Farm update: September 28

Aspens Fall

How are things in your world, friends? It’s officially autumn here, with clear bluebird days and crisp, cool nights; the destructive Pine Gulch fire, sparked at the end of July about seventy miles away, is thankfully entirely contained. Our neighboring orchards are nearly all harvested, and our task list is packed with tidying, organizing, preserving, cleaning and stocking up for what we hope is a very snowy winter.

Hay Delivery 01 sml

Hay for animal feed has to stay dry at all costs.

The winter feed for our alpacas and llama has been delivered and safely stored in our de facto hay barn. As this is our first year with the animals, we had to guess on quantities and are hoping that we won’t find ourselves out of hay in frigid January with no green pasture on the near horizon – in a situation like that, a hay farmer will be able to charge us whatever he wishes, and rightfully so. Our llama, Kingston, has already figured out that with some crafty contortionist maneuvering he can reach the fresh bales through the corral panels. Bless his tenacity, and his flexible neck.

Hot Peppers 01 sml

Red hot chili peppers is a good band name.

We struggled with our sweet pepper crop this year, but the hot peppers have been prolific. I grew mainly serrano and cayenne; though they can both be harvested green, I like to let as many as possible ripen to red to emphasize their warm sweetness, and our favorable late-summer weather helped immensely with that. These peppers will be dried and transformed into chile powder, chile flakes and hot sauce, and used to enliven meals all winter long. If you like spice, enjoy hot peppers with abandon: the capsaicin that gives peppers their kick is a natural analgesic and also boosts the immune system.

Whiting Blue Rooster 01 sml

They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Did we ever mention that one of our chicks turned out to be…not a hen? The average “mistake rate” is one in ten, and we nailed that precisely. Thunderbolt is tall and proud and mouthy with spectacular plumage, and perhaps a bit more aggressive, especially with little ones, than we’d like. He hasn’t been explicitly threatened with the soup pot yet, but since we don’t actually need a rooster, he’d be wise to mind his manners.

Compost Squash 01 sml

Squashed Squash 01 sml

This squashed squash is clearly making a run for it.

Further proof that rich, well-managed compost is all you need to grow anything: please observe this season’s most successful crop, the volunteer compost squash. There are at least four distinct cross-bred squash varieties in here, and one decided to try escaping through the rail fence. This fruit is wedged in so tightly that we haven’t yet figured out how to harvest it, although partially dismantling the fence appears likely. To all the gardeners out there: start composting if you don’t already. It’s far and away the best thing you can do for your plants.

Bread Loaves 01 sml

Sourdough is still trendy at Quiet Farm.

I read an article recently that declared the pandemic sourdough craze over. Apparently, everyone is now tired of babysitting their starters and since grocery stores have mostly restocked, baking fresh bread no longer holds the allure it did six months ago, when this whole lockdown/quarantine thing was still new! Still fun! Still exciting! Speaking from experience, people may not want to bake bread, but they definitely want to eat it: I started selling fresh loaves at our Sunday farmers’ market a few weeks ago, and have been floored by the demand. And each loaf comes in its own reusable handmade bread bag! (If you’re in the area, come see me at Pioneer Town on Sunday mornings through the end of October.)

Alpaca Paihia 04 sml

And finally, Paihia wishes you a good week. As do we.


4 thoughts on “Farm update: September 28

  1. Your sourdough is one of the best things I have ever tasted so I can see why you have such a demand! Can you really not tell if a chick is a hen or rooster until they are older? Happy Monday Quiet Farm and Paihia!

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    • Hi Sara! Thanks for your kind comment. Sexing chicks is an art form of sorts – for many breeds, you cannot identify the sex until the bird is older and more developed. Chicks are sold either straight-run (less expensive, and you get what you get) or sexed (more expensive and mostly hens, although not guaranteed and a rooster sneaks in on occasion as with us). Some breeds, however, have been bred to have an identifying mark on them as soon as they’re born, making the males and females easy to identify. These are called sex-link breeds.

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  2. I for one will never fall off the home baked sourdough bread bandwagon, I’m HOOKED for life! I baked a loaf for my neighbor last week, told him the only things in it were, flour, water, little salt, and homemade starter. He called me a purist, I thanked him. BTW, tried the pasta roller for making the sourdough crackers, never go back to a rolling pin.

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    • Jim, so glad to hear that you’re enjoying your sourdough experience! There is really nothing like fresh homemade bread. And I have crackers to make today – definitely trying them in the pasta machine!

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