A hard frost!

The farm frosted hard this morning! This may be the last week of veggie harvests that teeter in the space between eating seasons. The very last peppers, the very last summer squash…although the tomatoes are always picked to ripen in storage just so we can spread out the season of everyone’s favorite summer fruit, and we may just get another eggplant harvest next week because the plants rebounded quite unscathed from this morning’s layer of frosty white. Other signs of change abound. Waking at 5:30 this morning to help a wee one get a drink of water, I was struck by how much it felt like the middle of the night. It was dark, the bright moon set for the night, and no sight of the rising sun. I just couldn’t imagine staying awake, the feeling that it was still night was too strong, even though this was the hour we did wake on Tuesdays not long ago, sky light blue, ready to begin the harvests for the day.

In many ways, everything around us is telling us to slow down. The days are shorter, the sky telling us to sleep more, work less. The crops that needed us to tend to them day in and day out, to harvest, harvest, harvest their mad rush at setting as much fruit as possible while the heat lasts, the weeds competing with our plantings in a summer long race to win, all done for the year. The frost itself calling to us to take the time to start the fire and warm the kettle again, because no harvesting could be done until the leaves thawed. The farmer’s market ends this week too, and in a flash, our summer routine is gone for another year. Slowly, slowly we inch towards winter.

So alongside your summer squash this week we have the first of the season’s winter squash! And everything that has been touched by this morning’s frost (and our two softer frosts before this) has been infused with the sweetness of the season. This is the best time to eat fresh food, the sweetest and fullest of all. We were caught off guard this morning, the first really cold fingers of the season, but harvesting food for all of you through the fall is one of our favorite things to do. Unlike in the warmer months, food becomes such a treasure, a source of warmth itself, as we head into colder weather. If you are at all busy bees like we are in the summer, the true savoring starts now, when nature beckons us to slow down and sip some soup!

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