Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Determined Momma

I reckon I owe the birds around here some sort of apology, because in all honesty I suppose that I am to blame for the current shortage of bird housing here on the farm.  There are numerous boxes placed strategically around the farm in order to attract the bluebirds who are voracious insect eaters.  However, the sparrows and wrens fill the boxes with stuff in hopes of attracting a mate and leave the mess behind when they move on later in the season.  The boxes should be cleaned out annually, but often the birdhouse cleaning often gets overlooked for far more pressing chores.

This fact did not deter the bluebirds.  They have been a fixture here on the hill for a long time.  A flash of blue, and then Mister is gone.  A sighting of the pair, and then they are gone.  Occasionally we will hear them singing to one another.  Since the bluebirds do eat so many bugs, we are very glad to have them around the farm.  I don’t think we had ever really observed them closely. With the birdhouses already occupied, it seemed unlikely that they would nest.  But, I did see them repeatedly carrying hay and grass while flying. 

Then we noticed the nest in a most unusual place.

Out here, we burn some of our trash rather than take it to the dump. While we do a fair amount of recycling, there is always some stuff that ends up in the burn pit.  Since it’s hard to remember to take a lighter or matches, and a real hassle to have to walk back to the house…the Boss built a handy little lighter cubby on the post by the pit.

Apparently, Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird thought this looked like a handy little nesting spot. So, back behind the lighters, they built their little home.  It didn’t seem ideal to me, but apparently I know nothing about bird nesting sites! The first egg didn’t quite make it to the nest and ended up smashed on the ground.  I figured they would give up after that, but they were quite determined to nest in that cubby.  Every time we went through the garden gate, Mrs. Bluebird flew out at us. Occasionally, Mr. Bluebird flew out as well.  They would both shriek wildly until we finally got out of range.  We were trying to remember to walk through another gate, but old habits die hard and old minds….well…

They seemed determined to nest in the cubby, despite traffic by their nest, despite the chickens clucking nearby, despite our occasional use of the lighter.  They would vacate when we were in the vicinity and then fly right back.

They even withstood a feline invasion.

I suppose Booooyyy was bored one morning.  He 
was sitting on the post, waiting for me to get back from chores out back.  He is the epitome of spoiled laziness which is an unusual characteristic in a barn cat! Sometimes he sits and yowls until I reach him, then he catches a ride back to the barn to share the dogs’ breakfast.  While he was sitting there, yowling and waiting, he slowly turned and looked in the cubby.  I could almost see his little mind working.  He re-positioned himself and reached inside.  Then he stuck his face into the opening.  His “arm” was too short to reach back to the nest, his head too fat to fit in the hole.  Rats!  He couldn't reach the nest!  The bluebirds had overcome yet another hurdle.

Since the barnswallows have taken up dive-bombing all the cats in order to protect their own nest in the barn rafters, Booooyyy has apparently decided bird-watching is well…for the birds.  His lazy nature would rather wait for the dog food. He has not shown any interest in the bluebirds of late.

Yesterday, the Boss noticed that there were some babies in the nest by the fire pit.  He beckoned me to look inside. Sure enough, there were a number of little beaks that would bob up wildly if you stood by the nest and made some noise.

This morning, I was able to get a fairly good shot of them.  While they’re presently little faces that “only a mother could love”, soon they will be flying with their parents…eating bugs in the garden.

I’m glad Mrs. Bluebird was so determined to have her little nest by the burn pit. I’ve read that bluebirds can have several broods in one season.  I sure hope so!  We truly welcome the assistance in pest control.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Factory Farm???

“I need to ask a question.”  The customer eyed me warily…intently.


“I need to know about your growing practices….is this from a factory farm?”

“Uh..bwah..uh…” my brain seized up, the snappy comeback didn’t happen.  The conversation teetered on the brink of disaster. So much for that first impression of an articulate farmer!

Her friend jumped into the conversation with, “oh, I can vouch for them…known them for years…nothing like factory farms in M’brook!”

“But,” she said, “I am from the big city…I have to ask these questions!”  By then, my brain had begun its usual function, and we were able to have a pleasant, informative conversation.  But, it got me thinking…FACTORY FARM???  I didn’t, and don’t, have the slightest idea what is really meant by that term.

Living in the Valley, once the breadbasket of the Confederacy, we are surrounded by lush and beautiful farms.  There are days when the view of my surroundings is so achingly beautiful that I wish I could just hug it all to my heart.  The rippling grain and hay fields, the hearty, healthy animals under the gorgeous blue sky defy description.  There can be no feeling finer to a farmer than looking over his fields, surveying the health and abundance that is a direct result of his own hard work. I share this feeling with many of my fellow farmers.

The mental image created by the term “factory farm” is one of a harsh, forced, polluting industrial model…even the word sounds ugly.  I have seen the movies, heard the rhetoric, and read the articles.  The “factory farm” is supposedly out there, somewhere….lurking in the shadows, threatening the health of the world.  I have yet to experience this as a reality, despite the fact that we know farmers of all sorts of operations, some of whom are responsible for very large numbers of animals. I might add that the folks we know represent a great number of different farming practices.

Animals are monitored for health
medicated when necessary
There is a lot of misinformation out there.  Much of it is promoted by those in opposition to certain practices.  Because the public has lost its personal contact with the farm, farmers (in particular large conventional farms) are often demonized unnecessarily. It is said that most grown-ups are now three generations from the farm, that fact would explain the acceptance of many of the misconceptions that surface repeatedly.

one of my favorite views

When I was a little girl, farmers were well-respected members of the community.  They were known for their honesty and integrity, where their word was as good at their bond, and a handshake sealed many a deal. They were the folks that we all looked to in order to keep the rest of us clothed and fed.  They were the ones who understood weather and agronomy when many others did not. That is no longer the case.  …and unfortunately that is not because everyone understands agronomy…far from it.

There is now an adversarial tone between the factions of urbanity and agriculture.  This is so sad. Some folks have the unfortunate picture of farmers as being unkind and unconcerned about the animals in their care.  The mental picture of a farmer keeping the animals locked in the dark, pouring on antibiotics and chemicals and while making more and more money is ludicrous.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Most farmers are highly skilled and well-trained professionals deeply concerned with those in their care and who have a network of nutritionists and veterinarians and others with whom to consult if need be. Farming practices are under constant scrutiny and modification to meet the needs of the animals and other crops in a manner that is both healthy and economical.

When investigating the subject on-line, the treatment of animals, confinement, pharmaceuticals, and veterinarian practices came under scrutiny time and time again.  These were presented as wrong and possibly evil.  The simple fact that there is a positive side to each of these topics was overlooked.
hens in nestboxes
while they are able to go outside, instinctively they
go to a quiet, dark place to lay their eggs

Confinement, medications and veterinary practices are used in some way on every single farm. To make all these practices sound evil is just plain wrong. In order to care for animals, some control must be maintained by the farmer.

Confinement can be as simple as fencing, or as complex as indoor housing.  All can be used in a humane manner for the health and well-being of the animals. Animals need shelter and protection.  Medications are not some horrible type of science experiment with dire side-effects.  In many cases, a simple administration of a medication will save the animal’s life and protect the investment and livelihood of the farmer….perhaps even the farmer’s life. To withhold this would indeed be abusive. Some veterinary practices sound mean and/or possibly abusive unless one has some knowledge of the farming situation.  Farmers would be foolish to mis-treat or abuse the very things that assure the viability of the farm, be it animals or crops…or the land itself.

Lambs in creep feeder
completely free to graze, they cram in for goodies
So, in short…NOPE…we’re not a “factory farm”.  It is just a farm…the land, the weather, the crops and critters…and a couple of folks willing to work hard to make all the factors come together in some sort of agricultural choreography.
Actually, that’s the basic tenet of a farm of ANY type. We will be glad to tell you about our practices, as will any other farmers, if you want to take the time to listen.

I was glad to have the opportunity to talk with the lady from “the big city”. (once I recovered my ability to think and speak coherently)  She was interested to hear of the practices here on the hill.  It seemed to make a big impression on her that our animals come along willingly when offered feed, that they seem to like us, and that we really like what we do.  I do hope that she was able to take a new understanding and appreciation of farms and farmers from our conversation.

I will re-iterate… I do NOT know of anyone with a “factory farm”. Honestly, I don't think there are any...anywhere. And, I will NOT demonize everyone who does things differently than we do here on the hill.  It seems to me that we should all try to understand the challenges and innovative solutions to the issues that face agriculture without calling names or casting aspersions. For goodness sake, there are 7 BILLION people in this world who need food, shelter and clothing!  It seems we should work together on the issues of agriculture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Woman VS. Wool

Shearing day is an annual event.  I’m never quite sure if we anticipate it or dread it.  I suppose it’s a little of both.  It’s an intense day that ends with “happy” sheep and the satisfaction of a completed task.

The sheep are shorn more for their health and comfort than anything else.  A sheep’s natural body temperature is 102*, so they do not feel the heat quite like humans, but still suffer on the hottest days of summer.  Imagine carrying a 2 to 5 pound woolen blanket on your back. A hot sheep is a miserable sheep, a miserable sheep will not eat, and if a sheep doesn’t eat….well, you get the picture. A close clip also keeps them from getting ticks and mites down in their wool where the pests can cause all sorts of health issues. It can also prevent flystrike, a horrible ailment of which I will spare you the gross and gory details.

For those who see sheep as soft, cuddly, woolly pets, I am here to correct that notion. These are large animals, most weighing in at two hundred pounds or more.  As prey animals, they are nervous to have their legs touched and care must be taken not to injure the animal OR the shearer.  Occasionally, when thesheep are laid on their backs, those sharp hooves start flailing about wildly. Since our sheep are in contact with humans on a daily basis, they are mostly manageable, although we do have the occasional freaky one. Thankfully, this year the event passed without major incident and with very little cussing.

Blondie has done the shearing around here every spring for a long time.  Here is the rather lighthearted entry from last year.  This year, she requested that I approach the subject a little differently.  It needs to be noted that this is a hot, hard, intense day on the part of the shearer.

Shearing is an intense combination of muscle, skill and attention.  In New Zealand and Australia, it has evolved into a competitive sport.  There are shearers that can do hundreds of animals per day. With sheep far outnumbering the human population, it is big business “down under”.  A team of 9 holds the world record at over 3 THOUSAND sheep in one 9 hour day. Now, that’s some serious shearing!

1st sheep done!  Off to a good start
Here in the states, the approach is quite different. Sheep are not raised in the numbers in the Northern Hemisphere that they are in the Southern.  Shepherding is not “big business”, particularly here in the east. Still, there are professional shearers that have specialized equipment and will travel from farm to farm.  It is bad-breaking work, and the pay is not at all commensurate with the effort involved, but it is necessary and traditional and hopefully there will always be folks that will shear. The specialized equipment used in large operations makes the work must more efficient, but it is still very hard work. It takes a special sort of person to be a shearer.

There are some special interest groups in the world that would have the uninitiated think that the sheep are being abused and mistreated during this whole shearing process.  That simply is not true.  The animals truly benefit from the haircut. Any rough handling is quickly forgotten as the animals head out to green pastures once again.

For our small operation, it works best to do the work ourselves. (okay, get Blondie to do it) This way, we can control the schedule and pace of the work. I act as assistant, helping handle the animals, keeping track of the clipper cord, and trimming hooves. It makes sense to trim the hooves on shearing day, as we are already handling the animals.  Hooves need trimming to keep the animals’ feet healthy. If allowed to grow too long, the hooves cause painful feet which can lead to lameness. A lame sheep is a most pathetic sight and generally does not respond well to treatment.  Better to prevent the problem in the first place.

The sheep are brought in the night before to keep the wool dry.  This is because wet wool doesn’t cut well.  Because the sheep have been locked in the barn overnight, they are generally fairly grumpy.  It helps to get the job over with as quickly as possible.The shearing operation starts early the next morning, with the intention of being done by lunchtime.  While we didn’t quite make the schedule this year, the job got done without incident. We celebrated with ice cream on the front porch.

The shearing process is supposed to be like a dance.  There is a sequence for the “blows” (the passes taken with the clippers), certain places that feet and hands should be (for safety and efficiency) and prescribed positions for the sheep.  The idea is to peel the wool away in one cohesive piece with speed and precision.
The wool should "peel" off

The sheep are not supposed to escape...
particularly when they're not DONE!

This dance must be performed while holding a two-hundred pound animal against your legs and controlling the whirring clipper, while enduring warm (if not hot) temperatures. During this time, the animal must be monitored for distress and discomfort, anticipating her reactions in order to avoid injury.  Most of the time this whole thing can be completed without incident.  In the event of a knick to the sheep, medication is applied, and the dance continues. Occasionally, if concentration is lost, or the sheep truly wigs out, she will escape, dragging the wool behind.  Once I stop laughing, she is recaptured, and it’s back to work.  Figure out the misstep and continue the dance.  What a workout!

Sitting on a sheep is NOT part of the "dance"!

Almost done...look at ALL that wool!

If the wool is being sent for processing, or to the wool pool, it must be skirted (cleaned of debris and daggy bits of wool) and put aside for processing.  I keep meaning to check into the wool pool, but as you can see…we will just discard this year’s wool.

The wool is nowhere near ready to use for spinning, weaving or any other project at this point. It is full of lanolin, bits of dirt and vegetative matter, and smells distinctly like a sheep.  Those daggy bits I mentioned…that’s a nicer way to refer to the excrement that causes the wool to clump together at the sheep’s back end.  In the areas where the animal is naturally warmer (the leg joints) the lanolin melts together and forms clumps as well. In some ways it’s hard to believe that this mess could turn into yarn.  One of these days, I will detail the girls’ venture into the world of fiber processing.  Suffice it to say, they learned to process wool “from sheep to shawl” as it were. Those were the days…

The last one! 

As for us, another year’s shearing is behind us.

 Well…not so fast.  The ram still needs shearing.  With yesterday’s heat (it was approaching 90*), his size (probably 300 lbs) AND the necessity of keeping him apart from the ewes, we decided to wait.  The Boss and I will get him next week…and yes, that will be a story in and of itself!

The ewes were turned out to pasture as soon as they were all shorn.  After a night of fasting, they mowed the paddock quite well.  Then, they moved back out to one of their grazing spots on the hill where they will continue their rotational grazing until breeding time arrives in August. 

Such a beautiful sight!  

Thanks Amanda!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A True Renaissance Man

Bing in his dancing days

Today would have been my Granddaddy’s birthday.  He was an amazingly awesome man. It was his greatest desire in life to be famous.

The month of May always makes me think of him.  He loved all the various shades of green and all the flowers that are a part of the landscape this time of year.

 He was born the second son of a tobacco farmer/antique dealer on May 27 in the early years of the twentieth century.  He passed on in May of '93, just a week or so prior to his 88th birthday.  Despite the fact that it has been nearly twenty years since his passing, I find myself thinking of him often. He influenced my life in innumerable ways.

In many ways, my Granddaddy defied description.  He was a good ol' farm boy who had educated himself in an amazing number of subjects. He was a real "man's man" but loved and appreciated art and culture.  He was big and strong but yet sensitive to the babblings of a little girl. He was fascinated by science, the possibilities of nutritional supplements and healthy living, but often subsisted on Fig Newtons and Coca-Cola. He was unique.

He never really finished school.  Depending on when you heard the story, he only completed the sixth (…or was it third?) grade. That didn’t stop him from having one of the sharpest minds I have ever encountered.  He could figure out how anything was put together and recreate it (often from memory), he could draw with both hands…at the same time…completing a picture by joining it in the middle. He made wood carvings that looked life-like. He held an impressive number of patents for the odd and random thing.  His lifelong desire to be famous meant that at one point in his early days, he wanted to be a dancer.  A farming accident involving a stump-puller put an end to this dream and quite nearly his life.   As he recovered, he wandered the Wild West for a while, coming back east to settle near family. 
Bing and Pearle 1932

Bing and Pearle 1964
To Granddaddy, there was nothing finer than a trip into the countryside.  As a matter of fact, family legend has it that my grandparents’ courting days included an ancient Model T (or maybe a Model A), a bag of donuts, a dog in the rumble seat…and many, many miles through the countryside. The real story was lost through the passage of time.  My grandparents married on a visit to kin people in Edinburg, VA in the early 30’s. They were a most unlikely pair.  They were opposite in most every way.  His dashing good looks, gregarious nature and carefree spirit were tempered by her practical approach to life.  But, somehow, they made it work until my Grandmother's death in early 1990.

Granddaddy loved the countryside, despite the fact he and my grandmother lived in town, and he would sit on my parent’s back porch for hours as the shadows lengthened, listening to the sounds that go along with the rural landscape.  I remember sitting with him after dark and asking what he was listening to….”just listening” was always his answer. It was not unusual for him to get everyone to hop in the car and drive off into the wild blue yonder, often ending up in the most rural portion of another state just in time for supper.
Construction 1968 Warrenton, VA

The Fountain
He seemed to lack ambition, or any desire for the “finer things” of life.  He worked hard, but enjoyed sitting on his front porch in cut-off shorts and no shirt, sipping Coca-Cola out of a green glass bottle, and calling greetings to all the neighbors.  No one ever passed my grandparents’ house without a greeting and many came for cookies and a cool drink on a hot day to sit by his fountain and talk. He built the fountain and installed its circulation system and colored lights himself.  It was a work of art and the talk of the neighborhood.  Folks would come by just to see it.

My granddaddy was an inventor, a craftsman, a sculptor, an artisan, and more than a little eccentric. When it came to handcrafts, there was nothing he couldn’t do, and do extremely well.  When he was in his mid-seventies, he decided he wanted to become a sculptor and attended classes at the Corcoran Art Gallery.  Never one to do things half way, he soon gave up clay sculpturing for marble. His technique was amazing.  He was a favorite of the instructors and the artists.  His eclectic friend base made my summer visits to my grandparent’s home most interesting to say the least. 

Although never a religious man, he taught me more by his life’s example about the Golden Rule, compassion, love and concern than I ever learned in Sunday school. Whenever he heard of a need, he didn’t ask questions, he did something.  He did something right away.

1st great grandchild
He was there when the Boss and I got married.  He was there to see his first great-grandchild, and then her sister arrive in this world. We all enjoyed his visits and benefitted from his incredible generosity. Over the years, we have all talked about how very much he would love this life adventure of ours.  I can just imagine him down at the Market, laughing his huge laugh, calling everyone “Clem” and discussing the hot topics of the day.

He had a stroke when I was in high school, giving me my first inkling of the possibility of life without the “old folks”.  Despite the scare, he managed to out-live all my other grandparents.  After the stroke, he walked with a cane and thought it was hilarious to keep everyone in line by either hooking them (to slow them down) or poke them (to hurry them).  When his time finally came, I can honestly say that that day in the cemetery, hugging my sister-in-law as we grieved, was one of the saddest (if not THE saddest) days I can remember.

I never thought I shared much with my free-spirited, creative, intriguing Granddaddy…except for my red hair, love of the comics, an appreciation of a good (or bad) play on words and our very rural roots.  But, today, I realized that we were both the same age when we took an amazing, audacious leap of faith in our lives. 

Back when Granddaddy was 33 or 34, he borrowed some money from a friend to start a business.  Keep in mind, this was during the depression era.  At the time, my grandmother was keeping track of every nickel they spent. (LITERALLY) It was a bold and audacious step for a most unambitious seeming man. His upholstery business flourished over the years, providing a much needed service for many in the community and lifetime employment and friendship for his workers. His company did beautiful, durable work.  He took care of all his siblings, his own family, many of my grandmother’s family members, and even sometimes random strangers.  I take that back, he never met a stranger…he considered everyone he ever met some sort of friend. Suffice it to say, LOTS of folks were touched by his generosity and kind heart, not to mention his handiwork.

I was the same age when we took that huge leap of faith that landed us here on the hill. Sometimes I can’t believe we really left our old life behind and started all over again in a new place. It remains an amazing ride and  I can only hope that our adventure will allow us to touch other folks in so many positive ways.

Granddaddy may have never achieved his desired celebrity.  But, despite the fact he was never famous… he will never be forgotten. 

Bingham Fravel Burner 1905-1993

Friday, May 25, 2012

Scape Reality

Did you know that garlic spends more time in the ground than any other crop we grow?  (that’s NOT including the long-term crops like strawberries and asparagus) Garlic spends about eight to nine months in the garden before it is harvested.

In October, the Boss is out there on his hands and knees, tucking each individual clove into the ground for a long growing season.

2011-garlic planting
2009-garlic planting

    By November, we see the small plants peeking along the irrigation tape. 

By December, there is weeding to be done.  Seriously!  Weeding in December…or sometimes January.

Doesn’t really seem right that the weeds grow when nothing else does.
garlic crop in early March 2012

The garlic doesn’t change much over winter.  It just sits there, growing beneath the surface, waiting for the warmer, longer days when it suddenly bursts forth in all its verdant glory.  This year’s plants are astounding.

Early Spring means a little more weeding and some fertilization. 

Late Spring means MORE weeding.  See last week's entry.

For about three weeks in late Spring, the SCAPES come out on hardneck garlic. The scape is actually the flower bud of the garlic.  If left to its own devices, this would swell and burst forth into a wild “firework” looking flower and eventually create little seeds.  I have never heard of anyone having success with these seeds, so, NO…never tried that one.

In order to get BIG, beautiful garlic bulbs, the scapes need to be cut off at some point in their growth cycle.  This allows the garlic to put all its growing energy into the production of the bulb and NOT the seedstalk/flower. When the scape begins to curl around on itself like some strange, green serpent, it is time to snip it off.  If it is clipped off sooner, it will re-grow some, reducing the energy available to the bulb.

a bucket of scapes calls to mind my grandmother's
references to "Medusa of the snake-y locks"

Since they are clipped at a time of year when it seems wrong to waste ANY thing green…somewhere along the way, someone discovered that the scapes are good to eat.  Used raw, they’re slightly crunchy, slightly garlicky, and add some bright green color.  Cooked, they are softer, smoother and the taste is less sharp.  Either way, they are delicious.  Added to soup, salad, pasta, whatever…now I am making myself hungry!

We have been growing garlic and enjoying scapes for a long time. Years ago, we attempted to sell them to restaurants and at the Market with very little customer interest.  Check out this entry from last year.  In the past couple of years, all this has changed.  While we still have people who have never heard of SCAPES, we have customers who request them and look forward to them.  One customer refers to them as “garlic curls” and I think that’s kind of cute.

I decided to produce a handout of a few recipes for the Market this year.  Imagine my amazement when I did an internet search and found over 400 THOUSAND entries! WOW!  No wonder we have customers looking for them!  The secret is out. I’ve listed a few recipes at the end of this entry. Once the scapes are harvested, they do not re-form.  So, the window of opportunity for enjoyment is very short. They will only be at the Market for a couple more weeks.

However, I found that the scapes can be chopped and frozen and enjoyed in the winter as well.  While they are not as good as the fresh ones of early Spring, they make a delightful addition to Wintertime cooking.  We chop them in ¼ inch pieces and freeze in small bags and we offer them to our Winter Sales customers as well. One customer says they make an awesome addition to cornbread!

With the garlic scapes harvest, we can look forward to harvesting the garlic.  That will take place sometime next month. Can't wait!

Here is a copy of the recipe/idea sheet we have at the Market.  Hope it inspires someone to Scape Reality!


Homestead Hill Farm

Garlic Scapes
A scape is the center stalk of hardneck garlic that will eventually become a flower if left on the plant.  They are removed to allow all the growth and energy to go into bulb production.
A delicious addition to salads, soups, stews, stir-fry and even mashed potatoes!  Simply chop each stalk as you would a scallion. (skip using the little white section...that would be the flower, and it can be rather fibrous)
Garlic Scape Pesto
(recipe adapted from a combination of online sources)

1/2 cup garlic scapes, finely chopped
4 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 cups grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
salt to taste
Put garlic scapes and lemon juice in bowl of food processor with steel blade, and process until scapes are very finely chopped. With food processor running, add oil through the feed tube and process 2-3 minutes. Remove lid, add half of Parmesan cheese and process 2 minutes, then add the rest of cheese and salt, process for another 2 minutes.

Serve tossed with hot pasta. This would also be good on fish, as a topping for bread, or as a seasoning for cooked rice.

Recipe: Grilled Garlic Scapes
  • 4 garlic scapes, rinsed
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • coarse salt and pepper
Instructions: Toss the scapes in olive oil till lightly coated. Place on hot grill over high heat and sear several minutes, until soft and grill marks appear. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve along side your favorite grilled meat or fish. Enjoy!

Garlic Scape Carbonara
serves 4
This pasta is fantastic as a meal served with a big garden salad and some crusty bread. If desired, add a half-cup of fresh, lightly cooked peas to the mix for a little added nutrition (and sweetness).
1/2 lb campanella pasta, or shape of your choosing
4 slices bacon (about 3 1/4 ounces), chopped
1/4 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1/4 inch coins
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Set a pot of water to boiling on the stove and cook the campanella pasta (or desired shape).
While it’s cooking, cook the bacon over medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and add the garlic scapes. Cook until soft (2-3 minutes). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon. (Drain both the bacon and the garlic scapes on a paper towel).
Whisk together the eggs, salt and red pepper flakes.
When the pasta is done, quickly remove it from the stove and set a different burner to low heat. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot, on the burner set to low. Stir in the garlic scapes and bacon. Add the egg mixture and stir feverishly for 3-4 minutes until sauce is thick and creamy. Don’t let it overcook or it will be gloppy. Sprinkle the romano cheese in, a little at a time, and stir to combine. Don’t add it all at once or it won’t mix through out the pasta as well (since it will clump).
Serve immediately.

White Bean and Garlic Scapes DipSkip to next paragraph
1/3 cup sliced garlic scapes (3 to 4)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, more to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling.
1. In a food processor, process garlic scapes with lemon juice, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add cannellini beans and process to a rough purée.
2. With motor running, slowly drizzle olive oil through feed tube and process until fairly smooth. Pulse in 2 or 3 tablespoons water, or more, until mixture is the consistency of a dip. Add more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice, if desired.
3. Spread out dip on a plate, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with more salt.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups.