What do you do when you are charting new territory growing lavender in the midwest? Two words…Lavender Conference! Meet Wynne Wright, an Associate Professor & Extension Specialist at MSU and Colleen Matts, an up’n coming chef and organic farm to kitchen guru. These amazing ladies are innovators in the world of lavender. In addition to the extremely valuable networking connections made (shout out to you–my Hawaiian friend Amy), highlights of the conference included a visit and tour of the Allen Market Place in Lansing and a very tasty lavender lunch catered by Colleen Matts. On the menu…a vibrant farm fresh salad with butternut squash and lavender pecans, a peppered lavender beef tenderloin sandwich, and for dessert, chocolate lavender cupcakes and lavender profiteroles. I like lavender…but I never knew it could TASTE SO GOOD!
Lavender Vanilla Sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
1 TBS dried culinary lavender buds
In a spice grinder, pulse the lavender with 1 TBS of the sugar until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the remaining sugar. Transfer to a jar, cover tightly and let stand for at least 3 days before using.
Pull out those seed catalogs because spring is right around the corner. This year, new to the farm we will be adding three ‘Contender’ peach trees–hardy to zone 4! Can peaches grow in Wisconsin? Can’t wait to find out. Fresh peaches, peach pie, peach cobbler and ice cream… yummy! How about peach lavender, could be good!!
After being cooped up for the last couple of months, Betty and her sister hens Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty, Betty, and Betty were free at last!
They’ve been laying anywhere between seven to ten eggs a day. That’s a lot of eggs in a week. Speaking of eggs, ever tried duck eggs? We were given a dozen fresh duck eggs from another friendly ‘farmer type’ and got to meet Rosco the raccoon; the fattest raccoon you ever did see! He was eating, ever so politely, chocolate m&m’s from the kids’ hands. Very cute, I wish my phone hadn’t run out of battery!
With the temps in the 50’s, it was the perfect day to check on the hives, clean out the bottom boards covered with layers of dead bees, and add some emergency winter feed. (Winter is sure to last at least another month!
“Suit up! Where’s the smoker?” (Smoke helps to calm the bees, or scares the bees into thinking there is a fire.) Our window of opportunity was small, so it was off to the hives without the smoker. BIG MISTAKE.
The warre’ hive check up was quick. The bees were hardly disturbed in the process. The bee patties we put on the warre’ were completely gone–yikes. Two more frames of honey, which were taken from a hive we lost in the fall, were added. Hopefully that will take care of them till the first spring blooms appear.
The langstroth hive, on the other hand, was full of bees and honey. Taking off the bottom board was a chore. One medium box full of honey and two boxes of bees–HEAVY. As soon as we opened up the hive they were all over us. Several climbed up AJ’s pant legs and began their attack. Thank goodness for lavender oil!
It has been said that winter in Wisconsin doesn’t really end until early April. That may be true. Weeks of cold grey sky and muddy sheets of snow slush gives new meaning to the doldrums of Wisconsin. There comes a point in time when I think everyone has had enough of winter.
But not today on the farm. With the arrival of 172 baby lavender plants, spring is literally just around the corner. This year’s new additions will include Violet Intrigue, Peter Pan, Melissa, and Sharon Roberts. All lavendula angustafolia. Winter’s not so bad when you have fresh lavender in your kitchen–smells delightful!