Barnyard Bull - News & Blog
Hello everyone- new and familiar shareholders alike- we are going to start up CSA distributions on June 11th for Tuesday pickups and Saturday June 15th! We are so excited to see all of you again. We are busy putting in all the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, summer squash and zucchini plants and seeding many more of your favorites! First distribution will see fresh salad, baby turnips, spinach and garlic scapes (if we are super lucky!)
Meat CSA distribution for June can be picked up starting tomorrow or, if participating in our veggie csa as well, can begin when you pick up your veggies. Thanks!
so looking forward to serving our community again!
ps. For those of you whom were expecting an invoice to arrive in the mail- it will be waiting for you on opening day.
It snowed yesterday, well, it sort of icy slushy gooped on us in an approximation of snow. And it was certainly cold. And that was the day we were supposed to be transplanting the first of the broccoli into the field. The peas were supposed to be planted almost two weeks ago and the soil almost got dry enough for us to start spring tillage but then it got cold and wet once again. I was itching to be in the fields, but I'm glad I sat on my hands since my pea seeds would have rotted away in the cold, damp soil.
We are fond of saying that we can't control the weather-but that doesn't mean we like it. I've never felt so emotional about spring coming as this season. For some reason, I'm just sick to death of cold and damp and ice-filled breath in the morning. I can't wait to see lambs jumping around in deep green, to see calves be born into the warmth of sunny dappled shade instead of into mud so cold that we wrestle them into fleece vests to keep them alive. In April.
So the timing on everything will be a little late this year unless the sun pops out and there is a delicious bout of warm, close to perfect weather for the rest of the spring. Somehow and sometime soon we will break out of this rut of cold spring- but I have a personal feeling that instead of a gentle spring that eases into summer- we will be having one of those springs that feels like the end of winter right up until it abruptly shifts to summer with nary a glance of gentle.
So now that I've gone on now about the dreariness of this season so far- there are bright spots- we had a good sugaring season that we wrapped up at the beginning of this past week. The fields are slowly, slowly starting to green and we can't wait to get the animals out of barns and winter paddocks and into sunny bright pastures. Best of all- we've had a nice start to our birthing season. There are baby animals in every barn. The sows had nice big litters, the goats had healthy kids and the first lambs started arriving this week and they seem to be coming out ready to jump. The calves are all looking really good- they are being born a little further out in the woody pasture near the orchard- not as readily accessible for viewing at the moment. Their mommas are pretty good at telling them to hunker down and stay hidden and the calves are very good at obeying. Last week we took the crew on a hunt for a calf we knew had arrived to one of our cows, but that we hadn't seen and we were worried. We never found a trace of her even with five humans combing the pasture. Three days later, Jesse snapped her picture as she trotted along with her mother!
The greenhouse is filling up fast- onions, broccoli, spinach, beets, flowers galore, herbs and the first of the peppers, eggplant and tomatoes have all made their appearance. Here's to wishing for a few warm dry days so that we can put them into the fields. Cheers and Happy Spring!
Despite the changeable weather here in the last few weeks- there are subtle signs of spring in the air here at the farm. The sheep are getting rounder (well, Penny the goat is the most obvious), the hay barns are emptying, tapping in is happening in the sugarbush, and......(drumroll) the greenhouse got it's end of winter cleaning and clearing out! An unfortunate turn of events led to the freezing of the winter greens growing in the house, but Amy Pagano and Nancy Ringer came to help get the greenhouse and hoophouse geared up for seeding early greens and to start transplant production next week. The pigs got a lovely treat of mostly frozen greens, the house got a good sweeping while pallets and benches got shifted around. And then out came the boxes of seeds, both old (since most of those seeds are totally fine) and the shiny, new packets that have steadily been arriving in the mail. Consolidated, rubber-banded, and cataloged- our seeds are now organized and ready for becoming your delicious CSA veggies.
The hoophouse got old yucky greens thrown out and we started planting for early salad, turnips, radishes, swiss chard, arugula and wrinkled, crinkled crumpled cress! We will plant more lettuce and broccoli raab next week- these veggies are for the store, so don’t forget that we will have them available starting in April.
So yes, that means that you can now sign up for CSA!!!!! YAY!!!
Please note that there are some changes to the Meat CSA- Please read about those here…..and know that we are simply trying to make the whole process both more efficient for farmers and apprentices to pack and almost more importantly, that we’ve finally accumulated enough real data to realize exactly how much it costs to produce our meats. Our new prices reflect these realizations.
In other farm news, we are spending the last days of winter finalizing budgets, ordering supplies and potting mix, tweaking field planting plans, planting charts and the grazing plans for multiple combinations of livestock. And then we do it again as we try to look at it from another perspective, combination or from a different starting point. All of this so that we can make sure that we’ve tried to plan for all the risks, contingencies, weather and so on and so forth- and can therefore be a little more prepared for the height of the craziness that summer always brings when there are never enough hands, tempers are short and the days are long.
The new farm shop is coming along quickly now. We’ve been without a shop or tool storage area since the old barn burned down in 2009 and while we’ve tried to stay organized, it is hard when there isn’t an actual designated spot for that tool that might change at any time. And there is nothing so nice as a radiant heat floor for making working on tractors and other equipment in the winter time go a little easier.
We do have a March Sale going on this year in the store, please come by and pick up select varieties of Appalachian Naturals Salad dressings and dips for 50% off all this month. All our remaining winter squash and potatoes are also on Sale for .50 cents/lb while they last. We will have other sale items happening as they become available. We will post these on our Facebook page.
If you see steam coming out of the sugarhouse- stop by and check it out- we are BOILING!!!
We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and many happy returns for the New Year- we (Jesse and Des) booked out of here just after Christmas heading due south to the sunny and deliciously warm Everglades. It was a looooonnnnggg drive with three kids in the truck, but we made it and we had so much fun exploring the million acre National Park full of fabulous and crazy-looking birds, alligators, manatees and coconuts (oh, and bugs, we can't forget them but they were really only horrible at night). We heard the booming of fireworks coming across Florida Bay from Key West and paddled alongside dolphins and manatees on surfboards. We wore t-shirts and ate fresh picked oranges, bananas and strawberries from the farmers' market. It was a wonderful and refreshing respite and we highly encourage everyone to take time for rest, relaxation and reflection. We farmers don't often do this, we love to work, it is why we do what we do for a living, but fresh perspectives and out of the comfort zone experiences are good for all of us. Thank you so much to Paul Papadatos, Amy Pagano and Dicken for holding down the farm, doing chores and caring for our critters while we were away!
As we move out of the dark of the year, we are feeding out large round bales of hay that smell like the sweetest part of the summer, the plastic houses are filling with green and we are planning field layouts, perusing through the stacks of seed catalogs, putting together orders of supplies, planning grazing rotations of animals and breaking the ice out of frozen water buckets. We are aching for warmer winds- for a sense of a shift towards spring. A little respite for planning is nice, but now it is feeling like time to tap trees for sugaring, to warm up the greenhouse and start thousands of little seeds and see a little more mud instead of just ice. Unless winter decides to give us some more snow- that would be okay- we haven't gotten enough cross country skiing or sledding.
As you drive by the farm you can see the roof going up on the equipment shop! It is so exciting to think of once again having somewhere to work on tractors and store all the tools and such out of the rain and not have to worry about being in the way of livestock or hay storage.
We have all cuts of all of our meats in stock as well as syrup, squashes, potatoes and greens (you can call Des to find out what she has) in the store- we are open on Fridays and Saturdays! Cheers!
Hello Everyone, sorry for slacking on the newsletter for the last few weeks- we've been busy with seasonal fairs and the flu along with all the fun of winter farm chores. We hope that you've been enjoying the beautiful veggies- we have one more week of this section of season extension- and we have officially moved out of the fields for harvest! We got all of the broccoli out last week (hence the double large offering in your box. We felt like we just couldn 't keep hoping that the weather would continue to hold off on killing temps, so we took it all.) We are now harvesting out of the plastic houses- greens, greens, greens- but still have carrots, squash and potatoes in the cellar to fill out the box. This week we also have some dry beans that I like to grow as a side offering. I have a semi-secret love of heirloom dry beans and always tuck a row in here and there when I can. I find them beautiful and delicious and I love the idea of growing some non-animal protein, especially as my best friend is a vegetarian.
The farm is super busy still as we continue our prep for winter- animals are still out on pasture, but are closer to the barns these days.We are building fence and battening down the barns for the winter.
We also need to renovate the sheep barn a little to accomodate our growing flock and we have a new ram (thanks for the above pic Lisa!). Rhay, a silver purebred Blue-Faced Leicester came to us from Cranberry Moon Farm in Cummington. He is huge and he got right to work. He is a foundation sire for our "Mule" flock production (a ewe lamb from a Clun Forest ewe bred to a BFL Ram is called a mule- these resulting ewes will have a larger frame size but still retain good grass-finishing and mothering characteristics and can be bred to a larger terminal sire such as an English Suffolk to produce a larger, meatier lamb that still grows well on grass alone).
We are also borrowing Crabapple Farm's Clun Forest ram again this year to produce more gorgeous purebred Cluns. He did a wonderful job last year- lots of nice ewe lambs to add to our flock.
We have some lamb coming back from the slaughterhouse next week- so if you like lamb for your special holiday meals, let us know so we can put some aside for you. We also have incredible boneless, smoked and netted hams- these range in size from 2-4 lbs and are ready to make for Christmas dinner.
We are bringing our wool yarns and sheepskins and maple syrup to the Shire City Shindy this weekend! This artisan fair is held in the old Notre Dame Church on Melville St in Pittsfield- lots of beautiful, local arts and craft for sale- Friday night from 5-8p and Saturday and Sunday from 10-6. Finish up your holiday gift shopping by buying local this season!!!! We've even bottled our syrup in pretty glass bottles from maple leaves to traditional jugs- the perfect present for that hard to please person on your list.
This recipe is just as good without the beef......adjust the spiciness to suit your needs!
1 bag dry beans (1lb)
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 quarts water
2 Tbsp chili powder
1½ lbs Holiday Brook’s grass-fed ground beef
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 cup kale, chopped
2 Tbsp molasses
1cup fresh corn kernels
Cayenne or other spicy ground pepper to taste (we like to grind our own)
Salt is also to taste.....
Rinse and pick through beans. In a large pot add beans and enough water to cover, soak overnight. Drain and add 2qts water to pan and simmer for 2 ½ hours or until beans are tender. Set aside. In a Dutch oven sauté onion and brown the beef. Add tomatoes, chili powder, garlic and simmer for 20 min. Add beans, kale & corn and heat slowly, add salt & fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve with local cheddar & crusty bread.
This is our favorite holiday here at the farm- we love knowing that our delicious food is going home to become part of a celebration of gratitude among friends and families. We hope that you enjoy this weeks basket- we picked herbs, including a parsley root (delicious in all soups or stuffing) and added extra garlic. Leeks and cabbage join carrots and potatoes. The dark green or red buttercup squashes make the best pumpkin pie so don't forget to grab one too.
It is also a time for us personally to wholeheartedly support our neighbor farmers and local value-added producers. Our table will be graced by a turkey pasture-raised by Diemand Farm (we always need a HUGE bird), local cheeses from Cricket Creek Farm, breads from Bread Euphoria, veggies and side dishes will come from our fields and our family gardens. Pies will be baked from local apples, our squashes and maple syrup and so on. We definitely don't adhere to a strick locavore feast- but we try to come close.
We wish you all a lovely and happy Thanksgiving- know that we give thanks for all of you- thank you for buying local from your community!
All of us at Holiday Brook Farm (Dicken, Desiree, Jesse & the farm crew)
Your Share this week:
Salad mix (cut lettuce)
parsley root with parsley tops
Keuka Gold potatoes
Herb bunches- Sage, thyme & rosemary
Welcome to our first season extension CSA share in two years! We’ve been doing small amounts of season extension veggies for preorder sales and wholesale clients, but we finally have a good system in place for consistent enough vegetable production for an actual CSA. Thank you for taking part in this endeavor- we hope that you enjoy our offerings.
A couple things that you should understand- this is very seasonal and what grows well at this time of year are greens of all types! This can get a little boring if you are not used to eating this way, so let us know if you need more recipes. We have beautiful carrots, squash and some other roots and we bought in extra potatoes from Thompson-Finch Farm in NY (organic!).
We will harvest from the field for as long as is feasible for both plants and harvesters. Then we will be working from the plastic houses. Did you see Paul and the quick-hoop caterpillar tunnels in the Berkshire Eagle on Thursday? These tunnels are more to protect baby plants for the Winter Warmer harvest starting in early spring, and depending on how well they grow under there we could be digging into the crop as early as mid- Feb. In any case, towards December you will find your share being filled out with dry beans & corn, herbs, etc. It will be creative and fun. We will box most of your veggies, but you will always have your choice of squash from the bins in the store and occasionally there will be other items laid out for your selection as well.
First BIG REMINDER!!!! ----The week of Thanksgiving----We will harvest on Tuesday!!!! You may pick up either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday before the holiday so that you can share your delicious veggies!
Jada Haas left us this week, off on a new adventure at Upinngil Farm in Gill, MA for the winter. This farm looks to be a great place for her to add more skills to her repertoire of farm experience. We couldn't have accomplished everything this season without her- she was awesome! We hope that she has fun and visits often. Cheers!
What’s in your share (maybe)
Winter Squash- Mixed
Potatoes- Keuka Golds
Featured vegetables—Kabocha squashes
I may or may not have said this, but these squashes are my favorites of the winter squashes. Their flesh is a deep orange, dry and stringless- so the texture is smooth and soft- they come in skin shades of red, green and mixes. They make the best pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins or cakes because they are rich in flavor as well.
Our favorite way to eat them is skinned and cubed small and then cooked in a skillet on super low heat with butter and a little salt and pepper. The cubes will dissolve as the squash practically melts. When the squash is all soft and tender-finish with just the hint of maple syrup.
Recipe of the Week: Sauteed Broccoli & Collards
This is a personal home kitchen recipe- one of our spontaneous farm lunches turned culinary delight! Use as a delectable side dish, or add to pasta or rice (I would throw a sprinkle of parmesan on top if so). Remember that the pasture-raised bacon is lean and what fat is does have is rich in good for you fats. Check out Eat Wild's website for more info.
- 1 bunch collards, de-ribbed and chopped
- 1 large or 3 small broccoli crowns, chopped stems and all
- ½ lb of pasture-raised bacon, chopped
- 2 avocadoes, optional but delicious! Chopped.
- A smidgeon of butter
- A Tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- A good size handful of dried cranberries
Put the smidge of butter in a heavy cast iron skillet and add the broccoli. Keep the heat fairly low so that the broccoli caramelizes as it cooks. When the broccoli is starting to seem tender, add the bacon. You may need to turn up the skillet to get the bacon to sizzle a bit. Stir constantly so that the broccoli doesn’t burn. When bacon is just done add the collards and cook until tender and wilted. Turn off the heat. Add the vinegar, dried cranberries and avocado. Stir to coat. Enjoy.
We still have a few of our autumn CSA veggie shares available- continue to get our fresh, delicious vegetables for six more weeks! They are going fast and they start next week!
Congratulations to Tobie Petkus who guessed the correct weight of the CSA Fairytale Pumpkin. It was a whopping 42lbs! We do have a suggestion for this delicious and beautiful squash- Des tried this out a couple of days ago- she was inspired by a longing for a Provencal tagine dish of chicken slow-cooked with vegetables in a claypot that we had on a longago trip. Instead of a claypot- she used the squash to truly decadent results.
1 whole chicken (preferably local, pasture-raised) 4-5lbs
1 large, 10-15lb round squash- Musque de Provence (Fairytale) or Marina di Chiogga, Cheese or Hubbard would work
1 apple, cored and chunked
2 onions, chopped in 1" chunks
1 head of garlic, 1/2 in chunks and the other minced for the rub.
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp savory/marjoram
1 Tbsp olive oil
Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 250. Cut the top off the squash- make sure the opening is wide enough to get the chicken inside. Get all the seeds and strings out and set the squash on a cookie sheet with sides (to catch any juices that may leak). Wash the chicken inside and out and pat dry. Mix the rub- salt, spices, minced garlic and olive oil and rub all over the top of the bird. Loosely fill the cavity with chunks of apple, onion and garlic. Shove the bird into the squash and fill any extra space with chunks of veggies or simply mound around the edges. A 5lb bird in a 10-15lb squash will need to cook all day- I put mine in at 930a and took it out at 530p and it was perfect....I checked on it a few times throughout the day to make sure it wasn't making a mess, but it never leaked. Basically I knew it was done when the squash was tender, the skin of the chicken was crisp on top, the leg joints were loose and the squash was filled with broth. We had to ladle some of the soup out of the squash after we removed the chicken so that it would not make a mess in the event we accidently pierced the squash with the serving spoon. A smaller bird and squash will take less time, of course. This is a good weekend winter meal. It can be served with roasted potatoes or good bread. Quite a showcase for a dinner with friends. Enjoy!
Autumnania Shares are still available but filling up! We start November 9th and go until the 14th of December. Pick-ups on Friday (though if you need to pick up on Saturday, that is fine too) afternoons. For more information check out the website.
Thank you all for a wonderful season- as always, we love seeing you all every week. You are our community and we are so grateful, every day, to be a small part of your lives. We hope to see you again soon, some of you for the Autumnania or Winter Shares, but also again next summer. We harvested 43,000+lbs of food for all of you over the last twenty weeks- even with some crop failures (mostly partial, a planting/seeding of this or that that didn’t get off the ground) such as cucumbers, carrots, beets and a serious drought. Thank you for sharing in the ups and downs of our growing season and we hope that you have a wonderful winter and spring! See you next Summer!
Desiree & Jesse and the whole Holiday Brook Farm Crew
What’s in your share (maybe)
Mixed Mustard Greens- Braising Mix
Winter Squash- Butternut
Pick Your Own
Parsleys and other herbs are still open for picking.
The carrots have been a little thin on the ground this summer- we actually listed them as a crop failure due to drought on our “official” crop production list for the farm this year. But you would never know it to see the beauties coming out of the field this week. Deliciously sweet from a good hard frost last week, you will adore the crisp texture and deep carrotyness of these classic roots. I haven’t measured the sugar content, but I know for a fact that they will register higher/sweeter than any carrot driven across the country from CA. We have a couple of varieties for you- the golds are Yellowstone heirlooms, pale orange are Satin, and the bright orange are either Bolero or Mokum. These are fresh eating carrots- not meant for long storage (well, Bolero will hang out for months in the right cellar)- but they are bred for eating right now with thin skins that you don’t even need to think about peeling. They will caramelize beautifully in a cast iron pan- this is my favorite way to eat them. Slow cook them in a little olive oil or butter until they are sticky and tender and you will burn your fingers and your tongue they are so good.
Recipe of the Week: Fried Green Tomatoes
You can make delicious chutneys, picalilly and salsa with green tomatoes, but I (having spent part of my life in the south) love them fried.
Ingredients serves 4
- 4 large green tomatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
- Slice tomatoes 1/2 inch thick. Discard the ends.
- Whisk eggs and milk together in a medium-size bowl. Scoop flour onto a plate. Mix cornmeal, bread crumbs and salt and pepper on another plate. Dip tomatoes into flour to coat. Then dip the tomatoes into milk and egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumbs to completely coat.
- In a large skillet, pour vegetable oil (enough so that there is 1/2 inch of oil in the pan) and heat over a medium heat. Place tomatoes into the frying pan in batches of 4 or 5, depending on the size of your skillet. Do not crowd the tomatoes, they should not touch each other. When the tomatoes are browned, flip and fry them on the other side. Drain them on paper towels.
A major killing frost finally hit the farm on Saturday morning last week. We have some frost damage on just about everything around the farm. Unfortunately this puts an end to most of the Pick Your Own and some of the more tender vegetables, such as swiss chard and most of the last planting of head lettuce, but the good news is that the Brussel Sprouts and next week’s carrots will be heavenly sweet as a result. There are still happy fresh herbs in the PYO, the parsley, sage, thyme, & savory are particularly lovely for your fall stews and soups.
We still have one more week to go! Next week is the last for the main season of CSA but we have started selling shares for our new season extension CSA!
Autumnania Shares are available now- this is six more weeks of our delicious organic greens, roots and squashes. There are slight differences in this share from our regular market style share pick-ups- all veggies will be limited and there is only one share size offered- it will be the equivalent of the small share basket or bigger. Each week we will offer a selection of greens from spinach to salad to arugula, plus root & storage veggies from the cellar, and whatever fresh veggies such as brussel sprouts, cabbage or broccoli that may be coming from the field. As part of your overall share we will also include a jar of our delicious tomatoes, a pound of our own organically grown dry beans and a quart of maple syrup.
Shares are very limited so sign up on-line asap. We start the first week of November! We still have meat shares available as well.
The above picture is of late season cabbage that has been undersown with an oats/clover cover crop- you can just see the last of the lettuce crop residue in the bed to the right- we are doing a lot of undersowing of cover crops this year due to the fact that we are harvesting crops out of the fields much too late to get a good cover established after plowing and because this wet fall weather has made it hard to get into the fields at all. This makes a very pretty sight-and the quick-growing oats will die in winter's extreme cold while the slower-growing clover will happily be nursed along underneath and rejuvenate in the spring warmth.
What’s in your share (maybe)
Peppers (the last!)
Mixed Mustard Greens- Braising Mix
Baby Bok Choi
Winter Squash- Acorn
Pick Your Own
Parsleys and other herbs are still open for picking.
Featured vegetables—Acorn Squash
We have a lot of types of winter squashes that we’ve offered you in the last few weeks- many you’ve seen before and some that are unfamiliar. The strange acorn squash that we gave out a few weeks ago and are giving out again this week have become a favorite in our house. These large heirloom acorns are known as Paydon acorn and are supposed to be that golden-beige color. The story of this rare winter squash that it made its way from France to Louisiana to Ohio to Bosco, IL, where it was maintained by the Paydon family since the 1860s.
It is a bit on the stringy side (less so than butternut), but the delicate yellow flesh is sweet and delicious- a lot like the delicata squash or sweet dumpling. This is our first year growing it and at first we were a little intimidated by both its color and size (with some fruits being upwards of 3 lbs+), but the yields were amazing. And the taste- what’s not to love?
Recipe of the Week:
Acorn Squash & Roasted Garlic with Ziti
Some of you have seen this favorite recipe of mine from “Vegetarian Planet” by Didi Emmons- a cookbook that I bought in college and I still use every week- but I thought I would throw it out again this week, since it is one of our favorite fall meals and the kids beg us for it whenever they see acorn squash in the CSA.
1 acorn squash
6 Tbsp olive oil
15 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound ziti
1/3 cup white wine
½ tsp salt, or more, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for garnish
¼ cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
- Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the acorn squash in half, remove the seeds and place the halves on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake the squash for 1 hour or until the flesh is soft. Let the squash cool, then spoon out the flesh from the shells, and chop it fine.
- About ½ hour after the squash has begun baking, roast the garlic: Toss together the oil and the garlic, and place them in an oven-proof dish. Bake the garlic, uncovered, alongside the squash for 30 minutes or until the garlic is lightly golden.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is tender. Drain it, reserving ¾ cup of the drained pasta water.
- While the pasta cooks, spoon the roasted garlic with its oil into a large skillet. Add the wine and the reserved pasta water, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped squash and boil the sauce for 3 minutes more. Take the skillet off the heat.
- Add the pasta to the sauce, and stir well. Add the salt, pepper, and cheese and toss. Divide the pasta among plates, sprinkle the walnuts over and serve along with the additional cheese.