Wednesday, October 29, 2014

tinkertoys for grownups

We've been busy harvesting, clearing and planting. And building!


Even for vegetables, straight and true framing makes things easier. Squared up and walked out, the posts go in.


Parts that will form the frame of the hoophouse.


More?!


More?!


And polycarbonate for the ends, and then there is some wood framing and doors too...along with everything else we normally get done. 

Who's tired?! We all are!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

what the farmer sees

This photo, of Zinnia and Tony's daughter, was posted on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.


So many likes. Such a cutie pie, holding a bunch of colorful flowers with a look of pure joy on her face.

At first glance that is what I saw. Her parents tell us she now will eat the entire egg, not just the white, after trying our eggs. Happiness!

Behind her is a structure exposed to the outdoors. The plastic covering on our hoophouse has reached the end of its lifetime. Or beyond. Its a 4 year cover in its 5th year. The small slits and tears in it earlier this year were easily repaired by tape. Not anymore.

What the farmer sees? A cute girl who has a true, deep love for farm, food, flowers, eggs, chicks and everything else at Sunnyside Farm.

Also? A ton of work. The giant single (OK, used to be single, now shredding into multiple) piece of plastic needs to be removed. You struggle with folding the bottom sheet? Multiply by 100.

First, wiggle wire must be removed at each end. And side. Then the entire piece/s must be removed, keeping as much intact as possible. We have other uses on farm for this.

Then the new cover is carried in place, then secured so it does not blow away. We need a perfectly still day, wind free so we and this giant piece of plastic don't end up in Nebraska.

After the new cover is slid in place (with no rips, tears or weak spots we hope) every inch must be secured. 

Through the course of the year we get a couple days where the wind really rips. We always say it must be 100mph, reality is that it is about half that. A huge cover like this waits for a windy, icy, snowy day to collapse, unhinge, sail away or just turn to shreds. 

We must gently and firmly secure every inch of the perimeter. So that when a night of true stress happens this structure will shrug off high winds, heavy snow, pelting hail and protect what we grow in there year round.

We are in the midst of converting what is growing in here. Tender summer vegetables were stripped from the plants all of Saturday. Fresh plantings of winter hardy vegetables are going in.

And the roof is needed. This photo? A sweet girl. And a ton of fiddly, critical work behind her.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

green beans and dried beans

Temperatures dipped into the 30's last night. It was a full on effort by everyone to pull every tender vegetable and herb off the field.

We handed out beans as part of of CSA shares for a number of weeks. Green and purple podded string beans and Lima beans too.

Mostly beans hate cold. Peas don't mind but beans are not happy. Actually, if the state of the bean vines are any indication, the beans gave up a bit ago.


Funny thing about beans. What might look like junk to some looks like delicious winter eats to the farmer.


Each of those ugly looking, shriveled up, dried out looking beans holds a stack of beautiful and tender these:


Beans, dried on the vine. As we crack open the dry and hard shell, these beans fall out. They don't get dehydrated or anything, they go into a mason jar and used all winter.

We used to buy bags of beans. And canned beans too. Some of that is in our pantry. 

But the beans we grow, allow to dry to this ugly stage, crack open and later add to any pot of goodness don't require overnight soaking and all day cooking. 

We grow heirloom varieties for just this reason. Good eating as tiny string beans or chopped and stir fried when larger or simmered for a bit when big, the string beans are great.

Dried on the vine and added to our cold weather pots of whatever we have, these beans make a creamy, almost sweet addition to the pot. And are done in 4-5 hours, still hold their shape and really add to a meal.

Trash or treasure? It all depends on perspective. 


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