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!

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

Saturday Mornings In Toronto

There better be a darn good reason to wake up at 4:45 on a Saturday. This morning, I had a good reason indeed. I nearly jumped out of bed pre-dawn excited as the dickens to head to Toronto’s farmers’ market! to sell produce from Whole Circle Farm. <– where I now work and live (more on this soon).

Just after 5 am Courtney and I loaded the van up with sunchokes, beets, carrots, potatoes, greens, and herbs and drove into Toronto. It was a bit chilly – I spent most the day in two jackets & under the warmth of my hat- but at least the expected rain held off. The market was wonderful! You can read more about The Stop Community Food Centre where the Stop Farmers’ Market is held here.

All the customers were so friendly and the 5 hours flew by, as I knew they would. There were tons of eclectic vendors selling breads/pastries/baked goods made with locally grown grains, produce, cheese, prepared foods, meats, chocolate, honey products, maple syrup, and other various fun things.

I tasted my first “sea asparagus” – which is essentially a teeny tiny version of asparagus, harvested from the sea – thus being an incredibly salty, crunchy veggie. Yikes! I prefer land asparagus, thank you very much. I also had my first true whiff of fiddleheads. ew? Those too smell like the ocean yet sound delicious. I’ve been wanting to try these for awhile but couldn’t bring myself to buy them simply as their their smell was so off-putting. Not a fan of fishy smells. Maybe next time.

Some pics from today. enjoy!

earth & city: raw foods table!


and whole circle! …

Markets are such a wonderful place to saunter, coffee & breakfast in hand, and converse with people from your neighborhood. Nothing beats the warming atmosphere of friendly, smiley folk who share in the same enthusiasm as you about local foods. Even for the visitors who don’t know about local food – but pop by for various reasons – it’s always a pleasure to share with them what local and seasonal food means. Getting someone to try something new is always so exciting!

My own purchases for today included coffee, ginger cider, kale, apples, strawberries, and a few maple syrup candies. I can’t wait to start my Sunday with some fresh kale & apple juice. Yum!