March 8, 2008

Week 27

HEY VERNON! HOW DO YOUUU FEEL? I feel good, oh I feel so good, UH. It’s March and I haven’t had a cold, or the flu or even a plugged up head all winter. I always have one bout with something and plugged up sinuses were just a fact of winter. I’ve also lost 5 lbs. since last fall when we started this but I feel like I’ve been eating like a horse. Coincidence?
If you’re new, we grow about 800,000 chickens a year on 2 ranches. The home place –which has been Organic about a year now – and the Laton ranch which will have 2 of the 7 houses organic this next flock and should be totally Organic by the end of the year as the market expands. Yesterday afternoon, I was walking the home flock with the vet who we’ve worked with about 8 years now. I commented that “our biggest fear in switching to organic production was giving up anti-biotics” which are generally needed about once/ flock, usually to help with cocci. (Cocci in poultry, is like a cold for us.) I said “for some reason, we’ve been really lucky here this last year, but we’re still battling it out in Laton” His response was surprising. “It doesn’t matter what company or what climate or what type of housing sophistication I run into from British Columbia to the desert. Vernon, I’m as surprised as you are but when a company switches to Organic, their cocci stops. I’ll also predict that your next flock in Laton will have cocci in the 5 conventional houses but not in the 2 Organic.” Now that boys and girls is one whale of a statement from a 50 year old commercial independent vet. Coincidence?
I’m looking out my window as I write this and folks; it couldn’t be sweeter than what I see. Green grass on the berms, everything in full bloom. A huge flock of quail just walked through (give em cover and they come back) When we 1st started Organic production some years back, we tried really hard and spent a lot of time and money trying to keep the weeds out. The kind of weeds we had then were obnoxious ugly (round-up resistant) monsters. Now what we’ve got are the natural, bucolic winter weeds that just die when it gets hot. Mostly chick weed, fox tails and some shepherd’s purse. I have to confess, and I know I’m gonna take a good bit of razzing from those who have known me a long time, but it now makes me sick when I drive by or visit my neighbors with their sterilized floors. I just want to get home and enjoy the way things ought to be. Just keepin’ it real guys.
Last weeks tomatoes were just okay. Not bad, but no zowie. Hans is trying something different and we’ll see. Let me know what you think, but to me, if it’s not great, why bother. The lettuce was rough as well. They’re going to try to grade it closer. We’re winding up winter veg and spring’s still a couple weeks off.

ABUNDANT HARVEST GIVES BACK! If you’re like me, you’re tired of kids hitting you up all the time selling candy for whatever club. Why not sell tickets for the ½ box for $17, We’ll put it up in cardboard so there’s no deposit on the RPC and kick the club back $5. Sure we take a little loss, but we’re farmers, it’s just life. Seriously though, it’s a good ching for the club and everybody eats healthy, and maybe some new folks will join the family after finding out how tasty eating healthy really can be. Your host will have more details. Thank you all for joining the adventure. EAT HEALTHY!

In the past couple of weeks there may have been times you tried to log on and were unable to. We apologize for the inconvenience but it is necessary at times for the web designers to shut the site down while they make improvements. Often you will not notice any difference because the changes are internal but they are designed to improve the way we serve you. If you have made suggestions that you believe will improve the site but have not seen any change, don’t despair there are enhancements in the works that just may include one of your suggestions.

This will be repetitive to some of you but we have many new subscribers, and perhaps it will be a refresher for others. To change your order for a specific week, or order add-ons, you must do so before 9:00 am on Monday morning. We cannot take orders for add-ons after that time. To change your box size for one week only, or order add-ons you simply login and look at your Subscription Dashboard which is on the right hand side of your screen. Under the date for next week’s delivery you will see a box titled EDIT THIS WEEK/ADDONS. If you select that box you will be taken to another page. To change your box size or quantity of boxes for the week you enter the number you would like to receive of the respective sizes in the corresponding box. Below that you will see the list of add-ons available for the week. Enter the quantity of the item you would like to receive and add it to your box. When you are finished you will see a recap of your order at the bottom of the page.
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There may be something in your box that you, and no one you know, would want. When the question has been asked we have encouraged you to find someone to trade with. Starting March 15, we are going to try to facilitate this and will have a box available at the site that you can place these items in. If you do so and there is something in the box you would like to have; you can make a trade.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Navel Oranges
M & K, Caruthers
-W. Murcott Mandarin Oranges
Rick Schellenburg, Kingsburg
-Yellow Potatoes
Family Farm, Madera
John Tobias, Hollister
Christopher Ranch, Gilroy
-Broccoli Crowns
-Green Leaf Lettuce
Joe Heger, El Centro
-Bloomsdale Spinach
-Nantes Carrots
-Desert Artichokes*
-Red Cabbage*
-Red Baby Beets
T & D Willey, Madera
*Denotes Abundant Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on date of delivery.

Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead this weekend or you might be late every place you have to go on Sunday.

Hearty Broccoli Soup
2 cups potatoes, diced 1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced ½ cup celery, minced
1 cup water 2 cups chopped broccoli
4 cups milk, divided 2 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup flour 1 cup Swiss or sharp cheddar cheese
Cook together potatoes, onion, carrots, celery and water for 5 minutes. Add chopped broccoli and continue to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Add 3 cups milk, bouillon cubes, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Heat to boiling. In a small bowl blend until smooth, 1 cup milk and 1/3 cup flour. Stir into the soup and cook just until thickened. Turn off heat. Add grated cheese and stir until melted.
Optional: Substitute cauliflower for carrots and celery.

Red Cabbage Slaw
2 cups shredded red cabbage 1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup raisins (optional)

Basic Vinaigrette Dressing
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil 1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine in jar with tight fitting lid. Shake well and pour over salad ingredients, toss. As an alternative you may place dressing ingredients in the bottom of a serving bowl and whisk together. Place salad ingredients on top and toss.

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