Ok ok, this picture is from last year's soybean harvest, but I just haven't had the time to be farm photographer this fall. After today however...!!!!
Is there not something completely intoxicating about the air on these autumn mornings? I have always loved winter far more than summer, and there is most definitely a whiff of winter to the air these days. I've been out the door at 6:30 am for work the past month and I didn't even mind chipping the frost off the windows of the truck most mornings.
On a side note, today is my last day of work!!! I shouldn't sound quite so enthusiastic about that, since a paycheque is always a fine addition to any household, but I cannot wait to be home with the kids and the farm and not have to think about other obligations. And just in time for my favorite season!!!
We've gotten a lot of rain over the last week and while our first run at the soybean harvest went really well, we're just waiting for a dry spell to get the last of it off. Mark experimented with a couple new varieties (something we always aim to do to ensure we're maximizing our yield capability) and we had really good success with both of them. Laurent was a variety we got from Co-Op in the spring and we nearly sent the seed back due to it looking so terrible. It was full of splits, was dirty (we thought maybe moldy) and small. But we threw it in the ground anyway, and it turned off the best yield we've seen in a really long time. It also fought the weeds better than other varieties we've tried due to the wide canopy it spread, shading out any competition. The plants were tall and the lowest pods didn't seem as close to the ground as some others, so combining went faster than it mostly does. Overall, it was hugely successful and as I type this I can hear the cleaner running, cleaning it for seed for next year.
A new market that we've recently gotten into, that we thought was only temporary, looks to be heading in a more permanent, or at least frequent direction. SoyHardy is a company based here on PEI that produces organic tofu and have branched out into soy nuts (a great roasted soybean snack-they make it with various seasonings, like peanuts) and now into soy ice cream. I never had tofu as a child and to be honest, avoided it at university, but somewhere along the line decided to give it a fair go. We now eat a pound of tofu every week. Hard-core vegetarians would tell me that I'm missing the point by soaking it in chicken stock the day before I use it, but they would probably also admit that it doesn't have much flavour in itself. I stopped buying pieces of chicken a long time ago (like those watery boneless, skinless 'chicken breasts' that are so popular) and started substituting tofu instead. I use it in pastas and stir-fry's and even a big manly man like Mark will admit that he really enjoys it. Lucy is yet to be converted, but Wilson gobbles it up like it's going out of style (which it's not!).
Anyway, the usual supplier for the SoyHardy tofu ran out of beans and we were asked to supply some for the time being. It turns out that they really liked our soybeans and have been buying them for the past 6 months or so. When we started farming organically, we focused on the livestock feed market because the grading standards weren't there and we wanted to focus on markets we knew we could fill, but we always wanted to move towards the human consumption market if it was there and if we could produce the quality required. So naturally we're really excited to be working with SoyHardy and look forward to continued success with them. So I urge you to go to your local supermarket (Sobeys and Superstores across the Maritimes carry it) and find Soy Hardy tofu. It comes in plain, herb and garlic (and I think maybe chili pepper now too). You can mash it up into unintelligible bits that look like feta cheese, or slice it like chicken, or cube it, or anything your heart desires. I would advise you to soak it in a flavour of some kind (stock, soy sauce, etc.) for an hour or so before cooking (although many people don't and it's fine) and then drain. The back of the packages have some recipes to try, or just try substituting it where you might otherwise use chicken, or add it to a veggie stir-fry. After you get comfortable with it, the options are endless. I don't think it's my favorite protein or anything, but I will admit that physically, I feel..well...better after eating it, compared to meat. There's no heavy sort of 'full' feeling, if that makes any sense.
Anyway, I'm sure many of you out there have tofu regularly and are wondering why I'm writing about it like it's a new product, but if you grew up in West Branch, NB or on just about any farm where meat and potatoes was the daily menu, you might appreciate this post a bit more.
In other news, we're watching and waiting on Rosie, our jersey cow. Mark's expert eye is estimating that 'she's getting real close' and I would have to agree. Since the vet estimated her to be due in September and we're pushing November, surely she can't go much longer. Then comes the challenge(s) for a couple of first-time, naive-but-eager milkers.
Lucy thought that "Cletus" would be a good name for the 'baby in my belly', but I think I've got her convinced that that might be a better name for Rosie's baby instead (no offence to all the Cletus' out there), so we're all holding out breath, waiting on Cletus.
I've got five pumpkins on my front step that I've been itching to get at all week to make Jack-O-Lanterns, but having learned my lesson over the past three years, I know better than to carve them more than 2 days before Halloween. The chickens seem to just sit and wait until I make a dent (or an intricately carved eyeball) in the pumpkins and then pounce, picking the faces right to pieces, so by the time the trick-or-treaters arrive, all that's left is a floppy, one-eyed lop-sided smile on what used to be a perfect rendering of a angry cat face. Sometimes they've picked all of the features out so that all there is, is a big hole where the face used to be. So I think if I wait until tonight, with Halloween on Sunday, they won't have time to pick it apart to the point of unrecognizable, I hope! Then after Halloween, the sheep get their annual detox/cleansing by cleaning up what's left of the pumpkins. And when I say clean, do I ever mean clean! There's nothing left but a thin shard of skin and a handle. So everybody gets a Halloween treat on the farm!
Hope this finds you breathing deep, crunching leaves and making a sloppy mess of pumpkin guts all over the floor.