New Year, New Growth

Get your greens while they're thawed! This past week was fairly warm, which is great for the greens - we actually saw some growth over the past few weeks, and there was a good percentage of greens without frost damage, which is always the goal. Yay! We will have spinach, lettuce mix, and a limited amount of baby mustard greens at market this weekend. First come, first serve!

This meal came courtesy of Midcoast Winter Farmers' Market - the greens and potatoes are from us, the rabbit from Lipovsky Gardens, and (not pictured) we had some toast from the Farmer's Daughter and a slice of cake from Paula C's. I must, however, admit that the wine and the cream that the rabbit was cooked in came via Morning Glory, but we find it fun and challenging to make meals from what we get at market.

We are now entering the office phase of farming. That phase doesn't get much attention, but it does make the outdoor phase possible. We are reviewing everything that we did in 2016 and making field, and crop, and greenhouse plans for 2017. Soon we will need to order our seeds and supplies so we can get a start on the upcoming season - we will start seedlings in the greenhouse in late February!

Ben is showing off some nachos made with pulled pork and greens and tomatillo salsa from us, beans from Fairwinds Farm, and organic nacho chips. Tomorrow, January 6, is National Bean Day! We highly recommend that you eat your beans! (Especially with some smoked ham hocks or pulled pork.)

See you at market!

-Ailish

 

Holiday Hustle

We got a lot of things done this week! On Wednesday morning, we covered the new greenhouse with plastic (see photo below - the new greenhouseis on the right). That effort took the whole crew plus a few helpers for a total of eight people to get the plastic on. Each piece of plastic gets six ropes tied to it (around a tennis ball, to try to avoid tearing the plastic). We then tie something small but heavy - in this case, boots! - to each rope and throw it over the greenhouse so that each rope goes over the whole hoop structure.

Once all six are over, we have one person pulling on each rope, and one person at each end of the greenhouse making sure the plastic doesn't catch on any pipes or bolts. By pulling firmly but gently, we can get a piece of plastic over the hoop structure in just a fewminutes. You can imagine how any amount of wind would make this challenging. We were lucky on Wednesday and it was very still.

Of course, each of these big houses has two pieces of plastic. The reason for that is that we will install a blower that will inflate the area between the two pieces, which creates an insulating envelope of air that helps prevent heat loss in the greenhouse.

After putting on the plastic, we use wiggle wire to fasten the plastic to the ends and sides of the greenhouse. Wiggle wire is a great and sometimes frustrating invention - the wire is crimped into a squared off zigzag, which snaps snugly into metal channel that can be screwed onto whatever surface necessary. We actually thought the fastening and finishing would take until sometime Thursday afternoon but we managed to get it done Wednesday!

After that we even had time to get some harvesting done for the weekend markets. We will be at both the Midcoast Winter Farmers' Market Friday 12/23 from 11-4 and the Brunswick Winter Market 12/24 from 9-12:30. Happy Holidays if we don't see you!

Cheers,
Ailish

Winter Whites and Grays

We don't have the blues yet, but the going is getting tougher. Freezing temperatures and snow make it a lot harder to work outside. Fortunately we have enough stuff to do inside and enough warm(ish) sunny(ish) weather to keep chipping away at outside projects.

We are still harvesting leeks, greens, and Brussels sprouts, and restocking and washing veggies for our weekly markets gives us a lot to do in the barn (which is heated to about 40F. We are also getting row covers on the plants that are in high tunnels. Even though they are already protected, the row covers add a few degrees of frost protection that can be critical in getting them through the winter (see below).

 

Still, we have had enough good weather to make progress on the new greenhouse even with snow on the ground (see below). We hope to receive the plastic for the end walls this week and hopefully get this thing covered by the end of next week! That would be amazing.

See you at market!

-Ailish

This week marks the first week of the Brunswick Winter Market at Fort Andross/Cabot Mill on Maine St. in Brunswick. We will be there Saturday from 9-12:30. From now until April, we will be at the Midcoast Winter Market in Topsham on Fridays (11-4) and Brunswick on Saturdays.

We will still be out at Brunswick Farmers' Market on the Mall in Brunswick on TUESDAYS until Thanksgiving! 

It has been confusing for us in years previous, as well, so we appreciate everyone's patience as we make the transition from summer to winter markets. Each market is run by a different organization or group of people, so they don't all sync up. But won't it be nice to be inside on Fridays and Saturdays? We are ready.

I think I might have mentioned that we put plastic on a humongous hoophouse last week? Yes, well, we filled it up already. Above you can see the crew planting some spinach, which was so happy to get in the ground. We also planted lettuce and overwintering onions (ready in June-July). Ben direct-seeded a bunch of greens like arugula and mustard. 

It was pretty exciting to get all that planting done, even though the short day-lengths between now and February mean that most of it won't do much growing between now and February. In February, though, we will have greens coming out of our ears! Below you can see the hoophouse all filled up.

The 2016 pork is in, as I believe I mentioned last week as well. Several folks caught and have been buying racks of ribs. We would love to hear how those came out, as we haven't had a chance to try them yet ourselves! 

We have tried the bacon, the country ribs, and several kinds of the sausage. We took the pigs to Herring Brothers Meats up in Guilford this year for slaughter and butchering, and we are really happy with the results! The hot sausage and chorizo have a definite kick, the breakfast sausage is mild and rich, and they cut their bacon thin, so it gets crispy quite quickly! Ben and I also tried the country ribs for dinner on Tuesday, braised in pork broth, and those turned out delectable.

Instead of continuing to tease, I shall now link back to a favorite recipe of ours from last year, for cider-brined pork roast. Brining is absolutely worth the extra effort - the meat gets meltingly tender. You can, however, feel free to substitute fresh cider for the hard stuff. It will make the dish a bit sweeter, but it is just as delicious. 

Yum!

See you at market!

-Ailish

Odds and Ends and Hoophouse Plastic!

Firstly, the Midcoast Winter Market starts tomorrow!

We have decided this year that we will stop going to the Brunswick Farmers' Market on FRIDAYS once the Midcoast Winter Market starts - so we will NOT be in Brunswick at all tomorrow. We will still, however, go to the Brunswick Farmers' Market on TUESDAYS up until Thanksgiving. This Saturday is the last Crystal Spring Farmers' Market! The weather is supposed to be all right, so we look forward to seeing you there.

And now that announcements are done...

The plastic is on! On Wednesday morning, we had the crew and several friends pitch in to help us pull two 200-foot-long pieces of plastic of plastic over the new hoophouse that you have seen in pictures I've posted earlier in the fall. Below you can see a before and after.

The before shot is taken from the south and the after from the north. It's a very long hoophouse, so it was hard to get a good shot. Fortunately, cell phones are so advanced these days that I managed to get a panorama shot from the north at the end of the day Wednesday (below). We had nine people total to help get the plastic on, and we got both sheets on within an hour. Then came the time-consuming stuff - tacking the plastic down  on the ends and sides (what Ben is doing at lower left), installing hardware so that we can roll up the sides of the hoophouse for ventilation (what the three tiny figures are doing in the top image) and clean out weeds (yes, already!) and evening out soil (bottom left).

The hoophouse still needs additional hardware (vents, doors, fans, etc.) to be completely finished, but it is finished enough that we will be able to transplant spinach, lettuce, and onions into it tomorrow! Hurrah!

This has been a good week for big projects. Over the weekend, two of the crew came in on Sunday, and the three of us processed a whole bunch of pork from the 2015 pigs - we used the oft-forgotten bits like lard, bones, hocks, and trotters - and made terrine, rillettes, rendered leaf lard, and bone broth. The 2016 pork will be in the freezer and ready for sale next week, so we were trying to clear out some room.

Also, you can make some really delicious things with the odds and ends. Rillettes and terrine are both excellent for spreading on toast with a bit of mustard or pickles, leaf lard will make some excellent pie crust or biscuits, and ham bone broth is the traditional base of the Japanese Ramen dish. Unfortunately, we are not able to sell these kinds of meat products at this time, but we will have odds and ends from the 2016 pigs for sale for you all to experiment with at home. It is definitely worth the effort!

See you at market!

-Ailish