Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Whole Picture

We held our annual Summer Festival at the farm on August 27 and continued with our three (or four?) year old tradition of including a picture scavenger hunt for those that attended.  It's a low-key hunt that encourages people to check out the farm and see if they can find some of the things on the scavenger hunt sheets.  Young and old alike seem to enjoy it at least as much as I do when I create it.

Being a typical introvert, I take time to process my interactions and events from a large gathering of people more than perhaps an extrovert might.  This time around, the scavenger hunt has ended up being my theme - whether I intended it to be or not.
Side of the Harvestore silo on the farm
The Elephant in the Room
One of the easiest photos, in my opinion, was the photo of the Harvestore (silo) building.  Imagine my surprise when two people who spend/spent a fair amount of time on the farm didn't get this one.  After all, the Harvestore is big and tall.  It's a blue color that doesn't appear in nature.  You can see it from practically everywhere on the farm.  It was my thought that everyone would see the Harvestore and walk over to it to see these particular bolts/nuts.  And, I am sure many people did just that.

This is a great reminder to me that not everyone sees what is obvious to me.  It doesn't necessarily mean that I am any more insightful or observant than others.  It just means that each of us sees, hears, feels with different filters and priorities.  It's a reminder to me that I should be patient when others do not immediately understand or find the same importance in things that I do.  It's also a reminder that I should hope for the same patience from others when I am apparently missing the elephant in the room.  Even if it is sitting in my lap at the time.
Trunk of an oak tree on the farm

Differing Perspectives
This may be my favorite picture of the whole group I took for the scavenger hunt.  We have some mature burr oak trees in front of the house.  (just remember, if  it's not Burr Oak, don't fix it...)

Tammy and I both have an affinity for burr oaks, for various reasons, so it is nice to have them on the farm. At least two of these trees have been hit by lightning since we've been here.  One of them is slowly declining.  But, the one in the picture seems fine despite the split in the bark that runs 30 to 40 feet up the trunk from the ground.  The scarred area is on the right of this picture and the normal bark (covered with moss) is on the left.

This picture reminded me that I am given the gift of seeing the farm through other people's eyes during the festival.  One person exclaimed, "What a beautiful place you have here!" 

My first reaction to this?

"What?  Can't you see the weeds in that field?  And, those bushes over there aren't doing well.  I really don't know what to do about that.  That fence needs to be mended.  Ooops.  I forgot to clean that pile up before you all got here.  I told myself we wouldn't have another festival where the back door entrance wasn't in such poor repair.  I wish I had time to finish painting that building... etc"

And... I wish that tree hadn't been struck by lightning.

Yet, you look at it closely and you find that it's actually quite beautiful just the way it is.  Huh.

Practical Farmers of Iowa sign at the drive entrance

How Is Your Growing Season Going?
I am getting better at answering this question than I used to be.  But, it still takes a moment to warm up to it.  So, I apologize to those who asked if they didn't get an all-encompassing positive feeling after my answer.

When you have a diversified farm such as the one we manage and maintain, there is NEVER going to be a simple answer to this question.  I can't exactly say it's been a poor year, because that is inaccurate and incomplete for an answer.  If I tell you that it has been a great year, that too would be incorrect.  Even telling you it has been an average year doesn't do it.  It's just like showing you the picture above and asking you to tell me what the rest of the word is (you all know it is "Practical" because of the caption - but that's cheating!).

Because we spend more time on the farm looking at things that are going wrong and trying to figure out how to address them, negatives are often the first thing that pops up in my mind when I'm asked the question.  I get tempted to tell people that it has been a disappointing year.  But, then I remember that our CSA shares have had contents that rival our best years for variety and quality.  I think about how good the lettuce has done this year and I realize that the snow peas ran at a reasonable average yield this year for us (rather than the bumper crop of 2015).

In the end, this question becomes the same thing for me as "How are you doing?"  My answer for both has more to do with my personal feelings at the moment and less to do with what might actually be happening.  So, if you ask me this question - and you really want an answer - tell me so.  I'll give you the longer (and more accurate) answer.  I promise I won't take too long.  I can get to the point quickly if I need to.  But, if you want to know how I'm doing, ask this question and tell me you want a short answer.

Connections to Another Land
We were honored by the visit of Benjamin Kusi of Ghana at our farm during the festival.  Benjamin is the in-country staff directory for Self-Help International.  Our thanks to Jeff and Susan Cornforth for being willing to make this connection. I realized that it might have been nice to have had more time to talk to Benjamin, but my duties as a host precluded that to some level.  I am hopeful that I will be able to have more conversations with him in the future.

Nonetheless, I learned some things during our quick tour of the farm and the conversation that we had during that tour.  Oddly, some of my learning came in the form of self-introspection.  Some of the questions Benjamin asked me caused me to do some quick re-analysis of what I really thought.  I suppose some of the reason for this is because I very much wanted to give him my best and most accurate answers based on what I think I know at this time in my life.  After all, he has come a long way to see some farming operations in Iowa.  I wanted to make it worth his while.

But, the questions were also formulated in a way that made me want to consider them more carefully.  It was clear that these were not 'throw-away' questions to make conversation or to get me started talking.  They were presented in a way that wanted answers.  Benjamin was also kind enough to answer some of my questions with respect to the state of agriculture in Ghana.

Celebrating the Summer Fest
Our 2016 Summer Festival appears to have been a success.  Tammy prepared the turkey to perfection and everyone enjoyed turkey sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes and lettuce (all GFF raised!).  There was a wide variety of potluck items that were happily consumed by all who attended.  The Buskers, once again, provided excellent music and many people enjoyed just roaming the farm and getting a feel for what we do here.  Sidewalk chalk drawing appeared to get some imagination going and the hayrack became an impromptu dance stage.  A few overly ripe cucumbers became mini-vehicles - at least for a few moments.  Inspector (the kitten) made several new friends and the Sandman watched from afar.  Of course, the Sandman sauntered up to me once the last car left.

A few things didn't happen the way we planned, but that's the way our farm rolls.  Perfection is boring?  Or perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that things that always go according to plan are boring.  Perhaps, perfection is the acceptance of what actually happens.  Flaws and all. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016


We've actually had a few people ask us for updates on some of the things that have appeared on our blog this season, so we thought we'd just go right ahead and give updates to those questions on the blog. Why not?  It'll be fun!

How Are Soup and the Kittens?
The biggest problem with having kittens in the Spring for us is the fact that we just don't have much extra time to socialize them.  But, Soup didn't consult us.  Of course... she's a cat.

Sparrow (the grey kitten) was injured by some varmint on the farm.  We were able to find and rescue him, but it necessitated an emergency trip for medical care on a Sunday morning.  Of course... things like that do not happen during normal business hours.  We could not afford to give him the care he would need to recover, but someone was willing to foster him.  It wasn't long before Sparrow was adopted through the Waverly Pet Rescue folks.  This is good news.

Inspector Mewso (grey and white) is still on the farm and tends to stay around the garage and truck barn area.  He's pretty friendly and willing to be held upside down and have his belly get skritched.  He'll bat at fingers with claws in and is gentle with humans.  Sadly, he's not showing lots of tendency to be a very good farm cat.  He does run away from vehicles and tractors when they are started, so he has at least one survival instinct, but he shows no inclination to hunt, but we think that is largely because of....

Soup (aka Super Cali the Fragile Mystic) who is still with us on the farm.  She and Inspector still hang out together.  Both seem to prefer to stick around the garage and main part of the farm.  We suspect Soup was an indoor cat that was dumped at our farm.  She doesn't seem interested in hunting and is also gentle - unless she sees Mrranda or Sandman.  At this point, Sandman doesn't come to the area around our buildings any more.  We have not seen Mrranda for a couple of weeks now, so we aren't sure what's going on there and Rob isn't very happy about that.

The upshot is this.  We want Soup to have a new home since it is clear she doesn't really work as an outdoor cat on our farm.  The indoor cats (Bree and Hobnob) will NOT accept another resident.  If we don't hear from someone soon, Soup will be taken to the folks who run the Waverly Pet Rescue in hopes that she can find a new home.  She has had shots and has been spayed.

The jury is still out regarding Inspector.  We'll see.

PUNS?  Augh!
 Are You Sure That You Should Include Puns in Your Posts?
This is not a matter of choice.  If I have a moment to blog and I feel a pun forming in my head, I have no choice than to include it.  Sometimes, the entire post gets infected by it.  It's a disease.  I can't stop it.

After all, I HEARD you all groan when I included the "trays of humility" line in the post I linked just above here.  You're only encouraging me, you know.

How Are Those Baseball Teams Doing?
We posted a little while ago about our favorite baseball teams (Twins and Reds) and how poorly they've been doing.  There are a few meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeean people who keep asking how they are doing.  I suspect a couple of them are trying to be nice.  But, there are a couple of others (you know who you are) that are asking just to watch us squirm.

Tammy's team (Twins) are now 49-75 and have played close to .500 ball since this post went live on our blog.  This has raised them from tied for the worst record in baseball to having the SECOND worst record in baseball.  Congratulations Twins.  (bleah)

Rob's team (Reds) are now 53-70 and were showing no desire to play even .500 ball since the last update until this week.  Three other National League teams have shown even more desire to finish with a worse record than the Reds and they're all within a few games of each other.  I have confidence in my Reds to be able to pull out some sort of finish this year.  I'm rooting for them... I guess.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Culinary Corner: Beautiful Broccoli

[ed note: Some of you might remember that Elizabeth was creating some blog posts on the use of some of our produce last season.  This post came in after the broccoli was done last year, so we held it in reserve for this year.  Enjoy! rf ]

I was one of those weird kids who LOVED broccoli. It was my favorite. You could put a bowl full of steamed and buttered broccoli in front of me, and nothing else, and I was the happiest kid around. To this day I still love a good helping of steamed broccoli, but as I've grown up I've found other ways to incorporate my favorite vegetable so it more closely resembles a balanced meal.

One of my favorite recipes comes from one of my favorite food blogs. If you're looking for creative and delicious vegetable recipes, you should really check out Green Kitchen Stories! They're my first stop for healthy, beautiful meals that are vegetarian, but also take many other dietary needs into consideration! This recipe is called Yoga Pot, and it's my favorite way to end a long work day. It's filling without being too heavy, and comforting when all I want to do is flake out with a good book or movie at the end of the day.

Yoga Pot

1 tbsp coconut oil or canola oil
1 med onion (yellow, white, or sweet)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, if you don't like the spice!)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (also optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 head of broccoli, cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 small fennel, sliced
1 small zucchini, halved length-wise and sliced
2, 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup lentils
1 can chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed.

**NOTE: when you cut the broccoli into florets, save the stems and make broccoli slaw! The link to the recipe can be found below!

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil, onion, garlic, and ginger together over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the spices and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add the broccoli, fennel and zucchini and let it saute for about 5 minutes, before adding the tomatoes and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through. Add the chickpeas and cook for 5 more minutes before serving with brown rice and a dollop of sour cream!

Still need some more inspiration? Here are a few links to some other broccoli recipes I love!

Polenta with chopped broccoli and pecorino

Broccoli with Garlic and Hot Pepper

Broccoli Slaw

Jamie Oliver's Broccoli Pasta with "Oozy Cheese Sauce"

Monday, August 22, 2016

Summer Festival 2016

We'd like to cordially invite you to our annual Summer Festival at the farm this coming Saturday (August 27). If you would be so kind as to RSVP that you plan to attend, it would help us immensely with our preparations. 
While we hope for good weather, we’ll party regardless of the weather.  This year’s festival will feature a GFF turkey (prepared by Tammy), good food, family-friendly fun and live festive music provided by The Buskers.
We hope this event gives everyone a chance to celebrate a great summer with friends and provide opportunities to make new friends. Bring your family, kids and friends (but please leave pets, tobacco and alcohol at home). Our farm has lots of open space for adults and kids of all ages to run around, chase balls, meet the poultry, and share in the fun. We encourage you to bring lawn-games, blankets and chairs, and leave the electronic devices in the car.

Food at this festival features some of the best food around by the best chefs around – all of us.  I’ll roast one of our farm’s pasture-raised turkeys for sandwiches and provide veggies to top the sandwiches, as well as provide iced-tea, lemonade and water.  We encourage you to bring either a salad, snack or dessert.  [note – at past festivals we have also offered a grill, but sadly, our grill is aging and not available for the heavy use associated with a large gathering].  If you wish to bring other beverages, we would prefer that they be non-alcoholic.  If the weather is nice (low wind), we’ll also provide s’more makings (if you have a favorite marshmallow-roasting stick to share with others, bring it along!). To help those with food sensitivities or the curious, please bring a recipe card with an ingredient list and your name to tape to your dish.
One of our goals for our events is to have "minimal waste" events.  We will have table service (plates, silverware, napkins and serving utensils) and encourage attendees to bring their own beverage cups (we’ll have extras just case).  We also encourage you to bring lawn chairs or blankets as we have a limited supply. 
Directions from Waverly:  If you need directions, please ask for them when you RSVP. 
Summer Festival Schedule (subject to change if needed):

1:00-4:00 Tom Sawyer Work Time
For those who have interest, we could use some volunteers in the early afternoon to help with set up and preparation. If you are willing to help, please indicate that this is the case in your RSVP. If we get enough volunteers, we could have a few people doing other work on the farm. For example, a few people might help us collect some over ripe cucumbers to feed the birds later on.

4:00-5:00 Huck Finn Play Time

It is possible that there may be a little bit of prepping still going on, but we'll certainly start making the transition to just enjoying the day at this point. We intend to do our photo scavenger hunt again this year. We will have sidewalk chalk available for the artistic sorts. You need not attend early to participate in these activities. We don't anticipate shutting them down unless the weather or other circumstance forces the issue.

For those that have a lawn game that they might like to play (and share with other interested persons), let us know you will bring it and we'll make sure an area is open for the game you have chosen to share.
Also note: we *might* get some latex paint and provide some rocks to do some rock painting *if* there are persons out there who are willing to help supervise this activity.  Let us know if you are such a person.

4:30 Farm Tour #1
Rob and Tammy will provide guided tours of the farm at two points during the gathering for those who would like them. We'll give you the nickel tour and you can feel free to ask questions as we show you our fields and the critters on the farm.

4:45 Feed the Birds

It won't cost tuppance, but I bet the turkeys might like a few cucumbers or other things to eat. Interested persons can help us get some food to our always interested poultry.

5:00 Food!

In case some heirloom tomatoes are not enough, so the potluck and turkey feed begins at 5pm.

5:00-6:00+ Live Music
We have arranged for the Buskers to play at our festival this year. Rick Truax and Scott Hammerlinck have an acoustic set that will run for an hour and then break for some food. If we all give them the positive feedback they deserve, they just might play for a bit more after they've had a chance to eat something. If you attended some of the early Waverly Farmers' Markets on Saturdays this season, you will have had a chance to hear them and have an idea of what they play. If you haven't had a chance to hear them, then you should come to the festival and enjoy.

5:00 - 6:00 Heirloom Tomato Tasting
We will put out a spread of different tomatoes for everyone to taste. You all get to vote for your favorite. The winning tomato gets a 'free' blog post and a bump in production for next year!

6:00 Farm Tour #2
If you are not famished and want the nickel tour, here is a second chance for you.

6:00 Farm more Huck Finn Play Time
Hey - if we have all these neat games and art making opportunities and music around - why would we stop? If you can still move after eating - go for it!

7:00 Bonfire and s'Mores?

It is GFF tradition to have a bonfire and some s'Mores after the potluck winds down. The tradition only holds if the weather allows. If it is too windy, we may opt to not start a fire.

8:00 Time to Wind it Down
As it starts to get dark on the farm, the farmers start to turn into pumpkins. Well, not literally. But, they do still need to do some chores after everyone leaves. If you are willing to help with a little clean up, please let us know. We might appreciate three to four pairs of hands to help in that department.

We Compost
In an effort to reduce waste at GFF events, you will notice that we will have containers with different labels. All food waste will go into the COMPOST bucket. We do realize that some meat might go into these buckets, but the relatively low volume as compared to our compost piles will not make much difference in this case. We will have a BURNABLES container for napkins and paper produces. Another container will take the dishes and silverware we provide (if you bring your own, you'll have to take it with you, of course). A RECYCLING container will be available for standard recyclable items. And, a TRASH container will be for whatever is left (it should not be much).

Arrange to pick up or order poultry while you are there!

Our second batch of broilers will be processed very soon. We still have some broiler chickens and ducks from prior processing events. Save a dollar per bird if you order birds and pick them up prior to leaving the farm at the end of the Festival. We will also have a sign up sheet available to reserve turkeys.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

GFF Dictionary part I

We have, over time, shared with you some of our farm-specific terminology.  And, like language everywhere, some terms will fall into and out of favor depending on circumstance.  If you would like to see the original postings that introduced some of these terms, they are at the end of this post. 
Learn your GFF terminology.  I, the Sandman, have spoken
There are many more terms we hope to remember to add, but we thought it might be amusing for everyone to see the dictionary of GFF terms as it stands right now.
  • Ali and Frazier.  As our male broiler chickens mature, they start to challenge each other.  The spend time about a foot apart in an aggressive each other the 'evil' eye.  Occasionally, they'll move their heads up and down trying to get an advantage.  Rarely, they'll give each other chest bump and then go eat something.
  • Beaks of Doom. Every once in a while there is a disturbance where many chickens (hens or broilers) move quickly at once.  Flying insects do cause quite a stir in the flock.  Until they meet a beak of doom.
  • B.O.D. - see Beaks of Doom or Bills of Doom
  • Bills of Doom - it turns out that the ducks are pretty good at catching things as well.  They're just funnier when they try to move quickly.
  • Breezy - Do you wear a hat?  Well, now you don't.
  • Broiler hiccups.  Ok - they are not really hiccups.  But, the sound some of these birds are making as they attempt to learn to crow....  hiccups is about the only valid description we can come up with.
  • Broom Bird. We used to have to work harder to put broilers into their buildings, so we used to play a game called broom bird.  No - we did not *hit* the birds with brooms.  But, we did use brooms to direct birds to their shelter.  Our waving arms didn't suffice - but a colorful broom - that's the ticket.  
  • Cardio - using the wheel hoe in the gardens. See "Three Shirt Day."
  • Chicklet - a baby chicken.
  • Chuckie - any woodchuck on our property has a tendency to be at least mildly evil. The mama woodchuck is, of course, Bride of Chuckie and the young-uns could be considered Spawn of Chuckie - but the babies look more like something else (see Ewok) 
  • Clyde - sometimes a bird will not go into shelter at night.  If an owl finds them, we usually just find internal organs the next morning.  That bird is automatically named "Clyde."  See "Not Like Clyde." 
  • Door Wardens - one to three of our turkeys tend to stand (or sit) in the door area of their shelter as a guard until we come to close the door at night.
  • Dumb Truck - we learned this one from an advertisement in a free farm magazine that lists such things for sale.  There is evidently a unique Dumb Truck (only 1) for sale.  Funny that it looks like what most people would call a Dump Truck.  From now on, it is a Dumb Truck!
  • Ewok - a woodchuck youngster.  Apparently, they do not clothe the youngsters. 
  • Executive Decision -  there are numerous times during the growing season that a decision simply gets made for us.  That's just the way it is.
  • Farmer Delusional Syndrome - a typical disorder found in farmers that do what we do at the time of year when seed catalogues arrive.
  • Fork of Damocles - as the date for a trip to the park closes for any of our poultry, we say the "Fork of Damocles" is hanging over them.
  • Garden Zit - potato beetle larvae. They're orange with some spotting/striping and look a little like mini-Jabba the Hut. They pop when squished (not squashed).
  • Field Access Indicators - the puddles in the drive area.  If they are full, you likely can't work the soil in the fields.  If they are damp, pretty close to ready.  Dry?  Go for it.
  • Freezer Camp - after the fun and exciting trip to "the Park" our meat birds chill at Freezer Camp. 
  • "Help" - what our cats do
  • High Speed Internet - Oh, wait.  That one belongs in our myth list on the farm.  Put it between "weed-free" and "on-schedule". 
  • High Wind Warning - Look out!  Wasn't that the neighbor's cow blowing by?
  • Honeydew list - the list of melons we intend to grow in the coming year.  
  • Insta-Tan - put on suntan lotion, go oustide on a windy day when the soil is dry and sweat a little bit.  The result is often an insta-tan that will be the envy of all of the other kids at the pool.  Sadly, the pool owner will not feel envy if you jump into the pool with your insta-tan.
  • Kamikaze - a blackfly or gnat that does that little loop in front of your eye before diving right in.
  • Kite - it's a pull-behind tool for a garden tractor that flips up grass clippings into the carrier so it can be used as mulch or compost. It can catch the wind too, there you have it.
  • Knucklehead - a generic term used for any of our poultry that is causing Rob's blood pressure to go up. Occassionally, deer, chuckies, raccoon, cats and other critters will become a knucklehead. Early in life, Rob called bullheads 'knuckleheads,' but that's another (GFF) story.
  • Mentor crop - often we plant successions of a crop (to spread out the harvest).  The planting that was put in earlier is often our 'mentor crop' if it is doing well.  When the new succession pokes their little heads up out of the ground, we point to the earlier crop and say, "See - that's what YOU'RE supposed to do."
  • Misplaced - Things that were not properly anchored or put away prior to a period of wind. 
  • Nibster - Both of the little feline type creatures that live in our house are nibsters.  Nibster is what you get if you shift your right hand to the left one spot (as a touch typest).  See if you can figure it out.
  • Not Like Clyde: We now tell our broilers to 'not be like Clyde' when they don't want to go into their shelter at night.  Still, that bird had guts.
  • Orbin - that's a robin for people who aren't always so good at word scrambles.
  • Paid in Full - what a critter is said to have done if it does not escape from the Fauxes after it takes out some of their poultry or crops.
  • the Park  - where the meat birds go to chill.  Literally.  See also "Freezer Camp"
  • Product Tester - that would be Tammy. She likes to eat produce in the field.
  • Scout - the early tomatoes that often precede the main crop by 2-4 weeks.  Most tomato varieties in our fields will set a couple of tomatoes early and ripen then well before the main crop.  We figure they are checking out our farm before encouraging the rest to grow and ripen. Similar patterns have been observed for other fruiting plants, such as peppers, beans and summer squash.
  • Skritcher - any tool used to scratch up the ground and make life more difficult for weeds. Officially, a skritcher has tines - but we stretch the definition for saddle hoes, wire weeders, etc.
  • Sun puddle - especially prevalent on sunny Winter days.  Cats are particularly good at commandeering the flat spaces where a sun puddle resides.  Beware - they (the sun puddles) tend to move.
  • Squish - ya, that's a squash. There is a summer squish, pumpkin squish, butternut squish and rotten squish that goes 'squish' when it's squashed.
  • T.E.F. (Thistle Eradication Forces) - when you have to deal with Canadian Thistle on your farm, it's time to gather the troops.
  • Three Shirt Day - think about it. We work outside. It gets warm. We perspire. Also possible entries include Four Shirt Day and Five Shirt Day.  Thankfully, it doesn't usually get worse than that.
  • Time Wasters - aka kittens.
  • Turklets - baby turkeys
  • Turkles - the next stage for turkeys after "turklets"
  • Turks - the third stage for turkeys after "turkles."  The following stage is "Knucklehead".
  • UnEgg Space - when you tend to pick 4 to 5 dozen eggs a day from your laying flock, *any* space in the refrigerator that does not hold eggs is UnEgg Space.
  • VAP (Very Ambitious Plan) -  Our daily work plan at the farm.  Beware the OAP (Overly Ambitious Plan) and the NAP (No Ambition Plan).  For more details, check out this post.
  • Windy - That's when you close building doors so things don't blow OUT of the buildings. 
Some GFF Farm Terminology Lessons (some of these terms have been taken from these older posts and edited a bit):

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pollinator Field Day at GFF

Before and After

It has been too long since we've actually posted here, so we're going for some "low-hanging" fruit and posting some picture before and afters for you to peruse.  Please believe me when I say there are a number of posts in the brain or in the writing pipeline.  but, finding the time to do them has been problematic.

We just went through the cucumber peak over the last couple of weeks and, sadly, they are already in decline.  But, it's always fun while it lasts.

It does not take long for cucumber to cover an area once they decide to sprawl and this year was no exception.  For those who need orientation, there are peas on the fences to the left.  They are finished producing (in both pictures) and since the last picture, those fences have been taken down.  The plants to the right are pole beans.  As you can see, we added fencing there in between the two pictures (about 10 days between the two pictures).

Some lovely A&C Pickling cucumbers

There is usually a need to get in a weeding just as the melons start to sprawl.  We hit that field this year during one of the warmest days of the season. 

Remember, if you need to see a bigger version of these pictures, you can double click on them and a window will open with the larger version.  Since this time, the vines have sprawled and the flowers in the companion plants (borage, zinnia, phacelia) are now open.  And, of course, it looks like we should weed again.  What else is new?

This field is actually broccoli, cauliflower, romanesco and onions.  But, who's counting?

It may look like the rows are very short in the second picture, but please believe me that it is a perspective thing and the area with no plants is much shorter than the area with plants.  This has been a tough field this year, but we're fighting it with some success.


There always seems to be a period of time in the Summer where EVERY field feels like it is getting away from you.  We put in a great deal of effort to try to clean things up and had some good results.  But, once again, it is mid-August and we're looking at areas that need attention again. 

It's a never ending cycle - so I'd better to get some weeding done now.