The last two weeks have absolutely flown by! The harvest continues to expand, though more recently in volume rather than diversity. We have been digging new potatoes, which adds some heartiness to our offering, and we are now also harvesting hot and bell peppers. The eggplants, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers are all pumping out fruits at a frantic pace. We have started to harvest beets and carrots loose (rather than bunched), which lets us harvest more in less time. We have still made a habit of harvesting hardy roots on Monday and Thursday afternoons to save time on CSA mornings (Tuesday and Friday).
In addition to growing harvests, we also took in second-cut hay this week. Also known as rowen, second crop is generally much smaller in volume than first cut, but also tends to be finer, and higher-quality. David mowed two hay fields, and this past Monday and Tuesday we picked up four loads of beautiful, sweet-smelling hay. We continue to have minor tedder troubles, this time a busted drive belt. Fortunately, because second-cut is less volume, it is much easier to dry, and we had no trouble in the end.
Although a week without rain is great for curing hay, it can also be stressful for thirsty vegetables, so we have been spending lots of time this week shuffling and working on irrigation. In addition to the main field, which is irrigated with an electric pump, we also have to water two farther-out fields with a small gas pump. Last week we had some new pipe delivered, and I spent parts of a few days assembling and lugging it out to the far field to irrigate our storage carrots. I’ve also been fighting with the gas pump, which occasionally works flawlessly but has a mysterious carburetor problem. Fortunately we still live in Massachusetts, so we have yet to go more than a week without rain. Our irrigation (this year at least) is more about achieving maximum yields, rather than saving crops from total loss, which makes it a whole lot less stressful.
As always, we are always up to lots of smaller projects as well. I have been clipping pasture, working on keeping the mower in tip-top shape, and responding to a multitude of minor breakdowns and fixes. Owen has been spraying up a storm, hitting the leeks, onions, and tomatoes on a regular basis to combat fungal disease as well as continually scouting and responding to flea beetle and leaf hopper pressure on the beans, eggplants, and fall broccoli. In addition to subbing for Maggie in the CSA shop, Sidney has been mowing cover crops, helping move horse fence, and running the single horse springtooth to keep on top of weeds in tight spots.
This part of the season can be exhausting and draining; there is so little time for anything other than the bare minimum to stay afloat. Sidney remembers her high school swim coach saying that the third quarter of anything is the hardest, because you are worn out from the first half, but can still hardly see the end. But this is also the most bountiful, glorious time of year. The fields are bursting with a rainbow of tasty produce, and the fall crops are growing nicely. Although the days are ever-so-perceptibly shorter, there is still plenty of sunshine, berries, and summer left in the tank!