Ten weeks in the south flowed by with liquid speed, leaving no time to feel homesick. But it still feels wonderful being home, re-rooting.
We got home yesterday afternoon, pleased to find the snow melted down to manageable depths, and our systems and structures mostly intact. Exceptions were minor; one woodpile partially toppled, a young apple tree critter-girdled, a snowmelt flood into the ice fishing shack/cabin, and invasive rodents busy all over.
But we didn’t need to clear the driveways or chop doors free from ice, the batteries that power us had successfully been kept from freezing, the generator and old Subaru started right up, before we’d left we’d been able to tame the chaos more than usual, and Otis was delighted to rediscover those toys we’d left behind.
The clouds have just darkened across the land here, but it’s still toasty down in Kristin’s greenhouses, and the wood stove up in here feels like kindness itself, with Otis napping happily in warmth from trees that lived their lives on this land alongside us.
… just like all the vegetables that we’ll be bringing to life for you to eat!
I just got back inside after repairing a break in the greenhouse water line; and now as I type this, Kristin is watering our first seeds of the season for their first time!
Welcome to another year of the Que Sehra Farm CSA’ we’re grateful for all of you that are eating with us this season!
We’re excited to grow for – and with – you this year.
Driving through the blazing colors of glistening autumnal
River Road, laden with the final CSA boxes of the season, Kristin broke the
silence. “How did it go by so fast?”
She meant the 2019 season, but it’s more than that – it’s all of it. This was our seventh year doing a real CSA, our sixth year living full time on the farm, ninth year together, our eighteenth month as parents … it all zips by so quickly. But I don’t want to go on and on about the vagaries of time (again), or quote Ferris Bueller, so let’s stick to this season.
It DID go by fast. Quick as a toddler running from a diaper change. It was a wet and cloudy year. The fieldwork came easier with years of experience, even as we taught ourselves to juggle it all with an ambulatory child, not yet old enough to help. Fortunately, our luck held – or perhaps more accurately, our safety net held. With amazing support from family and friends and volunteers, it all proved quite doable. The hardest problems turned out to be more anxieties about the unknowable future than anything real in the present.
The Coming of Winter was a good example. It seemed determined to arrive early, and this summoned its bleak harbingers of worry to mind. Very concrete and practical concerns about firewood supplies and travel plans can slide so easily into existential crisis, in those dark hours just before a chilly gray dawn.
But even having started a week later than usual, we made it through the whole CSA season without a hard frost – and there still isn’t one in the forecast. And it seemed certain that the End of the Year Party would feature sleet, snow, and gray; it seemed foolish not to cancel it. But somehow when they day came, the blue skies opened up and the sunshine bathed us in its warmth. (Sure, we would have had a fine time if it hadn’t … but it was even better that it did!)
Having a baby has definitely made us re-evaluate our off-grid
choices and our low-income lifestyle – but even with drastically new variables,
the conclusions have come back the same. This is the life we want to live. Although
it is sometimes a struggle, it’s the struggle we choose as our story, the path
we wish to walk during these fleeting, infinite moments of our lives. Learning
to surf “que sera sera” it an always-ongoing lesson, never mastered, a process
that is always growing as we are.
I love this life. I know I’ll probably never stop doubting
myself at 3:00am – but that’s part of the ride, part of what I love – I’ve said
it before and I’ll forget it again: the struggle IS the blessing.
Of course, the blessing is much more than just the struggle.
There is so much to be astounded and awestruck by, and so much to be grateful
for. And you all are part of that, for us. You help support us financially, but
you also support our purpose and help define our efforts. It’s deeply rewarding
to grow sustenance for you all, even the ones I hardly know or never see. So thanks, again.
We’re all another season older, another move further from the miracles of our births and closer to the mysteries of our deaths. I’m glad to share this life with you, to be supporting characters in one another’s dramas. Have a beautiful winter. Stay mostly warm.
And eat yer veggies.
In the Box
Purple & Orange Carrots
(and Cauliflower for those who missed it last week)
This week, the threat of Winter became much more real. Yeah, it’s gorgeous out today. But we just came out of a stretch of drear that put our spirits and our batteries to the test, and the forecast is relentless in predicting a stretch of days with temps that will peak in the 30’s. Even ignoring the weatherman, the signs are unavoidable and all around us.
The mice are invading all the shelters, seeking safe nesting grounds and caches of food.
The deer are back, with one daring fawn learning how to jump the fence, eager to teach its friends … but we know it’s almost done now, and it’s hard to begrudge them their snacking.
The maples have changed into their red and yellow autumn finery; a pleasant counter balance to the foreshadowings of gray, the hints of ice, and the promise of white.
This week we started preparing for the End of the Year party – lots of organizing, mowing, and throwing things away. If we didn’t have this party every year, the place would never look so nice … it’s good to have a reason to pick everything up, or we’d likely never get to the many little messes.
Speaking of the party – it’s looking like it will be more of a Welcome Winter than a Goodbye Summer kind of thing. We are going to gather extra firewood for the bonfire and plan to enjoy whatever nature wants to give us, bolstered by the warmth of tall flames, layered clothing, and good companions.
Looks like the high temp might not get above 40, and it might even snow. Well que sera, sera … let’s surf this absurdity! I think bocce ball in a light snow would be delightful – and the hayride Grandpa Jim will give with his beautiful old tractor will seem like a sleigh ride, with a warm cup of hot apple cider for everyone.
In the Box
Salad Mix – Red & Green lettuce, red & green mizuna, arugula, tatsoi
Fingerling Potatoes(Mr. Deals variety) – this spring, we found boxes of these, discarded behind the “Mr. Deals” discount grocery store in Osceola. Although the individual potatoes were past prime for eating, we knew they’d make fine seed potatoes for a new generation – so we planted them, and here they are!
Sweet Peppers – a medley of sweet peppers, plus a maybe-sorta-spicy type called “Mad Hatters – the ones that look like Slimer, or an octopus ot something.
Squash(Buttercup or Jester)
Cauliflower or Broccoli – only 15 heads were ready for harvest today, so some of you are getting consolation broccoli side shoots instead. We know who you are though, and next week you’ll get cauliflower too.
Man it’s hard not to start every look back at the week with a weather report … which I know is pretty much the epitome of uninteresting conversation for normal people. However, it’s so much at the forefront of our thoughts now, living so closely dependent upon the vagaries of sunshine and precipitation.
So, that being said, here’s Gabe with the weather.
(if I had Photoshop here would be a pic of a TV weatherman
with my head pasted on. Just pretend for me.)
We’re balls deep into Autumn now, as the professional meteorologists
Oh boy. Um hmm. Well what I mean to say, is that it’s getting cold, and it’s raining all the time, and we had a frost scare that mobilized us into covering the pepper row for. But of course, it didn’t frost – although I am quite certain that it would have, had we skipped the row cover ritual.
The unusual moisture levels have emboldened the fungi of the field – plant diseases that we rarely see in our normally dry corner of paradise are showing up for us to gawk at. The driveway is eroding away in new gullies, we smell more mildewy than usual, and our nice new inverter was shorted out and killed by heavy condensation.
Happily, there have been some lovely thunderstorms – Otis throws his hands in the air and exclaims “BOOM!” whenever thunder shakes the trailer.
Other than watching the skies, we’ve done some mushroom hunting this week, preserved dozens of jars of dilly beans, pepper sauce, & sweet jelly (thanks for the crab apples CSA Member Don, and for the white grapes, Members Marquardt!)
It was a good week for reminding us of how lucky we are to be where we are, doing what we do. Glad you’re along this ride with us.
In the Box
Salad Mix – red & green lettuces & mizuna, arugula, & tat soi
Bok Choi – great for stir fry, especially the crunchy stems. If you sautee the greens, just wilt them slightly by throwing them in at the last second.
Purple & Orange Carrots
Green Tomatoes – now is the time to make FRIED GREEN TOMATOES.
Swiss/Rainbow Chard – you can use it ilike spinach, in a quiche, you can chop up the attractive ribs and sautee them, you could make creamed greens with them! Would combine nicely with the bok choi leaves.
“It’s so quiet here,” Thomas the Brit whispered when he stepped out of the car at the Farm. And for a moment, he was right. The sun was setting, no cars or airplanes or mowers marred the twilight hush.
But not many moments passed after his utterance before …
BONG! ……… BOOM! … KRRANG!
“It’s a boom year for acorns – and now they’re falling everywhere, playing the farm like a giant xylophone,” I explained. Every metal roof, every garbage can, stainless steel table, 55 gallon drum, and bucket were in play as Mother Nature performed her percussive acorn jam around us.
And then the singers joined in – not coyotes, not whip-poor-wills, but … “what the hell?”, Thomas asked.
“Monkeys,” I matter-of-factly replied.
I don’t know if he believed me for a moment or not, but I couldn’t blame him if he did – it really did sound like a couple of agitated apes were throwing down in the nearby trees. Then the monkey cacophony transformed into a much more recognizable voice; owls. The barred owls delivered their hooting, screeching, echoing duet. The silence here is pleasant, but the planggging acorns and war-crying owls are downright cozy, as only the sound of home can be.
(Thomas, however, may have had to adjust a bit.)
This week, we gleaned several boxes of apples from our friend Victory. Perhaps hundreds have been eaten plain, while perhaps millions have been crushed into juice or peeled/cored/sliced into tidy attractive bits, for use in canned goods or baked crisps. A five gallon batch of cider is fermenting away, and we look forward to apple sauce throughout the winter.
And apples aren’t even the most autumnal thing going on – Marty & Ben helped get the winter woodpiles moved into place in sturdy covered stacks. I made a photo of the woodpiles the wallpaper on my phone – it just brings such a pleasant feeling, knowing we have enough dry, dense oak to get us through the winter.
Which reminds me – the end-of-year party is coming soon – on October 13th! Oh boy, we have some tidying up to do! I hope you can make it out; it’ll be great to get to see everyone, especially since we rarely get to chat with anyone at the drop sites anymore, with the new demands of the baby!
In the Box
Norland Red Potatoes – would make a wonderful soup with your:
Parsley – also good in Potato-Leek soup … but that’s a lot of Parsley! Can use some to make tabouli, or chimichurri – or you can dry it for future use.
3 Potentially-Magic Apples – might contain a Genie or make you fall asleep or just taste quite yummy.
Edamame – bigger, better, more! Shell and add to stir-fry, or boil in salt water and snack upon, or make hummus perhaps? We had to plant them three times before we got a crop that wasn’t mysteriously vanished by unknown voracious magician critters. Thank goodness we didn’t get an early frost this year!
Baby & Adolescent Broccoli
Heirloom & Cherry Tomatoes
Early Jersey Wakefield Green Cabbage – cole slaw? Or sautee … delicious if browned in a pan with butter! Last cabbage of the year.