"Well Vittled" Your weekly Vegetable CSA box companion!
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       "Well Vittled" CSA Newsletter
Sleepy G Farm
RR#1 Pass Lake, ON
HARVESTED THIS WEEK:  Radicchio, Winter Squash (Acorn or Spaghetti), Shallots, Pearl Onion Bunch, Lettuce Mix, Carrots, Potatoes, Beet Bunch, Kale, Swiss Chard, Fennel, Green Cabbage, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Arugula, Fresh Herbs
Number of items to choose:  9
* Free choice items
Volume 9 Issue 9
September 26th, 2018
Over the next 5 weeks we will work steadily at harvesting all of our fall crops and get them washed and safely in storage for the winter.  As we learned last year, the weather can turn bad quickly during the late fall, so our goal is to be out of the market garden by November 1st.
After November we shift our focus to our herd of cattle, which are an important part of our farm, but one that exists mainly in the background throughout the growing season.  By the time the snow starts to fly we will be bringing our cows in and out of the barn each day.  Feeding, watering, and mucking out stalls twice a day forms the basis of our winter chore schedule.  The winter is also when we calve, breed the cows, and bring beef animals to the abattoir to be processed.
We typically wait until our heifers (young females) are about 20-22 months of age before we breed them.  Some farmers will breed heifers a little sooner – perhaps 15-18 months of age, but it has always been our practice to let them develop a bit more before we burden them with the toll gestation has on their bodies.  A heifer that is bred too early in life is unlikely to reach her milk-producing potential because she is put in a situation where she needs to grow a fetus while still building her own body and mammary system.
The other reason not to breed heifers too young is the risk that her pelvis will be too small to birth a calf.  This is a horrible situation, and one that almost always ends in death of both the cow and calf.  We had this happen to a ewe many years ago and it was the most gruesome thing I’ve had to deal with on the farm.
Many of you may recall a story I told last September about a young heifer named Lila, and her 5 km solo bushwhack across the township in the middle of the night.  Click here to read the issue of Well Vittled that recounts this amazing story.  Otherwise, in a nutshell, I took Lila off the pasture from the farm down the road last September because she was nearly 10 months of age and I didn’t want her to be bred by the bull (for the above stated reasons).
Attempts to bring her back to the home farm failed, and she ended up spending the rest of the fall with the bull.  We kept our fingers crossed that she was not sexually mature and did not get bred.  In March, I had our veterinarian visit the farm to preg check our cows.  He examined Lila and confirmed what I had feared – she was about 6 months pregnant.  Gestation period for cows is about 10 months.  The vet advised that I keep her close to the barn until she calves just in case we need to assist.
I do most of the breeding on the farm with Artificial Insemination.  I have a wide selection of bulls that I keep frozen in liquid nitrogen and make breeding selections depending on the characteristics of the cow I’m breeding.  I begin breeding after April 1st, and by June 1st we turn the cows out to pasture for the summer where they run with the bull.  A cow’s heat cycle is about 21-24 days, which gives me about 3-4 chances to get her bred using AI, after which time the bull will do the job for me.  This program ensures that our calves are born mid-winter which works perfectly because we can give maximum attention to the cows at that time of year.  If for some reason we still have pregnant cows by June 1st, we will keep them close to the barn where we can keep an eye on them until they calve.  Lila, along with 2 other cows were in this situation this spring.
At the end of May we went to Grand Marais for the weekend so Marcelle could take a course at the North House Folk School.  The day after we left we got a phone call from Matheson telling us Lila had her calf!  That day, Matheson and Sarah started work by dragging the calf into the barn using a little ice sled, and putting mom and calf in a clean box stall.  Sarah and Matheson then had to help the calf figure out how to drink milk.  The most important thing cattle farmers need to do during calving time is to ensure that the calf gets colostrum within a few hours of birth.  Some calves are naturally good at it, while others need a lot of help.  Similarly, some cows are naturally very maternal, while others would rather be outside eating grass instead of caring for their calf.  The first 48 hours of a calf’s life is the most important.  Matheson and Sarah got the little bull calf to drink milk and by the time we arrived home the next day Lila and her calf were doing great!  They decided to name the calf Lyle.  Lyle was castrated a few days later and then turned back outside with his mom to spend the summer on pasture.  Today, Lyle is nearly 5 months old and about 400 lbs.
In the end Lila was 9 ½ months old when she was bred – more than a full year younger than we would have planned for.  Luckily, she and her calf are doing great.  In fact, she has taken very well to motherhood despite being the human equivalent of a teenager.  This summer we had 3 cow and calf pairs stay on the farm.  The 3 calves were born within a couple of weeks of each other.  They go everywhere together – they are the Three Amigos on the pasture.  Interestingly enough, Lila has taken on the role of babysitter – she is most often seen keeping an eye on the 3 calves.
Over the last 10+ years Marcelle and I have been very busy building a farm and building a cow herd one calf at a time.  We’ve been so busy building a farm business, a new house, plus recover from a severe physical injury that we have not been able to start a family.  We have wanted to have a family, but as anyone who is self-employed will tell you it is a challenge to have a baby without leave from work, and the associated income supplement.  But alas, we are pregnant and are expecting a baby to come around February 5th!  We are very excited, and are looking forward to wrapping up the market garden in November as we come into the final trimester.  We will need the early part of the winter to get interior doors hung in our mostly-finished house, plus a million other things before the baby comes.  We also have no baby clothes or stuff as of yet.  If any of our CSA members have unwanted used baby things, we will happily put them to use!  We do not know if we are having a boy or girl as we both like surprises.  For those that are done having babies, maybe this is a good chance to get rid of some stuff!
Lila and her calf Lyle.  He is almost as big as his mom!
Moma-carrot, Papa-carrot, and Baby-carrot!
Partners in good food!

This week's coffee from
Rose N Crantz Roasting Co


Costa Rica
Cafe Vida

Small Landholders


The Cafe Vida coffee is a regional blend that expresses the terroir of the Terrazzo Region of Costa Rica.  This region is known for quality to the point of other regions branding their coffee as Terrazzo to upsell their own coffee.


Tasting notes:  Balanced and sweet with a thin but smooth mouthfeel.  Hints of lemon, toffee and chocolate flavours.
Roasted to Full City

This week's bread from
Both Hands Bread


Light Rye

Brule Creek sifted whole wheat flour, water, unrefined sea salt

Recipe of the Week

Caramelized Radicchio with Gruyere

Radicchio lovers will have their own favourite way to prepare this uniquely bitter member of the chicory family.  This recipe  uses the piquant flavour of Gruyere cheese to balance the Radicchio's bitterness


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • head of radicchio, cut lenghwise
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 7 oz. Gruyere, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh breadcrumbs
  • black pepper


  • Preheat oven to 375 F.  Place a heavy, flat pan on medium heat.  Add the oil, butter, sugar and a pinch of salt.  Allow to heat up.
  • Place the radicchio cut-side down in the pan.  Do not move them for 3 to 5 minutes, r until they turn deep golden.
  • Remove from heat.  Transfer the radicchio to a small ovenproof dish, arranging them cut-side up, close together.
  • Sprinkle with half the thyme.  Place the slices of cheese on top and sprinkle with the rest of thyme.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven.  Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and some black pepper.
  • Return to the oven, increase the temperature to 400F and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs brown.
  • Serve hot
We typically do not harvest on Wednesdays and instead use the time to make last-minutes preparations for the CSA delivery.  Marcelle and Sarah are bagging oregano.
Garden Feature
Winter Squash
Winter squash is so-called because it is a type of squash that keeps long into the winter.  It is a sweet, starchy, substantial vegetable that is surprisingly versatile.  There are many different types of winter squash that com in a manner of shapes, sizes, and colours.

Winter squash is a long-season crop.  It likes hot and sunny days and more than 100 frost-free days to grow.  Such conditions cannot be relied upon in Northwestern Ontario.  We therefore grow only a handful of winter squash types, and then select short season varieties of each type.

Over the next two weeks we will distribute 4 different types of winter squash.  Most squash types can be roasted and eaten, or roasted and pureed into a soup.  The drier the flesh is of the squash, the better it caramelizes under heat.

Here is a brief description of the 4 types of winter squash you can choose from over the next two weeks:

Acorn squash:  Acorn squash (sometimes called Pepper Squash) is a perennial favourite for roasting when halved and dressed with butter and brown sugar.  This is a wetter squash that  makes an excellent soup.

Delicata Squash:  Also known as "sweet potato squash" because of its similarity in flavour with sweet potato.  These small squash are known for tender skin which is edible.  A favourite roasting squash.

Pie Pumpkin:  The pumpkins we grow on the farm are also known as sugar pumpkins.  They are small, sweet, and have a dense flesh.  They can be roasted, turned into soup, and of course make a great pie!

Spaghetti Squash:  This is the one squash that isn't like the others.  This is the only squash that doesn't make a good soup.  Instead, it should be roasted and the flesh "pulled apart" with a fork when cooked.  Excellent when eaten with salt and pepper, or used as a substitute for pasta - like spaghetti!

All squash will keep for a long time if kept in a dry location and away from direct sunlight.  Inside a kitchen cupboard is a good place to store winter squash.
The squash have been "curing" in our greenhouse for the last week or so.  Once cured, squash will last for months

Fall / Winter CSA

This winter we are going to run a small Winter CSA pilot.  The Winter CSA will be 10 deliveries over a 20 week period.  It will start on Oct. 24th and end on Feb. 27th.

Unlike the summer CSA, the winter boxes will be pre-determined.  They will include a much smaller variety of vegetables.  Expect to receive potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, cabbage, winter squash, onions, and possibly pickled or frozen items.  All items produced at Sleepy G Farm.

As space will be limited for this program shares will be distributed on a first-come first-served basis.  Look here next week for more details and a link to the registration form.  

Vegetable Storage Info
ON THE COUNTER:  potatoes, onions, zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes
IN THE FRIDGE:   cabbage, leeks, beets, swiss chard, potatoes, carrots
Is that a sunflower or baby in her belly?
NEXT WEEK'S GUESS:  Coloured Carrots, Jalapeno Peppers, Soup Celery, Yellow Potatoes, Leeks, Onions, Parsnip, Beets, Arugula, Cabbage, Winter Squash (Pie Pumpkin or Delicata), Tomatoes
Copyright © 2018 Sleepy G Farm, All rights reserved.

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