Spring Basket #1 Week of April 26 – May 4

Good Morning Old Loon Farm Friends!

This week we’re so grateful for sunshine and heat!  Last week’s rains were welcome, but the frost not so much.  Our asparagus was coming along nicely before the freeze; now it will have to recoup a bit!

This week’s 1st Spring Basket includes:

  • 1 Dozen Farm Fresh Eggs
  • 1 bag fresh salad greens mix
  • 1 bouquet fresh chives
  • 1 bouquet fresh sorrel
  • 1 small bunch rhubarb
  • 1 package of fresh goat’s cheese
  • 1 package Old Loon Farm breakfast scones
  • and (hopefully) 1 small bunch fresh asparagus

If you’re not familiar with the herb sorrel, it’s lemony and tangy and tart.  Chop it finely and add the greens directly to your salad, or mince and add the greens to your vinaigrette or mayo-based dressing. It’ll add a tangy kick to your favorite salad.  Google it for more recipes.

Here’s a bit more about our goat cheese:  On Old Loon Farm, we milk our goats daily during the Spring and Summer, filter the milk, and use it for baking or making fudge, or making cheese.  Since we are not a licensed dairy, we do not sell our cheese to the public. But CSA customers, by contract, purchase in advance a share of the products of our farm, so we often include goat cheese in our weekly baskets. If you prefer not to receive goat cheese, just let us know. As per U.S. law, our milk is pasteurized prior to making fresh cheeses.

Goat cheese has been made for thousands of years, in many parts of the world.  Goat milk has particular medium-chain fatty acids which give it a characteristic tart, earthy flavor. Although goat’s milk and cow’s milk have similar total fat content, goat milk is more naturally homogenized than cow’s milk, meaning the cream doesn’t rise to the top as it does in raw cow’s milk. Because of this, it’s often easier to digest than cow’s milk for many people.

In early Spring, when new grass is abundant in the pasture, the soft, creamy cheese (known as chevre) is mild and creamy.  It can be eaten plain on flatbread or crackers, or mixed with savory herbs or sweet fruit and honey.  Often we let the cheese drain for a longer period of time, producing a crumble cheese, which is delicious on salads, topping pizzas or mixing with the softer cheese for spreads.  (Arugula, beet and crumbled chevre is one of our very favorite summer salads!)  Finally, we make a sharp feta which is preserved in brine. Also delicious in salads and spreads.

As the seasons progress and the pasture changes, the flavor of the milk also changes.  High summer produces a sharper flavored cheese, still wonderful for soft chevres, but also perfect for hard, aged cheeses. This year we hope to experiment with more of those hard cheeses.  We hope you enjoy the very delicious, very seasonal goat cheese from our farm!

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Spring Season Starts

Entry sign

With the arrival of April, green has come to Indiana!  Old Loon Farm is waking from its winter sleep and we’re open for seasonal business for 2015!

Our 2015 CSA season starts the first week of May. Our chickens are laying as if their lives depended on it – maybe they’re right! – and so there are plenty of omelets in our future. We have eggs for sale daily – farm fresh, free range and exquisitely tasty!

We’ve got lots of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and a large variety of other vegetables growing in our greenhouse. This week we set out everbearing strawberries and Napa cabbage into the two low tunnels that are ready for use; two more tunnels are still under construction.

From one day to the next, the colors change, the plants grow insanely fast, and our outlook changes.  Here around Loon Lake, piers and boats are going into the water, cottages are opening for the season and traffic seems to increase daily.  It’s in the air – welcome to lake asparagus croppedseason!  One of the earliest crops on our farm is asparagus.  We checked the field on Thursday evening and harvested exactly 5 spears.  By Saturday, it was a different story – enough for several meals!  We will have asparagus for sale at the farm as long as it lasts into late spring.  And that Midwest favorite, rhubarb, is coming along nicely.  Won’t be long now before we have fresh rhubarb pie and jam.

Time to plant potatoes, onions, peas and beets, hopefully ahead of the predicted rains.  You’ll hear more from us soon!

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New Faces on the Farm this Month

We have a couple of new cuties on the farm these days. Twin Toggenburg kids were born on March DSCN279719, a doeling named Chai and a buckling named Joe.  They’re already bouncing around the barn and following mama Cinnamon and grandma Anise out into the pasture in search of whatever is growing in the field and woodlands.  Another doe, Hannah, is a LaMancha breed and is due to kid any time now – keeping watch is a serious business! And it’s much more pleasant when the temperatures are above freezing!  We’re grateful for the end of the long winter of 2015.

With the arrival of spring, the farm is busy with planting activities – starting seeds indoors, watching the fall plantings come to life with the warming air and soil, and of course direct seeding outdoors which will start soon.  Last fall we planted lettuce and other salad greens in covered boxes.  Amazingly, the plants hibernate over winter and start growing again once the soil warms up – our early spring salads will be available soon, and we can’t wait.  Radishes, peas, new horseradish roots and potatoes can go into the ground early; cabbage, tomatoes and peppers are already sprouting indoors. It’s a very busy time.

Maple sugaring season is a memory now – we finished this week and have cleaned up the equipment to be stored till next year.  We have only one good sugar maple tree on our farm, and although it was a rough winter, we harvested enough sap in March for about 3 quarts of finished syrup.  That’s enough for several family pancake parties.  Boiling down sap makes the last days of winter bearable, especially when you’re inhaling the sweet aroma of maple sugar!

Watch for updates on the goat kids, availability of fresh salad greens, and resumption of our bread baking schedule! April is right around the corner.

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Homemade Bread – One of Life’s Simple Pleasures

It’s still cold outside, but the farm kitchen is warm today; we’re making some of our favorite breads to keep us and some of our regular customers satisfied for another week or so.  Nine-grain and Sunflower Honey Oat breads are on the menu today.

Most of the bread you buy at the grocery store has added chemicals and preservatives that improve shelf life and make the dough-processing easier to manage on a large scale. Check the label – do you even know what some of those ingredients are?  Every loaf looks and tastes exactly the same, day after day, year after year. They may have been on the shelf for up to a week before you purchase, and you could keep these breads on your counter for several weeks, and they’d never support a common mold spore!

DSCN2789[1]All our breads at Old Loon Farm are hand-made on a small scale – 2 to 4 loaves in a batch.  We use chemical-free whole grains, unbleached, unbromated flours, fresh butter and oils, filtered water and our own farm-produced milk and honey in our breads.  We never use preservatives.  Our loaves won’t last for weeks on the store shelf or on your counter. But they don’t have to! They’re so delicious, they’ll be gone long before they spoil!

At Old Loon Farm, we use whole grains – wheat, spelt, rye, triticale, oats, barley, and other flours and nuts — in many of our hearty breads.  Whole grain breads are more than carbs – they’re chocked full of protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber to keep our bodies healthy. When compared to processed grains, whole grains reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.

DSCN2790[1]Bread isn’t just for sandwiches, although our hearty breads make terrific sandwiches, from chicken salad to veggie to PB & J.  Breads also make yummy French toast and breakfast casseroles for tasty morning nutrition.  You can make delicious croutons from the ends and crusts of our breads – wonderful additions to soups and salads. We often keep ends and crusts in the freezer until we’re ready to make savory stuffing for turkey or chicken dinners. And then there are desserts – bread pudding, chocolate panini, and pudgy pies come to mind. When we were kids butter and jam – or Nutella – on a slice of homemade bread was a common dessert or snack that we could make ourselves.

So if you’ve never tried homemade bread, you’re missing a world of great taste and nutrition. Give us a call!  And starting in mid-May, we’ll be at the farmers market in Columbia City every Saturday morning with our breads.

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What will YOU plant this spring?

DSCN0885Are you thinking spring yet?  The days are getting longer; the sun is shining a bit higher in the sky each day, and before we know it, we’ll be thinking of hanging out in the garden, layered with sweaters, jackets and sunhats!

Long before our no-frost date in Mid-May, we at Old Loon Farm will be starting plants indoors… peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, annual herbs, broccoli, and many others.  We will have many varieties of potted vegetables for sale by the time you get ready to set them into your garden.  And because we use organic seed in naturally fertile soil that isn’t pumped up on artificial fertilizers, there’s less transplant shock when you set our plants out into your garden.

Check with us for your favorite heirloom varieties before you buy your seedlings from the big-box stores!

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Winter Fun – Indoors and Out

DSCN2745What happens during these long winter days that we spend mostly indoors? Seed catalogs to the rescue!

This week’s activities included inventory and organization of our existing seed stock, ordering new seeds, and building frames for low tunnels/raised boxes in the North Garden.

Saturday gave us a  break from the cold; “playing” outside included pruning the domesticated grapes and cutting wild grapevine down out of a patch of woodland.

Who says winter’s no fun?

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CSA Shares for 2015 Available Now!

It’s time to sign up for your 2015 Old Loon Farm CSA Share!  For more information, check out our CSA page on this website.

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