Farm Journal 9/19/21

Click here to place your order for this week (please give us 24 hours lead time before your desired pick up date/time).

** There’s no longer a limit on the number of eggs you can buy!

You can now find us at:

Sundays – Squirrel Hill Farmers Market – 9am – 1 pm

Mondays – East Liberty 3 – 7 pm

Wednesdays – Here at The Farm – 11 – 7

Fridays – Northside Farmers Market – 3 – 7 pm

Saturdays – Mt. Lebanon, Uptown – 9am – 12pm

Farm Party – all lovers of Blackberry Meadows Farm are invited!

Save the date – Saturday September 25th! We’re hosting our farm picnic from 4 – 9 pm. We’ll have a pig roast and s’mores. Feel free to bring sides, desserts and/or drinks to share. We’ll have dishes and cutlery available, but you may want to bring your own picnic blanket or chairs, lawn games, and bug spray. Farm tour starts promptly at 4:30 and campfire later in the evening. There’s a good chance that Greg’s going to want to get the ol’ cider press out – so be prepared to help with that too (it’s messy)! Feel free to bring along extra apples and we’ll press your apples for cider for you too! RSVPs are appreciated.

Field Update – by Jen

Gear up for greens, as our mizuna, turnip greens, kale, arugula, beet greens, and cabbages are looking good!

We’re going to have bok choy for days. I warn you now – get your arsenal of Asian greens recipes out on the counter – as it looks like the bok choy won’t stop once it gets going!

Annie and I have been mowing, tilling, transplanting, seeding and hoeing like mad! Our days are numbered, and we’re doing the best we can to plant. it. all…. before CSA is over (and then some!). We live on a little microclimate here at the top of Ridge Rd, and where others may be getting rain, we’ve had practically none. I stayed home from the Northside Market on Friday (Annie took my place) to hook up irrigation.

We haven’t needed to water anything for the past month – and there were a few spots that had been jeopardized by the tiller, mower and broad fork. I’d spent the morning patching holes that I knew existed. That afternoon, I went to start up the pump by the pond and experienced complete failure. It’s a gas powered pump, which (I feel) aren’t designed with women in mind. Yanking like mad, adjusting the choke, cursing and yanking, waiting and contemplating a dip in the pond instead (it was hot!)…. I finally asked Greg for help. I hate it when machinery gets the best of me! Well, Greg didn’t have any luck and took the diagnostics to the next level – maybe it was flooded, old gas, wet gas…. nothing worked and now he’s going to rebuild the carburetor…. time to order parts. And it looks like rain for Tuesday…. let’s all hope!!

In the meantime, it was pushing the high 80’s and newly transplanted seedlings were wilting away. We filled up an 275 gallon IBC tote with water and watered every seedling in. With Olivia, Evelyn, and Greg on the team (see the Instagram video) we watered in all the little seedlings. Evelyn even went home and made bean burritos for dinner and brought them out to us for a sunset picnic.

It’s rare that everything goes right around here – but when we’re working as a team, it feels good and the hiccups in farming don’t feel so daunting.

Pig Wifery – by Greg

No news is generally good news, but I’ll still take the opportunity to pontificate on the Porcine predicament.

All three of the new Waddles (Wanda, Wilma, and Georgie) are living in the barnyard with the breeder herd!  Well, Wanda stumbled over the fence to dominate the next generation herd… But that’s another story. 

Wanda is alive and well! Things go by so fast I forgot to update everyone, but Wanda pulled through her mastitis induced septic condition with 5 days of penicillin.  By day 6 she was well enough to run from the guy with the syringe. Since then she’s warmed back up to me and is acting like a pig again.

The young boar (Georgie) has been mounting everyone in the barnyard.  Luckily, and humorously, he’s still too little to reach the goal.  However, his enthusiasm is encouraging!  I doubt we will have an open sow once he matures. I’m glad to say that he’s also warming up to me and all the others!  He’s joining the breeding herd in the feed congo line although Dosy Do has taken a particular dislike for him.  She the only sow that chases him away. Wilma isn’t warming up to the other pigs because she’s a grumpy ol’sow, but she does seem to tolerate me and she’s been sneaking glances with Sam while Dosy Do is looking the other way.  They are definitely making plans for a rendezvous on the next moon cycle. 

In the farming world, this is known as “makin’ bacon”.

On the harvest side, there are two more processings in this fall, 4 pigs are going this Tuesday and 3 more on Oct 5th.  While these numbers seem low (we aim at 5 per month), we are actually saving some Gilts to increase the breeding herd.  More breeders, more piglets next year. Mo’ Pigs. Ideally, we can get back into selling half animals for yinz Homesteaders that stock up for the year, and also accommodate the insatiable appetites of the Farmers’ Grill customers (Have you tried the Notorious P.I.G. the original Ham-burger?)

Speaking of the Farmers’ Grill, we learned this week that we are awarded a Value-Added Producers Grant from the USDA! More good news.  For the next 3 years, it matches value of pork and owner time working on the production of the Value-Added product, which is cooked Ham-burgers.  It’s amazing because it will reward us with cash to hire the butcher, the kitchen, pay market/booth fees,  web designers, Point of Sale experts, etc.  I had sworn off grant writing over 8 years ago, but the opportunity to launch this critical part of the farm couldn’t be ignored. We are looking forward to using this venture to continue to increase farm staff and thus production capacity (especially our pantry selection!). 

Access to more local Non-GMO/organic food is still the most critical problem we can help address. Whether through great sandwiches and salads, or fresh produce and frozen meats, or especially through our Garden Shares, we are grateful to have so much support from you, the community members who choose the inconvenience of meeting up each week to the more addictive conveniences of home-delivery.  Thanks for your continued support! 

The Menu

A few tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, tomatillos, husk cherries, peppers, hot peppers, dill and/or parsley, greens (mizuna or turnip greens), kale, and maybe the carrots are ready!! At the encouragement of an avid CSA member, we’re giving out nasturtium leaves too. We planted tons of these flowers to attract beneficial insects to the fields. There was a customer in the Northside Market that always requests these greens to cook with….so get adventurous – they are spicy like a mustard green and good for you!

Here’s a recipe you can try from Garden Betty

Nasturtium Pesto

  • 4 cups packed nasturtium leaves
  • 2 cups packed nasturtium flowers
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

Garden Share – This WEEK!

Last but not least – the last Garden Share goes out this week. I’ll send an individual email with the seedling details.

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