August Views from the Farm

Here are recent views from the farm…

Weeds of the Season

Here are some weeds we recently sighted around the property. All are fun to observe, but two, ragweed and wild parsnip, we are especially careful around.

This is young RAGWEED. It has a small unobtrusive flower that causes a lot of allergy issues this time of year.

To see more mature RAGWEED, go here.

The blue flowers of CHICORY open in the sun and heat and close in the cool and rain. This is abundant throughout our fields this year.

MILKWEED is the plant of choice for monarch butterflies to lay eggs on. The larva then eat the leaves until it is large enough to form a chrysalis, from which the monarch will emerge. Note the milkweed pods forming near the bottom of the stalk.

WILD PARSNIP is here much of the summer. The sap can cause blisters and a skin reaction. It has a yellow flower that sort of resembles the dillweed flower.

MULLEIN is a large weed with velvety soft leaves. The spiky top gets lots of pretty yellow flowers.

July Veggies

Various veggies continue to grow. Lots of water, sun, and heat all work together to make them grow. Of course they are not the only things growing. Weeds or unintended plants also grow. With drier weather this week we hope to get into some of the beds and convert the unintended plants to mulch.

Harvesting Garlic

Your garlic has been growing well, perhaps looks a bit weedy like this patch either because of weather, life, or both. But when is the right time to harvest it?

Garlic has layered leaves that wrap around the stem and the head of garlic. They receive the sunlight which is converted to the energy the plant needs to grow. As the plant ages, these leaves turn brown and die. The part that is around the head of garlic becomes the wrappers for the stored garlic.

The leaves will die from the bottom up. So we look for the plant to start browning, but to also still have 3-4 leaves at the top that are still green. Then we dig them up, shake off the dirt, and prep them to cure.

We have bunched the garlic, hung the bunches in a dark place, and let them cure for a month or so. But we have also found that we can cut the tops off and let them cure in the dark for a month or so on these bread trays. The outer wrappings will easily come off and the inner ones will protect the garlic through the winter.

And hopefully come mid-August you (and we) will have garlic that looks something like this!

Red Russian Kale – a Biennial

(Note: while we grow red Russian kale, we do not always have it available to sell.)

Some red Russian kale seed spilled on the driveway several years ago. The plant has come back and produced nice foliage. Note how the leaves are water repellent – the water beads on the leaves.

This year the kale flowered and now has a large supply of these lovely seed pods. Probably we will let them dry and save them for seed for the coming year.

Some interesting things to note:

We think of kale as a small leaf with thin stems, something that we could try to eat raw and that would certainly cook up quickly either sauteed or boiled.

But look at the stout woody stem that is at the base of the seed podded plant. Quite stout and woody!

The seeds are also quite small.

But one of those generated this plant that has lots of seed pods each with probably 5-12 seeds in it. Quite the plant!

Biennial, annual, and perennial differences:

  • A biennial is a plant that flowers and makes seeds in the 2nd year, not the first year. The brassicas, like broccoli or cabbage, or the beets, like Swiss chard or early wonder tall top beets, are biennials.
  • An annual flowers and makes seeds in the first year. Spinach or squashes are annuals.
  • Self-sowing annuals also distribute the seeds which then come up the next year even though they weren’t planted on purpose. Cilantro and dillweed are like this.
  • A perennial comes up every year. It may also make seeds, but the mother plant comes up whether it goes to seed or not. Rhubarb and asparagus are perennials.

Tell Me About Your…Pork

Pork is the name of meat that comes from pigs.

All of our pigs are raised outdoors year round, having a shelter to minimize the weather. They are fed organic grains grown by Gianforte Farm of Cazenovia. They are supplemented with day old produce from a local organic grocery store and occasional overflow from a local food pantry.

And as the seasons permit they are moved to different paddocks eating the brush, grass and local vegetation.

In the past year we have begun raising our own pigs from farrowing to finishing, from birth to processing. The Bros have a boar and two sows. Each sow gives two litters a year and from these litters we raise 3 piglets twice a year. Most of the pork we are currently selling and all we are currently raising started on our farm.

We aim to raise our pigs to 250-300 lb. They get this size by 7 months and then we have them processed by Kelly Meats in Taberg, a USDA-inspected facility. They cut and vacuum pack the meat into the normal chops, steaks and roasts. They use some of the ground meat to make sweet Italian, hot Italian and breakfast sausage. And they smoke some of the hams, chops and bacon. You end up with well-raised, tasty pork. Local food grown for you!

2021 Hay

With the rain this spring and the heat of June, hay fields have grown and hay has been collected.

The Bros got around 200 bales from our property with the baling help of a neighbor. And then we bought the rest of our hay from the same neighbor off the wagon. (From his fields he mows, rakes, bales it into a wagon, then brings it to our farm where we stack it. Off of the wagon means it doesn’t stop at his barn first.)

It is good to have a nice green hay ready for the cows and goats when grass is no longer available.

Baby Piglets

Maple, the sow, has given birth. Last February she carried and delivered 3 piglets. This time she carried 15 piglets and 12 survived. This pic is an early one of them coming around to nurse.

Her delivery was long, taking about 8 or 9 hours. However, she was able to do it on her own without assistance from us, which is a plus.

Maple has a large pen. On the one side we have a creep, a gate that the piglets can get under and be together and sleep. They all have the run of the pen, but the piglets also have a safe spot.

We look at piggies’ tails to see how they are doing. The closer to upright and curled the better. Most of these tails are up and some are even curled.

You can also see some size differences. Most are starting to fill out; one is even stout compared to the rest.

Of course being able to get on and nurse contentedly contributes to good growth!

Smoked Ham Steak

Smoked ham steaks, 1.25-2.0 lb., are easy to cook on these summer days. Here is the uncooked steak. I pan fried it for 4 minutes on a side, covering it with a lid, flipping back and forth several times.

After 20-25 minutes it had cooked and shrunk with the bone starting to separate from the meat. We saved the cooked off fat for other meals and enjoyed the ham steak with veggies, rice and a salad.

  • In the winter I like to cook this over scalloped potatoes in the oven. The fat drains down and flavors the potatoes nicely.
  • This also works well in the crockpot over veggies and potatoes or sweet potatoes. 8 hours on low should cook everything making tasty blended flavors.
  • I don’t grill (or broil much), but this would cook well that way, too.