Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy May to Me


I guess it's not so unexpected that May is my favorite month. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that everyone's favorite month is the month they were born. Maybe each person has different reasons, but surely there is some natural affinity for the time of year you entered the world. Me, I like May. Especially here in Idaho. However much we might think Spring has come, when May arrives the Mayflower blooms, the iris open, asparagus and rhubarb are there for the picking, the irrigation ditches fill, the snow starts melting off Schaffer Butte, and the rain (usually) falls.

My tomatoes and peppers are getting much bigger. I have eight sugar snap peas growing, a few parsnips sprouting, and all four asparagus crowns made it through the winter. The red raspberries are spreading nicely into the empty space left by the black raspberry we dug up last fall, and the Autumn Gold are spreading in the other direction. Not as thrilled about that, but it's hard to be unhappy about more raspberries.

My colleague and gardening friend who gave me the rhubarb crown let me come over this week to pick some of his rhubarb. Mine isn't big enough yet. I wish I'd taken pictures. In spite of splitting it last year, this rhubarb is once again a monster plant that would look at home in the Pleistocene undergrowth! I'm going to have a great time tomorrow making stewed rhubarb and rhubarb crumble. Mmmmmm!

Last weekend we went to an organic farm tour organized by Idaho's Bounty, an organic farming co-op that a friend of ours belongs to. He's an organic herb farmer who sells his produce to local restaurants and stores. One of his neighbors raises grass-fed beef organically. The two of them gave the tour. There were about 40 people, many from Boise but some from our area and further west, including a winemaker (Zhou-Zhou and Hell's Canyon). These were all Co-op members, both growers and eaters :).

First we went to Mesquite Cattle Co, to walk around the various pastures, learn about growing grass, grass types, gravity-fed irrigation, various breeds of cattle that do well on grass, etc. This farm used to run on the customary industrial farming model. But in the last five years he's gone into organic grass-fed beef, without the corn-fed finish. Then across the road to Purple Sage Farms to see and smell the poly-tunnel greenhouses full of perennial and annual herbs. Our favorite was the rosemary! Mmmm!

Afterwards we all went to the house for a pot-luck of dishes made with Idaho-grown produce. So we got to try the grass-fed beef and herbs, as well as lots of other things. Really wonderful food. The big emphasis of the day was how connecting consumers to producers can benefit both groups, and the importance of supporting local food production.

After dinner hubby, our friend, and a few others sat down to play some tunes while the rest of us chatted and watched the lambs play out in the field. I fell into conversation with the winemaker about Scottish Country dancing. Who knows, we may be doing a dance and music gig at the winery in July!

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