A farmer’s view of rural America

Think about this with your morning coffee.

An English Sheep Farmer’s View of Rural America 

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The comfort of a good meal and lively conversation

I agree with the interviewee who I heard on NPR yesterday that it is important to be able to enjoy the lively and open discussion of politics with your guests.  I actually believe we need to have more open and respectful discussions outside our homes as well, but I will save this topic for a future post because today I am sharing my gratitude for a meal enjoyed with friends.  Good food and lively conversation is definitely one of my favorite ways to enjoy an evening, and thanks to Susan’s new cookbook, I finally ventured back into the kitchen.

We sampled three of Susan’s savory bites with the Blue Cheese and walnuts with a dollup of Bee Branch Farm honey, of course, being our favorite.  This is very simple to prepare and to have all the ingredients on hand for when guests drop in for a visit, which is one of the aspects I appreciate about Susan’s recipes, they are not overly complicated and most of the ingredients are readily available.  Entertaining should be fun; keep it simple and relaxing.  It is not about impressing people; it is about having a lovely time with friends.

My mouth is actually already watering for the main course of Beef Bourguignon, again.  Before you jump to correct my English/French combination name of this dish, you will just have to get the cookbook and learn the rest of the story.  This was my first time making this french classic, and Susan has simplified and adapted the recipe to easily available ingredients and modern cooking styles.  Absolutely delicious!!  Well done Susan; I am going to add this to my favorite recipe repertoire.  I served it with peas and a crusty seeded sourdough bread to soak up that tasty gravy.

We finished off with an apple and pear bread pudding, which was a slight adjustment on Susan’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding.  Susan’s recipe called for a pumpkin butter, but I had a jar of my mom’s apple butter, and my mom makes the best apple butter.  This recipe can be served for breakfast or dessert, and Glenn and I just enjoyed it for both!

There is no pretension in Susan’s cookbook, just as there is no pretension in Susan.  It is absolutely delightful.  Enjoy.

Cookbook Confession

I love reading and collecting cookbooks, but lately I have not been in the mood to cook.  Now before you think, “That is a great way to lose weight.”  Notice, I did not say I was not in the mood to eat, just not cook.    Thus, when I saw Susan Murray’s Our Family Table:  Recipes & Lessons from a Life Abroad at Addison Farms Vineyard’s A Handcrafted Christmas event this past weekend, I decided it was time for culinary inspiration.  Susan and her husband, James, are the charming innkeepers of Carolina Bed and Breakfast in the historic Montford neighborhood of Asheville.  We have partnered with them on a Sandy Mush Fall Farms and Artisans Tour the past couple of years, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them and hearing stories of their travel adventures.  If you were at Addison Farms this past weekend, then you were treated to some of Susan’s delectable specialties.  Lucky you!

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While on that topic, thanks to everyone who came out to Addison Farms Vineyard this past weekend and supported our farmland conservation efforts in Sandy Mush.  We raised $500, and Jeff and Dianne Frisbee, owners of Addison Farms Vineyard generously matched that $500 for a total donation of $1000 to Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to support the continued conservation efforts in Sandy Mush.

Back to culinary inspiration, I have thumbed through recipes, invited friends over to dinner and now heading to the market to gather ingredients.  Soon to be out of my culinary rut, or so my friends and Glenn hope!  A few bites I am considering to whet the appetite…Bourbon Grape Truffles…Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus….

Wishing you all inspiration,

Terri

Guess which supermarkets are doing the best job of sourcing locally

What to know which grocery stores are doing the best job of supporting local organic farmers?  Learn more.

Fred Broadwell of Local Organic Y’all has just released a study of the local-organic sourcing and marketing practices of supermarket chains that operate in NC.    I am enjoying taking a look at the website to learn more about the study, as well as other resources.

I still believe,when at all possible, buying directly from local farmers provides the best benefit.  It is always good, however,  to be an informed consumer when shopping at your local supermarket, and hopefully if enough customers request local farmer support then those supermarkets will make more of an effort.

 

Thankful for the rain!

What a lovely sound to wake up to…walked right outside to let it kiss my face!!

Speaking Truth to Power

Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love. 
– Martin Luther King

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A Tribute to Farmers on Labor Day

A tribute to farmers on Labor Day.

By Katelyn Thomas
Agritourism Intern, N. C. State University Senior studying Agricultural Business Management and Economics

 

It is a part of your DNA. It flows in your blood. It has shaped you into the person that you are today. Agriculture will always be a part of your life. Each and every day of each and every year you pull on your boots and head out the door because you do not have off days. Actually, you never even leave the office. There is no clocking in and clocking out, but the thing is you would not have it any other way.

Farmers are the backbone of America. Individuals like you work day in and day out to produce food, fiber, and fuel for the rest of the population. You have witnessed everything from the miracle of life to the power of a good rainfall. It is not something that just any one can do; it takes a special person to pursue a lifestyle in agriculture.

The majority of people have no comprehension of the life you live. They have never had a workday that begins before the sun rises and ends long after the moon has taken its place. They have never gotten a call at four in the morning because one of the animals is ill. They have never gathered their children to pull pigweed from a field. The days are long and they take their toll emotionally and physically.

Is it worth it? The question never even crosses your mind. Your fondest memories are riding in tractors with your children. You take pride in selling produce that will end up on the plates of families in your community. The lessons you have learned didn’t come from reading the pages of a textbook, but by working alongside your family. When you think of it this way you wouldn’t change a thing.

It is the life of a small population of people. It is life in agriculture. This is the life you live. You make a larger impact than you could ever imagine. You do not hear it nearly as often as you should, but thank you. Thank you for everything you do! Happy Labor Day!

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The Bounty

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Benefits of balanced ecosystems

We are always thinking about healthy balanced ecosystems, especially this time of year when we are hoping to keep pest pressure to a minimum.  We had our best year yet with the potatoes.  We kept a wide, wild swath of pasture around the potato patch; not only did we not have potato beetles to contend with, but our family of turkeys enjoyed hanging out.  Now we have rotated my cousin’s cattle through the upper part of the pasture, and they thoroughly enjoyed the waist high pasture.

Enjoyed reading this informative article about the benefits of hedgerows.

Organic Broadcaster

Spring weekend on the Farm

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Great news on the honey bee front, Glenn had good success with his queen breeding program. He bred five new queens last summer, one was a replacement for a new queen we had bought last spring which didn’t survive and the other four he used to start new nucs.  He overwintered these nucs and now he is moving those up into hives.  We are very excited about this new development because it allows us not to rely on buying bee stock, and we may start selling nucs locally next spring.  The bees seem strong; all hives survived the winter; therefore, he has doubled our hives.  We are now up to eight hives.  The hum is electric around our bee yard!

We have begun our spring planting with cabbage, broccoli , kohlrabi, and cauliflower transplants that I grew from seed now in the ground.  I believe they are the best looking I have grown in four years; hope the final product is as tasty as the plant is good looking. Also have onion, leeks, fennel, beets, carrots, chard and kale seeds planted, as well as potatoes.  The tomato, pepper, basil and eggplant starts are looking good, and will be ready to pot up soon.  Many more plants and seeds to get in the ground, but off to a good start.  I will have tomato, pepper and basil starts available for sale this year; lots of tomato varieties.  I am looking forward to that first taste of the sun-drenched tomato; truly one of the great pleasures in life.

Just finished planting our mini vineyard with cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon; since rain is supposedly coming tonight, we decided to get those in the ground today rather than waiting until the weekend.  Now we can focus on getting the posts in the ground this weekend.  We are excited about this new project even though it will take three years before we can experiment with making our own wine.  Lots of reading up on how to manage an organic vineyard; I do enjoy a challenge.

And, just in case  you were concerned that we might be getting bored this season, no worries because we are going to build our farm shed and greenhouse ourselves.  The shed/solar greenhouse is designed, the layout is squared up and the holes are dug for our pole barn construction shed.  Not bad for a Saturday’s work.   A sense of accomplishment and a solid deep sleep.  And that is a weekend on the farm.