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  

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first CSA, midsummer hail, native bees, farmers market

The CSA season has begun, we are off and rolling! Uphill… with a headwind. There is a newsletter posted online here. Our early CSA crops were set back significantly with the snow and rain this spring and recent hail, so our first shares are meager. It feels indescribably wonderful to feed people, to share the bounty. And on the other hand, we feel absolutely cruddy sharing a weak harvest.FISRT CSA SHARE

It’s just the beginning of the season. Things are growing slowly, and that’s what they are supposed to do. This is a part of eating locally and eating seasonally. We have worked hard to select varieties and manage crop planting calendars to structure a good CSA season. But we’re also in this intimately with Nature, and when she’s cold and wet, well.. so are we. We have learned a good deal, there are certainly things we’ll plan better for next year in order to be more bountifully prepared for our early CSA shares.

Meeting with everyone last week during the pick-up was a wonderful summary to a very busy, stressful, anxious past few weeks. We are so thankful for our CSA members’ graciousness and understanding. We’re looking forward to a bountiful season with you, friends. Thanks for your patience and sticking with us.

Other updates from the farm:

On this past Saturday afternoon, we were pummeled with ping pong ball sized hail. We’d never seen anything like it. They beat the field down a fair amount, some spots/crops fared better than others. Winds from the west battered peas on the west-side of the trellising, but east-side plants were somewhat protected. Eggplants look pretty sad, but only a handful actually snapped at the stem, most just lost leaves and are already sending out new ones. Several tomatoes snapped, Jeremy set immediately to bracing them up (maybe they’ll recover?). And we have the comfort of several tomato plants in the greenhouse. The squash had only just sprouted, and as such small targets, we didn’t lose but just a few. Contrarily, the lush, leafy cabbage looks like it got in a knife fight.. or a garbage disposal.hail

So we’re feeling pretty grateful. Things are ok. We’ll have “perforated greens” for the CSA this week and hail-kissed snap peas. Ice-massaged spinach. You know, real ‘foodie’ foods. Just like Kobi beef and kopi luwak.

We were completely taken with this hedge of flowers these last couple weeks. Turns out everyone else was too. It was covered in a veil of buzzing pollinators. Flies and bees, honey bees and bubble bees. Oh so ridiculously happy. 

POLLINATORS

We’ve also been watching mud caps fill in on the solitary and mason bee homes we drilled into the fencing posts earlier this spring. If you are interested setting up homes for native pollinators – or just learning more about these important little creatures, check out The Xerces Society and this article, Farming for Bees, guidelines for providing native bee habitat on farms.native pollinator, mud capped homes

We are looking forward to this season’s Farmer’s Market in the Park, Saturday mornings (9 AM to noon in Spearfish City Park). We take our produce to market by bicycle. Please come stop by the market and say hello. Days on the farm are generally pretty quiet – we’re grateful for a chance to connect with people and see smiling faces. This past Saturday, we brought herb and flower starts, honey, mixed lettuce greens, rhubarb and parsley. Everything grown on our farm. Hope to see you at the park this summer.first farmers marketAnd lastly… many thanks, friends, for all your concern and support during our hail re-hab. Every email message, phone call, and friendly face stopping by to check in was dearly appreciated. Thank you. Our greens may be battered, but our hearts are full.

love, Trish and Jeremy