Monday, August 17, 2009

Time Flies when You're Having Summer

Whoa...after a long hiatus...we are back.

We've finally hit summer, or it's hitting us, all of a sudden! These few days are upper 80's/lower 90's sort of weather. Hazy, with heavy air and crickets signalling the heat soon after sunup. Up on the hill, we have a nice constant breeze, whereas down in Chester it's hot as the dickens. A doozy, as my father used to say.

In the news here:
We've harvested our last bunch of chickens for the year. Monte and Rupert came on Saturday to process our Cornish rock cross meat birds. It went much more smoothly this second time around; Oliver and I worked out some of the kinks in our routine, and we got all 102 birds chilled, bagged, labelled, and put in the freezer. Oliver made a great compost heap out of the offal. After a late lunch (more like early dinner), we set about burning our tomatoes. What?

Yes! We got The Blight. Late blight, that is...afflicting nightshade crops up and down the East Coast. Thanks to the unusually cool and wet summer we'd been having up until last week, the blight has spread to most growers we know. Farmers are plowing under their crops of tomatoes and, in some cases, eggplant, and cutting back potato foliage to save the tubers underground. It originated in Alabama, I heard, at a commercial nursery that then sold thousands of plants to large distributors like Home Depot, Lowe's, and Wal-Mart, and then all the home gardeners who purchased their starts at those stores brought it home. I've been reading ag reports from up the East Coast, and by their dates of publication, you can watch the northward spread of the disease. Maryland in May. Vermont warned of it in late June and July. It's a sad affair. We had put in 35 plants, which were prepared to take off in this heat stretch and bless us with a year's worth of fruit. We are grateful for the potatoes, which will probably survive underground, growing thicker skins until we move them to a root cellar.

I mailed my cutters and combs in to have them sharpened, so hopefully soon I can take care of poor Sari and Ella, who are wayyyyy wooly and in need of some shearing!

This Saturday, we are hosting some bicyclers who are doing a bike tour of farms. I believe their name, the 350 Group, is in reference to 350 parts-per-million, which is the recommended "safe" level for carbon in our atmosphere. This number is being promoted by, an organization headed by Bill McKibbon (of Deep Economy fame), in an effort to raise awareness of carbon levels and what we all can do to minimize global warming. So these bikers are powering around to different farms, staying over, emitting lots of goodwill as they go! They are also working with farmers to make and eat meals of local bounty: meats, eggs, fresh veggies, berries. Jon, whose family land this is, is one of the cyclers, and together with his family, we are hosting a dinner here Saturday night. You bet we'll be having chicken. & greens & carrots, red cabbage, zuchinni, and other veggies. Our garden is doing great, thanks to Oliver's attentive eyes, hands, back, mind. He is transforming it, starting from the soil up, working the compost and adding to the beds. And it's flourishing.

Farmer's markets are so slow right now. Is everyone on a vacation? End-of-summer, last hurrah? I believe the kids are going back to school soon. We have friends moving across the country to begin a new school year in a new town. Other friends are letting out their pants in pregnancy. All sorts of new life continues to appear. We are preserving it, also, in the form of dilly beans, pickled beets, sauerkraut, freezer chickens, liver pate, and all the myriad daily interactions that happen between two people trying to make a go at farming & just keeping a home together.

Eat well, be well.

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