August 27, 2008

Week 51

We’ve got a family of Canadian geese that have decided they like our farm in the summer. There are about 18 of ‘em and they spend the night down here on the river, then fly a quarter mile up to the pasture where they graze with the cows and goats for a couple hours every morning. They fly off somewhere else during the day, but come honking back home every evening towards dusk. Canadian geese around here at least is a recent development of the last say 15 years in the winter, but now in the summer as well? I am hoping some of you could write & get me up to speed about what’s up.
Regardless, it’s sure cool to see ‘em coming through in their Vee, honking encouragement, or grazing together with always a few sentries keeping watch. It makes me contemplate the unforced rhythm and simplicity and order of their community and ask the question, “Who’s the bird brain here anyway?” You guys probably have life wired, but around here, we’ve got crews spread all over Christmas from March through January and February’s spent nursing blooms and bees through the rain. Chickens run year round and now we’ve started this year round subscription box of Organic produce you might have heard about.
The enemy of the best is the good and our life is really all about constantly identifying the best so we can ruthlessly say no to the good. It’s easier said than done because the good is so good. It’s just not the best.
And then there’s the tyranny of the urgent. Eisenhower said “The urgent is seldom important, and the important is seldom urgent” and he planned D day. Wow how my life gets run by the urgent and usually it’s somebody else’s urgent! Yet, we’ve got to have a servant’s heart…
While I don’t yet understand what Canadian geese are doing in Kingsburg in August, I do understand brown orbed spiders. These beautiful guys have a body the size of a dime or so and spin the most perfect Charlotte’s web type web you ever saw often spanning 10 feet between rows and a really powerful web at that. They are really the canary in the coal mine around here. They’re prolific in the Organic orchards and vineyards that I walk and nonexistent in the conventional. I don’t know how many bugs these guys must eat to get that big, but they’re sure impressive.
Another critter that’s made a huge comeback around here is the quail. There are literally dozens on every 10 acre Organic block because we’ve got cover (weeds) for ‘em to hide from predators. You just don’t see quail in a conventional field.
Lastly, the song birds. All of our farming is Organic, but half the fruit we pack for our neighbors is conventional. (A chunk of the Organic is packed as conventional as well just because despite all the hype, the market isn’t there yet, but that’s another newsletter) When I walk the conventional fields in the morning, it’s just business. How many, how big, when? Same job in the organic patches, but what a sensory explosion. First you’ve got crickets exulting in the dew of the new day. Songbirds exulting in their good fortune of either all of my fruit they want to eat, or all the crickets, and I can’t help but just stop and thankfully marvel. EAT HEALTHY

You see the term “seasonal” a lot on our website and in this newsletter. Some of you have asked what that means. First what is “seasonal” at any given time is related to where in the state, country, or world you live. Even in the state of California you will find various crops available at different times of the year, depending on location. The seasons for a crop are very much dictated by the climate and temperatures in an area. If you live in Southern California you may see produce available at a farmer’s market that is not available in Central or Northern California at that time of year.
Because of global trade the average shopper has become much less aware of what is actually in season in their area of the world. Almost any day of the year you can walk into a supermarket and purchase melon, tomatoes, and numerous green vegetables. We become so accustom to having almost everything available all year long that some of the anticipation of our “seasonal” favorites is gone.
When you eat “seasonally”, or with the harvest, you are eating and enjoying the produce that is being harvested locally throughout the year. How much better to anticipate and savor the taste of those grapes that are your summer time favorite when they are locally in season than to have them available all year, and become bored with them. They won’t have been picked two weeks ago and shipped thousands of miles either. The Abundant Harvest standard for local is the Central Valley of California. There may be times, during the winter months, that we will reach out as far as the Coachella Valley in order to provide variety.
There is not room in this issue of the newsletter to address all of the fruits and vegetables, or even all of the seasons but we will try to do so as we move from season to season. Right now the tree fruit is winding down and the grape harvest has begun. You will not notice much change in the vegetables until we are into the cooler months and then there should be some old favorites like green beans, broccoli and cauliflower coming along.
Every season is an adventure and every year the adventure can change because we cannot control the wind, the rain, the heat, or the cold. All of which have a hand in determining how well a particular crop, that the farmer has invested not only money, but hours and days and months into, will develop. The availability of a crop can change in a matter of hours that is why we let you know that the contents of your box may change up until the day it is packed.

Here is what you will find in this week’s box.
-Seasonal Stone Fruit
The Peterson Family, Kingsburg
-Sweet Corn
Don Warkentine, Kingsburg
-Clip Top Carrots
California Organic, Lamont
-Hot Chilis
-Summer Squash*
-Mixed Cherry Tomatoes
-Red Onion*
Michele Reynolds, Kingsburg
-Red Leaf Lettuce*
-Yukon Gold Potatoes
-Crookneck Squash
T & D Willey, Madera
* Denotes Large Box Only
Contents may vary due to availability on day of delivery.

What makes a chili hot is the capsaicin found in the ribs. To make a chili less hot remove the seeds and ribs, but it is suggested you wear gloves when doing so. If you eat a chili that is too hot don’t drink water that will only make it worse. Try drinking milk or eating some bread.

Savory Squash Casserole
4-5 summer squash 2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup evaporated milk 1/3 cup crumbled soda crackers
1 medium onion, chopped 2 Tbsp diced pepper, any color
½ cup grated cheddar cheese 1 tsp salt
1 hot chili pepper, diced or halved

Wash and slice squash. Cook covered until tender with not too much water. Drain and mash. Mix with other ingredients. Pour into a greased casserole. Bake at 350º for 25 minutes. Serves 8-10

Summer Squash Bread
3 eggs 1 cup oil
2 cups sugar 2 cups grated squash
3 tsp vanilla 1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups flour ¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
Beat eggs, oil, sugar, and squash. Sift dry ingredients and add. Add vanilla and nuts. Bake at 350º for 50-60 minutes in two small loaf pans or one large loaf pan. Freezes well.

Hint: Chop or dice your vegetables and herbs and store them in separate containers or bags in the refrigerator. They will be ready to use in stir-fry, salad, or to make a hearty omelet with fried potatoes.

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