Fall Is Upon Us!

Hello cooler temperatures! I welcome you with wide, very wide, loving & embracing arms. One thing this summer taught me is very hot temperatures + working outdoors + Kristen do not mix well. Thanks, but no thanks.

Of course I’ll miss the summer. The cucumbers, peaches, melons, berries…

…super addicting sun sugar cherry tomatoes

…brilliantly colorful bins of fresh vegetables & gorgeous flower bouquets.

But with fall comes winter squash!, apples!!, hot apple cider, pumpkins, warm fires, sweaters, changing colors, falling leaves, this list is endless…

So yes, I am ready, mentally & physically, ready for the slowing down of the season. As the sun sets earlier and rises later, I have noticed a striking shift in my energy. I went from barely being able to settle down and sleep just a few weeks ago, to now crashing before 10 (and as early as 8:30, woah!). I sleep now like it’s my job – I woke myself up Wednesday evening at acupuncture/reiki with a sudden snore. She said it was cute, I thought “oh gosh I’m passing out at 8”. Mentally I am ready to slow it down some too. Process & digest everything that I have experienced as of late…

which reminds me…

Since my last post I decided to officially withdraw from my graduate program and continue to farm full time as it is clearly what I need to be doing right now. Words really cannot convey what this farm brings to me, how it has nourished me in a way I feel people spend their whole lives yearning to find. I am blessed and forever grateful for my time here and for all the lessons I have learned that I will carry with me wherever I go after another season at Whole Circle in 2013.

Another farm update: we had a calf born two weeks ago! Miss Igne is the cutest little babe ever, especially as she curls up next to her momma during the morning milking.

 

And just for fun some things I’m really, really digging on right now include:

Watermelon! I can eat half one in an one sitting. No joke.

Concord grapes. Wow, what an explosion of flavor. I love them eaten and juiced. It is pure heaven.

Garlicky buttered popcorn. Fresh pressed garlic, stirred with melted raw butter, drizzled over freshly popped corn. Oh my. Our bowls disappear as quickly as they are made.

Raw sweet corn.

Chocolate milk. Fresh milk, raw honey, and pure cacao powder. Tossing back 1 liter at breakfast? no problem.

Raw Peanut Butter Chocolate Fudge (Another one that disappears in the blink of an eye). And this has nothing to do with the season. Chocolate is delicious anytime of the year.

3/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup raw honey
1 cup pure cacao powder
4 tbsp peanut butter

Combine melted coconut oil, honey, and cacao powder in a food processor and blend until well combined. Drizzle in peanut butter (or any nut butter of preference) and pulse. If you wish to have more pronounced sections of peanut butter, transfer fudge from food processor before adding it and simply stir in by hand. Transfer into a glass dish and freeze for at least one hour to allow for it to reach a fudge consistency.

Summer Squash Pasta

This one is super easy as long as you have yourself a viable vegetable peeler. I love the idea of eating a noodle-like dish but without the effects of eating dense pasta.Ideal squash for this are anyones with length – think zucchini, yellow squash, crookneck, etc.

Cut the top off the squash and peel lengthwise. I discard the first layer, even though the skin is very much edible, I prefer the more tender strips from the flesh. Continue peeling strips of squash until you reach the seedy middle. Set the middle aside to add to a stir fry, frittata, or sauteed veggie medley.

Collect as many noodles as you like and there you have it! Toss in your favorite marinara, pesto, or a lemony tahini dressing.

Enjoy!

Beet Hummus!

The rain gods have blessed us yet again! We’ve actually had a few straight days of rain and it has been incredible. The cooler temperatures, clouds, and rain have brought on a subtle sense of fall. I am slightly eager for cool, brisk fall days and of course, fall harvest! Pumpkins, apples, winter squashes, brussels sprouts, cider, and the return of arugula! Can’t get too excited quite yet as it is still mid August. Tomatoes, sweet corn, beets, and carrots will have to do ;)

In the past week Lola Jean has made her beet hummus three times and it is quite possibly one of the best hummus’ I have ever had (aside from Mark’s from Everdale and Prasino’s). It is a delightful switch up from the typical chickpea hummus and the beets give it a subtle sweetness which is always a way to please my palate.

Beet Hummus

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. beets* – washed, peeled, and cooked until tender
2 tbsp tahini
5 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 clove garlic
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp lemon zest*
Salt & pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together in food processor and pulse until smooth. Adjust to taste.

*Red or golden work well. Golden beets make it a bit sweeter than red
**Original recipe called for zest but was not included (lemons are really prominent in these parts)

Enjoy with fresh cut veggies, pita, on burgers or sandwiches.

Bon appetit!

My Present

I’ve had great intentions to write what life entails here on the farm for over two weeks now. However, time I’ve set aside to write a posting on here, I am turned off as it requires time at the computer. I haven’t wanted to be on my computer for longer than a few minutes at a time since it is more or less a distraction from everything else happening in my life…

The work, the farm, the land, the energy, the people, the friends and farm family. All these are resonating so well with me that I am truly living in my present, not concerned for the past, the future, or anything else that doesn’t serve what is directly in front of me. I am enjoying in all that is unfolding so quickly in my life. The energy that radiates from this land is untangible, breathtaking, and so inspiring. This morning at a local food festival in Guelph, Ontario, I started to get a bit teary eyed talking to a customer about my experience on the farm. Not just about how much I absolutley love Whole Circle but this entire area of Canada – it’s so wonderful! And again I felt some tears, with a friend I’ve quickly bonded with from Toronto, as we spoke this afternoon about the beautiful energy the farm and the people it attracts creates. In a nutshell, Whole Circle Farm is a life-force, attracting all sorts of wonderful, and I am so blessed part of my life journey is to be here, right now.

So my days for all those who are elsewhere and curious to know….

Each day I work longer hours than I’ve ever had before – waking up sometime between 4:45 & 5:30 depending on the day, and running around until 6-7 pm.  After dinner I enjoy downtime with fermentation projects, reading, yoga, exploring, drawing, various adventures in the kitchen, and enjoying in the company of my farm housemates. I do not have a particular routine nor do I intend to follow one; I allow my day to unfold as it does, doing whatever it is that feels best for me in that moment. I am loving the ease I take each day with. It has allowed me to connect deeper to everything around me as well as everything going on inside.

Here we work Monday – Friday from 6-6. We rotate animal chore days, dinner/lunch preparation, milking, and greenhouse chores on a weekly rotation. Currently I am on the schedule for animal chores and milking Wednesdays, as well as preparing group dinner on Wednesday. So basically my Wednesdays look like this: I wake up at 5:30, head to the barn to begin milking between 5:50 – 6 am. Splitting the work between three people, we milk until the cows are done giving, which has begun to taper off in the past few weeks. I milk with Johann, the farm owner and my Canadian Papa, as well as Graham, the resident animal caretaker and handyman. They have years of experience over me, obviously, and I have quickly become envious of their milking hands. In the time it takes me to milk one pail or less, they’re clear onto their third or fourth. I may be slow but I am enjoying the beautiful, meditative process of milking of such beautiful creatures. To work so intimately with the cows, resting my side against their warm bellies, hearing all their stomach gurgles, smelling in the differences of their milk has been amazing. It may be frustrating when there is a particularly fidgety cow and it takes me even longer, or an udder is small and awkward to milk, or I get stepped on and I’m scared my toe is cut in half… but if these are my greatest “frustrations”, life is pretty good, eh?

The whole farm takes tea break from 7:30-8. Coffee, tea, food – quick – and then back to work. On chores day this means at 8 I head back to the barn to muck out the stalls, feed the pigs, and a few minutes later I join the garden crew in the gardens until noon. Feeding pigs the first time by myself was a bit traumatic for me and in just a few minutes I went from thinking pigs and piglets were ‘oh, soooooo cute’, to oh my god I’m never, ever getting pigs. As I was opening the gate to their area, the pigs began pushing me and the buckets to get to the feed and they won. In a matter of seconds there was feed everywhere (mostly on me), piglets were escaping, the chickens were joining in the chaos (flapping and bkkk bkkking all over the place) and so I screamed for Graham who was thankfully nearby and he came to my rescue. As he finished feeding the pigs for me, we laughed at how ridiculous they (and I) are. He taught me how to properly distract them but I still think they’re insane. Everyone offers to help now, after I made it quite known how much those few moments scared me. I appreciate everyone’s efforts to make me feel better about being taken out by the damn beasts. I’m determined to do it all on my own this week – I think I’m ready. They are beginning to regain their cuteness.

Lunch break is from noon – 1, afternoon work follows until 6. Wednesdays I feed the pigs again around 4 and head in early from the field to begin preparing dinner for the group. At six, the crew filters into the kitchen and we all share dinner around the table, reflecting on the day and bounty of delicious food. Everyone is very much aware of  dietary preferences, however it helps that we all eat almost anything served. There’s only Rebecca and myself who prefer no gluten and my attempts to avoid refined sugar, as well as two non-pork eaters. Other than that – you can cook with as much meat, butter, and whatever else you can get your hands on, and you’re guaranteed all will leave the table full and satisfied. I feel very nourished, physically and mentally, with all the fresh food we eat here… meals are insanely delicious. I’m always impressed at everyone’s ability to single-handedly pull together such wonderful meals in such limited time.

Saturday mornings I’m up even earlier than the week to head to the farmers market. The past four weeks I’ve been joining Courtney at the Wychwood Market in Toronto. I love, love, love this place… I’ve met wonderful people and like I said before the time always flies by. By the time we get home and unload the van, it’s usually after 3 pm and I’m exhausted but feel empowered. Markets are a time to reflect in all the hard work we have done to bring healthy, organic food to the table for others and it’s humbling to partake in those efforts. Long days and possibly too few hours of sleep don’t seem to affect living the life of a farmer, as I am just so darn happy and excited to be doing everything I do in my waking hours.

It’s hard to put into words the love that radiates from here. Someone told me today at the local food fest that as a CSA member, they literally taste the love in the food they recieve from this farm. She said the quality and freshness of our food is unlike that from anywhere else. Even though I’ve only been here one month (it seems like a lifetime, in a good way) I know exactly what she means and why she said that. Everyone at Whole Circle puts so much love into their work, it truly is no wonder our food is growing it.

Other fun things I’ve enjoyed here have been a raw  & vegan festival in Toronto a few weekends ago, beautiful countryside bike rides and runs, yoga classes at a hot yoga studio nearby when my schedule allows, and celebrating the summer solstice last night with a potluck here at the farm. We hosted a delicious dinner with 60-ish friends & family in the backyard on a perfect summer evening. As dusk rolled in, we continued our celebration late into the night around a bonfire in the paddock, farm style at its finest…. complete with s’mores, dancing, singing, guitar strumming, and violin playing underneath a beautifully star filled sky. The cows and their calves were a mere stones throw away… glimpses of them caught throughout the flickering light of the fire.

So, folks, this is where I have been… enjoying in the joy and reveling in the beauty of my present. If my iphoto didn’t recently falter on me, there’d be photos to accompany this recap. So until the glitch is figured out, picture an ideal farm life, and I’m pretty much living that.

Source: etsy.com via Katy on Pinterest

Moving On Up!

Literally.

As in I am moving up to….

CANADA!!!!!

I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile but first wanted to make sure my visa application cleared. Technically it hasn’t… but the paperwork has been sent over and given my lack of a criminal record I expect it to be all good.

Come May I will be packing my car & venturing north to spend the remainder of 2012 working on a biodynamic farm in Acton, Ontario (outside Toronto). I decided to temporarily put grad school on hold & put forth all my energy towards sustainable agriculture.

I am sure many of you are not familiar with biodynamic farming as it’s not common in most everyday conversation. The website for Biodynamics Farming & Gardening Association describes it as such: “Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Homeopathic preparations made from manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health.” So, those who know me well, can see how perfect of an opportunity this is. Combines just about everything I am passionate about.

So, what will I be doing? Everything a production farm entails. Majority of the season I will be working all day in the gardens producing for their CSA, farmers’ market and on-farm store. Closer to fall, after the height of produce season, I will be able to spend time gaining hands-on experience with the animals. I also hope to dabble in some beekeeping as well as taste some very local, fresh maple syrup straight from the farm.

While I will be sad to temporarily leave all my wonderful friends and the Burgh behind, I cannot wait to get back working the land all day, every day. My hopes are to return to PA in December a more confident farmer, one who better understands the connection between the cosmos and the soil, plant, and animal health

And I can’t mention Canada without sharing how excited I am to soon be in the same country as AIMEE!!! Yeay! Don’t mind the 30 hour plus car ride in between each other… at least we can call each other sans international phone charges! :)

Source: etsy.com via Ginna on Pinterest