You can find copies of our latest Farm Updates on our Constant Contact archive page.
To take a trip down memory lane with us, enjoy reading some of the earlier newsletters below.
Not sure if we’ll get it but, we are putting a game fence on our “wish list.” For those of you that have not visited our farm, we are surrounded on three sides by forest; the Sam Houston National being a largest neighbor. While our entire property is fenced for cattle, which helps keep the feral pigs out, the deer jump right over and head straight for “Van’s salad bar.” Yep! I think that is what they call it. We’ve tried electric fencing etc, but they still get through eventually. Some of the few things that they don’t eat are radish, onions, mustard greens, cauliflower and broccoli., but we realize that we need to grow more. Hopefully, Christmas will come early for Wood Duck Farm, and those cute little deer will soon have to eat someone else’s “salad bar!”
Auld Lang Syne (aka “Times Gone By”) This past year was a great year for our farm and a few of our 2010 accomplishments included expanding our acreage under cultivation, increasing our CSA pick up locations to ten, hosting five fantastic dinners , having two open house events, and much, much more! Looking out on the ice “glazed” ponds from my window this morning, I wonder what lies ahead for next year. The customers that help support our farm gives me reason to feel very blessed. Although having a livelihood that relies on “mother nature” can be challenging at times, it can also be very rewarding. Hard to believe that it is already time to begin sowing tomato and pepper seeds in our greenhouses for the 2011 spring season. Winter is a nice time of the year though, as things go a little slower, which allows the “batteries to be re-charged,” if only a tad.
Quiet week this week here at the farm. No need to call the fire department, right? The only humorous story to mention was that of a lady wishing to know if the greens on cauliflower were the same as “collard greens.” Get it? Cauli-greens.!
Hard freeze on Monday a.m. resulted in killing some arugula. Planted lots and lots of onions this week, red, yellow and white. shallots and garlic too. They’ll be ready in the spring. Speaking of spring, we began ordering tomato seeds today as the week between Christmas and New Years is when we begin sowing tomato and pepper seeds in our greenhouses for transferring later to the fields in March/April. Last year we planted over 7,000 tomato plants. Although winter has not officially begun yet, we’re already thinking 90 days out, the spring equinox is usually around March 21st or so.
Last week, upon returning from a delivery, I drove up to the farm to find smoke coming from the rear of one of our fields. At first, I did not think much, but decided that I had better take a closer look. It turned out we had a brush fire that had spread about 300′ wide. Worried that it was about to get into the Sam Houston National forest, I went and gathered some of our workers to try and smoother the flames. Well I don’t think that wet burlap potato sacks were ever meant to be a replacement for a fire extinguisher, so I got on the phone, called 911 and reported our fire. About this time, with anxiety surging, I decided to take one of our tractors and use the “front bucket” to dig a firebreak of sorts. A “few more gray hairs” later, the fire seemed to be contained. I then noticed that I had a message on my cell phone. The message, in a narley tone of voice, said something like “…hey dude, we hear you’ve got a fire. Call us back and we’ll come and put it out!” Turns out, the message was from the local Volunteer Fire Dept., (which I used to be a member of a long long time ago, but that is another story.) Before I could finish listening to the message, six fire trucks with sirens blaring and lights a blazing, appeared on the horizon. Most of the fire was out by the then, but I am confident that my blood pressure lowered a bit just seeing these fire volunteers arrive. On the way out, one of the fire trucks ran over and busted an irrigation line, but no complaints here. Oh well, just another week at the farm, huh?
This past week we took a break from the CSA produce deliveries and got ready to smoke turkeys. Our first step was cutting and splitting plenty of oak here at the farm. The second phase was brining the birds overnight in a mix of spring water, kosher salt, and blackstrap molasses. Once brined, we then seasoned them, depending on orders, with thyme, rosemary and apples or cilantro, limes and jalapeno peppers. The turkeys were then trussed and ready for our smoke house, where we “hot smoked” them to an internal temperature of about 165F. The only real dilemma in the week’s smoking process was a stray puppy-dog getting wind of one of the finished birds and thought it was her’s for the taking. Luckily, losing only one bird was within our margin of error. While driving down to Houston with a truckload of smoked turkey’s has a rewarding feeling, it can also be a little scary as I think about being largely responsible for the centerpiece of many a persons Thanksgiving dinner. Talk about pressure! I just know I would be in a chronic state of severe depression if for some reason I failed to deliver. Can’t you just visualize it now, some little girl asking her parents “…why don’t we have a Thanksgiving Turkey on our table this year? Everyone else has a turkey to eat but us!” So you can imagine that after rendezvousing with everyone at either Rice Stadium on Tuesday or City Hall on Wednesday, I felt relieved. Once back at home, I popped a beer and was about to say “Mission Accomplished,” only to find out that I had overlooked someone’s bird. Yikes! (Actually, I did say something a little more provocative.) Good news though, I always smoke extra birds, so Thanksgiving morning my son and I warmed up that last bird and then delivered it to a most gracious, but anxious recipient. Whew! So THANKFUL to live another day, and tell about it. Makes me really respect those that cook full time for a living.
So how good are these turkey’s we’re smoking? On Wednesday of this week I was driving in my farm truck on the way to the Wednesday City Hall Farmer’s Market and waved at a DPS trooper heading the opposite direction. Well I immediately noticed in my rear view mirror the DPS do “a 180″ turn heading back in the same direction I was heading. Next, you guessed it, the lights went on and I pulled over to find out from the Trooper that my registration was out. The Topper was real polite and proceeded to check my license out etc, you know to make sure no warrants were pending etc. Well after a brief visit on his radio, he came back to the truck and it turns out we had paid for the registration, but had just failed to place the sticker on the windshield. About that time, he said “…did you know your State Inspection was out as well?” Along about the same time he asked “..what is that great smell coming from your cab?” I replied, “I’m heading to a farmers mkt. and that is some turkey that I just finished smoking. By the way would you like a sandwich?” He pondered for a moment and then said “…make sure you get that inspection taken care of and have a nice day.” Folks later told me that I broke the law via a bribe. What the heck, my smoked turkey’s saved the day.