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Sunday, November 29, 2009

News from the Farm (CSA)

Everything grows so slow in the cold! This week's harvest list is a bit smaller than it has been, but I need to rest a few things. We've now harvested the largest carrots in the field for the last two weeks, which comes out to about 1,400 carrots for all of you. Along with the beets, I expected the smaller carrots to fill out by now so we could harvest larger carrots until the end of the season. With the slow-growing, however, it looks like I'll have to rest the roots for a week until they get a bit larger. Also, the phrase "end of the season" seems to be highly relative, as most other CSA's have ended for the season. I'm curious to see how long we can keep the garden going and these cold nights are quickly answering that question. I'm also still figuring out the small frost pocket that the main gardens are in. Some of our frost-protecting row covers blew off Friday night and by the time I got around to covering the plants back up at 8pm they were frozen solid... Even with the 6 degree protection that the row covers provide, the tips of the plants still get frost burned. You've probably noticed that some of the lettuce has yellowish-brown leaf tips. This is only from the frost, and can easily be cut off when you get them home.

Also, a special thanks to Dawn Hazen for supplying the CSA with lots of fresh herbs this season. Dawn's daughter Amelia interned on the farm the entire summer, helped us with many projects, and eventually got her family to join the CSA. Thank you Dawn and Amelia!

Take care,


Last week's pick up:

Lord of the Flies

When checking on our remaining collection of winter squash in the shed, I noticed several bushels of squash were filled with what looked like saw dust. I soon realized that these baskets were filled with squash chips, no doubt the product of some hungry rodent. Closer inspection revealed that the rat, squirrel, mouse, whoever had taken the liberty to taste several dozen squash.

Some squash just had one or two tooth marks. Hardly a taste for the rodent, but a gash large enough to send the squash directly to the kitchen. Our winter squash has stored very well, but one nick in the skin and you can forget it. As the picture shows, they seemed to like the Sweet Dumpling variety the best. Overall, 2 bushels lost.

Buddy and I moved the season's remaining bushels to my house to sort the squash. While sorting we noticed several hundred flies at the bottom of each basket, staggering around slowly as if they found their way into a batch of wine. Lethargic from the cold in the shed is more like it, but not for long. When brought into the house, the flies started waking up and launching straight up to the ceiling lights. I nearly went insane from the buzzing, but they all seemed to "disappear" by morning.


Monday, November 23, 2009

New Field

The new field backs up to George West's fence, so he just took down part of the fence to bring his tractor through to plow.

I walked up there Sunday with Martha. The field is beautiful, with a southern slope, and is already offering up old secrets--so far, a handful of points. This patch of land has obviously been crisscrossed by hundreds of hunters over the last ten thousand years, and, every so often, one lost an arrow or scraper right here, for us to find on this clammy, overcast morning in 2009.

On Sunday, though, there was just a cluster of guys, standing around talking, pointing along the fence row, bending over to pinch and smell a handful of dirt, and occasionally leaning back to laugh. George, Odle, Odle's friend, Tom, Jeff, and Eric. Riley was wandering down the furrows looking for those points, and the dogs were zigzagging haphazardly from smell to smell.

Farmers out standing in their field.


The new field is finally plowed! I spent the last three days with Brooke, Buddy, and our neighbors George and Zach working on the new field. First we "bogged" the one-acre plot, which essentially cuts up the roots of the grass with several large disks. After disking, we spread about 20 tons of composted manure on the field. With our manure spreader in the shop, we did this by hand. Luckily our neighbor Zach saw us, and came over with his bobcat, which saved us days of work. The field was then plowed with a two-bottom plow, which flips the soil over, leaving a mat of exposed grass roots. The plan is that the grass roots, exposed to several winter frosts will begin to die. The compost will not only help break down the dead grass, but will begin the transition to fertile soil, a necessary transformation for spring planting!

(field after bogging with manure spread [pre-plow])
This time of year in the garden, veggies don't need to be picked every day nor do they face the insect problems that they do in the summer. It is easy to forget about all the work that is needed for 1 acre, which is why I just plowed up one more...

(post-plow field)

Somehow, Thanksgiving is already upon us. I really do try to think of what I have to be thankful for each year. Above all, I am thankful for this farm--its plants, soil, cows, dogs, worms, and the people who help it thrive.

Thank you!

Out of Town, Out of Pocket, Out of Sorts, Out of Breath, but NOT--praise the Garden Gods!--out of Chard

Current week's harvest:

Acorn Squash
Michihili Cabbage
Sweet Potatoes
Amber Turnips
Chard OR Kale
Mizuna OR Arugula