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Sweet April

I love living in a place with such varied and diverse weather throughout the year. There is nothing so enlivening as a warm day in April to thaw all thoughts of darkness which have accumulated through February. Likewise, those cool autumn mornings are such a blessing after the torpid heat of summer. The steady cycle of seasons here in the mountains is simply unimpeachable.

I think that working on the farm has given me a heightened appreciation for the spring season in particular. Despite the fact that this winter was relatively mild and we even experienced some balmy days in December and January, I am ecstatic that the warm weather is finally here. Jake and I decided that it is probably because, more than any previous year of our lives, we spent this winter outdoors, enduring the cold and wet. I don’t mean to complain. I know that many people suffer much more severe weather; shorter days, longer winters, and colder temperatures. My hat is off to anyone who works outdoors in Vermont or Montana or Canada or Russia. For them, spring must be almost unfathomably precious when it waltzes in, turning the barren earth green again.

For us at Hickory Nut Gap, spring means daylight after work! It means watching the apples and blueberries and blackberries emit tiny green buds from silvery twigs and branches. It means checking the asparagus patch for the shoots that sprout so quickly from the mulched ground. It means raising chickens again (and trying for all we’re worth to dissuade the hawks and owls and raccoons from taking their fill). It means working in t-shirts and shedding our long johns, sweaters, wool socks, insulated gloves, toboggans, scarves… It means happy pigs, finally out of the barn and into a paddock where they can root and grub and explore. It means new baby goats! It means swarms of bumblebees in the wild cherries and dogwoods. It means basketball after work. It means so much vim and vigor returning to our work and to our lives.

Maybe Jake and I were wrong. Maybe it’s not that we were so cold all winter that makes us appreciate the spring so much now. Instead it could be that we are, like everything else on the farm, ready for spring because it is time for spring. We can all feel that winter has held sway long enough and now we can press on, we can grow and reach out and find new energy in the world that is coming awake.

Happy as a Spring Chicken

That’s right, the weather is warming up and that means we’ll have fresh chicken soon. Starting April 24 you can come out to the farmstore or visit us at our farmers market venues and buy fresh, never frozen chicken. We raise our poultry out in the pasture so they have plenty of space to knock about in the dirt and enjoy the fresh green clover and the warm sunny days of spring.

Pastured chicken is consistently found to have higher levels of vitamins A,C, and E, as well as much higher amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids and beta-carotene. Not only that but it tastes great too! This year we’ve come up with a new pasture rotation system for our poultry so that we will have fresh chicken all summer long. We will also bring chicken to our Market locations starting this weekend, 4/6/13 at the Asheville City Market.

Skirt Steak with Watercress Recipe

Watercress is growing all around our creeks and streams right now! Time to do something with it, pair it with a 100% Grassfed Hickory Nut Gap Skirt Steak and some Red Chiles for a delightful spring meal! The Today show has a great recipe for all to try:

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46978701/ns/today-food/t/try-skirt-steak-watercress-chilies/#.T4VLVkT786U.email