Melon mornings

Melon mornings

“You’re having a melon morning!” I joke as I walk back toward the tool shed. I’ve left Casey near the farm stand with a pallet of cantaloupes, Israeli melons, and watermelons to wipe clean and set aside fifty more for our CSA boxes this week. First thing in the day, he got the pallet ready with empty crates and I drove it out to the melon patch, him running behind the dust and clatter of the tractor. He caught on fast to harvest: the skin color shifts from green to yellow on the green-fleshed Israeli melons, and the fruit easily falls off the stem with a small amount of pressure. We hunched down the rows, me in the cantaloupes, him in the other melons, and harvested a few crates of watermelons— which I insisted on choosing since they’re sticking to the vine even when they’re ripe— together. After a chaotic return among the hubbub of a large volunteer group of Willamalane (Springfield Parks and Rec) staff, Casey had a bucket of water, a rag to wipe down the melons, and a clear idea of which sizes to keep for CSA.

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Autumn teaser

It rained over the weekend.  Lightly and little, but the ground was wet when I woke up on Monday morning.  We all had different reactions to it this morning, equally confused by the sun's heat beaming down on us after an unusually chilly morning.  Is it coming?  Is summer already passing?  I have a hard time believing that, even when glancing at the extended forecast (sunny upper seventies to low eighties, nights around fifty degrees for the next ten days) that seems remarkably cool for a time of year that usually bakes us.  But the mornings feel crisp, the morning dew has returned, and yellow leaves on the trees are beyond what drought would cause.

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Carrot daze

Carrot daze

It's rare that I get to have my hands in the dirt on a single project for more than a few minutes.  I'm running from one crop to the next, harvesting a dozen or two bunches here and there, checking in on small groups scattered around the farm and coordinating whatever washing and processing needs to happen up front.  I love that rhythm, of never getting stuck in one project too long.  It can also feel frenetic sometimes, and even isolating since my conversations are usually cut short by the next task at hand.  

So on mornings like this, when we're just staff and interns and a short list of long harvests, I sink in.  Literally, in this case. 

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Recipe for magic

I've mentioned the Youth Farm magic in the past.  It shines when the plants we have for a bed fit exactly from end to end with no extras, or the right person drops in exactly when we need their help, or the rains hold off just long enough for us to till and prep the beds for need for the next planting.  Friday felt full of that magic.  There were a few moments of obvious serendipity: Ted appearing with the last bag of plant sale labels right as the small group that'd been labelling pots all morning had just run out and was about to move on to another project, and Kiya starting her shift, ready to lead, exactly as several volunteers needed a new project and I had to finish up our seeding for the week.  There's clear moments like those, yes, but overall a magic-infused day just has a certain flow to it.  And I'm coming to understand that I have the power to create the flow, whether or not everything seems to line up perfectly.

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The impossible task of choosing a crew

The impossible task of choosing a crew

For those of you who read my last post, rest assured that I had my moment with the bean sprouts this morning, and, though it wasn't as profound as it could have been, I let them break me out of my mind for a breath or two and appreciate their strength.  Yes, I kept my rambling mind in check today, enjoying the random moments of mixing fertilizer or showing volunteers how to spray carrots, setting up hoses and sorting through random piles of labels.  There's one thing that I've been allowing my brain to continue mulling over and over, even as the day ends and the evening light sparkles hundreds of wishes in the orchard.

The crew.  Jen and I have been interviewing a couple dozen applicants for this season's youth crew, and it's one of the most difficult processes I go through all year. 

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All the questions

All the questions

Then there are the questions that I know the answers to, but they're in fuzzy areas that are hard to describe.  How full should these three-inch pots be?  How much yellow can a spinach leaf have on it and still be okay to send to the food bank?  How deep should we plant these onion sets?  The answers to these types of questions are, after two years on this farm and many more in farming, clear and obvious to my hands and sight.  They take a certain feel, a Goldie Locks-style homing in to the perfect medium, and a quick confidence to judge what's within the limits.  It's been a struggle for me to answer questions like this, but I'm getting better. 

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