2012 September

Cheesemaking Classes

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Come on out to Morning Song Farm for the first of a series of cheese making classes. A series of three classes, you can choose all three or just one. Each class will be held the third Saturday of the month starting October 20; from 9 to 12:00. Get a chance to meet the farm’s beautiful Nigerian dairy goats, pet the babies, and join in a 9:00 sharp milking demonstration. (Our goats don’t like to wait around for anyone;) Bring a crunchy granola bar or two and you’ll be everyone’s best friend, especially Carl The Herd Leader who eats anything but really gets excited if it’s crunchy.

 

We’ve teamed up with veteran cheese maker Virginia Masters who has been exploring and teaching all things cheesy for 10 years. Among her many other interests, Virginia loves animals and volunteers with a horse, dog and kitten rescue group.  She’s enthusiastic about imparting her cheese making knowledge to anyone, young and old alike. Cheese making is somewhat of a lost art and Virginia insists it’s surprisingly easy to learn considering how expensive some cheeses can be. She provides all the materials for cheese making including recipes; and every student gets to take recipes and finished cheeses home with them at the end of the class.

 

So come enjoy the fall weather at beautiful Morning Song Farm and experience how gratifying it is to make your own cheeses. We will also have a mini farmer’s market with cheese making kits for our guests.

 

October 20: Basic Cheese Making.

We will make feta and chevre  from goat milk. Participants will take home the cheese they make.

November 17th: Mozzarella.

Participants will make mozzarella from cow’s milk. We will grill pizza made with the fresh cheese.

 

December: 15th: The Gift Of Cheese.

We will make mozzarella and chevre and decorate for giving as a gift. Participants will make brie to take home and wrap for baking on New Year’s Eve.

 

Classes will repeat starting January 19th.
 
Price: $65 per class

 

 

Notes From Your Farm

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I’m pretty excited about the enhanced quality of our Harvest Ticket this week. Ever since starting our blog here at www.blogspot.com, we’ve had problems downloading images created in Word, which is where I’ve found it’s easiest to create our tickets. I’ve jumped through all kinds of hoops, and blogspot usually says it’s not in the right format. The only way I could figure out how to get blogspot to accept the image, was to scan and save it in a format blogspot would accept, with an unavoidable, ensuing quality reduction . I’ve just discovered Gimp2, which is a free software program that can change formats, and it works!

 

Passion fruit this week!
Passion Flower

For those of you who have been with us since last year, this is old news; but here’s what you need to know to enjoy your passion fruit. First, the uglier, and more wrinkled, the better. Where else are you going to hear that sentence? Yup, the smooth, fresh looking fruits should be left on your counter to “age” a little, although I often can’t wait and eat the unwrinkled ones anyway.  They sweeten a little as they wrinkle up. I cut the very top off each fruit with a serrated knife, and sprinkle a tiny bit of stevia in the cavity. Then just scoop out with a dessert spoon and enjoy. Although it won’t win any beauty awards, or even “smooth as pudding awards,” for that matter, the taste is explosive and the explosive taste is why people wait all year for the 2 or three week harvest we provide.  We grow the commercial Frederick variety, although if you can find “Bountiful” they are bigger and just as tasty. Passion fruit is an easy to grow vine for southern California, and offers one of the most beautiful flowers ever. The vine does require a fairly sturdy trellis. And keep an eye on it, because it will completely take over nearby structures or even fruiting trees.

Apples!

This week is the first of our apple harvest. You’ll find green cooking apples (the common Granny Smith) in your boxes this week.

We had plenty of Swiss Chard, or so we thought, for all boxes. Unfortunately; the row we had earmarked to harvest this morning has been impacted by aphids, so we could only harvest from yesterday’s row and not everyone got Swiss Chard.

Absolute last of the 2012 kumquats

OK, they aren’t gorgeous; as they’ve been hanging on the trees for months; but this is the time of year when I get excited about kumquats because they aren’t as sour, requiring less sugar or stevia in anything I use them for. Throw them in the blender with your next smoothie, slice over fish, add to a tomato chutney, or just enjoy out of hand. There’s always the kumquat reduction recipe (click on “Kumquats” at right.) I prefer the flavor of a cooked kumquat, and as a bonus; the aroma fills the kitchen and living area with a perfume I find irresistible. The very best use of a kumquat reduction is for a margarita!

 

Goat News from Morning Song Farm

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Carl the Menace has outdone himself this week and has exceeded even his usual level of nonsense and bedlam he provides us for our enjoyment. As the herd’s official “taster”, he takes the first bite of anything suspect and then the rest of the herd follows after him. I don’t know how he got this job. But there seems to be a herd consensus.  He ate all my Temecula Valley Pipe and Supply invoices this week (really just half of each—but to the IRS, half a goat-eaten invoice is the same as no invoice), saving none for the others. So I guess the flimsy invoice paper stock the invoices are printed on, is extra tasty. As I was unloading my car yesterday, I put my purse down for a second to shift the groceries in my arms and Carl pounced on my purse and bolted. That’s it, down the driveway with change, lipstick and Notes To Self flying in the wind. I cornered him in the goat barn, as he calmly starred me down with a $20 hanging out of his mouth. Here’s the thing.  Like the chomped on invoices, anything less than half is the same as nothing. I know this for a fact; as I’ve brought goat-eaten bills into my bank and that’s the rule. Trying to negotiate, I offered him a branch from his favorite tree. Carl’s eaten all the low hanging branches, so he needs someone’s help to get his favorite tree now, and I thought I had a chance at an exchange. Nope. Realizing that it must be a very special morsel indeed for me to be making such a fuss over it, Carl swallowed.  Not for nothing, son Frankie again remarked that goat barbeque is among the most common protein sources per capita on a world wide basis. I still have the email Frankie angrily sent over a few months ago, with a dozen goatmeat recipes– after Carl broke into the house and spent a morning in my son’s bedroom.

The loss of the twenty bucks pales in comparison to Carl’s latest offering a couple nights ago, however. As many of you who have visited us know, Morning Song is a hillside farm. Except for our row crop areas, there’s little flatland. We travel up and down the roads in little golf carts and when it gets too steep; we park and use footpaths. I used to make a big deal of always parking on flat land or finding a big rock to put behind the back tire every time I stopped. But as I’m shifting water I might stop a dozen times in 15 minutes; going  from one valve to the next, and have gotten a little lazy with the whole parking on flat land /big rock rule.  I parked by the goat barn at near level, and then hiked down the cliff behind the barn, flipping valves. Ones that were off get turned off, and vice versa. Behind The Goat Barn Avocado Grove has one of the most treacherously steep paths; I can’t ever flip lines at night; not even with a flashlight.  Reaching the very bottom, I heard a familiar sound from way up top that dropped my stomach: the “beep, beep, beep” of a golf cart going in reverse. Since it was dusk, no one else was out working; which meant only one thing. The brake release had been knocked off, and my cart was going somewhere without me. I screamed for Lance; but he’s in the barn happily building boxes with his headphones on and singing at the top of his lungs. You are just kidding me!!! I made a wild and absolutely hopeless break to ascend the hillside (while freakishly being serenaded with Lances’ private karaoke) . I made it to the top of the crest just as the cart went over the embankment . Luck, if you want to call it that; provided a large stone that got caught on the undercarriage of the cart and stopped the vehicle from plummeting further.

Carl stood looking on at all the excitement, stolen cookie bag from the cart dangling from his mouth, indiscriminately munching on cookies and packaging. Lance, still plugged into his earphones, still singing, arrived to bottle feed his baby goat, Boo Boo,  and asked why on earth I drove the cart over the embankment like that.  “It’s Carl,” I began….

Frankie says, "Mom, stop the new eggs orders!"

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OK, son Frankie–always interested in all thinks related to economics;  is excited to see that his allowance source (the egg “division” here at Morning Song ) has demonstrated an equilibrium between supply and demand. We’ve taken on 5 new orders; and until our juvenile chickens are laying consistently in a few more months; he says we can’t fill any more.

Thanks so much to all of you who are allowing us to raise chickens as they should be raised. A side note; I was inspected yesterday for our CCOF Organic Certification, and I asked Shannon Murphy, our inspector, about what it would take to have our chickens certified organic. I was pretty sure what her answer would be, but I wanted to hear it from her. She couldn’t quote the pricetag; but since Morning Song Farm offers sactuary to an occassional homeless chicken we can never become certified organic. She said we’d have to get rid of all our chickens, start over with just hatched, day old chicks and then document from Day One that there never again was any chicken from the “outside.”  That’s not consistent with our mission here, so we’ll just carry on uncertified.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Couscou the llama who guards our chickens, discovered how tasty Modesto Milling’s Organic Soy-Free chicken feed is; (unlike conventional chicken feed; Modesto Mill’s smells delicious) and ate quite the stomach full, easily doubling our chicken feed costs this month before we figured it out. For the last couple days I was baffled why he wouldn’t accept any of the weed treats I offered him. Not interested!(?) Not after 50 pounds of chicken feed for breakfast, Farmer Donna! Words were exchanged between Frankie and the crew here, as everyone was saying they fed the chickens, but darn it if there never was any feed in that barn. Bad llama! Frankie, who is assigned the duty of lugging 50 pound sacks of Modesto feed; came up with an inspired solution: the feed tray now goes INSIDE the old baby chick enclosure with the lid wide open. Chickens can hop inside, but Couscous is way too big.

The excitement here at MSF never ceases!

Notes From Your Farm

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I’ve posted a second harvest ticket this week because we had to switch things around a bit between Tuesday and Wednesday. Only Tuesday large share subscribers received the giant zuchs. I’m going to allow our zuch garden to provide another batch of giants, and hand out to Wednesday large shares either this coming week or next.

Eggs! We now have increased our egg productin to the point where we can accept 5 or 6 more orders a week! If you’d like to have a weekly dozen or half dozen added to your CSA box, email us!

Our eggs are remarkably special. First, we feed them with a top-notch, certified orgtanic, soy-free feed (from Modesto Mills) along with garden and orchard scraps. Chickens love melons and oranges, by the way! They’re free to roam inside a coyote-proof enclosure and have a large red barn to escape the elements and roost in at night. We have a pet llama, Couscou, who shares their space and protects them as well. Since Couscou moved in, we haven’t had a single bird lost to owls, or other predators. Couscou has discovered he likes chicken feed, unfortunately; and our feed costs have soared, however. We’re working on outsmarting him today!

The eggs themselves are rainbow colored, and come from heirloom chickens that aren’t “culled” when they stop laying. In factory egg production facilities, chickens’ egg yields are documented and when the feed to yield ratio drops to al certain points, the chickenis removed from the facility and killed. Part of the cost of our eggs includes the cost of feeding our chickens as pets for life. We don’t have any way of knowing which chicken is “high” yielding vs. “low” yielding, anyway; as they are truly free-ranged. (Even Certified Organic, factory free range eggs will leave you incredulous at the low bar definition of “free range.”) Each chicken has a favorite nest, and nests are shared. Because our chickens have plenty of space to live; they aren’t stressed and don’t peck at each other or require antibiotics. In commercial facilities, they do; and part of their beaks are removed, which is just inhumane.

Although as tiny producers, we don’t intend to invest in the cost of getting our chicken facility certified orgtanic, their feed and living conditions meet and exceed the requirements to be certified. At most, we provide eggs for 15 or so families each week, and at some point hope to double that.

If you’d like to be included as an egg add-on subscriber; the cost is $4 for half dozen and $8 for a full dozen, which we add to your CSA invoice. We don’t provide our eggs to non-subscribers.