Monday, July 2, 2012

Point A to Point B

What does it take for a CSA delivery?

The alarm went off at 3:30am, and we hit the snooze button twice before stumbling out of bed to make coffee (3:45). While I was prepping the percolator, Kim was getting our two dogs outside to relieve themselves. Our plans to get to bed early the night before kind of got thwarted, between dealing with predators and getting the hens in for bed, we didn’t really get to lay down until 9:30.

It was still dark outside, and the rooster hadn’t even started crowing. I went out to the CSA fridge to grab the buckets of eggs to be washed. I started washing, and soon Kim was drying them and setting them into cartons. I set aside two with cracks for breakfast. Kim was pre-heating the oven for bread as we bake all of our own (easier on the budget for toast lovers). While a skillet was heating, I doubled checked the order sheet for the CSA delivery.

Friday night at 8pm it was still over 80 degrees. You can’t pick veggies in that kind of heat, they wilt immediately. So there was no option but to prep the whole order this morning, especially since the day before was spent trying to deal with dehydrated crops and a challenging lawn tractor. Tractors can either save time, or eat time- ours usually eats time.

After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs (no time to wait for the bread to be done) and coffee, we packed the sprouts according to the number of servings requested. Then we headed out to the rabbitry and the barn, where there are lights so you can feed and water before sunrise. 4 female rabbits, 3 males and 10 babies were all fed, watered and cleaned up. A batch of two-day old chicks were tended too with fresh water, grain and wood shavings. We adjusted the heat lamps for the chicks, knowing we would have to adjust again before leaving for the day so the rabbits didn’t over heat.

In the barn, two batches of chicks (40 each) were also fed and watered, and all 57 laying hens were given fresh hay in their nesting boxes on top of their usual fare. 4 sheep were given scratches, ushered outside, and umpired over grain to ensure the new lambs were given their fare share over the two greedy sheep-hogs.

I filled the lawn tractor gas tank and fired up, intending to haul water out to the field with the attachable cart where we could get closer in between the rows. All of the summer squash, cucumbers, corn, and melons were desperately thirsty after a very hot dry June. We had to get them some water before another 100 degree day, and before the sun got so hot that watering the plants would do more harm then good. The tractor fired right up, the promptly stopped engaging into gear. Damn clutch went. No time to worry about it now though, we still had much to do.

Finally, it was light out, and Kim started filling the water tank now in the back of the pick up. While the tank filled and she loaded chicken grain, I clipped herbs for the mini-bunches for this week’s share. The rooster starting crowing-- nice of him to finally get moving. Somewhere, in the midst of all this, Kim also managed to bake a loaf of bread. She's amazing, that girl.

We headed out into field and began the task of pulling up the stakes in the first chicken tractor. We stake them down daily after moving each pen to fresh grass. It keeps them stable in the wind or in case of a hungry raccoon (caught three and an opossum last week, all trying to eat the birds).

Once the door of the tractor was open, a flock of 5-6 week old birds fluttered out, looking for a snack. I slid the tractor to fresh grass, Kim filled the water tank for them and threw some grain in, herding them back into safety. I began the process of putting all 8 stakes back in, checking to make sure the base was firmly touching the ground on all sides while she moved to the next tractor.

Finally, all of the livestock were taken care of for the morning. We moved the truck into the vegetable field. The truck can’t negotiate in between the rows without destroying plants so we parked it as conveniently as possible, so Kim could refill her watering implements and at least mitigate the thirstiest of crops. We are searching avidly for a pump to convert a really great spring near by for direct watering, but for now, we have to haul water. While she was on hydration duty- I set up the scale and picking containers, and got to work clipping kale.

I picked bunches of kale, cabbage and several lbs of salad greens. I tried to take note of what would be ready next week, and what needed tending. A list of crops to weed grew longer by the minute. Then I set the veggies in the shade, even though it wasn’t even 7 am, I was really worried about the heat already. We always want the crops to look great during a pick up, even if they taste the same wilted.

Then it was time to pick sugar snap peas, and I snuck a few as a second breakfast treat. We were both working at top speed now, practically at a jog. Kim had noticed the eggplants were under siege from aphids, and wanted to get them sprayed down with organic neem oil before they were destroyed. At 7:10 we raced back to the farm house.

We then set up the rinsing station, and consulting the order form, washed and packed all of the salad greens, checked the bunches of greens for size/quality, and packed the sugar snap peas. Everything was tossed in the fridge and we ran inside to feed the dogs, change, brush our teeth and pour another cup of coffee.

I adjusted the heat lamps in the rabbitry again, noting that the chicks were comfortable. Kim checked the coolers to make sure they were clean, and starting loading all of the days harvest. I set aside our farm pick-up orders with a label in the CSA fridge, and loaded ice packs on top of all of the freshly butchered chickens. Once everything was loaded into the car, we did one more round to check on the rabbits, which are very heat sensitive and loaded up a buck and a doe into carriers. We were delivering them this morning too-- to friends and fellow farmers. I debated if we could fit a bale of hay for them also, but the prius was already brimming and we needed to go.

Finally, we cranked the AC to keep the produce crisp, and settled in for the hour car ride.

It was 8 am.

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