In the Share this Week
Comin’ down the home stretch. This week you should see broccoli, spinach, bok choi and lettuce. We’re also just about through with potatoes – I think we’ll give you the last of them just in time for Thanksgiving. Special this week is white sweet potatoes. These are indeed my favorite thing to eat on the farm: they are less sweet than our orange sweet potatoes with a dry, complex, even nutty flavor. I like to bake them low and slow with a little butter or olive oil drizzled on top. Wait for them to smell like they’re caramelizing (they are!) it will bless your kitchen with a sweet dry smell. And now I need to take a break from writing to make some.
Remember, if you’re making Thanksgiving dinner, or part of it, and the amounts in the share aren’t enough: you can pre-order extra veggies and anything we have at the stand via the online store: Farmigo Willowsford Farm.
I recently took a trip home to Vermont to help a farmer friend move. The leaves are all long on the ground and this is the quiet season there – between the Twin Tourists: Leaf-Peeper and Ski seasons. It’s a happy time there for many people: farms closed or closing up; drivers can get where they’re going without a bunch of white-plates driving ten miles below the limit while they look out the window; parents are happy because students get out of school and it’s just about dark, so they come home early and pretend to do homework. November is good for just about everybody in the North Country. Except chickens. This is pot pie season, month of the church fall special.
You see chickens start to slow down their laying about this time up there. Fewer hours of daylight, fewer eggs, more feed, take up space in the barn. It just doesn’t make economic sense. So people start stockpiling their eggs (remember, they’ll last a good while under the right conditions) and then making broth—If you catch my drift. And church events start showcasing town’s finest pot pies.
We honor that thrifty tradition here at the farm. Our ladies are still going strong, but the same slowdown will hit here in Virginny, just several weeks later. So, just as we turn off the Farm at Thanksgiving and the Farm Stand turns into a pumpkin (okay, it looks like a pumpkin but it’s really a squash), we turn off the chickens at the same time. And just in time to make that trip north for Thanksgiving with the family.
Small scale egg production has remarkably thin margins – half a bag of feed a day, an hour of work, seven dozen eggs; I’ll give you the numbers if you ask, but they work out to be pretty close the same. So when that seven dozen becomes four or five, and that bag of feed becomes a full bag, you can see why we shut it down. And there’s the winter rest period. After nine months of seven days a week it’s time to hibernate, get some rest, restore, and reimagine. We’re ready to stay in our PJs and not come to the farm if we don’t want to. Only difference from them Yankees is that we don’t make pot pies or stew or broth with ours, we find them new farm- or backyard- homes. Someone else can pay the feed bill!
Have a good week and be great,