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Photo Essay

My wife had a few off clinic days and things on the farm have slowed a tiny bit (15 hour days instead of 17), so we’ve been taking full advantage of the bounty coming in. I hope you are too! If you’re in a food rut, below is a photo essay with some ideas straight from our kitchen, with an assist from a CSA member’s kitchen.

We’ll start with these beautiful beets. They taste as good as they look. The first picture is simply roasted beets – the only way to eat beets in my opinion. I didn’t even peel these (really don’t need to with fresh beets) – just quartered them and dressed them with salt, pepper, and olive oil for very roughly 45 minutes at 400. I got distracted after they cooked and didn’t eat them all hot. Paddy Rose and I were looking for a snack later and ate the whole tupperware of cold beets. How about that for a snack next time you’re craving something sweet and chewy!

Next up is this gem from a CSA Card member. She told me about it at the pickup and I was thoroughly unconvinced (cucumbers, beets, dill…sounded weird) but she brought me some at the market and I was smitten at first sight. I generally stay away from cold soups but she promised me it was refreshing and she was right. Google Chlodnik for a recipe.

Next up is a TBM. Yes, that’s right…a TBM with a ripe green Tomato, purple Basil, and in this case the M stands for Mediterranean Adelisca from my cheesemaking friend (which I will have for sale on Monday). Toasted on some good bread. SO good!

How do you use that thai or sacred basil you ask? In anything I say! Jenni put it in with this cherry tomato chicken mozarella balsamic dish and it was 👌

This last one isn’t a meal idea, unless your idea of a meal is eating a tomato like an apple. In that case, this 2+ pound ripe green heirloom tomato could feel your whole family! The tomatoes are just about in full swing this week and tasting fantastic…especially those cherries! Too many great veggies coming in right now to list them all, and we’re on the cusp of tons more. If only we could get some rain we’d be bursting at the seams. Rain dances everyone!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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Magical Sunsets

Another week, another gorgeous sunset picture – it was pretty magical the other night up here. Y’all should come up to experience one sometime…I might even put you to work!

We had a couple BIG days this week that hopefully laid the ground work for a great fall and next season. What does a big day on the farm look like this time of year? I’ve been waiting what seems like forever for a good rain to put in the fall transplants. We got that and then some on Wednesday. 2.16″ is what my weather app said, and that might be an understatement judging by how much water was in our harvest buckets the next morning. We planted spinach (the real stuff), chard, lettuce, kale, kohlrabi, bok choi, tatsoi, yokatta na, cabbage, and broccoli. Yea, a lot. My head is still spinning a little trying to keep track of it all. We ran out of room for the cauliflower and perpetual spinach unfortunately, but I’m hoping to squeeze them in somewhere after the next rain (rain dance everyone!). Additionally, we direct seeded spicy salad mix (oh how I’ve missed you!), radishes (you too!), turnips (and you!), arugula (ok all of you), and tokyo bekana.

After planting, we switched over to harvesting for the Saturday CSA – the zucchini and cucumbers that would have been too big by Saturday and the ripest tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Throw in some maintenance items like trellising the cucumbers, moving the chickens, washing eggs…and yea, it was a busy one. But not over yet as a friend came to the rescue after my crew went home and helped me broadcast seed cover crop while the soil was still (somewhat) wet. And yet still the day wasn’t over. We somehow found the time and energy to make it down to Douglas Orchards to pick blueberries that evening for the Saturday CSA. Sure is a good thing the days are still so long. Although that was enough work for a week, I beat the sun out of bed the next day harvesting the rest of the veggies for the Saturday CSA!

Lots of great veggies on the list, and I’ve loosened up the limits a bit on the good stuff. Somehow we might be harvesting the best lettuce of the season (do I say that every week?), the tomatoes are starting to tomato, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many carrots and beets we have to go through before the next plantings kick in. There will certainly be a gap, though I don’t think it will be as big as I feared. Although not enough to add to the list, there will also be some eggplant and peppers available first come first serve. Order away!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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Ode to August

Oh, hello August – I missed you! Please take it easy on this heat averse farmer, unlike your predecessor. An occasional rain would be nice, especially soon, though let’s not have a repeat performance of last year. Please?!

I love August, usually. I swear I went to bed miserably hot July 31st and woke up pleasantly chilled the next morning. I think it might even be my favorite month on the farm. Until next month rolls around and I declare my love for September. Oh, and that cool but not cold air of October! Basically I love any month that’s below 90 and above 50.

As long as I’m professing my love, let me tell you about this special someone. Rock star vet and amazing mother, she can do it all. She somehow even finds time to feed her hungry clan with the ridiculous amounts of veggies I bring in the house. Nora’s out-eating Paddy Rose these days and…let’s just say I can eat (understatement of the year). I am truly blessed and beyond thankful to have just celebrated 10 years of marriage and 15 years together on August 1st – yet another reason to love August! It’s been such a roundabout road that led us here, but I wouldn’t want to share this crazy life with anyone else. Thank you for all that you do and all that you are – love ya!

The summer goodies continue to trickle in. If we get a wet few days, I think everything will explode. Can’t wait! The watermelon, cherry tomatoes, rainbow beets and carrots, and those amazing blonde cucumbers have just started coming in and are up in limited quantities on the website. The eggplant and peppers seem to be on vacation this week, but the second planting of zucchini and summer squash just kicked in while the first one hasn’t given up the ghost yet. Meanwhile the lettuce and fresh onions (so good!) are still cranking, and we have cilantro for days. If only every month was August – get it all while you can!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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Almost

If there was one word to describe this season, “almost” would be it. All season long I’ve felt like we are almost over the hump. The greenhouse was almost ready in time, but it wasn’t so everything got delayed. The field was almost ready to be planted in early April…and then it rained cats and dogs for 10 straight days so we didn’t get back in until May, which further delayed everything. The deer fence was almost ready when the heat forced me to remove the covers over everything. The irrigation was almost set up in time for the first dry stretch we had. Although the plants have been heroic in trying to catch up from all the delays, summer abundance hasn’t quite come to the hill yet. We had the first modest pick of rainbow carrots, beets, bell peppers, eggplant, and cherry tomatoes for the CSA on Saturday, and they are available in limited quantities this week on the website. The second planting of cucumber and squash/zucchini is almost ready as well, so they are still limited. I tried a watermelon and it was almost ready. Sorry I’ll stop now!

As frustrating as being almost there is, the garden looks great. The variety is impressive, while the quantities not so much. One thing we have nailed this year is lettuce, which is making up for last season’s constant shortages with more lettuce than I know what to do with this year. And it’s been REALLY good if I do say so myself…not easy to do in the middle of the summer! Our leek, onion, and herb game is going strong as well, specifically some incredible basil and cilantro. We picked 60 bunches of basil for the CSA and didn’t even make a dent in it. If you like to stock up on pesto for the winter like we do, now is the time because I spotted the first signs of basil downy mildew. A relatively new (to the Northeast) disease , it pretty quickly wipes out the entire basil crop. The discount won’t show up on the website because I’m a farmer not a web designer, but buy 2 and get 1 free. Buy 4 and get 2 free. Buy 6 and get 3 free. You get the idea, no limits – stock up! Just make sure to confirm the right quantities are in your cart before checkout – there is a glitch (again farmer not web designer) that won’t allow you to add multiple of some veggies to your cart, but you can increase the quantities if you click on View Cart before checkout.

Also this week only, April is back making flower bunches. The first sunflowers started to open up and the marigold are popping like crazy. She always mixes in some beautiful wild flowers and intoxicating basil. They’re quite a treat, make sure to add one to your order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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98 Degrees

I’m not a fan. Of the band nor the temperature. Get ready folks, we’re in for a wild ride! But what a gift Thursday and Friday morning were – I’m not sure we even made it out of the 60s on Thursday?  I actually thought about putting a sweatshirt on…in the middle of the day…in the middle of July.  And then I actually did on Friday morning. We got SO much done those two days, which is good because nothing is getting done this weekend. It’s amazing how much more efficient you are working outside when it’s not in the mid-90s! Today was 96 and all I accomplished after 9am was turning sprinklers on and off and cooling off in a friend’s pool. And tomorrow’s supposed to be even hotter.

Fortunately much of the cooler season crops are done until the fall. Broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi, and cauliflower love the heat as much as this fair-skinned farmer. Unfortunately only a few of the cauliflower are heading up properly. The plants look great but it’s really hard to get good spring cauliflower as we have a pretty short window before it gets too hot for them. Fingers crossed and we’ll see what happens.

No creature or plant on the farm likes 98 degrees. (They weren’t even top 3 boy bands of the 90s!) Even tomatoes, my favorite heat-loving crop, will drop its flowers in the mid-90s, so somewhere down the line we’ll see a lull in what is looking like a fantastic tomato harvest. We picked a few cherry tomatoes from the tunnel this week, and I was very worried how everything would do in the tunnel, but we somehow managed to harvest for the CSA AND pull shade cloth up and over the tunnel this morning AND not pass out! It would have easily been triple digits+ in there without the shade cloth!

It seems the summer abundance is rapidly approaching, if not already here. The variety at least is great, though many items are limited. I just counted and there are 20 different items now listed. Order now while the getting is good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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So Close

We’re on the brink of a really good season but there’s been one (or two, not sure) really big thorns in my side. Deer! In addition to quite a few layers of fence, I put up two scarecrows and hung Irish Spring soap off them Friday night after they got into the beets, carrots, and lettuce the night before. Feeling pretty good about things, I went to bed feeling confident that we had turned the corner and finally got caught up from the very slow start to the season.

To my dismay, as I went out to cut some beautiful lettuce for the CSA Saturday morning, half of it was gone! Fortunately the next round of lettuce wasn’t too far behind, so I dipped into that. Unfortunately, if I keep taking from the next round, there will be a lettuce shortage sooner than later. So enjoy that lettuce while it lasts! The deer are (is?) also the reason you haven’t seen any carrots or beets yet this season. They (it?) is also the reason for this late newsletter as I spent the rest of the day into the evening and early night adding more fence layers. I’ll know shortly if it worked…the suspense is killing me!

Everything not getting chomped looks great. There will be cucumbers, broccoli, red cabbage, and zucchini on a first come first serve basis. The lettuce, onions, kale, and basil are plentiful and are prime eating right now. Pesto anyone? The yokatta na and braising mix is pretty holey, but still tastes great. You could even make the argument that a few holes is actually a good thing.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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Cold Front

All day yesterday I was optimistically looking forward to the sweet relief of the “cold front” that was supposed to be coming through to take away the brutal heat. And I mean brutal! According to my weather app pictured above, it was 101 and a real feel of 134 degrees. I figured the numbers for this weather station were totally loony, so I switched to another local weather station and it read a real feel of 117! I’m not sure I’d call it a “cold” front but it did go from blazingly hot to just really humid and gross, so I guess I’ll take it?

Either way, that’s some heat! So far, I haven’t noticed any damage to the plants – just mostly to my poor red neck. Tomato, eggplant, and pepper blossoms can actually fall off when it gets super hot and thus not form a fruit. And surely the cooler weather crops don’t love it! Fortunately I saw the heat coming and set up a crude irrigation system that seems to have got us through the worst of it. If you’re not feeling like turning on the oven, check out The UxLocale if you haven’t already. They turned our excess of basil into quite the caprese salad (pictured below). Can’t wait till our tomatoes start coming in to add to it!

With the heat, the summer goodies are starting to come in. I swear the zucchini grew half a foot Friday night, and I’ve started picking the first cucumbers from the tunnel – 2 months late, but better late than never? Some of both will be available Monday on a first come first serve basis as there isn’t enough to add to the website. To go along with a smattering of other limited veggies, the basil and fresh onions are especially looking great. And the lettuce! We’re picking out of the best planting of lettuce yet this season, which is saying a lot!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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Hot off the Grill

I feel like I’ve been pressed up against a grill these last few days of go go go in the heat heat heat. Seems like summer has finally arrived, and just in time to switch meal prep from your hot kitchen to the grill, Jeff is coming down with all kids of scrumptious sausages. Here’s the list, email orders to him directly at info@shortcreeknh.com.

With the late start to the season, most everything is still a week or two behind. Zucchini, onions, cucumbers, new potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage should all be ready within a week (two at most). For now we mostly have lettuce, radishes, bok choi, and kale with a smattering of other goodies.

I finally took off all the covers in the garden on account of the heat, so hopefully the plants are big enough to fend for themselves. I still haven’t sprayed anything ever while running the farm (4th season), and hope to continue that streak. I know the holes on the bok choi are unsightly and I’ll try better to keep the beetles out, but at least you can rest assured you’re not consuming any pesticides! It’s certainly a lot of work, and if you make a mistake (like planting the trap crop too close to the real crop), you pay for it with holes. The beetles strongly prefer the asian greens (bok choi, tatsoi, yokatta na, arugula) to the kale, broccoli, cabbage and broccoli even though they’re all in the same family (brassicaceae). Taking a cue from nature, maybe we should be eating more of those greens! All of those crops prefer the cooler temps, so fortunately I get to try again in the fall.

Meanwhile the asian greens were the interplanted sacrifice for the best looking broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower I’ve grown. Maybe I shouldn’t be too optimistic until the harvest actually comes in (next week hopefully), but we did sample a cabbage this week and it was delicious! Jenni made a slaw with it to go with slow-cooked brisket tacos (in all her spare time). Yum, here’s the recipe for when the cabbage starts coming in!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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Shredded

I write these emails in my head (a scary place) all week – the subject was going to be ‘Swampfoot’ because I think it’s been two weeks since my shoes have dried out and Tanner said I was in danger of getting swampfoot, but that lovely hail storm yesterday changed my course. Every time I start getting really optimistic about the season (despite my swampfoot), something brings me back to the reality that I’m not at all in control…just along for the ride.

The hail storm was the killjoy of the end of a fantastic week that included our first market and first CSA pickup going off without a hitch. Fortunately most veggies are still covered and the hail wasn’t large enough to shred the (very expensive) covers. Any uncovered leafy greens would have been toast, but I don’t have my deer fencing up yet and deer love greens…so I guess, thank you deer? Unfortunately, the vigorous, leafy tomatoes suffered the worst damage. I’m hoping most of the plants just got a natural heavy prune, but not the one above. When the growing tip gets snapped like that, it’s a goner!

Despite it raining every day in recent memory, I’m not complaining yet. Instead of 1, 2 or 3″ rains like in the spring, these rains have been totally manageable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wet up here, but not to the point of stunting growth yet. Everything looks fantastic (minus the hail damage), so I’m stubbornly staying optimistic. For now!

We’re in a bit of a lull between harvest seasons. Summer deliciousness like cucumbers and zucchini will be coming soon, while the tenderest of greens like spinach have gone by. Everything is limited except lettuce and radishes – we’ve transitioned to our third plantings of both, and they are just as good as numbers 1 and 2! Please note, double check the quantities in your cart before checking out. There are issues with adding more than one of some vegetables. There does not seem to be any issues updating quantities from the cart page. This is a new issues and I am stumped – any website experts out there?

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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The Great Escape

Imagine having coffee on your back deck first thing in the morning and a deer runs by, looking a little stressed. Then you see two cows crashing through the tall grass. Are they chasing the deer? Huh – that’s a new one, even for Potter Hill.

That, in fact, was the highlight of my neighbor’s Sunday morning. As you can probably guess, Sunday was not the highlight of my week. I’ll spare you the details but 6 hours later, legs and arms shredded from chasing them through poison ivy, thorns, and dense brush and covered in ticks, we got them in a temporary pen down back…which they promptly broke out of the next two days. Fortunately they were less adventurous and stayed close by after their initial great escape. They’ve been better behaved since I upgraded their temporary pen to maximum security, but at some point, I’d love to have them back up by the house where they’re supposed to be. But I think I’ll leave well enough alone for now!

In other news, the first Grafton Farmers Market of the season is this Wednesday from 2-6pm! Please try to make it out and support your local market. With all the busyness of our lives, grocery home delivery, and what not, markets around the country are struggling. We (the market committee) have put in some serious work to keep the market fresh and exciting. All the oldies but goodies vendors will be there, as well as quite a few new ones. I will have lots of radishes, kale, spinach, chard, and (arguably) the best lettuce I’ve ever grown there if you can’t make the Monday pickup.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am 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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