Friday, May 11, 2012


Where have all the Right Hand Gloves Gone?
Can’t you hear Peter Paul and Mary singing?  Seriously.  Where are they?  Every May I undertake the big winter clothing to summer clothing switcheroo.  And every year it’s the same mystery.  The winter season leaves us with a pile of left handed gloves.  This year there are 12 orphan gloves.  I gave the family 24 hours to locate the gloves’ partners and then off to the trash bin they go. But not really. It is merely a threat. I bag them and put them in the winter outerwear box snuggled next to the gloves with partners.  I am secretly hoping that at least half the gloves’ mates will be discovered in summer.  Where will they come from?  A glove or two is usually mined from the hayloft when we put in summer hay.  A glove or two is unearthed from the mud or found hung on a gate or in the middle of a field, dragged off by our dog Tony.  And the right hand glove is always missing because “they” (not me -  I shove mine in my pocket) take off the right hand glove to open a door, undo a latch, untie baling twine, use a knife.  Tony contributes to the glove disappearance.  Tony has a shoe, glove, hat, boot fetish. He steals clothing from the mud room or anywhere we discard our clothes or shoes and hoards the stolen goods in a pile – usually next to the fire. He covets them, guards them and won’t let us have them back without a fight or at least a bribe. In the summer, his trove is harder to find. He often secures a lair in the high grass in the back pasture to stash garden gloves, flip flops, rubber boots, bandanas and sun hats. The mower usually finds them before we do.  We need to borrow a hunting dog to do weekly recons and lead us to Tony’s treasure.  
Winter's Left Handed Glove Leftovers

Thursdays are Chicken Slaughter
The first slaughter of the season took place on Thursday and will every Thursday until November. We slaughtered thirty of the biggest chickens to take to the farmers market on Saturday.  Many folks get squeamish when we use the word slaughter and in the past I used euphemisms such as harvest or glean. No more. It is what it is. We raise chickens on pasture and give them a good healthy eight week life and then we kill them so we can eat them and so our customers can eat them.  I can envision all the PETAites rolling up their sleeves.  I respect people who have strong convictions and principles. I really do. I respect people who don’t eat meat and if they do eat meat, choose to eat meat that has a traceable history and lived a life they can celebrate and a death they can condone.  I have little patience for hypocrites - vegans or vegetarians who rant about killing sentient beings as they stand tall in their leather sandals, their jeans hiked up with a leather belt and and a quarter of a cow hide purse slung over their shoulder to tote around their “essentials” – cell phones, ipads, Smartphones. 

So slaughtering chickens for me is an execution (pardon the pun) of my beliefs. I believe that animals raised for food on our farm are born with a destiny and it is our responsibility to make sure that the life they live is as close to possible as a nature would provide (without the natural predators and allowing a chicken be a chicken roaming in the grass pecking for bugs). And it is our responsibility to make sure that their death is decent – quick, decisive and without fuss. I’ll go one more step – it is our responsibility to use the whole animal and not to waste a shred of meat, bone or hide.  If we take, we must use wholly and responsibly.  And best of all the chickens we raise and slaughter are delicious.   Many of you know that I won’t eat meat unless it is raised on our farm. When I eat our chickens, I am celebrating nature and the chicken's destiny with every bite.

Susannah Plucking Chickens

Tom Eviscerating a Chicken
Comfrey in the Herb Garden
King  Comfrey
I wish comfrey would stay dwarf sized in my garden. Unless I prune it severely and feed the leaves to the goats, rabbits and pigs on a regular basis, it quickly overtakes the herb garden and reigns as dictator until the last frost.  I use comfrey as a serving platter for cheese and hors d’oeuvres.    My goal this summer is to find a way to weave comfrey into some recipes. Any ideas?   

Palette versus Palate
Shelves in our Farm Store
Pate de Campagne 
Pork Rillette
Pickled Ramps, Ramp Pesto and Bacon Marmalade
We attended Foodfest in Callicoon last Saturday.  One customer, wearing a “Life is better with Bacon” t- shirt, bought most of my bacon marmalade and bacon brittle.  The pate de campagne and the pork rillette was a big hit.  My favorite is the ramp pesto- the first pesto of the season. I look forward to all the different pestos I will make this summer to celebrate the season – green pea pesto, garlic scape pesto, three basil pesto, cilantro pesto.   I am fascinated with the color and flavor of food and how they compliment and contrast when we taste.  When I was in art school, I had very little “artistic talent” but I had an innate way of visualizing a color (the sky under morning mist for example) and then recreating the color on my palette.   My art teacher hired me to mix paints for him.  I use the same method with food.  As I was feeding my rabbits this morning, I was thinking about rabbits and Peter Cottontail and blackberries and why the sage did not overwinter this year and I ran the flavors of blackberries and sage through my mind and created a blackberry glaze with sage for spare ribs.  As often happens, I googled blackberries and sage and voila  - a recipe for blackberry sage sauce for meat. As suspected, there are very few new recipes – it’s how they are executed.   I am making bacon marmalade this afternoon.  I usually add water to thin it before canning but decided to use the last of the orange juice.  I bet that adding cherry juice or a sprinkle of shaved chocolate would have tasted even better.  Guess I've traded my palette for a palate.

Ramp Butter

Pickled Ramps
The pickled ramps, ramp pesto and ramp butter celebrate ramp (wild leek) season. We have one more week of digging ramps.  While I read a lot about the over harvesting of ramps, ramps carpet our woods. There are ramps growing as far as we can see.  Thinning the ramps by digging the whole plant, helps the ramps spread and grow thicker in bulb and stem.  We sell fresh dug ramps at the farmers markets and ramp pesto, butter and pickled ramps. Do you have a recipe for ramps?

May Day May Day
When I think about how busy our family is about to get, I want to shout an SOS.  We are doing five farmers markets this year, two more than last year.   All of the markets start May 19th.   I feel like Patton comandeering Team Farmers Market. Every Stone & Thistler is assigned a market. Every market has a utility box and a check list.   We are opening Fable only two or three times a month to accommodate our expanded farmers market schedule. Add Fable, the b & b and Farmhand's Cabin, the building of the creamery and oh yes farming to our schedule and you’ll understand our plea of SOS.  But we do what we have to do so we can afford to pay the mortgage and heat the house during the winter – neither of which we did very well this winter.   While I would love to stay home and tend the fires and cook in them, as a member of Team Farmers Market, I will be hitting the streets with my table, banner and box and coolers of meat.   Please see our website for the dates Fable will be open for Saturday dining and brunch and for the farmers markets in which we will participate his season.

Stone & Thistle Farm, Fable and Kortright Creek Creamery are on Facebook.  Visit us there for more frequent updates.  Enjoy the advent of summer as it brings lilacs, baby animals, garden delights, warm rains and lots of sunshine.