Sun! 48F by noon with a high of 55F and brilliant sunshine fading to a hazy horizon. One lonely cloud takes a wrong turn. Spring waits in the wings, cooling its heels, like the introverted understudy, while the farmer prepares for the best.
Garlic goes in about a month before the first frost of the season. One clove, planted two inches deep (with four inches between cloves) will grow into one bulb of garlic by next spring. The garlic pictured above is German hard neck garlic and the cloves are huge and juicy. The reason farmed garlic is so much bigger than wild garlic is that every year the largest cloves are planted, yielding bigger and bigger produce. Go to our Instagram feed to see footage of the planting.
If you thought farm work ceased over the winter, think again. Before Christmas, Kristi Burnett of Burnett Farms in Bovina Center was figuring out the water system for the pigs: they have a boar, two sows and a couple of piglets to “winterize”. At the beginning of December, the pond had frozen and when they ran the hose, it froze. They put a heater in one of their big cow troughs, so they can pull water out of it. December and January are months during which the Burnetts work out ideas for the forthcoming season. Farmers swap notes and share ideas at community dinners. “You definitely need a bit of rest time, but if you have animals you have to take care of them. The fence goes, water freezes, you carry buckets of grain and you’re slipping. It’s hard.”
Now that the sun sets at 4.30pm and night falls before dinner, the journey to Saturday night eats becomes more romantic. Almost an hour spent on winding, country roads, through picturesque towns like Roxbury and Gilboa – site of one of the Catskills’ famous dams – to Preston Hollow is like winter film noir. Bright squares of light from homesteads and farmhouses flash by in the waning dusk and you catch fleeting glimpses of the toughest work days being put away. Farmers enjoying their own dinner at tables are spotted briefly through front windows. A farmer’s work is never done though and those farmers who have full-time jobs have to tend to animals through the night or help family members milk cows.
61F at 8.30am and overcast with overnight rain dripping from leaf and branch onto soggy forest floor. Breezy with rolling clouds and 73F at 3pm.
Garlic Scapes are the buds of the flower that garlic sends up in the spring. Farmers cut them off in order to encourage the plant to focus on the bulb. They have a much lighter, gentler garlic taste than bulb garlic and ever so slightly sweet. Delicious in omelettes, scrambled eggs, stir-fry dishes and roasted garlic potatoes, but they can get lost in soups unless you use a lot of them.
They also make a superb pesto. Eaten raw, garlic provides those infamous, extraordinary health benefits.
10-12 large garlic scapes
1/4 cup of grated parmesan
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/4 a cup of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend all the ingredients except for the oil in a blender. Mix in the oil when the other ingredients are blended well. If your pesto is too thick, add a drizzle of extra oil. Serve on bruschetta, toast points, crackers. Or add a dollop to soups, pasta and cheese plates. Delicious!