Happy New Year! As 2021 gets underway, we would first like to convey our heartfelt thanks: We have been delivering our weekly boxes filled with fresh, seasonal fare and housemade provisions for eight years now! We couldn’t do it without you and truly appreciate your enthusiastic feedback and support, especially during this past year as we all adapted to the changing world around us. To our new 2021 subscribers, welcome! We cannot wait to share the best of the farm with you in the year ahead.
As we wind down from the holiday season, now is a time of planning here at the farm. Seed catalogs are beginning to arrive, a most awaited and favorite time to read of new varieties and old favorites, reminding us of the delights of spring with the anticipation of new seedlings soon to be popping up in the greenhouse!
After December rains and a few inches of snow right before Christmas, the year has started with another round of wet days, with few breaks in the forecast. So, with the aid of tall boots and rain gear, the dahlias are now all dug and ready to store for the winter, the planted garlic is mulched and we are ready to start work on another hoop house, an additional storage barn and the design of a covered compost area. It seems as if we are always racing against the setting sun on these short winter days, trying to get other winter chores like pruning the apple and pear trees finished before the daylight wanes. We have just finished digging the last of the carrots and tidied up the hoop houses for winter.
But, when it does set, we head inside to the barns, where our resident farm animals are staying warm and toasty, snuggled up in extra straw to weather the cold nights. Our newest addition, a sweet ewe named Windy, is settling in nicely and getting along famously with the other “girls”. And, after doing an ultrasound, we also just learned from our friends Dr. Hardy and Dr. Miller on their last farm call that Windy is expecting at least twins in April!
In the farm kitchen, we are busy looking through cookbooks new and old for inspiration for seasonal winter fare to share. From hearty soups and rich pasta sauces to luscious risottos and more, we always love making the best of what the Northwest has to offer during the winter months. Our gardening company, Parterre, is busy each day doing and planning for our clients’ gardens as well, with wintertime tasks such as pruning and mulching taking place, as well as creating new planting designs for spring.
We hope your New Year is off to a safe and healthy start—here’s to great growing, connecting and eating in 2021!
As we transition from our wet, but surprisingly mild, November into the first days of December, we have been enjoying the crisp, sunny weather of the last week, using the pleasant days to catch up on chores to ready the farm for the official start of winter later this month.
Unaware of everything going on beyond the gates of Bella Luna, the resident goats, donkey and the chickens go about their daily routine of eating, ruminating, and sleeping—what a life! The goats did get to meet a new friend this last week: Our most recent addition to the farm is a darling white St. Croix and Katahdin cross ewe named Windy. The goats don’t know exactly what to make of this new friend, having determined that she is not caprine, but Windy is ready to join the herd. It will take the girls a little getting used to having a new “lawn mower” on board, but the pasture will be well manicured from now on!
A hush has fallen around the hives in the apiary as the bees are now in their winter clusters, huddling around the queen to keep everyone warm and fed. The last of the leaves have fallen, and the bounty of the summer and fall has been stored away—the apples and pears have been harvested and the tomatoes have been canned to enjoy throughout the upcoming winter. We harvested carrots and beets this past week, and moved the Meyer lemon trees into the hoophouse for the winter.
We have been busy putting the ornamental flower gardens to bed and also adding heavy straw mulch to the vegetable plots, which will remain fallow over the winter to protect the soil and keep weeds at bay. In other areas of the vegetable garden and in our cut flower field, we planted cover crops which will be tilled in during the spring to help add nutrients to the soil before planting. We are busy digging and storing dahlia tubers, and the first seed catalog has just arrived in the mail!
As the holiday shopping season commences, look no further than the farm. We have a little something for everyone on your list, with subscriptions to Farm & Larder’s weekly delivery service, gift cards or gift baskets all available for purchase. We’re bringing back our classic Nonna Pat’s Sunday Supper basket for the holiday season, which includes such Italian provisions as hand-crafted pasta, dipping oil and our own marinara sauce crafted from a treasured family recipe. We would love to put together a custom gift basket or flower arrangement for you—please let us know how we can help!
On a scheduling note, there will be no F&L delivery on Christmas Eve (December 24th) and then we will pick back up again per usual in the New Year—we will keep you posted on dates and details here in the next few weeks so you can mark your calendars. From all of us here at the farm, we wish you and yours a merry holiday season and a Happy New Year!
As we turn the corner into late fall with the arrival of November, the farm is awash in color—from the beautiful fall leaves fluttering to the ground in bright scarlet and yellow hues from our collection of Gingko, chestnut, oak and maple trees, to the crisp and colorful apples and pears we are still harvesting. The birds are busy feasting on the dark purple Evergreen huckleberries, bright orange rose hips and windfall apples both in the garden and orchard. Squirrels are busy seemingly everywhere burying walnuts, hazelnuts and acorns for their winter food.
With the clear and cold weather, we are catching up on some chores in and around the barn to prepare for the upcoming winter. On these crisp mornings, you’ll find our very tame and social goats hanging out in their barn, and now that they have all day to dream up trouble, they seem to be up to even more mischief than usual. They are a curious bunch, keeping their eyes on both what we are up to and all the goings on at the farm, hoping for treats every time we pass by.
We are also taking advantage of the days by finishing putting up the last of the harvested tomatoes—this fall, we have preserved over 900 pounds of juicy, ripe tomatoes in big batches of our Nonna Pat’s marinara sauce. The orchard apples will be making their way into apple sauces and apple butters, and we are also setting aside spiced pears and beets and making preserved lemons with the remaining fruit from the Meyer Lemon trees now pulled close to the barn for shelter from the cold.
One special note: There will be no F&L box the week of Thanksgiving (November 26th). We will be offering a special Thanksgiving feast through our weekly add-on ordering system with everything from starters and sides to hand-crafted accoutrements and cozy fixings to help make the day easy and effortless for you. We will begin taking orders for these items on Tuesday, November 3rd and continue to do so until Sunday, November 15th. For the regular F&L box, your weekly delivery will pick back up again on Thursday, December 3rd—have a happy turkey day!
While the afternoons are still mostly sunny and pleasant as we start the month of October, the cooler nights and foggy, drizzly mornings tell us it is truly now fall.
Here at Bella Luna, the leaves are just beginning to turn color—brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange, and the local wildlife are beginning to stash provisions like crazy. Squirrels are busy darting to and fro, carrying off acorns, walnuts and chestnuts—some as big as their heads—to bury for food during the winter months. The blue jays are also busy squabbling with one another, battling the squirrels and each other for hazelnuts.
With the last of the grapes behind us, the apple and pear harvest has officially begun—the sweet, aromatic Macoun and crunchy, mildly-tart Liberty are the first apples to ripen in our orchard, with the Asian and European pears right behind them. We admit to snatching a few, fragrant and crunchy, right off the tree while walking past to do chores in the barn or garden, with the donkey enjoying an apple here and there as well! Soon, we will press and enjoy our first batch of fresh cider, and start cooking up homemade batches of applesauce and apple butter in the farm kitchen.
In addition to days spent tending our clients’ gardens for our landscape design firm Parterre, at home we are pulling the last of the heirloom tomatoes out of the hoophouse, which are destined for more batches of our Nonna Pat’s tomato sauce. Recently, we were even blessed by a visit from Nonna herself, and have spent many pleasant hours in the kitchen crafting her Italian family recipe. As the tomatoes end their season, they make way for fall plantings of kale, cabbage and chard to overwinter for early spring harvest. These hardy crops always renew our excitement for fall—foraging for mushrooms in the woods, or enjoying the distinct flavors of autumn over a cozy supper.
We hope you are well and also enjoying the month of October!