I was prepared for August. When taking full advantage of the harvest season and squeezing in the last celebrations of summer, August will busy any bee, and I thought that keeping up would be an accomplishment. What I did not expect was for Coffee Creek to take that upswing, ride the pendulum for all that it is worth, and land smack into September with a brand new chicken coop, a large fenced ranging area, a greenhouse full of starts, pantry and cold storage full of food, three new ducks, seventeen new chickens, and inspiration flowing like a spring brook. The value and beauty of a dedicated team are immeasurable, and I give thanks.
     There is still plenty to do, and the rains are threatening a real return already. Preparations are always at hand, and if you can manage to shell your pound of peas without munching them all, they freeze beautifully without any blanching. It is as simple as shell, bag, freeze. We have an ongoing bag- add some, take some. The kale may be chopped and frozen in the same simple manner, with a handful at an arms reach for soups and scrambles.
     You may be ready to take your food quality and security to another level by continuing into the fall and winter in your garden. Starts are available now for early White or Purple Vienna kohl rabi, Long Island improved Brussels sprouts, dinosaur and red Russian kale, rainbow chard, tendergreen mustard spinach, early snowball cauliflower, michihili cabbage (wong bok), pak choi (Chinese mustard), limestone bibb lettuce, golden burgundy romaine, giant Indian curled mustard, rapini, and southern giant curled mustard. Any combination of 12 plants is available with your next box, so please! Contact me with any questions you may have. I have a couple of good articles and plans for hoop houses to add length to your season, and if you are interested in learning about building, contact me, as we will be constructing some soon and would love to share the experience.
     In your boxes you have already found potatoes, green onions, garlic, kale, shelling peas, kombucha, and 8 precious eggs, but you may be wondering what to do with your scarlet runner beans. Maybe you remember their speckled black and purple seeds from a spring time box, and have now experienced their beauty as they spiral toward the sun your garden. These young pods are delicious eaten fresh as a snack, chopped into salads, or used in place of green beans in any of your favorite recipes. There hearty crunch and unique flavor makes them great for stir fry or dipping.
     But don't let me glide right over the 8 precious eggs. Chicken is the ultimate homebody, and it is no wonder that they have been our companions for hundreds of years. Chicken are present in every culture, although for very different reasons. Going from 6 years as a strict vegan to a homesteader raising and butchering her own meat, you can imagine that I have many thoughts on the roles of animals in our lives and our "food chain." So when the opportunity to redesign our chicken housing came about we had to seriously think ahead about the future of our flock. With gardens expanding and emerging everywhere (who keeps doing that?), it was clear that the chicken tractor was not for us. An A frame chicken coop with a large fenced in area provides room for our current flock times three, foraging room to keep them all happy and healthy, and frees us from some of the upkeep involved in having a mobile coop. The enclosed area surrounds the greenhouse as well as the compost pile to ensure that the chickens have plenty of tasty morsels. Bugs be gone!
     Sounds great for all, right? Creatures of habit (such as chickens and humans) don't always deal well with transition, even when it is for the best. This stress is magnified by the chickens insisting on escaping to their old stomping ground and roosting upon the axles of our flatbed trailer, where we come in the night, clad in mud boots and headlamps to retrieve them to wake up in their new digs. Even so the egg count is only down by a very small percentage, although I thought it was more drastic. Then I found the "nest" in the goat pen where the escapees have been laying! The egg hunt is on, and the fence is complete.
    It has been an interesting season. The weather and the encounters have taken me by surprise time and again. Some aspects started out quite bleak, some very promising. At this stage in the year, I find it appropriate to reflect, rethink, and begin planning and preparations for the hurtles to come. As I look back I see where I may be able to improve my ways and clarify my missions. Looking forward I see nothing but opportunities to set this inspiration into motion.
    May you find wholesome food upon your plate and inspiring people around your table!
                                                                     Be well and be loved,