July 19, 2021

I suspect we all go through periods of overwhelm, some of us because of excessive appetite, and others who perhaps don’t have enough to keep us engaged in life. As a member of the former category, I find myself in the midst of the farming season when there are more than a million choices for how to direct our time each day on the farm, also being nudged by things like cleaning the house, fixing a window, dealing with clutter, etc., etc. And of course there are relationships to manage and help to flourish, the dogs to walk, cats to pet… When I find overwhelm knocking at my door I start to break things down: weed one bed of carrots on the way by to pick the beets, replace that little peg that the frying pan hangs on, send a text to my sisters with a picture of my grandkids. Our parents can be so wise, and we never know at the time, which piece of advice will stick. I remember my mom saying to me when I was managing 4 small children who were born in the space of just over 4 years, that you should seize every opportunity. When you are washing out the dirty diaper in the toilet, for instance, take a minute to clean the toilet with the diaper. Simple and elegant advice.
In the realm of managing this while picking that, this week we were blessed with large crews of folks, some who would pick basil, parsley and squash for example, while others continued the basket weave on the tomatoes and the rest of us weeded and mulched the soybeans. Onto the peppermint picking while some weeded the black raspberries where the peppermint has taken up residence. While picking fennel we accomplished the weeding of the kidney beans, and onion weeders stayed ahead of the green onion harvest, also cleaning up the pathway between the onions and potatoes. Some picked chard while others finished the 4 beds of leek weeding – hurray! And while picking lettuce, kale and beets in the pond field, busy weeders cleaned up some of the sweet potatoes, new successions of lettuce and used up all of our available mulch for the awaiting collards. Additionally, carrots got a second weed and the winter squash starts got their manicure. I recently heard a radio broadcast that stated unequivocally that double tasking is counterproductive, but perhaps those researchers weren’t studying busy farmers at the height of the season.

Late weather report – we received 3 1/4 inches of rain Saturday night with another inch promised for Sunday. I am getting quite nervous about our soil’s ability to keep sucking up all this water, but fingers crossed that our practices of mulching, cover cropping, keeping fertility up, etc. will carry us through this spell.

 John and Forrest weeding lettuce (Left), weeding completion in the leeks – Anthony, Maya, Clare, Natalia (Right)
Recipe for fennel and mint from shareholder Stephanie – https://www.popupgourmetjamaica.com/carmelized-red-onions–fennel-with-chevre–mint.html

Don’t know how to use the herbs? Substitute any of our herbs (mint, parsley, basil, cilantro, etc) in this herb sauce https://twokooksinthekitchen.com/fresh-herb-sauce-in-5-minutes/ 

Graeme Sait always full of good info and advice – https://anchor.fm/nutrition-farming -A Composting Passion – Enhancing Your Purpose, Profit and Planet. I took a careful listen of this podcast. For anyone wanting myriad examples for how to compost, this is an excellent resource.

CSA Update 

Week nine best guess at what you will get

  • Garlic – yes, we will harvest it this week
  • Onions – we will trim the tops a bit as needed
  • Chard
  • Peppermint
  • Parsley
  • Kale – we are elated that the mulching and adding of fish emulsion has brought these plants into good quality
  • Basil – teetering with the excess rain
  • Squash – so slow with the excess rain and not enough sun and heat
  • Broccoli or cabbage – Broccoli from the spring was almost a washout. We will mow it and replant to lettuce and parsnips this week. The pointy cabbages are called Early Jersey Wakefield, my favorite plant – larges only
  • Beets – staying of good quality
  • Tulsi – a couple of sprigs for each of you
  • Lettuce – in short supply this week – July is always a challenging time– 1 head each
  • Fennel – one more week for this fennel planting
  • Peas/beans – Monday will get what remains of our peas, either shell or snap, while we will have modest amounts of green beans for the rest of the week
CSA still open. 
We are still taking shareholders. Check the website for the weekly downwardly changing prices. https://mhof.net/csa-order-form/

CSA Week 8

Community Fridge shares – 
Thanks this week to Laurie, Nikki, Willa, Brenda and Joe for Community Fridge share donations. We were able to send 7 shares to Worcester on Friday. We are still taking donations if you are interested. Donate at our website: https://mhof.net/community-fridge-farmshare/

looks like we are filling up those fridges!

Farm Doins

I can’t even remember how many weeks it has been now since it has rained every day, some of the rains quite heavy. Though we have been adding fish to our foliars, and upping our addition of all of the mineral and microbial supplements to our sprays, the crops are showing some signs of wear and tear. Fungal and bacterial infections and slugs and snails are pressing at our edges. I see forecast of another week ahead of the same kind of weather. We also are covercropping with crimson clover between plants, and mulching with cardboard (potatoes) and hay when and where we have it. Now is a good reminder that a soil rich in carbon will hold the excess water more elegantly than soils that are lean on this essential element. Keeping soil conductivity up with the use of fish emulsion, for example, will help the plants to continue to grow when the sun peaks out. Good luck to all of us who are dealing with this very wet July.

We had our first mowing down of crops due to inability to get to them before the weeds took over. This week in the back 40 we successfully weeded 6 beds of celery and celeriac, but gave up on parsnips, cilantro, dill and scorzonera. After mowing these down, we sprayed Rejuvenate and covered the beds with a black tarp. In two-three weeks we will start over with lettuce and fall crops. Moving on . . .

Yet, the onions and leeks are all cared for and set up for late summer success for the onions and into the late fall for the leeks. The soybeans are also set up for late August/early September harvest (edamame). Carrots are under control and awaiting harvest perhaps the week of July 26.

We got another bird house on line and have now separated our meat birds into 5 houses. They will likely need another 2 houses by harvest time of August 29. Our pigs have been pushed back again by our supplier and will be picked up at the very end of July, and they will eventually need another house too, as we will raise 12 this year. The turkeys are devouring comfrey and soon to bust out of the brooder house into the world of ranging.

The blessed July 15 came and I feel that wonderful slow release of Solstice madness. Though the work seems unending, there is spaciousness between it. I am back to morning walks with the dogs while doing Donna Eden energy exercises and Clare and I reinstated our Friday afternoon farm walk, which leaves us with a clear list of accomplishments for the week ahead. We cleaned out the root cellar, and freezers are being reorganized. We squeezed in a little house cleaning/tidying on Friday afternoon also.

The kale comeback and meat birds eating a diverse diet (top- click through the videos on instagram using the arrow on the right) nephew Andrew weeding celery (top left), Juan, unable to control himself, readying to take a bite of these glorious beets (top right), buxom squashes waiting for some sun (middle left), Maya Hilling leeks (middle right), the soybean crew (bottom left), turkeys love their comfrey (bottom right).

Franny, too, wonders when the rain, and especially the thunderstorms, will quit!