August, in photos

Breakfast in bed at the farm this past weekend was wonderful fun. The farm was full of generous friends who came out to help weed early-early in the morning and share breakfast in the vegetable beds with us. Thank you all for your help – we had a great time, and everything looks stunning.

Marcus was over here all afternoon yesterday helping with the hop harvest. When hop flowers are ready for harvest, they develop a yellowy sort of something at their base and they smell fantastic. The Chinooks and Cascades started in on their yellow.  Cue Marcus, hop harvester extraordinaire. We have the hops drying on screen racks spread out on chairs in the living room. The house smells lovely.

Here are more photos from around the farm these days. The front field, with the corn and squash rows, is buzzing with honey bees all over, not just the squash flowers but up on the corn antlers too. There are eight different varieties of winter squash (all delicious), Dakota black popcorn, amaranth, and a row of tarahumara sunflowers.

And happenings in the back field are just as fun.

Without bird netting, we lost all but a 1/2 gallon bag of the valiant grapes (purple) to the birds. We kept checking them with the brix reader, watching their sugar levels, trying to wait for the optimal wine-sugar level. Within two days the birds cleaned us out. Probably the best tasting grapes you ever did have, and we hear they make for good wine. We won’t be making wine this year. We’ve borrowed a small section of bird netting and have been able to cover the edelweiss grapes (green), a table grape which matures a little bit later. It would be a treat to have grapes to share with the CSA members.

We did have an unexpected honey harvest. Just a couple small combs, maybe a quart (or two?). Two weeks ago, during our last hive inspection, there was some cross-combing happening which we tried to remedy. We left some broken comb on the floor of Anna Karenina’s hive. The bees read this as an invitation to run amok with their comb building and so when we poked in there on Saturday, we found all sorts of honeycomb mayhem. We cut the honey comb off the floor and re-arranged some bars. It was exciting to be getting our first honey harvest, but it was not optimal conditions and I think we all were a little stressed out by the whole deal. Anna Karenina is definitely our strongest hive and she’ll hopefully have enough time with the rest of the summer to bank up her honey reserves for winter.

And last night we dug out our first potatoes. These are the Purple Viking, with a rich purple skin and bright white flesh. As we were digging them out, we found several potatoes had been made meals of by these gnarly white grubs. Finding a pale, squirmy beast curled up in one of these glorious, sumptuous bulbs of Lisa Frank purple is an assault on the senses. It’s disappointing, a little infuriating, but it’s ok. I collected every grub I could find and fed them to the birds. 

Between daily harvests, weeding, and work on the greenhouse, we’ve been watching a grasshopper stuck on a grass seed head. Jeremy got some good photos of the grasshopper getting munched on by a wasp. Then, later, its emptied exoskeleton all dried up, but still clinging to the grass. We’ve weeded around this one big tall grass, leaving it standing tall near the peppers, like it’s some sort of sacred monument. An axis mundi. Right here on the farm.And finally, we got to visit with some folks from the Dakota Local Foods Network yesterday afternoon. Together we toured the farm, discussed the merits of weeds, designs for chicken tractors, and got some good wintertime reading book recommendations. Encouragement and enthusiasm from neighboring local food producers and enthusiasts is something pretty powerful. Thank you for stopping by the farm!

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