I remained huddled behind my second coffee this morning a bit longer than normal. “Man, the sun isn’t up yet?” I kept asking myself. I just couldn’t rise to the occasion of 40 degrees and dark.
It may not be conducive to my morning energy, but this same change of the season also brings such beauty. The reds and oranges to the tree canopy, the smell of my neighbor’s wood stove wafting across the field, and the sound of corn being chopped for silage. Throw in an evening or two in the sauna and the season of slow down begins.
I have to learn that autumn winds are not trying to sabotage; their message is to rest and prepare for the deep sleep of winter.
“Tough season, huh?” “I hope you get through it…maybe next year will be easier.”
These are just a couple of reactions from those who regularly ready my newsletter when I see them in person. I am always assuring them that, actually, this year is pretty good-WAY better than last year with the drought! These exchanges have made me realize that I’m apparently too pessimistic in my writing, focusing on problems around here and not giving a balanced view of farming.
An ode to the joys of farming and the beautiful fall we’ve enjoyed – perfect 70’s with sprinklings of rain:
This morning as I stepped out my door, my first image was a sandhill crane flying low over the front field greens until the dogs charged into action, barking to remove the intruder.
No mind. A simple turn of the wing and a little lift – the crane on his way.
The ground blanketed with dew shone with the rise of a lazy sun.
I made way to the packing shed before my family awoke.
All was right with the world in the silent morning save underwater rumble of roots in the sink as I turned them over in my cleaning.
In three hours the packing shed was ordered, the boxes set up, and all the veggies already harvested were cleaned. Bins set on the tables awaiting their final destination. As I sit here now, writing this imagery of the morning, I know that this is the blessing of farming. Bringing a living object to its optimal fruition, a finished product that is tangible, good, and beautiful, all the while surrounded by nature, family, and sky. Like you, although the issues of the day overtake my mind most of the time, in the end there’s a strong and heartfelt reason I do what I do. More often than not, that reason derives from this everyday romance of farming more than any ‘good reason’ I my rational mind may submit.
In the box:
Alpine Daikon Radish
A couple Slicing Tomatoes
Cucumber or Two
Saladnova Lettuces: These lettuces are a mix of types and you may have a green oakleaf or a red lollo in your couple. Don’t worry, they are all just lettuce.
Last Saturday at the Deep Roots Festival we had a nice turnout – about 150 people – but the thing that most amazed me was that everybody came for the farm tours.
I have been giving little tours of Lida Farm for years, but this is by far the biggest group I’ve ever had. After our place we stuffed 78 people into a school bus to go to three other locations, including North Circle Seeds, Anderson Apple Orchard, and Twin Oaks Organic Dairy.
I was reflecting a bit on this yesterday. Why the farm tour? Why didn’t 100 people show up for the mushroom or kombucha class or music in the evening? I’m thinking it may have to do with the need to ground ourselves. I’m stuck on a farm all the time, so I’m pretty well grounded, but, for others, the experience may get them into fall and onto the earth. It seems easy today to be lost in cyberspace or issues in the news or a constant running around from activities we create for ourselves and our families. A walk on a farm where the food we eat is produced creates an tangible connection to the season and our sustenance. Or at least I hope that this dose of feet on the farm had this effect.
I lived like a slob in college. But I still jumped into action the day before my parents came to visit. I didn’t want them to get the appearance that I had devolved or forgot all standards of my upbringing.
In the past couple of days I’ve been looking around and I think the farm’s fallen into the same sorry state as my dorm room. Like college when all details of tidiness and hygiene fall to the wayside, the farm just gets more and more disorganized and shabby as the season progresses. When busy reading and writing papers, those pizza boxes get left and clothes pile up. In the same way, I leave little piles of tools where a project happened, only to be lost in foot-high grass. Heck, the cultivating tractor is still sitting in the yard where it ran out of gas two months ago. The immediate tasks of harvesting for CSA and filling a farm stand forever take precedent and everything else is just forgotten and ignored as we careen down the road, duct-taping and wiring together to get ourselves to the end of the season.
Normally I’d try to piece the place together next month, but we have invited the whole world to the Deep Roots Festival this Saturday. I’ve started to restart the rusty cleanup machinery of Lida Farm. Willem on the mower, Graham sweeping the barn loft, me picking up my many forgotten tools. Come this Saturday and see if we actually pulled it off. And, bring a friend. Anyone and everyone can attend the festival. For details and to pre-register, go to www.deep-roots-festival.com or just show up and pay at the door.
Sweet Corn: This is the bitter end – these Montauk ears are not big or pretty due to thistle that took over that part of the field. Still good flavor from this late season corn.
Cucumbers: Either a couple standard ones or a Suyu Long – it’s a bit weird looking (long and curly) but please give it a try…I’ve found them good.
Summer Squash: Either zucchini or yellow patty pan – use patty pan in same way as you use zuccini.
Italia Sweet Pepper: The long, red and green peppers…there’s not hot, but sweet.
It’s been a pretty wet year. That has its influence on produce-cue the cracks in the top of tomatoes and nice growth on the tops of these beets in the box-but it also impacts the creepy, crawly things around here.
In the course of just 5 minutes, I had run-ins with this cute frog in the packing shed, a snake in the tall grass by the corn, and a whole host of mosquitos hell-bent on devouring me. The mosquitos were the most pressing critter yesterday. I had to suit up to harvest in one of those ski masks that can be sinched up tight so only my eyes were showing. That’s all well and good when subzero, but a bit warm on an August afternoon. I was picking cases of things in shifts. In contrast, due to last year’s drought, a person could have stood out naked in garden day and night and not have had a bite. Last year it was always 90-something, so, honestly, I’d prefer to put up with some mosquito pressure.
The reptiles and amphibians, on the other hand, are a positive sign of the health of the farm. I take joy when a toad or frog surprises me when I’m out in the potatoes or reaching down to pull carrots. Snakes. I don’t appreciate their surprise appearance nearly as much. Archer had to hear me scream like a girl when one slithered into the packing shed last week. I’m glad they are out there eating mice or whatever good things they do, but I wish they would do it away from me.
In the box:
A couple ears of corn: This is the end of the line for the corn. Even with two plantings and three varieties of differing maturity times, they really matured about the same time.
Melons: Most everybody is getting a pink Crimson Sweet watermelon, but a few will receive a cantaloupe and everyone gets a little Torpedo melon (yellow one with white stripes).
Colored Sweet Pepper: We’re starting to see some color out there, but nothing too consistent, so I got a mix of types turning color. You may have an orange or red bell or an Italia type. These are also sweet (not hot) but are long in shape and red/green in color.
A couple onions
Beets: One or two with some nice greens if you’d like to use them, otherwise I topped them.