Ah, Blackstar how I enjoy your lyrics. Hello citizens of the internets. It has been a busy time since I last wrote. Alas, my body continues to breath, sleep, and of course eat as the winter’s sluggish grasp releases itself from the northern hemisphere. This of course means more daylight, more sun, more temperature, and more fun! For the most part things have continued as they have on the farm. We still pull logs out in the morning when the ground is still frozen. In many ways this is a race against time; specifically the time it takes the mud to unfreeze. That doesn’t take very long on a sunny day.
Seedlings are continually monitored and planted as we gear up for transplanting into the soil in the coming months. Now the tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and spinach have sprouted into some more green company for the numerous, grassy onions. Watering has become a daily task and an important one at that. Seedlings are like babies. They are finicky and need things just right. The right temperature, the right amount of sunlight (generally a lot with a few exceptions), not too much or too little water. Get these things wrong in the early stages of growth and you can delay harvest by weeks, which could mean the difference between having a bountiful harvest and perhaps a complete failure. Just as a baby would not grow as tall or intelligent as their potential allows if not properly fed, the plant responds similarly to poor growing conditions. So take care of those seedlings!
Other random things I have done lately are to build 36-foot long skids for a moveable greenhouse out of boards we milled from trees cut earlier this year. It took a lot of cutting 12-foot boards, squaring them, measurements, and probably 200 screws to hold it all together. I also consolidated things into one storage room for more efficient cooling of what we have left of produce and canned goods. It’s a lot of work to keep food fresh and stored. Good thing I loooooove eating!
Off farm adventures include visiting another horse-powered farm on Monday in Whitefield owned by Donnie and Kathy Webb. Their whole family is extremely warm, nice, and hard-working. I hope to work their horses a few times in the coming year as per Donnie’s invitation. Jeff and Amy bought Bill and Perry from the Webbs once upon a time.
I also got to go whitewater canoeing with my friend Kate and her family this past Sunday on the Kennebec River. The water was not exactly raging but was moving fast enough in sections to be exciting. We spent three hours canoeing and taking in the forests and farmland bordering the Kennebec. They also provided snacks, which I devoured ferociously like White Fang (I just read it in a day while I was sick on Tuesday and Wednesday; thanks Frank!). If you haven’t read White Fang, like dogs, would like to be a dog/wolf but don’t have the means or imagination, want a quick read, or all of the above, I highly recommend it. I spent all day today imagining what the farm dog April was thinking whenever I saw her. Then I imagined how she would act if she were a wolf instead of a dog. However, I digress. I can’t wait until we have asparagus; I daydream about those as well.
For those of you intrigued by the delectable dealings of cornbread, have a try at the recipe below. I promise you won’t regret it unless you burn your house down in the process. You may then regret it a little until you eat some. I use the recipe below minus the corn and the hot chilis since there are not really either of those in abundance right now. They are superb additions to an already pleasant treat.
Corny Cornbread a.k.a. Cooooooooornbread (from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert)
Don’t have this without butter or honey. It’s the bomb.
· 2 cups cornmeal
· ¼ cup sugar or honey
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 teaspoon salt
Combine in a large bowl.
· 2 cups milk, yogurt, or a combination of both (I found that a half cup of yogurt and the rest milk makes the cornbread nice and moist while not too soggy or expensive)
· 3 eggs, beaten
· 2 cups corn
· 1 teaspoon hot or mild chilies minced (optional)
Mix in and pour into a greased casserole dish or large, cast-iron skillet (I prefer this). If you use the skillet, it helps to put it in the oven while preheating it. Place into a 350 degree preheated oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.
Make sure you have butter or honey at hand. Seriously. Goes good with some chili. I dare you not to eat half of it. I dare you!
“This instant is the only time there is…” - The fortune cookie fortune in my wallet