Snowing and Blowing

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The reports came in while we were enjoying our final day of holidays with Shawn’s parents in Yorkton: there was snow at home. Lots of it. I like snow. I like skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. The more snow, the merrier I am. It was not until we were loading the car the next morning that it hit me: we might not make it home. We didn’t see even a flake of fresh snow between Yorkton and Saskatoon, but the reports of deep snow at home haunted our thoughts. Our communication with neighbours was of little assistance. Nobody had been out yet; nobody knew what condition our road was in. Eventually we got word that a friend had been through, so we decided to forego our afternoon movie plans and head straight home before the forecasted high winds buried our road in sculpted snow banks.

It proved to be a wise decision. Two CSA members braved the roads in large vehicles on Sunday, only to find themselves in the ditch on their way out. Fortunately, nobody was there long. Upon word of the second slide, we cancelled the final pick-up of the day and hunkered down into our toasty warm homes. We were snowed in until Tuesday afternoon, when the RM snowplough made its way through. Wednesday saw more blowing snow and the road plugged up again! We were very grateful the Battlefords pick-up had been successfully executed during the window of opportunity Tuesday evening.

One of the things I appreciate about our life on the farm is the way in which we are intimately connected with the natural world. My days begin and end with a trip to the outhouse. When the sun shines and the days are long, we have lots of electricity; when we have a long stretch of cloudy winter days, we have to decide how to prioritize our use of power. When the summer rains descend in a flood, we cancel any gardening plans for a day or two. And when a winter storm blows in, our vegetable pick-up schedule has to be altered.

It’s not always easy to be flexible. I like planning and organization (at least) as much as the next person. I tend to start each day with a list of what I hope to accomplish and start to stress when the incomplete items get carried over too many days. I am not yet fully accustomed to relinquishing control to the elements. But what I find even more challenging is when the weather impacts our Community Shared Agriculture members. I know that when we have to postpone a vegetable pick-up, the chaos of the skies is unleashed onto multiple other families.

And that’s where I really come to appreciate the dedication of our members. When you signed up for the CSA, they may have realized that your eating patterns would be affected by weather conditions but you may not have anticipated how much scheduling flexibility might sometimes be required. Both the Battlefords and the Saskatoon members whose plans were affected by last weekend’s snow also had their summer pick-up times postponed due to unfavourable weather! There are certainly times when I am conscious of how much we are asking of people.

On the flip side, I suppose we are also offering the opportunity to be more deeply connected to the natural world around us, both in ways that are readily embraced – such as fresh food grown without chemicals on an off-grid farm – and in ways that can be more frustrating – such as postponed deliveries. We certainly hope the positive outweighs the negative!

We also hope that you are still finding ways to enjoy the vegetables of the season. We are getting down to the nitty gritty: potatoes and carrots with a side of beets. (There are some onions yet to come as well, but they too are snowed in! We have them stored at Judy’s sister’s place and have not been able to get a vehicle through to pick them up.)

My family enjoys carrots (and often potatoes too) in nearly every soup we make. Carrot sticks are also a common feature of our meals – though there often aren’t any left on the table by the time the meal actually begins. As we seek ways to reduce the amount of off-farm food we eat, I have tended to replace most pasta (though we do sometimes make or buy it) and rice with potatoes. If a recipe suggests serving over pasta or rice, I serve it over boiled or mashed potatoes. It doesn’t always work, but I am surprised how often it does — and how many root vegetables we consume over the course of the winter!

This week, we tried a new beet salad recipe from Simply in Season which, amazingly, received a thumb’s up from at least one of the kids.

Shredded Beet Salad

2 cups red beets, cooked, peeled, and shredded (I used white beets, cooked and julienned)

1/2 cup fresh parsley (omitted due to the season!)

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 Tbsp onion, chopped

1 Tbsp sugar (I used 1/2 Tbsp honey)

1/2 tsp salt

pepper to taste

Mix together and chill. To serve, place the red beet mixture in the middle of a dish.

1 cup carrots, shredded

1 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

green olives, optional

Arrange around the beets. (I only used the carrots and julienned them rather than shredding because some of my family doesn’t like shredded vegetables. I feared the texture of cooked beets with raw carrots might be odd when they weren’t shredded, but it seemed to work ok. I will certainly make the dish again.)

Bon appetit!

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