During our 20 years of farming we have never experienced drought like conditions. This summer we have had days of unrelenting sun and 90 degree days. Is that me, the hot weather queen complaining? Then two touchdowns of tornadoes in Binghamton and Sidney to add to the weird weather mix. We depend on water from the streams and ponds to water our livestock. The water is too low to pump so we have been tapping into our well. Our family does not use a lot of water (shower once a week, never wash the car or water the lawns) so I don’t think we have made a serious dent in our well. The herb and vegetable gardens were watered for the first time this summer. I hate watering. A waste of time to stand with hose in hand when there are so many other tasks to be toiled. So I resolved to buy a sprinkler and had to go to three stores before I found one. There is a run on fans and sprinklers. As soon as the stores are restocked it will rain. And it did. The neighborhood wedding tempted the rain gods and just before the “I do”, it did. Rained. Rained. Rained. It’s good to see puddles again. The ducks love puddles, the dogs use puddles as water bowls. We use puddles to clean our boots and dirty feet. Last night the rain came down in heavy sheets; lightening broke the sky and thunder rocked the earth. Within minutes the puddles were lakes and the streets streams. The only creatures enjoying the storm were the ducks.
|Susannah waiting for the storm to pass|
|Ty running from the Storm|
Pie and Pig Shit
|Have a piece of pie?|
While buying peaches at the farmers market, Mr. Heller asked if I wanted a peck or a bushel. I can tell you the difference in weight between a whole carcass versus prime cuts but vegetable and fruit quantities are murky territory. One peck = roughly 2 gallons or 25 medium peaches and one bushel = four pecks or roughly 100 medium peaches
For cooking, I buy by sight or by piece. I know that I needed about 50 peaches to make the peach BBQ sauce so I bought 2 pecks and toted them home in a flat. But a flat of peaches is different than a flat of blueberries and strawberries. There are 8 quarts or 12 lbs of strawberries in a flat. A customer at our farmers market planned on lamb burgers for a cookout and needed 25 lbs of ground lamb. We explained to her that there are only three pounds of trim for ground lamb in one lamb which typically has a hot weight or carcass weight or hanging weight (all mean almost the same thing) of 40 lbs. So unless she found someone willing to slaughter an old ewe and grind the whole animal into chopped meat or ground, she should start collecting ground lamb now for an October cookout. Did you know that London Broil is not a cut of meat but rather a method of cooking? Over time in the U.S. the term London Broil became synonymous with flank steak or any cut of meat from the round. Since the cut is usually tough, it has to be marinated. So when a customer asks us for London Broil and we hand them the package stamped top round, unless they ask, we withhold the history lesson. And the term did not originate in Britain where the term London Broil probably means a Londoner who got sunburned on the beaches of the Algarve in Portugal.
|Prepaid Pig for The Eat Restaurant|
Farm to Table. Or Only When We Are Able.
The term farm to table has become so ubiquitous over the past few years that we changed Fable’s name, which was originally a combination of Farm to Table. We changed the name to Farm + Table = Fable. While we encourage and applaud chefs' desire to put local food on their menus, I think the thin smattering of local food items on their menus is a knee jerk reaction and half-hearted attempt to appease consumer demand and ride the new local food and farm to table trend. In their defense, buying local food is time consuming and expensive and it is much easier to go the Sysco route. So how can farmers make it easier for chefs to get and keep local food on the menu? Farms and restaurants should partner. If the chef makes a financial commitment to the farmer in the winter for what he wants the farmer to grow for him in spring, summer and fall, then the chef is guaranteed a consistent supply. We work with one or two restaurants that purchase lambs or goats before they are born (kind of like a CSA) and we guarantee them lambs from May to October. We welcome farm visits from the chefs’ teams. The visits strengthen our relationship and is educational for us and them.
|Whites on the Clothesline|
|Red Sky at Night - Farmers Delight|
Our friends and customers ask us often what we do for fun. Farming is fun. Not everyday day in and day out but every day has a tidbit of fun. It's fun to watch the new piglets wrestle. It's fun to jump from rock to rock from one end of the stream to the other. It's fun to eat breakfast in the pouring rain. Hosting bed and breakfast guests can be fun. Picking beans is fun (for the first hour). Giving farm tours is fun. Parties are fun. We throw spur of the moment pot like picnic parties for fun. Rules are that you can only bring what is in your refrigerator already made. Some assembly is permitted. For example, corn, tomatoes, black beans can be assembled to make salad. Shane participated in the West Kortright Centre's Shakespeare production of The Tempest. The three-week program is a highlight of his summer. It was an amazing performance of talented actors and incredibly talented and dedicated professional directors and technical staff. Susannah has more fun farming than anyone I know. She is the first one up and out the door to do morning chores. She has fun making sausage and coming up with the sausage names. The last sausages she made were the Martin Mull and Gore Vidal. Can you guess how they got their names? Katey is at Welwyn Stable in Rhinebeck this summer and showed her project horse Joe at HITS this month and placed remarkably high in level I, II and III. She is having super fun.She returns to Delaware Valley College in a couple of weeks Cooking is fun for me (especially when I get paid.) I cooked dinner for 32 people at the Hanford Mill Museum's Dinner at the Mill in July. What does Tom do for fun? He plays tennis once in a while. He goes to NYC Union Square Market every Friday and then on to Larchmont (Westchester) every Saturday. He gets to stay in an airconditioned hotel and watch TV and sleep diagonally on a king size bed. That has to be fun. He enjoys the opportunity to meet new people and to reconnect with city life. If you are near Union Square on Fridays, stop by and see how much fun Tom is having. He may ask you to man the table while he takes a break.
|Tony is Superdog!|
|Kate at HITS with Joe|
A Blueberry Boom
So many blueberries this season. I've made and canned pickled honey bourbon blueberry sauce for pork, dozens of jars of blueberry bacon BBQ sauce. Susannah just made blueberry sausage. She named it the Violet Beauregarde. Blueberry pies are stacked in the freezer. Blueberry crisp in the fridge. The garden is also brimming over with cucumbers. So here is my favorite recipe that uses both.
2 cups fresh blueberries rinsed and drained
1 cup feta cheese crumbled
3 Tbs fresh mint finely chopped
1/2 cup white balsamic vinagrette dressing
salt and pepper to taste