Mailing list sign-up

<< Back to main

Winter 2019

Posted 11/30/2019 12:45pm by Joe Gady.

The last month of fall sends dry leaves and wind tunneling through our farm.  The gardens are skeletal with dead limbs and plant material which we leave standing to provide habitat for the miniature life that will overwinter here.   

Also overwintering with us is almost 1000 cloves of different varieties of garlic in the ground (we’ll see those next summer).

Our bee hives are bundled well with insulation.  We lay a heart stethoscope to the hive wall to listen for their hum.  Each hive has its own pitch, and when listening I sometimes imagine I can intuit their mood and need from their tenor. 


When it’s cold, bees cluster to stay warm, with layers of them rotating to share time on the outermost layer.  The cluster moves around the hive, so sometimes we rotate ourselves around their box to listen.  In the winter, it’s all about the conservation of energy.

We are no different.  In the fall, our vital energies start to gather and withdraw from the outer world, and by winter they are very internal.  This means our ability to do more decreases, and if we push past that, we are using reserves.  The plants are in on this too, as they put their energies down in the roots to overwinter. Nowhere in nature is there eternal growth.  It comes in cycles, and we are wise to see this in ourselves. 

We may live in a digital world of light at all hours and food whenever we want in the store, but our bodies are still ancient machines that move to a rhythm much bigger than our own, if we are aware of it.  There is health to be gained from being aware of it.  Not pushing hard in winter serves us later as it gives more energy to do with in spring and summer.

Joe and I have been feeling it. So, we’ve been experiencing hygge: spending quiet evenings with hot tea and coziness, looking through seed catalogs, Lehmann’s, books, looking at what we accomplished this year and dreaming up next year’s doings…  occasionally catching up on the latest episode of “Rotten” (a documentary series on Netflix about the politics of food production. It can change the way you look at an advocado!)   

In winter, we want to eat the foods that have the most vitality this time of year, so it’s *roots* on the menu.  Here’s one of our favorite easy recipes:

Root and Sausage Roast

On a large cookie sheet with edges, spread the following:
- 1 lb of ground sausage (you can also slice open raw sausage in casing to get it out)

- 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (or squash of your choice)
- 1 red onion, cut in wedges
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated (you can leave the paper on to cook but remove before eating)

- Several  small (or 2 medium) beets, peeled and cut in wedges
- Several small potatoes, quartered
(You could also add carrots, leeks. We just fill up the sheet with what's fresh.)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Season food with salt and pepper, and place 1-3 tbsp of fat of your choice on top (we use butter, but you could use coconut oil, ghee, or animal fat such as lard).  Place in oven for 5 minutes to melt the fat, then mix it around to coat everything.  Return to oven and continue roasting for 45-50 minutes or until the largest chunks of veggie are soft.

Optional topping before serving: a few cubes of summer pesto, that you made and froze (per the last blog ;)

This year we were able to:

- establish 17 plant beds for veggies, pollinator flowers, local native plants, and herbs

- transplant over 60 elderberry starts, 50 fruit and nut trees, 20 berry bushes, 20 native trees. Most of these came from the old farm. 

- move Joe’s little red barn and chicken coop (both of which he hand made), and the rest of the equipment from the old farm

- define the property boundaries through survey (so that we can have fencing to raise chickens once again)

- start the compost

- start several new varieties of oyster mushroom logs

- create a tree nursery

- made 29 large ferment crocks worth of organic heirloom cucumbers for Joe’s Real Dill Pickles (the largest number of pickle crocks yet!), and copious amounts of other veggies and herbs for the ferment shop. 

We also harvested 90 plants worth of calendula flowers for use in Megan’s herbals.

- start the first carrot crop (we learned our land will work great for carrots!)  Our brix test for this year yielded at it’s highest a 9 out of 12 on the scale for nutrient density. (Be on the lookout for a full carrot crop next year!)

- fine tuning new recipes in the Ferment Shop

- create habitat, food and water stations, housing for local song birds/native bees/pollinators (our land is a now a 'Certified Wildlife Habitat' through the National Wildlife Foundation)

- be mentored by an amazing local beekeeper, Oydell  (thank you for so generously sharing your wisdom with us!)

- take a course in natural bee husbandry from Preservation Beekeeping Council with my dear friend Susan of the blog American Skep.

- collect our own seeds from all that we wanted to grow again next year

- all the while settling in to our new lives.

That is a lot!!

Thank you for following our adventures. 

There is much goodness to come of all this.
We look forward to sharing it with you next growing season.

Rest well,
Meg and Joe

Copyright 2019 Farming for Life