Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring 2010!

Where to start! Our new menu for the Mill City Farmer's Market is shaping up nicely. I hope to get some nice pictures of food and ingredients for the menu display, and I'll post some here too. Phil wants a large quantity of ramp butter for cooking, but lately my foraging has come up short. Lots of mustard greens and some fiddleheads, no ramps! I hope I can buy early ramps from a farm on Mother's Day weekend, otherwise we will run out of the stuff! This spring we've had some spectacular early warm weather on the Island. Peat let all of the chickens out of the yard to peck and scratch around in the meadow and take dust baths in a sunny patch next to the parking lot. He's also moved the rabbits from their winter quarters in a warm shed to breezy summer accommodations. Several of the female rabbits have had their litters already. The baby bunnies are awfully cute.

At right, a mother and baby rabbit eating apples together.

My own gardening activities are pretty tame compared to Peat's. I'm just happy to see the tulips and rhubarb I planted last year popping up again. This year I need to enrich the soil in our yard with more compost.

Here are some quick links to issues we've been concerned about lately. This article in the Star Tribune reports that Minnesota farmers' incomes dropped 63% in 2009. Please support our local farmers by buying directly from the farmer at a farmer's market or through a CSA. Remember to buy local meat, dairy and produce whenever possible at the grocery store or co-op, or we may lose more local farms! Finally, new USDA regulations threaten to shut down small meat processors. This would have a huge impact on our local small farmers and ranchers. It would also reduce the types of meat products available to consumers. Read more here

Above, chickens enjoying early Spring sun, free foraging and dust baths. At right, me "transplanting" a chicken from my own yard back to Peat's!

Black Cat Natural Foods is now on Twitter! Follow our local food adventures and thoughts on sustainability. blackcatnatfood

Monday, July 6, 2009

It's summer on the Island. How did it happen so fast? Gardeners are busy weeding and watering and picking raspberries and strawberries. Lilies overhang the sidewalks. Wild apples and mulberries ripen on the trees. Neighborhood cats prowl through the hosta beds and under the lilac bushes, as we all await the first tomatoes of the season.

Peat's garden is overflowing with a profusion of baby zucchini, herbs, and Asian greens. Inside the chicken coop are young chickens and ducks at various stages of growth. Peat hatched some eggs in an indoor incubator and some under a "broody" hen earlier this season, and the little chicks are growing quickly into juvenile birds that are fond of scratching around the edges of the chicken yard and roosting on branches Peat props up for them.

Above, clockwise from upper left, a baby heritage chicken, juvenile birds roosting on a branch above the younger birds' enclosure, ducks, hens and rooster scratch in the yard, baby chicks and ducklings share a feeder.

Sitting outside on a shady patio is a popular pastime during these warm summer days. The sound of a neighbor at work composing a song on the piano competes with the songbirds in the canopy of trees, and cool breezes blow in off of the river. Some long summer evenings, charcoal fires burn in an old Weber grill, and we share spectacular feasts of local farm foods and garden harvests. For our garden recipe of local trout with new potatoes and snap peas, see this feature in The Heavy Table