4-H Journey to the State Fair

4-H Journey to the State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair means something different for everyone. Perhaps it brings back a memory of cheese curds, giant yellow slide, seed art, Miracle of Birth Center or great family memories.

For our family, it means a journey of continual learning in 4-H project areas that culminate with the opportunity to compete and learn from 4-Hers from across our state’s 87 counties. When I was a 4-Her, we were allowed to accept and take one state fair trip. I took my pig. Because going to the fair with an animal was simply way more fun than a general project area. This year, Keith was old enough and earned state fair trips by receiving high county fair placings in both a livestock and a general project area. He also judged with the county’s general livestock judging team.

Swine Project

The livestock project journey begins with selecting 4-H pigs earlier in the year. The boys select their pigs on their own based upon what they feel will match what the judge is looking for. During the summer months, they work with them so they walk the way you want them to in the show ring, feed them a balanced nutritional ration to grow the way you would like them to and care for the pig(s) so they reach their full potential.

Livestock projects allow our kids to learn through hands-on experiences. The livestock teach life lessons that are sometimes simply difficult to put into words. The animals become a steady companion throughout the growing cycle, that listen to them, teach patience and perseverance, compassion and loss, winning and losing, contentment and friendship, dedication and follow-through. There were many mornings before and after baseball tournaments that I found the boys working with their animals.

This all culminates at the state fair. 4-Hers participate in a species-specific interview, showmanship and the animal being judged.

Vegetable Gardening

The vegetable gardening project area begins with selecting varieties to plant to preparing harvests to occur at both the county fair in July and the state fair in August. This planning begins the season before and continues through the planting season.

Preparing the project items for the vegetable garden project to be taken to the fair takes a considerable amount of time. Consider harvesting all of the following: two small vegetables: 12 pea pods and 12 green beans (12 cherry tomatoes for the state fair); three medium sized vegetables: three carrots, three beets, three cucumbers and one large vegetable. If there is more than one, they need to be as close to identical as possible. Once harvested, the tops and bottoms need to be trimmed, and vegetables cleaned appropriately to display vibrantly. It is time consuming. For the project judging they need to know planting conditions, vegetable variety selection, challenges with the growing season and how to resolve them, pest control and health benefits of the vegetables and how to utilize the vegetables.

This is just a snippet of the two project areas that Keith took to the state fair. As parents and volunteer 4-H leaders, we learn so much by being on this journey with them and are so grateful for all the mentors that support their learning and personal growth. We are blessed beyond measure with the friendships and opportunities that 4-H provides to our family.

We encourage you to contact your county Extension office or search online for your 4-H in your area. It’s easy to say you don’t have time to squeeze in one more activity for your kids. Once you see them experience a project interview with an adult judge at the fair or the learning that occurs through the project area, you will understand that 4-H is worth your time and effort. Learn more here.

Garden Science

You may wonder about the story behind your personalized pumpkins. This project starts in August with Steve and the boys carefully etching your names into a pumpkin. The scar on the skin heals over forming the beautiful art.

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Beets – This beet crop has been fairly resilient through this crazy growing conditions. Enjoy beets by peeling and cutting into wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or boil with the skin on for approximately 30 to 45 minutes or until tender. Eat with a dab of butter or in a salad. Check out the NDSU Pocket Guide to Preparing Fruits and Vegetables.

Carrots – The carrot crop in general has not liked the drought this year. Enjoy fresh or cooked. Try these brown sugar glazed carrots from Martha Stewart.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so. Here are a few cucumber ideas from Martha Stewart.

Peppers – A variety of peppers for you to chose from. Learn more about peppers from America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes. Great for cooking on the grill, boiling or mashed. Learn more about how potatoes are harvested from America’s Heartland.

Onions – White Onions

Winter Squash Butternut, Kuri, Spaghetti and Carnival squash this week. Sorry to inundate you all at once. Remember that Butternut, Kuri and Carnival squash can be cooked and then frozen for use throughout the winter

Salsa

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July, yellow, cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities. Enjoy the salsa this week! Let us know if you are interested in more.

Sam selected the area that he felt would grow the best watermelon. I think he did a good job! We hope you enjoy this delight.

Watermelon – Sam took on the role of growing the watermelons this year. We are so excited with the outcomes. Enjoy!

Pumpkins, Ornamental Corn and Corn Shocks – Enjoy some Fall decorations. More to come next week.

Recipe of the Week

Butternut Squash

My family loves this recipe, and the boys eat it like crazy. I also use the prepared squash in place of pumpkin in many recipes. Butternut

Cut squash in 1/2 add enough water to cover pan (about 1/2 inch up on the side of the pan).

Bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour.

Take out of oven. Scoop out seeds. The seeds can be kept and roasted.*Using a large knife cut off skin and place in another bowl.

Presents under the leaves

Presents under the leaves

It is hard to believe that the end of the growing season is just around the corner. But it is true, it is almost the middle of September, school has begun, and the smell of fall is in the air. I do love fall. There is just always part of me that is sad to see summer come to a close.

It is so exciting to se what is growing under the leaves.

On the bright side, the pumpkins are peeking through the leaves and the color in the garden is exciting to see. It sometimes feels like Christmas and the excitement of seeing presents under the tree. Only it is presents under the leaves scattered across the field.

The recent rains have given everything a little boost to finish the growing season strong. We are anxious to harvest sweet potatoes, watermelon, winter squashes, gourds, pumpkins, popcorn and ornamental corn. Be prepared for a variety of choices and colors. Don’t let the abundance overwhelm you. Focus instead on the joyful calm that the beautiful array of colors bring.

We have been patiently waiting for the right time to harvest the watermelon. Patience is a virtue.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list.

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Lettuce/Spinach/Kale Mix – Unfortunately, this crop has really struggled this year. This week was a mix of spinach, kale and Red Oak Leaf lettuce.

Beets – Detroit Dark Red Beets

Fancipak Cucumbers

Cabbage or Cauliflower – Purple cabbage or purple cauliflower varieties to try this week.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so.

Kohlrabi – A garden favorite. I love to peel it, cut it up like an apple and dip in peanut butter.

Peppers – A variety are available. Let us know what you think about the hot peppers. Meanwhile, you have green peppers and the smaller red peppers, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer.

Potatoes – Red Norland potatoes. Great for cooking on the grill, boiling or mashed.

We love the braided stem of the onion.

Onions – White Onions

Radishes – The last of this year’s radishes. Enjoy them in a salad, on a sandwich or in a hot dish.

Summer Squash – Zucchini, Peter Pan and Sunburst varieties. These younger varieties are greatTIP: use your summer squash like your zucchini. None of these need to be peeled when using them.

Sungold Tomatoes

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July, yellow, cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. The tomatoes are quickly turning. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities. Let us know if you are interested in more tomato juice.

Winter Squash – Butternut, Kuri and Spaghetti squash are available this week.

Zinnias and Hydrangeas – These should brighten up your home. Put a splash of bleach in the water to help them last longer.

Recipe of the Week

Grilled Corn and Tomato Salad

Serve as a dip with your favorite chips or crackers. The zesty lime dressing offers a fun punch of summer that will have you making this salad again and again.

4 ears sweet corn
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño seeds and ribs removed, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lime
¼ c. canola oil
2 ripe avocados halved, pitted, peeled and diced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
6 scallions thinly sliced
½ c finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

-Preheat the grill to medium heat.

-Grill corn until tender about 20 minutes. Let cool and remove kernels.

-In a large bowl, combine the garlic, jalapeño, lime zest, lime juice, and oil. Whisk to combine.

-Add the corn, avocado, tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: NDSU Extension

Under the Canopy

Under the Canopy

It is so much fun at this time of year to walk around and find what is growing under the canopy of leaves. We are seeing a variety of winter squashes, pumpkins, gourds, cantaloupes and watermelon. The challenging part of all of this is that while we are super excited to see them, we still have to be patient for them to reach full maturity.

It is a good reminder that being patient in life is worth the wait.

Be prepared that a lot of surprises will be harvested in the coming weeks. We encourage you to be ready to preserve the produce to enjoy this winter.

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Boxes of Produce

Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Lettuce/Spinach Mix – Unfortunately, this crop has really struggled this year. This week was a mix of spinach, kale, Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf lettuce.

Brussel Sprouts – Give this vegetable a try. I had never tried them until this year, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so.

Green Beans – The first of this second crop. Perhaps you are interested in pickling some. Let us know. It looks like there is a good crop coming.

Purple Kohlrabi – love the color.

Kohlrabi – A garden favorite. I love to peel it, cut it up like an apple and dip in peanut butter.

Peppers – A variety are making an appearance in the garden. There will be some super-hot ones forth coming. Meanwhile, I encourage you to try the smaller red peppers, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes. Great for the grill or baked.

Onions – A variety of onions were harvested this week, Walla Walla and Blush Onions.

Summer Squash – Zucchini, Peter Pan and Sunburst varieties. TIP: use your summer squash like your zucchini. None of these need to be peeled when using them.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – We started the second planting of this crop. We are grateful that the peas are doing well with the timely rains.

Sungold Tomatoes – super sweet surprise. Great to eat even for breakfast!

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July and cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. The tomatoes are quickly turning. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities.

Sunflowers, Zinnias and Hydrangeas – These should brighten up your home. Put a splash of bleach in the water to help them last longer.

Recipe of the Week

Banana-Zucchini Bread

Banana-Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

2 cups sugar

1 cup applesauce

1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, bananas, sugar and oil. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in zucchini and pecans.

Pour into 2 greased 9×5-in. loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Taste of Home

Hidden Color Unveiled

Hidden Color Unveiled

One of the interesting and unique aspects about harvesting tomatoes and working with the tomatoes is that when we wash our hands, they are so green, and boy do you smell like a tomato! This is unlike any other crop that we grow and harvest.

I always wonder about the hidden message in these lessons found in the garden. Perhaps this lesson is that sometimes what makes us so unique is hidden amongst many things. Until you “dive in” and go to work, you don’t really see the benefit of what’s in front of you or you reap what you work hard for?

For example, we have oodles of tomatoes. You need to go through the vines to find the ripe one. This takes time, patience and tenacity. This is not always fun when it is hot out. While the green color and smell are unique and different when we wash our hands, these are reminders of the hard work and perhaps God is telling us to pause and remember the lessons and treasures that were unveiled from our determination.

I encourage you to take time this week to see what lessons God is trying to teach you. I know it is hard to pause and reflect. It is in this reflection that many “ah ha” moments and lessons can be learned

Pick-Up and Delivery

Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email. Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures.

It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.

Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

A variety of lettuce, kale and spinach greens for you this week.

Lettuce/Spinach Mix – Unfortunately, this crop has really struggled this year. This week was a mix of spinach, kale, Black Seeded Simpson and Red Oak Leaf lettuce.

Cucumbers – The cucumbers have picked up and the second planting is doing well. If you are interested in pickling some we may have extra for you to do so.

Harvesting green beans is always better with a partner.

Green Beans – The first of this second crop. Perhaps you are interested in pickling some. Let us know. It looks like there is a good crop coming.

Kohlrabi – A garden favorite. I love to peel it, cut it up like an apple and dip in peanut butter.

Pepper, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer Hybrid

Peppers – A variety are making an appearance in the garden. There will be some super-hot ones forth coming. Meanwhile, I encourage you to try the smaller red peppers, Sweet, Cherry Stuffer.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes. Great for the grill or baked.

Onions – A variety of onions were harvested this week, Walla Walla and Blush Onions.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors the Peterson family for supplying our sweet corn for your families.

Summer Squash – Zucchini, Peter Pan and Sunburst varieties. TIP: use your summer squash like your zucchini. None of these need to be peeled when using them.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – We started the second planting of this crop. We are grateful that the peas are doing well with the timely rains.

Tomatoes – A few Fourth of July and cherry Sungold tomatoes. I love the size of the Fourth of July for a quick lunch, and the Sungolds. The tomatoes are quickly turning. Let us know if you are interested in canning or freezing extra quantities.

Sunflowers, Zinnias and Hydrangeas – These should brighten up your home. Put a splash of bleach in the water to help them last longer.

Recipe of the Week

One of the interesting and unique aspects about harvesting tomatoes and working with the tomatoes is that when we wash our hands, they are so green, and boy do you smell like a tomato! This is unlike any other crop that we grow and harvest.
Banana-Zucchini Bread

Banana-Zucchini Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)

2 cups sugar

1 cup applesauce

1-1/2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk eggs, bananas, sugar and oil. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in zucchini and pecans.

Pour into 2 greased 9×5-in. loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Source: Taste of Home

Glimmer of Hope

Glimmer of Hope

In the upheaval of today’s world, some things are constant: weeds will show up even when you least expect them; unpredictable weather is out of our control; and unpredictable days are full of surprises. It is interesting to look at our world through things we see each day while #StillFarming. There are lessons that can be applied to every day life. We can focus a positive attitude on the surprises some will be good and some will be challenging; manage the weeds/challenges to the best of our ability and recognize that overall God is in control hand over our worries.

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” – Romans 5:3–5

It’s been a busy week trying to stay in front of weed growth, planting another round of crops and prepping for the first CSA. Distance learning has included a variety of hands on lessons in the field and with equipment.

Here is a glimpse into the past few weeks and a look at what is in your boxes.

The mulch has been installed for the tomatoes, and the tomatoes are planted.
We also were busy tilling this weekend both for weed control and another round of planting.
Dragging Between rows to keep the weeds under control.
Dragging between rows to keep the weeds under control.

Pick-Up and Delivery

•Remember that pick-up and deliveries will be on the schedule you have arranged with Harner Brothers CSA – please note the exceptions to this which were in the email.Please follow the CDC and MDH guidelines and COVID-19 procedures in email.
It is your responsibility to know that the pick-up or drop-off time will occur at the agreed upon time, and it is your responsibility as a shareholder to know this and be responsible for the produce at that time. If you are unable to utilize your share that week, it is still your responsibility: find someone else to pick it up or donate it to the food shelf.
• Each box is labeled for each family. The same boxes will be used for your family throughout the season. Boxes and containers should be returned the following week. Bags will only be used once.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Rhubarb – One pound equals about 3 cups. Wash, cut the ends off, cut off any bad parts damaged by wind, chop into 1/4 – 1/2 inch pieces. No need to peel. You can freeze it in a Ziploc bag (no blanching) and use for months to come. Our family loves it in muffins, breads, jam, pie, crisp, sauce and torte.

Asparagus – Fresh cut asparagus from Lorence’s Berry Farm near Northfield.

Spinach – Love this mixed into a salad with other greens or as a stand alone by itself.

Radishes Cherry Belle and French Breakfast radishes. We are nearing the end of this crop for a little while.

Cilantro – wash and enjoy. Freeze extra by placing in ice cube trays and running water over them and freeze. A good way to use later in soups and other dishes. Check out these ideas from Taste of Home on how to use this herb.

Chives – Cut them up and use as you would onions. Add good flavor to a variety of dishes. Try the Pioneer Woman’s Cheddar Chive Biscuits.

Recipe of the Week

Strawberry Spinach Salad
Strawberry Spinach Salad

Strawberry Dressing
3 Tablespoons apple juice
2 Tablespoons strawberry spreadable fruit
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salad
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 cups bite-size pieces spinach
1 cup strawberries, stems removed and strawberries cut in half
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (1 oz)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1. In small bowl, mix all dressing ingredients until blended; set aside.
2. Spray 10-inch skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in skillet 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F). Remove chicken to cutting board.
3. Add dressing to skillet; stir to loosen any pan drippings.
4. Cut chicken into slices. Among 4 plates, divide spinach. Top with chicken, strawberries and cheese. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with walnuts.
Source: Taste of Home

Hope on the Horizon

Hope on the Horizon

There are so many COVID-19 challenges in everyone’s lives. I like to focus on the hope in our future. That is one of the reasons I love planting season. There so much hope in what is to come in what we put in the ground. So much hope in the warmer weather and the longer days of summer.

One of my favorite Bible verses has a message of Hope.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you Hope and a Future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

I know for many this verse holds much confusion in the current situations, and the future is difficult to grasp now. I encourage you to focus on what this season brings – Hope. Sending you all Peace and Hope.

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The potatoes were planted last Thursday. Thus far, we have Yukon Gold, Kennebec and Dark Red Norlands planted. I love seeing the names of the families who grew the seed potatoes that we are planting. For those of you noticing where they were grown…Sabin, MN is in Clay County.

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We installed the cucumber fence so that the cucumbers will grow on top of the fence and hang down through the fence for easier harvesting and vegetables that should be cleaner.

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The different varieties of onion sets planted were Ailssa Craig, Walla Walla, Patterson and Redwing onions.

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All that could safely be planted during this time of year was planted. We take into consideration that the threat of frost is still upon us. The boys were happy to till the fields before planting to provide for a nice seed bed.

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Again, the seed differences are fascinating. It is simply amazing what they grow in to. Such a variety were planted this past weekend. With the gentle rain and weather warming up, there is hope on the horizon with all of the challenges we face.

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A few home improvements have kept the learning going including siding the shop.

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There is a lot of uncertainty as to whether there will be fairs this summer. But, we decided as a family that we would still get 4-H pigs. Because there is more to a 4-H project than just an investment. It is the day to day learning of working on the project and caring for the animal. As I look at the boys with the pigs and all the uncertainty and challenges that are facing our pig farmers, to me it is also a representation of hope in our future. We also decided to make some changes to their pig pen this year. The last two years have been SO wet and such a mud hole for the pigs. We feel it will be much healthier to have them on a cement floor. The boys look forward to walking them in the yard after they have gotten used to their surroundings.

 

 

Springing into April

Springing into April

We are so glad to spring into April. Longer days and more sunshine are always a good thing. It is such an interesting, unprecedented time we are living in. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. We are so grateful for everyone on the front line and for everyone that is helping to keep us fed, clothed and safe. My God be with all of you.

Below is an update on what we have been busy with.

“Protect me, for I am devoted to you. Save me, for I serve you and trust you. You are my God.” Psalm 86:2

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Seed selection always is a great way to cheer us up. It has been fun looking through these catalogs and university trial research to decide on best options for this year’s season.

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It so fun to see the variety of seeds arriving. We are anxiously waiting for the soil to warm up.

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The rhubarb is emerging. Yum!

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Yesterday, this was covered in snow. We are so thankful that it was only about an inch of snow and some other forms of precipitation.

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The Isa Brown chicks are growing fast. Look how many feathers they have at about 5 1/2 weeks of age. The red feathered is the hen, female, and the white feathered is the rooster, male, in this breed of chicken.

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Here is a view of the hens wing feathers.  What a beautiful pattern of colors.

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We have been using this time as a way to get some of our projects done such as installing new windows, soffit and facia. We are hoping to complete some more projects this upcoming week.

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It is such a joy to see tulips and daffodils emerging. I just hope that the weather doesn’t turn cold again anytime soon, and that Mother Nature is truly trying to bring us Spring and warmer weather. Here’s wishing you and your family some Spring joy this week.

 

Feeling Blessed

Feeling Blessed

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Thank you for being along for this growing season journey.

It is hard to believe we are at the end of our season. As you can imagine, we will not miss harvesting in the rain and the cold freezing hands that come with it. We will miss the valued conversations with all of you, and the shared ideas of how to eat and use the produce. It is indeed fun to hear how all of you use it, and what produce excites you and generates fun memories of your family.

Tonight’s conversation at confirmation around creation and our responsibilities to appreciating and taking care of what God created stimulated some good season ending thoughts.

One of the versus discussed was from Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We see a lot of this when we work with plants and animals as these grow and produce and die and return to the soil providing nutrients to grow something anew. Now is really the time of year we see many things come full circle.

We spent this past week, cleaning up the garden and preparing for the soil for the next growing season. Recognizing that plant material will break down into soil and/or we use it as feed for the chickens which then produce manure used for fertilizing some of the crops. Areas which will grow pumpkins and corn, we incorporated manure into the soil and will plant cover crops as soon as the rain stops and allows us to do this. All of which feeds the soil to grow bountiful crops to share with all of you.

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Five of the six fields are cleaned off and ready for cover crop. We will clean out the last field this week.

Another reflective point at confirmation tonight was a reminder of our responsibility to care for all of God’s creation. From the work I do and the privilege I have with working with farmers all over the state, I do believe there is no other group of people that have such a unique bond and love for the land and all of God’s creation. They are in tune with what makes the land be the best it can be and their animals thrive. Many wonder what farmers are doing to protect our environment. Here are two recent pieces of information that you may appreciate seeing. One is from Farmers for a Sustainable Future and the other is 30 Harvests from the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

In closing, one of the parting thoughts from confirmation was never underestimating the power of what God has in store and that one can make a positive change. We feel blessed to have been part of your lives this growing season. Please know that you made our lives brighter because you were part of it. Thank you!

Garden Science

Giant Vegetables – Take a look at these giant vegetables. The kohlrabi were as big as the boys’ heads weighing in at 3 pounds, 3.25 pounds, 3.5 pounds and 3.75 pounds.

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The beets weighted in at 1 pounds, 1.5 pounds, 1.75 and 3 pounds.

 

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The giant zucchini weighted in at 12. 5 pounds and was 24.5 inches long.

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Remember that some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So, remember to wash your vegetables before eating. It’s week 16.

Lettuce/Spinach – You have some Red Oak Lettuce and Spinach in your box. This next crop has been a real challenge to get going, but it looks like this cold weather and rain has encouraged it. Looks promising for next week.

Arugula – Arugula is a peppery, distinctive-tasting green that originated in the Mediterranean region. If you like this crop, let us know and we will put more in your box next week.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The entire plant is edible.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi – just a few left.

Dragon Tongue Beans and Purple Beans – This heritage variety of beans can be used like green beans. Enjoy the different color.

Sugar Snap Peas – The final crop …enjoy. Check out pea harvest in Minnesota near Blooming Prairie. Did you know Minnesota generally will rank as number one in the nation for peas produced for processing (canning or freezing).

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – the third crop is being harvested

Onion – Walla Walla and yellow onions in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions and how they are grown and distributed to our grocery store from America’s Heartland.

Tomatoes – This crop is exploding…enjoy a few extra to freeze for salsa or soups later this year. Check out how tomatoes get from the farm to the grocery store at America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – Norlands are in your box. Great for cooking. Learn more about this variety here. 

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Check out it’s nutritional benefits.

Carnival/Kuri and Butternut Squash – Love the versatility of these winter squash and the potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C, they offer. Interesting health information from Harvard on this vegetable.

Purple Cauliflower – a taste for you this week.

Purple Cabbage – A few small ones are left if this fits your lifestyle better.

Flowers of the Week – Hydrangeas and Sedums

Pumpkins and gourds – enjoy the variety – this crop suffered from the growing season and the area where they were growing was compacted down from all of the tornado clean-up last year. We are looking forward to a better crop next year.

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Recipe of the Week

Salsa

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Steve made hot salsa and mild salsa this week. We hope you enjoy the taste. We also hope you to have been trying different salsa recipes. Please share your favorite recipes so we can share them with the shareholders. Check out Taste of Homes top 10 salsa recipes.

 

Monumental Tasks

Monumental Tasks

This week we had some larger tasks to accomplish. Quite frankly, when you stepped back to look at them, it was quite easy to feel like these were monumental tasks that would take way to long. With the right attitude, encouragement and grit, they were accomplished with smiles and satisfaction in the end.

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Yes our selfie wasn’t that great, but we still had smiles after harvesting 200 pounds of cucumbers. Great for canning if anyone is interested.

On Friday, we harvested over 200 pounds of cucumbers. Some of which were used at my work’s 100th Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation picnic. It felt good for us to give back to the farmers I have the privilege to work for and with.

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I work for the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation which is a membership organization which mission is to be an advocate for agriculture driven by the beliefs and policies of its members. Sam and I were happy to share some of our cucumbers with our members during the organizations Centennial Picnic this weekend.

The next day when Sam and I walked down to tie up the tomatoes so that they would continue to grow on the fence and not in the mud, we noticed that the previous day’s weather had encouraged quite the weed growth. First, we accomplished the tomato project – we smelled like tomatoes and our hands and arms were green.

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Weeding is not a fun task. Weed control is necessary for a healthy crop.

We knew that the tomatoes would be healthier and cleaner from this task. Sorry – no picture evidence of this – hands were to dirty to touch a camera. Second, we accomplished some weeding so the crops were not choking from all of the extra “friends” growing next to them.

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Weeded yellow onions.

The last monumental appearing task was weeding the yellow onions. I will admit, this got out of hand about a month ago, and no one had the time to dive into it. Well, Keith took on this task yesterday, and boy was he covered in mud and tired from this activity. His grin said it all. It looked awesome.

Lesson learned: While tasks may seem overwhelming and may feel they cannot be accomplished, set your mind to it, don’t give up and keep plugging away. When you are done and look back, what you have accomplished will feel so great. Your hard work will pay off.

Garden Science

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Funny things happen in nature – these cucumbers grew together and the tomato grew a nose.

Animal Update

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Remember that some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.

Lettuce/Spinach – You have some Red Oak Lettuce and Spinach in your box. This next crop has been a real challenge to get going.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

Detroit Dark Red Beets – The entire plant is edible – that includes the leaves. Here are some ideas from Martha Stewart on how to use your beets.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi. Peel it and slice like an apple. Here are more ideas.

Green Beans – This is the second round of green beans. If you want to pickle any, please let us know as we have dill that you can use.

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This is a unique flower on the peas. They are usually white. Once and a while, Mother Nature gives you something different. So we wanted to share it with you.

Super Sugar Snap Peas – We may get one more harvest from this crop. We do have a third crop growing.

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Believe it or not, cucumbers are a prickly crop to harvest. Yes, the stems and fresh cucumbers have little spikes on them that poke you.

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – we will have cucumbers for a while. We hope you enjoy this healthy snack.

Onion – You have one Walla Walla and one Yellow onion in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions from America’s Heartland.

Green Bell Peppers – The peppers are just taking off.

Banana Pepper – I have been cutting up and freezing the peppers with the intent to use them for recipes throughout the season.

Tomatoes – This crop is just taking off. A taste of a few cherry tomatoes and Fourth of July tomatoes this week.

Potatoes – Kennebec potatoes great for baked potatoes. Some of you may have some younger potatoes in your boxes (smaller). I find that the potatoes right out of the garden often times cook and bake faster than others. Yeah – faster meal preparation!

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Harvesting zucchini and summer squash.

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Flower after flower will grow into a zucchini.

Summer Squash – Make these into noodles, sauté and more. Try making this or zucchini into noodles.

Sweet Corn – Thank you to our neighbors, the Peterson family, for contributing the sweet corn in this week’s box. Quick Tip: If you don’t eat all the sweet corn you have cooked, cut it off the cob and freeze it in a container. Reheat your frozen corn for your vegetable at another meal or use in a hot dish, salsa or a soup.

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Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Flowers of the Week – Zinnias and Teddy Bear Sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

Freezer Salsa

8 cups diced seeded peeled tomatoes (about 10 large)
2 medium green peppers, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1/2 cup white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
4-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or try a couple cloves of fresh garlic – season to taste)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper Directions

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring often.

Pour into small freezer containers. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months. Stir before serving. Yield: 10 cups.

Editor’s Note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

Source: Taste of Home

Adventure is Out There

Adventure is Out There

As our week passed by, I stopped to realize there was much I was experiencing that many would not understand. Because it is just life in the country, and the adventure of raising both boys and livestock. I captured a few of those moments here.

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The most adorable litter of kittens. The boys have been busy taming them. It is hard to argue with them to come in for supper when they are outside with them. We hope they will grow up to be good mousers to keep the mouse population under control at our place.

Another adventure is clipping the feathers off of the wings of our birds so they cannot fly out of their pen only to be captured and eaten by a predator such as a racoon or fox. I would describe clipping wings like a combination of clipping nails and cutting hair. It doesn’t hurt them. It is hygiene maintainance to keep them safe. It is quite an act of teamwork to get this done efficiently and calmly.

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Then we have the 4-H pig that Keith is working with … yes she is taken out for walks. Miss Piggy decided to go on an escapade when Keith turned his back for a moment at dusk earlier this week. We were all a bit concerned. Thankfully she surfaced before nightfall and had not entered the corn field that surrounds us. She was perfectly fine – acted like a toddler that scared the death out of their parents.

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We also had a helicopter over our place on Saturday morning. Not something I expected to see, but it was very entertaining to watch on my morning walk.

Last but not least, as we were harvesting some of the crops yesterday evening, we raced to beat the storm cells. But we were not so fortunate. As we were working, we could hear the thunder in the distance and watched cautiously as the clouds raced over us. We watched the entire storm while we worked in the rain. Finally, I could see the wind was about to pick up so we went in to dry off and wait for it to pass.

As we reflected on our day, the rainstorm was brought up, with the comments of, “It wasn’t that bad. It was actually an adventure.” So, I challenge you this week to pause and reflect, you never know where the adventure will be – charge on – it may be right in front of you!

Boxes of Produce

This list is prepared before we harvest your share. Some guesswork is involved! We do our best to predict which crops will be ready to harvest, but sometimes crops are on the list that are not in the share, and sometimes crops will be in the share even though they’re not on the list. Remember food safety in your kitchen when preparing, always wash your hands before working with your produce and always wash your produce before eating.

Remember that some of the crops are ran under cold well water to take the field heat off of them so they last longer in your refrigerators. They are not washed – just cooled. So remember to wash your vegetables before eating.

carrots

Carrots are a root vegetable. They are growing like crazy. We love them fresh from the garden.

Carrots – This weather helped this root vegetable mature. Learn more about baby carrots from America’s Heartland.

Lettuce/Spinach update – we have a new crop of spinach growing. The lettuce we planted each week the last few weeks is not emerging after these hard rains. We will keep trying as we to would love some for BLTs when the tomatoes turn from green to red.

Beets – The entire plant is edible – that includes the leaves. Here are some ideas from Martha Stewart on how to use your beets.

Kohlrabi – Giant Duke kohlrabi. Peel it and slice like an apple. Here are more ideas.

Green Beans – This is the second round of green beans. If you want to pickle any, please let us know as we have dill that you can use.

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Super Sugar Snap Peas are growing like crazy. Enjoy!

Super Sugar Snap Peas – The second crop is ready. Yum! Another crop is planted and is emerging.

FanciPak Cucumbers – great for canning into pickles. We have them growing up an angled fence so they grow down and are easier to harvest and cleaner at harvest time with less chance of a soil borne plant disease.

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FanciPak Cucumbers – great for canning into pickles. We have them growing up an angled fence so they grow down and are easier to harvest and cleaner at harvest time with less chance of a soil borne plant disease.

Cucumbers – FanciPak cucumbers – we will have cucumbers for a while. We hope you enjoy this healthy snack. Check out the history behind Minnesota’s pickle company Gedney Pickles.

Onion – Yellow onions are in your boxes this week. Learn more about onions from America’s Heartland.

Potatoes – Red Pontiac potatoes great for mashed or cooked potatoes. Since they are a crop that is still growing – the potatoes will get more plentiful and larger

Zucchini – The crop that keeps on giving. Flower after flower will grow into a zucchini. Check out this week’s recipe for a family favorite.

Summer Squash – Make these into noodles, sauté and more. Try making this or zucchini into noodles.

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Zinnias and Hostas.

Flowers of the Week – Hostas, Zinnias, Hydrangeas, Rudebekia and Sunflowers

Recipe of the Week

garden omelet

Garden Omelet

Garden Omelet

With a fork, beat:
3 eggs
1 Tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of Pepper

Add herbs of your choice that have been washed and torn into smaller pieces.
Heat skillet. Butter pan with butter. Place egg mixture in skillet and cook slowly.

Run spatula around edge, lifting to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath.

Place choice of filling inside. I included vegetables, a couple of our favorite cheeses (mozzarella and sharp cheddar).

Turn off heat or place on low. Place pan cover over the mixture for about a minute allowing cheese to melt.

Fold sides over as you flip it onto a plate. Garnish with parsley and cheese.