June sings a happy tune

Please note: We had a computer glitch which erased all the posts since August 2012. We are working on restoring the site.

Strawberries!
Strawberries!

When the weather is normal, we feel so happy.  June weather has been normal so far.  Yay!

All the seedlings are in the ground and doing well.

We have certain vegetables growing in the chicken yard where the deer can’t get them: beets, Swiss chard, carrots, leeks and spinach.

The CSA started on time and our 1/2 share members got a pound of strawberries on the 2nd harvest. They also got rhubarb, sorrel, Swiss chard, purple scallions, garlic scapes, radishes and marjoram.

The 1st harvest was sorrel, rhubarb, horseradish leaf, dill weed, mint, and purple scallions.

Meghan cleans the sorrel.
Meghan cleans the sorrel.

The 3rd harvest, on June 27th, will contain spinach, peas, strawberries, lettuce mix, dill, purple scallions and Juneberries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meghan picks a winner.
Meghan picks a winner.

Willing workers continue to show up and help with the farm work. Meghan McKnight has been here since April.  She was joined by Theo Manazir from Burlington, Vermont and then Jesie Stefani from Mt Pleasant, Michigan.   Most recently, Amy and Dan from Pittsburgh have come to help for a month.  So the first 3 we’ve ever had from Pittsburgh are here at the same time!

Amy and Dan thin the apples.
Amy and Dan thin the apples.

The orchard looks good. We have 5 apple trees, 1 peach tree and several chestnut trees which should bear fruit this year. Greg planted apricot trees last month.

 

 

 

Merriweather and Robin.
Merriweather and Robin.

The bees are doing well.  I checked the hives with a Vermont beekeeper’s daughter, Meriweather, who has learned much from her father. She was visiting my daughter Sophia.

 

 

 

Sophia and Merriweather plant out lettuce and kale.
Sophia and Merriweather plant out lettuce and kale.
Careful hands.
Careful hands.

Rhubarb Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar (or 1 cup)
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup milk with 1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
2 cups rhubarb

Cream sugar and butter.  Add egg and beat well.  Add flour, salt, milk, vanilla and beat well.  Spread in a greased 9 x 13 pan and add rhubarb on top evenly – or mix it into the batter before you put it in the pan.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over it.
Sugar mixture: 2/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon or ground nutmeg
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Good served warm with ice cream.

Rhubarb Dream Bars

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour (we use ww)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon (og cane) sugar
1 cup (og cane) sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (we used ww)
4 cups finely chopped rhubarb
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (we used neufchatel)
1/2 cup (og cane) sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream (we substitute yogurt)
1 tablespoon (og cane) sugar
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 11×7-inch baking dish.
In a bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, the softened butter, and 1 tablespoon sugar until well combined; press into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Bake the crust in the preheated oven until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the crust. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.
Using the same bowl, thoroughly mix 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup flour; stir in the rhubarb and toss to coat. Spread the rhubarb mixture over the baked crust. Using the same bowl, mash the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, and the egg until the mixture is creamy; spread over the rhubarb.
Bake in the oven until the rhubarb is bubbling and the topping is set, about 35 minutes.
In the same bowl, mix sour cream with 1 tablespoon of sugar; spread over the hot dessert. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Refrigerate leftovers.

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour (we use ww)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon (og cane) sugar
1 cup (og cane) sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (we used ww)
4 cups finely chopped rhubarb
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (we used Neufchatel)
1/2 cup (og cane) sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream (we substitute yogurt)
1 tablespoon (og cane) sugar
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 11×7-inch baking dish.
In a bowl, mix together 1 cup flour, the softened butter, and 1 tablespoon sugar until well combined; press into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Bake the crust in the preheated oven until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the crust. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F.
Using the same bowl, thoroughly mix 1 cup sugar with 1/4 cup flour; stir in the rhubarb and toss to coat. Spread the rhubarb mixture over the baked crust. Using the same bowl, mash the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, and the egg until the mixture is creamy; spread over the rhubarb.
Bake in the oven until the rhubarb is bubbling and the topping is set, about 35 minutes.
In the same bowl, mix sour cream with 1 tablespoon of sugar; spread over the hot dessert. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars. Refrigerate leftovers.

Be a Lert

Greg built a compost heap in March!

Starting with a January that showered more rain than snow, its been a strange year so far. Which doesn’t mean its been a bad year.  Unpredictable is where its at.  The month of March was as hot as June used be, bringing fruit trees to blossom only to be killed by April frosts.  Which translates into no apples or peaches this year.  Fortunately last year was a bumper crop.  And, truth be told, the trees may benefit from a year of growth without bearing fruit.  They look healthy.

 

Many of us felt guilty for enjoying the hot sun in march because we knew it was a foreboding of difficulties to come.  And indeed the insects returned early and in full force only to find little to eat.  I fed my honeybees sugar water through mid-May to make up for the lack of fruit blossoms.  The slugfest on the strawberries is the worst I’ve seen.  Still we’re happy to have strawberries at all – we kept the row covered for a couple of weeks to insure their survival.

 

The first day of June was as cloudy and cold as October – only the lush green growth didn’t fit the picture.  Everything is speeded up this year.  We never had winter and spring came too soon.  Greg and I decided to start the CSA a week early – June 7th – and, thank God, we do have plenty of vegetables plus the strawberries.  The peas have set fruit and the lettuce is enjoying the rain.  Beautiful curly garlic scapes, rhubarb, sorrel and mint will fill out the first weeks share.

 

To survive in these times we must adapt.  We can expect nothing to be as it was.  Lighten up I tell myself, renewing my connection to 100% raw living foods.  Green smoothies made of lambs quarters, mint, strawberries, banana and coconut oil (with E-3 Live super blue green algae) are my daily drink.  Be alert, my daughter Esther Rose once said, because the world needs more Lerts.  And so it goes.

                                                                                                     Mumtaz is a Lert!

 

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

The day finally arrived!  This blueberry bed was years in the making. We first planted potatoes into it, then tomatoes the following year. In autumn 2009 a thick layer of pine needless was laid on top and left there over winter.  In the spring it was rototilled. More soil amendments were added the next year.  Only now in spring 2012 is the soil sufficiently loamy and acidic to nourish theses 12 blueberry plants. Hooray!

Our CSA members only see this plant in fruit.  Nowadays it is flowering. It’s called Juneberry or Service Berry.  It is extremely slow growing because the new suckers come up thin and far from each other making them easy accidents with the lawn mower.  The tall inner shoots never thicken, no matter how much they age.  Last year’s wet spring gave us abundant berries. They are sweet, but not as sweet as blueberries.

 

I used to be so annoyed by Henbit. This weed comes up before any other. I would pull it out of all the garden beds. Then I began to notice the bees like it.   It comes up even before the dandelions thus giving the little darlings some nectar when they venture out in early spring.  Can you spot the honeybee in this photo?  Hint: it’s near the bottom.

 

 

 

 

 

This row of Osage orange was well mulched with leaves last fall.  The young trees are doing better than they appear, given the poor contrast in this photo. I’m at the far end of the sheep pasture, near the edge of the reforestation area.  The fruit of the Osage orange is a natural alternative to mothballs, containing a substance that repels many insects.

 

These young people are completing a degree in the Environment at University of Michigan. They drove up from Ann Arbor one warm March day to spend a day planting trees.  Greg dug up the poplars from a spot near the house where they had rooted but were not needed.  He uses them to fill spaces in the reforestation project where our original plantings failed.

 

This young man came along too.  He is graduating from MSU and will be going on for a D.O. after taking a gap year.  He’ll start off as an intern with us next month.  He’s preparing a hole for a poplar.

 

The colony from last year survived the winter. Its the same queen from 2 years ago because they survived last winter, too, and never swarmed, which is a minor miracle.  The hive is so active, I’d like to split them, but have no queen to give the split. Queens are in short supply, I’m told.  Meanwhile, I hived a new colony and they are doing well.

This ewe was the last of our 7 ewes to give birth.  Her 2 little ones looked so strange to me, until I realized that they resemble their father more than any of the other lambs.  Their mother is very protective of them.  I will take a photo of all the lambs on pasture soon.  They are so cute and playful, chasing each other around the yard and leaping in the air with delight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CSA Signup

The Royal Couple, Shah Jahan & Mumtaz

 

Our 17th year begins!

When I look at photos from our first years here, I know we’ve come a long way.  We bought a 23 acre field which had been fallow for 10 years and was a grazing pasture for many years before that.  Thanks in large part to the vision and hard work of my dear husband, the landscape is a beautiful sight to behold.  To see some older photos, visit our previous website: http://webpages.charter.net/rmallor/

We are selling full shares of our CSA for $600 and half shares for $350.  Half shares tend to get somewhat more than half of a full share, thus the price increase.  Returning half share members will get a discount ~ we appreciate your loyalty!  New members are in for a treat.  Our CSA has stayed true to the original concept of CSAs.  If you are looking for a farm where you can bring your family and enjoy a few hours of simple farm work outside once a month, you have found the right place.  If you want to grow a large garden at your home, but don’t know how, consider joining Three Roods Farm for a year.  You’ll learn everything you need to know.

As an added incentive, the first 5 people to sign up will get a free cookbook called Simply in Season http://www.worldcommunitycookbook.org/

To hold your place, send a deposit for half the amount by May 15th to Robin Mallor/Three Roods Farm/ 4281 Our Acres Drive/Columbiaville MI 48421.  Make the check out to my name please.  The balance is due by June 14th.  If you need a different payment plan let me know.

We’re looking forward to a tasty season. Hope you can join us!

Wrapping up the season

Its been a year of contrasts.  Long late rains in the spring which delayed planting up the fields, followed immediately by a hot, dry summer which shriveled the lettuce and cabbage before it could make any growth. The honey harvest was good. We had abundant apples, chestnuts and peaches, but few cucumbers, zucchini and eggplant.

We hosted the 2 oldest interns, Spring Goldeneagle and Anna Li as well as the youngest intern, Lily Wilkie-Jones and many others in between.  Thanks to all who blessed us with their willingness to lend a hand. Greg and I so much enjoy the exchange of energy and ideas.

Emily and Nate Brezinski joined Cameron, Michael Mallon and myself for an apple cider making extravaganza courtesy of my friends at Hilltop Barn.   This year we added crab apples to the mix which made it sweeter and thicker. So delicious!

According to the Jewish calendar, a New Year has begun. It’s 5772! I never did take down the tipi this year. Talked myself out of it. It only has a few wrinkles and there’s always a chance I’ll put it up worse.  Besides, I’m planning a tipi painting party in the spring.  We’ll take an entire week – take down the tipi, clean the canvas, condition the canvas with a mold resistant solution, and then paint it!  Hoping Persephone, Maggie, Monica, Cameron, and Kjartan can coordinate to come. All welcome.

Meanwhile, had a terrific visit with former intern David Rittenhouse. He stopped here with a friend on their way to Maine. David was here in 2009 and helped me put the tipi up the very first time.

 David and Adam helped me move the firewood to a new location and then brush hogged the old area.  I think Dave amazed himself that he remembered how to use the brush hog.  Big improvement. The Hebrew calendar wheel is now under a tarp til spring.

 

 

I’m celebrating the Sukkot holiday in the Tent of Meeting. Happy for all the occupation of cities going on, including Flint.  May the Almighty One spread the Sukkah of Peace across the nation, rather across the entire world! We should all have that much faith to live outdoors and know that our needs will be met.  To share with one another, to remember our ancestors, to create a simple life. To decrease our dependence on the government and the corporations who do not have our interests at heart.  To expect nothing and to be happy with all that we have been given.

 

The Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, joined by some  members of our CSA, bravely walked all over the farm in cold, wet, windy weather searching for hidden fungi.  We found several edible varieties, but all were too old to eat.  Now that I know what to look for and where I might find them, I will be more proactive in the future. Everyone learned a lot about mushrooms and the potluck was delicious.

August is upon us.

Along with the zinnias came these lovely young flowers. Michelle Cornelison, on the far left, is staying for 2 months. Next to her is Angela, from Paris, who came for only a week but won every one’s heart instantly and will never be forgotten. By coincidence, Romain and Emilie, also from France, arrived the same day. They are touring North America in an RV for a year. Newlywed, they are on an extended honeymoon. Romain explained that at the factory where he is employed, a person can get an entire year off after working as little as 6 years. His company is holding his job for him. Emilie works at a perfume store and also expects to find her job waiting. They explained that the employer hires a substitute while they are gone. Although they are not paid while on vacation, how nice to have that kind of job security.

Greg got the party started with a digging project. The small pond near the black currant bushes has been expanded. The soil removed was used to create a new bed where dye plants will be grown. Phytolacca is already growing there. Its purple fruit is used for dying wool and fabric.

After the rain, the pond filled in. CSA members are harvesting black currants nearby. In past years, frogs and ducks have used this pond. By enlarging it, we hope to encourage our own animals to use it. Schnitzle often goes to the neighbors pond to drink or cool off on a hot day. We’re doing everything possible to keep him on our own property.

It was a great pleasure to welcome our youngest intern, Lily Wilkie-Jones. Lily is the granddaughter of our friends Peggy and Dale. Lily gave herself a birthday present: 10 days on Three Roods Farm. She did everything our other interns do: fed the chickens, weeded and harvested vegetables, helped prepare meals (loved the scones!) and clean up the kitchen. She took a special interest in the sheep. She spent several days wooing them – bringing them water and grain and sitting quietly – until she had them eating out of her hand.

We have 6 mother ewes and 11 lambs in our flock. It’s a spinners flock, meaning that we’re deliberately culling the flock so as to keep a wide variety of colors and hues. We’ll have 8 lambs for sale in November. Please see elsewhere on this website for prices on lamb rams and lamb ewes.

Cameron Healy recently joined us from Washington DC. His first project was helping Greg rework the garden beds near the high bush cranberry (which have grown so tall!).

He proved his worth immediately by discovering where Rani the Peahen had been sitting on her eggs. Soon the young peafowl escaped from the stall where Greg had been tending them so carefully for 2 months.

They are now roaming freely around the property and can be seen together nibbling on green leafy plants. Cameron says they were on the doorstep of the camper when he opened the door in the morning. He has a keen ear and is recording the sounds they make in response to Rani’s calls and other birds. More picture on the next web post!

Despite some crop failures due to weather extremes, the CSA continues and people seem happy with what Mother Nature provides: sweet corn, bush beans, pole beans, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, Swiss chard, parsley, basil, mint, lettuces, beets, carrots, garlic, cucumbers, crookneck squash, okra and Sunflowers!

Black Currant Jam

Ingredients
1 pt water
3 pounds sugar
2 pounds black currants
Remove all stems from fruit. Rinse under water.
Add sugar to 1 pt water and boil until it throws up big bubbles and is quite clear.
Add black currants.
Boil 20 minutes more.
Remove any scum that floats to top.
Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal.
No need for pectin or hot water bath.
Let stand for 24 hours before using.
Delicious on homemade bread with butter.
Add a spoonful to homemade olive oil/vinegar salad dressing.
Black Currant Ice
1 pint black currants
1/2 pound sugar
squeeze of fresh lemon
fresh cream
Boil currants with sugar as if making jam.
When the fruit is quite soft, pass through a sieve.
Add fresh lemon and beat in as much cream as you can spare.
Freeze and serve.
Easy and delicious.