Week 9 CSA Newsletter whoa whooa we’re halfway there whooooa whooooooa living on a prayer

Take my hand baby, we can make it I swear.

Yeah, it’s that week again – 9 weeks through the 18 week season. Can you eat all that is still coming? Or can we even continue filling boxes for you? Stay tuned!

This week winter crept closer. Normal people probably don’t notice. It feels just like summer, after all. We went swimming in the river and got almost sunburned and the tomatoes have only just started to ripen! Surely it is some kind of mental disorder making me type such foreboding nonsense? Well, my egg is no doubt a bit scrambled, but the slide toward woodstove heat and killing frosts has come and those who live close to the ground up here in the northwoods can sense the subtle but definite change.

It’s still a ways away, of course, and awareness of the inexorable approach occupied only fleeting moments of awareness in a week of long days of eternally sunny Now.

the whole Que Sehra clan above our wedding waterfall on my birthday

In the Barrens, the blackberry harvest was meager this year due to the timing of the drought – however, it looks like the wild cherries are abundant to an extent we haven’t seen for four years. The chokecherries weren’t quite ripe but are on the cusp – and we discovered a new species of wild cherry we had never found before; Prunus pumila, the Sand Cherry. Larger and lower, they ripen sooner; we made a test batch of jelly and it was delicious! Looking forward to an abundance of wild cherry jelly, rather than mourning the absence of blackberry jam.

The lobster mushrooms are popping, and we hope that the rain we finally had this weekend (over an inch over two days – first time for months!) will prompt the chicken of the woods to come out as well.

On the farm, the melons are ripening, and the weeds are going to seed. A couple of abandoned rows have been filled with towering, ridiculously lush weeds; today we discovered we had forgotten to turn off the irrigation in those rows, and so have been giving the lambs quarter and ragweed therein luxurious spa treatment daily waterings for weeks now. Coexisting is one thing, this was just silly.

The rain came just in time – even with daily irrigation, the crops were showing signs of stress – the inch we got should keep them happy for a few days.

Deer are jumping the fence again with increasing appetite, the rodents continue their depredations of the south central field in spite of losing a few comrades to our carefully-laid traps. We haven’t fixed a couple of leaky junctions in the irrigation hoses because the resultant puddles have brought leaping green frogs to the field and we like having them around. There are still almost no mosquitoes around, and the biting flies retreated with the end of the last hear wave. Generally, there seems to be little insect pest presence in the field this year – although the mammals are working hard to make up for it. At least the ones that eat chickens seem to have moved along; our Squad ranges freely all day every day again, learning to find seasonal sustenance in their surroundings (from wild foraging to begging from the most susceptible humans).

It’s a Good Life full of Good Problems to Have, and I’m so aware of how lucky we have been to have found a way to sustain ourselves while living this lifestyle, as a family, among friends and forces of nature, in a place with room for a garden and with time to for us to grow it, and share it with you …

inside Box Nine

With melons taking up so much space, we switched to larger boxes! (insert this reminder here about being careful not to rip the tabs when you flatten your boxes ahem yes).

  • Melons – two of either Sarah’s Choice, Hannah’s Choice (both cantaloupes), Arava (green fleshed yellow skinned tropical), Torpedo (long yellow with crisp pale flesh), and some other one we can’t remember the name of right now.
    Every box has one melon that should be perfect right now – ripe and delicious, and one melon that is at least pretty darn alright. Try to sniff them and figure out which the ideally ripe one is and eat it as soon as possible. Or at least refrigerate it! 
  • Beans or Cherry Tomatoes – the beans are ending and the tomatoes are beginning; this week some boxes will get cherry tomatoes while others get beans.
  • Two Eggplants Italian and Thai or two of the same 
  • Green Peppers – or maybe a purple one. But it’s basically a green pepper. 
  • Carrots – The weeds in the carrot row got rowdy, and the drought meant we couldn’t thin them out because they were cemented into the parched ground. Think of it this way – they aren’t stunted, they’re True Baby Carrots, not big carrots tumbled and ground down into little nubs like at the store.
  • Onions
  • Broccoli – these plants have been a little bit depressed about the drought but they’re pretty emotionally resilient vegetables.
  • Zucchini – yes
  • Cucumber – indeed
  • Micro Mixkale, amaranth, broccoli, red cabbage, and radish 
  • Sunflower Shoots – back by popular demand 

and on and on and on and on and on the river flows

Week 8 CSA Newsletter

It was easy to talk about coexisting with the weeds and the rodents until they decided this was a sign of weakness, and pushed their advantage and tried to drive us into the soil. It keeps things exciting. And it’s always nice to be reminded how little real control we have over, well, anything at all. And then realize anew how much wonderful stuff goes down because of it. Would any of us be with the people we love, doing the things that we do if we’d had any chance at calling the shots about how exactly everything should go?

Which isn’t to say I’m not gonna try to bring closure to any brassica burping rodents that I can, or that I’m not going to try to deter the deer. I mean, that’s what you pay me for. But I’m gonna do it with a smile, or at least without a frown.

Anyway, what else happened this week? Remember how the cicadas song meant lobsters were coming? That wasn’t bullshit I guess; on Wednesday Otis and I went out and found several pounds to bring to the market, and more on Sunday. We’ve pivoted from Early Season to Mid Season now. Foraging and canning and harvesting fill our daylight, and bats and lightning bugs fill the evening air.

Jasper has woken up in his car seat and he insists that I have written enough.

Inside Box 8

  • Beans – every year some plants do mysteriously well, while others do oddly poorly. This year it seems that the beans are in the latter category … sad news for you, perhaps (although I know there have been years when you’ve been buried in pounds of beans week after week), but happy news for those of us who harvest for you. Sorry not sorry. Although Kristin is pretty perturbed, and finds the poor bean showing very stressful. So don’t tell her if it makes you sad so she doesn’t quit doing the CSA.
  • Beets – we almost forgot to harvest these today! The Underground Rodent Army has found the beet row and been tunneling right through the middle of every large beet in there. You may have received one of the lucky ones, merely grazed by their barrage.
  • Cabbage – a regular green strikes again. I warned you we were the Cult of Cabbage.
  • Cucumbers – slicers & picklers.
  • Zucchini – Well, shit; we would have given you quite a bit more if we had realized before hitting the road that this week includes Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day on August 8th
  • Broccoli – enjoy it … the fall broccoli crop seems to be a favorite of the Underground Army. Both the voles and the ground squirrels are devouring the young broccoli plants we have started for the last half of the season, and they’re not cooperating with my traps.
  • Onions
  • a Jalepeno – Slice it up thinly and add some zip to anything.
  • Sunflower Shoots – between sunflower seeds and sunflowers, a farmers market favorite. I spent an unseemly amount of time picking the seeds out of these so I’ll come to your house after I die and haunt you if you don’t enjoy them.

CSA Week 7 Newsletter

We closed the windows at night for the first time this summer on Sunday night, as the lows were dipping into the forties. An interesting milestone, for those who are inclined toward such things, but not a sign of what’s to come – not immediately anyway. Another heatwave looms on the horizon, but this week was just downright idyllic temperatures. Of course, it was still a week without meaningful rainfall, as the usual rain cloud dodging kept us well reminded that we are farming in the Sterling Sand Barrens. (A place described in a recent article with “I think of the farmers who gave so much trying to grow crops in this sun-blasted sand — and how the barrens already have so much to give.”)

Speaking of that, the drought seems to have stunted the fruits of the wild blackberry bushes, but the earlier-ripening dew berries are plump and delicious. It looks to be a decent year for wild chokecherries as well. Dry sandy soil has meant almost no mushrooms in our hood, although I’m still hopeful that the strangely dry-tolerant lobsters will be coming up soon – the cicadas have started to drone, so I know that lobster-hunting season is near.

The Field is chugging along. The weeds we share space with are going to seed, the zucchini plants have graduated to monsters, and the tomatoes required pruning and trellising as they reach for the sun. WWOOFer Jolene almost completed her lofty goal of thinning and weeding the entire turnip row before heading for the East Coast, which we may just leave that way in hopes it galls her into returning. Kristin got her new weed destroyer out for the first time yesterday – a beast of a weed whipper with a sawblade instead of plastic string. Not a weed whipper – a brushcutter.She liked it quite a bit, and should probably do a commercial for the manufacturer. (Stihl, if you’re curious.)

The Ma Baker’s Dozen got too big for their britches this week – getting into everything, pooping all over, and generally being juvenile delinquents. So we moved them all down into the truck topper coop after dark one night, then the next night had the little ones follow me down to the coop at dusk (carrying their mom as a lure). On the third night they went there by themselves, and have bedded down there every night since on their own. We still get visits throughout the day, but they have the chicken yard as homebase now, and seem to understand that the chickens are their people, not us humans. They grow up too fast.

Hey Kristin, what’s

inside Box 7?

Zucchini & summer squash – There are golden zucchini, standard green zucchini, summer squash that are light yellow with a green end that are called zephyrs, and weird little sunshine looking summer squash called patty pans. Sometimes people ask me if certain ones are “ripe” (because of the color differences I assume) but that’s not how these guys work. You can eat them any size from tiny to large but they get seedier and have tougher skins as they get older. Like cucumbers or eggplants. Speaking of…

Slicing and Pickling Cucumbers  – might be a good week to try cucumber salad? The slicers are in the box loose – the picklers are in a quart container (separated in case you want to make some delicious fridge pickles).

Eggplants – Either an Italian or thai variety. Don’t eat these raw, ok? Or el dente. Capiche? A lot of recipes recommend salting and draining them which probably makes them cook better. Saute them with zucchini or maybe https://theforkedspoon.com/roasted-eggplant/

CabbageNot a Napa, but a regular green cabbage Here are some cabbage ideas.

Potatoes reds with delicate skins

Micromix – sunflower, broccoli, kale, amaranth, radish, and a smidge of basil.

Broccoli – a bit in a bag; good for an omelette or a stir fry


Week 6 CSA Newsletter

Summer time, summer time; some sum summer time.

A rain storm didn’t miss us! We got 3/4 of an inch – more than we’ve seen in one go since April or so. With that along with the temps in the 90s, the plants are grooving. Water is, indeed, life. We have been surfing it, too; living with minimal climate control forces one to adapt, and thrive in conditions we could easily find unpleasant .. we shift priorities, center on water. Vegetable wash water is hauled to the fruit bearing bushes and trees, the boys’ outdoor tub hydrocools the humans we raise much as we cool your field-heated veggies (in a different container, fear not). The irrigation runs for an hour a day, we set up camp in homemade shade around the kiddie pool, and upon the shores of the Saint Croix. We splash and submerge with friends and thrive like the crops, balancing the abundant riches of heat and sunlight with water.

Hmm. I closed my eyes to think of what to write next, and the smooth heavy warmth and the hummmmm of the fan and the breeze it creates conspired to lull me into sleep. Summer afternoons are made for afternoon naps aren’t they, maybe I’ll succumb. Widget is asleep next to me, and the baby in the back … yeah, it’s almost imperative I join them.

Appreciate the heat, enjoy the vegetables, and take an afternoon nap. Farmer’s orders.

Hey Kristin, what’s inside Box Six?

Peas – There aren’t a lot of recipe ideas out there for snap peas. The consensus is eat them raw, maybe with dip or hummus or saute them with some sauce or seasoning. Other options: blanch and freeze them for later consumption or turn them into a fridge pickle.

Zucchini – What can’t you do with this vegetable? I recently read someones description of how they dehydrated and ground them into flour. I also learned about the “zucchini slice” https://www.taste.com.au/recipes/zucchini-slice/eb7eed59-5f53-4f6f-bfb5-9b7e3f81a702

Or Shareholder Melissa’s bread recipe?

And zucchini tortillas?!?

(Disclaimer: I have not made these recipes and cannot vouch for them. I am merely opening your eyes to the possibilities.)


Patty Pan Squash

Cucumbers – slice for sandwiches and salads. It you want, turn the little guys into fridge pickles. https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/quick-and-easy-dill-pickles.html


Kale – Massaged kale salads are great. https://www.skinnytaste.com/kale-salad-with-quinoa-and-cranberries/

Or kale chips are always a favorite.

Radish microgreens – one of my favorite microgreens because of their spicy flavor and pleasant texture 

Week 5 CSA Newsletter

The garden is blowing up, the spring salad row has been returned to the soil, and the first fleeting thoughts of the coming Winter have surfaced in both our minds. Jasper is determined to walk, and Otis seems to be flying into grown boyhood. Gargoyle’s chicks have grown wing feathers, and use them to hop skip and fluttering jump as their preferred means of locomotion.

We have banished two chipmunks from the microgreen nursery and this mortal plane, and scared the pellets out of the big fence-jumping deer – I sat out at dusk with a boom-stick and waited until she was 15 feet away at the fenceline before popping up like a demented jack-in-the-box, bellowing and firing shells into the air.

Widget heard me and didn’t come out from under the bed for an hour; hopefully, the brassica-munching doe will simply never return.

The weather, as always, is in the news here. Next week is forecast as being oppressively hot – it’s been dry as a bone here so we were hopeful that the storms that formed all around us would bring some much appreciated rain to the field. However, as is traditional, the clouds dodged and parted around us in every possible way, sometimes re-forming into rainstorms just past us.

we part clouds like Moses

We had a total of a token 0.15″ while we watched the clouds play tricks like these:

But ya know, in spite of the sunless April, the minimal field hands, the rainless weeks, and the survival drive of wild animals and weeds. the field is looking downright spiffy; we knew we would have limited time with the new human we are growing concurrently, and planned ahead, bringing to bear a decade’s experience growing here. It’s deeply satisfying to see it coming in vibrantly.

After today’s harvest, walking up the hill from the field, I remember to Look Up, and Look Out – not to beware, but simply to come out of my introspection and use my eyeballs to be aware.

And holy crap, it’s beautiful. The wind sighs through the leaves of the field behind me and the trees above, the sun winks through at every opportunity. It’s perhaps literally impossible not to be flooded by gratitude – gratitude toward the mysterious interplay of reality, and to the people that have made this life possible for us and ours … from Kristin’s bedrock parents, to everyone who supports us , such as you.

I probably sound like a broken record, but every week writing this newsletter makes me take stock – and then inevitably become aware of how lucky I am to be here. I’m grateful for the weekly reminder .. and also to Kristin, for realizing how poorly I did last week, and writing a bit about everything that came your way today,

inside Box 5.

Microgreen Mix – Mix includes kale, radish, broccoli, amaranth, sunflower and red cabbage. It has been a popular choice at market so we made some for y’all to try. Feed back appreciated. 

Peas – sugar snap peas are the plump ones. Snow peas are the flat pods.

Zucchini – green and golden, summer squash, maybe a patty pan

Cucumber – Just starting. We grow standard slicing varieties but also a lot of pickling ones as they are more versatile.

Broccoli – Gabe says “better than last year’s first broccoli.” For those of you that were there, well, you know that isn’t saying much. Is it the heat combined with drought? Hopefully it improves, like last years did.

Napa Cabbage – A miniature variety. For real.  It is good fresh in a salad, sauteed, or alchemically transformed into kimchi.

Garlic Scapes – Some ideas for what to do with an abundance: Here’s an article, and here’s a pesto recipe, or how about grilling them?

living close to the ground