Monday, March 25, 2013

"Miracles" of Life (including Swiss Chard)

This is only our second post, but I have to say, wow, guys! Since we officially went “live” two weeks ago, we’ve had over 900 views! That’s a bit more than I was expecting! So thank you (!!) for the huge outpouring of interest and support!

These past weeks have been busy here at the farm. We’ve had the arrival of some unexpected lambs, Matt spent a weekend at the Home, Garden, and Leisure show (did any of you meet him there?), we’ve added a few more on-farm customers, and we’re busy preparing for spring! I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to air out the house, clean out the barn, and see some of those early spring flowers (we’ve been planting up a storm of seedlings to reintroduce some native perennials). It just seems like spring around here- at least in the greenhouse. Yes, we are determinedly ignoring all of that white stuff surrounding our warm oasis of green.

(One of last year's inherited crocuses, in case you've forgotten what spring looks like)


As for what Lone Duck Farm has to offer this week, we’ve got some beautiful red and green leaf lettuce bouquets, plenty of bright, crisp Bibbs, and our Romaine lettuces are definitely big and tasty. All of the lettuces are between $2.50-$4 a head, depending on kind and size.


If you’re looking for some additional color in your life right now, our Swiss Chard is big, bright, and beautiful.

Not sure how to prepare this sorta sweet surprise? Oh, I could count the ways! But here’s just one recipe (it was our “beginner” recipe), from the book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver:


Eggs in a Nest
2 cups uncooked brown rice

Cook rice with 4 cups water in a covered pot while the other ingredients are being prepared.

A few tablespoons of olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped, and garlic to taste

            Sauté onions and garlic in the olive oil in a wide skillet until lightly golden.

Carrots, chopped (we usually use one or two medium carrots, but they can also be omitted)

½ cup dried tomatoes (we usually omit the tomatoes, but I hear it’s tasty even with them!)

            Add carrots and tomatoes (if using) and sauté them with the onions and garlic.

1 or 2 large bunches of Swiss chard, coarsely chopped (include the stems, but keep those pieces a bit smaller)

            Mix with other vegetables in the skillet and cover the pan for a few minutes; uncover, stir the ingredients all up, and then use the back of the spoon to make 8 depressions in the vegetables (like the depressions were numbers on a clock).

8 eggs

            Break an egg into each depression, and then recover the pan, allowing the eggs to poach for 3-5 minutes. Then remove from heat and serve over the brown rice.


This recipe serves 4, but can be modified pretty easily.



(OK, food stylists we are not- but I promise, it's delicious!)

P.S.- If you haven’t read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” yet, you should really pick it up!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Three W's- Who, What, and Why?

Some of you who know us are probably thinking that it's about time we got this blog up and running! We tend to agree- we've just been a little busy! We've spent the last two years dismantling our every adolescent expectation of a glamorous, comfortable city life by buying a farm, putting in gardens and a greenhouse, filling up our barn, permaculturing the land, and generally getting a small homestead going while working jobs in the outside world. Now it's time for us to update all of you on our progress and our current farm status!

Our journey started long, long ago in a land not-so-far away. The year 2009 found us living in Fond du Lac, WI in a nice house in a nice subdivision. Matt was a mechanical engineer, Elise worked in a non-profit organization. And while we were comfortable, neither of us was particularly happy. We knew something wasn't quite right, but we weren't sure what it was. Luckily (at least in the long run), Matt got briefly laid off from work and we realized that the security we had always associated with a set paycheck wasn't actually all that secure. And if that security was an illusion, what else did we need to reevaluate? The increased time to read, cook, and do things around our home brought about lots of questions and changes that sent us reeling- but in the right direction.

We started to ask whether our current lifestyle was sustainable- not only financially, but for the environment- and how we could make it better for everyone involved. We read. And we read. And then we read some more. And as we read (and cooked from scratch more often), we began to explore what else we might be able (and even WANT) to do- could we do away with prepackaged food all together? What about growing our own vegetables? Making our own dairy products? Our own sweeteners? What about meat? Could Matt actually farm full time rather than commuting to Milwaukee every day? The answer was YES- but not where we were living. We figured that goats (and their owners) might fare poorly in a well manicured neighborhood that had covenants forbidding fences. So we put our house on the market and decided to search for a more earthy lifestyle, wherever that might take us.

Serendipity, later revealed as God, brought us to a 125 year old farmhouse on five acres just south of West Bend. We closed on the farm in May, and by June, we had found our farming gateway drug- chickens. But chickens aren't called the gateway drug without reason, and our menagerie soon expanded to include not only our friendly, feathered bug-hunters, but some milkable mini-ruminants (who think they're really dogs) and you guessed it, one lone duck (who seems to think he's just a chicken who loves bathtime).

The animals may have given us a name for the farm, but it's our vegetables, fish, and other produce that are our mainstays. We're growing vegetables and fish in our 30'x72' greenhouse, and are planting and permaculturing the rest of our acreage to further our three main priorities for the land- sustainability, diversity, and abundance. We want to grow as much food as possible while using natural fertilizers and insectaries (with beneficial bugs like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps), companion planting, and prevention strategies; if we absolutely must use an insecticide or other "potion" we make sure that they're OMRI certified or made from ingredients we'd eat ourselves (garlic spray as a finished product might not be something we'd eat willingly, but we could and probably do eat all of the ingredients in it).

We've become fully rooted in living a low-impact, nature- and God-honoring lifestyle and it is our passion to help others do the same. After all, individual actions make the biggest impact when they inspire others to make changes, too. But not everyone has an inner farmer just waiting to bust out, and we firmly believe that you shouldn't have to become one just to live a less impactful life and have access to nutritious, delicious, local food. Not everyone has their heart quicken at the idea of thawing frozen water buckets in January and smushing potato beetles in July- and that's OK! Wherever you're at, we want to help- whether it's providing your food for you, teaching you how to make cheese/bread/soap/beer/wine/etc., or giving you ideas of how you might improve your own backyard garden.

We'll be updating this blog at least once a week and we encourage you to sign up for email updates. Some posts will have our updated product lists (you might also find it easier to check the appropriate tab, rather than scroll through all of the posts), while others will have tips, recipes, and everyday life stories. Check back often and let us know what you think!