Sunday, July 8, 2012

Heat, Drought, Vegetables, and Ice Cream

Farmers are always subject to the whims of the weather-- it dictates our schedules, our moods, our livelihoods.  We work outside.  With the joys of the job comes also the sweat and the toil.

 We are going on 3 weeks without any rain to speak of... and no foreseeable rain for the next week or so either.  The temperature has been over eighty, sometimes over ninety, degrees almost every single day.  This equals stressed out vegetables and stressed out farmers.   The corn in our neighbor's fields is starting to curl at the leaves.  They are saying the word "drought".

Here at Mud Creek Farm, we are lucky enough to have access to irrigation water, but it sure does take time out of the day.  We lay out 200 foot drip lines, repair leaks, and change valves every few hours.  We are trying to keep the last few spring crops, like the broccoli and cabbages, from their urge to flower and go to seed.  And we are trying to keep the newly planted tiny lettuce seedlings from frying.  The soil burns your feet to walk barefoot on it, and reminds me of the sahara desert.
We've been getting up REALLY early to harvest and generally get things done before the real heat sets in.  Around 3pm if you're out in the middle of the field, it feels like you're under a giant magnifying glass -- then add tough manual labor to the mix, and you have a dangerous recipe for dehydration and heat exhaustion.

So we've been on siesta schedule for the past 3 or 4 weeks.  That means 6am-12pm, then 4-8pm.  During 12-4pm we take naps in the shade, or sit in an air-conditioned coffee shop checking our emails.  It works out fine, and we get the harvest in before the heat gets too bad.  But we are all pretty sleep deprived and physically exhausted.  I'm ready for this heat to end so we can go back to a normal 7am-5pm schedule.

But we just can't do the harvest in this heat.  Imagine picking greens in 90 degree heat!  They would turn into grilled lettuce or kale chips before they even made it to the walk-in cooler!  We are always picking fast, even at 7am the sweat runs off my face, as the sun creeps over the treeline.   We rush to get the greens in tubs of cold water quickly.

But the vegetables sure are beautiful to look at.  And delicious!

And the flower garden is bursting.      
Yesterday a CSA member had a wedding and used all Mud Creek Farm flowers!

 Other things going on at the farm:  tomato trellising up the wazoo!  They are growing in leaps and bounds.  Soon enough we will have a TON of cherry tomatoes.

 Equipment is breaking down, and getting fixed.  Happens.  Just when you need it, usually.

 Deanna learned to drive the Cub tractor, and hilled the potatoes.

We are washing harvest bins.  Oh, bins. 

 The carrots are on their way!  I can't wait.
 We harvested a thousand pounds of chinese cabbage for Small World Bakery to turn into kim-chi, a fermented vegetable condiment similar to sauerkraut.  Each cabbage was about five pounds!

 We did a fire-line, tossing cabbages to eachother and into a bin at the edge of the field.  It was fun!

The next day we sowed the fall chinese cabbages in greenhouse trays.  It's amazing how this tiny little seed becomes such a huge cabbage-- just add soil and water and sun.  And a little sweat.

And today we dug garlic!  About 6,000 heads of it.  It was absolutely beautiful. 
 THANKS SO MUCH to all the volunteers who came out to help us get it done!
Hanging garlic in Jack's barn.

Mike's truck became the hauling vehicle
Joanna, our newest full-time farmhand!

And of course, we couldn't do any of this without a little ice cream... or a lot of ice cream.

Yep, farming has its rewards.  Eating limitless quantities of ice cream is just one of them.


colleen marie said...

thanks for all the pictures & keeping us updated! I'm doing a rain dance for you and the rest of the farms in the state that haven't gotten a drop. I miss you, Erin!

rabbit said...

Your farm, wow your farm. Congratulations for making the big time. What I am seeing here is passion, understanding, kindness, the best things in the world.

rabbit said...

passion, understanding and kindness.