Things have really slowed down over here at the farm and I wanted to check in and give you an update on what we're up to! I can't believe we're just a couple weeks out from Thanksgiving already!!
Kelsi and I were trying to fly her kite but the wind was so gusty it never really did get up, but we sure did try!
We usually freeze really hard in the middle of October. Just a week or 2 after the last CSAs are delivered. Sometimes it's even before the last of the CSAs are delivered. (We harvest when we need to, to get it out of the field so no one misses out on CSAs!). So this year being so warm it was strange not to have the normal end of the season pressure.
The "this is it", the last call. There wasn't any huge struggle to get everything in, whereas sometimes we have to call the whole family to harvest until dark to get everything in from the fields. We've harvested with headlamps on in previous years- really feeling the crunch, whenever mother nature decides it's time to freeze. Which can sometimes be last minute!
So that was definitely different this season and this week is our Indian Summer, back for one last bit of warmth! We'll be getting work done outside this week, to get ahead on next spring's projects which are never ending ;)
HOW WE DO IT
We did spend weeks in the fields making sure we wrapped everything up for the winter. Fields will need to get worked in the spring right away when frost is out, and before we get lots of rain. So having this much field clean up accomplished is huge!
We go out into the fields and pull all of the irrigation lines and all of the plastic mulch. We even have a piece of equipment that lifts the mulch so it's easier to remove. With how wet it was, it was an uphill battle this fall with 15 inches of rain all within 3 weeks! We didn't even get 4 inches of rain all summer.
Organizing the pack shed and boxes, removing labels and stacking our equipment and supplies. Taking a soft inventory of what we would like to get for next season in terms of tools for the farm. New tools are always a treat, but also necessary because we really put ours to the test!
We really did a great job with cleanup already this fall which makes me feel like we've got great momentum going into the winter. And with this beautiful weather, I'm going to be working outside with Ben to get ahead on a few projects for next season.. more to be revealed as we have more details... we've got a big surprise for you!
We're caught up!!!!! FINALLY!!!
**That hasn't happened since April, haha! All summer long we're running like crazy and making a mess. The fall is a time for regrouping and organizing. It feels absolutely fabulous.
Hence my office day I'm sneaking in ;) I'd like to take a minute to summarize the CSA season. I don't always take the time to write out a big explanation, but I feel it's a necessary decompression for myself right now.
Overall, I think the growing went really well. We were happy with what we were able to produce and deliver to our Members. I think we had a good variety and while we were missing some varieties, there were others who made up for it.
I would like to point out that this season was the hardest that Ben & I can remember in terms of stress...
Stress that we weren't getting any rain. We couldn't germinate some of our direct seeded crops because the ground wasn't wet enough and we couldn't water everything. We were running water around the clock for almost 2 months. Just never turning it off. We even had our front spigot going with hoses and high powered sprinklers. This is comical because we have a system with almost 100,000 of feet of drip tape; going down every single row in different sections all over the fields. Those are connected to the 1 inch waterlines.
Well, we were running that around the clock and that still wasn't enough. So we started using a sprinkler from the front spigot because we were that desperate! Then the well went out!! Do you guys remember our well going out? We had just finished washing CSA veggies for the morning and went to go get the hoses turned on that run to the pig pens. No water. Time to panic, we only had 75 pigs in our front yard at the time!!
Fast forward to the hail. 3x. Holy cripes. That was the worst timing for hail ever, we ended up with stunted squash and never were able to add sunshine squash to your CSA Shares. We had some for the fall shares but not nearly enough big ones for our CSAs. They got hit by hail when the plants were young, so recovery from the hail was a priority and they stopped growing basically. They ripened, but we had tons and tons of tiny little ones. That's just one example. I am not going to dwell on our tomato harvest and the fact that every building on the farm had tomatoes in it because all 5,000 of our tomato plants were damaged and ripened at one time, lol.
So to say it was stressful is an understatement. I feel like we're challenged every season in some aspect that we haven't seen before. This year it was like armageddon on the farm and Ben somehow faught the battle and won. Produced hundreds of boxes of beautiful produce every single week all summer long.
Here is a pic from our one night out, all summer! Back in June. Ben works the farm stand every weekend and this was right before the farm stand started. He worked every weekend Fri-Sat-Sun from mid-July through the beginning of October. And then CSAs were harvested and delivered Mon-Thurs! I work 7 days/week too but 35 hours a weekend at the farm stand is something only he could do.. He's our resident Farm Superhero <3
Needless to say, we had a good time on Mom & Dad's night out ;) Maybe that's why we only go out once a year!! :P
(Yes his shirt says: "I'm a FARMER, to save time let's just assume I'm never wrong" compliments of my Mom! haha)
We do a good job of cheering each other up, when Ben needs a little boost or I need some encouragement, we drop our own roles and help each other accomplish the task at hand so it doesn't hold the other person back. That's the only reason our farm even works; because there are two of us who are wholly invested in the farm itself and each other.
We absolutely love what we do and I can honestly there isn't a time I've ever thought "boy, I wish I could just go get a job somewhere". Not once. There have definitely been times that I'm in the middle of something and thought "there has to be a better way to do this", that's for sure! No one knows everything; we certainly don't.
There are so many seasons in life and in farming. We're so thankful you're on this ride with us and happy to be so involved with so many of you as well.
All plants go through cycles of “Rooting” and “Fruiting”, and so do all of us. We can’t be “fruiting” all the time. We have to invest in rooting ourselves mentally and physically, standing with solid stems on solid ground, before we fruit. Once you have the foundation, the rest comes naturally!
Allow yourself seasons of rest, rejuvenation and refreshment. We can't always be fruiting.
Be Well & Eat Good,
~The Farmer's Wife