lavender, lacewings, and lucky lollygagging

Make yourself a cocktail and settle in, friends, we have a guest post by Regina Fitzsimmons!

We asked our friend, farm care taker, and favorite writer, Regina, if she would write a little ditty to share with our farm friends, something about her experience these past few weeks on the farm. Between cross-country road travels, family wedding celebrations, and preparing for the fall semester – she did. Regina is a proficient farm dog snuggler, apple and (newly!) lavender aficionado, master potato beetle squisher(even though it’s so gross), mighty delicious cocktail maker, care taker of all things, care maker for all things, ever haloed in tenderness, delight, and wonder, and, amidst so much more, she is certainly one of the world’s most talented and thoughtful word crafters. AND the included photos are ones she took and shared with us (so let’s just add Official And Amazing Farm Photographer to the list too). Regina, thank you, dear friend. Our hearts are full of flamingos. – T&J


Yesterday I packed up my car with a cooler full of kale, a precious carton of rainbow-pastel eggs, a heavenly jar of dried garlic scape powder, and a golden-yellow bottle of homemade limoncello. I just glanced down at my shirt, and noticed little tufts of Radish fur—from my goodbye squeeze yesterday morning. I can hardly believe I get to write these words: For the last month, Cycle Farm was home. 

When Trish and Jeremy told me they were whizzing across the Atlantic for a family wedding, during a hustle-bustle harvest month, I was reminded—as I always am with these two—of their unceasing generosity. It is no small thing to pack up a bag, say goodbye to the best dog in the world, and leave a home and livelihood in the hands of somebody else. But Trish and Jeremy did so with ever-present kindness, trust, lightness and humor, enthusiasm, not to mention a kind of superhuman bottomless patience for my litany of questions—including real winners like, “Wait, but how do you pick up a chicken again?” or “Which one of these is the vegetable and which one is the weed?” 

This might be stating the obvious, but hot tamale: The difference between working at a farm and running one is as staggering as the difference between a garden snake and a rattler. I’ve worked on a lot of farms over the years, but prior to this summer, my farm days have always looked relatively similar, regardless of locale: my mornings and afternoons were buttressed by some effortful work and a lot of zoning out. I’ve experienced negligible, if not non-existent, foresight or hindsight. I’ve always had a farm boss who’s told me exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do that thing. I’ve rarely registered an entire landscape, I’ve instead zeroed in on one task: planting a row of onions, seeding a tray of lettuce, attempting to harvest a pile of potatoes without stabbing too many of them with my pitchfork. 

The farmers that I admire, though, are a direct inverse of my obliviousness. They are always attentive, eternally alert. I suspect there’s no greater land steward than a farmer. I am moved by their ethics, their Herculean strength, their flexibility, dependability, and ever-present observation. The farmers I admire are never not paying attention—they’re cognizant of the quality and moisture of the soil, of the number and variety of the pollinators, of the invasives, the water quality and rainfall, the aridity and humidity, the weather and projected weather and the weather trends from last season, and so on. They’re thinking about saving seed for next year, or the planting schedule in years to follow. They’re aware in a way I’m not sure I’ve ever been aware, of an entire ecosystem at their fingertips. Trish and Jeremy are farmers like that. 

While I gallantly attempted to emulate these two, I am still very much the bumbling farmer that I ever was. And I’m not being self-deprecating! Lemme paint y’all a picture: This past month I misidentified lavender *quite literally* more times than I correctly identified it. I excitedly emailed Trish some pictures of onion seed, only to be so gently informed that those were, in fact, not onions at all. I weeded a baby beet bed and probably yanked out upward of 10 mini beet stems in my haphazard process. When a chicken flew directly toward my face I literally barked, “COULD YOU NOT!?” And then I promptly burst out laughing, the noise of which thoroughly startled all the birds who zoomed away from me as fast as their little scaly legs would let them. Suffice it to say, it was a super solid, very brave move, to let me steer this farm ship in their stead.

Thankfully, I didn’t do this alone. For a few days, I was joined by Tom, who tirelessly weeded and planted potatoes that are now leafing out, promising delectable abundance in months to come. For a few solid weeks, I was also joined by Marci, who expertly irrigated all the fields, and trellised cucumbers and tomatoes with astounding attention to detail and care. During some of the hottest days, she and I took shelter indoors and swapped stories that were so funny, my face ached from the laugh-tears. There were also a few days when Radish and I flew solo—a thought that had initially made me nervous, to shoulder so much responsibility, but turned out to be downright peachy. Radish has a warm way of quelling any sort of worry. She and I dipped our toes and paws in Spearfish Creek on the daily, and she seemed to sense anytime I was feeling worried; she’d wriggle under my arms, squeeze tightly into my side, nuzzling in as close as she could so there wasn’t a trace of space between us. Looking back, I’m overcome by the total delight of all this companionship. These farm friends made my days feel so rich, vibrating with energy and color, zest and flavor, humor and comfort. 

It feels both moving and a little sorrowful, looking back at Cycle Farm in the rearview. This morning—my first daybreak away from the chickens and good dog—felt a bit strange, a little lifeless. It’s just after six in the morning as I type this, and looking ahead, my day seems blandly devoid of structure. During the weeks spent at Cycle Farm, my days began at first light, when I stumbled out the backdoor to feed the ensemble of symphonic chickens. I thought of Jeremy this morning, now resuming this routine. I glanced at my clock, wondering if he was walking toward the chicken house at that very moment, booting the roosting hens from their little cubbies, greeting them with gentle hellos and breakfast goodies. This past month my days closed at last light, tucking them in—a task now back in the skilled hands of T & J. I am comforted that the farm is back in their far more capable care, but I also miss, in a selfish way, the chance I had to learn with and from this landscape. For the past month, I’ve tried to study this ecosystem, to attempt to look and listen the way T & J look and listen. I wish I could’ve given as much as T & J give on the daily. And yet, I’m also buoyed by the notion that ultimately, I did the best I could. Everything I did, I did to nourish something else. And the farm, in turn, gave so much more—it never stopped gifting. There’s an everlasting indebtedness there, that I neither deserved nor earned. And yet, it was still gifted to me. What I’m feeling now is an undiluted delight in reciprocity. It feels so good to give; it feels so very precious to be taken care of.

There’s something I thought about so often this past month, that I thought I might also share here. I found myself reflecting on my very first visit to Cycle Farm. My friends Avery, Craig, and I zoomed over to Spearfish, to take a peek at T & J’s new home, before it had really revved into gear. Trish and Jeremy had just touched down in Spearfish and already two things were growing: garlic and bulbous radishes. I remember Trish uprooted one of the radishes for me to nibble—my first taste of the bounty to come. I kept rewinding that old memory these past few weeks. Cycle Farm seems unrecognizable, compared to that first glimpse. It’s always been beautiful to me, but it has also transformed into a truly astounding landscape. It is a carbon sequestering machine. It invites a host of birds and butterflies, friendly bugs and wiggling snakes—it is a regenerative biodiverse landscape in its very essence. Also. Guys. Can we just take a second to talk about the POETRY DISPENSER inside the farm stand!? WHAT MAGIC IS THIS!? There’s watercolor and block prints everywhere; the artistry is as skillful as it is gorgeous. Everything is handmade.   

Over the years, I have had the fortune to work with and learn from many farmers and land stewards. I also studied agriculture in school, which provided a different, albeit more bookish, agrarian education. All in all, there have been few who’ve taught and inspired me as much as these two. In such a short number of years, they’ve grown something that I struggle to articulate in words—there’s simply so much happening. The restoration, the regeneration, the animal husbandry, the seed saving, the continual pivot away from motorized equipment—everything you see is done by hand. The farm embodies intention, reflection, and thoughtfulness.  

Additionally, I’ve had the equally great fortune to work on a few farms that seemed to embody joy, where the work felt vital and important, but also fortified by levity, forgiveness, and good humor. I realized, while writing this post this morning, that I’ve had a smile plastered to my face while doing so. Cycle Farm’s got all the good vibes. As does the community in Spearfish who were so kind, so endlessly welcoming to me, offering help, laughter, and friendship everywhere I turned. It’s possible, I imagine, to feel alone and pretty freaked out, keeping a farm going in a farmers’ stead. But I always felt the inverse. I was continually looked after, supported both by the farm and by this kind and heart-filled community nestled in the Black Hills. 

Gosh, saying goodbye is like a sucker punch. I’ve never successfully driven down the whole length of Evans Lane without pulling over to dry my eyes. I also leave Cycle Farm kinder and gentler than when I arrived—my friends bring out the best in all living things. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Cycle Farm has a quiet way of grounding us with humor, of refilling bellies and hearts, of tethering us to kindness, and of restoring hope during times when care and decency feels in short supply. Thinking about it all just makes me sit here and smile. I’m shaking my head, too, having just murmured aloud: How did we all get to be so lucky? 

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a public outcry of affection, gratitude, and glee

Jeremy and I just returned from a mid-summer adventure to Norway to celebrate Jeremy’s little brother’s wedding …and gorge on wild blueberries.  A mid-summer jaunt off-farm has never occurred before and likely never will again. But this trip was spectacular and memories will more than satiate any future pangs for summer holiday.  Our friends Marci, Regina, and Tom took hold of the spinny pirate wheel of this drifting ship in our absence and navigated gracefully through July into August.

We were able to relax and enjoy our travels, knowing the farm was in good hands. And let me tell you (i.e. gush) just a bit about these hands.  Marci is a geologist and polar research scientist who has been spending her time alternating between seasons in Antarctica and the middle of Greenland. She is basically a badass; she even has experience with wizardry(!). This summer, she took a break in order to put her hands in the soil and soak up some >90 deg & 100% humidity in western South Dakota. Her attention to detail (check out this photo she took below – lacewing eggs spotted on a snow pea during harvest), keen memory, sweet sense of humor, and stories about polar gigantism consistently have us in a state of rapture.

Regina is a dearest friend who has been a part of Cycle Farm since before there was a Cycle Farm. She is a desert dweller, currently residing in the mountains of Montana, where she’s working on her MFA in telling stories that need to be told.  She has been here for us (or on the phone) through all of our ups and downs; she was even present for our very first harvest – a radish!  Regina has aided and abetted in all sorts of farm fun from fencing projects, a solar eclipse, afternoon gin and ginger ales, native pollinator nesting box building, spitter apple identification, and serious puppy dog snuggling. She is an ever present voice of reason and unreasonable enthusiasm on the phone. Radish adores her to the moon and back. And we do too.

Tom is a barefoot buddha finishing his senior year of high school. We got to know Tom last year when he expressed interest in small scale organic farming and offered to come help out on the farm. We don’t ever want him to go away. Not only is he a competent worker, he’s a bright, insightful, thoughtful, and kind human – and a great weeding conversation partner. He traverses our insanity with practiced patience and sparkly smiles, and sometimes even joins in on the madness.  He is the youth that makes you feel like the world is headed in an ok direction after all.

In short, these are three of the world’s most sensible, capable, compassionate, thoughtful and intelligent souls – all generously offering of their time and attention to keep this little piece of land, these old hens and sweet farm dog, the butterflies and bumblebees, potatoes and extremely imperfect irrigation set-up afloat.  It feels wholly humbling and we are so very grateful, from the bottom of our muddy, mucky hearts.

And, lastly, to Nick and Veronika, may you continue always to be sweet and lovely to, supportive of, and patient with each other. We are so deeply happy for you both and grateful to have been able to share your lovey-dovey day with you! Congratulations!

a melodious jumble

What we’ve been up to, in brief.

The field is greening up, slower than anticipated with stalls for snowstorms and wet weather. Snow peas, snap peas, and favas look awesome. On the other hand the sweet peas look …pretty peaked. As we rotate beds in the greenhouse, we have been looking at crops in the field, anxious about how we’re going to fill the farm stand for the next couple weeks. Grow, greens, grow.

Jeremy and his father, David, made good use of the snowy weather and put up a couple of doors on our pack shed. The are sliding barn-style doors, the rail and sliding roller thingies are salvaged closet door hardware from the old Mormon church-turned-house in town. So that has us feeling pretty fancy.

Spring bird migration highlights include: a male Blackpoll Warbler, Swainson’s Thrushes, about 25 Lark Sparrows (with their 80’s toy laser gun song), and the first Warbling Vireo we’ve seen on the farm.

We sprayed BD prep 500 and barrel compost earlier this spring and, later, harmonized the ponderosa tree. We’ve been spraying preparations on the farm for seven years now, but the tree harmonizing was new for us. This gave Jeremy an opportunity to try out dowsing rods and the plasticity of my masters degree.

The inordinate Fedco bulb order Jeremy placed last fall has been erupting all over everywhere. Not quite a visual cacophany, but nearly. Along with crocuses and hyacinths, and pert near every other thing, Jeremy insisted on ordering tulips. I protested: tulips are bougie symbols of economic hegemony. Well, he planted them anyway. And then they popped up as bright and elegant, candid blooms of pure joy. Apparently I love tulips. Plus, I just found out that tulips are the eleventh anniversary flower. Jeremy planted these last fall, eleven years after we first met. So sweet.

Last week we had the opportunity to organize a bicycle scavenger hunt for Spearfish Bike to Work Week. The ride theme, the Birds and the Bees, was a tribute to our local avian and invertebrate inspired sights.

Not only do we now finally have a bike rack, we’ve also installed a poetry dispenser at the farm stand! This is something we’ve been thinking about ever since first coming across a poetry dispenser at the public library in Bozeman several years ago. Language and land! Peas and poesy! All the very best things!

It has been a quiet spring this year without lambs blaaaaaahing for milkshakes and chicks in the brooder sunroom.  Radish, the hens, and worms are bearing the brunt of all our affections, but they seem to be handling it well.     

Also, farm share members(!), we’ve been celebrating the season’s greens by eating miso soup, with regularity, and gusto. Just broth and greens (any greens, all the greens: spinach, turnip greens, radish greens, arugula, kale, scallions, green garlic) are super simple and super amazing – or, if we’re feeling fancypants, we’ll add noodles, sauteed shiitakes, sliced spring turnips or radishes, an egg… Such a quick and easy feast and it accommodates seemingly everything and anything from the field/fridge. Check out this link for some great miso-soupy inspiration. If miso is new to you, it’s a fermented bean paste (gf) – we’ve had luck finding this in the fridge section at our awesome local natural food stores. We like the red miso, but whatever makes you happy. If you’re looking for good, sustainably harvested sea weed and want to support a rad seaweed steward, we’d recommend Ironbound Island.

Very merry spring tidings from the farm and your farmers, t&j

Migration celebration

In honor of our influx of feathered spring visitors* and in a most productive use of a cold, wet May day**, we’d like to share with you a special mix-tape love letter, a Migration Celebration. Ovation and tintinnabulations!

This is along the lines of our annual Agrarian Riddims compilations (for especially enjoyable listening, they are located here: vol.1vol.2side Cvol.4vol.5, and vol.6), so tune in and turn it up. The migration mix-tape is available as a YouTube playlist here, or you can select individual tracks below. This compilation goes out with big ups and special thanks to our friends Tom (reggae) and Greg and Mary Beth (birds).

Migration Celebration riddims mix-tape track list:

The Wisdom Band :: Migration Season

The Silvertones :: Bluebirds Flying Over

Prince Alla :: Jah Jah Bird

Israel Vibration :: Vultures

Sister Nancy :: Pegion Rock

Fat Freddy’s Drop :: Blackbird

Errol Dunkley :: Betcha By Golly Wow

Elijah Prophet :: Mother Nature

The Paragons :: Silver Bird

Derrick Harriott :: Fly Robin, Fly

Winston Groovy :: Yellow Bird

Little Roy :: Black Bird

The Blues Busters :: Wings of a Dove

Teddy Magnus :: Flying Machine

Sherwin Gardner :: Eye on the Sparrow

The Paragons and Rosalyn Sweat :: Blackbird Singing

U-Roy :: Birds of a Feather

Les Migrants :: Hymne aux migrants

and, albeit slightly out of place genre-ly, this one too, DakhaBrakha :: Vesna

 

With special love and admiration for all our migrant brethren,

Trish and Jeremy

 

P.S. A few more migration pathways to wander, if you are interested: A fascinating study and amazing photography (a SoDak photographer!) of animal migrations in Yellowstone National Park. Michael McCarthy’s beautiful book The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy. Bernd Heinrich’s Homing Instinct, Meaning and Mystery in Animal Migration. And, if you are able and inclined, consider supporting this salient humanitarian aid organization doing work in support of migrants in the Mexico-US borderlands. (ALSO! 6/13/2019 edited to add:: this article just published in the NYTimes, These Animal Migrations are Huge – and Invisible by Carl Zimmer)

*In the last two days new visitors include a House Wren, Swainson’s Thrushes, a Harris’s Sparrow, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Yellowthroats, an Empidonax Flycatcher, a Loggerhead Shrike, Yellow Warblers, a pair of Spotted Towhees, Brewer’s Sparrows, two Mourning Doves, and our first on-farm American Kestrel.

**In other words, we took a deviation from vegetation cultivation and had a vacation simulation which has improved our inclination for motivation.

A love letter in photos

We’ve been dialing in the crop plan for the season, our calendar and final seed orders. It’s as though each year, come spring, we pick up a whole series of juggling pins and then spend the next several months trying desperately, clumsily, joyfully and exuberantly to keep them all up in the air, juggling through the season. Sometimes we lose a pin or two. We might try and scoop them up, or we might just let them go and keep the others circulating. That’s the routine. Juggle. Toss up and keep catching.

This year, with our usual juggling pins we’ve also picked up a flaming torch. We’re planning a trip to Norway mid-summer to celebrate the wedding of two very special lovebirds, Jeremy’s brother Nicholas and his hjertenskjær, Veronika. As may be easy to imagine, the prospects of leaving the farm mid-growing season have us …in a state of nervous agitation. To be very clear: we’re looking forward to celebrating these two, to time together with family, a chance to work on our midnight sun tan, and we’re feeling mighty lucky to have an opportunity and the ability to make this jaunt around the world and the chance to explore Jeremy’s native grounds – it’s just a funny management puzzle that has us scratching our heads.

All this is to say, with the unsettled state of things here, it is an extraordinary comfort to be nested, as we are, in such a wonderful community. We’ve been drawing much needed, much appreciated inspiration from comrade, neighboring farmers, local businesses supporting local agriculture, and from our own fantastic farm family of supporters and eaters. And so this is a special love letter of thanks to you, with some of our most favorite photos from the farm stand… 

and from last year’s Fall Harvest Party…

We’re looking forward to sharing another season with you all!

With gratitude, flying, flaming torches, and so much love,

your farmers, Trish and Jeremy

worms, or tea for tea for tea

Back towards the beginning, before Cycle Farm, when we grew garlic and kale in raised beds behind a coyote fence in the driveway of an ittybitty apartment next to neighbors with the world’s most gorgeous marigolds in the French District of Santa Fe, we had a tub of red wigglers under the kitchen sink. Ever since then, these creatures have dazzled us with their quiet, deliberate, tireless work ethic. Gentle. Powerful. They were our meager introduction to low-stress livestock management and have been unfaltering teachers and inspiration.

Now these legless livestock, the great, great, super great granddaughters of our original herd, spend summers in the worm castle outside – a glorious, needlessly fancy vertical bin with mesh and a sifter crank on the bottom to drop out finished worm castings.  They busy themselves slowly, steadily working through kitchen scraps, egg shells and coffee grounds, gleanings and trimmings from the greenhouse and pack shed.  When the temperatures drop, they are hauled into their winter bungalows – more modest arrangements – totes on the floor of the basement. 

We use the worm castings and casting tea in our potting mix for starts in the spring, to help supplement soil in greenhouse beds, and in brewing batches of compost tea for our fields. 

Yesterday the SCOBY sprites from Scobi Kombucha, a new local kombucha company, dropped off a bag full of tea leaves from their most recent kombucha brew for our worms. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the SCOBI team, they are committed to partnering with local businesses, stoked about incorporating local ingredients, and we’ve supplied them with herbs for some of their special flavored kombucha brews. The worms will feast heartily (five hearts!) on these spent tea leaves, making beautiful black castings that we will return to the earth.

As we poke into the tubs in the basement, watching as the worms burrow down away from the surface, from the light, we are struck with appreciation for this leaf-exchange, mint leaves for tea leaves, black tea for worm tea, nutrient cycling, a beautiful loop, feeding both a healthy soil microbiome and healthy gut microbiomes.

Thank you, Scobi. Thank you, worms!

(the anatomy diagram photo above was snapped during a very special farm tour a few years ago)

Another year of birds on the farm

This time of year has us getting our ducks in a row and planning for the upcoming season. Part of this includes reflecting on last year, what worked well, what absolutely needs changed.  Some of these conversations and decisions are more difficult than others (financial decisions, winnowing Jeremy’s girthy seed order list). Others are entirely delightful. Which brings us to the bird list, a weekly record of bird species identified on the farm that we started as part of our on-farm monitoring. Last year’s bird log and a brief write-up is available here

The graph above shows this past year’s weekly species count along with the numbers from the previous year. The peaks during seasonal migration are clear and trending. A new record high for number of species per week was set in May with 53 species identified on the farm.  The dips to zero in the species count (in Jan and mid-November) correlate with farmer/observer absence from the farm.

A few of our special highlights for the year include getting a chance to see ospreys (possibly the same bird, but on multiple occasions) eating fish on our hop trellis (ha! some farmers pay for fish fertilizer).  In April, we gawked as a goshawk disemboweled and feasted heartily on a Eurasian-collared dove in the front yard. And while we’re on the subject of well fed birds, a summer tanager came by in May and made short order of a good number of our honeybees.  Additional fun visitors to the farm: common redpolls, peregrine falcons, an ovenbird, a blue-gray gnatcatcher and a hummingbird (sp.?) with a rad bright yellow pollen mohawk. One morning in June, we watched as wrens removed fecal sacks from their nest (in a new box we put up this year!) and stuck them to a branch in an adjacent boxelder – lining them up neatly like bright white farolitos. We did not, however, see as many warblers or hummingbirds as last year (2017).

A few additional notes as regards 2018 birds on the farm:

  • Early in the year, we built, painted a few, and hung up 10 new bird houses. For a variety of different species.
  • Nine species nested on the farm. With at least six robin nests. Also nesting were chickadees, house sparrows, starlings, Eurasian-collared doves, house wrens, house finches, blue jays, and blackbirds. Downy Woodpeckers nested, if not on the farm, very close by; baby downies are super cute.
  • We have set up and are populating a farm ebird account – HooRAH for citizen science!
  • With two steady hands and one additional finger to press the photo button, it is possible to get a reasonably good long distance photo using a binoculars and a smartphone camera.
  • This year’s bird log in full is available as a PDF here <- click to open pdf.

Wishing you a joyful and wonder-filled new year!

Positively drenched in enthusiasm,

your farmers,

Trish and Jeremy

 

magical creatures

Early last week Albrecht cracked his horn. And, related, for a brief while he was sporting a rather gruesome gash under his eye. The gash quickly healed. We suspect the circumstances surrounding the incident that led to this had something to do with getting his head caught in the fence while reaching for a nearby young apple tree. We can only suspect as Justus won’t tell, clearly sworn to secrecy, and we can’t understand a word Lady Eve says.

We’ve been keeping an eye on him. He’s maintained his usual sunny, hungry, and ever-affectionate disposition, so we haven’t worried too much about him. Yesterday, the horn slipped off, revealing – what we’ve always suspected: Albrecht is a unicornNot only do we have wood nymphs in the orchard, now there’s a unicorn out there too.

—————————————————————–

8/10 – Since posting the above note, this snippet of a film(?) has been called to our attention (thank you, Kaija). It seems to sufficiently summarize my feelings, so I’ve edited to add this. Unicorn sprinkle dinkles and love, t

sauerkraut

Last week a hail storm hit the valley, it was the hardest storm we’ve experienced yet and regrettably timed for most valley vegetable production.  We have received several thoughtful notes and phone calls and generous offers to help. We’ve shared supportive hugs and commiserative pints at Crow Peak. We put up over thirty pounds of sauerkraut. With this post, we want to express our gratitude and give an update on how things are recovering and what we’re working on.

We are clearing out beds of damaged-beyond-recovery crops and transplanting in successions of lettuce and fall brassicas and direct seeding in fall greens and roots. The lambs and chickens have enjoyed the recent diversity in diet ranging from peas and chicory hearts, to lettuce and cabbage. The compost pile is heaped in nitrogen-rich greens, ready to be layered with wood shavings from the brooder. There are several crops we are holding out hope for and haven’t yet ripped out, although, to date, they don’t seem too promising. We are learning a whole lot about timing and successions and the resilient nature of plants. We’re feeling vastly grateful for the health of our soil, the diversity of our crop plan, and the support of our community.

In the photos below: Tom (our excellent summer farm hand) and Trish trimmed out the battered and busted leaves on the Swiss chard, leaving the row looking like the line waiting outside a Sex Pistols concert. Now after just a few days, their technicolor mohawks have doubled (some tripled!) in size; Tom and Jerm planted out little lettuces including a new to us Egyptian variety called Balady Aswan; a planting of fall cabbage replacing lettuce; kohlrabi; yeh for soil blocks and mulch!; Vibrant Joy(!) bok choy replacing a row of battered snow peas.With the help of several rock star neighbors, friends, a farm hand, and farm mother, we were able to get all of our hardneck garlic out of the field on Saturday afternoon after the market. Harvesting garlic (which looks spectacular this year) and working along side friends has been a much needed moral booster. Especially while working between  (what remains of) the winter squash rows. With the help of Tom and Jami, we’ve got a good start on clearing up the garlic beds and seeding in a cover crop mix that will feed our soil for the rest of the summer (this mix is buckwheat, oats and clover). From the bottom of our hearts and with bouquets of stinking roses, thank you, friends. Coincidentally, this poem by Marge Piercy was included in the Cycle Farm Poetry Tour -selected for the spot along the drive near the Niedzwetzkyana crab apple, the monarda, and the gate to the front field where the garlic grew this year.On Tuesday morning we stirred up a bucket of Biodynamic preparation 501 and sprayed the farm with silica and good intentions.  Many thanks to Tom for being so patient and rad while we fumble about trying to explain how excited we are about this.The animals are doing great. The pastured chickens are being moved twice a day now, foraging on grass and bugs. Their pasture-based diet is supplemented with a blend of fresh-ground whole grains that we mix and grind on the farm. They move along behind the lamb tractor, after the lambs have mowed down the tall grass. The littlest birds have started putting on their feathers and spunk and are headed out to the second chicken tractor this weekend. We anticipate butchering at the end of August and end of September and will send out an email regarding pre-order as butcher date approaches. If you’d like to be added to our email contact list, just let us know.

In this photo below, from left to right: tall, not-yet-grazed pasture; in front (left) of the chicken tractor has been grazed by the lambs and is where the chickens will be moved next; on the far side of the chicken tractor is where the chickens have been most recently; and along the right is the lush re-growth of pasture 2 weeks after impact from the lambs and chickens.Pasture Management Committee lamb member profiles: Lady Eve – a vociferous contralto who enjoys sunflower leaves and a good fleece rub. Albrecht – horned and affectionate, somewhat clumsy, always endearing. Justus – invariably impeccably dressed though never takes the limelight; he’s gentle, reticent and smart, entirely unsuspected and therefore an ideal accomplice to any sort of fuzzy mischief.There are a number of delicious and unaffected crops coming from the greenhouse: basil, beets, kale, and shortly: cucumbers, peppers, ginger and turmeric. We have been able to salvage a number of good things from the field for market: fennel bulbs, beets w. tops trimmed, new growth on lettuce, krauting cabbage, peas. And we’ve been monitoring new growth on plants in the field: carrot tops are rebounding, aforementioned chard is growing fast, summer squash and cucumbers are flowering, scallions are sending up new greens. In short, this hail event is not the end of our season. We’re planning on having the farm stand open as scheduled through to the end of October, although deliveries to restaurants will be reduced for the next few weeks. The farm stand will be thin for a few weeks, but harvest continues! We have a commitment to our farm supporters, the season is long yet, we are working hard to grow good things and they are growing.Lastly, just a few noted perks as regards the hail: Sauerkraut. Downed and damaged leaves created a full, farm-wide organic nitrogen application, a veritable feast for our beloved, ever hungry soil biology. For the most part, the storm completely shredded the garlic leaves which aided immensely in the bindweed detangling process. Johnny Rotten Swiss chard. Our three year old elecampane was in the wind shadow of the big ponderosa and suffered only minimal leaf damage(!), began blooming the day after the storm(!!). The pelleting force of the hail was an effective shock to our shiitake logs, they are flushing like never before, and we’ll have buckets of shiitakes at market tomorrow morning. Thank you for all your support and we look forward to seeing you at the farm stand,

up, up, up!, Trish and Jeremy  

en plein air

HUZZAH for art and community and conversation! And huzzah for an afternoon off! We had heaps of fun visiting and sharing the farm this weekend during the plein air art on the farm event. It’s a treat and a privilege to see the farm through the eyes of our community. Thank you all for joining us for this especially relaxing, inspiring and spirit-nourishing afternoon. Here are some photos from Sunday’s event –

…and even a few haystacks – 

with awe and gratitude and bright eyes, t&j