Wood frog larvae and a snapping turtle contemplate the dawning of spring...
Wood frogs range from Georgia to Alaska, seeking high-quality environments in which to breed. This picture was taken in our wetlands several weeks ago. Hundreds of thousands of eggs have been laid, and a great, big, old predator - "Bucko", stands lurking in shallows, on the hunt for adult frogs.
A remarkable characteristic of wood frogs is their capacity to withstand below-freezing temperatures. They hibernate by burrowing in shallow recesses in the ground, and survive cold weather because of "cryoproctectants" in the cells of their body. This is an anti-freeze, as we would recognize, that nature has adapted for this fabulous little amphibian, enabling it to survive temperatures down to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. The whole body of the frog turns to ice, at these temperatures, but vital internal organs are protected by a sugary substance - the cryoprotectant. The heart stops beating entirely below 32 degrees, but the miracle is, when above-freezing temperatures return, the heart and brain resume activity, like a dead battery being jump-started, in perfect step with warming conditions. The Wood Frog then moves on to vigorous breeding and laying copious amounts of eggs, even with a few extra for Bucko... How interesting; what amazing resilience this creature demonstrates.
Pictured below is the Marbled Salamander, also a resident of our wetlands. Marbled Salamanders are very rare, as they call for an especially pristine environment in which to thrive. We are gratified our wetlands meets their discerning approval.
Amphibians are ecological canaries-in-the-coal-mine. When they disappear or show mutations on the body, the environment is proving toxic to them and, odds are, to the rest of the local eco-system.
The relevance of amphibians thriving in the same environment as food produced for your consumption is you know the environment is clean. It is not struggling with air or water pollution, as can be the case in urban and suburban locations. Plenty of rural locations are polluted by management, but ours is not.
We work hard to maintain the highest standards of ecological health for our farm. We are not subject to air pollution; our pastures are certified organic; fertility of pastures is rising rapidly; and amphibians are thriving in our wetlands. This is the context of the grass-based foods you purchase from us. When you do so, you are not only validating our work but you are intentionally casting a vote for clean eco-systems. It may seem obvious, but without clean eco-systems, truly clean water and truly clean food can not be produced.
Customers through the Hyde Park Farmers Market are helping to keep a landscape clean in a corner of Pike County, which speaks to the power of the marketplace. Thank you for being intentional. Thank you for your support.
I thought you might be interested in the picture below of hogs dining last week, while flood-waters encircled their island. We have been wanting to move them to their next woodlot, but alternating conditions of flooding and freezing have kept them happily marooned where they are. Next week they will migrate.
As Saint Patrick's Day returns to the line-up of reasons to celebrate, we all become Irish. Susan has Kellys and Moriarities in her bloodstream, so her culinary hand is always inspired on this day of celebration. Inspiration delivered to us last evening: beef brisket and "colcannon". Most of us have never heard of colcannon, but it is apparently a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes mixed with shredded cabbage and some cream. As odd as that sounds, it is delicious, giving the mashed potatoes a lively accent. Check out the brisket below, cooked for 14 hours at 200 degrees. It was meltingly tender. And the fat, generated entirely from grass, was silken and sweet. Truly like fish-fat. For those of us who love grassfed fat, brisket fat is the best of all.
We will see you at Clark Montessori this Sunday. Easter is a month away; if you are interested in extra lamb for the occasion, let us know, so we may be prepared. We will not be at Findlay this weekend. We have scheduled a drop-off at Milford for April 5, so please submit on-line orders for that delivery by Monday the 3rd.
We may each be as discerning as the Marbled Salamander and as resilient as the Wood Frog!
Drausin & Susan