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Week 15 CSA – 28th August 2017

This week we’ve started transplanting some of the cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli that we started in the greenhouse earlier this summer. Our first crop of bean plants is recovering and rewarded us with a decent harvest this week, and the beans that we planted a few weeks ago are already producing beautiful red pods that contrast so nicely with the green and yellow beans that we have been growing. This at least helps alleviate some of the frustration that comes with slow egg production lately due to the heat, and the fact that our cucumber crop is finished for the year.

The Franklin Farmer’s Market continues to be a highlight of the week. It’s fun to meet with customers and share the heirloom varieties that we grow. Strangely though, nobody is buying any sweet peppers. Anybody know why? We can’t figure it out – we have green, ivory and purple sweet peppers, but only the purple sell.

– Ezra, Michelle Stacy and Greg

(p.s. Please “like” and share our Facebook and Instagram pages with your friends and family, and remember to tag us in your posts @WindingStairFarm!)

Farm Perspectives

Michelle

On chickens, and Winding Stair Farm’s approach to humanely raising animals …

My morning on Friday began with the discovery that our two original roosters – prized for their gentleness, genetics, and plumage – had a vicious fight. I steeled myself to the reality that these roosters were going to die and it was up to me to make it quick. I walked up to the house to sharpen our knife, and when I came back, Norbert walked out of the coop, leaving Rupert collapsed on the floor of the coop. It was sad to see him like that, compared with his former glory – in the picture above, Ezra is showing Rupert to our wedding photographer (July 2015). I carefully carried him to the killing cone to end his life as gently and swiftly as I could, thanking him for the lessons he has taught this newbie farmer, for taking care of our hens, and for giving us generations of beautiful chickens. I thought about the value of this bird’s life to us contrasted with the agricultural industry’s treatment of poultry. For years I have been observing these birds and what I have learned is incredible:

Chickens know their home. Ours never cross the perimeter fence (even though it is no different from the fences that they regularly cross to get from paddock to paddock). They always investigate something new and know where to seek shelter.

Chickens know each other. We have three coops on five acres, and the chickens from each group rarely interact. They stick with each other and move about peacefully across the pasture without problems with the other groups. They have a complex social hierarchy and that’s how they keep the peace. Sadly for Rupert, he injured his leg earlier this summer and never gained back his status.

Chickens have a large vocabulary. Chickens have different calls for alerts, announcing a food source, asserting dominance, laying eggs, and more. At night, they peacefully coo at each other inside the coop. One morning I was sitting in the pasture (this is the only way to recognize if there are problems) when a chicken made the alert that something dangerous was flying overhead. The call quickly spread across to the other end of the farm. It wasn’t until after the hawk flew past that I realized I had looked up immediately to the sky when the first chicken made the announcement. I’d begun to learn the language of chickens! Best. morning. ever.

Chickens deserve better. The meat from the roosters that we eat is far better than any chicken we’ve ever bought from the supermarket. What the industry has done to this bird makes me sick. It is flavorless and cheap, and so different from the birds that we raise here that I hardly recognize it.

This is why we work on this farm. Ethical rearing and humane slaughter ARE compatible with being a “practical farmer.” To look at an animal whose life I know I am going to take to feed myself tests my resolve every time, but a good death is a critical part of a good life. Other people choose to be vegetarians, but our long-term goal at Winding Stair Farm is to give “meat eaters” a humane option to feed their family the protein that their bodies need.

You should have chickens too. We can help if you have questions about raising chickens or want to buy incubated eggs or chicks from our flock. If more people have small backyard flocks of happy chickens, fewer birds will go through life in industrial agriculture.

This Week’s Harvest

We have a theme to this week’s CSA: purples and reds. All these colorful vegetables are rich in anthocyanins, which are vacuolar pigments in the outer layers of the plant parts that give it color (think blueberries and eggplant, especially). Although it hasn’t been conclusively found that there are benefits to consuming anthocyanin, it has been shown in vitroto contain antioxidants, and darker fruit has generally been found to be more nutrient-dense. So it definitely doesn’t hurt!

Mixed Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)
‘Korean Red’ Kohlrabi (Melothria scabra)
‘Scarlet’ and ‘Blue Scotch Curled’ Kale (Brassica olaracea)
‘Purple Oda’ Sweet Pepper (Apium graveloens)
Purple Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
‘Purple Coban’ Tomatillos (Physalis ixocarpa)
‘Red Swan’ Bush Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)
‘Chiogga’ and ‘Detroit Red’ Beets (Beta vulgaris)
Purple Shisho (Perilla frutescens var. crispa)

Greenhouse Goodies

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

May 23 – October 9

Franklin Pick-Up: Saturday mornings at the Franklin Farmer’s Market
Highlands Pick-Up: Monday between 12pm and 1pm at Founder’s Park
Keep it out of the landfill
We strive to keep our footprint as small as possible, and we’d love your help:
  • Bring a bag with you each week
  • Save egg cartons and zip loc bags (we’ll even take egg cartons from your friends)
  • If you don’t compost then you can help us feed our chickens. Keep in your fridge until the next CSA pick up: kale/collard ribs, lettuce hearts, herb stems, egg shells (but please, no onions or garlic)
Sharing recipes
Did you use ingredients from your CSA to make a particularly delicious meal? Send us a photograph and the recipe, and we’ll share it with other CSA members.

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