Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Slow Summer Fade

The rain is pounding down here, and I'm grateful. The summer is leaving her final brush strokes on the sky and field. Despite the intense heat, and the drought- we managed to pull through some amazing vegetables. We've never had a season where it felt like our crops just couldn't even begin to grow, but the last month or so has been rather redeeming. The tomato crop has been one of my favorites- the heirlooms we chose stretched a landscape of flavors. We had some super-sweets, tangy sours, mellow salad slicers and a huge crop of sauce varieties too. The zucchini and summer squash showed up late to party, but they brought their patty pan friends in spades when they arrived. Our brassicas were troopers, marching through the hot sun and keeping us nourished for many more weeks then expected. And oh, the kale! Red Russian kale, our hero- still producing bouquets by the dozen after a season of heavy picking. Stacking the member shares has been an exercise of tetris- the bounty is quickly outgrowing our delivery vehicle.

Now we must turn to our turnips, and cold weather squashes and dream of stews full of potatoes. We still have quite a few batches of meat birds, we'll be pushing the limits of weather but the mighty freedom-ranger birds do well in all kinds of heat and cold. We are looking forward to the few months of the year where the morning isn't so rushed with echos of peeping hungry mouths and the demands of keeping several hundred poultry dry, hydrated and full. For us, this won't happen until early November, but we can see it on the horizon. I love raising chickens, and eating them, but absence in this case does indeed make the heart grow fonder. I'm ready for a later start, a lower grain bill and a rest from the chore of processing. It wears on you, the process of turning live fowl to dinner. The work and responsibility both.

We are preparing for shifting of routines and chores. The smell of wood stove smoke, chipping ice out of sheep troughs, positioning heat lamps on rabbit kits are a few of the autumn's requirements. The greenhouse will need tending, keeping weeds at bay and acting as the weather gods- adjusting moisture and heat accordingly. With any luck, our holiday meals will include fresh salad greens along with home grown turkey and orange spiced cranberry sauce.

Our first summer on this farm has been the most wonderful and the most challenging. There have been moments where frustration has rose in great waves, near crushing volumes. But still, here we are- bringing good food to good people. The hard work has been rewarded in smiles and better equipment which will usher next summer in hopefully with slightly more grace. This is only one summer of many, and though I'm not rushing to next year- I am excited to see what comes. But first, we will savor the fall crops, and let the snow fall.

Welcome, Autumn.

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