The Cold Muse

The happy high tunnel ecosystem!

The happy high tunnel ecosystem!

The cold muse sauntered in unseasonably late this year. Summer flew away on the wings of staggered chevron teams of Canada Geese.  However, there was no haste to their migration. They didn’t tug at the warmth of the sun or take the flowers with them and we didn’t get morning fields, held in freezing fog, from their exiting draft. They would call, as geese do, their gossip perky, echoing on dry, unwintered, mountain tops.  The geese have migrated with prediction, unpredicted has been lettuce, cabbage, even the stray tomatoes out in the field, that have continued to seize the mild weather and sustain their growth in the moment.

The cold muse’s tardiness allowed for unprecedented extention of our Siskiyou County harvest window. September tumbled into October, and October into November, as months in single harmony. The end of the season sprint kept curving around the bend with no noticeable ending.  The cold mornings usually play their roll in taking the season away, the dutiful farmer in turn tills it all in and sows the closing of the season and cover crops, until spring ground is broken.  But this has been the fall of perpetual harvest, can one really lament? It’s been an extended season of bounty, fresh salads and soups, more sharing and lengthening of connection to the harvest. The Mt. Shasta Harvest Connection for example.

Jonathan kept me together at markets!

Jonathan kept me together at markets!

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The cold muse has been late this year,  and with it so has my reflection of the season, this cold morning by the fire to write, ponder and absorb. Now, with snow on in the Eddies, on Goosenest, Black Butte and a white Shasta, the season can begin to close and go in. An eminence of blessings and thanks for another powerful season of growth can radiate out.  In MANY ways this was the most challenging season yet, with the heat and earwigs taking the farm into a deep hole for the month of June. July and August were kind and our mega-late summer kinder still. Homeward Bounty Farm’s Fourth Annual Harvest Dinner, yet again, held special space and was visited by an auspicious lunar eclipse. The high tunnel is teaching me volumes and produced the most stunning cauliflower crop I’ve have had the honor of growing. This beautiful community, my Siskiyou County home, continues to support, value and connect deeper with the local food experience! This land continues to find connections in family and friends. People who want to give to this property, this farm, to the earth and plants, to step into the pattern and cycles. Farmer and farm couldn’t be luckier and happier or more honored.

4th Annual Homeward Bounty Harvest Dinner

4th Annual Homeward Bounty Harvest Dinner

Garlic starting to pop up. 2016 already in the works.

Garlic starting to pop up. 2016 already in the works.

Lettuce still growing in the field. One of my favorite varieties, Drunken Women.

Lettuce still growing in the field. One of my favorite varieties, Drunken Women.

Brassicas growing happily.

Brassicas growing happily.

The cold muse that has finally brought a slowing ease to the season, did indeed come later than expected and with it I’ve delayed my favorite poem of a season’s close.  A poem that usually comes in with the geese and frost comes in now, mid November. May we have a defined wet winter and a poignant start to spring and continued seasons of bounty.

The Summer Ends   By Wendell Berry

The summer ends, and it is time
To face another way. Our theme
Reversed, we harvest the last row
To store against the cold, undo
The garden that will be undone.
We grieve under the weakened sun
To see all earth’s green fountains dried,
And fallen all the works of light.
You do not speak, and I regret
This downfall of the good we sought
As though the fault were mine. I bring
The plow to turn the shattering
Leaves and bent stems into the dark,
From which they may return. At work,
I see you leaving our bright land,
The last cut flowers in your hand.

 

Giving Thanks, Pie

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Giving thanks. This year I have a wealth to give thanks for, so much so that ‘thanks’ seems a mild word. Thanks, blessings, gratitude, gratefulness – ball them all together, and the Pangaea like word that forms might begin to honor how I feel. I  visualize my blessing, a dictionaryesque tome, perched on a podium where it’s always open revealing a letter at random; R, R is for rain, radishes, Red Tailed Hawks, Robin O’Brien, romaine, roses, row cover…. From April to zucchini, the expanse of this year’s blessings, and all chapters of gratitude before, keep me in constant grace towards life. They make even the hard days of labor and loss be ones that hold great depths of thanks.

Somewhere in that tome is T for Thanksgiving and definitely P for PIE!
A pumpkin by any other name would taste as sweet, but the Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin indeed holds quite a charming and delectable name for which it is well deserving. For me, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin has become a staple. It will be one of those varieties that I grow year after year, not even curious of the other pie pumpkin varieties out there. This round netted squash has much in which to give thanks and at the Thanksgiving table represents a quintessential pillar of our feasting favorites: PIE! When Thanksgiving comes around there are many things I’m thankful for, a belly full of festive food, a table at capicity, joy bursting at the buttons and just when you think you’re too full, life’s just too good and you couldn’t possibly have more, there’s pie! Making your own pumpkin pie truly can’t be beat! F is for flaky crust, J is for Just one more piece and E if for ENJOY!

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Most Excellent Squash Pie –                                                                                                                              Recipe adapted from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love , by Kristin Kimball

**Makes two pies** IMG_0327

Ingredients:

Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup cold butter

1/3 very cold water. I put the 1/3 cup cold water in a dish and add ice cubes to cool further.

Filling

2 1/2 pounds Winter Luxury Pumpkin or other winter squash cooked. I use a 6lb pumpkin for two pies.

1 1/2 heavy cream

3 eggs

3/4 sugar

1 tsp cinnamon, powdered ginger and cardamom (optional)

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg and salt

1/8 tsp cloves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.                                                                                                                                                                               2. Wash outside of pumpkin and cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place on baking sheet cut side down with a little bit of water. Bake for an hour or until very soft. The beauty of this pumpkin is that the skin very easily peals aways from the flesh!                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. While pumpkin is baking prepare crust. I always make mine in a food processor so it doesn’t get over worked. I add the flour and salt and buzz to combine. I then cut up the cold butter into little pieces and place in the processor with the flour. I just pulse it a few time and slowly pour in some cold water until the ingredients start to bind. I pour it out onto a cutting board and ball it up tight. Don’t over work the dough or make get is warm by handling it too much! If you feel like it’s getting warm you can put it in the fridge for a little bit. Divide into two equal ball and roll then each out and place in a buttered 9-inch pie plate. Chill for 30 minutes.                                                                                                            4. Placed cooked pumpkin in a bowl, add all filling ingredients and mix with a spoon. This filling always comes out beautifully smooth and creamy. You can use a blender if you like, but I have never had to. Jut a wooden spoon does the trick!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                5. Fill pie crusts with fill and bake at 375 degrees until center is set, about 40 minutes.

V is for Voila!

Y is for YUM!!

H is for a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!!

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GIVE THANKS!

GIVE THANKS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vaoie

Heartvest Dinner

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Another season to honor. One to name and define, to catalogue. Wedges of present moments strung together under concise themes: a day, the moth of August, a row of tomatoes , but contain truly nothing that can be defined in such simple ways. In reflecting on this, I guess the challenge lies in remembering each memory as pixilated as possible, the quality in every dot that makes it a whole, to remember and feel the authenticity of moments.

This year, not yet done, but cresting, has had many truly authentic moments and has been a season unlike any I’ve experienced before.  It was Green, not exclusively in the eco sense, but in its young tenderness, it’s vulnerability and wide-eyed wonder. We were novices, the soil, the seed, the farmer. Playing in an environment where a little beginners luck would be welcomed and the learning curve proved steep.

The season brought together Home and Bounty, as was manifested through its namesake! The family grew this season, extending to encompass yet more and more lovely smiles, warm hearts and willing to work hands. A community, with a deep appreciation for community, for local vibrant food and an even greater passion to share meals with ones dear! At the heart of it all it truly IS about eating! About making beautiful meals that make you and the ones around you glow. Each individual bite one to savor, like each pixel that makes the whole. The way the white lights caught the smiles amid animated conversations over a Harvest Dinner table. The zinnias shining out, the rain hydrating the cover crop seed, a night and a season beautifuly and richy authentic.  Thank you all for this wealth, this support and the pulse of a farm famly bond, the beat of anther successful Heartvest!

The spread - YUM

The spread – YUMIMG_1552IMG_1546 IMG_1558

Welcoming a beautiful rainbow.
Welcoming a beautiful rainbow.

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A storm rolls in.

A storm rolls in.

Namaste New Friends

 

October has been a beautiful month. It is the most revealing and acute of convergences, the cusp. It’s the Fall of Summer and autumnal transition to Winter. For farm and farmer this shift is grater than that of seasons, colors, smells and sounds. It’s a true closing. The hard morning freezes instantly melts cellulose, fades chlorophyll and buckles plants towards the soil. The time for crops to decompose and become rich strata to sustain future seasons’. In delicate tow of that first hard frost is the perfectly tied bow on the package, the stamp on the letter – the period at the end of the exquisite sentence that details out a growing season overflowing with blessings and abundance. Not The End, but rather the last sentence of the long chapter titled somewhere along the lines of, ‘Season #1: The Bounty of Homeward Bounty’. There is something very delicate about this forced resignation, mother nature’s pink slip. It’s the fine print, “You too have your season, Farmer, relax already. Read a good book or two, seek out the best dehydrated food recipes, put on some weight and get excited for the wealth of new season possibilities!

Yes, those hard frosts have come and sadly the farm has seen lovelier days. I feel very thankful however, that Homeward Bounty hosted a very special visitor before those killing frosts. On that Autumn morning we were able to pick the last few handfuls of peppers, analyze numerous seed crops and shared inspiring conversations that left me warm and giddy inside!

Me with Sunita Rao of Vanasatree

It was months ago when Flick, a CSA member mentioned that his friend, Sunita Rao, would be visiting from India and he wanted to bring her to the farm. Before I knew it, that week had come. I met Flick, Jennifer and Sunita Rao on the farm for a nice morning tour. Over fresh pumpkin bread, homemade jam and amazing baked pears, we shared our thoughts on plant diversity, open pollinated seed varieties and about the great abundance that is yielded from 1/2 acre of land. Our inspiring conversations left me feeling all warm and giddy inside. Sunita Rao is quite the inspiring individual and I feel so honored to be in contact with her and to call her a friend! She’s the founder of Vanasatree – The Malnad Forest Garden and Seed Keepers’ Collective in Karnataka, India. Vanasatree promotes food security and autonomy through biodiversity and the use and preservation of traditional seeds. Visit http://www.vanastree.org to learn more about this inspiring collective.

Jennifer, Sunita and I infront of this year’s colorful squash harvest.

Looking at mangel beets. An experimental winter crop for the Copeland’s goats, horses and cows.

Trying the fresh seeds of ‘Black Cumin’ -Nigella Sativa

 

On This Harvest Moon

On this Harvest Moon we gathered; we gathered our party gear, our blessings, our open arms for new friends and raise our glasses to the bounty, color, the unyielding wealth and gifts of this year’s growing season, to health, to our community, to strength and support and to the balance.

“The distance between us is holy ground
To be traversed feet bare,
Arms raised in joyous dance
So that it is crossed.
And the tracks of our pilgrimage shine in the darkness
To light our coming together
In a bright and steady light.”

― Raphael Jesus Gonzales

(thank you Isaac)

This season has not come to completion enough to reflect on it as if it were not still in the present. As I write, there are still plants growing in their loamy beds, their green leaves waving to neighbors across the way, moving in conversation like that of my Italian Grandmother’s. There are rows of new crops that love the open star nights of autumn and rows of crops dying, drying to golden hews, dissolved images of plants crisp, yet holding within rattling pods their genetic wealth to be expressed in future generations, future seasons.

It’s hard to resist reflections. This is time of year the harvest moon rises. The sun, persistently warm, supervises the cusp  of summer and fall harvest. Tomatoes still ripen on the vine, peppers marble to mature colors, lemon cucumbers relentlessly populate under dense canopies, all in tandem with crops ready to be cured for winter. Winter squash vines die back with stems becoming hard and corky. The onions have been pulled and set to develop papery skins, booking them for storage success.

It is also during this time of year where I feel I can start coming up for longer breaths of air. Not to my surprise, but always to my deep gratitude I’m welcomed by a song of love and support by the most amazing community of people; who have been the driving force and foundation of my focus and fortitude.

**THE FIRST ANNUAL HOMEWARD BOUNTY HARVEST GATHERING**

This past Sunday marked a special event, the First Annual Homeward Bounty Harvest Gathering! It was a magical night, luminated under a crystalline Harvest Moon and hosted on the soil that gave and grew so much. A lovely meal was shared with friends of the farm, family and CSA members. The afternoon and night was pure perfection!

Farm Tour

Harvest Moon Rising