“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

September 29, 2010

there is something about running my hand down Louie's shoulder...all that strength at peace...built by something as unappreciated and unassuming as grass

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 24, 2010

Its 4 o’clock pm, September 24th, a day after the equinox and a day into fall…but its 96 degrees and the heat index is 101! Wow! Another day well over 90 degrees! We have passed the mark of 50 days above 90 degrees this year.

It’s been very hard to grow fall greens like lettuces and spinach in this weather. The soil temperatures have remained high, there has been no rain, and of course, this day’s weather is another day of how it’s been.

If it wasn’t for the irrigation well which brings up cooler water, I would be having an even much harder time of it. Right now I am running the sprinkler on the lettuces, which earlier this week reached the 2nd leaf stage. I am doing it just to cool down the baking soil. Later tonight, I will do my watering. If I watered it now, only about half of the water would get to the roots – the rest will have evaporated by the time it left the sprinkler nozzle and hit the ground. It’d be a waste of water and the energy to pump it, and wouldn’t do my garden much good.

Right now I don’t know if I’m just writing this to tell you a story, to get out my hot weather frustrations, or to come up with some point because I feel obligated to end this post with some flash of farming wisdom. I’m sure not going to lecture on global warming though. Don’t need to.

Think that I will just have to deal with the 96 degrees. That’s all I can do. Well anyhow, I need to walk out to the field and move the sprinkler over a few rows…get things cooled down. See if I can keep the lettuce going.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 19, 2010

There are a few things I'd like to share-

South Jersey Slow Food is hosting this year's "Dig In" volunteer day at our farm this coming Saturday, September 25th. The Slow Food movement is about many things - local food, natural food, healthy food, earth care, cooking, creating, and gathering for meals together- everything that is the opposite of "fast food" and the fast food culture.

The purpose of "Dig In" day is to support local farms by helping out on a local farm. It is a national event, with Slow Food groups helping farms and farmers all throughout the country! It's really something when you think of it - people volunteering to weed, hoe, hammer, repair, etc. It's hard work.

I am pretty moved by the fact they they have chosen to help me. And even though the event is still a week away, I want to thank them now. To me, it's more than offering to help or to volunteer - to me it's Grace. I hope Slow Food can understand how much and how deeply I already appreciate that they chose to come to Seventeen Farms this year.

One other thing to share -

Karen, who comes to the farm every week to help us with the CSA, asked if she could put some of her recipes on the blog. I didn't even hesitate to say yes! Karen is working on some of her recipe ideas , and I will be posting them very soon. I think hers will be a great addition to the blog, especially because she is very creative and has so many good food ideas to share. Thanks Karen!

Spetember 19, 2010

The turkeys are still around. They have really made a home here. It’s not that wild turkeys are rare or too shy to show themselves, but to have them in the front yard and all around the farm all thru the day is new to me. It is a new pattern. Something that hasn’t happened here before.

Through the years there have always been turkeys here, but they would come and go and never stay. We’d see a flock now and then, and maybe a flock would be around for a few days, but they never took up residence like these.

The other day they were sleeping in the front yard! Last weekend they were gobbling outside the bedroom window. Last evening they were hunting grasshoppers with the chickens. I was washing potatoes Thursday and turned toward a “squeal” sound behind me and there was a turkey just five steps from me, supervising I guess! The rest were at Snoopie’s pen having a discussion. And then there was another day that I was in the garden and as I turned at the end of the tomato row, there they were on the other side. Wow! I never knew turkeys liked arugula!

In this flock there are two toms, one hen, and five yearlings (I’m sure there’s a proper name for turkeys this age, but I don’t know it and I am too lazy to go looking for it right now). I am getting so used to having these turkeys around that I am afraid that I will become upset if they leave or are found out by a hunter come turkey season. That’s the thing with everything that finds comfort or security with any of us – we begin to rely on it too, for comfort and security in return…

And that’s a good thing. Even if it’s only for a little while. And even if it’s over a few turkeys.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September 15, 2010

Today I harvested the remainder of my potatoes. Earlier in the season I had rummaged through the hilling hay every so often to sample a few for dinner, or to find some to give to friends, but today I decided it was time to get them all. Overall, I harvested more than I planted, so I am considering this first attempt of growing potatoes a success.

These guys are so different than what I see in the store. Most store bought potatoes are graded for size and shape, so that they all look and weigh the same. But because these came straight from the garden, I have a real assortment to work with. I’ve got every size- “store” size to marble size - and every shape you can imagine. Some are round, others are oval or long, and then there are a few that are so uniquely shaped that with a little creativity, I can easily make out animal shapes!

Some I will bake, others I will slice, and then others I will cut up into chunks. Every size and shape will have a good use for cooking.

And that is what I like about growing things myself. Variety. Nothing’s for sure and nothing’s standardized. Everything here is nature’s way when I find it. It’s a lot more fun this way.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

September 12, 2010

Wild turkeys were once rare in this area, but over the years they have been re-introduced and have made quite a comeback.

So this guy in Florida wants to make a name for himself and burn a Quran. Stupid. Let’s spread a little more hate…it always makes things a little better

All week long there has been a small flock of turkeys coming and going from the yard. They basically travel in a wide circle throughout the day. The flock always comes from the neighbor’s back yard, across the driveway and into our front pasture where they chase grasshoppers and find seeds.

Outside Philadelphia a woman opened fire in the Kraft Foods plant, killing two co-workers and injuring a third. She had been suspended a day earlier. For two days

From there they turn into Louie’s paddock and head to the back field where they mingle with the chickens. The two flocks dissolve into one before separating and going their own way. The chickens scatter to the raspberries and the compost pile, while the turkeys lazily hunt and peck their way to the garden.

Two troops were killed in Afghanistan this week. Why do they call them “troops”? Is it so we don’t react that they were people? “Troops” keeps it impersonal. “Troops” does not tell the truth. The truth is, they were just kids

Most times the turkeys then meander around the garden fence and make their way into our back yard. But one afternoon a few “hopped the fence” and explored the garden, leaving all these three toed “dinosaur tracks” in the freshly tilled soil.

Once in the back yard, the flock finds time to visit Snoopy. I am not really sure why. The turkeys crowd around her pen and look at Snoops, and Snoops looks back with her relaxed, floppy ears hanging down. She’d give them a quizzical look. I would watch this from the kitchen window each day and still can only guess what they might have been thinking of each other.

Unemployment is 9.6%. Wages are falling. Bonuses are getting bigger

After a few minutes of this quiet meeting, the flock moves on to the woods line and disappears behind the bottle bush and bayberry that guards the stand of trees beyond.

He is a socialist, a Muslim, and born in another place. Carnegie shot a few steelworkers with Pinkertons while he vacationed in Scotland. He wants everyone to have health care. Huey Long made sure every child in La had free school books. TR made lands public for everyone. “Imagine there’s no…” Rockefella was surprised about Ludlow – hated to miss out on a good ol’ tent burning massacre. People burned to death underneath the canvas. The children were screaming

And then the next day, the turkeys appear in the neighbor’s yard again before crossing our driveway and coming into our front pasture. In fact, its 7:46 am and they are out there right now.

They are going to do it all over again. It is so peaceful here

(Playing with styles. A variation of John Dos Passos "newsreels" form from the U.S.A. Trilogy)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

September 5, 2010

I am not so sure that we missed a bullet, but at least we gained some breathing room – enough to take a sigh of relief.

On Thursday Dr. Beth came out to see Zippy to re-evaluate him and to see if the treatments she suggested had made him any better, and to take x-rays of his feet to see how bad the laminitis is.

To us he seemed to be getting better- walking less gingerly, and trotting a bit now and then to get away from flies. And his eyes were brighter and responsive. He didn’t look depressed and in pain like he did last week. It seemed to be a start.

Dr. Beth was pretty pleased with what she saw too. He was walking better and did not seem too pained to move. The x-rays showed that his coffin bone on the right foot had not rotated and that there was only one degree of rotation in his left foot. There was also very little inflammation in either front foot.

It doesn’t mean that the laminitis is over – he will always have to be watched carefully and stay on a low carb diet and light exercise to help prevent another attack. For now though, we are going to continue the original treatments of medications, cooling his feet with water, and lowering his carbs until we are all sure that this bout is arrested.

Seems like we can breathe a little easier for now. We all feel a lot better.

Notes from the week:

This was the last week of the summer CSA season. Overall, we estimate that we grew enough vegetables for over 2,300 meals, not counting the shares we gave to our volunteers and to the food bank!

Friday night we were out and about and when we came home we checked on all the animals. Inside the chicken coop we found a 4’ long black snake helping himself to eggs. Since he wasn’t a paying customer we caught him and took him to a new home in the wildlife refuge area that is just a few miles away. I think we will have more eggs for our friends now!

Its really weird how we went from a tropical storm warning on Friday that included serious predictions of heavy rains to receiving no rain at all and sunny skies, requiring that a forest fire watch be issued, all in less than 24 hours. The weather is just so crazy. We could have really used the rain, and most of us around the area would have welcomed a swipe of Hurricane Earl to get it…