March Madness!

Does this look like March in Michigan to you?

No, it’s not hoops and the tourney, but some of the oddest weather we’ve ever seen.  We just finished up with an extremely mild winter.  We only had three significant snow falls, which were literally gone 3-4 days later.  The entire season was back and forth, up and down.  But now, what do you say to temperatures over 35 degrees above normal?  We have set record after record already for this time of year.  If I thought I was disoriented during the winter, I’m totally confused having late May in mid March!

Our family in California is having colder than normal temps, while we are in shorts and sleeveless shirts!  Although there are still some hold-outs claiming that climate change is bad science and a conspiracy, I for one am quite convinced of its truth.  The question is what do we make of all this weather stuff anyway?  As a farmer, if the weather can’t teach you flexibility, nothing will.  So here we are getting a jump on our season, by tilling six weeks ahead of schedule.  What the heck, just take each day as it comes, stay flexible and get going!

Towanda and I getting ready to till one of our fields.

Towanda and me getting ready to till one of our fields.

Beautiful soil, ready for planting.

For those of you who have followed our adventures in farming, you know that our garlic crop has been a lesson in itself!  We have had success and failure due to weather extremes and growing in clay.  We have lost thousands of dollars in seed stock, yet stay committed to a crop that gives us such joy we refuse to give up on it.  After three consecutive years of frustration, Val decided to get completely out of the box.  When traditional methods fail, its time to rely on your own knowledge of your land, its cycles and its personality.  We have purchased seed stock for many years.  Last year, we had some seed stock that did not look viable and I was heading for the compost pile.  Just before I was ready to chuck it, Val told Zac and I we were going to plant it.  We couldn’t believe it!  Quick frankly, it looked like crap, not to mention it was the wrong time of the year.  Yet plant it we did….when will I learn?  By fall, we had some of the highest quality single bulb seed stock we had ever seen! We were clearly on to something!  Seed stock adapted to our land and climate could be the ticket to success.  Time will tell.  It takes two years for this method to come to fruition.  If it works, we will no longer need to purchase garlic stock, which could save us thousands of dollars annually.

Seed stock

So since it’s May in March, we have opened up the screened-in porch and have already enjoyed gin and tonics, along with a rousing game of Mexican Train dominoes.  Today after tilling we decided to retrieve some fresh-frozen cannellini beans from our freezer and make a warm bean and herb salad.  The hoop-house herbs are looking great, particularly because of our mild winter.  It’s one of the many ways to use fresh beans, and pairs well with anything on the grill.

cup

Fresh herbs from the hoop-house.

Warm Bean Salad With Olives and Herbs

  • 3 cups drained cooked white beans, such as cannellini, navy or flageolets; (reserving 1/3 cup of cooking liquid)
  • 2 Tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 3-4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Yummy ingredients


  1. Place beans in a medium nonstick skillet and set aside.
  2. To make the dressing, in a small skillet, combine the olive oil and garlic over low heat, and cook until garlic is soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium and add the rosemary and thyme.  Cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Do not let garlic brown.
  4. Add the bean cooking liquid and olives, increase heat to high and boil for 30 seconds.
  5. Scatter the parsley and basil over the beans and pour the dressing over the beans, tossing to coat.  Heat until beans are warm and most of the dressing has been absorb by the beans.  Serve warm.
Serves 4

Wonderful, warm and satisfying!

“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ”   ~Mark Twain

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