the Weekly News
It was a cold, gray, rainy, and windy harvest today; holy crap! The tarp ripped apart in the gales twice and had to be repaired to keep the rain off of us. Fortunately, we knew this stormy-cold blast was coming, so we spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening pre-harvesting crops that would not suffer in freshness for being a day early, as well as tomatoes (to prevent them from splitting in the heavy rainfall that was unrelenting throughout the night) and ground cherries (which are best harvested dry).
The temperatures have been on the chilly side all week, but not quite as cold as this – and we’ve kept warm by keeping busy.
Our final two WWOOFers of the season, Jersey Boys Leonel & Marc, left on Thursday, after a final night in their tent weathering one of the wildest storms the area had seen in years. Trees fell, huge branches menaced our old Buick, missing by mere inches, and their 10-man tent was destroyed, the fiberglass poles reduced to useless splinters.
In the field, the row cover was shredded & some tomato plants and several patches of sunflowers and corn were flattened – but overall things survived.
Leonel and Marc stopped in Minneapolis on their way westward to meet up with us, and we saw them off with a lunch at our favorite Pho restaurant and a skateboard ride around Lake Nokomis. We’ll miss them and the amazing positivity they were enlightened by!
Once back on the farm, we stayed busy – I can’t even remember most of what was done in the blur of days that followed … but here’s what comes to mind:
We found a buried hole, first of all! You read that right – it was a hole, which was buried – but not filled in. A sunken area behind one of the old sheds got me curious, and a sweep with the metal detector indicated something large and metal was below. A bit of shovelwork revealed the sealed top of a 55 gallon drum – which, when opened, was found to be bolted atop a second drum, down in the soil. Sadly, there was no treasure – but also no pile of old outhouse leavings. It turned out to be part of an old school DIY septic system which had never been used – so we plan to repurpose the deep shaft to store potatoes and the like, in nice underground climate control.
Kristin donned her safety gear and transformed into Chainsaw, taking down one of the two dead oaks that loom over the trailer. Our friends Eugene and Vicky (who had camped over the weekend and helped us with the farmer’s market harvest) helped remove the remains as Chainsaw bucked the fallen giant into manageable hunks.
We sorted the solid logs into the firewood area for splitting and stacking, and the rotten sections into a pile to be used in the Hugelkultur mound down by the field.
Later, I picked up all the dry twigs and branches, both to make room to work when we drop the next dead oak, and to prepare a cabinet full of dry tinder for starting fires next spring – when all the branches on the ground outside are still buried in snow.
Even the bark found a use – it was beautiful, alive with various green hues of moss and lichens. It matched the multi-toned peeling paint of the trailer (which we both quite love), so it was used to create a patio of sorts off the front door. It is gorgeous to our eyes and functional in a couple of ways – it keeps the sand off our feet as we go in and out the door), and it makes us mindful of the beauty of where we are and what we’re doing out here, every time we enter and exit our home.
You can’t ignore it – it’s easy to walk on, comfortable, but if you are walking mindlessly and in your head, it would be easy to mess up the arrangement. I have loved the impact it’s had on my awareness since it was installed … while we have no idea how it will change, break down, or hold up over time and use, it’s lovely Now, and that alone is more than worth the handful of minutes it took to lay it out!
We went to a local concert – the 10th annual “Sandbur Fest,” which was held just down the road. Local bands, free food, good people – and close enough that we could still hear the music when we went home to relax by the bonfire before turning in for the night.
Kristin’s parent’s bought us some fruit trees last week – we planted the two pear trees in the chicken run, where the fencing would protect them from marauding deer. The two apple trees are still in limbo though, as we determine where they should go; the existing three we planted last year were damaged by the severe cold, which opened their bark to black rot. We may have to remove them entirely as a result – if so, these new ones could take their places.
We foraged wild mushrooms, anise hyssop, plantain, mullein, butterfly milkweed seeds, herbs, cherries, and a whole lot of tart wild plums, which were made into preserves as the rains began last night.
Last week’s tomato feeding worked great – the incidence of blossom end rot has been sharply reduced.
The 275-gallon IBC container and downspout was connected to the new rainwater collection system on our trailer – using an old plastic tube, a speaker bracket, and a piece of Grandpa Sehr’s old handpump . It rained all night after we installed it – in the morning, it was filled past the brim with rainwater!
The lows are dipping toward freezing later this week – we may be battling frost in the nights to come. Don’t hate the messenger, but it has to be said; Winter is coming.
Last night, we started contacting farms down South, beginning to plan our our escape route …
the Weekly Box
Your box this week contains what is almost certainly the last of the season’s summer-kissed produce … let’s hope we get several more boxes of fall crops before the Killing Frost!
Pro tip – look up a good ratatouille recipe – this will use several of the ingredients in this week’s box (basil, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini)
- Eggplants – a few varieties went out – you may have gotten a Thai eggplant (long, purple, skinny), and a “weird” white one … and that’s why they used to call them “egg plants” – they were white! (Although these ones are a bit long to pass as egg)
- Ground Cherries
- Green beans – if they seem tough to your taste, they’ll be great cooked!
- Italian basil
- Green onions – would be good on the potatoes! Use up the green parts first; the white portions will last longer, in the fridge.
Any questions about anything at all, get in touch! Stay warm and have a beautiful week,
– the Sehrs