Pleasant Valley Farm

  (Tionesta, Pennsylvania)
Real Family Farming in Tionesta, PA
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Butchering Season Begins Again

The trailer from our local meat processor just left with some of our pigs on board.  By law, we're required to send them to a USDA-inspected slaughtering facility.  We are able to process the sides of meat here at the farm, which means a busy week next week.  I'm usually in charge of the wrapping & labeling of our pork products, as well  as mixing up the herbs & spices for our multiple sausage varieties.  Some of the pigs that left today will go towards filling last fall's freezer pork orders, and the rest will be frozen for sale at the stand when we open at the end of the month.  We'll have fresh pork as well, but we like to have some frozen on hand too, and this allows the necessary time for the smoking & curing of the hams and bacons so we'll be able to have those as well.  It was nice to have a break from meat processing over the winter, but it's that time of the year again. It really takes a lot of planning to get everything scheduled properly!

We moved our broiler chickens to a larger pen today.  We want to get them out on pasture as soon as possible, but it actually snowed here today and these birds just don't handle cold & wet weather well.  To keep them healthy without pumping them full of antibiotics, we decided it was best to put them in another indoor pen with a raised floor, but we'll be watching the weather to get them out on grass as soon as possible. Unlike the pork, we are able to process our chicken start to finish here at the farm, so that will take place just a couple of days before our opening day.  Not only will we have some chicken available at the reopening of the stand, we also have a new batch of broiler birds arriving this week.  They will be able to be out on grass for a longer period of time, as we hope the weather will cooperate when they no longer need their heat lamps in a few weeks. 

The cold continues tonight, with frost forecasted.  We're a bit concerned about some of the crops, like sweet corn and blueberries, but the majority of what's in the ground, like lettuce and onions, won't be damaged if it gets nipped by frost.   It's so exciting to actually see veggies up, and I even have some early radishes to incorporate into our dinner tonight.

I was delighted with the new bottles that arrived this week and have been in the process of filling them with flavored vinegars.  Our Thai Sweet & Hot dipping sauce will be in them as well, so be sure to check them out when you stop to see us! 

 
 

Loading Up the Truck with Squash

We've been anticipating a frost for a few days now, but so far we've been spared. Yesterday Dan & I decided to bring in any winter squash that seemed ripe enough to be pulled from the vine. While squash will handle a light frost just fine, a hard one will cause them to begin rotting. So as it was a dry and sunny (but chilly!) day, we drove the faithful farm truck out to be loaded up with garden goodness.  

We grew several varieties of pumpkin and have some biggies, but nothing big enough to turn into a house for Wilbur as we had joked about during planting season.  We have some nice looking pumpkins but also quite a few lopsided ones...not sure exactly why, but given the much less than ideal growing season we had here, sometimes you just have to be thankful for what grows, no matter the shape.  One of the more unusual winter squash we grew this year is the kabocha...while there are green varieties of this squash, ours turn a nearly scarlet orange when ripe.  I've had more than a few questions about our "little pumpkins".   While not really a pumpkin at all, they would make fabulous fall decorations, and the larger ones might even be carve-able!  However, they are great to eat too, sweet and rich flavored. Our kabocha plants did wonderfully, I even had to follow the vines deep into the planting of ornamental corn to collect all of the beautiful orange globes.  We also picked more than a few giant pink banana squash (my new favorite) and the smaller acorn, butternut and buttercups just in case.  The bed of the truck looked like a postcard from fall! 

Squash is something my family didn't really eat when I was growing up, so I've been looking for good recipes that I can use all winter long.   I've been saving my favorites and printing them out for you to pick up when you stop by the stand on Saturdays...a recipe of the week, if you will.  I love to try cooking new things, so I intend to keep it up next year as well.  If you don't live close enough to stop by, I also post them online on the farm's website -www.pleasantvalleyfarm.weebly.com.   Also for all the coupon clippers out there, I posted a coupon for a discount on delicious winter squash there as well!  It's already down to 49 degrees and the clouds are clearing off as the sun goes down, so I think we're finally in for a frost for sure.  So it's time to go cover the last of the pepper plants to try and save them just a bit longer, then a good night to enjoy the heat of the woodstove!

 
 
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