Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sweat, garlic, and pigs

Mid-July means harvest harvest harvest, sweat sweat sweat!
 As more of the fruits of our labor ripen, we bend our backs to bring them in from the field.  

Bee stings, horse flies, mosquitoes, gnats, all sorts of insects bother us while we harvest.  We concentrate on performing the task at hand, as the sun beams its brutal rays down on us.

Sweat soaks our shirts, and lately I've been enjoying a peculiar "waterfall" experience happening on my face, starting at around 8am, and ending whenever I decide we should stop working to avoid collapse.  I place zucchinis into bins, watching drops of sweat fall from my brow fall onto them, pre-salting people's dinners!  I decide to stop when I can't do two simple things very well:  catch flying zucchinis tossed at me, and keep count.  The heat turns your brain into mush.

I've been appreciating the existence of facial hair -- eyebrows exist to keep sweat from running right into your eyes.  My female version of a mustache and beard hold beads of sweat as well, and I struggle to find a clean place on my shirt to wipe my face, something not already covered in dirt and sweat.  This must be detoxifying, right?

At  least we've been staying well-fed!  We have been blessed with a few kind CSA members and neighbors who've brought us lunch, so that when we collapse onto the picnic tables, we have some kind of calories to power us through another afternoon of work.

We decided to harvest our garlic in the hottest weather yet - over ninety and SUPER muggy.

We grew a record number of garlic bulbs this year -- over 7,000!  We dug them with a chisel plow, to save our backs (last year we used digging forks by hand!)... working smarter, not harder.

Another smart thing we did was clean and bunch them in the shade.

Even the dog got exhausted!


Luckily, we had the help of a few volunteers, and that made it go a bit faster.

We took the bunches of garlic to Jack's barn loft to hang.

Boy, it looks nice up there!  Now we wait 2 or 3 weeks or so until the garlic "cures", or dries down.  We have put a bunch of box fans up there to speed the drying process.

Also, Jonny got his pigs!  They are in the far back field, next to where we just pulled the garlic.  They are really cute, and look really happy in their jungle of weeds.  And they're growing fast!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A dry window


Farmer Ruth here!  Well, the weather finally dried up for a few days, and so we had a very busy time.  Lots of plants were patiently waiting in their pots to be put in the ground, as well as a lot of seeds. 

The first piece of ground to dry out was the beautifully sandy potato field we are using 10 miles down the road.  We made the trek over there, added a little of what is called “green potash” to amend the soil for some of the fertility that’s missing in that field, and then Josh and I hilled the potatoes twice over the next two days.   They are looking very healthy, and hopefully the slightly late hilling won’t reduce our harvest. 


The next thing to happen, once some of our other fields dried a little more, was some serious weed control.  We basically cultivated everything on the farm that wasn’t too tall to drive a tractor over.  The little Farmall Cub is used for most of the cultivation, but we’ve also been using our electric Alis Chalmers G cultivating tractor to cultivate the smaller crops, and it’s nice to have two people cultivating at once, especially when you’re afraid the rain could come back at any minute!



After cultivating the entire earth, our next focus was to till up some empty beds and get things into the ground.  We planted a lot this past week, and I can’t even remember all of it, but some of the things we got in the ground were the last succession of tomatoes; the final melons; some more sweet corn; some more winter squash (since a lot of what we planted before was a duck pond for a while, and may not come up); some more beans, herbs, scallions, and flowers; lettuce… and that’s all I can remember right now.  It’s all a blur!  Once the tomatoes were planted, we had to figure out some mulching solutions, because our local source for mulch hay has run out.  We mulch around all the tomatoes for two reasons; one is that it keeps down weeds in a bed we can’t mechanically cultivate, because of all the tomato stakes.  And secondly, tomatoes are susceptible to two kind of blight that are more easily transferred to the plant if rain splashes dirt onto the lower leaves.  Erin had the idea of raking up the dried cover crop of rye that we mowed a while ago, and it worked out perfectly.  It was surprisingly dry and fluffy, even after sitting in all that wet for days on end.  Here’s to a hopefully great tomato year!


While raking up all the mulch rye, the crew got distracted by the enormous cherry tree at the top of the field.  After picking all the reachable cherries, we were taunted by giant ripe clusters higher up, and decided it was time play for keeps.  We piled a bunch of empty quart containers in the tractor bucket, and lifted it into the cherry filled canopy, with a couple passengers.  It was delicious up there.


The wild black raspberries are starting to ripen, too!


It’s been a pleasure to distribute the CSA shares like normal again, instead of pre-bagging shares and handing them out on the street, like we had to a few weeks ago.

 I much prefer being able to talk to people, to answer questions, trade recipes, and have people be able to choose between different veggies.  This Thursday, right as distribution began, it started to rain.  But this time, it was a light, gentle rain, it was still warm out, and I felt good knowing we had everything in the ground, ready to soak up the water and thrive.

And the harvest has been awesome.