Dear darlings – it is Saturday. I have finished chores and am sat down here at my desk with you and a cup of coffee.
I feel I am beginning to get my rhythm back. Starting an (almost) full-time job plus maintaining my (full) full-time farming job has certainly created some challenges but in this last week or so I am feeling a bit calmer and more in control. I think the easing in the rain has helped too – many of us are sensing the light at the end of a particularly soggy tunnel.
Sadly the sheer amount of rain that was pounded into our gardens and fields (over 20 inches in May on my farm) has resulted in waterlogged and nutrient stripped soils, so we are going to have to be very careful how we manage our soils this year.
Below is the letter I sent last night to the people on my Mill List. I put a note in with every order asking permission to enter someone into the list. Then they physically email me and ask to be included. I HATE it when companies send me emails day in and day out and the (of course) the unsubscribe button never works for long! Email me if you would like to be on the list.
Even though it has created challenges (lack of sleep being the primary one) working at The Mill at Janie’s Farm has changed my life. It makes so much sense to grow grains down the road, mill them in our own mill then I get the happy job of taking the orders and packing them up and shipping them out. I love this job. Moving food from the garden and the farm to the table is my favorite thing.
Del is milking really well but I have noticed that she does not have a lot of cream in her milk – certainly enough to skim for butter but not as much as in the past. I think this is a combination of lack of condition due to her bout with pneumonia brought on by carrying a dead calf those few days and the diminished protein in the pasture. They are eating less mineral and salt now but still I feel the fields are woefully deficient.
My restaurant threw out two boxes of cabbages the other day and Del LOVES cabbage. So these have been her milking treat these last few days. And her cream levels popped back up. I can’t wait for pumpkin season – well I can as it is a long time away, but cows eating pumpkins make the best milk!
OH, Almost forgot. My co-worker (John does not want to be talked about in the blog) so we will talk about my co-worker, has finally, after a few nasty set backs, got his hay mower all in one functioning piece. So, he can now cut and bale hay at his own pace. And the rains pace of course but suffice to say we are in business. Getting hay into the barn will be fantastic! Fingers crossed.
Ok here are some excerpts from my mill letter.
Dear Bakers and Friends of Janie’s Mill,
When I was a child growing up on a beach in New Zealand (yes, I am a long way from home, grinding grains out here on the Prairies of the Midwest), we had two kinds of flours – brown and white. As a baracuda bread child I always assumed the brown bread was dyed. The barracuda loaf was white! Who knew. It’s the white flour that was (and still is) bleached! Now we have so many choices of delicious flours and breads – the mind quite boggles. For instance, different wheats will give the flours quite different ranges of taste. As you know most wheat is usually sown in the fall and harvested early in the following summer. So, how much rain, how much sun, how much snow, how long the ground was frozen and the myriad of delicious components that make up the healthy organic soil – all this contributes to the ranges of notes you will find in the taste of your bread not to mention the behavior of your dough.
This brings me to news of THE MILL:
(Oh Fellowship – We have been busy, busy this week milling. New summer workers have started and so training and laughter followed by intense concentration is the name of the game. Do you remember Anna? she is coming to work with me next month – wonderful!! Back to the Letter) .
This week we are switching to another lot of wheat grains. We have brought in a new batch of Organic Glenn. Like much of our wheats this batch was grown on Janie’s Farm. Jill the Mill Manager told me to tell you that this lot of Organic Glenn has 15% protein and 13% moisture after harvest (the moisture will probably drop a bit with milling). Which is a 3% point higher protein than the last batch. Good for bread!
We will begin the milling shortly and you can find this flour in bags of Calumet, Chicago, Wabash, Du Page, and the upcoming pizza flour.
At last the rain has abated and the sun has come out. There is a mild spring breeze and the tractors are rolling. So far our farmers Ross and his father Harold and their team have planted just over 500 acres of corn, both white and yellow corn. There is a couple of thousand acres to plant. Early next week they will be planting the Ruby Red popcorn.
(We are looking forward to that!!).
To combat weeds, prevent erosion, and fix nitrogen, Ross and Harold ensure that the ground is never left uncovered. So, in the fall they plant any ground not in winter wheat with cover crops. Last fall this was red clover and some left over wheat. Now, here’s the tricky bit, if that cover crop gets out of control due to let’s say: LOTS OF RAIN!, it might head up and seed and we do not want the cover crop to go to seed, so they are working as fast as possible to till the cover crops back into the ground in preparation for the spring crop.
There are no chemicals on these fields at all. They are strictly managed and certified organic. Harold and Ross manage about two thousand acres so this time of year the jigsaw of planting and weed management is just a little bit stressful.
Also NEWS – if you spend 100 dollars in the retail section of themillatjaniesfarm I will give you free shipping. Just enter the code FREEOVER100 – it would be my pleasure to pay for your shipping.
I hope you have a great weekend!
The Mill at Janie’s Farm
There is a chance of rain in the forecast for tonight (and about every day for the next ten) but I am sending the co-worker out to cut the light grass acres. We have missed all the forecast showers for a week now and everything is very dry and very stalky. I am ready to take the risk. We need to get this shot stuff off the fields.