Week 10 – Compost Bandit & Almost Eye Patch

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This week our friend Amy again came out for a few days to hang out and help out – she made crock pickles with Kristin, helped trim tomato plants, and weed the perennial garden.
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We also hosted our first child WWOOFer: Javier the 8 year-old, who was accompanied by his mom Sarah.
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They spent a few days helping out around the farm and enjoying the space – Sarah more the former, and Javier more the latter.   She socialized and helped weed and plant and harvest, and when not working he entertained us and himself with his love for fort-building, chicken-chasing, Lego-building, and UNO gaming.
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On their second evening in the Albatross, we were all hanging out chatting when one of the hens started complaining loudly – to me, it sounded just like the scolding alarm a hen sounds when we go to gather eggs and interrupt her in one of the nesting boxes. When she kept doing it, we sent Reynaldo on an fact-finding mission.
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He returned from the investigation  and reported a large raccoon in the chicken compost pile, eating the fresh kitchen trimmings from the cafeteria. It had fled up a tree upon his approach. The hens were alarmed but unharmed – however, we didn’t expect that to last long. The raccoon would be back for more compost treats, and eventually the meaty hens and their eggs would catch his fancy.
Fortunately, a 2014 CSA member had kindly donated a live trap to us, when we’d had a porcupineskulking beneath our trailer at night, endangering our dogs. I set and baited it with a trifecta of peanut butter toast, sweet corn, and dog food.
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It was irresistible; when I hurried down to check the trap like a Christmas morning kid, the big racoon was looking back at me when I looked in the trap’s cage. I was interested in the eye contact it gave – just as soulful as any dog, but completely distrustful.
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It looked into my eyes and I knew it was wondering what my intentions were. It was cute, but also wild – it got scared when I tried to feed it a bean and lunged fangfully into the cage bars near my hand.
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After breakfast we loaded him into the car and transplanted him several miles and a river crossing away – when he ran into the woods, we saw he was missing half his tail, from some previous close call. If he found his way back somehow, we’d recognize him.
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We made good progress on the high tunnel – all the ribs were raised, the baseboards attached, and and many additional pages of instructions were decoded and supports were added.

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Construction went faster this week – in part because we had more experience, but largely because we had good help – Jim continued as project foreman, and we were joined by Neighbor Dave and his tractor – which allowed us to forgo awkward tippy ladder work, and instead simply work from inside the raised bucket, with all the necessary equipment and tools up with us.

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Part of the work required using self-drilling metal screws to secure pipes together – this created hot shards of flying metal. We discussed how eye protection should be worn, but I didn’t want to stop working to lower the tractor bucket, run up to the shipping container, and put on the safety glasses … so of course, within minutes of the conversation, a piece flew into my eyeball before I could blink. I could feel it when I blinked. I hoped it would go away n its own, so I kept working – but after the efforts were one for the day and I splashed water in my eye, I could still feel something scratchy in there.

So Kristin took a look, and reported grim news – there was as tiny piece of metal stuck in my eye, in the white just outside the iris.  The hot shard had apparently sizzled into the surface, and stuck fast. At least the heat probably made it sterile, I reckoned.

Fortunately, our friend Chris Thrift had donated to us not just the safety glasses that I hadn’t bothered to wear – he’d also donated a single use eye wash kit, which I used to vigorously squirt a stream of saline solution into my eyeball, while looking every-which-way and laughing at the absurdity of it all.

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Fortunately, it worked,and the wound the hot metal left behind seems to be healing up quickly.

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Today after harvest, Reynaldo rode back to the Cities with the CSA boxes,where we took him out to the same Vietnamese restaurant we brought him when he first hit town – and then we saw him off at the Greyhound Station after 2 months on the farm – and he left us a wonderful parting gift of an oil painting of Widget!
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In the Field, the pepper plants look lush and happy but still are not peppering … the clover cover apparently just provided too much nitrogen for them to care about trivial things like flowering or fruiting.
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Widget has been stalking through the pumpkin and spaghetti squash rows stalking invasive ravenous rabbits – which are not only taking out baby plants in the field, but raiding the greenhouse, climbing up on a cooler, and devouring two trays of kohlrabi starts.
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It’s been a tough year for kohlrabi at Que Sehra Farm. But the tomato plants are doing better than they ever have for us, as are the corn rows.
Speaking of corn;

Week 10 Box

  • Sweet Corn Sugar Buns & Buhl varieties We picked it right before leaving the farm – you may want to devour it soon, because the sooner you eat, the greater the sweet … the sugars begin converting to starch as soon as they’re picked. Cooking sweet corn stops that process – but really, the best way to eat sweet corn is raw, on the cob, right now.imageThe less sweet-tasting type is the more yellow colored Buhl sweet corn – an old-style, non-hybrid variety … the kind of sweet corn your grandparents would have eaten, before sweet corn was cross-bred to hold their sweetness longer.
  • Spaghetti squash – Cut in half, scoop out the (tasty & edible if roasted) seeds, and bake it in the oven until you can scrape out spaghetti-like strands with a fork. Best if not overcooked. You can microwave it too – as-is if you want it to explode, or with vent holes if you’d prefer it didn’t. There are a lot of good recipes out there.
  • Fennel herb – It will be droopy and sad looking when it gets home, but just stick it in some water overnight – and it will stand back up. It’s often paired with fish, but is also great chopped into salads.imageGoes well with oranges and apples and other fruit. Mouth freshening when eaten raw in the field.
  • Tomato Medley – they’re ripening!!! I wish I’d taken a picture of them all spread out on the processing table in their colorful glory. The stripy Green Zebras are ripe even while still green – feel them to see if they’ve softened – if so, they’re ripe! Actually, all your tomatoes should be about ripe this week. Enjoy the variety!
  • Tomatillos – like tomatoes, they keep out on the counter and don’t need refrigeration.  They will turn yellow and get sweeter the longer they sit out. Until it’s too long and they rot. Good in a sauce with chicken or pork.
  • Potatoes – I would probably make some potato salad with mayo.image
  • Eggplants – some Thai, some Italian, some white like the original eggplants were.
  • Thai Basil
  • Aromata Basil (large shares only) – it’s rather purple.
  • Cucumbers can’t stop wont stop
  • Summer Squash Zucchini – we have been loving our zucchini in cakes, pancakes, tacos, tots, kebobs, and almost everything else. One day they were in all three meals; it was good.image
  • Beets and greens – don’t throw away those tasty greens! Yes, you.
  • Broccoli (large boxes only)

 

“Last Week’s CSA” by Shareholder Amy:

11874175_10103318643643490_1561018961_n… and some pics she took:

grape vines movin' on up

grape vines movin’ on up

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Some of our pics from the week:

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