It happens every once in a while (actually almost every day) – a chicken makes it through, under or over the fence to roam around the farm. I don`t electrify their fence, and I don`t worry too much about the odd escapee, they don`t do much damage and usually never even find their way to the gardens.
When I first had chickens here I didn`t fence them at all – it was a beautiful sight – glistening white chanteclers rummaging in the wooded fence rows, under the raspberry canes, and even venturing to the creek shaded by trees at the back of the property. I was surprised, but we never had an incident of predation during those days (unless you include the countless tomatoes, heads of lettuce, sorrel, beet greens and other veggies that got repeatedly decimated). To protect the gardens I decided to fence the hens, and move their runs every few weeks so they get access to new ground. Last year I had a small group of layers who decided they`d rather sleep outside, nestled in the comfort of a big forsythia not far from the coop. Routinely I would catch the hens (best attempted after dark) and put them back into the safety of their near-bomb-proof coop. However, I started to think that if I were in their position, what could be more beautiful than spending the night outside, under the stars, in a big forsythia bush – so I began leaving them out for the night. All was well until one night a local skunk came by for a late night meal – the first and only incident of predation (of chickens by a wild animal that is).
Flash forward to today, the newest batch of hens are happily out on grass these days (I keep them in for the first week so they settle in to their new digs). This week I picked up another huge load of certified organic layer ration from Gerald Poechman, my grain farmer (the first quota-holding egg farmer to go organic!) Going to get feed is always a great opportunity for a young farmer like myself to ask questions like `how do you deal with twitch or Canada Thistle in your crops?’ And luckily, Gerry likes to talk.
And the veggies? Well, as the title of this post alludes to, Garlic Scapes are on the menu for CSA members this week!
Folks can also expect spring turnips, snow peas, fresh herbs and a selection of leafy greens including spinach, baby rainbow chard, young & tender kale, head lettuce, mesclun (salad mix), and pak choi! Yahoo, bring on the leafy greens!
Garlic scapes can be used much like garlic, either cut up and added to dishes much like ‘regular’ garlic, or pickled either through canning with vinegar or via lacto-fermentation – check out this link for a live food delicacy – Brine-pickled (lacto-fermented) garlic scapes…
Here`s a recipe for Chard & Feta Pie.
Another one of my favourite ways to prepare braising greens is to warm a cast-iron pan with some butter or coconut oil in it, toss in the greens & crack a few eggs on top – put a lid on the whole thing and keep the heat low – this will gently sauté/steam the greens & effectively poach the eggs on top – serve with some freshly ground black pepper on fish, toast or by itself, depending on whether your making this for breakfast, lunch or dinner!
My best guess at what’ll be coming out of the garden in the near future – kohlrabi, zucchini, arugula, and maybe even some spring radishes.
Here are a few photos of chickens here at the farm over the past few years