Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Week 3 CSA Basket: Colour!

Photo by Twisted-String
We really put together such a beautiful basket this week:  
Kohlrabi, carrots, collard greens, a head of Endive Frisee, beets, radishes, garlic, a head of Romaine, and a colorful salad mix! 
It is one thing to harvest, wash, and package, but an entirely different thing to see it all put together like this. I feel so proud! 

Failed Experiments. Guns. Radio Interviews.

A few days ago, reluctantly due to smell and gnats, we had to take some time to clean out cooler #1. It's not so much a cooler, as it is a cool, dry cellar-like space. For the past month+ it has housed a huge amount of endives for the CSA. Sadly, very few made it. We packed the cooler so tightly that it was hard for water to drain and dry up. That, coupled with a lack of air circulation, caused the endives to "funk out," as my farmer calls it (left pic). Considering some of the buckets smelled like sewage when dumped (they really had been left in for way too long), the term "funk out" seems more than appropriate. We learned a lot and my farmer lost some money on that one, but next year will be a success!

Besides rotting endives and our usual Farmers' Market/CSA/weeding/watering duties, we also harvested 924 leeks for a wholesale order (top right pic). 924! We also harvested something around 90# of arugula. You could barely fit into cooler #2 (an actual cooler). I washed a bit, but mainly bunched. Tying 300 bundles of wet leeks with jute really takes a toll on your hands. I finally had to tape up a couple of fingers after cuts threatened to deepen.

Rounding off the week was a post-work skeet shoot. These are the beautiful things about working on a farm. We set up a skeet thrower and took turns shooting neon orange clay disks out of the sky with shotguns. It was incredibly fun and I, surprisingly, shot the best out of all four of us with the farmer's young son in a close second. The farmer was unable to participate because just as we set up, the host of radio spot Field & Feast, Cecilia Nasti, rolled up for an interview about... of all things... endives.  
I gave her a friendly wave with my non-shotgun holding hand which she reluctantly returned. They interviewed on the porch while we shot skeet in the background.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Max the Deer

When someone said, "There's a deer over there," during our Swiss Chard bundling, I imagined looking up, gazing 100 yards across the field, and seeing a fleeing deer in the brush. Instead, there was a young deer 30 feet away, staring at me, and walking slowly towards me. After my initial WTF thought, I noticed that the deer had a collar on. It came right up to me, let me pet it, and sniffed around for a handout. Upon inspection of the collar, I found out our visitor was named "Max" and there was a phone number listed. To say the least, the idea of a friendly deer wandering through our field munching away on all our crops was a bit agitating to our farmer. At his urging, I grabbed the collar and hung on as he came over, intent on getting a hold of it and getting rid of it. As the farmer got closer, the deer began pulling back on his collar. The more he struggled, the more I was urged to hold on. Finally, the deer was bucking and leaping 3 feet off the ground pulling backwards with all his strength. Just as we were about to subdue Max, his collar broke and he pulled free. Of course, he was a little more leery about coming up to us after that, but still trusting. We got the collar back on and with a rotation in players, repeated the whole bucking scenario all over again. We called the number... which was disconnected, of course... so we had no choice but to chase him off and ensure that he would be too frightened to return. We tried to coax the lazy dogs to chase Max into the woods, which they halfheartedly did eventually. It was a very surreal way to start the day.
Moral of the story: Don't try to domesticate wild deer *and/or* keep your pet's contact number up to date. Good luck, Max.

On another note, this week I've seen 2 of these huge Green Tomato Worms (about as big as my index finger)

...and I have discovered my new nemesis, BULL F*CKING NETTLE! A member of the stinging nettle family, Bull Nettle first stabs you with million of tiny, hair-like spines all over the stems and leaves... sometimes THROUGH leather gloves. It graciously follows that with some sort of chemical transfer that makes the stung area feel similar to ant bites for the next 30 seconds to 1 minute. It may look all sweet with it's white flowers in this picture, but I assure you it is a complete and total plant a-hole.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Week One Recap: Bees, Garlic, and Weeding!

7:20 AM At The Office
Yesterday I completed my first official week at the farm! I've already racked up just under 40 hours in the past 4 days. It has been a physically demanding, hot, dirty, but ultimately very rewarding time. Each day typically alternates between harvesting for CSA customers, bulk wholesale orders, and Farmers' Markets and the subsequent washing, weighing, and packaging for said avenues of sale. In between harvest and wash, we are weeding, transplanting new veggies, weeding, laying irrigation lines, weeding, weeding, and watering the field via a convoluted (though very effective) irrigation system with its own annoying personality. 


This week we harvested a multitude of salad greens, Arugula, Leeks, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Cress, Green Garlic, and enough Red German Garlic to kill a Red German Garlic-eating horse.

Fun things from the week:

  • Saw a swarm of bees first flying past the field (think cartoon bee swarm) and later swarming in an Oak tree. I had my hands in a tub of salad mix and nowhere near a phone, but it looked exactly like this pic:
  •  Watched a cat go from lazy sleep to pouncing on a field mouse in the blink of an eye. (The dog saw the cat, pounced on the cat, and the mouse ultimately got away.)
  • Lost my $30 fancy-shmancy camping utility knife in the field yesterday :-(
  • Learned how to lay, hook-up, and splice lay-flat irrigating line
  • Got to intimately know the Dutch version of the American weeding hoe, known as a Hula-Ho... seriously, that's its name. Looks like this. It scrapes under the weeds and feels like the outdoor equivalent of scrubbing the floor.
  • "Limpiar los montes" means weeding in Spanish, but literally translates to "cleaning the weeds"
  • Someone almost touched a snake in the field... Rat Snake maybe. It left.