Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tomatoes & eggplants, out of the ground

I just can't get enough of these crisp fall mornings. Seeing the moon set in the west as the sun rises in the east, pink clouds announcing the glorious dawn. And to be in the field at that hour, hunched down pulling carrots, or cutting lettuce, is something almost religious.
For once yesterday, we got a chance to not focus on harvesting though for an entire day! We walked the farm and made a big "to-do" list for wrapping up the rest of the season. It included putting away all the irrigation (we won't need it anymore), tilling in the rows as we're done with them & planting cover crops, and general clean-up of the whole farm.

We spent most of the day yanking out tomato trellises. We had to pull the poles out, cut and pull the twine, and then in this field, actually yank the plants themselves out. We pulled the long black drip-tape irrigation lines out and set them aside. We piled the crispy plants up & scooped them with the bucket on the front-loader. It was a sight to see, a ball of tomato vines almost the size of the tractor itself, hoisted up (directly in front of my view), perilously balancing until we dumped it into a pile by the compost area.
The leftover rotten tomatoes squished underfoot. The morning sun blazed through yellow and orange leaves.
And this is the cleaned-up field, now ready to be cover-cropped. The green behind the bare field is already in lush rye cover.

Then we turned our attention to the eggplants. These poor looking things have no leaves left, due to frosty weather, but plenty of rotten ornaments hanging from their sticks. Baba ganouj anyone?
I took the chisel plow through the rows with the big John Deere, to loosen up their grip on the earth. They are basically like small trees, with quite developed root systems! Then we went through and yanked them all up by hand & made piles again. We'll have to ferry these to the compost as well.
The amazing warm weather has probably ended for now, and there is a chance of frost tonight. We covered everything. It's kind of a hassle, but worth it to protect our crops.
Sometimes when the frost-cloth gets wet it is quite heavy & takes a lot of fanagling to pull it over the plants without damaging them. We secure it in place with sandbags.
All wrapped up for the night!
And I couldn't resist taking an autumn stroll around the grounds (during a particularly beautiful afternoon)...

These orange leaves are from a Sassafras tree. I knew I already like this tree a lot, because you can eat the leaves (they taste kind of licorice-y), and make root beer from the roots, but now the show they're putting on in the fall makes them one of my absolute favorites!
Looking around this morning while in a far field, I realized a grey hue to the forest surrounding me... the leaves are about halfway gone. It happened so fast! It is amazing to watch them cascade down in the wind, especially when the sun is shining on them. But still, I feel like saying: hold on a little longer, why don't you? Do we really need to rush the coming winter? I prepare myself internally for months of looking at bare tree skeletons.
Oh, another thing.... roosters! We have plenty of them.
They make their presence known, many times a day. Lately they've been having crowing contests. One after the other, or sometimes in unison. Each has it's particular cock-a-doodle. Nick & I discuss the finer art of rooster crowing, judging each one for it's ability, or sometimes just laughing. One in particular sounds like it smokes several packs a day. Almost painful to listen to.
They travel in packs, following hens around & causing general trouble.
Oh, roosters. The minstrels of the farm. We don't watch that much TV on the farm, consequently, we talk henhouse drama.

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