Coverdale Farm

All posts tagged Coverdale Farm

By Derek Stoner, Conservation Project Coordinator

The newborn calf at Coverdale Farm tests its wobbly legs for the first time. Image by Jan Vincins, August 18, 2011.

Today the summer camp groups at Coverdale Farm enjoyed a very special treat: a newborn calf!  The Jersey cow, a dairy breed that is utilized in Coverdale’s education programs, gave birth to a female calf this morning around 10:00am.  The mother did a great job of licking and tending to her newborn, as this is the second calf for this cow.

The newborn calf with her mother in the barn at Coverdale Farm. Image by Jan Vincins, August 18, 2011.

Jan Vincins, a Delaware Nature Society instructor, took great photos of this newborn as she led her campers in the “Big Red Barn” summer camp.  The Big Red Barn at Coverdale now has one more occupant!

If you are interested in meeting the newborn calf and the rest of the wonderful farm animals at Coverdale, come out this Saturday, August 20, for the special Farm Fun Day.  The event runs from 8:00am until Noon, and you can help with the feeding of the animals.  Farm Fun Day is free for Delaware Nature Society members.

By Joe Sebastiani, Members Program Team Leader

You know it is a slow morning of birding when one of the participants says, “At least we had a good breakfast.”  Yes, indeed.  This morning, Michele Wales and I led the Birding and Breakfast program at Coverdale Farm, she made the breakfast, and I led the bird walk. 

Program participants enjoyed a wonderful fruit and quiche breakfast, made from Coverdale Farm chicken eggs.

Program participants enjoyed a wonderful fruit and quiche breakfast, made from Coverdale Farm chicken eggs.

After breakfast we walked several trails around Coverdale Farm and the adjacent Burrows Run Preserve, which are owned by the Delaware Nature Society.  Birds were slow to come by on this warm January day.  No wind, no rain, no cold, but also…no birds!  Or at least not too many.
Among some other sightings, we managed to get looks at a single Cedar Waxwing perched in a tree, a single flyover Red-winged Blackbird, and a single Carolina Chickadee.  Usually when you see these birds they aren’t by themselves, but not today.  It took a while to find some White-throated Sparrows, Northern Flicker, and a Hairy Woodpecker.  Great looks at a flock of Eastern Bluebirds and American Robins livened things up at the farm, which seemed to hold most of the action.
Finally, Hank Davis spotted a low-flying raptor that came to perch on the nearby chicken coop.  No, don’t go after the chickens!!!  Where will our next quiche come from?!!  The chickens were safe after all in their pen and Cooper’s Hawks don’t eat chickens anyway.  The hawk probably was waiting for a hapless House Sparrow to emerge.  Yes, get one of those instead Mrs. Cooper’s Hawk.
Our group of birders finally happy to see something up close sitting still!

Our group of birders finally happy to see something up close sitting still!

Cooper's Hawks don't eat chickens, but eagerly catch smaller birds, like House Sparrows.

Cooper's Hawks don't eat chickens, but eagerly catch smaller birds, like House Sparrows.

It was a great day to be outside to walk the farm and preserve and not be wet, wind-blown, and freezing.  We saw 29 species by the end, which isn’t too bad.  Join us on our next Birding and Breakfast program at Ashland Nature Center on February 12 in conjunction with the Great Backyard Bird Count.

By Michele Wales, Farm Program Coordinator

 The Spanish call it Azafran, to the French it is Safran, the Japanese named it Safuran, and the Portuguese identify it as Agafrao.  No matter how it is translated, saffron is the most exotic, mysterious and possibly the oldest spice used by man.  And it is growing at the Delaware Nature Society’s Coverdale Farm!

This beautiful fall-blooming crocus, crocus sativus, has found great fame through its three pollen receptors known as the stigma.   Saffron is the “empress of spice” boasting a trinity of actions: a colorant, a flavoring agent, and an aromatic.  The color of the scarlet red stigma (or threads) mellows to a gorgeous yellow as a natural dye and in culinary preparations; the flavor of the dried threads is vibrant, earthy, and metallic; the aroma is pungent and somewhat rosy. 

A Saffron flower spread open.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

A saffron flower spread open. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Emerging from the garden soil in early-October, thin chive-like leaves, with a slight silvery streak down the center, fan out…to my ultimate delight.  From the first appearance, I count the plants daily to see how many have survived their summer hibernation.  Mid-October approaches and my heart quickens as I make my daily journey to the garden in hopes of feasting my eyes on the voluptuous purple petals and prized scarlet-red stigma.  Harvesting each morning of first bloom, I carefully pull the petals aside; follow the stigma to the pistil (which supports the stigma) and remove them at the base of the flower leaving the petals intact.  The threads are then taken to a dark, cool shelf where they are dried for approximately two days then jarred with a tight-fitting lid.  This yearly ritual takes place for about two weeks and leaves my finger slightly stained a pale yellow.  As winter arrives these lively green, silver-streaked leaves rest atop the straw, braving the chilly months.  As spring approaches and temperatures warm the leaves begin to yellow and by June the saffron bed appears vacant.  Below those prized corms rest, full of energy awaiting the cooling temperatures of October.

Michele Wales, DNS Farm Program Coordinator, poses with a blooming Saffron in her garden.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Michele Wales, DNS Farm Program Coordinator, poses with a blooming saffron in her garden. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

Visit Coverdale Farm during Farm Fun Days which are Wednesdays from noon to 2:30 p.m. until November 18.  If you want to see Saffron in bloom, you’ve only got a few weeks left…and the blooms last just a single day.  For information on Farm Fun Days, visit www.delawarenaturesociety.org.

A Saffron flower open in it's natural state.  Photo by Joe Sebastiani

A saffron flower open in it's natural state. Photo by Joe Sebastiani

 Please enjoy a very seasonal recipe from the south-west of France:

 Pumpkin with SaffronRecipe taken from Goose Fat and Garlic by Jeanne Strang

 12 ounces of pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and deseeded

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon cornmeal

30 saffron threads, or ½ packet of powdered saffron infused in 1 tablespoon of hot milk

¼ cup of milk

Salt and pepper

 Coarsely chop the pumpkin or winter squash.  Heat the butter in a heavy-bottomed casserole or pan, and let the pumpkin sweat in it until it turns translucent and soft.  Do not let the pumpkin fry; when it is soft enough; mash it with a wooden spoon in the pan until you have a coarse puree, then stir in the cornmeal and the saffron/milk infusion.  Blend in the additional milk, season with salt and pepper, and let it simmer together for 5 minutes.  You will find you have a beautiful gold-colored light puree with a delicate flavor.

Some information taken from The Essential Saffron Companion by John Humphries