full 40 gallon tank to refill their tub (which they use for bathing and drinking). I like sight of turkey chicks, with big alien eyes and little beak bumps.

I like the smell of tomato leaves, and squash blossoms- and the sight of bees cultivating the crops we'll eat all year. We'll be pulling most of the garlic in the next couple of days to cure it, with brown leaves forming I'm hopeful big flavorful bulbs are living just below the surface. After a battle with japenese beetles, the first of the early potatoes too will be unearthed. Soon it will be tomato sandwiches, and maybe fried peppers if the plants make a come back after the drenching rains.

There's always worry, about money, about crops, about the health of the livestock. But there's also always something to like. It's summer, and it's hot- but it's also just so full. Bursting really, and bustling, and it makes me feel not so bad about my plans to catch up on a few novels during winter's chill. For now though a quick wade in the creek and a bowl of ice cream are all the better because of the heat. The extreme shift from overheated to chilly is glorious, revitalizing. I'll take my blisters and rough hands buried in cold rushing water over an office job, any day.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pastured Pork

This is what the pasture looks like when we move the pigs into it. Notice the long, luscious, weedy fields.

And this is what it looks like 48 hours later. Where the grass starts again is the fence line.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I'm kneeling in the muddy, weedy, thriving veg field. We're several hours into green bean row clean up, tiny purple flowers and pinky tip size beans at eye level.  The soil is so wet from drenching rain that I occasionally have to stop and scrape thick mud off of my gloves to allow them to be still useful. As usual, I've got a podcast playing to keep my mind busy and my hands moving. This time, it's a great one called "Stuff You Missed in History Class" and the topic is "The Luddites".

I've often jokingly referred to myself as a 'luddite'- in the colloquial way we all use that word, with an image of someone who shuns the latest gadgetry. I love canning, roller skates, and horse drawn implements. Though it's not exactly true even in that colloquial sense, as I'm rarely separated from my smart phone and have "minor" obsession with 3-d printing. (google that shit- it's incredible and i can't wait until everyone has one, now is not the time to digress). 

But, as it turns out, I've got a lot more in common with the true Luddite movement then the derivative version we use today. I highly recommend that you take thirty minutes and check out the podcast, but in case you don't- the Luddites were standing up against the change in the textile industry to become more mechanized for two major reasons. 
1. They were unhappy with the change in quality that the machines created. Textiles were a craft, and the machines created versions that the craftspeople deemed to be sub-par.
2. They didn't believe that worker's rights, wages, and training levels would be upheld during this industrial shift (they were correct). 

So they created this bad ass, undercover, (however unsuccessfu)l movement to physically smash the machinery in a very targeted way, not because they feared the technology, but rather they saw it as a shift away from ensuring that the tradition of their vast skill and knowledge continued- and more towards throw away goods.

Readers, I can so get down with this and think it's high time for a Luddite food movement. I'm not against using good science to help us grow good food. And I'm not anti-tractor for those farms who use them. But I am against this idea that machines are always the answer, or that chemicals will always solve our pest problems. I really would love if folks banned together and said- STOP. Let's value farm workers (regardless of their country of origin), let's pay living wages, and let's use technology in the best way for the health of humans and the rest of the living world. I'm not against hybrid seeds- sometimes crossing genes results in good quality produce. But in a natural, cross-pollinating way- not in an let's take the genes from something that's not a plant and splice it with corn kind of experiment. The food we are growing on a mass scale in the western world now is certainly of a lower quality, at the very least in taste. And it's also certainly not upholding agricultural traditions, or workers rights. 

I love the idea of returning to artisans- no matter the trade. I admire anyone with a skill that's considered a lost art. Some of the most dedicated Luddite protesters were professional knitters. Grab your needles friends, and let's bring it back. I'm not calling for the destruction of anyone else's personal property. I don't like violence, but I believe in the power of using our collective buying power to support the return of wise craftspeople, and the true cost of goods. 

So- what say you? Call yourself a luddite. Shun the idea that bigger, mechanical, and newer is always better. Or, at the very least, listen to this podcast and learn a little history. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Boys Club

We have quite a few local residents and neighbors who swing by to say hello, ask questions about the DIY life we lead, or looking to buy a dozen eggs. And we really like that, it feels as though after over a year, we're becoming more community members. For the most part, the folks who stop by are friendly, helpful, and down right pleasant to be around.

But I can't help but keeping noticing this one really teeth-grinding thing- many folks refuse to talk to Kim, or talk to her like she doesn't keep the same pace as I do, day in and out. Yesterday is a really good example.

We were standing in the front yard, in overgrown grass, washing veg for the CSA pick up. We were pretty ragged, on hour 12 of the day- and still with a good list of things to get done. As we were bunching onions, a car slowed to a stop and a fellow emerged from the passenger side. This is common. Kim set down her bunch and approached the visitor.

"Is the guy who owns the horses here?" he said. I was a few paces away, figuring she could answer any questions.

"The ones in that field?" Kim asked, pointing towards Nataya, there are a lot of horses around and we only have one in our pasture right now, we are in process of switching teams.

"Yea, where is the guy who owns the horses?" the man repeated, still not seeing me set back.

"Oh, those are ours. " she said, waiting to see what the follow up inquiry might be.

"But where is the guy that owns them?" he asked again, this time, a little forceful.

"We do..." Kim said again, confused but with the beginning look of recognition that this man was not going to talk to her about her own horse. 

Believe it or not, the man asked again, "Yes, but where is the man?"

I stepped in, introduced myself, not sure what else to do. It turns out, he wanted someone to teach him to harness and drive a team. Huh.

Well, we're not in a place to give lessons right about now, mid-season and without a team ourselves, but I'm happy to show anyone the skill we believe is so valuable. I tried to steer the man to an understanding that Kim is just as qualified (if not more so depending on who is having a more patient day) to drive our team, or teach anyone to hitch up. He actually exclaimed when I suggested he should get used to taking direction from her if he wanted to learn on our farm.

And this isn't the only time this has happened here, we have another neighbor who asks me if Kim is still asleep in bed whenever he stops by in the morning- as if she hasn't also spent the early hours drenched in sweat hauling buckets of feed. It's strange.

I try to correct people, but it doesn't seem to matter much. And of course, I'm not surprised at the level of sexism and assumption that happens, especially with a very physical job. I'm just still trying to figure out how to turn it in to a teachable moment as a husband who couldn't make it through the work without his very capable co-worker AND wife.

I kinda just want to get a tee-shirt that says "R'Eisen Shine Farm- I took her last name."

sigh. we have to far to go, don't we?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

That time of the year

It's just that time of the year. That time of the year where the weeds race ahead, we keep pulling. That time where you are starting to haul big baskets full of fresh green food from the field and the promise of much heavier baskets sways in the breeze. That time of the year where you coax your hands to move quicker, where we indulge with a little more caffeine then usual to get the work done.

That time of the year where the work is endless, which is both frustrating and relieving. I know, darn well, that we won't be getting everything done on any given day. So as much as I want to, I can't get worked up about it. We do what we can do, and that's enough. More will happen the next day. I take great comfort in the knowledge that we are making some progress, and that no human could possibly get done that list of tasks in one day. It's a wish list, really.

It's the time of the year where we sleep like the dead from sheer exhaustion unless the worries of the season keep us up, denying the rest we crave.

It's the green time of year, the lush time of year and the growth time of year. The growth of plants, and the growth of the farmers- challenging us to keep up and keep balance simultaneously. Forcing us to do better, accept the mistakes that happen all of the time, and challenge us to just be better.

And it's that time of the year where scenes like the one below slow us down, force us to just love our life, and the madness in it. How could we not? (note, this little bugger is headed to be pet)