The sandhill cranes have been flying over in super high vees these past two days, with their rolling, gurgling, chortle calls. The robins are gone, replaced by blue jays. Elms are doing that amazing yellow thing they do. It’s nearing mid-October and we’re still picking cucumbers in the field. We had a few wet, rainy days that teased us with fall and sweaters and cold hands harvesting greens, but this evening, as we unloaded compost onto next year’s winter squash beds with the sun setting, the thermometer read 75 degrees.
Here is an abbreviated autumn update from the farm, mostly photos.We tried out some bulbing flowers this year, testing our interest/ability/capacity for cut flower production. It’s incredible fun to include flowers in the CSA shares and it would be great to offer local, organically grown flower bouquets throughout the season. This is something we’d like to work on, figuring out the timing and diversity. It’s on the range, but shoved over on a way back burner …behind weed management and finishing cobbing in the greenhouse and a new gate for the chicken yard and… The mushroom logs responded well to this recent wet spell. This year we tried out shiitake, oyster and wine cap. For being somewhat neglected, they’ve been doing well this predominantly wet season. Despite our best intentions to curb superfluous farm projects (tangents? whims?), Jeremy somehow snaked in a patch of hardy blueberries this spring. They plants look great and we even got a crop of fruit this summer (like 7 berries). We just wrapped up our final batch of pastured chickens last weekend. We raised 4 rounds of 50 Freedom Ranger chickens, took pre-orders, and sold chickens fresh from the farm the afternoon after butchering. This process worked well and we really appreciate our customers’ flexibility in scheduling and enthusiasm for good meat. The summer season produce just seems to keep on coming. The shares this year have been heaped with greens and cucumbers, summer squash and roots. We’ve been struggling to get peppers and eggplants to ripen before the slugs get at them and we lost out entirely on winter squash, tomatillos, broccoli. Our meager two rows of cucumbers have far outdone themselves, some of our CSA members have been canning and we’ve even been able to deliver cucumbers to the Spearfish Food Pantry. The farmstand has become a routine part of our week, with both the CSA pick-up and our Friday night market. It’s such a good space. And we just rotted, rinsed, and dried oodles and oodles of saved tomato seed. Still need to chase out the last of the lingering fruit flies. As part of our no-till bed management, we stocked up on a whole heaping mess load of strawbales. We’re immensely grateful to have found a source for untreated oat straw to use. Plus we got to spend some time tossing bales in the shadow of Bear Butte.This extended season has graced us with more time to tackle our absurdly long to-do list. One extra big check off the list was getting one of our field tunnels covered. This summer we constructed two modular low tunnels that we’ll be able to move with our crop rotation each year. With these tunnels, we should be able to increase our early spinach and other spring greens yield and help give our peppers and eggplants longer frost free time in the fall.Another big check off the list was getting our new PV array installed. With enormous help from Jeremy’s father, Dave, our new friend and comrade in clean energy, James, and our solar sage in Bozeman, Sarah, we are now able to produce good food AND electricity using sunshine.This week we got to host a sauerkrauting workshop led by our friend and comrade in krauting, Cis Rongstad. We learned so much and are appreciative of Cis sharing her experience and knowledge on the chemistry, biology and good flavors of kraut. Cis brought 6 different types of kraut to sample(!); lemon dill, cortido, classic kraut w apple, kim chi, and a zucchini relish with fermented tomatoes(!!)… My favorite was one with curry spices, Cis’ recipe is shared in the Cycle Farm community cook book here.And lastly, here are some photos from our 4th annual Harvest Party celebration just this afternoon. We appreciate having the chance to share our farm with friends and neighbors, snuggling the lambs and taste-testing garlic varieties, gorging on a flight of potatoes, rainbow pico de gallo, ciabatta and chocolate beet cake. Conversing over edible flowers and a kale breeding project, guinea recipes and raspberry production, broom corn and sauerkraut. To all our Cycle Farm family: your support and enthusiasm means the world to us. You inspire us everyday. Thank you.
Wishing you all a happy harvest season! Full bellies and big smiles, T and J