Fourth cutting alfalfa so gorgeous even I want to eat it!
We baled our fourth cutting of alfalfa today. The fourth cutting is typically the most palatable as the stems are small and the leaves are plentiful. Raising perfect hay is a difficult proposition in the now humid, early fall Midwest. It's part art and part science to know when to cut it, know when to rake it and finally to know when to bale it. The shorter days and cooler mornings of early September make lots of dew. The dew slows down the drying process; the upshot is that you need even more rain-free days in the fall to complete the process. In an ideal hay world, you would get a full four to five days to cut, rake, bale and load the hay into the barn. This almost never happens, yet the forecast for the week showed no rain for about five days. Wes and Ben cut the fields on Monday and let it dry for a day before raking it yesterday. This morning it was at the perfect moisture level for baling. Since our old (it's a lemon let's face it) New Holland baler has been on the fritz for over a year, we have been hiring out the baling part of hay making, leaving us at the mercy of someone else with different priorities. So, of course he called early this morning to tell us that he was a day behind in his other baling jobs and couldn't come out today as we had planned. We knew we couldn't wait another day because a) rain was headed our way later today/tonight and b) the hay looked so perfect on the ground RIGHT now. So, what to do? Our local implement dealer just happened to have a used baler for rent, so we were back in business by 11AM this morning. Wes was on the baler, while Ben and I picked up the bales from the field. I got to drive the truck with trailer in tow, as Ben walked down the rows and tossed the bales onto the trailer. With the radio blaring old time jazz tunes (wouldn't you know, one of most favorite songs "there ain’t nobody here but us chickens" came on the radio!! How perfect is that?), I crept along the now clean field, stopping to let Ben rearrange the bales on the trailer. It's a true sense of satisfaction to watch the bales get stacked high on the trailer and then bring them back to the barn. The intensity of green is so strong, you need sunglasses to look at this hay. It is alfalfa at its best. The ultimate test of perfection is watching the girls bury their heads in the hay feeder. The normally rambunctious doelings who usually whine and complain even after you feed them their grain were silent. It was the silence of sheer food enjoyment.
Farmers’ Markets, Cheese and Gelato
This weekend we’re attending three farmers’ markets: Urbana and Green City Market on Saturday and Logan Square on Sunday. The weather forecast is calling for blue skies and crisp cool fall weather, perfect for patronizing your favorite farmers’ market. We have a great line up of cheese for you, including:
- Fresh chevre: plain, herbs de Provence and heirloom tomato
- An assortment of bloomy rind cheeses including Angel Food, Little Bloom on the Prairie, Black Sheep (and maybe Black Goat) and Ewe Bloom
- Sheep milk feta
- Huckleberry Blue
- Mollisol Pecorino
Urbana market goers can enjoy some great gelato flavors this week:
- Rhubarb Swirl
- Anise Hyssop
- Thai Basil
- Rhubarb sorbetto
- Concord grape sorbetto
- Pear sorbetto