We're awash in pumpkins and squash! This year, our carefully tended pumpkin and squash patches produced some surprises along with the expected haul of beige butternuts, green Hubbards and yellow Georgia Candyroasters. A gift of some heritage seeds added red and aqua Hubbards to the field. Some seeds that we saved from last year's squash harvest must have been those of a hybrid cross. They grew into the oddest striped irregular orb in the field.
There was a surprise in the pumpkin patch as well. GIANT pumpkins. The kind that people grow for competition. (Who planted those seeds, and where did they come from!?) These were pumpkins that we had to roll out of the field and up ramp boards into the truck to then roll off of the truck to the roadside stand. Ron had to post a "Call this phone number for help in loading" sign on the stand. Liz had personalized some of both giant and "normal" pumpkins by scratching names and motivational words into the immature fruits. As they grew and matured, the scratches became scars, and the resulting personalized pumpkins became unique and charming fall decoration fodder.
Roadside Stand in the Pandemic Era
We've done a little upgrade to our corn stand this year. The new stand is pretty tiny, but it can hold a few dozen ears of corn at a time. We try to restock with fresh corn (and zucchini, cucumbers, etc.) several times during the day, to ensure that only the freshest vegetables are available.
Also available: the pump jug of New York State's Finest, a product that many of us have become very familiar with by this point in the Covid-19 Pandemic of 2020. A shot of this sanitizer on your hands before vegetable shopping helps keep the produce germ free.
We've been setting some of Riverdale Farm & Forest's pure maple syrup out for purchase this summer, and I'd like to point out that it's not just for pancakes! In the last seven days, I believe that I've used maple syrup in my coffee and tea, in the oil and vinegar based salad dressing, and as a basting base for salmon and steak. Later today, I'm planning to bake with it.
Here's my favorite muffin recipe, a modification of a pumpkin bread recipe. The muffins are moist and sweet and delicious. I urge you to give it a try!
(makes 2 dozen, or 12 giant muffins)
Stir together dry ingredients and set them aside:
3 1/3 Cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. (or more, if you will) cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
Blend together, in a separate bowl:
1 Cup oil of preference
2 Cups of pureed squash (butternut, candy roaster, Hubbard, or, hey--pumpkin)
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup maple syrup
Mix everything together and toss in any desired tidbits (chocolate chips--the white ones are especially good here) or nuts, raisins. Bake in greased muffin tins for 20-ish minutes at 350 degrees.
The river that runs along the length of Riverdale Farm plays a big part in our lives. A quick plunge into the water in the middle of a sweltering day. An end-of-afternoon visit with crackers and cheese and some liquid refreshment. A cast line to make an attempt on that monster trout that just has to be cruising the bank.
The farm sits on the West Bank of the Delaware River, a fork through the Catskill Mountains that joins with it's sister fork, predictably called the East Branch, at Hancock, NY. Under normal weather conditions, the "Binnekill" runs parallel to the river, but since we're suffering for rain at the moment, it's dry except for pockets of water here and there. Those pockets make great spots for little fishermen to drop the minnow trap. Our little fishermen check their minnow trap alot.
Lilacs. They're beautiful, and their light, fresh scent serves as a signal that spring is on the way. Technically, I suppose I should say summer is on the way, but in this Catskill Mountain valley, seasons are a little behind. Lilacs spread by sending shoots up from their roots, and these shoots are fairly easy to dig up and transplant to wherever a new bush is desired. We've got a new little shoot coming up in the middle of our flower garden (where it's not actually desired) and that baby will be relocating in the fall!
Due to this propensity to root-sprout, and the ease of which they can be transplanted, lilacs are the perfect flowering bush to share with your friends. "Historical" case in point: the number of great, big lilac bushes you see along rural roads. Lilacs abundantly shared between neighbors, and still thriving long after the man-made home and barn structures have disappeared.
The next time you see a couple of large lilac bushes in what appears to be an empty field, take a moment. Peer through the overgrown grasses. Maybe you'll see the stone ruins of an old foundation, the wooden skeleton that was once a home. Roadside lilacs invite us to take a glimpse into the forgotten past.
The black cloud of Covid-19 has made the spring of 2020 one for the record books. It's changed the way we live and today, it's making a huge alteration in the way we celebrate. Our extended family on the farm consists of four generations who live in three separate abodes, and we'll gather in the yard (lawn chairs six feet apart) behind one of those abodes this morning for our pastor's prerecorded worship service. Later, we'll have our separate Easter dinners in front of ZOOM-ed in Virginia family members.
Happy Easter to you and yours, and here's hoping that you've found a creative way to celebrate!
pictured above, the first two new members of the herd--Minnow and...X-Box? 5 year-old Wyatt is our designated calf namer this year!
Here we go! Snowstorm #1 motivated us to get tapping before Snowstorm #2 hit two days later! Gideon and I finished tapping the trees we can get to yesterday. Running well today...sap runs through the tubing to our tanks to be collected with the truck and brought to our saphouse. Should have enough sap later tonight to start boiling!
Some chicks arrived at the farm three days ago, and Wyatt was only too eager to help out. He's a GO GO GO two-year-old, and I feared for the chicklet, but all is well and now he's back with his 59 brethren.
Don't you love it before the weeds overtake the vegetables? Our family tends a large vegetable garden--some of it in the ground, and some in raised beds--to provide year-round food for a of us. (OK. Liz and Gideon and Gramps tend the garden. Ron, Nana and I are slackers.) Our soil is very rich, and very good for weeds.
They will be showing themselves soon!
It's June now, and we syrup producers aren't spending a lot of time in the sap house now, because HAY. But we did make enough delicious pure maple syrup to still have this winter's "crop" available for your pancakes and French toasts, barbecue sauces, and salad dressings. Give us a call!