In like a lion…….
This year, March has come in more like a freight train! Punxsutawney Phil was right about six more weeks of winter! It looked like his new rival, Staten Island Chuck may have been correct when we had a couple near 70 degree days, but he proved to be wrong, when temperatures plummeted to below zero the next day. Heavy winds gusting at 60 mph here on the farm and two and a half feet of snow this week remind us how powerful Mother Nature is. The good news is, we will be going into the spring and summer with a higher water table this year.
We aren’t the only ones hungry for spring. Something got to the hens the other night. Our super hero farm dog, Jenny alerted us, and we got to the hen house with only minor losses. Just a couple years ago, we had almost our whole flock wiped out by a fisher, so we take Jenny’s warnings very seriously. Whatever it was came back again yesterday and got another hen, so today, since there was so much snow on the ground anyway, I decided to keep the hens in their house after feeding them. Continuing on to do more plowing so that I could bring hay back to the cows, I didn’t realize that Jenny wasn’t by my side. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that I noticed she was missing. Where was she? She never missed an opportunity to herd the cows. Since I had plowed back through the gate to the winter cow field, the momma cows were all waiting at the gate for their food. Jenny is always a big help moving them away from the gate so I can get in with the tractor. She also “guards” the hay after I unwrap the net wrap and get back in the tractor to put the round bale feeder over the hay. Where was she? Calling and looking in every barn, she was no where to be found. Now I started to worry. Could snow have slid off one of the high tunnels and buried her? Could she have gone chasing after whatever had gotten the hens and been overcome? Had she tried to herd one of the horses again and gotten trampled? (the horses WILL NOT be herded!!) I started to get scared. One last place….the first hen house….there she was! She must have followed me in to check on them and I didn’t see her when I closed them in! Thank goodness! Boy was she happy to be found! She’ll be like Velcro for the rest of the day, no doubt!
Hay to cows after plowing Wednesday
Spaghetti Squash Gratin with Basil
This was so good, we made it a second time. The second time around, We didn’t have any more gruyere cheese, so I used all Parmesan cheese, and it was still delicious! It’s even tastier the next day!
1 spaghetti squash
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp chopped basil or 1/4 cup dried basil
2 oz. gruyere cheese, grated
2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven to 375. Pierce the squash in several places with a sharp knife. Bake squash on a baking sheet until easily pierces with a knife. Remove and let cool. Cut in half lengthwise, and scrape out seeds; discard seeds. Scoop out the flesh and place in a bowl. Separate strands. Oil a 2 quart baking dish. Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Add the squash. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Add milk, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and basil Stir in the squash mixture and the gruyere. Mix well. Scrape into baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and prees down gently to moisten. Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Basic Brine for Juicy, Tender Chicken or Turkey
If you’ve never brined a chicken or turkey, try this basic brine recipe. The result is an amazingly juicy bird. You will love it!
1 gallon room temperature water
1/2 cup kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar (brown sugar or turbinado sugar)
Mix brine together well with a whisk. Place whole chicken or turkey, or chicken parts in brine for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Remove chicken from brine and rinse well. Cook as usual.
Check out February’s blog for all that’s available from the farm this month as well. Try one of our chickens or turkeys using the brine method above! Or try the spaghetti squash gratin!
Behind Wildfire is the greenhouse covered in a snow drift.