September is here!

“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
– Helen Hunt Jackson, September
This week on the farm we (with the help of two strong friends)…
-said good-bye to one of our goats
-milled the rest of our old fallen oak
-felt inspired by the beauty of wood
-weeded leeks
-planted almost all we will plant for this year!!
-ate tomatoes with many meals (finally!)
-made plum sauce
-wore a jacket in the morning!
-fed the pigs squash upon squash upon cucumbers too
-contemplated the coming winter

Abundunce

The exciting news this week is ripe tomatoes! We know you have all been waiting and waiting, and this is really just a small bit of the very first, still nothing to write home about; nevertheless, as some of you saw at this weekend’s open farm, the tomato planting is massive this year, so there will be no shortage of everyone’s favorite garden vegetable. Since things are just getting started, we will be picking off the cherry tomatoes for the next couple of weeks. After that, all of our farm pick-up members can pick from these every week at pick-up if they desire. Likewise, the cut-flower bed, a project idea that barely came together this year, is flowering nicely, albeit only a handful of varieties. Feel free to ask for help cutting some flowers to take home if you’d like, or ask our expert bouquet man, our oldest son Olorin, to pick one for you. Olorin has brought a small amount of cut flower bouquets to each and every farmer’s market this year, a business he has enjoyed and is considering expanding next year! Maybe with his help we will have a wider selection of flowers for the u- pick flower patch next year!  And it is almost canning time; once the tomatoes hit full speed, we will let all of you know about extra picking for winter preservation.

Our main winter preparedness goals lie in the fields. We have been working overtime to be well prepared for our second season of continued harvesting through the winter. There have been bumps in the road these last few weeks. The potatoes that had looked so good this year are now showing signs of distress. We imagine that yields will still be good, but his high cost start up crop is always leaving us wanting more. The parsnips planting we tried everything we knew to get started still hasn’t germinated, four weeks later. Notoriously hard to start, we can only try again in the cooler weather, with
hopes of smaller parsnips in early spring.

But, the planting and planning is still more positive than not, especially for us, eaters who have come to relish the flavors of these coming crops probably more than even the ubiquitous fresh tomato. Not to say these summer flavors aren’t just right for this time of year. Simple, vegetable laden dishes are fast and filling on busy summer farm days, and being able to snack on so much, from cucumbers to tomatoes, simply out of hand in the fields is a blessing. And being in the midst of abundance does wonders for the soul. Zucchinis and cucumbers and tomatoes up to our ears, a sign of the graciousness of the earth to bear fruit, and reminder to be thankful for all that we do have.

The fruits of summer

There have been a few times over the course of this last week when a look out the window has made us think we were dreaming. So many cloudy, gray mornings this week, and rain! A really steady, gray all over kind of rain that lasted more than the length of a passing cloud. It looks like Oregon out there this morning, not just
Oregon in the middle of July. The rain is great though, even when the timing is a surprise. There was so little rain this spring, and so much sun, a little seasonal switcheroo. A reminder, I suppose, in case we were beginning to forget, that weather is so unpredictable. It sure keeps us on our toes here at the farm, our constant companion.

A rain like that which fell on Sunday is such a blessing in the middle of summer. Combined with the afternoon’s sunshine-y heat, the moisture and warmth are so great for all this growing. Still, another week spent watching flowers bloom (in mass quantities, might I mention) but still not fruit reminds us that patience is a virtue, however anxious we get. Our take on an old adage is that a watched plant
won’t grow…or something like that. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, all of our summer crops have been blooming for some time; still this week, it is just the summer squash that is ready for harvest. We’ll take it. As leery as the farmer was to put in as many summer squash plants as I urged him too, they are delicious to me, regardless of the ensuing insanity that they will lead us too! This first flush, picked on time, the perfect size, tender, delicious, ready for the grill, or for pizza or to be roasted or to be tossed with pasta and olive oil…so good!

The other flowers, the ones that will not fruit, but are planted just for the fun of it, are finally making their way towards the sky. Their late start was a bummer, but it looks like members will be able to begin picking bouquets if they wish about the same time they begin to pick their cherry tomatoes…soon!

We are busy ourselves, visiting other farms to pick berries. First strawberries, not too mnay. Then some cherries, a bit more.  Now we are working on blueberries, the tastiest and easiest to pick for the main berry picker (me); so I will spend many days (hopefully) picking these summer treats for later winter eating. Raspberries have been picked as well, and some blackberries will be had soon too. The wonderful thing is that from our own farm we have had enough strawberries and raspberries this year for the kids to eat fresh throughout the day. That means now most of what we go out to pick gets put away for the winter—a huge step in the right direction for us. We got fairly tired of apples by the end of winter this year!

And speaking of picking and preserving the fruits of summertime, I should mention that this Saturday Slow Foods of Yamhill County will be hosting a class at the McMinnville library about Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables, from 2:00-4:00 for anyone who would like to learn more about this preservation method. We use it occasionally, and although I didn’t get any cherries into the dehydrator like I wanted to, we are drying raspberry fruit leather right now, and will likely dry some grapes later this year. Using any method of food preservation you choose, it is a great (and essential) way to enjoy the products of summer when the gray, cool weather isn’t just a fleeting reminder, a mere dream of winter. It is a way to continue to eat locally through the season that many farms take a rest, and to supplement your CSA harvests of those seasons, which will be full with yummy produce, but not with the many vegetables that have come to be favorites to many. Preserving them now will give you their presence in winter, without necessitating a trip from a warmer part of the world.

The clouds from this morning will give way to sun soon enough, and we will get back our warm July weather. Berry picking, jam making, freezing, drying, canning—all sure signs of summer. Likewise, potlucks and parties come along with the season. So, before it gets away from us, we are trying to nail down a date for our first summer open farm and member potluck. Hopefully we will have a plan by next week. We only managed to get one date together last summer, but with everyone’s various summer plans, we missed a few of you last year, and are aiming for at least two nights of coming together at the farm this year to make it easier for everyone to attend one or the other. So, soon we can all come together around some good food and enjoy the farm together before the long nights of summer slip by. We already notice it as the morning knocks a little later and the night falls almost an hour earlier, such is that circling of the sun!

summer farm sunset