Bittersweet Breakfast…

We enjoy indulging in a relaxing, bountiful breakfast every morning here at the farm since neither of us needs to rush off to offices or business meetings at this point in our lives. For the most part, our morning schedule is of our own making and this makes the routine all the more enjoyable. Reading the New York Times while sipping really good coffee from freshly ground beans is de rigueur here.

I just looked up the correct spelling of de rigueur and realized, given the definition that accompanied the spelling, I had been using the phrase incorrectly all these years…I thought it meant ‘the standard’ or ‘the expected norm’.  Here is the definition, something that I would never subscribe to: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/de%20rigueur

So, I’ll start that sentence again…Reading the NYTs while sipping really good coffee from freshly ground beans is part of our daily, morning routine…so much so that when Dave rises from bed around 5am to take the dog out and start the coffee, I am often still prone but share my words of encouragement, “make it strong!” meaning the coffee, of course!

Although I don’t always eat sensibly all day long, breakfast is usually the same for me…fruit and yogurt with lots of coffee.   We I ate the last of the fruit from the 2014 harvest today so it was a bittersweet moment. IMG_7564

The ‘bitter’ part is that the last of the fruit from last year’s harvest is now consumed. The ‘sweet’ part is that the last of the fruit from last year’s harvest is now consumed…at last! Yes, it is wonderful that our fields produced over 2,310 lbs of edibles last year, much of which we consumed fresh but also gave away or stored in a frozen, canned or dried manner. Using the frozen, canned or dried produce all winter long requires diligence as we try to cook with our ingredients in mind and hope to empty our cupboards before the next year’s supplies start to tumble in!

Case in point, we are still working down the potatoes from the cellar and yet have planted the newest crop already. No pressure! But most items are long gone and we are looking forward to the return of their fresh reprisal this year. We will certainly benefit from sharing more in the future! I’m off to make chili for dinner…using tomatoes from last year’s harvest, (while they last, of course!)

In the meantime, here is a pic of a few of the dogwood/azalea/ferns as referenced in yesterday’s post. The azaleas are just beginning to bloom, with various colors coming later.IMG_7567Perhaps best of all, the front cornerstone with azalea blooms popping out below.

IMG_7571Alas, Baby Ward is not feeling any pressure for his arrival. I changed my plane tickets again today and Kate and I joked that we are now on Plan “D”. I think of this as “D” for delivery!  Crossing fingers and toes at this point…updates will be provided!

“Observation unrecorded is knowledge lost.”

Dave came across this line last year while he was reading “Undaunted Courage” by Stephen Ambrose. The quote is attributed to James Ronda who wrote, “Lewis and Clark Among the Indians”, but I found the direct reference in this magazine piece by Ronda, ‘A Knowledge of the Distant Parts’, The Shaping of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, published by the Montana Historical Society. I believe it can be found here: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4519424

Dave has been an avid recorder of our daily lives at Seven Oaks during the last 2.5 years. He has done this by penning his comments in multiple composition books (he is on his fourth book now) but has also added an Excel spreadsheet format to aid in the recording of the weighed harvest quantities from last year and of the now in-progress harvest of 2013. It is very nice to be able to check back into the log and see what we planted, where, when, what and the conditions we faced (temperature, rainfall etc.) and observe the outcome. Although we are nowhere in the company of the the likes of Lewis and Clark, to us, the daily experience of life on this property is well worth recording since it brings a great satisfaction and sense of accomplishment to our lives.

Our friend, Kathy Bussmann, recently shared with us the handwritten log of her great, great-grandfather’s farm in Connecticut from the late 1800s. The ledger style book itself was impressive with beautifully marbled covers with entries that ranged over many years. The ink recordings were in some ways difficult to read due to abbreviations and handwriting trends of the day, but Dave spent time pouring over it and enjoyed it immensely; we are grateful that she shared it with us, thank you Kathy!

For the most part, I am on the other end of the camera, obsessively photographing everything. It is why I’m rarely in the photos…clever, eh? My mantra is: If you don’t have a picture of it, it didn’t happen. I also whip out my camera for the most banal photos like this one of our resident turtle who was slowly making his way across the driveway the other day. He seems to have found a great way to camouflage himself in the driveway stones. We have yet to name him. (The hawks have been given names since we have been able to follow and photograph them as well as other nesting birds. More on this subject later.)

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I, too, keep a log of the food we preserve so that I can track the results and hopefully improve on the methods and recipes. Since the last strawberry posting, I picked another 20 lbs of strawberries and made 46 more half pints of jam which gave the overloaded refrigerator some relief! The production of fruit is slowing down significantly (yesterday was only 7lbs 5.25 oz) but our total for the year is now just one pound short of  160! I’m just a bit relieved that the season is ending since I think I was starting to get a repetitive action ache in my wrist from all the hulling!

I totaled the jam I’ve made so far this year and it has added up to 90 half pints and 5 quarter pints! I should add up the sugar we have used. 😉 We have tasted two of the quarter pints from the first two batches to compare and have given away 12 half pints to friends and family. IMG_4286This is our typical breakfast of yogurt and berries with jam on toast.

Highlights for the day include picking 2 plus pounds of peas! We shelled them and put them into the risotto we served at a family dinner last night. There is something about shelling peas that makes me smile. I love seeing the little peas inside their pod! We also served our lettuce, radishes and scallions in a salad. Yum!

Image 6ImageBoth large fields have been almost entirely planted but we will continue to plant some things – like green beans – in waves so that we are not too overwhelmed when harvesting. We experimented with the purchase of plants on line recently since Burpee was offering an end of the season sale. We were having a difficult time locating some banana peppers this late in the season so we ordered a pkg of three and this is how they arrived…kind of cool!

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We had a wonderful rain last night. Our rain gauge indicates that we got nearly half an inch which was a perfect amount. It allows us to use the day to catch up on our logs, continue to read and study up on our favorite subjects and rest up for our next endeavor. Here are some of the books Dave got for his birthdayImage 1 Image 2.