You might think after a winter of cleaning pig stalls and taking care of piglets and lambs, of moving fences and corraling sows, of sweeping snow from row cover and cleaning arugula in 20-something weather and slipping across alternately ice-crusted and mud-soggy fields that Sydney Ellbogen might look forward to spring with immense anticipation.
But you would be wrong. Sydney is from Casper, Wyoming.
“I’m not ready for it to warm up,” she said Friday while harvesting arugula from beneath snow-blanketed row cover. “This is kind of perfect right now.”
Perfect was 25 degrees. But sunny! And with the blue skies, snow, wandering pigs, birdsong and patches of cocoa soil, the scene at Black Cat Farm indeed was admittedly arresting, if bracing.
But whether from Casper or Coral Gables, Sydney would be out in the fields on Friday harvesting and feeding pigs, among other things. Black Cat Farm is a year-round enterprise, supplying food for two restaurants year-round. The farm is the foundation of the operation — certified organic, certified biodynamic, and the only one of its kind in the United States.
Some snapshots from this bright, cold Friday include removing snow-heavy row cover from a bed of arugula, and filling a bucket with the candy-sweet green. Summer arugula often is peppery — sometimes so hot it almost tastes like horseradish or wasabi. But in the winter, sugars in the roots flood the greens; sugars act like antifreeze and give life to select greens, like arugula, under outdoor row cover despite nighttime temperatures sinking into the single digits.
Hon Tsai Tai, a gorgeous and sturdy Asian green, gets harvested from under row cover for much of the winter. Single-digit temperatures? Darkness under the perpetual row cover? FLOWERS? Indeed, and just like the arugula, flooded with sweetness.