The Entertaining Farmgirls take on Spring

The password to get into the dinner party was “Strawberry Wine” and the guests did hope that there would be a glass waiting.  We did not disappoint!  The guests at Wildflower and Fawn’s popup dinner party were greeted with cold glasses of strawberry rhubarb wine from a vineyard in the Palisades.

Shyanne had the idea of writing the menu on the glass pane of the old door in the dining area with chalkboard pens.  It looked whimsical and illustrated the evening’s fare.  Lots of herbs would be showcased in our late spring supper.

Shyanne and I had a vision for this supper club that would incorporate local, organic produce, preferably from my garden.  Fresh, seasonal food prepared in a unique fashion to give party goers something different, something exciting, and a treat to the senses.

The first course was a cool, refreshing strawberry soup to go with the wine.  In a good blender combine a package of frozen strawberries, or other fruit, with a few cups of milk of choice (we used the last of our local goat’s milk), and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  Process than place in fridge until ready to serve.  Pulse one more time before pouring out frothy, creamy soup.

The second course was an easy salad with fresh greens, pickled eggs and beets (click for recipe), and drizzled with the malt vinegar the eggs were in, toasted pecans, and walnut oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I had a loaf of homemade bread on the table too.  This course was enjoyed with housemade strawberry kombucha.

The next course was a duck egg frittata, eggs compliments of my good friend, Alli (who taught me how to make kombucha!).  The frittata was filled with eggs and fresh herbs from my garden, and grape tomatoes.  Eight eggs, 1/2 cup of milk of choice, 3 Tablespoons of herbs (we used thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, chives, chive flowers, clover flowers, cilantro, rosemary, and sage), and 1/2 cup of tomatoes.  Whisk together, pour into heated oiled pan and cook over medium heat until sides and top are almost set, without disturbing, then place under broiler for five minutes.  This was served with couscous and dried cherries with preserved chokecherry sauce.

This course was served with my homemade chokecherry wine.  How to Make Chokecherry Wine was my number one post last year so those of you who made it may want to know that after sitting on its side for twenty months, oh my gosh, it is sooo good.  Semi-sweet, dry, really good wine.

And lastly, the course we were all waiting for was Shyanne’s cake.  Shyanne took a recipe from the vegan cookbook I wrote some years ago (which is coming back into print) and added minced herbs and lemon.  She deftly minced lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme.  There was a pile of herbs on the counter for garnish.  I asked her if she had put them in the cake.  She replied that she had put a little in.  “It’s mint, right?”

“Catnip.”

“What?!” she said in horror.  With her yummy lemon frosting and a cup of cardamom coffee, it made for a delightful dessert.

We so enjoy having various folks over to treat them.  Our next supper club is in August and will preview many fresh ideas from our garden.  Sign up early so you can be at the next supper club!  We’d love to entertain you.

The Ducklings Return

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The ducks have returned to Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  They are adorable and fluffy and live behind an impressive fortress.  Ten cats is something to worry about but we have kept the just a few days old ducklings safe.  We can barely get in, however!  Over the plastic storage box Doug molded some fencing then we put up a portable cage around that topped with a screen, and a card table!

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In the box is three inches of straw (they eat pine shavings).  We added a small waterer that they try to swim in.  We learned our lesson with the last ducks and don’t use open bowls of water like we did with the chicks.  They splash and destroy their surrounding areas with water and duck poo.  They are still splashing water but they can’t get a lot out at a time.  They look like rubber duckies trying to swim around the one inch canal.

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They have a small feeder with flock starter in it as well.

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We got four ducklings.  Two Indian Runners like last time.  The Walt Disneyesque, bowling pin effect never fails to delight me. They are also fairly good layers with 200-300 eggs a year.  Joining them are two Khaki Campbells, who are also good layers at 250-325 eggs a year,

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Every week the red light will get a bit higher and at six weeks they can safely stay outdoors.  However, with the warm weather in May, perhaps they can go out a touch earlier with their red lamp in their coop.  We still need to devise a small coop for them to stay in and lay eggs in.  A place to sleep away from predators at night.  We will let them free range in the newly fenced area that consists of our new pumpkin patch, outdoor kitchen, fruit trees, rose bushes, and the cold frame.  We will use one foot high fencing that just pushes into the ground to keep them out of the plants.  This is cheaper than building a duck run and they will have more space.  We will get a child’s swimming pool.  The trees and corn may act as a deterrent for hawks and owls.  And how fun to look out the back porch and see ducks running around!

Just Duckie

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I think I will just keep the farm animal ball rolling this week.  While we’re at it, let’s talk ducks.

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Last year I posted some pretty darn cute photos of our ducklings.  They were so soft and added quite a lot of smiles at the Easter dinner table when I let one run across.  Three inch high ducklings are a force to be reckoned with in the ridiculously adorable animal category.

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They were a mess.  They love to splash.  They love to get their water everywhere, in the food, in the straw, all over themselves and the patient chicks they were housed with in the bathroom. (I think those chicks thought themselves to be ducks.)  Finally at five weeks old, the whole crew was placed in the chicken coop in a portable fence so that they could get to know their roommates before running for their life from the older hens.

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Doug placed a kiddie swimming pool outside and they spent hours and hours delighting in the water and splashing enthusiastically.  Not always swimming, sometimes they would stand outside the pool with their head in the water.  As they got older we noted that three were female and we had one male.  One drake out of four straight run fowl isn’t bad.  I could have as easily had three drakes and one sole girl!  He was their protector and would only allow the three chickens that they had been raised with to be near them.

We would come home from a farmer’s market and our intern, Ethan, would casually say, “Ira had Yetta’s head in his mouth again.”

“Ira had Sophia’s head in his mouth again.”  He didn’t hurt them but we weren’t sure what the future would bring.

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Well, what it brought was a move.  A move we had been praying for and that I had been writing about for two solid years.  The move to our homestead.  More land, more opportunity.  Lots of room for animals, right?  We moved in the fall during our peak of garden production, farmer’s markets, then transplanting herbs to the new farm, and then a strenuous move.  There wasn’t time to build a separate coop for the ducks and we still didn’t know if we were going to let the chickens free range outside their enclosure due to the significant large bird population that lived nearby (owls and hawks don’t mind free chicken).  And the coyotes singing in the fields (they like a bit of chicken as well).  And Ira with a chicken in his mouth.  No, no, that would never do.  We couldn’t keep them all cooped up together any longer.  So, I sold them for a very low price (as I am so prone to do).  They went to live next door to my friend, Lisa.  I mourned their absence immediately.  I did love the ducks.

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So now spring is approaching (oh wait, it’s only January) and I have BIG plans.  Do I plan any other way?  So we (when I say we, I mean Doug) is going to build a jaunty fenced in run along the west side of the garden where the majority of grasshoppers seemed to be last fall.  The ducks will have a job!  West border bug patrol, duck manure for the compost, and fresh eggs for the cast iron skillet.  They will have their own digs, their own kiddie pool, and their own small coop.  Now, I sure hope I don’t get three drakes and one duck egg layer.  Let’s go for all four girls!

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I miss their quacking on an early summer morning.  Their humorous waddles across the grass.  The sound of water splashing and raucous playing.  A farm without farm animals is simply a garden.  I love my gardens and the farm we are creating here and I need my Noah’s Arc menagerie to make it complete.