What do you do in the month of February? In this neck of the national woods, it’s generally a cold and gray month. And with the holiday season gone and Spring not quite on the horizon, the month always seems to last a lot longer than its 28 or 29 days.
Here on the farm, there are still chores to do, but fewer chores than there would be in any other season. That means more time inside, working on plans, taxes and other things we’ve put off as long as possible.
I’m often working on recipe development, marketing plans, and other cooking projects during February. This week I made a batch of lemon curd – that brilliant, sunshine-in-a-jar that’s full of our fresh eggs, sugar and sweet Meyer lemon juice. (Recipe by Northwest Edible Life at http://www.nwedible.com/meyerlemoncurdaloveaffair/). It freezes well and tastes yummy on our toasted whole-grain breads. In case you are missing our breads this winter, you can special-order them any time by calling us at the farm.
Another project that we’re working on this month: grain-free energy bars. Made with various nuts, seeds, our own local honey, nut butters, and assorted dried fruits, the bars are packed with protein and low in carbs.
And finally, we are developing a line of artisan breads for our market made with ancient einkorn organic wheat flour. Einkorn has less gluten than conventional wheat, requiring different baking techniques. It takes a bit of practice after years and years of baking with high gluten flours! Watch for our new energy bars and einkorn products this spring when the market opens.
Think positive! February is the month to take care of all those loose end projects so that you’re free to be outside to welcome Spring back to this area. Get going!
For a farm and farmers, winter is time to lie dormant and refresh ourselves after the long production season. But to be sure, there isn’t all that much down time on a farm that will spring back to life after a couple of months in the deep freeze. The time passes quickly. We travel a little, hunker down with the early darkness to read, plan, and prepare for spring, and we spend time with friends.
We also reap some of the goodness of the past summer. In the little hoop house that we installed in the kitchen garden last fall, there is still spinach, tat soi, claytonia, arugula and lettuce that grows slowly but faithfully even during the coldest days. On sunny days, the temperature climbs quite quickly inside the hoop, where the plants are protected from the cold, drying wind. With the mild temperatures we’ve had this fall and winter, we’ve been able to continually harvest fresh salad greens for our family’s dinners.
Winter veggies are especially sweet and delicious!
Sentinels in Winter: Fig trees stand watch in northern Indiana
Likewise, root vegetables are protected under a layer of snow and straw. Last week when the temperatures were in the 20’s and 30’s, we dug white potatoes and horseradish and even a few carrots. The vegetables convert some of their starches to sugars as a kind of antifreeze, and so are very sweet when harvested in winter. Plus, it’s such a treat to gather really fresh foods during the dead of winter! A morale booster for sure!
Last summer we decided to try growing fig trees, knowing that they require extra protection in northern climes during the winter months. We planted four trees in a south-facing, protected area; two each of brown turkey and Chicago hardy varieties. We actually harvested about a dozen or so fresh fruits from one of the trees last summer. Now they stand covered with burlap and tarps, stuffed with straw for insulation, looking like dark snowmen waiting patiently for the spring thaw. We are waiting as well, hoping that they will survive the cold Indiana winter and reward our care with some of our favorite fruits next summer.
That’s what’s happening this week; stay tuned for more news about our upcoming 2016 season here on Old Loon Farm!
New hoop house that Chuck built in the OLF kitchen garden!
For our 2015 CSA subscribers, our kitchen garden is still supporting lettuce and other greens. Come harvest what you need!