November 27, 2012
Grey November is turning white with snow as I write this, the wheel turning from harvest time to our season of rest. Before we sleep though, it's time to sing a song of thanks to Mother Nature for all the fruits and flowers and herbs and vegetables, for the sun and the rain and the worms in the soil, for all the myriad events and factors that cooperated to bring in the harvest.
The good news is that we harvested a sufficient number of the wonderful Autumn-bearing Caroline raspberries to partially make up for the dearth of summer raspberries (caused by last October's snow). We have about 300 feet of Carolines and by carefully picking every single day, we brought in many beautiful berries. (I'm glad we didn't have 400 feet- I couldn't have kept up!)
In more good news, we brought in enough elderberries to make about 100 jars of Elderberry Syrup, and we had one of our best garlic years ever, about 300 pounds!
The sad, although not unexpected news of the farm is that our dear dog Rosie passed away in late October at age 12. I still can't quite write about her, except to say that it was an honor to share my life and mind with her. I'm so lucky that my work is at home, and we could spend every day together. The local rabbits and squirrels are rejoicing now that the farm's great defender has passed. Me, I feel as though I have lost half of my heart and half of my mind, so deeply were our souls in sync.
In the Pantry
Bright November days are perfect for putting up preserves, returning summer's warmth to the kitchen. We've been cooking, cooking, cooking, so stock of our Farmstead Preserves is good until the end of the year! Since I only went to the Keene Farmers' Market twice this spring and never made it into Newton, missed Garlic Fest and didn't schedule craft fairs because we were uncertain about Rosie's needs, we still have fruit in the freezers. So, in spite of a challenging year, we should have everything until the end of the holiday season. Since fruit yields of everything (except blueberries) were down markedly, I expect we'll be out of many flavors after the new year. Peach, Strawberry and Damson Plum will probably be the first to run out, followed by Red Currant, Blackberry and Raspberry. Sorry to saw we never made Pear Butter this year. The few pears we had were ready during Rosie's last days and I just never got to putting them up.
Farmhouse Mustards are all in stock and should be available throughout the new year. We were able to make lots of Garlic Vinegar, Tarragon Vinegar, Lavender Vinegar and Chili Pepper Vinegar with which to make our mustards.
We made very few of our Gardens in a Bottle Vinegars due to bottle/bartop supply problems and hope to have them again, in a different bottle, in 2013.
Markets and Shows
Missed the summer markets, but we've signed on for all the Farmers' Market of Keene Winter markets. Held on the 2nd & 4th Saturdays in Nov - Apr from 10-2 at The Colony Mill Marketplace thanks to our hosts and patrons at Elm City Brewing Company.
We'll also be occasional but rare visitors to the Newton Winter Farmers' Market at the Hyde Community Çenter, 90 Lincoln St., Newton, MA on Tuesdays from 1:30 - 6. Dancing Bear Tom Ashley will be making the trip with offerings from his greenhouse and root cellar, and we'll join him when there's room. I'll announce any Newton trips on facebook, or feel free to call or email.
Holiday Mail Order
The post office assures me that they'll still be open (and even delivering on Saturdays) throughout the holiday season. We're usually cooking everyday in December to keep up with orders, but it's best to order early (even if you want me to wait to send your package until closer to Christmas.) Hanukkah is relatively early this year, beginning on December 8! We have new gift boxes this year that showcase our gardening cat Rita. Decorated with a simple satin ribbon, they ship very well (inside the post office flat rate boxes) (photo on the gift boxes link).
My heart swells this time of year when I remember how much we have to be grateful for....the sun, the moon and the stars...all that lies beyond and all that lies below on this beautiful blue-green earth, including....
...the toasty warm house built by the loving hands of my husband, our small farm that thrives in spite of its unlikely existence, the woodfire crackling in our old cookstove, a 90-year-old mother who still starts her own seeds in the greenhouse and plants 8 flower beds and a vegetable garden from which she still cans tomatoes and makes raspberry jam, a great big lug of a dog whose heart is as big as the moon and a little yellow kitty who lives to lie on my lap, good friends, good neighbors, good farmers...
As always, we will donate 20% of our November + December sales to some of our favorite animal rescue organizations. First and foremost is to our beloved Monadnock Humane Society. Next is Kitty Angels, a shelter that's the favorite rescue organization of our web-wizard Steve, and thirdly to Fast Friends Greyhound Rescue, another local group dedicated to finding permanent homes for the sweet dogs cast off by a cruel industry.
I'm also grateful for all the support and love we get from our customers. I've never published testimonials here, reasoning that folks must take them with a grain of salt (after all, who would post a bad review?). But this year a busy businessman was moved to pen an ode to our preserves as he enjoyed his breakfast, and a Welsh poet shared her joy at sharing our jam with friends. Here they are:
From Jeff E, South Hadley, MA:
The berries in each jar are like a precious jem.
I wake every morning thinking I'm gonna get some of them.
It matters not what berry I seek.
I stare at the lid with anticipation to take a peek.
I think of your effort, love, and how you toil.
I think of enjoying and eating, and eating before they spoil.
I picture you in the field choosing what to pick each day.
I consider having "3" English muffin pieces of art on a sterling tray.
It seems like they always disappear way to fast.
I don't worry while eating, I'm having a blast.
Nerves do get a bit riled, when another empty jar hits the trash.
Then I look in the mirror and I calm, the corners of my mouth have a fruity "rash".
Too cute a picture, I feel like a kid.
I reflect on my breakfast and what I just did.
I do truly think of the effort you expend to make my mornings fun.
That's why I wake a wee bit early to write before the rising sun.
From Gaynor B, Shirley, MA:
Dear Patti, I was so excited to find a parcel of your delicious jellies waiting for me when I got home. As you know, I love to make scones and have a proper "British Tea" and my friends indulge me in this.
I love serving your beautiful preserves because my friends, expecting my usual fare, burst into paroxysms of delight after a few bites!
Once all the exclamations of "rich fruitiness" and other attempts to define the jellies, the talk inevitably turns to nostalgia, lost arts and memories of Mothers and Grandmothers, or beloved neighbors who made prize winning preserves. It's very special to have this connection with them. Thank you!
On those words of love, I'll close with a Thank You and Bright Blessings to ALL!