Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Just One of "Those" Days

Bree and Hobnob don't always show up on our blog.  They are our Indoor Farm Management Staff and their jobs are extremely important. 

At least that's what they tell me.  Every day.

You know it's been a long day when....
Our Indoor Farm Management Staff is less than enamored with the longest days of the year that occur from mid June to mid July.  They do not see their humans all that much.  And, when they do, said humans are either dashing back and forth doing 'stuff' or they're hot and sweaty (and dashing back and forth) OR they're closing up things for the night and going to bed (after dashing around a bit).

That last doesn't usually matter because these two are usually ready to shut down for the night by the time the humans are ready to do so.  After all, these are long days for managers too!

Bree (on the right) is clearly very tired and does not really care about her sisters plight.  Hobnob, on the other hand, has the grumpy look only a cat can manage when there are cobwebs stuff to their ears. 

Normally, the house staff (Rob and Tammy) takes care of any cleaning, but Hobnob decided things were getting out of hand and took matters into her own... um...  ears?

After suffering the indignity of a photo, her human servant finally removed the offending cobwebs.

She'll forgive me.

In December.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Scapes without the Goats

We have featured garlic scapes in prior posts including an excellent post authored by Elizabeth in 2014.  We strongly encourage you to visit that post if you are interested in recipes for Garlic Scape infused oil, Garlic Scape Stir Fry or Garlic Scape and Arugula Pesto.

The last could be modified to use other greens you might enjoy as well - and remember amounts in recipes are guidelines and can be changed to fit your personal preferences!

In recent a CSA distribution in Waverly, Tammy created Garlic Scape Pesto for our CSA members to try out and it has received positive reviews (Cedar Falls, you'll get your chance this week!)  The recipe Tammy followed is based off of the following that we posted on Facebook for those who use that social media platform:

photo from allrecipes.com
Garlic Scape Pesto
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/199868/garlic-scape-pesto/
"...an easy, fragrant pesto that can be spread on bread or crackers, put on pasta, used with fish, and as a substitute for garlic, onion, or scallions! Add to sandwiches, pasta, lamb, and fish dishes. Tastes great mixed with mayo."
See the above website for their recipe I don't weigh out the scapes, so here is the version that fits for our CSA:
- 10 garlic scapes (trim off the top (flower) and bottom that is not "bendy".
- 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (I prefer the shredded kind, vs the ground up "shaker style"
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 1/2 T lemon juice
- pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Store in the refrigerator for one week or freeze (works great if you put in ice cube trays to freeze, then pop out and store in a freezer bag or container - just don't reuse the tray for regular ice cubes!).
Variations: add kale, mustard greens or basil and slightly increase the oil.


If you want to try this recipe, we should tell you that you should LIKE garlic if you want to use this pesto.  If garlic is NOT a taste you like, then you will not want to eat this pesto.  On the other hand, if you love garlic, you'll love this pesto.  One person suggested that they would slather it on chicken or shrimp prior to putting them on the grill.  

Hey, if it can make a cheap 'saltine' type cracker taste good....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Grand Iris Tour of 2017 - More For Your Money!

Just because we said we took our "Grand Iris Tour" of our farm one evening does NOT mean we ignored the iris on other days.  However, I apparently thought that was the case until I went to download a more recent batch of photos from the camera and found MORE iris pictures.
For the iris shown here, they would be the 'late bloomers' on our farm.  We had already taken our "Grand Iris Tour," then these popped open and said, "Time for another tour!"
Silverado
Silverado is another iris that has been with us since we started growing iris.  It's liked some years and places we've lived better than others, but I'm not sure it's missed an appearance yet.  I was beginning to wonder about it this year.

Triple Whammy
We have a couple of 'space age' iris.  They are so called because the beards stand up on them.  The other we have on our farm is Thornbird, which also bloomed this year and appears in the prior post.

We had a favorite named Liaison that we think went away, but this one is similar.   We think the name is Prince George - or something like that.  Doesn't matter, it bloomed.  And we liked it.  Sometimes an iris will put up a weak attempt at a flower stalk and still manage a flower - which was the case with this one this season.  One thin stalk, two flower buds, and it was done.
It may seem like we grow our iris in isolation based on some of the pictures, but you can't really control iris that way.  They tend to move as the rhizome's grow.  The old portions die off and the new portions send up shoots the following year.  The net result, you can't expect iris to stay in the exact location from year to year, but they won't move too far in one season.  However, if it has been five (or ten) growing seasons, you could be surprised where they turn up!

We hope you enjoyed the addition to our Grand Iris Tour.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rain Date

What happens when it rains cats and dogs on the farm?

No, really, the weather station says it was raining cats n dogs.  Honest!
Well, if you are two veggie farmers who didn't sleep much the night before, you are both annoyed and happy... at the same time. 
On the other hand, you begin to realize that Thursday is a CSA delivery day.  Uh oh.  Do we really want to harvest in that?  No.  So, add in some light hail and some lightning.  Ugh.
Happily, the solution for this time of year and the current state of the farm is to reschedule the delivery for one of our open dates later in the season.  Ok, we're back to being just fine with the situation.  But, you better believe that if this happens again, we'll be figuring something out to get it all done.  It just turned out to be nice that we built in a safety valve in our schedule to allow this to be dealt with in this fashion.

For those who are curious - as of 6:00 PM we were at a total of 2 inches of rain for the day (and another quarter inch the day before).  The hail did very little damage - and what it did do, the plants should be able to grow out of it.  No farmers were struck by lightning, though they were once again awed by how nature works.

So, what did the farmers do today?  Well, Tammy had some significant work to do for her 'real' job and Rob had a good deal of record keeping, bill paying, checkbook balancing and even a little blog writing to do.

Our "official" cancellation notice is here:
======================================
We are officially canceling today's CSA and egg distribution in Cedar Falls.  If you have questions, feel free to call.  Next thursday will be delivery 7 - so odd delivery shares will still be up next week.  We will plan on doing the garlic scape pesto in Cedar Falls next week as well.

Do not fear, we have some 'off days' scheduled on the calendar and we'll just move this delivery to one of those.  You will NOT miss a delivery, it is just getting 'relocated.'

We apologize to those of you who have already ordered eggs. If you have great need of them, I am sure something can be arranged in the next few days.  If not, we'll see you next week.

Why are we postponing today's delivery to another date?

Well, we're really, really wet all of a sudden and we have more coming.  But, the real kicker is the lightning.  We will not go out and harvest in that.  We ran hard until 10pm last night trying to get things done in the field before the possible rain and didn't have time to harvest.  There hasn't been much chance to do anything other than normal animal chores this morning.  In short, we likely won't have enough time to get things picked for you.

And, to be perfectly frank, none of the items we have to pick are in desperate need for harvest.  In many ways, the postponement works in your favor since it gives crops more time to grow and move forward.

We apologize for any convenience this may have caused you.

Your damp farmers,

Rob & Tammy Faux

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Before and After

Emma told me today that she likes before and after pictures.  Therefore - we have before and after pictures.

For those of you who wonder what your farmers do on one of the longest days of the year (today) - here it is.

Yesterday evening, this field looked like this:

Nothin' here but some weeds.
 This evening, the field looks like this:
There be Winter Squash, captain!
And this field.... was embarrassing:

We suspect there is something in here - but what?
 But, this evening - it looked like this:
Taters! Precioussssssss.
Full disclosure - we didn't get to the Southern third of that field.  Hey, whaddaya want?  Perfection?

Oh.  Well.

Proof that farmers do work is below:
Oh, and Emma works too!

And so does Caleb.
 And.. so does Tammy.  Except when she is taking pictures to prove that everyone else works.

 Now it is time to wind down the day.   zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Grand Iris Tour of 2017


Tammy and I have always loved our flowers.  In particular, Tammy likes her daylilies and Rob is particularly fond of bearded iris.  Actually, Tammy very much likes the iris and Rob very much likes the daylilies as well.  So, really it's not a problem.

A few people might remember our farm when we first moved there.  We brought a significant number of perennials (including iris and daylilies) from our previous location(s) and we had one fantastic garden area in the southwest portion of the farm. 
A picture from 2005 or 2006 of our iris in the southwest garden area.
It's pretty amazing the number of different iris in that picture and the sheer number of blooms going on there is almost ridiculous.  We would take 'grand tours' every morning and evening to enjoy them.  But, as we increased our vegetable and poultry farming operations, the time we could spend on our flowers declined. 

The same area in 2017 (facing the opposite direction)
We've allowed the old perennial garden to go more 'natural' over the years - mostly in response to our inability to keep it cleaned up.  We moved as many of the iris and daylilies out and put them in other locations, but as you can see, some iris still persist.  And, if anything, these appear to be getting a bit stronger.  And, we really do not mind.

Very few of our iris seem to bloom every year, with many showing up every other year and some others gracing us only every so often.  Some beds do better in one year and poorer the next.  I'm sure it has something to do with different weather conditions and the micro climate we can attribute to each bed.  Ok, that and... how much time we've had to do a little weeding and flower bed work.

The upshot of this is that we haven't quite had the same "Grand Iris Tours" we used to have.  Part of it is the reduced number of blooms, of course.  Another factor is the vague sense of disappointment that we haven't been able to maintain the flower gardens.  And, perhaps it's just because we get so caught up in farm work that we don't always take the time we should to go out and view the iris (our special take on "smelling the roses" - we "view the iris").

Finally, Tammy and I purposely went out (towards the end of the bloom season) and took some pictures and enjoyed some flowers.  We have shared them before.  Like these pictures in 2014.

Thornbird
I'm not always sure if I remember the names correctly.  At one point in time, I knew all of their names and all of their locations.  But, now, I just greet them all when I see them and ask their forgiveness if I've forgotten what I should call them. 
For the most part, the iris don't really seem to mind if I don't know their names.  They seem secure in their own identities. 
Red at Night
I suppose you could look at this a couple of ways.  These big, beautiful blooms either indicate supreme confidence and self-awareness OR you could wonder if they are trying to make up for something by being so bold and showy.
Olympiad
I prefer to think that they just like sharing a little beauty with us for the short period of time that is iris bloom season. 
I also suspect they take great pleasure in getting the farmers to do a double take as they zip around trying to get their work done.  Maybe they are a little bit vain, laughing quietly to themselves as they notice us nearly trip as we try to get from here to there quickly while still wanting to get a second glance at what they are doing now.
St Helen's Wake
And, every once in a while, an old friend reappears after all hope of seeing them again is lost.  St Helen's Wake is one of our 'oldest' friends.  She was in our first batch of iris we ordered many years ago when we lived elsewhere.  I was just lamenting her absence this Spring.  A few days later, there she was - looking fabulous.

Other iris are reliable every season and we are no less glad to see them as we are those prodigals who return after a year (or years) of absence.  Perhaps they are more sensitive to our remembering their names and they are aware that we tend to forget unless they make their yearly appearance?
Taco Supreme
And, every year we see them, we promise them that we will 'do better' for them.  They know us.  They are pretty certain we mean it.  They also know we are unlikely to be able to do it.  So, they just go about their business. 
Rare Treat
Sometimes, an iris even seems to pose for us.  "Go get your camera," they say.  I've put on my best clothes for you and the light is just perfect for me. 


And sometimes, we still take a picture, even if the light isn't right and the clothing is a little tattered after a strong wind and hot days.  Some of them seem a bit embarrassed by this.  Others, just appreciated that we still enjoy seeing them.

We hope you enjoyed our 2017 Grand Iris Tour.  Here's to another year of flowers sharing with the farmers (and hence... with you).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It Won't Go Away Until We Make It

Sometimes it is strange how things come back around to you.  I have now had three different people ask me (recently) how things regarding our 2012 spray misapplication incident went.  The weather we've been having during the month of June is reminiscent of 2012 as well.  I am watching the pastures and lawn areas get browner - usually something reserved for Augusts in Iowa.  And then, Practical Farmers of Iowa released a series of YouTube videos that feature my good friend and respected farmer, Andy Dunham, and some other guy with a red hat.  THEN Liz at PFI suggested we submit our own op-ed in response to the excellent one by Zachary Michael Jack in the June 8, 2017 Des Moines Register.  I guess that means I should do something about the topic.

Can you find the Genuine Faux Farm?
The potential for misapplication of farm chemicals (and lawn chemicals) can have negative effects for each and every one of us, whether we farm vegetables or not.  And, if it isn't enough for you to be worried about your own health, consider this report that is the beginning of research that shows children are more susceptible to health issues because of the misuse of pesticides.  We shouldn't be surprised by these results.  In fact, I suspect most people who have ever given any thought to the topic EXPECTS there to be health issues that are related to these chemicals.

We have a problem.

And it will not go away unless we work to do something about it.

As I write this, I find myself thinking negatively about any number of things.  The problem seems unsolvable - even when I feel like it shouldn't be a problem at all.  Every year I get doses of the attitude that says "You live in Iowa, so deal with it.

But, I read the last lines I wrote in that post.

"We are better than this.  We are capable and innovative.   Now we just have to be willing to admit there is a problem and address it."

Chemical overuse and misapplication is a huge problem, which means we can't fix it immediately.  It will take more than one season of awareness and effort.  This is what I refer to as a "long-haul problem."  We've got to dedicate ourselves to doing the right thing and sticking with it year after year.  And, then, when we think we've got it figured out, we need to re-apply ourselves to keep it that way.

This fight is worth fighting because we aren't just standing up for ourselves - we're standing up for others who can't (or won't) stand up for themselves.  It's just beginning.

In my opinion, education and communication are ALWAYS key parts to solving any problem and Practical Farmers of Iowa has been working to build resources with respect to drift issues for the past several years.

Here is a short video that outlines these resources.  It is worth a few minutes to take a look and see what is out there.


And, our farm (Genuine Faux Farm) is not taking a vacation from the subject either.  For example, we volunteered to be 'drift catchers' for a season and we worked to get information about what others can do to try to make a difference (2015).

And, then, that crazy farmer with the red hat shows up in a series of videos available to the general public like this one:


I fully understand that the world is full of problems and that it is difficult to find the energy to care about it all.  If you are like me, it causes physical and mental pain to consider them.  Is it easier to give up because it is just too much?  If we allow ourselves to care, how can we manage to be happy and live a good life?  I get the feeling that many people get overwhelmed and take this approach ("There are just too many bad things, so I will ignore them and I'll feel better.")

Well, I challenge that premise.  Why?  Because the premise of "I can't deal with it so I'll ignore it" does nothing to help you be happy nor does it mean you will be allowed to live your "good life."

A better answer is to start learning about the problem NOW so you can be ready to act when the situation arises where YOU are placed in a position to do something.  But, what might some of those situations be that YOU could find yourself in?  Don't think it will ever happen?  Think again.

If you are in your vehicle on a road and it gets hit by droplets from a spray plane, you have just witnessed a chemical misapplication.  Watch the video with Liz and find out where you can go to report this incident.

If you have an opportunity to speak to a legislator, ask them about what their stance is regarding chemical misapplication.  By simply asking the question, you raise the topic to a level where they too might be ready to act when the right ideas come along.  If you have taken some time to learn some of the details, you can effectively advocate for change.

When you go to the doctor, you should ask them about what is known regarding agricultural and lawn chemicals and their impact on our health.  Perhaps you could encourage the medical community to begin sharing that information more readily?

If a friend, neighbor, acquaintance or family member tells you about a time when they were harmed by a misapplication incident, you should encourage them to follow through with the reporting process.  Take them to the proper linked resources.  Every rural Iowan has at least three incidents that they did nothing about because they either didn't know what to do OR they were afraid to rock the boat.

In the end, the reality is that farmers who use herbicides, pesticides and fungicides typically are not evil, "twirl the mustache and laugh a villain's laugh" people.  They want to do a job and they don't really want to hurt others.  But, somehow, we've gotten to a point where the use of chemicals is so prevalent we aren't thinking it is worth enough of our attention to make a difference.  Let's change that.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June Newsletter

Here we are, in the month of June.  And, we wonder how we got here.  But, since it is a new month, we need a new newsletter.  I am not sure who made that rule up, but we're going to try and follow it anyway.



May Calendar of Events


  • June 1: Delivery 4 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 6: Delivery 5 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltOdd, Trav)
    June 7: Delivery 5 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltOdd, Trav)
    June 8: Delivery 5 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltOdd, Trav)
    June 12: Turklets Arrive at the Farm
    June 13: Delivery 6 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 14: Delivery 6 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 15: Broiler Chicks (Flock 2) Arrive
    June 15: Delivery 6 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 18: Gang of Four+ at Scattergood Friends School
    Delivery 7 ***Traveler 20 Break Begins***
    June 20: Delivery 7 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltOdd)
    June 21: Delivery 7 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltOdd)
    June 22: Delivery 7 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltOdd)
    June 27: Delivery 8 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltEven)
    June 28: Delivery 8 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltEven)
    June 29: Delivery 8 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltEven)
    June 30: Broiler Flock 1 to "the Park"

Festival News:
First Order of Business - No Faux Fun Spring Festival this year.
Why?  Well, we weren't getting too much interest and frankly, we weren't pushing it too hard either.  The May weather set us back and we're working hard to catch up.  We thought we might try to turn the event into a moving the high tunnel day WITH the festival, but the wind predictions don't look favorable (though the forecast keeps changing).

But, the "C" in CSA stands for "Community," so we are interested in doing things that continue to support that concept.  So, here are some of the things we are looking at:

Summer Festival and Tom Sawyer Work Day  August 26

Mark your calendars and save that date.  The 26th is a Saturday.  The Tom Sawyer portion runs from 1pm-4pm and includes set up and preparation for the festival.  If you are willing to come early and help set up some tables, cut heirloom tomatoes for tomato tasting or other sorts of preparation, please let us know.
Over the last couple of years, this festival has featured live music, artistic endeavors (painting and chalk drawing), a farm scavenger hunt, farm tours, turkey feeding, lawn games and the ever popular 'push the green carts around the farm.'  We have also provided a GFF turkey for sandwiches in the past.
If you would like to help us do more with this festival, we'd like to hear from you.  Do you do face painting?  Would you like to help lead some sort of artistic project?  Anyone want to set up a game area?  We have no need to make it terribly complicated, but we do want you all to enjoy the event.  Share ideas and suggest what you might want to do and we'll see where it takes us.
As far as the live music goes, we could see if the Buskers would like to play again this year, or we could consider someone else.  Are there suggestions?  Let us know.

Monthly Events at CSA Distributions
We see you, often briefly, at our CSA distributions most weeks and we're wondering if you might like to do a bit more at some of these distributions?  Our move to St Andrew's Church in Waverly frees us up to do more things there and we have support from Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls.  Here are some ideas to start with and we'd love to hear your ideas:
- Farmer Rob could challenge people to a timed game of chess or Farmer Tammy could set up a cribbage board.  And, if you want, we can arrange to have more than one chess board for others to enjoy a little time outdoors and play.  Other games could be arranged, but there is always the issue of possible wind or rain.  Tammy likes cribbage and Rob likes Ticket to Ride.
- When the heirloom tomatoes and peppers come in, Tammy would be willing to work with others to make a nice big pot of pico de gallo and if we can get some people to bring different kinds of chips we can all snack ourselves silly.  Perhaps we can do some other things along these lines?  Maybe we should make some basil lemonade? 


Tom Sawyer Work Days and Work For Food Events
We have already held two WFF (Work For Food) events and admit readily that they are geared towards college students who are willing to do a few things on the farm if there is a Tammy cooked meal as a reward.  We hope to do this again in the Fall. 

The Tom Sawyer Events were, at one time, fairly popular, but we found much less interest in the last few years.  Last year we had a pop-up TSD when we needed help putting plastic on one of our buildings (again, our thanks to all who participated).

We would be pleased to entertain the idea of a TSD event with a potluck at the end.  The key here is that the farmers need enough help that they have to spend so much time in set up and clean up that the benefit of the work is moot.  Does something along these lines interest you?  If it does, we need to hear WHO is interested and WHEN you might like to do these things.  For that matter, if you tell us WHAT sort of things you might like to help with at the farm, we'll see where we can go.


CSA Signup 2017
We will continue to add people to our CSA as people request and we will prorate the amount necessary for the shares.

Song of the Month
Alright by Aaron Sprinkle.  It's a good song when you get a little grumpy about raccoons in the chickens, woodchucks in the melons, rabbits in the chard, soil that is too wet, soil that is too dry, lost emails, sore hands and tired feet.  It'll be Alright.


Recipe of the Month

Spring Veggie Frittata
Easy vegetable dish for breakfast or dinner. Experiment with additional vegetables, spices or meats. This is REALLY GOOD!
Ingredients:
1 c chopped asparagus
½ c sliced mushrooms
2 green onions, chopped
spinach (as much or as little as you like)
1-2 T butter or olive oil
4 lrg eggs
1/3 c shredded cheese
Directions:
Sautee vegetables in skillet with oil until tender (use 2-3 T water to help steam veggies). Add chopped spinach and stir. Don’t over cook vegetables. Make sure some oil remains in skillet so eggs won’t stick.
Whip eggs until fluffy. Add shredded cheese. Pour into skillet, cover and cook approximately 5 minutes over medium heat or until eggs fluffy and cooked through.

Field Report
We thought we might finally be dry enough to play in the dirt and found out that we aren't entirely correct.  Some of the fields are dry for the first inch and then gummy underneath.  It's just part of what we deal with on our farm.  However, we have managed to put in some tomatoes, more radish, kale, napa cabbage, pok choi, lettuce, broccoli and onions.  There is so much more to put in the ground!  We'll keep you informed as things go in.

Our first cucumber succession is official done.  The heavy storms we had a week plus ago took them out, it just took them a while to realize they were finished.  We're looking at some losses in the winter squash and watermelon as well.  It's early enough that we should be able to replant - it just means we have to find the time to do that.

On the other hand, the carrots in the high tunnel AND the field look decent this year.  The peas are marginal, but they should produce something.  The potatoes are germinating (finally) and we have some lettuce that is starting to look really good.

Picture of the Month


Farm News Shorts

  • Rob is finally getting a bit more help at the farm.  Tammy is able to spend more time at the farm now that Wartburg graduation is complete.  Of course, she still has things to do for her job, but she can spend more time here than she can while school is in session.  Jocelyn joined us for four days this week and we hope she decides to come back after yesterday's 'bug fest' with no breeze at the farm.  Emma and Caleb start next week, which brings us to a full compliment for the summer months.
  • How do we forget this every year?  Our hands.  They hurt.  And they're dry and rough.  We always make it through, but there is a two to three week period where we wonder a bit about it!
  • Stormy weather.  The month of May included a three day period where we had several severe storms pass through the area.  We had wind gusts that topped out at 70 mph, 50mph, 49 mph and 48 mph during that period and we also had small hail and downpours.  But, the real kicker was the dust cloud that accompanied the 70 mph gust.
Essentially this is what Rob saw coming at the farm.  Picture from KGAN CBS 2
I did not have time to go get a camera - I was too busy running around.  What you see in the picture is a wall of dust that has been picked up off all of the freshly tilled and planted fields in the state.  I was trying to get buildings closed up, animals secured and everything under cover.  I did not quite get it all done and found myself outside when the dust hit.  Now I know what sandblasting feels like.  I could smell soil, ash and herbicides in the mix to make it even more surreal.  I think I might still be pulling dirt out of my nose and ears from this event.

Tammy was on her way home and had to ride this out in the car just a mile or two away.  Corn stubble pelted the car and was plastered to one side once she got home. 

In one of the 50 mph gusts, nearby Tripoli was hit by higher windspeeds and numerous large trees were downed with some real damage to buildings.  We are hoping that we've had our weather adventures for the year.

Time to Have Pun
Asparagus - the weather was cool, then it warmed up and the asparagus said - OK!  It is now the age of asparagus.  Just don't get me to tell you about the awning of the cage of asparagus... it needs some repair, I think.