Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May Oh My

Busy as Bees

Kortright Creek
May is the busiest month of the year. In preparation for the arrival of interns, farm stay guests, Fable guests and the start of farmers markets and the “season”, we are in a, cleaning, repairing, dismantling, planning, organizing and building frenzy. 

The bees emerged from the white cedar tree on the first warm day. After a long, harsh winter we were happy to witness their mad forays from the hive to seek out the sparse pollen offerings of daffodils and dandelions.  Spring is two weeks off schedule. The bees are hungry and the livestock are anxious to be out on pasture with grass. And we want to stop buying and feeding hay. The first sign of spring: the serviceberry tree is blooming. 
Spring in Action

The farm crew has been busy with hammer and nails. The little things: the rotting bird house is rebuilt and remounted on the big maple, the herb garden is now sporting a fence to keep the dogs from peeing on my herbs, the horse barn is festooned with pigeon and owl nets.  The big things:  a greenhouse and mega roost for the new laying hens, brooder boxes for the broiler chicks, portable wooden poultry feeders and watering racks. This year we are doubling egg and chicken production so we needed more cost and time efficient methods for raising them.   Major progress has been made on the Creamery including electricity and insulation installation.
Hen greenhouse with watering stand, roost and electric fence

The roost

Brooder Box

Brooder Boxes in Horse Barn
Tom has also been busy with the chainsaw, axe and wood splitter. We ran out of firewood this year so he decided to get a jump on winter in spring.  When I commented that our neighbor had a huge pile of firewood cut too, he cuttingly remarked that his cord wood pile was much bigger. Hmmm.  Firewood rivalry?
Pile of Wood

New arrivals this month.  The dairy goats are done kidding but the ewes are still popping out lambs, lambs, lambs, including a bottle lamb, Prince, a lovely Merino/Shetland.

New to the dairy herd is a gang of Nubians. I swore off Nubians years ago because they are exceptionally vocal.  These regal ladies are not noisy; the Guinea hens make much more of a racket.
Ears to You!
Grass at Last!

Double Ducks
Broiler chicken chicks and Pekin ducks arrive via the postal service every week.  At 7:50 a.m. the East Meredith postmistress calls to announce the chicks' arrival.  Imagine the sound of 500 chicks chirping in a 12 by 12 foot space.  We do our best to get to the post office before the community arrives to pick up their mail and engage in neighborhood gossip.
Chicks in Hand

Just Foraged Ramps
The heralds of spring are ramps and stinging nettles.  We spend Thursdays and Fridays in the woods digging ramps for the farmers' markets. A thick carpet of ramps grows in the woods near our pastures. Although there are ramps as far as the eye can see, we dig judiciously as to ensure a crop next year. The unsold ramps are transformed into ramp pesto, ramp butter and pickled ramps for sale at the farmers' markets. Pickled ramps make great garnishes for martinis.  The stinging nettles have taken up residence creekside and along the stone walls.   We will be carefully plucking them with tongs and sending them to the markets next week end. Stinging nettles lose their sting when they are ground into pesto or steamed.  We eat nettles like spinach or as a sauce over pasta or in lasagna.
Stinging Nettles

Ramp pesto
10 fresh ramps washed and roots clipped
1/2 cup olive oil
½ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup walnuts
dash of fresh lemon
salt and pepper

Fable=farm+table opens for the season on Saturday May 24th.  This season we are serving dinner every Saturday night through October and brunch every Sunday until Columbus Day. New this year is Simple Fare – three-course dinners for $35 on select Saturdays and event dinners such as May 24: The Picnic; June 24: The Summer Solstice: July 5: The American BBQ; August 30th: The Family Farm. Come at 5:30 and pitch in with farm chores. Family Style Dinner; October 11: The Discovery. Taste Local with a Global Twist. 

We look forward to seeing you at the farm or at the farmers markets.  Next month: Interns and Farmers Markets.
Spring Bouquet