Sunday, June 20, 2010

So what do I do with all these cucumbers?

For those of you who visited us at the Court Square Farmer's Market, you probably noticed the heirloom variety "Smart Pickles" we had for sale. Perhaps you had one of our free samples and were wondering just how we make our pickles. Let me assure you that it is RIDICULOUSLY easy. Forget the canning jars, water baths, burns and scalds. You can have fresh pickles in your fridge with less than thirty minutes of prep time. The most time you spend is slicing cukes and onions!


6 cups (about 2 pounds) thinly sliced cucumbers
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper (more if you like more kick)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a glass bowl, put 1/2 your cukes on the bottom, layer with 1/2 your onion and repeat so that you have 2 layers. Combine other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil. Cook 1 minute, then pour over the cukes and onions. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate.

And that, my friends, is IT. The recipe says it's best to let them sit in the fridge for 4 days, but I never can wait that long and scarf them down by the first 2 days. They will also store fine in the fridge for a month, but then again, they probably will be eaten long before that!

I am still pulling cucumbers like crazy, so there should be plenty at the market this coming Tuesday. We'll be gone before noon though, as hubby and I are giving a presentation for the Exchange Club on disaster preparedness. Maybe we'll see you there.

Monday, June 7, 2010

From the Garden

Now that we are actually harvesting for the first time, I've started experimenting with stuff from the garden. I know that sounds fairly simple to most folks, but to a newly converted city gal it's big news. Plus, we actually have extra of this stuff to sell at the Collierville Farmer's Market this week. Which is awesome! More money = bigger and better hen house and more chickens.



Cook spaghetti until *al dente*. Meanwhile, heat the garlic in the olive oil until it smells fragrant, just a few moments. Toss in the herbs & remove from the heat. Do this right away as herbs can burn easily. Drain the pasta & toss in the pan with the garlicky herbs. Season & serve, but do not add cheese as it only interferes with the herby flavours. Be sure to add enough salt & pepper, however. VARIATION: Omit the basil altogether. Replace the sage with any of the following fresh herbs: marjoram; oregano; thyme; rosemary or tarragon. Conversely, reduce the amount of sage & add a little of all these herbs.

This can be a side dish with a protein, or you can just add your protein to the pasta. Details below.

Protein variation: For extra protein you can saute whatever you are using in olive oil, adding some more herbs (to taste) at the very end. Again, only add the herbs after the protein is actually done cooking. Toss herbs with the protein, chop protein up into cubes or strips, and toss in with the pasta.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's heating up!

We're not just talking temperature here! Of course, that's the most obvious. Temperatures were soaring into the nineties even before June started. We are not amused.

As for the rest of the farm, boy is it going wild! We went to the Collierville Farmer's Market for the first time two weeks ago with only fresh herbs. We came home disappointed. All day there, I made $1.00. People are apparently intimidated by fresh herbs. Our partner farm, Oak Hill Farms, did great though. So it was fun keeping them company. Next week should be a little more interesting, however. I have several things starting to produce, so I hope to make at least a little bit of money. This will be very welcomed as we start to expand the egg business. I did have many people ask me about eggs and our pay-what-you-can philosophy inspired by the SAME Cafe, but since the eggs are spoken for before they are laid I was unable to offer any at market. This is fine with me, as I'd rather keep it quiet and more personal. I didn't go into this to get rich, anyway! But we do need to increase our income before we can take on any new clients, so that's where the veggie sales come in. We are now supporting over a dozen families under financial strain and we would like to be able to do more, but without an income to offset the costs of more chickens and a new facility, that will be impossible.

Which brings me to my point, the shameless solicitation for help. We still want to provide free eggs to all who need them, but that means we need more hens. We've had a tremendous response, and are now starting to have quite the waiting list. This year we have added twenty more hens (give or take, depending on how many of our chicks are pullets) to the flock, which will put us to capacity at the facility we have now. I suspect that even these new additions will not be enough to meet the demand for our eggs both from those who can pay for them and those who cannot. So we are looking into expanding our flock next year even further, ending up with around one hundred hens. But here's where we need help. We need donations of time, knowledge, money or both to help get this project funded and finished by next spring.

I've broken it down for anyone who is interested to look at. Of course you can email me for more details.

  1. Money: Obviously building a new chicken house takes money, as does finishing our ramp up from a small to medium operational egg farm. I'm working on a paypal link, and I encourage anyone and everyone who likes the idea of  pay-what-you-can eggs from pastured chickens to pitch in. 
  2. In-kind donations: I'm currently working on a wish list of items we need. When I finish I will link it. I will also include links on the merchants we use for supplies. We gladly take donations in the form of gift certificates!
  3. We need volunteers to help with farm chores. In order to volunteer you must be able to work outdoors in all types of weather either in early morning or late afternoon/early evening. You must be over 18 years of age, and able to lift and carry thirty pounds safely. You must be reliable, as working with animals mean they depend on you. If you do not show up, the animals suffer for it. If you cannot come for shifts, you must inform us ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for our animals. If you don't like working with animals, we can always use help in the garden, and gathering berries and apples for market.
In addition to the Collierville Farmer's Market, we will be at the Court Square Farmer's Market in Covington on Saturdays from 8-11. It is located just off the square under the water tower. The Grand Opening is on Friday the 18th, and we will be there then as well.

Speaking of Farmer's Markets, I need to get outside and get the blueberry bushes sprayed with sugar water or else the birds will get more blueberries than we do!

Be sure to check out our new videos on the You Tube Channel. The buckeye chicks have hatched and are adorable!

Now I'm off to look into prefab hen houses and see just what sort of expense we are talking about. Shudder.