More family fun
Since our last post, the drama of first year farming has subdued back to its normal manageable daily level. My parents visited the farm for the first time this last week, which brightened our week. They seemed to be suitably impressed by our two months worth of effort, making us happy and pleased with ourselves (a nice boost after the days of bugs and water problems).
While my parents were in town, we spent a good amount of time discussing our long-term goals for Oakhill Organics—specifically how we might find a permanent home for the farm in the near future. Seven Spoke Farm has been an absolutely wonderful place to transition from farm workers to farmers, but we hope to own our own little piece of dirt someday too—that way we can more seriously consider the long-term sustainability of our actions (and plant yummy perennials like strawberries!). After talking with my parents and looking at different sites, we have some plans in the works, but it is all too preliminary to share yet. And very uncertain, so if you know of any farmland that could be purchased in the area, please let us know—we’re looking for 15+ acres of class-one or two soil with water rights. It does not need to be buildable.
My dad and Casey also spent the better part of two days building a cooler for short-term veggie storage this summer (for that important period between harvest and market—even a few hours of heat can kill lettuce). So, we now have a very sturdy little building that can hold more than 20 bins of produce. We’re using an old air conditioner (lent to us by Seven Spoke) as the cooling method, which seems to work well so far. We don’t need to store anything that spoils like meat or dairy, so we figure as cold as the air conditioner can go will be good enough. Even 50 degrees is a vast improvement over the ambient July air (90+). We still need to move it into its final location, but otherwise it’s ready to go! Thanks Dad, for helping us so much with this important project!
While the boys worked on the construction, my mom and I roamed the fields, weeding and squishing bugs (yes, the beetles are still here, though in smaller numbers than before). My mom also took some downtime from working in the intense heat to document the farm with her camera. She is an amazing photographer, so we were happy to have someone else capturing the growing beauty of our little farm. Here are a few of the pictures she took, including two progress shots of the cooler:
Left: Casey and my dad working on the cooler. Right: Casey and me standing inside the almost finished cooler.
A close-up of some peppers being watered.
Closing up the field house at dusk.
Me, looking about how I do right now, working in our ‘farm office’ (i.e. the tool shed—we put our laptop on two stacked bins and sit on a bucket. Yes, have we mentioned yet how glamorous our life is? Sarcasm aside, we actually love that we can go straight from farm work to office work without skipping a beat.)
… in other news, yesterday afternoon we visited Mossback Farm to see what Rich and Val are up to on their property. They have been growing and selling naturally-raised livestock for meat. In recent years they’ve had pigs, lambs, cows and broiler chickens but this year they’re just doing the lambs and eggs primarily while they work on some infrastructure projects (permanent fences and such). They have some seriously cute lambs out there right now, but we were definitely distracted from the farm itself by the weather that strolled through during our visit. I’m sure that you all experienced that afternoon storm as well, but it was especially dramatic to be on an open site just east of the coast range—the dark clouds formed over the mountains and we watched lightning for about half an hour before the storm finally descended onto their farm. And, it hit hard. We had to run inside and watch the water slam against the windows. True to its nature as a thunderstorm, it finished within an hour. When Rich checked some empty buckets after the storm, he thought we’d received about half an inch of rain in that time—that’s quite a downpour. Both our farms needed the rain, so the four of us were pretty giddy all afternoon as we drank beer and ate some delicious grilled lamb burgers.
Since it has continued to rain off and on since then, Casey and I have been given a brief respite from prepping ground and transplanting today as we wait for the ground to dry. We still have plenty to do, but the cooler weather feels less urgent than the previous hot sunny days. We’re using today to step back and regroup after another big distracting infrastructure project (the cooler). Walking the fields now is exciting, daunting, overwhelming, gratifying—everything at once. We definitely have some food out here (as well as some weeds and bugs). We’re both so concerned with quality and aesthetics that we get a little down about the bug damage from the cuke and flea beetles, but there is food growing where a month ago there was none. And that is pretty amazing.
Our first market is next Thursday (yikes!). It looks like we should have a good variety of green things to sell: bok choi, turnips, salad mix, kale, broccoli raab, mustard greens, and more. It might not be perfect, but it should be tasty. And other things are growing too: the tomatoes have really taken off (and we are forever grateful for our field house after all that rain yesterday—that could have done them in if they weren’t covered); the peas are getting ready to put on blossoms; the potatoes are up … yes, it’s looking like a farm out here:
Finally, an homage to community support
In closing for today, we also want to thank those of you who comment on our ‘hard times’ posts and others. We are more and more in love with the ‘Community Supported Agriculture’ model everyday thanks to you wonderful people. We’re new to town, but we already feel like we have a yet un-met community of support out there. We love the little notes you send and more. We hope that you all continue to feel that this farm is ‘yours’ and that you really are a part of this endeavor. Because you truly are.
(And, if you know others who want to join the team, we still have ten spots left in the main season CSA! We think they might go fast, so if you’ve been waiting to join, I’d send in your form soon.)