Farm update, late July

The last few weeks have been the busiest of the season for us, as will be the next few weeks. We have a great deal of produce coming on, particularly items which need to be harvested nearly every day to ensure their quality. This is especially true for our green beans and edamame; right now we’re spending hours a day picking these. They’re worth it, but still a time sink. Below, you see Joanna and our friend Laura harvesting Fin de Bagnol green beans.

There is always weeding and maintenance to be done, and with this cool, wet summer the weeds are growing fanatically. We’ve been trying to focus attention on the most needy areas, and so there are always areas which get left behind. It’s a constant battle, and one of the real challenges of organic management.
We are also in the middle of our best window for seeing most fall crops, such as greens, radishes, beets, lettuce, and more. If these wait much longer they’ll start pushing up against first frost dangers, but they can’t be done too early or likely August heat will affect them. So we’re working to get all these new beds seeded as soon as their summer crops (like potatoes and beans) are finished and we can clean out the bed and reseed. This work is also timed around rain chances, to ensure that the soil conditions are proper and the newly seeded areas will get some moisture.
Overall, it’s been a fantastic growing season for us so far. We have had to do almost no irrigation, with enough rain to keep things happy. Cool temperatures are keeping things like tomatoes and peppers back, but are really benefitting our large crops of green beans, edamame, potatoes, and more. We went heavily into beans this year and are seeing excellent yields. The potatoes have been really nice as well, though we’ve only sold smaller amounts because we intend to store many for our own winter and spring use. Below, you see the yield from one red potato plant.
In addition to all the vegetable maintenance and harvesting, the animals are taking up a fair bit of time. We make rounds twice a day (morning and night) to do their needed chores, which take 30-45 minutes each time. For the goats, we move their net fences once a week or so to bring them onto fresh browse, and bring them some hay and fresh water twice a day. We milk Garlic once or twice a day, along with feeding her some grain. All the birds (chickens, ducks, and geese) are let out of their enclosures in the morning and herded back in at night, with daily checks on water and grain. They spend the day ranging within the confines of fences, and we collect eggs daily. We also have our younger birds to manage, who have recently been moved into an outdoors enclosure and are now happily foraging for bugs and other natural feeds while still having access to their basic cracked grains. These, too, are locked away at night and need their grain and water checked daily. They’re great fun to watch chasing down protein:

We’re also working on another never-ending but very important task: putting up food for winter. With green beans, zucchini, cucumbers, and more really producing, we have to find the time to process, freeze, and/or can these items. We’ll be grateful all winter for these, but there’s not enough time in the day right now.

And, of course, there are the weekly tasks. Fridays are completely taken with market preparations, and Saturdays are taken with going to market (especially as we’re getting busy and large enough these days for both of us to be beneficial at the stand). That leaves us five days a week to manage all the other needs, and for the last few weeks we’ve been going 6am to 10-11pm almost non-stop. We did take a rare night off on Monday to go see Food Inc, and very much noticed the lost time in terms of work not done. More on that film later.

So that’s life right now. Should stay about the same through August.

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