3/16/06 Vol. 3 #1

Well here we go again!  That statement can be applied to a lot of aspects of this late winter?, early spring season.  Market in two days?  It just seems brutally early but  with the weather we have been having it almost seems too late.  Saint Patrick’s day tomorrow and the first day of Spring on Monday.  Last year on this date it actually snowed on us.  Not this year, I just came in from running the irrigation on the lettuce field.  We are beginning to get really worried about the potential of the drought for this coming season.  You may remember the picture of one of our ponds near the end of last year, pumped down to almost empty, well after an entire winter it essentially hasn’t comeback up an inch.  We have only had it not refill one other time in 25 years!  We are now in the process of refilling it from the other pond and the creek to try and have some water on hand for what is shaping up to be a worse drought than 2002, which is the worst of all time since we have been farming.

The big theme that goes with “here we go again” is that this is a big year for us!  You will probably hear references to this all year but this is what we are calling our 25-25-50 year.  This year we will have been married for 25 years, farming for 25 seasons and we both will turn 50 this year!  The numerologists will go wild with this I am sure!!  Twenty five springs of wondering what it will be like, new beginnings, new crops, new ideas to try.  It is still exciting and scary after all these years.

Despite how wildly busy and un-winter like this past few months have been the farm is actually right on schedule as for as planting goes.  Betsy has taken time out of studying all things Italian to make sure that I focused enough so that we got things done in a timely manner.  The poultry plant saga rolls on and has used up more time than we could have ever imagined possible.  I would like to say it is all running smoothly but can’t.  I do feel as if we have turned some major corners and things look better in recent days.  So good in fact that I have ordered turkeys for this season, six more months of good bird stories!  The first 6000 heads of lettuce are in the ground, the peas are up as is the spinach, turnips, radishes and more.  Lots of flowers in the field too, we just now need to get some water to them to make them grow.

The winter speaking season ended last week with two presentations in Asheville at the Organic Growers’ School.  I also traveled to speak at conferences in Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia.  Good folks at all these meetings and we feel that the small farm-local food message is really growing by leaps and bounds.  One more big meeting this weekend (the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group board meeting) and I can finally stay home and farm!  Betsy is still taking Italian class two nights a week and I am taking a pastured pork production class one night a week, think prosciutto and pancetta!

Picture of the Week
Fantastic Anemones

9/20/06 Vol. 3 #27

What a gloriously beautiful day!  It is these days that we live for, the reason we wanted to work outside for a living, the kinds of days that make farming easy.  Emotions are high these days on both sides of the good/bad divide.  It has been twenty eight weeks since we started market back in March and thirty four since we planted the first spring crops in the field, and more than a year since the first crops for this season were started.  Twenty five years ago last week we signed the papers and closed on this piece of land intent on turning it into a small farm, just months before that Betsy and I got married, what an interesting trip its been!  The night we closed on the farm we camped out here with some friends of ours and it was cool enough (like tonight will be) to have a small fire, plenty of toasting and talk of plans and dreams for the future.  Twenty five seasons now under the belt, it is hard to imagine.  It is almost done now for this year as this is our last week at market other than the special pre-Thanksgiving market.  Only a few crops left in the field which will go under the mower in a few days.  This week I will begin the process of turning under two and a half acres to seed to winter cover crops.  Monday the turkeys go in for processing and into the freezer, in two weeks the farm will be ready for the long winter sleep.

We’re happy that the season is about over.  It has been a fairly good year but challenging at the same time so we are ready for a rest and change of pace.  At the same time we are a little sad that it is over.  We do miss seeing everyone at market, visiting with our chefs and store buyers too.  When the turkeys go away it is a serious day as we have worked with them all year to get to this point but still know that the reason we have them is for eating too.  We will miss working with our staff and talking with them about farming and their futures.  But at fifty years old we are also ready for some quiet time on the farm too, as well as traveling to new places.  So this will be the last weekly newsletter of the season.  We have a full schedule up to Christmas and beyond so look for a monthly report on our off season adventures.  We will send one in October before we head to Italy for the Slow Food conference and traveling around to see Italian markets, farms and restaurants but after I come back from a much anticipated hiking trip to one of  southern Utah’s amazing canyons.  You will get a report before Thanksgiving on what we saw and learned in Italy and to prepare you for the Thanksgiving market.  Then more after that including Betsy’s trip to Kenya to visit some of the largest cut flower farms in the world.  We thank everyone for helping us to do what we do here on the farm, with out your support and business it would not be possible.

Picture of the Week
The long shadows of early fall on nearly empty fields