This morning I am enjoying the quiet of an empty house and working away at getting things ready for the start of the new CSA season. This afternoon I will move to a new office at the Canard Farm, so these are literally the last few hours I will spend at this desk, where I have sat for the past year-and-a-half. Before this became my spot it was Patricia's and I know she likes the view out the window at this desk as much as I do! Soon I will have a new view and a bit more of a focused role.
This means there will be a new CSA headquarters (Amy's name for it, and I think it's going to stick!) later today or tomorrow, so I will post some photos once the space is set up.
Here are some highlights of my time in this office (while I'm feeling nostalgic!). Goodbye, Church Street office, I will visit often!
Being part of a CSA was a very new idea to me when I started at Taproot Farms in 2011 and to be honest, I really had no idea what to do with all of the food that we received.
Now, two and half years later my family and I have found a system that works well for us. I thought I would share a few of the things that have made being part of the CSA very enjoyable, other than getting lots of yummy veggies each week.
The big thing with us (my fiance, Nathan and I) is planning. This was not a concept I really associated with food and meal prep. Now our weekly routine involves looking online on Sunday to see what is going to be in the shares. You would think working on the farm we may get the upper hand and more time to prepare for what is coming in the following weeks share but honestly, I really enjoy being part of the CSA and look online just like every other member to see what is coming in the shares. At this time I also search through the add ons and see what is available just in case something jumps out at me that I would like to order.
After I know what is coming in the shares, I take a look in the fridge, pantry and freezer to evaluate what we already have in the house that will work with the veggies to create meals for the following week. Once I have done this I start to formulate a meal plan.
A few things I take into consideration when making our weekly meal plan is:
When we will get out share (farm team members usually pick up their shares on Thursday at the farm)
If there are any events taking place this week which will involve having guests to our house for a meal or us going somewhere else for a meal (one less meal to plan)
How long some veggies are going to last. If they do not keep a long time such as sprouts I should plan to use them up within the week they are received but something like onions will keep until the following week for use as well as be used within the present week
Once I have seven suppers planned (Monday to Sunday) I plan a couple larger lunches such as a stew or chili that I can take with me to work for a couple days. I actually do not plan each meal for certain nights as I am sure would work better for some families. With us sometimes we are not in the mood to have a certain meal so we leave that part a little less planned. We know that certain meals need to happen before Thursday and certain meals can happen after share pick up.
Another thing that has really helped us get the most out of our share, as I know some days you just do not feel like chopping up all of those veggies or peeling that turnip, we do as much prep work as we can Thursday night when the share comes into our kitchen. Doing it all in one evening can seem like a lot but I already know it needs to get done and I usually do a lot of it while I cook supper. By now we already have our meals planned so I know how I need the veggies prepared.
Here are a few examples of how I stored my veggies from last week. Some veggies, such as onions and potatoes, are just put in a bowl on my counter because I know that I will use them within a week or two . I also keep an eye on these things to make sure they do not start to spoil. If they do, I make sure we make a meal that will use them up.
If you have any helpful tips that has made being part of the CSA a more enjoyable experience please let us know.
There are 234 fertile eggs set in our incubator. I was going to write this yesterday but with the impending storm and the possibility of a power outage I didn't want to tempt fate. It was very nerve wracking as any prolonged loss in temperature would result in disaster for the incubating ducklings. We piled the incubator with quilts and sleeping bags etc to help keep the heat in just in case but we were lucky thank goodness and the power stayed on.
Duck eggs take 28 days to perform a miracle. Once enough eggs have been collected together, gently cleaned and stored with the pointy end down they are marked with an X on one side and an O on the other in pencil and placed on the tray in the incubator which is set at just under 100F. The marks are so that we can know which side to turn them to as they have to be rotated several times each day. After the first 24 hours when they are left to settle in the incubator we start turning them. We keep a chart and check it each time they are turned to help us keep track. Each egg is gently turned from its X to the O or from O to X by hand 7 times a day . The humidity is critical too and we use dishes of water to maintain the humidity at 55%. After the first 7 days we 'candle' them which is the use of a light shone through the egg in the dark. The miracle begins
A fertile egg incubated for 7 days should look like this.
On day 25 three days before hatching the humidity is increased to condition the shell to assist the little duckling in his epic battle to hatch. 24 hours before they are due to hatch we stop turning them so they can orientate them selves for exit. Amazingly considering how hard it is to crack a duck egg the duckling aided by an 'egg tooth' on the tip of its beak will first pip a little hole and then work around the egg until the shell falls apart and they emerge wet and exhausted from the egg.
It can take 24 hours or more to perform this feat.
Once dried and rested they are moved to a brooding pen with feed and water and a heat lamp to keep them warm. This is the point when they are often boxed and shipped as they can survive well for 24 hours on the energy reserves they still have from the yolk sack. This year Taproots ducklings will only have a short journey from our farm to theirs unlike last year where they travelled from Quebec by plane. Much less stress for both ducklings and Josh too :)
Helen and her family run a small, family farm raising slow grown, happy animals. Making their delicious, hand made, own recipe English style sausages for you to enjoy.
The sun is shining bright this morning. The forecast isn't great for tomorrow. I think I am enjoying the sun even more when I think about what tomorrow might bring.
Yesterday I posted about the greenhouse...and what is seeded in there and someone asked for more....SO.....here is some more info on what is happening on the farm.
Today is Tuesday. Tuesday for those of you in Halifax know today is share day.
Right now, 8 AM, sitting in our kitchen, i can hear Jon down stairs in the 'commercial' kitchen rinsing the sprouts. They are grown in a room, in glass jars, with a grow lamp over top of them.
Josh is on his way out the door and is planning to get ready for a blizzard. I am not sure what that means exactly. Likely he will secure the pig houses, get bins more secure outside, check that all to doors are shut, ensure there is lots of wood, etc, etc.
Falicia is on her way in to work now. She has been busy entering invoices for the 2014/15 season. In case you are wondering, many of your payments have arrived (thank you!), and we are busy entering them. Hopefully in good time for an April statement:) Also, you can check on the TapRoot webpage for your account balance to be sure you agree it is correct:)
Courtney and Patrick arrived last week from Jamaica - on Thursday to be exact. Today they are cutting up squash for the shares.
There is no seeding happening today on the farm. Tim R does most of the seeding and he is away today doing deliveries today.
When he seeds again, he is seeding tomatoes.
Lily is asking me to get off the computer and drive her to school - Got to run! Have a great day!
I LOVE getting feedback from members about how they are enjoying the shares, especially when we send something different. This week's share included frozen peas, and here's what Kim had to say about them:
I'd like to point out that the frozen peas are like candy. I've always thought frozen peas were squishy gross things, but I make myself try everything anyway. And now I can't stop sneaking into the bag and stealing handfuls! Ha! They're so good!