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Wild Weather Week

Happy New Year to you all! A newsletter wasn’t even on my radar, but with weather like this, I can’t pass up writing about my favorite topic. With the current tropical conditions, it seems like that brutal cold stretch is a distant memory. A memory I’d like to wipe clean from my mind. It seemed as if that bomb cyclone detonated right up here on the hill, with the fallout (wind) from the explosion cutting through the walls like butter. As I dreamed of a tin man and munchkins, I felt the house shaking and ready for takeoff. If you think I’m exaggerating, spend a windy night up here sometime. And then multiply that by 100!

Fortunately, the house stayed grounded and the worst inconvenience we endured were on again/off again frozen pipes for a week. Even more fortunately, those pipes only cracked and we don’t (currently) have a puddle in the basement. That, however, will change if we get the predicted 1.5″ of rain tonight on top of the large mounds of melting snow, although I’m much more concerned about what that amount of precipitation will do to our fields, which are still frozen solid. With no where to soak in, that water will run on down the hill with our topsoil along for the ride.

If we extrapolate the weather from the first full week of the year, we’re in for a wild ride in 2018. Indeed, it seems the only thing more erratic than our president right now is the weather. For the record, in this wacky week of records, consider the following;
-it’s currently 23 degrees warmer here than in Houston, TX right now
-Just 5 days ago, we set a record low of -9 degrees
-We just set a record high of 62 degrees today

In case you’ve been wondering what we’ve been up to on the farm besides fretting about the weather, below are some pictures to give you an idea. And planning. Lots of planning. And lots of Paddy Rose. Stay tuned to hear all about our big plans for 2018. And more pictures of PR!

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Encore Harvest

I’ve been hearing your chants of ‘one more week, one more week’ in my head all week. Or maybe it’s just the end of a long season and I’m deliriously hearing voices. Either way, we harvested all day today in preparation for the grand finale to a fine 2017 season. Sweet baby kale, gorgeous gourmet baby carrots, and (almost) unlimited savory spinach, along with some other treats I’m selfishly keeping to myself. But you guys, those carrots…I ate 6 of them after dinner tonight. I’m sure they taste better when you work so hard to get them out of the ground, but they’re the best Potter Hill carrots I’ve ever eaten – and that’s a downright bold statement.

Typically we wait until Monday morning to harvest so that everything is super fresh. However, with the impending snow and cold headed our way, I wasn’t sure we’d be able to get anything out of the ground come Monday. And I guess fresh is relative anyway – three day old veggies from the farm is a good two weeks fresher than anything you’ll get in the grocery store.

Including the storage crops still for sale, it’s not a bad haul for the first week of December. Add a high tunnel to the mix next year and we’ll still be in full-swing right up through Christmas and hopefully beyond. Speaking of swings, those lettuce heads from Upswing Farm were a yuge hit and will be back again this week. They will be full-sized heads this week, so order accordingly. Cheese and chocolates are available again as well. Stock up for the holidays!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 10am Monday. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Last Call?

Hey y’all – I’m highly confident and somewhat certain that this is definitely, possibly our last week, maybe.  But if it is, what an epic last week it will be! I’m pulling out all the stops to make sure you have a delicious and nutritious start to December to make up for the rest of the month. Are you ready for this? We have:
-LETTUCE is BACK. My friend is (still) killing it over at Upswing Farm in Ashland, and has extra lettuce and kale to go along with our killer spinach. Go green!
-Meats: Have you seen Jeff’s winter setup for his pastured pigs? I know from experience, it’s not easy being that generous to your animals. Despite your best intentions, if you give them an inch, they will take a mile. I can guarantee, these are the happiest (and tastiest) pigs in the Northeast. His availability sheet is here – email him directly at info@shortcreeknh.com to order.
Cheese: Award-winning cheese. Enough said.
Chocolates: Sarah has some great new stocking stuffers up (if you can manage not to eat them before Christmas).
-Certified organic, locally grown siracha and salsas (what?!) First come first served, not on our website.
-Apples (conventionally grown) from Foppemas – Excellent dual-purpose Mutsus and Empire apples.
-Oh, and I almost forgot all of our awesome veggies. Carrots, celeriac, squash, beets, onions – all of these will keep until March…stock up before it’s gone!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 10am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Taking Stock and Stocking Up

I keep getting  the question of how much longer we’ll continue with the pickups. Short answer – until we run out of sweet delicious carrots and the rest of the stock of veggies we have stored in April’s basement! My gut tells me it will just be one more week after this one. But then again, the spinach is looking fantastic and we’re actually just about to start harvesting from the next planting (a very late, optimistic “why not” planting). So who knows….does that clear things up? Either way, time to start stocking up!

It’s always hard to pull the plug on a season, but sometimes you get subtle reminders that maybe, just maybe, it’s time. Like Monday, after our big Thanksgiving pickup, I found this in our mailbox – the first seed catalog for 2018! While attempting to keep my mind on the task at hand, I find myself daydreaming about big plans for the future. And what a great question on the front – certainly an off-season newsletter subject! Short answer…I grow for the cutie pictured above with the huge grin on her face while eating a carrot almost as big as she is that I pulled from the clean organic dirt a few minutes prior which wasn’t sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or any other type of ‘cides. Why do you grow?

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Future Farmer

They grow up so fast!

I can’t say I’m typically a big holiday person. Many of them seem forced or hyper-commercialized. However, I deeply connect with Thanksgiving for obvious reasons…I have so much to be thankful for and I’m obsessed with great food. One big goal I had for the season was to have something good for you to add to your Thanksgiving meal. It’s certainly not a given considering our unpredictable and sometimes brutal weather. But I’m proud and so very thankful to provide you with a long list of no-spray, diligently tended and hand-picked organic veggies! Your two options for stocking up with our veggies are via our usual online ordering system for on-farm pickup Monday (link above), OR you can come see us tomorrow at the Shrewsbury one-day Winter Farmer’s Market from 2:30-6:30 at Oak Middle School.

As an extra bonus, there will be cheese available for sale at the Monday pickup from our friends at Couet Farm and Fromagerie! Whether you need just a single block, a gift basket, or a whole cheese platter for your holiday meals, they have you covered. If you’ve never tried their delicious cheeses, now is your chance as they will be joining us from 4-6pm with samples. And, as always, Anna Banana will be dropping off chocolates  and has some boxes that would be a great gift for any host!

I hope y’all have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with great food and even better company!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Under Cover

Nature, and specifically veggies, can do some amazing things. Our first real frost of the season Wednesday night was also a hard freeze – I watched my weather app with dismay as it dropped below the predicted low of 31 already at 7pm. By then it was far too late to cover anything, and by the morning it was 23 degrees and we had some frozen greens. Amazingly, both the frozen lettuce (above) and spinach (below) thawed out and went on their business of being delicious food for you and me like nothing happened!

Speaking of 23 degrees, that’s the temp as I write this and free-falling, where it will stop, no one knows. I’ve removed the “hardy but not tundra-hardy” items from the list in preparation of a low of 20. If we hit 14, which is one of the predictions I saw, the list may need further revisions. We spent the afternoon getting the most near and dear to my heart under cover – spinach, baby lettuce, and spicy mix. Meanwhile kale laughs at 14 degrees like it’s an awkward boy band going through puberty, so I’m fairly confident we’ll at least have those in the greens department. Either way, we have some pretty stellar roots right now with our rainbow and orange carrots the star of the show. And thine eyes do not deceive you – we picked a bunch of heirloom tomatoes and sweet peppers Wednesday afternoon, and just in time too as the plants are deader than a doornail now. There are only two more Mondays before Thanksgiving, so it’s time to stock up!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Loads of Treats

This house has been here for 247 years, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to make it through Sunday night. You know it’s a bad storm when the neighbor’s wind sock gets shredded in the wind – it’s a wind sock! A proper thunderstorm conjures up fond memories of summers back in Ohio, but the wind up here is unsettling, I think because of how persistent it is. The rain finally stopped after a mere 3.5″, but the winds continued through Monday afternoon. I spent the whole windy day feeling unnerved and in a bit of a haze. Fortunately April picked up the slack and got us through another busy Monday harvest. I guess it could have been much worse – the wind ripped a few metal panels and boards off a couple of our barns that were surely not built to last 247 years. But we had power through the whole storm and the house remained fully intact to see another 90,155 days or so (hopefully). Meanwhile, guess what’s howling outside right now as I type this!

After all the dust settled, our little native pollinator (not a bumblebee!) had a wonderful time running around South Street on Halloween. Fortunately she hasn’t discovered candy yet, so she had to settle for some treats fresh from the garden. And popcorn.

Paddy Rose’s Recommended Garden Treats This Week:
-Apples: So sweet and so ugly, just like her daddy. PR eats at least one of these a day.
-Heirloom tomatoes: Uh, yea…November tomatoes. Gotta get you some of those before PR eats them all!
-Spinach: We’ve begun picking our winter spinach variety and it’s even better than the summer variety, if that’s possible.
-Rainbow and orange carrots: We just started picking the next planting of carrots – they’re delicate, gorgeous and getting sweeter with each frost.  It turns out that planting is all orange, so I must have ran out of rainbow seed. But don’t panic, we still have loads of rainbow carrots (pictured below) that will be sold loose from now on instead of bunched.

Also, you can order cheese, chocolates, and meat this week as well. Cheese and chocolates can be ordered directly on our website, while you need to email Jeff to order meat. You can pick everything up right here on the farm during our usual Monday pickup times.

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

 

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LOL…not

Careful what you ask for. I did in fact complain about a lack of rain in my last discourse, so you can blame me if your basement is flooded. Whoever’s controlling the weather up there has a real sense of humor. In the preceding 2 months and 23 days, we got a total of 4.6″ of rain (and that’s Worcester’s totals – I bet we got half that). From Tuesday-Thursday, we got 4.5″ of rain. Oh, and there’s 2.5″ more on the way Sunday. Ha, real funny mother nature!

There’s so much going on this week you absolutely need to know about that you’ll have to wait a week for more biting commentary.

Seasonal Cooking Classes! Friend, food writer, and chef extraordinaire Tori, a local food writer, is hosting a series of seasonal cooking classes at the Grafton Rec Center and the next one is November 7th. The topic fittingly is Thanksgiving sides. Check out more here.
Potter Hill fruit? It’s true, we’ll be selling some apples from our backyard trees. Never sprayed so they sure ain’t pretty, but they taste great.
-You know what goes well with apples? Cheeeeese is back in stock for this week. They’ve added two flavors – pumpkin spice and maple – to their popular Adelisca cheese (a spreadable cheese enjoyed every morning by the Grady family on their eggs and greens). They recommend the aged raw-milk cheese Karolina would go best with apples.
Flower bouquets are also back. April’s been making some incredible bouquets lately so we decided to make them available for sale again. I won’t give away her secret recipe, but it will smell and look fantastic!
-Get the caramel apples before they’re gone – Anna Banana’s has some crazy caramel creations but only for the next 2 weeks.
Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.
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Staying Alive

We’ve had a couple frosts up here on the hill, and yet none in sight over the next 10 days. Sure all that could change on the whims of a weatherman, but the crazy thing is the tomatoes are still alive. And eggplant, and peppers. Summer is hanging on like a hair in a biscuit!

It’s really, really hard to complain about 70s and sun all day every day, but I’m going to go ahead and try. How about some rain?! We’ve actually returned to drought status, which is highly unusual for this time of year. My weather app has been continually warning me of elevated fire risks – doesn’t it know it’s October? Late October even. I’ve been delaying putting down cover crop seed to prepare the garden for next year because it’s a dustbowl, but it’s now or never time according to a wise old man I consult with often up in NH.

What’s Great This Week
-If you thought the kale has been good this season (it has!), it’s going to be even sweeter with the recent frosts. The same will be true for our mustard greens, spinach, and incredible rainbow carrots!
-Eggs – The ladies have had a daily buffet of surplus greens lately. Kale, swiss chard, lettuce…they’ve been eating like the princesses they are. You are what you eat, and what you eat eats too!
-Fried Green Tomatoes – There’s always a narrow window of time you can get this fall treat and now is that time. I made the tough decision to take out a couple rows of tomatoes before the cold did so. We treasure these tomatoes so much that it’s the first time we’ve prematurely ended their season, but there’s been so much disease on them that they stopped being productive. So when life gives you lemons, make fried green tomatoes!

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Frosty Paws

Brrr….out of nowhere, what a chilly morning yesterday! There was a bit of frost on my way down the hill and quite a bit more throughout Grafton, but it was a few degrees warmer (34) at the top of the hill and everything survived to see another day. You’re on notice tomatoes, the end is nigh! Possibly as early as Tuesday.

It certainly will be bittersweet when the end does come. I’m not going to lie, I may have done a little frost dance in hopes it might take a few things out. The tomatoes are already circling the drain (first come, first serve on Monday), but I just don’t have the heart to pull the plug. It’s been a fantastic season, but such a good season necessarily means there’s a never-ending list of things to do, which is pushed to the back burner while we harvest the abundance. Now that the Grafton market is over for the season, we’ll be able to chip away at that list! Hopefully.

Speaking of lists, the order list is down to…only 28 different veggies! Not bad for mid-October. If you don’t see something that gets you excited, you’re not trying very hard – try something new like salad turnips or watermelon radishes (so spicy!).

With the market season (almost*) over, we will start offering more add-ons to your orders like chocolates. Anna Banana’s candied apples are big, bold and beautiful. *Almost because there are still 2 Douglas Markets left – today and next Saturday 9am-noon.

State of the Garden Address:
-Get the last of your summer faves while there’s still time; bell and sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, maybe lovely late eggplant too?
-We’re on the verge of another spinach explosion. I can’t even describe how excited I am about this next planting that is just about to hit the shelves.
-Onions galore! Last season we really didn’t have any storage onions, so I’m thrilled about the hoop house currently full of them.
-Veggies beginning with L had a rough week. Leeks are sold out for the season and head lettuce is on injured reserve and probably too late in the season to make a comeback. Fortunately baby cut lettuce and our spicy salad mix will pick up the slack.

Pickup Procedures:
Put your orders in online before 8am Monday. We’ll pick it fresh Monday morning and have your order available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.