Potatoes and Latkes

I’m two weeks late with this post, just like I was with almost everything else on the farm this year. Maybe I should give it up, shutter the farm and start a defense contracting firm instead. Over-budget and behind schedule; my laxitude would probably play better there.

Potato latkes are as seasonally appropriate to December as peaches are to August or roast green chilies are to September. Religious tradition aside, it’s just a matter of food availability. For millennia potatoes have been among our staple storage crops. In the winter, from December through March, when it’s very difficult to grow fresh food, we’ve relied on them. We’ve pulled them from deep, dark root cellars, cooked them a thousand different ways and eaten. So,  it makes perfect sense that latkes would be at home in December. They were what was available.

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Scones

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Last week, Adam attended a fundraising dinner held to benefit The Boulder Valley School Food Project. They’re an organization working to improve the quality and nature of food served in local public schools. It’s good and necessary work. If people knew what their kids were served at school there might be an uprising. I imagine Victor Hugo-like barricades in the streets, molotov cocktails and gangs of people marching with torches. (Of course that’s ridiculous. Most folks have way too much going on to worry about school food.) The sugar, fat and salt found in most school food is horrifying. So it’s good to see organizations like the School Food Project working to create change.

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Farm Eggs and Fresh Pasta

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Summertime is egg season on our tiny farm. We only keep a few chickens (just 7 right now), but we’re still getting more eggs than we can sanely store or eat. Our fridge is bursting with eggs. Our bellies are bloated with quiche, custard and poachers. Fortunately, the extras are easy to give away. If they weren’t we’d have to build a shed and fill it with junky, used refrigerators. We have to go on the Rocky Balboa diet; jiggers of raw eggs all day, everyday.

Chickens, like all poultry, lay many more eggs in summer than they do any other time of the year. It’s about sunlight. With thirteen or more hours of light the hens lay at maximum capacity (5-7 eggs/wk for most breeds). With less light their laying slacks. By November, most birds will be down to 1-3 eggs per week. Over the winter, many naturally raised chickens stop laying all together. Winter can be a sad time from an egg-centric point of view.

To combat production decline in winter, commercial egg farmers raise thier birds under artificial light. This allows them to produce at maximum all year long. Unfortunatly this takes years off a hens laying life. A hen raised without artificial light might lay for 3-4 years. Under lights, the same hen might stop laying in as little as 12-18 months (then comes the forced molting at conventional farms and we don’t want to talk about that).

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