Bird Watching: Week #4

One benefit to spending so much time out in my fields is that I have gotten to know the birds on the farm pretty well. The characters range from the anxious kildeer, with their high pitched piping call, to the majestic red tailed hawk, who lives in the tree line on the north side of the farm.

The kildeer have an unfortunate habit of making nests in my fields. When we come through the rows weeding they run around frantic, acting as if they have a broken wing, in hopes that we (hungry predators) will follow them and leave their nests alone. I find this cute the first few times it happens. As the season progresses I can’t help but roll my eyes at them. Will they never learn?

This week we had an interesting encounter with the resident red tailed hawk. A line of utility poles runs along the western border of the farm. At a couple points they are quite close to my fields. Yesterday, as we were working in one of these fields we kept hearing a raspy, annoyed call from nearby. We looked up at the utility pole and saw the hawk with four redwing blackbirds flitting around it. Occasionally, one blackbird would dive at the hawk. We were fascinated. We’ve seen these cheeky blackbirds bothering the hawk before, mostly while it was flying. This was much more up close and personal. Eventually, the blackbirds gave up and went away. Now that the hawk was left in peace. It started pecking at it’s talons (the feet). Confused for the moment, we watched the hawk repeat this motion. Finally, it dawned on us. The hawk had a meal of something in its talons! We couldn’t figure out if the blackbirds were bothering the hawk because they wanted a share in the meal or if some blackbird met an untimely end. Either way I was fascinated.

Enjoy the box this week!

What’s in the Box:

Sugar Snap Peas– another round of these sweet treats! Don’t bother shelling the peas, you can eat the whole thing!

Zucchini and Summer Squash– this week is just the beginning of the prolific zucchini and summer squash. We’ll start with just a pound in this box. Perhaps next week we’ll be swimming in them!

Chard-this leafy green is very similar to spinach. In fact you can substitute chard for spinach in your favorite recipes. The stems are edible too. Chop them up and throw them into the pan a few minutes before you add the leaves.

Hakurei Turnips– these white turnips are unlike any other you’ve had before. They have a wonderful nutty flavor and can be enjoyed raw, like a radish, or cooked in stir-fry, or braised in chicken broth. Throw them in a salad for a nutty crunch!

Fennel-This is the white bulb with the feathery fronds on top. It has a wonderful anise flavor and can be eaten raw in salads or cooked. Use the fronds like dill to brighten any dish. By the way, fennel is great in a quiche with chard!

Lettuce– two heads of lettuce are in your box this week. Best kept in the fridge in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.

Scallions– These are getting so big that they almost don’t fit in the box any more!

Cilantro– a fresh herb that livens up any dish. Keep in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Recipes:

Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro– from epicurious.com

Chicken with Italian Fennel– from myrecipes.com

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese– from allrecipes.com

Sesame Parmesan Zucchini– from allrecipes.com (you can use summer squash too!)

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