We’re Open!

On April 25 we finally were able to open our farm stand/store for the season, and it’s been going well! Thanks to all our neighbors and friends who have been visiting us on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

DSCN1869It took some serious remodeling our of space over the winter, but we now have a dedicated sales area and more room for baking and packaging our products.  We find it’s more efficient for prepping for the Saturday farmers market in Columbia City too.

Speaking of the Market, it opened for the season in downtown Columbia City last Saturday, May 6.  We sold out of most of our products.  It’s been a long and eventful winter, but worth all the effort, as the Market has now incorporated as a community based not-for-profit corporation!  Find out more on the Whitley County Farmers Market FaceBook page.  And visit us Saturdays downtown!

Back on the Farm, here’s what’s IN STORE for you:  Currently our Tuesday/Thursday market, open 10 am to 6 pm, features fresh asparagus, salad greens, fresh eggs, assorted baked goods, and home crafted jams and jellies.  We’ve already sold out of our creamed honey and will have to wait for June until we can harvest new honey.  Chuck and his partners are out working in the apiary today – prepping for new queens that will arrive tomorrow.

Out in the garden, we are just now beginning to till and direct seed crops.  Warm weather prior to Easter tricked everyone into thinking summer, and then of course Mother Nature announced it was still spring in northern Indiana.  We had lots of cold, rainy days, and a serious frost/freeze a few nights ago.  We lost some nice tomato plants overnight, even though they were in the closed hoop house!  But at least according to weather reports, the cold and frost is behind us now, so we are anxious to get out into the garden and get planting!

Blue eyed Mary

Despite the cold, the Spring blooming season was gorgeous!  Chuck has set out at least 1,000 new asparagus crowns, so we should have plenty in the years to come!  The berries and fruit trees are looking good and were flush with blossoms, so we are keeping our fingers crossed for an excellent fruit season. And the morel mushroom harvest wasn’t too bad either!

wildflowerAs always, enjoy your time in the great out of doors!  Take a walk in the woods and greet all those beautiful wild flowers. They fade fast!

 

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It’s Spring! On the Calendar, at Least!

Now that we’re on Daylight Savings Time and the days are warming up a bit, it seems that working takes up a lot more of our daily lives!  No more sleeping in!  Welcome, sunshine, birdsong and warmer weather!

Although many of our neighbors have been busy starting seedlings in their homes and greenhouses for the last couple of months, we’re just getting started with that here on Old Loon Farm.  Part of the reason is that we are still elbow-deep in remodeling the farm kitchen.  The other part is that we try to rein in our enthusiasm and start our plants in March and April rather than January or February.  We’ve experienced too many seasons of leggy  plants that are ready for transplanting long before the garden and weather are ready for them.  That can mean a lot of long hours down the drain, so we hold back a bit. We won’t have the earliest vegetables, but hopefully we’ll have some of the best!

Chuck has been diligently working in the farm kitchen and store, installing new lights and outlets, counter tops, sinks, dishwasher, and completing other construction tasks.  Our brother Gary Hierholzer, from Celina, Ohio, built our beautiful hickory cabinets to our specs and delivered them last week.  We feel like we’ve gained a whole lot of work space, and now have a dedicated area for sales as well.

Construction always takes longer than anticipated, so our store opening scheduled for March is being pushed back a bit.  Once we get rolling, though, we plan to be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays for on-farm sales. Beginning May 6 we will be at the Farmers Market in downtown Columbia City every Saturday morning 8:00 – 12:30.

Meanwhile, we have fresh eggs and hearty granola on hand, some honey and jams.  We’re here most days, but email ahead if you want to be sure: oldloonfarm@gmail.com. We’ll be adding breads and fresh baked goods to the lineup once we’re on a regular schedule.  Hope to see you soon!

Posted in What's IN STORE for you!

Limited and Elegant

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard over the years in farming is this: “Don’t ever apologize for being small.”

We think about that every year as we review our previous seasons and draft our farm plans for the upcoming year, and I’ve been thinking about that advice recently quite a bit.  As we get excited about our work and our opportunities, it’s easy to start to thinking big and bigger.  But curbing our enthusiasm is not all bad; one can get greedy and before long, have an operation that’s way out of control.  Small is beautiful on this farm!

What does small mean?

It means hard work but it also means quality control.

It means limited production and elegant food – tasty varieties grown with care and harvested at the peak of flavor and nutrition.

It means an end to “mediocre and plenty of it,”  Instead you get seasonal anticipation, delicious foods, and appreciation of each bite.

It means learning to preserve our bounty at the height of flavor and nutrition, and then experiencing it again in the middle of winter — summer comfort in the cold and dark season.

It means better quality of life for the farmer and producer; thoughtful rest during the by-season, and rejuvenation of spirit.

So we will continue to stay small, producing the best products we can,  enjoying what we do and sharing it with you!

Spring is just around the corner.  Thanks for supporting Old Loon Farm!

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Welcome to 2017 – A New Season!

gathering eggsIt’s been a while since we updated our site, but after a very slow and complicated 2016, we’re ready to start anew for 2017.  Last year was filled with family events – death of our parents, a new grandchild, a big family reunion, and even some health issues.  So we stepped back a bit from our farm work and took the days as they were presented to us. But it’s a new year now, and we’re full of energy and ideas.

Kitchen Update:  We are remodeling our farm kitchen so that our farm store has a dedicated sales area, with new refrigerator for fresh produce and eggs, a freezer for frozen meats, and new shelves for baked goods, jams and other items.  We have a larger production area now too!

Scheduled Weekly Hours: Starting in March, we plan to have our farm store open two days per week.  Beginning in mid-May, we will be selling on Saturday mornings from the Whitley County Farmers Market in downtown Columbia City.

A Second Hoop House:   This winter we’ve finally framed another hoop house to further extend our growing season and offer fresh salad greens earlier in the spring.

Extra Help: We’re looking forward to having some extra company with us this summer.  Lots of grandkids will be visiting and helping out on the farm.  They are especially good at loving the animals, gathering eggs, digging potatoes and picking (eating) berries.  And maybe painting the little red barn.  We love our little migrant helpers!

So keep watching for our blog updates – we’ll let you know what’s IN STORE at Old Loon Farm each week.

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Fall is Here Again

It’s been a rather busy summer here at the farm, and I’ve neglected our website!  Travel to California, lots of company, and lots of gardening during the long, warm summer kept me very busy.  We were joined by one new family member, baby Eleanor, on July 22!

Fall crept up on us this year, with temperatures high in the 80’s belying the fact that it was  mid-September.  And now we are already into October, watching the leaves just beginning to change.  Night time temperatures are dropping, good for germinating lettuces and spinach!

Early this wour-cane-sorghumeek we processed our sweet sorghum crop.  Chuck has worked hard all summer planting, cultivating and then harvesting his plot – our experimental first time with this crop. On Monday we took more than 600 pounds of cane over to the Merry Lea Environmental Center Sustainable Farm and worked with farm director Jon Zirkle, local farmers Larry Palmer, Tom Wise and others to press out the cane juice and boil it down into syrup.  After evaporating juice at Merry Lea, we brought the almost-finished product home to our farm kitchen to finish and bottlbottled-sorghum-syrupe.  Sweet sorghum syrup is different from molasses, which is pressed from sugar cane.  Sorghum is a thick, amber-colored syrup with a mild, nutty flavor, reminiscent of toasting grains.  I can’t wait to try it in rye bread and ginger cookies!figs-2016

Our fig tree experiment begun last summer, is still alive.  The trees emerged from hibernation in mid-May, but took a long time to leaf out and bear fruit.  We’ve been able to harvest some fruit, and there are lots of green figs on the branches now. Hopefully they’ll be able to mature before the cold temperatures arrive. As always, they’re delicious!

As the summer garden winds down, we have Fall lettuce and arugula growing well, some new kale emerging, and are about to harvest sweet potatoes. Our delicious honey is sold out.  Tomatoes are nearly finished, as are the peppers and eggplant.  Okra will be breathing its last next week as the temperatures fall. We are beginning to prepare the garlic beds for fall planting this week.   And we’ll be starting to re-cover our hoop houses and plant for indoor winter crops soon – salad greens, carrots, beets and radishes.

We have just two more weeks of Saturday morning Whitley County Farmers’ Market in Columbia City, and then we’ll be hosting on-farm sales throughout the winter.  This week we will feature pumpkins, green tomatoes, sweet potatoes, sweet sorghum syrup, and fall salad mix, along with our usual baked goods.  Hope you all can come visit the market this week!

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Moving Right on into Summer!

Another week and we will officially be into summer! Where does the time go?

Today, Thursday, we have the farm store open 10-4, sharing the produFarm store productsce that’s fresh right now on the farm.  Although we’ve suspended our farm-share subscription (CSA) for this season, our goal is to have fresh food available at the farm store most weeks for neighbors and on-farm shoppers.

The garden is looking pretty good this year, as we’ve had abundant rain and sunshine the past couple of weeks.  We’re harvesting the last of the asparagus – no more till Fall, end of the rhubarb, carrots from the hoop house, salad greens including lettuce and arugula, and we have some new kohlrabi, among other things on the menu today.  Stop by!

 

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Hello, Sunshine!

We’re certainly enjoying this new, warm and dry weather!  Such a difference to work outside without rain and mud, although we know the moisture we received in the last couple of weeks (or more) is necessary for good crops all summer long.  Just glad for the hiatus!

Our focus on Old Loon Farm is to promote healthy eating and family gardens.  Everyone can grow something!  Please don’t hesitate to ask us about any gardening or food-prep questions you might have — we will do our best to advise and guide. We are members of Indiana Grown.  We use organic seed, no pesticides and only natural fertilizers and compost.  Our eggs are produced by free-range chickens that roam the fields all day long, and get non-GMO feed for dessert!

DSCN1869This week we’ll be making breads again in the Old Loon Farm kitchen. Look for a variety at the market on Saturday, including the new einkorn bread products, whole grain and nutty granolas, and our delicious no-grain, no-gluten energy bars.  We also will have plenty of asparagus, fresh herbs, and rhubarb.

With the warmer temps and drying soil we’ve been able to start planting in the main garden.  We’ve sown our first four rows of edamame, along with more onions, peppers and tomatoes.  This year we’re looking for more variety and less volume, and adding more perennial crops – mainly berries and grapes.

Have you made your rhubarb pies and desserts yet?  Last week we feasted on a delicious rhubarb-apple crisp, fresh and tart! Here’s the recipe, adjusted from my old Betty Crocker standby cookbook!

Rhubarb-Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a 9×13″ glass baking dish place 2 cups rhubarb, cross-chopped into 1/2″ pieces; sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Top with 2 cups apples, finely chopped.  In a separate bowl, mix until crumbly:  1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1 cup brown sugar (packed); 10 Tbls unsalted butter, 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon.  Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly over fruit.  Top with 1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg, if desired.  Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until bubbly and nicely browned.  Enough for a crowd! Serve slightly warm.

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