Spaghetti Squash Secret

This is the season to use spaghetti squash.  It looks like this:

If you look online, most folks recommend cutting it in half lengthwise from the stem end to the blossom end.   But here is the secret that I learned thekitchn.com.  If you want the strings to be longer, cut the squash around the middle this way:

Notice that the strings start in a swirly pattern from the bottom and circle around coming up.  When you boil or bake this, and then let it cool, the squash strings will come out sort of like circles.  I cut them in half and mix them with the topping for the day.  I have used both a traditional spaghetti sauce and a veggie-chicken-sour cream mixture.  Both tasted good and were well-received by the family.

Awesome Administrator

The Farmer saw the above graph recently. As you can see, it shows that over the 39 year period 1970 – 2009, the number of doctors in the US increased by something like 100%.

They doubled.

During that same time, the number of administrators and support staff working in the health care field increased by over 3,000%.

Wow.

But guess what? Farming is no different. Administrative needs have ballooned.

Why? Well, step into The Farmer’s world and let him explain.

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July, August, September Local Food Challenge

I haven’t posted about the local food challenge since June. So for September, we will allow you to have up to 3 comments/entries. They can be about your choice of locally grown chicken or vegetables. The food can be from my farm, from a farmers market, from your garden or from your neighbor’s garden. It just needs to be locally grown (to you). What have you made this summer? Any salads, grilled veggies, chicken soup? Comment below OR  email and let me know.

What Gaia Saw

Gaia is our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. Her job on the farm is to protect our livestock, and in particular, our meat chickens. On a recent morning, the young crew went out to do their chicken chores, and Gaia was at the end of her chain jumping and excitedly barking.  They let her go and she sped off to investigate a broken two-wheeled cart that is stored close by.

An older son was in the area and came to investigate. As Gaia ran around the cart, our son pushed down on the back so that she could snoop around under the front.

Something flashed out from under the cart…

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The Tall and Short of It

A few years back, The Farmer was able to pick some multicolored maize (translation: “Indian corn”)  from the field of fellow farmer Robert Perry.  The Farmer had been meaning to plant it for himself and finally had space and time this year.

On Saturday, May 26, The Farmer planted the corn in hasty rows just to get it done. On July 6, we took a picture,  because your corn should be “knee high by the fourth of July.”

Multicolored maize

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Stray Livestock

From Jewish literature – If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.  (Exodus 22:5 NASB)

Every so often we raise what we term a “naughty” cow. And our naughty cow recently went on a field trip to our neighbor’s house.

A naughty cow often develops when the calf is out with Mom, and she is in a non-electrified fence. The curious calf naturally wanders to and then through the fence.  The calf never learns that fences exist as boundary markers. Most of our calves eventually learn what a fence is, but need one hot wire to remind them. Naughty cows only respect fences with multiple strands of electrified wire.

Generally speaking though, cows are quite content to lounge in the area they are given. Sure, the grass is always greener elsewhere, but as long as they are not super-hungry, they will not cross a fence line to get it.

We currently have a naughty cow, and it changes the pasturing dynamic.

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Generational Agriculture

When The Farmer’s father was growing up, their family house burned down while they were out of town. Eventually the family landed on a 100+ acre former farm. The Farmer’s grandfather raised beef and had a garden to help feed his seven children. This was the property that The Farmer knew as “Grandma & Grandpa’s house.”

Of those seven children, several stayed involved in agricultural pursuits.

Child 1 (The Farmer’s father) ended up on his own small farm doing part-time agricultural stuff. His first career was teaching agricultural mechanics, and his last career was performing testing at farms as part of the New York State Mastitis Control Program.

Child 3 ended up with part of the “old homestead” and built his own small farm (the one pictured here, at an annual Memorial Day Picnic) where his part-time pursuits include raising beef, hay, and eggs, and working in his retirement at a nearby farm.

Child 5 married a man who was the owner/operator of a milk trucking company.

Child 6 married and ended up on a small farm of her own raising beef part-time and having a family milk cow.

Child 7 bought the remainder of the “old homestead” and while he does not farm per se, he does breed and raise Newfoundlands as a part-time venture.

The Farmer does not expect 70% of his offspring to maintain an intimate connection with agriculture, but it has been nice to give them that exposure as they are growing up.

Farm Technology?

When The Farmer graduated from the Cortland Enlarged School District, back last century, his parents bought him a Vic-20 computer. That was back in the days when you hooked your computing device up to your TV as a monitor.

The Farmer spent the summer between high school and college teaching himself the BASIC programming language.

He has dabbled with computer technology ever since.

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Pork Dishes – Flavor is in the Fat

This is what pork is all about.  The flavor!  Whether it is smoked or spiced or roasted, the flavor is what you remember from a good piece of pork.  And what makes the flavor?  The fat.  As Julia Child has been attributed to say, “Fat gives things flavor.”

The fat is what is left in the pan after you cook your bacon and what gets drained into a container to be later used to flavor veggies or rice or potatoes.  It is what mixes with the barbecue sauce of Sloppy Joes made with sausage or with the sauce of the pulled pork and what you sop up with the bread or boiled potatoes at the end of the meal.  The fat of a smoked ham slice or pork chops melts and flavors the potatoes or rice it is cooked on top of.

Pigs resting in their hut

We cook pork either by itself or on top of something: such as,  bacon cooked first and then eggs cooked in the grease; smoked ham slices, pork steaks or chops cooked over rice or potatoes; pork roast, first pan seared and then roasted in the oven.  In the last scenario, the fat is saved for a later use OR the bones and fat are boiled to make a broth for rice or for soup.  (This makes an excellent bean soup broth!)

Sausage is used to flavor things.  It is added to soups; it is the spice of sloppy joes – 1 part sausage, 3 parts hamburger, spaghetti or barbecue sauce for the sauce; it can be added to a stir fry or to an egg dish.

How have you used pork recently?  Let me know by email or in the comments of this post.