Thursday, June 8, 2017

Spring Sprang and Now Summer is Simmering

Despite my most sincere New Year's resolution, I can't seem to find time to post on this blog  regularly. But I want to keep trying, so here is a quick catch-up post.

First, we found a beast to help fill the gigantic hole left by LaFonda. Actually, I found a Scottish Highlander heifer, but then the  owner decided to keep her, so when Eeyore, this mini-donkey appeared on Craigslist it seemed like he was meant to be Jitterbug's companion. He is 15 (mini donkeys live to be 30-40, so that is only middle-aged) and so, so mellow and sweet. He looks melancholy, but I think that is just due to his shaggy, saggy eyebrows--I believe he is happy here.
A couple days later,  I found another Scottish Highlander heifer, this one even cuter than the first, and at a nearby farm. It took me a couple days to convince Rog we needed her--how can we have a Cow Puja without cows?!  She is nine months old, and about the same size as Eeyore now, but will grow to be about the size of Jitterbug, the Dexter heifer. Jitter is polled (meaning she has no horns) but Scottish Highlanders grow very long horns. Right now she has little nubs. Highlanders are a very docile breed, but this calf had not  been handled much and was very shy. I kept her in the loafing shed for a week and spent a lot of time every day getting to know her. Now she loves to be brushed and petted and get peppermint treats. I think she will be a great Cow Puja star. We named her "Courgette," which means "Zucchini," because the name sounds appropriately  glamorous for a cow with long, strawberry-blonde bangs in her eyes and of course because we are Squash Blossom Farm.
Jitter, Eeyore and Courgette, make a darling herd. Surprisingly, Jitter has become a much less moody and grouchy animal now that she is the boss cow.
We have also been  focusing on farm-improvement projects this  spring.  Rog did all the prep work and we hired Marvins Gardens to lay the brick and rock for a lovely path to the greenhouse.
It will now be so much more civilized for fancy dinners in the greenhouse and wedding parties!  You can also see in this photo the wonderful deck Rog built along the south side of the barn from two humongous redwood greenhouse tables. He is planning a pergola to offer shade to the deck and the inside of the barn.
When they aren't gardening, our assistants and WWOOFers have been painting siding and trim boards for
the re-siding of the Loafing Shed. Eric Eggler and his son Ethan are tackling this project; they did a fabulous job re-roofing and re-siding our chicken coop last fall.  All the buildings on our farm are over 100 years old and in pretty good shape--our intent is to restore them to make them survive for the next 100 years.
Another thing that kept us busy last month was TedX Zumbro River in Rochester.  We were honored to host the speaker dinner in the greenhouse the night before the event. We also  made 500 "Handpies of the World"  (savory turnovers in combinations such as  Samosa, Reuben, Beef Stroganoff, Greek Lamb, Carnitas & Sweet Corn) and we coordinated all the food for the big event.
The Willow and Twig Furniture class taught by Bob McNeely was held three weekends at the farm. Everyone built truly beautiful chairs and benches. One weekend I managed to join in and I built a butterfly bench for  the Pollinator Garden. (Just happened to have been saving the perfect butterfly-body newell post for the past 10 years!)
We got a new (used) car! A Honda Element--which has an amazing  amount of space for a hauling all our Farmers Market stuff!  I ma so relived to be rid of that vicious, ugly old pickup which tried to kill me on so many occasions.
The garden is finally nearly planted!  We had a long delay because our heavy clay soil was too, too wet, and then we were occupied with the TedX event. I am so grateful to my incredible gardener Denise, her dauhgter Willow and our WWOOFer Ari for working so hard to get this garden in and whip the flower beds into shape, More about  that in a future post.

On a related note, the CSA program has also begun. Our members have gotten lots of asparagus,  rhubarb and mint so far, with pansies, scallions, and even nettles to help fill out the box until the greens, radishes and other early crops are ready.  Hopefully next week!

Summer Sundays at Squash Blossom started last weekend, with wood-fred pizza and live music The first band was Cook With Honey. We  sold out!  We are off to a good start to the season.
The Rochester Downtown Farmers Market  summer season has begun! Find us and our wood-fired breads and fancy pastries in the northwest corner of the Saturday Market!