Week 13 Rambling

Hello, good people of the CSA! It’s been a bumpy ride the last few days, and I find myself feeling frazzled and almost short of breath, making me wonder if I should really be trying to communicate via the written word. Everything is quite lovely today, really, so it’s kind of irrational. Maybe I can use you all as my talk therapist? Excellent. (If not, enjoy the photos as you skip down the page to the Box section now! )

OK, so there are little things; lack of sound sleep for a few days, due to Widget being struck deathly ill by a mysterious condition known as Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritus. This of course happened late Saturday night when no regular vets were open; bloody vomit and worse constantly until the morning, when we rushed her into the emergency vet over in Blaine. She spent the night in the doggie hospital and is now recovering nicely – although we must wake up at 2 am to dose her with her two medications.

And then, once I’m awake at that near-3-am hour, all manner of fears and anxieties loom up like the shadow monsters from below a child’s bed. Things not so little. Things that make me question everything, make me go digging around, seeking a safe bedrock beneath the foundations of my life. For whatever reason, at that hour, my happy thoughts, my belief in something meant-to-be and magical about existence … those things sleep soundly, incommunicado, as the rest of my mind struggles to find equilibrium among the churning waves of worry. Living like this – off the grid, making pennies, no prospects of financial security, with Winter’s frigid claws reaching out … it is a bit intimidating.

Especially with a baby. It took literally years to follow my strange but steady intuition away from the city, the job, the money, the house, the familiar. But that process is apparently never truly finished – and must be re-examined, re-processed, renewed in the light of new circumstances.

I know none of us have any certainty, really. No one knows what will come, what is the best path forward, if their deepest intuitions are foolish, or even madness. But it’s harder to shush the demons when you’re laying awake next to your sleeping baby boy, system flushed with fierce love and renewed doubts and fears.

All that said; I do believe in what we’re doing. I don’t know for sure that it is our path for evermore, but it seems to be what is meant to be for now, at least. It doesn’t come equipped with a business plan, a retirement plan, or a safety net. It’s not rational, it’s out of step with most everything we learn to do in our culture, and there is no amount of spinning my wheels at three-thirty A.M. that will reassure those parts of my mind that still cry out for such life rafts to cling to.

he’s excited to heko

I think this is the best possible life for us right now – I love that Otis always has us with him, that he is growing up on the farm, with the sky and the seasons, travelling and planting and harvesting and watching us work with our hands and hearts to wrest both meaning and a living from our days. And I cannot imagine it any other way, really – in spite of the moanings of the four A.M. boogeymen.

This is the Que Sera, Sera life we are called to live, and meant to lead. Facing fear has always been part of it – and, I suspect, always will be. I guess this is where I learn to live words that never meant all that much to me before, words like Courage and Conviction.

Hey, you know what? I feel better now, simply having written that out. Sometimes we all just need to talk things through a bit.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to have these fears, and write these words, and feel these things.

Thank you for being part of it with us, and I hope you know that you are wonderful, and loved, and that you make the lives of your tribe immeasurably better just by being there, being yourself, and experiencing this wild and wacky existence alongside the rest of us in your own  inimitable way.

May we all sleep soundly, tonight!

In the Box

Sweet Corn – some new friends of ours at the Farmer’s Market let Kristin come out and harvest a bunch of their surplus sweet corn in the rain yesterday, so that we could get some to you in spite of the wind storm that wrecked our crop. Eat it as soon as you can! The longer it sits around, the more of the sugars convert to starch – so the best eating time is NOW!

Cabbage

our chickens have been going rogue and hopping the fence this week – they enjoyed this cabbage.

Edamame– either boil, salt, and snack on them – or boil, shell, and enjoy in a stir fry or something!

Fennel – would be good roasted with your carrots, or cooked with sliced sausage, or eat it fresh! The bulb and the fronds are both delicious!

Broccoli – the fall planting! First harvest from our new patch. 

Tomatoes 

Chickens also enjoyed the tomatoes; chickens are now banned from free-ranging.

Peppers – assorted sweet peppers

Carrots 

a Melon – in addition to your box!

Week 12 CSA News

Well, we survived another windstorm – last night got pretty gusty as en electrical storm raged overhead, but other than everything on the screen porch getting soaked by the sideways mist blasting, we came out unscathed … and the field got almost an inch and a half of rain! Your produce this week should be happy from it. Your farmers sure are, anyway.

the weekly harvest-day panorama

“Mad Martigan” Marty arrived on Friday and moved into a bedroom in the Albatross (the free mobile home we house visitors in), and has been helping us stay on top of all the various repairs, field work, and projects that fill our days.

He and Jim braced up the north side of the Albatross, which had buckled slightly under the weight of the snow and ice last winter, and Jim built us the wooden box which we’ll be insulating and adding a rudimentary heater to, in an effort to keep the solar power batteries from freezing.

Grandpa Jim building the battery box

We also managed to get the 1500 pounds of liquified carp carcasses moved onto a less important trailer, without even sloshing a single person in the mouth!

fish goo fish goo rolly-polly fish goo

I’ve been doing lots of alternating between squatting down to forage wild blackberries and stretching upward to forage wild black cherries, all of which Kristin has been turning into jam and jellies. 

Otis and I managed to score some nice lobster mushrooms right before our weekly farmer’s market, which made some people happy.

Inside Box 12

Ground cherries – ohhhh yeah! Two pints of individually-wrapped nature’s candy.

Onions

Apples our friend up here in Sterling had a tree laden with beautiful. un-sprayed eating apples, and we got to go pick them! Otis ate plenty but could not keep up with our picking, fortunately.

Heirloom & Cherry Tomatoes – a vibrant assortment of the tomatoes we have growing this year. The field tomatoes are hardly even ripening yet, as the season for warm-weather crops draws near the end, but we fortunately planted an extra row of maters in the high tunnel, and they’ve been going great for awhile now.

Melon – either a watermelon, sun jewel, Crenshaw, Brilliant Canary, or Honey White, depending on the whims of the gods

Kohlrabi  – might be a great week to try this recipe: https://cookieandkate.com/crispy-apple-kohlrabi-salad-recipe/

Zucchini – hey, you didn’t get any cucumbers this week!

Eggplant 

Peppers – The pointy, small peppers are hot (jalepenos) – the rest (pictured below) are sweet peppers.

Sweeeeeet peppers man

Lettuce – small amount of lettuce perfect for sandwiches!

The Week 11 CSA Newsletter

It was a good week. On Saturday we had our best farmer’s market ever, in terms of sales, which was pretty satisfying, especially since we’re without any WWOOFers helping us on the farm now – and looks like we might be without any for the rest of the season!

weeds are gong to seed, and first autumn colors showing up

Fortunately, we still can get by with a little help from our friends – and our family. Kristin’s folks come out and hang out with Otis every Saturday morning while we harvest and sell for the market, and every Tuesday while we harvest and pack your CSA boxes. Our friends Steffan, Darren, & Dedrick have often been showing up to help us with the biweekly harvests as well – and it looks like Marty, who spent two seasons with us a few years back, is going to come out to help soon too! We are constantly reminded of how lucky we are to have the network of support we exist within.

This week our time was spent in late summer/autumn mode: Kristin has been pickling and canning more, and I’ve been spending more time foraging things for her to preserve.

Fortunately, the foraging has been better than i thought it might be – although raspberries, choke cherries, plums and grapes are indeed not producing much, the blackberries and wild black cherries are booming. And it turns out Otis quite enjoys joining me on these forays into the woods around our homestead!

In & Along Side the Box

a Watermelon yours might be yellow, or might be red inside – either way, should be delicious!

Patterson Onions

Shishito & Bell Peppers Sautee your Shishitos!

Heirloom & Cherry Tomatoes

Brussels Sprouts Tops – to get a nice git harvest of Sprouts later this season, we cut off the (tasty & edible) tops of the plants, so they put energy into growing nice fat buds rather than additional height. Treat them like kale or any other sturdy green.

baby Brussels Sprouts, sprouting

Blue & Red Potatoes

a bag of Parsley & (Purple and Mammoth Italian) Basil

mean muggin’ & parsley posin’

Cucumber – starting to wind down for the season, but still puttin’ em out!

Zucchini – ooooh yeaaaah

Okra? – two random boxes got bags of okra this week … was it you?

CSA Week 10

We’re entering that time of the season when weeding, mulching, and planting – the primary activities of early season – give way almost entirely to harvesting, harvesting, and harvesting.

the weekly Harvest Day panoranimation

This week our trio of summer WWOOFers, Lukas, Brittany, and Alissa, hit the road for destinations westward, scattering across the Dakota plains toward Montana and Oregon; now we’re alone on the Farm until September. Wild foraging has kicked into gear again – we finally have time to venture into the woods to search, and nature’s bounty is providing again.

It seems like generally a poor season, as the late June frost nipped most of the wild plums, grapes, and cherries in the buds. But we’re getting a decent flush of blackberries in our woods, and our lobster mushroom patches are lobstering again.

We also found time to visit family and friends, bring Otis to a parade and a soap box derby, and start plotting what kind of route we’ll want to take throughout the Southland this winter … which is definitely coming. Hopefully not until we’ve had a chance to enjoy a nice long autumn though! And even that, not yet.

In the Box

  • Buttercrunch Head Lettuce
  • Sweet Peppers – bells and … non-bells that go by the name Sirenbyi.
  • Sweet Corn – yeah, sadly in spite of our rescue efforts, the corn didn’t recover from being flattened in the windstorm very well, so there is just an ear in each box again. It happened at just the wrong time for the plants, which were tasseling at the time; many of the stalks, while still alive, simply didn’t produce any cobs at all. Que sera, sera!
  • Carrots
Steffan sorting your carrots
  • Tomatoes – we planted half again as many tomatoes in our high tunnel this year, and the warmer temps this creates has really helped us get a good crop of tomatoes, during a year when many producers are swearing at field tomatoes that are simply refusing to ripen. Yay!
our tomato selection at the Saint Croix Falls Farmer's Market
our tomato selection at the Saint Croix Falls Farmer’s Market
  • Shallots
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
the harvest crew bringing in your cucumbers & zucchinis
  • Cucumbers – you might have gotten one of the special light green, wrinkly variety – enjoy a unique and tender-skinned slicer!
  • Bag o’ Broccoli
  • Okra? – two lucky shareholders got a bag of Okra this week! Don’t be scared, fellow Northerners – try one of these recipes perhaps? You’ll want to use your okra in the next few days for best results.
sometimes you just have to harvest in the rain
sometimes you just have to harvest in the rain

Week 9 – Over the Top

Yeah so I suppose that in case you weren’t a boy in the mid-80s, I should explain that “Over the Top” was a movie that cast Sly Stallone as Rocky of the arm wrestling circuit. The phrase in that context had to do with literally getting the opponent’s hand over the top and down, and about victory, and some other feel-good triumphant stuff.

And here we are at the mid-point of the CSA harvest season – 9 boxes down and 9 left to go, cresting Over the Top of the hump, grunt-screaming and flexing our sweaty, straining, shaky-vein biceps with every beastly zucchini and cucumber we pull from the field.

Totally.

(It’s actually been pretty chill, really. The field is flowing and fertile, it’s kind of dry, but that’s not so bad.)

In addition to making life into 80’s arm wrestling metaphors this week, we’ve been transplanting baby salad greens out into the field, weeding the carrots and new beets and the emptied-out rows of early-harvested crops, and pulling out giant mega weeds from anywhere they’ve raised their monstrous bodies, before they can go to seed.

the weekly harvest panorama, featuring the WWOOFers

Speaking of the field, a troop of 13-lined ground squirrels have moved in and are continuing the destructive work of erstwhile evil Madam Venison …Kristin is considering focusing her murder-eye upon them, which will be their doom if they repent not from their sins.

Oh hey, I took a picture of the compost this week to explain the next step of the “compost-shuffle” to our awesome help-squad (WWOOFers Brittany, Lukas, & Alissa), which reminds me that everyone out there is no doubt dying to know about how we’ve been turning food waste into healthy soil this year!

the chickens working on a massive pile of culled/thinned kale and beet leaves

You may remember that in previous years we made compost from weekly 60-gallon batches of kitchen scraps, courtesy of a cafeteria client. Sadly, that option came to an end this spring – but when the God of Garbage closes a trashcan, he opens a bucket, as they say. Our friends at the newly-opened Trap Rock Brewery have been brewing up all kinds of new beer, and providing us with the byproduct – a steady stream of around 50 gallons of spent grains weekly.

These are still full of nutrients and even protein – making them ideal for our existing composting method; first, let the chickens work it over and eat their fill. Then, after it is no longer fresh, we combine it with pulled weeds, damaged/excess veggies, and dead leaves (we stockpile them every autumn) and stir it occasionally as it decomposes. When the heat dies down, the pile goes into big bins for storage.

Quadrant 1) finished compost to be binned
2) almost-finished compost to be aerated with pitchfork and left for a week
3) about to be filled w/ spent grains, leaves, & garden waste the chickens’ve finished with
4) last week’s spent grains, kitchen scraps & garden waste, composting hot beneath paper

Come spring, we’ll use this to feed and build the soil up in the high tunnel and field rows, constantly building the organic matter and nutrients available in our soil. The circle of life!

In the Box

Two or three of you got randomly granted OKRA by the gods. Use it wisely!

Eggplant – You remember these! Good for ratatouille! Great marinated & then grilled.

Kohlrabi

Sweet Corn– very little was ready this week – and sadly many of the stalks knocked down in the wind storm didn’t produce ears – but hopefully more to come … hopefully. Corn might be on the losing side of the win-some-lose-some equation this year.

Tomatoes for now and later – We put both ripe and nearly-ripe tomatoes in the boxes – the nearly ripe ones will feel firmer, and can be left on the counter for a few days to finish ripening up.

Beets & Beet Greens – treat them like Chard basically

Zucchini – yup

Cucumbers – ayuh

Onions – the first of our main onion crop! If you want to store them, simply cut off the greens and use those, then let the bulbs sit on the counter. The outer skin will dry up and form a wonderful protective barrier.

Kristin harvesting your onions today

Basil in a bag with a few stalks of Cutting Celery, which is basically an herb that provides celery flavor which you can chop up and put into egg salad or something

what will be will be