Farm Week: August 18, 2014 & Farm Feast

This week’s post is another tale of survival, which I expect must be getting old by now. We had our Farm Feast this weekend, which meant that added to our weekly mix of markets, harvest, weeding, and general chaos was a special mix of anxiety, preparation, and finally, adrenaline. We started cooking on Thursday, chopping and dicing and slicing. All day Thursday, Friday and Saturday were spent preparing for the event, and when people actually started to arrive, I was almost too tired to enjoy the night as much as I should have. All of the hard stuff was over, and all I had to do was smile and make sure everything was running smoothly. Mostly, it did just that. Dinner started a little later than planned because everyone seemed to be having a good time on the hayrides and in conversation over drinks and appetizers, so by the time the last few tables were finishing up it was getting quite dark. But we had enough food and enough seats for everybody, nobody was stung by our bees, the horses cooperated, the children (mostly) cooperated, the weather cooperated, and everyone seemed to have a great time and really enjoy the food. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and I think people would have paid double for the experience. Maybe with a similar amount of work, we could make it an actual fundraiser in the future, if that’s something Mat and Danielle are considering.


So with the successful completion of the farm feast, I only have one week left in the crazy whirlwind month that has been August. Judging by my Facebook feed, this seems to be a very popular time to move. I helped two friends with some very heavy hobbies move up some stairs today, and I’m also moving this Tuesday, though my continued vagabond existence means that I don’t have more than a carload of stuff to cart over. My international charges arrive on Saturday, which just happens to also be the day that a very good friend and former roommate is getting married in the Twin Cities, so I won’t be around for their first day in the States. But in the meantime, I have to get myself moved, the house prepared, the kitchen stocked, meet the teachers, see off a friend, and get myself to and from Minneapolis. I still have all of my farm duties this week, but after a few crazy weeks I’ve earned a bit of leeway, and I should be able to work around it. Even though I’ll be starting a new job and be pulling double duty, I think September might be a little easier than August has been. (Also, maybe the ragweed with stop blooming at some point.)

Thinking about: lifting with the legs, time management, accumulation

Eating: see farm feast menu picture

Reading: Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things, Mildred Armstrong Kalish’s Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression

Farm Week: August 19-23, 2013

The week on the farm chugged along like normal this week, after a rocky start in which I chose to mow a whole field full of chest-high ragweed (achoo! covered in yellow dust!). We feel almost caught up on the weeds these days, and we're on time transplanting and direct-seeding more greens for the fall. The boxes lately have been heavy but not quite as full. The only green we've been able to harvest consistently is the old stand-by, kale. The chard is recovering from some weedy weeks and heavy picking, and we haven't had salad mix in weeks because of the weeks of bad weather and fieldwork backups. Next week though, we should be back to bagging up salad mix. In the meantime, we've starting harvesting our potatoes for the shares, and we harvested our entire onion storage crop and stacked them up in the barn. We've also been harvesting fennel for the past few weeks, and the wonderful anise smell just brings my right back to Tuscany, where I spent a few afternoons harvesting seeds from dried wild fennel.

The biggest event this week was the inevitable but still momentous chopping off of all of my hair. For years, I'd been telling myself that long hair was easier to take care of than short hair, because you could always just pull it back. But one day last week, I woke up and just knew in my gut that it was time to cut all of my hair off again. No more long hairs on my pillow and tangled up in my brush! Hair that air dries in minutes! Fits in a hat and stays off my neck at the same time! I'm still getting used to it, but I definitely don't regret it.

Last weekend, I took the trip down to Red Hook, NY to stock up on some brewing supplies. I bought the ingredients for two beers: an IPA using our homegrown hops, and a faux-sour peach ale using beaches from a loaded tree on the farm. I harvested a whole grocery bag full of hops that I'll dry in my trailer before brewing with them tomorrow afternoon. The beautiful weather also means that besides homebrewing adventures, my weekends are full of outdoor activities this month. Two weekends ago, it was a hike up the neighboring mountain to a lake, where I paddled around, read a book, and ate wildblueberries off the shore. Last weekend, I went on a 3-hour hilly bike ride through a few of the neighboring towns and farming valleys. Tomorrow, I plan on hiking a small piece of the Appalachian Trail, which passes through town here. Never a shortage of fun!

Thinking about: comfort, flexibility, self-discipline

Reading: Colm Toibin's Brooklyn, Tom Shales & James Andrew Miller's Live from New York, Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, James Beard's Beard on Pasta

Eating: Chicken and zucchini soup over sourdough croutons, sharp cheddar and green apples, fresh popcorn and homebrewed ginger saison

Farm Week: August 5-9, 2013

This week brought seasonally apt weather, another CRAFT visit, chickens coming in and chickens going out, and some seasonal sneezing. A nice week, weather-wise, ended with a Friday wet enough to preclude most farm work. So today we finished harvesting some tomatoes from the greenhouse and setting up the CSA pickup room for our members before calling it a day.

Last weekend, we did our second chicken harvest. It went much better than the first, largely because it was much cooler than the first time around, and we also had enough helpers to get an efficient flow going. With the last of the birds in the freezer for sale, I made a trip to the post office on Thursday night to pick up a box of peepers. Fifty-one tiny day-old chickens can sure make more noise than you'd expect. They're the fourth batch out of five, and it seems every time we get new chicks in the mail we're surprised at just how small they are. After making sure the new guys were all cozy in their brooder, I went to a barbecue where we grilled up some of last weekend's chicken in some of my homemade (farm grown) bbq sauce. Since the juxtaposition caused me no lack of appetite, I think it's safe to say I've made the transition from vegetarian to farmer-omnivore pretty completely.

In other news, I've finally looked up what ragweed looks like, but I'm not sure it will help me avoid it. It's all over the farm, and it's not really in full bloom yet. Already, my sneezes are echoing through the valley, so I better stock up on antihistamines before next week!

Thinking about: counter space, histamines, post-season plans

Reading: Melissa Bank's Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Augusten Burrough's Magical Thinking, Michael Pollan's Cooked

Eating: polenta with gorgonzola cremificata; polenta with chicken neck, tomatoes, jalapenos, and homemade farmers cheese; rigatoni with homemade sausage and chard ragu