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Too Wet to Mow

We are very grateful that it is too wet to mow the lawn today, after three grueling weeks of no rain the plants were looking sad and not growing, for some farmers the only moisture available was the sweat from the farmers brow either from working or worrying about the plants that were begging for rain.

*Depending upon which soil type the farmer has will also depend upon who suffers the most from either too much rain or not enough rain. Law family farm, just north of us, has clay which is great for holding moisture. White Pine Farm has sand which does not hold moisture, so during dry spells they suffer, fortunately they irrigate from their pond. They use drip irrigation that has tiny emitters every foot which allows one drip of water to come out every few seconds, this slow process allows the soil to remain moist for the plants, since it is from the pond it is loaded with nutrients that are not available from well or city water, but even with that the plants are not happy. The drip is simply life support as it does not have what rain water has in it. The sky during a thunderstorm is electrically charged which produces nitrogen oxides and also the rain drops gather nitrogen-bearing molecules from air pollutants in the sky; this added nitrogen makes the plants happy and when the rain falls on their leaves they green up and grow.

*As far as being too wet to mow that sometimes can either be a good or a bad thing. White Pine Farm likes to mow grass and use the grass clippings around the plants to help smoother the weeds and as a way to add more organic matter to the soil. The earth worms love it. They can raise to the surface find moisture and good food to eat as a thank you to the farm they digest the grass and poop great stuff out that the plants love.

*On the other hand when a farmer is putting up hay they need the hay dry. They cut the hay with a haybine, which has rubber and metal rollers that squeeze out more moisture. The hay is left in the field allowing the wind, the sun and the heat to remove the remaining moisture so it can be baled into either round or square bales, if it is not dry enough the hay begins to decompose and heat up.

*I remember a time when my brother put up hay in his barn that was not dry enough. The steam rose from the bales and when he put his hand into the bales his hand scorched from the heat. In a fit of panic he called the fire department and we proceeded to remove the hay. No fire happened that night, but many a farmer’s barn has been lost because of hay that was not dry enough.
Until Next Time
Marian Listwak

How to Make Salad Dressing

Think outside the dressing bottle
I think too often we over look the ease of making our own custom dressings at home. It is really simple, and much healthier and more satisfying :)

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Oil to vinegar ratio should be about 3:1 then adjust to your liking
For a smoother consistency and less separation use some dijon mustard or egg yolks from pastured chickens
Don’t be shy with the flavors, dried or fresh herbs, onions, garlic, honey for some sweetness
(Slow Dog seasoning has some great blends, that would make excellent dressings)

Here is a simple recipe
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinch of sea salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons dried (basil, oregano, chives, and thyme are all nice)
scant 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1.Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a jar. Stir well with a fork.
2.Add olive oil, cover tightly, and shake well until combined. You can also use a blender and drizzle the oil in slowly while it is running.
#.Serve over your basic green salad with added chopped vegetables.

Rhubarb Recipes

Pastry for 2 crust pie (see recipe)
1 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 c. flour
1 lb. rhubarb (about 4 scant cups) cut in 1 inch pieces
2 cups cut up strawberries OR peaches OR mulberries OR blueberries OR cherries OR pineapple
2 T butter

Combine sugar, salt and flour. Arrange half of rhubarb and fruit in a pastry lined pan. Sprinkle with half the sugar mixture. Repeat. Dot with butter . Crumble the saved pastry (recipe follows) over top. Bake in 425 degree oven for 40 minutes.


2 c. sifted flour
2 t. sugar
1 1/4 t. salt
2/3 c. oil
3T. milk

Combine flour, sugar and salt in the pan you’re using for the pie. Mix oil and milk together and pour over flour mixture. Mix with fork until flour is moistened. Save out 1/3 of mixture for top crust. Press remaining mixture into and up sides of pan. Add filling. Sprinkle saved pastry crumbles over top and bake.

Growing Season Update May 22

We are seeing many of the trees blossoming, the above pictures are of apples, lilac and pear blossoms. Our weather has been a littler erratic, it has been 80 degree one day and next day it is in the upper thirties. It is odd to watch the trees start to blossom when warm and than stop when cold, only to start again a few days later. Personally I anticipate the heavenly lilac scent that signals a transition into summer. I have to take deep breaths and enjoy it while it lasts

Once the blossoms begin the bees and the wind do their part by pollinating the blossoms. Soon the petals fall from the blossoms and the blossoms that become pollinated make small fruit.

This year there are fewer bees, the majority of the honey bees did not make it through the winter; much has to do with the cold weather and according to BIRC (Bio-Integral Resource Center) Neonicotinoids is a large contributor to the honey bee’s decline. These same pesticides have been banned in France, Germany and Italy because of their impact on pollinators.

I have not seen honey bees working like other years, although there are some large bumble bees around which also make great pollinators. Honey bees will travel up to two miles to gather pollen, so even if some one uses pesticides in their backyard and they are not aware of the harmful effect of pesticide they are inadvertently exposing pollinates; which consequently will raise their food prices because of lower crop production. Maybe someday we can follow suit with France, Germany and Italy and ban neonicotinoids.

Until Next Time
Marian Listwak

Farm Boy Flap Jack

PRODUCER Farm Boy Flap Jack Simmons Family Farm

The Simmons family came to North Branch, MI in 1854. They were among a handful of families who came to the wilderness area that would be named ‘Beechville’ the following year.
(a few years later, it was renamed North Branch!)
George and Mary Simmons carved a farm, a living, and a life from the cut-over timberland of Northern Lapeer County. Today, 5 generations later, the Simmons family is still farming that same original 96 acre farm, plus a few more.
FarmBoyTortillaChips are produced from Heirloom Organic Corn grown on the farm. Heirloom Corn is the kind farmers grew before the advent of Hybridization in the 1950’s, and then Genetic Modification in the 1990’s. We can maintain our own seed supply, and remain independent of Big Ag.
Heirloom Corn contains minerals and protein levels much higher than you will find in modern corn. It also has a flavor modern corns can only dream about!!

click here to see his product.

Honey Garlic Lemon Tea for Busting Colds

Submitted by Racheal Yonkman

I dont know about you but I simply do not have time for colds, with two kids playing sports and a nursing baby. Colds need not apply. Well apparently they do not seem to respect my wishes…meanie. So here is one of my go to recipes. Its generally considered safe for all ages and works like a charm. It is simple to make, just remember not to boil the honey stir it in last to keep all the beneficial properties to it.
****Disclaimer.. I am not a medical professional, just a mamma with a busy life that has picked up a few things along the way. If you have serious concerns obviously please consult you health care professional****

Garlic Tea Recipe In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and 3 cloves of garlic (cut in half) wait 15 minutes (something about it bringing out the medicinal properties of the garlic) then bring to a boil. Turn off the heat when the water boils, and add 1/2 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice. Strain. Sip 1/2 cup, warm, three times a day. Refrigerate extra to use the next day.


Growing Season Update (hoop-house)

White Pine Farm

Four Hoop-houses, green house for plants and a spot between the hoop-house.


As you know many of our winter crops were lost due to the extreme cold temperatures. We were worried about losing the garlic, but those are popping through the straw nicely. I’m anxiously waiting to see if the asparagus is popping through the earth, not yet, I’m a little concerned, although for all the years my mother grew asparagus I never remember it dying from cold weather. We did loose the rosemary planted inside and all of the sage planted outside. When the warmer weather finally started it was time to plant other crops in the hoop house. Right now tomatoes, green beans, peppers, and other crops are planted inside the houses. Outside the houses we have the onions, kale, peas, garlic (which gets planted in the fall) planted. Normally we have potatoes planted in the middle of April, but because of the cold season we are planting them late. Maybe if we are lucky we will fool the Colorado potato beetle by getting them in late. Those things are pretty smart and they will survive on quack grass until the potatoes start popping through. I wish I could train them to stay on the quack grass which would make them a beneficial rather than a pest. When I do find them on the grass they look like they are starving, it is obviously not their preferred food.
I’m seeing some cabbage butterflies flying around. These critters are one of the reasons we did not have much kale into December. They have a ferocious appetite and reproduce exponentially. This spring I released some microscopic wasp that like to feed on their eggs, they are suppose to reproduce faster than the butterflies. On a sunny day the butterflies may seem picturesque in the garden, but they are really garden demons with pretty wings. For me right now I’m cheering for the wasps.
Until Next Time
Marian Listwak

Lamburger with Garlic and Onion Gouda

Lamb Burgers with Garlic and Onion Gouda

1 slice of sandwich bread
2-3 Tbsp. milk
1 egg
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1.25 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1 – 1.25 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 medium onion, grated
1.25 lbs. ground lamb
Lettuce for topping

Place the slice of bread in a large bowl. Pour the milk over it, to soak the bread. Let it soak while you gather your ingredients and grate your onions. Then, squeeze out most of the milk from the bread, using your hand. Discard the extra milk, and crumble up the soaked bread back into the bowl. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, allspice, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, grated onion, and lamb. Gently mix until all ingredients are well combined, and shape into 4-5 patties (or 4 patties and 1 toddler patty :)).

Cook the patties on a grill or in a cast iron skillet on the stove top (or under your broiler), for about 4 minutes before flipping. Add a slice of cheese and continue to cook another 4 minutes, or until burgers are done to your liking. Top with some yummy lettuce and your done!

Tricks on how to boil fresh egg so they will peal

Boiling Farm Fresh Eggs

Submitted by Marian Listwak

Boiling Farm Fresh eggs can be a challenge.

The challenge is not usually with the store bought eggs it is with the farm fresh eggs.

Over time the inner membrane of the egg detaches from the shell and the air bubble at the top of the egg gets larger. Because these changes occur older eggs are always easier to peal.

There are some things that can be done to make pealing farm fresh boiled eggs easier.

A friend I know lets some of her eggs sit for a couple of weeks and saves those one for boiling. Sometimes I find that even boiling eggs that are a couple of weeks old they can be still difficult as compared to store bought eggs. If a person wants to select older eggs a simple way to tell the older eggs from the fresher eggs is to put the eggs in water. Since the air bubble on the top gets the larger it makes the eggs more buoyant as they age. New eggs will sink older eggs will stand up somewhat, really old eggs will float. If they float some say pitch them, I will break them open in a separate dish and many times they are fine. They have to very old to become rotten.

The following is the method I use. I bring the water to a full boil, then I slowly lower the eggs into the water using either a slotted spoon or tongs. I let them boil for fifteen minutes, I than pour out the boiling water and run cold water onto the eggs.

To peal the egg, I crack the wide end of the egg first where the air bubble is, run them under cold water and they peal easily.

If I refrigerate the boiled eggs they generally still peal good. Sometimes if the eggs I put in the refrigerator are being really difficult I will drop them into boiling water for a few seconds and than run them under cold water again, by that time they peal easily.

Other methods I heard people say works is to put vinegar in the water. The vinegar breaks down calcium and weakens the egg shell.

Racheal says she puts in a tablespoon of baking soda in the water and that works for her. This is suppose to change the ph of the shell which contributes to separating the shell from the membrane.

Another challenge with placing the eggs in boiling water is keeping the eggs from cracking. It is important to lower the eggs into the water slowly. A trick an intern taught me was to put a pin hole in the large end of the egg. This allows the heated expanded air to escape and decreases the chance of the egg cracking while being boiled. Another simple trick is to let the egg be at room temperature before placing in boiling water.

Now I standing in front of my refrigerator and I have boiled eggs and raw eggs, but I can’t tell them apart. This is what I do. I put them on the kitchen counter and spin them. The ones that spins easily and fast are the boiled eggs, the ones that flounder are the raw egg.

When chickens lay their eggs there is a protective membrane on the outside of the egg that is usually destroyed with washing the egg. Once the membrane is removed it decreases the shelf life of the egg. Chickens that hatch their own chicks will lay eggs for about a month. The eggs she sits on could vary in age by weeks, yet when she hatches them they all hatch at once. The large air bubble at the top of the egg is for the baby chick to breath prior to hatching.

Pan Roasted Marble Potatoes

This is very easy quick recipe.

Marble potatoes (1 lb)
Rice Vinegar
Salt Pepper

Wash or gently scrub the marble potatoes. Do not remove the skins as this is where the most nutrition and flavor is on potatoes.
Cut up and cook about 4 slices of bacon in frying pan until the bacon starts giving off fat and starts to get soft (avoid over cooking)
Add the potatoes, season with salt & pepper. Stir and cook, low heat, covered for a few minutes, than remove cover for a few minutes, rotate this process of cooking. When a knife pierces potatoes they are done. (15-20 minutes)
Sprinkle rosemary that has been cut into small pieces on the potatoes and adjust salt and pepper.
They are now ready to serve

The same basic recipe can be modified with different oil and different seasoning.
Replace the bacon with a healthy oil of your choice (coconut expelled, olive etc.)
Can use garlic instead of rosemary.

Did you know that potatoes are one of the dirty dozen. The dirty dozen is a list of produce produced conventionally with the highest pesticide load. The farmers who sell potatoes on this site are certified organic. Growing potatoes without the use of toxins is labor intensive and difficult.