Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sometimes it is OK to play with your food

Sometimes the farmers just get a little silly.  This piece of fine work was inspired by an extraordinary daikon radish and the birthday of one of our Farm Share members.  It just so happens that the Birthday girl has a certain fondness for our odd shaped vegetables.  So combine those two things with some long fall days on the farm and you get Dolly the Daikon Radish.  She is lovely and generated some laughs.  Hopefully she and her red-hot habenero lips will please you as well.  We think sometimes it is ok to play with your food!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Food Processing Continues

Megan & the pickled beets
The kitchen has been busy!  Every week the options for this winter's share get more expansive.  In addition to canned tomatoes (in many forms - whole, puree, sauce & puree), there is already red salsa & salsa verde and now the pickling family.   Pickled beets, which are really beautiful and probably tasty as well.  Mixed veggie pickles, bread and butter pickles and the newest addition -- Green Tomato Pickles.  Rumor has it they are excellent on burger or other sandwich. 
Green Tomatoes on their way to pickles

So the pantry is getting stocked and it will be open and available as part of our Omnivore's share later this fall once the field vegetables start to fade.  Winter eating will be tasty!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hoop House #2 is going up


Bit by steel bit, our second hoop house is on its way up!  Yesterday space was defined as all of the bows were launched in the air and then nicely bolted to the groundposts. Then began the more tedious work of the cross braces and purlins supports (to add stability).  It is exciting to think about this as an additional growing space this winter and throughout the coming seasons.  Flats of greens are already seeded in anticipation. 
 
This second hoop house is being made possible through a grant from USDA and their Know Your Farmer program.  And of course through the help of many hands! We are only on day 4 of this modern day barn-raising, but so far so good.  Now if the rain could just hold off a bit.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Goats, Troublesome Goats



Our ruminants have been a major focus on the farm. The goats seem to love Carrie, or at least her ax-wielding skills. We have been taking down some poplar (mostly) trees and letting the goats enjoy and defoliate them as part of opening up some paths and pasture expansion. Boris is now courting our various does and my how he flirts with the ladies. It really is a sight to behold. Though it seems some are less fond of his advances and more fond of going out on the town. The goat kids and their teen chaperones (or perhaps bad influences) were spotted on Loop Road late Saturday night, down past Frost Road. We were none the wiser, until hearing the report, as they were in the field near the Turkeys Sunday Morning. Ah, fall, not an easy time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kale & Potato Hash

Photo from Eating Well
Kale & Potato Hash from Eating Well
Serve as a side with pork or set a poached egg on top for a hearty breakfast or brunch.
8 cups torn kale leaves (about ½ large bunch; see Tip)      
2 tablespoons horseradish       
1 medium shallot, minced       
½ teaspoon ground pepper & ¼ teaspoon salt          
2 cups cooked shredded potatoes    
3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Place kale in a large cast iron skillet and sauté in butter, until wilted, about 6 minutes. Cool slightly, and finely chop.
2. Mix horseradish, shallot, pepper and salt in a large bowl. Add the chopped kale and potatoes; stir to combine.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the kale mixture, spread into an even layer and cook, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes and returning the mixture to an even layer, until the potatoes begin to turn golden brown and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes total.
Kale & Potato Hash Tips: A 1- to 1 1/2-pound bunch of kale yields 16 to 24 cups of chopped leaves. When preparing kale for these recipes, remove the tough ribs, chop or tear the kale as directed, then wash it--allowing some water to cling to the leaves. The moisture helps steam the kale during the first stages of cooking.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sally the Salamander

A new Green Mountain Girl showed up on the farm this week -- Sally the Spotted Salamander.  She was spotted near the turkeys looking a little sad, dry and lost.  With a bit of TLC from Anna & Mari, Sally started looking better. The spots are really amazing.  Some quick research about spotted salamanders indicates they can live 20 years.  So she was repatriated to the underneath of nice log in the woods, hopefully to enjoy many more years in the dirt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Join us for Brookfield Market Day


The fun starts at 2pm with a Farmers’ Market, Buggy Rides, Art show, Face Painting, Book Sale, Silent Auction, cooking classes and live music throughout the afternoon, all at the Old Town Hall in Brookfield Village by the Floating Bridge.  

A BBQ dinner with local chicken and veggies will be available from 5-7pm and an old time square dance starts at 7pm with music by Her Majesty’s Streak O’ Lean.  Join us as we launch Floating Bridge Food and Farms, a collective of local businesses offering farm products and farm vacations.   

Product samples and information from members will be on offer.  We are proud to be founding members, along with Fat Toad Farm, Ariel’s Restaurant, Sweet Retreats, Brookfield Bees, All Together Farm,  Brotherly Farm Organic, Turkey Hill Farm, and more.  More Details Here. Or on our Facebook page—just search Green Mountain Girls Farm.  or Check out Alice Levitt's thoughts from Seven Days

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Tomatoes

Fresh from the field
Is there anything better than a fresh, delicious August tomato? Well, perhaps that tomato sliced with some basil, salt and olive oil. Oh, summer eating is at its best right now with luscious vegetables of all types. I try, but do not always succeed, to savor them, taking a moment to just enjoy that taste sensation that only happens this time of year. Hope you all are enjoying fresh tomatoes, they are plentiful here.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Farm Happy Hour



Music, Tastings and Socializing by the Pond

Summer’s bounty is here and it is time to celebrate.
Join us for a Farm Happy Hour
Thursday, August 19th from 5-8pm

Join us this Thursday to celebrate summer at the farm. We will have food samples, including BBQ goat, summer veggies, goat milk custard and more. Live music will be performed by some local talent with a new band. Take this opportunity to check on the growing animals, lounge by the pond and enjoy summer. Our farmstand will also be fully stocked with fresh chicken, eggs, vegetables, milk and frozen pork all for sale.
Questions?? Email us at: GreenMtnGirls@gmail.com
Directions: From I-89, take exit 5 toward Northfield 1 mile, turn left on Loop Road.  Go about 1 mile, the farm is on the left - 923 Loop Road.










Wednesday, August 11, 2010

45 pounds of Chard

Megan and lots of chard!
The food processing has begun in earnest!  Megan and Donna persevered despite Liva's repeated deliveries of larger and larger baskets of chard to process.  45..or more pounds later, the winter food security is well on its way.  45 pounds of chard have been harvested, washed, chopped, blanched, dried, packaged and frozen. 

So much more is on the list: Pestos, salsas, dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, pickled veggies, broccoli, cauliflower..and who knows what else.  All so members can enjoy quality local food this winter, when the delights of fresh tomatoes and harvesting from the field have passed.    It makes August and September busy months.  In addition to the regular farm work there is lots of harvesting and processing. But as the freezers and Canning cupboards start to fill up, it is really satisfying!

Some of the animals love this time of year as well.  The pigs were the beneficiaries of the massive chard processing.  They LOVE chard.  I don't know why, but they do.  So big and small, the pigs were thrilled o get the cuttings and gleanings from the chard.  

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ratatouille!


I had been eyeing this recipe for ratatouille on my favorite food blog — Smitten Kitchen — for months. Legend has it, this is the very recipe the cunning rat in the movie Ratatouille uses to blow the culinary mind of the evil food critic.

But without the fresh veggies, it seemed like a bit of a waste to try it. So I waited. And waited. And then, after a long day at the farm earlier this week — milking goats, planting beets and smashing up black currants to make a deep, dark and delicious syrup — I came home to find I had nearly everything I needed, right there on my counter.

It occurred to me that anyone who's bringing home veggies from the farm these days might end up in a similar situation. So it seemed only fitting to share.

I'd brought home a crazy looking pattypan squash and a zucchini so large it was slightly rude. I rode my bike down to the co-op and picked up an eggplant, a red pepper (the purple ones in my garden are still apricot sized) and a bunch of thyme. And then I got right to it.

Besides the endless slicing, the recipe was dead simple. I pureed some tomatoes (last year's, jarred at the farm) in the blender and poured it into a baking dish.

Then I thinly sliced two cloves of garlic and a medium onion and mixed them, along with a tablespoon of olive oil, in with the tomatoes.

Next came the fiddly part. I made super-thin slices out of the eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and squash. It took me some time to figure out how to attack that bizarre pattypan. I settled on cutting it into quarters and then slicing from the narrowest angle. I still have three quarters of the beast left.

Then I arranged the veggie slices in the baking dish, layering them one-by-one so only their colorful edges peeked out, spiraling in until I'd filled the whole dish.

I drizzled another tablespoon of oil over the top, generously sprinkled it with salt and pepper and garnished it with a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Then I covered the whole thing with a strip of parchment paper and threw it in the oven.

About 45 minutes later, the smells started wafting: fresh and garlicky with a hint of thyme. When I opened the oven, the tomato sauce was bubbling and the vegetables were just right. I chopped up some basil (this from my own garden!) and crumbled a hefty portion of goat cheese (if only the cheese I'd made from our goats hadn't been obliterated weeks ago!) and threw some cajun spices into a pot of rice.

I wish I had photos of that first bite — but I just couldn't interrupt the deliciousness to snap any. So you'll just have to imagine: a rainbow of vegetable slivers, piled onto cajun rice, dotted with chunks of goat cheese and garnished with the freshly chopped basil.

It was definitely worth the wait.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Farm Open House - Sunday May 23rd 1 to 5 pm

Come tour the farm, meet the new animals (goat kids, lambs, chicks and the piglets born last fall) and sample some farm fresh food.

All are welcome, bring your friends and family. The farmstand will be open and stocked with eggs, milk, meat, vegetables and even some herb and vegetable seedlings.

Please join us Sunday, May 23rd from 1 to 5 pm.
For More details see the flyer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yoga at the Farm

Starting this Thursday, we will be hosting a yoga class at the farm led by Lydia Russell-McDade. This will be a gentle to moderate level class and is open to all. You can sign up for the 8 week series for $80 or it is $12/class for drop-ins. Bring your own mat.

Our farmstand will also be open and fully stocked after class, so get a double dose - Yoga and farm fresh food!

For more details or to sign up for the series contact Lydia or check out her site at: Sapremayoga.blogspot.com

or check out the flyer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Frogs & toads on the farm

video
The chorus of frogs is distractingly loud! The sound on this video captures it quite well. It also documents how punchy we are... can that be tied to the frogs and their Spring fever?

Speaking of which, check out the copious eggs that result from all this vocalizing and flirting! Prior to last week's snows nights were filled with the clippity-clop sounds of the Mink frog and there were a good number of softball-like clumps of their eggs visible. Tonight the American toad (Bufo americanus) dominates the soundtrack... Speaking of tracks, how crazy are their strings of eggs (photo of our pond above)?

For more information, see this great poster of Vermont amphibians.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Kildeer Returns

We spotted the Kildeer last week, running around the garden and fields, hoping that it was choosing a better spot for a nest than than the middle of our vegetable fields. Yesterday, Mari found the nest. An improvement, but far from perfect. The nest is still in the garden, but near the edge, nestled among the cover crops. She almost missed it, but did see it before accidentally scrambling those eggs with the tractor.

The eggs are beautiful. Now we just must wait for the fledglings to appear.

More on the Kildeer from last year

Friday, April 16, 2010

Kids and MORE Goat kids

Six have delivered so far. Two more to go this month and then Jenga and Martha will deliver this summer.

Ingrid led the 2nd wave of births with two, a male and female. The female has the cutest little tiny ears, typical of La Mancha goats. Grace was the next to deliver. Mari did the early morning barn check last Sunday and as she walked in she heard the tiny voice of newly born kids. She had triplets, but we missed it all. When we arrived, only two had survived the birth, but are those boys cute. Abigail, who has looked ready for several weeks, delivered two vibrant boy kids on Wednesday. One of which has little neck tags, just like her.

Marlene is yet to deliver and Owari will join the pack at the end of April.

Here are a few more photos of the new kids...and check out the slideshow for others.

And the names....Much gratitude to all of the suggestions that have been pouring in. Space is the theme and for the goat kids we have been choosing names that begin with the same letter as their mama doe.

So the newest names:
Ingrid has:
Ivins, female - named for Martha Ivins an astronaut from Baltimore
Indus, male - a constellation in the southern sky, for Indian

Grace's kids, both male:
Galaxy, very light in color just like Grace
Gemini - is a brown and light mix with some brown spots. The third kid that didn't make it looked just like Gemini, twins.

Abigail, both male..
names haven't been chosens...oh what should they be?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kids and more kids

3 Goats have kidded, 3 days in a row. It was quite a holiday weekend. Friday, Saturday & Sunday. Molly, Betsy & Sophia did a great job and didn't seem to mind the crowd that gathered to witness the births. What a learning opportunity for young and old. They seem to have taken a few days off, but we have 4 more to go in this round and then Owari at the end of the month.

Names: Space is the theme and suggestions have been rolling in. Thanks for all of the ideas. With more goats and pregnant sows in the mix, we will need plenty.

Introducing:
Meteor & Mir (Molly's twin girls)
Meteor is the dark brown doeling on the left; Mir is the oatmeal colored one





Bootes & Betelgeuse (Betsy's twins - girl & boy)














Bootes, a constellation also known as the Oxherd, is on the left with his black boots and Betelgeuse is on the right in front of Betsy, their doe.

Spock - Sophia's boy.

More photos are in the slideshow - see the right hand box and you can click on it or visit our picasa album for larger views of the photos.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kids have arrived

We have been waiting (somewhat patiently) for our goats to start kidding. Finally they have. Molly was the first and she had twin doelings (girls). It was smooth as could be.

Lily, our guest, was the first to spot Molly in labor. Two little hooves confirmed Lily's observation. The dark brown doeling emerged looking strong. And though she is Molly's first kid ever, both Molly and the little one did all the right things. Molly dried her off (see video) and vocalized. The doeling found her own voice and worked at learning to stand.

We were thrilled that a twin sister followed, this time the doeling was the color of oatmeal. The second birth went just as smoothly. Within one hour of being born, each were successfully milking. And as we look out at the Saturday morning sunrise it looks like another great day for kidding! Grace? Betsy? Abigail? Ingrid?

Lily, who had been on her way to get her books in the barn loft guest house at the time of her discovery declared "Now I don't have to do a science project! This is it." video

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2010: A Space Odyssey

No, we are not reviewing movies now. Instead we are announcing our 2010 naming theme. Space.

Anything Space related, nominations are already coming in, so feel free to submit some. A few of the early suggestions include:
  • Comet
  • Polaris
  • Hubble
  • Ursa
  • Orion
  • Twinkly

"A daring romp through the solar system and a worthy successor to 2001," was Carl Sagan's quote on the movie. Here, we are just making a daring romp through the agricultural system.

Use the comment tool to contribute your ideas below for spacey names for lambs, kids and piglets in 2010! Thanks in advance for your ideas!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

March can mean delicious local eating

March is often considered the lean month for local eating, especially in northern spots like Vermont. The storage vegetables may be dwindling and while the days are longer, spring isn't really here yet.

We sat down to dinner the other night, looked at our plates full of food from our farm, and thought, we eat well, even in March! Local eating can be delicious, easy and virtuous..not a bad combo.

Most, importantly, the delicious -- our Menu (which was repeated as left overs a few days later)
  • Herb Roasted Chicken
  • Chevre Chaud Salad
  • Potato- Turnip Latkes
  • Pumpkin Pie with Maple Whipped Cream
On the easy front:
We roasted 2 chickens, 2 is as easy as 1 and allows for plenty of leftovers.

We formed some of our fresh chevre into patties, dipped in egg and bread crumbs and then heated them in the oven. When they were warm and soft, but not runny, we put them over a Mache salad (any green would do) with a light vinagrette. This is one of my favorite salads, I am in debt to my sister-in-law for introducing me to this simple french delight.

We had made potato-turnip latkes the week before using up some storage potatoes & turnips mixed with egg and fried in our own lard. (Yes, this version won't work for a Hanukkah feast, but lard is delicious and good for you, more on that to come.) We then put some in the freezer, which we pulled out for this meal. All we had to do was heat them in the oven for 10 minutes.

For Dessert, we made pumpkin pie from some pumpkin puree we had stored a few weeks earlier. We did turn to Butterworks farm & our neighbor's maple syrup for the delicious maple whipped cream to top off the pie.

Thanks to our harvesting last fall, the freezer, stored veggies, greens from the hoophouse and the ongoing supply of milk and eggs, local eating in this section of Vermont is quite good, even in March.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Animal Love


The week leading up to Valentine's day was an eventful one!

On Wednesday we orchestrated the great pig move: Doodle said goodbye to her piglets and took a ride in the trailer up to the barn, where she traded spaces with Tic and Toe. The juggling act of moving Tic and Toe into their holding space inside the barn, distracting the goats with grain, moving Doodle past the goats and into her new space outside, distracting the goats again and herding Tic and Toe into the trailer went smoothly. Doodle seems to like her new found peace and has turned her shelter into a cozy home fit for a pig at a spa! Her piglets, still in the hoop house, are adjusting to life without Mama Doodle and have taken to sleeping in a big pile with Fife and Madison's piglets. Walking into the hoop house early in the morning brings an adorable sight of piglets nestled together under the heat lamp and surrounded by hay.

On Thursday morning we said goodbye to Tic and Toe, thanked them for being such lovable pigs, and brought them to Royal Butcher. It was a bittersweet day--the first piglets born on the farm left, and Gellert, our new boar, arrived. Laura, Mari, Liva and I all drove to Middlesex to pick Gellert up and bring him back to Northfield to his new home where he quickly settled in with Fife and Madison, and began flirting with Doodle through the fence. With a boar on the farm, there is sure to be many more piglets in the future!

With all this pig news, goat lovers don't despair, there is exciting news for you, too! Borris the buck moved out of the barn and down into the hoop house with the milkers a couple of weeks ago. He had been with the seven goats in the barn all winter, and we hoped at least some of them had become pregnant. Friday afternoon Alison, our vet, came to check and confirmed that all seven (Ingrid, Sophia, Grace, Marlene, Betsy, Molly, and Abigail) are indeed pregnant! They will begin to kid in the spring, by which time the current milkers (Jenga, Scrabble, and Martha) will have dried up and hopefully be pregnant again. Myst and Mahjong, our two oberhaslis, are still too young to breed, so they moved up to the barn when Borris went down to the hoop house, and they are enjoying their new space to jump around in.

On a smaller note, Hop and Scotch (the kittens) are growing into the best barn cats you can ask for! They are keen hunters, are incredibly cute, and love being held. Tiny Tim has been holding down the fort in the barn garage, where he and Uno have become great friends. Watching the two of them play together always brings about a laugh! Uno, of course, continues to give everyone love.

With so many changes, the animals are still happy and healthy, and the farmers (though perhaps a bit tired) are happy for it!

video

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bill McKibben's Answer

On Wednesday night the Green Mountain Girls joined community members and students in Norwich University's Dole Auditorium to welcome Bill McKibben as the first speaker in this year's Todd Lecture Series. McKibben's talk, "Large and Small: Human Scale and Human Power in a Fast-Changing World," began with an examination of genetic engineering on the human scale, making the point that human nature is fragile, and segued into conscious versus inadvertent change, as McKibben stressed that climate change, which alters the fundamental makeup of the world, is the most radical thing humans have ever done.

As he spoke, McKibben outlined the science behind climate change and illustrated some of the steps that have been taken to counter it, such as the work of 350.org, an organization that orchestrated a global day of political action and awareness of climate change. He did a spectacular job of emphasizing the enormous scope of this problem, but when Q&A time came at the end of his speech, I had a question. (Before I go on, let me say that I graduated from university with a degree in Environmental Studies and English, and a minor in Outdoor Studies; I've spent countless class hours dissecting the science and social effects of global climate change and I am not a skeptic. That being said, the language to talk with people who are skeptics remains part of the big picture, and it can be challenging to show others how this will effect them directly; also, it is easy for a person to give money to an organization and then separate themselves from the problem and greater solution). So my question was this: how do you take a global problem, which can be very overwhelming, and make it a local issue?

McKibben responded that you can work on issues in your own community, like local agriculture, which is extremely important for a place like Vermont. As climate change worsens, land will either become more arid or will be prone to flooding, insect pest numbers may increase, and as a result food scarcity is likely to rise. Creating a strong local agriculture movement is essential to food security and the overall climate change solution, as food that is grown in one's own community is not shipped thousands of miles before it reaches the table and inherently has a smaller carbon footprint. You can support local agriculture by going to Farmers' Markets and buying food direct from the farmer. He concluded that you must not dismiss global action, but mix your efforts so that perhaps 80% is local and 20% is global in scope. As I listened to his answer, the words that leapt out at me were community, neighbors, and interconnected, and I realized that these are some of the same words Mari and Laura use when they discuss their business plan.

A couple of weeks ago, my family had dinner with the Green Mountain Girls, and they told us that their goal is not to be a main producer for Vermont, but to sustain 20-30 families in the Northfield region. They described how the two words at the core of their mission, happy and healthy, reach beyond animals and food to the farmers, the land, the farmshare members, and the larger community. McKibben said that we need to "understand how interconnected our actions are with every corner of the world," and by physically cultivating and employing organic methods, the Green Mountain Girls are able to do just that. Through this process, they are also cultivating relationships with people and finding a sustainable balance in the natural world.

This past summer, Mari and I went to a raw milk processing workshop at Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel. Lisa McCrory, while describing how she quickly switched over to an electric blender from a hand-crank butter maker, said, "I'm not doin' it for the romance. I'm doin' it because I like good food." This statement has stayed with me, and I see now that the vision of back-to-the-landers and small organic farms is not one of romance. It is much simpler than that. We do it for good living, for happiness and health, and the direct result is a lighter tread on the earth and a deeper, positive impact on ourselves and our communities.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Food, Inc


Any small farmer or food enthusiast could tell you that a food revolution is happening, but until a few days ago, its force was still an undertow--you could feel it but it seemed invisible compared to the world of conventional agriculture. The waters are quickly changing, however, and with the force of Oprah now behind it, this food revolution is gaining momentum and rising up to be a tidal wave (I hope)! Last week, Oprah showed clips of the documentary Food, Inc.,and told her audience "I believe you have a right to know where your food is coming from." In order to spread the word, Oprah made a deal with Amazon.com to sell Food, Inc. for the price of 9.99 for a limited time.


I also believe you have a right to know where your food comes from, and that is one reason why I work at the Green Mountain Girls Farm; I value the intimacy that comes with raising and growing my food, not only because it is delicious, but because it nurtures a strong community between the farmer, the consumer, and the land. What's more, I have never seen people so excited as the farm share members are when they come each Thursday to pick up the week's supplies, and their excitement and appreciation makes the work of cultivation and caring for the animals that much sweeter.

Even if you don't work on a farm, it is important to be close to your food for the simple reason that food sustains you, not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well. If that sounds a little out there, just think of your state of being after eating a healthy, balanced meal made with whole foods versus one made predominately of processed, packaged foods. I know I feel lighter, more energized, and happier. As for Oprah, she says, "for me, it boils down to making more conscious food decisions."

Oprah talked with Michael Pollen about the movie, and about his new book Food Rules, which outlines simple rules to follow that will ensure you are eating good, real food. "Getting out of the supermarket when we can is a very important part of learning where your food comes from," Pollen said. "Ask the farmer."

It's okay if you don't go rushing out to find the nearest farmer after you read this. In fact, it's okay if you don't find a farmer at all, but you should know where your food comes from. Watch Food, Inc. and decide what kind of food you want to eat.