Category Archives: CSA

Week 18: the Final Box

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.

when I started doing these weekly panos I thought the field would be far more dead by the last week … will have to keep doing them

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.

ok, so no Ferris Bueller but you still get the Neverending Story. My brain was built in the 1980s.

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!)

the shining of the sun

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

Ben & Marty: our bad ass Autumn Helpers, packing your boxes in the rain today
Ben & Marty: our bad ass Autumn Helpers, packing your boxes in the rain today

Brussels Sprouts

Butternut Squash

Purple & Orange Carrots

Purple Potatoes

Onions

Parsnips

Kale

Parsley

(and Cauliflower for those who missed it last week)

SPRING IS COMING! See you there …

Week 17 – the box before last

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.

so excited to see the sun appear just before sunset on Saturday that we all went out to look at it, bask in it, take photos like tourists from underground

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.

the weekly harvest panorama

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

Leeks

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!

Beets

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)

the squash harvesters harvesting squash

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.

Dill

Week 16 CSA News

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.

the weekly field panorama – now with more gray and brown!

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 say.

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.

traditional farmer garb

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 Mixred & 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.

Eggplant

Sweet Peppers

Parsnips – you could roast them with your carrots, perhaps, or get fancy with something like these recipes, or maybe one of these.

a big Onion, possibly named Chuck

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.

Week 15 CSA News

“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.

sunflowers setting

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:

Leeks!

Thomas came all the way from the UK, and Ben from Detroit, just to bundle your leeks.

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!

Ground Cherries

Baby & Adolescent Broccoli 

Heirloom & Cherry Tomatoes 

tomato harvest crew

Early Jersey Wakefield Green Cabbage  – cole slaw? Or sautee … delicious if browned in a pan with butter! Last cabbage of the year.

A Ripe Sweet Pepper Medley 

CSA News – Week 14!

Now that abundant rain is less necessary for garden growth, and more conducive to fungal and bacterial disease, the rain storms have quit missing us. Very funny, ma nature. “Where were yoooou when I needed you? Wheeeeere were yoooou when I wanted you?” etc. It’s not bad really, but it is amusing.

I spy a Farmer Kristin and her sidekick Widget

Fortunately, the frequent storms have also given a boost to our local edible wild mushroom community, and we’ve been eating and selling plenty of wild chicken of the woods, hen of the woods, shrimp of the woods, and lobster mushrooms. The blackberries have finally stopped producing, but we made plenty of jam while they were coming on strong. The root cellar is adrift in apples, there is a laden crab apple tree with our name on it, and we have gallons of wild grape juice frozen to turn into delicious jelly.

The coming of autumn is undeniable now, as late blight takes out one tomato plant after another, the weeds go into full seed mode, and the cucumbers fade out.

That said, it looks like summer is returning for a last hurrah this coming week – so we postponed the potatoes and leeks that we’d planned for this week’s box, in favor of salad mix and cilantro.

It’s not only canning season – it’s now also friends’ farm visit season! Our friends ( and longtime CSA members) Tyler & Amy brought their little girl Aster to visit for several days this week, helping out with harvest, market, and more while Otis and Aster ran wild together. And right after they headed back to the Cities, our friends and former WWOOFers B & Nora returned for a visit with their 2 year old son Bear! Otis is loving the company, as are we.

Ummm after last week’s ramble I feel like I’m supposed to end with a Jerry Springer Deep Thought but I’m tired and we’re almost to the Cities so how about instead we all just acknowledge that life is good … our problems exist only within a context of blessing/abundance/fortunate circumstances/you know what I mean. Also, dogs are good people. Woof woof.

In the Box

Return of the Salad MixGreen & red lettuce, tat soi, green & red mizuna, Arugula

Napa Cabbage – amusingly, we first tried to pack these in your boxes … which still would barely close even without them included. Hope you have room in your fridge! Last year’s crop was a bust (always a threat in the absence of pesticides), so this was a joy to provide to you. Enjoy fresh in an Asian salad, or make kimchi (maybe not – we were planning on including Daikon Radishes, but the nemotode population must have fizzled out over the summer, because they all were wormy), or sautee it in a stir fry … Napa Cabbage is a versatile ingredient.

Broccoli – the fall crop is going gangbusters! So much broccoli in the field.

Eggplant – one of the most underrated vegetables in our culture.

Heirloom & Cherry Tomatoes

Big Beautiful Beets – yay! Last year our beets got murdered before they could get large, and our attempt at a second crop was too late … so these beasts were a welcome sight to behold.

Cilantro – goes great with tomatillos! Hey what a coincidence, you’ll be getting those too ….

Tomatillos – Salsa? Or something else? Ideas to browse here …

Hot & Sweet Peppers – the spicy ones are in the cloth bag with the tomatillos and the sorta-spicy big green Poblano Peppers. The sweet peppers are free-ranging in your boxes.

and last but not least: Onions!