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Preserving Food

Fall Forward

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Fall Forward

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The last two weeks have given us only one day of clear skies and many days where the air was considered too hazardous to breath for any extended period of time. Our self imposed deadline of the baby arriving and the one created by nature are still looming with several projects left so smoke or no smoke things must still move forward. That means some days getting work done with a mask and most of the time doing work in fits and starts. It also means constantly revising our to do list to prioritize what can't wait and what can be put off till spring.  The first thing to get taken off the list was a wood burning stove. We live in a large barn that was converted into a house and it doesn't have the most efficient heating system so we wanted to add a wood burning stove to keep our energy bills a little lower for the winter. Luckily we weren't counting on it for heat this winter so we will still have a nice cozy house to spend time cooking, reading, researching, and planning for our first full year of farming in.

One project we did accomplish was getting water and electricity to the pastures closest to the house. This involved hiring an excavator to dig a long ditch three feet deep (keeping below the frost line) from the yard near our house all the way out to the sheep shelters, running pipe for the water and electrical conduit inside the ditch, installing a frost proof hydrant, and an electrical outlet. What we thought would be a two day project turned into more than a week long project. There was one day a pipe burst because of a bad part we were sold, then there was a lot more time spent putting the fill dirt back into the ditch since we were using our tractor and not an excavator to get the job done. It was at the top of our list of things to get done because it means we will no longer have to haul 5 gallon buckets of water out to the pastures everyday and there will be an outlet to hook up a stock tank heater to keep the animal's water from freezing this winter.

My favorite part of getting ready for winter is putting up food. It's exhausting when your 8 months pregnant but when I look at all of our jars of tomato sauce, applesauce, apple butter, sauerkraut, frozen blueberries and pitted cherries and think of all the great meals we will make during the winter months it makes all the late nights worth it. We are still  hoping and planning for some more cabbage and beets from our CSA so we can make some fermented kraut-chi (from Sandor Katz's "The Art of Fermentation"), there is also quite a few apples left in the fridge from an apple truck that turned over down the road from us so more applesauce and apple butter, and if we are lucky enough to get any pumpkins from our very late planting, some pumpkin butter and pumpkin pie. We aren't putting up enough food to get us through the winter but its a small step to becoming a more sustainable farm. We are putting up enough hay to get the sheep through the winter because we don't want to be paying an exorbitant price per bale come January. Matt has loaded into his truck and then unloaded into the shelters three tons of hay and one ton of straw. We are thinking about getting a fourth ton of hay just to be on the safe side and looking into large quantities of grain to make feed for the chickens this winter. Every time we take something off the list we seem to come up with a new sometimes smaller project to add on.

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Foodie in the Rye

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Foodie in the Rye

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Our path to farming was not purely based on our desire to farm but more so our love of cooking and wanting the most delicious and healthy food for our family and friends as we possibly can produce. My husband and I met in art school both majoring in painting and printmaking but it's really our shared desire to learn about new foods and cooking together (or more often collaborating on how a meal will come together) that fuels us. My husband spent years working as a cook in an Italian restaurant before he went to art school and I have been working in catering, restaurants, and natural food since I was a teenager.  One thing I miss most about my job at a natural food co-op is connecting to a community and both getting to share my knowledge of food and health but also receiving a wealth of knowledge in return.  So in trying to keep that connection I will start sharing some of our adventures in cooking as well as farming.  Bread, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Sausage, Kombucha, Bacon, Jams, Relish, Hot sauce, and Ice cream have been some of the things we loved making on a regular basis in addition to our normal family meals and hopefully our farming schedule will allow us to keep experimenting and be an influence on how we farm.    

    

   

I'm trying to work on some summer staples like salad dressing and popsicles to reduce waste, save money, and partly just for the fun of it. I have always made oil and vinegar dressings but those are not the kids favorites. They like the thick ranch dressings or the tasty tahini based Goddess dressings. So I started making a dressing with some of the staples we have around. I started with some Milk that I add a couple tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar to thicken it and sour it like Buttermilk. Then I add equal parts Nancy's plain yogurt because I love the tangy taste and am convinced it must have more live cultures in it. Then I just add whatever fresh herbs I have around, salt, pepper, and caraway seeds to taste. It's been popular even though it's not quite as thick as the store bought stuff. We have an abundance of veggies this summer so I have been adding it to a mix of chopped up raw veggies and TruRoots sprouted Rice and Quinoa mix(that cooks in 20 minutes!) and it is now one of the easiest and most filling summer dinners we make. I have not been as successful in the popsicle department so if you have any recipes that you love please send them my way.

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