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Agrarian Harvest

Wholesome. Organic. Experience. All about our farm, food, and small farm life.

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Feeling the Change

I live by the seasons. Really,  I didn’t give much thought to the seasons before I was a mother. I just lived day to day wanting everyday to be a summer day that I could lay in the sun reading a book. Then I became a mother and discovered the seasons of motherhood; the season of newborn, season of milestones, toddler season. I now feel I’m in school-age season; feel like I’ve been in this season for a long time and now realize I’m about to enter the season of having a teenager. I once had a friend tell me, “It’s just another season of life; it will pass.”

The seasons of the year and motherhood do pass, sometimes all too quickly and sometimes slower than we would like. But then when you look back you wonder where the time or days have gone. How did it go by so fast? Our summer was like that. There was so much work to do and so many markets and deliveries to make, we didn’t know how we’re going to make it through the days. We wondered how we were going to manage until October and not collapse from exhaustion before the first frost and life would slow down again.  And now looking back, I’m wondering where my summer went. How could it be gone already? I’m feeling sad . . . .  I want summer back! Just like I want back the seasons of early motherhood. . . . . it’s just gone too fast.

We are feeling the change from summer to fall. The nights are crisp and cooler, days are cooler too, plant production is slowing down, kids are back to school, the pumpkins are turning, the wheat fields around us have been thrashed, early potatoes have been dug, storage potatoes are being dug and silage corn is being chopped. And the hopes or fears of first frost are in the air. It’s definitely the feel of fall. A welcoming season with the colors of orange, red and yellow, cups full of warm drinks and the smell of pumpkin spice in the air.

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Welcome Fall . . . . .  the slow-down season for us. My new favorite season.

 

September & October Happenings

  • Harvest winter squash & pumpkins
  • Most of the produce will slow its production or stop producing altogether. It will soon be the last of the corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, melons & basil for the year.
  • Our first frost, then the tomatoes & peppers will done for the year also.
  • Farm clean-up: weeds to be mowed & row cover to be picked up

Heat of the Season

The weather is heating up and so is our growing and market season. We are going to three markets a week (Twin Falls, Ketchum, & Hailey). The foot traffic at the markets is also increasing, which is good. That means less produce waste from market that is fed to the animals, which we like, the less waste the better.  We also have CSA pick-up and delivery three days a week. If you are doing the math, that means three harvest days a week, sometimes four which only leaves us with one day of rest. But most weeks we can’t even call it a day of rest because there is still work to be done: animals fed, irrigation water to change, and lots of projects that need to be done, which usually take priority over resting. That’s the life of a farmer, there are no days off or at least not very many of them.

We are busy . . . and about to be in the middle of the busiest part of our season and the heaviest harvesting; when the majority of our produce varieties are ripe and ready for harvest and market. Which means lots of heavy totes and boxes to be carrying, loading then unloading and lots of phones calls doing wholesale sales and customer relations. In the next couple of weeks, we expect to start harvesting cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, okra, fennel and new potatoes. Then soon after that: green beans. This is the heat of the season for us, when the real work begins. We start our days at dawn, we are going all day, and we don’t stop until dark. We are still tired when we get up in the mornings. We just get up and keep moving.

So if we don’t return a call, text or e-mail promptly, know that we will get back you. We don’t have hours to sit and chat or answer phone calls at all hours like in the off-season, but we do have minutes here and there. You are important to us. You are the reason why we do what we do. It is important to us that you eat wholesome, real food.  You keep us motivated to keep moving when our days are long and we are feeling weary. So do your shopping from your local farms. Just by showing up with your smiling face, you are motivating a farmer to keep up the hard work that he/she is doing.

We may have a lot to do, but we really do love this time of year. The sunshine, the smell of the great outdoors, the produce and all the meals we get from it, the sunsets, sounds of all the animals and insects, and people we get to interact with all week long. We hope you are eating wholesome, real food. If not, come see us, we can change that!

Flurry of August

August has to be the busiest month of the whole summer. I can’t remember ever having a calendar that had a blank day in August.  I have heard it said that August is the month of timelessness. The produce is producing at max, so there is more harvest than normal, more varieties of produce are producing and needed harvested in August, and everything  from apricots, peaches, tomatoes, green beans to pickles needs to be canned, jammed, dried or froze. It is also the time of year when we need to start to think and plan for the school year and then there are all the birthdays and BBQs planned in August. There are so many days in August when my head is spinning and I scream, ” Aaahhh, really, how do we do it all?” On those days, I take a few deep breaths, start with one task at a time and drink a few beers. Everything gets done in long run and all is okay . . . . .. or the produce I was suppose to be canning for winter starts to go bad and I feed it to the pigs or chickens, I have enough canned from last year to last the winter. Right? ? ?

Here is what has been keeping us busy on the farm in August:

We have a wide variety of producDSCN7728e that is producing well: seeded watermelons, muskmelons, cantaloupe, green beans, swiss chard, kale, bell peppers, serrano peppers, chile peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, slicing tomatoes, Sun Gold tomatoes. The san marzano and roma tomatoes are slower to come on but are slowly starting to produce. Our carrots are doing amazingly well this year and we are happy to have baby carrots with or without tops available. The garlic and onions have been harvested and cured, we have  been cleaning and getting it ready to sale.

Last year, our melons grew and produced well. We also had request for melons that we didn’t have so this year we decided to plant many more melons. It has been incredibly surprising how many melons the plants are producing and we have harvested the last tDSCN7722wo weeks. We have had a mountain of melons to sell at the farmers’ markets. They have such a sweet aroma and can be smelled from several feet away. And the smell is nothing compared to the taste. Yummmmm!

Unfortunetly, our eggplants are not producing yet. The plants are big and beautiful, but there are only a few blooms and they aren’t making eggplants. This is very unfortunate since my mouth is watering for eggplant parmesan and baba ghanoush. We are hoping they will start producing abundantly before frost. They better hurry, I’m thinking we are going to have an early frost this year. And our beets rotted in the ground so no beets this year.

I know this season will wind down all too soon. Then it will be cold and I will be dreaming of summer again. In all the busyiness there is lots of joy to be had.  I really do love summer and all that goes along with it. I even enjoy canning, and yes, I do get enough canned, jammed, dried or froze to last us the winter. And at the end of an exhausting day, there is nothing like having a beer while sitting on the porch gazing at the moon and stars and listening to the insects. Cheers!

Farm Kids & Nature

The wheat stubble has been watered so any wheat that was left in the field can grow. Then the pigs get the field to forage on awhile. This will be thrilling for the pigs just like it was thrilling for the kids when the wheat was thrashed and the straw was baled and stacked. Before we started watering the field, the kids turned the wheat stubble field into their playground and race track. They would ride their bicycles several times a day around and across the field. They would race and loved the thrill of bouncing over the corrugates. It was more of a competition to see who could wreck the least.  I love watching my farm kids turn ordinary things into fun activities. Like earlier this summer, they dug a series of forts in the ground (that they could actually fit inside of) and pretended they were rock chucks. Pieces of wood become boats and suddenly the kids are pilgrims, pirates or explorers. And large zucchinis make better babies than the ones you can buy and are a lot cheaper to replace.  Our kids have a play set with swings and a slide and a two-story playhouse, but none of that keeps their interest or keeps them entertained for very long. It’s the ordinary everyday things that keep them entertained: soil, sticks, rocks,wood, insects, a field, plants, and possibly a shovel. Basically, all kids need is lots of room to run that is full nature and natural resources.

Kids don’t need all the toys that are sold in the stores. These toys won’t entertain them for very long and they won’t remember them. When they play outside, use their imaginations and explore what is around them. Then they are entertained, learning and having fun. I feel farm kids are the luckiest kids in the world.

I wrote an essay in college about if I could give my children only one toy from my childhood what would it be. Any guesses what it was? Hint: I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time outside. It was a backyard and farm full of natural resources. Amazingly, it is one of many toys our kids have and the toy that is used the most. My professor was impressed with my paper and what I called my favorite toy. I hope to find the box that has all my saved papers in it and I will share the essay as a post.

 

 

Summer Heat: Thrive or Hide?

The summer heat has arrived and has been good and bad for the farm and the farmers. The lettuce has just about stopped growing. It’s  like it is saying, “This heat is just too much for me.” The same thing that the farmer says when he goes in search of shade. On the other hand, the corn, tomatoes,  eggplant, and melons are thriving. I image them saying the same thing that I say when the summer heat has finally arrived, “Aaawww, now I’m comfortable, let’s get to work!” So the corn has jumped in height and is making ears, the tomatoes are ripening, the eggplant are getting ready to produce, and the melons are spreading and growing large beautiful melons. The cucumbers are doing well in the heat too. They are covered in blooms and starting to make little cucumbers. This is the part of summer that this farmer’s wife loves: the heat, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, corn, peppers, eggplants and melons. All my favorite things of summer!

In other farm news, the green beans are ready to be picked. The picking begins this week. The peppers were producing well, but were getting sun burnt. So we covered them with a shade cloth and will be able to offer higher quality peppers rest of the summer.

We also have a little experiment going on. The broccoli was so infested with aphids it was either mow it all the way to the ground, till it in and prepare the ground to plant something for fall or mow the tops of the plants off to try to get rid of the aphids and get the broccoli to grow more heads. We decided to mow the tops and wait a week or two to see what happens. So if mowing the tops of the plants off doesn’t take care of our aphid problem or if the broccoli doesn’t grow anymore heads, then we will be mowing it off to prepare the bed for a fall planting.  Either way it’s a win/win situation for us.

As we harvest the garlic, onions and radishes and end their growing season, we are preparing the beds for fall planting. We plan to plant a fall crop of greens, broccoli, cabbage and any other cool season plants we can and cover with them low tunnels to extend our growing season ( or maybe I should  say to extend our working season). We hope to offer produce as long into the fall and possible winter as we can.

I don’t want to think of the cold yet though, the heat just arrived! So the farmer is planning for fall and I’m headed back out into the summer sun!

 

Managing & Thrashing

It felt kind-of like a “normal” farm around here this week. We had our wheat thrashed with an actual combine, no harvesting by hand (with market garden farming everything except our peas and beans are harvested by hand). Getting the wheat thrashed takes a little pressure off, but kept the farmer busy with “normal” farm work instead of the market gardening type of work. It feels good to check a harvest off of the to do list and have it be done for the year. Now to swath the straw, bale and stack it, water the stubble and let the pigs out in the field.

Speaking of pigs, we are having issues with pigs. We have not been able to keep them in this week. Apparently the old saying is true, it’s greener on the other side of the fence. We have spent a lot of time putting the pigs in and fixing fence. Some say that pigs respect a hot wire. Well, ours don’t! They go right through the hot wire, lift the panels up, destroy the woven wire (they will go through and destroy three fences in 30 seconds flat!) and go where they please. . . .  which has been into the squash and corn patch. So we will have very little corn and winter squash this year thanks to the pigs.

So that leaves us thinking: what to do now? What to do differently around here? And most importantly, how to manage pigs that don’t want to be managed?

For the market garden farming, the ladybugs have arrived! The kale is not on20160725_111740ly covered with aphids now. It is also covered with ladybugs that are feasting on aphids. The ladybugs are not as abundant as the aphid population, but the ladybugs are plentiful and busy feasting. It is a beautiful site to see from our point of view.

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In this picture, there is another insect (middle of photo) on the kale along with the aphids and ladybugs. We don’t what kind of insect it is and have not taken the time to research it or its identity. If you know what it is, please let me know.

And the apricots are ripe and plentiful! The sweet taste of fruit in the summer is so pleasing and such an easy snack. When we get hungry when we are out working, we simply stop by the apricot tree to have feast of apricots. And now to think of recipes to use apricots.

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Are We Farmers or Gamblers?

There was a devastating storm that went through the Magic Valley this week. We are blessed to not have suffered any damage from the storm. The opposite end of valley was not as lucky. Several farmers lost their crops to hail. If the hail would of hit our farm, we most likely would of lost our wheat harvest and all our produce; along with our income for rest of the year. It would of been a devastating loss. I believe this is one way that God shows us He is in control. When you choose farming as a living you have to rely on praying or maybe just gambling as to if you will have any income for the year. There are so many days that it feels like a waiting game . . .  a very long game of DSCN7425waiting and having no control of what happens next . . .  .  we are at the mercy of someone else or a higher power and we have no idea how the day, weeks, months or even the year will turn out. From my experience with the farming life, it is like riding a roller coaster with the faith that you will make it to the end of the ride. There are lots of ups and downs
and you had better enjoy the ups while you are up and find a way to manage when you are in the downs. Focus on the positives because if you focus on the negatives you are not going to enjoy anything in this life.

Honestly, I think  anyone that is crazy enough to choose farming as a living is a risk-taker, probably enjoys gambling once in awhile and likes to be spontaneous. In this farming duo, the farmer is a spontaneous risk taker. I like routine and everything planned in advance, but also like to gamble once in awhile, just a little bit. So I believe we are both,  farmers & gamblers. And it doesn’t matter if you call yourself a farmer or gambler or both, you need to have something to believe in and to keep you grounded.

For the not-so-good-but-to-be-expected-news of the farm, we have aphids in our broccoli, cauliflower and kale, and grasshoppers are eating the collard greens like crazy. So we are waiting or gambling that the ladybugs will move in to have an aphid feast! The zucchini is slow to grow this year, but is producing a little. Maybe that is just God telling us to stop talking about the abundance of zucchini and actually treasure this vegetable.

For the good news, the peppers have started to produce. The wheat has turned and looks like a beautiful crop with lots of straw. And we finally started to process chickens this week. They are ranging in weight from 4 to 6.5 pounds.  We are starting to get pork back from the butcher. And the beef will be back soon too. So we have lots of meat in-stock. This farm wife is excited to have a few less animals on the farm. An abundance of animals (especially chickens and pigs, my least favorite farm animals) gets to be too much for me and my yard to handle.

May we all have a blessed week to come with lots of positives to rejoice in!

Farm Update

The ducks have grown up, they are probably full grown now. And are still beautiful. We love having them part of our farm life. They have been turned out and are free range ducks now.  Although, they are not taking advantage of the being free range and running the whole property like DSCN7408the chickens do. The ducks are staying in their safe zone we are calling it. They are keeping themselves contained to the back, out behind the yard and around beside the garden. At this point they are so well behaved, they are the favorite animal of the farm. They have access to a ditch and love playing in the water. And we love to hear them splashing around and quacking merrily. They are not laying eggs yet, but are keeping the grass and weeds ate down so I don’t have to do any mowing or weed-eating back there. That means less work for me, they aren’t destroying my yard or garden and they don’t scratch. That makes for a very happy farm wife!

 

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The ducks playing in the water of a shallow waste ditch.

The tomatoes are getting tied up and are full of blooms. We are hoping to have tomatoes by the end of the month. The peppers are blooming and setting. We may have ptying tomatoeseppers very soon. The eggplants are blooming their beautiful purple blooms too. The corn is growing taller and loving the heat we have had. The melons are really sprawling and growing too. We have even seen a few baby melons on a few of the plants. We are looking forward to lots of vegetables and melons.

And, of course, the weeds have gotten away from us and are growing out of control. That is probably how it is going to stay. Weeds have way more energy than we do.

Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie & the Crust Failure

This is probably the best pie I have ever made.

strawberry rhubarb pie
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The farmer and our son love pies, any kind of pie. The farmer especially likes fruit pies. The problem here is that I stink at making pie crust. By the way, that is hard for me to admit. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I will work on something until I perfect it. And I have worked on making pie crust for the last 13 years, I haven’t had one that has turned out or been good. So I tend to stick to graham cracker crust and cream pies, I know it’s not a healthy option, but I can make them and they are good. The problem is that graham cracker crust and fruit pie filling don’t work too well together. And the farmer is a little picky about his pies; he doesn’t want a soggy crust! And he will let me know when things are too soggy, too salty, under cooked, too bland, too anything, the list can go on. However, the one thing he has never commented about is food being cooked too long or too crunchy. He likes food well-done with some crunch to it and I like everything under-cooked and rare.

Anyway, back to the pie. Last year, our son helped make a strawberry rhubarb lattice pie and it was delicious. By the way he made the crust himself last year and it was good. Yaaay, it’s a bit embarrassing, my 8 year old makes better pie crust than I do. So this year, I decided to try it with a graham cracker crust and a crunch topping. And it was amazing!!! Even the farmer loved it!

So here is the recipe:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

12 graham crackers ( I always use the one without high fructose corn syrups or dyes)             1/4 C Butter                                                                                                                                                          3 1/2 C Rhubarb, chopped                                                                                                                              3 1/2 C Strawberries, hulled and halved if they are large                                                                     1/4 to 1/2 C Sugar, depending how sweet you want it. I always use the least amount so 1/4 C. 1/4 C Cornstarch                                                                                                                                                1 1/2 C Oatmeal                                                                                                                                                 1/4 C Brown Sugar                                                                                                                                             1/4 C Pecans, Walnuts, or nut of your choice

Melt the butter. Crumble the graham crackers and mix with melted butter. Press into a pie plate. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. I cooked mine until it was dark, overcooked to me, but just right for the farmer. Set aside and let cool.

In a pot, combine the rhubarb, half of the strawberries, sugar and cornstarch. Cook over medium heat until thickens, stirring often. Remove of stove top and stir in the rest of the strawberries. Pour into the prepared pie plate.

For the topping: in a food processor combine oatmeal, brown sugar and nuts. Blend until chopped up or the consistency that you like. Sprinkle on top of pie. Let pie cool and set up, then enjoy! I hope you enjoy this pie as much as we did!

 

 

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