I’m really starting to lose track of how many weeks I’ve been here.
Things are fantastic, tiring, beautiful, and energizing.
The following is an excerpt from our newsletter… and a bunch of photos of the first week of our CSA!
New Farmer Lessons: Wobbly Ducks and Bolting Spinach
We had only had our ducks for one week when we noticed they were stepping on their own feet, and wobbling about quite strangely. After studying them closely and doing some research we found out that chicken starter, which is what we’ve been feeding to our ducks, often does not contain enough niacin (aka. vitamin b3) for ducks. We had asked one of our teachers from the Sustainable Ag program we were in if it was all-right to feed ducks chicken feed (as organic duck feed is non-existent in these parts), and he had said it was okay. Phew, after a week of putting niacin in their water, the ducklings had almost completely recovered from the wobbles. One duck, however, lagged behind- one Sunday afternoon we discovered he wasn’t walking. After a cold bath, and some time in isolation (aka. a rubbermaid bin with his own food and water), he was up and walking- and he’s been walking (still a little wobbly) ever since. He’s noticeably smaller (and therefore cuter) than the other ducks, so we’re keeping a close eye on him.
Seb and I both know well that spinach thrives in cool conditions, but we both love it and wanted to have in the first few CSA shares of the season. We were pushing it, however, and Farmer Tarrah (our hero/mentor/powerhouse woman) informed us that it’s not just the heat, but mostly the day-length that causes spinach to bolt (go to seed). She said “You won’t get spinach much past June 21”. She’s right, much of the spinach is starting to bolt and won’t last the weekend.
In conversation with another great organic farmer on the road Seb was asked what variety of spinach we were growing. “Bloomsdale”” He said. “Ooooh, bloomsdale”, said the farmer, “That bastard bolts really quickly.”
Ha. The farmer then went on to tell Seb about a few hybrid spinach varieties that sometimes withstand the heat and long days. That sent us contemplating life a bit, wondering if there is any good reason we should make a cool-season crop grow in such a hot time thinking spinach is pretty darn great so maybe we’ll try it! For now we are harvesting ALL our spinach this week, giving our ducks the ones that have already bolted (which makes them less tasty for humans), and making a plan to replace spinach in next week’s share.
Recipes: A Word On Salad Dressing
I (Bethany) remember when I first got hooked on homemade salad dressing. I was working on an organic farm in Florida that specialized in growing fresh greens and edible flowers- and every day we would eat (gorgeous), delicious salads- always with homemade dressing. I’ve never turned back. I also haven’t turned back because most store-bought salad dressings are full of preservatives, sugar, colourants, genetically modified soybean oil and corn syrup (yuck), chemicals, and more. If anyone recommends a more wholesome store-bought dressing let me know!
These greens that we are growing for you will be complimented best by simple dressings- you can whip one up in
under 3 minutes (and they store for about a week in the fridge). Some things we’ll grow this
season such as swiss chard, kale, and spicy radishes are best (and less bitter) with a bit of marinating in a sweet
dressing. So here are a few recipes to get us started on the right foot… or leaf.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup applecider or balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp. maple syrup or liquid honey
pinch of salt and pepper or soy sauce
Seb’s trick: mix everything but the oil first, then add the
oil at the end (which sometimes resists being mixed.)
And make sure to always give it a stir before putting on
your salad as the oil and vinegar will separate.
Have more time? Add any combination of the following:
crushed garlic, ginger, finely chopped spring onions,
cilantro, dill, or parsley
(or try…) Sunflower Herb Dressing
1 cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked for 4 to 6 hours
1/2 to 1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 to 2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried thyme
small handful fresh parsley, dill, or cilantro
honey (to taste)
Blend all this together for a delicious creamy dressing for your salad!