We are still adjusting our expectations for this season because we are still learning what the new normal for our farm is going to be with the host of changes we have undergone in the past year.
One of the things that we are having the most difficulty with is the new normal for how much farm work we can accomplish. The new normal sees a significant chunk of available farm-time going to the poultry. Why? Because once you have live animals on the farm, you have to care for the live animals on the farm. The net result is that we can't keep up with as much of the fields as we would prefer - and if you add additional projects to the mix? Never mind!
Even so, we are managing to get some things to work, thanks to a little help once in a while (thank you Brenda & Nicole). The southwest field is actually looking pretty good and we're trying to decide if we have the ability to put some new successions of veggies out there or not.
The sunflowers on the north edge of that field are just hitting their stride. The coneflowers and the oregano are all in bloom. The Queen Anne's Lace (not our favorite, but it's there) is everywhere we haven't mowed. And, the clover has been a good place for bees.
The particularly nice thing about this is we can look out our bedroom window (2nd floor) and see all of this.
Ok, it is only nice if you manage to keep things cleaned up so things like the giant ragweed and Canadian thistle don't take over. Since we look that way often, it would be a distinct 'downer' if we had to see yet another failure to maintain the fields out our bedroom window.
Believe me, this has happened to us before and it really does have an impact on our attitudes. So, we are grateful that this field is looking pretty good right now.
The South side of the field is in very good shape, thanks to a nice weeding in the past week. The purslane was really covering the ground and outpacing the peppers and eggplant. The funny thing about purslane is that one plant can cover a pretty large area of ground. So, it doesn't take much to have a good sized pile of weeds after a weeding (note the lower center of the picture below).
You might notice that the center does not have much other than some borage and one bold sunflower. We've recently harvested the garlic (which is now curing) and the peas have finished their run. We're trying to get the gumption to move the straw mulch and do an end of season planting here.
The North edge has our first succession of summer squash and zucchini, followed by more borage and our field melons. The sunflowers anchor the North edge.
We are not terribly happy with how the melons are doing, but the zucchini and summer squash are doing fine. While the borage blew over in a windstorm, they continue to bloom well and the bees absolutely love them!
Speaking of bees, we actually harvested a little bit of honey from our hives (for ourselves). We have done this once before (less intentionally) and are thrilled with the taste and quality. The honey bees are not on our farm to produce honey for sale or human consumption. They are here to help pollinate our veggies and flowers. We prefer to leave most of the honey to them so they can survive for future years on our farm.
I think we can say that the southwest field is almost the way we like it to be. There is certainly lots of cover for beneficial wildlife. Most of the crops are healthy - even if they are not absolutely busting out at record levels. We certainly could work to get the next batch of crops in and we could always do a bit more weeding.
There is a diversity of plants in the field, there is significant pollinator activity and the produce we have harvested thus far has been tasty.
We will call this one a win.