In the last few weeks, we have gotten some wonderful rain, both Saturday and Sunday night, totaling over an inch. It was perfect timing since we just planted some cilantro, romaine, lettuce, kohlrabi, beets and carrots for our fall planting.
Saturday Dan helped me can 17 pints of bread and butter pickles with all the cucumbers that didn’t sell at market, and today I will hopefully get at least one batch (7 quarts) of jalapeno dill pickles done with the small cucumbers that are left over. In the afternoon, Dan harvested some big beautiful heirloom tomatoes with the lack of uniformity that makes their appeal so much greater to me, and the meaty flavor is wonderful. That night I had invited some gardening friends over for dinner and we had sliced tomatoes on our burgers that was SO much better than the pink mealy blobs you find in grocery stores or other restaurants.
Sunday night we watched the weather change and shift and cloud formations flying by, in dark cobalt blue and white tie dye patterns. In another life Dan would totally be a storm chaser. I was content to read my book, since the wind and rain cut off our internet connection, while Dan watched out the window like a kid waiting for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.
Monday was the big day! I baked a peach pie the night before and mixed up my mom’s cucumber salad to take along, while Dan organized cages, knives, cutting boards and Ziploc bags. Our broilers were ready to process. At both Farmer’s Markets we had put out a sign advertising fresh chickens, and we managed to pre-sell every single one, which was a HUGE blessing, since we don’t have freezer space for 40 birds!
The morning was cool and sunny, with a slight wind, perfect for outdoor work. Dan used a thick piece of wire with a hook at the end to catch our 40 Red Rangers, and I put them in the cages and manned the door, so none could escape. There were 8 of us processing together and once we got everyone assigned to a task, it was smooth sailing. The total number of birds, including ours, was 67 that we did in one day. Last year we only had 5 chickens, 3 ducks and 2 geese, because the wild predators had so demolished our broiler population. It was a lot of fun, and I found myself saying many times, “Man, these breasts are huge!”
By late afternoon we loaded up the coolers and delivered what can only be described as really fresh chickens to our customers, and got home at dusk to do chores and go to bed. Our conversation drifted towards trying to help educate the general population of where food comes from, both animal and vegetable. It reminded us of a story a lady had shared with us at the Market earlier in the week. She was part of taking a high school class to the farm and while they were among the cattle, one teenager gazing at an Angus, said “Mmmmmm!!” And her teenage friend said, “Ew, you want to eat their feed or what?!” And the other girl replied, “No! That’s a steak standing right there!” Jaw dropped, eyes bugged out. This friend had never made the connection that meat came from animals.
At first one might think, well that’s just city people. No offense to city dwellers, since I was one for many years. Last year I had to run to Bomgaars to pick up some extra chicks that we needed for broilers and we couldn’t order them in the mail, because it was too few, the requirement being 25 at a time. As I stood in line to pay for my chicks, a gal behind me exclaimed, “Oh, how cute! What are you going to do with them?”
“Raise them and eat them.” I said. She gasped. And her husband, clearly annoyed, looked at her and said, “Where did you think chicken comes from!?!” And that was in my own farming, rural hometown.
Part of our mission as a farm and CSA is exactly that: to educate others about where food comes from, how it’s grown, processed and what matters, as well as giving people the hands-on opportunity to experience gardening and livestock.
And that’s the news from the wonderfully wet week on the farm!