Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What's New At The Farm? 12/16/09

I guess field work is done. The pond is frozen over and everything is covered with fresh snow. I think with a warm fall like we had this year, no matter how cold and snowy the winter is, it'll seem shorter than if we had started winter in November. After a poor growing season, I am anxious to get a new and better season started. Well, perhaps not quite yet, but soon; within a couple of months.

The freezer is full and we like it that way! We harvested the last crop just two weeks ago - the Brussels sprouts. Twenty quarts of them went into the freezer and we had some fresh ones to eat right away - delicious! Brussels sprouts are easy to grow, and their incredibly sweet. Yes, I said sweet. If more people ate them fresh they perhaps wouldn't have such a bad rep. We never had them while growing up - broccoli was a reach for many years. My mother at 91 had her first Brussels sprouts and enjoys them very much. The ones from the garden allowed to be frosted several times and harvested and cooked fresh bear little resemblance to what you buy in the supermarket, grown and processed in some far off place, and bitter at best. Typical super market Brussels sprouts need to be slathered in butter and dosed with ample supplies of salt before being eaten. Fresh from the garden and they need no salt or butter, just enjoy them as they are.

One note about growing Brussels sprouts is the need to protect them from cabbage worms. Each year I fail to spray them as much as I should for cabbage worms. I did manage to spray them once this past summer but should have done it a couple more times. The caterpillars feed on the sprouts but worst of all, leave their feces in the tunnels they make. As the sprouts grow the feces (frass) become embedded in the leaves of the sprouts. After the sprouts are picked, and as you sort through them and trim them prior to blanching, you will have to discard, or at least heavily trim, the affected sprouts. This will add hours onto the process making much more work than needed.

I suppose with Christmas being less than 2 weeks away I should go do some shopping. I like shopping; if I can go where I want to. I've got three farm stores, a grocery store and a couple of sporting goods stores on my list. Last year Peg requested cast iron; she got it; I had to shore up the house so the floor wouldn't buckle with all the added weight. I didn't know they made so many things out of cast iron! We like using cast iron, especially on our woodstove. A few years back she got new ice fishing traps; one set one year and one set the next. Now she's got two nice sets and I don't have any; perhaps I can borrow hers.

Shopping for me is far easier; farm and sporting good stores always hold something of interest. New things for the henhouse and the garden are always good. Thinking about what I'll be doing in three months and that adds a couple of trips to the boat and fishing store, new paint for my tractor (yes, I'm getting that running) and perhaps a gift certificate for new asphalt shingles for the barn. See, I'm easy to get for; she, on the other hand would probably be less than thrilled with any of the above and I doubt she be thrilled with a gift certificate for a load of compost either. I'll have to think on this.

No column for the next two weeks; I'm going on vacation. I think, by the looks of the weather, I'll be tending the wood furnace quite a lot. I'd also like to do some snowshoeing with Peg and the dogs. You'd think the dogs would break trail but, no, instead they prefer to walk directly behind us, occasionally stepping on our snow shoes. Makes for an interesting and sometimes quite funny afternoon.

See you next year, Brian

2 comments:

Paul R said...

Brian,

Always enjoy the blog!

Merry frozen Christmas!

Gretchen said...

I love the Winter! A good break and time for reflection during the off season gets me excited and inspired to plan for the season ahead. I appreciate having time to gather seeds and supplies, mending the chicken coop, and building garden carts.

Last year, I actively ran my small organic farm during the full term of my pregnancy during our most productive season yet (also the hottest summer ever recorded here in Western WA.) By October, I had a baby boy! And I must say, he is the best thing I ever grew.

Farming will be a little different with a baby at my side, and yet thrilled to meet the challenge. For the season ahead, I feel a sigh of release when my reliable seeds and supplies arrive from your farm. I am so thankful for your support.

Happy New Year!