Saturday, January 25, 2014


Brutal  |ˈbroōtl|adjective • punishingly hard or uncomfortable the brutal winter wind

My -35 selfie! 

Brutal is my new word for 2014! Two ice storms, high winds, some snow, frost quakes and two polar vortex's so far and I think this is the coldest winter in the last ten years of living in Canada that these two Brit's have been through!  I remember driving through my first snow storm in Quebec and being told 'get used to it, you are living in Canada now!'  But this by far has to be the coldest and most brutal one to date! None of our animal housing has electricity or running water so we are dealing with frozen water buckets on a daily basis, finding replacement buckets for water, heaving hot water and hot meals around to all our animals has been a chore in itself! 
I am thinking even the animals are starting to wish for warmer days and fresh green grass!  Many of our friends have said that it has been a long time since they have seen a winter this cold.  I remember my great aunt telling me stories of when she lived in Canada just after the war and they would have to walk  to a lake, drill a hole and bucket water out for their farm house! I am just pleased we only have one set of pipes that have frozen so far! 
With all this cold weather outside and the wood stoves burning indoors our attention is on seed orders, field planning, seeding schedules, kidding and farrowing dates to help get us through the long days of winter! So mother nature, we gently ask for you to bring on the snow and the sunny winter days and lose the -35, high winds and snow drifts.  We are eagerly awaiting February 2nd to see if Strattons Stew our ground hog will grace us with another appearance this year to see if we will have any early spring or another 6 weeks of winter!!  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

CSA Vegetable Box Registration is now open...

This year like other years we are expanding.  We always grow a little bigger each year making sure we can still maintain our workload between the two of us.  Last years season saw us running the farm without any additional help from family and friends who pop over for a holiday and end up spending most of it weeding! We are pleased that we have friends already booking their holidays for this year which includes a stay with us.  Not sure  if they realise yet that they will be supplied with boots and works gloves once they arrive at the farm! 

What are the changes this year?? We are extending our summer CSA from 18 to 20 weeks. All our members from last year when asked if they wanted us to run longer came back with unanimous YES! We have also added a Saturday pick up at the farm and this years Belleville pick up will be running in the evening from 5-6.30pm.  This is a trial run as lots of our delivery customers have said they would like an evening pick up  so we thought we would see how it works for this season.  Rather than ending our season in October and everyone having to wait another eight months until the summer season arrives again we will also be adding a winter vegetable box.  These boxes will be available on a monthly basis from November to February. The box will be made up of bulk storage vegetables and additional greenhouse greens.  

We have to be honest about a CSA Weekly vegetable basket, it is not for everyone.  Eating seasonally, or being given new and different vegetables does push us all out of our comfort zone. Boxes are also affected by mother nature and some years the bounty may be high others it may be low,  also if the weather is cooler we may see less of the heat loving vegetables and more leafy greens that enjoy cooler temperatures.
One of our members last year wrote about their CSA experience and how it has changed their eating in their household over the last two years.

"Veggies Smeggies, I itch when they're mentioned, just what were they thinking that day of invention.  Maybe for dinner I'll have me a tree, with a big bowl of bushes, just nature and me!"
This is a long time favorite story of my children.  In 2012 I came upon Strattons Farm, my goal was to change the thinking of my four kids and that this little story wouldn't be my real life experience.
 I liked the idea of feeding my family vegetables that were local and also free of all the nasty chemicals.  So I signed up for their CSA and haven't regretted it for a minute.  I was a bit apprehensive at first being I haven't always been too adventures when it comes to cooking and also the not knowing if there would  be to many veggies or not enough as we are a family of 6.  None of this however has ever been an issue.  Some weeks I will plan out what I am going to make and mass cook for the week and then others I will "fly by the seat of my pants" so to speak and just make up whatever my mood strikes me to.  We have gotten really good around here at modifying recipes and using what we have on hand as opposed to buying exactly what is called for.  
Last year when my littlest one  was still not eating solids I would blend up whatever we received and pop it in ice cube trays for quick servings at a later date. Before one year of age she was having beets, kale, zucchini and many other varieties of veggies.  If there is something I know that my fussiest of eater won't touch just based primarily on looks I will then either shred it up and add it to just about anything or even sometimes puree and add it too the meal.  Then at least I know they are still getting the nutritional benefits of the veggies.   I have pureed all type of greens  into eggs, smoothies, soups, spaghetti sauces, and even brownies, beets into pancakes and cake, and zucchini  into cookies.  I can tell you that they never know the difference and think pink pancakes are a pretty cool idea!  My kids have become much more adventurous and love kale pops as well as kale chips as snacks.  We now will use zucchini or squash instead of pasta which we never would have even considered before.The only veggies I buy at the grocery store during csa season are ones that aren't available yet (ie tomatoes) which is just a preference and not a necessity. 
People always ask two questions is it expensive and do you have enough or to many veggies.  
So first of all NO it is defiantly not expensive, to feed a family of six fresh, local ,chemical free veggies it's a great deal.  It doesn't even compare to what you would get at a local grocer (taste wise)and the amount I would pay to buy all of this every week considering it wouldn't last half as long due to it not being near as fresh.
Secondly, yes we always have enough.  We often have something left over but quickly use it up once the new veggies arrive.  We ensure that we incorporate all the veggies into our meals somehow.  Last summer if we found we had been out quite a bit one week and not eaten up as much as normal then we would add what we could to everyones smoothies or cook them up and freeze for later in the week.   It has really opened up our eyes to healthy eating and trying new things.  We never knew veggies could taste so good and we miss them terribly in the winter months.  So for families big or small, old and young we think a CSA is a must try!!  It has made a huge improvement in the veggies smeggies attitude in our household!

So if you are feeling ready to take on the 2014 Vegetable Pledge of eating seasonally and locally this year then please visit our website for more information and to download your registration form for our summer CSA.  If you have any further questions about joining a CSA then please do not hesitate to contact us.