Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Little of This and a Little of That

Tammy and I spent quality time together this afternoon digging carrots.  After our efforts today, there are only 20-30 feet of carrots left to dig.  And, we are nearing the 1/2 ton mark for carrots from our farm this year.  We're pleased by that.  Add in Jeff Sage's carrots and our CSA members who love this vegetable should be happy for what they've gotten this season!
St Valery carrots from GFF

In any event, we dug carrots - and now both of us are tired.  But, this gives me a chance to address a question asked of us last week.  Why do we have Jeff grow carrots when we are also growing carrots?  

The simple answer is this:  Our farm's soil tends to make it difficult to get early crops in.  Jeff, on the other hand, is extremely good at early carrots and beets.  So, he plants the early crop and we plant a later crop.  But, we have found that even a later crop of carrots at GFF has been sporadic.  So, when we hit the jackpot with carrots at GFF, our agreement with Jeff results in our farm share members getting lots of wonderful carrots with different looks and somewhat different tastes.  And, there it is in a nutshell....or perhaps in the carrot greens.  Whatever.

We had a spectacular show of lightning on the evening of October 4.  I was encouraged to try the camera.  I haven't done much with night time shots, nor was a willing to set up a tripod, etc.  But, the picture below does give an idea of the activity.
A blurry, but wonderful, picture of lightning
Whenever a storm passes by that has this much activity, it is important to watch and appreciate the power and beauty of it.  It is also important to be grateful that you are not directly in the path of the storm in question.  Believe me, we were.

Speaking of weather - we had our first frost of the Fall this morning (Oct 13).  We are so pleased that it waited this long.  We are not so happy that it snuck up on us.  Our currently short-handed weather service (NOAA) didn't put a warning or watch our for us (they did for NW Iowa) and I'm afraid we let that lull us.  Both Tammy and I saw signs that it might happen.  So, it's our fault for relying on other things other than our senses.  Or, more important, we know we should use all of our tools rather than limit our opportunities to observe.

Sweet Genovese Basil
The result is that we have a number of things that are not doing so well anymore.  Some of which we might have found energy to cover if we'd been more alert (or if we'd been alerted).  But, the reality is, we're probably getting a bit tired and the idea of covering too many of these crops isn't as attractive as it is a month earlier (Sep 13).  The basil did well for us this year - but now we must say good-bye.  It is gone - and it won't come back.    Alas, we hardly knew ye.

Crops that handle the cold well include the brassica family.  If you hear us refer to "brassica," we are indicating plants like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and romanesco.  Yes.  Romanesco. 
Romanesco ready for the CSA
Romanesco is best described as having a cauliflower texture.  But, it is light green and has whorls rather than a rounded head.  If you know what fractals are, you will appreciate seeing their appearance in nature here.  If you don't care what fractals are, you should at least care about how good romanesco tastes.  It is excellent raw and equally good steamed.  We ate a nice big pot of romanesco, along with green beans, a baked potato and a little bit of GFF chicken for dinner tonight.  It's 10pm and I'm still full.

It's great meals like this that remind why we work on the farm.  It also reminds me of why we keep learning and keep trying to improve the tools in our tool box.  One of those tools was the Williams Tool Bar we purchased this Spring.

The farmer acting like he knows what he is doing.
We're still learning how this tool works best, but so far it has been a big winner for us.  Thus far, it can be credited with helping us to bring you brassica (see!  see!  I reused a word I introduced to you earlier!  Clever me!).  It has also helped us to incorporate cover crops that did very well.  (I talked a little about cover crops in this post a week or so ago.)  You didn't know there was a quiz later, did you?

It has been very nice having a decent fence for the laying hens this Fall.  It really makes things much easier to deal with.  This is especially true with the gates we have (thank you Tyler).

Tyler stuck with the chickens.  We told him to put the latch where he could get it.
The difficult thing with tasks such as this one is the natural tendency to believe the task is done once it  But, with things like fences, there is probably never going to be a "done."  When you have chickens scratching and digging around the fences, raccoons pushing, climbing and digging, and other critters doing whatever to it - there will need to be repairs.  And, then there is the weather.  So - there it is.  A gate, a fence, a pasture.  It works great.  Now we just have to maintain it.  No problem.  Right?

And then, I found this neat picture of our raised beds when the swiss chard and marigolds were but wee little things.  I am beginning to see even more wisdom in putting marigolds by swiss chard as I watch how clean the chard is.  No thrips damage.  Hmmmm.  It may also be timing, but I have other chard in other locations that have much more damage on their leaves than these do. 
Swiss chard and marigolds in the first raised bed.

And, therein lies the challenge.  Is it the marigolds or is it some other variable?  Sounds like I may have to do a little experiment next year, doesn't it?

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