A bit of our history…

What a rainy year it has been!  Just when we think spring is ready to bust open, it seems another blast of winter comes storming through, and another week of water gushes from the sky.  I think we can safely say that the drought is over here on the West Coast!  We thankfully enjoy the “sun breaks” and singular days of warmth and sunshine.  The kids were thrilled to finally have the opportunity (with willing adults) to try their hands at fishing in the pond once again!  Our oldest helper won the prize, catching four large mouth bass.

IMG_4484[1]

Grandpa and his helper, tilling the garden under in preparation for this year’s crops.

Other news on the farm: Mr. Hubbard has officially retired!  … At least from one job.  He has quickly filled the void with plenty of other work around the farm, including building this beautiful new pergola for the grapes to climb on, and a new raised bed for the strawberries.  One of our constant challenges is to find a place to plant all of the fruits and veggies we aspire to harvest.  It’s because of this that many of your average garden plants have found their way into our flower beds as well.  Some veggies are downright pretty anyhow, right?

IMG_4515[1]

Our new grape pergola

IMG_4512[1]

A new bed for strawberries

Mr. Hubbard has been reluctant to fill his retirement with an old profession, knowing that his former life as a dairy farmer was anything but restful and relaxing.  A dairy farmer’s life is the very definition of commitment and dedication… twice a day, 365 days a year, regardless of weddings, church, or social ‘obligations.’  At the same time, this extra bit of time has provided just the opportunity to introduce the grand kids to a way of life that we believe teaches responsibility and work ethic.  And so it has occurred that after 20 years, our little farm is now home once again to one singular little Holstein calf, whom we have named Clarabell.  She has been the center of so much excitement and joy as the kids fight over who gets to feed her, and spend much of their free time doting on her and building her already social personality.

IMG_4537[1]

Meet our newest addition: Clarabell!  The kids were excited to bottle feed her.  Fourth generation farmers-in-training

We are now in the works of building our fourth generation on this farm.  Bill and Jo Hubbard first bought the farm in the early 1950’s, and Bill worked multiple jobs while also building his own dairy herd, just to pay for the place we now call home.  As their kids moved through college and into their own careers, Bill and Jo decided they were ready to sell the cows, at which time their youngest son stepped in to take over the herd and farm responsibilities.  He and his wife eventually named the dairy “Billanjo Dairy,” and continued building the dairy into a successful, small, raw milk dairy farm.  As a family, we milked the cows, bottled the milk, delivered it to the stores, and even made cheese which we marketed at local farmers markets under the label, “Easteagle Cheese,” due to our location East of Eagle Point.  It was a busy and demanding life, but good.

IMG_4590[1]

We like to believe that a wheel of cheese is like a bottle of wine, improving with age. This is one of our few remaining wheels of cheese.

However, raw milk was an outgoing ‘fad’ at that time, and began to incur ridicule and censure from a society phobic of bacteria.  In an effort to sterilize the world we live in, Oregon regulations on raw milk began to increase and tighten, tighten and increase.  We fought to meet the new regulations, making our raw milk cleaner than any pasteurized product on the shelf today.  Then, after an e-coli breakout at a Washington Jack-in-the-Box, Center for Disease Control (CDC), local news stations, and even the Dairy Farmers of Oregon began to advise the general populace to avoid drinking raw milk as a precaution to avoid illness, in spite of the strict regulations and testing undergone to ensure cleanliness and purity of our product.  Customers and stores carrying our milk began to fall away, influenced not by their experience, but by the media and popular fear.  Legislation was introduced, and passed, to outlaw raw milk in the state of Oregon.  Our dairy was grandfathered in and allowed to continue until pure economics took their toll.  In 1996, our dairy was one of the last three to close in the state of Oregon, bringing a dramatic change of course for our family life.

IMG_4592[1]

One of the new additional state regulation required that we change our labels to include a warning that our product could potentially carry “disease producing organisms.”

Twenty years later, we’ve traveled the globe and worked lots of other jobs.  Most of the ‘kids’ are now married with their own kids.  Raw milk now sells at approximately $12 a gallon from private parties (we sold ours for $2/gallon when we closed in 1996, as we competed with mainstream milk prices).  These days, the pendulum has swung the other direction, and the public has begun to repulse antibiotics, and in turn embrace probiotics and all things raw!  (We clearly remember the difficulty of trying to educate people that not all bacteria are bad, and some are even necessary for cheese making and gut health.)  As fate would have it, we Hubbards have nearly all come back to settle close to the family farm, which has been leased for the past twenty years to a beef rancher.  We hold fondly our memories and experiences from the farm (most of them, that is), and still share an affinity for little black and white Holstein calves.  That being said, don’t be too surprised when you come by the farm and see a couple of them running around again!  We do not have any current plans to re-open the family dairy, so to speak, but we have high hopes for our newest farm member!

The garden report:  Things are growing, in spite of the cold and rain this year!  We have begun to sell chard, broccoli, and walnuts in our garden shed along with farm fresh eggs.  The other things are in the ground and growing: cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, garlic, onions, beets, kale, cauliflower, berries, melons… All things summer and delicious!

Also, beware of the puncture vine, which are popping out all over the valley, thanks to the recent rains.  Check out our previous post on that (Blackberries & Puncture Vine) so you can identify and remove them from your own property before they permanently invade your lawns and driveways!

summer-2014-031.jpg

Puncture vine has a distinct leaf pattern, and these ‘cute’ little yellow flowers… which lead to very distinct nasty thorns.

Bless the Beasts and the Children: for the birds… and other creatures

In this later part of spring, the birds have already built their nests and are hatching out their young ones.  It’s rather entertaining, watching the cat sneak up on a robin, only to be driven away by two who are fiercely defending their young.  It does become rather annoying however, when the blackbirds insistently bomb you on the way to the mailbox, or during any other endeavor that takes you outside of your door…  It’s these annoying, non-melodic birds that we resent at this time of the year.  Our little boys have caught on, and now carry their plastic rifles around the farm, looking for birds to shoot!  Meanwhile, their mom has been shooting pictures of another bird who has brought his little lady back to the area this spring.  These bright and beautiful orioles love the red hot pokers (flower), which makes for a striking view from our window!DSCN0533b

There are a few things on this farm that we prefer to NOT be for the birds!  Things like our raspberries, strawberries, and chard.  If you have cherries in your yard, no doubt you are fighting the birds as well!  We’ve gone to putting netting over all three of those things, in addition to fencing around much of our gardens, both to keep the chickens out, the deer out, and sometimes even the “little dears” (the helpers that don’t know when they’re standing on top of a baby corn plant).

Other birds in the news – our rooster, which we suspect was dropped here at the farm by a well meaning city dweller, has since met his demise.  He was a pretty fellow, but as he grew, along with his size, he also developed quite the little man syndrome.  And I don’t just mean that he thought he was all sorts of tough stuff, but he really went after our little boys!  We thought this was an excellent opportunity to train the boys in self-defense and assertiveness and teach that rooster a lesson, so they thus ran around the farm with big sticks for awhile.  But they still came running (stick in hand), screaming, and crying, daunted by the multiple attacks they’d endured already.  Thus, our pretty rooster was shown with finality who was really the big man around here; he met la madame guillotine (French around here for “boot”).  The farm now rests in greater peace, as the children no longer run screaming and his ceaseless crow has … well, ceased!  The hens he left behind continue to lay their eggs in all sorts of inordinate places.  When we note that egg production has dropped substantially, we know to look elsewhere.
Besides birds, we’ve had a few other creepy crawly things emerging on the farm!  With the irrigation water back in the ditches, the boys excitedly take their daily trek out to the “big ditch” to check out the water, and look for crawdads!  We haven’t found any big enough to eat yet, and are still working on building the boys’ courage to pick up the crawdads on their own.  The boys are growing quickly, and learning more and more how to help grandpa on the farm.  I’m not sure there is a quicker way to round up all of the grand kids than to start up the four wheeler!  Pretty soon, they’re bailing out of the house, yelling “Bapa!!!  WAIT!!!”  Of course, they’re all pretty excited to learn how to drive the four wheeler too!  The older of the two boys has gotten to be a real help, driving the four wheeler with the pipe trailer through the field as we load/unload the pipes.  The younger one is learning how to run the rototiller with grandpa.
farm pics 2016 017farm pics 2016 019

After rototilling the squash just yesterday, we found another great creepy crawly – a great big bull snake, about 4 feet long!  These beauties can be easily mistaken for rattlesnakes, but we hope you can restrain your rash outburst of fear long enough to realize the difference, and leave their head attached to the body.  The  most obvious difference:  these guys don’t have rattles!

We actually like these snakes around for pest control!  Our more contemplative boy was skeptical of touching that slithery thing, but our little impulsive one has no fear … of much of anything!  We are thankful for these little boys (the older girl is anxiously anticipating the end of school), and the entertainment they bring.  The farm is great fun, but it’s so much more when experienced through the eyes of a 3/5/9 year old!

Here is what is happening in the garden:  With this crazy hot weather we’ve had this week, the squash has been growing like crazy, the tomatoes setting on the vine, and the corn popping up quick!  While the adage says “knee high by the fourth of July,” our corn made it there by the fourth of June this year.  Mr. Hubbard attests that he saw the first of the tassles already emerging on the first planting of corn.  We have opened the doors of the garden shed, but as of yet, have not been selling much more than rhubarb, walnuts, and eggs.  But keep your eyes out; it will soon be more!  Yesterday, we picked this beautiful bounty of beets!  I enjoyed eating some of the green tops for breakfast, and will no doubt have some more beet variations before the day is done.  We also picked the very first of our zucchini and yellow squash (sunburst/pattypan) this week.  We’re not quite ready to share it, but soon!  The garlic are turning the corner, and will be harvested soon; and the onions won’t be far behind.  The broccoli is going to town also!  So keep your eyes open; we expect that the Garden Shed produce will be much diversified over the course of the next couple of weeks!
farm pics 2016 028

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

farm pics 2016 030

chopped beet greens to stirfry for breakfast

P.S.  I realize that some of you got stuck when I mentioned snakes, and probably  haven’t been able to move on from that thought yet.  If those slithery reptile bodies running right through our garden have you on the edge of your seat, skin crawling, and feeling every little tingle, let me put your mind at ease!  Can you imagine what other creepy crawlies we find in the garden?  Or maybe ‘fuzzy wuzzies’?  How about kittens!!  These cuties were found under a tomato bush.  We’re not sure if this was another dump by some city folks, hoping their kitties could have a better life on the farm; or by a mother who forgot where she placed her kittens (tell me you haven’t been there!).  Either way, they fell into some adoring hands, and did not stay at the farm too long.  And thankfully, they did not have to meet the same demise as the rooster!  Before the day was out, we were able to adopt out these cuddlies to some friends.  But isn’t it fun what animals we run into on the farm?!  The dogs found a skunk the other night too! …)  😉farm pics 2016 012farm pics 2016 013
P.S.S.  I’ve been delayed in posting this, and not surprisingly, the garden has grown!  The onions and garlic are out of the ground and curing.  The first of the zucchini and cucumbers are selling in the garden shed, alongside some beautiful flowers and occasional broccoli.  We are ready to roll!!  Meanwhile, the chickens are getting more creative at hiding their eggs, so we’re a little short on those (that and the skunks are finding them before we are!).  We hope to see you out at the farm soon! 🙂

This is it!

All of our fall decorations, in a wagon!  That black thing in his arms is our token cat, which he loves!

All of our fall decorations, in a wagon! That black thing in his arms is our token cat, which he loves!

The calendar said it was the beginning of autumn, and like a charm, the weather turned cool and rainy… at least for a few days!  Now we’re back to sunshine and a bit of heat before it is gone for the season.  I find myself soaking it up, knowing that the impending doom of winter will be here way before I’m ready!  But regardless of how warm it may be right now, the garden has got to go, and soon!

Working hard on the tractor with Grandpa.  It does not take long for them to hear that engine fire up, get their boots on, and come running!

Working hard on the tractor with Grandpa. It does not take long for them to hear that engine fire up, get their boots on, and come running!

Tilling under the gardens; this is how it starts, and how it ends.

Tilling under the gardens; this is how it starts, and how it ends.

Mr. Hubbard is quickly approaching his second knee replacement, which really puts a time crimp in the calendar!  in addition, the water is no longer flowing through the ditch, meaning we have no water for the gardens anyhow.  With these things in mind, the two gardens have already been tilled under, and the seed sown for the winter cover crop that will work to restore the nutrients to the soil.  All that remains now is two cherry tomato plants, some ground cherries, the peppers, some eggplant, and broccoli.  As sad as it is to see this time pass, it is also a blessing to see a time of rest and apple cider approaching!  Several have come by to pick up some dried out and discarded corn stalks for decorations.  We did not take the time or trouble to bind these together to sell this fall, but a few have been willing to take the risk of stepping into the bull pen to wrangle out a few stalks on their own.fall 2014 026

This is a great time for peppers, and we have a LOT!

This is a great time for peppers, and we have a LOT!

We have a lot of peppers, but a lot of them have been getting eaten by the deer... Or by these little guys!  :)  These dessert peppers are so delicious that even the two year old is stealing them from my basket!

We have a lot of peppers, but a lot of them have been getting eaten by the deer… Or by these little guys! 🙂 These dessert peppers are so delicious that even the two year old is stealing them from my basket!

As all of these things come to a close, some things are already beginning for the next year.  The way holidays seem to creep up earlier and earlier in the department store displays (which is probably more perception than reality), the seed catalogs seem to operate on about that same schedule.  We’ve been spreading them out, reading up on various varieties of tomatoes, corn, etc.  In addition to that, Mr. Hubbard has already planted his garlic for this next year!  So, the seasons come, and the seasons go, each year seemingly faster than the year before it.  You know what they say, “Life is like a roll of toilet paper.  The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!”

Things still for sale in the Garden Shed (We’ll probably only have our doors open for one more week):

-Broccoli

– Winter Squash (pumpkins, spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut)

– Tomatoes

– PEPPERS!!  (Bell, Anaheim, dessert peppers, jalapenos)

We have picked a lot of fruit this summer that has not been in the garden shed.  Now is the season for the raspberries.  We've also put up some pears and apples for the winter, and dried some plums.

We have picked a lot of fruit this summer that has not been in the garden shed. Now is the season for the raspberries. We’ve also put up some pears and apples for the winter, and dried some plums.

These are a fun fall treat!  These are ground cherries, which look a lot like tomatillos or chinese lanterns.  Inside the paper husk is a delicious fruity cherry that the kids (and dog) love!

These are a fun fall treat! These are ground cherries, which look a lot like tomatillos or chinese lanterns. Inside the paper husk is a delicious fruity cherry that the kids (and dog) love!

The Ones That Got Away

Summer 2014 036

A beautiful cornucopia picked from our garden. This is a sure sign of fall, as during the summer we would have at least a basket of each vegetable! Such a nice pretty leaf from our liquidamber also. 🙂

Most people talk and brag about the ones they caught, but got away. But around here, we have the evidence to prove it! Just look out under the walnut tree, and you’ll see a graveyard of overgrown sunburst squash and cucumbers – the ones that “got away” from us! Somehow, although we pick our veggies almost every single day, there still manage to be a few that somehow slip by us until they’re so huge you could feed a neighborhood with it!

Summer 2014 050

Some of the zucchini that “got away” from us! Unsure of what to do with your giant squash? They work great as lasagna noodle substitutes, or sliced thinly and grilled on the BBQ with olive oil and seasoning. We also grate it and freeze it for zucchini bread or zucchini brownies during the winter.

In case you have any doubts, our garden shed is still open and rocking away, at least for a few more weeks! Things are definitely slowing down though. A few unfortunate customers are just getting around to reserving their orders for pickling cukes, but alas they’ve  come too late. Our cucumbers have slowed down to a mere trickle. Meanwhile, the broccoli, zucchini, and peppers have been newly inspired by the slightly cooler weather.

How do you get your kids to eat their broccoli?

How do you get your kids to eat their broccoli? Our chickens ate the broccoli when we first planted it, so that we planted a second crop. Well, the first crop survived, and we now have a LOT of broccoli!

The tomatoes are hanging in there too, though their own doom is impending also. This year, we’ve experimented a bit by planting some sweet peppers – the kind that are practically a desert and have no spice at all! In case you have any doubts, I can testify that all the kids, even the two year old, enjoy them! Also, another fun experiment this year is the spaghetti squash, which we have quite a bit of. We have enjoyed it immensely, making all sorts of alfredos and yummy “noodle” dishes with it! We have a lot of winter squash out in the garden shed now, and recently cut down the price to half, so come have a look.

Summer 2014 038

We have picked a lot of winter squash, including pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, and spaghetti squash. And, we recently knocked down the price of them too!

 

Summer 2014 046

These fall crocus did very well this year, and have gotten a lot of attention and admiration. It’s technical name is Callochortus fortunii, or something along those lines, for those who want to look it up.

Summer 2014 055

Some pretty and vibrant morning glory. 🙂

Summer 2014 071

An important birthday in the family, and of course celebrating our farm heritage with his favorite kind of tractor – none other than a John Deere, of course!

Others have also been asking for corn. Well, I hate to break it to you guys, but here is the ugly TRUTH about corn:
First, corn harvests after a determinant period of time. Therefore, 80 days after the corn seed is set in the ground, we can count on harvesting corn from that stalk (so long as the weather is favorable). For that reason, we are careful to plant our corn at intervals so that we can have corn to offer for more than one week! The second, and rather sad truth is that each corn stalk only yields two (sometimes three, or an extra midget) ears of corn. After that, it is DONE. While the cucumbers produce and produce a variable number of cucumbers throughout the summer, and the zucchini produce a bounty per plant, it just won’t happen from a corn stalk. For this reason, you might understand a bit of why we don’t plant ONLY corn! We hope you enjoyed it while it lasted!

Summer 2014 093

It’s been a rough summer for our cats here, two of whom have met their demise on the asphalt. But as morbid as it may sound, we don’t mourn for too long, assured of the fact that we will very likely find a few kittens somewhere around the farm! Our dog helped us to find this kitten by chasing him up the rafters in the barn. 🙂 He’s pretty relaxed around the dog now!

Summer 2014 098

Our neighbors generously bestowed these four wheelers on our family. The boys love having one more way they can be just like grandpa!

Fall is in the Air

August 2014 007

The squash are slowing down, but we still have quite a bit!  The winter squash will be ready before you know it.

The squash are slowing down, but we still have quite a bit! The winter squash will be ready before you know it.

It seems crazy that the summer could pass so fast, but already we are waking up to crisp cool mornings and witnessing the slow down in production from the garden. Our month was busy here, not only with the picking, watering, a broken water pump, and attempting to keep up with some of the weeds, but also with a visit from one of our other sisters/daughters from back East and a family reunion!

The Hubbard girls, all together back on the farm for a brief time.

The Hubbard girls, all together back on the farm for a brief time.

The last of the corn has now been picked, and we’re lucky if there is any still in the garden shed to be sold at this very moment. Harvesting our practically legendary sweet corn has been quite effective at bringing customers out, and typically, the corn has already sold out by about 10:00 in the morning! Hopefully our visitors won’t stop coming for the absence of corn, as we have plenty of other veggies yet to be sold.

The summer corn harvest coming to a close already!  If that doesn't forebode the end of the summer and garden produce, I'm not sure what does!  If you would like corn stalks for fall decorating, let us know before they all become fodder for the cows.

The summer corn harvest coming to a close already! If that doesn’t forebode the end of the summer and garden produce, I’m not sure what does! If you would like corn stalks for fall decorating, let us know before they all become fodder for the cows.

Even the dog enjoyed a good ear of sweet corn!  She got this one from the corn stalks that were being removed from the garden.

Even the dog enjoyed a good ear of sweet corn! She got this one from the corn stalks that were being removed from the garden.

It's been a struggle to get the little farmers to eat their vegetables, but as research shows and experience has proven, growing it and picking it themselves has really helped to increase their interest and buy in!  Jacob really enjoys these cherry tomatoes... even though he doesn't like tomatoes (he says).

It’s been a struggle to get the little farmers to eat their vegetables, but as research shows and experience has proven, growing it and picking it themselves has really helped to increase their interest and buy in! Jacob really enjoys these cherry tomatoes… even though he doesn’t like tomatoes (he says).

The long awaited tomatoes finally made their debut and are producing quite a bit. If you’re interested in ordering a lot of tomatoes so you can make your own batch of salsa, barbeque sauce, canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, or whatever your heart desires, let us know so we can set some aside for you! We also have some fresh basil, if you’re interested, but you’ll have to let us know as it doesn’t hold well when picked and set out in the garden shed.

We have fresh basil too, by special request.  And if you need a great recipe for some pesto, we have that too!

We have fresh basil too, by special request. And if you need a great recipe for some pesto, we have that too!

From our own kitchen, we’ve made a batch of sweet pickle relish, dill pickles, pesto, marinara, and barbeque sauce. We’ve also been freezing quite a bit of broccoli, onions, peppers, beans, and a tad bit of corn (from the lesser ears of corn that weren’t for sale).

What we currently have in the Garden Shed for sale:
– Yellow Onions (there are not many left; the Walla Walla sweets are gone)
– Garlic
– Broccoli
– Zucchini (slowing down quickly!)
– Patty Pan squash
– Slicing cucumbers (you can still order some pickling cucumbers also, but get your order in quick, as they are slowing down quickly!)
– Tomatoes (cherry, heirloom, paste, and slicing. If you’d like to order some canning tomatoes, let us know that as well)
– Spaghetti squash
– Cantaloupe melons (sometimes; we don’t have many this year)
– Green beans
– Peppers (jalepeno, anaheim, and bell)
– Asian eggplant (also slowing down quickly)
– Chard (sometimes; it sells quickly)

Coming soon:
– Pumpkins
– Acorn and Butternut squash
– We may have some other products, depending on our abundance!

Our fourth sister/daughter came out from Ohio this month for our family reunion.  We produced all sorts of smiles and fun memories for these cousins!

Our fourth sister/daughter came out from Ohio this month for our family reunion. We produced all sorts of smiles and fun memories for these cousins!

What can you say?  We're a John Deere family!  One of our Little Farmers told me the other day that he would have a tractor when he grew up.  When I asked him what kind, he replied incredulously, "A John Deere!"  As if there were ever a question!!

What can you say? We’re a John Deere family! One of our Little Farmers told me the other day that he would have a tractor when he grew up. When I asked him what kind, he replied incredulously, “A John Deere!” As if there were ever a question!!

Some pretty visitors we had in our garden.

Some pretty visitors we had in our garden.

Here's the scoop, memories are rarely  made the OSHA friendly way!

Here’s the scoop, memories are rarely
made the OSHA friendly way!

Three sisters in a scoop... If we can't work out our differences on the ground, this might force us to it!  This is how we reach those big beautiful berries that always seem to be just out of reach!

Three sisters in a scoop… If we can’t work out our differences on the ground, this might force us to it! This is how we reach those big beautiful berries that always seem to be just out of reach!

How many people can you fit on a tractor? One of our favorite things to do in the summer is pick black berries!  This year we got to take the entire family!  Not all members actually had berries in their buckets at the end, but they had purple faces anyhow.

How many people can you fit on a tractor? One of our favorite things to do in the summer is pick black berries! This year we got to take the entire family! Not all members actually had berries in their buckets at the end, but they had purple faces anyhow.

The Passing Seasons – Don’t Wait for School to Start!

The garden shed is open Monday – Saturday, early till around dusk!

It’s amazing how much changes in just one week, and how fast time flies!

Rather than trying to keep up with the average four seasons, the passage of time seems more appropriately marked by ‘when the very first flowers bloom, the fancy daffodils bloom, the garden is tilled, the ___ is planted,’ etc…  And now, it is marked by which vegetables and which fruits are finally harvesting!  It seems so sudden then that just in the last two weeks, we have been able to enjoy the first few smatterings of green beans, then some cantaloupe, and now even some blackberries!  Just last week, three little mouths devoured the first of the cantaloupe at our kitchen bar. This week also marked the first day of our sweet corn being available to you out in the shed! (It’s going fast!) The variety available out there changes daily. Pretty soon, perhaps we’ll be able to fill up both sides with a variety of peppers and tomatoes!  Little Josephine is learning to pick her cherry tomatoes regularly so that she can provide them to you on a regular basis, and is so excited to see them sell!  The first of the larger tomatoes are just starting to ripen, and more

will be out there for you soon also, likely in the next week or two.

Our first planting of sweet corn is now harvesting, and going fast each day! And the flavor has certainly not disappointed us!

What is currently picking and in the garden shed:

– Garlic – Walla Walla sweet onions – Anaheim and bell peppers – orient express slicing cucumbers – pickling cucumbers – Asian eggplant – sweet corn – cherry tomatoes – cantaloupe – zucchini – patty pan (scallop) squash – broccoli – and some occasional spaghetti squash (no doubt more will be there soon!)

Meanwhile, from the farmer:

Seems a year never passes that a busy homemaker says they will wait until the kids are in school before they turn their attention to pickling.  I can relate to the desire to balance one’s time.  On the other hand, the cucumber production is on the decline late August, and fades daily through September till the end comes in October.  Orders come in with the start of school and they pile up with the slower production.  Some of the late ones go unfilled.  A shame!  Meanwhile, July and August are great times for cuke production, if you have time and energy to match!  And, it’s great to teach your kids about canning!  Order now!

Our own jar of pickles, made with our own cucumbers, garlic, and dill.

Our own jar of pickles, made with our own cucumbers, garlic, and dill.

The Heat Is On… And so are the Cukes!

We picked a few cucumbers here, and a few squash there, but were not deceived. The flood would soon be behind it! And now the deluge has begun, and it appears that some inspiration and encouragement is necessary for those less adventurous patrons to dive in and try out some of these delicious novelties!

Orient Express cucumber

Orient Express cucumber

We planted a couple different varieties of cucumbers this year; the Orient Express cucumbers, and sassys. The Express cucumbers are a long, funny looking cucumber that is absolutely excellent for slicing! The peel on these is very thin and crisp, and therefore requires no peeling. The Sassys are great for pickling, and can also double as a slicing cucumber. We have found that these cucumbers grow up ‘gracefully,’ without a hollow center or huge seeds that would generally deter us from choosing a larger cucumber. As these cucumbers are coming on quick, let us know if you would like us to set aside a larger order for pickling! We’re able to pick them large (for bread n’ butter pickles), medium, or small (for gherkins), but note that these small ones will sell at a bit higher price. For those that just can’t do cucumbers because of the awful burps that follow, we have the perfect match: the Armenian cucumber!  Why the difference?  Because it is (technically speaking) actually a melon.  It grows long and thin (like the Orient Express), but is a light green color on the outside.  It also has a thin, crisp peel that allows for no peeling.   These have yet to produce this year, but are flowering profusely!  Hopefully they won’t keep us waiting much longer!
The sunburst, scallop, or patty pan squash (all three names are one and the same) has also been underestimated and understated. I’m sure if their true quality were known, we would have sold out already!  We used to grow the average yellow crook neck summer squash, but traded it out for this much better squash! My frustration with crook neck squash was always the large seeds it would get, and the large seed cavity also. If it got much further than baby stage, the skin would begin to get tough. Patty pan squash are most often described as being “buttery” in texture. They are much less likely to grow large seeds, and rarely have a hollow, less-than-desirable center. These squash cook up perfectly with zucchini. Of course, we prefer to saute some Walla Walla sweet onions first, add then add some squash and mushrooms!

Patty pan, scallop, or sunburst... whatever you would like to call it, it's delicious!  A shiny exterior lets you know it's still fresh.

Patty pan, scallop, or sunburst… whatever you would like to call it, it’s delicious! A shiny exterior lets you know it’s still fresh.

Perhaps you are aware of the different kinds of squash and cucumbers, but are still bewildered by what to do with them?  For cucumbers, we recommend making relish and pickles, slicing them to eat fresh, making cucumber sandwiches, or even using them in place of chips and crackers!  In our family, we have a constant struggle around food and dietary restrictions (this is something we scoffed at for a long time and still wish we could).  Subsequently, Mother Hubbard looked at a bowl of freshly prepared dip and wished aloud that she could have crackers to go with her dip!  Undeterred, we sliced up a few cucumbers and squash and enjoyed our healthier alternative to chips and crackers.  Cucumbers are also popular in a lot of Mediterranean and Greek dishes (like tzatziki sauce) and thus pair well with olives, feta, and cherry tomatoes.  My niece is responsible for growing the cherry tomatoes this year.  She sold her first bag of cherry tomatoes in the garden shed just this past week, and is eagerly anticipating selling her second!  Inside the house, we have a box set aside for her to begin accumulating for her college fund.

If you need a few more suggestions on what to do with the patty pan squash, they do great cooked just about any way you can think of, or even raw!  We have barbecued them on kebabs, thrown some curry in with them on the stove, or saute them up for breakfast alongside some fresh eggs.  For a bit more inspiration, we found this great list or recipes online, which sound pretty delicious:

http://www.healthy-recipes-for-kids.com/scallop-squash-recipes.html

Happy eating!

The corn is growing quick and the stalks smell so good!  It should be ready in a week or two.

The corn is growing quick and the stalks smell so good! It should be ready in a week or two.

Little developing ears of corn.

Little developing ears of corn.

Our savoy cabbage heads are huge!  Great for making sauerkraut.  Otherwise, you might need a friend to split it with!

Our savoy cabbage heads are huge! Great for making sauerkraut. Otherwise, you might need a friend to split it with!

We're blessed with a great view of the sunsets.  This one was worth sharing!

We’re blessed with a great view of the sunsets. This one was worth sharing!

IMG_2596[1]