Riding the Storm Out – Week 4 CSA Newsletter

The weeks are accelerating.

It’s already Week 4 somehow – I had to double check even when I wrote that to make sure it was true. I can feel time slipping into high gear, and had my first thoughts of our winter trip south creep to mind already. Yes, that’s still months away – but the way the days are zipping by, it may as well be next week.

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This week things really felt like a community on the Farm, with a good crew of folks helping keep the plants ahead of entropy and above chaos – lots of weeding and hay mulching, and thousands more ravenous insects sent to their graves slightly earlier than they’d have preferred. The bugs are really numerous this year, thanks to a mild winter that failed to kill off the stupid and slow ones which are normally taken out after not hiding well enough from the freeze.

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Fortunately, the two of us have extra time to do bug patrol, while our good helpers’ hands saved parsnips, beets, and squash from weedshade. We also transplanted a bunch of things out into the field – herbs, summer savory, tatsoi, mizuna, chard, collards, Mexican tarragon, and an experimental tobacco crop.

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Early in the week, WWOOFer Sarah’s mom, Terri came to visit for a few days, and found field work to be perfectly relaxing – and even an ideal way to spend her birthday! We forced her to play cards with us after the sun went down though. Shareholder Tara also came out, for a second round of helping us with chores and organization and interpersonal communication. Terri and Tara helped make the 5am farmer’s market harvest flow smoothly, and Tara ran the booth with me while Kristin got things done back on the Farm (we’d each separately taken a day away on Thursday and Friday, OMG!)

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Although time overall is zooming, the days, individually, seem ridiculously and wonderfully long. Saturday, especially, was intense – with several chapters each worthy of a day in themselves. First harvest, then a busy day at the Market as the heat built up and up – by the time we got home the only sane option was a trip to the River. Knowing a storm was building, we zoomed down valley on the dirt roads to our favorite beach on the Saint Croix … where we unexpectedly ran into a crew of our friends from the Cities!

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A couple of hours of floating, chatting, laughing, and drinking later, we emerged reborn, as the clouds piled up and the wind came on with increasing gusto. Knowing the high tunnel was vulnerable to a storm, but left partially open in the steamy sunshine, we reluctantly left the beach and raced back home to batten down the hatches.

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We had time to check on the rainwater collection systems, get the non-waterproof things under cover, and watched on the radar as the angry red blotches of potential hail and tornadic winds marched toward us out of the West.

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Kristin went to work in the field, where the dry soil made for easy hoeing and weeding (our sandy soil works well for pulling them out with minimal soil coming out with the roots) – she was convinced that if she stopped working because the storm was coming, it wouldn’t actually arrive (more often than not, storm systems split and go right around us it seems), so she just keep slaying weeds as the winds got windier, the skies darkened and began to spit. Thanks to her efforts, the rain didn’t miss us – but neither did the wind! The air became opaque with rain that blew sideways, up, and down.

I have no cool storm pictures, so here is a frog instead
I have no cool storm pictures, so here is a steering frog instead

Trees crashed down in the woods, and lightning showed flashes of hundreds of oak sticks frozen in mid air. I was too enthusiastic about experiencing the storm to shoot videos or photos, even in the aftermath, as we emerged from our tenuous trailer shelter to take stock of the damages. The high tunnel had blown a cord on the southern door, which had allowed wind to burst in – blowing out the north door, knocking a few tomatoes from their trellising, and taking the glass window out of the screen door – relatively minor damage considering what might have been. Some of the Albatross soffit had flown loose, a huge aspen had been set alean over the driveway. The field fared better than I thought it would – the tomatoes out there were held aloft by their trellising, but the rows of peas on the western side of the field took the brunt of the wind’s fury. Other crops were simply bent over or knocked down completely – the garlic, many onions, some pepper plants, even some of the potato plants were bowed to the East, although most of the stems were not actually broken.  Most of the tall sunflowers that we’d allowed to grow up anyplace they weren’t in the way were flattened.

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We spent much of Sunday repairing storm damage, with a break to attend the Sterling Old Settlers’ 78th Annual Picnic, where Neighbor Marcie MCed and local author Lisa Doerr gave a talk about her semi-fictional piece of local history, “Eureka Valley – Grandfathers’ Grandfathers.”

Our order of sweet potato slips (seedlings basically) FINALLY arrived (we’d actually given up on them) … with a very long growing season, it’ll be interesting to see if we can actually get these little babies to produce before the end of the season.

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Yesterday, Steffan and Angela returned to the Farm to help out – all day Monday in the field, spending the night, and then getting up for the 6:30 CSA harvest (in an effort to keep everything as tasty and resh as possible, we harvested everything this morning, trying to get all the leafy greens harvested before the sun started heating them up).

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With friends like these, who needs arms?

Ace and Widget help out by finding the middle of the action, and laying down there. I guess it keeps us present ...
Ace and Widget help out by finding the middle of the action, and laying down there. I guess it keeps us present …

 

IN THE BOX:

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  • Weekly Salad Mix (green & red lettuce, pea tips, baby kale, arugula)-  this might be the last week of spring salad mix, as the lettuce is feeling the heat, growing more bitter and starting to seriously considering going to flower.
  • Broccoli – the frozen plants are still producing side shoots that are as big as their initial main heads were – plus, we replanted new ones post freeze, which have done well.

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  • Sugar Snap Peas – spring field candy! The only vegetable from the field that Widget not only eats, but actually demands … she knows when we’re harvesting them, and never fails to show up to beg for some to snack on.
  • Snow Peas (large shares only) – can also be eaten raw, but most folks seem to love to stir-fry them.
  • Spring onions
  • Turnips – We thought it would be easy to tell the sweeter Hakuri salad turnips (which are delicious on their own and raw) from the more traditional-tasting variety we planted (probably ideal for roasting), since they were called “Gold Ball.” However, they’re not that different looking – the “gold” is more of a slightly off-white, compared to the whiter Hakuris. You can try to puzzle it out or just treat them all the same! There are enough in the box this week to make a good dish with them roasted.
  • Turnip greens are a staple dish in the south – many people eat them with darn near every meal, and they’re a side dish option at almost every restaurant down there. That being said, I know we’re in the Northland here, and most of us aren’t used to eating or cooking them! They’re very good for you, and can be quite tasty – but you might not get it right on your first try (Cole).You can eat them now, or freeze them til winter, when they’re great to add into soups – they lend their nutrition to the broth readily.
scrubbing turnips
scrubbing turnips
  • Beets & Beet Greens – There are more beets coming later, but this is all Kristin is willing to let go of from the experimental early high tunnel planting … sorry there aren’t a lot, but try grating it over a salad to make it purty perhaps! The greens are awesome – basically like Swiss chard.
  • Cauliflower (large shares only – very little of them did well for us!)
  • Cilantro
  • Tea herbs (anise hyssop, mint, lemon balm, red clover) – great for hot tea, ice tea, sun tea, or muddled and spiked with booze!

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Neighbor Marcie, Chicken Whisperer is also a Whisperer of Dogs
Neighbor Marcie, Chicken Whisperer is also a Whisperer of Dogs

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