Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #34, 11/8/18

What’s been going on?

So it looks like the first killing freeze of the season is finally going to hit us on Saturday night, only a few weeks later than usual.  The National Weather Service is calling for 28 degrees at the farm, it usually takes 27 or 28 degrees to finally kill the warm season crops like peppers or the toughest of warm season weeds.

I can say that to a person the market farmers are more than ready for this stage of the growing season to be over with.  Universally everyone we talk to has had a difficult growing year with generally too much water and erratic weather.   Following 2017, which was a banner year, it has made it even harder to work through the strangeness of 2018.

That doesn’t mean we are done for the year, the crops left in the ground now are solidly established and short of (which I should probably not even whisper) an extreme dip into really cold weather should all be happy to the end.  We are hoping for a least a few weeks of mildish weather to complete some projects that we just didn’t get to earlier in the season when it was just too ugly to contemplate starting them.  Fall always seems to tumble down this way.

Picture of the week

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A radiant fall day

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #30, 10/30/15

What’s been going on!

Trick or Treat, the entire growing season has felt that way at times but particularly this fall with the torrential rains an early freeze along with critters and equipment issues.  It has been a particularly difficult fall to get crops established especially the direct seeded ones like spinach and carrots.

Jennie has done a patient job of seeding (and in some cases re-seeding) and weeding only to have erratic germination or the grasshoppers eat down the new seedlings or the rains wash sections of beds out or the final insult of the deer or ground hogs getting past the deer fence and feasting on the mature crops.  It makes one question why you would want to farm or at least grow fall crops.  Despite all of it, we are managing to harvest some beautiful vegetables for market.

Similarly on the winter soil preparation side we got weeks behind with the rains and when it finally dried out the tractor turned on me which is why there was no newsletter last week as I raced to get it fixed before the next rains arrived.  As some of you know, I left market early last week to jump on the tractor to finish up the soil work.

It took all day Saturday and Sunday but I finally finished the tilling and raising up 15,000 feet of beds for next spring and spinning out the cover crop seeds over the top that will hold down that beautiful soil and help increase its fertility.  A few final touches on Monday just in time for the gentle rains to start.  Nearly a month late but with any luck (and no tricks) we will soon see a vibrant green hue to all of those fields.

Picture of the Week

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A few bright spots such as this radiant celery grown inside the little tunnels

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #24, 9/3/15

What’s been going on!

Fall tugs at us, tempts us and then moves away.  Last week in the mid 80’s, this week back to the 90’s.  It is the hopefulness of cool weather and clear days, of a more relaxed pace and different kinds of work after the months of hot and humid summer.  It starts in early August with a few mornings when you walk out and it is not in the 70’s, as the month progresses you realize that the days are getting noticeably shorter and your morning routine is more rushed, compact, before we have to go out and start the work day.

We see the first poplar leaves turning yellow, the persimmons moving from green to orange, the deer beginning to form groups for the fall rut.  The lettuce we planted under shade cloth, just over a month ago, in an attempt to keep it a bit cooler now begins to stretch and twist looking for more light, do we take the shade off even though the days are still hot, yes but wait for a cloudy day to not stress it too much.

We know that hot days can last up into October but the nights will get cooler and cooler as the earth slowly gives up its summer heat.  The fall crops grow fast in the brilliant light of September, they have to get to size before the first frost comes or they will never make it.  Lots of planting going on these weeks at the same time we are tearing out the tomatoes and mowing down summer flowers and cover crops.  In a few short weeks it will be time to turn under almost all the fields and seed them down to the winter cover crops.  Until then fall will be wrestling itself from the grips of summer.

Picture of the Week

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Tomato destruction, vines off the trellis fence, trellis coming down, a dirty job

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #27, 10/3/14

What’s been going on!

Woohoo!  October!  The dance of joy and maybe the most beautiful month of the year.  After the cold front rolls through tonight maybe we can get past these crazy mornings with fog and settle into some real brilliant fall weather, they are calling for 40 degrees on Sunday morning here!

Fall chores are beginning to get checked off the list.  We uncovered the Big Tops for the winter this last week, the farm always looks smaller when they are not looming at the top of the hill.  Almost all of the summer crops have been mowed and I need to get on the tractor and start getting soil ready for this winter and next year.  While we are not done for the season like we used to be, things are slowing down and this is when Jennie begins to take over as the responsible party.  It is great relief to have her here and know that Betsy and I can get started a little later each morning because she has the plan for the day and will carry it out.

The Market Perennial sustainer program has kicked off well and the link to be able to sign up and donate online is now live.  With just a bit of additional help from the community the market will be able to expand our food outreach and education programs and continue to keep the market a leader in farmers’ markets around the state and country.

Picture of the Week

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The long view, bare bones Big Tops in the distance, Jennie and Lacey harvesting for market

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #36, 11/8/13

What’s been going on!

This is absolutely one of my favorite times of the year.  The light is so clear and strong, the angles low.  The colors of the remaining leaves on the trees are mostly radiant yellows with some bronzes and the greens of the recalcitrant beeches.  Mornings in the 30’s that give one the permission to stay inside for but longer and savor the light and the coffee.  Afternoons in the 60’s, in the bright light you can still work in a T shirt.

A slow and leisurely breakdown of the pepper trellis this week, the last big job for the fall.  Last year as I was busy building Jennie’s apartment I set her out alone to take down the trellis, she was frustrated by the task.  This year we have taken our time in the favorable weather to get the job done.  Many moving parts and layers that were put in place in multiple stages, over many months, now have to be taken out in the reverse order.  Three or four layers of support wires and strings have to be pulled out and rolled up.  100 metal T-posts and the corresponding 200 plus wooden cross arms have to be pulled up and carried to the truck at the end of the field.  The irrigation lines that run down each bed coiled up and finally the tops of the plants mowed off so we can pull up the landscape fabric that covers the hot pepper beds.  Nearly done, no need to rush.

The Italian travelogue is now finished; you can read it here if you want.  No newsletter next week, I will be off to a family reunion in Mississippi.  Betsy and Jennie will be at market on the 16th as usual.  The morning after I return is turkey processing day, one we look forward to (no more daily bird management) and don’t look forward to as it is their only bad day, ever.  After that we are definitely into winter mode, firewood cutting, winter projects (a few things to finish up on the new building), maybe some blueberry pruning, plenty of time around the woodstove.

Picture of the Week

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The first rays of morning sun from my office window

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Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #30, 9/18/13 Turkey Reservations

What’s been going on!

I have the chisels and stone tablet out preparing to permanently record for posterity “2013, the most amazing and pleasant late summer weather ever”.  The radiant fall days are the reason to live in central North Carolina but they usually don’t happen like this until October.  Now the first day of fall is Sunday but still…

As promised last week, today marks the start of Turkey reservations.  We always wait until after Labor Day when we have a better idea of how many birds will actually be available.  By the time they get this old they are usually pretty hardy but even now we can lose some to one thing or another. There will only be about 50 birds available this fall and they are all the larger Broad Breasted Bronzes.  All the information about what kind we have, how much they will be and the order form is now on the Website for easier access.

Look for the order form either at the top of the page or near the bottom under “How do I reserve one of the special birds?”  You can easily download the Word document there.  We will also have the order forms at Market on Saturdays. I can also tell you that with the “Frequent Flyer” reservations, nearly a quarter of them are already spoken for.  I will continue to update how many are available on the website.  Don’t wait too long.

Tomorrow I am participating in an interesting panel discussion in Raleigh called The Food Dialogues.  This is the third such event I have been asked to be a part of in the last month.  All three have been organized by big commodity Ag groups as listening or information sessions and I am usually the token sustainable/organic farmer in the group.  Ostensibly they just want to have an open discussion about how our food is produced for the enlightenment of the public at large.  My gut feeling is that Big Ag is trying to improve their image, especially in relation to GMO’s and pesticide use.  You can actually watch it live on the web if you want or I will let you know how it went next week.

Picture of the Week

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True signs of fall, long morning shadows and the Big Tops uncovered for the winter

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