FARM NEWSLETTER // WEEK 5
I hope you all are having a great week. I know that we are having a good week for harvesting, but not so much a good week for growing. We were missed in the last rain storm that passed (though our friends 20 minutes south said they got rain for 3 hours the other day) we didn't get a drop. Not a single drop.
Let me reassure you- we know what we're doing. We make educated choices everyday surrounding the farm, harvesting, irrigation and more. Though the growing conditions aren't ideal, we're happy to explain to you how we're making it work.
The ground is SO dry that when we walk through the yard, the grass crunches and there is LITERAL dust flying around. I have to say that in years like this my heart hurts for the folks who are growing corn and soy beans. Often times they're not irrigating, and by God's grace alone, they'll have a harvest. This will also be contributing to our decisions to raise pigs for next season. With the corn prices right now (per bushel) we're looking at the bigger picture and wondering if we will be able to offer pigs again next season without taking a loss. Lots of heavy decisions to make this winter when we see how the cookie crumbles this season.
We had vandalism in the fields last night!!! Not by who you'd expect though... these were furry four legged perpetrators. We live in the "country" by most standards, and have circulating populations of racoons, possums, fox, skunk, coyotes, etc- all of which we have on trail cam at one point or another. We aren't sure who exactly helped themselves, but it really screwed up our irrigation.
Ben had to spend an extra hour this morning repairing the irrigation lines because they were chewed through- see the picture above. Four out of the six different t-tape rows here have chewed marks where we had to repair them (see the little orange connectors?) To fix it, we have to pull the irrigation in closer, cut off the damaged part, and use the connectors to attach both ends of the t-tape together in hopes of still irrigating those rows.
Ideally I'd love to put out water somehow. Either in buckets or just flooding a corner of the field, but we can't disconnect the water at any time. We've been watering around the clock for almost a week straight already and don't have plans to stop anytime soon. We knew it was going to get really, really hot. Ben knew to get ahead of it and has been running water ever since.
We do have a pond on our property along with a 10 acre unobstructed swamp. The pond and the swamp are both low, but there is standing water in there that animals can access. Fun fact we actually don't have any fences around our produce or our property to intentionally keep animals out. We would if we needed to, but thus far we haven't had to use any electric fencing. There is a fence around the "Alpaca field" as we call it- but that's because it was already in tact. Though it does have multiple gates and a lot of open space to travel through.
The pigs are all doing well! Here is a picture of the pen though- this is not ideal as there is ZERO moisture at all. Every afternoon, we flood our yard for several hours leaving giant sloppy mud piles that they thoroughly enjoy. Fun fact- pigs do not have any sweat glands!!! Hence their fascination with rolling in the mud- it's actually to cool them down. They don't have any other avenues to cool themselves down, so mud it is!!
Back to the drought... we are in a "severe" drought area, but it's looking like we'll be in the "extreme" drought range by the end of the week. With our irrigation we're able to water many rows at one time. The t-tape irrigation (we call it "runs") are split up into sections. We can efficiently water this way and hopefully stay ahead of it for this week or scorching weather.. however there are some things that aren't set up with irrigation...
We're going to be offering onions in your CSA this week! We wish we could wait for them to be a little bigger, but we need to pull them because we can't spare any t-tape runs to water them. So we're pulling those onions. Don't worry though- this isn't all of the onions we have. This is just the first planting of onions, and we had already used quite a bit when we added them earlier this spring/summer. There's another whole onion spot in the next field that's on water lines ;)
IN YOUR CSA SHARES THIS WEEK--
In the Jumbo & Family Shares you can expect: broccoli, pickles, zucchini, onions, lettuce (either romaine or buttercrunch) & sweet peppers!!
In the Single Shares you can expect: broccoli, pickles, zucchini, onions, and sweet peppers!
Broccoli!!! Guys- we are so excited to share this with you this week!! This is one of those "just in time" varieties. In every variety of produce, their seed production/reproductive functions are different. With broccoli plants you'll notice it's gone to seed when you see it looking like a "bouquet" of little yellow flowers. For a lack of better descriptive words, every little piece of a flouret of broccoli, every little ball on top, turns into flowers. Last year, our broccoli was a week too early and it went to flower before it was big enough to harvest the heads. Keep in mind though, we plant on a regular schedule and one of the only differences in the growth is the weather patterns in the spring/summer. Every year is different! It looks like we're just in time for these guys. They're nice and BIG!
This an important section- please hang with me.
We grow a lot of different varieties of peppers! I'll list all of the peppers we intend to send with you every week here, in the blog. Some of them are sweet and some of them are hot. Since the heat in some of these peppers like the jalapenos can be transferred to other varieties of produce in the box, we always bag the hot peppers. The sweet peppers are never bagged. So those will always just be loose in the box. If you ever miss a newsletter and open your box wondering what you've got- you can at least assume hot or sweet just by looking ;)
This week we're going to be giving you some of these beauties that I have pictured above, a purple bell pepper!! It looks like there are plenty out there of size to pick. There are also a few other varieties that are just gearing up right now, the sweet banana and the gypsy peppers. Both are yellow peppers, the banana peppers are the ones with a pointy tip and the gypsy peppers are the ones with the rounded base- looking like a bell pepper shape. The plan is to offer every one of these varieties in your box this week, as a pepper sampler! This is normal for this time of year when these are just coming into harvest. We couldn't get enough of one kind or the other to add to all of your shares- so this is an easy way to make sure we only have to harvest the biggest of these varieties, saving the smaller ones for a couple more weeks ;) The bell peppers are close! But not quite to the size Ben wants them yet- thinking we'll have those for you in a couple weeks.
Yun-yuns!! This is what our kids have always called onions... though they're much more excited about the harvesting than they are of eating them, these are a fun treat at this time of year. These are fresh onions; they haven't been dried at all. In the later part of the summer you'll start to see dried onions in your CSAs (comparable to the ones you see in the grocery stores). This type of onion that we're putting in your CSA this week is one of those seasonal treasures that you'll only get a few times a year. This is also something you'll probably never see in a grocery store, but maybe a coop.
As many of you know, zucchini has a great reputation for getting a little out of hand... By that I mean the yield is very high for a couple weeks straight, then still high for a few weeks after that. It's known as one of the garden classics because it generally always has a good yield! It's that time of year for us. We've got zucchini coming out of our ears! We harvest zucchini every other day. It's one of those plants that you harvest when they get to a particular size, not when it's ripe. Whereas tomatoes are the opposite, you only harvest them when they're ripe and it doesn't matter what size they are.
Zucchini grows FAST. We're harvesting 30 boxes every other day!! With the natural variations in growth out in the field, you're going to get plenty of different sizes this season. I like to say that every single morsel of produce that's harvested has a purpose. Zucchini is the same; big ones and small ones are all appreciated in our house. The green ones and the yellow ones. The smaller zucchini have a more narrow seed cavity, so they're generally better for stir frys than the larger zucchini because it'll hold it's shape better and doesn't get too soft too fast. I've used large zucchini in stir frys before and just cut out the seed cavity. The larger zucchini screams "boats" to me! We've had so many different kinds of zucchini boats and stuffed zucchini. Another easy way to use the big ones is zucchini bread or cake or muffins etc.
I think I'll leave you on that note this week. All the produce in the garden has value, and knowing how to utilize every piece of the plant, or at any stage in size or ripeness, is a true value of a CSA that is impossible to encompass.
Thanks again for joining us this season!! <3
Stay well friends,
~The Farmer's Wife