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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Farm Fresh email newsletter 05/11/2012

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Welcome to this week's edition of the Farm Fresh email newsletter from Wishful Acres Farm!

Mark your calendars and gas up your vehicles!  This Saturday, May 12 marks the grand opening of the Wishful Acres Farm Store!  The Farm Store will be open from 10-4 this Saturday & Sunday (May 12-13), and then for the rest of the year: Fridays 10-7, Saturdays 10-4, Sundays 10-4.  We hope you can make the trip.  The Wishful Acres Farm Store is located in the yellow mobile home on our farm, 4679 N Flansburg Rd, Lena IL.  We're located in between Freeport & Lena; Flansburg Road can be accessed directly from Highway 20.  Many of you have asked me if I will be selling at the Freeport Farmers Market again this year.  Yes, I will be selling there as well, however the Farmers Market does not begin until May 19.  If you can't make it out this weekend but still would like to place an order, you can make an appointment to stop out at the farm or place an order for delivery to Freeport ($3 delivery fee). 
What will we have available at the Wishful Acres Farm Store this weekend?

  • Lettuce Mix - our blend of 3 organic spring lettuces - light green leaf, green frilly, and red romaine leaf, all washed & mixed into a beautiful, sweet lettuce blend
  • Spinach - the sweetest winter spinach is still available, but won't be for much longer.  The season looks like it will be over for the winter spinach within a couple of weeks (then we'll move on to spring spinach, which isn't as thick or large-leafed).
  • Radishes - long, mild pink French-variety radishes as well as a few of the regular red round variety.
  • More veggies?  There may be more available!  Our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares of the year are going to CSA members this week, and any extra veggies after CSA harvest will go the farm store.  So, possibly available: arugula, tat soi, mustard greens, mizuna (Asian green), endive, lemon balm.
  • Organic Vegetable Garden Plants!  Get your garden growing with our tomato, pepper, and herb plants.
  • Free-Range Brown Eggs - the bright yellow yolks & rich flavor can't be beat!
  • Meat - organic beef is the only meat available at this time.  
  • Handmade Aprons - the handmade aprons that I make during the winter are now stocked in the farm store.  Many new styles this year, including several made of vintage / antique fabrics.
Vegetable Plants: I raise a couple thousand vegetable plant starts each year, using organic potting soil, organic compost, and organic fish fertilizer.  These plants are used for planting here at the farm as well as for sale to our customers for your own gardens.  The plants are now ready and will be available for sale beginning this Saturday, May 11 at the Wishful Acres Farm Store!  Come on out & buy your garden plants here.  $2 each for a small plant (about 4-6" tall plant, in a 2-inch square pot), $4 each for a large plant (about 6-10" tall plant, in a 4-inch square pot).  The large size is not available in all plants.  The type of plants available this year is listed on our web site along with pictures & descriptions and you can view it here:

Beer Homebrewing Class:  Want to learn how to homebrew delicious, craft beer?  Attend Homebrewing 101!  Advanced homebrewer Nate Peterson of Wishful Acres Farm will be instructing a 3-hr class at the Wishful Acres Farm Store on Sunday, June 3 from 2-5 pm.  The class will instruct beginners on the basics of homebrewing, explain how & why things are done, and walk everyone through the cooking process of a beginner's extract homebrewing kit.  Attendees will learn how to make their own batch of beer, fermentation basics, and will even bottle their own 6-pack to take home with them.  There will be plenty of time for questions, and those willing can join Nate for a walk over to the Hops Field here at Wishful Acres Farm to witness the beer hops growing.  This 3-hour class costs $50 per participant and will include their own bottled 6-pack.  To sign up, email Penny at or call 815-990-2380.  The class will be limited to 6 individuals, so if you want a slot make sure to sign up early!

Farm Story: We brought our 4 Berkshire-variety piglets home to the farm last Friday.  I purchased them from another sustainable farmer who raises them with access to the outdoors, and his farm is in Jo Daviess County.  Have I mentioned our "farm truck" is our family minivan?  My husband and I removed all the seats from our minivan and hitched our wooden-sided, open-top trailer to the back and covered it with a tied-down blue tarp.  If this sounds to you like the theme from "Beverly Hillbillies" should be playing in the background right now, you're probably correct.  So, we headed over to the next county, stopped at another farm on the way to purchase 100 rusty fence posts & a roll of woven wire fencing, then headed to the livestock farm.  By now, the "farm truck" minivan is already chugging under the weight of those fence posts.  We arrived at the livestock farm & drove down a steep hill to get to the pig area.  These piglets are about 50 pounds and are wily rascals.  The farmer caught them for us, then handed then up to Nate & I, and we carried each piglet between us before placing into our tarp-topped trailer.  Now, let me just say here that pigs don't think it's much fun to be picked up, or carried.  In fact, they were squirming around like worms.  However, we made it home without much incident.  We got the fence constructed outdoors in a nice area for the pigs, and built their shelter.  Then we moved the pigs in.  They loved it - rooting around almost immediately.  However, some things just don't last.  A few hours later, our farm helper called me.... "I'm chasing your pigs through a corn field!".  He, and the other farm helper who arrived that afternoon, noticed that the pigs had escaped.  My husband was at work, I was home alone with our 3 young tired sons, and it was almost dark.  Well, we got the pigs rounded up and back into their fenced area.  And then realized that of course we couldn't leave them in there, because they'd simply escape again.  Now it's pitch black.  By the light of the minivan headlights, we moved each piglet to a large horse stall in our barn (no easy feat and hats off to our farm helper Chris).  The pigs had to spend Friday night & Saturday locked up in a 15 x 15 foot barn area, which is large for 4 piglets, but let me tell you what I noticed.  Now, I've only been raising pigs for a few days, but once those pigs were confined they became a different sort of animal from what I had witnessed out on the pasture and rooting through the compost.  Outdoors, they had been grunting, walking around, literally loving life.  In the barn, they layed side by side in front of the door and didn't move much, and didn't make much noise.  It was obvious that they were sad and depressed.  Wow, what a amazing difference, and for someone who by that point had only been raising pigs for 1 day, to be able to notice such an obvious change in their behavior.  The story ends well: by Sunday, we had the electric fencing strung and run, and we spent an afternoon moving the piglets back to their outdoor area.  They're happy again.  Whew, seriously, we realized quickly that pigs are not the easiest animals to raise.  Hoping it will be worth the enormous efforts, and we know it will.  We've tasted free-range Berkshire pork before!  The delicious heritage-variety Berkshire pork cuts will fill our freezer this fall as well as fill the farm-store freezer for our customers.

Spring Salad Recipe
  • 3 cups lettuce mix
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 bunch radishes, chopped
  • Dressing: combine & mix all below to make a dill dressing:
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (can substitute plain yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon dill weed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Thanks, everyone, for supporting our family farm, and we hope to see you soon!
Penny Peterson
Wishful Acres Farm

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