Monday, May 14, 2012

Ramble On

Here's the farm update from the CSA newsletter for this week (Week #4 May 14, 2012). 

Ramble On

Last week was a nice cool week again and yesterday brought us more rain -  with more to come in the next couple of days. This is great for us and for the farm – although it does mean we have to pick the summer squash and zucchini more often (as the rain bulks them up quickly). We managed to get a lot of our tasks accomplished last week between the days at market and CSA drops - but we do still have some left over items to try to tackle this week, including thinning the green bean plants and building the high tunnels.

Our friend Liese came out to the farm Thursday evening and helped us harvest all day Friday and attended Western Wake Market with me on Saturday. She’s coming back to the farm with me this Tuesday and she’ll be spending the week helping us attempt to get caught up with farm tasks. Our friend (and intern), Meredith, came out Friday before she had to go to work to help us harvest as well. And – Saturday our friends Andy and Craig came out to help Ben put the roof on the lean to building (it’s what the walk-in cooler is going to be built under)! We are SO, SO, SO blessed to have so many supportive people in our lives! The farm may be managed mostly by Ben and I, but we couldn’t do any of it without the help and support of our friends, CSA members, and market customers. You are all truly co-producers and we are extremely grateful for your efforts!

As I type, Ben is hilling up potatoes. The plants are blooming and need more soil around them to grow more effectively. After that, our friend Craig is coming back out (he took two weeks off work and is spending some of that time helping Ben try to get the cooler up and running out here). Ben and I harvested all of the squash and zucchini that was up to size this morning. We have four 240 foot rows of summer squash (that’s almost 1,000 squash plants!), so it takes about 45 minutes to an hour for the two of us to harvest. If we don’t keep up with them, particularly when there are rainy days, they get huge and too bitter to bother with (except maybe large zucchini for zucchini bread). We then wiped the sandy soil off each of the squash and graded them (according to size and as “seconds”) to store them in our current cold room (this is the room CSA members picking up at the farm go into). After that, we washed all of our market bins. As we’re bringing more items to market, we’re using more bins, so this chore has grown rather lengthy as well. It takes Ben and I about 40 minutes or so to wash all of the bins and lids if we do it together.

Tomorrow Sean Barker, of Part and Parcel Farm, is coming out to check out our operation. Being a farmer, he understands that while we love having folks out to the farm, pretty much the only way it’s possible for us to visit is if someone works with us – so Sean offered to do a couple hours of work with us during his visit. We’re very much looking forward to speaking with him about what we do and learning more about what he’s doing as well. It’s always nice to talk with fellow farmers. Also, tomorrow, CSA member and friend, Charlotte, is coming out in the afternoon to help Ben do some much needed transplanting and hopefully also stake and tie up tomatoes. The first round of tomato plants are getting pretty big! Of course, I’ll be headed to the Five Points drop to meet folks for the CSA pick up between 4:30 and 6:30. Please remember that while I am completely capable of doing all sorts of farm and off-farm tasks being over 8 months pregnant, I cannot pull out the tent and set it up by myself (it’s just too heavy and cumbersome) – so, if you’re the first person to drop and you’re willing, I’ll need your help with the tent. It’ll only take a couple minutes. Thanks, Michelle, for helping last week! J

Alrighty! I suppose I’ve rambled enough for now. As usual, let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. We’re here to help! Thanks for keeping up with us and please let us know how things are going with you. If you have anything you would like to share in the newsletter (e.g., how you use your weekly shares, how you feel about being part of CSA or this CSA in particular, what your thoughts are on the environment and health, book recommendations, etc.), please send it our way ( I could certainly use the help writing the newsletter and I think y’all might like to hear from folks other than myself for once! J

Farm Time

Below is an entry from last week's newsletter for the CSA (Week #3; May 7, 2012). Read on if you'd like to know more about what Ben and I have been up to out here. 

Farm Time

The habit of looking to the future and thinking that the whole meaning of the present lies in what it will bring forth is a pernicious one. There can be no value in the whole unless there is value in the parts.
BERTRAND RUSSELL, Conquest of Happiness

Whew! It feels great to have received some good, drenching (and cooling!) rains! Last week was quite the hot and humid time. Tuesday and Wednesday in particular, I had to give up working outside much past 10am. Instead I chose to do paperwork inside and run errands with the car (which, unlike the truck, has air conditioning).

This week we broke down and transported the high tunnels we originally built in October last year for use for the fall and winter crops to the spring and summer fields. We’ll re-build the tunnels to use for some of our summer crops – especially tomatoes. Monday, CSA member, Charlotte, came out and helped us transplant tomatoes and peppers. Ben direct seeded green beans, dill, and radishes and cultivated the spring garden. In the process of prepping a bed for tomatoes, he managed to get some row fabric (which he used to cover the closest crops to the tractor to keep them protected from thrown soil) caught in the tractor implement (the rotovator). Not only did we lose about 250 feet of row cover, we spent quite a lot of time working to get that stuff out of the rotovator so Ben could finish prepping beds. After quite a lot of frustration, we triumphed over the mangled row cover and high-fived each other for getting through it! 

Last week, we also managed to keep ourselves pretty busy with our daily chores and weekly harvest, wash, and CSA drop/market days. If you came out to the farm today, you’d see that our “lawn” is in desperate need of being mowed and we have every intention of getting to that task someday – it’s just such a low level item on our already lengthy regular daily and weekly chores list. Our spare time is spent working on the tasks on our weekly to-do quadrant. This week we have a TON of transplanting to do. Also, the weeds are catching up on us and we need to get out there and hand weed and cultivate (with the wheel hoe and the tractor, depending on the crop). We also need to go ahead and thin the green beans and stake the tomatoes. I don’t know about y’all, but we can see July just over the horizon! We’re also going to finish the transport of the high tunnels and re-construct them this week. And Ben needs to get on that tractor and put in the cover crop on our fall/winter field as well as the new, big field we added on this year. It’s going to be another whirlwind of a week! See you soon!

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.
DOUGLAS ADAMS, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy