Waxing Poetic (farm blog)
2018: a retrospective
There comes a time in every journey when you cease to be a tourist. When you’re not even sure what to take pictures of anymore because the extraordinary has become the ordinary. You forget what it’s like to see life with fresh eyes. I remember this well from my Peace Corps experience. What was once interesting and noticeable becomes simply the way things are.
After so many years of farming this little piece of land here in the Tumbling Shoals Valley, it can often feel this way. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve called us “boring”. We forget what an astonishing thing it is to coax life out of the earth; to reap fruit from what was once just a tiny brown seed, nearly unnoticeable.
So sometimes Mother Nature must remind us how not boring this job is. She decides to shake us out of our languid torpor with an extraordinary weather event. Or a whole season of them. Just to remind us, it seems, that we are not, in fact, passive boring farmers, but warriors of a sort. That we must fight for the lives of each of our plants. That food is hard won, and that we shouldn't take it for granted.
This, it seems, is the retrospective of 2018. A year of extraordinary effort. A kind of war. A reminder that what we do is extraordinary.
Two computers and a love seat: planning season
We’re hot and heavy into our 2019 season planning which means a whole lot of staring at computer screens, so the blog is on vacation this week. Also, this is a good time for your requests and dedications. I’m not promising anything, but it doesn’t hurt to hear from you about your local organic desires!
next level addiction
I downloaded a little bubble shooter game for the holiday travel. I’m going to have to delete it before it serves its purpose, I think. I’m a complete addict. 15 years ago or so, my niece was visiting and downloaded a bubble shooter type game called “Snood” onto our computer. It was all I could do for the next 3 months, until I beat the highest level and deleted the game. These games are replete with human psychology techniques. Achievement levels, rewards, etc. You know, the things that keep us playing.
I wonder if there are any programs that are good for us that employ these same addictive techniques? One that would counteract the motivational problems of doing things that make us feel better. Like an exercise program or something. You know it makes you feel better after you’ve done it, but that doesn’t make it an easier to do it! But perhaps if we employed those same psychological tactics as those little addictive games, we’d be more likely to do it. Now that would be “next level” (ha! See what I did there?) exercise programming.
Obviously, I would be a prime candidate for a program like this. Can you imagine being addicted to something that was good for you?
Giving thanks for the beauty of the place we live (I'm not sure why this is sideways!)
I love the Thanksgiving holiday. Not because we eat a lot of good things, although that’s enjoyable, or even because we get together with our friends and families (also a bonus), but because it’s an entire day dedicated to appreciation of the goodness in our lives. Seriously, we should do this more often.
It’s easy to get caught up and carried away in life’s daily challenges. I notice this whenever someone comes to visit us at the farm. We’ve got our heads down, buried beneath the mountain of to do lists, entirely forgetting to look up and enjoy the incredible beauty of the place we work. Often, it takes a visitor to gawk at this beauty to remind us to look up.
This time of year, we take an entire day to look up, so to speak. To pay attention to our blessings and give thanks for them.
some hard won tasty winter veggies
I don’t like the cold. Thus, I tend to have very harsh feelings about winter, especially the whole working outside in the cold part of winter. But as with everything, there’s a silver lining. Local food may be harder won in the winter, but it’s also sweeter. I won’t bore you with the science of cold temperatures on the natural sugars in veggies, but the resulting effect on the taste buds is sensational.
I’m sure this is a life lesson: harder won things are worth working harder to win them? Perhaps (although don’t ask Mallory, who had to take two consecutive hot showers yesterday to warm up). All I know is that ever since we made the decision to keep growing food through the winter, my taste buds have warmed me up to the idea. I say this, of course, as I sit inside my, um, “corner office” (which is actually a closet) inside a heated and insulated house. So there’s that. But the cold rain has let up, the cat finally ventured outside, and I will soon follow.
Here's me on my self care soap box (just kidding--it's actually a woman at the Renaissance Fair selling soap from atop a soap box and I thought it was funny)
I went to a luncheon and talked about “self-care” today. It’s all the rage, you know. And not for bad reasons. It was nice to get off the farm for a change. How’s that for self-care. You know, whoever the wise (arse) was that said, “if you love your job, you never work a day in your life”, he or she was definitely not a farmer. Because I can attest that loving your job and working at your job are not mutually exclusive.
And we. Are. tired. We have a plan to not work so much beginning now until we really kick it back into gear in February and March. We divided up the work between the three of us so that we can produce all winter long while still having our winter rest. Plus, it’s mostly inside structures so we don’t have to suffer the whims of mother nature quite as much. It’s a well laid plan. You know, of course, what they say about the best laid plans… But now that I’ve talked about self-care as a farmer to other women, it’s time to really focus on that for ourselves. Winter is a time for resting, rejuvenating, healing our bodies and spirits. It’s a time to renew our love for our job so we can come at March with the same ferocious enthusiasm you’ve come to know us for.
We’re lucky in so many ways. The seasonality of agriculture, even with some winter production, allows for a period of reflection and planning. How many other businesses get to slow way down to do these things. Most businesses just keep on rolling full speed. I wonder how y’all incorporate self-care into your busy lives.
Winter Harvest Shares begin next week! We still have a few shares available. This one size fits all share acknowledges the extra time you'll be spending in the kitchen with family and friends for the holidays and includes a weekly dozen eggs from our dear friends at Creeksong Farm in Ashe County. The winter harvest share begins November 14th and runs through Jan 23rd (with no deliveries December 26th). That's 10 weeks worth of local organic veggies! In the winter harvest share you can expect to see (in addition to free range eggs) salad mixes including lettuce and arugula and some spicy mix, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, Hakurei salad turnips, bok choy, kale, chard, collards, celery, carrots, spinach, and even a bit of turmeric. These winter shares will be limited in availability so get registered as soon as possible!
Introducing our new winter harvest share! Mallory has agreed to stay with us this winter so we're growing all winter for you! This one size fits all share acknowledges the extra time you'll be spending in the kitchen with family and friends for the holidays and includes a weekly dozen eggs from our dear friends at Creeksong Farm in Ashe County. The winter harvest share begins November 14th and runs through Jan 23rd (with no deliveries December 26th). That's 10 weeks worth of local organic veggies! In the winter harvest share you can expect to see (in addition to free range eggs) salad mixes including lettuce and arugula and some spicy mix, potatoes, sweet potatoes, radishes, Hakurei salad turnips, bok choy, kale, chard, collards, celery, carrots, spinach, and even a bit of turmeric. These winter shares will be limited in availability so get registered as soon as possible!
In my youth I spent some time in various African countries. While vastly different from each other the common thread I found was a much slower pace of life. My “busy” times were akin to the slower times here. You still had time to sit and drink tea with the neighbors, or take a leisurely walk, or read a book.
Here, those things are seasonal. I checked out my first book from the library since March or April. Chairman Meow stopped me in the middle of work to snuggle and take some selfies. All things being seasonal, we are entering into the slow(er) season.
When the sweaters come out of the closet and the shorts go in, when the pets want petted, when there are things that need celebrated (birthday, anniversary, Halloween..). This is the time when our laser focus fades and we pay attention to other things, including ourselves and each other. Nothing feels like a crisis as all the planting has been done (almost), and deconstruction activities happen on a flex schedule.
Welcome, my friends, to October. Let’s down-shift.
Down shifting means slow cooked greens again, such as:
Sweet and Sour Collard Greens
1 bunch collard greens
2 TBS bacon grease
1 chili pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
Remove tough stem and chop collard greens. Melt bacon grease in the pan, add chili pepper, stock and water, bring to a boil. Add collard greens, return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover, simmer to reduce liquid so that less than 1/4 inch remains in the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, mix honey and vinegar. Add mixture to collards and cook an additional ten minutes.
A reminder that there will be no Saturday Hickory farmers market this week due to Octoberfest. Regular market hours in Hickory on Wednesday (rain or shine) and Boone on Saturday.