Tuesday, August 25, 2015

just around the corner

We have neighbors here in the country. They are not really close to us, but they are here. We have met plenty of them and still there are many we have yet to meet.

Pinchot State Park is, as the crow flies, just behind the farm. As the roads go its about 5 miles away. With a huge lake, public (free!) swimming, picnic grounds, hiking trails, kayak and paddle boat rentals, cabin and yurt rentals it is a hub for summer and winter fun. Disc golf, fishing, clearly marked hiking trails and spots where boat owners can put their own watercraft in and out.

We had our work completed yesterday and it was hot. Not broiling, but hot enough that a dip in the lake and a sit for a bit in the shade with cool breezes was just what was needed.

Here's what it looks like. Just around the corner.

Homer loves to see just how things work. He appreciates natural beauty, but also explores technology made by humans. The lake at Pinchot is built by use of a dam, so the spillway had to be explored and documented too.

We easily encountered a thousand people yesterday in the park. Spread across all those acres it really felt like we were there all alone.

Monday, August 17, 2015


We farm in a very particular way.

We describe how we grow our vegetables as chemical free. Of course, everything is a chemical...water is H2O, and we use that! We also use compost. Delivered to us every year by a tractor trailer.

We never use insecticides, fumgicides, herbicides or pesticides. Growers can use either organic or synthetic based of any of those chemicals. A grower with organic certification can use those, as long as they are not synthtetic in composition.

We have learned a lot about what takes care of the bugs that eat our vegetables. So many bugs that eat other bugs. 

Praying mantis and ladybugs eat aphids. There is a parasitic wasp that lays eggs in tomato hornworms, the larva eat the inside out of the worm, killing it in the process. Bald faced hornets eat house flies, snatching them in the air. Cicada killers take them out. Soldier bugs. Assasin bugs.

And then our favorites appear. We see a variety of toads and frogs. Snakes and turtles too. We hope for salamanders someday!

My father was curator of the division of herpetology at the Smithsonian. Part of the reason we grow the way we do is a tribute to him, and what he taught me about small things having an impact. That enough pesticide to kill most pests kills most beautiful things too. And this, a sticky toed frog climbing straight up the side of a bucket, is one of the beautiful things.

And while we are in the shade resting on a hot afternoon, or inside sleeping at night, this frog and more like it are quietly eating their weight in bugs, daily.

That's why we farm the way we do.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

not your daddy

We tried for a year to rescue a jack Russell. I'd find one listed, think I was jumping on it, end up not getting it.

So we bought a puppy. Rescues cost too, to offset cost of care and medical treatment. The puppy didn't cost much more than full grown dogs we have adopted.

So Blitzen arrived earlier this year, in the form of a tiny puppy.

Adorable. Sweet tempered. Smart. Energetic without the crazy JRT's can sometimes be.

He listens well, has good manners and is a joy.

But we don't want any puppies. Our other dogs have been spayed or neutered, and we want him to stay here on the farm and not roam the streets.

So on Thursday Blitzen went to have his reproductive abilities removed. The instructions at pickup said to keep him quiet for 7-10 days.

We are keeping him away from the other dogs. No walks, no stairs. Water, kibble, chewies but no real rough housing.

He seems to be healing just fine.

Sound asleep, all four in the air.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

quick conversions

These days are when all the hard work of spring pays off. So much to harvest!

We preserve plenty of things. Tomatoes will start soon. They were deep green, now almost white, with red next. Canning and freezing and roasting down to paste will happen.

These days we get to eat fresh. Pulled from the farm, cooked and consumed. So good. This summer has been mild with low humidity, so we can have small cooking events.

Last night's harvest looked like this:

We didn't use the winter squash, but everything else was chopped up and put over the mashed potatoes made from those Yukon golds. A saute of all of those vegetables, some herbs and spices and then this...

Summer time comfort food. Farmers pie. Gardeners pie. Meat free. Near vegan.

Happy, satisfying meal. Nothing else needed!

Monday, August 10, 2015

overcast days

We put seeds in the ground constantly. It never stops. With that we also pull weeds all the time too!

We have two hoophouses on our farm. They are both filled year round with vegetables we are harvesting. Or, in the case of tomatoes we are impatiently waiting to harvest! The original hoophouse is filled with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant right now.

The hoophouse we built last year was full of heat loving basil. We've pulled a lot of it, week after week, and its starting to look pale. Still smells and tastes good, but as it fades we are pulling and filling our freezer, for that taste of summer this winter!

The peas and garlic came out earlier. The garlic went in in November 2014, and the peas were planted in February of this year.

So here are some of the beds this morning.

The drip tape is visible in the planting bed to the left, it is the most effective method of watering we have found. The wheelbarrow is overflowing.

And after

The plants we wanted and those that were uninvited are all removed. And take your tiny seeds too please!

It was overcast and barely 70* today. For a farmer, this is amazing weather in early August, allowing us a 3 week jump on clearing and planting. We like sunshine too, but love a day when lots of work can be completed without sweating through multiple sets of clothes!


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