Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Thursday July 01, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Farmer Val Thursdays

Have you ever dug potatoes? You exert so much effort for the reward of smooth, dirty, lumpy, delicious new potatoes ready to be popped in the oven, covered in butter and rosemary, and savored. 
Another crop that requires more work than it would seem are tomatoes. Planting is enough of a chore: hours on one's knees, bent over, shuffling every two feet to spade more rocky soil, but that is only where the work begins. Tomatoes must be staked (have you ever pounded stakes?), trellised, and pruned. 


Time and sleep are precious commodities to those who work on farms. At least food is never a problem... Farmers always seem to know somebody who knows somebody who has what you would like to eat. Get to know a farmer.
--
thou mayest...timshel

Thursday June 24, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Farmer Val Thursdays

A farm is inspiration. A farm is faith. A farm is tedium, excitement, and waiting all bound into the simplest of ideas with the most complex follow through: you'll grow food for people to eat, but who is going to buy it, and when? When and where will you plant it, water it, and harvest it? Where will you store it until they buy it? How will they get it: a farmer's market, a CSA, a grocery store, a restaurant, a hotel?

Melons, squash, kale, turnips, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, corn, or okra don't require you to believe that they will grow to maturity in order to be pollinated and bear fruit. The threads that bind a farmer to sanity are strengthened by it. To put sweat and money and gas and water into an idea takes a certain kind of person with a high level of stability.





Farmers buy retail, sell wholesale, and pay shipping both ways. It's hard to see their point of view. To see beyond the $4 bunch of kale or the $6 half pound of baby greens, but try to see it like a farm girl. This is our life and our work. Come to the farmer's market to buy what's grown now. Cook it and eat it and be happy. That's the simple idea we put our backs into.

thou mayest...timshel

Thursday June 17, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Farmer Val Thursday

So the day length is staggering as we approach the solstice. I sleep before the light leaves the sky and awaken to a foggy brightness every morning at five. The exhaustion from constant work erodes my free time into reading, eating, talking, and sleeping. I can't muster the energy to get on the lovely icelandics in the pasture down below, to hike the trails so close, or to bike along the scenic roads.
This same fatigue applies to writing. I know you want a report on how much reemay we pulled out of the fields today (four rolls, in fact, because of the warm weather and diminished threat of flea beetles) and that we have some lovely kohlrabi and radishes and baby turnips nearly ready to be eaten. But I can't provide all of that right now. You will have to wait until my daily stamina increases next week.


--
thou mayest...timshel

Thursday June 10, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Farmer Val Thursday

Off the Farm
We descended upon Thompson Finch Farm like we had never left the farm before. The bad kids in the back, we giggled, whispered and expressed our joy to be on another farm and not hoeing, planting, or laying black plastic. We observed weeds in raspberries, watched explanations of machinery used in strawberry transplanting and weeding, and laughed at garlic scapes dangling from a particularly crunchy girl's hair.We realized the importance of having the right equipment for getting the job done.
The seven am wake-ups have begun this week, the mornings seem to stretch as if they are an entire day or days unto themselves. Harvests are in the mornings so that no leaves lose their crunch or roots their luster and so with our coffee we have kale and radishes and turnips, dunking and cleaning and 'processing' with the crust still on our eyes hidden by sunglasses. The afternoons are slightly more merciful unless they bring too much sun to burn our skin and dry the soil complicating planting almost as much as the impossibly rocky fields.
The tomato, tomatillo, cucumber and squash seedlings have loved this moist rainy weather. Laura is grateful for this because there is no irrigation in the other field. We took a chance with that one, but the little seedlings that could have so easily wilted in the harsh sun and silty rocky soil. When unrolling a haybale to mulch the pathways of the many, many tomato rows a litter of very young voles spilled out. They cried and shivered as we attempted to warmly relocate them to the edge of the field. Voles are nearly as cute as baby moles, in my opinion.
It seems as if everyone is settling into their farming personality, you know the one: harried by work and distractions and a personal life yet there getting it done on farm even under adverse conditions. Seeing the organism that is a group of people working together is fascinating to me, and I'm learning how to evaluate the functioning of it and maybe one day I'll be able to influence it in a positive way at the right time...


--
thou mayest...timshel

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