They love cataloupes

Our pigs eat really well this time of year.  Well, actually they eat really well all times of year.  But they especially seem to love the watermelons and cantaloupes I bring them.

Every morning and evening I take them some pig feed, along with our table scraps from the night before.  Most mornings this time of year that means that, at a minimum, they get some watermelon rinds in the morning.  But I also try to take them something from the gardens around midday.  That’s often a bucket of tomatoes that are going soft, a split watermelon or two, or what seems to be their favorite–some cantaloupes.

It’s a joy to see them come running from across the pasture when I call them.  They squeal with anticipation as they run.  As I watch them I’m usually reminded of the millions of pigs being raised in cages in American pork factories, who will never know what it’s like to run.  Or to taste a cantaloupe.

Love Wins

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Refreshing

Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer afternoon than a garden-ripened watermelon.

Our chickens agree.

Love Wins

Corn Day

Once a year we celebrate Corn Day on the farm.  It’s the day we have to dedicate to harvesting and putting away our sweet corn.

Corn Day for us is usually in mid-July.  But the crows destroyed my first planting this year so I plowed it up and replanted a month later.  After the crows attacked again, I resigned myself to no sweet corn this year.  But we managed to keep the crows mostly away, the garden rallied and we ended up with a reasonable amount of sweet corn and Corn Day occured after all, this time in mid-August.

Knowing when to harvest the corn requires paying attention to your crop.   When the tassels turn brown and the ears start to feel full, it’s time to check.  I peel back the shucks on a few ears and puncture a kernel with my thumb nail.  As someone told me once, it’s ready if it “spits in your eye.”  Put differently, if the kernel punctures easily and sprays out its milky goodness.

But many folks like to answer the question, “When should you pick your sweet corn?” with “Before the raccoons do.”

So a few days ago when I discovered the coons had been eating the corn, I realized it was time.  I confirmed by having some spit in my eye and the next day we picked it.

Raccoon leftovers

I have to coordinate with Cherie since as I shuck it and cut off the ends, she is blanching it and preparing it for freezing.

We harvested on Friday and I took what we didn’t need for ourselves to the market on Saturday.  Because we grow our sweet corn organically, there is an ear worm in nearly every ear.  I was careful to tell everyone who bought corn from us that they could be sure to find a worm in the ear.  To my surprise and delight no one was put off by that.  As one woman told me, “If there isn’t a worm in it, you shouldn’t eat it.”  Another person asked if I charged extra for the worm.  Several laughed and said something like “that little worm won’t bother me.”

Behind me a chemical farm was selling sweet corn.   Like everything else they sell, it was pristine and unblemished.  Sure it had poison on it, but there were no worms.  It felt good to sell out before they did.

Normally on Corn Day we take every ear in the field.  But this year because we had to replant several times, it didn’t all come in at once.  So we left plenty for later picking and I put up a fence to try and deter the coons.

Rowan, Juliette (and her kids) enjoying the shucks

So after a rocky start, we’ll be enjoying delicious Silver Queen sweet corn this winter after all.

Love Wins

Purple Hull Peas

One of the tastes of summer around here are purple hull/blackeyed peas. 

They are heat and drought tolerant and are one of very few things that we plant in the hot, dry dog days of summer.  They’re actually beans, not peas, and originated in Africa, like much great Southern food.We follow our english peas with them, greatly enriching a garden with back-to-back large legume crops to fix nitrogen in the soil. 

I never liked them when I was growing up, but my Mama would force me to eat at least one on New Year’s Day.  Southern folks traditionally eat a meal of blackeyed peas, greens and ham hocks or hog jowls on the first day of the year, for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

No one has to force me to eat them now though.  I love them.  Cherie’s father’s family is from the low country of South Carolina and she grew up eating them as “Hoppin’ John,” although they used a different kind of pea.  I’ve come to love Hoppin John, but I also love them by themselves.

The plants have pretty yellow and white blooms this time of year. 

Even as the first of the long purple pods are starting to appear.

It’s a good time of year.

Love Wins

Found One

Yesterday I found one of the hidden nests.  This one was hidden in plain sight, behind the cattle panel in the shed where the onions are hanging.

I had previously searched the shed a couple of times, trying to be thorough.   Either this nest is only a couple of days old, or I wasn’t as thorough as I meant to be.

Now if I can only figure out how to persuade them to lay in the nesting boxes.  For a couple of days I didn’t let them out of the henhouse in the morning.  I wanted them to have no choice but to lay in there, hoping they’d break their habit of hiding.  But it’s been too hot to leave them in there long.  I kept the gate shut on the chickenyard, but the young hens just fly over the fence (we don’t clip wings on this farm), and go lay in their hidden nests.

Once the weather cools enough to keep them inside all day for a couple of days that may be my only option.  I figure once they lay a couple of times in the henhouse they’ll get used to it.

In the meantime, I’ll keep checking the equipment shed…

Love Wins

Local

Finishing up my thoughts on what we are, and why…

We are local.

That is to say, when folks get their food from our farm, they’re getting food from a farm and a family in the local community.

There was a time when most of the products folks bought were produced locally by other people in the community–people known to them.  When your products are going to be bought and used by your neighbors, there is much more concern about quality and craftsmanship than if they going to be shipped to strangers living in another culture thousands of miles away.  And when folks give their business to local companies and local families they keep their money in the community, where it will circulate for the benefit of the community, rather than end up in the coffers of some multinational corporation or oppressive foreign government.

Buying locally also is better for the environment, as it reduces the distance goods travel thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels used to deliver them.

What is true generally about local goods is especially true about local food.  Obtaining food from local sources encourages, supports and enables local family-based agriculture, which is in danger of dying out.  Eating locally means eating seasonally, a natural and healthy practice.  Eating locally also connects the eater to the local food culture, connecting a person more to the place where they are.  And, of course, local food, unlike industrial food, can be allowed to fully ripen before picking.  Local farms can grow the best-tasting varieties, without having to worry about their shelf life or how they’ll look on a grocery store display stand.  Local food simply tastes better than industrial food.

As I have often said before on this blog, we are blessed to live in an area with some of the best farmland in the world.  Yet most folks around here, including farmers and rural folks, get their food from large grocery store chains which import it in from thousands of miles away.  In a typical American meal the food on the plate has travelled an average of 1500 miles to get there.  That is just crazy when superior food is available from one’s own community.

We believe the current global economy will someday largely be replaced with local economies.

We encourage and participate in local economies.

May it ever be so.

Love Wins