Monday, July 6, 2015

Minding Your Peas (and Cukes)

At the farm, there has been a fair amount of time spent recently with our pea plants.  We planted the peas, we've weeded the peas, we've trellised the peas.... we've RE trellised the peas...  we've RE weeded the peas

and now we are harvesting the peas.  I guess you could say we are...

Giving Peas a Chance
Young peas at the right, carrots at the left (mid May)
 Peas are one of those crops that farms like ours don't often focus on.  We, of course, can't help it since there are so many possible puns to be had if you grow peas.  But,the reality is that peas do not typically provide high yields per row foot, but they do represent a fairly high cost in terms of labor during harvest.  If you're a small farm with limited resources, peas might not be worth the chance.  In our case, we like the bridge peas give us in late June and early July to the green beans.  But, the overlap between the two can certainly test one's picking patience.

This year, we managed to get the peas in the ground on April 30.  The soil worked up nicely and the four inch soil temperature was in the mid-50's.  We focus on pod peas (snap and snow) and no longer grow peas that you shell.  The return on shelling peas was so low that we couldn't justify trying them any more.

Peas de Resistance
Trying to get a jump on trellising
 All of our work having to do with peas is focused around the harvest.  I suppose, you could say this is true for all of our crops if you work at it.  But, we trellis our peas primarily to make the harvest easier and reduce our harvest time.  If we didn't trellis them, we could still get peas and the plants wouldn't suffer too much.  But, if you've ever tried to harvest peas that weren't trellised well, you might be tempted to write a book about...

War and Peas
 And, in fact, there is a book about just that by Michael Foreman

We've also had some issues with wind blowing some of the vines off of the trellising.

Two rows of peas with nowhere to go?
When the vines fall off or otherwise evade our trellis efforts, you could say we have an issue with...

Escapeas!
Our current trellising technique is still being refined.  We start with cattle panels at the ends of our 200 foot rows.  This provides and anchor for the Hortnova fencing that runs the rest of the length of the row.  It also provides a barrier against the deer that occasionally like to taste our peas.  So, you could say that the cattle panels provide us with some...

Peas of Mind
Mammoth Melting Peas
We have found that the taller vining plants, such as the Mammoth Melting Pea actually prefers the cattle panels to the Hortnova fencing.  As a result, we may actually focus on the panels for them next season and see how that works.

Blizzard, on the other hand, doesn't seem to care as long as it is trellised.  But, if the hortnova fencing is too loose and rolls over on itself it causes problems.  If you can't quite see how this might be an issue, we'd like you to....

Visualize Whirled Peas

These Blizzard pea plants want you to know that they do not endorse Rob's puns.
 In any event, we've had a cooler June and July, which is great weather for peas.  We're bringing in a nice harvest, with 138 pounds brought in thus far.  Our record season for peas was 2012 when we harvested 160 pounds of these yummy pods.  So far, we are on a pace to easily eclipse the record.  Which means we can talk a bit about...


Peas and Prosperity

Oregon Sugar Pod II - consistently reliable.
Our baseline for pea production is about 50 pounds for 100 row feet of peas.  That's what we expect if everything goes well.  And, most seasons, something goes wrong.  For example, in 2013, the Mammoth Melting seeds were not pure, so the peas they produced were not snow peas and did NOT taste good.  On the other hand, Oregon Sugar Pod II has been pretty consistent at 57 to 65 pounds per 100 feet.  The big issue with them are the...

Inner Peas
Well, we had gone so long without a pun, I had to get one in there.  Here's the deal.  Oregon Sugar Pod II is the most heat tolerant, shortest vine standard snow pea we grow.  But, unlike Blizzard, it likes to hold many of its peas inside the leaf canopy, which makes it a bit more difficult to harvest.

Spend time amongst the peas and you get to enjoy their flowers.

But, when you actually find that pod sitting deep in the vines, you get tempted to yell...


I Gotta Pea
If you are not in our CSA, then you might not have been pointed to this song by Brent Odom.  Yes, yes, we know that this type of song is typical of a ten year old's sense of humor.  Therefore, it makes sense that Rob is posting it.

This reminds me of a person I met some time ago at a park.  She liked to sing the alphabet song while shelling peas.  She also had a small tank where she raised minnows for fishing.  Since her name was Ella, she taught us to sing the alphabet song this way.  ABCDEFGHIJK... 

Ella Minnow Pea
I suppose many of you are in some amount of pain by now, so I will get back to talking about our peas. 

Golden Sweet Peas - easier to pick and great taste.
 Golden Sweet Peas like the cooler weather and very much prefer to be trellised well.  In prior years, we haven't given them the full attention they deserved but they have a great taste raw or cooked.  The yellow-green color makes the peas stand out from the vines and make it easier to pick.  But, many people aren't sure if the peas are good because the pale color looks a bit anemic. 


Peas Believe Me
Golden Sweet Peas are very tasty.  Rob does not typically eat raw veggies in the field, but he'll make an exception for these.  In fact, he'll eat any one of these types of snow pea raw or cooked and can tell you that each has their own taste.  The Blizzard and Golden Sweet Peas have the most tender pods of the batch.  Blizzard can be very sweet tasting and Golden Sweet is in between Blizzard and a standard snow pea (Oregon Sugar Pod) for taste.  Mammoth Melting is fine raw but even better in stir fries or steamed since it has a pod that can be a bit tougher.

The great news about this is that CSA members will be getting peas this week in their CSA shares.  If you aren't a CSA member, you might be able to find our peas at Hansen's Outlet or Guppies on the Go (in Tripoli) for the next few days.  Go!  Go forth and get those peas.  Then you can go home and have...

A Peas Meal.
You are welcome.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Culinary Corner: The Great Scape

[ed note: Our third installment of the Culinary Corner by Elizabeth Hinds focuses on a goody that is coming to our CSA members over the next few weeks in their shares.  Scapes are the 'flower stem' of the garlic plant and can be used as a substitute for fresh garlic in most recipes if chopped fine.  Often scapes may need to cook just a little longer than cloves - it depends on how much crunch you want. ]

In 2012 I joined my first CSA in Iowa City. Early in the summer season, I received a curious green shoot called a garlic scape. I came to learn that scapes are the curly tops of hard neck garlic that produces a flower. These shoots are cut just before the flower blooms which redirects energy to bulb growth. The scapes are packed with fresh garlic flavor, and slightly less punch. I like to chop it up and use it in place of garlic in most of my recipes, but here are a few of my scape-specific favorites.

The curly stems on these garlic plants are called 'scapes'


Garlic Scape Infused Oil 
This infused oil can be used for cooking or drizzled over salads for a mild garlic flavor.
  • 2 cups mild oil, such as canola 
  • 3-4 scapes 
Cut the scapes in half to fit in a pint-sized jar, then in half lengthwise to expose the inside of the scapes. Pat dry with a towel and place the scapes in a pint-sized jar, then cover with the oil. Let steep for a week before using. Store in a cool, dark place.

Garlic Scape Stir-Fry
This is a base recipe for a stir-fry I make often in the summer. I typically use whatever vegetables are in my fridge at the time, so the recipe can adapt to the seasons. If you would like to make this without meat, mushrooms are a wonderful, savory substitute.

  •  ½ cup garlic scapes, roughly chopped 
  • 1 med onion, halved and cut into thin slices 
  • 1 lb cubed beef 
  • ⅔ cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • ⅔ cup broccoli (fresh or frozen) 
  • ¼ cup soy sauce 
  • ¼ cup hoisin (also called Peking sauce) 
  • 1 tbsp raw sugar 
  • 2 tbsp oil 

Heat the oil in a large wok and cook the onions over med-high heat until translucent, but still somewhat firm, about 5 minutes. Remove the onions, leaving as much oil in the wok as possible. Increase the temperature to high, add the meat and a bit of salt and cook until just browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the meat, leaving the juice, and add back the onions and other vegetables to cook for about 5 mins (if using frozen veg, add a few minutes for thaw time). Add back the meat and toss in the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sugar. Cook for 1 min, then serve over rice. Serves 3-4.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A High Tunnel - Picture This

The high tunnel is up - with a few things still needing to be done.  That means we need to work on preparing the soil and putting things into it.  But, we thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures form our efforts from Friday June 12 to Tuesday, June 16.

We'll start you off with the time elapse photo video.  Greg Garbos from Four Seasons Tools brought the camera and allowed us to download and edit the file (to get rid of the night time hours primarily).


And, we tried to take photos every once in a while ourselves.  We appreciate the help we received from Sam Larimer and others who took our camera and roamed a bit with it.


We took delivery and had to unload 4-5 tons by hand from the trailer

And we managed it in an hour and 15 minutes. Even if Rob looked confused.

It doesn't look like much at this point.  But, it will change rapidly

We set up a work station nearby.  Needless to say, lots of battery powered tools were used.

The hoops and end walls were built to a large extent on the ground.

That allowed large sections to go up at one time.

If lifting the building once off of the trailer weren't enough, we had to lift it again - in larger pieces.

The super hero Band Saw Man - at work.

Sean Skeehan gets the award for volunteer driving the furthest to help put this thing up.

I TOLD YOU he was a super hero.

There were numerous little things that had to be done - often in sets of 12 or 30 or whatever.

We stretched to put on the plastic in winds that were not quite friendly.

We put in the vent and the door on the East to end Tuesday.  We need to do the same on the West still.

Yup.  We built a high tunnel.
Many many thanks to all who helped us in one way or another. 

Greg Garbos and Jeff Mikesell represented Four Seasons Tools and headed up the build.  Jeff Sage was at the farm every day of the build.  Anden Drolet and Elizabeth Hinds were there most days as well.  The Figura clan was well represented (Kory, Emma and Sophie) and we had good representation from our local farmer friends Darrin Enderton, Lindsay Kaiser and Brent Wilker.  Blue Gate Farm was ably represented by the aforementioned Sean Skeehan and Sam Larimer came out on fairly short notice to lend a much appreciated pair of hands.  Jim and Eileen Faux helped make sure the rest of the farm didn't fall apart while we focused on the building and my bro Pete showed up and hit a few stakes and ran a drill for a bit just to show he could!  Jeff and Dawn Kline were kind of enough to provide the loan of a needed ladder.

I think we managed to remember everyone - but if we didn't, please forgive and remind.  The days during the build run together a bit for us now!

Job well done all.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Culinary Corner: Taste Interactions

Guest blog by Elizabeth Hinds
 
We’ve all experienced that moment in the kitchen when you dip into the bubbling pot on the stove to taste… and something’s missing. You can’t figure out exactly what it is, but it needs something. For the longest time, I would throw different spices at the problem, and though the kitchen smelled wonderful, the dish was still bland. As it turns out, the answer is simpler than you might think. More often than not, when something’s missing, the key tastes are unbalanced.

There are five basic tastes that our taste buds recognize: salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami. Umami is the meaty, savory taste we associated with cooked meats, stocks, and mushroom. For the home cook, the answer is usually to add salt or sour, but you can adjust all of the tastes using this handy guide.



Sweet
Sour
Salty
Bitter
Umami
Sweet
--
--
--
Sour
--
--
Salty
--
Bitter
--
--
Umami
--
--

Salty, Sour, and Bitter all interact and reduce the strength of one another.
Don’t like very bitter greens? A pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice will do the trick. Accidentally oversalted? A bit of lemon juice will tone it down a notch. Very sour vinegarette? A pinch of salt will balance it out.

Sweet and Umami interact and reduce the strength of one another. 

Want to enjoy a steak? Stay away from sweet sauces that dull the meaty taste. Is your stir-fry so sweet it’s giving you a toothache? Try a dash of soy sauce.

Salty and Umami strengthen each other. 

Does your soup or stock smell great, but doesn’t have much taste? Add a bit of salt to really make it shine.

Where to find the five tastes

Salt: Salt, soy sauce, feta, olives, capers, cured meats (ham, bacon, prosciutto, etc.), salted butter
Sour: Lemons and limes, apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, red and white wine
Sweet: Sugar, maple syrup, beets, cream, agave nectar, honey
Bitter: Greens, coffee, dark chocolate
Umami: Meat, soy sauce, liquid aminos, mushrooms, aged cheese, seaweed

Recipe in action: 
Arugula is famously bitter, but this refreshing vinaigrette is just the thing to tone it down a few notches. The sour lemon and a pinch of salt reduce the bitterness of the greens. The mustard in this recipe acts as a binder for the vinaigrette to keep it from separating right away, but doesn’t contribute a whole lot to the flavor. If you really dislike mustard you can opt out, but you’ll be doing a lot of mixing and shaking to bring the vinaigrette back together to serve.

 Arugula Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup lemon juice 
  • 1 ½ cups canola oil 
  • ½ tsp whole grain mustard 
  • ½ tbsp sugar 
  • ¼ tsp salt 
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped 
Apollo arugula in the field
In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, salt, sugar and thyme until the sugar has dissolved completely. Slowly pour in the canola oil while whisking. Store in an airtight container (such as a pint sized canning jar) and shake before serving. (makes two cups)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Picture This

Welcome to June and our first "Picture This" type post of the month.

What is a picture this post?  Well, this sort of post happens when Rob can't come up with a cohesive theme, but he has some new pictures that he is willing to share on the blog.  He uploads some that look interesting and then writes around them - whatever they are.  It can be a bit 'current event - ish' in nature.  We hope you enjoy.

Even a Poor Iris Year is a Good Iris Year

We're not entirely sure what the reasons are for it, but many of our iris decided to either not have bloom stalks OR the bloom stalks withered away this year.  The exception to this rule are the iris in our newer perennial bed and some that re-introduced themselves to us from their locatios in our old perennial beds by the high tunnel.

We believe the name of this iris is Sing Out.  Or - you can just call it pretty.
In any event, we don't like to be greedy - but we do love our iris and can't help but be disappointed when some of our iris friends don't show up for the party on a given year.  Now we have to wait another year to see their flowers (we hope).  But, those that did show up have been gorgeous - as always.  And, we're glad we get to see them.

Could it be the year of the carrot?

Carrots can be a difficult crop for us on our farm since the window for successfully planting them is very short.  This is why Jeff Sage works with us.  He's got the technique and the soil type to make it work better.  But, that doesn't mean we don't try every year.  Last year, we didn't have much success.  The year before, we harvested about a half ton of carrots and actually left some in the field.






Carrots are the triple rows in the center



Same carrots, right after their first weeding.


Carrot seedlings in the high tunnel
This year, it looks like we hit the timing just right for the field carrots.  And, we are experimenting with a Spring planting of carrots in the high tunnel.  Both are looking good right now.  The field carrots are weeded and they took off once we got rid of the competition.  I suspect a rain would double their size fairly quickly at this point.  The high tunnel experiment is part II.  Part I occurred last season where we had trouble getting them to germinate.  Part of the issue is we planted too late and the soil temps in the building were too high.  The other issue was the irrigation technique - it just didn't get the coverage necessary to encourage germination. 

The Little Columbine that Could

A while ago we took a picture of a columbine plant that is growing right next to the Poultry Pavilion.  It doesn't seem like the most hospitable place to us, but this plant is entering its second year in this location.  In fact, it has some offspring attempting to take hold in cracks just inside the building now.  We meant to take a picture of it in its full glory (covered in flowers).  We missed the peak, but it still was looking pretty good for this picture.

Yes, that is ONE plant.  It likes to say hello as we walk by it every day.
A Raised Bed Experiment
We built three raised beds a couple of years ago in response to wet fields.  We used old barn roofing boards that were already showing signs of decay.  But, it was supposed to be a temporary solution.  One of the beds got a facelift (thank you Darrell and Sue) with some corrugated steel.  We'll see how this works out.  The biggest issue was the sharper edges, but it looks like the old garden hose should address the problem.

Onions and spinach, together again.
The Fork of Damocles?
The first batch of broilers are maturing.  One way we can tell?  Well, they come out much further form their trailer when they see a human coming.  The human might have food, treats or water.  They must check it out.
Processing date is June 30.  So, if you want to reserve some birds, we'll be able to get them to you that week.



You might be wondering about the Fork of Damocles.  Ok, I would be if I were reading this instead of writing it.  At one of our farm lunches with our workers, we were discussing the idea of a Times Square type ball that would slowly drop towards the broilers as the date of their "Trip to the Park" approached.  We all agreed that it might be better to make the item that slowly drops over birds a FORK.  Then we can stick a fork in them when they are done.

Ten Thousand Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
The original plan was to have the new high tunnel up by mid May at the latest.  The original original plan was to put a building up a year ago.  The new plan is the most solid of the batch.  We'll start the high tunnel build on June 12. 


Rob inspects the trailer loaded with about 7400 lbs of metal.
The building arrived on Tuesday morning at 8AM.  We don't have a fork lift - and even if we did, the pallets were heavy enough that it would have taken a sizable forklift to move the pallets.  So, we had to unload the trailer by unbundling the whole thing and removing it one piece at a time. 


Everyone had an opportunity to carry plenty of pieces of the building to a staging area and we got it done by 9:15AM.  Unfortunately, the crew couldn't quit for the day at that point.  After a start as forklift substitutes, we had to pick, clean and pack for our first CSA delivery of the season.  Oh - and we planted a few hundred tomato plants.

We're a pretty good team.  But, I bet Jamie and Andrew, who were at the farm for only their second day, are wondering what they got themselves into.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Farm Report: June 1

We are hoping to provide you with a farm report on the first of each month during the growing season.  Depending on the state of the farmer - you will get more or less detail.  Depending on the state of our stock of current farm pictures, it will be more... or less... visual.  We hope you find this interesting and informative!

Working on Some New Things at GFF

Every year sees change at our farm as we continue to find ways to make the farm a better place to grow good produce.  But, it feels like the changes are coming fast and furious this Spring.

Anden, Darrell and Elizabeth planting bushes
We continue to try to improve our buffer strip on the borders of the farm by adding bushes.  The mixture of bushes include Ninebark, Highbush Cranberry, Nannyberry, Serviceberry and Arrowood.  They are all bare root stock from the Iowa DNR and we're working hard to get them into the ground and get them mulched.  They actually provided us with a good project when fields were much too wet to work in.

Holland transplanter

Another change is the addition of a transplanter to our arsenal of tools that will work with our tractor (Rosie).  We have yet to try this thing yet - for a host of reasons.  But, we are looking forward to it.  It is possible that it could reduce our transplant time significantly in the future, which is important for us since windows of opportunity can be short in the Spring for our farm.

The Snort continues to sit and stare at us
And, of course, there is the matter of a second high tunnel to put up so we can grow things in it.  The recent wet weather hasn't helped us there.  We still have dirt that needs to be moved so we can put up the building.  But, we are also still waiting on a delivery date to be confirmed for the building kit.  We thought we were busy in May?  Wait until June gets rolling.

High Tunnel at Work

The current high tunnel has been used slightly differently this Spring because we knew the second one was scheduled to arrive.  We actually used the building for starting trays, potting plants and giving those plants and trays a place to stay warm.  This took up space we would normally use to get an early start on a number of crops.


But, of course, we do have things growing in the high tunnel now as we move more and more of the trays and pots out.  They may have gone in later than we ideally wanted, but they will produce well for us if early germination and growth is an indication.  Currently in the high tunnel: snack tomatoes, earlier season peppers, melons, beets, carrots, green beans and onions.  Oh, and a few cucumbers as well.  It's a good mix and we look forward to harvests of all of these things.
Golden Beets making an appearance.
Flowers Make Farmers Happy
We like our flowers.  And, Rob especially likes his iris friends.  They help us feel as if the farm is a good place to be.  And, we often will stop to take a picture of one, or two of them in hopes of sharing them with you.

Proud Tradition Iris

Nelly Moser clematis

Red columbine
Quick Crop Report
We've had a typical Spring for us.  Often the fields are too wet for much progress.  But, the good news is that we have been working over the years to acquire tools and knowledge that allow us to take advantage of much smaller windows of time and get more done during those windows of opportunity for field work.

Lots of trays and pots of plants waiting to go in the ground
We've continued to increase the number of crops that we start in trays and transplant into the ground once they reach a certain stage of readiness.  This allows us to get crops started even though the ground may not be ready.  It also helps us get some crops ahead of the weeds that would have germinated at the same time as the seed we plant in the ground. 
Radishes and turnips
But, when it comes to direct seed crops, we can often get to those more efficiently and hit good planting windows.  The germination of the radish, arugula, mustard, spinach and turnip in the field shown above was excellent.  Most of our pea rows have started well, as have the carrots and potatoes.  We have several beds of onions in the ground and our first iteration of broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco, kohlrabi, chinese cabbage, pok choi and cabbage are also in the ground.  It's a strong start for what we hope is a strong season.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Culinary Corner: Radishes

Members of this year's CSA Farm Share with Genuine Faux Farm and/or readers of our blog will receive a treat this summer with a weekly guest blog from Elizabeth Hinds.  Elizabeth is a summer intern at the farm and, as part of the internship, will be sharing her culinary knowledge with us.  She is back in Iowa after time in Vermont at the New England Culinary Institute.  Her final component in her educational process with NECI will be completed by the end of the Summer when she completes this internship.  We are pleased to have Elizabeth 
working with us this Summer and hope everyone enjoys the ideas she is looking forward to sharing with us.




Most people love them or leave them. There are some, like me, who like them really spicy. Radishes get their spice from the same component that gives horseradish and wasabi their kick. For those who like things a bit milder, the spice of the radish can be very off-putting. But fear not! There are many ways to reduce the heat and leave the refreshing crunch the radish is well loved for.

French Breakfast radish
Heating up the radishes, like in my grilled radish recipe below, removes most of the heat and makes a great side dish for your summer grilling. If you prefer to eat them raw, you can soak the radishes for 20 minutes in cold water and that’ll take care of any spiciness.


These radishes are just heated up on the grill then slathered in butter, much like you might prepare corn on the cob. They’re the perfect side dish or snack, and a good size for little fingers!

 Grilled Radishes with Butter and Sea Salt
  • 1 bunch radishes (~15)
  • 1 tbsp butter                 
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste  

Trim the leaves off of the radishes, leaving a little nubbin of green on top. Slice any large radishes in half lengthwise so all the radishes are about the same thickness.



Place a metal roasting rack (or the cooling rack you use for baking) on the grill grates so they run perpendicular to each other, forming a checkerboard pattern. This will prevent small radishes from falling through. Grill the radishes over hot coals (or about 375⁰ on a gas grill) for about 5 minutes, or until they’ve just started to soften. The radishes will still be crunchy, but the heat from the grill removes most of the spice and gives the radishes a light smoky flavor. Toss the radishes with the butter, and serve with a sprinkle of salt.


Shaved radishes are showing up everywhere in restaurants as a garnish that adds a pretty pop of color to virtually any dish. They add a wonderful crunch to sandwiches and are the perfect addition to almost any salad. The easiest way to shave radishes is with a vegetable peeler. Just hold one end down with a fork as you shave off thin slices that are the perfect thickness for garnish and crunch.

Lastly, I love pickling radishes and using them as a sweet and tangy taco filling (my favorite is pork tacos!). Sort of like the grilling method, the spice is tempered by the hot pickling liquid. Adding hot liquid to the radishes reduces the spice, but also gives them a quick infusion of sweet and tangy flavor. Putting them in the fridge right away cools them off quickly enough that you retain a nice crunch.This is what is known as a “quick pickle” As soon as it cools, it’s ready to eat (about 30 minutes total).
  • 1 bunch radishes (~15) 
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar 
  • ¼ cup sugar 
  • ½ tsp salt 
Trim the greens off the radishes and slice any large ones in half lengthwise. Place in a quart-sized canning jar or other heat-proof container. In a small pot, bring the vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil, stirring frequently at first to keep the sugar from burning to the bottom. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and pour over the radishes. Cool, uncovered, in the fridge. They are ready to eat as soon as they’re cool.



Now, take three guessed to figure out one of the things that will be in your shares this week!  (The first two guesses don't count, so feel free to have some fun with the guessing.)  You will find additional options for preparing your radishes on our website!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Who Made the Days So Long/So Short?

The sun gets up pretty early and goes down pretty late.  So, the days can seem pretty long around here.  At the same time, the long list of things that must be done AND the fact that nature just seems to SPEED UP in the Spring finds us wondering how time seems so short.

These heirloom tomatoes are MUCH bigger now
The most difficult part is trying to balance everything.  We still have office work to do (of course), but we really can't sit in the office when the sun is up and there are things to do.  Though, we have done that on some rainy, ugly days.  But, even the rainy/ugly days see us outside doing work.  And, of course, we have plant sales and Saturday farmers' market on our plates.  Add in Tammy's work at Wartburg and both of us getting used to having people on the farm four or so days a week and you've got a recipe for controlled chaos.

The poultry chores can get a bit annoying because, when they need doing - they need doing.  You can't tell a flock of broilers to wait for water when they need water.  Nor can you neglect moving their shelters once the grass around the shelter is pretty well packed down/eaten.  This is especially true when things are wet.  Water complicates matters further because you have to avoid any low spots that might pond water.


The nuggets shelter is a horse trailer. Why be conventional?
Like all people, we sometimes try to take a short cut to get something done.  For example, we figured we might be able to just push the horse trailer forward a little distance to a new area.  Normally, this would be possible.  But, this is apparently not true when the ground is really wet.  So, of course we ended up getting the tractor hooked up to it to move it.  But, then that led to a batch of additional related projects.  Fun how that happens.

The Snort can really be annoying sometimes.
The effort to put in a frost-free water line and prepare the site for the new high tunnel building has been delayed due to the rain and the excavator's schedule.  The net result is that we have a big 'no go there' zone on the farm.  If we want to do something like, oh, take the bedding from the hen room out to the compost pile, we had to take the Loooooong way around.  Thankfully, things dried out enough that Rosie and Rob cleared a path so we could take a more direct path.

And, we look at the calendar and realize our first CSA farm share distribution week is coming up.  REALLY?  How did that happen?  Well, it's probably a good thing, because we've got a batch of radish that are looking really good and the asparagus is really picking it up again.

this picture was from May 19.  It doesn't look like this now.
We really need to get into the habit of taking pictures almost daily this time of year.  For example, the picture above was taken ten days ago.  This area looks NOTHING like this now.  All of the pallets have trays with plants on them.  All of the cold frames are full.  No trailers are in this picture, but now there are TWO of them full of plants in the area.  The cold frame at the right and closest to the camera has potatoes that are draping leaves over the edge.  The second cold frame no longer has radish, but has newly planted Pablo lettuce and some green onions.  The far raised bed no longer has wood sides, it now has steel sides and had green onions added to the spinach already in the bed.

By next Friday, we are hopeful that the pallets will still be full, but with a completely different set of trays.  All of the trays on there now should be planted or (hopefully) sold.  Although the latter is probably wishful thinking since we have about 700 heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, cucumber, onion and lettuce transplants currently available.  Send people our way if plants are still needed/wanted.

Until next time!