3/29/06 Vol. 3 #3

A little stiff today, yesterday was tunnel sliding day.  Not quite an Olympic sport like luge, a bit more like dog sledding.  Our crack team has done this together so many times now that what used to take parts of two days to complete we did in four hours!  Now I will admit that we only moved four out of six tunnels but I am still quite amazed at our efficiency.  One person has to go around and un-bolt everything (twelve bolts per tunnel) while another takes the front walls off.  Then two people take the back walls off while others are attaching the pull straps and spraying linseed oil on the rails to “grease the skids”.  Finally on the count of three the five us us lean into the straps and the thing lurches forward (this it where it is dog sled like).  Tug, pull, tug down to the other end (only 50 feet away), a little fine tuning to align the bolt holes then the re-bolting and end wall re-installation begins.  Once its all done it appears as if they have always been in this position until you notice that the bright lettuces and other crops that had been protected under cover are now outside squinting in the strong sunlight.

Today the early tomatoes go in the ground inside the their newly moved homes.  With this warm forecast they should be really happy and just take off.  A harbinger of changing seasons.  When you plant the last big round of lettuce and the first round of tomatoes and sunflowers in the same week you know that really warm weather is now only 6-8 weeks away.  Betsy’s big planting of Lisianthus went in this week as well, 3600 tiny plants spaced “exactly” four inches apart in three rows on each bed.  It’s like a precision drill team.

We had an interesting experience last Sunday afternoon and again Monday night.  The Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) committee was meeting in Pittsboro.  RAFT is a collaboration between Slow Food, American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Chefs Collaborative, Seed Savers Exchange and a few other groups.  The aim is to identify food plant varieties and breeds of animals that are indigenous to the US and in danger of being lost from lack of use in culinary traditions.  Once identified they can then be promoted and hopefully saved.  This is how the heritage turkeys where brought back from the edge of disappearing.  Sunday we participated in a blind tasting of four breeds of chickens.  The principle purpose of the exercise was to develop a tasting protocol that can be used for most poultry and then easily modified for other animals as well.  Once developed then good descriptors of the various breeds can be arrived at so when chefs and consumers want to know the qualities of a breed they can be given a fairly detailed description.  After carefully describing, both numerically and verbally, and tasting the white meat, dark meat and the skin of four different chickens and then the next night having a wonderful full meal prepared with the favored breed, Betsy and I are off chicken for a while!

Picture of the Week
Squinting lettuces next to the new warm home for tomatoes
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