Saturday, September 1, 2018

September Newsletter

The Perils of Plenty
When we hit August at our farm it seems like we finally get to the point where we have more than enough produce.  Now, before you go too far with that on your own, you need to remember that we are a farm business and we WANT plenty so we have more opportunity to sell and keep our farm going.  You also need to remember that we had a slower than usual start with late snow and cold soil early on, so the Genuine Faux Farm was anxious to start pulling in a bounty.  That said, August's peak harvests often set the farmers up for a let down in September when we tend to get our first frost.
Rob will be the first to admit that harvesting cucumbers can start to get a little bit tiresome at times.  But, as long as there continue to be opportunities to move them, he happily continues to harvest them.  At the very least, the turkeys and chickens think cucumbers are great.  Summer squash and zucchini can really load up the trays in a hurry and I know there are plenty of jokes about locking your vehicles during zucchini season.  Yet, we live the growing season in its entirety and this IS the time we live for - the time when we keep pulling in harvest and we can say yes to practically any order we get for that produce.  This is where we start getting payback for the days when buffalo gnats tear up our arms, ears and forehead and for the weeks when we were carefully budgeting the harvest to be sure everyone gets a fair share and walks away reasonably happy.

We understand that our experience is contrasted by many of our CSA customers who go home with a couple bags bursting with produce each week.  In many cases, school is starting and life schedules are changing.  It can be a difficult time to receive plenty from your personal farmers.  It is the time of year when people say things like "it is Tuesday/Thursday ALREADY?!?"  Just in case some of you might be tempted to think we don't understand, please remember that Tammy is going back to teach and two of our three workers are also going back to school.  We also have to deal with the plenty in our own kitchen (and, yes, our kitchen is STILL destroyed - we did tell you it would be November before we could do much more with it, didn't we?).  We offer up the Culinary Corner topic on our blog with a few posts that address dealing with plenty.  Remember, the period of plenty is remarkably short even though the Genuine Faux Farm has gotten increasingly better at extending the season for many crops.  Let's all do what we can to remember to enjoy the bounty by saving what we can and sharing with others.  I wonder if there will be stories about locking cars because it is broccoli season?

Veg Variety of the Month
The Minnesota Midget melons have been doing us proud in Eden (our smaller high tunnel) this season.  The Minnesota Midgets in Valhalla aren't quite as happy because they went in a tad late, but we're STILL getting some nice melons from that planting as well.  As of the writing of this portion of the newsletter, we had already tied the 2015 record for Minnesota Midget production on our farm.

The best news about this year's production is that we have been able to give our CSA members at least one melon for multiple weeks this year so far AND our field melons haven't started until now.  If you like melons, this has been a good year to be in the CSA.  If you don't... well.  I'm not sure what I should say to you.  It certainly won't be "sorry."  Because we like melons.  We'll eat yours if you don't want it.

Turkeys and Chickens - Oh My?
The time of year for reserving turkeys and considering the purchase of broiler chickens is upon us.

Batch number two of broiler chickens go to "the Park" on Tuesday, September 4 and then they make the trip to "Freezer Camp" on September 5.  If you want an unfrozen chicken, you need to reserve birds and let us know you want them unfrozen prior to the trip to "the Park."  We will find a way to get them to you before they are frozen.  Cost is $3.50/pound with average weights 4-6 pounds.

Turkeys are entering the stage where we call them "Knuckleheads"  Essentially that means they are starting to be big enough that we are telling them about their future as honored guests at various homes for Thanksgiving.  They will perform a 'crowd gobble' if Tammy yells "Thanksgiving Dinner!"  Our prices will remain the same as it has been for the past few years.  $3.75 per pound for birds under 20 pounds.  $3.50 per pound for 20 pounds and over.

Weather Wythards
We like this picture, so we're using it again.
Once again, we get a month with nearly twice the normal precipitation.  This just seems odd to us in part because many of our farming friends have been dealing with exceptionally dry years and we just can't seem to dry out all the way:

August's Report
High Temp: 89
Low Temp: 52
Dew Point High: 75
Dew Point Low: 50
Highest wind gust:37 mph
Rain: 8.45"

For those who are curious, the average rainfall for Tripoli in August is 4.69 inches.  According to Weather Spark, this falls outside the 90 percentile range for August.  Hurray!  We're above average!

Year Through August
High Temp: 97
Low Temp: -20
Lowest Windchill: -34
Highest Heat Index: 119
Highest Wind gust: 46 mph
Rainfall: 30.19"
Barometer Range: 29.39 to 30.89

Surplus Produce
Do you need cucumbers for pickling, tomatoes for canning/freezing, zucchini for shredding and freezing?  Now is the time to ask us so you can get in line to receive some of our excellent surplus.  Certainly there will be more of some of these things later, but we know how easy it is to let time pass and you're left without those jars of salsa you expect to use every February.  Let us know what you are looking for and if we think we'll have it we'll put you next on the list as these things come available.

This year's tomato crop looks like it is getting ready to hit peak and that peak may be very, very quick this season.  We have had numerous foggy mornings, which tends to promote blight in crops like tomatoes.  Blight tends to make it difficult for tomatoes to hold on and produce further into the Fall.  We do have tomato plants in our high tunnels and they do produce much later, but we don't usually get the volume we get during peak field production.  Cucumbers begin to decline rapidly after Labor Day and rarely do much once we get to September 15.  They just do not get the heat and light they want.  And, that darned fog promotes powdery mildew on summer squash and zucchini.  So, the time is now!

Speaking of decline, the extremely wet weather and the forecast for a week of rain heralds the distinct likelihood that our crops will crash in the next couple of weeks.  We will certainly do what we are able to do, but when most of the farm is a giant puddle, there is only so much you can do.

Song of the Month
Since we seem to have spent more time wearing our Muck Boots this year, we thought we'd go with Kelly's Wellies by Gaelic Storm.  No, Wellies aren't exactly the same thing as Muck Boots, but I suddenly feel inspired to paint some laces on them, though I won't cut them down to look like shoes.

Picture of the Month
If you missed the Summer Festival, then you missed the bringer of S'more supplies! 

 A big thank you to everyone who came on out to celebrate with us.  We had a smaller, but enthusiastic group at the gathering this year.  There were numerous kid-friendly activities.  The sidewalk chalk made one of our flair box trailers beautiful.  Paper bags became elaborate and were turned into interesting hand puppets.  Chess and Mancala came out to play.  People tried out Bocci ball and the Washer Toss.  The cats got attention until it was too much attention.  There was music playing and music played.  S'mores were consumed and a turkey was cooked (yes, it was already processed - what were YOU thinking?).  There was planty of good food shared by all and excellent conversations.

The turkeys and hens had a hard time figuring out what happened for the next couple of days.  They really enjoyed all of the extra attention that came in the form of cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash and other scraps.  The farmers don't usually go out there nearly so often, so they proceeded to let us know in various ways that our efforts were insufficient after the bar was set so high during the festival.

Quick Crop Report
About this time of year, we begin to report on the yields we are experiencing for those who are curious.  Sometimes, yields go up and down depending on what we have decided to do on the farm during the current season.  For example, we did less with radish in the early part of the year than we normally do.  Of course, that means the harvest of radish will be much lower than prior years.  But, here are a few numbers for all of us to chew on.

Lettuce 319 pounds
  Last year's full-season total was 362 pounds and the ten-year average for a full-season is 687 pounds.  The average is inflated given the fact that it includes years where we were growing twice the number of CSA members, but we are trying to push the late season lettuce this year in hopes of capturing more sales in that area.

Cucumbers 2558 fruit
  Last year was a weak crop for cucumbers with only 1672 fruit harvested for the whole season.  The average is just over 3000 per year (3029).  Assuming the weather allows us to harvest again, we should get to the average.  In fact, cucumbers tend to like rainier years, so we should be fine.  

Kohlrabi 612 head
  This is a crop we don't talk about much, yet we've been very consistent with 600-700 head each of the past four seasons.  We grew nearly twice that many for a couple of years prior to that - once again when our CSA membership was closer to 110 families than the current 65.  Kohlrabi isn't usually a candidate for other types of sales in our area, so it makes no sense to grow more than what we want for the CSA.

Melons 390 fruit
  This number should be higher than this, but we're losing a significant number of fruit to the wet.  This is a crop where the average means next to nothing because we have had less consistency over the eight years of recorded melon production.  Suffice it to say that we are ok with 300 and happy when we get over 400.  Ecstatic was the years we broke the 500 (and 600!) mark.

Onion 2889 roots
  This harvest is right around average for the past five years.  While it might sound odd, we are actually disappointed in this crop because we had visions of doing much more with it.  The idea was that onions could store and be sold over a period of time to spread out some of our income.  We actually lost fully half of our onion beds because the starts were not healthy.  So, we remain thankful for a decent harvest and we look forward to another try at even better results in 2019.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your input! We appreciate hearing what you have to say.