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Wacky Weather!

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Wacky Weather!
This Week's Vegetable Farm Share Harvest:
  • Overwintered Spinach
  • Japanese Salad Turnips
  • Red Oak Leaf Lettuce
  • Green Oak Leaf Lettuce
  • Green Garlic 
  • Beautyheart and Black Radishes from PWFF and Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, WI
  • Carrots and Parsnips from PWFF and Harmony Valley Farm, Viroqua, WI
  • Asparagus - from PWFF and Mick Klug Farms, St. Joseph, MI
  • Mini Cucumber (to some)*
*Oak Park and Grayslake farm members will receive this week.
This Week's Egg Shares:
Due to their size, pullet eggs often only make it to our farmhouse kitchen, however this week Egg Share members are receiving our final "farmer's eggs," a springtime treat.

We collect these smaller-than-normal sized eggs from the nest boxes of our pullets, or young hens. Because these are among the first eggs ever laid by the young hens, typically about 4 months old, they produce medium eggs -- medium eggs are defined by the USDA as weighing 21 to 24 ounces per dozen, versus between 24 and 27 ounces per dozen for large eggs – every couple of days during the first month or so of their egg-laying careers. Research shows that ounce for ounce, the nutritional content of the yolks and the whites of pullet eggs is identical to that of large eggs. The pullet egg yolks are generally that same size as ones found in large eggs, but there is typically less white, which in the end, makes them richer in flavor. Chefs love their rich yolks and round sizes. Pullet eggs are perfect for baking, deviling, or simply frying.
Farm Journal
Good afternoon from the farm!
We're often asked how we feel about the current weather and its a tricky question! As farmers, we find watching the weather on a nearly hourly basis is part of the job. We watch several weather apps and stations (including our own weather station here at the farm), and as Jeff always says, "we just hope for 'normal' weather." However, as we've experienced increased weather inconsistencies year after year, we're not exactly sure what normal really means anymore!
Most farmers would tell you that we like consistency in our weather. This is because a farmers' role is to limit the stress on his/her plants or animals. Consistent mixtures of sunshine, rainfall, cloudy days, cool days, warm days, snowfall and slow seasonal transitions mean that living things can adjust accordingly. What's difficult to manage, that is stressful on plants, animals and farmers, are extremes and rapid changes especially in moisture and temperature.
This year, within two weeks' time, we're experiencing wild swings in temperatures: from lows in the 30s and frost on last Monday and Tuesday evenings to this weekend's anticipated high of 87 degrees. That's nearly a 50 degree temperature difference! Last year, in this very same May week, we had extreme spring flooding (pictured above) leaving standing water in many of our fields and this year, we are approaching drought conditions. 
Some ask us how we can deal with the variability. Each year, we get better at adjusting, adapting, and managing the changes and we remind ourselves to be patient. We do what we can to each day to minimize the stress for our plants, our animals, and ourselves. We plan, re-plan and thinking creatively on our feet with our team. For instance, we changed plans for vegetable shares to quickly harvest and share with you more of our most delicate crops this week (i.e., spring lettuces). These lettuces would otherwise go to seed by Friday with the hot temperatures. We've already forgotten about frozen asparagus tops and moved onwards to harvest beautiful spears thriving in the warmth.
This past Sunday night, we enjoyed the evening sunset by the family bonfire, chatting with other beginning farmers at the Prairie Crossing Farm as they drove by on their evening field checks. The farmers swap stories of late-night irrigation runs and the best ways to manage spring weather patterns. We hope that these conversations give beginning farmers a feeling of hope. Farmers are all navigating these new weather patterns together, no matter our experience levels, crops or backgrounds. We're all learning together.
While we continue to respond to the weather Mother Nature provides us, we also do what we can to try and combat climate change and the weather extremes that come with it. To that end, we just expanded our food forest and planted hundreds of elderberries with help of our hard-working crew and our friend and soil scientist, Vytas. He's assisting us in piloting different compost applications on our permaculture crops.

We sleep better knowing that elderberry roots are digging deep into the earth, sequestering carbon and building healthy soils. These long-term crops model patience, resilience and adaptability despite changing weather patterns so we will continue to take a cue from these amazing plants! 

~ Jen, Jeff, Tyler, Abbey, Arlet, Ben, Peggy, Alex P, Alex J, Laura
Notes from the Farm Kitchen
Our white salad turnip is a Japanese variety called hakurei. It is very mild and sweet and is easily mistaken for a white radish. Japanese turnips are delicious eaten raw or sautéed in a little butter and sprinkled with salt. Turnips are a good source of Vitamin C, and rich in the minerals potassium and calcium.
Green garlic is the immature stage of the garlic plant. We planted our garlic in late October and harvest the bulbs in July. Most of the plants to develop bulbs, but we harvest a small portion in the spring when they look like young garlic or large green onions. You can use everything but the tough, dark green tops.  We substitute green garlic for garlic cloves in many different recipes since the flavor is similar and it's wonderful to have fresh garlic in the farm kitchen again! 
We're sharing two winter radishes with you this week, the beautyheart (or watermelon) and Black Spanish radishes. Both radishes have thicker skins, which can be eaten once scrubbed or peeled if tough. Did you know that radishes are eaten extensively worldwide? As our friends at Harmony Valley shared, "Historical reports date back to 2000 BC where radishes are thought to have been included in the daily ration, along with onions and garlic, for the people building the Egyptian pyramids. Radishes are a good source of vitamins A, C and B6 as well as magnesium, calcium and potassium. In traditional Chinese medicine, radishes are used to promote digestion, break down mucus, soothe headaches and heal laryngitis. They are beneficial in helping to cleanse and detoxify the body and it is thought that they help prevent viral infections, such as colds and the flu, when consumed regularly."  Enjoy the different flavors, colors and textures in these radishes! 
Seasonal Recipes in the Farm Kitchen

Pasta with Turnips, Sausage and Greens
Maple Parsnip Scones
Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce -- this is a very flexible recipe so you could include many items from this week's share!

Green Garlic Toast

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