Wild Things Farm

  (Crab Orchard, Tennessee)
Farm life adventures of the Happy Hoer
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Ground Cherries

Each year several new crops are trialed on the farm and this year one of those crops was ground cherries, aka cape gooseberries or poha.  I'm assuming the poha name is native American in origin.

The CSA members have gotten a small helping in their shares for the last couple of weeks and with the exception of one member, everyone seems to like them.  The true test of this crop's acceptance was at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday.  To say the least, I spent a lot of time explaining what ground cherries tasted like, how they grow, and how to eat/prepare them.  I even handed out samples.

The very first couple to show up at the table bought two containers after tasting the sample.  That made me excited--then the "damp rags" showed up.  You know, those folks who have to analyze everything.  I'd say 95% of the people that tasted them thought they were very tasty and quite unusual--then they'd walk away....huh?  A pint was only $2.00 and I'd sure pay $2.00 for something tasty and different ESPECIALLY if I had been given a sample.   There were about 10 pints to start with and I came home with 3, so it wasn't a complete bust AND they will keep--that's a good thing!

I haven't figured out what's not to love about them:

  • They come in their own little wrapper, just like a Hershey's kiss, so no washing required.
  • They are really sweet and nutritious too.
  • Great on cereal.
  • Makes a great salsa.... http://catertots.net/by-type/vegetable/ground-cherry-salsa
  • They will keep for months on the countertop inside their handy-dandy wrapper

The only thing I would have to say negative about them is that they are a little tedious to harvest as they fall on the ground when they are ready---hmmmmm maybe that's where the name comes from!



Basil pesto with spaetzle, beets and swiss chard

I've been scheming to prepare beets for supper, and there's an awful lot of beautiful basil coming in right now.  A quick look through the pantry and I found a partial container of spaetzle I had bought on a shopping trip with a friend who was reminiscing about how her Czech grandmother used to make spaeztle and green beans.

The beets are going to take longer to cook than the pesto or the spaetzle so I washed about five 1 to 1-1/2 inch beets and trimmed off the tops and the roots.  Put them in a microwave safe dish with a little water in the bottom for 5 minutes at a time until they are soft to touch--mine took about 9 minutes.  Take them out and let them cool a bit.  Meanwhile.....

Wash a small bunch of swiss chard and roughly chop.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet, throw in a tad of garlic then the chard.  Stir around until wilted down, add a little water and put a lid on until the chard is tender, about the time you're ready to eat this meal.  While the chard is steaming,

Wash and put a couple of handfuls of basil into a food processor.  Pour in about a tablespoon of olive oil, about 1/4 cup pine nuts, a couple cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Puree till smooth and set this aside.  You've got water boiling for the spaetzle and now it's time to put the spaetzle in the water to cook.  While that's happening, peel the beets, cut them in half, and wash your hands immediately so the red will come off.

When the spaetzle is done, drain it and toss with the pesto.  Put the sliced, warm beets on the plate and cover with feta cheese (a wonderful taste combo).   Plate up the chard and sprinkle with acid of your choice (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.)   The best part of this meal is that the feta cheese tastes wonderful when it migrates over to the basil spaetzle AND when it stays on the beets.

Enjoy a quick and nutritious meal with fresh veggies!


Sneaky snake

OK--so all isn't exactly as we expect on the farm.  This morning I set out on a mission to disassemble the chicken tractor and reassemble it into a chicken brooder.  Soooo, I'm working taking the tractor apart and thought I'd take a break and go in and say "hey" to the girls.  Wellllll, in one of the nest boxes was a great big loooooong snake all curled up---eeeew!  I took a stick and poked at it and it went behind the nest boxes.  Oh, yes, that's great...still in the house.  Sooo, I gathered the eggs that the girls had laid and went back to my destruction job.

A couple hours later I decided to check out the chicken house again and, oh yes, the snake was back.  I stepped outside, got a shovel, secured the snake behind its head and grabbed it with my hand.  It had an egg in it--I could see the outline of it in the snake's body---ewwwww!

I pulled the snake out of the nest and realized that I didn't have a bucket with a lid or a sack at the chicken house so I had to carry the snake all the way to the shop--seemed like a 1/2 mile but it's only about 80 steps.  While on the way to the shop, the snake regurgitated the egg into the yard (unbroken, I might add), and I realized that snakes are really strong!  It was all I could do to keep a hold of it behind the head AND it wrapped its body around my arm on the way to the shop---not cool I would say--ewwwww!

I found a sack inside a box that I had carefully closed the lid on--really hard to open a box with one hand and a snake in the other!  ewwwwww!  Got it in the sack and immediately it found a hole and poked its head out and started to escape--but I was able to keep it in the sack, get in the truck, drive about a mile up the road, and released the snake.  I sure hope they don't come back from that far away.

Sorry I didn't get a photo, but my hands were full!  Such is life on the farm.

I did get the chicken tractor disassembled and the baby chick "brooder" rebuilt.  It was a must do since I've ordered 56 chicks to be delivered August 14!

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