Every size shape amd color of tomato you can imagine! What fun to harvest even just a small-ish basket full for the end of summer bash for the folks at the assisted living where I work part time.
I have been facing a bunch of difficulties here on the farm that are trying my creativity and abilities to say the least… Torrential rains and relentless critters munching away on my crops are just some of the influences that I am grappling with. Plants not growing or not producing crops is another challenge I am learning to deal with – calling on fellow farmers in the area who are willing to share their extras with me, or even buying things like sweet corn since mine was a complete loss.
There are many differences to Kate’s CSA besides number of members and her many years of experience. There were always 6 or 7 helpers on the farm, and a lot of action everywhere throughout the day.
I am here by myself, there is much less activity. It is quiet and peaceful and apparently quite inviting to the overflow of deer and rabbits and rodents that mess with my stuff 😉 And much less (wo)manpower to do the work.
In essence, running a CSA is quite an undertaking. And while I enjoy the work and farming very much, I have my share of disappointment and frustration with the things that don’t go well. I still am proud of the beautiful food I grow and the full bags I deliver.
I had big plans for my CSA – fun festivals on the farm, volunteer days throughout the season, scavenger hunt on and around the farm… But all these plans were derailed and fell flat as time progressed. Too few members right from the start, insurance limitations, Kate’s decision to move in spring, preparing for her move early in the season, and finally her move and decision to sell the farm… Things did not turn out as planned at all.
So now that Kate has moved to California and decided to sell the farm, I will be finishing my season here in early fall, and depending on the sale and new folks moving in, will probably stay on through winter to look after things here. This means of course that my CSA on Kate’s land is shorter lived than I initially planned. I am not certain where I will settle next year and whether I will have the opportunity to continue my CSA on another farm.
I thank all my members for their trust and giving me the wonderful opportunity to grow and deliver vegetables this summer. A big thank you also to my lovely drop site hosts! I appreciate all the support and feedback this season! And I regret not having had the chance to have everybody out here for the hands on festivities everyone enjoyed so much with Kate. And to continue growing with everybody through the seasons I hoped would follow this one.
I love walking in the forest on a crisp morning. Birds singing and bugs humming, early sunlight filtering through the the luscious shades of green, accenting the dark and sturdy tree trunks reaching out of the fertile ground. The light scent of ferns and wildflowers intermingled with musky wafts of composting leaves and rich soil… I breathe in deeply and release any tension as I take in the beauty and continuity of nature, of life, really.
Thoughts, worries, doubts, regrets vanish as I see potential for play all around. An old stump rises out of the ferns. Roots above ground form a cave, and at a glance it looks as though a scene for a fairytale… I stand and watch waiting for the slightest hint of movement suggesting I stepped into a different world of magical creatures. I imagine tiny fairies and unicorns and sourcerers… For a moment I wish to live in that world. Just a tiny figure disappearing among ferns and stems without making a sound, safe from the pressures of life.
And for a moment, as I gaze into the tree tops high above me, I realize I am that tiny figure, surrounded by a world much bigger than the everyday woes and duties we call reality. A world full of possibility and opportunity and freedom.
There is nothing better than farm fresh. Here is such a good meal in one “small” batch… Just add chicken breast or bacon or trout… Yum.
I love raising colorful food. And flowers. And this year I have a thing for purple… From purple peppers to purple poppy, things are just looking gorgeous. Hmm… Wonder if there are chickens that lay purple eggs 😉
Although I have a few less members for my first season than I had hoped and needed in order to hire help, I am enjoying the fact that I can actually skip using the tractor for a lot of the planting and just crawl along the rows on my hands and knees and plant my kale, broccoli, onions, cabbage, squash, beans, celery…(the list goes on…) by hand. Yes it takes much longer, and is much more taxing than with two people riding on the transplanter. But it is also enjoyably quiet and peaceful.
Today we rushed and with Kate driving the tractor and myself on the transplanter, we got in several rows of potatoes and sweet corn before lunch, and then, just in time before the storm hit, got the summer sqash in the ground. The first raindrops fell as we put the tractor in the shed and the tools tucked away. And then it poured. Thank heavens. Because the poor fresh transplants that went in the ground over the past two days looked pretty pathetic sticking out of the hot, dry soil.
With a lot more rain expected the next couple of days, I am quite grateful for the break from kneeling on the dry hard soil, shopping, relaxing and regrouping, and turning my focus to the hoophouses.
The weather continues to get warmer, birds are singing and building their nests, and our greenhouse is filling up fast as we plant our carefully selected seeds and watch as tray after tray sports happily sprouting seedlings.
Hoophouses are prepared for planting carrots, beets and green beans in a few days… A new deer fence is going up around the garden, and we are getting ready to fire up the tractors and spread that compost,
Rural areas have plenty of them. In fact, many farms have large colonies of 30 or 40 or more… Barn cats. Feral cats, mostly. Some fairly friendly and curious.
Every farm I have visited is feeding their cats and cares about them greatly. But because it is costly, farmers just cannot keep up with their vaccinations or, most importantly, getting them all spayed and neutered.
Sadly, any healthy and happy barn cat population can be decimated in a blink of an eye by only one visit of a passing stray tom that brings in diseases such as feline rhinotracheitis (upper respiratory or pulminary infection), FIV, or feline leukemia which are easily spread by sharing water and food sources. Once infected, treatment, if at all possible, is costly and difficult. The only way to eliminate the virus from the farm is to put down every last cat.
Recently a neighbor’s barn cats have started sneezing and getting runny eyes. A sure sign of rhinotracheitis, caused by the feline herpes virus. I am trying to help catch the sickest so they can get antibiotic shots, and giving L-Lysine in treats and liquid form to build their immune systems and recover.
I am also researching possible forms of antibiotics or other treatments that can be administered in food to reach all the kitties.
Having been involved in animal rescue for a good 20 years in Los Angeles, I feel quite strongly about caring for all animals, even those who are not snuggly and friendly, or in farmer’s terms, useful. They do rely on us.
Together with a friend, and hopefully the support of our local vets, I am working on creating a program to fund and host annual spay/neuter and vaccine clinics, and to make medications and treatment for sick barn cats available and affordable.
Wish us luck, I will keep you all posted on our progress. If you have ideas, connections, or time and energy to help us with this project, please contact me! All support is appreciated.
We just got word from the Raptor Center that the eagle is suffering from high lead toxicity and some eye trauma, and is now undergoing treatment.
Apparently, one of the main reasons for raptors entering the raptor center’s programs is lead poisoning, starting with hunting season each fall.
The ammunition used by hunters are lead pellets. Eagles ingest them when feasting on the remains of turkeys or deer left behind by hunters.
Unfortunately, one of four eagles brought into the rescue center that same week as the one we helped rescue has died from advanced effects like internal bleeding and organ failure caused by severe lead poisoning.
For the three remaining, it’s around-the-clock injections and feeding liquid food. Vitamin K is administered to slow down internal bleeding if possible.
If the three survivors are lucky, they will join other recovering eagles in the fly zone in a few months. A release back into the wild is at least a year away.
Please consider making a donation to help pay for THIS raptor’s care.
You can donate online at http://www.theraptorcenter.org or call the raptor center at 612-624-8457
The Raptor Center is located at 1920 Fitch Ave, St. Paul, MN 55108 and the phone number is 612-624-4745
Rehabilitation Costs for each Eagle:
$60 One month: food for one eagle
$80 Radiograph for newly admitted raptor
$100 Initial admission exam
$500 Medical care and food for 2 weeks
Earlier this morning Kate called to ask if I wanted to go on a little adventure to help rescue a bald eagle that had been stranded in a field for a couple of days.
We stalked through the ankle-deep snow to investigate and take some pics for the raptor center in Minneapolis to evaluate the situation. Upon receiving the pucs and learning that we wete able to get within 6 feet of the bird without it flying iff, they immediately sent a volunteer to meet us and pick up the large bird.
We were prepared for a bit of a chase, but the volunteer calmly and slowly approached the eagle and in just minutes the volunteer had the magnificent creature in his arms, massive feet and huge talons secured and wings tucked safely under the body.
Despite obvious signs of weakness and fatigue, the eagle was a beautiful sight to behold. Hopefully, with being in a safe warm place to rest and getting some much needed food and water, it will make a full recovery.
Lets keep our fingers crossed!
Thanks ro Sara Grace for the photos.