Summer 2014 Weekly Farm Updates - August 6th
Man, what a tough week it’s been for us here on the farm! I’m really bummed to say that we have lost a good portion of our melon patch to some still unknown disease. Three long beautiful rows of juicy melons had total leaf and vine collapse, leaving the fruits with no source of energy, and thereby no way to fully mature. It’s heartbreaking for all of us when something like this happens. Not only because we won’t be able to provide our CSA members with as many melons as we’d like, but also because our crew works so ridiculously hard to grow all of our beautiful produce, that it can’t help but feel like a personal failure when something goes wrong.
Steven called in our Extension Agent, who works for Virginia Tech, and she came out to take some samples and see what she can find out for us. We’re hopeful we’ll receive some concrete answers soon, and although it’s highly unlikely anything can help us this season, hopefully we can make some changes that will prevent the same thing from happening to next year’s crop.
On top of the melons, our poor egg-laying ladies are clearly not happy. We’ve had an abundance of predators on the farm this summer. Be it minks, weasels, coyotes, hawks, eagles, or raccoons, our girls have been seriously stressed, and have let us know by going on strike. Poor Chris Wood, who works with the animals as well as in the field, found 1 single, solitary egg in the henhouse Friday morning. One egg. He was so upset, that I swear he would have laid eggs for our egg shares himself had it been possible.
In an effort to get our ladies laying again, Chris & I took a trip to Smithmeadows Farm in Berryville, where my good friend Forrest Pritchard farms. He gave us a lot of great ideas on how to improve our situation, and I’m happy to report that after installing a double fence just like his, we haven’t lost a single chicken in the night. This is a huge improvement over the multiple chickens Chris was sadly finding deceased each morning. So, fingers and claws crossed, things will continue to improve.
On a better note, our corn is doing fantastically well. Every time I turn around the guys are bringing in a new huge container filled to the brim with tasty ears, and I’m left wondering what to do with it all. Abundance is hardly a bad thing, so we’ll make lots of corn quiche for the pie shops and keep sending it out to our CSA members.
I went out into the fields the other day, and was completely dumbfounded by how short the corn stalks were! I’m so used to seeing corn shoot out of the ground at an alarming rate, and stand so high that one would never find their way out of the fields were they to dare venture inside. And then is dawned on me as Steven and I walked through the rows, that all of that “stuff” I’m used to seeing isn’t even corn that we can eat; well in its natural state, anyway. Lots of people consume plenty of it in the form of high fructose corn syrup, and to be honest, beef. But those towering stalks are supporting GMO crazy corn that you’d spit out were you to take a bite. I’m so grateful to farmers like Steven & Avis who continue to grow heirloom varieties of corn that taste like actual corn and don’t need to be soaked in acid before they become edible.
The beans are doing well, though the Japanese beetles have been ravaging the Fortex variety. Luckily Steven plants plenty of beans, so we won’t be running out any time soon.
The lunchbox peppers are ripening up this week, which is tasty news, for sure. Not only are they adorable, but they are seriously delicious. Nathan, our chef, grilled a bunch at lunch for us today. The crew is sweet and usually lets me go first since I’m the only girl on the farm most days, but they almost regretted that decision today, as I had to hold myself back from scooping up half the plate of this precious peppers. The only thing that stopped me was the box filled with oatmeal raisin cookies from the pie shop — I had to save room, after all.