Sunday, October 5, 2008

That's the way things are in my universe...

I try really hard to keep adding things to this blog, but we are so very busy this time of year that it is an almost impossible task. For that reason, I have posted a quarterly, in depth entry on what happened in the previous quarter and some insight into what might be happening in the next. So, if this post seems particularly long, there was a lot going on this summer.

The Way Things Are.... October 2008

We are now rushing into the Fall season for 2008 and looking very forward to working in the cooler temps. Even cold rainy days can be exhilarating, provided you can duck inside periodically for a warm up and a cup of Chai. So far, the last 3 weeks have had nearly perfect weather, rain included.

I am loving life in that regard since this is my absolute favorite time of year, weatherwise, except for really big snows. Those are the best! They come at the time of year when we don't have to feel guilty for being in the house by the fire all day, cozied up with a good book or some videos. Even if the power goes out, we are good to go because we are just as comfortable with no electricity as we are with it. The only thing the Farmer misses is that he can't plug in his Fender but he just switched to the acoustic and it's all good. We heater our home with a wood stove for the first years we lived here, just updating to a heatpump year early last year, so we can keep warm and make dinner, even if the power goes out. And truthfully, I like that much better and being electrified. Also, if the power goes out, remember not to panic about your freezer/fridge.
If the power it out, it is usually colder outside than in the fridge anyway, so just put your milk outside. Or fill the cooler up with snow and put it in there.

But, I am getting off subject, as usual. This year has been one of ups and downs so far. The gardens have yielded a bounty of crops over the summer season and we still have some of the late summer season veggies coming off like crazy. Eggplant, peppers and okra are still making fruit, although with the first frost, there goes the end of summer. And since the average first frost date in this area is October, 14th, there isn't much time left...just a couple of weeks at most. That opens the door for the next season, which gives new meaning to the phrase "going green"!

About a month or so ago, because of the rains that came with Fay, Gustav and Ike (those storms obviously didn't hit us but certainly influenced our weather for several weeks), we were late getting much of our fall crops into the ground. We have talked to a couple of neighbors who ran into the same thing. Crazy thing about rainfall in this vicinity is that we have little pockets that get vast amounts of rain when others get almost none and so there is a misconception that when you watch the weather of the local TV station, everybody's weather is exactly the same.

Because we got plantings in late this season, we took a bit of a different turn and just basically planted every cooler weather seed we had in our inventory, which was considerable. For example, we planted arugula, collards, canola, specialty turnips, winter radishes, salad radishes, Asian greens of all types, about 30 kinds of leaf lettuce and 20 kinds of head lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, chard, kale, mustards, Chinese cabbages, broccoli raab and more. We planted over 1 1/2 acres of green stuff. Figured that overplanting would yield enough for the rest of fall and winter and also serve as a cover crop between now and next years plantings. Vegetation turned back into the fields are green manures, even if they are weeds, so it is the perfect scenario for what we are trying to accomplish in this area of the gardens.

In addition to all the planting, weeding, picking, etc. that goes on around here, there is also a lot involved CSA management. I wish more farmers would catch on to this distribution is a great thing for everyone but I can see why they are put off by the concept, especially if time management is a problem for them. To make it work, planning is crucial. What goes on in the gardens is pretty much under the watchful eye of the Farmer, so that is no problem. But when you start trying to deal with things that are totally out of your control, things are different.

In the past, we have always had our members pick up their shares at a specific location on certain days of the week. This year, I got it in my head that we were expending too much energy, etc. in our CSA by having people drive to get their weekly divvy because I was concerned about the impact we were having on the environment.

I had canvassed the members last year and was astounded that the weekly carbon footprint of our CSA was almost 1500 miles for the collective. I decided that me driving 350 miles was more environmentally friendly (which it is, but highly impractical, it turns out.) and opted to deliver shares this year. This venture (home delivery) has proven to be the most frustrating, all consuming thing we have ever done at the Farm. The slightest disruption at the farm, ripples out to the delivery schedule and creates more work for everyone involved.

I suppose if we had a person who just did delivery it would be great, but this farm runs with only the 4 hands that the Farmer and I provide and taking 2 of those hands away for 2-3 days per week has proven to be more of a burden. The wear and tear on me personally is another wrench thrown into the machine and so we have abandoned the whole idea of delivery for next year. We are going back to the old system of pick up locations. Hopefully, members can choose the location closest to them and we can reduce our impact that way. It is still local food and it is still not driving a tomato 2800 miles, so I can live with that system.

In 2009, another of our goals concerns education about organic and biodynamic farming principles and practical applications of those principles. The Farmer and I will be working on planning some on farm educational opportunities (weekend seminars, work-study programs) to help spread the good word about what we believe are some of the most important knowledge and skills a person can possess in these uncertain times we are living in today.