Dec 252009
 

Merry Christmas! (Almost)

Just in case you’ve been wondering if we farmers here on Mitchell Family Farm ever have anything to do through the winter months and have thought we’re probably just sitting around twiddling our thumbs…I’m on a mission to prove otherwise! By the way, it did get cold since the last update. We saw a low of 6 degrees one morning! Glad the wind wasn’t blowing!

Dad was on vacation for a couple weeks and now he’s on a few weeks of temporary layoff. Boy has it been good having him home… Unfortunately we pretty well have put him to work and haven’t let up enough to have much "play time." We have tried to have some fun while working though which, if you know our family, can usually be done.

With Dad’s vacation starting Thanksgiving day we decided to do everything up right and we cooked over at G-Jean’s house most of the morning and got lunch ready quicker than we’d anticipated. Since it was just the six of us eating Thanksgiving dinner together we decided there wasn’t anything keeping us from having an early lunch so we dug in! After a wonderful meal and desert Dad and I headed out to work on welding the hog hut for most of the afternoon.

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As is tradition we had to get Christmas decorations down for G-Jean either Thanksgiving day or the day after. Since we didn’t take time to get the decorations down Thanksgiving day it was a sure fire thing we had to get over to Granddad and G-Jean’s house and get everything down from the attic the following day! Dad, Jena and I spent most of the morning helping get all the Christmas decorations strung up around the house including the 35 year old artificial Christmas tree! While it’s loosing the original flocking each year we take something like the stuffing that goes in stuffed animals and flock the tree making it look like a heavy snow storm came through and it covers up most of the imperfections. We can’t get rid of the tree now…it’s a tradition!

Once all the Christmas decorations were up Dad and I started plowing after lunch with the Kubota and walking plow. It was a beautiful day with temperatures reaching up in the 60’s! Plowing just as long as daylight permitted and a little beyond we quit and waited until the next morning to finish our plowing marathon of about 1-3/4 acres. With Dad and I trading off driving the Kubota over the rough ground and plowing we both got to where steering the walking plow was starting to get easier unless we really hit a patch of hard ground. That hard ground syndrome came quite often in our clay soil…almost always a stretch in every round. One section with a particularly thick stand of clover was extremely "tight" and came up in big chunks of soil instead of crumbling.

11-28-2009 (21)

All 28 horses in the little Kubota’s engine were saying our 12" walking plow was all she wanted to pull when plowing deep and we hit a hard spot! No wonder the Belgians were saying that plow was too much!

Randy Boss of Wild Cat Trucking hauled in a couple loads of gravel to help fill in the mud hole around the big hoop house and start a big circle drive around the hoop house going back to the county road so CSA members and customers can drive by the garden on their way home after picking up their share!

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Some of the garlic is coming up through the mulch so I’m hoping all is set for a wonderful growing season and harvest next year!

By the following morning (December 2nd) our weather was changing rapidly and we had an alternating light mist, sleet, light rain, snow mixture falling from the sky most of the morning, and the wind was coming across the country too! A big thanks to Curtis, a brave volunteer that came over and helped me dig out the corner and brace post holes for the west fence’s gates! Starting out I’d hoped it would warm up enough to pour concrete around the posts, but the temperature kept dropping throughout most of the morning! Not completely surprising for Kansas it did warm up a bit (still cool) and the sky cleared, turning out to be a sunny day by that afternoon, but I was unable to pour the concrete.

With the weather report I decided to not heat the hoop houses for the small amount of produce that was left in them. Since the skies were clear our thermometers started dropping with the sun and kept dropping all night until they hit a low of 11! My what a change from the beautiful 60 degree weather we’d had just a few days before! The temperatures climbed slowly the next day hitting a high in the 30’s and then dropping back again down into the 20’s that night. After our low of 11 I decided to go check the next afternoon around 1:00 and there was still ice in the middle of several different crops!

By December 5th we’d had enough cold weather to form the first skim of ice for this season across the ponds. Later in the morning once it had warmed above freezing I planted a couple of fruit trees in the orchard which had arrived just prior to the big dip in temperatures!

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After the plowing was completed Dad and I worked on the hog hut here and there as we could get time between other projects. December 7th only hit a high in the 30’s and after working on the hog hut for a while we decided it was a good day to decorate our house! It took a good section of the day to get things dug out of the "wash house" where our decorations were stored, unpack and clean up some things, set up the tree, get the old strings of lights working again and then hang them in the house and around the tree.

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December 8th, 2009, a day that will live in Mitchell family memory! That was the day Dad and I started the process of setting up a filing system and clearing off my desk! It took many, many hours and several days of work to finally actually see the top of my desk! However with the cold temperatures, the winds blowing and damp or misty conditions, we weren’t missing all that much fun outside. Although, I would’ve preferred working outside sometimes while in the middle of trying to sort everything out!

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Taking a break from the filing system the next day, December 9th the entire family, all six of us, baked cookies together! There was a gale blowing outside and our high for that day was only in the mid 20’s, but we had lots of fun baking inside! It was almost even a little too warm inside with the oven going all day!

G-Jean has baked lots of cookies around Christmas for many years of her life. This tradition started before Dad was born and as Dad grew up she and Dad always baked lots of cookies. She continued the tradition for several years after Dad grew up, married and moved away and then Jena and I came along. It was just a Christmas tradition for Jena and I to bake cookies with G-Jean each year. However, the last few year’s everyone has been busy and we haven’t kept up the tradition of baking lots of cookies and have only made a few kinds. This year, on the other hand, we made thirteen different recipes totaling to about 102 dozen cookies (we didn’t count each cookie so that’s just a rough estimate) plus 6 lbs. of fudge and lots of mints! In our cookie count we included no-bake cookies, "strawberry" cookies (shown in the picture) hay stacks and chocolate hay stacks as well. We had lots of fun and still had a few more kinds of cookies we hadn’t made when we quit. By the end of the cookie baking we were ready to call it a day and were so tired of cookies they didn’t even sound good to eat!

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The morning after all our cookie baking we woke up to nearly all the red stuff having leaked out of the thermometers! Ok, so it wasn’t that bad, but the low of 6 certainly felt coolish! I was very glad our high winds from the day before had calmed so that the cold didn’t bite so bad.

I had planned on attending the Broadaway Christmas get together the 12th (G-Jean’s side of the family) but came down with some kind of "bug" and ended up having to stay home. The next day our friend, Sherlyn, from Tulsa, came up to visit and after a good lunch and afternoon visit she started back home. However, man made mechanical equipment has a tendency to go out just when you least expect or want it to and her car started acting up as she neared Independence on her way home. Sherlyn ended up having to leave her car at the dealership in Independence and spend the night with us. Monday, the mechanics found some of the problems and thought they’d have it ready the next day so Sherlyn took a day of vacation to stay. By Tuesday mid-morning the car still wasn’t fixed and there were a few more complications discovered so Mom took Sherlyn back to Tulsa to keep her from using any more of her vacation waiting for her car to get fixed.

I can’t believe I missed the exact day Dad and I finished clearing my desk, but it was probably about Wednesday, December 16th! That was a good feeling to have when we could actually SEE the desk instead of where it was supposed to be under the two foot high piles mounting up all over it! From the information and materials cleared off my desk Dad and I made over 250 files to categorize and organize it all! Note: The photo shows a working desk must always have a few important papers on it such as a sweet potato plant company’s catalog laid there shortly after the filing process was done…however, the catalog does have a file number now!

12-19-2009 (4)

It seems as though things kept coming up shortly after we’d start working on the hog hut causing us to only get an hour or two’s work in before having to quit on it. One day it was loading the feed barrels so Granddad could go get feed for us and then unloading the four tons of feed when he got back. I suppose that’s the way life is though so we’d better learn how to get along with it and go on from there. We finally finished the hog hut enough it was usable so we moved it out to the pigs once we completed it about dark December 19th! It was a good feeling to have that off our minds and finished!

12-17-2009 (6)

On a couple of our warmer sunny days G-Jean has been out in the hoop houses cleaning the old crop residues out. They are now ready to compost so they’ll enrich the soil next season.

Practically all the garden seed is ordered now and we need to plant onion seed as soon as possible!

Well, I started out this update with the purpose of proving that we hadn’t been sitting around on our hands even though no updates have been sent out… Are you convinced yet? If not maybe this partial winter need-to-do list will help:

Finish setting corner and brace posts along West fence, build new pasture paddock fence for pigs, fasten down bottom of the chicken palace plastic for winter, plant onion seed, prep hoop houses for next spring’s crops, finish taking the Ford tractor’s engine apart, rebuild Ford tractor’s engine, clear 1/2 mile fence line of brush and take out old wire where necessary before installing the new wires, mulch strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and asparagus, finish cleaning up old garden crop residues, make tomato and pepper cages, finish fixing up the disc cultivator, reroute water drainage through barnyard and around house, fertilize where next year’s new black berry plants will be planted, work on some government paper work, and the list could go on, but I think you get the general gist!

We’ve had a few cute new lambs born since the last update!

12-8-2009 (18)

Don’t forget the true reason for celebrating the Christmas season. It all happened about two thousand years ago in a stable when a child was born… And his name was Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.

May you have a blessed Christmas this year with friends and family. Don’t forget to take time and thank God for His most precious gift, His son, Jesus Christ. Have you accepted Jesus into your life as your personal Lord and savior? Jesus Christ loved the world so much (and you specifically) that he died on the cross to take our sin (that includes yours) upon Himself. Now you have a choice…either you can accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, taking up your cross daily to follow Him through your everyday life, and be saved, or choose the alternative of denying Him and going to a real live hell…there’s no middle ground and the decision is eternal. What’s your decision today?

While the above decision is the most important one you’ll ever make, living for Christ doesn’t mean you can’t ever have fun either…

12-6-2009 (6)

Merry Christmas!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Family

12-6-2009

Nov 262009
 

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving together. For those who are unable to be with loved ones on this special day may you find something good throughout the day to make you smile and let us each one find something to thank the Lord for…we are each one blessed and even if we are going through trials, there is always something that can be found to be thankful for. Psalm 100 is known as a "thanksgiving" psalm:

Shout with joy to the Lord, O earth!

Worship the Lord with gladness.

Come before him, singing with joy.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

He made us, and we are his.

We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and bless his name.

For the Lord is good.

His unfailing love continues forever,

and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

NLT

Dad and Cayenne hangin’ out together in Dad’s chair. It’s debatable who’s chair it really is…Dad’s or Caye’s.

11-12-2009 (5)

Since the last update we’ve seen everything from about 75 degrees down to a low of around 30! Despite a rainy Saturday night, Sunday and most of Monday a week and a half ago we did receive a beautiful flurry of snow for a few minutes Monday! These flakes were huge and very wet, but unfortunately they didn’t last because it was way too warm for them to stick.

Thank you so much to each one who has purchased produce the last couple of weeks! While you can’t quite say we’re almost out of produce you can now definitely tell there is a lot less produce left in the hoop houses now! There is still a diverse mix of produce available for you to choose from. Everything from arugula to lettuce, cilantro, rutabagas, Chinese cabbage (most stores sell only the blanched white "heart" of Chinese cabbage as "napa". We offer the "napa" type in full heads that have all their healthy dark green leaves covering the inner heart) tatsoi (similar to bok choi or spinach only a little stronger green…kind of like Swiss chard or collard greens) bok choi, daikon radishes and more!

Here are a couple shots of the beautiful produce available NOW! These root crops are: rutabaga, white "spring" salad turnips and daikon radishes.

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A second shot shows some of the beautiful Chinese cabbage in the foreground now ready for harvest along with some white spring turnip tops, late cabbage and broccoli showing as well.

11-19-2009 (23)

Now, on the lettuce, typically we’ll harvest until nearly Christmas, but this year is turning out different and our "Grand Lettuce Finale" will be next Saturday, December 5th. That will be our last harvest date for lettuce. The finale date is subject to change, possibly earlier, due to availability and weather conditions. Lord willing there will still be a diverse mix of other produce available after our lettuce finale!

We are continuing sale prices this coming week and you can find prices on our website at: www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us If you have any questions feel free to call my cell (620) 330-1966 or e-mail us at info@mitchellfamilyfarm.us

At the end you’ll find a delicious recipe that’s meant for Chinese cabbage, but is also wonderful when substituted with tatsoi or bok choi in place of Chinese cabbage. Also, tatsoi may be used in any way you’d prepare bok choi or spinach…steamed, boiled, fresh, used in soups, stir fried…ok, so you get the idea! It’s a very versatile green.

A couple pictures of some of the last beautiful lettuce available this season!

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While the soil was really a little wetter than I’d have preferred Dad and I hooked up the Kubota and plow one Saturday afternoon just to see if it would work up ok. If I had my druthers I wouldn’t have plowed, but there was rain predicted with a cool front moving in and I’m running really late on getting some ground plowed.

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Saturday night our cool front moved in and it did bring a good shower of rain. It was so muddy for so long I wasn’t sure when we’d be able to get back to plowing! Most of our soil is back to the edge of being dry enough, but is still really wet now.

Even though it has seemed very cold some days it’s mainly due to the fact that our temperatures dropped about 40 degrees over a two or three day period! After our 70+ weather for a couple weeks I’d really gotten spoiled and having to re-acclimate to the cooler weather we’re typically supposed to be having in November is a challenge! Despite it being so "cold" it was a blessing to have the cool cloudy weather as it has helped hold our produce so it wouldn’t pass it’s prime so quickly.

We missed getting a picture! Our good friends John and Ramona Crisp came down for a visit a couple weeks ago and then their help (also our good friends!) Ben and Alice Railey came down for a visit last weekend too! (Jena and I were in Ben and Alice’s wedding this past August.) On both accounts we had a lot of enjoyable times together and hope we can get together again soon. There is a rumor going around that when the Shepherd’s Valley crew (John’s farm) and our Mitchell crew get together there’s no telling what kind of wild haired ideas, schemes, plans concoctions and actions may come about!

Ben helped us get started making a portable hog hut we’ll be using as shelter for the little guys when they go out into the big pasture areas. Right now they’re in a training/nursery pen to keep them a little more contained with mamma Lucy and learn what a hot wire is so they don’t escape when that’s all their pen is made of.

Rare picture! I caught the farm photographer on camera! Mom is going out to gather eggs, feed and water her laying hens.

11-21-2009 (71)

G-Jean and I took advantage of one cool, cloudy, damp day to evaluate our seed supply and see what seed we needed to order for this coming 2010 season. We even have gotten some seed catalogs in the mail already! A few days later we got together again and zipped down the "needed seed" list comparing prices in a few of our favorite seed catalogs. After some evaluation we were able to make out the orders, but I haven’t been able to place them yet… Once again my curiosity got the best of me and I had to order a few new varieties of seed just to try. That’s probably one of my biggest weaknesses, wanting to see if there is another variety out there that will do better than the one we’re currently growing. Those seed companies don’t help anything when they write such glamorous descriptions much less display pictures of delicious, beautiful, mouth-watering produce that can be raised from their seeds… I’m getting a gardening fever just thinking about it!

Unfortunately as with any growing business there is paper work needing done and that has taken up a considerable amount of time lately… I’d rather be out working in a snowstorm than doing all the paper work! Guess every job has parts that you have to do so you can get around to what you really enjoy doing!

A portion of the paper work needing done was mailing current CSA members and those on the waiting list their brochures. I’m offering a chance to anyone on the waiting list prior to October 24th and current CSA members to sign up as "Charter members" (for those who haven’t sent in your order form yet please use the order form that’s an insert in your brochure and says "Charter Membership") if they sign up by December 3rd. After December 3rd the shares will be available to the general public for purchase. If you were not a CSA member last year, and were not on the waiting list, be sure to let us know if you would like us to mail you a brochure when the shares are available to the general public.

Freshly harvested rutabagas.

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Granddad helped me cut a roll of remesh wire into sections which we’ll make into tomato cages and I was able to finish mulching the garlic after our cool rainy spell! Granddad also helped me take down our pole bean and cucumber trellis’s. While our cucumbers were a flop, this fall’s pole beans were the most beautiful beans I think we’ve ever raised! This late fall/early winter has also made for some unusually late grown, high quality, outdoor produce that’s still available…and it’s Thanksgiving!

Once again G-Jean and Jena have been cake sculpting and have done a superb job! Granddad’s birthday was the 25th, but since Thanksgiving was the following day and Thanksgiving dinner is one of his favorite menus we chose to wait and celebrate his birthday on Thanksgiving day. G-Jean and Jena spent nearly 3 hours sculpting this masterpiece.

11-26-2009 (4)

Granddad has been wanting a new truck which gave the two ornery giggling girls their wild scheme and away they went with it!

May the rest of your day and week be filled with blessings.

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Crew

It’s amazing! While not as pretty since they’ve been nipped by freezes we still have a few flowers such as: marigolds, begonias, shrub roses, bonfire salvia (shone below) and impatiens blooming a few blooms a long still yet!

11-19-2009 (30)

Chinese Cabbage Salad

Adapted from www.cooks.com

Dressing:

Whisk together:

¼ c. sugar

¼ c. vegetable oil

¼ c. soy sauce

Topping:

Toast in a skillet with 3 tablespoons butter:

1/2 c. sliced almonds

3 tablespoons sesame seed

Cool the topping in an open container so it doesn’t become soggy.

Salad:

Chop and toss together:

1 head Chinese cabbage

1 or 2 bunches green onions

Toss salad together with dressing. Top with prepared topping and serve immediately.