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Monthly Archives: February 2015

Market Day

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You can’t beat my writing spot today. Sitting in the pallet swing, suspended by a giant Saman tree with a view of my tiny house, a solar-powered pond pump gently burbling to my left, surrounded by herb-garden circles and mounds that I’ve been gradually creating. It’s a breezy afternoon with clouds scudding across the intensely blue sky, a few drops of rain entice me to plant seeds, and they cool Edwin where he lays sunning his belly on the doorstep. The hens cluck occasionally, sleepy in the mid-day heat.

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Small, above-ground pond.

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Larger pond under construction.

With some regret I bring myself back from my ramblings of surround to what I am supposed to be sharing with you this day. It has been an exciting week, for we had our first roadside market stand, here in our little rainforest oasis. It was a resounding success, with a glorious array of breads, chutneys, preserves, sweets, snacks, greens, fresh eggs, and more, so we’ll be making a weekly “thing” of it. Come by and see for yourself, next Wednesday form 2:30pm until dusk. If you’re not familiar with our location, simply follow Mahogany Road up from F’sted beach for 1.3 miles, and you’ll see us on the left-hand side a little past the Lawaetz Museum sign.

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The eldest hen checking out their new nesting box (an old re-purposed pet carrier).

Eggs are now available by the half dozen or dozen, as supply allows. Our happy hens are almost all laying by now, and soon I’ll be putting my oldest hen to play mother and hopefully hatch out a new batch of chicks – if you’re on St Croix and wishing to start your own flock of layers, let me know – they are fun and useful animals, if you have the time and resources to care for them.

This Wednesday’s special from the oven will be wood-fired cinnamon rolls, available for pre-order, a tray of 6 rolls for $10. We’ll also have some available at the farm table for individual purchase. Our Flambeéd Banana Preserves are going fast! On vanilla icecream, crepes, a spoon, or a gourmet PBJ sandwich, you just can’t go wrong with the amazing flavour of bananas, spices, citrus, and rum. Stop by our Wednesday market for a jar, or get some from Cruzan Gardens Tue-Sat at the FarmStore.

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Mandy finally returned from her latest trip to Haiti, and is already preparing for her next trip there, a voyage by sea less than a month from now. There’s rarely a dull moment around here, due to our crazy habits of doing a million things at once…like the coffee morning that we’ve just scheduled for Sunday, March 15th! We’ll be serving freshly baked cinnamon rolls and hot coffee from 10am-noon for a modest donation of $10, directly profiting Good Samaritan of Haiti Foundation inc. We promise it’ll help with your St Patrick’s Day hangover! We’ll also have a table of Haitian crafts for sale, Mandy’s ceramics, and Nidulari products. Please, please come, and invite your friends to join you at this relaxed morning event. GSH does very important work in several rural communities in Haiti, running two schools, scholarships, a micro-credit program, and so much more. These programs are run incredibly efficiently on an extremely small budget, so every little bit helps!

There were supposed to be a lot more photos this week, however, they don’t want to upload today. Keep an eye on our Facebook page “Nidulari” to see the extra photos throughout the week! We hope that you’ll come by and see the farmstand this week, but if you can’t make it out, don’t forget that you may place your orders for pickup at Cruzan Gardens, or you may go to Prime Produce online to place an order for pick up in C’sted. Cheers!

Basket Case

The annual St Croix Ag Fair happened this past weekend. I hadn’t been in 7, maybe 8 years – since well before the closing of Hovensa (the island’s oil refinery) and the consequent economic decline. I knew not to expect too much, for times are hard and there is little money for people to throw around…for those few who remain on St Croix, that is. So, you’d think…with the economy at such a low, blah blah blah, that people would be doing more for themselves, growing more, perhaps even making some simple craft items on the side, something? Apparently not. The produce section was much the same as ever, perhaps no less, but certainly no more. The rest…was simply awful. As an artist and “crafter” myself, I always look out for local baskets, woodwork, leatherwork, pottery, sewing, carving, etc…this time to little avail. Not one handmade basket (from St Croix) was to be seen. Not one simple ornament or knick-knack made from local natural fiber, coconut, seeds, etc. There was one, only one, booth with calabash pieces – toys, bowls, jewelry, etc – by Veronica Gordon, who has been doing the same items for many many years. All these drinking nuts (green coconuts) for sale, yet did I see one single palm frond hat, basket, star or fish? For shame, people, for shame. The booths upon booths of plastic junk? Shame! The endless rows of fried chicken and Johnny Cakes, when there’s an abundance of fresh produce available? Shame, again! Not to be negative, but we can do better than this, we are better than this!

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Focaccia headed to the oven.

On the note of betterment, next Wednesday we’ll be kicking off our very own produce table, and the West location of VI Prime Produce! We’ll be located right on Mahogany Road, just before the old stone house on the left-hand side, and will be open from 4-7pm. You’ll be able to order fresh produce from Ra’s Sunrise Daughter Stand and Toni Downs (among others) through the website, plus our own baked and canned goodies. We’ll have extras of all the baked goods on the table, and a free palm frond fish with your purchase! Our special of the week will be Artisan Focaccia with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh rosemary, for $10.

Meanwhile, in the land of Nid…

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Tortoise eggs as I found them: barely covered in a shallow hole (tortoise legs aren’t very long!). From our breeding group of adult Red Footed Tortoises.

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Relocating the tortoise eggs into a safe container, for protection from mongoose, birds, and other predators.

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Fitting a graft on an avocado sapling.

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Finishing touches on the foundation wall.

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To you, this is probably just a yummy egg sandwich. To me, it’s a culmination of 11 months of hard work with no end in sight…my first “meal” cooked in the Nid. Fresh homestead eggs!

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Edwin stopping to smell the flowers on Valentine’s Day. He’s clearly in love.

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Excavation manager.

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Herb circle, front, and heavily seeded veggie and amaranth circle, behind. These have been dug with homemade compost and wood ash from the oven.

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Fresh eggs in a quick palm frond basket.

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Pond excavation behind the garden circles. Starting to get the feel of my vision for the front yard area.

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Another *basic* fruit basket. Why is no one making anything like this? We should not have to be importing baskets made in China to hold our local produce!

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Fresh lemon curd, made from our own sour oranges and eggs! There’s still one jar from this batch that hasn’t been spoken for, act fast! – in yet another quick basket.

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Painting the doors, at last!

We just dropped some new products over at Cruzan Gardens, so go on over for some Sweet Citrus Bites or a jar of Flabeéd Banana Preserves (made with our homestead bananas and citrus, with a glug of Cruzan Rum). They still also have our Marmalade, Toasties, Chutneys, and more! The hens are starting to lay consistently, so we’re beginning to sell beautiful blue eggs by the half dozen to a few very special people…better get your name on the list!

That’s all…cheers!

Fresh Focaccia!

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I’m once again falling behind on writing blog posts – sorry everyone! The Chikungunya makes it painful to type, and my to-do list keeps on getting away from me…

Some major advances this week have been getting the Nid kitchen up and running, finishing the carving on the doors, and learning to graft trees! Not too shoddy, huh? I’ve yet to cook my first meal in my kitchen, but soon come. It will need to be something special, of course! I’m halfway through staining the doors before varnishing them and installing them – it’ll be pretty awesome to have solid doors after many moons of just curtains and many night-time visitors (of the crawling and squeaking varieties).

We have a new baking assistant: his job is to wake me up in time to light the oven…just he does so Every morning, not only on Wednesdays. Yes, my pretty, brightly coloured, arrogant “pullet” is most certainly a rooster, and announces the fact several times each day. Until he becomes too annoying I’ll keep him around so as to hopefully put some fertile eggs under one of my older girls who’s been off the lay for a while but might work out as a brood hen. No more day-old chicks in the mail if I can possibly avoid it.

Speaking of baking, tomorrow morning we’ll be open for orders! Our special this week is a Focaccia with olive oil, fresh rosemary and sea salt, for $10. Please place your orders by 6pm on Tuesday, and be sure to tell all your friends about the only traditional wood-fired sourdough bread on the island!

Over at Cruzan Gardens this week I learned how to graft avocado trees: I'll also be grafting at home to expand our orchards, not only avocados, but also mango and citrus.

Over at Cruzan Gardens this week I learned how to graft avocado trees: I’ll also be grafting at home to expand our orchards, not only avocados, but also mango and citrus.

Mandy helping me assemble the doors.

Mandy helping me assemble the doors.

Adding the last plank.

Adding the last plank.

Ready to carve, filler, and sand!

Ready to carve, filler, and sand!

Test panel for carving with the plunge router.

Test panel for carving with the plunge router.

First part of the tree.

First part of the tree.

More tree!

More tree!

...and a bird!

…and a bird!

The Shell Ginger is blooming again, so pretty.

The Shell Ginger is blooming again, so pretty.

Cookie cuteness!

Cookie cuteness!

Extreme excitement! What's it all about? Chocolate of course - well, cacao pods, our very first! This cacao bush has been in the ground for about 2 years, and is finally starting to bear.

Extreme excitement! What’s it all about? Chocolate of course – well, cacao pods, our very first! This cacao bush has been in the ground for about 2 years, and is finally starting to bear.

Undercoat on the loft floor of the Nid - all finished now with a teal top coat to brighten everything up.

Undercoat on the loft floor of the Nid – all finished now with a teal top coat to brighten everything up.

The bread hath risen! Sourdough bread with chutney and a mug of lemonbalm tea, anyone?

The bread hath risen! Sourdough bread with chutney and a mug of lemonbalm tea, anyone?

We look forward to seeing you on baking day, and as always appreciate the comments and questions that you post! Til then, cheers!