The Passing of a Friend and Fellow Farmer

I met Jim Brownson 10 or 11 years ago when we first started coming to the Eastside Neighborhood Farmers Market at Westcott Community Center. We were on the Westcott St. side of the Community Center in those days. He and his wife, Debbie, and his sister, Donna, had the stall closest to Euclid St. Lots of people came and purchased food from them. Sometimes the Brownsons would bring their children or grandchildren with them. Two children were married at that point. The next 10 years would see all of the children marry and many grandchildren be born. And all of these came by the market at some time or another.

The year before I started at the market Jim had a serious heart attack (perhaps several heart attacks) that left him with greatly reduced heart function. In time he received a pacemaker with built-in defibrillator. He was still one solid, sturdy man. He worked day in and day out, planting, using the tractor, harvesting, weeding, doing whatever the next thing was to do. In the spring it was starting the seedlings and plants. Next it was getting them in the ground. Then weeding and spraying as needed. Finally harvesting. Water for irrigation got pumped from the creek or the fire hydrant depending on the year. Squash, pumpkins, corn were planted every year. He regularly did the Westcott Market and the Cazenovia market. Some years also saw him at Chittenango and Bridgeport markets. Over the winter he cut firewood. One year he put in a high tunnel to extend his season. (He was always after me to cover my high tunnel. He was surprised at how much a difference it had made for him in farm production.) He repaired engines for himself and others. He helped his children with their projects. He was one busy man.

But he has slowed down over the past several years. First his wife, Debbie, slowed down with health issues. The family pitched in, helping her and Jim and caring for her at home. After her passing, Jim figured out how to live without the love of his life. He did it. Then he slowed down with his own health issues. His grandson, Dylan, and sister, Donna came to the market with him. The 3 of them made a good team. And this summer Jim slowed down even more. But just like with Debbie, his family cared for him at home.

I went to see Jim about 2 weeks ago. He said hi and then dozed as some of the girls and I visited. When I said that I was leaving, he opened his eyes, smiled big, and said, Keep the faith! I said, You, too! And we grinned and I gave him a thumbs up.

I miss Jim at the market. I miss his taking care of whatever negotiations needed to be done with market managers. I miss being able to ask his advice or hear his suggestions. I miss listening to his stories of other markets and other years. I miss visiting with him. Jim, be at peace!

Jim and Deb Brownson

https://www.traubfh.com/obituary/James-Brownson Pictures used by permission of the family.

Turkeys for Preorder for Thanksgiving

The turkeys continue to grow. They are in a moveable fence getting fresh grass, supplemented with organic locally grown grains (Gianforte Farm). They pip and squeak to each other and us when we are around.

At night we put them in this moveable cage. It has roosts for them to roost and sleep on. Chicken wire covers most of the outside to protect them from local predators.

We are taking preorders for Thanksgiving. The birds are $5.00/lb. We will process them Saturday, November 21 and they will be ready for pick up that afternoon. They can be refrigerated until Thanksgiving. We anticipate that they will be between 10 and 25 lb. We request $20 deposit. We take cash, check or can send an invoice that you can pay with card.

Because we have not raised turkeys much before, we do request that you have a Thanksgiving Day backup plan, so that if 11/21 comes and the birds are too small to eat or if a predator should get them before we process them, you still have a way to get a turkey for Thanksgiving. (In this event, we would refund your deposit.) With 5-6 weeks to go, I think we have a good chance of success. But please have a back up plan!

Pumpkin Season

Pumpkins are ready! All of them can be decorative. They are also all edible.

These are the small ones ($.50 or $1.00 each)

And these are the pie pumpkins:

Both pie pumpkin varieties have similar flesh. Both can be stored in a 50-60F location after being given a vinegar solution wash. Usually we wash them with water and then wash them with vinegar, let them dry, and then store them in the basement. We have had pumpkins last well into April or May. Spherical ones last a bit longer than the long ones do. When we are ready to use them for a custard or as part of soup, we process them. For those directions, tap here.

Turkeys

The Bros decided to raise turkeys for the Thanksgiving season. They are outside making pipping noises and chirps as they wander around their pen eating grain and grass and insects. At night they go into the truck cap. As they get older they will want to roost. The Bros have built this handy hut that should let all 20+ of them roost safely.

The turkeys and their night time quarters are on the pasture in a large netting fence. The fence slows predators from getting in and the turkeys from getting out. We regularly move the fencing so that they get fresh pasture and they spread their droppings for us increasing the nitrogen in the pasture.

Spring Pigs – Fall Pork

In March four piggies joined our farm. They were born on another small farm, one that we have purchased piglets from before. Three of these are for our fall pork supply, and one will be a sow so that the Bros. can breed and raise their own piglets. Of course, at first as seen in this pic, they were more inside than out.

Now they live outdoors in this brushy area. They root and open the spaces up, especially when we throw corn down on the ground. Mostly though, we feed them lightly ground organic grains from Gianforte Farm in Cazenovia.

Here is the feeder we use, and yes, it is rachet-strapped to the fence and a t-post. Pigs are strong animals singly, and working as a team either intentionally or not, can move things in ways we don’t want them to. In this case, they would dump the feeder, and the feed would get wasted on the ground. So we secure the feeder to the fence to minimize the waste.

Here are two of the pigs, the ones that came to find me as I was taking pics. I love to see a tightly curled tail on any pig: to me that means a happy, healthy pig.

Only What We Produce – 1 week

Recently we had a week that we tried to eat only what we grew or raised or hunted ourselves. Protein-wise we would be fine – we have beef, chicken, pork, goat, venison, and eggs. Fruit wise we have pears. Apples and peaches might also be ready. And there was the wild plum tree, wild grapes, and maybe elderberries. Veggies were available – green beans, Swiss chard, red and sugar beets and beet greens, summer squash, zucchini, edemame, onions, garlic, carrots, grape and yellow pear tomatoes. We have oregano, sage, rosemary, and mint for flavoring. Honey and maple syrup would be the sweeteners. Black walnuts are somewhere. (We didn’t find them, so they weren’t used.) Starches and fats would be the weak link. We had a few potatoes; we did grow wheat this spring, so could grind that; we had beef tallow and could process pork lard. We had milk, but not enough to get cream for butter. Salt was allowed as needed/wanted.

Suppers/dinners were fine. At first they were more involved. As time went on, they became 1 pot stir fries. We like salads, so raw carrots and tomatoes were the munchies that served as a salad.

  • Monday – fried Zucchini planks, raw thinly sliced summer squash with sage and tallow, sauteed beens and herbs, seared and roasted London broil
  • Tuesday – baked zucchini, tomatoes, with milk and eggs over top
  • Wednesday – sauteed ground beef, green beans, summer squash, Swiss chard
  • Thursday – roasted chicken over sliced potatoes; cornmeal mush
  • Friday – chicken leftover veggie soup, made with chicken broth and cream and milk
  • Saturday – hamburger patties, with tomatoes as bun, veggies on the side
  • Sunday – seared and roasted chuck roast, sauteed veggies

At first I tried to saute things in lard like I would in olive oil – lots of lard. That was too much lard. So I would use lard to start the veggies and then I would add chicken broth to add moisture.

Breakfasts and lunches are make-it-yourself. However, we have lots of oats and bread and granola that can be part of the make-it-yourself and these were not available. We did have wheat that we ground into whole wheat flour. This was mixed with milk and eggs to make crepes, pancakes, flat bread (chapatis), or quick bread if you add fruits or meats and veggies. If you beat your eggs or your egg whites and then mix it with the rest of the batter, it will be more of a raised bread. We also had 1 batch of cornmeal mush.

Things we missed – oats, oatmeal, granola, dried fruit, olive oil, butter, lettuce.

All in all, it worked out well. After one week 5 of us stopped, but 3 continued for about another week. As I was no longer cooking just what we produced, this became make-it-yourself for all three meals. But they made it work! We will probably try this again and aim for 2 weeks next time.

Pasture Plants

We raise our cows on pasture. This time of year there are many plants in addition to the grasses.

Do you know the names of these pasture flowers or plants?

Check below to see how you did!

Some of these we are glad to see – trefoil, chicory, amaranth. Others, like burdock or ragweed, we prefer not to see! Want to know more about goldenrod and ragweed? Tap here!

Ragweed OR Goldenrod

The ragweed allergy season is upon us! One way to reduce the allergies is to reduce the allergen. This plant in the middle is ragweed. (Pink flowers are knapweed.)

Here is a good look at the leaves with small flower buds on top.

This is a look at other flowers of a plant.

And here is the whole plant by the roadside with pink flower (knapweed) and blue flower (chicory) in the background.

Here is a stand of goldenrod starting to flower. You can see hints of yellow on the top of the green.

Goldenrod leaves are more pointed as seen in this pic.

And the flowers start out more yellow.

As these plants mature and the flowers flesh out more, we will add pics, at least of the goldenrod. The ragweed probably will be cut as we have several that are allergic to it in our home.

Zucchini Pizzas

This is a recipe in progress. You use large zucchinis cut into circles and lightly cooked; next top with sauce, cheese and other toppings; then bake until soft and cheese is melted; finally eat and enjoy!

Ever wonder what to do with those large zucchinis? We recently turned them into mini-pizzas. Here is how we did it:

We cut the zucchini into rounds (a large zucchini gave us about 20 slices) and drizzled them with olive oil, placing them on an oiled sheet. We cooked these at 400F for 9 minutes. Probably they should have been cooked longer, so that they could soften. OR they could have been steamed for 4-8 minutes to also soften them. They will cook more in the next step, but before adding toppings they need to be no longer raw.

Then we flipped them over, covered with a tomato sauce (whatever you use for pizza sauce), and put thinly sliced mozzarella and cheddar cheese on top. (Shredded cheese or other pizza topping would work as well.) We cooked this until the cheese melted and the zucchini was soft.

And that was dinner!

Wild Plum Tree

While looking through the brush where the goats are clearing we found this tree. It has some wild grapes on it. Looking closer we saw that it was some sort of fruit tree. Inside the fruit we found plum pits. So we have a wild plum tree!