Hello all! We are feeling much more sane and rested these days as the heat of summer is behind us and things are slowing down. There is even some fall color showing up on the trees! The rapidly shifting seasons of New England are one of my favorite things about living here.
Among the reasons for a turndown in harriedness around here is the completion of fallow field work. As of late last week, I finished spreading compost and our custom mineral blend on all of the fallow fields and then David disced them and sowed fall cover crops. For most of the fields, that was oats and peas, which are now about knee-height, and for a few others it was rye and sweet clover, which are just beginning to germinate. The oat/pea mix will winterkill, leaving a bare seedbed in the spring for early cropping, while the rye/sweet clover mix will survive the winter and continue growing in the spring for later season cropping. We have also sowed oats throughout most of the remaining crop fields in areas that are done growing. Things like lettuce, cucumbers, melons, beans, and other crops that we’re through with were disced down and then seeded to oats. This is especially important here because the crop fields are immediately adjacent to a river, and the early Fall is flood season. Every inch of land that has roots in it is less likely to wash away in a flood.
In preparation for the big harvest of fall & winter storage crops like cabbage, brussel sprouts, winter squash, carrots, beets, and other roots, Brian has been working on updating a neighbor’s walk-in cooler. A farmer down the road has a much larger cooler than we do, and lets us use it for the winter, but it needs rodent-proofing, mold cleaning, insulation work, and cooling unit fixes. Brian is chipping away at that list as Natural Roots advertises its very first year of a Fall CSA share! The details are up on the website.
In the last blog entry, Brian reported that we had finished haying for the season–but wait! there’s more! We actually brought in one load of 3rd cut hay this week. David saw a stretch of nice weather coming up and jumped at the opportunity to put a little more in the barn. 3rd cut is dense stuff, very dark green and a lot more aromatic and heavy than 2nd. It is volume-poor but nitrogen-rich and will provide some good calories for those horsies.
New in the CSA this week, we had leeks, onions, cauliflower, pie pumpkins, buttercup squash, and (finally!) ripe bell peppers. Most of the ripe ones so far are Carmen and Escamillo, both long and pointed like a poblano, and both some of the sweetest, most flavorful peppers I’ve ever had. David called Carmen “the queen of peppers” — it’s definitely a favorite variety among farmers, and, in fact, award-winning.
This week we went to Brookfield Farm in Amherst for a CRAFT visit. In my sophomore year of college, I spent one day a week volunteering there and I learned so much from the farmers and the crew, and have such wonderful memories of fleeing campus every Thursday to immerse myself in farm life. The theme of this visit was Business Management. Farmer Dan gave a brief tour and then talked us through his spreadsheets, philosophy, and approach to budgeting, investment, and business sustainability. Brian, Owen, and I all learned a lot and oohed and aahed at many exciting things around the farm.
Last weekend, Brian and Owen helped our landlord Christian harvest all of the rice from his paddy, totaling about 150 sq. ft. He has been growing this variety of rice and saving seed for 35 years, and he normally harvests enough for him and his wife to eat all year!
On Thursday, Brian and I took the day off to go to an A’s game at Fenway! The Athletics lost 6-2, but no matter! It was such a fun day and we both think Fenway is a terrific ballpark. It’s small, charming, full of history, and right in town. Afterwards, we went our for Ethiopian food, one of our favorites from Oakland. Last weekend, friends Kiah and Aly came over and made a peach pie from all of the no-good ones in the farm shop. We also got a visit from our dear friend Claire this week, and Owen got a surprise visit from his friend Jo.
We are looking forward to those big fall harvests coming up!