After a warm October, we have seen some wild weather over the last two weeks. It started last Sunday night, when we received nearly five inches of rain. The river came up by several feet, and came over it’s banks and onto the fields in a few places. Fortunately most of the crop fields and all of the fallow fields have a protective blanket of cover crop, so there was no major erosion. We did have a lot of silt deposited at the two river crossings, changing the topography a bit. The water pushed some residue around but all together we were very fortunate.
The rain did make for a soupy carrot harvest though. With mounting deer pressure and approaching cold, last week was a major push to get the storage carrots dug, washed, bagged, and up the road to our storage cooler. When we started Monday morning, we were pulling the carrots out of an ankle-deep puddle, but by Wednesday afternoon we had 1850# stacked up, plus an additional 800# of seconds!!
We spent this week finishing up the last lingering harvests. Monday we dug and washed 1200# of parsnips, Wednesday we stripped all of the kale plants, and Thursday we pulled the last two rows of leeks! We finished up be stripping the collard plants, and with that, we finished the last harvest of the 2017 vegetable season!!
Because there is very little to look at in the field, last Sunday we spent out field walk time in the house looking over spreadsheets related to the winter share. Typically of winter CSAs, our share asks more of the customer than summer shares generally do. Our share is picked up self-serve out of the cooler every other week, meaning people will weigh their own veggies and have to do a bit of storage for themselves. Additionally, we have been distributing all of the squash and sweet potatoes this week. Those vegetables are best stored at around 50 degrees and at low humidity, which we don’t have the infrastructure to do at a large scale. It was great to look at all the planning that went into deciding the size and price of the share, how many shares to sell, and how much produce to grow specifically for storage. Winter CSAs, featuring storage crops and greenhouse-grown greens, are a major area of growth for small vegetable farms around here. Growing for winter is an exciting prospect for me. For one thing, I love hearty winter food, but also because I really like growing bulky, sturdy, calorie-dense food and providing in the cold and dark time of the year.
Last weekend was Franklin County Cider Days, a celebration of apples, fermentation, and tasty cider around western Mass. We went to two different cider tastings near us, and also got to see our friends Edgar and Liz, who farm in eastern Mass and came to visit. In addition to drinking delicious cider, it was also nice to daydream about the future of the small orchard we planted in Hinesburg this spring.
The last few nights have seen temperatures rapidly plummet into the teens and low twenties. It made for a bit of a double scramble as we rushed to get crops out of the ground and freeze-proof the many animals of the farm. With the end of harvests, the end of the summer CSA, and the sudden chill, it’s suddenly feeling very wintry. With vegetable work largely behind us, we will finally be getting to pressing berry pruning, and other cleanup. I’ve got a whole log of equipment fixes and improvements that need to happen, and there are also some building projects coming up as well! For now though, we are patting ourselves on the back and looking back at an another amazing season of growing vegetables!