Archive for June, 2011

…and we’re off!

June 4, 2011

Dear Friends,
How quickly things change! Seemingly overnight, cool, wet Spring turned to blazing Summer. The repeated rains pushed a lot of work back, and, as expected, it all needs to be done at once. Every year it is difficult to keep up with the juggling act that farming is: picking, packing, planting, weeding, watering, propagating, trellising, mowing, chicken tending, building, rubbing the bleary eyes looking over the long list. Add Clark to the mix and you’ve got one spread-thin farmer. Were it not for our steadfast working shares and Clark’s grandparents, I’d have lost my mind already. Thankfully, the school year is now completed, and that means Courtney will be home. Congratulations, Courtney, on making it through a wild year with grace and beauty.
Although the growing season is young, we have casualties already coming in. The clouds had hung so thick it seemed they would never part. And so when I skipped the watering and ventilating of the greenhouse in the morning so as to rush to the fields, I was hardly worried. When the sun came out, I thought several times, “I need to do that.” But I was deep in the dirt, and soon my mind was only with the work before me until the task was completed. Meanwhile, the 12 trays of celery and celeriac I had spent the weekend transplanting were cooking as if in the oven. When I returned from the back of the farm, I hurried to the greenhouse. Mature plants were passing out right and left, but only the baby celeries had succumbed to the oppressive heat. In a matter of a few hours, I had managed to kill the entire crop. If any one out there has a child who needs humbling, suggest to him a life of farming.
Because many of our crops are planted on raised beds, the prolonged wet weather was not as disastrous here as it could have been. Still, few crops are content with constant mud. Mostly they sat and refused to grow for about a month, but some were stunted and some were even killed. We are now acting fast to remove the straw mulch from the garlic field, as rot has started appearing. Of course, this means we are not able to devote ourselves to the burgeoning, rain-happy weed population blanketing the beds.
The key to farming is prioritizing: do what most desperately needs doing first. Some things we’ll get to late, some things we won’t get to at all. Sleep, after all, has to be somewhere amongst our priorities.
I realize I tend to focus on the negative in these newsletters, but I trust you discover many of the success stories every week in your share. As they say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and I often have a hard time seeing beyond what is doing poorly to appreciate what is doing well. There’s a singular insanity and purposefulness to farming, and my genetic composition only exacerbates this issue. In the zone, work is all there is, and no where on the list is “stand and behold the flowers.”
But Clark’s presence is helping to shift these old tectonic plates a bit. Yes, I may not get the cabbages weeded, but is there anyone out there who would rather those weeds get whacked than I spend some quality minutes with my 6-month old son? Life is more dear now, full, and I intend to embrace these moments rather than fret and fume through them. In time these soils and this community gets richer as our family finds its place and wends a path of wellness together. We deeply appreciate your support in these days of new growth.
Walk-in cooler
Because everything else is not enough, we’ve been building a walk-in cooler this Spring. Good friends John Torstrick and Michael Laney have helped erect this 8×8 structure in the barn. Next step is running electricity to the barn. After three years here, it is past time for us to have a cool place to store our produce. Warm Summer nights can make vegetables that were beautiful at harvest look sad and old. Pretty soon, however, we’ll be done with that disappointing reality.
Join us at the farm June 25th at 4 PM for our Summer Solstice Potluck. It’s always a highlight of our year to welcome so many good people here and share this place as well as this food.
Chick status
Eggs will be scarce for another 6 weeks or so when our February-hatched chicks should start laying. Now if we can just keep our neighbors’ dogs away….

Thanks for making this CSA what it is. Hope you enjoy the journey.
Carden, Courtney, and Clark Willis

May news

June 4, 2011

If we are lucky, we have already dealt with this year’s extreme weather event. April’s record-breaking rainfall follows last Summer’s record heat, the ice storm, the hurricane, etc. We are at least humblingly grateful to have escaped the recent wrath of tornadoes. None of us knows when our number will be called.
We are also lucky to have a lot of crops in the ground. Although the weather is threatening to get us behind schedule, we are not yet. But because the fields have been nearly inaccessible the last couple weeks, when the weather breaks it is going to get awfully busy. All at once a tsunami of tasks will beg for attention: the earth will need tilling, a greenhouse full of plants will need to be released, seeds will need sowing, and a giddy blanket of well-watered weeds will need to be knocked back. If we are lucky, much of this can be gotten done before harvest begins in earnest.
Still it is Spring, and hope stretches to and holds the horizon, buzzing like a bee back from hibernation. Plants are perfect green shoots of potential, no bug or beast or disease has trodden a single leaf black. With a hint of imagination one can already taste the succulent future fruit from the mere sight of beds of strawberry blossoms. For a time in Spring, working quietly in the greenhouse, listening to the excited music of birds, still warming up from Winter, preparing the way for a season of produce, I cannot imagine failed plantings or harsh droughts, marauding deer or disappointing harvests.
Challenges of all kinds, old and new, will come. But for now, before the rising tide, let us only be agents of the beauty that is to become and behold the unadulterated beauty that is all around, all over again. Hail Spring!