2017

August

When I sit down to write this, the temperature has dropped and the hot muggy days of high summer have already started their slow recession into the backs of our minds.  I have to remind myself four times what day of the week it is. I think I can safely admit that I've failed my 2017 resolution of weekly blog posts. Somehow it's been four months (really four?!) since the last one, and I can't even really provide a good excuse. The specific quotidian excuses for not keeping up with this blog amount to an exciting-to-us-but-boring-to-the-world day-by-day account of our wacko 2017 summer, so I'll spare you the gory details. The briefest summary possible: we've been... busy. 

 Photo by Andy Heist

Photo by Andy Heist

We're in the unique and relatively short season when high summer harvests overlap with the almost imperceptible suggestion that fall is on its way. The truck is weighed down by boxes of tomatoes and crates piled high with eggplants and peppers, but the crisp morning air quietly tells a different story - one that we know to expect but somehow never quite believe about how, as long as the earth revolves around the sun, sweater-cool fall will always follow summer. This morning I was wearing actual SLIPPERS.

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Summer is definitely waning now though, we have to admit it. The sneakiest cool breeze whispers through our trees in the evening. Every day we are positively shocked by how early it gets dark, how few evening hours we have before night falls hard and we're forced inside or, more often, forced into a huddle around the barn sharing the dim light to make bouquets and pint tomatoes and sort the cooler contents late into the night.  

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From the deck of the infrastructure department:
We're very excited to have received a state grant to build a new wash station and cooler building this fall and all of our most modest dreams are coming true. A wash station with a concrete floor and proper drainage! A cooler that is more than twice the size of our current one, which we outgrew about three years ago! Drop-down shades that block the afternoon sun instead of the shabby white bedsheet we use now! Bigger sinks and tubs to replace the 3/4 length bathtub that was taken out of the Taylor family house during the Great Botched Renovation of 2015 and repurposed into a wash station basin. Now all we have to do is... tear a hole in the time space continuum in search of an extra month this fall to build it before the ground freezes?

The eclipse was a rare opportunity to gather outside in the middle of the day and sit in the grass to marvel at the cosmos. We enthusiastically seized the opportunity and, though it was pretty hazy and we didn't get to see the crescent shadows of the sun cast through dappled tree canopy, we were impressed and humbled by the eerie golden tint of the briefest 60% evening in the middle of the afternoon. 

 Completely magical photo by Andy Heist of the Milky Way above Rachel's house on the night of the solar eclipse.

Completely magical photo by Andy Heist of the Milky Way above Rachel's house on the night of the solar eclipse.

And lastly, the smallest update with the longest range migration: our perennial butterfly weed bushes have been taken over by a small army of monarch caterpillars! We tiptoe around them desperate to not disturb their delicate chrysalis-making, and will do everything we can to protect them until they migrate in an incredible feat of bio-location and endurance. 

 Photo by Andy Heist

Photo by Andy Heist

Spring Tulips

Happy spring from the hills of East Haddam, where the shadows are still long, the nights are still cool, and the fog and mist linger for hours after daylight has arrived. It's easy to forget how volatile our spring season is in Connecticut - too cold then too hot then too wet then too dry - but every 12 months like clockwork, April arrives to remind us.

Our greenhouse is bursting at the seams with vital seedlings that are growing daily before our very eyes. They love the cozy incubation of the greenhouse, but tray by tray Elise tells them gently that they're ready for the real world and Rachel loads them up, takes them to the field, and plants them firmly in a row with their colleagues. Seeing all the baby plants learning how to grow, how to fruit and how to flower, under the big sky and ever-changing weather of early spring is so powerful. There is a special moment before weeds, pests, and diseases arrive, before wacko harvests and immeasurable bounty, when farming looks an awful lot like something you can control. Let's enjoy it for just five minutes, shall we?

Aaron is building our movable high tunnel in the south field, the future home of the legendary tomato harvest of 2017 (power of positive thinking, etc?), to be followed quickly by three more tunnels. Rachel and Elise embark on more science experiments every year, turning the greenhouse into a surgery ward where they wield scalpels and knives to graft heirloom tomatoes, and turning their kitchen into a biochemistry lab in order to heat treat seeds to precise temperatures for improved disease resistance.

Elise and Caitlin go on optimistic (but increasingly desperate) ramp scouting missions every spring wondering how it's possible that in our swampy, hilly, shady neighborhood of deep woods and literal fern gullies, there are no ramps. We convince ourselves that around every bend in every stream we will find the center of the universe, green blue ramps spread in a lush carpet as far as the eye can see. But so far, no luck. We must live in some mysterious supernatural ecosystem where normal rules of micro-ecology don't apply, where shady streams lined with skunk cabbage don't lead you straight uphill to luscious meadows of ramps. Torture!

We are learning the logistics of tulip harvest in the way that you can only learn something you've been told a million times once you have to do it yourself. It's true: once they start blooming harvest becomes an hourly countdown. On sunny warm days when you can practically watch them grow, I swear we harvest every three hours. Bringing some inside, we've watched in awe as their colors deepen and flush over the course of many days; more than almost any other flower we grow, they continue to reveal new secrets long after their harvest. Come to our markets over the next few weeks to bring our first ever spring tulip crop home with you, for which we all have Elise to thank. We have singles, doubles, and parrots in unusual varieties -  some deep rich black colors, some with stems as long as your arm, and the most luminous orange glow you've ever seen.

My completely unreasonable dream for this summer is to spend a quiet day every week (haha) sipping tea, wearing a linen dress, and researching for you the cultural, economic, ecological, and political history of each crop we grow one by one - revealing as I go the lurid love triangles, international intrigue, careful manipulations, cultural fads, grunt work, acts of god, and gangsters, yes men, and operatives, that have tugged and coxed each specific crop all the way through the agricultural history of our planet and onto your plates. 

But in lieu of the mythical extra day of my week, or the cosmic pause button, you'll instead have to forgive me for these rambling blog posts that haphazardly provide account of our farm through the season at irregular intervals.  I'll try to keep my straight-faced obsession with the human-made climate apocalypse out of it, and instead will regale you will the charming stories of Ellis's first watermelon and every crazy hot pepper we grow. 

And in the meantime, please come visit us at one of our weekly markets to share in the bounty of our 2017. You can expect our normal insane array of veggies through the season, but first up are greens, lettuce, radishes, leeks, and tulips tulips tulips. Happy spring! 

 Black parrot tulips, I mean seriously?!

Black parrot tulips, I mean seriously?!