This past week was hot. Really hot. Quite hot for stacking a thousand hay bales in the barn, picking over 600 pints of strawberries, planting half an acre of winter squash, harvesting 250 lbs of lettuce and an endless list of smaller tasks in between. Here we are a few days later, wet and cold, and that heat seems a bit like a dream.
No matter the weather the great trick on the farm is the constant jockeying of tasks, one after the other, to get everything done before its too late. I have often said the best farmers multitask in their sleep but I think what they really do to make a season successful is more like trying to walk fast, without running. Each task we do on the farm requires our full attention. Whether it’s stacking hay straight and square on a pile that is over 30 feet high, cutting 150 lettuce heads that are just the right size from a bed of 1200 or running a tractor in a straight line at .35 miles per hours while your friends transplant squash off the rear, you can’t daydream. Like walking fast these tasks require us to focus and move quickly but if we try to run and get to the next project we miss all the details that make the job worth doing in the first place. There is still the problem of whether to look at our feet or stare straight ahead when walking fast…but generally we get where we’re going in one piece.
Farm Camp is in full swing with the second session running this week. In one day our young farmers have picked over a ton of rocks out of two 200 foot beds, pulled old lettuce and asian greens out of a greenhouse getting ready for our summer basil crop and moved the lambs from pasture to pasture. All in a days work.
We’ll open up the field strawberries again this week. The rain has not done them any good but there are still quite a few down there. Talk to us at pick-up for more details.
What’s in this week’s share?
See you at the farm.
When the weather is good almost everything falls into place at the farm. This stretch we have had since the deluge of 2012 (you remember right?) has been extra special with 70ish clear sunny days and cool but not cold nights. The vegetables have been responding and bouncing back from being underwater with new growth and vigor. The two big stories on the farm the past few days have been hay and strawberries.
Make Hay When the Sun Shines
Bright sunny days with low humidity and a good breeze are great for more than just enjoying the outdoors, they are also perfect weather for drying hay. We generally make between 2500 and 3000 bales of hay each year to feed sheep in the winter time. The process for making hay involves cutting mature (but not too mature) grasses in the farm fields and drying it in the sun over the course of 2 or 3 days. During this process we turn the cut grass several times, exposing it to sun and wind and trying to bring it down to about 20% moisture from 85% when it is green. The battle the past few years has been trying to find a stretch of 2-3 days to get a batch of hay (300-500 bales) dried and baled. We have been cutting and baling for most of the past week putting up over a thousand bales of hay and another 250 of straw. The farm crew that has been stacking it all in the barns is less enthused!
Strawberries and Optional Upic!
Warm and dry is also great for strawberries and this years crop has been the best we have ever had here at Crystal Spring. The last few Junes we have had cold, wet or foggy conditions during strawberry harvest and these conditions cause ripe fruit to go by and rot quickly starting a domino effect of mold and rot that shorten both the yield and the number of weeks we can pick. This year we can’t keep up. The two pints we picked for you last week (over 800 pints picked total) are there again this week and we are having trouble finding the time to get them all in. With this in mind we are going to open the strawberries to upic for CSA member during pick-up hours on Tuesday and Friday. Here’s how it will work. If you can Upic your berries on Tuesday or Friday when you come for your share you can pick 2 pints. If you are busy, don’t have time or for whatever reason can’t pick you can take one pint that we have picked for you. There will be directions on how and where to pick in the CSA room and a farmer in the field helping with details. We will provide pints to pick into and ask that you come only on pick-up days/hours and only one day during the week. We hope this will help keep up with the picking and allow us to harvest the crop for that much longer (and let us give attention to all the other crops going in the fields!) Viva Strawberries!
What is it and does NASA import it? No kohlrabi is not from another world, it is from heaven! Try this close relative to cabbage and broccoli sliced, shredded or julienned into your next salad or stir fry. We love this fresh, rich vegetable and encourage you to try it too. To prepare, peel the purple skin and jump right in. There are four recipes on the webside in the right sidebar, or just follow this link.
What’s in the share?
Lettuce (mix or heads)
Kohlrabi leaves (think kale)
Next week look for zucchini, broccoli and more…
The days are long here at the farm. Starting the first week of June the sun rises and shines brightly into our mostly north facing bedroom window. If I haven’t made it up by 5am the light makes sure I won’t be asleep any later. For someone working swing shift this little bit of architectural orientation would be annoying but for a farmer its just about perfect.
The second week of June is the annual tipping point at this farm. The point of the season when all of the preparation and early planting that began back in the dark of winter hits the halfway mark and we begin spending more time harvesting crops than planting and caring for them. This week we will begin setting out our last big crop of the season, winter squash. Once this acre is in the ground we will have weekly rounds of greens like lettuce, chard, etc. to transplant through August but more than 10 of the 12 acres we will plant this year will be in, slowly coming to maturity week after week between here and October. This week we begin picking strawberries daily. It takes about 2 hours for the whole crew to work through all two thousand row feet of plants. Soon will come zuchinni and cucumbers which we will pick every other day and then there’s the greens that we spend most of the morning 2 days a week cutting and washing. The transplant/seeding list gets smaller and we struggle to find time for these tasks that used to take up our whole day in the spring.
I love the transitions of the farm season and of the many reasons I find to do this work it is probably the constant change with the calendar that I value most. Hopefully, you will appreciate this change too as you take home and prepare our harvest this season.
What’s in the share this week?
We had hoped to have radishes and salad turnips as well but the heat and rain of the past few weeks has made these crops unharvestable. Look for zucchini, kohlrabi, broccoli in your shares soon!
Maine fish with your produce.
Port Clyde Community Supported Fishery (CSF) delivers fresh Maine landed seafood to the farm each friday starting next week. If you love high quality fish this is a great deal and supports a group of fisherman in getting the most for thier catch. For more info or to sign up email Port Clyde at email@example.com or call (207) 372-1055.
With a wet start we begin our CSA harvests this week! We’ll begin harvesting greens Tuesday morning to be ready for our first pick-up. Hopefully the water from this record 7+ inches of rain will recede from the fields a bit or we’ll all be out there in rafts and dinghies. This farm is fortunate to have well drained soils so we expect to have few problems from this storm.
We are certainly excited to see familiar faces back at the farm and welcome new ones. The farm crew, Ailish, Courtney, Mike, Jacqueline, and Phil have been working hard since April 1st. Finally harvesting the produce and sending it home with you has brightened their day, even in all this rain. Truly!
When do I pick-up my share?
The Brunswick share can be picked up from 2-7pm on Tuesday or Friday starting this week and running through Halloween.
What’s in this week’s share…
There are several new crops that we should see in the the next week or two… strawberries, scallions, turnips and zucchini.
Every Monday we’ll post about the week’s share and the goings on at the farm.
Look forward to seeing you this week!!
Best, Maura & Seth