Category Archives: CSA Newsletters

CSA News Week 5

IMG_5054We took a road trip to secure some delicious fruits from our dear friends & fellow family farmers over at High Hill Orchard this week. They had quite the blackberry crop this year so we braved the rain yesterday and picked lots of blackberries for you. We also snagged some still firm and highly coveted early peaches (they are really known for their peaches!).

 

Did you know the winter frosts are to blame for midwest fruit crop losses this year? Here on the farm we work for, Tanglefoot Ranch, there is a peach orchard but the majority of the peach buds on the trees froze after beginning their growth and as a result their will be little to no peaches. High Hill Orchard also had frost loss in their orchard so the few peaches that we will have for you are some of the few local peaches you’ll come across this year.

 

Also, we identified one of our mystery winter squash! It is a Fairytale Pumpkin, these are super amazing for a number of reasons. For starters, they look like the pumpkin carriage in the movie Cinderella, hence the name. They are even better for pumpkin pie making than the traditional pie pumpkin and they are much larger. Bigger means more pie right?!

 

Our #1 reason for loving these is because they are great keepers! The massive one we grew last year (it’s like 50lbs!) is still good in our basement. It is almost a year old.
For week 5 you’ll find a combination of the following:

  • Slicing cucumbers
  • English Cucumbers
  • Blackberries
  • Slicing tomatoes
  • Peaches
  • Carmen Italian Sweet Peppers or Bell Peppers
  • Sweet snack or Banana peppers

 

Will you eat your blackberries raw or preserve them? If you want to preserve them you can flash freeze them to use in oatmeal, smoothies or whatever OR can them. I’m personally canning some tomorrow after finding this mouthwatering maple, brown sugar, bourbon blackberries recipe. We really don’t need more jam canned (especially since we don’t eat much bread) but I can’t resist trying out the new recipe.
Consider using your peppers to stuff this week. We just made sausage stuffed Itilian sweet peppers loosely following this recipe and even our picky kids scarfed them down! It’s a must try.

 

CSA Extra Add-ons we can deliver:

The following extra items can be purchased and added to your CSA share. You can pay me cash at pickup or I can take a credit/ debit card with our card reader (note an extra charge is added to card reader purchases to cover processing fees. It’s expensive).

 

Local Freshwater Prawns

We can bring you some Tanglefoot Ranch, farm raised freshwater prawns and deliver it with your CSA basket- if shrimp is your thing. It’s last year’s harvest that we helped raise & harvest right here on the farm in 6 outdoor ponds. We just enjoyed some the other night and I got me thinking about mentioning it to you all.

 

Tanglefoot Ranch Freshwater Prawns are $25 for a 2lb bag. They are shell on to preserve freshness and moisture and they are really delicious!

 

Homemade Goats Milk Soap

We are still experimenting with goats milk soap recipes right now. The pumpkin spice fragranced soap we had is nearly sold out and my girls and me have been making new soap batches like crazy. You can click here to see and even order soaps.

Last week several members posted about their CSA shares online and we loved hearing about the fun recipes you tried. Keep them coming and have a wonderful, healthy next week!

CSA News Week 4

Greetings CSA families!

 

The green beans, collard greens & swiss chard are coming along slowly still. I promise we planted more than what you have been getting. ¬†I’m personally feeling impatient about the garden progress. I usually have loads of beans and squash (my favorites) by this time and I go out each day to weed and check on things and I’m all “Come on beans! Why are you taking so darn long?” and my kids just look at me silly for talking to the plants.

 

We are kind of curious & excited about all the winter squash that have sprung fourth in various places around the homestead. We have squash and pumpkins specifically planted for the CSA but we are loving finding and watching all the volunteer plants around the property. It is like the farm lottery. Ha, ha!

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Offerings will be a similar variation on what you’ve already seen with the addition of a few zucchini. Zucchini lasagna anyone? Just sub zucchini slices for the noodles.

 

Of course there is lots more going on but for now I’ve got to keep things short, got a sick kiddo running a high fever ūüôĀ

 

For week 4 you’ll find a combination of the following:

  • Slicing cucumbers
  • English Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Slicing tomatoes¬†(maybe a few green ones for fried green tomatoes)
  • Salad¬†tomatoes
  • Bell¬†Peppers
  • Sweet snack peppers
  • Hungarian Wax¬†– (these are spicy)
  • Raspberries

 

We intended to head over to a fellow farmer friend’s place and stock up on some blackberries for you this week but had to change plans when a kiddo spiked her fever.

 

Sick of cucumbers? They sure are prolific and happy in this weird summer weather we are having!

 

Have you ever made refrigerator pickles that you can enjoy in just 24 hrs? You should try them this week with your abundance of cucumbers! You can use a regular, non-pickling cucumber for this recipe since they aren’t canned or stored for very long.

 

Easy Garlic & Dill Pickles Recipe

Makes 1 pint jar of pickles in 24 hrs.
Ingredients:

  • 1 pint jar with lid
  • 6 oz of cucumbers
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp dill seed (or fresh dill weed)
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander seed
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • Enough water to fill the jar

 

Instructions:
1. quarter the cucumbers and cut them length wise so they can fit in your jar
2. combine your spices & vinegar and seal the jar, shake vigerously until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
3. remove the lid and tightly pack in your cucumers. Add water to the mixture to fill the jar.
4. replace lid and gently invert the jar a few times to mix brine and water.
5. leave the jar in the refridgerator for 24 hrs before enjoying.

Pickles will last up to a month int he refrigerator but you’ll eat them all right away I bet.

 

CSA Extra Add-ons we can deliver:

The following extra items can be purchased and added to your CSA share. You can pay me cash at pickup or I can take a credit/ debit card with our card reader (note an extra charge¬†is added to card reader purchases to cover processing fees. It’s expensive).

 

Local Freshwater Prawns

We can bring¬†you some Tanglefoot Ranch, farm raised freshwater prawns and deliver it with your CSA basket- if shrimp is your thing. It’s last year’s harvest that we helped raise & harvest right here on the farm in 6 outdoor ponds. We just enjoyed some the other night and I got me thinking about¬†mentioning it to you all.

 

Tanglefoot Ranch Freshwater Prawns are $25 for a 2lb bag. They are shell on to preserve freshness and moisture and they are really delicious!

 

Homemade Goats Milk Soap

We are still experimenting with goats milk soap recipes right now. The pumpkin spice fragranced soap we had is nearly sold out and my girls and me have been making new soap batches like crazy. You can click here to see and even order soaps.

Last week several members posted about their CSA shares online and we loved hearing about the fun recipes you tried. Keep them coming and have a wonderful, healthy next week!

IMG_4785

CSA News Week 2

This week has been full of progress in our CSA garden! The garden is finally dried out a bit after the brutal rains and flooding we just had. Luckily everything has survived. I know many folks have lost crops due to the rain and floods, we were worried but lucky. The main issue we had was all our bean trellising and various other supports blew/ fell over but the plants we unharmed.

 

I told you last week about the ducks that are helping in the garden (we just acquired 5 more ducklings!) and now we’ve added rabbits to the farm because their manure is AMAZING for the garden. Back before we relocated to Illinois we had two pet rabbits that contributed to our very lush backyard garden. Rabbit manure is so great because unlike other manures it’s not “hot” meaning it doesn’t burn the plants. It can be applied directly to the garden, immediate nutrients for the plants- Yay!

 

One of the first crops that I planted in the CSA garden this year was cabbage and I’m sad to report that it appears to be bolting instead of growing a nice firm head. In the past we’ve had good success growing spring cabbage for fall harvest but this year isn’t looking so good. Cool season crops are pretty temperature sensitive and difficult to grow. Things like lettuce, broccoli & cabbage and others will go to seed (known as bolting) instead of growing a productive harvest if temperatures aren’t just right.

fresh-salad

Luckily we have some good salad greens that we just picked today for you, they will soon be “bolting” too but as long as we can get a few good harvests off them I’m happy.

 

Other weather related losses so far include our radishes. Did you know too much moisture actually causes harvests to split or explode? If you’ve never grown much food you might not have seen this before. Tomatoes, radish, turnips, carrots, etc will grow bigger and bigger as they soak up the moisture they are offered… Even if their skin and flesh can’t support the rapid moisture intake. Here is what the radish did last week->

 

In other news we are anxiously anticipating the blooming of our pole beans (green beans) and okra that are close to fruiting. We also have kale, collard greens and swiss chard that are beginning to fully leaf out, for these greens you need nice full leaves to begin harvesting.

 

Oh and our sweet potato patch is still happy, we worried that the potato tubers would rot in the flooding but their foliage is still green and happy. Speaking of potatoes, we also planted a ukon gold potato patch that we plan to harvest during the season for you.

 

Our summer squash & melons are setting tiny fruits and growing happily and we have many, many tomatoes growing happily. Did you know raccoons like tomatoes? It’s true, they’ve got a soft spot for our tomatoes as well as the marshmallows we’ve been baiting them with in an effort to trap them. Luckily the tomatoes are abundant. It’s true when they say you should always over plant your crops. Plant enough for what you need to harvest, then double that so you can plant enough for pest¬†and wildlife.

 

Anyway, that about does it for the weekly updates, on to weekly basket contents… This weeks baskets will contain much of what last week’s did with the addition of some salad greens. For week two you’ll find a combination of the following:

  • Slicing cucumbers
  • English Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Slicing tomatoes
  • Green tomatoes
  • Carmen Sweet Peppers
  • Sweet snack peppers
  • A mix of Hungarian Wax & Banana peppers – (these are spicy)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Salad greens
  • Lemon balm & spearmint (makes a wonderfully calming night time tea)
  • Pineapple sage

CSA Extra Add-ons we can deliver:

The following extra items can be purchased and added to your CSA share. You can pay me cash at pickup or I can take a credit/ debit card with our card reader (note an extra charge¬†is added to card reader purchases to cover processing fees. It’s expensive).

 

Local Freshwater Prawns

We can bring¬†you some Tanglefoot Ranch, farm raised freshwater prawns and deliver it with your CSA basket- if shrimp is your thing. It’s last year’s harvest that we helped raise & harvest right here on the farm in 6 outdoor ponds. We just enjoyed some the other night and I got me thinking about¬†mentioning it to you all.

 

Tanglefoot Ranch Freshwater Prawns are $25 for a 2lb bag. They are shell on to preserve freshness and moisture and they are really delicious!

 

Homemade Goats Milk Soap

As you know from last weeks basket; we are experimenting with goats milk soap recipes right now. It started because we needed to use up all the frozen goats milk we have saved. When the soap we made for our family was such as hit we knew we should try perfecting things so we could sell it. The goats milk soap is a farm/ homeschool project we hope to expand upon for farmers markets and such. We are selling it for $1.5 an ounce. We currently have 4oz, 3oz & 2oz bars on hand.

 

I’ve got several different sized¬†bars of pumpkin spice scented goats milk soap plus several lavender essential oil¬†scented bars available¬†if anyone wants to buy more or larger bars. We’ve also made up a lemon scented bar that will be ready in a month or so.

When I say “scented” I mean the bars have been made with manufactured soap scents & perfumes. We are experimenting with the scents and recipes as the essential oil infused bars tend to cost more to make and they don’t really have a lasting scent like the other bars do.

Last week several members posted about their CSA shares online and we loved hearing about the fun recipes you tried. Keep them coming and have a wonderful, healthy next week!

2015 CSA News- Week 1

Isn’t this weather beautiful?! I was just out pulling weeds in the garden and the mild temperatures were so nice to enjoy. The weather sure has our plants confused though.

To us it feels like it has been a very slow growing spring here. I don’t know if it is because I’m impatient and overly excited about the CSA or what. Since moving here we have been working hard to rebuild the soils for the garden. Some of you may already know we moved to Southern Illinois about a year ago. We are working on Tanglefoot Ranch, a roughly 1000 acre working cattle, sheep, commodity crop and soon to be a farm dinner serving farm. We moved here to work on an established farm, to learn the ins and outs; to make a start of farming.

Anyway, the house we reside in is part of Tanglefoot Ranch’s 1000 acres and it’s been growing grass/ weeds and forest in the years prior to us moving in. We cleared a substantial garden plot that we are generously applying our own compost to. We are trying to rescue fruit trees that were found overgrown and we’ve planted new fruit trees and bushes but I’m getting off topic here‚Ķ

I really think the soils are in good condition (lots of earthworms and good bugs!) but they are neglected and hungry for added nutrients which probably is a key factor in what I described as a “slow growing spring”. Luckily, our farm animals are helping us to turn out some very rich compost that goes right back to the garden. Sustainable farming is a beautiful cycle that takes some time, hard work and patience to establish.

Our spring planting weather also started unseasonably cool and wetter than normal, which hasn’t helped the matter. Unfortunately, the “slow growing spring” has delayed the start of CSA deliveries. It looks like we are just a few weeks away from CSA garden harvests and we wanted to give you a firm date for the first pickup. Our first pickup week will be July 10th 2015!

What we anticipate coming down the pipeline for each share holder for the first week is:

  • Raspberries
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers (cute snacking peppers & cooking peppers)
  • Possibly beans, kale, chard and radish if they are ready
  • Plus we are throwing in some eggs & goats milk soap as a fun bonus for the first week.

We also have “volunteer” tomato plants to give away if you’d like them. These are plants that have sprung forth naturally from fallen fruits of last season. These are heirloom varieties but we aren’t quite sure which varieties since they planted themselves.

We love volunteer plants because they’ve adapted themselves a bit after their seeds have overwintered in the garden, plus they really tend to be the fastest growing plants in the garden.

These mystery tomato plants are either cherry tomato, a slicing tomato or an amish paste tomato. Amish paste tomatoes are amazingly huge (some weigh a pound!) sauce tomatoes that are low in seeds and have little core to them. We have also planted some of these beauties this year for our CSA. If you’d like some free mystery tomato starts let us know and we’ll dig you some!

Pickup Details:

We had initially envisioned having two sets of baskets for each CSA family. One to take foods home in one week and another to rotate through the following week. Families would simply bring back their empty basket each week and exchange it for a full one… Then the baskets I ordered online arrived and they are NOTHING like I wanted them to be so our ideas have had to adapt.

Please bring your own bags or a large box to pickup to take your shares home in. We will have things separated out by families but we will want to retain the box/ basket that we are harvesting your food in so that we can reuse it each week.

-Pickup will be on the farm for local families on Friday July 10th, 2015 from 6-7pm
-The Paducah families can pick up their share on Saturday, July 11th, 2015 from 6:30-7pm at Noble Park (the playground)

We are excited to get you your first week’s CSA shares and hope you are having a great summer!