Bring on the Sheep!

  
This week we welcomed five new additions to our farm family: two ewes and their three lambs. It has been nearly four years since there have been sheep on the farm and we are excited to welcome these ones to our home. They come to us via our friends Tyler and Dianne at Lazy Plum Farm near Shell Lake, who called a few weeks ago to let us know that they had more sheep than pasture and to offer us these Icelandic crosses. A carload of us went up on Wednesday to pick them up, and enjoyed a farm tour and fabulous supper with Tyler, Dianne, and neighbours. Dianne also offered us some fleece, and Judy has been spinning up a storm!

Throughout the week we have also been busy doing transplanting of the more conventional sort, and are delighted that all but five flats of our bedding plants are now snugly nestled into the garden. If it hadn’t rained today, we would have finished the lot, but our plants are happy for the moisture and we are happy for the rest.

Unfortunately, some of our cool-weather crops have not held up to the hot weather that allowed for this early transplanting. Sadly, the lovely radishes you enjoyed last week are no more. We will keep our fingers crossed for a nice second seeding, but I’m afraid that these ones are now pig food. The spinach, bok choy, coriander, and arugula are also beginning to bolt, so we will harvest generously this week. We know that some people have a strong aversion to coriander; if you would prefer not to receive any, please let us know and we would be happy to oblige.

  
This is the second year we have grown bok choy and are still figuring it out. Last year its early bolting surprised us. This year we were more prepared, but are still surprised by how small the plants are when they prepare to set seed. The flavour is lovely, so we’ll send out what we’ve got, and see if manure mulching and earlier thinning lead to larger plants next year. They taste great in a salad, stir fry, or soup.

  
Not a lot of arugula came up this year, so you will only be getting a tease — and a flea-beetle nibbled tease at that. We will save some of the plants for seed so that we can sow more abundantly next year. My favourite way to enjoy arugula is chopped up finely and mixed into a lettuce salad to give it a bit of zest.

We are also coming to the end of asparagus season, so be forewarned that next week will be your final asparagus until next spring! If all goes well, you will soon be compensated by the arrival of peas: our earliest variety is currently in bloom.

This week’s order is rounded out by storage potatoes and carrots, lettuce, parsley, orach, and rhubarb. If you would like larger quantities of rhubarb, please let us know and we would be happy to oblige.

I know orach is still unfamiliar to some of you, so here is one of my favourite ways to enjoy it:

Baked Orach, Beans, and Cheese

1 lb dried beans

2 1/4 lbs fresh orach

4 oz. feta cheese (I often substitute homemade paneer)

1 cup plain yogurt

4 green onions, chopped

1 cooking onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes or tomato juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 cup dry bread crumbs

 

Soak beans overnight, then cook in a large pot of water until tender. Drain, rinse and set aside.

Rinse orach, remove thick stems, coarsely chop, and transfer to a colander to drain.

Combine feta with yogurt, then mix in orach, green onions, onion, and dill. Mix well.

Spread half of the orach mixture over the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 pan. Spread an even layer of beans overtop, then remaining orach mixture. Spread Cheddar cheese and tomatoes over top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and spread an even layer of bread crumbs on top.

Bake at 350 for about 1 1/2 hours. Vegetables should be soft and their liquid almost evaporated. Let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.

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