Dolce Farm and Orchards

  (NEWBERG, Oregon)
Farming in Oregon - Making goodness from our fruits and berries

Fall on the farm

The rains have come - soup is simmering on the stove. I've been busy preserving and canning. The bees are prepped for winter. Our latest batches of preserves - Tomato Chutney - which is oh so good on curries, but also rice and beans, ham sandwiches and cheese plates. Marionberry jam - Oregon's own berry, everyone's favorite! Did you know that berries have a family tree?  Marionberry Great and Great Great Grandparents are the Pacific Wild trailing black berry and Himalayan blackberries? And Loganberries?

Our Venus grapes are a seedless variety from U of Arkansas - similar to the Foxy Concord w/o seeds. I've created a batch of spiced grape jam, with the total goodness of the whole grape. This we enjoy on a PBnJ or over yogurt, and on toast. My Grandma Savka, would have loved this over her cottage cheese. That's what folks used to eat before yogurts were widely available.

Honey harvest was good this year - our honey is a light yellow- full of pollen, really raw and floral. The nectar sources are wild blackberries and lavender. I've been on a mission to learn as much as I can to be the best beekeeper I can be. I really enjoy listening to podcasts - as my off farm work means I drive long hours. My favorite  ones are "The Hive Jive" and "Beekeeping, Short and Sweet". We use a lot of honey in making our granola, which I churn out in huge batches to keep my menfolk moving. Plus extra Virgin Olive oils, lots of sunflower seeds and cashews. My oldest son has food allergies, so this granola I've named after him "Branko's Blend".

Hops went crazy - we had a massive harvest of Cascade Hops - developed at OSU for the craft Brew industry, and first used by Anchor Brewing in Cali in the mid to late 70's - the first craft brewery. We love fresh hop beer, so vacuum packed a whole freezer full of fresh hops. Hubby hopes to get to brewing soon.  

 More to come - stay tuned for farm updates.


Day to skirt

The rain has stopped, the sun is out - slight breeze twirls about. I step outside and start setting up my skirting "table" - a screen with a wooden frame that my husband made -, grab two saw horses, open them up and proceed to place the screen over them on the grass in the yard.  Acorn wood peckers are really yaking it up over the the native oak grove next to the pasture - as I unfurl the first fleece freed from it's bag onto the screen. It is from "Beluga" a huge, black badgerface spotted ewe. She is bright white with a black and brown clown face. Her fleece glows in the rays of the sun - I pick out a few pieces of hay and take out some of the coarser belly wool. A few Western Bluebirds fly over head, their light, melodic whistling warms my heart. I pick up the white fleece, now ready for a spinner or crafter, marveling in it's deep, thick warmth and lucious, soft hand. It smells of the earth, the fields - and I pondor what it might become - a sweater in natural white ? Dyed into colors of the rainbow? Many hats or perhaps a scarf? A felting project? Sounds of the neighbor's tractor engine hum in the distance - another day, another fleece is ready.



Sunny thoughts on a Rainy Day - Berries and Eggs

The rain is coming down in torrents and I am thinking of the Loganberry plants I just purchased. They are becoming quite rare since they can't be harvested by machine. I think this variety will be a good fit for our farm tolerating lots of rain and sun. They have a nice tart flavor - great for jams, pies, syrups... I am very interested in preserving heirlooms in the garden. I'll be sharing some Loganberry recipes soon. 

Loganberries are a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, but with softer seeds. They were the premier berry in the Willamette Valley between 1910-1925.

Even though the rains are here in true Northwest fashion, our Delaware chickens are loving the longer daylight hours and laying mostly extra-large and some large eggs. I did find a monster Jumbo egg yesterday which I will weigh and share a photo, it looks like the largest one any of our chickens have ever laid! If a chicken skips a day of laying, and until they get into the spring rhythm, they lay an occasional jumbo. The Delawares really fine and prolific egg layers. We need to increase and add to our flock, so ordering an incubator is high on the list! Baby chicks are so sweet...

Time to get on the raincoat and feed the flock and get to work! 


Introduction to our Farm - Winter Musings

We'd like to welcome you to our life on our Oregon farm in the northern Willamette Valley! We farm 50 acres, around 35 in hazelnuts, 5 of Italian Prunes, and the rest in rotational pasture for our Icelandic sheep and free range Delaware Chickens- plus a good sized garden and more - 

Winter is still about - looking forward to things drying out a bit and getting ready to re-seed some of the bare patches in the pasture.  Our Icelandic ewes will be lambing in well into spring-time. The garden's rich soil has prompted more than garlic to grow - time to get out and weed around the tender garlic shots. Today the wheelbarrow wheel needs pumping up to hold up to the hard work of mucking out a portion of the sheep shed!

The seedless grapes are still sleeping - most of our young olive trees have made it through the week of 12 degree mornings last December 2009. 

I just pruned the raspberry patch, cut out old branches from last spring - they are looking vigorous and promising. Some of our new blackberries didn't make it - we will be putting in more Marionberries and a few more Loganberries. The hazelnut orchard is being pruned to promote more growth and a better harvest in the coming year.

The Delaware Chickens are going gangbusters laying loads of nice big brown eggs - I fried some up for breakfast, savored their deep orange yolks and rich flavor.

Always something to do - I love the daily routine on the farm and new challenges! 

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