News from the Farm: PASA and PIglets
Good Morning friends of North Mountain Pastures,
We are now making deliveries for this CSA season, which runs from February through June. It is not too late to sign up, there are about 50 spaces left!
PASA celebrates 25 years
Well we have had a busy couple of days at the PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) conference - this year was the 25th! Although a bit more hectic than usual because Brooks is now a board member, we were invigorated by discussions with like-minded farmers and educational talks. My favorite part of the conference was leading a discussion group about the challenges of farming with a family. Interestingly enough, there was a pretty equal division of three main areas of concerns: adult children and intergenerational "passing on the farm" issues; pregnancy, babies, and toddlers while farming; and then the middle group-young growing children who need education and responsibilities. We split up and the conversations flowed. Not with solutions and answers exactly, but at least with solidarity and idea sharing. I hope to continue this meeting each year and grow a Facebook group for all things farming and parenting, so we don't all need to rely on trial and error.
Giving the Maple trees a year off
The deep snow is mostly gone leaving mud in its place, with a topping wet slushy snow today. The sap has been running, but we are not harvesting this year. After much deliberation, the truth is that we just don't have the time to devote to constant sap monitoring and cooking over the next month. Why? Because we want to do a better job farming!
We don't have any full time employees right now on the farm. Our capable apprentices of two years moved before the holidays, and our on-farm trailer is now empty, awaiting the right fit. We are trying to return to once again farming as a family, now that our children are slightly bigger and more helpful...or at least less utterly helpless :) We will let you know how it goes!
We came home to a newly farrowed litter of piglets on Saturday night, which we've named The White Stripes:
And then another healthy batch born on Sunday:
Recipe: Sausage, white bean, and kale soup
I don't know about you, but this soup is exactly what I want to be eating right now. I’ve doubled the recipe, because with this kind of rustic soup, allowing the flavors to sit overnight makes the soup even better. And in my experience, if you’re going to bother making it, you’ll definitely want to eat it again - consider freezing a quart or two for a quick meal later!
2 lbs sausage (sweet or hot italian would work well, or lincolnshire) 2 onions ~4 carrots ~4 stalks celery ~2 potatoes, optional (will thicken the soup a bit!) ~4 cloves garlic ~4 bay leaves 6-8 cups cooked white cannelini beans (about 1 lb dry beans, soaked and cooked OR 3-4 15 oz cans, drained) 3-4 bunches kale, stems removed and roughly chopped ~1 gallon of good chicken stock sea salt and pepper to taste lemon juice or vinegar
If you are using dry beans, prepare the night before by soaking the beans and setting them to cook separately.
In a large pot, heat a few tablespoons of lard, bacon grease, olive oil, or butter. Squeeze the sausage links into the pan and discard the casings. Stir to break up the chunks, and brown the meat. While the meat is browning, you can chop the onions, and add that to the pan to brown too. Meanwhile chop your carrots, celery, and potato. When the sausage and onion are browned, add the remaining root vegetables, beans, and stock and at least 1 T of salt and bring to a simmer, covered. When the carrots are soft, add the kale and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until completely soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and a dash of lemon juice or vinegar.
I adapted this recipe off of this, where they suggest serving it with a melted gruyere/asiago cheesy baguette in the soup - mmmm!