Peregrine Farm News Vol. 15 #24, 8/1/18

What’s been going on!

Whew! Made it to August and the tomatoes are winding down fast and so are we.  Nearly time for our summer break starting Saturday after market!  A bit different schedule this year with Jennie taking the first week off when she will head north to visit family while Betsy and I will be here with Lacee and Jacob finishing up the tomato season.  The second week Jennie will be back to keep an eye on things and do some fall planting while the rest of us disappear.

As usual Betsy and I will mostly just be hiding out and taking day trips but it is a break from market none the less.  If there are enough tomatoes you might see us at market next week but I am pretty sure there won’t be many left.  So today will be our last Wednesday market of the season and we will miss both Saturdays the 11th and the 18th.  We will return, with the pepper roaster, on the 25th and we will be ready for fall!

It is always humorous to us, people who make their living at farmers’ market, that the week we take off always coincides with National Farmers’ Market Week.  That will not preclude all of you from celebrating it and going to your favorite market and supporting the farmers there.  We look forward to seeing you at the world famous Carrboro Farmers’ Market this week and at the end of August.

Picture of the Week

turtle

This turtle, feasting on tomatoes in the compost pile, is sad that our tomato season is ending too

 What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Advertisements

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #26, 8/24/17

What’s been going on!

Time for the big seasonal reset and we are ready for it!  It was a good time for us to take off as the weather was so grizzly but it has now broken for at least a week and we have a lot to do!  Everyone had a good break and rest in the various places we all escaped to, including total eclipse watching.  I, for one, will say that the eclipse was very cool and I was glad that I made the effort to see it but it did not change my life and I will not be chasing them around the world.

Fall crops continue to go in the ground and the obligatory cultivation, irrigating and other duties that happen with them are on the top of the to do list.  Time to mow down the summer cover crops that remain and pull soil samples for testing so we can be ready the end of September for the big annual soil preparation.

As usual the big focus is all about peppers.  We have a huge harvest to do tomorrow as they have hung on the plants for nearly two weeks and there are a lot of ripe fruit!  There is also some tying up and other plant management to do but we are getting ready for the first big roasting day on Saturday and the weather looks perfect!

Picture of the Week

P1030574

A wall of sweet Corno di Toro peppers

 What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 14 #25, 8/3/17

What’s been going on!

Close enough to taste, elusive enough to seem like a mirage, summer break.  After 29 straight weeks at market for the three of us and 20 for Kyle and Laura we are all looking forward to some time off.  As we have done the past few years starting after this Saturdays market Betsy and I will be “off” for two weeks.  That mostly means no markets and some more random wanderings but still some meetings and conference calls etc.

Jennie and company will solder on through next week with major fall crop planting and Wednesday market.  IF there are enough tomatoes they may also go to Saturday market on the 12th but I wouldn’t hold my breath.  After that they are off to various places to escape the heat and recharge the batteries for fall.  We have given the staff a week off with pay for years for these reasons and after a long hot summer season.  Jennie, Betsy and I will keep the greenhouse watered and the crops irrigated but little else productive will happen.  We will return to market on August 26th full of vim, vigor and the pepper roaster!

Betsy and I will start our vacation participating in a tomato cooking class at A Southern Season on Sunday the 6th.  Obviously a bit late in the season we will once again be working with our friend and tomato guru Craig LeHoullier of Cherokee Purple fame and Caitlin Burke.  Always a fun discussion of all things tomatoes and great food from Caitlin.  Tickets still available I believe.  Otherwise we will see you in a few weeks!

Picture of the Week

P1030554

The last of the glorious cool mornings, peppers waiting

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 13 #25, 8/5/16

What’s been going on!

Well August came in like a lion or a tidal wave.  Five inches of rain in two days destroyed all of our driveways, washed out the field we were preparing for fall and winter crops, blew the poblano trellis over.  Normally we celebrate July being past, hmmm.

Spent yesterday morning regrading all the drives, have never seen one storm move so much gravel.  We have mostly pulled the poblanos back up but half of one bed is still a mess and will be a pain to pick for the next 3 months.  Hopefully it will be dry enough this afternoon to re-till and re-establish the beds in the fall vegetable field, we have planting that has to be done!

Jennie and Trish have begun to tear out the sliding tunnel tomatoes to make way for fall and winter crops which marks the beginning of the end of tomato season.  Next Monday may be the last regular tomato pick as the plants are really beginning to suffer from all of this hot, wet weather.  Just in time for our summer break!

As you all know for years we have taken a break in early August to recharge the mental batteries and to prepare for fall.  25 weeks straight at market with hardly a day off since early April requires a pause.  We will all be at market tomorrow and Jennie and Trish will be at market next Wed. and possibly next Saturday the 13th if there are enough tomatoes left.  We will not be at market on the 20th but back will the pepper roaster and fall smiles on the 27th.

Pictures of the Week

P1020410

Tipsy Poblanos

P1020406

Blown out field

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #22, 8/20/15

What’s been going on!

Students are back and so are we!  Despite the dampish week we have been back at it since Monday.  Good time off and we even got to the point where we couldn’t remember what day it was.  Lacey was the winner with a week in Maine, Jennie got in a trip up to D.C. and a few days camping in the mountains.  Betsy and I knocked around doing a variety of things including a scenic tour of Eastern North Carolina with stops in Wilson, Kinston, Pink Hill and Clinton!

Before heading off, Jennie and Lacey worked hard to get more fall crops in the ground and cultivate the established ones so they were in good shape for the week while they were gone.  Since their return the planting and cultivating has continued and we are right on schedule.  The tearing out of the tomato plantings has begun with the little tunnels completed but the Big Tops still to go.

As projected, pepper roasting will begin this Saturday with mostly Anaheims and Poblanos and a few Corno di Toros.  The sweet Red, Yellow and Orange Bells are running a bit behind but should give us some for next week.  Don’t worry we should be roasting through October.  The weather looks to be clearing and actually a fairly pleasant day to commence with the hot job of running the roaster.

Picture of the Week

IMG_2872

Another foggy morning, super tall Poblanos in the foreground.

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 12 #21, 7/29/15

What’s been going on!

Our 80 year old neighbor used to say about farming and living in the country “It’s nothing but a maintenance job!” and there are times that I think he was completely right.  We have so many buildings and machines and miles of fences and irrigation to keep up that it seems that I can just go from one repair to the next and never run out of things to work on.  Another farmer friend told me that he had 80 tires alone to keep air in and rolling (we only have about 40).

We also have an “aging infrastructure” that makes it all the more likely that work will have to be done on it.  The thing that you have to hope for is that multiple things don’t break down all at the same time, not so lucky this week.  The main mower for the tractor has been at the tractor dealership for weeks now because I did not have the right tools to do the repair and because it is 20 years old it took some time to get the correct bearing for it.  That is OK because we have multiple mowing machines to work around it being missing, that was until the riding lawn mower deck needed to have some welding done on it, fortunately that repair only took a day.

The big issue right now is our big tractor drawn rototiller is out of commission until a part arrives from California (hopefully today).  We are busy planting for fall and cannot be without it for long.  A 25 year old Italian made tiller makes the availability of parts more difficult but the good thing is because we bought heavy steel and a well-built machine this is the first time we have ever had to work on it.  There is always a learning curve the first time you take something apart but after many hours it is all back together just waiting for Fedex to arrive with one last piece.  We should be back up and tilling by Friday!

The important maintenance job that needs to be looked after next is that of body and soul.  After 22 straight weeks at Market with only really Saturday afternoons off we will be taking our summer break after this Saturday’s market, you can see the fatigue in the eyes of most of the farmers at market now and we are no different.  We will not be at Saturday market on the 8th and the 15th.  Look for Jennie and Lacey at Wednesday market today and the 5th with the last of the tomatoes.  No newsletter until the 19th.  When we return on the 22nd, we surely will be full of vim and vigor and a booth loaded with peppers.

Pictures of the Week

IMG_2835

Foggy this morning, some of those pepper plants are already 5 feet tall

IMG_2840

Some serious Italian steel

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #21, 8/20/14

What’s been going on!

Another foggy morning in this continuing coolish summer.  The old folk adage “for every fog in August there will be a snowfall” indicates that we should be ass deep in snow this winter.  With the days beginning to get noticeably shorter we can let ourselves think about fall.

Summer break was enjoyable, different in its pacing and how it rolled out but we all had a chance to reset and do non-farm things.  Jennie was able to go north for a while and Betsy and I lolled around the house, went out to eat a lot, I even managed to read two whole books!  We still had to do some seeding and planting and maintenance but all with a relaxed agenda.

But we are back and it is a packed week.  The hard rain on Monday slowed re-entry some as we had planned to get a lot of things planted, looks like tomorrow we can get it done.  That is OK because we still had a film crew here shooting some pieces for Farm Aid which will be in Raleigh September 13th and then a dinner for a UNC class we participate in.  Friday night is our annual Farm Dinner at Fosters Market in Chapel Hill, focusing on peppers, what else.

Saturday is the first day of pepper roasting at market.  It will be a “soft” start with mostly just chiles as this cool weather has delayed the ripening of the colored sweet bell peppers but the Anaheims and Poblanos look great and will be in abundance.  The weather won’t even be brutal with a high in the mid 80’s, never in my wildest dreams.

Picture of the Week

???????????????????????????????

Get the snow shovels ready

 

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 11 #20, 7/31/14

What’s been going on!

Yep, missed last week’s newsletter, sometimes it just slips past us.  July has slipped past as well; always a prominent mileage marker in the year when the mountain that is tomato season is behind us and we can actually see the shorter and cooler days of fall in front of us, we are not there yet but we know it is on the horizon.

Fall like, I don’t know what to say about this unusual cool stretch of weather in July.  Can’t really remember another July like this, especially one that, at least for us, has also been so dry as we have missed the bulk of all the rains that have passed through.  Just over two inches of rain in the last 7 weeks and the creek is running at the barest of trickles.  I know many of you have had multiple rains of over two inches in the last few weeks; we are just on the wrong side of the line this summer.

Planting for fall quickens over the next month.  Every week more and more beds are seeded or transplanted until mid-September when it will all be done.  The first radishes, carrots and turnips are up.  Next week beets, cauliflower, kale and more.  The last of the winter squash will come out of the field this week, curing for a few weeks in the shade of the big poplars before arriving at market.  When the tomato trellises come down in a few weeks then we will know for sure that fall is close by.

To celebrate the end of July and mentally prepare for the fall rush we are headed into our summer break after this Saturday’s market.  We are all a bit out of gas after five straight months with only a few days off, there is an unspoken need for rest or a change of routine, if only for a few days.  Betsy and I will not be a market for two weeks (the 9th and 16th), Jennie and Liz will probably be at market on the 9th with the last of the tomatoes and then they get a week off too.  When we return on the 23rd not only will we have spring in our step but it will be full blown pepper season, let the roasting begin!

Picture of the Week

???????????????????????????????

Four weeks-worth of lettuce timed to be ready on our return

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #25, 8/1/13

What’s been going on!

5:38 this morning the phone rings, jolting us out of the last stages of sleep.  I say “just pick it up and then hang up” as Betsy reaches for the phone “No wait!  It might be the Post Office calling to tell us the turkeys are here!”.  Indeed the case and we are off and running, Betsy driving to Graham to pick up the box filled with little chirpers and me across the field to finish up the brooder preparations.  By 7:00 they are all installed, eating, drinking and running around.

You may remember this newsletter from June when I was debating if we would raise turkeys this year and the specific hurdles to doing so.  Well those hurdles have mostly been cleared.  The feed plant problems have been solved, the availability of poults later than normal worked out and a processing date has been secured the week before Thanksgiving allowing us to have fresh birds and avoid the freezer plant issues.  One more time around the block.

A fun event coming up a week from today The Crop Hop at the Barn in Fearrington Village is a fundraiser for the Farm Sustainability Programs at the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI).  Live music, square dancing if you are so inclined, microbrews and some deserts all for just $10-20.  We will be there as I am on the Board of RAFI, one of the oldest and most important of all the sustainable agriculture organizations in the country.  They do great work in many areas of agriculture but this night we will be focusing on the work they do to help save family farms from going out of business.  Come on out for an enjoyable evening and support sustainable farms.

Once again we have made it through July and it is time for our annual August break so no newsletter for the next two weeks.  After market this Saturday, Betsy and I will be laying low for two weeks, taking short road trips, going out to eat and just taking it easy.  The exciting party (really) is we are going to focus on moving into the new workshop, building a work bench, putting up shelves, sorting and organizing all the tools and supplies that are strewn across five buildings; Betsy has been waiting for this for years!  Jennie and Liz will be working next week and expect to see them at market, maybe both Wednesday and Saturday.  They will both then have a week off and we will not be at Market at all on the 17th.  When we come back it will be full pepper season and roasting should begin on the 24th.

Picture of the Week

8-1-13 042

This little turkey is saying “here we go again”

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading

Peregrine Farm News Vol. 8 #20, 8/10/11

What’s been going on?

So once again the August break is not long enough, not sure if it is because it is still really hot when we start back or if we had so much to do during the week that we need time to rest up? One thing that was discussed a great deal was the concept of a much longer break in the summer. I am increasingly convinced that these record breaking hot summers are not an aberration but a sign of what the new “normal” weather pattern is going to be. Our farming friends further south, in places like Alabama and Texas, have planned significant holes in their summer schedules to avoid the heat and folks in Florida don’t grow anything in the summer, just the winter.

One of the main reasons for these planting schedules is because the crops just don’t do well in the intense heat, even tomatoes and peppers produce poorly when it is incessantly hot. The other reasons revolve around the quality of life for the farmers and farm workers, sure you can make yourself go out and get something done but is the pain worth it? So we are toying with a modified schedule that moves the main tomato planting up a bit and the peppers back a bit to allow for a longer period in the summer with not a lot going on. We can not stop growing tomatoes and peppers, it is too much what we are but maybe we can move them into better conditions for them and us.

Now a longer break doesn’t mean we shut the place down, there is just too much that has to be kept rolling for that. There are fall crops to seed and care for, summer crops that need to be irrigated and maintained, turkeys to move and manage. It would look more like a rolling break. Betsy and I might go away for a week or two, while the staff keeps it all under control and then they could each take a week off and get away to someplace cool while we do the maintenance. It would also mean we would probably go to market further into October than in the recent past. Hmmm…lots to think about?

We did have fun last week, we got to the mountains to some slightly cooler weather and finally got to visit one of our former staff Rett. Rett worked for us from 2004-2006 before he moved to a farm in the mountains. He now has a new farm that we had not yet seen, so we had to go inspect, a beautiful place on the banks of the Cane river with soil to be envious of. We also had a couple of great dinners out with friends and some quality time in the air conditioning. Back to regular duty now.

Picture of the Week

Early in the morning, the last summer flowers, limelight hydrangeas in the distance

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading