Ready for winter

Ready for winter

I’m still blown away by what all can happen on the farm in a week. Rains in the forecast. Blissfully sunny days. An unexpected frost over the weekend. A few sizable volunteer groups. We push, and rearrange projects, and let harvest fall off while we focus on the fields. We woefully sort all the peppers that got zapped by the light freeze, take turns on the tractor to turn in the blackened plants, water the last bits of parched soil to get the moisture right for tilling. We spread manure, chicken pellets, fish meal, or lime over neat mounds or entire sections of flat fields, till it all in, and have to remind ourselves that it’s fall— that these delightfully neat beds ready for planting are not the first of the season, but rather the very last.

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Ashes to ashes

Ashes to ashes

They come, they sing, and they go.

And there’s a period in between that no one likes to think about: that period when they’re fading, succumbing to pests or disease or simply old age, leaves thick and gnarly, defenses raised, bitterness overcoming sweetness in their tissues. It sounds like a bummer— and it can certainly feel like it sometimes, especially when it’s premature— but it’s just as much a part of this cycle as the freshy fresh tender baby time. I’ve celebrated the first tastes, first harvests, vibrant colors, bursting sweetness of summer for months now, and in many ways it’s a relief to lay attention on the decline, if only for a few minutes as I drag a tiller through an old bed of sunflowers in the dim evening light. Ashes to ashes, petals to petals, dust to dust.

Well hello, great Fall.

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Photojournal: Nature's first green is gold

Photojournal: Nature's first green is gold

Early mornings are becoming more golden as the summer wears off.  This is a short photo journal of a Saturday morning of harvest for the farm stand.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

-Robert Frost

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Over half way

Over half way

Time passes.  Slowly at times, like when I'm bending to thin lettuce seedlings and my back is barking.  Quickly at others, like when we're back and forth harvesting a dozen different crops in a morning.  Back and forth between the extremes, every week, every day, every hour.  I realized last week that we'd reached the half way point of the season.  February, March, April, May, and June-- the growth period, expansion, push push push-- are now gradually falling into the roll-out harvest of July, August, September, October, and November.  We've made it past the hump, into full summer abundance, and I continue to be baffled by how quickly things grow, change, and fade.  Last week my Oregon Country Fair vacation was the longest period since January that I've been away from the farm-- just five days-- and it feels as if we're already suddenly in a different period.

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A fell swoop

A fell swoop

Tuesday, October 25.  Good a day as any for the first frost of the season.  I had been anticipating it for weeks, trailing off to imagine the frantic covering of rows and harvesting of tomatoes and basil that, in the end, didn't happen.  We were all-- rough yellow basil, split tomatoes, puny zucchinis, worn down hands-- ready.  We knew it was coming.  We'd been waiting and wondering and not really sure if a few degrees would really matter.  Yes: everything changed in one night.

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