July Updates and Kimchi Love

There it is again. That lull in the blog that signifies July has approached and arrived.

market stand market harvest

Our veggies are thriving (even the ones amidst the weeds), and our perennial herb beds are just so, so happy. It’s been so lovely to have such positive feedback from CSA returners and new folks. Lots of positive vibes, lots of indicators that each year is getting better as far as our organization and the growing as a whole. Super. Stoked.

But challenges arise, as they do. Last week Mama Wagner and I were picking berries and she rolled her ankle in a groundhog hole – hairline fracture, in a boot for six weeks. She is taking it like a champ and has become thoroughly adept at using a rolly chair to get around the house (how I wanted to have a photo here, but she adamantly refused), but without my full-time Greenhouse Visionary and Field Co-Pilot, it’s been hard to tackle the harvest and manage the weed pressure. But I’ve had some awesome friends and volunteers stop by over the last couple weeks to help out, and looks like some more are heading out. So thank you for the good energy and all the help, all of you.

There he is, ladies and gent. Mista LaVergne, farmhand, cook and poet extraordinaire.

There he is, ladies and gent. Mista LaVergne, farmhand, cook and poet extraordinaire.

Even before this added development, I was fortunate to snag some BoyHouse reunion time (circle back to the 2012 segment of this blog, for those of you unfamiliar with that name), and Matthew came up to stay for a couple nights and string tomatoes, weed, dig potatoes, pick for the CSA, cook delicious, amazing food and reminisce about Keith’s Farm. The feeling of having someone in the field who knows what they are doing to this extent was so…relieving. Reassuring. Exciting. For the first time in about ever, I started to consider what it might feel like to not be Solo Lady Farming on the regular.

The pallet garden at the Student Leadership Academy Charter School is growing like wild. We pulled out the bolted spinach and look forward to putting in some ground cherries and more unusual growers for the kids to return to.

SLACS

And I try out a little transition of my own. I’m trying to steer my weekday market toward the end goal, which is Crooked Row: CSA and Herb Farm. We’re bumping up the teas and herbs at Rittenhouse, and I’m hoping to have a little Herbology flyer to hand out for folks who don’t know exactly how to use fresh herbs.

herbs

Market Sign

In most exciting news, my friend and market regular Adam Zolkover (of the Twice Cooked blog, which I highly recommend), has created this really spectacular Scape-based Kimchi Recipe for you to check out. The scapes are big and just about finished, but this may inspire you to grab the last of the lot. It’s here below, and in our Crooked Recipes section!

Kimchi with Garlic Scapes – by Adam D. Zolkover

3 Small heads Napa Cabbage, cut into squares
1 bunch Garlic Scapes, washed and sliced
1 bunch Scallions, washed and chopped
1 inch Ginger, peeled
3 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Korean Red Pepper Powder
1/2 cup Fish Sauce
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
2 tsp Granulated Sugar

Core the napa cabbage, cut it into squares, and then wash thoroughly.  It tends to collect a fair amount of dirt, and you don’t necessarily want that in your ferment.

To a large bowl, add the cabbage and the salt.  Toss, and then leave it for 1-2 hours.  Over that time, you’ll see that the cabbage gives up a fair amount of water and begins to wilt.  You want this.  It will keep the kimchi crunchy later.

While the cabbage is wilting, add the ginger and garlic to a food processor and chop finely.  Then add the pepper powder, fish sauce and ganulated sugar and blend the whole thing into a paste.

When the cabbage is done, rince off all the salt and add it to a large bowl with the scapes and the scallions.  Add the spice paste and mix the whole thing well, making sure that the vegetables are all thoroughy covered.

Carefully pack the mixture into clean glass jars, cover them loosely (I like plastic tops, screwed on half way), and allow the kimchi to ferment in relative darkness for four to five days (until it has soured to your taste) and then move to the refrigerator.  This recipe should make 1-2 quarts.

When loading the jars, I would recommend packing them tightly but not all the way to the top.  Tight packing will prevent mold, and leaving some headroom will prevent spillage as the kimchi ferments.  I would also recommend stirring and compacting your kimchi at least once a day.

It looks like this recipe calls for an awful lot of pepper powder, but it’s not actually that hot.  I would strongly recommend not reducing it.

scapes kimchi adam

And there you have it, folks! One of the rarely-sighted July updates! I’ll try for more soon, but no promises.

Hugs and Rainy Harvests,

Liz

matthew takes my picture

Herbology 101: Meagan’s Herb Popsicles for Crooked Recipes

Hello, All!

Farm Update: Things are great! The tomatoes as setting fruit, I found some itty bitty squashes under some plants, we are tackling the weeds one row at a time. Lettuces are phasing out and the beans are slowly taking hold. People are really digging the teas, and I’m spending my tiny amounts of down time with some pretty awesome growers and friends. Life is beautiful.

And having friends who want to write blog posts for you is probably, like, the coolest thing ever. We have a couple in the queue for ya, but here’s Meagan and these freaking amazing popsicles she’s been making with our herbs!

I spent a good part of the winter lying around Meagan's apartment looking through her box of recipes. Seeing these make me giddy.

Liz Note: I spent a good part of the winter lying around Meagan’s apartment looking through her box of recipes. Seeing these make me giddy.

I love Saturdays. Before, Saturdays were the day I wanted my mind to turn off and I wanted nothing more than to sit and do. absolutely. nothing.

Now, I look forward to enriching my Saturdays. Today, I got up, went to the gym, then headed to the farmers’ market in East falls to spend time with Liz and the lovely Nancy from McCann’s farm and enjoy coconut+black sesame pops while I got to chit chat with people about new and interesting flavor and food pairings. It made me all the more excited to share this recipe with you.

Not to mention we’re now officially in summer and we need any and all excuses to have popsicles!

The recipes I have today can be done one of two ways. The variation with blueberries is absolutely heavenly. I was greatly inspired by a non­vegan recipe for blueberry hyssop ice cream at Crumb Blog (http://www.crumbblog.com/2010/08/i­scream­you­scream­blueberry­hyssop.html). You could easily make this into a very vegan ice cream by letting the “custard” cool completely, then following the instructions for your ice cream maker. You may need to fiddle with the recipe, as I haven’t tried it that way yet­­, but I definitely plan to!

Before we get to the recipe, though, let’s talk about hyssop anise.

It’s possibly one of the most beautiful perennial herbs. Hyssop anise is neither hyssop nor anise, and is in fact part of the genus Agastache­­ or, rather, mint. It does taste like a combination of mint and anise, which is amazing and intriguing. It’s tall (3­-4 ft), has a square stalk with large mint­-like leaves and stunning blue/­purple flowers that shoot right up to the sky. The herb itself is actually a native wildflower and its cultivation GREATLY benefits honey bees! Beekeepers have been planting hyssop anise near hives since the mid­-19th century once they noticed their bees flocking to the flowers in the wild. Hummingbirds love it, as well as butterflies.

And I’m sure you’ll love it, too!

If ya'll ain't following @asteraligator on the Gram, you should be.

If ya’ll ain’t following @asteraligator on the Gram, you should be.

Hyssop Anise­ Lemon Pops

3-­4 handfuls of hyssop anise leaves (about one bunch)
Lemon zest (1­-2 lemons, depending on size and depending on your taste for lemon)
Juice of 1­-2 lemons (again, depending on taste. I like meyer lemons for this, but it’s not necessary)
1 14oz can full fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar (I used turbinado, but you don’t have to)
1 ⅓ cup water
Variation: ⅔ cup blueberries

1) In a small sauce pan bring sugar, water and leaves and bring to a low boil until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. You don’t want the leaves to get burned in the process, so keep the heat low.
2) Once sugar is dissolved and the liquid begins to smell strongly of hyssop anise, remove from heat and strain into a bowl of to the side. add lemon juice.
3) remove ⅓ of the liquid from your can of coconut milk, mix with corn starch and put the rest of the can in your saucepan over a low heat. Once it starts to get warm (not boiling), add the hyssop lemon juice mixture, stir well.
4) Add lemon zest (and blueberries if you’re going to add them). Stir.
5) Then the reserved coconut milk/corn starch to what’s in the saucepan and stir continuously until it starts to thicken. It will get REALLY thick. Don’t worry! If you start to get clumps of gelatinous goop, turn up the heat ever­so­slightly and stir until they’re gone
6) Remove from heat and continue stirring for a few minutes. Pour into your molds. Add your sticks or mold toppers and freeze for at least 6 hours.
7) ENJOY!

Additionally, I think this herb would go great with mullberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots and plums! Feel free to try new combinations and let me know how it works out!

Thanks, Meagan!

Next up: Our friend Adam shares a garlic scape kimchi! Stay tuuuuuned.

Crooked Recipes – Meagan Schools Us Through Our Fear of Sorrel

Hello! If you missed it, we kicked off the recipe page of this lovely little blog last week with some delicious Komatsuna and Salmon from our darling friend and CSA member Sarah Merusi.

This week, animal-whisperer, beloved market regular and vegan chef extraordinaire Meagan Maxwell teaches you to love sorrel, one of the less common greens we grow over here on Crooked Row. Enjoy! She is amazing, and so are you.

Hello, everyone! Meg here, and I’m so glad to be writing for Liz! This is such an amazing opportunity to share recipes with you, and also for me to push myself to try new recipes, ways of cooking, and ingredients!

This weekend marked the first farmers markets of the season in Philly. What a great weekend it was, too! The sun was shining, everyone was out celebrating spring!

Now, if you were out, you probably picked up some fresh, spring herbs. Some of these herbs you may recognize, some you may not. One that many people seem to be stuck on is sorrel. I remember last year sitting with Liz and people asking two questions over and over:

  1. What does it taste like?
  2. What do you do with it? or, How do you cook with it?

I can answer both of these questions for you right now. But first, let’s talk about sorrel for a bit. Sorrel is a flat-leafed, fragrant herb that is also called dock. Its leaves are a beautiful color of pure green, sometimes with red veins, and a bit arrow-shaped. It’s not to be confused with Caribbean or West African sorrel, which is actually hibiscus buds that have been dried that you can use to make a delicious, cooling drink from!

sorrel pesto

So, what does it taste like?

Green sorrel, which is what Liz serves up at market, is delicious. It’s a bit citrusy, and it’s used all over the world in traditional foods like spanakopita and potato dishes. It has a very distinct flavor, and it is almost surprising at first!

What do you do with it?

Many traditional methods of consuming sorrel are in a preserved form (such as in olive oil), served on top of something. It’s also cooked into stews, steamed, or mixed in with salad greens.

Today, we will be talking about a new take on an old favorite: Pesto.

Pesto is really just a reference to anything muddled, traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle. While we may be most familiar with pesto made with basil, pine nuts and parmesan, variations can be quite extensive! Our version today is going to be vegan, and will use easily found ingredients, and quite affordable (have you seen the price of pine nuts!?).

So, how do you cook it? Here’s one way:

Sorrel Pesto

Ingredients:

1 bunch sorrel (about a cup), chopped if you’re using a mortar and pestle
⅓ or less (depending on taste) cup pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, plain dried unsalted
2-3 cloves garlic, skins on
⅓ or so cup olive oil
salt to taste

You’ll also need a non-teflon skillet that you can put on high heat and a mortar and pestle or a food processor

  1. Wash and dry the sorrel before using, chop if you’re using a pestle to make things go faster. Place your  skillet over a medium-high or high heat and wait for it to get nice and hot
  2. Place the pepitas in the skillet with no oil keep them in there, constantly stirring them around, until they’re toasted a little bit. You don’t want them to be toasted until their black, just until they’re browned. A little black is fine, just don’t char them!
  3. Put the sorrel and pepitas in whatever you’re using to make the pesto, then put the garlic in the pan, still with no oil. Place the cloves in and every minute or two, turn them to a new side. You’ll want to keep doing this until the skins all turn mostly black. Don’t worry if the garlic isn’t a paste consistency! This is just to mellow out the pungent flavor and bring out the great flavors in the garlic! When it’s all mostly black, remove from heat and wait for the clove to cool a bit before removing skins and tossing them in with the sorrel. I like this way of roasting garlic because it lets me control how much I make and I don’t have to slather a whole clove in oil or turn my oven on!
  4. Now, the fun part, muddle the ingredients with some olive oil and salt. You’ll want to grind them all nice and well, adding the oil a little bit at a time. If it’s less, fine, more that’s fine too! Just get it to a consistency you like. In the food processor, this will take a few pulses, and it will be a few minutes with the pestle. Don’t forget to season with salt to your liking!

That’s it! It seems like a lot, but it’s not and it’s sure to impress not only your friends and family, but you’ll be turning to it all season long! If you have any leftovers, you can put them in a glass jar with a bit of olive oil on top for about a week, or freeze it. It goes great on pasta, french bread, or anything else you can think of!

Let me know how you like it. You can feel free to customize this to your liking, but this is a ratio that works well for me.

Thanks!
Meg

Full-Time Farmer, Part-Time Writer

FIRST – Some exciting news! My dearest Sarah Merusi is debuting our Recipe Page with her amazing meal from last week’s CSA bag. Mmmmmmmm. Read and relish, compadres. She’s amazing.

Glam shot of Komatsuna, Green Garlic, and Potatoes.

Glam shot of Komatsuna, Green Garlic, and Potatoes.

Now! Onward, forward.

“We were working part time all the time
We were banking on the kindness of strangers and loved ones
And those that fall between
To give us everything we need
Because we need everything.”
The Henry Clay People

I’ve found myself antheming this song pretty hard over the last few years.

Trying to balance Crooked Row overhead led me into the part-time job lifestyle since the beginning. In 2013 I wandered into a dairy and a health food store to try to sort out my finances and fill out my days. Both jobs were a lot of fun and wild learning experiences in their own rights – I learned about animals, people and the state of this county in the waves of the alternative health movement. I ended up with a handful of bottle feeder kittens and a library of herbal knowledge. I’m not afraid of big animals and I can hold my own with any stranger in conversation. I will forever value all of these skills.

But I’ve also been in a state of perpetual scramble since then as well. Scrambling for time, for energy, and for a life outside these jobs. And, in this juggling act, more often than not my friends and the farm were the balls that fell first.

Finally, in Season Three (eat your heart out, Game of Thrones), I think I’m finding the balance. Last week marked the end of my time at Health Habits, and for the first time I can say that I’m actually a full-time farmer.

It’s a little scary. Even though the part-time cash flow wasn’t necessary, it was still my thread on a world where I wasn’t solely responsible. I could be a worker bee and do what was asked of me without the anxiety of sales numbers.

It’s more psychological than anything, but now I’m actually flying without a safety net.

chalkboard

Thanks to my CSAer Joe Scrizzi for this beautiful chalkboard! Can’t wait to use it at market.

Thankfully, I’ve got mad support from all sides.

The beautiful part of all this falls in the opening windows. From the expanding tea enterprise to a doubling in CSA shares (again! AGAIN!), the opportunities flowing around me are just breathtaking. Of course, I’m nervous about keeping up. Of course, I’ll probably still bail on some nights at the bar or shows in the park because I am beat from market or really, really need to weed the carrots. But I’m doing it for real now.

stand1

Ain’t no party like a farm market party.

Stand

And, sooner or later, it’s all going to level out. It’s actually already starting. I’m writing, I’m reading, I may even get a run in before the sun goes down tonight. I’m planning and building and meeting some beautiful people who have amazing conversations and energy and want to document farms in Central America and travel speak passionately and camp in fields at night.

Life is beautiful.

Life is beautiful.

Whoever told you that you can’t have it all lied. You just have to change some of your perspectives on what “all” means and open your mind. Maybe your timeline, too. But life is so much easier when you’re moving in this flow.

Thanks for tagging along on this adventure.

Peas, kale and love coming soon to a farm stand near you.

Me

Rain Dances, Sister Love and Chicken Capers

watermelons

squash

Okay, nobody panic.

It’s dry. Dry, dry, dry. And our driveway kicks up a dust storm whenever you drive up it. But the vegetables are okay.

tomatoes

transplants

The transplants are ready for market. The plants in the field are growly slowly but surely. After two years of dragging my feet, we set up irrigation in the field. And not a moment too soon. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, right? Do some dances for us.

hydrant

Our little hydrant runs through the woods and out to the field.irrigation

We roll the main line back and forth so one half of the field is irrigated at a time. We haven’t had to try to stretch across the hedgerow to the plantings on the other side…not yet.

Even Willow Haven’s alfalfa – where our chickens live – is beautiful. It’s surprising how resilient these plants can be in this sort-of desert climate.

lucia

Lucia, the awesome Willow Haven intern, pauses to admire the view.

In other news, our farm pups are growing by leaps and bounds. Well, Chase is. Arya is pretty full grown at like a third of his size. Jess can barely lift him!

chase bobcat

He thinks he’s the Navigator. Silly puppy.

jess and chase

Speaking of Jess, a Wagner is back in South Philly and all is right in the Universe.

We ran Broad Street the weekend she moved in, and I even managed to keep up with her for the first five miles! I even got to hitch a ride to the starting line with her Students Run Philly Style Team, and I was so proud to be the big sister while she handed out Gatorade and rallied her kids.

broad street

How Liz Got Her Groove Back.

Broad Street is ten miles of the happiest, most community-centric city event I’ve had the honor to attend, and the montage of my Philly life played out I moved South, the way it does every time. We start where I went to college, we run through my migration to the South. And the friends and neighbors and amazing water station volunteers are truly incredible.

Jess, her darling Jon and I run our first trio race together since like 2012.

Jess, her darling Jon and I run our first trio race together since like 2012.

I haven’t been able to run a race with Jess in a few years. Having her back on our Coast is delightful, and she’s up to amazing things. She is mentoring teens through a couple of running programs in the city and launching her first batch of motivational running apparel – totally made in PA. She’s so cool. A percentage of proceeds will go to the programs she helps with, so once she has product, get ready to represent! Follow her blog at Run Life Co. for her journey.

runlifeco

Can’t keep those Wagner Warrior Women down.

But back to the farm. Today my mom, aunt and I are putting up our deer fence, seeding greens and weeding everything. I’ll be getting my signs cleaned up and my tent out for MARKET! WHICH STARTS IN TWO WEEKS! AH!

I’m excited, if you couldn’t tell.

I’ve been drying herbs like mad, getting ready for teas and spices. The dehydrator smells amazing.

The anise hyssop shot up immediately once mom cleared away the leaves, and we've dried a few batches already

The anise hyssop shot up immediately once mom cleared away the leaves, and we’ve dried a few batches

And the chickens have been keeping us on our toes. The egg count is incredible, and I’m looking forward to sharing these incredible, almost-orange eggs with you this season.

I have promised a more in-depth article about the price of great eggs, and I stand by that promise. Stay tuned. Last night I was looking at our estimated costs and returns spreadsheets, and seeing how much we’ll make (and that’s with NO labor costs), makes me stand by my pricing.

eggs

Trust me when I say these eggs are worth every penny – our chickens are moved to a new section of the alfalfa fields each week, and they live in a camper and get to roam within their portable fence as they please. We’ve had a run in with a predator – a weasel? A bird? We’re still trying to determine this – and it’s pegged some of our girls over the last couple weeks. But we’re trying to be vigilant and take care of this pest problem before it gets out of hand.

Happy Camper Chickens, or "It's moooooving day!" Secret of Nimh, anyone?

Happy Camper Chickens, or “It’s moooooving day!” Secret of Nimh, anyone?

I have an egg share in the works – contact me at liz.m.wagner@gmail.com for details. Or if you’d just like eggs now, these are $5/dozen (which is the going price for these caliber eggs in a market setting). Let me know if you want some and I’ll get them to you.

In other news, so many of my friends and I are in this crazy cosmic upswing where all our projects and dreams and goals are manifesting around us. It would be so much more surprising if last year hadn’t been what it was.

necklace

The world is out there for you. You just need to start reaching for it.

Your May 1 Update: School Projects and Planting Progress!

I’ve been busy watching the magnolia in the front yard bloom and the peas in the field shoot up and the puppies chomp on each other all day and not writing for this blog.

Here they paused from the chomping to nap.

Here they paused from the chomping to nap.

But I’m sure you can understand why, yes?

Pennsylvania in the spring is truly one of the most remarkable and beautiful places to be. If you’re in the country, you see rolling hills turn green and the tree buds burst and flower wherever you are. If you’re in Philly, you’re surrounded by tulips and secret spring bulbs and so many cherry blossoms.

That West Philly love is strong right now.

That West Philly love is strong right now.

I highly recommend taking the time for both scenes.

Little house is just the prettiest spring cottage.

Little house is just the prettiest spring cottage.

We could use some rain, but otherwise the world of Crooked Row is bustling and strong as ever. I finally changed the fictitious name to Crooked Row Farm, by the way, so stay tuned for that Facebook switch (which has truly been the most complicated switch of this whole process).

This is a little game we like to play called "Alien or Potato?"

This is a little game we like to play called “Alien or Potato?”

The flea beetles woke up and immediately started nibbling the Chinese cabbages, so my cute little field is sheeted with row cover again. But the potatoes and all the onions are in! Which feels stellar.

Mountain Rose!

Mountain Rose!

onion sets

Sets are the easily part – soon we’ll post pics of the thousands of onions we started from seeds. Woof.

potato row

The greenhouse is already on maximum capacity, leading me to believe that I’ll be putting up that second 45-feet of hoops and plastic before this season is out. More room for the perennial medicinal herbs that need to live somewhat inside over winter! Huzzah!

And yesterday I took a day off from the field for this summer’s big Philly project – an urban garden with the fifth grade classes at Southwest Leadership Academy Charter School.

truck

This morning’s adventure begins. And yeah, see that truck cap? That means adventure! When are we going camping?

boys

The fifth grade boys were more than happy to move dirt around and play with worms.

tomato projects

Tomatoes!

Mechele, an old compatriot from the East Pleasant and Chew market last summer, is the school’s art teacher, and we started scheming for an outdoor garden space a couple months back. With some donated pallets from an area company and some Crooked Row and Willow Haven starts and some compost from the Fairmount Park recycling center, we took off today.

The fifth grade boys set up the first of that pallet gardens – taking time to get super excited about worms and to tell me their favorite vegetables, of course – and the fifth grade girls planted kales, chards, lettuces and spinach and potted up tomatoes for the later garden beds.

fifthgrade symmetry

Fifth graders don’t really dig on garden symmetry. But we let them have their planting :)

garden start

The before and after pictures of this project are going to be awesome.

It was really incredible to watch these kids in action. I don’t spend much time with youngsters, and these kids were eager to help out, excited to be outside and eager to learn what else we would be growing and doing in the space. It was a more positive response than I could have hoped for, and Mechele and I were beaming when the last of the girls headed out.

fifth grade girls

We have some more beds to put in, some fencing to coordinate and a whole lot of green vertical pallet walls to plant and mount – oh, and more dirt to get, like, always – but we are onto something really cool out in the Southwest. More pictures to come as this project grows!

Until then, grab your Local Food Guide and get ready for some good eats!

local food guide

PS – The Buy Fresh Buy Local Greater Lehigh Valley Food Guides are out! Grab yours today.

crooked row listing

Chicken Adventures and The Start of Harvest

Sorrel picking

And so it begins!

Sure, my first big harvest was a mere pound of baby sorrel for the area farm to table, Curious Goods at the Bake Oven Inn, but standing out in the field with the harvest bin and a pair of snips made me feel the way walking past the track in high school used to. Excited, expectant. Ready for spring.

bagged sorrel

This week has been one of rapid movement. We’ve seeded mesclun and a pile of beets, we’ve planted kale, broccoli raab, cauliflower, cabbages, radishes and spring turnips, and there’s still more waiting in the wings for bed prep. Mom has been clearing out the leaves and weeds from the herbs beds.

komatsuna and raab

Today, after I post this blog, I’ll be in the greenhouse with my mom and aunt thinning, potting up eggplant, peppers and herbs and getting transplants ready to sell at the store. The ladies at Green Heron Tools gave me their lady-friendly tiller for the weekend, so I’ll be prepping my strawberry(!) and onion beds, and perhaps some more greens beds, with that over the next couple days.

The flowers are blooming, the trees are budding and things are finally starting to look green. Yes.

Last week was one of adventures, too. My neighbor at Willow Haven Farm and I expanded his egg enterprise this year, and on Thursday we packed up chicken crates and headed down to Lancaster to get our girls for the season.

chicken2 chicken 1

We came home with 200 birds and sawdust for the nesting boxes. The day before we cleaned out the Chicken Camper, a hotel and spa bird resort with mahogany roosts (an accident, really – we just got a fancy pallet), and when we got home that afternoon we released our ladies into their mobile environment.

chickenbefree

The chickens are afraid to hop out of the crates.

chickenslucia

So Lucia, Willow Haven’s awesome intern for the season, helps them out.

chicken fence move

Poultry Paradise, Hen Heaven, Fowl Fantasy, Chicken Chalet

In the next few weeks I’ll be dedicating a blog post to the price of happy chickens. Between the moveable fence, the weekly cost of soy-free, organic feed and the labor of moving them around every week, the cost of happy, healthy egg-layers might be more than you think. But let me tell you, these are the best eggs I’ve ever had.

The pups are taking very well to farm life. Arya oversees our operations on a daily basis and Chases rolls around like a toddler and sleeps under things.

arya drives

puppies in the leaves Like a boss (above). Children (below)

I keep discovering these beautiful flowers that are coming up in the yard at Little House. In the mornings before I go to the farm I pull out some weeds from the front and back beds and plant lavender, lemon balm, sage, tulips and hyacinths. Operation Hobbit Hole is commencing nicely. Stay tuned for housewarming details.

snowdrops scillia

Also, for inquiring minds, our good friend Farm Kitten has become a bigger (but still somewhat little) terror.

stubbz

Prince cat.

I’ve been getting back into the swing of a schedule and am finally starting to balance the farm with the rest of my life. I see the folks I want to see (though never as much as I’d like, as it goes), I’m making time to read and run and, most importantly, write.

I used to write nonstop. Then I wrote a lot for whatever colleges and freelance roles I held at the times. Then I started this blog and ran it as infrequently as a busy outdoors person with touchy wi-fi would. But that’s all starting to shift. I don’t know if it’s my sister’s urging to blog more, or having a house where I can stay up until midnight writing on the couch if I want to, or just the natural progression of my life, but suddenly I’m writing every day. And not just farm-related things, though that is a big part of it.

I’ve been granted this magical opportunity to take an online writing course with my favorite lady author. Francesca Lia Block writes these beautiful stories that transcends genres. As many of my friends will tell you, I’m re-read one particular story line annually or in moments of emotional distress, and when I discovered she was teaching a series of classes, there was no way I could pass it up.

We received our first assignment last week, and it’s sent me back into the world of fiction writing, a place I haven’t visited since college. And it feels so, so wonderful.

So yes, things are great on this end. Now, off to the greenhouse!

garlic