Sunday, December 30, 2018

Year End Review (Part 1)

The last week of the calendar year following the frenetic week before Christmas is winding down as I sit quietly in the windowed living room, watching the sun go down. I've been trying to write this post much of the afternoon but it's been a day of some sort of perverse celebration for our neighbors - a celebration punctuated by shooting all kinds of guns and even those ghastly loud and obnoxious exploding targets. For most, that kind of celebration might just be a mere inconvenience, but to me, gunshots never fail to trigger unwelcome PTSD symptoms. So the setting sun is welcomed this afternoon for the trigger-happy folks down the road won't be able to set their sights on the targets- exploding or not.

2018 was a good tomato year
The 2018 season took shape far from Potter County at our winter roost in eastern Washington. The organic system plan that would set our course for the growing season was submitted to PCO.  Word that Rytz and Laura were contemplating returning for another go at "sharecropping" set the plans in motion for our return to our farm with new resolve and new plans for marketing the products of our small organic farm.

And thus, the Metzger Heritage Farm CSA took shape. Rytz and Laura returned to the farm in April and immediately put into action plans for providing a weekly basket of organic vegetable goodness for 12 customers.

Japanese long turnips

early season spinach

spicy mesclun mix
Rytz packaging greens

(to be continued ...)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Peter Piper Picked ...

a selection of hot peppers from the 2018 garden
at Metzger Heritage Farm

According to Paul Rozen of the University of Pennsylvania, about a third of the people around the world eat hot peppers every single day. Why? Because they "love the burn."
A quick internet search leads me to believe that Dr. Rozen is an expert on the psychology of food choice.
When we eat hot food, Rozen reports, the brain secretes endorphins (a substance that blocks pain). That sought-after feeling of well-being heightens awareness, helps to block unpleasant thoughts and is what keeps us going back for more.
It follows that one can become "addicted" to the intensity of flavor and once you've become accustomed to the heat, food seems bland without it.
We like to grow an assortment of hot peppers in the garden. This year we added the Sarit Gat to our spice repertoire. It's the long yellow pepper you see in the above picture. This pepper originated in Kosovo and has heat similar to the cayenne pepper.
It is said that drying Chile peppers can increase the relative hotness of the dried pepper by as much as 10 times. Time in the dehydrator increases the rich, sweet flavor characteristics of peppers.
Many of our hot peppers are dehydrated then pulverized in the food processor - a job best accomplished on the back porch to avoid the eye watering, choking surprise that greets an unexpected visitor to the kitchen.
It's become a holiday tradition for our family and friends to find a little jar of hot pepper flakes as a Christmas surprise. One of those little bottles is on its way to Alaska as I write this!

This Caribbean Mix (from Peaceful Valley Organic Seeds)
is a mix of different colors of Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets.
These hot fruits - 1000 times hotter than JalapeƱos -
are prized not only for their heat but for their
fruity and smoky flavor.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Chicken-less Coop

I've had a love-hate relationship with keeping chickens. We haven't had chickens on the farm for several years, mostly because we have been spending chunks of time in the winter away from the farm.
Over the years, our flocks have been housed in this old chicken coop that sits not far from the shop and house. At various times, it's been surrounded by a chicken fence but the chickens were free-ranging more often than not. Our children can tell stories about gathering eggs and encounters with a miserable rooster!

Pa's chicken coop captured in the late-summer sunshine
still bearing scorched siding from a fire in the 1970s.
Imagine how delighted we were to come across these old photos documenting the construction of this venerable coop.
Dawn Metzger Newton hanging out the window
Carol Metzger Wilkerson (in the overalls) playing in the
chicken yard

J. Walter Metzger (known as 'Pa' to grandson Artie)
appears to be cutting tarpaper siding.