Blue skies and cool air have never been so welcome as they are today. The past four days here at the farm have been dominated (to the neglect of almost all else) by the expectation, arrival, and passing of Hurricane Irene. During August we spend about 85% of our time just harvesting. While this is a bit overwhelming at times (especially on Tuesdays and Fridays), the hope is that during this time we have caught up, minimized or finished altogether the other major tasks for this time of year (planting, weed control, major livestock items, etc.). Throw a large hurricane into the mix and the workload & emotions are quite the stir around here.
Since Thursday at about 5 am every task we undertook was viewed through the lens of the predicted 70 mph winds and up to 6 inches of rain. This farm, and every other vegetable farm I’ve ever seen is basically a large, green shantytown. Each field is dominated by teetering trellises, twisted landscape fabric and delicate structures of plastic sheeting held up with stakes, twine and metal pipe. Beyond the farmers architecture, the plants themselves are fragile constructions of vines, branches and leaves, all maxed out with fruit, ready for the all too heavy August harvest. For the farm crew, envisioning a 300 mile wide bull named Irene tramping through this living china shop, brought some pain. All of our harvesting was focused not just on pulling the most perfect, ripest, tenderest produce from the field, but pulling what might be our last of these crops for the season. Uppermost in this mountain of concern was the tomato crop. Cautiously planted in late May we have just started to harvest good numbers for you and the thought of losing them was maddening. When we harvested on Friday we picked tomatoes that were more “pink” than red with the hopes of saving some for an uncertain future.
Apart from harvesting as much as we could, we also had to consider the ballpark forecasts of top sustained windspeed, peak gusts, and overall duration of the storm against the hoped-for-strength of our greenhouses, tunnels, and barns. Heavy winds can pull off plastic and remove roof panels but more worrisome is that these rips and tears weaken the whole structure, allowing wind to get inside and lift the whole building into the air and putting it down in in pieces somewhere inconvenient. Waiting until the last moment on Saturday we made the call to take down the tunnel by the Upic field and do our best to shore up everything else. In our ragtag collection of plastic covered buildings the least sturdy are the three tunnels that hold our tomatoes. They are also the least expensive and if we lost them they could be replaced without too much pain. The flipside is that they are holding another three weeks of tomatoes for you. If we chose to uncover them to save the houses the tomatoes would surely be lost in the wind. With the plastic left on them, the wind could destroy both the crop and the houses. Not a fun choice to make. We decided to risk the loss of the houses and spent a couple hours lashing them down with extra rope, tightening the plastic and weighing down the ends with stacks of pallets tied together.
Thankfully the storm was not as bad as forecasted and all of our houses, buildings and crops sustained almost no damage at all. It’s nice to make a bet and have the odds turn out in your favor. Picking tomatoes this morning has an added feeling of satisfaction and hopefully you’ll be able taste a bit of that as well when you bring them home this week.
Blueberries…we are still taking orders via email for some day this week. We will not be able to deliver Tuesday (tomorrow) due to hurricane delays in harvest but we hope to be able to deliver on Friday. We’ll keep you posted.
Crystal Spring Pork
We have sausage, pork chops, country style ribs and a roast or two. Look for them in the freezer when you come for pick-up.
Apples and Cider coming soon!
What’s in the Share
Baby Bok Choi