Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Hot August Day - and Blogging is Easy

Ok, the title may not be entirely true.  If you've accumulated a little 'tired' from working in the warm, it isn't necessarily easy to keep the train of thought from derailing.

The Joys of Good Farm Share CSA Members
One of the big benefits for us is the boost we get from our CSA Farm Share members.  It means alot to us when we get a compliment that is well and truly meant.  It also helps us to feel good about our work when you refer us to others.  This is the highest compliment we can receive.  But, there were a few recent events/incidents/whatever you want to call them that made us think about how much we appreciate our members over the last few weeks.

- A CSA member asked if there was a way to get someone to pick up their share since their work shift changed.  We sent this request out to the group and inside of 5 minutes had 11 replies with offers to help.  I prefer to think of it in terms of the positive - these people are so willing to help!  One of them pointed out that it could be a negative - these people are ONLINE *right now*!
- We arrived last Thursday with two trucks of veg.  Shannon and Graham were there to help.  Tammy and I were there.  Even Tyler was there (2nd truck).  And, we also got help from a CSA member in the unload/set up process.  My goodness, that had to be the most efficient set up of that much produce for a CSA we have ever seen.  Wow!  Nice work everyone.
-  You think I didn't notice?  Several people positioned themselves on my right side when they spoke to me when my left ear was still acting up.  My thanks.  Happily, the left ear is now beginning to function normally.
- Several people attended Summer Fest part II.  We were most pleased to have you there.  And, our thanks to all who helped with set up and tear down.  We hope you all enjoyed your time on the farm.

De-Flanged and De-Flangification
We use electric fence poles to hold up tomato cages among other things.  These poles are essentially pieces of rebar with a small triangle of metal welded on to one end.  The purpose of this flange is to provide a way to 'step' the pole into the ground.  It is also there to stabilize the pole in the ground.  We find that the single weld is often unable to withstand too many 'step ins.'  Denis decided that such a pole has been 'de-flanged.'  By extension, the process of attempting to step in a pole and having the flange come off is 'de-flangification.'

That was just in case you all wanted to know how we amuse ourselves as we work on the farm.

Teen Paranormal Romance - Not Happening Here (garlic)

These two pictures were shared on Facebook with those who follow us and the hayrack picture is on our August 16 post of the blog.

We harvest our garlic in late July (usual target is July 20 - this year was more like July 30) and we hang them in bunches of 25 in the truck barn (top picture).  We prefer to let them cure there until we begin to distribute them to our CSA Farm Share members and/or sell excess.  Of these, we will select the seed for next year and put them aside.  Our normal goal is to pull in about 3000 heads of garlic.  We were able to get 2000 this year, which is just fine since we are rebuilding after 2012's aster yellows problems.

After working a good part of the day hanging up garlic bunches, our crew discussed the absurdly large section in book stores now dedicated to "Teen Paranormal Romance."  It seems the "Twilight Saga" with its focus on vampires has spawned a new genre - or at least a new marketing angle to sell books.  Our observations are as follows:

1. None of these Teen Paranormal Romance books would be based on a farm that grows garlic.
2. None of us were sure there was such a thing as Teen Normal Romance (please note, we had a couple of teens in on the conversation!  They said this!  I am merely reporting.).
3. Garlic can look pretty impressive hanging from the rafters.

Cucumber Yoga
We allow our cucumbers to sprawl on the ground.  We have done a trial with some fencing to trellis the cucumbers, but they just crawled up the fence, down the fence and continued on as if it was merely a bump in the road.  (Cucumbers in the high tunnel are a different matter - but that's another story).

So, we simply plant them in rows, run a drip line near the seedlings and try to keep them weeded until they make a tangled mat of vines, leaves and fruit.

When it comes time to pick, part of the battle is figuring out where you can put your feet.  Once you've figured that out, you need to figure out where you can put your feet so that you can also bend down to pick cucumbers.  Once your feet are settled, you have several options as to how to deal with getting down low enough to pick.

Clearly, the 'sunny-side up' position can be made to work, but it has a distinct disadvantage.  If it is very warm, all of the sweat runs into your eyes.  And, if you don't keep that t-shirt tucked in, you get a sun burn in a rather uncomfortable place (I bet you didn't put suntan lotion there).

Another option is go into a squatting position with both feet relatively close together.  We highly recommend that you do not go into a squat with your feet close together.  Our cucumber patch is full of frogs and they love to jump when you don't expect it.  Our experience tells us that the squat position with legs close together is the most likely to end with a cucumber picker falling over into the vines at some point after a frog surprises the picker with a jump.  This is, of course, great fun for the frog, less fun for the picker and no fun for the cucumber vines.

Rob favors a wide stance that allows him to reach a wider area without moving his feet.  There might be a number of reasons for this, but the biggest reason has got to be his feet.  Have you looked at them?  They're a foot long.  (hahahaha.....sigh)  Sorry, couldn't resist.  But, with bigger feet, it's kind of nice finding good spots for them to be and then picking as wide an area as possible before moving on.  And, if you want a serious explanation, the fewer moves you have to make from a position while picking, the more efficient the process is.

In any event, the first few serious cucumber picking sessions result in the rediscovery of some muscles that were probably hoping not to be rediscovered in the fashion cucumber picking finds them. 

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