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Dinah

Farmers shouldn’t put things off. You do that and the next thing you know the place has gone all to hell–the garlic’s rotting in the beds, the hens have gone broody, or the blog has gone blank for a couple of months. Okay, we’re guilty of the latter, and we’re sorry.  There’s certainly been lots to report on since that last post back in April but we’ve just been too busy, too lazy–or a bit of both–to do it.

But we’re back at it now and we promise we’ll do better in the future. Here’s a quick update.

Katt & Adam

The Apprenti–In addition to Hiram and Tess, who showed up at the start of the apprentice period in early March (seems so long ago now) our other two apprentices, Adam Favaloro and Katt Tolman, arrived from New Orleans, as advertised, at the end of March.

 Katt and Adam are both Vassar grads and both have done a bit of farm work in the past–he on a goat farm last summer, she on a tree farm and a couple of shorter gigs on vegetable farms.

Dinah

They brought along Dinah, their spunky dog, who is about the size of our largest cat, Obie.  Dinah, Obie and Selmo, the farm’s other cat, seem to have reached a turf accomodation, something they never really worked out with Mongo, last year’s visiting dog. When Dinah ventured too close to the kitchen door of the farmhouse–cat turf–Selmo scratched her and sent her howling back down to the yurt meadow, where she holds sway. After that, the boundaries pretty much aligned themselves and everyone settled down.

As for the apprentices–they seem to have worked things out pretty well too and have become an excellent crew. They’ll be terrific on their own farms some day.

Katt & Tess

Hiram

Hiram has already amply demonstrated his kitchen skills–a dozen years working in various spots down in Bend, Ore. under his, ahem, belt. He’s this year’s cooler captain–a really critical job requiring good organization skills under pressure.  Tess is a source of boundless energy and good spirits. She was walking around in a tee shirt and bare feet when the temperature hit 50 degrees in April–probably reminded her of summer weather back home in New Hampshire.

The Weather–Ah yes, the weather. We broke a lot of records this spring, it was colder and  wetter than ever before, according to our favorite meteorologist, UW’s Cliff Mass. Cliff’s own misery measurement, the “Barbecue Index,” registered the wettest, coldest spring on record, with just five days over 60 degrees by June. We didn’t need a doctorate in meteorology to tell that, nature’s voice spoke louder–our first lettuce heads and first sweet turnips arrived weeks later than usual this year; the bouquets we are taking to the Bainbridge Island Farmers Market were lilac-less well into May–a true loss–and we’re still waiting for much of our  lavender to bloom in mid-July.

Cliff promised better days–and we did have a couple of beauties earlier this month–but now he’s saying it is going to be June gloom right through July. Another Summer That Never Was?

Number 26

New Arrivals–We’ve got another flock of tiny turkeys scampering around the fowl pasture  down at the farm gate–Chocolate’s back on the job. No sheep this year, but we do have a trio of new neighbors–three young black steers who are summering next door on Don Stevens’ pasture. They go by Number 26″,  “Number 27” and “Number 28”–their ear tags–and they seem to enjoy staring through the fence at the chickens summering in the upper run.

Other Visitors–Tess’s dad stayed the night back in March when dad and daughter climbed out their car after seven straight days of driving from New Hampshire to the left coast. Both her folks will be back visiting later this month. Adam’s mom stayed for a week, baking up a storm for everyone. Katt’s dad and sis will be here soon and Hiram’s folks have visited twice.  

We spent three weeks hosting Pierre Dambricourte, a 15-year-old visitor from France who charmed everyone and earned his chops working hard alongside the local farm crew. That’s Pierre in the truck bed (below) with Rebecca and Tess. He’s a fifth-generation farmer and this was his first visit to the U.S. The first place he wanted to visit was the local MacDonald’s, horrifying the farm’s food purists. But had become a farm-food fan by the time he left–heading back home to harvest wheat on his family’s farm, 22 hours a day for two weeks. We hope to see Pierre back soon.

Pierre and the Persephone farmers

So, in mid-July, the story line is that we are deeply into a new season–a little chillier, a bit damper than we’d like but hip deep in produce and working hard. One last bit of info–Rebecca planted a couple of fledgling giant pumpkins under the big tree near the salad garden back in May. We’re still waiting for her to remove their row covers and let them see the sun. Will they break last year’s record? Will they grow huge on a sour milk diet? Will there be any sun?

We’ll keep you posted as the season unfolds.

Persephone

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rain

In a word–rain.

Rain yesterday, rain today, rain tomorrow–rain forever, maybe. Plus thunder and lightening. The Seattle Times says we’ve had as much rain in the first two weeks of March as we normally get during the entire month. We’ll all probably look back wistfully on this gullywasher of a month when things dry out in the late summer, but it is hard to get the things in the ground when it is pouring like this.

How bad is it? At lunch today, Rebecca said she’d prefer to stay indoors this afternoon and work on her taxes.

Persephone

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By all measures, this has been a weird summer, weather-wise. But you knew that already. We just thought you might like to be reminded that a lot of grinding cold, hot, wet and dry work goes into those lovely bags of salad, beets, etc. we sell at the Sat. Bainbridge Island farmers market and put in your CSA box.

Right now, the operable words are “wet” and “cold.” Our farmers, including the interns, were out at dawn today snipping salad greens in the rain and wind. They’ll be out there most of the rest of the day bringing in the veggies that will fill the CSA boxes tomorrow.

Caitlin digging beets in the rain

When they’re done, Rebecca and Louisa will head home and the interns will trudge back to their yurts–tents really–and feed their woodstoves to keep warm.

Greg, bringing in the harvest in the rain

Last night, just before 10 P.M., Greg was taking a pre-bed shower in the barn when the power went out. He stood in the cold and the dark hoping it would reappear. (It did, a few minutes later.)

Pretty romantic life, eh?

Louisa in the rain

So this one is for the farmers, old and new, who bring in the veggies and flowers, rain or shine. And for Judith, our Wise Acres neighbor, celebrity baker and all-around angel, who broke the gloom by bringing us a very fancy lunch today, complete with flutes of champagne.

Here’s to us all, farmers, subscribers, shoppers and angels. Not such a gloomy day after all.

Persephone

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summer squash

How predictable. Common lore around here is that summer arrives in the Pacific Northwest July 5th, right after a cold and gloomy July Fourth. And sure enough, though we had our doubts, that’s exactly what happened. We watched the fireworks on the beach wrapped in sweaters and blankets. But a day later summer arrived and the temperature hit 89. That scene above is our interns, Greg and Mondrian celebrating in the summer squash patch yesterday. Then they went to the beach and jumped off the dock.

We wondered if this was to be The Summer That Never Arrived. But suddenly we are wearing flip-flops and up to our ears in flowers and veggies. And a good thing too. The orders are flowing in from our restaurant customers and the CSA boxes are stuffed with produce. And the sure sign that summer has arrived is that we will soon be harvesting fava beans. 

A couple of things about favas. They’ve been around since 6,000 B.C., which makes them one of the oldest known cultivated plants.  Legend has it that Sicily once experienced a crop failure that wiped out everything but favas and they are still celebrated there on March 19, St. Joseph’s Day, for saving the population from starvation. Legend also has it that favas are nature’s answer to Viagra because of their high concentration of L-dopa, which is also used to fight Parkinson’s Disease. 

That’s pretty much the spectrum of our fava-bean lore. Oh yes, and if you eat them they are supposed to make you dream about impending conflict. We’re not sure what that means.

Early next week, the weather gods willing, we will harvest all our favas in one day. They look a bit like lima beans on steroids–big leathery beans that you have to boil for a while to soften them up. But once cooked they make a great dish or a salad. People have been asking for them all spring.

We’ll spend the afternoon under the broad leaf maple down in the lower field, shelling favas while the bees hum in the lavender patch and the young swallows learn to use their newly hatched wings.

And then, if this hot spell holds, we’ll all pile into Sunny, the old yellow farm truck, drive down to the Indianola dock, and jump in the still icy Puget Sound. After that, we’ll probably stop by the Indianola General Store and get Rob’s giant ice cream cones.

Ah summer. You got here just in time.

Persephone

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As Cliff Mass, our weather guru, noted on his blog, yesterday–one day short of the longest day of the year; the day when the sun should be shining its brightest–we had less sunlight than any day going all the way back to Feb. 10.

Looks like we’re not going to hold our annual garlic peeling party this year. Our garlic is rotting in the field and we’re peeling it indoors, trying to save what we can. Our foul-weather gear is wearing out and we are sick of grey.

Summer solstice–bah.

Persephone

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