Friday, January 28, 2011

The “Cabin Fever Edition”

From the Farmer’s Wife

Hello friends of the farm! You all are constantly on our thoughts. It is funny how our shareholders are now “family” to us. We even have a Christmas picture on our refrigerator from one family that sent us a Christmas card! This is a great way for us to remember to pray for you during the winter. Our boys (Adam and Caleb) keep telling humorous stories about delivery times…some of the stories about folks splitting shares are hilarious! We share memories of your children harvesting vegetables from our fields for the first time on a farm day, letters we received from you all and prayer requests from you keep you constantly in our thoughts.

We have had 5 or 6 snows this winter with very cold temperatures down in the single digits…We had around 14 inches of snow and ice with the last "doozy" of a storm. We have been blessed to be able to stay at home after 34 years of public work without the pressure of traveling down the mountain in hazardous weather. We even had church at home 6 times this winter! When it snows the 18 rows of strawberries look like snow tunnels with the snow, covering the row covers on hoops. It makes a pretty sight. The children have enjoyed playing in the snow more this year than in many a year in the past. They have sledded, built forts, had rowdy snowball fights, (with snowballs hitting the front door as one ran inside for protection) and hiked in its freshness. What can bring more thoughts of our loving Saviour, Jesus Christ than a fresh covering of deep fluffy snow? The pureness of our Lord along with His promise to make our hearts “white as snow” when we accept His cleansing is always an encouragement to me!

The men (Farmer Steve, Adam, and Caleb) have spent the winter organizing the paperwork from the last growing season, tax preparation, PLANNING, ordering, and the latest and GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT is our new website. I am so proud of Adam (20) who designed it for us. IT TOOK A LOT OF WORK…weeks of square eyes and frustrating moments, but he has taught himself how to design a better web page. We pray you enjoy it and it is easier and more pleasurable to use. You will see some changes this year. The Farmer’s Wife will have a blog instead of a weekly letter. There is a separate page for recipes. Now you will not have to wade through all my “jabber” to find the recipe you need quickly. Over 100 pictures will bring the beauty of our farm right into your home! Customers kept saying, “Please, more pictures!” Well, now you have them! Once the snow melts…if it ever does, there is a long list of outdoor projects to complete. So their warm and cozy indoor days are numbered!

Our family school is chugging away. We are studying the basics of writing, math, Bible, italic handwriting and spelling along with our unit study on world geography and missions. We move slowly, and are done with North America/Central America, and are now “basking in the balmy weather of Central America” while there is snow on the ground outdoors! We are finishing a 5 X 5’ mural of the Amazon Jungle this week that has been fun to create! I have learned so much! Ha ha! I did not really begin to learn until I began home schooling, and enjoy learning right along with my children these past 23 years. We are really praying that our children will see God’s heart for people all over the world during our studies, and get a burden for their souls themselves. We read aloud biographies of great missionaries along with our studies…Cameron Townsend and Nate Saint being our favorites. We plan to be done in time for planting season. We believe that life is school…so actual life experiences are far more important to us than bookwork. We concentrate on bookwork and our unit studies in the winter, and then move our classroom outdoors for biology/botany, and the work experience that is so important for our young men. After mid-April, we all work full time outdoors.

The farm kitchen is in the process of being finished for state inspection. Faith Anne and I will prayerfully be busy in the kitchen baking breads, granola, and other products for you! We are excited about this new expansion of our farm. I hope to begin using our fruits and vegetables in our baked goods for added wholesomeness. Lord willing, one of the first products will be using our Certified Naturally Grown strawberries in making strawberry jam!

I prefer to bake and cook with naturally grown/organic raw ingredients…Whole wheat berries are ground into flour MINUTES before mixing, raw honey, sea salt, cane juice crystals, (raw sugar) extra virgin olive oil, fresh nuts, and more. I even enjoy using the grains we grow ourselves after they are harvested, near the middle of the season. We LOVE the taste of our own rolled oats and ground wheat. With our new website’s capabilities, you can reserve a loaf of bread each week to be packed with your share! Bread will be less than 24 hours old with freshly ground wheat! Reserve yours when you sign up for your share.

The raised bed garden will be back in my hands this season. I am looking forward to having a kitchen garden once again! Faith Anne, Charity, and I will grow for our family and will test new varieties for future sales. There are 1025 square feet of growing space, not counting the herb garden that is not divided into square feet. Many of you are experimenting with container or raised bed gardening. When we talk, you have lots of questions. To meet this need, we are considering hosting a Square Foot Gardening workshop if there is enough interest. Please contact us soon if you MIGHT be interested in spending a day on the farm learning, picking your own salad lunch, and fellowshipping. There would be a small fee for this workshop.

We are enjoying soups and homemade bread on these cold, snowy days. One of our favorite soups is 9+ Bean Soup. It used to be called 9 Bean Soup, but I kept adding leftover beans, and a few grains like barley to it, so we renamed it. The bucket full I am using right now is around 15-bean soup! I use our home canned tomatoes, and the hocks or bones from our hogs to season it. Use what you have, and then if you use many tomatoes during the winter, learn to freeze, dry, or can them next summer. (That is another idea we had…preserving workshops where you learn the basics of freezing, drying, and canning fruits and vegetables. If you are interested in this idea, please write and vote “YES!”  This does not commit you, but lets us see the interest level for these workshops.) Make your favorite quick or yeast bread to compliment your steamy pot of soup and you will have your family coming back for seconds!

9+ Bean Soup
To make the bean mixture, mix 1 lb. of Black, Pinto, Navy, Kidney, Split Pea, Lima, Lentils, Barley, Cranberry, Jacob’s Cattle, or other beans you have available. This should last most of the winter. I store mine in large canning jars on the shelves in my kitchen.

2 Cups of your Pre-mixed bean assortment
1 qt. water
2 qt. canned tomatoes
1 large onion
Ham bone, soup bones, smoked sausage, or as the lady who gave the recipe to me makes it…with a whole roast of your choice.
   Take 2 cups of your bean mixture and soak “overnight”. (The quickie method is great if you, like me, do not think ahead. Boil beans in water to cover for 3 minutes. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. Rinse, then proceed.) Drain and rinse beans. Cover with water, onion, and seasoning meat. Cook until beans are tender. Remove meat to a tray. Add tomatoes and heat through. Remove meat from bones and cut into small pieces. Add to soup mixture. Salt and pepper to taste.  Serves 8

Well, this is my first blog/letter for the season. I hope to write weekly as the season starts gearing up. Have you signed up for our CSA yet? Guarantee you get a share by signing up soon! Also, do not forget to contact us about your interest in the farm day workshops I described so we can plan our 2011 season. We are here to serve you!

May God bless each of you as you head into 2011. He has been our SALVATION, OUR PROVIDER, our Wisdom, our Shield, our Light, our Hope, our High Strong Tower of Refuge, our Peace, our Assurance, our EVERYTHING in 2010, and I KNOW He will be there in 2011. Praise Jesus’ Holy Name!
                          Abundant Blessings,
                          The Farmer’s Wife,
                               Val Colvin

“Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.”  Psalms 17:5